1. Joined
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    02 Jun '07 08:03
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/05/30/wmaddy230.xml

    Mrs McCann spoke first to the Pope and passed him a photograph of Madeleine and her twin siblings to bless. She said: "I thanked him first of all for letting us meet him and I thanked him for his prayers. That photograph will stay with us now."


    When the pope blesses the picture, does the blessing transfer to the person? And does then the picture remain blessed, or lose it's 'potency' or whatever the word is?
  2. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    02 Jun '07 23:36
    How quaint.
  3. Standard memberChronicLeaky
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    03 Jun '07 11:42
    Originally posted by snowinscotland
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/05/30/wmaddy230.xml

    Mrs McCann spoke first to the Pope and passed him a photograph of Madeleine and her twin siblings to bless. She said: "I thanked him first of all for letting us meet him and I thanked him for his prayers. That photograph will stay with us now."


    When the pope blesses ...[text shortened]... ? And does then the picture remain blessed, or lose it's 'potency' or whatever the word is?
    Why is the Torygraph and the rest of the news media reporting on this story so extensively? It's not really newsworthy.
  4. Joined
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    03 Jun '07 13:581 edit
    Originally posted by ChronicLeaky
    Why is the Torygraph and the rest of the news media reporting on this story so extensively? It's not really newsworthy.
    The whole issue is still getting massive public reaction, for whatever reason. No one can afford to ignore it (including the BBC), even if they wanted to.
  5. Joined
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    05 Jun '07 17:12
    perhaps it is me, but I wonder at the attraction or significance of objects many people seem to treat in this way.

    It got me to thinking how the cross (as in stewardesses) or veil (as in schoolgirls) seems to become more important than the spirit in the individuals themselves. This transfer of faith to an object seems to be what we are warned against in the Bible.
  6. Donationbbarr
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    05 Jun '07 20:00
    Originally posted by snowinscotland
    perhaps it is me, but I wonder at the attraction or significance of objects many people seem to treat in this way.

    It got me to thinking how the cross (as in stewardesses) or veil (as in schoolgirls) seems to become more important than the spirit in the individuals themselves. This transfer of faith to an object seems to be what we are warned against in the Bible.
    Not just the transfer of faith to an object, but the transfer of faith to mental representations that inevtiably get the ineffable wrong.
  7. tinyurl.com/ywohm
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    07 Jun '07 02:55
    Originally posted by bbarr
    Not just the transfer of faith to an object, but the transfer of faith to mental representations that inevtiably get the ineffable wrong.
    Many people use 3-dimensional religious symbols because they are tangible. They can be a reminder to the wearer or owner that they have chosen a certain path (with or without information and guidance, etc. ... not getting into that here) and need to properly "represent" it and model their behavior after it. It can help them feel strengthened in their resolve or in their journey. It can help them connect with others. In the United States, most people past a certain age know that December 25th or at least some point in December is Christmas. Those who celebrate Christmas know exactly when it is. It is an internal part of their life, whether they claim it as a secular holiday or celebrate the religious holiday or combine the two. Nevertheless, they decorate their houses with all sorts of things as visual reminders. They don't need to be reminded, but they feel a benefit of sorts from Christmas trees or whatever else they use to decorate. They also don't tend to hide the tree in the bathroom but put it out where all can see it, generally including the neighbors as well, and some decorate the outside of their houses. It is the same thing with wearing religious garb or jewelry.
  8. England
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    11 Jun '07 12:22
    seems to me as long as you do not worship it,, no problem.
    tho why do i get a uneasy feeling about the parents?? anyone else suspect!
  9. Standard membergenius
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    12 Jun '07 10:16
    Originally posted by snowinscotland
    perhaps it is me, but I wonder at the attraction or significance of objects many people seem to treat in this way.

    It got me to thinking how the cross (as in stewardesses) or veil (as in schoolgirls) seems to become more important than the spirit in the individuals themselves. This transfer of faith to an object seems to be what we are warned against in the Bible.
    the problem is when you start to worship the object more than the diety. but it can happen with other stuff to-like going to church. some people worship church more than God, if that makes sense? they get really involved in all things church-ey, and forget to be a christian.

    however, that does not mean that if someone bans church we should not do something about it. likewise, if someone tells us that we are not allowed to wear religious symbols/items of clothing, be it a viel, turban or cross, then we should also do something about it.

    i remember when the french banned all religious symbols from all government buildings, including schools. the reporter was telling us this from outside some big french government offices, and right beside a christmas tree...
  10. London
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    13 Jun '07 09:02
    Originally posted by bbarr
    Not just the transfer of faith to an object, but the transfer of faith to mental representations that inevtiably get the ineffable wrong.
    If it's ineffable, how can one say it's ineffable?

    Hmm...
  11. London
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    13 Jun '07 09:08
    Originally posted by snowinscotland
    When the pope blesses the picture, does the blessing transfer to the person? And does then the picture remain blessed, or lose it's 'potency' or whatever the word is?
    Which person? Madeleine or her mother?

    Blessing objects (with certain exceptions) makes them what are called sacramentals. They become conduits of grace for the person using them in prayer, but in proportion to his/her faith and/or prayer.

    Personally, I think they simply act as focal points for the person in his/her spiritual life.
  12. Hmmm . . .
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    13 Jun '07 14:59
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    If it's ineffable, how can one say it's ineffable?

    Hmm...
    How about: The only wholly accurate statement that can be said about the ineffable is that it’s ineffable?

    Under what conditions can our best attempts at mental representation become idolatrous? (E.g., even if the ineffable—that which transcends the capabilities of our conceptual “grammar”—communicated in representational terms that humans could comprehend, under what conditions might even those terms become idolatrous?)

    What is the difference between an icon (verbal, pictorial, natural, etc.), that may point toward the ineffable—or to elicit an experience of the embrace of, or communion with—the ultimately ineffable, and an idol? (Is there a clue there in your reference to “focal points”?)
  13. Standard memberblakbuzzrd
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    13 Jun '07 15:00
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    Personally, I think they simply act as focal points for the person in his/her spiritual life.
    That's the way my catholic friend describes it. Makes sense to me.
  14. London
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    13 Jun '07 15:36
    Originally posted by vistesd
    How about: The only wholly accurate statement that can be said about the ineffable is that it’s ineffable?

    Under what conditions can our best attempts at mental representation become idolatrous? (E.g., even if the ineffable—that which transcends the capabilities of our conceptual “grammar”—communicated in representational terms that humans could compreh ...[text shortened]... ultimately ineffable, and an idol? (Is there a clue there in your reference to “focal points”?)
    My counter-question would be -- at what point does a fear of idolatory become a refusal to touch / engage with Mystery in the first place?

    I am reminded of a small joke sometimes posted in this forum. A man is drowning and calls out to God for help. A couple rowing nearby hears his calls and arrives at the scene to help, but the man snubs them and continues calling to God for help. A short while later, another rower comes by and offers assistance, only to be snubbed as well. Shortly, a third rower comes by and offers assistance to meet the same result. The man finally drowns and finds himself in God's presence. He angrily asks God why He refused to help him while he was drowning. God replies, "I sent you three boats -- what more did you want?!"

    A mental representation of Mystery is not the same as Mystery, but can one truly engage with or enter into a relationship with Mystery if one refuses to form or evaluate mental representations? A photo of the Moon is not the same as the Moon, but does it tell us nothing true about the Moon? Can a person who refuses to look at representations of the Moon find his way to the Moon? Would the fact that the celestial body he is approaching is a red gaseous giant instead of a white rocky satellite not make him alter his course?
  15. Hmmm . . .
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    13 Jun '07 18:29
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    My counter-question would be -- at what point does a fear of idolatory become a refusal to touch / engage with Mystery in the first place?

    I am reminded of a small joke sometimes posted in this forum. A man is drowning and calls out to God for help. A couple rowing nearby hears his calls and arrives at the scene to help, but the man snubs them and ...[text shortened]... hing is a red gaseous giant instead of a white rocky satellite not make him alter his course?
    My counter-question would be -- at what point does a fear of idolatry become a refusal to touch / engage with Mystery in the first place?

    I don’t understand the question...

    A mental representation of Mystery is not the same as Mystery, but can one truly engage with or enter into a relationship with Mystery if one refuses to form or evaluate mental representations?

    My initial thought was to give an unequivocal “Yes.” But I have to add some major qualifiers (the answer is still “Yes,” but a qualified “Yes” ):

    (1) In communion with the Mystery, it can be difficult to get beyond/behind such representations, because the habitual conceptualizing activity of the mind seems to try to immediately translate any “experience” into conceptually coherent terms. (Analogy, which also goes to your Moon question: the visual cortex translates certain energy patterns into a picture inside the head.)

    Even when such mental activity ceases, it is difficult to sustain that communion behind/beyond the conceptual/representational makings of the mind. The more one is able to relax into it, rather than make an “effort” to “sustain” it—that is, to simply allow that activity of the mind to rest—the longer (at least in my experience, perhaps because it’s really a quite natural state).

    I’m not sure how long such a non-representational communion is sustainable. Perhaps some can sustain it even during such activities as reading or debating. I have only ever had that happen a few times, and it just seemed that it happened with no conscious volition on my part (as opposed to, say, meditation/contemplation).

    (2) Even if one is able to sustain (again, ignore that “effortful” kind of language if you can) such a state for some duration, as one returns “from fullness to form,” the conceptual translation process seems to begin immediately—so that I do not know if one can come away from the “experience” without any mental representations forming.

    The Zen masters counsel against attaching any significance whatsoever to any such representations, and all of their paradoxical poetic and “koanic” statements are supposedly intended to point away from themselves toward the _______________. I still think that such representations can serve an iconic function—as long as the word, picture, symbol, concept is not taken for the “thing-in-itself.”

    That is why, although I have a pretty broad understanding of idolatry, I generally hesitate to say this or that is idolatrous. For example, I have quoted rabbi and talmudic scholar Marc-Alain Ouaknin with reference to the rabbinical notion of “the idolatry of the one absolute right meaning” of a Torah text; and yet we certainly seek for meaning to arise out of engagement with the text. I don’t think that mental or physical or graphic representation is necessarily idolatrous; I think that they can all be iconically useful. (Like the boats.)

    (3) I can not honestly be certain that it isn’t past engagements with representational symbols, even if no longer remembered, that now evoke an “experience” of _______________. Or that today’s engagements (e.g., contemplative reading) will not have their effect in the future.

    _______________________________

    With regard to your “Moon” example— I would say that one can only know if the picture is accurate (recognizing the limitations of analogy here) if one has been to the Moon. (A better example might be a place that one has not only never been to, but does not physically view either.) Also, one has to take into account our being accustomed to seeing dimensionality on a two-dimensional surface; in other words, we can’t read the symbols if we don’t already know what they symbolize. (This is true, I think, even of such symbols as “the Mystery”—which you and I both use.)

    I am not certain that the world is really as represented by the pictures created by my brain. But those pictures are pragmatically sufficient (generally) to enable me to navigate in that world. And even though that tree over there seems to be separate and at some distance from myself, we are connected—else I could not see it. I think it is because I am of, and not merely in, this world that there is such congruence between the grammar of my brain and the larger syntax of which I am.

    To try to put it another way, we can’t know if the sign (signifier + signified) actually even has a referent, unless we have some experience of the referent, let alone whether the representational signified is accurate at all with regard to the referent it presumably represents. Further, in this matter, the only real “referent” I am likely to have is my own limited, participatory experience—that is, why I have been recently exploring use of the word communion as a kind of dialectical synthesis vis-à-vis mystical union on the one hand, and Buber-esque I-Thou relationalism on the other. The boundaries of my “I” expand into the “We”—I am not sure that that communion is not the extent of my “referent” in the matter, and that I can say anything definitive about the “Other” outside of that. Everything that I might be foolhardy enough (as you know I am) to say about the Other really reflects just that “We” communion.
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