1. Standard memberChronicLeaky
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    28 Feb '07 14:48
    What's your favourite historical or fictitious holy war, and why?
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    28 Feb '07 14:59
    Originally posted by ChronicLeaky
    What's your favourite historical or fictitious holy war, and why?
    The one that's going on around us right now. Because I'm in it.
    Ephesians 6:12
    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
  3. Standard memberChronicLeaky
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    28 Feb '07 15:02
    Originally posted by josephw
    The one that's going on around us right now. Because I'm in it.
    Ephesians 6:12
    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
    Which holy war are you involved in? This is so cool; I just stumbled on this forum and it contains a modern Crusader!
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    28 Feb '07 15:07
    Originally posted by ChronicLeaky
    Which holy war are you involved in? This is so cool; I just stumbled on this forum and it contains a modern Crusader!
    The war in which Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords.
  5. Gangster Land
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    28 Feb '07 15:08
    Originally posted by josephw
    The war in which Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords.
    Whom are you fighting?
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    28 Feb '07 15:10
    Originally posted by TheSkipper
    Whom are you fighting?
    The enemy.
  7. Standard memberChronicLeaky
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    28 Feb '07 15:11
    Originally posted by josephw
    The enemy.
    Who is the enemy? If specifying the enemy requires too much explanation, we can always name certain groups and you can respond with confirmation or denial of their "enemy" status. This could be almost as fun as fighting a holy war. Let's begin: Christians.
  8. Gangster Land
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    28 Feb '07 15:121 edit
    Originally posted by josephw
    The enemy.
    It would seems your real enemy is vagueness.

    Who is your enemy?
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    28 Feb '07 15:17
    Originally posted by ChronicLeaky
    Who is the enemy? If specifying the enemy requires too much explanation, we can always name certain groups and you can respond with confirmation or denial of their "enemy" status. This could be almost as fun as fighting a holy war. Let's begin: Christians.
    Didn't you read my first post?
    I gotta go, won't be back till later.
  10. Standard memberChronicLeaky
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    28 Feb '07 15:19
    Originally posted by josephw
    Didn't you read my first post?
    I gotta go, won't be back till later.
    When you come back, will you be ready to be more specific about who your enemies are?

    How do you fight this war? Do you have any strategic and tactical advice for those who'd like to help?
  11. Hmmm . . .
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    28 Feb '07 17:085 edits
    Originally posted by ChronicLeaky
    What's your favourite historical or fictitious holy war, and why?
    The one I’m currently fighting.

    “Who is the enemy?

    Idolatry.

    “What is idolatry?”

    Any attempt to turn the ultimately ineffable into a ‘graven image.’

    “What d’you mean by a graven image?”

    Any attempt to fashion the ineffable into a descriptive image or idea or definition that one then insists is adequate and accurate (even if incomplete), and must be believed or adhered to, in order for one to have obtained the truth, or to be saved, etc.—whether this image is graven in stone, on the pages of a book, or in the mind.

    In a sense, idolatry involves, not simply fashioning an image—we all do that, and I have no objections per se to iconography—but insisting upon (i) its adequacy and correctness as an expression the truth (“graving” ), and (ii) that it exclusively represents the truth, rejection of which represents rebellion (“bowing down” ). The fashioning, the graving and the bowing-down can all occur within one’s own mind.

    In other words, it is an attempt to substitute the sign (signifier + signified) for the referent—in this case, the referent being the totality, which is ineffable because it exceeds the capabilities of our “conceptual grammar,” both because (a) the totality as such has no proper analogy or comparative or metaphor, in terms of which we can think/speak; and (b) there is no reason to assume that there are not aspects of the totality that simply transcend our conceptual capacities.

    In shorthand: the opposite of idolatry is the mystery, which can be recognized but not “dogmatized.”

    When one reaches the end of our conceptual grammar, one faces the mystery which is ineffable. Even this language I’m using here is necessarily faulty. Confronted by the ineffable, one can:

    (1) remain silent;

    (2) attempt to use language in paradoxical and poetical ways intended, not to map the ineffable, but to elicit an openness to the simple experience of it.

    All religious language for me (and music and art), whether theistic (Christian, say) or monistic (Taoism, say) should properly be thought of as metaphorical, as aesthetic-responsive or allusive-elicitive, whether it appears to be propositional in form or not—

    “Wait a minute! Isn’t everything you’re saying here ‘propositional?’”

    Yep. On the other hand, none of these propositions are intended to be “believed”—they are not “maps of the territory;” they are merely intended as “maps pointing to the territory.” In fact, they are not even that—they are the best I can do on a written page to attempt to point, to indicate with a nod of my head... I am quite aware that they are inadequate. If you get hooked on my words, it is like staring at a finger pointing to the moon, rather than turning to gaze at the moon itself...

    As I said above, even these statements, though in propositional form, should be thought of as merely allusive. One who reads them may look “within the mirror-moon behind the mind”—or not.

    “Well, do any religionists accept these notions of yours about mystery and idolatry?”

    Oh, yes! Here are a few—

    ______________________________

    “The Tao that can be spoken of is not the real Tao;
    “the name that can be named is not the ultimate name.” (The Tao Te Ching)

    “Every definition of God leads to heresy; definition is spiritual idolatry. Even attributing mind and will to God, even attributing divinity itself, and the name ‘God’—these, too, are definitions. Were it not for the subtle awareness that all these are just sparkling flashes of that which transcends definition—these, too, would engender heresy. ...

    “The greatest impediment to the human spirit results from the fact that the conception of God is fixed in a particular form, due to childish habit and imagination. This is a spark of the defect of idolatry, of which we must always be aware. ...

    “The infinite transcends every particular content of faith.” (Rav Abraham Isaac, quoted in Daniel Matt The Essential Kabbalah)

    “One day you may say, ‘I found God, I know him, he is so and so, he is there and there, he is in me, in creation, in the eucharist ...’ That is a day of disaster for you because you will have found your God, your own projection, so pitiful and small. These gods - these idols - in turn keep us pitiful and small. We would fight for them ... They can be terrible ... Mystery does not require defenders. Idols do. Mystery makes us humble.” (Anthony DeMello, SJ; Some of Father DeMello’s views and writings were condemned by the church posthumously)

    ___________________________________

    “So, how do you fight against idolaters?”

    I don’t. I struggle against idolatry, in myself as much as anyone else. That may be my principal jihad.

    “Do you have any strategic and tactical advice for those who'd like to help?”

    Whenever you identify an idol, turn away. In western theological terms, this might involve what is called practicing an apophatic theology. If you’re into Zen, you might practice the meditation of “clear mind,” or use koans, such as this one:

    Behind the makings of the mind,
    before all images, thoughts or words,
    can you find anything real
    that is not just another concept defined,
    another making of the mind...?

    “That’s very confusing; in fact all of this is...”

    Good! Confusion over concepts might lead you to refrain from idolizing them, and to wander into clear-mind, and an experiential recognition of the ineffable real...

    “Can’t you just tell us what you mean by the ‘ineffable real’?”

    Are you kidding...?
  12. Standard memberPalynka
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    28 Feb '07 17:17
    Originally posted by vistesd
    In shorthand: the opposite of idolatry is the mystery, which can be recognized but not “dogmatized.”
    Great post. I found my personal solution in my own brand of skepticism.

    Questions are not answered until they can be answered meaningfully. The corollary is that if they're not answerable (i.e. ineffable) then they will not be answered.
  13. Hmmm . . .
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    28 Feb '07 17:251 edit
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Great post. I found my personal solution in my own brand of skepticism.

    Questions are not answered until they can be answered meaningfully. The corollary is that if they're not answerable (i.e. ineffable) then they will not be answered.
    Thank you. It’s not just limited to religion, but to metaphysics generally, as Wittgenstein pointed out.

    EDIT: In case I wasn't clear about this, it is only idolatry (as I think of it) that I object to, not religious practice and expression, or religious discourse language, symbolism, etc. It is not religious conceptualization (e.g., theology) that I oppose, but an idolizing of the concept, and the error (again, in myself as well as others) of not recognizing the limits of our conceptual "grammar."
  14. Standard memberPalynka
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    28 Feb '07 17:37
    Originally posted by vistesd
    EDIT: In case I wasn't clear about this, it is only idolatry (as I think of it) that I object to, not religious practice and expression, or religious discourse language, symbolism, etc. It is not religious conceptualization (e.g., theology) that I oppose, but an idolizing of the concept, and the error (again, in myself as well as others) of not recognizing the limits of our conceptual "grammar."
    Actually, I think you were clear about idolatry but not really about mystery.

    When one reaches the end of our conceptual grammar, one faces the mystery which is ineffable. Even this language I’m using here is necessarily faulty. Confronted by the ineffable, one can:

    (1) remain silent;

    (2) attempt to use language in paradoxical and poetical ways intended, not to map the ineffable, but to elicit an openness to the simple experience of it.


    At first, I thought I would answer 1, here. But rereading this I stumble into what seems to me a paradox. Can the ineffable even be confronted?
  15. Hmmm . . .
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    28 Feb '07 17:503 edits
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Actually, I think you were clear about idolatry but not really about mystery.

    [b]When one reaches the end of our conceptual grammar, one faces the mystery which is ineffable. Even this language I’m using here is necessarily faulty. Confronted by the ineffable, one can:

    (1) remain silent;

    (2) attempt to use language in paradoxical and poetical ways ...[text shortened]... rereading this I stumble into what seems to me a paradox. Can the ineffable even be confronted?
    [/b]Well put. “Confronted” is not a good word—but then, a lot of the terms we try to use when talking about this stuff ought to be prefaced by “as if”—as is, “It seemed as if...” or “The experience was kind of like...” To use one of my favorite metaphors, the wave cannot really be said to be “confronted by” the ocean.

    EDIT:

    Actually, it is probably improper to speak of “experiencing” the ineffable—as if the ineffable is a “something” or a force or a dimension. What one experiences in the so-called mystical (by which I do not mean supernatural!) experience is our inseparability from the whole. Another metaphor—

    Imagine the totality as an ocean (recognizing that their is no proper analogy for the all-of-all-of-it). My existence is like a stream in the ocean, real but inseparable, transient. One day, the stream that I call “me” will disappear—but, as Ramakrishna put it: “Where could I possibly go?”

    Now, of course, the resurrectionists or the reincarnationists may be right—however those positions are understood (taking my cue here from your warnings about over-generalization). But I don’t go there. Which is not to say that my agreement with Ramakrishna isn’t a kind of metaphysical speculation, too. But part of the “makings of the mind” is the ego-construct, what in the east is sometimes called “the little ego,” and I sometimes call the fabricated somebody-self. Which is good in itself, but—“Behind the makings of the mind...?”

    Okay—I’m really exhausting myself grappling with the language. I really don’t want to “idolize” anything I might say about the experience. I don’t think I even want to offer assurances—such as it’s coherent and harmonious and ultimately beautiful (which is how things that are coherent and harmonious with our consciousness tend to “feel” )—because, ultimately, turning away from the idols to which we tend to cling, toward the openness of what I call clear-mind, always involves a personal risk. All “spiritual practices” involve personal risk, only one of which is that the powerfulness of the experience one might have itself leads toward an idolization of the conceptual terms into which the mind translates it. People can go crazy. A strong ego is a helpful grounding when “confronting”—“the void of the ineffable.”

    Perhaps “scare quotes” should be placed around all that can be said...
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