Ramdev has been compared to Billy Graham, the Southern Baptist firebrand who advised several American presidents and energized the Christian right. The parallel makes some sense: Ramdev has been a prominent voice on the Hindu right, and his tacit endorsement during the landmark 2014 campaign helped bring Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power. He appeared alongside Modi on several occasions, singing the leader’s praises and urging Indians to turn out for him. Ramdev has called Modi “a close friend,” and the prime minister publicly lauds Patanjali’s array of ayurvedic products — medicines, cosmetics and foodstuffs. Although Modi campaigned heavily on promises to reform India’s economy and fight corruption, there were frequent dog whistles to the Hindu nationalist base, some of them coordinated with Ramdev. A month before Modi’s landslide victory, a trust controlled by Ramdev released a video in which senior leaders of Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.), including the current ministers of foreign affairs, internal security, finance and transportation, appeared alongside him with a signed document setting out nine pledges. These included the protection of cows — animals held sacred in Hinduism — and a broad call for Hindu nationalist reforms of the government, the courts, cultural institutions and education. After Modi won, Ramdev claimed to have “prepared the ground for the big political changes that occurred.”
Posts tagged religion
Russia’s athletes and military personnel are increasingly turning to ancient pagan beliefs, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has warned. The Orthodox church, a strong conservative force closely allied to the Kremlin, has expanded its presence in the Russian military with specially trained priests who are attached to individual units. The patriarch’s words are the latest volley in the church’s long battle against paganism, a tribal pre-Orthodox belief system.
Catholic experts on terrorism consider the official Saudi faith of Wahhabism, an eighteenth-century Salafi movement founded on the peninsula, to be a destabilizing source of extremism. For the Holy See, Wahhabism’s threat is existential: Wahhabi intolerance and money fuel violence against Christians and other communities across the Middle East and beyond. To counter this threat, the Vatican is cultivating relationships with non-Wahabbist Islamic cultural centers such as Al-Azhar University in Cairo, which Francis visited last month. Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam, Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, visited Francis in Rome last year, an especially significant development given that Tayeb led a boycott against the Vatican in 2011 after Benedict commented on anti-Christian violence in Egypt. Many hope that the renewed relationship will give new momentum to Christian–Muslim dialogue. Wariness about Wahhabism also applies to Syria, where local Catholic leaders remain skeptical regarding a Saudi-backed regime change. It is a simple calculus: Christian communities, whether Orthodox or Catholic, have been protected by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his father Hafez al-Assad before that; Sunni extremism could bring Sharia law and second-class status for Christians.
navigating the limited piece of physical reality we encounter in life, and remaining mentally and emotionally secure enough to survive, find mates, and propagate the species, requires an unquestioning, and when you think about it, strikingly unreasonable confidence in ourselves and in the world. Since full awareness of reality as-it-is was not an option for our ancient ancestors (as the overwhelm caused by so much data would have diminished, rather than enhanced, their chances of survival), evolution equipped them –and, as their descendants, us too — with brains capable of generating a convincing illusion of the reality of our own small words.
Comparing Le Corbusier to the Wahhabi attitude towards ‘heterodox’ architecture one must, in my opinion, pay particular attention to Le Corbusier’s attitude towards the house. In a secular society, there is no more sacred place that the house. And this is precisely why Le Corbusier is attacking the house: he is a religious fanatic. People want their houses to reflect their individual personalities and connect them with the history of their communities. For Le Corbusier this is the equivalent of the Wahhabis’ shirk — the heretical polytheism of the ‘household gods’.
Archaeologists working in Serbia have discovered tiny parchments of gold and silver inscribed with what appears to be a series of ancient curses. The curse tablets were found alongside human skeletons at an excavation site at the foot of a coal-fired power station in Kostolac in northeastern Serbia. Archaeologists led by Miomir Korać are currently scouring the area in preparation for further construction at the site, which was once home to the ancient Roman city of Viminacium. One of the newly discovered scrolls contains text written in ancient Aramaic, and not Greek. That presents a mystery to the scientists, but it’s also an important clue. The researchers have identified several demons associated with the territory of what is today Syria, including Baal, Yahweh, Thobarabau, Seneseilam, and Sesengenfaranges. Invoking the powers of both Baal and Yahweh on a single tablet is unprecedented.
“One thing that you immediately notice when you set out to study the cultures that flourished around the Mediterranean a couple thousand years ago is that none of them – not the Egyptians, not the Greeks, not the Etruscans and none of their neighbors either – had a word in any of those languages for what we today consider religion. They had a very rich religious vocabulary, but it would have been incomprehensible to them if a person had said, “I am a ___.” Religion was merely part of a broader spectrum of culture and concerned primarily with what a person did not who they were or what they believed, a fact which is reflected in their vocabulary. To use the Greeks as an example, the word that is most often suggested as an analogue for our “religion” was eusebeia. Literally this means “good or proper reverence; piety, loyalty” or as one ancient Greek commentator remarked, “that portion of justice which is concerned with divine matters and giving to the gods their due.” Another commonly found term was threskeia which means “conducting religious ceremonies, worship.” Other words are therapon “divine tendance or service”, proskynesis “inclining towards; bowing, intense respect or devotion” and by extension any dedicated act expressing powerful religious sentiment, nomos “custom, tradition, law” and so on and so forth. A related concept was deisidaimonia “fear of spirits”, which had largely negative connotations suggesting superstitious, extravagant or foreign types of worship. All of these, as you can see, were primarily concerned with actions.”
among the 27 fatal terror attacks inflicted in this country since 9/11, 20 were committed by domestic right-wing extremists. (The other seven attacks were committed by domestic jihadists, not by foreign terrorist organizations.) Of the 77 people killed in these 27 incidents, two-thirds died at the hands of anti-abortion fanatics, “Christian Identity” zealots, white anti-Semites, or other right-wing militants.
Time is the default sacrifice. It is the measure of sacrifice that underlies our complex economic order, so it is no surprise that it also underlies our ritual order. In religions that have a Sabbath, an entire day of productivity is sacrificed to God every week. Every ceremony involves the sacrifice of the time of participants; often, ceremonies involve the sacrifice of time by high-status persons. An arraignment is a ceremony in which the legitimacy of a person’s incarceration is established; not much information is exchanged, but the ceremony requires sacrifice in the form of a grand courtroom built for the purpose, as well as the time of grand personages such as the judge and two attorneys. Ritual attendants such as court reporters and bailiffs are required as well. The sacred value of “justice” is understood to be the target of these sacrifices.
The algorithmic metaphor is just a special version of the machine metaphor, one specifying a particular kind of machine (the computer) and a particular way of operating it (via a step-by-step procedure for calculation). And when left unseen, we are able to invent a transcendental ideal for the algorithm. The canonical algorithm is not just a model sequence but a concise and efficient one. In its ideological, mythic incarnation, the ideal algorithm is thought to be some flawless little trifle of lithe computer code, processing data into tapestry like a robotic silkworm. A perfect flower, elegant and pristine, simple and singular. A thing you can hold in your palm and caress. A beautiful thing. A divine one. But just as the machine metaphor gives us a distorted view of automated manufacture as prime mover, so the algorithmic metaphor gives us a distorted, theological view of computational action.
Manichaeism was a major Gnostic religion that was founded by the Iranian prophet Mani (c. 216–276 AD) in the Sasanian Empire. Manichaeism taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness. Through an ongoing process which takes place in human history, light is gradually removed from the world of matter and returned to the world of light whence it came. Its beliefs were based on local Mesopotamian gnostic and religious movements.
Manichaeism thrived between the third and seventh centuries, and at its height was one of the most widespread religions in the world. Manichaean churches and scriptures existed as far east as China and as far west as the Roman Empire. It was briefly the main rival to Christianity in the competition to replace classical paganism. Manichaeism survived longer in the East than in the West, and it appears to have finally faded away after the 14th century in southern China, contemporary to the decline in China of the Church of the East. While most of Mani’s original writings have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived.
Until discoveries in the 1900s of original sources, the only sources for Manichaeism were descriptions and quotations from non-Manichaean authors, either Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Zoroastrian. While often criticizing Manichaeism, they also quoted directly from Manichaean scriptures. This enabled Isaac de Beausobre, writing in the 18th century, to create a comprehensive work on Manichaeism, relying solely on anti-Manichaean sources.
Quant à nous, journalistes, amis des journalistes assassinés, nous continuerons. Avec un peu moins de cœur à l’ouvrage, sans doute, pour quelque temps, mais avec une résolution plus forte. Nous savons que cette profession est parfois dangereuse. C’était jusqu’à présent le lot des reporters qui partent nous informer sur les pays en guerre. Il en meurt des dizaines chaque année. Maintenant on veut porter la guerre jusque dans nos salles de rédaction. Nous ne ferons pas la guerre. Nous ne sommes pas des soldats. Mais nous défendrons notre savoir-faire et notre vocation : aider le lecteur à se sentir citoyen. Ce n’est pas grand-chose mais c’est quelque chose. Avec une certitude mieux ancrée : maintenant, nous savons pourquoi nous faisons ce métier.
Aside from issues of life and death, there is no more urgent task for American intellectuals and writers than to think critically about the salience, even the tyranny, of technology in individual and collective life. All revolutions exaggerate, and the digital revolution is no different. We are still in the middle of the great transformation, but it is not too early to begin to expose the exaggerations, and to sort out the continuities from the discontinuities. The burden of proof falls on the revolutionaries, and their success in the marketplace is not sufficient proof. Presumptions of obsolescence, which are often nothing more than the marketing techniques of corporate behemoths, need to be scrupulously examined. By now we are familiar enough with the magnitude of the changes in all the spheres of our existence to move beyond the futuristic rhapsodies that characterize much of the literature on the subject. We can no longer roll over and celebrate and shop. Every phone in every pocket contains a “picture of ourselves,” and we must ascertain what that picture is and whether we should wish to resist it. Here is a humanist proposition for the age of Google: The processing of information is not the highest aim to which the human spirit can aspire, and neither is competitiveness in a global economy. The character of our society cannot be determined by engineers.
Reincarnation is a phenomenon which should take place either through the voluntary choice of the concerned person or at least on the strength of his or her karma, merit and prayers. Therefore, the person who reincarnates has sole legitimate authority over where and how he or she takes rebirth and how that reincarnation is to be recognized. It is a reality that no one else can force the person concerned, or manipulate him or her. It is particularly inappropriate for Chinese communists, who explicitly reject even the idea of past and future lives, let alone the concept of reincarnate Tulkus, to meddle in the system of reincarnation and especially the reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas […] Bear in mind that, apart from the reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China.
we’ve always said that games are more like cathedrals than they are like movies. It’s a narrative environment, an environment that immerses you in a story, in a time. It’s a time machine. It’s made over hundreds of years.
These days, when neak ta appear on the factory floor — inducing mass faintings among workers and shouting commands at managers — they are helping the cause of Cambodia’s largely young, female and rural factory workforce by registering a kind of bodily objection to the harsh daily regimen of industrial capitalism: few days off; a hard bed in a wooden barracks; meager meals of rice and a mystery curry, hastily scarfed down between shifts. These voices from beyond are speaking up for collective bargaining in the here and now, expressing grievances much like the workers’ own: a feeling that they are being exploited by forces beyond their control, that the terms of factory labor somehow violate an older, fairer moral economy.
“Noah” screening cancelled due to flooding
“Mars One respectfully requests GAIAE to cancel the Fatwa and make the greatest Rihla, or journey, of all times open for Muslims too. They can be the first Muslims to witness the signs of God’s creation in heaven, drawing upon the rich culture of travel and exploration of early Islam.”
Documenting the Origins, History & Chaos of the Discordian Society
I don’t know of a better example of the way the collective imagination of the modern world shifted gears when Sputnik I broke free of the atmosphere and opened the Space Age. Until then, the top of the atmosphere might as well have been a sheet of iron, as the Egyptians thought it was. (Their logic was impeccable: polished iron is blue, and so is the sky; iron is strong and heatproof, and the sky would need to be both to deal in order to support the boat named Millions of Years on which Ra the sun god does his daily commute; besides, the only iron they knew came from meteorites, which they sensibly interpreted as stray chunks of sky that had fallen to earth. Many of our theories about nature will likely seem much less reasonable from the perspective of the far future.)
However tawdry their origins, the creation of new media of exchange – coinage appeared almost simultaneously in Greece, India, and China – appears to have had profound intellectual effects. Some have even gone so far as to argue that Greek philosophy was itself made possible by conceptual innovations introduced by coinage. The most remarkable pattern, though, is the emergence, in almost the exact times and places where one also sees the early spread of coinage, of what were to become modern world religions: prophetic Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Taoism, and eventually, Islam. While the precise links are yet to be fully explored, in certain ways, these religions appear to have arisen in direct reaction to the logic of the market. To put the matter somewhat crudely: if one relegates a certain social space simply to the selfish acquisition of material things, it is almost inevitable that soon someone else will come to set aside another domain in which to preach that, from the perspective of ultimate values, material things are unimportant, and selfishness – or even the self – illusory.
Then, in the eighteenth century, our earthly happiness became important to us, in high intellectual fashion. By 1776, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” was an unoriginal formulation of what we all, of course, now admitted that we chiefly wanted. John Locke had taught, in 1677, that “the business of men [is] to be happy in this world by the enjoyment of the things of nature subservient to life, health, ease, and pleasure”—though he added piously, “and by the comfortable [that is, comforting] hopes of another life when this is ended.” By 1738, the Comte de Mirabeau wrote to a friend, recommending simply, “[W]hat should be our only goal: happiness.”