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Thursday, July 23
by Debashish on July 23, 2009 04:26PM (PDT)
Bruno Latour (1947-) is Professor and vice-president for research at the Institut d'études Politiques de Paris. Latour is a leading and very influential anthropologist of Modernity whose major contribution may be called holistic politcal epistemology. This, for Latour, is not a form of idealism, but what, following William James, he calls "radical empiricism." Latour is (in)famous for his pronouncement "We have never been modern." By this he means that the overarching hubris of modernity for human autonomy and mastery is a sub-narrative in a larger embeddedness in holistic properties which is only beginning to make its imperative critical demands on human attention. This emergence depends on the recognition of a change of telos and and a political epistemology of interdisciplinarity which takes humanity beyond itself into the fullness of global embodiment. In this essay, he reflects on environmentalism, society, technology and theology. - db more »
Thursday, July 2
by Rich on July 2, 2009 09:05PM (PDT)
The Phalange party in Lebanon represents an extremist faction of Maronite Christians in Lebanon that was modeled under the fascist parties of Spain, Italy and Germany. They serve also as the militia arm of a movement that marries the self-determination of Maronite Christians to self-determination of the nation of Lebanon. In some ways the Phalangist party mirrors those of Hindu nationalist parties such as the RSS or VHP in India, both claiming a long history of suffering under occupation, both fascist, both wishing to unify God, Nation and Family under a militarist banner that preserves national purity.
Under the watchful eyes of Ariel Sharon and the Israeli Military a Phalange militia committed one of the worst atrocities in the recent history of the Middle East the Sabra and Shatila massacres of many hundreds of Palistinian refugees, in revenge for the killing of their leader Bashir Gemayel.
The long struggle that the Maronites had for self determination, over some fifteen hundred years, in which they have suffered greatly at the hands of history has forged in them a strong national identity. While deserving much praise for their perseverance of identity as a “people”, the historical persistence of a collective identity, the inheritance of memory whose pain become ones own, is always a co-dependent arising with the “other” who one can demonize for inflicting suffering, the "other" on whom one can seek revenge.
A history of the Phalange party and the Maronite Christian community follows.... more »
Sunday, June 21
by Debashish on June 21, 2009 11:33AM (PDT)
"Unbeknownst even to some of its promoters, the creation of mental constructs . . . takes the place of attention to the advent of the Unpredictable. That is why the 'true' mystics are particularly suspicious and critical of what passes for 'presence'. They defend the inaccessibility they confront." - Michel de Certeau.
The writings of Michel de Certeau on mysticism are interdisciplinary, original and tantalizing. They draw on disciplines ranging from history, theology and spirituality to psychoanalysis, semiotics and cultural theory. While de Certeau concentrated on sixteenth and seventeenth-century French and Spanish spiritualities with their emphasis on 'spiritual experience', one of his most controversial views was that mysticism is not purely a matter of interiority but is a form of disruptive 'social practice'.
In a time of institutionalized comforts, of Integral Theory, Integral Religion and Integral Psychology, the caution of Michel de Certeau becomes more pressing than ever. De Certeau relates the rise of mysticism with social conditions which "possess" and displace experience within the language of orthodoxy. The science of 'mystics' he proposes is not so much a system of named experiences as a blueprint of praxis, a language of tactical retreat, a shifting map of recognized departures and social attitudes of refused identification. In this article, Philip Sheldrake, Vice-Principal and Academic Director of Saturn College, Salisbury and Honorary Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Wales, Lampeter, opens a window on de Certeau's studies and caveats on mysticism. more »
Monday, June 15
by Rich on June 15, 2009 01:46PM (PDT)
Several years ago the Esalen Institute sponsored a series of conferences on Fundamentalism. The next few post concern the conferences on Fundamentalism of the Abrahamic Faiths. First up Christian Fundamentalism.....
Hankins began by emphasizing the need to differentiate (in a way popular culture often fails to) evangelicals and fundamentalists. He joked that an evangelical is anyone who really likes Billy Graham, and a fundamentalist is an evangelical who is angry about something. More seriously, although there is a fair amount of truth in the joke, Hankins described fundamentalism as a late 19th and 20th century Christian reaction to the threat of theological modernism. Throughout the 19th century, as George Marsden has shown, most Anglophone Protestant Christians simply called themselves evangelicals, and this self-identification included the mainline denominations as well as new (holiness and premillennialist) revivalist groups. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, American evangelicalism had begun to polarize sharply between theological liberals and conservatives. Conservative Christians in this period found themselves increasingly troubled by two cultural phenomena. On the one hand, higher criticism imported from Germany had begun to question the integrity of the Scriptures by calling attention to literary techniques that suggested that many of the books of the Old and New Testaments were written far later than tradition had claimed, or by calling into question the presumed authorship of various books within the Bible (so, for example, the higher criticism denied that Moses authored Genesis through Deuteronomy, or more scandalously that a number of the New Testament letters attributed to Paul, such as 1 Timothy, were written by someone else). On the other hand, conservatives were troubled by some of the claims of modern science, particularly Darwin's claims that some saw as threatening or contradicting the Christian belief in God as Creator. The central issue in both of these challenges was the question of authority: where does authority reside for the Christian church? Theological modernists reacted to higher criticism and the challenge of Darwinism by saying that authority ultimately resided in experience. Conservatives, however, felt that the authority of the church resided pre-eminently in her scriptures. As the 19th century drew to a close, the difference between the modernists and their emphasis on experience and the conservatives with their belief in the authority of scripture continued to widen and threatened to break.
The pre-history of the fundamentalist movement really gets underway with the extravagant publishing venture of Milton and Lyman Stewart, the millionaire brothers behind Union Oil Company of California (today known as UNOCAL). Between 1910 and 1915, the Stewarts commissioned and published 12 volumes known as The Fundamentals, which defended such positions as the virgin birth and the literal resurrection of Jesus, and attacked the assumptions of higher criticism. The Stewarts financed the project extravagantly so that the volumes could be distributed without charge to every pastor, missionary, theologian, Sunday school superintendent, college professor, and so on, throughout the English speaking world. Three million volumes were distributed in all. This bold and aggressive publishing campaign not only gave its name, but also bequeathed its character to the Fundamentalist movement that arose in its wake, which is why George Marsden describes Fundamentalism as the "militant defense of traditionalist Protestantism."
Hankins explained how World War I exasperated the divide within Christianity between theological modernists and the emerging Fundamentalist movement. Though it is not often remembered today, it was theological liberals and progressive Christians who championed the United States' involvement in World War I, while conservative (especially, pre-millennialist) Christians called for restraint. The horrors of the war however, radicalized the positions of everyone involved, and conservatives soon felt that they saw something far more insidious than a merely political conflict. They began to feel that Germany, which had once been the land of Luther, had degenerated under the influence of modernism, into an overly militaristic and Nietzschean nation. Traditionalists argued that even though the United States might win the land war, it was in danger of losing the battle with German culture and so they connected the triumph of theological liberalism (which had its roots in German higher criticism) with the cultural annihilation of America itself. more »
Friday, June 12
by Rich on June 12, 2009 04:58PM (PDT)
In this corner, philosopher Slavoj Žižek, who represents the critical-materialist stance against religion's illusions; in the other corner, "radical orthodox" theologian John Milbank, an influential and provocative thinker who argues that theology is the only foundation upon which knowledge, politics, and ethics can stand. In The Monstrosity of Christ, Žižek and Milbank go head to head for three rounds, employing an impressive arsenal of moves to advance their positions and press their respective advantages. By the closing bell, they have proven themselves worthy adversaries--and have also shown that faith and reason are not simply and intractably opposed.
Žižek has long been interested in the emancipatory potential offered by Christian theology. And Milbank, seeing global capitalism as the new century's greatest ethical challenge, has pushed his own ontology in more political and materialist directions. Their debate in The Monstrosity of Christ concerns nothing less than the future of religion, secularity, and political hope in light of a monsterful event—God becoming human. For the first time since Žižek's turn toward theology, we have a true debate between an atheist and a theologian about the very meaning of theology, Christ, the Church, the Holy Ghost, universality, and the foundations of logic. The result goes far beyond the popularized atheist/theist point/counterpoint of recent books by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and others.
Žižek begins, and Milbank answers, countering dialectics with "paradox." The debate centers on the nature of and relation between paradox and parallax, between analogy and dialectics, between transcendent glory and liberation.... more »
Saturday, April 25
by Rich on April 25, 2009 10:54AM (PDT)
Reference: 100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution
This post actually addresses two issues that have been recently on the blog: evolution and fundamentalism. One thing apparent in this clip is the intransigence of the fundamentalist stance regards engaging in dialog with points of view that may challenge their own, the absolute certainty they inject into their belief systems, and their conviction that they speak for God. more »
Thursday, April 10
by Ron on April 10, 2008 03:29PM (PDT)
Imho, this is an important article about the pluses and minuses of religion, an interview with a former nun who has had many deep experiences of what she writes. Highly recommended. ~ ronjon
Karen Armstrong is a one-woman publishing industry, the author of nearly 20 books on religion. When her breakthrough book "A History of God" appeared in 1993, this British writer quickly became known as one of the world's leading historians of spiritual matters. Her work displays a wide-ranging knowledge of religious traditions -- from the monotheistic religions to Buddhism. What's most remarkable is how she carved out this career for herself after rejecting a life in the church.
At 17, Armstrong became a Catholic nun. She left the convent after seven years of torment. "I had failed to make a gift of myself to God," she wrote in her recent memoir, "The Spiral Staircase." While she despaired over never managing to feel the presence of God, Armstrong also bristled at the restrictive life imposed by the convent, which she described in her first book, "Through the Narrow Gate." When she left in 1969, she had never heard of the Beatles or the Vietnam War, and she'd lost her faith in God. ... more »
Sunday, March 23
by Ron on March 23, 2008 12:45PM (PDT)
Mary Magdalene has finally begun to regain her rightful place in history, after being portrayed in church history for centuries as a penitent prostitute. In 591 AD Pope Gregory pronounced that Mary Magdalene, Mary the sinner, and Mary of Bethany from the gospels were one in the same. But there has never been evidence of that, and in 1969 the Catholic Church restored them to three separate identities, ending 14 centuries of mischaracterization. ...
Friday, December 14
by Ron on December 14, 2007 03:35PM (PST)
I've taken the liberty of transcribing the following passages from the remarkable book Jesus and the Lost Goddess, by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy. I highly recommend purchasing and studying this book. Reading it is like a moist vivifying breeze in the scorched lifeless desert of deadly strife between cults of religious fanatics who each believe they alone worship the true God. It documents the horrifying behavior of the misogynous and patriarchal Roman Church and the self-serving lies and propaganda its repressed male leaders have been spreading for two thousand years in their attempt to exterminate Sophia, the divine Goddess of Wisdom and Gnosis. I've felt for years that the RC Church was more Roman than Christian, this book substantiates that intuition with an illuminating compendium of well-referenced scholarship. ~ ronjon
...For the original Christians, the Jesus story was a myth used to introduce beginners to the spiritual path. For those wishing to go deeper than the 'Outer Mysteries', which were only 'for the masses', there were secret teachings or 'Inner Mysteries'. These were 'the secret teaching of true Gnosis' which, according to the 'Church Father' Clement of Alexandria, were transmitted 'to a small number by a succession of masters'. Those initiated into these Inner Mysteries discovered that Christianity was not just about the dying and resurrecting Son of God. They were told another myth that few Christians today have even heard of – the story of Jesus' lover, the lost and redeemed Daughter of the Goddess.
Amongst the original Christians the divine was seen as having both a masculine and feminine face. The related to the Divine Feminine as Sophia, the wise Goddess. Paul tells us, 'Among the initiates we speak of Sophia', for it is 'the secret of Sophia' that is 'taught in our Mysteries'. When initiates of the Inner Mysteries of Christianity partook of Holy Communion, it was Sophia's passion and suffering they remembered. Amongst the original Christians, priests and priestesses would offer initiates wine as a symbol of 'her blood'. The prayer would be offered: 'May Sophia fill your inner being and increase in you her Gnosis.' ... more »
Thursday, December 13
by Ron on December 13, 2007 02:00AM (PST)
The following article is from Vol 1, No 2 (2007) of SCIY Editor Ulrich J. Mohroff's superb new journal: Anti-Matters, which I'll introduce in the next SCIY article. ~ ronjon
The question we have to consider in this essay is whether Jesus, regarded as the founder of the Christian religion, actually believed in the God of the Jews or in any God in Heaven and thus divided reality into two worlds. The writers of the four gospels seem to think he did, and the churches both Catholic and Protestant, deriving their doctrines largely from these gospels, follow this view. The gospel writers were naturally influenced by the popular Jewish religious sentiment of the time as well as by prevalent pagan Greek and Egyptian eschatological beliefs. Their writings reflect the feelings and mirror the beliefs of the ordinary man the soldier, merchant, artisan, slave living in a world of differentiation, division, hostility and discord. To the simple man whose mental capacities denied him a wider, more penetrating vision, this division was the reality, the truth. Did Jesus also subscribe to this idea of the world, or is there proof to the contrary? Was he a dualist, a believer in two realities and two worlds: this one here, and another above or was he a monist, a man to whom reality was one unitary, organic whole?
...Most Christians are acquainted with those sayings in John's gospel which explain reality from a monistic point of view, such as the famous John 17:22: "And the glory (of oneness) which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, as we are one." But in addition to these famous words there is a whole collection of monistic sayings of Jesus which the church literally dropped under the table. What kind of work is this Gospel according to Thomas, which is officially regarded as "apocryphal," unauthentic, not admitted to the New Testament canon? ... more »
Friday, October 5
by Ron on October 5, 2007 12:30PM (PDT)
Thanks to Koantum for recommending this article and for posting it in his online journal Koantum Matters.
... Leaving aside all the metaphysics and mythology and mumbo jumbo, what contemplatives and mystics over the millennia claim to have discovered is that there is an alternative to merely living at the mercy of the next neurotic thought that comes careening into consciousness. There is an alternative to being continuously spellbound by the conversation we are having with ourselves. ...
As someone who has made his own modest efforts in this area, let me assure you, that when a person goes into solitude and trains himself in meditation for 15 or 18 hours a day, for months or years at a time, in silence, doing nothing else—not talking, not reading, not writing—just making a sustained moment to moment effort to merely observe the contents of consciousness and to not get lost in thought, he experiences things that most scientists and artists are not likely to have experienced, unless they have made precisely the same efforts at introspection. And these experiences have a lot to say about the plasticity of the human mind and about the possibilities of human happiness.
So, apart from just commending these phenomena to your attention, I’d like to point out that, as atheists, our neglect of this area of human experience puts us at a rhetorical disadvantage. Because millions of people have had these experiences, and many millions more have had glimmers of them, and we, as atheists, ignore such phenomena, almost in principle, because of their religious associations—and yet these experiences often constitute the most important and transformative moments in a person’s life. Not recognizing that such experiences are possible or important can make us appear less wise even than our craziest religious opponents. ...
A Review of Dipesh Chakrabarty's "Provincializing Europe" by Amit Chaudhuri (London Review of Books) Debashish
AntiMatters vol 3 no 4 is out koantum
Classicism, post-classicism and Ranjabati Sircar’s work: re-defining the terms of Indian contemporary dance discourses by Alessandra Lopez y Royo Debashish
LACMA 111909 - Debashish Banerji Debashish
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler