RELIGION

Debates and dialogue


DEBATE AND DIALOGUE

Part 1:

Debate or debating is a formal method of interactive and representational argument. Debate is a broader form of argument than logical argument. Logical argument only examines consistency from axiom; factual argument only examines what is or isn't the case; rhetoric is a technique of persuasion. Logical consistency, factual accuracy and some degree of emotional appeal to the audience are important elements of the art of persuasion. In debating, though, one side often prevails over the other side by presenting a superior "context" and/or framework of the issue, which is far more subtle and strategic. In a formal debating contest, there are rules for people to discuss and decide on differences, within a framework defining how they will interact. Informal debate is a common occurrence, the quality and depth of a debate improves with knowledge and skill of its participants as debaters.

Deliberative bodies such as parliaments, legislative assemblies, and meetings of all sorts engage in debates. The outcome of a debate may be decided by audience vote, by judges, or by some combination of the two. Of course, this implies that facts are based on consensus, which is often not the case.  Formal debates between candidates for elected office, such as the leaders' debates, the U.S. presidential election debates, and debates in other democratic systems, are common. The major goal of the study of debate as a method or art is to develop one's ability to play from either position with equal ease. Debates are sometimes organized for purely competitive purposes, particularly at the US high-school level, but also in other English-speaking countries. On the internet there are locations for debate but, for the most part, it is dialogue, discussion,and apologetics that takes place rather than formal debate activity.  My posts on the internet are entirely non-debate-oriented. That is, the discussion I engage is is dialogue-oriented, consultative in nature, rather than a discussion constrained by formal rules of interchange.


A CONSULTATIVE APPROACH

For a more consultative approach to discussion go to the following links:


http://www.planetbahai.org/cgi-bin/articles...can't be found

http://info.bahai.org/article

http://www.bci.org/bahaistudies/courses/consult_principles....can't be found

The following two paragraphs are found at many an internet site in which I engage in discussions with others. Readers can go to the links below the following 2 paragraphs for the rest of this post, a post that is often the beginning of one of my extensive discussions at some site.

DEBATEPEDIA

Debatepedia is the Wikipedia of debates - an encyclopedia of pro and con arguments and quotes on critical issues. A project of the 501c3 non-profit International Debate Education Association (IDEA), Debatepedia utilizes the same wiki technology powering Wikipedia to centralize arguments and quotes found in editorials, op-eds, political statements, and books into comprehensive pro/con articles. This helps citizens and decision-makers better deliberate on the world's most important questions. Debatepedia is endorsed by the National Forensic League. For more: http://www.debatepedia.org/en/index.php/Welcome_to_Debatepedia%21


MORE DEBATES

This link wil help you access many debates:`https://www.google.com.au/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=debate+wiki&start=10





APOLOGETICS ANYONE?

Part 1:

Since there are so many questions raised and issues discussed concerning people’s basic assumptions about life, about their philosophy, about their religious beliefs, indeed, about their very approach to reality and the way their society goes about organizing things, it seemed like a useful exercise, useful at least to me and hopefully to some others on the internet who come to my prose and poetry, to say a few things about my values and beliefs, my assumptions and attitudes, in a word, my religion. I do this at my website here and at dozens of places on the internet.  I use the following post as an opening note.  I hope to solicit, or elicit, responses from others and engage in a useful dialogue. Some readers will find this post too long.  For such readers I always advise that they simply not bother reading the post. The following paragraphs set some of the context for that dialogue which often, but not always, follows from this opening post.  At some sites the dialogue is extensive and the thread of discourse goes on for pages and for months; at other sites no response follows and the dialogue is, therefore, non-existent.

Religion, in the sense that I am using it here, is the set of values, beliefs and attitudes each of us has as we go about our daily life at a particular moment in time, in this case, at the time of my writing of this post on the internet;  in the case of the person reading this post, it is the set they possess at the time of the response of that reader to what he has just read in my writing.  My apologetics is strengthened by the common witness and testimony of my fellow human beings, my fellow readers, about the role of values, beliefs and attitudes in our lives and in relation to the world in which we live.  The discussion we have is part of our common witness and the variation in our views about what we witness. For the rest of this opening post, this statement of apologetics, in which I have been engaged on the internet go to:
http://www.volconvo.com/forums/philosophy-religion/15370-apologetics.html...can not be found

http://www.interfaithforums.com/religious-debate/12225-bahai-apologetics.html

APOLOGETICS: A DIALOGUE:

Part 2:

I want in this second part of my first posting to finish outlining, as best I can, my basic orientation to Baha’i apologetics. To save me reinventing the wheel so to speak, may I suggest--as I did earlier--that readers here google the official Bahá'í site at bahai.org so that they have some idea what the Bahá'í faith is, what are its teachings and its history. Then these same readers can post a reply to this post with specific questions and critiques. Critical scholarly contributions or criticism raised in public or private discussions, an obvious part of apologetics, should not necessarily be equated with hostility. Questions are perfectly legitimate, indeed, necessary aspects of a person's search for an answer to an intellectual conundrum. Paul Tillich, that great Protestant theologian of the 20th century, once expressed the view that apologetics was an "answering theology."-Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, U. of Chicago, 1967, Vol.1, p6.

Go to the following links for more of: my discussion, apologetics, dialogue, back-and-forthing, lance-and-parry, conversation, repartee, parlance, interlocution and confabulation, inter alia.

http://academy.galilean-library.org/archive/index.php/t-6508.html....not accessible

http://www.redbubble.com/people/ronprice9/journal/5429298-apologetics-anyone


CULTURE WARS IN THE USA: 1980 TO 2000

"Culture Wars, Religion, and the Postmodern Sacred" is the title of a review of One Nation Under God?: Religion & American Culture (1999), edited by Marjorie Garber and Rebecca L. Walkowitz. (New York: Routledge, 1999); and Para/Inquiry: Postmodern Religion and Culture, by Victor E. Taylor (New York: Routledge, 2000). The review is by Michael Strysick of Wake Forest University. Strysick begins: "During the 1980s and 1990s, Americans saw their country torn apart over issues of “political correctness,” the right-wing rhetorical hot button used to discredit a more liberal appreciation of our nation’s multiculturalism.   The so-called culture wars of the last two decades made evident the deep ideological divides that exist in the USA over issues of race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.  Two recent books, both published by Routledge, examine the way in which religion and spirituality has been part of the fray.  One Nation Under God?: Religion and American Culture (1999), edited by Marjorie Garber and Rebecca L. Walkowitz, investigates, in 15 separate but complementary essays, the practical effects of these culture wars on religion. Theoretical implications of a decidedly postmodern outlook on religion and culture are examined in Victor E. Taylor’s Para/Inquiry: Postmodern Religion and Culture (2000)." For this detailed commentary go to: http://www.jcrt.org/archives/01.3/strysick.shtml

christopher hitchens and his brother

In his book about religion, Peter Hitchens has a lot more to say about his brother Christopher than Christopher has to say about Peter in his book about himself.​‘Some brothers get on,’ Peter writes mournfully, ‘some do not. We were the sort that just didn’t.’ He continues: At one stage – I was about nine, he nearly 12 – my poor gentle father actually persuaded us to sign a peace treaty in the hope of halting our feud. I can still picture this doomed pact in its red frame, briefly hanging on the wall. To my shame, I was the one who repudiated it, ripped it from its frame and angrily erased my signature, before recommencing hostilities. In a way, the treaty has remained broken ever since.  "It’s Been a Lot of Fun" is a review by David Runciman of Hitch-22: A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens(Atlantic, 450 pages). David Runciman teaches politics at Cambridge, where he is head of department. The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War One to the Present has been out in paperback for several years.

"Yet five decades on," continues Runciman, "things are starting to thaw. Peter and Christopher were brought together on a platform in 2008 to debate the latter’s book against God (God Is Not Great), and discovered that neither of them had the stomach for the vituperation and mutual hostility their audience had been anticipating. A few days earlier, Christopher had cooked Peter supper in Washington, ‘a domesticated action so unexpected that I still haven’t got over it … If he is going to take up roasting legs of lamb at this stage of his life, then what else might be possible?’ Christopher, it seems, no longer makes Peter angry. He just makes him a little sad. What he is sad about is Christopher’s inability to see that his militant atheism is just an extension of his earlier Trotskyism. Christopher, Peter thinks, is still hankering for a world in which evil is vanquished and all the mistakes of the past can be eradicated. What he can’t see is that this wishful thinking is precisely the kind of self-delusion that he takes to be characteristic of religion. That’s because it is a kind of religion. In his yearning for certainty, Christopher is merely replicating the intolerance, taste for indoctrination that he professes to despise among the priesthood. For more go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n12/david-runciman/its-been-a-lot-of-fun

THE RIGHT TO DIE

Part 1:

"The Right to Die" by Stephen Sedley appeared in The London Review of Books on 27/8/'15 at: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n16/stephen-sedley/the-right-to-die Sedley begins: "When suicide was decriminalised in 1961, assisting suicide continued to be a crime. This was in part an acceptance of the theological view of suicide as murder, but it was also a recognition of the difficulty in many cases, with the main actor by definition unable to testify, of distinguishing assisted dying from culpable homicide. The simple binary system that resulted, however, failed to take account of cases in which the deceased’s wish to die was explicit, considered and rational, and the need for help in accomplishing it demonstrable." Sedley continues:

"Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which since 2000 has been given domestic effect by the Human Rights Act, guarantees respect for individual autonomy except where an interference is permitted by law and is proportionate. In 2002 the Strasbourg court held in Diane Pretty’s case that the crime of assisting suicide was a proportionate limit on the right to die, since it protected ‘the weak and vulnerable and especially those who are not in a position to take informed decisions’. This again left out the case of patients who were in none of these categories but wished for good reason to be helped to die. For such patients the court accepted that the discretion of the Director of Public Prosecutions to refrain from bringing to trial those who helped them afforded a sufficient safeguard. But because the DPP’s discretion has to be exercised not only lawfully but consistently, the law lords, when Debbie Purdy’s case came before them in 2009, required that the DPP formulate and publish the policy by which his discretion would be guided. That policy, when published, exempted relatives who act out of compassion, but not medical professionals who do so."

Part 2:

"Flinch Wince Jerk Shirk" by Frank Kermode appeared in The London Review of Books Life. It is a review of the book End of by Christine Brooke-Rose(Carcanet, 120 pages, February 2006) on 6/4/'06. Kermode begins: "Christine Brooke-Rose, being in her eighties and suffering many intractable illnesses and disabilities, recognises that her life must be near its end. Since her retirement from the University of Paris (Vincennes) she has lived alone in a village near Avignon. Being well acquainted with illness, she has offered as her main reason for choosing to spend her old age in France the conviction that the French health services are far superior to the British, an opinion she has not had occasion to revise." Kermode continues:

"As a young woman she wrote four accomplished but orthodox novels and seemed firmly established in London, but in 1964, after a dangerous illness, she ‘went experimental’ and published Out, after which she never again wrote a novel that didn’t offer, first to herself, then to her readers, some technical challenge, some breach of the usual unexamined ‘realism’ contract. The publisher who had been happy with the more conventional early books rejected Out, but she was undismayed, for she had now discovered the work she was born to do; each book thereafter was an erudite game and she took great pleasure in it, testing her own intelligence and the intelligence of her readers, now a much reduced party." For more go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n07/frank-kermode/flinch-wince-jerk-shirk

LIBERAL-HUMANISM AND THEOCRACIES

Debates on political inclusion and tolerance in Western liberal democracies have recently acknowledged that racial, ethnic, gender,  and sexual differences must be accommodated at the level of political systems and cannot be closeted within the realm of the private. This recognition has largely been the result of the struggles of a variety of groups including feminists, people of color, and gays and lesbians, to name only some of the broadest manifestations of these coalitions. Nevertheless, extending this public recognition of difference to include religious affiliations often makes those who argue for multiple public identities uncomfortable. Part of this discomfort resides in a genuine fear arising from an awareness that a number of recently instituted theocracies have been oppressive of historically subordinate groups. Another part of the discomfort with making religion a public issue, however, lies in the way principles of liberal-humanism have become hegemonic and naturalized in discussions on modern politics. Although the critique that contemporary theocracies are intolerant of difference may be valid, it must be addressed empirically in its historical specificity. The aim in this issue of Stanford Humanities Review has been to focus on the theoretical concepts and assumptions that often inform contemporary discussions of the mixing of religion and politics.

While the contributors to this volume address a range of issues, they challenge in particular three assumptions central to liberal-humanist discussions of religious politics: (i) that religion in modern society is about personal belief mainly practiced in private; (ii) that secular political structures are necessarily superior to religious forms of governance in their tolerance of difference; and (iii) that religion and modern liberal political structures generally stand in an antagonistic relationship to each other. These assumptions may describe particular political and social arrangements in Western liberal democracies, but are inadequate in apprehending histories rooted in traditions other than, and in addition to, Western liberal humanism. As such, the authors, in their examinations of South Asian & Middle Eastern politics, critique the categories of analysis usually drawn upon to describe non-Western religious histories and traditions and posit alternative means of understanding the developments in these societies. This is not an argument for cultural particularism, but rather an effort to parochialize Western histories and concepts that have become globalized due to the power the West has commanded. The authors in this volume trace the histories of some of the struggles less powerful traditions have waged when faced with this universalistic ambition. Go to this link for several papers on this subject: http://web.stanford.edu/group/SHR/5-1/text/toc.html

THE MASCULINE AND THE FEMININE

Published in the Journal of Bahá’í Studies(V7, N2, 1988) "The Role of the Feminine in the Bahá’í Faith" is a paper by by Ross Woodman. Ross Woodman was Professor Emeritus at Western University in London, Ontario when he passed away at the age of 91 in March 2014. He was a member of the first National Spiritual Assembly, the governing council of the Baha’i Community of Canada, elected in 1948. This paper was presented as the Hasan Balyuzi Memorial Lecture at the Association for Bahá’í Studies Twentieth Annual Conference, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. This article proposed a non-gendered understanding of the terms “Masculine” and “Feminine,” in which the terms refer to two completely interdependent forces or energies at work within the Manifestation as the Revealer of the Word, as well as throughout the creation including the human individual. It also focused upon the unprecedented role of the Feminine in the Bahá’í Faith, particularly as it corrects the oppositional imbalance between the Masculine and the Feminine in the Adamic cycle.

A close examination of Bahá’u’lláh’s address to Carmel as his consort, or New Jerusalem bride, and the role played by the Maids of Heaven in his Revelation, will stress the importance of what Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitáb-i-Íqán calls “the brides of inner meaning” who issue unveiled from a new revelation of the Word. Understanding the importance of the Feminine in its nuptial union with, rather than subordination to, the Masculine may, one hopes, lead to a deeper understanding of what it now means to be created in the image and likeness of God.

The ambiguous status of the Feminine in the Judeo–Christian–Muslim tradition is well known. Eve, as both the mother of humankind and temptress in league with the Devil, archetypally encompasses this ambiguity. With the advent of the Feminist Movement in this century, particularly in the post-Second World War period, this ambiguity has been subjected to a close critical scrutiny that reflects a radical shift toward a position of equality between the sexes in Western society. The Bahá’í affirmation of equality, an equality that may be compared to the T wo wings of a bird which are essential to its flight, would appear to ground in Revelation the equality that Feminism is now fighting to achieve for women around the world. For more on this subject go to: http://bahai-studies.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/7.2-Woodman.pdf

GENDER INEQUALITY

Hierarchical gender relations continue to be one of the most pervasive sources of inequality. This is demonstrated, globally, by systematic gender-based inequalities in areas such as earnings and ownership of assets (World Bank 2012), and political participation (United Nations Development Programme 2011), as well as inequalities in social status and personal autonomy that are manifested, in their most extreme forms, as a “global pandemic” of gender-based violence (UN WOMEN 2011, 14). Efforts to promote gender equality have been made at a variety of scales.

Internationally, this is reflected in commitments such as Millennium Development Goal 3 (MDG3), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a range of International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions promoting gender equality in employment, or dealing with the special needs of women as employees and predominantly female sectors of employment such as domestic work. At the national scale, many countries have undertaken interventions related to political representation (e.g. quota systems for women’s political representation), economic planning and advocacy (e.g. gender budgeting) and the implementation of equality and non-discrimination legislation, supported in many cases by gender equality offices or National Women’s Machineries.

In addition, gender equality remains a focus for grassroots activism, reflected in the work of global networks such as DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era). Finally, gender equality has also consistently been a policy focus of development institutions, and is a high-profile policy objective of both multi-lateral bodies (such as UNDP, the World Bank or the more recently created UN WOMEN) and bilateral donor organizations, which frequently identify gender equality (or, increasingly, women’s empowerment) as a cross-cutting theme that should be pursued through all sectors of intervention supported. For more of this article in the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities(2014 Vol. 15, No. 1, pages 47–59) go to: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/19452829.2013.837033

WORLD ORDER

Part 1:

When I use the term new world order I am using it to refer to the world as it exists now, not to some possible world government.  I would like to see the new world order evolve into a kind of world governance or government. However, that idea continues to be debated. In any event, it is not a secret conspiracy. Those who recognize the changes in the world, and the need to move political and economic institutions into the 21st century, are very open about it.

The term "new world order" has been used to refer to any new period of history evidencing a dramatic change in world political thought, the balance of power, and technological change. Despite various interpretations of this term, it is primarily associated with the ideological notion of global governance only in the sense of new collective efforts to identify, understand, or address worldwide problems that go beyond the capacity of individual nation-states to solve. One of the first and most well-known Western uses of the term was in Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, and in a call for a League of Nations following the devastation of World War I. The phrase was used sparingly at the end of World War II when describing the plans for theUnited Nations and the Bretton Woods system, and partly because of its negative associations with the failed League of Nations. However, many commentators have applied the term retroactively to the order put in place by the World War II victors as a "new world order." For more go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_world_order_(politics)

The phrase "New world order" in the Bahá'í Faith refers to a system of teachings, enunciated byBahá'u'lláh, the founder of the religion, that Bahá'ís believe embodies God's divinely appointed scheme for the unification of mankind in this age. Among the beliefs it includes is the eventual establishment of a world commonwealth based on principles of equity and justice, a commonwealth as vital spiritually as it would be materially. For more go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_world_order_(Bah%C3%A1%27%C3%AD)

Part 2:

The article "The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Bahá’í Law, Legitimacy, and World Order" by Martha L. Schweitz was published in 1994 by the Association of Baha'i Studies. It is an initial attempt to understand the Kitáb-i-Aqdas from the perspective of contemporary secular national and international law. First, it analyzes and classifies the laws and institution-building provisions of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, demonstrating its character as a constitution or “Charter” of future world civilization. The social laws are further analyzed to show how they, together with expressed principles, form the nucleus for a fully developed legal system. Second, the article investigates the relationship between law and principle, the “warp and woof” of the institutions of Bahá’u’lláh’s World Order. How a particular code of laws actually functions in a society depends heavily on the background of shared principles. Characteristic legal and social principles are identified, principles which together distinguish the Bahá’í system of law and government from others. The final section describes current thinking about the concept of legitimacy and the transformation of international law through human rights standards from a system that serves only states into one which serves humanity on the basis of emerging World Order principles.  

Part 2.1:

Martha L. Schweitz holds a JD degree from New York University School of Law (1981). After several years with a large legal firm in Chicago, she taught international and corporate law at the University of Oregon (1986–89). Having moved to Japan as a Fulbright Lecturer, she was appointed to the Law Faculty of Seinan Gakuin University in Fukuoka (1990–2000). She has also been a Visiting Professor at Chicago–Kent College of Law and a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University Center of International Studies. Her coedited book (with Tatsuro Kunugi), Codes of Conduct for Partnership in Governance, was presented to the World Civil Society Conference (Montreal, 1999), for which she served on the steering committee. With a primary research focus on the relationship between civil society and intergovernmental institutions, she has published articles and lectured on global governance, accountability, international organizations, international human rights, gender equality, and Bahá'í law. She is Director of the Office of Review at the United States Bahá'í National Center. Since 2001 she has served on the Executive Committee of the Association for Bahá'í Studies—North America. She became a member of the Bahá'í Encyclopedia Editorial Board in 2003. For the above article on Baha'i Law go to: http://bahai-studies.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/6.1-Schweitz.pdf

SPACESHIP EARTH

"We are not going to be able to operate our spaceship earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody. "--R. Buckminster Fuller

"We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent upon its vulnerable reserves of air and soil, all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft. We cannot maintain it half fortunate, half miserable, half confident, half despairing, half slave to the ancient enemies of man, half free in a liberation of resources undreamed of until this day. No craft, no crew can travel safely with such vast contradictions. On their resolution depends the survival of us all."
--Adlai Stevenson, US Ambassador to the United Nations, 1964.


RICHARD DAWKINS AND THEOLOGY

Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster. These days, theology is the queen of the sciences in a rather less august sense of the word than in its medieval heyday.

The above paragraph is by Terry Eagleton(1943-), a prominent British literary theorist and critic. He is currently Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University, Professor of Cultural Theory at the National University of Ireland and Distinguished Visiting Professor of English Literature at The University of Notre Dame. For more of Terry Eagleton's discussion in the London Review of Books in October 2006 of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins go to this link:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/terry-eagleton/lunging-flailing-mispunching

CATHOLICISM AND SCIENCE: GALILEO TO THE 21ST CENTURY

Since the time of Galileo, the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church toward science has been ambivalent. By the end of the twentieth century, it seemed that an open-minded & tolerant tendency had definitely prevailed. Now, however, in the early years of this new century, the antiscientific stance has made a vigorous comeback, and sometimes in surprisingly outmoded guises. Although it is probably a position still held by only a minority in the Church, this antiscientific stance appears to have been adopted by members in the highest ranks of the Church, including the pope. This article analyzes the roots, nature, and cultural and political implications of this antiscientific renaissance within Catholicism by looking at two of its main expressions, which concern, respectively, the attitude one should take toward the natural sciences and the social sciences. For this excellent overview of recent centuries and today go to: http://boundary2.dukejournals.org/content/37/1/1.full.pdf+html

PARODY


Part 1:

I thank Clive James for the following and I need to do a good bit of editing when time permits some time in 2013. Parody is the most entertaining form of literary criticism and is highly useful in debate and dialogue. Sadly, it is not an art I am good at. Parody is not easy to do. In fact it’s probably the hardest of the minor literary forms to get right. Max Beerbohm(1872-1956) was a great master of parody. Beerbohm
was an English essayist, parodist, and caricaturist best known today for his 1911 novel Zuleika Dobson. Since Beerbohm back in the middle of the 20th century, there have been several consistently successful perpetrators of wicked little masterpieces that have summed up a victim’s creative lifetime in a few short paragraphs. Most readers here will not know either Beerbohm or others whom James mentions.

Clive James's pick for the most able exponent of the art alive in 2013 is Russell Davies.
Robert Russell Davies(1946- ) is a British journalist and broadcaster. He currently presents a Sunday radio programme on BBC Radio 2 which spotlights popular song, as well as Brain of Britain on Radio 4. Craig Brown runs him close, says James.  Craig Edward Moncrieff Brown(1957- ) is a British critic and satirist from England, probably best known for his work in Private Eye.  Craig Brown’s powers of hearing, says James, are more for posturing mannerisms than for the soul of a style, and his impatient scorn is clearly available to order, as it were, as part of his urge to right wrongs and remove stuffing. Davies, on the other hand, gets into action only from a long-nursed urge to get down to the deep structure of someone else’s way of writing. James is, for me, a fine parodist and I've enjoyed him now for many years due to his presence in Australian culture; he's part of the wooodwork here.

Part 1.1:

James has added many pieces to the total of fine pieces of parody. For my money they are unmatched for how they are penetratingly accurate without ceasing to be funny. James wields a merry scalpel, but he can also get the fundamental tone of someone else’s prose, as Cyril Connolly once did for Aldous Huxley, and for the radical poseurs of a whole era. 
Cyril Vernon Connolly(1903-1974) was an English intellectual, literary critic and writer. He was the editor of the influential literary magazine Horizon (1940–1949) and wrote Enemies of Promise (1938), which combined literary criticism with an autobiographical exploration of why he failed to become the successful author of fiction that he had aspired to be in his youth. Connolly died in 1974 as I was beginning to teach in post-secondary education at what is now the University of Tasmania.

Aldous Leonard Huxley(1894-1963) is even less known now than Connolly.  Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel writing, film stories and scripts. Huxley spent the later part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death. He died in 1963, the year I entered university to begin what has become 50 years(1963-2013) of engagement in the arts and the humanities, in literature and the social sciences. Aldous Huxley was a humanist, pacifist, and satirist, and he was latterly interested in spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism. He is also well known for advocating and taking psychedelics. By the end of his life Huxley was widely acknowledged as one of the pre-eminent intellectuals of his time. But, as I say, he is hardly known by the pop-culture generation and, with the internet dumping information on us all by the bucketfull, Huxley has just about disappeared from the radar of the 7.5 billion people on the planet.

Davies could even do fine parody for, or to, James Joyce who was a mighty parodist himself.  To parody Joyce is counted as the Everest among challenges. Joyce should have been invulnerable, but Finnegans Wake was asking for it. To answer that big ask, however, it was necessary to possess more than a fair share of Joyce’s linguistic inventiveness. Most readers here will not be familiar with anyone I've mentioned, so I will say little more about parody in my quoting of Clive James.

Part 2:

But if Davies were to publish a collection of his fugitive writings, as Beerbohm, Connolly, and the other masters of these fleeting forms once did, then his compressed version of Finnegans Wake would have to be in it. Davies was also an accomplished, multi-instrumental jazz musician as well as an actor and broadcaster. He has been so productive in so many fields that he can easily lose track of what he has done, and I wonder if even he quite knows how he managed to plug himself into the linguistic blender of Finnegans Wake and take over its output for these potent few hundred words. James says "I think it might well be the cleverest piece of critical prose written in my time, and even cleverer for not fitting into any category you can think of".

James also mentions the skills at parody of Paul Dehn(
1912-1976) who was an Oscar nominated British screenwriter, best known for Goldfinger, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Planet of the Apes sequels and Murder on the Orient Express. While many readers who come to this sub-section of my website will have heard of these movies, the name Paul Dehn will ring few bells I'm sure. Dehn died as I was beginning my tenure at what is now the University of Ballarat, one of Australia's famous gold-mining cities. In 1976 I had not heard of him, occupied as I was with a 60 hour work week teaching the social sciences, with another 10 to 20 hours running around Ballarat as the secretary of the local Baha'i community and attending to my family of three children, and a wife with post-natal depression. I cound have used a few laughs.

THE SOUTHERN BAPTISTS: THE BIBLE BELT

“Bible Belt” is a phrase coined by the writer H.L. Mencken, who placed it first among the inventions of which he was vainest, followed by “booboisie,” “smuthound,” and “Boobus americanus.” Together they declare what Mencken thought of the Bible-obsessed regions of the United States, and especially that region called the Old South—a swath of states stretching from the Atlantic to Texas. A map of the Bible Belt and a map of the Confederacy are pretty much the same, and the explanation is to be found in the unbending defense of slavery by Southern Baptists before the Civil War—something everybody in the Bible Belt knows but most ignore, dismiss, or deny. For a review entitled "Texas: The Southern Baptists in Power" by Thomas Powers in The New York Review of Books, 9/10/'14, a review of a new book: Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State by Robert Wuthnow(Princeton University Press, 650 pages) go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/oct/09/texas-southern-baptists-power/?insrc=toc


DEBATES ON AMERICAN HISTORY


Part 1:

The American Quarterly, Volume 65, Number 1, March 2013 had an excellent essay by Claudio Stokes entitled:"The Religious Revival: Narratives of Religious Origin in US Culture". The essay was a review of two books: Founding the Fathers: Early Church History and Protestant Professors in Nineteenth-Century America, by Elizabeth A. Clark, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011. 576 pages; and Homeland Mythology: Biblical Narratives in American Culture by Christopher Collins, University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008. 288 pages. The review began as follows: "The administration of George W. Bush ushered in a new era of public religious discourse. Before the 2000 election, a politician’s religion generally remained in the shadowy recesses of private life, politely referenced only as metonymic evidence attesting to his or her strong moral foundation and character. The presidential campaigns of George W. Bush moved religious rhetoric from the political margins to the center, by speaking openly about the effects of his midlife conversion to Christianity and by using coded religious language to mobilize conservative Christian voters."

"This explicit inclusion of religious rhetoric," the review continued, "has dramatically changed the texture of American politicking, with professions of religious piety increasingly requisite for candidates of both parties and with Republicans embracing the hard-line fundamentalist positions that had heretofore been regarded chiefly as curiosities of the American religious fringe. The constitutional divide between religion and politics—a position long embraced by the conservative Southern Baptist Convention and legitimized by Christian scripture in Jesus’s assertion that believers should “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21)—has fallen into disfavor in the last decade, as with the February 2012 remark of former senator Rick Santorum that this division once caused him to want to “throw up.” This remark was quoted in Tim Mak, “Santorum: ‘JFK Speech Makes Me Want to Throw Up,” Politico, February 26, 2002. 

Part 2:

Claudio Stokes is a native New Yorker. She did her graduate work at Columbia University, and spent more than a decade specializing in the literature and culture of the American late-19th century. She published Writers in Retrospect: The Rise of American Literary History, 1875–1910, University of North Carolina Press, 2006. The book traces the steps by which American literary history became a formal academic field of study. Lately, she has been researching the literature of the mid-century, focusing on women writers typically labeled "sentimental," such as Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Susan Warner. 

Her current book project, tentatively titled The Altar at Home: Sentimentalism and Religion, examines the ways in which these women writers engaged religious doctrine in their works and influenced mainstream American religious views. Her research has been funded by grants from the Gilder-Lerhman Institute of American History, Harvard's Houghton Library, and, more recently, the National Endowment for the Humanities. She also co-edited an essay collection, American Literary Studies: A Methodological Reader ,New York University Press, 2003, that examines the effect of interdisciplinarity on the study of American literature. For more of this essay go to: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/american_quarterly/v065/65.1.stokes.html


CLIMATE CHANGE

Part A:

Climate change represents an enormous challenge to world society and our present civilization, and raises fundamental ethical questions. This compilation gives some of the relevant spiritual principles from the Bahá'í writings. More quotations can be found in the compilation on environment and sustainable development.

CONTENTS 

Spiritual Principle
Global approach
Preserving the ecological balance
Mitigation
Adaptation
International action

Part B:

REFERENCE TO SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE TO SOLVE PRACTICAL PROBLEMS

Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements. 
(Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, CVI, p. 213)

B.1:

There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem. Any well-intentioned group can in a general sense devise practical solutions to its problems, but good intentions and practical knowledge are usually not enough. The essential merit of spiritual principle is that it not only presents a perspective which harmonizes with that which is immanent in human nature, it also induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitate the discovery and implementation of practical measures. Leaders of governments and all in authority would be well served in their efforts to solve problems if they would first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them. -(Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace, 1985. p.13)

...in the face of the destructive impacts of climate change – exacerbated by the extremes of wealth and poverty – a need for new approaches centred on the principles of justice and equity is apparent.... The challenge before the world community, then, is not only a technical one but a moral one, which calls for the transformation of thoughts and behaviours so as to allow our economic and social structures to extend the benefits of development to all people.-(Bahá'í International Community, Seizing the Opportunity: Redefining the challenge of climate change, 2008)

...until material achievements, physical accomplishments and human virtues are reinforced by spiritual perfections, luminous qualities and characteristics of mercy, no fruit or result shall issue therefrom, nor will the happiness of the world of humanity, which is the ultimate aim, be attained.  For although, on the one hand, material achievements and the development of the physical world produce prosperity, which exquisitely manifests its intended aims, on the other hand dangers, severe calamities and violent afflictions are imminent....  Progress and barbarism go hand in hand, unless material civilization be confirmed by Divine Guidance... and be reinforced by spiritual conduct...-('Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 225, p. 283-284)

B.2:

Reality is one, and when truth is investigated and ascertained, it will lead to individual and collective progress. In the quest for truth, science and religion – the two systems of knowledge available to humankind – must closely and continuously interact. The insights and skills that represent scientific accomplishment must look to the force of spiritual commitment and moral principle to ensure their appropriate application. -(Bahá'í International Community, Valuing Spirituality in Development: Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development. A concept paper written for the World Faiths and Development Dialogue, Lambeth Palace, London, 18-19 February 1998)

Through [Bahá'u'lláh's] revelation, the principles required for the collective coming of age of the human race have been invested with the one power capable of penetrating to the roots of human motivation and of altering behaviour.-(Bahá'í International Community, One Common Faith, p. 39-40)‏ 

The Baha'i International Community is a partner in a United Nations-sponsored program to promote "generational change" to address climate change and environmental sustainability. The program, which is co-sponsored by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), seeks to promote lifestyle changes that will help slow global warming and other environmental problems during a seven-year period from 2010 to 2017. Go to this link for more:http://news.bahai.org/story/735

BAHA'I CONSULTATION

Bahá'í consultation refers to the method of discussion and decision making which is described in the Bahá'í writings, and which is used in all levels of Bahá'í administration. 'Abdu'l-Baha states: "The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are purity of motive, radiance of spirit, detachment from all else save God, attraction to His Divine Fragrances, humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones, patience and long-suffering in difficulties and servitude... The members thereof must take counsel together in such wise that no occasion for ill-feeling or discord may arise. This can be attained when every member expresseth with absolute freedom his own opinion and setteth forth his argument. Should any one oppose, he must on no account feel hurt for not until matters are fully discussed can the right way be revealed. The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions. If after discussion, a decision be carried unanimously, well and good; but if the Lord forbid, differences of opinion should arise, a majority of voices must prevail." --Shoghi Effendi, quoting 'Abdu'l-Baha in Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932, pages. 21-22.

PAIN AND SUFFERING

Religion and, in recent centuries, science have much to say about pain and suffering. Indeed, the literature is burgeoning as the world goes through this tempest. PAIN is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli, such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting alcohol on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone". Because it is a complex, subjective phenomenon, defining pain has been a challenge. The International Association for the Study of Pain's widely used definition states: "Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage." In medical diagnosis, pain is asymptom.

Pain motivates the individual to withdraw from damaging situations, to protect a damaged body part while it heals, and to avoid similar experiences in the future. Most pain resolves once the noxious stimulus is removed and the body has healed, but it may persist despite removal of the stimulus and apparent healing of the body. Sometimes pain arises in the absence of any detectable stimulus, damage or disease. Simple pain medications are useful in 20% to 70% of cases.

Pain is the most common reason for physician consultation in most developed countries. It is a major symptom in many medical conditions, & can interfere with a person's quality of life and general functioning. Psychological factors such as social support, hypnotic suggestion, excitement, or distraction can significantly affect pain's intensity or unpleasantness. In some arguments put forth in physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia debates, pain has been used as an argument to permit terminally ill patients to end their lives.For more go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pain

SUFFERING

Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering is the basic element that makes up the negative valence of affective phenomena. The opposite of suffering is pleasure, or happiness. Suffering is often categorized as physical or mental. It may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable. Factors of duration & frequency of occurrence usually compound that of intensity. Attitudes toward suffering may vary widely, in the sufferer or other people, according to how much it is regarded as avoidable or unavoidable, useful or useless, deserved or undeserved.

Suffering occurs in the lives of sentient beings in numerous manners, & often dramatically. As a result, many fields of human activity are concerned with some aspects of suffering. These aspects may include the nature of suffering, its processes, its origin and causes, its meaning & significance, its related personal, social, and cultural behaviors, its remedies, management, and uses. For more go to:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffering

Do you, or does someone you know, live with chronic pain? At least 1 in 5 Australians do, and very often the cause of their pain is not evident—it makes treatment particularly challenging. Scientists are now realising that the brain plays a crucial role in how pain is experienced, and it’s opening the way for some innovative treatments. All in the Mind, a program on the national broacast station Downunder, discusses  how illusions, neuro-feedback, mindfulness, or simply a change of expectation can provide relief. FOR A SHORT VIDEO ON THE SUBJECT OF PAIN GO TO: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/pain-on-the-brain/7232844