Super good news re Iraqi March election: Sunni leader *will* participate. NY Times: http://nyti.ms/cC43bE
Archive for February, 2010
So many links! So little time! This is from December, 2009, but still relevant.
Where are the King’s? The Gandhi’s? The St. Francis’? St. Francis? Yes. I haven’t read the book yet, but it’s on my list, Paul Moses’ book, The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace. In his article on CNN, Paul Moses discusses how St. Francis “engaged Christendom’s enemy, Egypt’s Sultan Malik al-Kamil, by approaching him unarmed in the midst of the Fifth Crusade in 1219.” The encounter was interesting, to say the least, and a powerful witness to the tradition of compassion and respect in both religions.
[Francis'] goal was to convert Sultan al-Kamil to Christianity through peaceful persuasion. He didn’t succeed in that, but, amazingly, the two men found common ground and appear to have genuinely appreciated each other.
The sultan, who no doubt viewed Francis in light of an ancient Muslim tradition of reverence for holy Christian monks, permitted him to stay in his camp for several days, preaching the enemy’s faith in the midst of the Crusade.
The short article is well worth reading. I especially was intrigued by an new organization, Charter for Compassion. Moses explains the group’s purpose. He even bring Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize into the discussion and the criticism Obama has faced from some US evangelicals on his peaceful overtures to Muslim nations.
Today a student objected to my calling Iran a dictatorship. “It is a democracy,” he said. He did have a point. There are plenty of other places worse than Iran. Travel plans? Nope. I’ll stay right here in greatly flawed California, in the equally “challenged” US of A. There doesn’t seem to be any question that the government of Iran is repressive. Gmail has just been outlawed. The press is hampered. So much for freedom of assembly and free speech.
I do count your blessings and I do remember Neda Agha Soltan. PBS aired a documentary about her and the struggle of the opposition movement in Iran.
It’s sad that there’s been an uptick in suicide bombings and the like in Iraq. This was from earlier this month from the BBC:
On Monday a female suicide bomber killed at least 41 and wounded more than 100 people in north-east Baghdad.
The pilgrims were making their way to the Imam Hussein shrine in the city where Shia Muslims are to mark Arbaeen, the end of 40 days of mourning for the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.
The bomb went off on one of the three routes into the city.
Earlier reports incorrectly stated the suicide bomber had been towing an explosive-laden cart on a motorcycle.
This and the general political mess makes me less comfortable about our plans to pull out of Iraq. On the other hand, it probably has strengthened calls for us to get out sooner. Hard to know what’s best for us and the government in Iraq.
One of the questions I ask my Intro to Philosophy students is this: If you felt called to do something but knew it would cost you your life, would you not do it and live? Or would you do it and die?
The question is prompted by Socrates and Martin Luther King, Jr. Would you continue on in obedience (they felt) to God or would you hightail it outta there?
In our discussion of Socrates’ position on death it became clear to me that I usually think of death as pertaining to some physical end. Or I should say that the notion of death is conceptualized as something completely physical. There’s the soul, sure. But whatever happens on that side of the equation has nothing to do with death.
Now I’m not so sure. Maybe death or maybe what it means to die is also wrapped up in what it means for us to live.
It was Socrates’ inability or unwillingness to live without being free to think, free to question others and himself that led him to think that kind of unexamined life (Apology 38a) just isn’t worth a hill of beans. It isn’t worth living. Aristotle would agree, I believe, and would go so far as to say that it isn’t even a human life if you’re not thinking and reasoning. This doesn’t mean that thinking here is limited to philosophical thinking, at least on Aristotle’s view. But there seems little doubt that Socrates does mean a deep, reflective activity. A life without examining oneself isn’t much of a life.
Although we briefly discussed the issues of postmortem harm, the really interesting thing was this topsy-turvy feeling I had about what is a “death” and what does it really mean to “live”. Perhaps there still is a connection between how many tubes one wants poking out of one in order to call that situation “a life”. Are you really living anymore under certain medical interventions? Is being on a respirator “living”?
The flip side, though, is coming to a point where none of the physical stuff even comes close to “defining” what death is or what dying is. And that’s the surprising part. Dying, it seems, has everything to do with how one lives. What constitutes death has everything to do with what a person considers “living”. And if that’s the case, then what we should be “worrying about” is “living” not “dying, death, and immortality”.
When we get to DZ Phillips, I think he’ll have something to say about this and help me out. From what I gather, his view about immortality is intimately connected to the nature of the life the person lived. How we conceive of a person in his “immortal” state is completely connected to the life that person led here in the nittygritty world.
Daigan pointed me to this Special Comment by Keith Olbermann. It isn’t a rant. It is powerful, though. You just may want to grab some tissues.
I’m not sure I would have liked Chesterton, the person. But I sure do like his writing. I found this little piece he wrote about George Macdonald. Now George is someone I truly believe would be great to pal around with. At least I think so.
Carlyle could never have said anything so subtle and simple as MacDonald’s saying that God is easy to please and hard to satisfy. Carlyle was too obviously occupied with insisting that God was hard to satisfy; just as some optimists are doubtless too much occupied with insisting that He is easy to please. In other words, MacDonald had made for himself a sort of spiritual environment, a space and transparency of mystical light, which was quite exceptional in his national and denominational environment. He said things that were like the Cavalier mystics, like the Catholic saints, sometimes perhaps like the Platonists or the Swedenborgians, but not in the least like the Calvinists, even as Calvinism remained in a man like Carlyle. And when he comes to be more carefully studied as a mystic, as I think he will be when people discover the possibility of collecting jewels scattered in a rather irregular setting, it will be found, I fancy, that he stands for a rather important turning-point in the history of Christendom, as representing the particular Christian nation of the Scots. As Protestants speak of the morning stars of the Reformation, we may be allowed to note such names here and there as morning stars of the Reunion.
Check out the “rockin’ casket
You may have read my essay about anti-intellectualism. Well, here is the flip side: religious ignorance. Or rather, ignorance about religious traditions. UK broadcasters pondering over that nasty looking smudge on Joe Biden’s head.
Hello! It’s called Ash Wednesday! Hello! Joe’s a Roman Catholic. Pretty good chance he’s gonna get some ashes.
But here’s where there may be some excuse: Since they were in the UK they may have been dealing with the time zone difference. Yes? Maybe? Or just clueless?
It gets “worse”. Fully story here.
Before I left home today news of the plane crash was on. The early reports were that it didn’t appear to be a terrorist attack. But since the IRS had an office in the building I know many thought there was a connection.
Very sad. There’s the mental illness part, sure. But after reading his letter, you can sense the seriousness of his views.