The anomalous claim of the Vatican to be a state—and of the pope to be a head of state, and hence immune from legal action—cannot stand up to scrutiny.
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For those who are interested in such matters, Mr. Christian Kohl has written a paper comparing Buddhist teaching with quantum physics. Although it is not really my “thing,” it provides an interesting outlook on developments post-Buddha, as it were.
There is a surprising parallelism between the philosophical concept of reality articulated by Nagarjuna and the physical concept of reality implied by quantum physics. For neither is there a fundamental core to reality, rather reality consists of systems of interacting objects. Such concepts of reality cannot be reconciled with the substantial, subjective, holistic or instrumentalistic concepts of reality which underlie modern modes of thought. …
Fifty-six years after its founding by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986, the church is fighting off calls by former members for a Reformation. The defectors say Sea Org members were repeatedly beaten by the church’s chairman, David Miscavige, often during planning meetings; pressured to have abortions; forced to work without sleep on little pay; and held incommunicado if they wanted to leave. The church says the defectors are lying.
China has failed, despite billions of dollars in aid, to win over Tibetan loyalty. And now Beijing is finally realizing just how badly it mishandled things.
Not that anyone really trusts them…
I’m truly proud to be an American these last few days. It’s heartening to see my country finally stepping up and leading in an endeavor from which it can expect to gain nothing but the knowledge that it did the right thing — and the approval, at last, of the rest of the world. It’s been far too long.
For nearly two centuries we have been the tough kid on the block. We were blessed by having managed to steal a land, rich in resources, from the previous tenants. We made rapid use of those resources and our relative isolation from the powers in Europe and Asia to build a worldwide economic power alongside which the 1st Century power of Rome pales in comparison. We have pretty much told the rest of the world how things were going to be, and made it stick through the power of our money and, too often, by force of arms. Yes, yes, on a couple of occasions that was warranted by circumstances beyond our control, but even those wars were as much about economics as principle.
As Americans, we tend to forget that we are members of a global community, and that all we are depends on so many who preceded us. We owe who and what we are to other cultures, those that went before and those that attempt to coexist with us today. The currently much-maligned Arabs invented the zero, without which modern mathematics would not exist. Africa gave us the rhythms that melded with European influences and became jazz. The Far East gave us philosophical insights; the Native Americans — the true owners of this land — an understanding of how we fit into the big picture along with all God’s other creations.
And so it goes. Every culture, every religion, every idea is built on those that have gone before. We Americans are the sum of all those parts: the Arabs, the Yoruba — stolen from their homes and forced to find another way to be themselves — the Hindu mystic, the Ojibway shaman, the Druid in his grove.
We need to think about this carefully. We need to understand that we are not isolated here in the US; that we are very much a part of the world, and it of us, and that we have the ability to decide the course of history. That course will be predicated, in turn, on our ability to discern our true place in the scheme of things: not whether we can kick the asses of those who disagree with our policies, but whether we can influence them to not want to kick ours. The days of gunboat diplomacy are over. They ended with the development of that most guided of missiles, the suicide bomber.
It is time to take our place as leaders in the quest for peace, not in the art and appliances of war. When I see our powers diverted from that end to wage peace and compassion, as we are this week in Haiti, I have hope again.
If only we can remember that everyone hates a bully.
As French film critic Agnes Poirier told the Guardian of London: “We are prepared to forgive artists a lot more than we are prepared to forgive ordinary mortals.”
And, apparently, we cut them more slack than we do sports figures. You’d have to be pretty hard-core to equate raping a 13-year old girl with adultery, and yet…
The two posts below make it seem that I’m ragging on Japan. Not so. It was totally a coincidence that they ended up adjacent to one another.
Drone aircraft are being stationed to patrol the US borders with Mexico and Canada. (Photo: Tom Tschida | wikimedia.com)
If war becomes unreal to the citizens of modern democracies, will they care enough to restrain and control the violence exercised in their name? Will they do so, if they and their sons and daughters are spared the hazards of combat?
– Michael Ignatieff, Virtual War (2000)
It’s high time we ended the post-Vietnam obsession with Rambo’s rippling pecs as well as the jaw-dropping technological firepower of the recent cinematic version of G.I. Joe and return to the resolute, undemonstrative strength that Gary Cooper showed in movies like High Noon.
My first glimpse of our prospective hospital was not promising. It seemed crowded, aging and apparently devoid of the gleaming, beeping equipment I associated with modern medicine. But our neo-natal class actually helped me prepare for the upcoming birth, and the scans we received afforded the same miraculous fetal glimpses we would have gotten back in New Jersey. Come delivery day, an impressive team of midwives, nurses and anesthesiologists attended my wife’s long labor, all of them respecting her request not to opt for a cesarean section. When things got sticky at the end, a senior obstetrician appeared and the monitoring equipment beeped reassuringly…. Read More…
During his first two weeks back, my brother, the demolitions expert, plied me with photos of the carnage and mayhem wreaked by his platoon. Fifteen memory cards worth of bizarre and disturbing photos — half-naked soldiers dancing in the desert, a severed goat’s head in a noose, Marines dressed in traditional women’s clothing found following a house raid.
I wanted to hit him, banish him, to create a giant dent in his soul. But he wouldn’t care, wouldn’t budge. This is what the Marines have trained him to do — warp, destroy, and believe it is for good. …
…once again and for the billionth time, a deeply sad and hypocritical conservative is now claiming that he will be turning to God not merely for forgiveness for his lusty irresponsibilities, but he is also claiming that, in order to set things right, God will now be actively stepping into his life to help put him back on track, fix his mangled moral compass, tell him the what’s-what and the don’t-stick-that-there. …
WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?
Supporters of gay marriage should recognize that we are reaching the limits of judicial leadership on this issue. While Brown v. Board enunciated important values, real change came through the politically enacted Civil Rights Act of 1964. Similarly, repeal of discriminatory measures like the Defense of Marriage Act will take legislative action. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell must also be retired by political, rather than judicial, means. More…