Tag Archives: speculations

Homo Non Intelligit

Aquinas Triumphant

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Triumphant

I.

I forget when the following happen, yet it happened sometime during the time I was an elementary school student. This event occurred at some point during third, fourth, fifth, or sixth grade. Although both my twin brother also went to the same school, we rarely walked together. He much enjoyed taking shortcuts and running to school. Whereas I preferred to take the sidewalk to the light, turn left, and make my way the third of a mile to the school itself. As it turns out one day I could have used his protection.

Everyday, coming in the opposite direction and headed toward the large Catholic school located three quarters of a mile in the opposite direction, were its denizens. One day, walking alone to school, I was jumped by two boys, tackled to the ground, and roughed up a bit. I ended up with one of the boys sitting on my chest, with my upper arms pinned to the ground. He looked into my face, spat in my eyes, and told me,

You know you’re going to hell!?

It was shouted in a combination of mockery, exhortation, and, at the same time, it retained its questioning facet. I have no idea if I answered, and tend to think almost fifty years after the fact that I likely did not answer affirmatively. I didn’t understood what my brusque antagonist was even speaking about.

Although my family wasn’t the least bit religious, I do recall asking my parents about what the question meant. Most of the time, questions like that caused both my dad and mom to send me back to the 1960 World Book Encyclopedia, (whose many volumes served as my closest early confidant, in a autodidactiv sense–ever since I had skimmed/read my way through each volume.) I read about the Catholic Religion, the Holy Roman Church, The Bible; who knows–maybe this is why religion came to interest me so much.

Scroll ahead thirty years or so and its the nineties and I’m in my forties. By this time I have a fairly modest, and nevertheless, informed, grasp of the situation of Christianity as a world religion. My principal fascination was with religious experience and, what I came to term, artifactual religion. My curiosity was fulfilled by my learning a bit about how the different religions came to be constituted into their multi-various forms from, as-it-were, scratch.

 

As a matter of my own arm chair interests, this anthropological frame is for me the central primary feature of religion in historical context. Religions arise from their historical-sociological antecedents. So, for example, if one scrolls backward in time from the arrival of the Summa Theologica (1274 CE) of Saint Thomas Aquinas in the overall scheme of worldly time, one scrolls back before the time of the eventuation of the Old Testament, and, soon enough one scrolls back through those antecedents. Up to a point such antecedents would be specific to the historical development of the Abrahamic religions in a particular location and at a specific time, and then past this point, older antecedents would seem to a knowledgeable traveler (gone back in time, or, simply competent with the evidence,) to become more primitive and increasingly unhinged from what are the recognizable domains of (what strike we contemporaries,) to civilized religions and sophisticated religiosity.

Then, around (very roughly) 500,000 years ago BC, the evidence, so far, for anything resembling symbolic behavior disappears. However, 4.5 billion years of planetary history, prior to this disappearance, remain unscathed by symbolic or religious behavior.

Stephen Calhoun artist

II.

Related to the anthropological perspective is religion’s manifestation as a consequence of human behavior, cognition and experience, for which the frame expands to encompass psychology and sociology. Although I became interested in the work of the psychologists William James and Carl Jung for reasons unrelated to my interest in religion, each in their distinctive ways came to deeply influence my working through to a modest extent the constitution of religion as an intentional individual and social phenomena.

Then, moving to the next viewpoint, the historical, the careful investigator inspects the timeline for religiosity as it unfolds locally over thousands of years in manifestations so brilliantly diverse that it would be ridiculous to then groan that the constituent religions are ‘at odds with one another.’

The fact of the usefulness of first and second order religious behavior is apparent, and at the same time, the investigator’s  second order framing and third order analysis is off the side, removed from the local social phenomena. However, to note that a social behavior with a religious motive or objective constitues a “ritual,” “tradition,” or, going farther, reflects the structuring of human purpose in accordance with a priori “propositions, “principles,” or “laws,” is to choose from some menu given by a third order framework.

This is crucial to teasing out the differentiation between the local phenomena of pragmatic mythologizing, and, the properties of “Mythology” as a category of human culture and its intentional artifactual life.

The blunt ramification is simply derived from the basic understanding: as one goes back in time, very soon, the idea and representation of God, or of Gods, of of the sacred, or of the divine, goes “poof!”

 

 

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Four Square Matrix – Metaverse Four Square

Metaverse Unfolds

The explanation for this Four Square Matrix is below.

(I’ve been exploring the format of the Four Square Matrix for over five years on the squareONE Explorations blog: Revisiting the Matrix Part 1 / Class of ’72 / Periodic Table of Visualization, And More / More Matrices / The Acid Test / Matrices – Stacked / Slowing Down to Better Problem Solve)

(SOURCE) To construct our scenario set we selected two key continua that are likely to influence the ways in which the Metaverse unfolds: the spectrum of technologies and applications ranging from augmentation to simulation; and the spectrum ranging from intimate (identity-focused) to external (world-focused).

• Augmentation refers to technologies that add new capabilities to existing real systems; in the Metaverse context, this means technologies that layer new control systems and information onto our perception of the physical environment.

• Simulation refers to technologies that model reality (or parallel realities), offering wholly new environments; in the Metaverse context, this means technologies that provide simulated worlds as the locus for interaction.

• Intimate technologies are focused inwardly, on the identity and actions of the individual or object; in the Metaverse context, this means technologies where the user (or semi-intelligent object) has agency in the environment, either through the use of an avatar/digital profile or through direct appearance as an actor in the system.

• External technologies are focused outwardly, towards the world at large; in the Metaverse context, this means technologies that provide information about and control of the world around the user.

These continua are “critical uncertainties”—critical because they are fundamental aspects of the coming Metaverse, and uncertainties because how they will emerge, their relative and absolute development in various contexts, is yet to be seen.

Combining the two critical uncertainties gives four key components of the Metaverse future:

Virtual Worlds

Mirror Worlds

Augmented Reality

Lifelogging

These four scenarios emphasize different functions, types, or sets of Metaverse technologies. All four are already well into early emergence, yet the conditions under which each will fully develop, in particular contexts, are far from clear.

The source document at Metaverseroadmap.org provides the context and additional provocation. This would be most compelling for students of the history of technology, and socio-anthropologists interested in modernity and post-modernity. Download the PDF available there for the full view of the working group.

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Revisiting the 2×2 Matrix – Part 1.

Never Wrong Matrix

What I term a ‘four square,’ or matrix, derives in modern times from The Boston Consulting Group’s Growth-Share Matrix. I devise my own four squares and collect any others I encounter. At times the 2×2 Matrix in either its ‘cross’ or ‘four squares’ versions have done duty in my work to help depict human situations. For example, I have employed the following one and used it as the basis for a learner to reflect upon the challenge of having it both ways.

Dr Puck' s problem matrix

MDFI Matrix aka Dr. Puck’s Problem Solver

Such visual devices have come to be known as 2×2 Matrix. The essential book on the use of the 2×2 Matrix in business, The Power of the 2×2 Matrix, presents authors Alex Lowy and Phil Hood’s understanding of the tool’s value as an aid to decision making. The Power of the 2x2 Matrix They write:

2 × 2 Thinking is inherently and profoundly transcendent in nature. Two people face an identical problem differently: one sees an insurmountable problem, while the other perceives options and opportunities. Systems thinker Jamshid Gharajedaghi calls these two approaches either-or versus both-and. Confronted by tough choices, the either-or reaction is to feel trapped and obliged to pick one or the other. The both-and response draws us automatically to a new and different perspective, where it is possible to search for ways to reframe the problem or use conflicting factors in the solution.

2x2 Matrix

The Institute for Manufacturing at The University of Cambridge describes the matrix yet misses two central capabilities, the use of the 2×2 Matrix to plot values, and, the implicit relational dynamic given in the identification of what in this description is termed characteristics.

A two by two matrix is a useful tool for initial sorting of qualitative data.

The axes should be chosen so that, e.g., the data with the most desirable characteristics will fall into the upper left quadrant and the least desirable in the lower right quadrant. While groups may be unable or unwilling to assign absolute values to qualitative data, they usually find it relatively easy to come to a consensus as to which quadrant something belongs in.

Generally, the two by two matrix is a useful tool for categorising things that can be reduced to two simple variables, particularly when quantitative information is unavailable and qualitative judgements must be made.

It enables a rapid clustering (or separating) of information into four categories, which can be defined to suit the purpose of the exercise. It is particularly useful with groups as a way of visibly plotting out a common understanding or agreement of a subject.

2×2 Matrices I’ve found, from the growing collection:

Robotics Matrix

Inscrutible Robotics Matrix

Social Media and Business Qualification Matrix

Management Matrix

Unsatisfying to me, “Management Matrix”

I devised the following to depict the tension of oppositions betwixt four entangled philosophical themes.

Unity Matrix

The 2×2 Matrix is a very Batesonian device too. I haven’t beta tested a workshop during which learners build a view of their self (or what-have-you,) using the format, yet, it seems a good idea!

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Predicting Iran’s Future

Iran Women & Girls

One day Rabi’a needed a piece of cloth, so she gave a man three silver coins to buy one.

After he’d already started his way, he turned back.

“My lady,” he said, “I forgot to ask: what color do you want?”

“So, it’s become a question of color, has it?” she replied.

“Give me my money!” And she threw it into the Tigris River.

Version of Rabi’a of Balkh; in Doorkeeper of the Heart, Charles Upton


The objective of this exercise is to observe the materials, then contemplate, the most negative possible answer to the following question:

What events could constitute the most horrific unintended consequences of a war between Israel/United States and Iran?.

You might as well own those thoughts yourself; as long as very few less thoughtful people want to indulge thoughts like the kind you could have. Now, of course, it is not like anyone should want to have those kinds of thoughts, but, before the arrival of the terrible bloodletting, it is a point of hope and hope against those dastardly “worse cases/any cases” that at least a self-chosen minority look into a darkened future.

The diverse materials presented here last about six hours.


Hossein Omoumi-Classical Persian Music from John Melville Bishop on Vimeo.

War on Iran? (Part 1 – Larry Everest) from PPJC Videos on Vimeo.

Iran: the danger of war, the role of sanctions and the tasks of Hopi from Communist Party of Great Britain on Vimeo.

War Fever: Iran, the Middle East and the U.S. from Media Education Foundation on Vimeo.

Fareed Zakaria intervista Zbigniew Brzezinski from U.S.N. – R.S.I. on Vimeo.

War on Iran? (Part 2 – Stephen Zunes) from PPJC Videos on Vimeo.

Moyers & Company Show 111: Moving Beyond War from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Middle Eastern Sacred Song (Piyutim): From Pulpit to Pop Chart from Rothko Chapel on Vimeo.

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Two Things Generative


The Disruptive Power of the Generative Internet by FORAtv

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The Spark of the Opposites I.

Holding the Spark of the Opposites

(First part of two; reworked from an response offered to Jung-Fire, an email discussion group mostly about Analytic Psychology and Carl Jung. These two parts are in response to the question, how do you hold the tension of the opposites?)

Your question is interesting to me because it points in the direction of a practical answer. After all, we know what it is to hold and experience tension. There are common experiences for which a person finds themselves between or betwixt two competing poles. There are also common ways to describe the genre of such situations.

For example, one wants something but can’t have it. One has a problem or challenge but doesn’t really want to meet it. One prefers an easy route and also knows the route is necessarily not easy.

What is meant by experiencing the opposites? A practical answer is rooted in the experiential, and by reflection on experience.

Holding the opposites is a common experience of being human. Yet, those experiences are mostly different than the experience implied by holding the tension of the opposites given in a situation of individuation; individuation being a conspecific of development in the framework of Analytic Psychology.

Let’s consider this first part to be concerned with the normal, common kinds of experiences.

There are many examples and the several I’ll pose address the question indirectly by implicitly asking what does the experience feel like? The “how” is an answer given by thoroughly sensing what the experience feels like.

Say, you’re driving and somebody else on the road makes an idiotic move, and you find yourself being angry. I might in fact mutter ‘you idiot!’ yet, after all, I’m driving, capable of such moves myself, and, my emotional reaction soon enough passes. There: in the middle, and this would be different from the one-sidedness of speeding up and coming next to the other driver and glaring or, umm, raising a digit in protest.

What does it feel like, for example, to estimate almost instantly, the pressures surrounding bursting through the end of the yellow light?

Another basic form of holding opposites is anytime we find our self having to do something we don’t want to do, but, going “through” our objection to then do it.

A ripe example of this is being on either the delivering or receiving end of a romantic break-up. Being on the receiving end is ripest of all because quite often the severing of attachment leaves one in the predicament–again in the middle as it were–between desiring to remain attached and, often suddenly, having this desire absolutely frustrated. This can be very concrete: wanting versus abruptly this desire no longer being able to be fulfilled.

What is this experience?

In reflecting upon what the experience of this kind of tension is, there are several basic descriptive categories. So, our report about our experience could note the experience feels like being pulled in two seemingly mutually exclusive directions. We might then be able to describe what the emotional or affective content of this experience is; we can name its features. Similarly, we can describe cognitively dissonant, or ideational, conflict. Such conflicts are inflected or otherwise weighted by energetic emotions.

Being in the middle is an energetic situation or position.

The psychological problem evoked by this being in the middle, and this middle having come upon us, constitutes resistance of some sort.

There can be resistance to fate, or denial of the actual situation. One can be in the middle–between the fate we’d prefer, and the fate we’re delivered to. The former fate in effect being the movie we’d like to sit through, the latter being the movie we can’t escape.

Asking again, what does this experience feel like? As we develop clues, and better, about this, we come to understand the various processes which take the general form: equilibrium/disruption/tensile conflict/resolution/equilibrium.

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On the Borders

I always marveled at the bricks and mortar book business, and could do so from inside a great American independent book store, The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury, Vermont, (at which I steered its music department for almost ten years, a stint that ended in early 1987.) The business model for books was a kin of the business model for recordings, except that the pyramid of hot sellers paying for the carrying cost of slow selling inventory was steeper on the music side.

Of course, way back when, in a thriving college town literally protected from its brick competitors by 25 miles, my tenure happened during, in retrospect, what was a golden era for book selling. (It was much less so on the music side.) If the initial rise of the commerce-driven internet is marked to the year 1995, it still is the case that no thoughtful bookseller, at that time, would have anticipated digital books, e-readers, and, digital book piracy.

Amazon arrived in 1994. Their promise was to make available every book; ordered online and delivered by mail order. At the time unbelievers thought there was no way the tactile browsing experience would ever become uncompetitive. This kind of elitism was proved wrong well before the digital edition realized the unthinkable synergy of online purveyor and downloadable media. After all, the browsing experience was over-rated, and this was a fact I observed to be true while working and observing consumers during bookselling’s final golden age.

In Cleveland, Borders and Barnes and Noble discounted the best sellers, ran independent booksellers out of business, degraded their inventories (selection,) and seemed to me to work a hopeless business model by the time Amazon got rolling–by bursting out of the dot.com bust to ride a streak of losing billions of dollars–up until 2009. This debt-fueled strategy, presumably, plugs into their business model, but there’s no way to compete against it. Of course, Amazon is both a general retailer too and provider of infrastructure for a wide variety of partners, affiliates and associates.

As a book store customer, I saw Borders run the race to the bottom and win, thus lose. This struck me as death by thousands of relentless cuts. I’m not tempted to praise highly our local Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million. I appreciate the acumen (or more likely:piles of cash,) behind their survival, but the local Barnes & Noble stores aren’t very good book stores, and, the Books-A-Million I walked into and wandered around was worse. It was staffed by, apparently, ‘non-readers.’

Locally, this leaves the several independent book stores and Half Priced Books and Music. There isn’t anything close to the reader’s paradise of the olden days extant among these outlets. (Just as there isn’t a great record store left.) This leaves me using Amazon, and exemplifying the problem bricks and mortar cannot solve.

 

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Behind the Scenes

h/t Comic Riffs blog @WAPO

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One Reason

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Spring Training Is Over

Matt batting at the end of last season.

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Matt speaking before the start of this season.

Freeplay Softball League and experiment

Sundays, 9:30am, Forest Hills Park, Cleveland Heights

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Reduced Bateson Set II. Set up; Participant-Dependence

Consider a thought problem about human whistling.

You are placed in the role of observer. Presented to you is a person who will whistle Mary Had A Little Lamb. Your direction for the exercise is to describe the act of this person whistling this tune. The only qualification for the description you are to document is that you are able to articulate for any of its elements what each has to do with the whistling you are observing.

At the conclusion of you, the observer, documenting observations, your report will be evaluated against two constructs: Observer-Independence/Observer-Dependence. Each element of observation will be classified as being one, or the other.

For the purpose of the former classification, Observer-Independent descriptive elements are those elements that are necessary to human whistling, and, do not require prior knowledge beyond the modest scope given by self-observation.

For example, to state:

(1) I am observing a whistler.
(2) Whistler whistling have to include a human with a blood-pumping heart.
(3) Whistling has to include brain activity.

is to assert Observer-Independent elements.

For example, to state:

(1) This is a fast version of the tune.
(2) The whistling is loud.
(3) The last passage was uncertainly in-tune.

is to assert Observer-Dependent elements. These latter descriptions are not necessarily findings every observers could possibly note.

The situation given by observations rendered through using particular kinds of prior knowledge have feet in both camps. A physiologist might identify a muscle necessary to whistling. The muscle is used in every instance of whistling. Yet, this prior knowledge is instituted only by the kind of observer who can employ it.

What we have here, in such a thought problem–and it’s one which could be done–is one human system observing the acts of another human system. The observations could be furthered qualified with respect to what is their subjective quotient.

There’s a paradox in all this. Let’s say the problem to be solved is this: predict the time the tune will be finished. What kind of information derived from prior observations of other whistlers would be helpful in deciding the answer? Interestingly, much of the Observer-Independent information about the human whistler is completely useless. Even if we formalize this to include specialized (in some formal sense) prior knowledge, most of that kind of information will be useless with respect to simple problems, and the simple problems out of which more complex problem are built.

Would you be able to detail the features of, for example, the heuristic you commonly employ for the sake of getting to know another person? Many dyadic, and group, procedures for inquiry are born by meshing of ‘heuristical’ tools, given differently to such procedures by the various (so-to-speak) parties. Another paradox is that these meshed procedures may be, often are, very effective means for making an inquiry, even though the underlying heuristics are not roughly the same, or similar, or commensurate with one another. In fact, parties to inquiry may not have thought through the very tools he or she employs. These tools can be said to be partly tacit to the user: they operate without the operator entirely knowing what is being operated by their self.

The formal means for understanding complex interactive inquiries use prior knowledge and formalized methods, yet these means are not precisely useful when trained on everyday–for example–interpersonal actualities. If these means can’t unravel whistling, they won’t be more powerful with many times more complex phenomena.

Yet, this situation, the basic imprecision of both informal and formal naturalistic inquiry when trained on particularized subjects, is extended to almost every natural process where knowledge is presented in particularized subjects and situations. So: a marketing idea is presented; a developmental plan is presented; an interpretation is offered; a self-report is revealed; an illustrative story is told; etc., and each of these exchanges is about something truthful, and, each is also about that which constitutes the human system, so-to-speak, of presenting its stuff, and its moment of some kind of truth.

The Reduced Bateson Set, appropriated from my interpretation of Bateson, collects six motifs, (Bateson’s term,) in an array of three positions and three orders. This array of motifs sets up the following means for interpreting a ‘presentation.’

It locates the human subject. It suggests by way of interpretation and analysis that explicit choices reveal implicit choices, and, reveal what is not chosen. It does the same for figuring out what is and is not connected to positive actuality. Then, along the other ‘side’ of the array, it qualifies these motific means with respect to how sensitive the human subject is to modifying their presentation. This latter means for interpretation and analysis holds that this sensitivity itself refers to implicit choices which argue for the human system being, roughly, flexible or not flexible.

Roughly, the suggestion is this: there are human exchanges of knowledge, and these are most often, or commonly, ‘heuristical’ on the part of both parties. What is then given by this flux of two largely informal systems are informal understandings. Embedded in such understandings are great amounts of implicit and tacit givens; threaded into this also are other systems; partialities of informal and formal prior knowledge; histories of experience; and, among many other factors, novelties and innovations given by the specific consequences granted in two or more particular human systems coming into particular participation together over the matter of an exchange of knowledge; alternately, information.

The flux in this human system is a situation of Participation-dependence, which is to say the practical description of the seeming paradox is that there are, for example discussions between two people that necessarily instantiate such an exchange, yet, in this, often widely disparate, individualized features in direct relation to the matter of exchange are not also relevant factors in the exchange. In other words, to turn the Batesonian cybernetic posit on its head, in these instances–which are everyday and ubiquitous, some differences do not make any difference.

My suggestion here is this kind of smoothing of difference allows two people, two human systems of awareness, to conduct exchanges of information without introducing what are demonstrably pertinent differences discoverable as features not shared between the two people.

Another way to put it, is that a conversation proceeds productively without negotiation of, for example, pertinent unshared assumptions.

Were we to convene a group mixed between technical experts and keen observers who are not technical experts, the answer to the question, ‘when will the whistler stop whistling?’ will not arise as a matter of differentiating between formal or informal estimates. However, this same group can productively discuss this question and do so without entertaining its individualized and specific to each member, assumptions about how to answer the question.

Any number of similar thought problems can be created. In each such problem, the suggestion is that there are a large, if not infinite, number of questions which can be discussed but not resolved by the efficacy of either formal or heuristic prior knowledge.

There are two currents given here. One is that the discussion can nevertheless evoke knowledge, and, that the discussion cannot evoke knowledge-in-the-form of an accurate prediction.

From here I would next move to support the claim that most exchanges of knowledge in everyday circumstances refers to heuristical means, is constructed from individualized heuristics, and that the differentiation of this heuristic basis does not prevent productive and efficacious exchanges.

The differences are smoothed over so that these exchanges may happen.

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Mining Under the Common Ground

Separate truths
It is misleading — and dangerous — to think that religions are different paths to the same wisdom [excerpt Boston.com April 25, 2010] Of course, those who claim that the world’s religions are different paths up the same mountain do not deny the undeniable fact that they differ in some particulars. Obviously, Christians do not go on pilgrimage to Mecca, and Muslims do not practice baptism. Religious paths do diverge in dogma, rites, and institutions. To claim that all religions are basically the same, therefore, is not to deny the differences between a Buddhist who believes in no god, a Jew who believes in one God, and a Hindu who believes in many gods. It is to deny that those differences matter, however. From this perspective, whether God has a body (yes, say Mormons; no, say Muslims) or whether human beings have souls (yes, say Hindus; no, say Buddhists) is of no account because, as Hindu teacher Swami Sivananda writes, “The fundamentals or essentials of all religions are the same. There is difference only in the nonessentials.”

This is a lovely sentiment but it is untrue, disrespectful, and dangerous.

The gods of Hinduism are not the same as the orishas of Yoruba religion or the immortals of Daoism. To pretend that they are is to refuse to take seriously the beliefs and practices of ordinary religious folk who for centuries have had no problem distinguishing the Nicene Creed of Christianity from the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism from the Shahadah of Islam. It is also to lose sight of the unique beauty of each of the world’s religions. Stephen Prothero is a religion professor at Boston University. This article is adapted from his new book, ”God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World–and Why Their Differences Matter.”

This essay of Professor Prothero is amazing in a bad way. My criticism is simple: there’s a substantial and subtle literature concerned with the claim he’s arguing against, yet none of it enters into his argument. This huge hole swallows the glib attack he issues in this essay, an attack careless in its presentation of categories and domains, and, an attack launched against more than a few straw men.

It’s as if Prothero feels he can fool the discerning reader. Normally I would dig some and see if the author is through-and-through a charlatan. Here my guess is that he isn’t, but not from anything found in his intentionally misdirected essay.

He writes here about very intriguing questions. In comparing religions with one another, in what ways does this show similarities? What are those similarities about? Should the evidence show that some, or all, religions overlap in particular ways, are there, then, valid generalizations to be inferred from the specifics of any overlap?

Furthermore, such an inquiry about common features is itself framed by a variety of disciplines, and each brings different interpretive and discipline-bound practices to bear on the question. Outside of this there is also a worthy literature brought forth by non-academic experts, and, as well, there is also a long history of this very inquiry. One aspect of this history is that it evolved from the point where specific religions come into contact with each other, and thus was evoked by the curiosity of some religious persons about the possibility of commonality. This comes about long before the frameworks of modern academic disciplines existed.

It is also obvious: there is a fundamental issue begged by any theism, no matter how particularized a theism is in practice or by a its founding assumptions. This is simple to articulate: if there is a God of “All” is not this God then a God of all spirituality, irrespective of whether a particular spirituality is granted primacy or is heretical? In other words, if God of this sort does in fact exist, this God would ultimately be the God of religionist, heretic, and atheist alike. From this, if this is true, one would expect commonalities.

There are four modern perspectives, among many, which frame different possibilities for important, maybe crucial, inquiries into commonality. One is the Analytic Psychology, given by Carl Jung. Here spirituality is viewed as a phenomena of introspective consciousness. From this, (largely) personal religious experience and development is the nexus for an inquiry into, as-it-were, possibly like-minded objectives of self-realization. There is in this, a prospect that human consciousness, as a matter of its psychological constitution, in specific keys lights upon objectives that are similar or identical, yet only does this in the precise domains where this phenomena may exist, and this is located within these precise domains in specific religious traditions.

Two is the integral perspective on human development, given its most detailed elaboration by Ken Wilber; (and Wilber’s elaboration following mostly from the thoughtful work of Jean Gebser.) Integral thought expands the nexus of inquiry along a spectrum of developmental lines. Similar to Analytic Psychology, it is encumbered by fundamental assumptions about the universal nature of human aspiration. Taken as an outlook, (and “in-look,”) the Integral perspective provides a loose framework for investigating procedures for self-realization–procedures embedded in particular instrumentalities found in different spiritual and religious practices.

Third is anthropology, a modern discipline geared toward differentiation of human phenomena. Commonalities would be rigorously qualified and vigorously contested as a matter of methodology, yet, the idea that commonalities could be universal would remain a worthwhile anthropological hypothesis. This is especially so if such a hypothesis is unfolded in the context of evolutionary anthropology. Here the framing starts from the idea that religions may be dramatically different, but that human nature is not also wholly different.

Fourth, and is the argument posed by Frithhof Schuon, and echoed by a specific ilk of traditionalists and (somewhat) outsider experts, such as Mercea Eliade, Joseph Campbell, Jacob Needleman, Rudolph Steiner, and others. Schuon described the over-arching aspect (and nexus for inquiry,) in the title of his book, The Transcendent Unity of Religion. I going to gloss the deep subtlety of Schuon’s argument and suggest his philosophical perspective basically holds this: where there is religion, there is also found a domain of aspirational practice where experience of the deep relationship between man and divine cosmos necessarily abides the idea that the cosmos is set up to evoke this relationship. It could be said the nexus of inquiry that necessarily follows from there being a God of All, is such–that a universality of religion in this aspirational domain is necessarily entailed by this primary assumption. Thus, given that there is a God of All and everything, we might expect to find similarities ordinated by God’s, if you will, “set up.”

(Schuon is superior to Karen Armstrong, with respect to being a source for beginning an inquiry at the abode of this nexus.)

***

Prothero doesn’t introduce any of these four vectors for inquiry into his didactic essay. For me, in not doing so, his argument is damaged out of the gate. If we break down the entire spectrum of human religious behavior, it could be incumbent upon an investigator to account for the behaviors oriented around the idea of the unity–in precise domains–of some/most/all religions.

But Prothero is mostly disingenuous in employing straw men and his attempt to wrangle an argument out of several category errors, the most grotesque of which is found in his silly statement, “To pretend that they are is to refuse to take seriously” (yada yada.) Since the point of finding similarity is to differentiate similarity from that which is dissimilar, there isn’t any ground to be gained by pretending that subtle arguments for similarity revolve around thinking different Gods (or theisms,) are said to be the same. This isn’t to say that there aren’t people who think this, its just that this is a definitive straw man.

(To the side of all this there is a contest of theisms. The ripe question for proponents of a distinctive theism within the context of the various Ambrahamic religions is simply enough, for example, ‘do you, as a Christian mystic pray to a different God than the God the Muslim prays to?’ In this the possibility of a negative answer holds another variation on the prime question about sameness and similarity. On the other hand, this is another way of wondering to what extent God owns a home team!)

The meta-inquiry is one concerned with a description, differentiation, and conceptualization of domains of human religious behavior and phenomena. This would work to tightly qualify the domains and then sort out apparent similarities. For me, anthropology, especially given the lens of an evolutionary framing, is the least inflicted by confirmation bias and tautological precepts. Still, Schuon and Dr. Jung opus, at a minimum, are worthwhile for their sophistication and depth, even if there is (for me) no slam dunk.

As it clearly appears when considering the fundamental question of the Divine Will as with other major instances of metaphysical exposition and spiritual expression, Schuon’s esoteric perspective can be best characterized as a science and discipline of objectivity that situates each reality at its own adequate ontological level and within its overarching metaphysical or cosmological context. In doctrinal as in methodical matters, Schuon’s thrust lies in a lucid perception of realities that considers both their metaphysical and archetypical meaning as well as the specificity of their plane of manifestation. Thus, in pure metaphysics, the esoterist avoids the pitfalls of confessional, anthropomorphic, and moralist expediency and sublimity by focusing on the dimensions, modes, and degrees of the theophanic unfolding of the Real. He does not confuse metaphysical realities with their partial or distorted contours as envisaged through human biases, nor does he project the limitations of human moral categories onto the Divine Order. At the same time, he perceives the roots of all spiritual, aesthetic, and moral phenomena in the Supreme, and he accounts for their meaning on the basis of the Divine, thereby describing the multileveled and multifaceted Unity of Being. In spiritual matters alike, esoterism reaches to the essential through the veil of superimpositions and accretions, while elucidating the partial legitimacy of mystical emphases, excesses, and subjective or collective detours. As such, esoterism is nothing less than the most direct and comprehensive language of the Self. jean-Baptiste Aymard-Patrick Laude, Frithof Schuon, life and Teaching; 2004 SUNY Press)

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Seeing Red

 

x
WND FREEDOM INDEX POLL

1 in 4 Americans censoring thoughts under Obama

Confidence in constitutional liberties plunges further still
Posted: March 27, 2010
11:50 pm Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2010 WorldNetDaily 
Editor’s note: This is another in a series of monthly “Freedom Index” polls conducted exclusively for WND by the public opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies. 
Nearly one American in four routinely censors his or her own thoughts “much” or “always” under President Obama’s administration, and those who believe their personal liberties have plunged since inauguration day have grown significantly from 49 percent to more than 55 percent in just one month. 

This month, of course, was when Democrats rammed through a bill that essentially nationalizes health care, creating new requirements for consumers to purchase a government-chosen plan or face penalties. 
 
The WND Freedom Index poll from Wenzel Strategies shows even one in 10 Democrats – whose party controls both the White House and Congress – believes there’s been a big decrease in freedoms. 

“Largely on the negative reaction by men to the actions of Obama and Democrats in Washington, the Freedom Index has dipped again to its near all-time low, sitting at 46.7 on a 100-point scale,” said Fritz Wenzel in his analysis of the results. 
 
“Simply put, Americans are growing by the month more pessimistic about their freedoms and their fear that government is trying to take them away.” 
 
He continued, “In the 10 months since the inauguration of the WorldNetDaily.com Freedom Index, it has dropped nearly 11 points on the 100-point scale, and has dropped from a decidedly positive position last spring to a decidedly negative position today.” 

The WND/Wenzel Poll was conducted by telephone from March 22-24 using an automated telephone technology calling a random sampling of listed telephone numbers nationwide. The survey included 30 questions and carries a 95 percent confidence interval. It included 792 likely voters. It carries a margin of error of 3.46 percentage points.

Man, talk about priming a poll result!

This raises lots of questions aside from those about polling methodology.

Do you suppose some people would report feeling really free and thoroughly liberated irrespective of anything the U.S. government has done, say in the last 37 years since such a person first voted at 18?

How would one account for this, account for a person impervious to the tug of that which denies one their freedoms?

How would the internalized sense of one’s being free to some degree be indexed? I’m reminded there was no cogent psychology Locke could utilize. (Romantic!) notions about property and happiness, be they of Hayek or Nozick, cross over into what reasonable domain of psychology? You couldn’t go there with those fellows if you wanted to!

For example, Libertarian thought leader David Boaz:

Libertarians believe that there is a natural harmony of interests among peaceful, productive people in a just society. One person’s individual plans — which may involve getting a job, starting a business, buying a house, and so on — may conflict with the plans of others, so the market makes many of us change our plans. But we all prosper from the operation of the free market, and there are no necessary conflicts between farmers and merchants, manufacturers and importers. Only when government begins to hand out rewards on the basis of political pressure do we find ourselves involved in group conflict, pushed to organize and contend with other groups for a piece of political power. (Libertarianism: A Primer)

The leap from ‘no necessary’ to ‘only when’ hammers home the naivete. The absence of socio-psychological understanding is, obviously, implicit.

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Wonderland

Just in case, you were wondering…

Tea Party Mission:

Fiscal Responsibility: Fiscal Responsibility by government honors and respects the freedom of the individual to spend the money that is the fruit of their own labor. A constitutionally limited government, designed to protect the blessings of liberty, must be fiscally responsible or it must subject its citizenry to high levels of taxation that unjustly restrict the liberty our Constitution was designed to protect. Such runaway deficit spending as we now see in Washington D.C. compels us to take action as the increasing national debt is a grave threat to our national sovereignty and the personal and economic liberty of future generations.

Constitutionally Limited Government: We, the members of The Tea Party Patriots, are inspired by our founding documents and regard the Constitution of the United States to be the supreme law of the land. We believe that it is possible to know the original intent of the government our founders set forth, and stand in support of that intent. Like the founders, we support states’ rights for those powers not expressly stated in the Constitution. As the government is of the people, by the people and for the people in all other matters we support the personal liberty of the individual, within the rule of law.

Free Markets: A free market is the economic consequence of personal liberty. The founders believed that personal and economic freedom were indivisible, as do we. Our current government’s interference distorts the free market and inhibits the pursuit of individual and economic liberty. Therefore, we support a return to the free market principles on which this nation was founded and oppose government intervention into the operations of private business.

One good thing is: taking personal liberty as far as the principle so stated above does put the kibosh on the social conservative agenda. As for eliminating government intervention, I suppose this would be an interesting experiment, inasmuch as the elimination of all intervention would include elimination of every last cent of corporate welfare.

My argument is simply the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land and a law has to say what it means and mean what it says. This does not allow for ‘changing interpretations based on the times and societal needs’. Source: New Patriot Journal. What We Want Part II.

Take the time and gather up the argument here. It’s enough to hint that one can’t hang a logical argument on the skeleton of a particular–and singular–normative meaning, when this itself is subject to interpretation. (Alternately, the founders didn’t provide the necessary strict guidance–they never ratified the equivalent of “this bible is only to mean what it literally means.” )

Peyton Colorado’s whacky interpretation hits its lowest point when he caps an argument against direct election of Senators with:

So, if we are truly asking for the restoration of constitutional rule in these United State then repeal of the XVIIth amendment must happen.

You mean, Peyton, the XVIIth amendment isn’t a superb example of constitutional rule?

I’m going to relish watching the principles of conservatism clash with anti-elitist populism. After all, the whole edifice of conservatism is built upon the olden foundation of strict elitism. I don’t see how of conservatism’s philosophical thought leaders–such as Aristotle, Burke, Kirk, Buckley, Strauss–can be re-interpreted to be advocates of anti-elitism and of the wisdom of mobs.

Finally Michelle Bachman echoes what Sarah Palin told Sean Hannity, when Bachman wrote the following in an otherwise mendacious fund-raising piece.

Americans will be prevented by Big Government from relying on our own wits, ingenuity, and hard work to take care of ourselves.

As Obama said during the campaign, ‘the ownership society – you’re on your own.’ Yet, this idea of Bachman’s is the entire crux of the Tea Party’s eruption.

Bachman’s piece is below the fold.
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Affectual Politics


Glenn Beck: “I really like our Constitution, I’d like to see it enacted. Let’s fix it and get back to where our founding fathers are.”

Loony, yet, “crazy ass sh*t, but. But, more than a few people do agree with Beck. This is so even if such people couldn’t tell you anything intelligent about what the founding fathers actually thought; what they contested among themselves; and what were their various radically liberal principles.

Here’s a conjecture (of mine) about ideology and history. There is no extant or past example of a form of governance for which it could be demonstrated that it’s procedures of governance wholly and absolutely are realized solely as a matter of adherence to ideological principles. This is falsifiable if it can be shown that there exists or has existed a form of governance for which, in its application of its principles, every instance was/is entirely consistent with principle.

Let’s imagine there are people who are committed to some set of principles in the following, narrow way:

Our endeavor is to instantiate a set of principles. We believe this for two reasons. First, because this set of principles is the best of all possible set of principles. Second, that the principles are best, is verified by the fact that their truth is the most reasonable truth upon which any possible set of principles could be based.

News for social, fiscal & national security conservatives who believe in God, family & country. We seek to uphold the rights of citizens under the U.S. Constitution, traditional family values, Republican principles / ideals, transparent & limited government, free markets, liberty & individual freedom. The ARRA News Service is an outreach of the Arkansas Republican Assembly. However, all content approval rests with the ARRA Editor. While numerous positions are reported, our beliefs & principles remain fixed. mission

Our political climate in the U.S. is very interesting in this year, unfolding now, after the election of Mr. Obama. Several developments have taken me by surprise. Obama surprised me by not partnering his financial system bailout policies with policies aimed to help right the economy of main street from the bottom up. It was also surprising that he didn’t articulate in concrete, instrumental, terms what kind of reform he would endorse, and insist upon, to end the depredations of the speculation-driven shadow economy.

Then, he moved to reform health care and laid it in the laps of his congressional majorities.

In light of these developments, I’m not in any way surprised that people have been stirred to reactionary and (called by me,) restorative activism. Nor was it surprising that they oriented their dissent positively around their patriotism, and, negatively, around their primal fear that the government is posed to strip from him or her so-called freedoms.

I’ll let Missy, writing on her blog at TCUNation, the Social Network for Conservatives, explain:

But the worst part? It allows the federal gov’t to be in charge of every aspect of your life. Every decision you make on a daily basis can be linked to “healthcare.” You drive an SUV? You’re contributing to pollution & that increases asthma…..you need to pay more! Since we have direct access to all of your accounts we know you own a 4-wheeler. That’s dangerous………you need to pay more! We see that you eat at McD’s twice a week. That’s bad for you……you need to pay more! YOU OWN A GUN??? THAT’S DANGEROUS! YOU NEED TO PAY ALOT MORE!!

These liberal fanatics will most DEFINITELY use the federal gov’ts financial stake in your everyday lifestyle choices to CONTROL THEM. Your decisions will no longer be your own, they will be decisions that will be for the “collective good.” And they will be MANDATED & CONTROLLED by the gov’t. And in order to “nudge” you into compliance with their ideology of how you should live your life, they will simply put a financial burden on you if you choose differently.

The paranoia surprised me. How does one square paranoia with a normative conservative ethos that holds its funding principles to be both first, and, last, and to be foundational, and also holds these principles are the only possible enlightened goal granted by reasoning through the problem of governance? Where does paranoia fit in? Is it possible that such foundational principles are, in fact, extremely fragile?

I don’t think so. President Obama has offered a mild liberalism. The bank bailout was extraordinary, yet a Republican would have had to have done the same thing. (Creative destruction is a notion one can practically hold only when the bombs aren’t falling on your own head.) All such bailouts tend to occupy uncertain spots in any ideology. A bailout is above all expedient and unhooked from conventional, ideological morality. They’re grotesque too.

So far Obama’s maneuvering hasn’t been much like anything we associate, historically, with truly radical presidents; especially those with very novel views of the Constitution—such as Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Reagan, and Bush II. Nevertheless, the ideological principles survive, and this suggests underlying principles, aren’t at all fragile. This includes freedom given to be a result of, contingent upon, application of, ideological principles.

So why is paranoia evoked?

My tentative view is: affect is consequential in the current ‘social psychological framed’ ecology. Forged in the magical bake shop of projective identification, specific affect-laden estimations are on offer. So: a messianic leader is scapegoated so as to be the cause of knowing (i.e. unconsciously feeling,) that what is possessed, “freedom,” is to be stolen by the conspiratorial Other, (i.e. an alter.) This inflated threat is to be met and defeated by, ironically enough, the collective personal power of freedom-loving individualists. It’s worth noting that in some quarters, this evil goat is assumed to have super powers, or, alternately, is assumed to be the servant of hidden masters.

Putting the participation mystique aside–may Levi-Strauss rest in peace–what are the embedded chain-of-being regimes supposed in a clash between the red-in-blood red-tending-to-blue meme, and, the blue-tending-to-orange meme. These, given by Grave’s Spiral Dynamics, and, given by me in my deployment of a shadow dynamics* supposing the red shadow of blue conservatism’s ‘traditionalistic’ paternal chain of being comes to clash with the neoliberal paternal chain-of-being of Orange. Pre-modern, the red shadow of blue, collides here with the post-modern orientation toward technocratic problem-solving.

(Or, the atavistic self and identity, is felt to be threatened by the spectral, post-modern selves and identities. Perhaps, were one to dig into the narratives, one would find at their core a clash between the production of certainty and productions of uncertainty.)

Among many curious aspects of this clash, is the gravity given to an emotionalized, largely unconscious, sense of freedom. (I’ve written about this before.) What is it about a notional freedom that one can be dispossessed of, versus, other less vulnerable notions about freedom? Isn’t it interesting that the conservative concept of freedom-under-constraint, a necessary consequence of the pessimistic view of human nature, is subsumed in the shuffle through the emotionally-charged libertarian bake shop!

Then there is the conspiratorial tenor of magical narratives. Of course, it’s long-standing that the government is anthropomorphized to be a kind of beast, capable of devouring freedom. In this respect the conspiracy mongering of Ron Paul, or Michelle Bachman, comes to be of a piece with the extreme supernaturalized conspiracy advocates, David Ickes, Alex Jones, and Michael Tsarion. In turn, the current extremes are merely the contemporary waves of olden conspiracy theories. And, heck, why not share some air time with the truly deluded?

“they’ve been positioning…” they, theY, thEY, THEY!


*I have yet to go into this in detail. However, roughly, my proposal is that the vertical scale of Spiral Dynamic is configurable as a dynamic, oppositional scale. This is able to depict how higher and lower memes serve as descriptive categories, and schema, for shadow dynamics. For example, by such a dynamic scale, the shadow dynamics for the Blue Meme are discoverable as aspects of Red (below) and Orange (above). In my novel (or idiosyncratic,) view, the shadow dynamics then tend to fall (or regress,) toward the lower, more archaic order, while this unconscious propensity is galvanized by fear of the upward pull toward the newer, more complex order.

My notion here supposes that a concept of Blue freedom, will come to be defended at the lower, unconscious level of Red. Similarly, this defense is waged against a super-charged (by way of ‘social cognitized’ projection,) ‘controlling’ Orange. Grant this phenomenology, and the result is that fear of bureaucracy regresses to fear of collective control, control formulated to the scale conspiracy; “conspiracy” being the shadow concretization of Orange—in its worst form.

This is consistent—well, at least it is to me—with the mental procedures via which contested, soft conceptions–such as freedom–are reduced, reified and objectified. Then the reified conception’s opposite, in this case anti-freedom, is realized and nailed to the alter. Thus, a collective complex is constellated.

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The Sweat Lodge of World Transformation

Scary, but also worth a read: For Some Seeking Rebirth, Sweat Lodge Was End John Doughtery – New York Times: October 21, 2009

The story summarizes the horrific manslaughter that resulted from a sweat lodge conducted by new age con man James Arthur Ray in Sedona, October 8. Three died, eighteen were hospitalized, and, Ray has yet to be charged. Ray herded paying customers into a dangerous environment and then—literally—allowed three to perish. His state of consciousness can easily be characterized: oblivious. On the website for the deadly new age huckster Ray, he offers bona-fides.

Throughout his life, James Arthur Ray has studied and been exposed to a wide diversity of teachings and teachers – from his collegiate learning and the schools of the corporate world, to the ancient cultures of Peru, Egypt and the Amazon. Armed with this comprehensive and diverse background in behavioral sciences, coupled with his experience as a successful, entrepreneur, and an avid thirst for spiritual knowledge, James boasts the unique and powerful ability to blend the practical and mystical into a usable and easy-to-access formula for achieving true wealth across all aspects of life.

I’ll return to this shortly.

Speaking of hucksters, here’s some excerpts of a pitch received from Ken Wilber, October 15.

This is Ken Wilber, and I wanted to take a moment to write you and tell you of the first and only organization that is the exclusive outlet of my Integral work and all projects connected with it. The organization is called Integral Life, co-founded by myself and my CEO, Robb Smith.

I’m truly excited by this organization and its development, because for the first time in history, although there are hundreds of projects and organizations and websites inspired by my work, this is the first one that has my personal seal of approval. The projects, partner organizations, academic journals and books, blogs and forums all have a quality checked by me to personally guarantee that my Integral model is being used accurately. That’s the problem with these hundreds of other applications of my work. As much as I truly appreciate the inspired use of my model by them, there are often misinterpretations of its leading ideas, resulting in less than truly Integral results.

What is an ‘integral result?’

Here’s what it looks like, symbolically speaking:


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Do Particles Bounce?

Deepak Chopra, the new age maven, regularly contributes to the Huffington Post. Today, he starts out with this:

I.

This year, the world celebrated Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. But now that all the backslapping is nearing an end, it may be time to reflect on where things really stand. When Darwin finished writing “Origin of Species” in the fall of 1859 — exactly 150 years ago — the theory of evolution became part of the Newtonian world picture. However, since that time, major puzzles of mainstream science have forced a re-evaluation of the nature of the universe that goes far beyond anything Darwin could have imagined.

I’m trying to fathom Chopra writing his opening paragraph and not feeling as if he is about to fling into the Huffington winds something both patronizing to Darwin, and, something idiotic. Alas, to the tune of cash registers ringing, Chopra takes his insights seriously. No, this spiritual advisor to Oprah is onto to something with his colleague, Robert Lanza: the spiritualization of solipsism! Via quantum mechanics!!!

Science obviously investigates what it is able to investigate. There’s no move to re-evaluate the nature of the universe, when nature is posed as a lumpen “nature” in the way that Chopra means, and has meant in the past. Still, Chopra is playing a deceptive word game here too. He actually believes science is quite incapable when it comes to the re-evaluation he’s on about.

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Family Intervention

Obama Risks a Domestic Military ‘Intervention’

(update: Newsmax removed the column from which the excerpts below are taken. see mediamatters.)



Tuesday, September 29, 2009 10:35 AM By: John L. Perry

There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America’s military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the “Obama problem.” Don’t dismiss it as unrealistic.

America isn’t the Third World.  If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized. That it has never happened doesn’t mean it wont. Describing what may be afoot is not to advocate it. So, view the following through military eyes:

Officers swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Unlike enlisted personnel, they do not swear to “obey the orders of the president of the United States.”

Top military officers can see the Constitution they are sworn to defend being trampled as American institutions and enterprises are nationalized.
They can see that Americans are increasingly alarmed that this nation, under President Barack Obama, may not even be recognizable as America by the 2012 election, in which he will surely seek continuation in office.

They can see that the economy — ravaged by deficits, taxes, unemployment, and impending inflation — is financially reliant on foreign lender governments.

So, if you are one of those observant military professionals, what do you do?

Wait until Israel is forced to launch air strikes on Iran’s nuclear-bomb plants, and the Middle East explodes, destabilizing or subjugating the Free World?

Will the day come when patriotic general and flag officers sit down with the president, or with those who control him, and work out the national equivalent of a “family intervention,” with some form of limited, shared responsibility?

Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.

Military intervention is what Obama’s exponentially accelerating agenda for “fundamental change” toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama’s radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.

In the 2008 election, that was the wistful, self-indulgent, indifferent reliance on abnegation of personal responsibility that has sunk the nation into this morass.


Let’s run with this a bit even though Perry likely would not fair well in a diagnostic interview.

Emboldened parts in the excerpt jump out the most for me.

That it has never happened doesn’t mean it wont. Okay–fair enough sophistry–how could it happen? To heck with why it should or should not happen. Let’s roll with what a military leadership would have to accomplish to realize military control of the country.

First, in planning out what is in constitutional and military terms, treason, this leadership would have to figure out how to insure the compliance of each and every land, sea, air, command throughout the entire military. Presumably, short of 100% “buy-in,” the treasonous top rankers  could obtain a critical mass of buy-in enough so that severe disincentives could be threatened for any resisting military personnel. The problem with this is how it could all churn into something uncivil.
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