Saturday, June 30, 2007

General Synod 07

A back and forth over the recent Canadian Anglican General Synod.

The Church voted that same sex blessings are not in conflict with the core doctrine of the Church (e.g. Incarnation, Trinity). That resolution passed by the narrowest of margins in the House of Bishops (passed with wider margin in House of Clergy and Laity---tricameral structure).

A second resolution that would have allowed for local option to perform same sex blessings however was defeated by 2 votes in the House of Bishops--it passed in the House of Clergy and Laity.

The man interviewed, Bishop Michael Ingham is the bishop of my diocese (New Westminster, Anglican Church of Canada). The interview is re-posted on a site hostile to Ingham and to those for same sex blessings (which is different than marriage). [Scroll down a bit to begin the interview section.]

But for those interested in the on-going controversy in the Anglican Church, this is a good piece to read.

This answer gives a good overview of both the conservative (non-blessing) and liberal (blessing) theological positions:

Seydlitz 77, Edmonton: There are no less than seven places in the Bible (both Old and New Testament) where homosexual behaviour is condemned. They are Leviticus 18:22; Deuteronomy 23:17; Romans 1:22-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; and Jude 1:7. How can you justify behaviour that your scriptures strongly condemn?

Bishop Ingham: You say “no less than seven verses” in the Bible condemn homosexual behaviour, which of course means that only seven verses (out of thousands in Scripture) do so.

Or do they?

We need to ask several questions here. What exactly is being condemned in these verses? In what context do these condemnations appear? And what authority should these texts have?

Whole libraries have been written on these questions, and space here is limited.

Briefly, the verses in the Hebrew Bible occur in the context of the Holiness Code — a series of regulations and prohibitions covering wide areas of ancient Jewish ritual. These include things like ritual bathing for women, the preparation of food, the observance of festivals and sacrifices etc.

Most of these rules and rituals are no longer observed by Christians. The onus of proof is on those who wish to retain a few selective prohibitions, not on those who no longer regard them as normative.

Secondly, the biblical assumption is that all people are heterosexual. Thus homosexual behaviour is seen as both a personal choice and an act against nature.

This is clearly what St. Paul means when he speaks of people “exchanging natural intercourse for unnatural” in Romans 1. To exchange something is an act of will.

These and other similar passages seem to refer to homosexual acts voluntarily undertaken by heterosexual people, and this is what is condemned.

There is no biblical condemnation of natural homosexuality, nor is any consideration given in Scripture to the question of permanent lifelong committed relationships between persons of the same sex.

Thirdly, what is clearly condemned in the Bible is every form of sexual exploitation and coercion — rape, sexual manipulation, prostitution, promiscuity, child abuse, and all manner of sexual deceit and domination. These are condemned in both their homosexual and heterosexual expressions.

And lastly, by far the greater witness of Scripture is toward love, justice and compassion — especially for the outcast and despised.

These texts outnumber the seven passages you mention by so great a margin that it is puzzling to see such focus on the few at the expense of the many.

xxx church

Very amusing and sweet (and award winning) documentary about two Christian pastors who've started an anti-pornography church online ( Documentary follows them around over a few years and some hilarious moments ensue (they got to a Porn Convention with their wives in Rabbit gotta see this). Also watch for the Giant Billboard Phallus at the end.

[Shannon this one is for you.]

ISC Transcript

Transcript of dialgoue with Ken Wilber and a caller that's up on the Blog. You can read it here. I commend it to everyone.

Discussion of fear in the spiritual practice, whether the 3-2-1 Process is not perhaps to shallow (argument is that it is a beginning step but an important step nonetheless), and some good stuff I think on shadow.

Shadow is one of the 3 "S"s (the s..t, shower, and shave if you will) of the spiritual traditions: shadow, states, and stages. [Shadow definitely correlates with the "s..t" aspect].

Best Analysis on Iran

From Reza Aslan and Bruce Feiler on

[Pro-dialogue with regime]. Take regime change off the table. There is no other Revolution coming--"a revolution without blood" as the Iranians say.

Aslan's point about Iran is simple. The US government thinks it needs to impose democracy in Iran but that democracy already exists in Iran although it is weak and suppressed by the unelected autocratic elements in society.

Read more

Whenever we face such autocracies (like Soviet Russia) with a democratic base, we would talk with the regime, contain them, and then let the bubbling come from below. Even with a nuke. We are trying to de-stabilize Iran by for example funding terrorist non-Persian groups (MKK) and the black-ops that the President has authorized inside Iran. Not again Iranian interference outside the country. Not to mention the kidnapping of the Iranian diplomats--if there is proof for them being wrongdoers, show the proof.

Also watch Aslan's take on the recent clampdown in Iran. It's part of a spring cycle that happens every year. And with the President's signing order that the US would use Iranian-Americans to funnel aid to de-stabilize the regime, it is no surprise the Iranian government kidnaps Iranian-American scholars. Though those individuals were innocent.

Also, he discusses how the Iranian democracy groups do not want US aid. They may be pro-democracy in Iran but they are not in large measure pro-American foreign policy in the Middle East.

He makes a haunting point that when he recently visited Iran, people were as he says "literally looking up in the sky waiting for the bombs to drop."

Why? Beause the policy is to still overthrow the regime forcing the regime to have no other option but pursue nuclear weapons, particularly withe recent economic squeeze which I fear gives too much power to the radicals.

According to RA, the Americans are more convinced that there is no military solution to Iran than Iran is---why the expect the bombs any day. I hope against but more than 50% convinced than bombs will drop on Iran this summer or at least before Bush leaves office.

His most important point I think is he puts to bed the idea that Ahmadinejad's election represents a conservatization/radicalization of Iranian populace but rather the militarization of Iranian politics that has never happened before. That the President what Aslan calls "an empty" vessel for the Revolutionary Guard (RG).

Khomenei set up the RG as a parallel security and protection force against the Army and these forces have gone Frankenstein's monster. A shadow gov't Aslan calls them. Ahmadinejad is their guy. And the new political move is an alliance between Reformers and Pragmatist Conservatives and Clerics against the Revolutionary Cadre.

As Aslan says, opening up the country will bring regime change immediately. Others like Barnett have been saying that for a long time.

For the view that the same forces are inevitably leading to Persian expansion, Spengler in AsianTimes.

Spengler cites the still burning fires of Khomeni's Revolution. Although it could be argued that is precisely why the revolts over oil rationing and the youth becoming isolated, party goers, Islamic chic among the girls, secret sexual encounters, and all the rest suggesting the Revolution has failed.

So the question is how to deal with the Revolutionary cadre? Spengler may be right--I hope he is wrong--but I guarantee an American strike automatically gives the store to the Ahmadinejad types.

New Article at IC

Been a little off for awhile, (Joe was sick), but we are reviving it back up again.

The piece is here.

Tariq Ramadan a Crypto-Pagan?

So says Spengler in AsianTimes. Article here.

He starts by dealing with Paul Berman's long article in The New Republic on Ramadan. Ramadan is the grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood Founder Hassan al Banna. Tariq is a controversial figure and Western writers are constantly asking whether he is a moderate bridge builder for Muslims in Europe or a closet proponent of Islamism.

Read more

But Spengler takes a very different tact. Spengler:
We find an intriguing solution to Berman's puzzle in the work of the great German-Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929), who argued that pagan society everywhere always is "totalitarian" in character, and that Islam is a form of paganism masquerading as revealed religion. I put "totalitarian" in quotation marks because Rosenzweig's sociology of paganism predates this neologism. I summarized Rosenzweig's still highly controversial view of Islam in a 2003 review of a German-language volume on the subject.
Spengler then quotes Rosenzweig himself (my emphasis):
In fact, the individual human stands before society as a whole: he knows that he is only a part. These wholes, with respect to which he is only a part, these species, of which he is only a representative example, have absolute power over his ethical life, although they as such are hardly absolute, but are in fact themselves only examples of the species "State" or "People". For the isolated individual, his society is the society ...
Moreover, Banna began a cult of death and love of death (more than love of life). Again a symptom of paganism--a sense of the tragic nature of life and the biosphere/the whole over the individual (turned into a part).

And the love of death means a fight for all for this whole, "the land":
Pagans fight to the death for their land and culture, knowing that each fight might be the last, and one fight inevitably must be; for that reason all pagan culture exalts death. Parenthetically Nicholas Wade, in his recent book Before the Dawn, cites new research estimating a 40% attrition rate due to war of men in primitive society.
So if we back up historically we can see what is going on here--I argue through a basic sense of levels.

Red Islam is this paganism. Tribalism, the ummah over the individual. The love of the land (the biosphere still dominant over the noosphere) and the love of death. The connections between extremist Islamism and Fascism make sense as both red movements, pagan religions with modern weaponry. Also the mythicization of the hero-worship of say Bin Laden (the rich son who joins to the poor, kind to animals).

Blue Islam was the classical tradition which sought to unify the world under the rule of Islam--just as blue Christianity seeks/sought to do with Christianity.

This form of Islam was destroyed starting with Napoleon's invasion of Egypt and culminating in the end of the Ottoman Empire after WWI. But it did not bring about an orange Islam. A breakdown not a breakthrough.

With the coming of orange leveling technology, the Islamic Reformation has begun. But that is actually leading to a re-energizing of this "pagan" (red) Islam.

The main paradigm (as both practice and worldview) in Islam is tawhid. Oneness. Oneness without manyness so says Spengler. Again holism in the worst sense. Totalitarian holism. Mythic holism where the whole/parts are mixed in all the wrong ways instead of differentiated and then re-integrated. Although mystically, what that means is clear (per the Sufis): only God is real. Everything essentially is Godhead.

In Sufism there is the distinction between al-Haqq ("The Truth") and al-Lah (the G/god). That means the Truth (Causal/Nondual) is not defined solely as The God (High Subtle). Same distinction as God/Godhead.

What Spengler does not cover is whether there could be an emergent leap within the religion. Stage-wise to orange I mean. Tawhid then has to be re-thought. It would require a theological breakthrough involving something like oneness in relation to the individual and the community.

Because otherwise tawhid alone leads to the dominance of the wholes: land, hero leader/dictator (Sunni Arab countries), or ummah.

With the rise of that level, would transcend (and end) the shame culture, tribal law, and the anti-scientific, xenophobia, conspiratorial thinking, and racism so rampant in large swaths of the Muslim and especially Arab world. (These negative patterns are inherent to the red meme. They were important but now outdated and even pathologically destructive in relation to the contemporary later levels.)

Not good

A kids show....
clipped from

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - A Mickey Mouse lookalike who preached Islamic domination on a Hamas-affiliated children's television program was beaten to death in the show's final episode Friday.

In the final skit, Farfour was killed by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfour's land. At one point, the mouse called the Israeli a "terrorist."

"Farfour was martyred while defending his land," said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed "by the killers of children," she added.

 blog it

Freeman Dyson on Organized Complexity

clipped from
This picture of living creatures, as patterns of organization rather than collections of molecules, applies not only to bees and bacteria, butterflies and rain forests, but also to sand dunes and snowflakes, thunderstorms and hurricanes. The nonliving universe is as diverse and as dynamic as the living universe, and is also dominated by patterns of organization that are not yet understood. The reductionist physics and the reductionist molecular biology of the twentieth century will continue to be important in the twenty-first century, but they will not be dominant. The big problems, the evolution of the universe as a whole, the origin of life, the nature of human consciousness, and the evolution of the earth's climate, cannot be understood by reducing them to elementary particles and molecules. New ways of thinking and new ways of organizing large databases will be needed.
 blog it

Benedict Goes to China?

I hope. This has been my major hope of Benedict's tenure: namely the normalization of relations between the Vatican and China and the reunification of the two Chinese Catholic Churches (state-sponsored and underground).

From NYTimes:
In an extraordinary open letter directed to Chinese Catholics and released on Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the suffering experienced by Catholics under Communist rule but also concluded that it was time to forgive past wrongdoings and for the underground and state-sponsored Catholic churches in China to reconcile. Openly hoping for a renewal of relations between China and the Vatican, which were suspended in the late 1950s, Pope Benedict reassured the Chinese government that the Vatican offered no political challenge to its authority, while urging the state-sponsored Catholic church to acknowledge the Vatican’s control on religious matters.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Mason-Dixon Poll

Hillary comes out badly. In fact in the lowest spot on both accounts. Here via RCP:

Favorable/Unfavorable Ratings
Giuliani: 43/17 (+26)
Obama: 36 /21 (+15)
Thompson: 25/12 (+13)
McCain: 33/28 (+5)
Edwards: 32/28 (+4)
Romney: 24/20 (+4)
Richardson: 19/15 (+4)
Huckabee: 16 /12 (+4)
Bloomberg: 20/18 (+2)
Biden: 21/20 (+1)
Clinton: 39/42 (-3)

And worse (on electability):

Would/Would Not
Giuliani 64/36 (+28)
Thompson 62/38 (+24)
Bloomberg 61/39 (+22)
Obama 60/40 (+20)
Edwards 59/41 (+18)
McCain 58/42 (+16)
Biden 57/43 (+14)
Richardson 57/43 (+14)
Huckabee 56/44 (+12)
Romney 54/46 (+8)
Clinton 48/52 (-4)

She looks better and better in each forum and looks as it were the part and focuses on her experience. Minus some awful campaign moves (The Sopranos Celine Dion Mix), but these numbers are there and are not going to change imo no matter how well she runs a campaign.

Part of it is her fault, part of it I imagine is chalked up to prejudice. But Democrats really have to think about this one. She could win, but wow it's an uphill fight. Republicans see that, see her still holding a substantial lead in the Primary and that has to help Rudy.

Right on....

Last line: "Dealing with racism and the bitter fruit of slavery and “separate but equal” legal segregation was at the heart of the court’s brave decision 53 years ago. With Brown officially relegated to the past, the challenge for brave leaders now is to deliver on the promise of a good education for every child."
clipped from

LET us now praise the Brown decision. Let us now bury the Brown decision.

With yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling ending the use of voluntary schemes to create racial balance among students, it is time to acknowledge that Brown’s time has passed. It is worthy of a send-off with fanfare for setting off the civil rights movement and inspiring social progress for women, gays and the poor. But the decision in Brown v. Board of Education that focused on outlawing segregated schools as unconstitutional is now out of step with American political and social realities.

Desegregation does not speak to dropout rates that hover near 50 percent for black and Hispanic high school students. It does not equip society to address the so-called achievement gap between black and white students that mocks Brown’s promise of equal educational opportunity.

 blog it


clipped from

China’s legislature passed a sweeping new labor law today that strengthens protections for workers across its booming economy, rejecting pleas from foreign investors who argued the measure would reduce China’s appeal as a low-wage, business-friendly investment designation.

The new labor contract law, enacted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, requires employers to provide written contracts to their workers, restricts the use of temporary laborers, and makes it harder to layoff employees.

The law, which will take effect in 2008, also enhances the role of the Communist Party’s monopoly union and allows collective bargaining for wages and benefits. It softens some provisions that foreign companies said would hurt China’s competitiveness, but retained others that American multinationals had lobbied vigorously to exclude.

 blog it

Terry Jones Becomes New Prime Minister

English Police on It Again


A Mercedes sedan packed with gasoline, nails and a detonator was discovered in London's bustling nightclub and theater district early Friday morning. British police said if the vehicle had exploded it would have caused "significant injury or loss of life."

Police were alerted to the situation by an ambulance crew that noticed smoke coming from the Mercedes, which was parked near Haymarket Street and Piccadilly Circus. Anti-terrorist officials said they were reviewing footage from the many closed-circuit cameras in the central London area and had launched a massive manhunt for the car's driver.

Showing again they know how to police much better (given the history with the IRA). AND showing that these huge dragnets of useless wasteful non-legal electronic surveillance but rather human intelligence.

The ambulance drivers and the bouncer who called the police. Like the video rental store employee who called on the Fort Dix 6.

This is what Barnett calls thick connectivity and the resiliency of systems/networks in developed countries.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Saw Sicko.

It is a positive view of the social democratic/socialism (of which there are genuine legitimate lasting achievements, namely in health care) and a totally negative view of the American libertarian view (of which they are many, mostly the un-free market, monopolized health care industry).

The downsides of the French (high umemployment, racism, non-integrated Muslim pop.), Cuban (dictatorship) systems while the upsides of the US are not covered (better integrated with Muslim and Arab Americans for example).

It doesn't cover how the US defense budget during the Cold War and the security umbrella it gave allowed the Euros to have objectively (as the movie documents) higher quality of life.

But it also doesn't cover how in a social democratic system (like France, Germany) the state becomes mythically more or less a god. Or less divinely, a substitute parent (also covered in the film). This breeds, as the conservative Americans always point out, an child-dependency theory.

No one has figured out the proper quadratic balance yet.

Read more

When Moore shows US hospitals putting patients without the proper money/insurance in taxis and dumping them (esp. ones with mental disturbance) on Skid Row in LA, that is a moral outrage as a citizen. That makes me sick morally. But he could have easily found things to make me sick in the Euro social-democratic system.

He also didn't cover the problem of aging in these countries--this matters to me living in Canada and worried about facing a heavier and heavier tax base.

But the other health care system do preventive medicine better (covered in the film). It is the major lack I think in the health care (or lack thereof) system in the US. I'd rather that be promoted through the system than top-down enforcement like the trans-fat ban in NYC. Especially moves to limit care based on "lifestyle choices." Like not helping out an obese person suffering from heart disease. Like the story here from BBC.

The movie made me think strongly about Adam Smith's almost totally forgotten point that prior to the specialization of labor/hand of the market he would go on to describe (in the Wealth of Nations) namely that the society has to decide what are its common interest separate from the market. Smith's first work is a Moral Philosophy tract.

When the modern world fell into flatland, this ability to have this social discourse became reduced to utilitarian ethics (Mill: most pleasure for largest number) or free marketers mythically believing the invisible hand like a mythic god answer all prayers. And as such that conversation is hobbled if not crippled.

Health care is part I believe of that needs to be counted in this moral calculation of society. If it requires something other than the market, then I think that is necessary. That Americans live in such exorbitant wealth, unparalleled in human history and don't take care of each other, to me is beyond abominable.

In that regard, I think the US system is seriously flawed.

I was going to say this is a problem of relying only on the market. Although to be fair the drug companies and the health care providers given their extensive lobbying have the most un-free market in the biz. Un-checked de-regulation eventually leads to monopolization. That doesn't mean there aren't good people, well meaning doctors, nurses, and the rest. One of the best pieces of the film, I thought was former people from within the industry talking about their moral sickness due to their participation. One woman in particular who tells the story of answering phone calls and having to reject people for insurance based on the concept of prior conditions. She describes in brutally honest fashion how horrible she felt, how sick she felt within.

That more than anything is the clue something is wrong. Something deeply amiss. When in a health care system, people are violating their consciences. When health turns into moral illness and worse sinful action.

I think, aforementioned downsides of the film aside for the moment, the timing is on. Health care is going to be the domestic issue in the next presidential election. There is increasing push for universal health care. Unfortunately on the Republican side, Romney who had this very interesting possible pilot project when Gov. of Mass., seems to be either downplaying or perhaps moving away from his own better instincts on the subject. Obama's plan has emphasis on preventive care, which as I said before I think is the primary lacuna currently. Providing opportunity, incentives for people to lead healthy lives has shown to reduce costs on the far end. See for example, Mark Satin's article on health care here.

To pull value wise, the market business types in you only need point out that America is paying more per person for demonstrably worse coverage. In other words we have a worse product.

The polls Satin cites show Americans believe health care is a right but do not support significantly higher taxes nor government run programs. This way could provide an American brand, aiming towards this fusion I'm trying to articulate. The good part of the "s" word: better coverage without the attendant secularization (the state=god as in Hegel) motive behind it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


A must read (imo). From Brink Lindsay (of liberaltarian fame and more importantly his profound meditation The Age of Abundance)

Now he tackles the culture wars.

The piece is entitled The Aquarians and the Evangelicals: How left-wing hippies and right-wing fundamentalists created a Libertarian America. Read it here. In Reason magazine.

The Age of Abundance (post WWII boom) created pressure that broken down the conventional (what he calls postwar liberal consensus) had broken down by the late 60s.

In the breakdown (of orange we may see as a guiding cultural institution) came progressive (and increasingly radical) green (Lindsay's Aquarian Hippies) as well as revival of blue (evangelicals).

Lindsay (my emphasis rest of quotations):

Read more

That split pits one set of half-truths against another. On the left gathered those who were most alive to the new possibilities created by the unprecedented mass affluence of the postwar years but at the same time were hostile to the social institutions—namely, the market and the middle-class work ethic—that created those possibilities. On the right rallied those who staunchly supported the institutions that created prosperity but who shrank from the social dynamism they were unleashing. One side denounced capitalism but gobbled its fruits; the other cursed the fruits while defending the system that bore them. Both causes were quixotic, and consequently neither fully realized its ambitions. But out of their messy dialectic, the logic of abundance would eventually fashion, if not a reworked consensus, then at least a new modus vivendi.
And this intriguing line:
So the tinder was there. But what sparks would set it ablaze? The primary catalysts were an odd couple: the civil rights struggle and the psychedelic drug scene. Both inducted their participants into what can fairly be called religious experience.
Religious experience? That's definitely interesting.

For its reliance on the market, the work ethic, and even the embrace of classical humanistic education (the institutions that support capitalism), the conservatives trend a fine line.

It is the same tendency relating to marriage. The American conservatives embraced the Victorian liberal notion that marriage was to be between two young people who freely choose each other out of love, but then try (and I think usually not very effectively) to stay that momentum from moving beyond a certain accepted limited frame: i.e. gay marriage/civil unions.

This is the not accepting the fruits part of Lindsay's equation.

There are bad fruits to come out of that exploration no doubt. And conservatives are generally very good at spotting them--victimhood, multiculturalism as an ideology, pervasive narcissism, etc.

But for the moment I'm focusing on the half empty side of the conservatives.

Lindsay again (emphasis mine):

What begat the transformation from apolitical fringe to passionately engaged mass movement? First, a mass movement requires mass—in this case, a critical mass of critically minded young people. Between 1960 and 1970, the number of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 jumped from 16.2 million to 24.4 million. Meanwhile, as capitalism’s ongoing development rendered economic life ever more technologically and organizationally complex, the demand for educated managers and professionals grew. Consequently, among the swelling ranks of college-age young people, the portion who attended college ballooned from 22.3 percent to 35.2 percent during the ’60s.

With their wider exposure to history, literature, philosophy, and science, recipients of higher education were more likely to see beyond the confines of their upbringing—to question the values they were raised to accept, to appreciate the virtues of other cultures, to seek out the new and exotic. By triumphing over scarcity, capitalism launched the large-scale pursuit of self-realization. Now, by demanding that more and more people be trained to think for themselves, capitalism ensured that the pursuit would lead in unconventional directions—and that any obstacles on those uncharted paths would face clever and resourceful adversaries. In the culture as in the marketplace, the “creative destruction” of competitive commerce bred subversives to challenge the established order.

That's why American conservatism is so endlessly fascinating to me even though I disagree with certain of its tenets. Because it is not the old style aristocratic European conservatism: it does not seek to restrict education (a la Nietzsche) to the masses. On the other hand it only wants that questioning via education to go so far.

I emphasized the religious experience element because of the interior qualia it references.

Wilber has argued that the only real categorization that defines left and right is that the right emphasizes the interiors (what he calls internalism) and the left the exteriors (externalism).

This covers the difference between say social cons and neocons as well as old-time liberals and postmodern Netroots-ish ones.

Go back to Lindsay's quotation:

The left was hostile to the social institutions (e.g. markets, universities) that gave rise to their freedom. The talk was all about changing the system.

The right flinched at the social dynamism and the expansion of choice because they knew many would make bad choices with this new freedom.

Again I want to point out how smart Lindsay is to say the capitalist development created the space for this inner exploration. That accords with an integral view that the right-hand usually outpaces the left. And for massive social change to occur, a new technological base must be brought in. Otherwise like through the 50s, Bohemianism will be a very small counter-culture with no mass appeal for change.

And his argument vis a vis the evangelicals also I think hits the mark (the good and the bad):

There is no point in mincing words: The stunning advance of evangelicalism marked a dismal intellectual regress in American religion. A lapse into crude superstition and magical thinking, credulous vulnerability to charlatans, a dangerous weakness for apocalyptic prophecy (see the massive popularity of the best-selling nonfiction book of the ’70s, evangelical Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth), and blatant denial of scientific reality, resurgent conservative Protestantism entailed a widespread surrender of believers’ critical faculties. The celebration of unreason on the left had met its match on the right.

But having beat their intellectual retreat, evangelicals summoned up the fortitude to defend a cultural position that was, to a considerable extent, worth defending. In particular, they upheld values that, after the Sturm und Drang of the ’60s and ’70s subsided, would garner renewed appreciation across the ideological divide: committed family life, personal probity and self-restraint, the work ethic, and unembarrassed American patriotism.

Regress possibly so much as every being is born at stages of faith square 0 and has to develop through the stages (as outlined by say James Fowler). Although again, every movements has its own intra-movements: Billy Graham (Lindsay mentions) refused to have segregated seating after Brown v. Board of Education (57). Jerry Falwell opposed civil rights and later said he was wrong.

And this:
Most important, evangelicalism aligned Christian faith with the Holy Grail of the affluent society: self-realization. Unlike the classic bourgeois Protestantism of the 19th century, whose moral teachings emphasized avoidance of worldly temptation, the revitalized version promised empowerment, joy, and personal fulfillment. A godly life was once understood as grim defiance of sinful urges; now it was the key to untold blessings. “Something good is going to happen to you!” was one of Oral Roberts’ favorite catchphrases.
Lindsay also shows the counterculture left's influence on young George W. Bush and his conversion to evangelical Christianity (hint: crossover movement of Jesus Freaks as both aquarian hippies and evangelicals).

So the clincher:
Evangelicals and Aquarians were more alike than they knew. Both sought firsthand spiritual experience; both believed that such experience could set them free and change their lives; both favored emotional intensity over intellectual rigor; both saw their spiritual lives as a refuge from a corrupt and corrupting world. That last point, of course, was subject to radically different interpretations. Aquarians rejected the establishment because of its supposedly suffocating restrictions, while the evangelicals condemned its licentious, decadent anarchy. Between them, they left the social peace of the ’50s in ruins.
In other words, all states no stages. My only disagreement with Lindsay is that this new synthesis he calls for requires an actual transformation to a global systems or universal pluralistic view (overview here). I, unlike him, would not call this center "libertarian."

To put it quite crudely:

The right tends to get the universal right but not the pluralist half of that dyad. Universal application of certain values--e.g. democracy, work ethic.

But when it encounters others who are not of this ilk, the conservative movement generally has only two options:

1)keep them out of our country (e.g. Mexican illegal immigration)
2a)bring US military might to unleash these values in the world (neoconservatism)
2b)if 2a won't succeed because the people (like I don't know Arabs) are culturally incapable of this change, force only (staying on "offense").

The left tends to get the pluralism but not the universalism. "My truth for me, your truth for you." And the only link (tenuous at that) is tolerance. Which is vastly different than love and justice.

Which is why especially pomo liberalism is so flaky and when faced with abhorrent evil can only blame modernism for all the problems of the world. And make individuals who commit grievous sins into victims who couldn't know any better--thereby under the guise of enlightened tolerance in a racist manner lump a group of people into the category of irresponsible non-adult humans. [White liberal guilt].

I hope Lindsay is right that a new synthesis is on the way. I'm so ready for the 60s fights to be over with. To just get on with the real issues, keep what was worth keeping, have a wider scope and some hope, not these tired old fake debates.

Radical Middle's Immigration Proposal

Some very good ideas in there imo. Article here.

I very much like the first point which is scanning the current debate from all different quarters and reconstructing their proper interests and then designing a policy that aims at those.

Here's Satin:

We will never be able to reconcile all the different positions on immigration hinted at above. They contradict one another at every turn!

However, there is no reason why we can’t design an immigration bill that reconciles all the interests above. They are not contradictory; they are in fact complementary. CHEERS to

  • the Radical Left for urging that we treat all immigrants (legal or illegal) with dignity . . . and for granting Hispanic immigrants the right to help our culture evolve;
  • the Liberal Left for fostering popular tolerance of and respect for Mexican immigration;
  • the Populist Left for focusing on the well-being of the American worker;
  • the Populist Right for focusing on the health and integrity of American culture, including our respect for law and order;
  • the Free-Market Right for seeking to preserve the U.S. as a land of opportunity for all; and
  • the Libertarian Right for seeking to do the same
This is what I've been trying to articulate more and more, that this view is a deep trust in the Universe. That these views do not arise accidentally. That, as in biology, environments do not exist separately then work passively on a predetermined organism (see Richard Lewontin: Triple Helix), but rather, as a metaphor, organisms construct their environments.

This is a good way to start and one can agree with this basic reconstruction and then sincerely disagree about some of the proposals about how best to implement a program to meet these desires (micro-environments). It does require a systems view, a wide scope look and as I'm saying a deep trust in the process.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dateline: Rome

clipped from
Pope Benedict XVI has changed the rules for electing a new pope, returning to the traditional requirement that two-thirds of the cardinals in the conclave agree on a candidate, the Vatican said Tuesday.

Analysts had noted that the original two-thirds requirement had served as an incentive to compromise or find a new candidate in the event of a deadlock.

But with John Paul's new rules, the majority bloc in a conclave could push a candidate through by simply holding tight until the balloting shifted from the two-thirds requirement to an absolute majority.

"It would seem that Pope Benedict wants to ensure that whoever is elected pope enjoys the greatest possible consensus," said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

The Great American (non)Debate on Iraq

Insightful piece by Kurt Andersen in NYMag.

Andersen writes:
The Bush administration and its irreducible hard core of supporters, refusing to cop to their own failures, accuse critics of “trying to ensure that there’s failure in Iraq,” as House Republican leader John Boehner said recently of the opposition. Everyone else blames the Bush administration for its warmongering deceptions and war-fighting incompetence—but pretty much leaves it at that, either changing the subject or imagining that rage at the masters of war and a willingness to withdraw U.S. forces right away lets them off the hook. Among the Democratic presidential candidates, the exchanges devolve to inconsequential gotchas—which candidate opposed the war earliest, whether Hillary Clinton should “apologize” for voting to authorize it in 2002, whether de-funding votes in May by Clinton and Barack Obama are sufficient proof of their antiwar bona fides. And the Republican candidates would prefer not to talk about it.
The lone exception, though not a front runner is Joe Biden, who whether you agree with his plan on Iraq, he at least offers a different strategy--not cut and run nor stay and bleed.

Andersen again:
The neocons and the lefties have in common a shrugging callousness to the horrors their simple plans unintentionally enable in Iraq: eliminating the Baathist dictatorship uncorked a civil war, and eliminating U.S. troops may well turn it into a much bigger one—but it’s the Iraqis to blame for the chaos and murder, not us.
And this scary forecast:
A more apt analogy, I worry, is the Soviet war in Afghanistan. After the 1979 invasion, the Soviets maintained a force of between 80,000 and 100,000 troops in a Muslim country of some 20 million people divided along ethnic, tribal, and sectarian lines. As General Petraeus said the other day, “I think historically, counterinsurgency operations have gone at least nine or ten years.” The Red Army left Afghanistan after nine years and 14,000 killed in a counterinsurgency war against a mix of indigenous fighters and the foreign jihadi who became the core of Al Qaeda. And six months later, the Soviet empire began to dissolve.
Leading to the correct conclusion:
In other words, they were damned if they stayed and damned if they left, and so are we. Which should be the starting point of the real debate we need to begin.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Diluting Petraeus and Crocker before Congress

That's what the administration is up to if we are to believe this article from David Sanger in NYTimes.

In part because:
The assessments are likely to conclude that the Iraqi government has failed to use the troop increase for the purpose the president intended, to strike the political accommodations that he said would stabilize the country.
So they are seeking other responses to "dilute" the Petraeus-Crocker reports.

Sign of Desperation in Iran?

For the hardline goverment of Ahmadinejad (article here):
Iran is in the throes of one of its most ferocious crackdowns on dissent in years, with the government focusing on labor leaders, universities, the press, women’s rights advocates, a former nuclear negotiator and Iranian-Americans, three of whom have been in prison for more than six weeks. The shift is occurring against the backdrop of an economy so stressed that although Iran is the world’s second-largest oil exporter, it is on the verge of rationing gasoline. At the same time, the nuclear standoff with the West threatens to bring new sanctions.
Most ascribe Mr. Ahmadinejad’s motives to blocking what could become a formidable alliance between the camps of Mr. Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani, both former presidents. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for early next year, and the next presidential vote in 2009.
The X-factor of course is an American attack which would unite everyone and give the radicals nearly complete power.

Great piece on China's Role in Africa

By Robert Rothberg in Boston Globe.

The opening paragraph:
CHINA IS transforming Africa, for good and ill. The United States and other traditional trading and aid partners of Africa need to help Africans craft policies that welcome Chinese investment and trade but condemn the taking of African jobs and the destruction of African industries. Africa and the West also need to dissuade China from supporting Africa's most reviled dictatorships.
China would have to be convinced for security and market reasons it has a better tie in with the West than it does with the dictators. As long as the US is mired in Iraq and fuming at Iran, it's obvious on what side of the equation the Chinese will fall.

Give and take. To coax China out of its isolationism and neo-mercantilism, would require giving them a stake (particularly in the Asian sphere) while at the same time making clear to them that al-Qaeda ideology will spread in Africa and soon China will be the target of Salafi jihadism as it is the big player in Africa and the one who will be blamed for the problems.

But that requires the US giving up this dream of unilateralism and worse a big war with China as some in the Pentagon & Vice President's office want.


Two articles from the best Iraq writers of the NYTimes and WAPO respectively (John Burns and Thomas Ricks).

Burns here.

The question is whether Baquba, the linchpin of a new (another new) military plan to root out al-Qaeda in Iraq has actually worked. The leadership has fled and the low/mid level grunts are left to take on the US/Iraqi forces. Will it become another Fallujah and an image throughout the Muslim world of America as imperial aggressors? Fallujah is the Muslim world's Alamo. But in this case we are Santa Anna.

Here's Burns:
Before the Baquba operation, American commanders had said that one difference from previous offensives that had failed to net top Qaeda leaders would be the use of “blocking maneuvers” around the city to close off escape routes. Although that appears to have failed, American commanders in Baquba said Friday that several hundred Qaeda fighters — about 80 percent of the recruits who were there when the offensive began Tuesday — remained in the western half of the city, and that there would be tough fighting to root them out for units of the 10,000-person force of American and Iraqi troops committed to the battle. The force is one of the largest assembled for any operation outside Baghdad since the recapture of Falluja, and closely resembles, in its aims, the Falluja offensive of November 2004.
And worse:
American hopes that the Falluja offensive would deal a mortal blow to Al Qaeda were thwarted when the leaders who fled the city moved elsewhere, and resumed the Islamic militants’ trademark pattern of suicide bombings and assassinations at a higher intensity than before. Since Falluja, Qaeda groups have shown a remarkable resilience in the face of relentless pursuit by the American forces, regrouping time and again after American offensives. Even Falluja has not escaped. American commanders said this week that, more than 30 months after the city was recaptured, Qaeda groups have reinfiltrated the city, mounting suicide bombing attacks, assassinating police and city council leaders and forcing a fresh American and Iraqi offensive this month that has been aimed at capturing or killing the Qaeda fighters.
There is also questioning of the decision to announce the plan on the Sunday morning talk show circuits (Petraeus was on FoxNews Sunday last week).

Now Ricks.

The new offensive has yet again raised the issue that there are simply not enough troops even including the surge numbers. The Army Bureaus have informed the political leadership and command structure that the current levels of troops can only be maintained until Spring 2008. Even these are insufficient. With the new offensive has come of course higher American and Iraqi troops casualties and death tolls.

One of Petraeus's nerviest gambles is that enemy fighters will not be able to move and disrupt other areas. The biggest concern for U.S. commanders is the big northern city of Mosul, where insurgents counterattacked the last time the U.S. military conducted an operation this size, in November 2004. That is especially worrisome because the United States now has only one battalion of about 1,000 troops stationed there, far fewer than were there then.
Except that is exactly what Burns' article implies they will do and have done already (and have done throughout the conflict).

And then this stunner:
In terms of the fighting, the question may be academic. "There isn't much more land power available for use in Iraq and Afghanistan," retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, a former Army chief of staff, recently commented. "We are now 'all in' " -- that is, in poker terms, the U.S. armed forces have put all their chips on the table.
Extra manpower must then come from the Iraqi Army, which while achieving some results since say its 2004 days, is still largely unreliable. The central government for which it fights is splintered along sectarian lines, as are the recruits. There is no real govt for which they fight.

This operation does not include "holding" as in "clear and hold" strategy. It is just fighting and trying to break up networks that create car bombs, suicide bombs, etc in the outer regions then brought into Baghdad.

But then what? The final line of the piece, the clincher:
Even so, some insiders worry that the new push will still prove to be too little, too late. "We have lost the fight for public and political support, so no matter how successful we are militarily, we are being led to failure," said one U.S. intelligence expert involved in Iraqi operations.

Alter on Dodd on National Service

Internet, is still out (probably until at least Sunday/Monday), but got a few moments at the library.

This piece by Jonathan Alter in Newsweek on Chris Dodd calling for a newly revamped national service programs.

It’s Chris Dodd who is taking the service debate to the next level. On Saturday, Dodd will unveil a specific and strikingly ambitious national and international service agenda in a speech on the same spot in Nashua, N.H., where John F. Kennedy began his presidential campaign in 1960. Dodd remains in the second tier of Democratic candidates. But even if he falls short, his national-service idea could catch on. Consider that Kennedy’s Peace Corps originated with Hubert Humphrey, one of the men he beat in the 1960 primaries.
Some of the proposals sound very good to me---others not so hot. In the latter category making the Americorps board a cabinet level position. On the former side, expanding the teaching project massively by much larger college tuition grants. That kind of youth, energy, and idealism is needed in the pathetic state of public schooling.

Alter thinks (and is probably right) the most controversial plank will be mandatory high school community service or schools lose funding from the feds. Libertarian push back for sure. Definite questions about federalism over states rights. Although Republicans like Reagan pushed through similar legislation for Federal Transportation Monies to the States as a way to backdoor a higher minimum age for drinking.

But that one aside, I think the addition of Peace Corps and the re-kindling of a conversation around what American patriotism means post 9/11 is one that needs to be had. Instead of Bush telling everyone to go shopping after 9/11 and leave the brunt of everything on the military.

Department of Reconstruction is calling.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Is Derrida Construct Aware?

A comment I left on a thread by Edward Berge on Open Integral. Berge quotes from Gary Hampson's new piece in Integral Review. Gary argues that Derrida is construct aware using Suzanne Cook Greuter's developmental self-identity scheme.

That would put Derrida roughly altitude wise (if Hampson is right) in the turquoise to indigo levels not the green postmodernist wave Wilber for example normally places Derrida within. It's an interesting piece--other fronts covered than just the Derrida one--but overall I think the Derrida aspect of the thesis is wrong.

I've received negative marks in some quarters for saying there are positive elements (lasting truth elements) to Derrida. More than just "questioning assumptions". That he has a detailed injunction that exposes evidence otherwise un-noticed. But it is not post-green in nature. It is certainly not, in my view, construct aware.

You can read SCG's own take on construct aware and her own levels here. See especially the articles titled: Nine Levels of Increasing Embrace and A Detailed Description of Action Logics.

Here's my comment to Edward (edit note I misspelled Gary's last name as Hampton in the original comments. It is actually Hampson. Mea culpa. It is corrected in my copy and paste here):


Thanks for the link. I read the article. It had some good points. But I think on the argument about Derrida Gary Hampson is wrong.

I think the problem stems from this idea that green is relativist. And relativist is taken to mean that the person can not make any judgments or believes in no better/worse. No one can actually do that. There is plenty of vertigo in postmodernism and a difficulty in some to make clear distinctions, but eventually pushed people come down on a side.

Hampson says that Derrida is no relativist therefore he’s not green. He’s right he’s not total relativist (who is) but wrong that he is post-relativist. The issue is post postmodern not post-relativist. i.e. He needs a cross-paradigmatic systematic view which I do not find in Derrida. And I’ve read a lot Jacques.

Because green means (in the relativist or so-called deconstructive phase) an overturning of the previous hierarchies to install new hierarchies. The hierarchy of the underside. Not the loss of hierarchy altogether. I see Derrida much more in light of say Levinas in this sense.

But I don’t see it as integral/second-tier (much less construct-aware) because it is still held to the same basic winner take all view. It’s still one hierarchy over another, just whose on top and bottom is reversed. It doesn’t question the co-arising of the terms and the way in which (construct-aware) such hierarchies are themselves products of a limited injunction, a function of the limitation of the worldsapce within which they arise.

For example in Glas, Derrida famously argues that Hegel’s insane sister precedes her rationalist brother. Without sister then no brother. Without feminine then no masculine. And without craziness no rationality, implying that perhaps Hegel himself with his uber architecture of the mind was the crazy one.

Or his piece with Habermas on 9/11 where he talks about how everyone else views the event through the lens of a changed post 9/11, especially post Cold War World. He argues that its actually the return of the absent (over present): the mujihadeen trained by the Americans in Afghanistan versus the Soviets. It’s the Cold War coming back for him.

Again reverse the traditional hierarchy and make a new hierarchy.

I think Derrida is actually quite sharp, in fact even within that level a genius. But he is not construct aware.

Taliban Learning War Iraqi Style

They have pulled off their biggest suicide bombing in Kabul (the capital, huge psych ops victory) since their fall. Reports now of 35 dead. Targeting, you guessed it police recruits, straight out of the Iraqi insurgent playbook. It's surreal that the enemies of NATO are using the same techniques learned from the Iraqis. Really think about that in relation say to Giuliani's point about having to be "on the offensive" or McCain saying they will "follow us home."

Open source warfare is urban based. The Coalition (in both Afgh. and Iraq) are using counterinsurgency models built more for rural agrarian guerilla movements.

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Rockets into Israel

From Lebanon. Details sketchy (from CNN) and Hezbollah has denied responsibility.

Meanwhile, expect an Israeli invasion of Gaza any day now. New Defense Minister and Labour Party Leader (and former PM) Ehud Barak looks like he's coming in primed for an assault on Hamas in the Strip. As always in these fights, they will disperse, let them in, and then swarm. Plus what happens after the Israeli tanks are in the West Bank.

The attack from Lebanon Hezbollah blames on Palestinians. Possible relation? Possible pre-emption? Is it related to the fight currently between the Salafi Palestinians versus the Lebanese government?

And PM Abbas (Prime Minister of the West Bank now) has sworn in a new (non-Hamas) cabinet.

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Giuliani's 12 points

He has clearly been reading by his Barnett. "specialize in nation-building." The problem I have is with his staying on offensive agenda including the wiretapping, "current policy on interrogations (read: torture)", and so forth. Particularly Rudy's history of "bending" the law to get bad guys. One thing when mayor of a city, another when leader of the free world.
Fact is, while the one-sentence commitments are light on detail, Giuliani added specifics to each in his Bedford address and in subsequent interviews. "Offense" against terror means enforcing the Patriot Act, continuing NSA surveillance of terrorist phone calls into the United States, maintaining the current policy on interrogations, and creating ten new combat brigades for the military, as well as the creation of a "stabilization and reconstruction corps," made up of military and civilian personnel, that would specialize in nation-building. "We may very well need more," Giuliani said in Bedford, "but that's an appropriate way to start."
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The Quandary that is Pakistan

Another good piece in the NYTimes on Pakistan and the continued protests against President Musharraf.

This paragraph covers the quandary well:
Before the Iraq war, the United States might have welcomed such a vigorous call for democracy. But with the war faltering, Bush administration officials, and some Democratic presidential candidates as well, are reacting with caution, fearing that democracy could be a recipe for instability. While the country’s military has a mixed record, they fear change, however well-intentioned, could endanger American security.
And this:
Pakistani moderates find the American attitude bewildering and dangerous. Just as they are beginning to believe democracy might return, they complain, the United States is abandoning them. “This is a movement of the enlightened, urban upper middle class,” said Rasul Baksh Rais, a Pakistani political analyst, in a telephone interview from Islamabad. “Where in the Muslim world have you seen a movement going on for three months and not a single shot fired by the protesters? It is unique in many respects.”
Recall Habermas' three step push to modernity: first economic rights, then legal rights, then political rights.

Musharraf opened up the country economically as none before (8% growth rate). But he has over-stepped point 2 by the de facto rule of the country by the generals and his ignorant reach into the judiciary, which has precipitated this crisis.

Read more

It's not entirely clear to me legal rights are shored up in Pakistan yet or not. If not, moving too quickly to #3 (political rights) could bring some of the instability feared.

Throw into the mix the Pakistani ISI's (Secret Intelligence) not so secret support for the Taliban and bin Laden hiding out in the tribal regions and the inability of the army/government to govern there and you have the mess (and possible catastrophe) that is Pakistan. Oh yeah and they are nuclear armed.

It seems more reasonable, as suggested in the article, that the military and urban class make a de facto arrangement and power sharing model. Not necessarily wide open ballotocracy democratic elections. The last set of elections in the 1990s caused an erosion of civil society. Why that would not take place again?

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New Phase in Iraq (Same as Old?)

Important piece today in the NYTimes on a new offensive being launched by the US Army in Iraq.

The Baghdad security plan was to move the soldiers into the forward bases and more onto the street. Unfortunately 60% of Baghdad is still out of control by Army estimates. And worse the violence overall in the country is at the same levels it was prior to the surge.

The problem with this strategy has always been that the counterinsurgency promoted in Baghdad historically only works in rural areas not urban cores. Moreover, focused as it is on the city, the bomb making units exist in the countryside and then are trucked in. The COIN (counter-insurgency) employed requires an "ink-blot" strategy: create one blot of peace and security and keep spreading outwards.

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Unfortunately this requires total shut down, which can be done in a rural area but not a city. Commerce is killed leading to further unemployment, which sends more people to the insurgent groups.

On the new plan:
The commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, in a news conference in Baghdad along with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, said the operation was intended to take the fight to Al Qaeda’s hide-outs in order to cut down the group’s devastating campaign of car bombings. The comments by General Petraeus were a signal that the United States military had yet again entered a new phase in Iraq, four months after the start of the so-called troop surge and a security plan focused on dampening sectarian violence within Baghdad. They reflected an acknowledgment that more has to be done beyond the city’s bounds to halt a relentless wave of insurgent attacks that have undercut attempts at political reconciliation.
The new emphasis on attacking the insurgent cells and bomb-making factories outside the capital is expected to be a sustained one, involving tough fighting. But creating lasting effects from such pushes has been challenging; in the past, insurgents have repeatedly been driven from one location only to resurface in another...The decision to mount more attacks in the Sunni belts is a trade-off in a military sense because it will limit the number of American forces available to secure neighborhoods in the capital.
While benchmarks are defeatmarks or whatever the languaging is, the September meeting of Petraeus with Congress is always on the lips of the US political class. So that becomes a de facto timeline--whether or not Bush pulls out troops--that works the same negative as Bush always correctly points out: increase the attacks right before the deadline.

That plus heading to the country plus the forward base/more exposed position of the US troops means there will be even heavier American casualties this summer. And sadly as the article points out, there is no effective government and the terrorists/insurgents will move somewhere else and the violence will not substantially abate.

It also assumes al-Qaeda in Iraq is this unified group, when we know more often they are small cells of fluid membership that temporarily align for a purpose. And AQI is only one shoot of a larger tree known as the Islamic State in Iraq. But even it can have temporary alliances with the Islamic Army of Iraq (Baath elements of insurgency).

It reminds me of the old line that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. I'm really worried for the troops. This summer is going to be brutal and as always Joe Biden's question: to What End? What next?

What are we actually doing? They are out of ideas. Arm Sunnis one day, train the Iraqi Shia Army the next, make it the next South Korea, no don't judge the surge until all the troops are in. Which is it?

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Rahm Emanuel's inter not intra-party debate idea

Commented on favorably by David Ignatius. Nice idea.

What format would encourage sharp discussion about the problems facing the country rather than this empty process of rounding up the usual suspects?

Here's a modest proposal, floated last week by Rep. Rahm Emanuel, a leading strategist of the Democrats' victory in the 2006 congressional elections: Organize a series of one-on-one face-offs in which leading Democratic candidates debate not each other but leading Republicans. That would push the campaign toward the center, where it ought to be. And it might produce a mandate for actually solving problems as opposed to bickering about them.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hamas-stan and Fatah-stan

As I predicted, here came the call the for 2 Palestinian states. From Martin Indyk in the WashingtonPost. And even the prescient Daniel Levy admitting how over-rated so many Western "experts" though Fatah to be.

Whereas I predicted Hamas would win in Gaza in a civil war with Fatah. Because of the correlation between consciousness and economics (Gaza poorer than West Bank) and more awareness of the power of value systems.

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My Friend's Piece in Integral Review

My homey Olen Gunnlaugson has a very sharp piece in the new issue of Integral Review. Click here (Scroll down to p.44).

It details his placing of Otto Scharmer's four steps of generative dialogue within four quadrants of Wilber. Technically he is treating each of the four phases as quadrivia. As if through quadrants.

they say that waking up is hard to do

The other day spent more meditating (actually in the state of non-meditation, Absolute What IS).

Had the same blowback negative reaction I've described before to the Absolute.

I realized reflecting on this "negative" turn (relatively negative and assuming the relative existence of an "I" to be negative) that it had a lot to do with the lack in spiritual literature of the sadness that comes after waking up/down. Whatever vertical metaphor you prefer.

The literature, particularly the Absolute/Nondual, is focused on creating (for better or for worse) the distinction between the illusory conditional state and the awakened, liberated one. As such it has to I would say "sell" the Absolute. Though that's a cheap way to put it. The conditional is painted in the sharpest, darkest tones possible, equaled only by the brilliance and joy of awakening.

Pain is recognized only in the transition--in the stripping and movement (in the relative sphere) or final death (Absolute)--as well as in the current state of illusion, contraction.

But there is a pain after awakening. There is joy no doubt of the kind advertised/promised. But there is a pain in never having the same relationship (insofar as the state or stage depending) with say the waking order.

The feeling of having been lied to and hoodwinked I think is at the root of my "negative" reactions towards the Absolute. I wish there was more room given to a honest assessment of this element. Maybe there is and I'm just unaware of it. If so, discerning and more knowledgeable readers should leave names, titles, etc. in the comments.

Last night before sleep I asked--calling on the Lord--if it be your will to give me the grace to stay Aware through the Dream and Dreamless.....not for gain/mastery of states but as service. That I would serve in that state as well.

And sure enough right on cue I had horrible dreams. Not nightmares with ghoulish or horrific bloody imagery. But two amalgamations representing a wide array of different people I encounter in my life came to me with loud, obnoxious, monologues. Yelling at me with abrasive and usually incoherent language. The banality of evil in the subtle plane as it were.

All of which was to say: Is this what you really serve? To be more awake? As painful as it is detached in the gross are you really sure you want to be similarly disabused of your illusions further up the road?

Tonight, I will make the same prayer. Maybe the blowback will be even worse this time. Maybe not. Who knows? Who is there to know?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

working on vol2

Started working on a second installment of AQAL Christian theology. The first was on mystical theology.

What I'm working on now is Biblical theology.

It involves a number of things:

1)Using the quadrant frame to differentiate (based on predominant perspective) the different kinds of Biblical/religious criticism. Form criticism, source criticism, anthropology of religion, sociology of religion, evolutionary biological.

It will actually run more through quadrivia--looking at a discipline itself as if through the four quadrants.

I'm wondering whether I should stick with the traditional Biblical only forms of reading or broaden out to things like soc. of religion. It's getting a little out of hand.

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The reason to do this is not create the need for uber-readings of Biblical texts that cover everything under the sun in order to pass some (rather) arbitrary marking of integral. It is rather to create a frame (which currently does not exist) so these otherwise fragmented and specialized disciplines and sub-disciplines would actually have a way to work together. Not that everyone has to become master or all domains.

2)That being set, there are then levels of analysis within these different traditions.

e.g. Text criticism which deals only with establishing the Biblical texts manuscripts. The field early on began with an assumption that one could eventually return to the original text as it really was (modern, orange). Then a period of relativism set in, when scholars began to realize that one could never make judgments on texts outside of scholarly interpretation (postmodern , green) extreme versions of which have said there are no better/worse accurate/less accurate texts but non-grounded floating judgments, the absence of which filled by power readings and psychoanlysis or literary deconstruction on the interpreters themselves. And now, with someone like Bart Ehrmann, probably the leader in the field (in English anyway) you have the move towards a more nuanced, integrated position. He's aware of the fact that the interpreter is always factored into the equation but still works (and more importantly has the injunctions that reveal a worldspace such that this view can occur) with an ability to actually ground better/worse readings but in an open-ended, systems view way.

Again all of this is just preliminary work and probably will go in directions I'm not planning. The emphasis is really on the three practices: nonexclusion, enfoldment, and enactment. Particularly the latter.

Instead of a perspective-free metaphysical view, whether traditional, liberal, liberationist, or deconstructive in nature. All of which work under the assumption of a perspective free Kosmos. Even the postmodernists crew, still thinks that interpretation.

Here's Wilber:
(Even the postmodernists are caught in this prior low-order abstraction that hands them a violated cosmos that they then attempt to repair with an emphasis on pluralism and interpretation, which only further hides, and exacerbates, the prior problem. Postmodernism emphasizes that perceptions are always interpreted, but both perceptions and interpretations are actually perspectives before any of that happens. Postmodernism has caught only a glimmer of a much deeper secret. That is, even postmodernism is caught in low-order metaphysics, a metaphysics that it has otherwise labored nobly to move beyond, as we saw in Excerpt C. The "crime" of metaphysics is not that it postulates non-material levels of reality, which may or may not exist, but that it postulates levels that are not always already perspectives, and thus are abstract in all the wrong ways.)
That's why for me it is more an integrally informed thing (to use the jargon). It's not that the scholarship is not already very good in many quarters. The practices are already honed and have arisen in a Universe that allows them. It's just about widening the field in which all these conversations take place. Free by limit in order to prevent the increasing balkanization in the field. Everybody going their own way, ignoring much of what takes places elsewhere, in large part, because it is not clear how they relate, if at all.

3)A Nondual orthodox reading of the text. The first book achieved the end of showing a causal-level state-stage reading (as well as gross and subtle) and the ideas of structure-stages in a basic form.

But the Nondual in terms of the text has to come from within the text as opposed to an outside Vedanta-like reading superimposed on the Biblical text. It is a dualistic text, emphasizing the many/relation. So a Nondual reading has to make use of the dualistic nondual. All references either to Oneness or Manyness are dual. Any language is inherently dualistic. But much of the Eastern corpus uses the analogies on on the Oneness side ("You are THAT"). The Biblical text uses the Manyness. Kabbalah gives the perfect reading for how to do this in a Christian way. Kabbalah speaks about the Nondual in terms of exile and restoration. Not the "everything is one and umoved" traditional Eastern enlightenment. In an evolutionary construct, I think this is key. Again this might have to have to totally separate from everything above.

Daniel Levy on Trifecta ME Civil Wars

His blog, one of the best on Middle East affairs. Keep Levy's on proviso in mind:
Again, this is not to place the blame for the current mess all at the door of the Bush administration, but just to point out that US policy is playing a role, and a dreadfully negative one. In many ways, a very similar assessment can be applied to Lebanon, but more of that in a future post.
On Iraq, the case hardly needs to be made -- it is self-evident. On Lebanon, the isolation of and regime-change rhetoric towards Syria exacerbated an already tense situation, and has clearly failed to "correct Syrian misbehavior." In Gaza, the Bush administration policy of "no meaningful peace process under our watch," combined with support for Israeli unilateralism and, most recently, the destabilizing of the PA government, are all crucial to understanding the current Fatah-Hamas debacle.
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