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Coronavirus meets religion #1

Monday, March 16th, 2020

[ by Charles Cameron — a quick miscellany ]
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The Vatican:

Starting fairly near home, depending on your flavor of the local religion, the Pope in Rome lives in the Vatican — an independent absolute monarchy wholly enclosed by Italy, and unable to escape the virus sweeping its host nation. The Vatican has now reported its first confirmed case of the coronavirus.

The Pope, accordingly, has delivered his usual public Sunday Mass by video conference, and instructed the pries of the Catholic Church to attend to those affected by tea coronavirus.

Islam:

The Kaaba in Mecca, usually crammed with pilgrims, is almost completely empty.

The Shiite regime in Tehran has declared that that medical work is jihad — struggle, typically “in the way of Allah. The Mullah Khamenei:

I have already sincerely thanked physicians, nurses and medical teams, but I deem it necessary to thank all those dear ones once more. Certain phenomena were witnessed these days which are really and truly instructive for all of us and which indicate the sense of responsibility of our medical staff and their human and religious commitment in the country.

India:

Put face-masks on the gods / “idols”. This one’s Shiva, from the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi:

**

Sending my best wishes to all..

Celebrations of joy as a cover for grievous harm

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — the holidays are rough on those who are depressed, psychologically, and physically on women abused by men ]
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It’s striking how the great celebrations of joy — here, and in India — are accompanied by some of the most heinous and grievous acts of violence against women, and depression accentuated by rejoicing:

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of innocence, in the form of the Christ child, into a corrupt world, and contains within it the seed of his crucifixion; Holi celebrates the young prince Prahlad, who worshiped God while his father, thinking himself Lord of the Universe, could not stand his son’s unwillingness to worship him and put him to the fire..

Two martyrs, therefore — and we rejoice in their faithfulness even unto death.

**

Sources:

  • Guardian, Christmas offers no respite from domestic abuse
  • Paper, How Holi Became the Festival of Assault in India</li>
  • **

    Consider this story of Claire, a pseudonym, a real person, a woman:

    Claire and her eight-year-old daughter are two of the more than 6,000 women and children being supported by domestic violence charity Refuge this Christmas. It will be the second Christmas they spend in a refuge while they wait for permanent accommodation.

    When they fled to a women’s refuge 18 months ago, Claire left a note for the husband who’d abused her for 23 years: “I’m really, really sorry, please don’t be angry with me. I just can’t take any more of the control and abuse. We will be ok, we’re in a safe place – please don’t try and find me.”

    Or this, from India, describing Holi festival, which is celebrated with the throwing of colored powders — and as we shall see, drinking %i(bhang), a cannabis drink properly associated with the %i(sadhus) or ascetics who worship Shiva:

    A popular way of perpetuating assault is through drugging victims, often with %i(bhang), a milky cannabis infused concoction that’s widely circulated during the festival as a ‘party drink.’ The taste of the drink is so similar to other softer beverages — like %i(thandai) (a spicy milk-based cold drink) — that they’re often interchangeable. Victims unaware of this are often offered %i(bhang) and told it’s something else, or their drinks are laced with cannabis or other substances to make them more vulnerable to assault.

    It’s a well-known problem that’s been discussed over the years, with local advertisements, publications and YouTube channels addressing its causes and effects with PSAs and think pieces. In many cases, stories of harassment have also sparked wide outrage on social media and led to protests. But who’s listening? The outcries are hardly taken seriously because in the end, it’ll ruin the ‘spirit of the holiday.’ The pain and violent assault of women is diminished and disguised in the spirit of the season and a range of bright colors.

    **

    As, in personal psychology, many people will cover depression with a facade of cheerfulness, so it appears that in social psychology, group celebrations may be used as covers for acts of frustrated or rage-filled violence, notably by men and against women.

    Running of the bulls, running of the cows

    Monday, September 9th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — until we understand suffering as devotion, where are we? ]
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    The running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, celebrates the martyrdom of San Fermin:

    Ernest Hemingway on the San Fermin fiesta:

    The fiesta was really started. It kept up day and night for seven days. The dancing kept up, the drinking kept up, the noise went on. The things that happened could only have happened during a fiesta. Everything became quite unreal finally and it seemed as though nothing could have any consequences. It seemed out of place to think of consequences during the fiesta. All during the fiesta you had the feeling even when it was quiet, that you had to shout any remark to make it heard. It was the same feeling about any action. It was a fiesta and it went on for seven days.

    [ .. ]

    The fiesta and its requisite state of constant drunkenness is a time of “unreal” events and chaos—a time in which our characters let go of any sober sense of right and wrong they might still possess.

    **

    India: Watch men get TRAMPLED by herd of cows for Diwali:

    Dozens of men in the central Indian village of Ujjain Taluk allowed themselves to be trampled by stampeding cows Friday as part of Govardhan Puja, the fourth day of Diwali.

    Locals pray for their wishes to be granted by ‘Lord of Animals’ Lord Pashupatinath and in return perform the cow-trampling ritual as a mark of gratitude.

    Despite the ritual having being performed for hundreds of years, allegedly not one man has been seriously injured as of yet.

    **

    in the running of the bulls, the idea is to avoid being gored: in the running of the cows, the idea is to be trampled.

    Religion.

    A couple of instances of Christianity in the world around us

    Monday, September 2nd, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — anointing Brazilian strong-man Bolsonaro, and hymn singing in Hong Kong ]
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    Religious behavior in general fascinates me — but when it affects politics, people often don’t realize what powerful motivation it can provide.

    **

    Religion can be coercive, as in the anointing of Bolsonaro [at approx 3.50]–

    Remember the laying on of hands over Donald Trump? The overarching authority of religion has Trump bow his head, but sets Bolsonaro on his knees! —

    — and religion can be liberating —

    — That’s a crowd of protesters in Hong Kong singing “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord”.

    Remarkable.

    **

    From Reuters in June:

    Sing Hallelujah to the Lord’ an unlikely anthem of Hong Kong protests

    For the past week, the hymn has been heard almost non-stop at the main protest site, in front of the city’s Legislative Council, and at marches and even at tense stand-offs with the police.

    It started with a group of Christian students who sang several religious songs at the main protest site, with “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” catching on among the crowd, even though only about 10 percent of Hong Kong people are Christian.

    “This was the one people picked up, as it is easy for people to follow, with a simple message and easy melody,” said Edwin Chow, 19, acting president of the Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students

    The hymn is simple, optimistic yet adds a touch of solemnity and calm to the proceedings, and also affords some legal protection to the protesters —

    The students sang the songs in the hope of providing a cover of legitimacy for the protest. Religious gatherings can be held without a permit in the financial hub.

    “As religious assemblies were exempt, it could protect the protesters. It also shows that it is a peaceful protest,” Chow said.

    The hymn was composed in 1974 by Linda Stassen-Benjamin in the United States for Easter. Its five words are repeated over four stanzas in a minor key, which gives it an air of meditative solemnity.

    **

    Between the anointing of a dictator and the hymn singing of a crowd of protesters demanding democratic freedoms from the Chinese state, we have quite an instructive confluence of ways in which religion can enter the public square.

    No doubt there are others. In Nepal, there’s the tantric cultus of the goddess Kubjikaa. What’s religion up to in your neck of the woods?

    Invisibility, Jeff Sharlet’s The Family, and the goddess Kubjikaa

    Saturday, August 31st, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — it’s like a waterfall ]
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    It’s like a waterfall: you stumble on an idea that comes from the mouth of Doug Coe, describing the principle behind the influence of The Family, of which he was the long-time leader —

    — and it turns out the same principle is referenced in an article on surveillance in Defense One

    — only to re-emerge in Dr Mark SG Dyczkowski‘s work on the tradition, philosophy and practice of the goddess Kubjikaa.

    **

    There’s clearly a principle at work here that could find application in many fields, contexts, silos — and the concatenation of such instances is itself a demonstration of the value of silo-breaking thinking.

    FWIW, I wouldn’t have so much as heard of the Goddess Kubjikaa were it not for my half-century friendship with Mark Dyczkowski, to whom I owe so much, and into the waters of whose scholarship so deep I have dipped no more than a toe.

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