On Suffering and Disillusion

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Then:

No action destroys evil, but only the apparently useless and perfectly patient suffering of it.

Simone Weil, Gateway to God, p. 51 quoted in my diary entry on 10 October, 1984.

My belief in the above to be true, while never total, was stronger over three decades ago, when I was a Christian. The example of Jesus, given by a well-known Jesuit, seemed to confirm Weil’s intuition:

The power of the human person, his secret weapon, is his power to suffer and die.

From The Two-Edged Sword by John L. McKenzie, S.J., from page 25 of the same diary.

Now:

I look at the way the world has been increasingly dominated by a single political entity since I read the above statements, with, seemingly, little but pain and destruction for any peoples whether they dare to oppose it or not.

This dominion has been achieved by a combination of overwhelming military might, the absolute and wanton waste of Mother Earth’s natural resources on weaponry and, since the Reagan years, the gradual extreme control of the West’s mainstream media to the point that, among the smartest of us, there is a dismal, widespread lack of awareness.

I am now far from convinced that there is much hope for the approach of “turning swords into ploughshares.”

By the way, we Christians might be forgiven for thinking that Jesus used this phrase somewhere in the New Testament, but we would be shocked (I was!) to find that this everyday, so hopeful expression comes from the name of a statue completed in 1959 by a Russian sculptor named Evgeny Vuchetich and presented at that time to the United Nations, where it still stands. But New Yorkers may well be aware of this…

Yes, a Russian from, er, Russia! Go figure! The same Russia that is now increasingly, and I am convinced unfairly, vilified on the front pages and TV headlines of all the major organs of the “free press” for doing things that the planet’s paramount hegemon has been doing for just as long, albeit with greater success.

Hmmmm….

 

 

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A Recipe for Sanity?

Granada's Catedral de la Anunciación, in which are buried Fernando and Isabella, seen from the Alhambra
Granada’s Catedral de la Anunciación, in which are buried Fernando and Isabella, photographed from the Alhambra. Known as “Los Católicos” this royal duo finally drove the last Moslems and unconverted Jews out of Spain in 1492.

 Keep refreshing your perspectives and beliefs – and realize that they will continue (as long as humans continue…) to be changed and refreshed via dialogue long after you’re gone. Don’t subscribe to the isolating slogan:

God said it.

I believe it.

That settles it.

A quote from James Corse, in a great podcast conversation on the wrong-headed divisiveness of fundamendalists. Corse was talking with David Cayley of CBC Radio, our precious Canadian public broadcaster. Thoughtful CBC podcasts, ridiculed by the Canadian right as “elitist,” question our thinking and make us wiser – and gentler…

True believers are often more of a threat to a religion than non-believers. Dogmatic belief puts an end to what ought to be an unending conversation.

Corse recommends that we get rid of or minimize the top-down “civitas” (rule of dogma) and realize that any value there is iwill be in  “communitas”: the ongoing community of those who, despite widely differing viewpoints, participate in never-ending seeking.

And a piece of amazing flamenco music to accompany the photo.

 
 
 
 
 

Imagination, Humanism, Theism and Note-ism

Human imagination, like technology, can be wonderfully helpful or incredibly destructive. A fair amount of what I will eventually have to say on the imagination comes from yet another CBC Ideas broadcast/podcast. Other sources for this and future blogs are described in the paragraph below.

As for the stuff on humanism, theism and any other isms that might come up in this and future posts, I will acknowledge the sources where I can. Throughout my life I have collected thoughts and ideas from various thinkers. I have made notes on these ideas and recorded tapes of radio broadcasts before podcasts made it easier. I have a box of small spiral notepads that go back to when I was 20 – about 48 years ago. Other formats galore, though some have yellowed, remain intact. My mother, Angel, saved two funny letters from sea cadet camp (at 13) and two years of letters I wrote home to Montreal from Trinidad between 1965 and 1967. Lots of scattered notes, names, numbers and ideas. Blah blah ad infinitumContinue reading “Imagination, Humanism, Theism and Note-ism”

CBC’s The Myth of the Secular – Parts 5 to 7

In this blog I will summarize parts 5, 6 and 7 of A Sparkling CBC Ideas Series, after outlining parts 3 and 4 of this series on November 21. This will finish the series. My apologies to Craig Calhoun, Rajeev Barghava (Part One) and David Martin (Part Two) for being too distracted during the first two programs to supply a useful summary of their ideas.

Part Five:

Paul Kahn is Professor of Law and the Humanities at Yale. He is also an expert on human rights. Continue reading “CBC’s The Myth of the Secular – Parts 5 to 7”