Saturday, March 26, 2011

fact or interpretation

Another passionate rant from the Canadian writer David Solway in The Origins of Postmodernitis:

As is well known, Foucault and his acolytes were influenced by Nietzsche’s pivotal axiom from The Genealogy of Morals that “there are no facts, only interpretation,” a maxim which is intended to be taken as a fact.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

quatrain 91

From sunlight, three versions of quatrain #91:
The early breeze before dawn
is the keeper of secrets.
Don't go back to sleep!
It is time for prayer, it is time to ask for
what you really need.
Don't go back to sleep!
The door of the One who created the world
is always open.
Don't go back to sleep.

Translation by Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi
"Rumi: Hidden Music" HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2001

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

Version by Coleman Barks
"Open Secret" Threshold Books, 1984

The morning breeze has secrets to tell you,
Don't sleep.
It's a time of inquiry and prayer,
Don't sleep.

O people of the world,
From this moment to eternity,
That unlocked door is open,
Don't go to sleep.

Version by Jonathan Star
"A Garden Beyond Paradise: The Mystical Poetry of Rumi"
Bantam Books, 1992

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

the gift of vision

This is a quote from quite an old article (2006) but it is saying things few people dare to say:
For the beginning of culture is cult. Apart from the worship of God, human beings cannot in practice (whatever may be said in theory) transcend themselves--not, at least, in the large numbers needed to sustain a civilization. Unless human beings have a vision of something larger than their own natures, and beyond the bounds of their own natures, they cannot be pulled out of themselves; they cannot be inspired; and they will not aspire, in the way that Gothic steeples aspire. To be sure, there are secular ways to interpret the word "transcendence": as some potential already within human beings to break their own records, to go beyond what has already been achieved in order to achieve new marks, and the like. But that is not the sort of transcendence on which civilizations are built. Real transcendence is from outside, a new form of life, a new human nature, an uplifting into participation in the divine. This transcendence is known to all religions, and is sensed by many artists. It is a new dimension of the human spirit, which does not spring from human potential, but is given from outside. It is experienced as an uplifting, a newness, a vision and a vitality not within one's own powers to achieve or to deserve. It comes as a gift.

from Michael Novak: Troubled Continent: A Crisis of Demography--and of the Spirit


what comes next?

Good main point about our current dilemma:
"You can sit here and talk about jihad from here to doomsday, what will it do? Suppose you prove beyond any shadow of doubt that Islam is constitutionally violent, where do you go from there?"


The fact is, the West does not have the political paradigms or language to justify an offensive against an ideological foe in religious garb.

from Raymond Ibrahim: Caliphate, Jihad, Sharia: Now What?

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Sunday, March 06, 2011

dirt on dirt

An excellent impassioned article on current anti-Semitism in the form of anti-Zionism or Israel bashing:

In a critical passage from The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James associates evil with the concept of “dirt.” Evil, he says, is “an alien unreality, a waste element, to be sloughed off and negated, and the very memory of it, if possible, wiped out and forgotten.” It is “diseased, inferior, and excrementitious stuff,” which can only be considered “so much irrelevance and accident — so much ‘dirt,’ as it were, and matter out of place.”


The final irony, however, is that if dirt, generally speaking, is matter out of place, then modern Israel, founded in its ancestral homeland where it historically and legitimately belongs, is exactly in the right place, the place where it is meant to be.[...]

The fact is that Israel’s cadastral address is also its ordered and ritually authentic locus between the river and the sea. To use James’ terms, it will not “be sloughed off and negated, and the very memory of it, if possible, wiped out and forgotten.” The “evil” lies elsewhere. The “dirt” on Israel is shoveled from the European and Islamic rubbish heap. For despite the calumny and dishonesty to which it is regularly subjected, Israel is the one place where Jews are truly not out of place.

from David Solway: Treating Israel like Dirt

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

knowledge and wisdom

"To attain knowledge, add things every day;
to attain wisdom, subtract things every day."
- Lao Tzu

An interesting quote from Lao Tzu but I can only find it here:
source: Three Powerful Quotes on Wisdom


evidence for god - again

A disappointing ending to what is a thorough (at least in the sense of detailed) attempt to answer the question: "Is the Qur'an the Word of God?"
In the end we are left with little on which to hold. Muslim sources are found to be questionable, while non-Muslim sources point to a dearth of any real evidence for the accurateness of the Qur'an. There is indeed, much disturbing material here with which the Muslim apologist must now contend. Yet, I do find solace in the fact that the next time I see a Muslim holding his Qur'an aloft as evidence of Allah's blueprint for humanity, I can ask him one simple question, the same question historians are now asking, "Where, indeed is the evidence for that which they believe?"

from Jay Smith: "Is the Qur'an the Word of God?"