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Saturday,November 30,2002

The Ordo Templi Orientis seems unwilling to discuss the evidence that Crowley himself may have been excommunicated.

Of course, the main difference between the OTO and other thelemite groups, including the amorphous AA, is the use of Crowley's neo-Freemasonic initiation rituals.

Last I heard, the OTO was suing someone for publishing those rituals on the Internet. I don't know what ever became of it.


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From your earlier posts, you appeared to be rationalizing Al-quaida's actions.

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I think that I understand al-Qa'ida's actions. That doesn't mean I am rationalizing it. Actually, I do not approve of either U.S. political and corporate hegemony or of the Islamist efforts to turn Saudi Arabic, Pakistan, the horn of Africa, etc. into Taliban-like autocracies.

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On a lighter note, I clicked your website and you seem to be one high-powered dude. However do you find time for all of this?

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I don't do much else. Aside from my professorship, my research, and my writing, most of my activities are on the Internet in one way or another.

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Are you B'hai yourself?

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A rather unusual one, but, yes. I converted to the Baha'i Faith 32 years ago.

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I once took a religious 'test' on the net, and by the way I answered the questions, it said my beliefs were closest to B'hai.

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I probably took the same test:

http://www.selectsmart.com/RELIGION/

My results are here:

http://www.markfoster.net/polphil.html

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Again, no offense, but it never ceases to amaze me that thinking people join religious groups, though at my age, it no longer surprises me.

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Well, I was just barely in my teens when I became a Baha'i. However, I have remained a member of the religion and have engaged in a moderate amount of "Baha'i studies" academic scholarship.


>>Your quote: "And God guideth not people that do wrong."

>>humblepie's quote: "Thou wilt shew me the path of life:..."<<

Both these quotations are taken out of context.

The first statement is affirming that, when we contravene God's Will, we cut ourselves off from God's guidance.

The second passage states that God shows us the path of life.

Even those who are not guided (like George Bush <grin>), because of their own actions, can turn away from their misdeeds and be led into the knowledge of God.

In other words, the first statement refers to humans turning away from God's Will. The second deals with the omnipresence of that Will.


With your reference to Eden, you appear to me to be debunking the fundamentalist, literalist view of that story, not the more widely held view (outside the United States) that the story was an allegory or a parable.

I agree with you that, literally, the Edenic story is entirely illogical. However, if understood as as a metaphor for the descent of humanity from spirit (Eden) to matter (the serpent and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), it makes more sense.


You started out bemoaning the fact that I am a professor working with students. I am unclear as to why you initiated a discussion so negatively (about me) and then began to focus on issues (about Islam).

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Mark---Well, you'll not hear me singing the praises of G. Bush. Those elected to office are the result of the people being only too willing to follow those who are only too willing to lead.

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I didn't vote for him. I supported David McReynolds. However, one of Bush's campaign promises was that he was going to work for a more humble America - one which would not unnecessarily intervene in the affairs of other nations (in other words, the antithesis of neoconservatism).

Bush's supporters argue that the reason for this transformation from "compassionate conservative" (Bush's term) to chicken hawk (a derogatory reference to neoconservatives) is 9/11. I actually think that is partially true.

What the American right-wing media (NY Times, Wash. Post, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, etc.), themselves a part of the corporatocracy, have never pointed out is that the major players in this "war on terror" are all financed by oil: Bush, Cheney (the Halliburton oil company), Saddam Hussein, and al-Qa'ida. The threat of Saddam, for instance, is to the oil reserves of the Persian Gulf.

In other words, this war, like most others throughout history, is really geopolitical and economic. Radical Islamist terrorism and Iraq both pose a threat to the flow of oil and to the American-led global corporatocracy. To claim that there is some greater, more ethical basis for the war is highly disingenuous.

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You want evidence for my contention that most Moslems support Al-quaida? The actual poll results were trampled in the celebrations after 911 and are no longer available, [insert smiley] but if you are serious, you are just being intellectually argumentative; and I'm not here to argue.

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Well, you have creatively evaded my question. However, obviously, not creatively enough.

posted at 05:44:10 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Friday,November 29,2002

If you are a WebRing manager, through webring.com, and you want to be able to show the member IDs of your ring members on the navhar, and link to their respective profiles, use this code:

<a target="_top"

href="--rm_mid--/cgi-bin/profile?y=++yid++">++yid++</a>


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Mark---Yeah, I was afraid you might infer that I was calling you a Lenninist, but that was not my intent. I was just using the quote as an example of how far the left would go.

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Well, I think that might be true of many ideologues - whether of the left or the right. I am also an unabashed (and ideological) radical leftist. However, I wage my wars through my words.

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Unfortunately, capitalism feeds man's lower nature of greed and self-advancement, and stands a better chance of being successful.

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You are basically repeating the argument of Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations. If I were not a spiritually oriented person, I might be inclined to agree with Smith. However, I do not believe that the end justifies the means.

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But what I object to is this thread is your view of Moslems in general.

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I don't know what "Moslems in general" means. A scientific generalization is always based on hard data. However, the media, at least in the U.S., largely appears to me to reflect the anti-Islamic, crusader mentality of the general public.

There is tremendous diversity in the Islamic population, and the largest Muslim country, Indonesia, is, in spite of the recent Bali attack, basically moderate. Likewise, most American Muslims are moderate.

Now, I am not a Muslim, and members of my own religion have a great deal to complain about in terms of how we have been treated in certain Islamic societies. However, I also believe in being fair.

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Of course not all are fanatic Al-quaida. Al-quaida is only the tip of the iceberg. Although not all Moslems are fanatics, the vast majority are at least in sympathy with their practices, and perhaps not without at least some reason.

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What evidence do you have for that?

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But to do and feel this way and claim it is ok with Allah? What kind of God is this?

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I agree with that. However, I also do not feel that the policies of the Bush administration are okay with Allah. IMO, they are doing much more harm to the world than al-Qa'ida.


In my view, accepting Christians, Jews, and Sabians (Mandaeans) as "people of the Book" means acknowledging that they follow a divine Messenger (Arabic, Rasul) or Law-giver. That divine Law has both spiritual (moral) and material (social, dietary, etc.) aspects.

This reference to the founding of a religious tradition has nothing to do with, for instance, the extra-biblical dogma of trinitarianism (based on creedal exegeses of the Bible) which, from an Islamic perspective, is shirk.

Shirk is sometimes translated as "polytheism," but that is only partially true. More broadly, it means to associate anyone (or anything) with God. Therefore, if an individual or doctrine is placed above Tawhid (the Unity of God), one has committed shirk.

Since trinitarianism elevates Christ to an equivalency with God (i.e., as one of the persons of the Godhead), by definition, trinitarianism is shirk.

In addition, at the time of Muhammad, in Arabia, there were some Christians who literally believed that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were Gods, a view which would be seen as heretical by most contemporary trinitarian Christians.


The problem with Islam is not with the Qur'an but with inaccurate, decontextualized Western portrays of the Arabian Prophet, with the various (four) schools of jurisprudence which have arisen within Sunni Islam, and with clerical exegesis by those operating, from various ranks, within the mulla system in Shi'ih Islam.

In Judaism, the closest analogue to the schools of jurisprudence are the Talmuds (oral traditions and rabbinical debates). In Christianity, the various creeds would come close. The ancient Sadducees rejected the Jewish oral traditions, and the modern-day Jehovah's Witnesses and the Armstrongite groups regard the Christian creeds as without authority.

Similarly, the United Submitters group, out of Tucson, Arizona, has rejected the hadith, sunna, and schools of jurisprudence. They use only the Qur'an. For that reason, among others, this organization has been attacked by Muslim clerics. The United Submitters poses a threat to their base of power.


When I read some criticisms of religions made by radical atheists and agnostics, almost all of them are of establishment religions.

It seems to me that their real criticism is not of religion but of, as Marx said, religion as the people's opiate, i.e., more fundamentalist and reactionary religions.


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Shall we continue the path of ever increasing virtue, no matter our social/political views?

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Our "views" are, at best, attempts to contextualize virtues. It is much easier to experience what is virtuous than it is to know how best to relate those virtues to everyday life. Obviously, well-intentioned people can differ on their applications.

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I don't doubt that virtue leads to the heart of God

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Yes. I would say that virtues are the reflection of the heart of God.


mfoster posted 11-29-2002 16:19

>>The sad thing is that Dr. Foster is teaching the American young, and even sadder, there are many more like him.<<

I assume from your comments that you are an American. Having lived here my entire life, I can usually spot other Americans pretty quickly, even on the Internet. ;-)

You are pointing to the culture war currently being waged in the United States and, to vary degrees, in some other countries as well. Certainly, it is true that American college/university professors tend to be more to the left than their fellow citizens.

However, if you have been reading my postings, you know that, althrough I am far left politically and economically, my religious and spiritual views are, in some sense, mystical.

Given the recent rise of militant atheism, people sometimes forget that, primarily mystical, religion, has historically been the matrix for a great deal of left activism.

On the other hand, it has been the more establishmentarian (conformist) and fundamentalist (non-mystical) religions which, again historically, have stood with those in power and against those who are politically, economically, and socially oppressed.

To a Western Christian, al-Qa'ida appears radical (mainly because it appears to share some of the views of the Left, including an opposition to American hegemony).

However, from an Islamic point of view, al-Qa'ida is clearly reactionary and to the far right of the Islamic world. It supports an end to the secular governments of Indonesia, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, the Indian subcontinent, etc., and replacing them with Islamist regimes, governed by Shari'ah law.

>>Saddest of all is that some of those young may be persuaded.<<

Well, at least you have made it clear what side of the culture war you are on.

>>Didn't Lenin say something to the effect that "Capitalism will SELL us the rope with which we will hang them." Dr. Foster, on the other hand, will feel obliged to GIVE them the rope...all in the spirit of brotherhood...and who could argue with that?<<

The problem with those on the right is their tendency not to differentiate between those they do not agree with. For instance, liberals are frequently called "the left," in spite of the fact that they don't have much more in common with it than do conservatives.

FYI, there are many varieties of leftism, and I am not a Leninist.

posted at 07:22:08 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Thursday,November 28,2002

Most of the practices of the largest groups representing the major world religions cannot be justified by their respective religious scriptures, and that certainly applies to Christianity.

Christmas (a pre-Christian festival), Easter (ditto), tithing (an Old Testament practice not taught in the New Testament), the use of the cross as a religious symbol (of pre-Christian origin), confirmations, priests, Christmas trees (forbidden, by implication, in the Old Testament), the Pope (weakly justified by appealing to an obscure verse confirming Peter's faith), women speaking in churches (clearly forbidden in the New Testament), advocacy of the "King James {Authorized) Version only," etc.

As a non-Christian, none of this is of much consequence to me. However, the fact that certain people will claim to base their faith exclusively on the Bible, while engaging in practices, some of which are clearly contradicted by their religious scriptures, seems incongruous to me.

posted at 06:55:43 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Wednesday,November 27,2002

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The only thing that is held in secret regarding Freemasonry is our modes of recognition. And one would be nieve to think that even that is still a secret.

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I have a couple of books which give the rituals, passcodes, handgrips, and foot positions for each of the degrees. It is only secret if you don't want to find out. ;-) The Ordo Templi Orientis rituals, passcodes, etc. are almost identical, with only slight modifications.

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Personally, I find most of my Masonic education right here on the internet.

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Yes, Masonic philosophy is not secret - neither are the philosophies of most secret organizations (Ordo Templi Orientis, Knights of Pythias, "Golden Dawn" groups, etc.). It is the recognition ceremonies and rituals which are meant to be secret.

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That is what I meant when I said some people cannot handle the truth.

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I wasn't referring to you personally, or your views, but to the idea of "secret organizations" in general, which I find somewhat problematic, but that is just my own opinion.


When Freemasonry was reconstituted in the early 1800s, Adam Weishaupt's illuminatism, or ideas which were inspired by it, was incorporated into Freemasonry.

Of course, the illuminati conspiracy, which is accepted by certain extreme right-wingers and fascists, contends that Weishaupt's order still exists and that members of, well, fill-in-the-blank - Jews, Roman Catholics, etc. (a hated, scapegoated population) - have adopted it as a blueprint to take over the world, establish a new world order, and, sometimes, to promote an anti-christ.


German thulism (devil worship) was one of many fictions created to attack Nazism. IMO, there is enough about Nazism one can legitimately attack without various writers making stuff up.

Germany had its share of occultic organizations, including Theosophy and Anthroposophy (whose founder, Rudolph Steiner, had expressed some support for Nazism), and Hitler and his gang of merry men had a love-hate relationship with them.


There is no evidence for the existence of the illuminati, except as a reference to those who have received the highest levels of initiation through Freemasonry (which, given its recently relaxed standards, can now be almost anyone). Its mythos is usually promoted by anti-papists, anti-Masons, and antisemites, i.e., the "illuminati conspiracy."


The Church of Satan is organized using the Freemasonic model. Anton von LaVey, the founder, "borrowed" both his rituals and teachings from Aleister Crowley's thelemic magick. LaVey's church is really a watered-down form of thelema.


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The Masons do not "endorse" Mormanism (or any particular religion for that matter.) The Masons were here first.

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The Masons have existed in several incarnations. Modern Freemasonry started in the early 1800s (after around a 100-year hiatus).

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A master mason might have learned how one religion borrows from another and how the myths and legends are shared and intertwined. But this knowlege is not for everyone, would you not agree?

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If you are talking about the esoteric-exoteric debate, i.e., that there is some sort of hidden knowledge that is only for an inner circle, I do not agree. While people have differing capacities to understand various subjects, I believe that all knowledge should be open. IMO, metaphysical secrecy is frequently just an ego trip.

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That is not to say that it isn't available to anyone who might seek the knowlege, but some could not handle the truth, (or that is to say, the truth as we percieve it.)

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Well, to me, that is just a justification for secrecy (esoterica). To assert that "some could not handle the truth" seems to me to be another way of saying, "I can handle truths that others cannot."

posted at 02:57:16 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Tuesday,November 26,2002

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To be clear sir, the fraternity of Freemasons are not to be confused with any religion.

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Whether Freemasonry is a religion is a discussion for another day. However, I never said that it was a religion. My point is that both the Ordo Templi Orientis and Wicca have borrowed from Masonic rituals. Even some of the "secret" Masonic "passcodes," such as Yahweh, are used by the OTO with slight modifications.

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Although one has to declare a belief in a supreme being in order to be accepted into the fraternity, it matters not which diety they believe in.

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Well, these days, Freemasonry is mostly a senior citizens club. For that reason, it is becoming increasingly questionable whether it will survive beyond the present generation. Also, few members have much awareness of the meaning behind their rituals (such as the "burial and rebirth").

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Discussions concerning religion within a lodge of Freemasons is strongly frowned upon. As this forum proves evident, it is impossible to discuss religion without controversy and hard feelings towards our fellow man.

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Well, then, you missed my point. I was not talking about Freemasonry. I was discussing Wicca, and the backgrounds to some of its practices.

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I truly enjoy your posts and regard them as very intelligent.

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Thank you.

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I encourage you to look into Freemasonry first hand, with your own eyes, and see for yourself. Only then will you find the humor in the "conspiracy theorists" anti-masons.

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I never said anything about conspiracy theories, which I see as largely the whinings of fundamentalist Christians with an anal fixation, such as John Ankerberg.


All the studies I have read have shown that the majority of those who claimed to be healed at a Pentecostal service later reverted back to their illness or disability.

I do believe that God can heal through the power of prayer. However, IMO, what is required, among other things, is humility which, in my subjective judgement, is uncommon among many evangelists.


True, but Russell never claimed to be a prophet. The Tanakhian (Old Testament) verse refers to those who claim to be prophets, not those who don't.

My Ph.D. dissertation was on the pentecostal movement, and I have met many people who claimed to be prophets in that tradition. None of the predictions I have heard from these folks has ever come true.

However, if you would include those evangelicals and fundamentalists who did not claim to be prophets, there is an extensive popular apocalyptic literature from the 1970s and 1980s which predicted that the rapture would have taken place long ago. One bestseller said that the rapture would take place in the late 1980s, since that was one biblical generation from the founding of the State of Israel.


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Gerald Gardner aka 'The Old Man was the founder of the practice of Modern Wicca in the early 50's, whereas the 'Old Craft' has certain and documented roots in the middle ages and thence back in time to (in the opinion of many) the Druid priests of pre-history.

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Interesting. I never chatted with anyone who knew Gerald Gardner. You say that it has documented roots in the middle ages. Do you know what they are?

I have read a few scholarly histories of the Wiccan movement, including one by a Wiccan, and they all refer to Wicca as a new religion. Some of them also describe the "old religion" references as an attempt to create a new mythos surrounding this new religion, i.e., not accurate but useful.

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It must be said that this is speculation and largely based upon common factors between Wiccan and (as far as can be established) the natural aspects of the prehistoric priests based on what the 'priests' do in primative societies today.

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Well, certainly, Gardner used what historical knowledge he had of a variety of traditions to construct Wicca. However, most of the rituals are clearly thelemite (Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis). Thelemite ritual, in turn, is largely based on Freemasonry - an organization which Crowley belonged to.

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Another key figure in the establishment of a branch of modern Wicca was Dominique Wislon, she lived at 76 Malew Street, Castletown, on the IOM and she was oftentimes working with Gerald. The Wislons moved away some years ago.

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I am not familiar with her. Is there a trad based on her work?

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Another key player in Paganism, I am reluctant to ascribe what he did to other than passing relevence to Wicca, was alister crowley (capitals deliberatly omitted).

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Yes, Crowley sometimes fashioned himself as the most evil man in the world, but, as I have sometimes joked to my students, he was just bragging. ;-). The man had a tremendous ego, and any attention, as far as he was concerned, was good attention. Of course, Gerald Gardner knew Crowley, and there is some evidence, though inconclusive, that Crowley actually wrote some of the early rituals for Gardner.

However, that said, I really don't think that Crowley was as bad as his press (most of which he generated). He was a maverick, but I wouldn't be too quick to demonize him.

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Though at first in cahoots with gerald G. they fell out quite dramatically over the use that crowley was putting his abilities to. I met him once and formed the opnion that he was a very nasty piece of work, more interested in self promotion than anything else.

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You actually met Crowley? I agree with you about his interest in self-promotion. He proclaimed himself the messiah!

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For myself, I follow the traditional Wicca as taught to me by my family and other followers of the art.

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You mean the Gardnerian trad?


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Hint - you may care to remember that we were around in one form or another millenia before the bible was made up!)

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Gench,

Wasn't Wicca started by Gerald Gardner back in the 1940s?

Like all religions, it is connected with earlier faith traditions, e.g., Irish mythology, the Ordo Templi Orientis (and Freemasonry), and Kasmiri Shaivism. However, it is still a new religious movement.

posted at 09:20:00 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Monday,November 25,2002

>>I guess moral has become a relative term also. I can see where it really depends on the standard one has.<<

IMO, morality is **always** relative. For instance, many social conservatives (those in the Christian/New Right) complain about abortion and call themselves "pro-life." However, for the most part, they have no problem with the execution of capital offenders or with the killing of "enemies" during times of war.

What is *not* relative, in my view, are virtues. Virtues are qualities of the soul. They are the image and likeness of God reflected in the innermost reality of the individual. However, virtues are a spiritual substance. They are not directly observable.

Morals, on the other hand, are values and social norms (behavioral rules) which may or may not be virtuous. Even if morality, a social (not spiritual) phenomenon, reflects spiritual virtues, such virtues are socially contextualized. In other words, morality, in this particular case, would synthesize virtuousness with existing social conditions.

>>I was relating it to the standard I see that I don't know in any ones life at present, but read of some that may have reached the apex of it in their life.

Is ethic equal to morality?<<

As I use those terms, ethics and morality would be basically synonymous. They are socially mandated rules and values.

>>I see my self as ethical but strugle moraly.<<

Maybe you are using the terms differently than me.


>>1. New Right<<

Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are good examples. It is also called social conservatism. They tend to be pro-Israel, pro-Republican Party (in the U.S.), and pro-morality (as they conceive of morality).

>>2. NeoLiberal<<

These are folks who believe in social justice, a common liberal concern, along with capitalist globalization (the World Trade Organization, for instance). There are some people, myself included, who see these positions as mutually exclusive. However, obviously, neoliberals would disagree.

>>2. NeoConservative<<

In many respects, they are not too different from neoliberals. The neoconservative movement was started by American Jews, back in the 1960s (though it is no longer an exclusively Jewish movement). It is pro-Zionist, pro-capitalist, and pro-human rights. Basically, neoconservatives were liberals who became disenchanted with certain aspects of liberalism. Neoconservatives often talk about the Cold War as World War 3, and the "war on terror" as World War 4. They would like the see the U.S. develop into a global empire. Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Cheney are all, basically, neoconservatives. Colin Powell is not.

>>I think I have an idea what NeoLiberal and NeoConservative is but I thought the NeoConservative was the "New Right"?<<

There are similarities between the two, but they are not exactly the same. The slant taken by the Fox News Channel, in the U.S., is both neoconservative and social conservative (New Right or Christian Right). Neoconservatives are not as concerned over "moral" issues (abortion, for instance) as are social conservatives (the New Right)


>>In the absence of any possible argument to the contrary any religion that has as an aim or cleric instruction the enforced conversion (by WHATEVER means) of non-believers, or the application of any form of sanction on non-believers, contravenes basic Human Rights.<<

Yes. I agree with that. My only disagreement was about whether such matters come under the official aegis of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

>>Time for some changes to creeds and scriptures I think.<<

In most cases, I don't think it has much to do with religious scriptures. Most of the ones I have studied promote some degree of tolerance. Creeds maybe. However, the main problem, IMO, have been clerics who have misinterpreted and misapplied those scriptures and creeds.

>>Either that or accept that some religions are inhuman.<<

I am not sure I would be willing to go that far.

posted at 04:36:26 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Sunday,November 24,2002

>>You are right, most, if not all, governments have this problem. The government of a true Replublic or I may call it a Democratic Repupublic as Thomas Jefferson correctly did, is the closest I have ever read of being a true respondent to the will of the people.<<

I agree about Jeffersonian democracy. I served as dean of the Social Sciences Division at a branch campus of the University of Virginia. (Jefferson was its first president.) Almost everyone there, me included, had great respect for Jefferson.

>>I don't think any goverment will have a continuing heart for the people without the standard that is given be a spiritual people and without a say from the spiritual leaders.<<

Yes. In my opinion, the current U.S. leaders fit the biblical profile, "having a form of spirituality but denying the source thereof." That denial, IMO, is not in their words but in their actions.

>>It would be good if Putin were to become one of those, or has he already? He works very close with the Patriarch of Russia. I hope and pray that much of what is said on this forum about Him (Putin) is true and that his heart is toward God and THE CHURCH. If so, we will see God's hand soon IMO<<

I don't agree with everything he says or does, but I have great respect for Putin. He makes me proud to be of Russian ancestry.


>>Not negating in the least our moral decay<<

I agree about the moral decay. Where I part from social conservatives (the New Right) is that I also regard neoliberalism and neoconservatism as immoral. ;-)

>>I was just laughing at our transition from One True Church to politics. They really can't be separated, can they?<<

Politics, in sociology, simply means institutionalized authority (legitimate power or power which conforms to social rules/norms). In that sense, any formal organization is political.

>>On the surface I would say that to hope for them is proven to be too idealistic and even driving countries into anarchism, therefore we should find a more reasonable balance to our goal, you?<<

Given the current global corporatocracy, which is what neoliberals mean when they speak of the "new world order," I am not optimistic about any change or reasonable balance. IMO, the only hope lies in some sort of global revolution. In order for that to happen, the West, especially the U.S., needs to collapse from the weight of its own contradictions. Perhaps the anticipated war against Iraq will be the straw that breaks the pharaoh's back.


In my view, forcibly converting people to a religion (what the Qur'an refers to as "compulsion in religion") shows a disrespect for human rights. If such attempts at conversion are exercised through violent means, there may even be a violation of human rights.

However, to my understanding, that is not what the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights is talking about. IMO, the U.N. is referring to the conduct of its member states.

Now, that said, I do think it might, under some circumstances, be a good idea to apply some of the principles contained in the Declaration outside of the governmental institution. However, the authority of the United Nations would not extend to that area.



posted at 09:56:32 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Saturday,November 23,2002

I wrote:

>>>>If the dialectical contradictions are sufficiently great, and the alienation of the proletariat profound, the challenge could, in principle, be met with compliance.

<<<<

You asked:

>>Has this ever occured? I guess I'm asking if those in authority over a nation has ever yielded to the will of the people wanting total change in headship without violence?<<

Not to my knowledge, no. There has never been either a socialist or communist society, as these were described by Marx and Engels.

>>What do YOU think communism means? By your description of what Marx thought it seems way to idealistic to be possible or it seems inevitable anarchy.<<

I basically accept Marx's definition. However, I am not an advocate of pure communism (no government). Personally, I would prefer a combination of collectivism, cooperativism, and market socialism.

>>From what I understand, we are living in a VERY *fascist country as the Congress* "rubber stamps" what the Presid*ent wants.<<

Yep. I would go futher than that. Under fascism, you have ultra-nationalism (which would certainly describe the U.S. - especially after 9/11) and scapegoating those who threaten the perceived welfare of that nation (the "terrorists"). You also have Bush's henchman, John Ashcroft, who appears willing to suspend human rights (the Patriot Act) whenever he deems it necessary and appropriate.


>>And, you are intellectually dishonest, Mark Foster, you never said that any-

one asked you. In fact, you made it sound like there were several there,

(i.e. in a class) because you received blank stares (plural).<<

How is that intellectual dishonesty? I did get blank stares after I responded to that question, and my comments on other subjects often produce a similar reaction.

I am sorry if my views make you uncomfortable. It is a reaction I am accustomed to.

>>You don't ferment a revolution. You foment a revolution.<<

I am sorry for the typo. Unfortunately, I am usually in the middle of doing several things when I respond to messages here, and I don't have a chance to proof them.

>>If this is a sample of what our kids learn at school, no wonder 87% do not know where Iraq is located.<<

Again, I think the real issue is that my responses make you uncomfortable. As I often suggest in these situations, you might want to avoid reading my comments. Maybe you will sleep better.

>>How would you appreciate it if your class was described as the 'fast food' of the department? I am sure you would think of it as an insult.<<

I might ask for a clarification. However, I am rarely insulted by anything.

>>You should apologize, for the insult and for being intellectually deceptive.<<

As I previously suggested, you might want to consider not reading my messages. You seem to be getting angrier and angrier each time you reply to one of my postings.

>>Other than this, don't expect another reply. You are not worth it, you are just a coward who won't even stand by their own words.<<

I am coward, huh? No response is necessary.


>>The place of scripture is primary for doctrine ....<<

Isn't that also the case with some of the traditions, such as 1st and 2nd Nicea and the Apostles' Creed?

>>On another note, a genius friend of mine said that Marxism believes that it is proper to use force to make "subjects" follow the philosophy ....<<

Karl Marx did speak of revolution. However, he did not think that a revolution would necessarily be violent. Of course, literally, a revolution simply means to revolt - to challenge those in positions of authority. If the dialectical contradictions are sufficiently great, and the alienation of the proletariat profound, the challenge could, in principle, be met with compliance.

>>He also stated that it was the main difference between true communism and Marxism, is it?<<

It depends on what he meant by "communism." According to Marx, communism is the stage after socialism (the dictatorship of the proletariat). Under communism, there would be no government and no social classes.

The communisms of the previous century, some of which continue in various forms, were, as Trotsky observed, really state (i.e., command) capitalisms, which is another way of saying fascism. They had almost no resemblance to what Marx regarded as either socialism or communism.


>>Fundamental Muslims do the reverse. They take the 7th century world and try to apply them to the 21st Century.<<

I think that there is some truth in that. However, al-Qa'ida does use computers and other modern technologies, so they are not entirely primitive.

>>ex: Stoning to death and chopping the hands.<<

**Some** fundamentalist Muslims advocate those punishments. However, all that fundamentalist Islam (Islamism) means is a desire to establish an Islamic state, usually based on a reconstituted caliphate. **Radical** Islamists, like al-Qa'ida, are willing to use violence to accomplish their objectives.

>>The basic problem with Islam is that being the youngest religion, it claims to have found the way out of human problems.<<

Well, some people might disagree over whether Islam is the youngest religion. There are countless religions which have been founded since the 7th century A.D. In terms of world religions, both Sikhism and the Baha'i Faith are pretty global.

>>What one has of other religions is those who thought laterally and in a way swerved from Hinduism.<<

I am familiar with that viewpoint, which I would call aryocentrism. However, I am not aware of any reliable historical evidence which would support it. IMO, it is Santana Dharma (Hindu) apologetics, not really history.

>>Hindus will always tread the path of their ancestors and it is a wonderful path without any fault.<<

Always?

>>So any religion claiming to be the only way or truth is ignorant at worst and childish at best.<<

I would agree with you there.


Aishah, one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, was purportedly nine years old.

What is important to keep in mind, however, is that it was quite common for men to "marry" young girls. Frequently, it had more in common with adoption than marriage. In those days, in Arabia (as in many other parts of the world), marriages were often contacted to bring together families (not for romantic love, a relatively modern invention).

The danger, in my view, is decontextualization - taking 21st-century rules and sensibilities and applying them to the 7th century, i.e., out of context.

See, for instance:

http://salam.muslimsonline.com/~islamawe/Polemics/aishah.html


posted at 02:00:19 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Friday,November 22,2002

>>Having "been there, done that" I see Paul as addressing more problems in the Corinthian Chuch as a result of their practices in the public service than giving them authority.<<

Yes, the Church at Corinth had a lot of organizational problems. Apparently, there was either no strong leader/s, or the leader/s was/were not exercising sufficient authority.

However, I do think that the Paul was teaching the Church at Corinth a bit about the nature of authority, i.e., that it lies in the body of Christ. However, it only manifests itself if that body is united - with each member manifesting God's Spirit appropriately. Therefore, Paul was both teaching the Corinthians a lesson in spiritual human relations, and he was counselling them as to the nature of spiritually grounded authority (i.e., the routinization of charisma).

>>He was saying that the Holy Spirit is well able to do these things through men but the authority came through the apostles and bishops not in the acts and manifistations of the Holy Spirit (which is to show God's power and love for mankind and comfirm his written word to be true), and I know there are some gaps in my communication and understanding abilities to say what I mean.<<

Interesting perspective. Perhaps. I will need to think about that a bit more.

It does appear to me that Paul was dealing with the subject of authority. Prophecy, the interpretation of tongues, etc. are ways in which the spirit manifests itself when the believers were united.

>>My response about the "traditions" are the xtra biblical ones that the Orthodox Faith and Orthodox Practice (grounded in the Seven Ecumenical Councils, our foundation) that have been past down through the Bishops.<<

I know there is some disagreement in the Orthodox Church as to whether the Bible is a part of the traditions, or whether the Bible should be seen as a source of guidance distinct from the traditions.


Yes. Well, the New Testament came from the believers (the church), not the other way around. Believers witnessed the life of Christ and the times of the Apostles and wrote them down.

Paul, in I Corinthians, spends considerable time referring to the body of Christ and to its manifestations and gifts. Why else would he have done so if he was not authorizing the "routinization of charisma"?

The term, routinization of Charisma, in sociology, means the transfer of authority from the religious founder, where it generally exists in the form of personal magnetism (charisma), to the organization which the founder inaugurates (its routinization).


Unfortunately, the U.S., unlike many countries, have never made a commitment to a national public transit system. The closest is Amtrak (train system), but it is underfunded, poorly managed, and constantly in danger of being shut down by members of the elitist Republican Party - whose members never saw a poor person they could care less about.


>>There were plenty of oppressed people who fell to their death in the wtc. They were just grinding away at their slavish tasks one tuesday morning. The oppressed are among your countrymen, it does us no good for you to put your support against us.<<

Mike, I am sorry, but you and I are simply not functioning in the same universe.

The only "us" I know of is humanity. I care about all men (and women), especially about the oppressed among them, not just my so-called "countryman."

Also, there is a difference, in my view, between being a member of an oppressed segment of the population (or an oppressed population) and being victimized.


>>I don't know who Franklin Graham is and I don't listen to Falwell.<<

Franklin Graham is the son of Billy Graham and heir apparent to his evangelical empire. He has recently made some very divisive statements about Islam.

>>But I am wondering about you, blaming Islams quirks on others outside of Islam.<<

I was not talking about Islam proper. I was talking about the radicalized Wahabiyyih movement (which represents a numerical minority of the Wahabiyyih). My point is that the main reason why some practitioners of Wahabiyyih have become radicalized is because of U.S. policies - just as some Shi'ih Muslims (those in Hizb'ullah) have been radicalized by the Israeli apartheid system.

>>Islam is responsible for their own maniacs.<<

I disagree. I think that we are all responsible for each other, no matter what our religions. We need to put the oppressed at the center of our thinking. If the radical Islamists (Wahabiyyih) are maniacs, so are U.S., British, and Israeli foreign policies.

>>I am happy to see that Yemen was responsible for the arrest of the Al Qaeda guy, and Saudia Arabia arrested the Kuwait policemen who shot two Americans. It looks like they may be waking up, hopefully you can awaken with them.<<

From a Marxian standpoint, for me to "wake up," as a member of the intelligentsia, is to abandon my class consciousness and to identify with the oppressed. I may not always do a good job in that regard, but I continually work on it. To me, that is the basic message of the Gospels and of the Qur'an. Both Jesus and Muhammad were liberators.


>>To say that evangelical Christianity

is "easy believism" and a "fast food

approach" is simply not understanding

evangelical Christianity. A couple of clarifications:<<

For what it's worth, my doctoral dissertation was on evangelical Christianity.

>>1) Faith vs Works

>>Works are the evidence of faith.<<

I am familiar with the scripture you cited. However, I would disagree that works are the evidence of faith. I would say that works, coupled with acceptance, ***is*** faith. To me, that is where evangelical Christianity got off the track.

>>James says that Faith without works is dead, because the faith could not have truly existed unless it is evidenced by works.<<

I disagree with your understanding, which is the usual neo-evangelical position, of what James meant. He never said anything about faith not having existed unless it is evidenced by works. He said that faith *cannot* exist without works, i.e., "Faith without works ****is**** dead." There is a difference. In other words, he makes works an integral component of faith.

>>Now, by saying these things, I am not saying that we have a list of prohibitions.<<

I know. However, if your view is like that of most neo-evangelicals and fundamentalists I have discussed this subject with, you see these works as a consequence of faith, not as faith itself.

>>Works, like Fruit of the Spirit, are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,

self control, etc.<<

Saying that works are the fruit of the Spirit is different from saying that they are the fruit of faith, which no book of the New Testament ever states.

>>If a Christian does not exhibit these traits, they may not be true Christians.<<

You are making my point. (I am responding to your post as I am reading it.) You are saying that works are an evidence of faith. So, you would likely ask, how could a person of faith do "such and such"? On the other hand, I would say that "such and such" is not faith.

>>It is not fast food faith. It is giving your life entirely to God.<<

By fast-food faith, I mean the doctrine that a person is saved instantaneously upon asking Jesus into one's heart as one's personal savior. Do I have it right?

One of the key points is, for instance, what does it mean to "call upon the Lord" (and be saved)? I would say that it means to live a life in submission to His Will, not, as neo-evangelicals would have it, that all one has to do is to pray a single prayer and, presto, one is saved. Then, the only discussion left concerns the subject of "eternal security" (once saved, always saved).

>>I personally attend a church that I would consider very strict about what is acceptable behavior for a Christian. It is a Calvary Chapel and was the catalyst for the revival in the 1970s here in the States.<<

I am familiar with Calvary Chapels. We have them in the Kansas City area, too.

>>So, enjoy your freedom but don't use that as an excuse to sin, but as a basis of your joy in the Lord as a believer, which then gives you the ability to Lord the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourselves.<<

I am not questioning whether any person does or does not live a spiritual life. There are some evangelical and fundamentalist Christians who, IMO, are doing so, and others who, IMO, are clearly not.

>>You say that my Christian life is 'fast

food', which is an insult and is judging

me personally. And, you are boasting

of your own Christian life, because you

are implying that you are the 'true meal'.<<

Two points: First, if you regarded my comment as an insult, you probably have not participated in many inter-religious forums. Disagreement is not the same as an insult. As online forums go, this one is relatively harmonious. Second, I am not a Christian.


Non-Western fundamentalisms are growing in almost direct proportion to U.S. hegemony and neocolonialism. If you want to minimize the effect, you need to deal with one of its primary causes.


Salvation is a process, not a one-time event. IMO, evangelical Protestantism has taken the message of the Gospels and turned it into the theological equivalent of a fast-food dinner.

>>I am surprised to hear you say that you

question the fact that the sacrifice of God

the Son, is sufficient to cover all our sins.<<

I wasn't necessarily questioning it. I was just asking for scriptural evidence. As I said in my previous post, I disagree with the easy-salvation approach taken by evangelical Protestantism.

IMO, the tendency in Protestantism, beginning with Luther, to, first, dismiss the Book of James' and its, "Faith without works is dead," as pseudepigraphal and, later, to attempt to explain away James' view based on what I regard as an almost complete misunderstanding of, "By faith are we saved through grace, not by works, lest anyone should boast," has been the single most divisive force between evangelical Protestants and other Christians.

In my view, Paul was not arguing that a person was not saved by works. He ***was*** arguing, just like James, that neither works nor belief were sufficient without the other. They needed to be grounded in faith. However, to simply say that a person can be "saved" instanteously by "accepting Christ as one's personal savior" is, IMO, nothing but pseudo-Christianity.

>>"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we may be justified by faith

in Christ, and not by the works of the

law, because by the works of the law, no

one shall be justified... For I, through the

law, died to the law so that I might live

for God.<<

Exactly. Now, what is faith? Faith is knowledge coupled with obedience. If I say that I have faith in my physician, only to reject her or his medical advice, do I really have faith in her or him? In other words, faith is not simply legalism, but it is also not the "easy believism" of the evangelical and fundamentalist Christianities. It is both acceptance and works.

posted at 02:51:56 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Thursday,November 21,2002

Extremism is relative. Something can only be extreme relative to a certain standard. What happens if that standard is defective?

I don't care more about other countries than my own. I simply don't make a distinction between countries. To me, we live in one world, and, in that world, we must give preference to the oppressed, no matter what "country" they live in.


IMO, a the problem with scriptural literalism (i.e., spiritual materialism) is that people will frequently compartmentalize what they say they believe from what, when it comes to specific situations, they appear willing to admit to themselves.

For instance, I have heard countless fundamentalists and Calvinists talk about how those who lived good lives, but did not accept Christ as their "personal savior," are now burning in hell for all eternity.

However, in the aftermath of 9/11, only one of these individuals appeared willing to face the stark implications of what they believed: That a significant proportion, perhaps a majority, of those killed by the al-Qa'ida suicide hijackers are now in the same "place" as the suicide hijackers themselves: hell.

I believe very strongly in God - though I am not a fundamentalist of any sort. However, if I truly believed in what I just wrote above, I would launch a major anti-God protest movement.

posted at 12:55:22 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Wednesday,November 20,2002

>>The Qur’an contains scores of hostile scriptures. No wonder 99.9% of the wars raging on this involve Islam.<<

The Tanakh has the same sorts of scriptures as are in the Qur'an.

The God many people have been taught to believe is one Who is entirely merciful, Who does not judge others - kind of a Santa Claus character.

However, I personally know some fundamentalist Christians who believe that anyone who does not accept Christ as a personal savior will burn in hell eternally.

I also know some Calvinists who believe that even those who never had the opportunity to hear about Christ will burn eternally in hell (pre-1492 Native Americans, for instance).

All these people justify what I regard as evil and malicious dogmas using the Bible - including the New Testament.

Furthermore, more people have been killed in the name of Christianity than have ever been killed in the name of Islam.

It was the Enlightenment, not Christianity itself, which added a degree of tolerance to a largely intolerant religious tradition.


>>He, however is paid by taxpayers (me, in

fact) to teach students. Teachers pushing

their religious views in a public school is not allowed.<<

Mike,

Do you really believe that, or are you only saying that because the subject is Islam? How would you feel, for instance, if a student asked a professor (who happened to be Jewish) what religion he is. The professor says, "Well, I am not going to discuss my religion with students, but, if I were not already a member of a religion, I would probably be a Methodist."

In any event, responding to a question from a student is not promoting a religion. Really, it appears to me as though you are simply revealing your hostility to Islam. Why? Because your statement seems totally inconsistent with others I have seen you make recently.

>>Mark, you say 'at least until now'. What does that mean?<<

It means that the U.S. military has, to this point, been protecting the Saudi royal family.

>>It would be quite a bit of work to actually stir up a revolution. Again, people, collectively, are responsible for their own destinies.<<

Actually, assuming you can get ahold of more weapons than the other side, fermenting a revolution is the easy part. The difficult part is what you do afterwards.

>>And, argumentative, if you don't like the

U.S. government, please GO HOME!!!!!! You

don't belong here.<<

Would you have said the same thing about the founders of the American republic who did not like British rule? Or about residents of the South, during the times of the Confederacy, who sided with the Union?


>>Careful Mark, you may be only a few actions away from taking a similar path as Jihad Johnny Taliban, you probably already feel close to him.<<

No, Mike, I do not feel close to fundamentalists.

>>Martin Luther King was for unity, you cannot honestly claim that for yourself.<<

No, I do claim that for myself. It is the Bush administration, with its hegemonic policies, which opposes unity.


>>Indignation or guilt are only labels for self loathing.<<

I never said that I felt guilty, and, respectfully, I don't think you know what righteous indignation means. It has nothing to do with self-loathing. I actually have quite a positive view of myself.

>>Jesus came that we may have life in abundance, the experience you are wrestling with and projecting onto others, can simply be dropped! Or you can give away all of your capital by the example of Jesus.<<

My "experience" is that of openly protesting injustice (the meaning of righteous indignation). It is the same righteous indignation which Jesus expressed numerous times in the Gospels.

>>Then you could be poor yourself, and you would not feel separated from us and probably would be pulling with us for the economy, etc., instead of attempts at being a turncoat, pulling against us.<<

Huh? I don't feel separated from those who are working for justice. To me, that is all that matters.

If I am a turncoat, so was Martin Luther King, and so were the founders of the American republic who rebelled against British oppression.

posted at 08:20:06 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Tuesday,November 19,2002

I have an abiding sense of "righteous indignation" about the global stratification of wealth and the extent to which the U.S. is on the top.

Seeing people get totally outraged over an allegedly rude maid when there are some people in the world who are so poor that they could not even conceive of getting a job as a maid strikes me as unforgivable.

As a full-time college professor, a consultant, and an entertainer, I do alright, but, living in one of the five wealthiest counties of the U.S., it would not be realistic for me to give away everything. However, what I *do* advocate is a global revolution against Western capitalism and the redistribution of wealth among all countries equally.


>>So What if the U.S. cares about the U.S. if we didn't who could we expect would?<<

My point is that the U.S., as the most powerful country in the world, needs to humble itself to the world community - to put the welfare of other nations over its own perceived welfare.

In sociology, we sometimes refer to this type of humility as, "shifting the center." That means to place the less powerful, in this case less powerful nations, at the center of our thinking.

In all honesty, I could care less about whether any other countries are interested in the welfare of the U.S. As an American, I am more concerned about the Iraqis, the North Koreans, the Saudis, than I am about other Americans.

>>We were not dealing with Pakistan either, until we needed to. Then we dealt with the guy in charge, we didn't install our own guy.<<

The U.S. dealt with Pakistan because we needed to in the war in Afghanistan.


The U.S. does not always deal with whoever is in charge? The U.S. was unsuccessful in removing Castro, so it doesn't deal with Cuba. The U.S. has thus far been unsuccessful in removing Saddam, so it doesn't deal with Iraq.

The U.S. does, however, deal with oppressive governments, when it perceives that it is in its own interests to do to. Examples include China, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

In other words, the U.S. could care less about people in other countries. The U.S. cares about the U.S.

The U.S. gives about 1/5 of the average amount of foreign aid of other Western industrialized countries. In other Western countries, promises of foreign aid are political campaign tactics. Imagine if an American politician did that.

Since I do believe there is a God, and that S/He is just, I can't help but believe that S/He will, in Her/His Own time, see it fit to punish my country. I am not pleased about it, but I can't imagine it not happening.


>>The Saudi government is the main

promoter of the Wahabbist sect and

has been pushing its brand of

Islamism world wide since it's

inception after WWI.<<

Yes, but Wahabiyyih is about 200 years old. On the other hand, al-Qa'ida is a radical form of neo-Wahabiyyih. Among most Islamic scholars, Wahabiyyih is regarded as an Islamic populist movement and is generally looked down upon (a tension which is common between scholars and populism). One additional thing to keep in mind, however, is that most Wahabists are not radical.

>>And, you are promoting the Muslim

religion to your students when you

tell them that if you didn't already

have a religion, you would be a Muslim

yourself. That is an endorsement.<<

I made that comment once, when a student asked me my religion. I told her that I do not discuss my religion with students, but that I would tell her, if I did not already have a religion, which one I would likely join, i.e., Islam.

>>Saudis have their own money, and lots

of it too. They don't just get it from

selling oil to the U.S., but to many

other countries as well.<<

Yes, but if it were not for the United States, the Saudi royal family would either be dead or living somewhere in exile.

>>The people of Egypt and Saudi Arabia

are responsible for their own destiny.

The American government would never

intervene in a people's revolution

in those countries.<<

It is American support which has prevented such a revolution (at least until now). Of course, this tactic doesn't always work, as was the case with the Pahlavi dynasty in Iran.

posted at 12:56:07 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Monday,November 18,2002

Were it not for U.S. monies and military protection, a Wahabiyyih revolution would have unseated the Saudi monarchy 30 years ago. The Saudi government is caught between a rock and a hard place. They have to appease both the U.S. and their Wahabiyyih subjects.

A similar scenario is less likely in Egypt but possible.


>>We don't really need arabs.<<

I don't think that it is a question of needing or not needing anyone. We all need each other.

It is more a question of how people living in the Arab world are subjected to living under authoritarian regimes because of U.S. greed.


The U.S. doesn't need oil. It is shameful that, after all these years, that country is still using petroleum to power its automobiles. Why? Well, look at where the U.S. president and vice-president made their money. The oil companies have one of the most powerful PACS (political action committees) in Washington.

If there was ever a reason to challenge the hegemony of the corporatocracy, here it is.


Why have the dictatorial, and much hated, governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia remained in power?

Egypt, a secular totalitarian state (similar to Iraq in that respect), gets more money from the U.S. than any other country except Israel. In other words, the U.S. props them up.

Saudi Arabia provides the U.S. with oil. Consequently, the U.S. looks the other way at the widespread human rights abuses in that country. We give Saudi Arabia a defense force. If we withdrew our military support, the Saudi regime would collapse.


One worships God when one thinks, feels, and acts like a servant (to God and to humanity).


I was a boy scout, and my mother was the den mother when I was a cub scout back in the 1960s. Therefore, I know something about both organizations. Unfortunately, as the world moved ahead, the Boy Scouts of America did not move with it.


The only reason why the current dictatorial regimes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia stay in power is because they are puppets of the U.S. and. now, of the George W. Bushwhacker administration. That is one of the factors involved in why so many Muslims hate the U.S.

>>I also have problems with the Bush administration. Sure we need to try to eliminate the bin laden gang, but we need the whole worlds assistance for this.<<

I don't disagree that al-Qa'ida needs to be eliminated. However, I would say the same thing about the American corporatocracy, the Bush administration, Congress, etc.

Although I agree with Usama on certain of his criticisms of the U.S., I disagree with him with on his proposed solutions. The al-Qa'ida organization would merely substitute one form of fascism/hegemony with another (their own).

>>Since the axis of evil speech, bush lost a lot of support, I believe that because I am usually right wing on issues, and he lost me for sure. I don't see that N. Korea, Iran and Iraq have a priority to anyone except an idiot on a soap box.<<

Many of the neoconservatives who supported that speech would then advocate going after any other nations perceived as "unfriendly," until all the nations of the world fully complied with U.S. "interests."

posted at 10:00:48 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Sunday,November 17,2002

The following comes from the Al-Muhajiroun site and clearly threatens attacks against the U.S. during Ramadan, 2002:

---------------------------------------

Ramadhan Mubarak from Al-Muhajiroun

“O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed upon you as it was for those before you, that you may become al-Muttaqoon.” (Surah Baqarah: 183)

All praise be to Allah (swt) Lord of the World, Sustainer of life and Master of the Day of Judgement. Creator of the heavens and the earths, angels, jinn and mankind. It is He who has knowledge of all things and it is He who has power over all things. It is He who crushes who He wills and elevates who He wills. Whomever He guides cannot be led astray and whomever He abandons can never attain success. It is through His Mercy that we shall enter paradise and through the evil which we do, we will receive His wrath and our final abode will be Jahanum.

Blessings and peace be upon the seal of the Prophets, Muhammed (saw), who’s example is the best amongst all of mankind. Through his (saw) struggle, patience and perseverance, the world was taken out of the darkness of corruption, oppression and evil, into the light of tranquillity, peace and justice. Blessings and peace be upon the Prophets (as) of Allah (swt), who struggled and persevered in carrying the Deen of Allah (swt) to mankind. Praise and Mercy be upon the Family of the Prophet (saw) who spoke the truth and fought against tyranny and oppression. Praise and Mercy be upon the companions and the pious predecessors who supported and sacrificed their lives and their wealth, all for the pleasure of Allah (swt).

The Messenger of Allah (saw) addressed his companions on the last day of Sha’ban saying: “Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which a night is better than a thousand months; a month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (his month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Paradise. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer’s sustenance is increased. Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast, shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the fire of Hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all.”

The Sahaba asked: “Oh messenger of Allah nobody of us finds means wherewith to give food to a fasting man!”

He (saw) replied: “Allah will bestow this reward on one who gives food to a fasting man even if it is a sip of milk or a date or a sip of water. And whosoever gives satisfaction to a man, Allah will give him a drink from my fountain which will not make him thirsty till he will enter Paradise. And it is a month of which the beginning is mercy, the middle is forgiveness and the end is freedom from the fire. And whosoever makes light the (burden of) his covenanted slaves therein, Allah will forgive him, and He will make him free from the fire.”

(Reported by Salman al-Farsi, Miskat ul Masabih, Volume 3, Pg 516 hadith no.8)

The blessed month of Ramadhan is beckoning once again. The Muslims all over the world have begun the preparations for this auspicious month. This month is seen by many Muslims as a month to remember Allah (swt) by constant worship, whether that be in the home or in the Mosques. It is seen as a time for one to repent and to rejuvenate themselves. Many attempt to become al-Mutaqoon (the pious). However in this holy month of Ramadhan the true spirit of the month has been lost, and as a result, it is seen as no more then a month of individual worship and betterment. The issue of al-Muttaqoon must be viewed in its true sense.

This Ramadhan will be marked by the absence of Khilafah for yet another year. Another Ramadhan where millions of Muslim children the will go hungry, whilst others will be having lavish foods. It will be another Ramadhan where the honour of the Muslim woman will be plumaged by forces loyal to shaytaan and the enemies of Allah (swt). Another year where our brothers and sisters in Kashmir, Palestine, Chechnya, and China will be run out of their homes and will become refugees, whilst the kuffar will take our homes and loot our resources. While the leaders of the Muslim lands will remain quiet at these atrocities and rejoice with their true brethren, the kuffar.

Throughout history, the month of Ramadhan has always been a month in which many great feats were accomplished. It was in this month that Allah (swt) bestowed His favour unto mankind when he revealed the Qur’an, and gave to mankind the seal of the Prophets (saw). Allah (swt) began the revelation of the perfect Deen of Islam as a perfect system of life for mankind to live in accordance with.

“Ramadhan is the month in which was sent down the Quran as a guide to mankind also clear signs for guidance and judgement.” (Surah Baqarah: 185)

On the 8th of Ramadhan in the second year after Hijrah, Muhammed (saw) mobilised three hundred and five Sahabah in which was to be the first battle of the Deen. Despite being outnumbered three to one and being ill-equipped in comparison to the enemy, Allah (swt) bestowed a great favour on the Muslim as a defeat would have meant that the light of Islam would be extinguished. Allah (swt) answered the Dua’a of the beloved Muhammed (saw) and sent the angels to fight alongside the Muslims.

“And Allah has already made you victorious at Badr, when you were a weak little force. So fear Allah much that you maybe grateful. (Remember) when you (Muhammed [saw]) said to the believers, ‘Is it not enough for you that your lord should help you with three thousand angels; sent down? Yes if you hold to patience and piety and the enemy comes rushing at you; your lord will help you five thousand angels having marks (of distinction).’ Allah made it not but a message of good news for you and as an assurance to your hearts. And there is no victory except from Allah, the All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (Surah Imran: 123-126)

In Ramadhan after eight years of Hijrah, the Quraish had broken its covenant that it signed in Hudaibiyah. This was at the time when the Muslims were in battle with the Byzantine army. Prophet Muhammed (saw) felt that it was now needed to finally bring the Quraish and in turn the whole of the Arabian peninsula, to its knees and to submit to the law of Allah (swt). Muhammed (saw) set out with an army of such force, that nothing of this size had ever been seen before in Madinah. The march had terrified the kuffar of Makkah so much that the city was overtaken without a battle. Finally the house of Allah (swt), al Ka’bah was purified from the abomination of shirk and the law of Allah (swt) prevailed. Makkah was freed from kuffar on the 20th of Ramadhan 8 A.H.

“When comes the help of Allah (to you, O, Muhammed [saw] against your enemies) and the conquest (of Makkah), And see the people enter Allah’s Deen in crowds, So Glorify the Praises of your lord and ask for His forgiveness. Verily Allah is the One who accepts the repentance and forgiveness.” (Surah Nasr)

There were many great achievements in the month of Ramadhan, and those that were remembered as achievements were always done for the benefit of the Ummah. As well as the battle of Badr and the conquest of Makkah, you had Zaid bin Habirth (r.a.) sent in Ramadhan, 6A.H. to destroy the tribe of Fatimah bint Rabiah in Wadi Al Qura, also the conquest of Spain, under Tariq bin Ziyad, took place in Ramdhan in 92 A.H. as well as the battle of Ayn Jalut in 658 A.H under Sultan Baibers. The achievements of the Muslim ummah in Ramadhan are endless and astounding.

O Muslims! It is of the utmost importance that we realise, that the month of Ramadhan is not just a month of self-purification, but also a month to begin the work to purify mankind of its illnesses. It is a month in which many great battles were won, and many superpowers crushed and destroyed. It is a month in which the Muslim Ummah will continue to suffer, unless we begin to realise our duties and responsibilities and work with zeal and enthusiasm as those in the past have done.

O Muslims! The month of Ramadhan is a month in which we can achieve a great victory and put the Muslims back on the path of revival and smash the backs of the kuffar. The US has championed itself as the world peace-keeper, the nation which allows others to prosper. Yet reality shows that it is a nation that is crusading to destroy and eliminate the Muslim Ummah.

O Muslims! The kuffar are planning to attack Iraq after Ramadhan, continuing their war against Islam. Let us move swiftly in order to make Allah (swt)’s Deen the highest, so that the army of Jihad can be mobilised and can strike such a blow to the kuffar, that they fall from their so-called throne of ‘greatness’.

“Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwelling in which you delight….are dearer to you than Allah and His messenger, and striving hard and fighting in His cause, then wait until Allah brings about His decision. And Allah guides not the people who are fasiqun.” (Surah Taubah: 24)

O Muslims! To live and die for the sake of Allah is the greatest achievement that any Muslims can achieve. Let us come out and work, it is time to restore the greatness of the ummah, time for the security to belong to the Ummah, time for peace for our ummah, it is time for Khilfah Rashidah.

“They (the disbelievers, the Jews and the Christians) want to extinguish Allah’s light, with their mouths, but Allah will not allow except that His light should be perfected even though the Kafirun hate it.” (Surah Taubah: 32)

We give this opportunity to the Muslims world-wide to engage and become part of Al-Muhajiroun, in its struggle against kuffar and against man-made law and the US.


>>However, don't try to give the non U.S.

citizens the impression that Americans

are at odds with their government's

policies. It is not true.<<

I don't think I did. In fact, I indicated just the opposite. By and large, Americans appear to accept the legitimacy of U.S. policies. The recent electoral victories of the Republican Party testify to it. That is why we need a revolution, not simply liberal reformism.

>>The government has many checks and balances

that keep them in tune with the culture of

the American people, right or wrong.<<

Those checks and balances are limited by the worldviews of those in positions of power.

>>Your comments about Egypt and Jordan

are too ridiculous to merit a reply.<<

You mean, you don't think that the leaders of Egypt and Jordan have been courted by, and eventually submitted to, the West? It pays, politically and economically, to be on the side of the world's only "superpower."


>>And, your reference to Islamism (Islamism

versus Islam) as being a scapegoat is

absurd.<<

It isn't true that the Bush administration believes that Islamism is the enemy of "freedom" (read: American neocolonialism)?

>>It is the Islamists that have declared War

on Christians, you know! They have battle

plans and are attempting to play them out.<<

Just as the U.S. has declared war on Muslims (despite its claims to the contrary). It won Egypt and Jordan long ago. It more recently won Afghanistan. Next on the list is Iraq.


Islam itself is a religion of peace. However, as has been the case with many religions, certain self-centered clerics have distorted the original message and, in the process, have misled the religion's more uneducated members. A similar corruption has entered into Judaism (with Zionism) and into Christianity (with social conservatism or the Christian Right).

If people would return to the pure messages of the Qur'an, the Tanakh, and the Gospels, and abandon the later human additions, the world would be a better place.


The "of the people, for the people, and by the people" clause makes a nice sound byte, but it has little basis in reality. Governments are never the product of the views of the governed, except perhaps in their earliest formations.

IMO, most of my fellow American citizens have been captivated by the tyranny of the false gods of social conservatism, neoconservatism, and a semi-fascism (militant nationalism accompanied by a scapegoating of Islamists and, in some cases, of Muslims in general).

The solution is not in a liberal reformism (the false consciousness of the oppressed) nor in a conservative establishmentariam (the class consciousness of the oppressor). It is, rather, in a social, cultural, and political revolution which will consign both of the above to the dustheap of history.


On religious subjects I am am a supernatural idealist (theist), but on scientific or empirical subjects I am a materialist. In other words, I believe that empirically observable rules (materially based structures) can explain both social and psychological phenomena, including the condition of the human heart.

As a sociologist, if I want to understand why people in different communities (including religious communities) have a distinctive spirit, or heart, I will look at the patterns (rules/structures) of human social relations in those communities.

In other words, to me, the individual is always explained by the social.


FYI

---------------------------------------

Transcript of Bin Ladens Message

Nov 16, 2002

in the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most magnifiscent

Peace Be Upon Those Who Follow The Guidance!

The way to security begins by lifting the oppression. It is just to treat others in an equal manner (as they treat us). What happened since the two raids of New York and Washington up to now, like the killing of the Germans in Tunisia and the French in Karachi and the destruction of the great French oil tanker in Yemen and the killing of the Marines in Failaka and the killing of the British and Australians in the explosions of Bali and the last Moscow operation and other operations here and there, all these events are nothing but a reaction and an equal treatment that were carried out by the sons of Islam who stood up to defend their religion and to follow the orders of Allah (pbuh) and His Prophet (pbuh).

What Bush, the Pharaoh of this age, is doing is killing our children in Iraq and what Israel, the ally of America, is doing bombing civilian houses with its inhabitants including old people, women and children with American planes in Palestine, was enough for the sensible of your rulers to stay away from this criminal gang (i.e. American and Israeli administration).

Our people in Palestine have been being killed and have been afflicted with the worst torment for about one century. So when we defend our brothers in Palestine, the whole world was moved and formed an alliance against the Muslims under the false banner of fighting against so-called “terrorism.”

So what's wrong with your governments? Why are they allying with the criminal gang of the White House against the Muslims? Do your governments not know that the criminal gang of the White House consists of the greatest mass murderers of the world?

Take Rumsfeld as an example who was a mass murderer in Vietnam. He killed more than 2 million people let alone the masses that were injured. And on the other hand, you find Cheney and Powell who are responsible for the destruction in Baghdad that even outweighs what the Tataric tyrant Holaco has done.

So what's the matter with your governments that they ally with America in order to attack us in Afghanistan? And in particular Britain, France, Italia, Canada, Germany and Australia.

Australia, which we had already warned not to participate in the aggression against Afghanistan let alone its abhorrent role in splitting East Timor (from Indonesia), ignored our warnings until it woke up at the sound of the explosions in Bali. All the time until then, its government had falsely stated that they weren't targeted.

So if it moved you to see your allies' men killed in Tunisia, Karachi, Faylaka, Bali and Amman, then remember that daily our children are killed in Palestine and Iraq and remember our people killed in the mosques of Khost and remember our people in Afghanistan who were killed on purpose during a weddings celebration. If seeing your killed people in Moscow terrified you, then remember our people you killed in Chechnya.

When will fear, killing, destruction, expulsion, orphaning and widowing remain only limited to us while security, stability and happiness remains only limited to you? This is an unfair allotment. The time has come to share in these matters equally.

Just like you kill, you will be killed. And just like you bombarded, you will be bombarded. Be prepared to receive the glad tidings of what will be bad for you.

By the grace of Allah, the Islamic Ummah (nation) has started to fire at you with its sincere youth, who have promised Allah to continue Jihad with words and swords, in order to defend the truth and to extinguish the falsehood till the last drop of blood.

Finally, I ask Allah to provide us with support in order to defend His religion and to continue on the path of Jihad for His Sake so that when we meet Him, he is pleased with us. He is the only One capable of that and our last supplications shall be that All Praise is to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.

Abdullah Usama bin Laden

Source: Al-Jazeera, translated by Jihad Unspun

Found on: http://www.almuhajiroun.com/

---------------------------------------

posted at 12:46:17 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Saturday,November 16,2002

I agree that, under existing laws, the Boy Scouts have a right to exclude atheists. However, if I had children, I would exercise my rights not to permit them to join the organization.

A lot of people say that they believe in God, and, at the same time, behave in what I regard as a morally objectionable manner. Examples include George W. Bush, John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, etc.

I would rather see an organization that refused to admit anyone who admitted to being a social conservative (Christian Right) or a neoconservative (chicken hawk).

posted at 07:16:19 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Friday,November 15,2002

>>From this forum we have learned it is their duty to kill people who speak against Muhammad being the final messenger of God.<<

Unless you learn it from the religion itself, especially its religious texts (not taken out of context), you have not learned much about the religion.

It is simply not the case that Islam teaches Muslims that they have a duty to kill people who speak against Muhammad being the final Messenger of God. Muslims are only permitted, in the Qur'an, to kill non-Muslims as a defensive measure.

The main reason why most Muslims have not supported Usama ibn-Ladin is that they know that his views, and those of Orthodox Islam, are radically different from one another. Usama is a political, not a religious, leader.

>>It is their duty to spread their religious control over your freedom, either by converting beliefs or by the sword, it doesn't matter which.<<

That is not what the Qur'an teaches.

>>They hate free choices, and people who practice freedom.<<

Again, not what the Qur'an teaches. One of the most well-known statements by Muhammad, in the Qur'an (even by non-Muslims), is, "Let there be no compulsion in religion."

>>The dangerous thing about it is political actions and religion are one in the same to them, and the clerics have the final say.<<

My point is their motivations are not really religious. They are geopolitical, i.e., control of oil and territory.

>>When they scapegoat america for all blame about any and everything they don't like, they are disregarding truth or not being very quoranic.<<

al-Qa'ida is right-wing liberation theology, i.e., command capitalism and political authoritarianism. (For what it's worth, I favor left-wing liberation theology.)

>>They don't care just so the blame for their misery goes elsewhere. To the great satan america. But it is not just america, it is freedom of choice, and they see america as the leader of the other countries who enjoy freedom of choice.<<

Personally, I don't think we have many choices. That is why I don't much care for the liberalisms (classical liberalism, conservativism, and modern liberalism).


>>The blank stares are because you are promoting a religion that views "you and your country as the enemy".<<

I am not promoting any religion. However, I do feel that it is appropriate for me to correct what I believe to be misstatements.

First, the U.S. is nowhere mentioned in either the Qur'an or the hadith (traditions of Islam), so there is no way that Islam could view the U.S. as the enemy of Islam. You are conflating a particular school of radical Islamism (Wahabiyyih) with Islam itself.

>>It is not surprising that you admire them because you also view your "country as the enemy".<<

I view current U.S. policy is destructive. I do not view the U.S. as my enemy. The good thing about democracy is that I can criticize my country without fear of being arrested. However, I also believe that some people, such as John Ashcroft, would like to change that.

>>It is interesting though, that from your psychobable you are not recognizing yourself as "the enemy". Islam also shares this characteristic with you.<<

"Sociobabble," maybe, but definitely not psychobabble.

I am certainly the enemy of American hegemomy and neocolonialism. However, I love the Constitution and what the U.S. might become if it followed it more, and I would like to see the values it promotes practiced more in this country.

>>But most fatal diseases are eventually wiped out or run themselves out. Someday things like Islamanism and aids will be on the same list of has beens like the plague and smallpox.<<

I am pleased that you used the term "Islamism" rather than "Islam." They are not the same.

posted at 03:06:15 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Thursday,November 14,2002

I have often found that the strongest critics of Islam have never studied it.

I would encourage people to keep in mind that, since the time of the Crusades, the Western world has never been unbiased about Islam.

As an American, I have noticed that, whereas few people these days would stereotype (or at least admit to doing so) Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, etc., it has become perfectly acceptable in this country to stereotype Muslims, Arabs, Iranians, etc.

I see it with my students all the time. When I point out that, although I am not a Muslim, I have great respect for the religion of Islam and that, if I were not a member of my own religion, I would probably be a Muslim, I generally get blank stares or expressions of complete bewilderment.

posted at 09:49:05 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Wednesday,November 13,2002

IMO, action goes through three stages:

  1. Gnosis (Greek) or Irfan (Arabic) - an inner, mystical knowledge of reality

  2. Volition - a spiritual attachment (love) to what one believes inwardly to be real or true.
  3. Action - an application of what one knows and loves to human behavior in service to others (contextualization).


>>The only truth that has any relevance to truth itself are virtues. If the truth of God doesn't result in translating into a personal virtue then it's not worth it's salt!<<

I completely agree with that. The difficulty arises when one discovers that not everyone has the same views of what is virtuous.

For instance, capitalists generally view economic individualism and the profit motive as virtuous. Many *Christian* socialists regard both these things as "sinful."

To me, working for the liberation of the oppressed is virtuous. To Daniel Pipes, that makes me dangerous.

In other words, it is easy to talk about being virtuous in the abstract. It is when one gets into specifics that the waters get muddied.


Postulate 1. der Fuhrer John Ashcroft in charge of the American Justice Department.

Postulate 2. I am posting in a Pravda forum.

Postulate 3. I am not attempting to hide my identity.

Conclusion. There is undoubtedly a file on me in the FBI.


Where I work, there are four full-time sociologists. Three of us are Marxists.

That is one of the reasons why American academics, and sociologists in particular, are so despised by many of our fellow citizens.

There is definitely a culture war in the U.S. Unfortunately, IMO, with G.W. Bush in the White House and neoconservatives taking over Congress, the other side is winning.

posted at 06:53:25 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Tuesday,November 12,2002

Quotes from "honest" Abe:

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

The 16th President of the United States (1861-1865)

My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.

-- Abraham Lincoln, to Judge J. S. Wakefield, after Willie Lincoln's death (Willie died in 1862), quoted by Joseph Lewis in "Lincoln the Freethinker," also appearing in Remsburg's "Six Historic Americans" (Authenticity questioned by some because it allegedly does not appear in Wakefield's papers [Andrew Lutes, persistent picker of insignificant separationist nits]; authenticity questioned by others who claim that Wakefield did not exist [forgotten web site which also featured all the regular and long-refuted arguments for Lincoln's Christian piety]. Go figure!)

What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree.

-- Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Mary Todd Lincoln in William Herndon's Religion of Lincoln, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beleifs of Our Presidents, p. 118

It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to Infidelity.

-- Abraham Lincoln, Manford's Magazine, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 144

The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession.

-- Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Joseph Lewis in "Lincoln the Freethinker"

The only person who is a worse liar than a faith healer is his patient.

-- Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Victor J. Stenger in Physics and Psychics

Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not that we be not judged.

-- Abraham Lincoln, sarcasm in his Second Innaugural Address (1865)

It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him.

-- Abraham Lincoln, chiding the editor of a Springfield, Illinois, newspaper, quoted from Antony Flew, How to Think Straight, p. 17

Oh, that [his Thanksgiving Message] is some of Seward's nonsense, and it pleases the fools.

-- Abraham Lincoln, to Judge James M. Nelson, in response to a question from Nelson: "I once asked him about his fervent Thanksgiving Message and twitted him with being an unbeliever in what was published." Quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 138

The United States government must not undertake to run the Churches. When an individual, in the Church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest he must be checked.

-- Abraham Lincoln, regarding the Churches, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 143

If there is no military need for the building, leave it alone, neither putting anyone in or out of it, except on finding some one preaching or practicing treason, in which case lay hands on him, just as if he were doing the same thing in any other building.

-- Abraham Lincoln, order relating to a church in Memphis, Tennessee, issued on May 13, 1864, Nicolay and Hay, Works of Abraham Lincoln, chapter on "Lincoln and the Churches," quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 143. In the same chapter Nicolay and Hay state that in order to prevent treasonable preaching, Secretary Stanton appointed Bishop Ames, of the Methodist Church, to be supervisor of all the Churches in a certain southern district. President Lincoln at once countermanded the order.

I have neither time nor disposition to enter into discussion with the Friend, and end this occasion by suggesting for her consideration the question whether, if it be true that the Lord has appointed me to do the work she has indicated, it is not probable that he would have communicated knowledge of the fact to me as well as to her.

-- Abraham Lincoln, to a Quaker (Friends) minister who had given him a message from the Lord, from Allen Thorndyke Rice, ed., Reminiscences of Lincoln, pp. 284-285, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 136

When the Know-Nothings get control, it [the Declaration of Independence] will read: "All men are created equal except negroes, foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

-- Abraham Lincoln, letter to Joshua F. Speed, August 24, 1855, from Albert J. Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

There was the strangest combination of church influence against me. Baker is a Campbellite; the therefore, as I suppose with few exceptions, got all of that Church. My wife had some relations in the Presbyterian churches, and some in the Episcopal churches; and therefore, wherever it would tell, I was set down as either one or the other, while it was everywhere contended that no Christian ought to vote for me because I belonged to no Church, and was suspected of being a Deist and had talked of fighting a duel.

-- Abraham Lincoln, letter to Martin M. Morris, March 26, 1843, from Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, Nicolay & Hay Edition, vol. 1, p. 80, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 112


An inspired Tanakh (Old Testament) is not necessarily synonymous with a verbally inerrant Tanakh.

Also, claiming that a New Testament text "proves" the inspiration, or inerrancy, of the Tanakh, is logically fallacious. If the writer of a book, one which eventually became incorporated into the New Testament, claims something, all one can rationally say is that such and such a claim was made.

If one goes beyond that, moving from apologetics (defense) to axiology (truth claims), one commits the fallacy of authority. In other words, one has erroneously used the alleged status of a source as evidence of its truthfulness.



posted at 05:14:08 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Monday,November 11,2002

>>do you mean the prevailing conditions which then go on to inform particular beliefs? if so, i agree. beliefs must spring from somewhere, they don't just magically appear.<<

Yes, but I am expressing a standard Marxian position. The "prevailing conditions" I am referring to relate to structural oppression (class oppression, in particular).

Beliefs, or forms of consciousness, are, IMO, a result of the relations of a social class to the dominant mode of production. Therefore, in capitalism, the lumpenproletariat, the proletariat, the intelligentsia, and the bourgeoisie, all of which have differing relations to capitalism, possess distinct types of consciousness.

>>however, to hold beliefs which denigrate the spirit/soul/whatever-ya-call-it is where conflict arises, first in the self and then, if left unchecked, directed outwardly.<<

IMO, conflict originates in social oppression, and in the alienation which develops out of it. Conflict is, first, external and, second, internal.

>>i still hold that beliefs are the seedbed of conflict, or to be more accurate fixed beliefs.<<

That is the way that Westerners have been taught to view this subject. It is expressed most profoundly in the New Thought movement and, in its parent, Christian Science.

For instance, I once had a conversation with a Religious Science (New Thought) minister who, after I pressured him for a response, said that, if a person went to the moon and truly believed that s/he could breathe without an oxygen tank, it would happen.

>>i prefer to have my beliefs be fluid, that way they're more useful to me and i can throw out the ones which don't work.<<

It is always good to be flexible. However, as I see it, beliefs are largely a function of one's social class, race, nationality, etc. There is some room for flexibility. However, in my view, what people believe can largely be predicted by social structural factors.

>>not unreasonably, this makes me a tad unpopular with people who define themselves by their rigid beliefs.<<

A Hindu friend of mine referred to the fundamentalisms as indicative of one who has not yet reached the first stage of initiation.


Regardless of whether Saddam agrees this week to allow inspectors back into his country, I think it is highly unlikely that, by the December deadline, he will fully account for all the weapons which the U.S. and Britain believe, or claim, Iraq has in its possession. Therefore, I think it is highly likely that Bush and Blair, possibily with the support of the United Nations, will go to war with Iraq by year's end.


Pres. Bush squawked this morning, "We don't seek an empire." He then said that we seek "freedom" for all nations.

Uh huh. What kind of freedom? So-called economic freedom. Capitalism. Making the world (and its oil) safe for U.S. and British neocolonialism.


It is not "religion" (a meaningless essentialism) which causes conflict (oppression). Rather, many religions have, traditionally, functioned as an element of the class consciousness of the oppressor, which, when accepted by the oppressed, became an aspect of their false consciousness and, therefore, a barrier to their struggle for liberation.

posted at 08:13:36 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Sunday,November 10,2002

It is not beliefs which cause conflicts. It is the oppressions (conflicts), including the oppression arising from the relations of capitalist production, which result in false consciousness (beliefs).

Marx, in _The German Ideology_, wrote, "Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness is determined by life" (the forces of economic production). In other words, he reversed the Cartesian formula, "I think. Therefore, I am," with, "I am. Therefore, I think."

posted at 08:28:40 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Friday,November 08,2002

>>I have heard that a left bias is practically an unspoken requirement to acquire tenure as a professor.<<

In my experience, social science faculty tend to be liberal, not left. There is a difference. However, where I work, there are also some tenured faculty with political views right of center.

What people "hear" is frequently incorrect.

>>Sort of like in the hollywood circles, if an actor goes public with backing a right wing issue, he is not likely to get more work in that town.<<

That is what some pundits in the right-wing media in the U.S. say (Fox News Channel, for instance). Of course, most of these pundits have never actually worked in Hollywood. However, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a conservative, has been asked about that many times, and he has argued that, at least in his experience, it isn't true.

>>I'll try to clarify my view on our other disagreement regarding who represents God.

In my view Gods Spirit and thoughts come to everyone equally and constantly.<<

For what it's worth, I would call that new-age mysticism, sort of a combination of pantheism (God is everything) and panentheism (all things are in God). I know many people, new-agers, who believe that way, but I do not exactly share that viewpoint.

>>But the free will given us, allows us to dismiss or disregard these beams of light.<<

I question whether we really have much free will. As a social scientist, I am basically a determinist. IMO, human behavior is largely determined by social structural forces ("rules") beyond our control. I would acknowledge that we have some free-will, but I think it is quite limited and is largely confined to choices between socially acceptable alternatives (not a very popular viewpoint in the psychologistic U.S.A.).

>>We begin building our personality from our experiences, education, successes and failures, etc., in the world. This is the self or son that we create and seem to be, our self image, but not the Son of the Oneness that still lives within us equally.<<

I agree that we have two selves - higher (soul) and lower (body). However, our character and personality - the aspects of those two selves which manifest themselves in our lives - is largely a function of human socialization (social learning).

>>So we all have two guides or voices within our thoughts and decisions and our consciousness constantly makes choices between these two guides. The one from God and our own self image.<<

Could be, but I tend to be more of a pragmatist than that. I personally do not find the voices/guides/angels metaphor to be particularly helpful. I am more interested in how I, as a member of the intelligentsia, can struggle with the proletariat against the various oppressions.


>>After an area becomes muslim, it seems to me it doesn't matter what the people think, it is then only what the clerics think that rules, and rules absolutely.<<

Islam does not work that way. Sunni, the largest branch of Islam, has a great deal more in common (in terms of authority) with Protestantism than with Roman Catholicism.

What one shaykh (sheik) says has no binding authority on Sunni Muslims (although it is likely that his own followers will take it somewhat seriously). That is, of course, similar to how statements made by a Protestant minister might be taken by his own flock vis-a-vis by Protestants not a part of his congregation.

>>We'll probably never accept each others views because I am a few steps to the right of center, and you seem to be left of it.<<

I am a lot more than a few steps to the left of center. I am a radical (neo-Marxist) sociologist and a proponent of liberation theology.

posted at 07:59:40 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Thursday,November 07,2002

There is a difference between Muslims and radical Islamists. Most Muslims are not Islamists, and most Islamists are not radical.

Islamists are Muslims who want to establish a state governed by Islamic laws. Radical Islamists are, like al-Qa'ida, those who are willing to use violent means to do so.

The vast majority of Muslims have no desire to establish an Islamic state (one governed by a Sunni Caliphate or a Shi'ih Imamate). However, among those Muslims who are Islamist, the vast majority do not advocate violent means to bring it about.


Outwardly, all human documents I have seen, including scriptures, appear to me to have contradictions. The Zen Buddhists call them koans.

Inwardly, the contradictions are resolved on the spiritual, not a quantitative, level. The resolution is in spiritual transformation, not in mathematical calculation.


As long as religion and science operate strictly in their own respective magisteria (Stephen Jay Gould), all is well. However, as soon as science attempts to provide us with a set of ethics (Auguste Comte's "religion for humanity") or religion attempts to provide us with a scientific model (creationism or intelligent design), the culture wars begin.


>>I hope the idea of taking over the world never becomes the majority opinion within the U.S., and I believe most of the americans who do suffer from this inclination are coming from a political position.<<

IMO, one of the main problems with that world is that, in many respects, it has already been taken over by the United States, with the chicken hawks (neoconservatives) playing cheerleaders.

>>Jesus did not give instructions to kill non believers, and Muhammad did.<<

Have you read the Qur'an? Muhammad never gave instructions for Muslims to kill unbelievers (for being unbelievers). He did permit Muslims to kill those unbelievers who waged military actions against Muslims.

>>This is in my view the fundamental difference with muslim fundamentalism.<<

You mean the difference between Muslim fundamentalism and Christian fundamentalism?

The so-called war on terror is, in more ways than one, a war by the Christian Right (social and religious conservatives), with the collaboration of Jewish neoconservatives, against the Islamic world. Bush, and more recently Colin Powell, have called the war on terror a "global crusade."

>>Just watch the news, you and I could almost be prophets by saying there will be a violent muslim attack within three days on un involved innocent civilians somewhere in the world. And we can accurately say the killing will include women and children.<<

What about all the women and children, worldwide, who have died as a ***direct*** result of the policies of the U.S. and Israeli governments?

>>I don't believe you can say an attack like this will occur from people following Jesus, who never said kill anyone.<<

My point is that these sorts of attacks, by those who claim to be following Jesus (John Ashcroft for one), are already taking place.

>>Muhammad, like King David, had bloody hands even though they may both have been worshippers, I am remembering David was not allowed to build Gods temple, and his peaceful son, Solomon was.<<

If you really believe that, you need to read a good biography of Muhammad. I suggest, _Muhammad and the Course of Islam_, by Momen.

>>Thus Muhammads message of peace and war, in my view does not truly represent God/Allah.<<

What is Muhammad's message of peace and war? And who, in your mind, does represent God?

posted at 01:38:22 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Tuesday,November 05,2002

>>There is something between muhammadans and Christians, but then again considering the muhammadan goals of taking over the world with armed force, they are really against everyone.<<

I think that Ann Coulter represented the views of many American social conservatives when she said that the United States should invade all the Muslim countries and convert them to Christianity. Does that mean that Christians are, en masse, trying to take over the world?

posted at 08:31:45 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Monday,November 04,2002

All the major scriptures of the world, at least the ones I have studied, appear to me to have contradictions.

The reality is discovered by transcending the contradictions (dialectic) and, through meditation and reflection, apprehending the spiritual synthesis.

posted at 02:00:09 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster





Copyright © 2002 Mark A. Foster, Ph.D. All rights reserved.


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