Saturday, December 31, 2011

An expression of life transforming itself

Parabola is self-described as "devoted to the dissemination and exploration of materials relating to the myths, symbols, rituals, and art of the world's religious and cultural traditions." Since 1976 it has published a quarterly journal that is "devoted to the search for meaning, which often goes outward, then back home again along a different path."

Earlier today, Parabola posted the following quotation on its Facebook page. I share it here for its value as a simply stated profundity that I think addresses so much of what American Creation discusses, and because we lost Vaclav Havel only two weeks ago. If you think "church" and "state" must forever and completely be estranged, then maybe this can help you remember that both are comprised of the people. If you wonder how American governance of yesterday became what it is today, maybe this can help you remember that government, then and now, shows a reflection of the people. If you find the public statements and private writings of "this" or "that" Founding Father on religious faith not in close enough agreement with your own views, maybe this can enlighten.

‎"If a better economic and political model is to be created, then perhaps more than ever before it must derive from profound existential and moral changes in society. This is not something that can be designed and introduced like a new car. If it is to be more than just a new variation of an old degeneration, it must above all be an expression of life in the process of transforming itself. A better system will not automatically ensure a better life. In fact, the opposite is true: only by creating a better life can a better system be developed."

Vaclav Havel (1936-2011)

Happy New Year, friends! Here's to a great 2012.

Jay

12 comments:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The Buddhist belief of "life transforming itself" is about reaching a state where nothing affects you (Nirvana). Such thinking separates experience from mind, which is like separating the sacred and secular, but in "self". Isn't this the opposite of "Egoism"? "Self" is self annihlation, where there is "nothingness". Isn't this similar to nihlism?

The West seeks self fulfillment in the material realm, not a denial of the material realm...So, what are you suggesting? and how are you finding Eastern Mysticism as the "religous history" of the "American Creation" blogspot, when America's heritage is Judeo-Christian?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Are neuroscientists of the belief that one's cultural conditoning is internalized n the brain? That it becomes part and parcel of personhood? And the mind is the symbolization of "God" in different forms? "God" is a formulation of the mind.

Then, the question becomes why is a formulation of "god" in the mind in the first place? Do some people have the tendency or all people? or it such a matter of social contexts? meaning that one's social context is the stimulating factor that makes for "the mind"...

Magpie Mason said...

Forgive me, but I do not understand your questions and comments here. I've said nothing of Buddhism or neuroscience.

Happy New Year!

Cordially,
Jay

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Happy New Year to you, too, Jay!

The image that I first saw on Parabola was of Buddha, and the meaning and reason for Parabola was a pluralistic one.

Religion is a symbolic way that the mind "forms" "God" in cognition. The first framing of one's perception about "God" is their natural fathers or representative fathers. The social conditioning within religious families also form a way of understanding life and "God". The problem is with religion, as it is a ritual that is believed to benefit the believer and/or God. Therefore, there is a tendency to define reality upon that basis. And when this happens, the political realm is exclusivistic about religion.

The philosopical branch of Buddhism is atheistic, but nevertheless, defines life and liberty as escape. It is a transcendentalist way of understanding and viewing reality.

Consciousness itself is a question in neuroscience as some suppose that a relgous consiousness brings about a unification of "the social". That may or may not be beneficial toward unifying efforts, due to group cohesion when such social consciousness is built...

Phil Johnson said...

.
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If you think "church" and "state" must forever and completely be estranged, then maybe this can help you remember that both are comprised of the people.
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I think this is the most common misunderstanding of what is meant by the "church" when we speak of the separation of church and state.
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During the Medival period to speak of one was to speak of the other and that gives some understanding of what is meant by the word, separtion. Church and government were one and the same--the state. That is precisely why James created the Anglican Church with himself as the head of the church. Government spoke with the authority of the church and the church spoke with the authority of the government and that formed the state.
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To think that the idea of separation means that a person of "faith" has no right to speak his mind in our representative governhment is a little shy of crazy talk if you ask me. Of course, even the Pope, if he were an American citizen would have a right to speak his mind and thoughts both publicly and privately. But, would we go to him to seek lawful judgement on any question of governance? Or would anyone respect his word if he presumed to speak as the state? I don't THINK so. Not by a long shot.
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Separation of church and state means that the state has authority of governance and the church has no voice in government; but, people of "faith" have authority of governance--they have ever right to vote and speak their mind on any subject. But they cannot create any official edicts of governance. They certainly have the right to push their ideas; but, no more so that the common man with no "faith".
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Magpie Mason said...

Hi Phil,

There is much in the above with which I disagree.

I think you'll find that the Anglican Church rightly is traced to Henry VIII.

Fast-forwarding to today, it seems to me the battles waged over church-state politics and law have degenerated into the fetishes of those who sue over municipal creches, benedictions at high school football games, and the like. Say what we may about Newt Gingrich, but I believe he has it correct when describing the effort to remove the Mojave Desert Cross as "fascistic."

It's not just about a person of faith here and there having a right to speak his mind. At work in this society for the past half century or more is a tiny minority of malcontents who think expressions of faith should be confined to private quarters. My point is THE PEOPLE, whether in private or public, comprise both state and "church" (used here as a device to signify any religion), so separating them in this modern sense of separation serves only to split neighbor from neighbor.

Frankly, I think your closing paragraph is simply backward. Separation of church and state does not deny "church" a voice in government. Again, "church" = people. The idea of separating church from state means denying state (i.e. "the whole of American people") a say in any individual person's "opinion" and "conscience."

Jay

Phil Johnson said...

.
Right, Jay. Thanks for bringing that to my attention so politely. Henry VIII!! My stupid mistake. I knew better.
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As far as my closing paragraph is concerned, the idea of "church" along with the idea of "separation" seems to be the problem in all this consideration.

What does it mean for the "church" to be separated from government?
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Are we just talking about people exercising their individual rights or the right of an organized voice? When the edicts of the "church" are supported by the laws of the state, what does "separation of church and state" mean? These are difficult questions--especially when they are taken in light of "church" history. (There's a can of worms can be opened.)
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Phil Johnson said...

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The plaguing question seems to be about what we mean when we say "church" in quotes and not capitalized.
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Magpie Mason said...

"The plaguing question seems to be about what we mean when we say 'church' in quotes and not capitalized."

And this is why people like me do not invest much in Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Baptists. A politician's private (or public) correspondence to person or persons is not law.

As you know, the First Amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."

It says nothing of church(es), and is concerned only with what the law-making branch of the U.S. government cannot do.

To me, nothing could be more simple and clear, but to lawyers....

Jay

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