Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Moment to Consider Raif Badawi

While we considered the freedom of speech rights of the murdered cartoonists and journalists and editors and others slain by probable associates of AQ in Yemen, a heartfelt consideration of what freedom of speech means in some Islamic countries among Muslim artists and writers--like Raif Badawi, who was recently the recipient of 50 lashes.   With a whip. (PS--godawful video--seriously. I'm sure there's repercussions for filming and all, but this wasn't great, actually.) But seriously, Saudi Arabia has held and even executed people for "sorcery".  As a blogger and sometimes alternative path practitioner, that is seriously heinous to me. People should have the right to comment upon their government, their community, their religion and the things that matter to them. How else can they right wrongs or address injustices so that they can be corrected? Shutting people up is saying "might makes right"--and that means, even wrong can be right, if only the mighty so decree it.

For blogging in a way that was irreverent about religion, his body was displayed to be publically seen and abused. This is to say, that his body is not his body at all, but a thing owned by the government of Saudi Arabia to prove some point about his kind of speech. As in--"don't you other people think about blogging like he did".

That is appalling.

Now, I am not so familiar with the writing of Raif Badawi to say that I know what he was on about. I have found from one site that he might have been against the masjid at Ground Zero, which I was, as a First Amendment freak, very much for. I saw this as a way of saying "Fuck YOU!" to extremists by showing that we could give hospitality to Muslims because we were sane enough to differentiate between transgressors, and regular Muslim folks. He reasoned that it was unfair to the US to suffer the presence of  people who reminded us of pain, and might even become radicals, themselves. So disagreement happens. But he doesn't deserve to be lashed for accepting that Islam has an extremist and terrorist problem. A problem which cannot be fixed if it isn't even acknowledged. Saudi Arabia should thank sane people who see what is happening and make comment about it. They shouldn't be jailed or lashed. They should be recognized for trying to bring sanity to the conversation. For saying "This is" and not hiding shit.

This "apostasy" the SA government thinks is about Islam--is about addressing  Saudi Arabia's wahhabist nonsense. The kind of nonsense that let them nurture al-Qaida and invent ISIS. It's about the political aims, not the religious benefits, of the religion. It's about honesty.

Badawi was honest--he gets lashed for it.


Formerly Amherst said...

Indeed, Vixen. As you say, it's almost as if the government owns Mr. Raif Badawi. You know, here in the US this is one of the most fundamental reasons for the importance of private property. Back in slavery days the slave's body was not the private property of the individual. The body could be bought and sold, beaten, worked all day (and occasionally situated with a fairly sweet deal, in fact). The first private property we own is our own bodies. And without an insistence on the virtue of private property, some other agency can take control and possession of it.

I really appreciate Raif Badawi's position on the Ground Zero Mosque. While I appreciate the sentiments you felt important, I fear I was on the other side of that issue with Mr. Badawi. I'm not sure how Iran or Saudi Arabia would have felt had we attacked, killed a bunch of their citizens, destroyed part of their major cities, and then moved in to create a huge Christian cathedral dominated by a large cross. I suspect they would have been appalled, and I would have been appalled with them.

It's funny about France. I am a staunch conservative, but I really appreciated France's socialistic government style.

In the US, certain measures of socialism do not enjoy ubiquitous affection. Here many see the distribution of personal property as confiscation and theft while others see it as a matter of justice. So we have no universal agreement that would allow for a legitimization of socialism here. (Actually, we are socialistic, but that is another story.)

So I always suggest people look at France. Because in France socialism is regarded universally as a desirable system by both the rich and poor. When Catherine Deneuve had a baby, she automatically got 6 months or so free nursing and nanny assistance provided by the French government. It wasn't a matter of whether Ms. Deneuve needed the assistance; in France everyone got it. This is the life they all prefer. My view was that I hoped France would be able to keep this preferred lifestyle in the face of a global economy and its challenges. If not, the next thing you know everyone will have to stop taking August off. Sacrebleu! My view is that if your country wants a certain style and you can engineer it, then good for you.

Islam has a mystical side in Sufism. They were one of the first groups to be persecuted and ostracized. Fundamentalism can become another form of materialism. In the Qaballah there are 4 different levels of apprehension: Pshat, which is simple understanding; Remez; Drash; and Sod, mystical experience or interpretation. Each of these levels offer people different degrees of understand and participation. There is a way for people to grow if they start at the very literal level and gradually unfold in their consciousness to deeper levels of understanding and participation.

Incidentally, the level of Sod is what Uncle Aleister was referring to by GWB. The Yechida (which is in unification with Ain Sof and Chayh, divine essence of all life) speaks through the Nshama (intuition) and this is the way in which Atziluth, the secret level, communicates to Briah by virtue of the Nshama speaking truth to the Ruach. Much could be said about all this.

Most of our world religions have a fundamentalist level, but it is not against the law to progress to a deeper level of comprehension. I doubt if Jimmy Swaggart spent much time reading St. Teresa of Avila.

Islam with its strict insistence under penalty of confinement, mutilation, and death restricts people to the fundamentalist level and allows them no freedom to move into deeper, ecstatic fields of beingness and apprehension. This is another form of materialism. It creates a prison for the soul, so to speak, with clergymen as law enforcement.

Frankly, members of Islam are the ones who should be yelling, “I can't breathe!” (It's a shame that Valentinianism was purged from the Christian canon. If it were still around, Vixen, you and I and the gracious and lovely Alicia would be Valentinians.)

Vixen Strangely said...

I have found looking into the apocrypha and the Gnostic aspects of the early church fascinating as a study of the Road Not Travelled--it seems that in trying to create a Catholic Church, the fathers of the early church left the phrase "mystery of the faith" out there without much expectation that anyone would want to play spiritual detective and unravel it. Which is a pity. So chunks of ideas like Annointing and wisdom and the Holy Spirit are out there, but even people within a congregation don't necessarily grasp "this is my body"--and see.

Valentinianism is fascinating--the idea of Aeons, as you know, interests me, but also the idea of the male and female aspects of Divinity appeals to me because it has echoes in other traditions--Osirus/Isis/Horus. Ptah and Sekmet. Ishtar and Tammuz. The idea of the Shekinah as a bride. The resolution of wisdom and skillful means in the eastern image of yab-yum. There is a similarity in the concept of Sophia as a female personification of wisdom with vidya as an honorific of Saraswati. And of course, the reverse--avidya, which gives rise to the kleshas, is the ignorance that leads to sin--just as ignorance--(would that be agnosis?)leads to sin within the gnostic tradition.

Government is as good as the freedom of the people who enjoy it, can get it--which is to say, an unfree people can't expect much from their leaders. That begins with their freedom to agree or disagree verbally. It ends where a government sees fit to take lives at a whim. I'm sure you have followed, as I have, the criminal situation in Mexico where 43 college students had vanished, and a local mayor and his wife have been implicated in their disappearance, and the regular uncovering of mass graves there. Sometimes police in Mexico are very mobbed up with the drug smugglers, it seems. This tells me a very bad thing--when a government is so corrupt that its officials kill citizens so easily, it is nearly impossible for an honest person to enter government there, because they would have reason to fear for their lives. And yet, only honest people can fix that situation--by speaking out.

Formerly Amherst said...

Vixen, I think you are a much better spokesman for Gnosticism and comparative mystery religions than you are for atheism.

As you point out, the place of the feminine in Western religion has traditionally been minimized and diminished in its importance.

Most of the religions you mention are natural religions in that they operate on the basis of the natural structure of the human psyche when archetypes and the Collective Unconscious are taken into consideration.

Jung discovered that the Gnostic were very helpful to him, because it was the only large complex of Western thought that seemed to be in agreement with his psychology and in anticipation of him.

He discovered that the natural propensity of psychic structure reveals itself to be a component of four points.

In Christianity we had Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but in the natural place for the feminine component we placed the devil. So where a natural building of religious discovery in the psyche would have had Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and Mother, we knocked out Mother and replaced her with Satan.

All of the feminine qualities, including love and eros, were relegated to evil. Needless to say, you can expect a little trouble to flow from a construction like that.

This was redeemed to some extent in the 1950s when Mary was relegated to more or less co-equal status with Christ, finally giving the divine feminine its rightful place in the structure and removing the idea of woman as the progenitor of evil. This along with the split between religion and science has been one of the chief obstacles to be overcome by Christianity.

You know, to this day Isis as Mary, personification of Binah, still reveals herself in various places around the world that become shrines. Oddly enough there is a close association among these BVMs, revelations to ordinary people, and UFO phenomena.

I once told a priest that in the mysteries we did not have trouble with women wanting to become priests because we still maintained and protected the office of priestess – frater and soror. Had the church just included Mary at the outset, we would have had a line of priestesses as important, with functions suitable for the gender, right alongside priests.

I see sin in much the way Paul Tillich does. Alienation. If it alienates you from your relationship with divinity, it is not in your interest, or anyone else's, to pursue. Most alienation in our world is people's own foibles cutting them off from relationship with the divine self, or God if you prefer. It is nothing that ultimately can be remedied by politics or even many types of psychotherapy.

Valentinians still had an initiatory hierarchy. They encouraged introspection, reflection, and intuition with the scriptures and contemplation of Christ. And they recognized there were different degrees of insight that had to be understood as one made deeper discoveries into the mysteries. Gnosticism is getting a little more attention today with some of the scrolls in the Nag Hammadi find. The books of Elaine Pagels are interesting in this regard, probably starting with The Gnostic Gospels.

Formerly Amherst said...

Mexico is frighteningly close to being a failed state. During the worst of the US economic collapse due to the mortgage loan crisis, Mexican banks were making loans at a volcanic rate. A the point when the domino effect was challenging central bankers across the world, Mexican banks were rich beyond conceivability. Why? Money from the illegal drug trade flowed into their coffers by the billions. The former president's brother was deeply implicated in the drug trade. Supposed incorruptible generals have been prosecuted for their roles in the drug trade.

In Mexico we have a humanitarian crisis that rivals Afghanistan, and we have a criminal kleptocracy that is funded by multibillions of dollars.

You might be interested to know that already radical Mexican-American groups with American citizenship have been calling for the return of our southern border states to Mexico. In discussions with very high officials I have had to remind them that a few years back, French speaking Quebec had a vote and almost seceded from Canada. Crime and secession await in our future if we don't stop playing politics with this issue and measuring it by financial expediency.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

In discussions with very high officials

Funniest thing I've read all day!

Formerly Amherst said...

BBB is right. It does sound sort of silly. Kind of like something out of Casablanca.

During the Bush administration I was involved in the border issue. Because of a friendship with a staffer in the senior senator's office from my state, I had access to a lot of telephone numbers, including the legislative assistants to the president and VP. However, the conversation I mentioned took place between me and the senior attorney in my state working on the border issues.

I said to him, “You know, eventually when Spanish speakers become dominant with their loyalties to Mex, they are going to start pushing for secession.”

This was actually a loaded statement on my part, because first, I knew that some college groups connected with La Raza and others had been agitating for this.

Second, I realized he would think I was a flake and call me on the ideas I advanced, which would give me an opportunity to respond.

He said, “That's crazy talk.”

I replied, “that's exactly what they thought in Canada when they had a referendum in French speaking Quebec to secede from the confederation.”

This was during the Chr├ętien or Martin premiership, and frankly Quebec threatens this pretty often, and one day they may actually secede.

It would be naive for people from my part of the country to imagine that this kind of sentiment cannot be stoked and agitated among Spanish speakers.