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Posts Tagged ‘religion

“Dimension regulated the general scale of the work, so that the parts may all tell and be effective”*…

 

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Readers will know of your correspondent’s fascination with relative scale– c.f., “Scaling Away,” “Putting vegetables to exquisite use,” and “Nothing can better cure the anthropocentrism that is the author of all our ills than to cast ourselves into the physics of the infinitely large (or the infinitely small),” for example.

Now, from Orteil, an addition to the collection: Nested.  Click away…

* Vitruvius

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As we survey size, we might spare a thought for Saint Thomas Aquinas; he died on this date in 1274. A Dominican friar, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church, he was an immensely influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of Scholasticism.  Following Aristotle’s definition of science as sure and evident knowledge obtained from demonstrations, Thomas defined science as the knowledge of things from their causes. In his major work, Summa, he distinguished between demonstrated truth (science) and revealed truth (faith).  His influence on Western thought is considerable; much of modern philosophy (especially ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory) developed with reference– in support or opposition– to his ideas.

Thomas, from an altarpiece in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, by Carlo Crivelli (15th century)

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Written by LW

March 7, 2017 at 1:01 am

“It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it”*…

 

xkcd

* Steven Wright (again)

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As we rethink relationships, we might recall that it was on this date in 362 that the Roman Emperor Julian issued an edict to guaranteeing  freedom of religion– proclaiming that all the religions were equal in the Law.  An attempt to buffer the Roman Empire from growing pressure from Christians to become the state religion, his order was an attempt to restore Rome’s original religious eclecticism, according to which the State did not impose any religion on its provinces.  During his life he was known as “Julian the Philosopher”; subsequent Christian historians refer to him as Julian the Apostate.

In 380 CE, Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the Empire’s sole authorized religion. Still, there was schism, as the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Catholic Church each claimed to be the authentic form of Christianity.

Portrait of Emperor Julian on a bronze coin from Antioch minted 360–363

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Written by LW

February 4, 2017 at 1:01 am

“I think it would be a good idea”*…

 

Culture – like religion and nation and race – provides a source of identity for contemporary human beings. And, like all three, it can become a form of confinement, conceptual mistakes underwriting moral ones. Yet all of them can also give contours to our freedom. Social identities connect the small scale where we live our lives alongside our kith and kin with larger movements, causes, and concerns. They can make a wider world intelligible, alive, and urgent. They can expand our horizons to communities larger than the ones we personally inhabit. But our lives must make sense, too, at the largest of all scales. We live in an era in which our actions, in the realm of ideology as in the realm of technology, increasingly have global effects. When it comes to the compass of our concern and compassion, humanity as a whole is not too broad a horizon.

We live with seven billion fellow humans on a small, warming planet. The cosmopolitan impulse that draws on our common humanity is no longer a luxury; it has become a necessity…

From “There is no such thing as western civilisation,” an excerpt from the edited version of Kwame Anthony Appiah’s BBC Reith lecture, “Culture,” the fourth part of the series Mistaken Identities.

* Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization (widely quoted, but possibly apocryphal)

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As we take E.M. Forster’s advice (Howard’s End), “only connect, we might send recently-reformed birthday wishes to Augustine of Hippo, AKA St. Augustine; he was born on this date in 354. Augustine famously came to his faith later in life, after a youth filled with worldly experience… including a long engagement (to an underaged girl– to wit the length), for which he left the concubine who was the love of his life, “The One”– and which he broke off just before the wedding.

After his embrace of the faith, Augustine became a theologian and philosopher whose writings (e.g., The City of God and Confessions) were hugely influential in the development of… western civilization.

Imagined portrait by Philippe de Champaigne (17th cen.)

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Written by LW

November 13, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee / And I’ll forgive Thy great big one on me”*…

 

Religion in the United States has “revenues” of $1.2 Trillion a year– more than the combined revenues of the top 10 technology companies in the US, including Apple, Amazon, and Google– making it equivalent to the 15th largest national economy in the world.

Read the pecuniary particulars at “Religion in US ‘worth more than Google and Apple combined’.”

Download the underlying research– “The Socioeconomic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis” by Brian Grim of Georgetown University and Melissa Grim of the Newseum Institute– as a pdf here.

And for a concrete example of evangelical economic activity that may be happening off of the reader’s radar, consider the phenomenon that’s the subject of the film reviewed here.

* Robert Frost

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As we pass the offering plate, we might recall that it was on this date in 1895 that Daniel David Palmer gave the first chiropractic adjustment to Harvey Lillard in Davenport, Iowa. Palmer had been practicing in Davenport for thirty years as a magnetic healer.  During this time, he developed the theory that misalignment of the bones in the body was the basic underlying cause of all “dis-ease,” and the majority of these mis-alignments were in the spinal column.  On learning that Lillard, the janitor in his building, had a hearing problem, Palmer adjusted his spine, which, Palmer reported, cured the ailment– a claim that was seminal to Chiropractic history.

Davenport is now the home of Palmer Chiropractic College.

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Written by LW

September 18, 2016 at 1:01 am

“It is harder to let ourselves be loved than it is to love”*…

 

It should be no real surprise that one of the most capitalist nations in the world would capitalize on an Apostolic visit, even when the visitor is a pope who calls money the devil’s dung

From a G-string for women with a Pope Francis saying: “To live charitably means not looking out for your own interests but carrying the burdens of the weakest and poorest among us” and Pope Francis flip flops, to a microbrewery beer called YOPO—You Only Pope Once (that will be available at the pubs surrounding the Philadelphia venue for the Catholic World Meeting of Families) and a life-size gatorfoam standee posterboard of the pontiff ($160) for anyone who wants to take a papal selfie…  In contrast to Cuba, the Pope’s last stop, vendors are out in force as Francis visits the U.S. for the first time.

More at “Pope Francis Souvenir Shortage Hits Cuba, As U.S. Drowns In Them.”

* Pope Francis

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As we “heart” Francis, we might recall that it was on this date in 1555 that Charles V and the forces of the Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of Lutheran princes, meeting in the imperial city of Augsburg (in present-day Bavaria, Germany) signed The Peace of Augsburg, officially ending the religious struggle between the two groups and making the legal division of Christendom permanent within the Holy Roman Empire.

Negotiating the Peace of Augsburg

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Written by LW

September 25, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Where’s Papa going with that ax?”*…

 

From the Grimms and Mother Goose to Edward Gorey, children’s literature can be… well, pretty chilling.  But for pure shock value, it’s possible that Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy—about Satanic ritual abuse—is the scariest children’s book ever written.   The book’s description explains…

The words of the text and the objects and situations illustrated are based on months of intensive research into the nature and practice of satanic ritual abuse. Any child who has been ritually abused will recognize the validity of this story.

The book was apparently marketed to school counselors, mental health professionals and support groups, as well as to concerned parent, to help identify signs of Satanic Ritual Abuse (or “SRA”).

Amazon reviewers weighed in with reactions including these:

– One HELL of a good read. Devilishly funny. My son, Damian, thought it was the funniest book he’s ever read. An all around great book to read around the sulfur pit with the family. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but honestly, LOOK AT IT.

– 4 year old saw this book and she is begging parents to send her to this school, where on earth are we going find a satanist school for the brat.

– You have to be a detective to follow the “story.” The book forces you to deduce the storyline from the progression of settings, because the book never tells you what is happening or why, or even who is talking. The child in the “story” just materializes in new contexts without explanation. The reader’s reactions are constantly along the lines of, “Where is she now? What is happening? Who is this person? Who is talking?” Each page introduces a new disjointed scenario and a new unattributed quotation, and it’s up to the reader to try to figure out what’s going on.

Via the ever-illuminating Dangerous Minds.

* Fern, to her mother, as they were setting the table for breakfast. –E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

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As we make the sign of the cross, we might wish a grateful Happy Birthday to the greatest poet and playwright in the English canon, William Shakespeare; he was born (tradition holds, and reason suggests) on this date in 1564.  In fact, there is no way to know with certainty the Bard’s birth date.  But his baptism was recorded at Stratford-on-Avon on April 26, 1564; and three days was the then-customary wait before baptism.

In any case, we do know with some certainty that Shakespeare died on this date in 1616.

The Chandos Portrait

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Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis*…

The College of Cardinals heads into session today, the latest installment in the oldest continuous democratic process in the world.  As we watch for white smoke, Lapham’s Quarterly reminds us of just how momentous the results of the balloting can be.

In 1484, just three months into his pontificate, Innocent VIII issued a papal bull, naming two professors as his primary inquisitors.  Heinrich Kramer, a professor of theology at the University of Salzburg,  and Jacobus Sprenger, a dean of the University of Cologne, had written the new Pope complaining that their local ecclesiastical authorities were not assisting them in stamping out witchcraft.  Innocent VIII put them in charge– and the prosecutions began.

Two years later, the two Dominican inquisitors published the (in)famous Malleus Maleficarum (“Hammer of the Witches”) the book proclaiming that disbelief in witches was heresy and prescribing torture to procure confessions from the accused, that became (if readers will forgive the pun) the Bible of the Inquisition.

Read Innocent VIII”s full Papal Bull here.

And on a related note, lest we worry that the new Pope, whoever he might be, will need to scramble to find appropriate attire for that all-important first audience, the Pope’s tailors have him covered.

* “Inquiry on Heretical Perversity

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As we admit that Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition, we might recall that it was on this date in 1912 that The Girl Scouts were born in the U.S., as Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low (who’d met and been deeply influenced by Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell in London) organized the first Girl Scout troop meeting of 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia.  The annual sale of cookies as a fund-raiser began in 1917.

Ms. Low, flanked by two Scouts

[Goya’s The Inquisition Tribunal sourced here; the title page of the seventh Cologne edition of the Malleus Maleficarum, here; girl scout photo, here]

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