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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Pantheism
Posted: March 31, 2020 at 6:15 am
As a word maven, I am enjoying something during all the stories about the novel Coronavirus pandemic. I am enjoying the use of the specific, but previously rare, word "pandemic" itself.
On the other hand, I'm reluctant to write that we're "in the middle of" a pandemic -- not because I'm worried about the word pandemic, but I'm worried about "in the middle." It always reminds me of my mother, who did a lot of sewing. When she needed to cut two things from a piece of fabric, she wanted to find the middle. To do that, she would hold one end of the fabric. I would hold the other and bring it up to her hands. Then we knew where the middle was, the same distance from both ends. Without knowing the end, how can you say we're in the middle? (I get the same way about "middle age.")
But at least I'm hearing the word pandemic, not just epidemic. My old faithful dictionary, Webster's New Twentieth Century, second edition, calls pandemic "a type of epidemic that affects large numbers, whole communities, or the majority of a place at the same time." Epidemic is "a disease prevalent in a locality, an epidemic disease; also, the rapid spreading of such a disease."
The prefix pan- is defined on Dictionary.com as "a combining form meaning all, occurring originally in loanwords from Greek (panacea; panoply), but now used freely as a general formative (panleukopenia; panorama; pantelegraph; pantheism; pantonality), and especially in terms, formed at will, implying the union of all branches of a group (Pan-Christian; Panhellenic; Pan-Slavism)."
So a pandemic is an epidemic affecting us all, or the majority of a place.
The majority of a planet, perhaps?
Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook. Stop by for a socially distanced visit.
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What's the difference between pandemic and epidemic? - ChicagoNow
Posted: March 24, 2020 at 5:42 am
Biography 21/03/20 Porfiry Ivanov: what Stalin said the main freak of the USSR
a Famous preacher of a healthy lifestyle Porfiry Ivanov the person ambiguous. Some thought him a prophet, and someone was called a quack. One is obvious: his work has always evoked interest among ordinary citizens and the authorities.
From the scammer to the enlightened
the Initial phase of the biography of the future teachers of the people, is unremarkable. Born in 1898 to a large family, graduated from the class 4 parochial school, 12 years worked, sometimes hunted theft. In 1917, Porphyria was called to war, but with the armistice it did not get to the front.
the Revolution Ivanov fully supported: actively participated in collectivization, the demolished Church, expressed itself in Civil, having derailed an enemy train and burnt down the British plane. And then raised the country: mining and logging, factories and Railways, while finding time to play cards for money, repeatedly losing large sums. In 1928 he became a candidate member of the CPSU(b), but was soon convicted of fraud after 11 months out on PAROLE.
At the age of 35 years, the doctors found a Ivanov an inoperable tumor on his arm. Deciding to bring to life scores, he stripped out in the cold. However, long exposure to cold had no effect on the health of Ivanov. He continued the experiments on his own body, every day to be drenched in ice water. And a miracle happened: instead of a lethal outcome porphyry is completely healed from all ailments.
a Watershed episode in the life of Ivanov began on 25 April 1933. I sat night for the books and for a moment forgot tired, I saw in a dream a beautiful view of a man who boldly walked through the snow completely naked. From this picture I woke up all excited, and this image became an example for me and the goal, recalled the time hisgo insight the future healer.
Ivanov is heavily engaged in self-education: read Marx, Engels, Lenin, listened to lectures on health and longevity, while continuing hardening of the body. Gradually began to Mature their own concept of harmonious living, which will be the basis for Kids. Its essence is that power, politics, religion, money, comfort, pleasure does not make people happy, because the true value of life is the man himself, and his unity with Nature. But the Central idea of the doctrine of Ivanov was the achievement of physical immortality.
In November-December 1936, in Moscow was held the VIII extraordinary Congress of Soviets, which accepted the new Constitution. Walking these days on red square, people could not help but notice a half-naked barefoot man, who was trying to break the Kremlin walls. Of course, they immediately became interested in police officers: it was none other than porphyry Ivanov, who set out to convince parliamentary colleagues to consider in the main document of the country the rights of those who have been found mentally ill.
the Troublemaker was immediately taken to the Lubyanka, where he personally spoke to Beria. Apparently not finding in the personality and actions of a visitor threatening anything, he was admitted to Stalins office. The chief himself volunteered to get acquainted with a strange Walker. In addition to Stalin in conversation was attended by Voroshilov and Kalinin, covered guest with questions about his strange approach to human health. Silent only Stalin. However, in parting, according to Ivanov, he said: Make man will not make you die, like everyone else.
the Great Patriotic war, Porfiry Ivanov met in the town of Krasny Sulin, Rostov region, still continuing to walk the streets in shorts. In the autumn of 1942 came to the city, German troops here for some time housed the headquarters of the commander of the 6th army of Friedrich Paulus. The soldiers of the Wehrmacht brought eccentric bearded man to the General. Ivanov entered with a future FelMarsala in the discussion, explaining to him the futility of this war. He asked me, Who wins? I said, Stalin, said Ivanov later. Goodbye Paulus gave this strange Russian stamp paper, which stated that the bearer is not touched as it is interest to science.
However, despite the protectorate of Paulus, the Gestapo still detained Ivanova, suspecting him as a partisan-saboteur. Three weeks felt it was doused in the cold cold water was locked up for the night in the barn, buried in the snow. And he though that itself sings obscene ditties and Church hymns.
In 1957 the Soviet Union held another campaign against religious cults and mysticism. Authorities have busted all: psychics, sorcerers, fortunetellers, magicians, folk healers. Got under the hot hand and Porfiry Ivanov.
And what is your treatment?, asked the detainee investigator. He explained to him about the human interaction with the land, the rules of temper and purity of thought, the harm of Smoking and the benefits of fasting days. Interrogation gradually turned into a debate, and the severe policeman was softened. In his eyes was not a drop of guile. And conceit at the time, did not notice. I was filled with the sincerity of Porfiry Korneyevich and dont regret it No guilt for it does not find he wrote later led the interrogation of Colonel Vladimir Vinogradov.
Not a prison, so the hospital
the Soviet authorities never found something to complain about in the folk healer Ivanov, but domestic psychiatrists found him as their client. In 1935, Ivanov was in a psychiatric hospital in Rostov-on-don, where he was brought by police after arrest in the city market, where hes in his underpants propagated his teachings. In a medical Ivanov has appeared the entry schizophrenia and the expert Commission awarded him the document invalid. It is for this reason he fought during the great Patriotic war.
In the 1960-ies porphyry Ivanoin gave a new reason for doctors to put themselves in a mental hospital. He publicly stated that he taken an active part in the flight of Gagarin into space, helping the Americans to return from the moon to the Earth, but most importantly preventing the outbreak of a Third world war. At the Institute of forensic psychiatry them. Serbian, he was found insane, only noting the previous diagnosis of chronic mental disorder in the form of schizophrenia. A total of porphyry Ivanov spent in psychiatric hospitals Moscow, Leningrad, Odessa, Kazan and Rostov 12 years, experienced the full power of the Soviet punitive medicine.
the Life of Porfiry Ivanov entered a relatively quiet channel only in 1971, when the faithful disciples on the farm Top Andruchi built a teachers house. Here he is next to the assistant Valentina Sukharevskaya spent the last 7 years of my life, taking people who need healing. In 1979, about Porfirii Ivanov made a documentary, in the same year, it published an article in the journal technology youth. He has become a recognizable and respected man in the country.
Alas, to achieve immortality teacher of the people failed. He died on 86-m to year of life, even after death he remained faithful to his ideas: his colleagues, following the will of the mentor within three days watered the lifeless body with cold water.
Between sectarianism and messianism
Doctrine created by Porfiry Ivanov, has both loyal supporters and staunch opponents. Some consider it hardly probable not the Messiah, proclaiming a new era of humanity, the other an ignoramus and a charlatan. However, it should be recognized that the method of healing, developed by Ivanov, despite its criticism, effective. Thousands of people she helped to heal the disease, to cope with whom the official medicine was not.
For example, one of the Ivanovo, Moscow engineer Anatoliy Trush writes that he did not get out of hospitals and clinics, and its covered diagnoses medical record weighed a pound. But after PRobsheniya to the system of Ivanova he got rid of colds and has fully recovered seemingly lost hearing.
However, the researchers attention is more directed not at the practical side of the teachings of Porfiry Ivanov, and ideological. It is often identified with the religious movement, which incorporates a rich mix of neo-paganism and nekrestyanova and find in common with the traditions of Taoism, Buddhism and yoga. Theologian and doctor of philosophical Sciences Sergey Ivanenko sees Ivanovs doctrine of the elements of sectarianism playing a destructive role in relation to the individual, society and the state.
a Historian of philosophy, spiritual and material culture of Ancient Russia Vladimir Milkov notes that for all his pantheism Porfiriy not contrasted their ideas of Christianity, but was free from its dogmas. Ivanov personal example called for openness, benevolence, covetousness, moderation of consumption. But no wonder they say good intentions paved the road to hell. The enemy of creation of the idols he the end of life has become the object of deification and worship.
Source: Russian Seven
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Porfiry Ivanov: what Stalin said the main freak of the USSR - International Law Lawyer News
Posted: March 5, 2020 at 6:08 pm
Do you feel a deep sense of peace, belonging, gratitude and wonder in Nature or under a clear night sky? Then you may be a scientific pantheist.Scientific pantheism focuses on saving the planet rather than saving souls. It respects the rights of humans, and also of all living beings. It encourages you to make the most and best of your one life here.It values reason and the scientific method over adherence to ancient scriptures. Take our popular quiz to find out if it suits you:-Are you Atheist, Agnostic, Pagan, Deist, Pantheist or What?
We relate closely to some of the central challenges of our era. At a time when the balance of our Earth is under unprecedented threat, scientific pantheism is one of the few forms of spirituality in which Nature plays a central part. For us, Nature is a source of peace and beauty, as well as the focus for our care and vigilance. Nature was not created for us to use or abuse. Nature created us, we are an inseparable part of her. We have a duty to live sustainably, to care for Nature and to halt and reverse the harm that humans have done to her.
Scientific pantheism is the only form of spirituality we know of which fully embraces science as part of the human exploration of Earth and Cosmos. We wonder at the picture of a vast, creative and often violent Universerevealed by the Hubble Space Telescope. We regard stargazing as a spiritual practice. We oppose climate change denial and evolution denial, especially in education.
Scientific pantheism has a joyous affirmative approach to life. It has a healthy and positive attitude to sex and life in the body. We wont tell you what you should be smoking or doing in the bedroom. We fully accept diverse gender choices, and we oppose all forms of discrimination.
Scientific pantheism moves beyond God and defines itself by positives.Atheism and Agnosticism both define themselves negatively, in relation to a God that they deny or doubt. These are useful starting points but they dont take us very far. Most people also need positive beliefs and feelings about their place in Nature and the wider Universe. We take Nature and the Universe as our start and finish point, not some preconceived idea of God. We do not believe in a supernatural creator god who watches or judges us. Most of us avoid god-language or religious words like church, worship, divinity and so on. We regard them as misleading. Some of us do like these words, but they use them metaphorically, in a similar way to how Einstein used the word.
Get the Scientific Pantheism handbook.
Our beliefs and values are summarized in our Pantheist Statement of Principles.The statement was drawn up by fallible humans. It is not required dogma it is simply a notice on our door, to show what we are about so people can decide if it suits them or if they want to learn more.These are the key elements:
Many people feel the need to belong to a religious community. Research shows that such groups provide mutual support and friends and are good for physical and mental health. Theres no good reason why groups of like-minded non-theistic folk should not enjoy similar benefits.
In the WPM we are spiritual but not religious. We dont have churches, priests, or prescribed dogma and rituals. But we do aim to provide a home base for people who love Nature and the Universe and do not believe in supernatural entities.
Two of the major benefits our members and friends say they value are gaining new like-minded friends and finding a place where they can share their enthusiasms without fear of being ostracized or feeling isolated. There have been many local meetings of members across the USA and in other parts of the world, where people have found a rare level of fellowship and stimulation.
The WPMs short term goals are to:
In the longer term, as resources permit, we hope to:
If you would like to help promote these goals, please consider becoming a WPM member. Volunteering is another great way of supporting the WPM.
All who agree with our principles are encouraged to join our Facebook page (with more than 160,000 fans), or join our Facebook discussion groupwith more than 10,000 members.
We use the name pantheism because the term encompasses a long and venerable history dating back to Heraclitus and Marcus Aurelius and extending to Einstein, D. H. Lawrence and beyond.
Our beliefs (see the Statement of Principles) are entirely compatible with atheism, humanism, agnosticism, universalism, and symbolic paganism (viewing magic, gods and spirits as symbols rather than objective realities). We offer a home to all forms of naturalistic spirituality however you may choose to label it. Other paths that approximate include philosophical Taoism, modern Stoicism, Western forms of Buddhism that celebrate Nature and daily life without supernatural beliefs, and Unitarian Universalists who do not believe in supernatural beings.
You are free to adopt the terms and practices you prefer and draw on other traditions for inspiration or celebration. Some call this a religion (a positive one), while others call it a philosophy, a way of life, or a form of general spirituality. Its up to you.
Please explore our pages. If you have any questions, please contact us.
Read more here:
World Pantheism Revering the Universe, Caring for Nature ...
Posted: at 6:08 pm
Freeman Dyson, the theoretical physicist who worked with such luminaries as Richard Feynman, Hans Bethe and Edward Teller among others, died last week at age 96. This brilliant scientist never earned a PhD, a fact he was very proud of, and he was never awarded a Nobel Prize. During World War II, he worked for the Royal Air Forces Bomber command to calculate the most effective bombing strategies. After the war he obtained a BA degree in mathematics from Trinity College, Cambridge.
He came to the U.S. at age 23 and began making an impact in physics by helping to unify quantum and electrodynamic theories into QED using Feynman diagrams. Some think this should have earned him a Nobel Prize in physics. J. Robert Oppenheimer gave Dyson a lifetime appointment at the Institute for Advanced Study starting in 1952. Unlike other physicists, he was not content to remain on one topic and plumb its depths. His interests ranged widely from mathematics to fundamental physics to space travel (Project Orion) to the origin of life to climate science. He discussed these topics in over a dozen books he authored.
Over the years, Dyson came to be known as a contrarian and even called himself subversive. He hated consensus thinking in science. I think it makes sense that a mathematical genius like Dyson should not be swayed by herd thinking. And, he was not afraid of expressing his views on non-scientific topics, including war, politics, rural poverty, and religion. He sometimes had quirky ways of approaching questions of science and policy. For example, his rejection of string theory, and his opposition to the superconducting supercollider and space telescope derive from his resistance to Big Science.
I share many of Dysons interests and even a few of the stances he took. Ill focus on two here: climate change and intelligent design.
Dyson conducted climate research starting in the 1970s. He was aware of both the power and the limitations of climate models. In 2005 he began to publicly criticize the modern consensus on climate change/global warming and its effects, calling it an obsession and a worldwide secular religion. He described Al Gore as its chief propagandist. He believed that, on balance, rising carbon dioxide levels would likely be beneficial, due to its fertilization effects. This is an idea well supported by the evidence (see here and here). Not surprisingly, he was criticized for his stance. Another leading American physicist with similar views is William Happer.
As far as I know, Dyson never explicitly endorsed intelligent design, using precisely this phrase. However, I think it is clear from his writings that he did believe that nature is imbued with purpose. He wrote in Disturbing the Universe (1979), quotingJacquesMonod:
The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in universes unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. I answer no. I believe in the covenant. It is true that we emerged in the universe by chance, but the idea of chance is itself only a cover for our ignorance. I do not feel like an alien in this universe. The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming. (p. 250)
He then goes on to describe several examples of fine-tuning in physics and cosmology known at the time. (For an updated treatment, see A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos.) He continues:
I conclude from these accidents of physics and astronomy that the universe is an unexpectedly hospitable place for living creatures to make their home in. Being a scientist, trained in the habits of thought and language of the twentieth century rather than the eighteenth, I do not claim that the architecture of the universe proves the existence of God. I claim only that the architecture of the universe is consistent with the hypothesis that mind plays an essential role in its functioning. (p. 251)
In his acceptance speech for the Templeton Prize in 2000, he said:
My personal theology is described in the Gifford lectures that I gave at Aberdeen in Scotland in 1985, published under the title, Infinite In All Directions. Here is a brief summary of my thinking. The universe shows evidence of the operations of mind on three levels. The first level is elementary physical processes, as we see them when we study atoms in the laboratory. The second level is our direct human experience of our own consciousness. The third level is the universe as a whole. Atoms in the laboratory are weird stuff, behaving like active agents rather than inert substances. They make unpredictable choices between alternative possibilities according to the laws of quantum mechanics. It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom. The universe as a whole is also weird, with laws of nature that make it hospitable to the growth of mind. I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension. God may be either a world-soul or a collection of world-souls. So I am thinking that atoms and humans and God may have minds that differ in degree but not in kind. We stand, in a manner of speaking, midway between the unpredictability of atoms and the unpredictability of God. Atoms are small pieces of our mental apparatus, and we are small pieces of Gods mental apparatus. Our minds may receive inputs equally from atoms and from God. This view of our place in the cosmos may not be true, but it is compatible with the active nature of atoms as revealed in the experiments of modern physics. I dont say that this personal theology is supported or proved by scientific evidence. I only say that it is consistent with scientific evidence. [Emphasis added.]
In these quotes and in others writings, Dyson was careful to take an open-minded approach: not fully endorsing design, yet not rejecting it either. Follow the evidence; prepare to be surprised.
Dysons personal theology is certainly unusual, a species of scientific theology similar to Frank Tiplers with elements of pantheism (if you want to put labels on it). He called himself a practicing Christian but not a believing Christian. His heterodox religious views fit well with his iconoclastic scientific thinking. Of course, none of this matters much when it comes to the concept of intelligent design, since the locus of the designing intelligence is not so important as the fact that there is one.
Photo: Freeman Dyson in 2007, by Monroem / CC BY-SA.
Originally posted here:
Freeman Dyson: The Passing of an Iconoclastic Physicist - Discovery Institute
Posted: February 27, 2020 at 2:11 am
Pantheism, the doctrine that the universe conceived of as a whole is God and, conversely, that there is no God but the combined substance, forces, and laws that are manifested in the existing universe. The cognate doctrine of panentheism asserts that God includes the universe as a part though not the whole of his being.
Both pantheism and panentheism are terms of recent origin, coined to describe certain views of the relationship between God and the world that are different from that of traditional theism. As reflected in the prefix pan- (Greek pas, all), both of the terms stress the all-embracing inclusiveness of God, as compared with his separateness as emphasized in many versions of theism. On the other hand, pantheism and panentheism, since they stress the theme of immanencei.e., of the indwelling presence of Godare themselves versions of theism conceived in its broadest meaning. Pantheism stresses the identity between God and the world, panentheism (Greek en, in) that the world is included in God but that God is more than the world.
The adjective pantheist was introduced by the Irish Deist John Toland in the book Socinianism Truly Stated (1705). The noun pantheism was first used in 1709 by one of Tolands opponents. The term panentheism appeared much later, in 1828. Although the terms are recent, they have been applied retrospectively to alternative views of the divine being as found in the entire philosophical traditions of both East and West.
Pantheism and panentheism can be explored by means of a three-way comparison with traditional or classical theism viewed from eight different standpointsi.e., from those of immanence or transcendence; of monism, dualism, or pluralism; of time or eternity; of the world as sentient or insentient; of God as absolute or relative; of the world as real or illusory; of freedom or determinism; and of sacramentalism or secularism.
The poetic sense of the divine within and around human beings, which is widely expressed in religious life, is frequently treated in literature. It is present in the Platonic Romanticism of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as well as in Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Expressions of the divine as intimate rather than as alien, as indwelling and near dwelling rather than remote, characterize pantheism and panentheism as contrasted with classical theism. Such immanence encourages the human sense of individual participation in the divine life without the necessity of mediation by any institution. On the other hand, it may also encourage a formless enthusiasm, without the moderating influence of institutional forms. In addition, some theorists have seen an unseemliness about a point of view that allows the divine to be easily confronted and appropriated. Classical theism has, in consequence, held to the transcendence of God, his existence over and beyond the universe. Recognizing, however, that if the separation between God and the world becomes too extreme, humanity risks the loss of communication with the divine, panentheismunlike pantheism, which holds to the divine immanencemaintains that the divine can be both transcendent and immanent at the same time.
Philosophies are monistic if they show a strong sense of the unity of the world, dualistic if they stress its twoness, and pluralistic if they stress its manyness. Pantheism is typically monistic, finding in the worlds unity a sense of the divine, sometimes related to the mystical intuition of personal union with God; classical theism is dualistic in conceiving God as separated from the world and mind from body; and panentheism is typically monistic in holding to the unity of God and the world, dualistic in urging the separateness of Gods essence from the world, and pluralistic in taking seriously the multiplicity of the kinds of beings and events making up the world. One form of pantheism, present in the early stages of Greek philosophy, held that the divine is one of the elements in the world whose function is to animate the other elements that constitute the world. This point of view, called Hylozoistic (Greek hyl, matter, and z, life) pantheism, is not monistic, as are most other forms of pantheism, but pluralistic.
Most, but not all, forms of pantheism understand the eternal God to be in intimate juxtaposition with the world, thus minimizing time or making it illusory. Classical theism holds that eternity is in God and time is in the world but believes that, since Gods eternity includes all of time, the temporal process now going on in the world has already been completed in God. Panentheism, on the other hand, espouses a temporaleternal God who stands in juxtaposition with a temporal world; thus, in panentheism, the temporality of the world is not cancelled out, and time retains its reality.
Every philosophy must take a stand somewhere on a spectrum running from a concept of things as unfeeling matter to one of things as psychic or sentient. Materialism holds to the former extreme, and Panpsychism to the latter. Panpsychism offers a vision of reality in which to exist is to be in some measure sentient and to sustain social relations with other entities. Dualism, holding that reality consists of two fundamentally different kinds of entity, stands again between two extremes. A few of the simpler forms of pantheism support materialism. Panentheism and most forms of pantheism, on the other hand, tend toward Panpsychism. But there are differences of degree, and though classical theism tends toward dualism, even there the insentient often has a tinge of panpsychism.
Pantheism | Britannica
Posted: January 28, 2020 at 8:45 am
Regarding todays dominant Facebook/iPhone digital connective culture, conservative New York Times editorialist Bret Stephens critiques the impact of our eras instant communication and endless websites. Far from increasing important knowledge to enhance personal prosperity and individual happiness, we swim like homeless hominids in this digital connective culture (DCC) that causes "a kind of shallowing of our inner life," according to Stephens (see 4.1.1. Books).
Im a backcountry hiker and outdoor columnist, and lately have followed John Ruskins sublime footsteps into wild nature seeking repeated deep time episodes. In repetitive forest bathing hikes, one finds urban detox, mental rejuvenation and those crucial oceanic feelings that rewild the spirit. Rewilding, juvenescence, forest immersion, hill-country music and awe-stricken moments surrounded by Earths green beauty absolutely will compel a mental reawakening. We need new terms or new word combinations to describe the postmodern ennui and depressions sprouting all around us in the Anthropocenes harrowing DCC.
Shallowing is not actually a word, but Stephens neologism fits a new concept demanded by the infowars and "fake news" of this early Anthropocene. Like juvenescence, adjacentcy and forest bathing, the shallowing description helps me figure out whats going awry in so many westerners spirit-lives (see 4.1.1. for adjacentcy). Depression and deteriorating mental health among millennials certainly terrify everyone in America today.
The vast and ever-expanding Internet "meridians" apparently cover everything there is, but this proto neural membrane is also incredibly thin so while we know more and more and also more quickly, its usually about less and less. As a world culture, weve fallen into left-brain overspecialization again. (I covered left-brain vs. right-brain neurologies in my recent column.)
Inner resilience emerges out of the outdoor interludes that humans truly require. We can follow the animistic example of our Stone Age ancestors, and especially as urbanization/digitalization/optimization race ever onward. When your life is one of constant optimization, youre never free and you can never fully relax, as eloquent millennial Jia Tolentino points out describing todays ideal woman of the DCC
good looks, the impression of indefinitely extended youth, advanced skillsof self-presentation and self-surveillance. The ideal woman, in otherwords, is always optimizing. She takes advantage of technology. Herhair looks expensive. She spends lots of money taking care of her skin The same is true of her body. it has been pre-shaped by exercise thatensures there is little to conceal or rearrange. Everything about thiswoman has been preemptively controlled to the point that she canafford the impression of spontaneity .
Similarly, most adult humans, especially the mournful millennials, must relearn Stone Age ways I strongly recommend a process of rewilding the mind and spirit. Neo-animism (my neologism) simply means re-enchanting the world and holding off the de-animating digital destruction. The process commences with simple outings in or near green nature; its what I pushed in "Eternal Backcountry Return" (constant walking). Millennials, Gen-Xers, boomers, weve all got to re-valuate the manifest advantages in paleo thinking.
This curative process embodies the call for a renewed animism for the Anthropocene Ive dubbed this way of thinking neo-animism. The inanimate is indubitably as alive in those holy boulders shown in another column as in the dancing bees buzzing about my face. The ancient Mesopotamians even worshipped the life-force in Salt (their famous Hymn to Salt prayer), although left-brainers see only the NaCl formula. The left brains revenge on the right brain is to suffocate the wide-angle communal viewpoint.
In our collective shallowing, weve lost the appreciation for the life and life-giving force in natures inanimate stone artifacts, including mountains and exotic canyons. Perhaps it is less a shallowing than an extraordinary widening that some minds cannot comprehend or stretch to. If everything is indeed alive, then the individuals cosmos feels very different to her than in our hyper-kinetic speedy DCC.
If a reader struggles with the interpretation offered in the idea of living boulders in the field near Hurricane Deck, or seeking wisdom in places, then she should realize she might profit from extended forest bathing jaunts as she begins the neo-animism process.
After postmodernism comes post-humanism, and with the latter my neo-animism emerges as a necessary corollary.
In neo-animism, we conjure the image of the natural world working on us humans, not the other way round. Guardian columnist George Monbiot argues for a radical political rewilding that can mirror natures own rewilding processes. Rewilding allowing dynamic, spontaneous organization to reassert itself leads to organic complexity, and need not be exclusively top-down the way our politics are today (Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, President Trump, Kim Jong-un, Mark Zuckerberg).
Bruno Latour argues that were all actually climate skeptics: Whatever our intentions, we all act as if climate change is not real. In the same vein, most of us live our lives in some child-like state where we all act as if human life isnt time-limited. However, human lives are indeed time-limited as Buddha constantly said, and refusing to honor this crucial condition makes us weak, and also sometimes violent.
My neo-animism resembles an eco-theism where the actual planet Gaia is our church/temple/mosque (a kind of pantheism). The demands in "Facing Gaia" form a moral imperative and enhance a novel mode of experience. In a new politics for this human-created Anthropocene Era, neo-animism joins with radical post-humanism to ask fundamental questions of us, like:
Shouldnt there be fewer people?
Should 90 percent of the humongous herds of cows and pigs be culled (killed off)?
Why not rewild locally by returning grizzly bears to the San Rafael Wilderness?
How can humans accord natural rights to the evolved animals on this Gaia?
The 19th century Romantic right-brain view of physical nature was replaced by the left-brain dominant scientific view that justified any activity to wrest more value (resources) from Gaias rich body. This Industrial Age left-brain dominance allies seamlessly with the DCC today, and thus fosters that shallowing of so many human minds and imaginations.
The first step in resisting the corrosive DCC is to buy sturdy shoes or boots, and begin a regular hiking program in or near our backcountry. The Eternal Backcountry Return beckons, and certainly bring your children along!
Books and articles: For my term adjacentcy, it defines the way densely populated California urban zones lay next to wild and wilderness zones, see my Autobiography in the Anthropocene, p. 60 and passim). Stephens quote: New York Times, Dec. 21, 2019. For Tolentino quote: Jia Tolentino, "Trick Mirror," p. 64; Bruno Latour, "Facing Gaia" (Polity 2017); J. Purdy, "After Nature A Politics for the Anthropocene" (2015), discusses the "new animism," 272-275; George Monbiot: click here.
Dan McCaslin is the author of Stone Anchors in Antiquity and has written extensively about the local backcountry. His latest book, Autobiography in the Anthropocene, is available at Lulu.com. He serves as an archaeological site steward for the U.S. Forest Service in the Los Padres National Forest. He welcomes reader ideas for future Noozhawk columns, and can be reached at [emailprotected]. Click here to read additional columns. The opinions expressed are his own.
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Dan McCaslin: Nature and Shallowing the Mind - Noozhawk
Posted: January 18, 2020 at 10:03 am
Kids and young people in the Western world today are increasingly digital, surrounded by both media gadgets and media stories that play a big part in their lives.
The influence of media on religious ideas and values
The Swedish sociologist Mia Lvheim notes that the media is a more frequent arena than family and church for contacts with religious ideas and values.
Perhaps the cinema outdoes the church in providing todays youth with a number of its religious ideas; after all, both are places of spiritual reflection which present values and stories with an underlying message.
These stories are making an impact on the younger generation and on their worldview formation.
Disney and its global influence
Walter Elias Disney (19011966) was a moviemaker who wished both to deliver a message and make good entertainment. His work creating the Disney universe has gone global, and now it is a fantasy world that both entertains and educates children in [US] and around the world.
The term Disney universe reflects Disney products universality and the concept of a fantasy universe that has a great effect on the young generations worldview today.
One of Disneys own screenwriters, Linda Woolverton, has said: When you take on a Disney animated feature, you know youre going to be affecting entire generations of human minds.
Thus, The Walt Disney Company is very much aware of its influence via messages often hidden under a cover of fantasy and magic.
While Disney plays a major role in the lives of the younger generation, this is not confined to the Western world where the Disney universe was created. The movies and products featuring Disney characters can be found almost everywhere.
Insights for the church
Since Disney through its trademark is globally present, Christians worldwide can utilize the stories from the Disney universe in communication with kids and youth about religion and basic values.
Disney is globally influential, and its stories often mirror values found in or imported from Western society such as individualism.
By familiarizing ourselves with the values that are presented in the Disney universe, the global church can also obtain increased insights into the frame of reference that kids in general are exposed to through other media stories.
Faced with a society that is more and more media engaged, the global church has the challenge of meeting the young ones where they are, in their media-saturated world. To find out what they can be influenced by, positively and negatively, we can study the worldviews represented in their media world.
My analysis of the relatively recent movie Moana shows traces in it of two important aspects of contemporary worldviews: individualism and spirituality. I have also compared my findings with an analysis of older Disney movies by Margunn S. Dahle.
Looking at Moana and some classic Disney movies, I found several elements of individualism that strongly reflect Western postmodern society.
The movie about the heroine Moana is very much focused on her need to belong somewhere, as she looks for her place and role in life. This is easy to find in other Disney classics too, such as Hercules, Mulan, and The Lion King:
- Positively, the Disney heroes take on much responsibility and are brave in their journey to find meaning in their lives.
- However, their search for identity is often in conflict with family and community values in the Disney movies.
For the heroine Moana, her peoples traditions are very important. So, living on the island of Motonui, Moana tries to do what is expected of her, like the Chinese heroine Mulan.
However, they both end up going against their familys wishes and expectations when they run away from home and follow their hearts instead.
This element of individualism is found in several Disney movies, in which the story has a central motif of breaking with traditional expectations, and following your own heart instead of accepting decisions made by your parents or larger community.
Several Disney classics, as well as Moana, have inherent elements of spirituality. Moana presents reincarnation as a spiritual reality and presents Moanas forefathers as being present on earth in the nature surrounding her.
Pantheism (spirits in nature) and an opening for folk religiosity are present in many post-1989 Disney classics. For example, The Lion King (1994) presents the African notion of the living dead, while the heroine in Pocahontas (1995) communicates with spirits in accordance with Native American religion.
Positively, this teaches kids and youth about different worldviews and folk religiosity; but to learn from it, they must recognize that these messages go against a Christian worldview.
Many Disney movies mix Judaeo-Christian teaching with other religious elements and spirituality and then put some magic on top as the final solution for making your dreams come true.
In Moana, the magic happens through a pantheistic worldview. The ocean calls Moana, and her forefathers who have been reincarnated (especially her grandmother) to help her to achieve her dream.
The individualism is also found in the focus on Moanas inner spiritualitythe calling she feels from the voice in her heart.
How do we engage?
By examining worldviews that are typical of the Disney universe and also reflect the world we live in, we get to understand the messages our kids and youth are influenced by in their daily lives.
In kids and youth ministry, we can look for ways to confront the me-first spirit of the age and confirm the good values that coincide with Christian faith.
he Disney universe influences the young generation in both positive and negative ways. To present them with a balanced picture, we need to underscore both the points of concordance and discordance between the Christian faith and the Disney universe.
Elements of concordance and discordance
Looking for positive aspects of the Disney universe that may coincide with Christian theology, we can see that within the individualism presented, there are values such as wanting to reach your own goals and being brave and strong.
Additionally, Disney underscores the importance of accepting responsibility and the quest for meaning in life.
Being brave, strong, and taking on responsibility are all Christian values we can embrace in the Disney universe. The existential questions as to where we belong and the meaning of life can also be addressed both in Christian faith and in Disney movies.
These points of contact give material to the youth worker or parent who can communicate with the younger generation about finding their identities and reaching their goals.
Typical elements of discordance between the Christian faith and the Disney universe can also be found in individualism as the heroes/heroines often oppose their parents and follow their own will.
Their pursuit of their meaning in life causes them to put themselves and their ambitions first. This presents opportunities to discuss with youth how a Christian should think about his/her own will and ambitions compared to the interests of others.
In addition, we find pantheism and reincarnation in the Disney universe, elements that contradict Christian faith. The spirituality that focuses on forefathers and spirits in nature and inside of you can be addressed in the dialogue with the young generation to create awareness, as well as reflection on how these elements contradict the biblical message.
In relating to the younger generation, we want to offer them fellowship, help them grow in their faith and encourage them to spread the gospel to nonbelievers.
If we listen to and learn from the media world surrounding them, we can convey the message of the gospel through the similarities and differences between Christian faith and their media world.
This approach involves the principle of double listeninglistening to both the Word of God and the world around us in search of concordance and discordance between the two messages.
It means trying to understand and obey Gods word, and at the same time to understand the world in which we live, in order to see how the gospel can relate to and speak to the society.
Church leaders, parents, and youth workers, in fact all Christians, should be encouraged to practice this principle. It helps us scrutinize the messages we receive and encourages the young generation to maintain awareness in their digital life.
We should watch movies with the kids and youth, get to know what their media world contains, and talk about it open-mindedly.
If we as a global church can point to Jesus through the different messages the young generation receive, the process will show us and them the unselfish, loving nature of our Lord who in bravery sacrificed the pursuit of his own happiness to make the dream of mankind come trueto live happily ever after.
Tonje Belibi serves as Assistant Professor at Fjellhaug International University College in Norway, from where she received her MA in Theology and Missions. Her Masters Thesis was entitled, Relevant Faith Education for Tweens in a Media Age: The Disney Movie Moana as a case study.
This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of theLausanne Global Analysisand is published here with permission. Learn more about this flagship publication from the Lausanne Movement atwww.lausanne.org/lga.
1. Margunn Serigstad Dahle, Worldview Formation and the Disney Universe: A Case Study on Media Engagement in Youth Ministry, Journal of Youth and Theology 1 (16), 2017: 62.
2. Mia Lvheim, Religious Socialization in a Media Age, Nordic Journal of Religion and Society 2 (25), 2012: 151.
3. Nick Pollard, Philosophical Investigation, Damaris Skole Vgs, 2018, https://damaris-skole-vgs.no/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Philosophical-investigation-Nick-Pollard.pdf.
4. Mark I. Pinsky, The Gospel According to Disney: Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 2. Gunnar Strm, Walt Disney, Store norske leksikon, 2017, http://snl.no/Walt_Disney.
5. Pinsky, The Gospel According to Disney, 3.
6. Janet Wasko, Understanding Disney: The Manufacture of Fantasy (Cambridge, UK: Malden, MA: Polity, 2013), 3.
7. Quoted in Annalee R. Ward, Mouse Morality: The Rhetoric of Disney Animated Film (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2002), 113.
8. Dahle, Worldview Formation and the Disney Universe, 6080.
9. D. Kinnaman, Whats next for Youth Ministry?, in The State of Youth Ministry (The Barna Group, 2016) 85-87.
10. Editors Note: See article by Ben Pierce, entitled, Connecting with the New Global Youth Culture, in March 2019 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis https://www.lausanne.org/content/lga/2019-03/connecting-with-the-new-global-youth-culture.
11. See John Stott, The Contemporary Christian: An Urgent Plea for Double Listening (Leicester: IVP, 1992).
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Spirituality and values in the Disney universe - Evangelical Focus
Posted: December 26, 2019 at 8:02 pm
Before I touch this subject, I confess my lack of knowledge of Bengali language, which I believe, has been partly compensated by my study of Tagores best-known work Gitanjali translated into chaste English by Tagore himself. In the case of Iqbal, I have in my view most of his Urdu and Persian works, but more specifically Baal-e-Gibriel which I believe is truly representative of his genius.
It is said that comparisons are odious, especially between two equally gifted personages. Most people have drawn comparisons and contrasts between Tagore and Iqbal to show that one was superior to the other, which I think violates against the best literary traditions. Two equally gifted poets could be different in their outlook about man, nature and God, their subject matter, their form and mode of poetic expression, but not fundamentally as poets.Which one is better than the other is only a matter of ones personal choice which varies from person to person.
The palpable commonalities between the two were that both were great poets and contemporaries and both hailed from the Indian sub-continent. Both were conversant in more than two languages; Tagore, in Bengali and English, while Iqbal in Urdu and Persian.Both were imbued in their local as well as western culture, and had benefited from the philosophic and religious currents of their time.But they were vastly different in their approach to life and treatment of their subject matter.
Tagore wrote in the common language of the Bengali people and raised its status from a dialect to a rich and authentic language by abandoning the ancient form of the Indian (Hindi) language, despite criticism from his own Indian critics and scholars.
Tagores reputation as a writer was spread in the western world more swiftly than that of Iqbal with the publication in 1912 of Gitanjali: Song Offerings, in which Tagore tried to find inner calm and explored the themes of divine and human love. The poems were translated into English by Tagore himself. His cosmic visions owed much to the lyric tradition of Vaishnava Hinduism and its concepts about the relationship between man and God. Gitanjalis introduction was written by the famous English poet William Butler Yeats, who wrote These lyrics -which, in its original Bengali version, are full of subtlety of rhythm, of untranslatable delicacies of colour, of metrical invention, which display in their thought a world I have dreamed of all my life. His poems were praised by great literary icons like Ezra Pound, who drew the attention of the Nobel Prize committee, which awarded Tagore with Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. This was the primary reason why he won the Prize as against his great contemporary Iqbal, whose works were more dynamic, diversified and philosophical in nature, but none of them had been translated in English by that time, which was the only language which the Nobel Prize Committee could understand and appreciate.In one of his reviews, Ezra Pound wrote There is in him(Tagore) the stillness of nature. The poems do not seem to have been produced by storm or by ignition, but seem to show the normal habit of his mind. He is at one with nature, and finds no contradictions and this is in sharp contrast with the Western mode, where man must be shown attempting to master nature if we are to have great drama. Iqbal was such a poet whose works displayed the great drama by attempting to master nature, but unfortunately the western world remained oblivious to his work and art because of the barrier of language which they could not understand or appreciate.
A comparison of the tenor of their work shows that Tagore brought out the romantic in man; Iqbal the heroic. Tagore exulted in feminine beauty; Iqbal in masculine strength. There was music in Tagores poetry; there was fire in Iqbals poetry. Tagore was humble; Iqbal was proud. Tagore was inspired by Hafiz; Iqbal drew his strength from Rumi.
Did Rabindernath Tagore break away from the age-old beliefs and traditions ? No. His conception of life was perfectly in tune with the teachings of the Upanishad. His poetry and songs were saturated with pantheistic thoughts and ideas which he drew from the Upanishad, and the Persian mystic poets like Hafiz and others. He saw the vision of his Beloved in the moon, the stars and flowers and other beauties of Nature and perceived her footfalls in the stormy night behind the clouds; he heard her singing in the birds and whispering in the breeze. He feels constant pangs of separation from her and is ever anxious to meet her. Complete identification with her is the cry of his soul. His imagination ends there and cannot go beyond that. The following extracts from Rabindranath will bear me out:
Let there be no distinction between you and me
So that I may see myself at one with you, both in and out.
I have come to this world only as a pawn of your sports
My own desires will die unto your pleasure and love
And in weal and woe, none shall survive except you.
A comparison of the tenor of their work shows that Tagore brought out the romantic in man; Iqbal the heroic
Rabindranath Tagore is out and out a mystic poet of Pantheism, bordering, at places, on paganism. The burden of all his philosophic poems and songs is separation from, and hankering after complete communion with his consort. Like the Vedantists and the Sufis, he also tries to flee from life and merge himself into the Ultimate Being. Death is the target of his life! The glorification of death and self-effacement thus constitutes his principal message to mankind. In a typical fashion he plays on soft sentiments of love and separation and does not bother about the duties and responsibilities of man towards God and the World.
Against this Idealistic-Pantheistic-Vedantic-Sufistic background of under-estimation of life, Iqbal boldly proclaimed the individuality and immortality of the Soul and its never-ending progress and development in our after-life. He says that this visible world is not a baseless fabric of fantasy; it is also real and meaningful. Man is also real and his Ego or Soul will not be absorbed. Here man has been bracketed with God and given the exalted position of His Viceroy. This proves that there is no intermediary in between God and Man and that man has limitless power and potentiality in him. Indeed man is destined to rule the universe as the representative of God. Evidently, as long as God is, man is. God is no doubt our Creator, but once He has created us, He will not absorb or annihilate us. It is His pleasure that we live eternally with Him. This philosophy, of course, is not his own; it is broad-based on the teachings of the Holy Quran which vouchsafes eternal life not only to the dwellers of Paradise, but also to those of Hell. Iqbal has given a philosophic shape to this eternal veracity of Islam. Herein lies his contribution. I quote below a few lines from Iqbal to corroborate my views:
Life is preserved by purpose;
Because of its goal its caravan-bell tinkles. Life is latent in seeking.
Its origin is hidden in desire.
Desire keeps the Self in perpetual uproar ..
Negation of life is death to the living.
Abandon self and flee to God
Strengthened by God, return to thy self.
It is sweet to be Gods Vicegerent in the world
And exercise sway over the elements.
He gives new values to life and urges upon strengthening of the Soul. He believes that, in the scale of being, the status of every object is determined according to the degree of strength it attains. As God is the perennial source of all power and success, and as mans is not yet a complete personality, it is essential that he should come in close contact with God for borrowing strength from Him. The motivating idea behind this should be not to absorb himself into God, but rather to absorb God into himself. Man has to mouldhis character in accordance with the character and Attributes of Allah. Indeed, the nearer is a person to God, the greater is his personality. A man full of divine qualities is the perfect man. Iqbal calls him Insan-i-Kamil or the Perfect Man, as opposed to Neitzsches Superman. Iqbal pays tribute to the perfect man in these two immortal lines:
Develop thyself, so that before every decree
God Himself will ascertain from thee what is thy will?
In short, while the terminus station of Rabindranaths journey of life is God, that of Iqbal is Eternity. Iqbal is a perpetualtraveller; he does not stop at God, but goes further beyond. Rabindranaths span of life is, therefore, shorter than that of Iqbal, his outlook is also narrow and antiquated and mediaeval in character, having no dynamic appeal to this new age of space-flight and inter-planetary journey. Iqbal is the poet of today and also of to-morrow.
The writer is a former member of the Provincial Civil Service, and an author of Moments in Silence
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Tagore and Iqbal - Daily Times
Posted: December 18, 2019 at 9:35 pm
The Adventurous Lectionary The First Sunday of Christmas December 29, 2019Isaiah 63:7-9; Psalm 148; Hebrews 2:10-18; Matthew 2:13-23.
Todays readings are both painful and hopeful. They describe the contrast between the fidelity of God and the evil intentions of those in political power. Yet, the evils human plan are penultimate and will not last; Gods vision is present in threat and tragedy, giving us hope for deliverance. Todays scriptures note that the Infinite is also intimate. Gods salvation is global as well as individual.
This vision is at the heart of the incarnation. The world is saved one person one creature at a time. Gods healing initiative is everywhere and joins the healing of nations and planets with the healing of persons. We need a healing environment; our own healing also transforms the environment to support our own and others wellbeing.
The prophet Isaiah proclaims Gods faithfulness. Like a good Parent, God is not distant or abstract, Gods love is immediate and transformative. God is right here: the divine pathos, as Abraham Joshua Heschel asserts, means that God is concerned about the small as well as large details of our lives. God is intimate, moving through the lives of persons and institutions. We are saved by Gods intimate presence. The adventurous pastor may invite the congregation to consider: Where is God present in saving ways? Where do we experience Gods presence in concrete and intimate ways? Isaiah invites us to reflect on our own mystical experiences despite the fact that we seldom experience Gods presence except through the events of our lives. Only occasionally does God present us with a flashing light announcing I am here. (For more on mysticism see Bruce Epperly, The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-filled World, Upper Room.)
Isaiah invites us to be especially attentive to divine movements in ordinary as well as unique events. Isaiah is no deist who places divinity outside of the world to give humankind elbow room for creativity. God already gives us freedom and encourages creativity by working within our lives relationally and non-coercively. God is with us in the maelstrom of daily schedules and political realities. God wants us to grow to be Gods companions in saving the world through our efforts. God is even present in the House of Representatives impeachment vote, occurring in real time as I write this lectionary commentary, and in our quest to balance patriotism, law, justice, and open-mindedness.
Psalm 148 joins cosmology and praise. Astounded by our wonderful world, the Psalmist imagines a world of praise. All things reflect divine wisdom and give praise to their creator. Human praise is part of a larger community of praise that includes the many varieties of plant and animal life. The Psalmist invites us to become mystics who encounter the holy with all our senses. Divine companionship moves through fellow humans, galaxies, and companion animals. Even difficult people and situations mediate the holy, albeit in curious ways. Once again, we need to look beyond appearances and slow down long enough to see the deeper divinely-inspired realities of life. The Psalmist is not advocating pantheism, nor is the Psalmist making an exact correlation between Gods movements and the movements of creatures. When we perceive a world of praise, we see unanticipated signs of Gods handiwork in all things. Knowing God is, then, a matter of intention and perception as well as divine initiative and artistry.
The Psalmist challenges preacher and congregation alike to pause and notice, to set aside our agendas to experience the Beauty of God reflected in our wonderful world.The reading from Hebrews joins majesty and universality with intimacy. The One who creates all things moves through each thing, mirroring and responding to our feelings of joy and pain. God is truly with us, and all creation. God experiences agony and ecstasy, sorrow and joy, and acts redemptively to bring beauty out of tragedy. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once asserted that only a suffering God can save us and the deity envisaged by the author of Hebrews shares our human condition of suffering, limitation, and temptation. Christ saves by empathetic relationship and experience of our human lives.
Then and now, dreams reveal divine wisdom. When we listen to Gods whispering in our lives, we are often led on unexpected pathways of personal growth. Synchronicities emerge, guiding us toward new possibilities of adventure; luring us toward safety in threatening situations. Such messages may come to us all the time, but we are seldom sensitive to their wisdom. Once again, we are encouraged to pause and notice and then respond to the wisdom we receive. (For more on dreams as media of revelation see Bruce Epperly, Angels, Mysteries, and Miracles: A Progressive Vision, Energion Publications.)
The second theme of the Gospel reading involves the realities of immigration. Indeed, the Gospel reading is as current as USA immigration policy and the millions of refugees in our world today. The holy family flees to Egypt, having been warned through a dream that Herod plans to kill the young Jesus. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are political refugees, dependent on the kindness of strangers. Apart from the welcome of the residents, likely Jewish community, they would not have survived. In the flight of the holy family, we see both grace and initiative Gods grace mediated through dreams is fulfilled in the actions of Joseph and Mary and the hospitality of those who welcomed them in Egypt.
A third theme, and a difficult one to discuss, is Herods slaughter of the innocents. One needs to be careful to about sharing this reading with young children present, although often our young children know more than we think about the evil machinations of political leaders. Herod had a choice. Like all political powers, he can choose life or death. Then again, he was doing what he needed to preserve his throne. Perhaps, Herods court took this persecution as a matter of course, the cost of maintaining the government and their well-being. Their good fortune was based on violence to the marginal and threatening. While recognizing that some forms of potential violence are implicit in maintaining national security, this passage reminds us that the most vulnerable among us must be protected even when we try to protect ourselves and our nation. Sadly, today, we wage war with apparently clean hands and a clear conscience against the toddlers and the infants of the world in a variety of ways: cutting food stamps and Head Start programs, maintaining a minimum wage that is unsustainable for families, failing to provide adequate parenting education and job training for parents, separating children from parents on our borderlands, and refusing to give incarcerated youth flu shots.
Less obvious, and more socially acceptable, is the war against childhood when we promote adult behaviors among children through the media and advertising, and also the neglect of children by parents who place their jobs and personal satisfactions about the well-being of their children. God comes to us as a child. Pause and notice, you are on holy ground whenever you encounter one of Gods little ones.
Salvation is global as well as individual. This vision is at the heart of the incarnation. The world is saved one person one creature and child at a time. Gods healing initiative is everywhere and joins the healing of nations and planets with the healing of persons. We need a healing environment; our own healing also transforms the environment to support our own and others wellbeing.+++Bruce Epperly is a Cape Cod pastor, professor, and author of over fifty books including, Piglets Process Theology: Process Theology for All Gods Children, Become Fire: Spiritual Guideposts for Interspiritual Pilgrims, and Process Theology: Embracing Adventure with God.
Posted: November 12, 2019 at 6:43 am
Last month the Vatican and Pope Francis hosted the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, a meeting to discuss the challenges facing Amazonia and the Catholic Church therein that managed to be extremely wild and extremely predictable at once.
The wild part featured not just the expected debates about married priests and female deacons, but an extended meltdown over whether a wooden statue of a naked, kneeling pregnant woman, used in a ritual on the Vatican grounds, embodied indigenous reverence for the Virgin Mary or indigenous pantheism and nature-worship. Vatican officials seemed determined not to clarify the matter, traditionalist outrage ran wild, and eventually a young traditionalist swiped one of the statues from a Roman church and pitched it into the River Tiber making himself either a successor of Saint Boniface or a racist iconoclast, depending on which faction of Catholic media you believed.
All exciting stuff but also a bit irrelevant to the actual outcome of the synod, which featured little of the conservative resistance that characterized earlier synodal battles over divorce and remarriage, and eventually produced a document backing the major project of the Francis era: the decentralization of doctrine and discipline, with priestly celibacy the latest rule thats likely to soon vary across different Roman Catholic regions, as the interpretation of church teaching on divorce and remarriage already does.
And even the act of traditionalist defiance was part of the predictability of the proceedings. As conservative resistance to Francis has grown more intense, it has also grown more marginal, defined by symbolic gestures rather than practical strategies, burning ever-hotter on the internet even as resistance within the hierarchy has faded with retirements, firings, deaths.
Four years ago I wrote an essay describing the Francis era as a crisis for conservative Catholicism or at least the conservative Catholicism that believed John Paul II had permanently settled debates over celibacy, divorce, intercommunion and female ordination. That crisis is worse now, manifest in furious arguments within the Catholic right as much as in online opposition to the pope himself. And I dont think were any closer to a definite answer to what happens to conservative Catholicism when it no longer seems to have the papacy on its side.
While the synod was going on, I conducted a long interview with one of the popes most prominent conservative critics, Cardinal Raymond Burke. I had never met him before, but he was as I anticipated: at once obdurate and guileless, without the usual church politicians affect, and with a straightforward bullet-biting to his criticism of the pope.
The Burke critique is simple enough. Church teaching on questions like marriages indissolubility is supposed to be unchanging, and thats what hes upholding: "I havent changed. Im still teaching the same things I always taught and theyre not my ideas." What is unchanging certainly cant be altered by an individual pontiff: "The pope is not a revolutionary, elected to change the churchs teaching." And thus if Francis seems to be tacitly encouraging changes, through some sort of decentralizing process, it means "theres a breakdown of the central teaching authority of the Roman pontiff," and that the pope has effectively "refused to exercise [his] office."
This is a position with some precedents in Catholic history. John Henry Newman, the Victorian convert, theologian and cardinal recently sainted by Francis, once suggested that there had been a "temporary suspense" of the churchs magisterium, its teaching authority, during eras in which the papacy failed to teach definitively or exercise discipline on controversial subjects. And the churchs saints from such periods include bishops who stood alone in defense of orthodoxy, sometimes against misguided papal pressure.
But you can also see in my conversation with the cardinal how hard it is to sustain a Catholicism that is orthodox against the pope. For instance, Burke himself brought up a hypothetical scenario where Francis endorses a document that includes what the cardinal considers heresy. "People say if you dont accept that, youll be in schism," Burke said, when "my point would be the document is schismatic. Im not."
But this implies that, in effect, the pope could lead a schism, even though schism by definition involves breaking with the pope. This is an idea that several conservative Catholic theologians have brought up recently; it does not become more persuasive with elaboration. And Burke himself acknowledges as much: It would be a "total contradiction" with no precedent or explanation in church law.
The pull of such ideas, though, explains why you need only take a step beyond Burkes position to end up as a kind of de facto sedevacantist, a believer that the pope is not really the pope or, alternatively, that the church is so corrupted and compromised by modernity that the pope might technically still be pope but his authority doesnt matter anymore. This is the flavor of a lot of very-online traditionalism, and its hard to see how it wouldnt (eventually) lead many of its adherents to a separation from the larger church, joining the traditionalist quasi-exile pioneered after Vatican II by the Society of Saint Pius X.
Are there alternatives to Burkes tenuous position or the schismatic plunge? At the moment there are two: One is a conservative Catholicism that strains more mightily than Burke to interpret all of Francis moves in continuity with his predecessors, while arguing that the popes liberalizing allies and appointees are somehow misinterpreting him. This was the default conservative position early in the Francis pontificate; it has since become more difficult to sustain. But it persists in the hope of a kind of snapping-back moment, when Francis or a successor decides that Catholic bishops in countries like Germany are pushing things too far, at which point there can be a kind of restoration of the John Paul II-era battle lines, with the papacy despite Francis experiments reinterpreted to have always been on the side of orthodoxy.
Another alternative is a conservatism that simply resolves the apparent conflict between tradition and papal power in favor of the latter, submitting its private judgment to papal authority in 19th-century style even if that submission requires accepting shifts on sex, marriage, celibacy and other issues that look awfully like the sort of liberal Protestantism that the 19th-century popes opposed. This would be a conservatism of structure more than doctrine, as suggested by the title of a website that champions its approach: "Where Peter Is." But it would still need, for its long-term coherence, an account of how doctrine can and cannot change beyond just papal fiat. So it, too, awaits clarifications that this papacy has conspicuously not supplied.
The importance of that waiting is the only definite conclusion that I can draw from the whole mess. Where conservative Catholics have the power to resist what seem like false ideas or disastrous innovations they must do so. But they also need to see their relative powerlessness through their own religions lens. That means treating it as a possible purgation, a lesson in the insufficiency of human strategies and wisdom, and a reason to embrace T.S. Eliots poetic admonition: There is yet faith, but the faith and the hope and the love are all in the waiting.
Ross Douthat (@NYTDouthat) writes for The New York Times.