Destructive Witnesses: JW, IS, Saudis, Brits, Byzantines

[ by Charles Cameron — religions taking other religions apart, stone by stone, image by image, song by song ] . Some recently converted Jehovah’s Witnesses appear to have destroyed the altars of indigenous Otomi people in Mexico, an anthopologist has stated: Assailants have damaged an ancient Otomi Indian religious site in Mexico, toppling stone […] Read more »

Brutal violence vs deeply symbolic threat

[ by Charles Cameron — two manifestations of the extreme right in Israel ] . ** I don’t think too many people will argue that deliberately burning famiies in their homes is less than brutal. My question to ponder here is how brutal human-on-human violence of that kind is, compared with the symbolic impact of […] Read more »

Human Sacrifice and State-Building

[by Mark Safranski / “zen“] A while back I had a longish post that argued that the mass executions practiced by ISIS drew from the long pagan tradition of ritualistic human sacrifice. Today in the news, some social scientists see evidence of human sacrifice as the catalyst for establishing and maintaining stratified, hierarchical and (usually) oppressive […] Read more »

ISIS: Paganism with an Islamic Face?

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a “zen“] “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Moloch, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.” – Leviticus 18:21  “They rejected the commandments of the Lord … and served Baal. They consigned their sons and daughters to the fire” – 2 […] Read more »

The battle flags of religion

[ by Charles Cameron — vexilla regis prodeunt, comparative versions ] . Two recent examples of religious iconography on the battle field.. from the Badr Brigade, outside Amerli, Iraq: and from Pro-Russia fighters near the eastern Ukrainian city of Starobeshevo: ** The Vexilla regis is a hymn written by Venantius Fortunatus to welcome the procession […] Read more »

Of morale and angels, Kiev and Ragnarok

[ by Charles Cameron — not to mention crushing Khomeini, lubing your M16, and that Afghan powerpoint ] . ** In my previous post, Of morale, angels and Spartans, I raised the question of how our increasingly visual and graphical age could visually represent morale. I noted that the Muslims outfought a larger force at […] Read more »

The courtesies of prayer, 1: Cordoba, Istanbul, Washington, Mecca

[ by Charles Cameron -- beginning an investigation destined to arrive at the Temple Mount / Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem ] . Conquest or courtesy would seem to be two ways in which religions historically treat one another: I’ve mentioned before how Muslims must feel when they see the cathedral that now erupts from what […] Read more »

A Quick 1: ISIS and Karbala

[ by Charles Cameron -- another quick one, this one concerned with "key religious and transportation hubs"-- ie pilgrimage routes ] . Millions of Shiite pilgrims in the Iraqi shrine city of Karbala for the Ashura mourning rituals, 2012. ** Everyone should calm down. That’s the message from Michael Knights in his Politico piece yesterday, […] Read more »

Tisha b’Av and Gaza

[ by Charles Cameron -- of the Temple Mount and Noble Sanctuary, by way of Bamiyan and Timbuktu, the Cordoba Mezquita and Cathedral ] . ** Today as I write this, it is Tisha b’Av — the day on which the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem took place in 587 BCE [...] Read more »

Of literal and metaphorical readings

[ by Charles Cameron -- from "whistleblowers" via the interpretation of hadith to Aztec sacrifice and Christian Eucharist ] . Whistleblowing in Thailand (upper panel, above), which I wrote about in my previous post, is a literal matter, and whistles have seen a huge surge in sales since the “whistleblower” campaign began. In the US [...] Read more »