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 »

T. Greer on Sun Tzu the Radical

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] T. Greer at Scholar’s Stage had an outstanding post on Sun Tzu and his classic The Art of War the other day in which I learned a number of things that were new to me, which is the best kind of blog post! The Radical Sunzi When translated into English, the Sunzi […] Read more »

Nina Paley’s OTSOG genius

[ by Charles Cameron -- Nina Paley is as strong an argument as I know both for the idea that individual genius exists, and (not so paradoxically) that it arises OTSOG -- "On the shoulders of giants" as Robert Merton has it ] . It’s always a delight to find the same rich insight in […] 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 »

Of sacrament and torture, blasphemy and free speech

[ by Charles Cameron -- on torture as the inverse of sacrament: from Palin's joke to Cavanaugh's rich theology ] . ** Sarah Palin: Sarah Palin, speaking to the NRA the other day, said: waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists And I have to say that as someone brought up within Christianity with a sacramental [...] 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 »

Jottings 11: self-immolators and suicide bombers?

[ by Charles Cameron -- on some aspects of religiously motivated suicide, and I'm not clear why I called this one a jotting, since it's quite long and detailed ] . . I have been taking a couple of online courses on terrorism in recent months, and in one of them I ran across a [...] Read more »