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The Hayden-Furnish Matter

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — opening a discussion of two tweets and the place of New Testament theology in political praxis ]
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Gen Michael Hayden:

Dr Timothy Furnish:

**

It seems to me that Tim Furnish‘s response to Gen Hayden opens up one of the few truly central questions of our times — maybe in fact The Key Question for holders of western culture and values.

I take it that this question is in fact a koan — strictly unanswerable, yet livable, lively.

Zen koans are the equivalent of case law. In what follows, I shall offer some precedents that may be of use as we consider the case that Tim Furnish sets before us.

**

First, I would like to offer two notions from New Testament studies which may be of help here.

The Kerygma:

Following the scholar CH Dodd, Wikipedia defines the kerygma thus:

  • The Age of Fulfillment has dawned, the “latter days” foretold by the prophets.
  • This has taken place through the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • By virtue of the resurrection, Jesus has been exalted at the right hand of God as Messianic head of the new Israel.
  • The Holy Spirit in the church is the sign of Christ’s present power and glory.
  • The Messianic Age will reach its consummation in the return of Christ.
  • An appeal is made for repentance with the offer of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, and salvation.

if that’s the Foreign, what’s the Domestic Policy?

The Acts of Corporal Mercy:

I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. .. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Gospel of Matthew 25 vv. 35-36, 40.

**

Michael Lotus gave me an exemplary comment with permission to quote it the other day:

As to binaries, lawyers, judges and legislators do not get to spend unlimited time dealing with the ultimately unique nature of each person, each event, each controversy. They have to determine when government power will be applied to compel behavior, to extract money, to seize and bind and carry away persons against their will, to imprison, to put to to death. They have over millennia determined that clear, simple rules are the best way to use this blunt and often brutal, but essential, instrument. Then they have to apply rules to actual cases. Clarity, certainty, and the ability to plan accurately based on known rules, is critical. And inevitably there will be, or seem to be, unfairness in the application, and hard cases, and heart-breaking cases. Attempts to deal with many nuances lead to a thicket of confused rules, lack of guidance for action, and even more arbitrary application of the same unavoidable application of government power. Large and complex human groups cannot be governed otherwise than by general rules of general application. Some balance between hard-and-fast rules tempered by some degree of judicial discretion is where most reasonably fair systems end up, and that is what we have. But the basic fact of binary division is inevatable in the law. Do we hang this man or not? Is this or is this not the type of property subject to this set of rules? Is this man entitled to a deduction on his tax or not? Etc., etc. The law is at best a very crude approximation of the ideal of justice which we can imagine even in human terms if we lived in a a less defective world than the real one. And of course our poor, merely human law, even at its best. falls bitterly, laughably short of that perfect justice that God alone can comprehend and impose. It is one of the many tragedies of the human condition, deriving ultimately from original sin.

Much food for thought there..

**

I’m a Brit, and a guest here in these United States. Here, accordingly, are some materials of British origin:

Think of the British coronation service, a Eucharist with anointing, and these words proffered to the King or Queen by the presiding Archbishop:

Receive the Rod of equity and mercy.
Be so merciful
that you be not too remiss,
so execute justice
that you forget not mercy.
Punish the wicked,
protect and cherish the just,
and lead your people
in the way wherein they should go.

**

Sir Thomas More, in Robert Bolt‘s play, A Man for All Seasons:

Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you–where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast–man’s laws, not God’s–and if you cut them down–and you’re just the man to do it–d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes. I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

According to a Harvard Crimson article:

Sir Howard Beale, the Australian ambassador to this country, took the late Mr. Justice Frankfurter to see Bolt’s play in New York in 1962. Beale recounts that the Justice could scarcely contain his excitement during the scene just set out, and as it ended Frankfurter whispered in the dark. “That’s the point, that’s it, that’s it!”

**

I saw a reference to More, who was Lord High Chancellor under Henry VIII, as Keeper of the King’s Conscience, which drove me to this definition:

Keeper of the King’s Conscience”

The early chancellors were priests, and out of their supposed moral control of the King’s mind grew the idea of an equity court in contradistinction to the law courts. A bill in chancery is a petition through the Lord Chancellor to the King’s conscience for remedy in matters for which the King’s common law courts afford no redress. The Keeper of the King’s Conscience is therefore now the officer who presides in the Court of Chancery; see Chancellor and Lord Keeper.

**

Barnett Rubin, today, for another up-to-the-moment view:

Politics is not a mechanism for transforming goals into reality, for the Taliban or anyone else. It is a process of conflict and cooperation dependent on resources, relationships, and chance in which no one controls the outcome.

**

St Francis would, I think, like to see the Beatitudes, and proceeding from them the corporal works of mercy, deployed in all functions of the individual and community / state; the Jesuits would, by and large and in contrast, it seems to me, appreciate pragmatism — tempered by mercy, yes, as and when pragmatism permits.

Think on these things..

Your thoughts?

Polarized light — pls review before final exam, Thurs

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — actually the exam is daily, ongoing — and we’re not scoring very high marks ]
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Unpolarized light vibrates in any planes:

A light wave that is vibrating in more than one plane is referred to as unpolarized light. Light emitted by the sun, by a lamp in the classroom, or by a candle flame is unpolarized light. Such light waves are created by electric charges that vibrate in a variety of directions, thus creating an electromagnetic wave that vibrates in a variety of directions. This concept of unpolarized light is rather difficult to visualize. In general, it is helpful to picture unpolarized light as a wave that has an average of half its vibrations in a horizontal plane and half of its vibrations in a vertical plane.

Polarized light vibrates in only one plane:

It is possible to transform unpolarized light into polarized light. Polarized light waves are light waves in which the vibrations occur in a single plane. The process of transforming unpolarized light into polarized light is known as polarization.

The most common method of polarization involves the use of a Polaroid filter. Polaroid filters are made of a special material that is capable of blocking one of the two planes of vibration of an electromagnetic wave. .. In this sense, a Polaroid serves as a device that filters out one-half of the vibrations upon transmission of the light through the filter. When unpolarized light is transmitted through a Polaroid filter, it emerges with one-half the intensity and with vibrations in a single plane; it emerges as polarized light.

This works either way — so to speak, either vertically, or horizontally — though not, by definition, both at once. Ohh, and there’s paradox involved:

Read the whole lesson at The Physics Classroom: Polarization — and memorize, remember?

**

Ali Soufan notices polarization in our political sphere wrt events we label or do not label terrorist:

NPR likewise:

Tim Furnish sees this polarization as avoiding mention of Islamic influence when it is clearly present:

And then there’s this:

Sebastian Gorka told MSNBC

Gorka in full:

Sometimes an attack is unequivocally clear for what it is. When somebody shouts ALlahu Akbar as they’re stabbing a police officer, it’s pretty clear it’s not a case of the mafia robbing a bank, wouldn’t you say so?

Eh?

Vox is oppositely polarized to Gorka et alii:

As, indeed, am I.

**

Incientally, all you special ops types with cool shades:

For lightweight, functional shades that protect your eyes in any lighting situation, Oakley has designed the SI Flak Jacket. Featuring an innovative 8.75 base lens curvature for optimal peripheral vision, these sunglasses provide side eye protection as well as a maximal field of view. The stress-resistant O-Matter frame found in many Oakley tactical models is lightweight, ergonomic and will not succumb to the pressures of constant wear and travel. The Plutonite polycarbonate lenses fully filter out harmful UVA, UVB, UVC and blue light up to 400 nm for maximum sun protection. Oakley also has included an Iridium coating on the lenses which reduces glare in extremely bright light. For adaptability in any environment, the lenses are easily interchangeable. « less

Take heed:

Polarization has a wealth of other applications besides their use in glare-reducing sunglasses.

Like — in USian politics?

**

Okay, time for the test. Sample question:

Answer:

A. Referring to the above question, the glare is the result of a large concentration of light aligned parallel to the water surface. To block such plane-polarized light, a filter with a vertically aligned polarization axis must be used.

Sunday surprise — Orthodox choral music, and Lutheran

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — for Kristen and J Scott Shipman, Tim Furnish, Mark Osiecki, and whomever it may delight]
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Note the words:

Music has certain remarkable qualities, which even the spoken word does not possess. Music does something that words can’t. It goes to the deepest point of who we are, the center of our person, it is a quintessential part of what it means to worship God, to be able to sing to God, to be able to pour our hearts in thanksgiving, praise, Orthodox worship cannot take place without singing.

You know, I have very few things to offer back to the world in thanks for the many, many things the world has offered me, but this remark reminds me of another from John Eliot Gardiner, spoken after Sara Mingardo‘s recitative in his rehearsal DVD for Bach‘s cantata Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63. Gardiner quotes Bach:

Nota bene: Bei einer andächtigen Musik ist allezeit Gott mit seiner Gnaden Gegenwart. Now I find that very, very significant. That he’s saying wherever there is devotional music, God with his grace is present. Which, from a strict theological point of view is probably heresy, heretical, because it’s saying that music has an equivalent potency to the word of God. And I think that in essence is why Bach is so attractive to us today because he is saying that the very act of music-making and of coming together is, in a sense, an act which invokes the latency, the potency, the potentiality of God’s grace, however you like to define God’s grace; but of a benediction that comes even in a dreadful, overheated studio like Abbey Road where far too many microphones and there’s much too much stuff here in the studio itself, that if one, as a musician, puts oneself in the right frame of mind, then God’s grace can actually come and direct and influence the way we perform his music.

DoubleQuote!

And so, once again, here is Sara Mingardo, incomparable:

Hamas and the Case of the Missing Hadith

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — by analogy with the curious incident of the dog in the night-time ]
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From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s story, Silver Blaze, in the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes:

Inspector Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

Sherlock HHolmes: “That was the curious incident.”

**

There have been reports for some time that Hamas was preparing a revision of its original Charter, and now the Hamas Document of general Principles & Policies is with us:

The full text is here.

**

‘There’s commentary aplenty elsewhere —

  • Juan Cole, Hamas in new charter accepts 1967 borders for Palestinian state
  • Gatetone Institute, Hamas in new charter accepts 1967 borders for Palestinian state
  • Al-Monitor, What will Hamas charter change mean for Israel?
  • The Guardian, Hamas presents new charter accepting a Palestine based on 1967 borders
  • Middle East Eye, Hamas recognises PLO as ‘national framework’ for Palestinians
  • Al-Jazeera, Hamas accepts Palestinian state with 1967 borders
  • Brookings, Is Hamas re-branding to orient towards Egypt?
  • — I have just one point to make.. which I don’t believe any of thre above so much as mention..
    **

    The original 1988 Hamas Charter contains an explicitly apocalyptic hadith in Article Seven:

    the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:

    “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).

    That hadoth is no longer present in the new Document of General Principles & Policies.

    **

    The most extensive account of the gharqad tree I’ve seen is in Anne Marie Oliver & Paul Steinberg, The Road to Martyr’s Square..

    the bizarre tree called the Gharqad, traditionally believed to speak in oracles and said to grow in the graveyards of Mecca

    Their account is fascinating, well wporth reaing in full — see pp 19-24 at this link for convenience.

    **

    I amn uncertain whether Hamas has officially stated that the new Document of Principles replaces the original Charter, although that’s the impression one gathers from the rumors preceding its publication — but to the extent that it does, it is significant that the dog no longer barks, the Gharqad tree hadith no longer features in the new text.

    Significantly omitting the hadith, the new Document lacks the specifically apocalyptic, end times claim present in the Charter. The hadoth, of course, continues to exist — bin Laden was another who used to quote it –mbut at least in its central doctrinal document, Hamas seems to have shited from an explicitly apoca;lyptic Islamism to a more general position opposing the “Zionist entity”.

    To the extent that that’s a noteworthy shift, it’s at least a rhetorical de-escalation.

    **

    I look forward to any comments on this omission from Richard Landes, Will McCants, Jean-Pierre Filiu, Matthew Levitt, Aaron Zelin, Ibn Siqilli, Tim Furnish, Anne Marie Oliver, Paul Steinberg and others..

    Pro and Con, or squished?

    Monday, February 20th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — counterpoint: giving all voices a fair hearing. even when conflicting ]
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    I try to avoid taking political sides in American politics, partly because I’m a guest here and it seems only polite and wise to leave such matters to my hosts, and partly because bridge-building is the therapeutic method of choice in times of division and conflict. Keeping to a middle path may be something of a high-wire act, though, and is seldom popular wit those on either side.

    **

    I went looking for a quote that expresses the idea that this kind of middle way can get you killed, and my friends offered me a variety of possible items including Jim Hightower saying:

    There’s nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow stripe and dead armadillos.

    and Mr Miyagi:

    Squished!!

    **

    The most cerebral near-miss was this one, from Adam Gopnik writing about and quoting Camus in the New Yorker a while back:

    At the Liberation, he wrote (in Arthur Goldhammer’s translation):

    Now that we have won the means to express ourselves, our responsibility to ourselves and to the country is paramount. . . . The task for each of us is to think carefully about what he wants to say and gradually to shape the spirit of his paper; it is to write carefully without ever losing sight of the urgent need to restore to the country its authoritative voice. If we see to it that that voice remains one of vigor, rather than hatred, of proud objectivity and not rhetoric, of humanity rather than mediocrity, then much will be saved from ruin.

    Responsibility, care, gradualness, humanity—even at a time of jubilation, these are the typical words of Camus, and they were not the usual words of French political rhetoric. The enemy was not this side or that one; it was the abstraction of rhetoric itself. He wrote, “We have witnessed lying, humiliation, killing, deportation, and torture, and in each instance it was impossible to persuade the people who were doing these things not to do them, because they were sure of themselves, and because there is no way of persuading an abstraction.”

    and the most scriptural from Scott McW, Revelation 3.14-16:

    And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

    Michael Lotus supplied:

    There’s even a film (h/t Barbara Hope) titled In Danger and Dire Distress the Middle of the Road Leads to Death — though I haven’t seen it.

    **

    John Messer catches the perspective I’m coming from when he comments:

    One limitation perhaps is our framing of the challenge as a dichotomy rather than a 360 POV or perhaps a sphere of alternatives. In mediation one always looks for the unifying value that embraces all.

    It seems harder and harder to present both sides of en ever-more-violently polarized situation without taking fire from each side — so I’d ask you to read what follows (and my posts on similar topics) as attempts at that unifying balance, rather than as statements of my own preferences.. which do exist, and no doubt can be glimpsed, but are not what I’m trying to propagate with my writings, at least thus far..

    **

    Consider these two opinions of Trump aide Sebastian Gorka — each the opinion of a valued friend:

    and:

    It was F Scott Fitzgerald who said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

    Is there any room for a first-rate intelligence any more?

    **

    Or consider this juxtaposition as a DoubleQuote expression of a parallelism between Trump and Hitler:

    Is that fair comment or not?

    The two phrases are indeed close parallels –n but obviously the Nazi analogy is one that (a) members of the never Trump faction feel a strong urge to explore, and (b) which is liable to close the ears of the pro Trump faction to any logic it might possess.

    How do we hear both sides of so fraught an issue?

    **

    How do we retain awareness of that superbly humble and nuanced insight of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn?

    If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
    .
    During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name doesn’t change, and to that name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil.

    That’s the perspective I cherish.

    Please see also my follow-up post..


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