Tag Archives: Islam

Facebook Posts During January 2015

Galaxy NGC 6822

Galaxy NGC 6822

Facebook Posts During January 2015

(Somewhat chronological, but in no particular order)

We need a new vision of life on this planet, a new attitude about what it means to be a human being in our time, to bring us together, across our many divides, to unify humankind.

Nothing is impossible for the Imagination with which humanity is endowed… From time to time, we human beings need to look afresh at what we’re doing, who and what we are, I believe, and I hope that my epic poem might help all of us around the globe do just that, reflecting on our human fragility a little more, and what we have in common, before the mystery of life in this cosmos, a quarter million miles away, from Tranquility Base. I hope you’ll consider taking a flight to the Moon…

We need to take the next step toward a new vision of life on this planet, a new attitude about what it means to be a human being in our time, to bring us together, across our many divides, to unify humankind.

I believe an Imaginative story, like John Lennon’s Imaginative song, can help do just that… hope you’ll read it! …make the Journey.

John Lennon showed that an Imaginative song can bring the world together around the globe; I believe an Imaginative epic song, a tale about humanity’s Journey through time and space, can help us see the great Image of Mother Earth as never before… feel again our common humanity in the depths of our souls.

However unlikely it might seem, I invite you to consider that one of the best responses to the terrorism we now face around the world might indeed be a trip to the Moon…

What’s needed is a new work of literature that revives and teaches the value of the humanities to people in all walks of life… including those in the university. Then, all will understand why the humanities are so important to the health of the individual and the community–global now.

A New Global, Universal Vision of Life on this Planet…
2012 to 2014 > 20 reviews in 7 countries–Ghana, Africa (1), Australia (1), Bangladesh (2), Canada (3), India (1), United Kingdom (3), and the USA (9). Excerpts from all of them now on Amazon USA, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, Amazon France, and Amazon India. Search The Parliament of Poets.
Help me DOUBLE that to 40 reviews in 14 countries by… June 30th? December?

If you want it, all of the great cultural divides can now be healed… Catholicism and Protestantism, Sunni and Shia, Muslim and Hindu, science and religion, religious and secular, Marxism and Capitalism, East and West, North and South… The alternative to healing these divides is more reactionary nostalgia and violence… global now.

In all the great religions and indigenous wisdom traditions, duality and exclusivism ultimately resolve and clarify into Unity. One of the marks of Enlightenment thinking is the loss of that realization and its replacement with the meta-narrative of its own myth. With nihilism now a global myth, it can now be overturned, East and West, through mimesis, from a universal perspective, driven back like a scapegoat into the wilderness or substratum, as from the Moon… an Imaginative realm and act of the soul, as in Dante, achieved through sacrifice.

Both nihilism and the modern reactions to it can in this way be resolved, as well as through lived life, which continues, leading to a higher resolution of the traditional conflicts that have absorbed humanity for most of the last 500 years.

The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays explains all this and more in detail, often through the lives and writings of John Milton, Tolstoy, Tagore, Saul Bellow, and other writers and cultural critics, for example, Julien Benda and Jacque Barzun.

Given the horrendous events in Paris, I’d like to mention that I have studied Islam all my adult life, with course work back in the 1970s at the University of Michigan, including with one scholar from Al-Azhar University of Cairo. Both of my recent books respond to the dire nature of the threat that faces world civilization around the globe, especially in the essay “Decadence, East and West.”

My fullest response to Islam and modernity is in my epic poem, however unlikely that might seem to some in our culture today, addressing, from the Moon, our current dilemmas… A couple of cantos in my epic poem are specifically about Islam, attempting to evoke and explore a new way forward for Muslims, as well as the rest of humanity… to come together in peace.

The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays

The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays
Hardcover. ISBN: 9780982677834. Earthrise Press, September 2014. 230 pages.

From “Decadence, East and West,” in The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays:

“The Quran (9:29) says,

“Fight those who believe not in Allah, nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya [tax] with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” (King Fahd Holy Qur’an)

“There are many other similar verses. They’re well known to anyone who actually reads the Quran. For the fanatics, and some moderate Muslims, that’s Islam. And it cannot be soft-pedaled. Nothing discredits Islam more than its reduction to a political power symbol, as Ibn Khaldun recognized, and the use of violence and terrorism in an attempt to install it. The great jurists who developed and practiced the principles of “ijtihad,” a moderately balanced interpretation of the Quran, did, have, and would condemn such violence, lack of compassion, and a sense of the historical moment. Their sense of the fullness of the text of the Quran would note, “Let there be no compulsion in religion”; “Unto you your religion, unto me my religion”; “God has respited the People of the Book”; “If God had pleased, He would have made you all one people. But He has done otherwise.” Hearing only one part of the voice of God in the Quran turns it into an idol, and the individual into a decadent fanatic, seeking through pride and violence to impose his distorted interpretation on others.”

What the world cannot but ask > Are the apologies taqiyya?
I.e., lying to infidels. How can we know but by the *actions* of Muslims?
Words aren’t good enough… East and West, we need to reform ourselves.
“By their fruits ye shall know them.” –Matthew 7:20 KJV

Is ijtihad (moderate interpretation) a solution or partial solution? The emphasis on universality by Sufi and Indian poets, indeed world poets, on tawhid, the spiritual unity and oneness of God? Is it too naively hopeful to think that most Muslims at least can come together with others from such a spiritual perspective, be energized by it?

All the old visions are shot to hell…
We need a new vision of life on this planet.
Gazing from the moon, we see one Earth, without borders,
Mother Earth, her embrace encircling one people, humankind.

John Lennon sang an Imaginative song that brought the world together… I believe an Imaginative epic song, a tale about humanity’s Journey through time and space, can help us to see the great Image of Mother Earth as never before… our common humanity, before the cosmos, find our way to peace on Earth… helping to change life on this planet!!

Few read the traditional works of literature and myth, around the world. As in Japan and probably Korea, many young people are more interested in Anime and popular culture. So they really don’t have the depth of knowledge to think deeply with the full wealth of culture, East and/or West. It’s an extremely serious problem because it leads to very shallow thinking about the perennial problems of human nature.

Unfortunately, the trivial culture of modernity, with few reading the great traditional works of literature, poetry, and myth, around the world, leaves many young people unprepared for the profundity and complexity of life.

Many of their elders are to be blamed for bringing about this situation, in our now extremely, extremely fragmented culture, which endangers us all, at exactly the time when we need the most the great visions of human struggle, endurance, tragedy and triumph from the past, the great tales of what it means to be human.

The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem

The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem

My epic poem addresses and resolves precisely the problems at the core of the conflict between Islam and the rest of the world, modernity broadly, as attested by two Muslim scholars:

“The purpose of the spiritual journey of the Poet of the Moon is to seek deliverance of the modern human from the captivity of nothingness, nihilism and atheism, and from the resulting chaos and chasm of soul. From the versatile he gets scores of life-affirming lessons, yet the core meaning of all is that the Supreme Being as well as the earth is one, and so human beings are one nation irrespective of their clan, class, color, race, religion and gender. In this earth human beings are part of the Great Mystery’s creation and their duty is to keep the balance and harmony of the universe, to achieve union, to choose sacrifice, and to be self-controlled. In this manner Glaysher sings the song of ‘one Earth, without borders, Mother Earth, her embrace encircling one people, humankind’ (19)…. The lucid and placid feet of the language moves deftly and smoothly from the beginning up to the last line of the poem. Bravo to the Poet for this toilsome but brilliant endeavour.”
Umme Salma, International Islamic University, Department of English Language and Literature, Chittagong, Bangladesh, in Transnational Literature Vol. 7 no. 1, November 2014, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia

“The review has evocatively summed up the stylistic and thematic magnificence of ‘The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem.’ A contemporary classic! Highly recommended for reading.”
Nishat Haider, Associate Professor, Lucknow University, Lucknow, India

Though many are waving their arms about and shouting at one another, eager to climb the barricades, a trip together to the Moon… is what is actually needed, and the only thing that will help bring us together on this planet in peace.

Muslims cannot alone reform Islam. It has become a global problem and needs the help of the entire world. We are all human beings on this planet. We must help one another.

We human beings, we’re in a mess… The Emperor is bare naked, and the peasants are starving, half of them out of their minds. There are a lot of rocks in this universe with no life on them, as far as we can tell. We might want to hold on to this one…

I have an idea, as a poet, I think, let’s sing them a tale, take their minds off killing one another for a while, at least, lull them with song, and then work on rearranging their soul into something more human… before they notice it, and start killing one another again in the aisles… but, it seems, few of the barbarians any longer know how to read, or want to read, a serious book on an adult level… Thoughts of a new Dark Age, shake them off.

I refuse to give up, being a fool, Shakespearean!!! …in a tragic tale. Perhaps a little catharsis will help, especially from the Moon, from where the entire pageant play can be seen. Worth a try…

Idealism is the only truly realistic position, as has often been said. It can recognize that the heart of the human being harbors great evil, but also great good. Those like Nietzsche, Freud, Marx, and the whole modern pantheon of cynics have taken civilization in the wrong direction… The influence of the great German writers were in the hearts and minds, in the pen of Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Isaiah Berlin, and many others, from all walks of life, who opposed, as best they could, the fascists, triumphed against them, as Mann did in Dr. Faustus. They definitely were not in the work of Heidegger and Paul de Mann and other fascists who brought the dregs of their relativism, nihilism, and despair into American culture through Deconstruction and its sundry sophistries that have corrupted the writing of many since the 1970s.

W. H. Auden’s stricture that poetry makes nothing happen is false, as is all of its derivations. Poetry does make something happen–civilization, by elevating the thinking of the people. Without it, without the real thing, there is nothing but bestiality and despair. Idealism *affirms* what is best in the human being in order to call it into being, as Julian Benda wisely observed in The Treason of the Clerks. I *choose* to affirm what is best in human nature because I have experienced it, know its reality, as well as the bestiality and banality that result without it. No ideology could more perfectly dovetail with the greed of the mega-wealthy and the lust for power of politicians than nihilism. Idealism has always whipped them out of the temple and treated them with unmitigated contempt that they deserve.

The Moon reflects the Light of the Sun… without the Sun, it is dark, as dark as men’s minds without the love of God.

“Without vision, the people perish.” An ancient adage that still holds a perennial truth. I have nothing against atheists or anyone else. In our extremely, extremely fragmented cultural landscape, it has become almost impossible to conceive of the Unity that all cultures independently enjoyed at their best. Together, from the Moon, we can see it, global and universal… expanded now to the entire planet.

A modern Journey to the Simorg…

We ourselves have to change in order to save life on this planet…

This is now basically much of the trouble around the globe… so, I said to myself, long ago, perhaps a poet’s shaman tale of a Journey to the Moon… might help the world heal:

“It happens sometimes that I must say to an older patient: “Your picture of God or your idea of immortality is atrophied, consequently your psychic metabolism is out of gear.” ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Pages 399-403.

It is now possible to move beyond modern Nihilism and recover Unity of Being… global now.

Islam, too, is an interpretation of life predicated on exclusivism… with a call to *return* to it, or “ascend” to it. Then everything will be Peace on Earth…

The human being is the most blood-thirsty animal on Earth. From the Moon, we can see there is a way to tame him…

Tolstoy’s Green Stick, on the Moon… upon which is written the secret of how all men may live as brothers.

Frederick Glaysher

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Leszek Kolakowski and the Children of Abraham





Lezsek Kolakowski and the Children of Abraham

Lezsek Kolakowski and the Children of Abraham




Leszek Kolakowski and the Children of Abraham

September 1, 2010

(I wrote this review in 1983 but never published it. I’ve decided to publish it now for a friend in Africa since it discusses the three major monotheistic religions stemming from Abraham. For a more recent piece on some of the same issues, also see, Tolstoy and the Last Station of Modernity.)

A Review of (1) F. E. Peter, Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. Princeton University Press, 1982; and (2) Leszek Kolakowski, Religion: If there is no God. . . On God, the Devil, Sin and other Worries of the so-called Philosophy of Religion. Oxford University Press, 1982.

F. E. Peter’s book Children of Abraham offers an interesting and systematic treatment of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions that demonstrates their essential unity. Professor Peters achieves this by concentrating on six areas that are outlined by his chapter titles: “Community and Hierarchy,” “The Law,” “Scripture and Tradition,” “The Liturgy,” “Asceticism and Mysticism,” and “Theology.” His intent is, as he states, “to illuminate how these affiliated religions approached common issues.” His perspective is one that holds the monotheistic religions as sharing the same source, attested by the opening paragraph of his book:

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all scriptural religions, that is, they affirm the existence of a divine revelation in written form. “The Sacred Writings,” “The Scripture” or “The Book” are practically interchangeable terms among the three, and their adherents can all be identified as “People of the Book,” as the Muslims in fact call them. More, these revelations from on high represent God’s intervention in history; and, indeed, the same God: the Jew’s Yahweh, the Christians’ God the Father who is in Heaven, and the Muslims’ Allah is one and the same deity, with the same history, the same attributes and, in fact, the same name.

This statement of their shared origin informs much of the discussion of Professor Peter’s book and enables him to cut through, as it were, the malignant growths of countless sectarian debates, animosities, and misperceptions.

His perception of their oneness surfaces again during his discussion of Islam:

What was understood to have happened was that a new prophet had appeared in the Judeo-Christian tradition and had promulgated a new revelation, or rather a new version of revelation, which had as its object not the abrogation of the old Law but its restoration to its original vigor.

Here his analysis probes the common origin, which Islam shares with Judaism and Christianity, and shows that, far from an entirely new revelation, Islam, as Christianity before it, marks the “restoration” of the “old Law” to its pristine purity. Conversely, his perspective aids him to discern common absurdities that mar the historical development of each religion:

And each community lived in the conviction that God had spoken to it for the last time: the Jews, for the first and final times; the Christians, for the second and final time; the Muslims, for the third and final time.

Although Peters does not expand on the illogicality of this conviction, such an idea is implicit in his work, given his emphasis on their shared origin.

The progressive universality of each dispensation is developed in his chapter “The Law”:

Moses was given the Law to modify pagan custom for the better, and so provide a bridge from idolatry to a belief in the unique God. . . . The Law appears, then—and most clearly in its cultic and sacrificial aspects—to be a transitional and ameliorative instrument rather than final and perfect, at least when viewed from a historical perspective.

Certainly this progressive bridge suffuses the Torah—the covenant code and the Book of the Kings document precisely the struggle with the “cultic and sacrificial aspects”—as well as the books of the prophets. But what is noteworthy here is Peter’s realization that the Law was not final and perfect but a transitional and ameliorative instrument—one that guided and directed the Jewish covenant community to belief in one God. Later, Peters also suggests that Muhammad provided this bridge for the pre-Islamic peoples by preserving “within the hajj [pilgrimage] a treasure-trove of early Semitic cult practice,” much as Christ had preserved aspects of the Jewish cultural background of his day.

Although the strongest point of Peter’s book is his demonstration of the shared origin of the revealed religions, it is also, paradoxically, the most conspicuous weakness. For Professor Peters, all religions are pretty much the same. There is a sense in which he never takes any issue seriously. His tone itself exudes skepticism, and one wonders if “common” in his vocabulary does not often carry a pejorative nuance. And although he claims objectivity and rationality, his biases are those of what he calls a “secular historican,” one who believes categorically that all religions ultimately and merely amount to a struggle for political power.

Leszek Kolakowski’s book Religion concentrates on exactly the issue that Peters refuses to consider, whether or not God exists. By quickly surveying the history of the philosophy of religion, Professor Kolakowski covers both the major critiques of religious belief and the major counter-arguments of such philosophers as Descartes, Leibniz, and Pascal. He also discusses theodicy, skepticism and mysticism, eternity and inevitable human failure, reason and eros, the relationship of knowledge and language, and the link between belief in God and death. Despite the expansive sweep of his discussion, his concerns find their center in his oft-repeated thesis:

I take the act of worship as unremovable and instrinsic to any description of the phenomenon of religion. The socially established worship of the eternal reality: this formulation comes perhaps closest to what I have in mind when talking of religion.

Though he marshalls what Abdul-Baha calls in Some Answered Questions the “proofs and demonstrations of the existence of God,” Kolakowski believes the act of worship to be superior to all such arguments—as Abdul-Baha put it, “When man feels the indwelling spirit, he is in no need of arguments for its existence.” But to stop at this observation would be to ignore much of what is of value in Kolakowski’s book. For one thing, his definition of religion as “the socially established worship of the eternal reality” refutes the conception of an individual faith that can be separated from the communal matrix. Religion, by its very nature, presupposes social cohesion—albeit a cohesion enigmatically based on individual worship.

Kolakowski further elaborates his definition in the following passage:

Religion is not a set of propositions, it is the realm of worship wherein understanding, knowledge, the feeling of participation in the ultimate reality . . . and moral commitment appear as a single act, whose subsequent segregation into separate classes of metaphysical, moral and other assertions might be useful but is bound to distort the essense of the original act of worship.

He convincingly makes the case that religion is not merely a “set of propositions” or rational constructs; rather, it is, as he states elsewhere, “a way of life.” And although the human mind is capable of analyzing its act of worship, of separating it into metaphysical, moral, social, and rational elements, of looking at the mountain, the mind cannot comprehend either itself or the mystery it contemplates. Far from constituting a flight into vague irrationality, Kolakowski’s position asserts the fundamental difference between religious and empirical or scientific truth. This difference is basically one of validation: “The only reliable access to religious truth is by way of a private experience which cannot be satisfactorily rendered in intersubjective discourse.” Yet modern science asserts its now “fanatical rationalism” by affirming self-assuredly “what is or is not knowledge.”

Kolakowski’s position, like that of all Christian apologists of the 20th Century, is an embattled one. He himself recognizes the fact and acknowledges at length the decline of religious belief over the last century or so. His emphasis throughout the book on “two irreconcilable ways of accepting the world and our position in it” would largely concede defeat were he not correct that historically the two “colliding” viewpoints have at least forced one another to be consistent in their reasoning about their respective beliefs. Still, there is something wistful about his thinking. Against the vast panorama of the century, Kolakowski’s attempt to breath new life into Christianity possesses a certain amount of wishful thinking that is similar to W. H. Auden’s quixotic call at the end of hisEnchafed Flood to renew “the ruined walls of the city,” because Baha’u’llah revealed no man can renew the city: “Once in about a thousand years shall this City be renewed and re-adorned.  . . .That city is none other than the Word of God revealed in every age and dispensation.” T. S. Eliot’s comments on The Waste Land indicate at least an honest confrontation with modernity: “Now there is nothing in which to believe . . . Belief itself is dead . . . therefore my poem is the first to respond properly to the modern situation and not call upon Make-Believe.”

In all fairness to Kolakowski, perhaps he is honestly thinking of Christianity when he writes,

A religous worship reduced to its secular utility and oblivious of its original function can survive for a time, no doubt, yet sooner or later its emptiness is bound to be exposed, the irrelevance of its form to its content will become apparent, its ambiguous life sustained by credit from a non-existent bank will come to end and the forgotten links with the Sacred will be resumed in another place, by other forms of religiosity.

Coming as this excerpt does a few pages from the end of the book, it cannot be read (however he may have intended it) as anything other than a requiem for all Christianity and particularly for Catholicism, which he focuses on and which has undeniably been reduced to its secular and political utility in a few countries that readily come to mind.

We now live in a time of transition, the interregnum, between the decaying of old cities and the renewing and re-adorning of the ancient one. And while many observers are refusing to take any religion seriously, while many are choosing to “call upon Make-Believe” to shore up their swiftly eroding position, religious and secular, the major and minor plans of God to renew the ruined walls proceed.

Frederick Glaysher

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