Skip to comments.The Rise Of Tikkun Olam Paganism
Posted on 12/28/2002 3:34:22 PM PST by Nix 2
The Rise Of Tikkun Olam Paganism
27 December 2002
I have long had a pet peeve about the vulgar misuse and distortion of the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam (repair of the world) by assimilationist Jewish liberals in the United States and elsewhere.
Elements of American Jewry have fallen captive to what can only be described as Tikkun Olam Paganism. Tikkun Olam Pagans are people who misrepresent Judaism as nothing more and nothing less than the pursuit of the liberal social action political agenda, all in the name of a suitably misrepresented Tikkun Olam. It is the banner waved by the countless "social action" committees at synagogues across America and in other liberal Jewish circles in support of liberal-leftist causes, including some that are harmful to Jews and some that are just plain wacky.
The Tikkun Olam Pagans` pseudo-religion consists of the following reductionist "theological" foundations:
1. Judaism in its entirety is essentially the advocacy and promotion of social justice.
2. Tikkun Olam means pursuit of peace, environmentalism and economic equality.
3. Justice, peace and equality are synonymous with this week`s PC liberal-leftist political fads.
Ipso facto, all of Judaism is reduced to the pursuit of being a nice liberal. Now, as it turns out, each one of the propositions listed above is totally false.
This Judaism-as-Liberalism form of reductionism is extremely common in the Reform synagogue (especially its misnamed Religious Action Center) and is universal in the Reconstructionist movement. It is popular among many Conservative Jews and even has its Orthodox advocates. A search for the term Tikkun Olam on the Internet will show you how near-universal is the equating of this concept with liberal "social activism." Even the far-left anti-Israel magazine Tikkun, published by "Rabbi" Michael Lerner, has misnamed itself after the concept. Indeed Tikkun magazine has even advocated the use of illegal psychedelic drugs by Jews and demanded that Jews understand Osama bin Laden`s "pain, " all in the name of Tikkun Olam.
The equation of Tikkun Olam with liberal political activism is so commonplace that it is recited as an ethical basis by many of the same liberal "social activists" who cannot recite the Shema prayer correctly, who practice no Jewish ritual, and have no idea of what any other concepts are in Judaism. For a nice laugh, ask some of these people to explain even one basic Jewish concept other than Tikkun Olam.
But a clarification is in order. Tikkun Olam does indeed play an important role in Jewish theology and ethics, but its meaning is nothing like that understood by the Tikkun Olam Pagans. Tikkun Olam, the "correcting" of the universe, has little if anything to do with things like social inequality, environmental cleanliness, and distribution of wealth and jobs. Rather, it refers to the Messianic era, when G-d`s laws will replace human laws, when G-d himself will be the acknowledged ruler, when all forms of idolatry will cease and all will turn their hearts to the One G-d. In other words, Tikkun Olam is a theological notion and not a trendy socioeconomic or political one. Tikkun Olam is mentioned in a major place in the Aleinu prayer that closes all prayer sessions, but again it is in conjunction with the wish to see idolatry and paganism erased from the earth. There is no mention of "social justice" or environmentalist issues, no gun control proposals and no AIDS marches. This will no doubt come as a rude surprise to Jewish assimilationist liberals. It is all the more ironic that Tikkun Olam is dredged up as underpinning for some forms of "activism" that are themselves little more than idolatry, such as the worshiping of trees, whales and nature in the name of "Eco-Judaism" by some radical Jewish environmentalists.
Even if one believed a certain amount of "social justice" could be squeezed under the Tikkun Olam theological umbrella, this would hardly justify the hijacking of the concept as artillery support for the liberal-leftist political agenda. At most, Tikkun Olam can only be conscripted as support for liberal social activism if one believes that this activism really promotes social justice. If it does promote social justice, then the incantations regarding Tikkun Olam are superfluous -- the "causes" are justified on their own merits. But does anyone today seriously believe that liberals and leftists only promote causes that are "socially just" and moral? Suppressing school choice and supporting Palestinian terrorism, affirmative action apartheid, and many other liberal causes promotes injustice and immoral outcomes.
The real issue is whether or not liberal political fads promote justice and peace and morality. And the only way to settle that question is to debate these "causes" analytically and on their own merits: Tikkun Olam has nothing to do with it. Analytic debate, of course, would require some training and study of social science, policy analysis, cost-benefits accounting, and history, and liberal poseurs are far too lazy for all that, preferring effortless ethical posturing and recreational compassion. They are much too busy patting themselves on their ethical backs.
To emphasize these points, let us state what is not covered under the heading of Tikkun Olam:
1. There is nothing in the Torah concept of Tikkun Olam that can justify government programs that take people`s private wealth and property away from them to help the poor. There is, of course, a Jewish religious precept requiring charity for the poor -- at least 10% of one`s income in two years out of seven -- but never to exceed 20% of one`s wealth, even if one is feeling ultra-compassionate. This charity, however, is privatized welfare and generosity, never state-run confiscation of property in the name of doing good. There seems to be rabbinic disagreement over whether government taxes that take away more than 10% of one`s income, especially to finance the welfare state, exempt one even from this 10% tithe. The only other biblically-mandated income redistribution involves supporting the Levites.
2. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be considered to be a judgment holding that income and wealth disparities are evil in and of themselves. Wealthy people are expected to give charity to help the poor; the poor are expected to give charity to the poorer. No one is expected to give charity to those too lazy to work or who are poor because they are drunks or addicts.
3. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be regarded as a condemnation of materialist desires and pursuits. Quite to the contrary, Judaism is not embarrassed at all about asking G-d to make us rich, such as in the Havdala prayers, where we ask for lots of silver.
4. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that could be remotely regarded as justifying affirmative action programs that discriminate against Jews. There is nothing that can justify pursuing ethnic "equality" through quotas, through lowered standards and preferences, and certainly not through programs that give other ethnic groups preferences ahead of Jews.
5. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be regarded as sanctioning homosexual relations. Indeed, the Torah makes these a capital offense.
6. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be regarded as supporting the public school monopoly or single-payer health care system. People who want such things should have the intellectual honesty to come out and debate these on their own merits (if they have any), not by hijacking the concept of Tikkun Olam.
7. There is not even the tiniest inkling of a rationalization in Tikkun Olam for granting Palestinians or anyone else territorial rights within the Land of Israel.
8. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for refraining from retaliating militarily against those who attack Jews.
9. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for claiming that animals have "rights."
10. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for refusing to acknowledge that human environmental goals must be traded off against other social and private goals.
11. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for abortion on demand.
12. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for opposing capital punishment for convicted murderers. To the contrary, the Torah explicitly endorses capital punishment for murderers.
A first giant step toward real Tikkun Olam would be the renunciation and discrediting of Tikkun Olam Paganism.
Thanks for posting this. I was unaware of it. It is in some ways akin to the deception being foisted on the Christian church:
...by demonically led church growth gurus to win "people groups", (countries, cultures, cities and communities, etc.) into a socialistic system of christianized collectivism known as "dominion theology" using the tactics and manipulation of the Hegelian Dialectic or "consensus process".More here 308 ~ 296 and here: Paul Proctor - archives
The enemy never gives up. Unfortunately, too many people believe the lies instead of their Bibles/Torah.
Sounds like another fugitive has oozed out of "LibertyStormfront" again. Why don't you go back, kid? Hoplophile and Justin are waiting for you under the misthletoe ;)).
>Ho Ho Ho!!! Merry internet-target practice. Or are you going to use your kid as a shield lest a scratch befall your unworthy self?
That seems to be an established Muslim practice.
AND PROUD OF IT!
Was thinking about the 'Havdala prayers, where we ask for lots of silver ....'
Thought that it was a personal affront to the Lord to ask or beg for money, gold, nicer housing, bigger cars, more stereos, valuable stocks, high dividends, and more time to enjoy all the booty. Frankly, I would find it boorish to seek such things, or such help, when really GOOD people (people who are better, stronger, and have more faith than I) are suffering, in severe pain, and are dying.
What is you personal feeling about 'Havdala' type prayers? Is it permissible to pray to win the lottery, based on a promise to feed and clothe the poor?
I see the Jewish Tradition is having exactly the same kind of battle as the Christian Church - paganism, disguised as theological Liberalism.
But that's not surprising, considering the Father of Lies has been pulling the stings behind such anti-Biblical movements since the beginning of the 3rd Chapter of Genesis!
We don't gamble and each man should examine himself. The Havadalah prayers Here do not appear to be begging for money so I'm not sure what the author above means. Deut. 28 blessings or cursings were for obedience and affect every area of life for good or bad depending on actions. Jews have been blessed materially throughout the ages, but often the response of the world was hatred towards them, so blessings do come with persecution for the people of G-d.
Yeshua said to love G-d or Mammon (this world's system) and no man can serve two masters. The heart condition towards wealth needs to be taken into consideration and what one does with wealth when he has it. The Israeli response to the Palestinians in treating their wounded, providing for them is higher in love and generosity than the general attitude of Christians towards the Palies.
Matthew Henry wrote in the 1700's that the scripture showed the Jews were blessed in the O.T. but that he didn't see in scripture how Christians would be in the N.T. (There are false prophets preaching the "prosperity gospel" today who would inform Matthew Henry how wrong he is...but I digress.) If Christians are not blessed today, I suspect that it is because most of Christianity today is apostate and has believed another gospel, particuarly in being anomian..."without law." Yeshua came to fulfill and explain the Law, not destroy it. The false prophets came and preached the law is gone. It is not. The N.T. promise is:
Mr 10:28-30 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
If you'd like to be on or off this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.
Seattle's best example of Tikkun Olam Paganism, without question, is Temple De Hirsch Sinai's Social Action Committee.
By far and away Hard Core Socialism's Ground Zero for the 'Jewish' community. Notable rabid America hating socialist 'friends' include traitors Senator Patty Murray and CongressTraitor Jim McDermott (not to mention dozens of other Freedom haters in the Seattle political power base). The 'elites' of this 'Shul' are a veritable who's who of Seattle's America hating socialists.
I promise never to ask you for any information. Bye.
He was more than that.
Esoteric Myth in Tragedy
Essential to tragedy in drama are mythical elements giving the reader or viewer an esoteric reference to the mechanics of a story. This dramatic device is effective, because regardless of the cultural background of the audience, the observer can reference the action of the characters, the plot and dialogue to personal experiences common in themes of religion and/or mythology. Mysteries surrounding human existence are a key to drawing interest from a contemplative mind and have been used to influence social interaction as well as to entertain.
Often, tragedy and other forms of drama use death, marriage, child birth, ghosts, dreams, sorcery and religion because they are common experiences in the mysteries of human life. Birth, sex, and death are things that are universal to every human life - - they are inescapable.
Many elements found in Arthur Millers Death of a Salesman show these various themes. It can be compared to other tragedies in literature and theater. There is dispute among critics as to whether this is really tragedy or not.
Death of a Salesman has some political elements to it. Is it Millers intention to give a Marxist view of American society - - the "victim" mentality of life not being fair, establishing a political necessity to artificially create social institutions that limit the individual freedom to choose your own destiny? Or was Millers intention just the opposite? Is Willy Loman a victim of an unfair world or the result of his own failings? Is Uncle Ben the evil capitalist, a devil, an angel or what Willy always wanted to be but lacked the courage to strive for? Many artists, playwrights and authors use their works to promote their political or religious ideology. Is Miller any different?
It can be shown that most art, music and literature (sacred or secular) have an intent to influence rather than just to entertain. Considering the personal views of the artist and conditions of the period of history they live in are factors in what they produce. Does life imitate art or is art just a reflection of human experience?
The elements of myth are always esoteric. The secular drama is a myth in and of itself, it is fiction. Myth is metaphorical, the use of such fiction is for escape from reality. Fiction conjures up phantasms, ghosts of the mind that are representative of an ideal or distasteful reality the author wants the audience to ponder and possibly come to a desired conclusion about.
Willy Lomans fantasy world of delusion is the characters attempt to escape from reality. Willy Loman is a phantasm for the observer as are the other characters in the play.
This idea is supported by Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan:
Part IV. Of the Kingdom of Darkness Chap. xlv.
Of Demonology and other Relics of the Religion of the Gentiles.
(14) An image, in the most strict signification of the word, is the resemblance of something visible: in which sense the fantastical forms, apparitions, or seemings of visible bodies to the sight, are only images; such as are the show of a man or other thing in the water, by reflection or refraction; or of the sun or stars by direct vision in the air; which are nothing real in the things seen, nor in the place where they seem to be; nor are their magnitudes and figures the same with that of the object, but changeable, by the variation of the organs of sight, or by glasses; and are present oftentimes in our imagination, and in our dreams, when the object is absent; or changed into other colours, and shapes, as things that depend only upon the fancy. And these are the images which are originally and most properly called ideas and idols, and derived from the language of the Grecians, with whom the word eido signifieth to see. They are also called phantasms, which is in the same language, apparitions. And from these images it is that one of the faculties of man's nature is called the imagination. And from hence it is manifest that there neither is, nor can be, any image made of a thing invisible.
(15) It is also evident that there can be no image of a thing infinite: for all the images and phantasms that are made by the impression of things visible are figured. But figure is quantity every way determined, and therefore there can be no image of God, nor of the soul of man, nor of spirits; but only of bodies visible, that is, bodies that have light in themselves, or are by such enlightened.
(16) And whereas a man can fancy shapes he never saw, making up a figure out of the parts of divers creatures, as the poets make their centaurs, chimeras and other monsters never seen, so can he also give matter to those shapes, and make them in wood, clay or metal. And these are also called images, not for the resemblance of any corporeal thing, but for the resemblance of some phantastical inhabitants of the brain of the maker. But in these idols, as they are originally in the brain, and as they are painted, carved moulded or molten in matter, there is a similitude of one to the other, for which the material body made by art may be said to be the image of the fantastical idol made by nature. (Hobbes, p 444)
In Hobbes sense of fiction, myth is always esoteric regardless of aesthetic intent. Arthur Millers writing of this play seemed to be very careful in avoiding any overt reference to the esoteric. However, these elements do materialize much the same way as in Othello. In the other tragedies written by Shakespeare, there is witchcraft, sorcery and ghosts. In Othello these are conspicuously absent. The magic is in Iago being an archetype of an esoteric devil or Satan.
Arthur Millers writing is not immune from this use of such imagery although he goes to great lengths to deny it in Tragedy and the Common Man:
Now, if it is true that tragedy is the consequence of a mans total compulsion to evaluate himself justly, his destruction in the attempt posits a wrong or an evil in his environment. And this is precisely the morality of tragedy and its lesson. The discovery of the moral law, which is what the enlightenment of tragedy consists of, is not the discovery of some abstract or metaphysical quantity.
The "morality of tragedy" is a curious term. Morals or morality are nothing more than a replacement for the avoidance of sin. An atheist telling someone they are immoral is no different than a preacher or rabbi telling them they are a sinner. The idea of a "moral law" implies a "metaphysical quantity" in this sense. The denial of a "metaphysical quantity" in the above by Miller is also contradicted by himself later in the same essay:
The Greeks could probe the very heavenly origin of their ways and return to confirm the rightness of laws. And Job could face God in anger, demanding his right, and end in submission. But for a moment everything is in suspension, nothing is accepted, and in this stretching and tearing apart of the cosmos, in the very action of so doing, the character gains "size," the tragic stature which is spuriously attached to the royal or high born in our minds. The commonest of men may take on that stature to the extent of his willingness to throw all he has into the contest, the battle to secure his rightful place in the world.
The mention of the Biblical figure Job and the book of Job is an interesting thing to contemplate in reference to the role of the Enemy (or Satan), the Accuser (or Diabolus), the Destroyer (or Abaddon) in the book of Job.
The philosopher Thomas Hobbes, having been fluent in both Greek and Latin by age 9, supports this and, in part, some of the previous claims I made concerning the conflict of pagan Egyptian cosmogony and the Judaic related to Othello:
Part III. Of a Christian Commonwealth.
Chap. xxxviii. Of Eternal Life, Hell, Salvation, and Redemption.
(12) And first, for the tormentors, we have their nature and properties exactly and properly delivered by the names of the Enemy (or Satan), the Accuser (or Diabolus), the Destroyer (or Abaddon). Which significant names (Satan, Devil, Abaddon) set not forth to us any individual person, as proper names do, but only an office or quality, and are therefore appellatives, which ought not to have been left untranslated (as they are in the Latin and modern Bibles), because thereby they seem to be the proper names of demons, and men are the more easily seduced to believe the doctrine of devils, which at that time was the religion of the Gentiles, and contrary to that of Moses, and of Christ.
(13) And because by the Enemy, the Accuser, and Destroyer, is meant the enemy of them that shall be in the kingdom of God, therefore if the kingdom of God after the resurrection be upon the earth (as in the former Chapter I have shewn by Scripture it seems to be), the Enemy and his kingdom must be on earth also. For so also was it in the time before the Jews had deposed God. For God's kingdom was in Israel, and the nations round about were the kingdoms of the Enemy; and consequently, by Satan is meant any earthly enemy of the Church. (Hobbes p 308)
The fact that Miller is Jewish also refutes his claim: "The discovery of the moral law, which is what the enlightenment of tragedy consists of, is not the discovery of some abstract or metaphysical quantity." Judaism is a metaphysical quantity and does color the philosophical element portrayed by the author. The concept of "morals" are a deliberately deceptive substitute for the "avoidance of sin."
Another criticism of Millers expressed view in Tragedy and the Common Man can be found in Tragedy & Philosophy by Walter Kaufmann, formerly a professor of philosophy at Princeton:
Some writers stress that there must be moral conflict;1 others, the importance of belief that failure is compatible with greatness, that greatness and the universe remain mysterious, and that failure must be final and inevitable.2 It would be foolish to deny that some such views have been supported with great eloquence. Indeed, it is almost a commonplace that George Büchners Woyzeck and Arthur Millers Death of a Salesman are not tragic because the heroes are "pathetic" or, as is sometimes said, anti-heroes. Nevertheless, our exploration of Greek and Shakespearean tragedy suggests that these very attractive views ought to be given up.
The claim that some suffering is merely pitiful and not truly tragic can be neither proved or disproved. But it can be shown to rest on an assumption that is false. This assumption is that both Greek and Shakespearean tragedy concentrated on the tragic and disdained the merely pathetic, and that the loss of this crucial distinction is a modern phenomenon. In fact, we have found that neither the Greeks or Shakespeare did make this distinction. (Kaufman, p 311-312)
1. E.g. Sidney Hook in "Pragmatism and the Tragic Sense of Life" (1960), Max Scheler, 1915, and Hegel.
2. E.g. Walter Kaufmann, above all in The Faith of a Heretic (1961), ch. 11.
Taking into account both Kaufmann and Hobbes observations in comparison to Millers Tragedy and the Common Man, one can see how pathos is an element in drama centered on an esoterically based ideal. The use of pathos relates to the idea of an eternal principle, a connection to the human condition of mortality and the human obsession with the eternal. Kaufmanns understanding of this is based on his study of Aristotle and his translation of Nietzches works. There is a genealogy of drama which is analogous to Nietzches idea of a genealogy of morals. With the pagan Greeks, drama and theater are directly related to their gods. The traditions of literature also trace their beginnings from the same. In the book of Job there is a recurring conflict between the pagan and the Judaic. The Adversary of Judaic theology figures most prominently in Job.
Thomas Hobbes voluminous Leviathan is an undertaking all in itself. Hobbes takes great pains to examine elements of esoteric belief based upon the Judaic mythos and explores the etymological and semantic implications of the Christian and Judaic Bibles (they are not the same things) and how many of the translations are either inaccurate or deliberately misleading. (Hobbes was an expert in both Latin and Greek and was fluent in them at an early age.) Where Hobbes talks about "phantastical inhabitants of the brain," we can look at pathos in the same way. Similarly, the characters in drama or fiction are phantasms. Pathos is very much along the same lines of the despair Søren Kierkegaard describes all throughout The Sickness Unto Death, and the following excerpt is related to Hobbes previously mentioned description of fantasy or image of the fantastical:
The fantastic is, of course, most closely related to the imagination (Phantasien), but the imagination is related in its turn to feeling, understanding, and will, so that a persons feelings, understanding and will may be fantastic. Fantasy is, in general the medium of infinitization
The fantastic is generally speaking what carries a person into the infinite in such a way that it only leads him away from himself and thus prevents him from coming back to himself. (Kierkegaard, p 60-61)
Miller attempts to conceal his personal interpretations of the Judaic philosophy behind a curtain of a seemingly secular drama. This was not necessary for the Greeks. They were pagans. With many gods of differing temperaments to choose from, the Greeks had no propagandist need for the underlying or overt esoteric conflicts between the pagan and Judaic to promote a particular outlook. In Tragedy and the Common Man, this is more apparent to the person with an awareness of how propaganda is applied in the arts than it is to the contemporary observer. Armed with certain knowledge, a person learns to see in a different spectrum.
Perhaps this is why Miller was called before the Senate Committee on Un-American Activities. Being a Marxist is not a crime, but it is the enemy of individual freedomii. and an esoteric philosophy or religion. A well-placed Marxist will not generally make an open, identifying proclamation, they are of an occult nature.
Whether Miller was a Marxist or not, is a whole different matter. It is the subject of some speculation(s). It would explain some of the terminology, especially his choice of a title for Tragedy and the Common Man. Marxism has its own dogma as religions do.
The genealogy of morals and the birth of tragedy (borrowing from Nietzsches titles) is also alluded to by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in A Discourse on the Arts and Sciences:
An ancient tradition passed out of Egypt into Greece, that some god, who was an enemy to the repose of mankind, was the inventor of the sciences.3 What must the Egyptians, among whom the sciences first arose, have thought of them? And they beheld, near at hand, the sources from which they sprang. In fact, whether we turn to the annals of the world, or eke out with philosophical investigations the uncertain chronicles of history, we shall not find for human knowledge an origin answering to the idea we are pleased to entertain of it at present. Astronomy was born of superstition, eloquence of ambition, hatred, falsehood, and flattery; geometry of avarice; physics of an idle curiosity; all, even moral philosophy, of human pride. Thus the arts and sciences owe their birth to our vices; we should be less doubtful of their advantages, if they had sprung from our virtues. (Rousseau, p 15)
3 It is easy to seethe allegory in the fable of Prometheus: and it does not appear that the Greeks, who chained him to the Caucasus, had a better opinion of him than the Egyptians had of their god Thetus. The Satyr, says an ancient fable, the first time he saw a fire, was going to kiss and embrace it; but Prometheus cried out to him to forbear, or his beard would rue it. It burns, says he, everything that touches it.
The philosophies of Rousseau and Hobbes are not generally considered analogous. Rousseau is actually very hostile to Hobbes, calling him pernicious in A Discourse on the Arts and Sciences:
Paganism, though given over to all the extravagances of human reason, has left nothing to compare with the shameful monuments which have been prepared by the art of printing4, during the reign of the gospel. The impious writings of Leucippus and Diagoras perished with their authors. The world, in their days, was ignorant of the art of immortalizing the errors and extravagances of the human mind. But thanks to the art of printing and the use we make of it, the pernicious reflections of Hobbes and Spinoza will last forever. Go, famous writings, of which the ignorance and rusticity of our forefathers would have been incapable. Go to our descendants, along with those still more pernicious works which reek of the corrupted manners the present age! Let them together convey to posterity a faithful history of the progress and advantages of our arts and sciences. If they are read, they will not leave a doubt about the question we are now discussing, and unless mankind should then be still more foolish than we, they will lift up their hands to Heaven and exclaim in bitterness of heart: Almighty God! Thou who holdest in Thy hand the minds of men, deliver us from the fatal arts and sciences of our forefathers; give us back the ignorance, innocence, and poverty, which alone can make us happy and are precious in Thy sight. (Rousseau, p 26-27)
4 If we consider the frightful disorder which printing has already caused in Europe, and judge of the future by the progress of its evils from day to day, it is easy to foresee that sovereigns will hereafter take as much pains to banish this dreadful art from their dominions, as they ever took to encourage it. The Sultan Achmet, yielding to the opportunities of certain pretenders to taste, consented to have a press erected at Constantinople; but it was hardly set to work before they were obliged to destroy it, and throw the plant into a well.
It is related that the Caliph Omar, being asked what should be done with the Library at Alexandria, answered in these words: If the books in the library contain anything contrary to the Alcoran, they are evil and ought to be burnt; if they contain only what the Alcoran teaches, they are superflous. This reasoning has been cited by our men of letters as the height of absurdity; but if Gregory the Great had been in place of Omar and the Gospel in the place of the Alcoran, the library would still have been burnt, and it would have been perhaps the finest action of his life.
Hobbes, and later John Locke, are philosophers who established philosophical ideals that are the basis for Modern Western Civilization. Rousseau, it is argued, establishes a philosophical basis for Marxism - - something Miller appears to emulate with Death of a Salesman.
The rhetoric of Marxists in politics often use the idea of a social contract and the term itself to promote the quasi-religious ideals they worship. Marxists, in a sense, worship the ideals of a dead Karl Marx like some Christians worship the image of a dead Jesus. The political Left often holds to the view of Rousseau, cited above. They eschew the advancement of science and of the arts. It is no wonder that in their pursuit to dominate academia, that the decline of education in the West has been a victim of the political Left. ii. Is it any wonder that the modern Left opposes U.S. military action in the war against terrorism, hates the Jews and Israel, as well as supports the Palestinians and terrorism? iii.
What may clue someone into this theme is an analysis presented by Raymond Williams in Modern Tragedy:
The mainstream tragedy has gone elsewhere: into the self-enclosed guilty and isolated world of the breakdown of liberalism. We shall need to trace this through its complicated particular phases. But, with Ibsen in mind, it is worth looking briefly at the plays of Arthur Miller, who represents, essentially, a late revival of liberal tragedy, on the edge (but only on the edge) of its transformation into socialism. (Williams p 103)
Professor Williams gives some insightful commentary throughout the book in regard to the philosophy and religion of Marxism and how it relates to the mechanics of certain pieces in modern drama.
David Lenson in Achilles Choice, goes through a tedious analysis of tragedy, references many philosophical works and offers discussion on mythology and ritualized action as it is related to drama. Of particular interest is the qualification of tragedy in regard to Death of a Salesman:
The debate about Arthur Millers Death of a Salesman centered on questions of action and social elevation of the protagonist, but the true shortcoming of the play as a tragedy although not necessarily as a drama lay in its lack of transpersonal reference. Although we might generalize from Willy Loman to all those who suffer from similar social illusions, there was no emotional necessity to do so arising from the construction of the play itself. The distance between the aspirations of the hero and the domestic alternatives to it was slight. The weakness of individualization did not serve to reinforce emotional generalization, but instead made a compromise which is quite alien to tragedy. It is as if Achilles found a middle-ground. Another way of putting it would be to say that the play lacks extremes of any kind. (Lenson, p 134-135)
A common theme throughout much of the criticisms in drama are based upon ethereal and esoteric ideals, any of which can be easily construed to take on religious connotations, either because of overt reference by the authors to spirituality, or attempts to disassociate their personal bias from any concealed religious/cultural influence.
The stage is not unlike the altar. Drama is most often scripted and performed much the same way as any religious ritual. Although absent from drama are the devices of esoteric rites, many of the same imageries, psychology, and intent of the writers are indeed present. The use of visual images, lighting, characters, music and dialogue all play their parts in creating the myth. After all, esoteric rites are psychodrama.
i. The Sun and Bacchus are Apollo and Dionysus, two gods, or two aspects of religious experience of the ancient Greeks, and their juxtaposition is of some importance - - a statement of belief in the duality of human nature, symbolized by Apollo as the light of reason and Dionysus as the underground power of emotion. (See Sexual Personae by professor Camille Paglia for a detailed and authoritative description.)
ii. Take for example, the theft of conservative student newspapers at U.C. Berkeley and other universities by Leftist radicals and the overt oppression of dissent in the classroom by ideologue professors of tenure. (Camille Paglia is a known and outspoken critic of this, as are David Horowitz and others.)
iii. A portion of an instructive personal letter written to me by a friend here at Free Republic:
Their philosophy is Marxism with and via Allah. It is a perversion of both Islam and of Marxism, even though Marxism is itself a perversion of all that is good and right.
If you go to Marxists.org, you can see that if one expands Marxism beyond just the words of Marx, but also to other revolutionaries of the ilk such as Engles and Lenin, that religion was not considered the enemy:
Engles pointed out in his preface to The Civil War in France that "in relation to the state, religion is a purely private affair". Commenting on this, Lenin wrote in 1905: "The state must not concern itself with religion; religious societies must not be bound to the state. Everyone must be free to profess whatever religion he likes, or to profess no religion, i.e., to be an atheist, as every Socialist usually is.
Marx basically wrote hostility towards religion by the state into his theories mostly for practical reasons; the churches generally opposed them and as such were enemies. But if the state is the church, this problem goes away.
Even among the atheistic Marxists, there is recognition that religion is going to be needed to serve an important role in the (inevitable, in their eyes) revolution:
Similarly, among Moslems, the ideas of Marxism have begun to gain an echo, as the oppressed masses of the Middle East, Iran, Indonesia, begin to take action to improve their lives and look for a programme of struggle to overthrow their oppressors.
What is required is the overthrow of capitalism, landlordism and imperialism. Without that, no way forward is possible. The only programme that can ensure the victory of this struggle is that of revolutionary Marxism. A fruitful collaboration between Marxists and Christians (and Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and followers of other religions) in the struggle to transform society is absolutely possible and necessary, despite the philosophical differences that separate us.
Both of the above excerpts were from this bit of writing over there... Marxists.org
I encourage you to go and read again (or for the first time) some of the interviews that have been done with Bin Laden. Compare it to the recommended rhetoric for Marxists to use (look around on the Marxists.org webpage- they have articles about it) to help bring about the revolution.
They have taken a medieval religion, mutated it, and grafted it on to Marxism. This is what their philosophy is based on, and they have allies everywhere there are Marxists.
Heilman, Robert B., Magic in the Web: Action and Language in Othello, Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1956.
Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan: with selected variants from the Latin edition of 1668. Ed. Edwin Curley. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994.
Kierkegaard, Søren. The Sickness Unto Death. Trans. Alastair Hannay. New York : Penguin, 1989.
Kaufmann, Walter. Tragedy and Philosophy. New York: Doubleday, 1968.
Lenson, David. Achilles Choice, Examples of Modern Tragedy. Princeton and London: Princeton University Press, 1975.
Miller, Aurthur. Tragedy and the Common Man, 1949. A Collection of Plays, Perspectives. n.p., n.d., 1379-1381.
Naville, Edouard, trans. Egyptian Book of the Dead of the XVIII to XX Dynasties, Berlin, 1886.
Paglia, Camille, Sexual Personae: art and decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990. Rpr. First Vintage Books Edition, September 1991, New York.
Rousseau, Jean-Jaques. The Social Contract and Discourses. Trans. G.D.H. Cole, Rev. J.H. Brumfitt and John C. Hall. London: Guernsey Press, 1973.
Velikovsky, Immanuel. Oedipus and Akhnaten; Myth and History. New York: Doubleday, 1960
Williams, Raymond. Modern Tragedy, Essays on the idea of tragedy in life and in the drama, and on modern tragic writing from Ibsen to Tennessee Williams. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1966.
Rabbi Kahane was larger than life, a hero in the truest sense of the word.
I also sorely miss my friend Irv...
Well, since you think so, here is the first half of it I left out of the previous posting to you...
The Drama Complex
The traditions of Greek tragedy as in Oedipus Rex are based upon the religious traditions of the Greeks - - the idea of destiny or a preordained fate subject to the whims of the gods.
Socrates saw this fallacy in Platos Euthyphro, when he asked Euthyphro what was pleasing to the gods and how could someone be pious to the gods when they all wanted something different than the others. It made no sense to observe the divinity of one god and ignore the demands of another god. How could a person know what it was to be in accordance with the will of the gods in this respect?
The origins of drama come from the esoteric ideals directly related to religion. Religious ritual is psychodrama designed to conjure up images in the mind of the viewers and/or participants. This is illustrated no better than by the Greek traditions of using masks in their plays. The actor can hide himself behind the illusion of a characters mask, the audience can focus not on the actor, but on the image of the character represented - - one form of idolatry, among others in pagan Greek polytheism.
The Greeks were idolaters, they were pagans. The images in their drama was a representation of something. What did Oedipus represent?
There are a number of examples in Oedipus Rex that show some similarities to Judaic tradition. Moses was also cast off into the world like Oedipus as an infant. They were taken into royal households to become kings. Both could have claimed the kingdoms of two nations. Ultimately, neither of them did. Moses was forbidden entry into the promised land and declined to take the crown of pharaoh in the kingdom of Egypt.
Job, like Oedipus, was subjected to many afflictions beyond his control. He was also a figure of mythology that was a victim of a destiny or the will of some divine interventions. (There is a debate among Judaic scholars about the origins of the book of Job. Some say it was written by Moses, others claim it was a story more ancient than Abraham.)
To the pagan Egyptians, the pharaohs were gods. Each had their own special privileges of divinity. The pagan Egyptians had their own pantheon of gods like the pagan Greeks, several of which the Greeks adopted. (Set and Typhon are convenient examples.) The pagan Egyptians were also idolaters like the Greeks; their temples, architecture and art are replete with sacred idols. They both practiced human sacrifice. (These practices extended to the pagan Romans as well.) Is Oedipus representative of the pharaoh Akhnaton?
The parallels to the story of Oedipus and to the pharaoh Akhnaton are remarkable. Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky ignited some historical debate that is yet to be resolved by historians concerning the chronology of the reign of Amenhotep IV (Akhnaton). The actual dates of history are fluid since we know about so little, except for the artifacts and remnants of literature left behind. However, as the debate rages, Oedipus and Akhnaton; Myth and History shows some compelling ideas related to the topic.
Akhnaton effaced all of his fathers names from the records, in the temples, and changed his name. To the Egyptians this destruction of someones name was akin to murdering their soul, robbing them of their eternity.
One of Sigmund Freuds earlier followers, Karl Abraham, contributed an essay to the first volume of Imago, published by Freud in 1912, entitled Amenhotep IV (Akhnaton). This was of interest in that the essay talks about how Akhnaton did not entomb his mother Tiy next to her husband after her death, and that Akhnatons rivalry with his father for possession of his mother extended beyond death.
Velikovsky goes farther to say Akhnaton actually did possess his mother. But, ignoring this, focus on the figurative implication:
In this connection it is interesting that Oedipus, whose parentage is regularly ascribed to Laius, is also called in some ancient sources the son of Helios (sun i).1 Oedipus descent from Laius is a vital element in the legend; such an unmotivated change in the parentage of the legendary hero seems strange but is understandable if the prototype of the legendary hero was Akhnaton.
A royal son and descendent of the god Ra, like other pharaohs before him, his claim to divinity soon demanded an equality with his father, Aton, the sun.i
"Thou art an eternity like the Aten, beautiful like the Aten who gave him being, Nefer-kheperu-ra (Akhnaton), who fashions mankind and gives existence to generations. He is fixed as the heaven in which Aten is."2
So wrote his foreign minister in a panegyric to the king. Next Akhnaton insisted that he had created himself, like Ra. Of Ra-Amon it was said he was the "husband of his mother." The "favorite concrete expression for a self-existent or self created being (was) husband of his mother."3
He claimed to be Ra-Aton, and in this spirit he also took over his fathers name, Nebmare (Neb maatre), as if he himself was his own father. (Velikovsky, p 71-72)
1. "Auch ein Helios wurde als Vater des Oedipus genannt." L.W. Daly in Pauly-Wissowa, Real- Encyclopädie der classichen Altertumswissenschaft, article "Oedipus," Vol. XVII, Col. 2108. Cf. Also W.H. Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, article "Oedipus" by O. Höfer, Vol. III, Cols. 703, 708.
2. The Tomb of Tutu (Davies, the Rock Tombs of el-Amarna, VI, 13).
3. W.M. Flinders Petrie, Egyptian Tales (XVIII-XIX Dynasties) (1895), pp. 125-126. More properly translated "bull of his mother."
Dr. Velikovsky is not without critics, but his assertions are most profound. I attribute much of this to the ancient conflict between the pagan and the Judaic that still rages, although the pagan civilizations of Greece and Egypt are long since dead. This conflict was represented in Othello and in Death of a Salesman. Here with Oedipus, it is represented in the arguments over historical chronology.
By the Prickings of My Thumbs, Something Wicked This Way Comes
Iago as an archetypical devil and his role in Othello mirrors the ancient psychodrama of the pagan Egyptian gods. Iagos line here in this soliloquy also suggests a parallel to the function of Set in the esoteric and pagan Egyptian cosmology.
Divinity of Hell!
When devils will the blackest of sins put on,
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,
As I do now. (Othello II, III, 340)
Egyptian Book of the Dead:
Behold, I am Set, the creator of confusion, who creates both the tempest and the storm throughout the length and breadth of the heavens. (Naville, p. 39)
Iago serves this role as Set, the Destroyer, who kills his brother Osiris out of jealousy for his popularity. Plotting and weaving a tangled web of deceit, Iago creates confusion, a storm of intrigue that ensnares his victim, Othello. Much like the bejeweled chest of precious wood that Set used to trap Osiris at a feast under the guise of playing a game, Iago also delights in luring victims into a sparkling illusion that imprisons them so that he can manipulate others into serving his desires of destroying them. The entrapment of Othello in a prison of his own delusions of purity and nobility, the manipulation of Cassio under the cherished promise of regaining Othellos favor, and the treasure of Desdemona used to tempt the ever stupid Rodrigo, all fit this model of esoteric cosmogony.
The idea of Iago as an archetype is not new. In Magic in the Web; Action and Language in Othello, Robert B. Heilman writes:
we move into the symbolic dimension and use the word archetype to describe that compression of possibilities which is so inclusive that all other characters of the same order seem but partial representations of the original idea. Iago is this kind of character; he is infinitely more than the skillful manipulator of a stratagem (Heilman, p. 12)
Not far from this, we can also see the intent to cast Iago as the Satan of the Judaic, Christian, and Muslim mythoi. A clue to this is where Iago says; "I am not what I am." (Othello I, I, 65) as opposed to the biblical phrase "I am that I am," representing the Judaic God (Exodus 3:14). More imagery and figurative language used in Iagos dialogues with other characters, symbolic interactions with them, is also another way to see Shakespeares intentions concerning the character.
Set, Satan, and Shaitan are the same. "Satan" is a Hebrew word for the pagan Egyptian Set. Satan, Shaitan, Set or Seth ("Set-hn" as spoken in the ancient Hebrew) is a pagan entity, the "adversary" of Judaic theology. (A "pagan" is anyone not Judaic, Christian or Muslim, according to primary dictionary definition in most college editions.)
The Greeks called Set "Typhon," who was the war god assigned to Upper Egypt. This also represents another contravention to the "accepted" etymologies of words like "typhoon" in English, which is erroneously listed as the Cantonese "tai fung" in many dictionaries. English has more commonalties with Greek and Latin.
Interestingly, "Setebos" was the Patagonian god or devil, alluded to by Shakespeare through Caliban in the Tempest:
His art is of such power
It would control my dams god, Setebos,
And make a vassal of him. (Tempest I, II)
This is a curious reference by Shakespeare that is indicative for a pattern of etymology outside of established acceptance.
The Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
And will as tenderly be led by thnose
As asses are. (Othello I, III, 392)
There is a recurring theme that alludes to the hostility between the pagan Egyptians and the Judaic in Othello. The father of Othello was an Egyptian. The term "asses" in this soliloquy is a literary allusion to this often-bloody conflict between these forces.
The Egyptian priest Manetho associated the Jews with the Hyksos and Moses with the Egyptian priest Osarsiph. It was at this time that the belief the Jews worshipped an ass an animal holy to the Egyptian god Set was established. Both the Jews and the pagan Egyptians used the labels (i.e., Satan, Set, Seth, or "Set-hn" as spoken in the ancient Hebrew) to defame each other. How fitting that amidst this epic struggle and bloody conflict, the entity known as Satan was born into the World. Such conflict continued through the Maccabean period (with Antiochus Epiphanes), and continues into modern times on several fronts. Often it is claimed by the Neo-Pagans that Satan is only found in Christianity. How can this be if Satan is undeniably a Hebrew word adapted from the name of the pagan Egyptian god Set? This cannot be reconciled with the fact that it is a Hebrew word.
Othellos instruction to Desdemona about the handkerchief is also telling. Ponder the actions of Iago in the play and Othellos words to Desdemona: " Tis true: theres magic in the web of it." (Othello III, IV, 65)
What does all this have to do with Shakespeare and Othello? Consider the period of time in which William Shakespeare lived, his oft criticized and "unconventional" use of spelling, punctuation and terminology in a time where there was an effort to standardize the English language. King James I acceded to the throne. He published the detailed treatise Daemonology, because of his concern about witchcraft in Britain (this did have an effect on the presentation of Macbeth and other plays).
There is the matter of the King James Bible to consider. There was pressure from the Church and open condemnation concerning secular drama. (English theatres were actually shut down for 18 years prior to 1663 when a Puritan government came to power.) Latinii was used in the churches, composed the language found in Bibles, hymnals and was frequently used by the nobility in matters of state affairs. Often history has been colored by the occlusion of religious concerns; translations were subject to interpretation not always in the interest of accuracy.
Camille Paglia, professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, artfully depicts the dynamics at work in her book Sexual Personae; Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson:
Spenser, Shakespeare, and Freud are the three greatest sexual psychologists in literature, continuing a tradition begun by Euripides and Ovid. Freud has no rivals among his successors because they think he wrote science, when in fact he wrote art. Spenser, the Apollonian pictorailist, and Shakespeare the Dionysian alchemist, compete for artistic control of the English Renaissance. Shakespeare unlooses his metamorphic flood of words and personae to escape Spensers rigorous binding " (Paglia, p. 228)
Unless the whole of the professors book is taken in as a scholarly commentary on pagan beauty and its relation to sex, culture, politics and art or literature, there is some confusion for most readers concerning the analogies being made here
Spensers radiant Apollonian armouring becomes Miltons louring metallic daemonism, militant and misogynistic. Satans legions gleam with hard Spenserian light. Milton sinks when he sings of the foggy formlessness of good. His God is poetically impotent. But his noisy, thrashing Spenserian serpents and monsters; his lush Spenserian embowered Paradise; his evil, envious Spenserian voyeurism: these are immortal. Milton tries to defeat Spenser by wordiness, Judaic word-fetishism, tangling the Apollonian eye in the labyrinth of etymology. Shakespeare succeeded here by joining words to pagan sexual personae " (Paglia, p. 228-229)
This "Judaic word-fetishism" from the above is most illustrative. Like the complexities of the Elizabethan court protocols (relaxed under King James I), the use of language, definitions, etymologies, and the recording of history has also suffered a suppression by those with an interest to keep some things hidden. This is why I will assert that despite authoritative and scholarly denials, William Shakespeare had privy to occult knowledge not commonly available to others in his time, as well as a powerful English Kings ear and patronage.
Iago as the Setian, or Satan does not separate him from being human, but does indicate Iago as both devil and human (Antichrist), the embodiment of original evil. (Heilman, p. 41)
Iago represents an inherent, autonomous evil, not a developing one as in the character of Macbeth. Desdemona unknowingly contributes to Othellos willingness to eat the poison pome, tricked by the perspicacious serpent that is Iago. The Garden of Eden represented by Desdemonas purity is plowed asunder with the sins of sanctimonious delusions, Othello murders her and takes upon himself the power to render his Gods divine judgement. Satan conquers the human spirit with Othellos seppuku.
The Iago evil is redefined for us: his method is planned confusion, The metamorphosis of opposites, the use of "shows" that keep things from being seen in their "true colors. (Heilman, p. 65)
This idea of planned confusion from Heilman shows the analogy I made earlier with the Egyptian Book of the Dead and these same lines of the soliloquy. The bejeweled chest of Sets game to trap Osiris, the weaving of a web, an illusion, the storm of intrigue and the tempest prior to Othellos arrival in Cyprus. The purity of Desdemona is also a subject Iago continues to assail
So will I turn her virtue to pitch." (Othello II, III, 350)
These images of color are a tool used to portray the darkness, iniquity or evil all throughout Othello as are other references employed to contrast against the divinity and virtue of the Judaic mythoi. Just as the ideas of the heavens being blackened by the gathering storm, the bright daytime sky is always darkened by foul weather. Much of the play projects the imagery as occurring during the night. There is a metaphorical divergence at work as a dramatic device illuminating a contemplative audience to the spiritual battle between the sacred and the profane, of Providences divine light and the primordial darkness of Chaos.
When dominated by the Spectre, the self becomes a hermaphroditic Selfhood, whom Blake calls Satan or Death
Incestuous self-insemination: the grappling duo is a new Khepera, the masturbatory Egyptian cosmos-maker. Actors and audience are a sexual octopus of many legs and eyes.
The contest between male Spectre and female Emanation is archaic ritual combat. I find homosexual overtones in the betrayal of the self into a queasy spectral world ruled by dark, deceiving male figures. Note the elegance with which Blakes Spectre theory fits Shakespeares Othello. A conspiratorial Spectre, Iago, is homoerotically obsessed with splitting Othello, through jealous fears, from his Emanation, Desdemona. (Jealousy and fear are the Spectres regular weapons.) Othello, cleaving to his Spectre instead of casting him off, destroys himself. He ends by not killing his Spectre but his Emanation." (Paglia, p. 287-289)
Iago also represents homoeroticism in Othello from the beginning. Not just in his obsessive hatred for Othello but in a seeming contempt for heterosexual relations as evidenced by his reference of Cassio being "A fellow almost damned in a fair wife." (OthelloI, I, 21) There is the opening act, the masturbatory fever pitch and sexual imagery of Iagos speech.
It should also be noted in reference to the pagan Egyptian mythos, Set had a battle with Horus, son of Osiris, where he was emasculated. Set managed to tear out one of the gods eyes.
Iago also seems to have this sexual impotence about him, an inborn hostility for women and disgust for heterosexuality as a result. Iago also feels rendered impotent that he was passed over for position by Othello in favor of Cassio, as well as by his own rage. This rage could also be construed as a sadomasochistic component to Iagos character.
In addition, the description to Othello by Iago about Cassios nocturnal speech conjures up a homoerotic imagery. It is also interesting to contemplate the prohibition of women being on the stage, where men in drag portray female characters.
Iago also sets out to mutilate Othellos spirit, much the same as Set dismembering Osiris. Iago as Set, declaring war, plucks away at Cassio, Othellos favorite son, whos vision is partially taken away by drink. Cassio does rise to take Othellos place as governor of Cyprus. Horus accedes to the throne of the heavens. Wounded, the Setian is bound and tortured in the Abyss
Ask a secular liberal Jew to take the test:
1) What day is celebrated on December 25th?
2) What day is celebrated on the 10th of Tishrei?
3) What does Easter commemorate?
4) What does Shavuot commemorate?
5) What was the name of Jesus' mother?
6) What was the name of Moses' mother?
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