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RE: (Fwd) Re: Message from an Iranian about the WTO attack

From: Eric D. Pierce <>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 15:58:10 -0700
Message-ID: <>

How about the old joke that it is good to be non-dogmatic as long as you don't get dogmatic about it?

Are you advocating fundamentalist thought, or just defending fundmentalists from attack by intolerant universalists (or both)?

Even though I don't agree with much of fundamentalism, I have sought to understand the valid aspects of it, and have defended fundamentalists from the attacks of intolerant liberals, and gotten the usual lumps as a reward.

Some of my best friends are nominalists. iep/o/ockham.htm+nominalism+internet+encyclopedia+of+philosophy&hl=en

Well, actually most of them are rapidly becoming ex-friends since I criticise them for being too "politically correct". They think I have "gone over to the dark side of the force" and joined the homophobic, evil, white man's world. :)

I consider myself to be a universalist that respects that particularism is an intrinsic, necessary reality. In other words, the universal archetypes in human conciousness are obscured from rational view by mystical paradox, but they are "there" nevertheless, and experienced in profound moments of insight and detachment from self.

So, obviously, I'm an advocate of sufism/neoplatonism, the "Great Chain of Being", and all that stuff.




| The dichotomy between these two views is not however unique to
| Islam. The two differing paths of knowledge (and its
| concomitant attitude of worship and devotion) and of Love (and
| the direct sapiential access to truth) are to be found to some
| extent in every religious tradition. In Hinduism, for example,
| the first is to be found in the Bakhti tradition and the second
| in the teachings of Shankara. In Buddhism, the respective
| parallels are the Zen and the Jodo tradition. In Judaism,
| Christianity and Islam, there is a strong mystical tradition
| that can be set against the main tradition of worship and
| legalism.
| Abdu'l-Baha's resolution of this difference is extremely
| interesting. Basically Abdu'l-Baha, having earlier in this
| treatise established that no absolute knowledge of God is
| possible for human beings, now states that these different
| philosophical opinions arise from differences within the
| observer. Some because of their essential constitution view the
| matter one way and others view it in what appears to be the
| opposite light (according to which of the Names of God is
| predominant in their nature).
| What Abdu'l-Baha appears to be saying is that all men's views on
| this metaphysical issue (and by implication all metaphysical
| issues) are inevitably and inescapably "coloured" by their
| essential constitution. This exposition of metaphysical
| relativism is an extremely important formulation, perhaps a key
| concept for Baha'i metaphysics. It can be applied to many
| metaphysical and other problems. There is of course the obvious
| application to the dichotomy between the monistic and the
| dualistic views of Reality. However, at another level, and
| perhaps to bring the issues raised here up to date, the two
| view-points being discussed here can be seen as to be
| essentially the same as the dichotomy between the heart and the
| mind; between intuition and reason as modes of obtaining
| knowledge; and even, in this day (because of the manner in which
| science is considered to have monopolised rationality) between
| religion and science.



I am perfectly comfortable with people that wish to stay within a particular religious/spiritual tradition, but at the same time I recognize that there are probably far more traditions that have come and gone in human history than are still around.

And it seems that (multi-) "cultural competence" is rapidly becoming a requirement in all sorts of pragmatic circumstances in life.

A univeralist approach tries to adjust to the problem in human nature where religious belief becomes unbalanced by dogmatism and rigidity of thought, and/or by a doctrinaire focus on the outer/surface levels of meaning in religious truth, and/or by an overemphasis on legalism.

Unbeknownst to most western/secular liberal intellectuals, all of the mystical traditions, whether they are sufi/islamic, jewish, christian, buddhist, etc. have the opposite problem, when taken to extremes they tend to deemphasize "law", and encourage superstition and social corruption (disorder/lawlessness).

So, from my viewpoint, a balanced approach is needed.

Fundamental to such balance is unwavering devotion/submission to the person of the Prophet *in each tradition* (peace be upon their luminous Holy Souls), and to the will of God.

Fundamentalism is just a reaction to the rise of science and rationalism as "social agency" (in the sociological sense). That is not sufficient.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's writings provide excellent explication of the manner in which vibrant, dynamic, creative religious culture has nothing to fear from the realities of science or rationalism.


   "...To this day, scholars of religion have had difficulty     formulating categories to describe piety in language that     pious people find authentic. My father, although a     Jewish theologian and scholar, found a way to express     religious experience that people from all religions find     resonant of their own inner voices. His language is     powerful and evocative, standing in a tradition of     classical medieval religious literature and even that of the     psalmist. A pious person, he writes,

        'feels embraced by God's mercy as by a vast 
         encircling space. Awareness of God is as 
         close to him as the throbbing of his own 
         heart, often deep and calm, but at times 
         overwhelming, intoxicating, setting the 
         soul afire.' 

    To be always conscious of the presence of God becomes 'a matter of     the mind--a mode of living.' What kind of life is it?     'Piety is the direct opposite of selfishness.' To be religious is     to be grateful and never take anything for granted. Instead of     viewing the world and one's own life as a possession, a pious     person feels bestowed by a gift from God, and wants to respond,     not to accomplish but to contribute. The intense, private     intoxication experienced by God's presence leads not to a     withdrawal from the world, but, for Heschel, motivates a response     of wanting to contribute to the world. We are, he wrote, God's     partner in creation. The roots of Heschel's theology lie in the     intense religious community in which he was raised, that of     pre-War Polish Chasidism. He described his experience:

        'I was very fortunate in having lived as a child and as a
         young boy in an environment where there were many
         people I could revere, people concerned with problems
         of the inner life, of spirituality and integrity, people who
         have shown great compassion and understanding for
         other people ? very rich in moments of exaltation. This
         enabled me to stand a little bit above the circumstances
         of life and to take a perspective from which I could see
         the world, so to speak, from a higher point of view. In
         other words, I was trained as a child to live a life, or to
         strive to live a life, which is compatible with the mystery
         and marvel of human existence."



On 12 Sep 2001, at 15:35, Post, Ethan scribbled with alacrity and cogency:

Date sent:              Wed, 12 Sep 2001 15:35:18 -0500

> Unfortunately standard definitions do not suffice these days.  Take for
> example the word "tolerant".  The meaning has changed significantly in the
> past few years.  Tolerance is now described as one who accepts another
> persons point of view as "also" correct.  It used to mean someone who may
> have vehemently disagreed with another but still treated them in a
> "neighborly" manner.  The term religious bigot has come to mean anyone who
> does not accept Universalism as the correct world view.  I would agree with
> you that the groups you mentioned are intolerant and devoted to their
> beliefs so perhaps they are bigoted.  I would not classify the typical
> "fundamentalist" (be it Christian, Jew, Muslim etc..) as religious bigots.
> However many would because of their denial of Universalism as a valid world
> view.  I was just wondering where you stand.  The site you mentioned and
> some of the other stuff you posted seems to suggest you may be in the latter
> camp.
> Thanks,
> Ethan Post
> >-----Original Message-----
> >From: Eric D. Pierce []
> >Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2001 1:22 PM
> >To: Post, Ethan
> >Cc:
> >Subject: Re: (Fwd) Re: Message from an Iranian about the WTO attack
> >
> >
> >Dude,
> >
> >Presumably, a standard dictionary definition will suffice:
> >
> >  Bigot
> >
> >  "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or
> >   her own opinions and prejudices"
> >
> >(
> >
> >I hope you aren't saying that you are having difficulty
> >finding examples of that in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict!
> >
> >In the USA, example would be white supremacy groups, and the
> >Nation of Islam (black nationalist "muslims").
> >
> >See the Soutern Poverty Law Center's web site.
> >
> >
> >
> >regards,
> >ep
> >
> >ps, I'm on digest-mode, have political threads been banned 
> >from the list yet?
> >
> >
> >On 12 Sep 2001, at 14:31, Post, Ethan wrote:
> >
> >From:                "Post, Ethan" <>
> >To:                  "Eric D. Pierce" <>
> >Subject:             (Fwd) Re: Message from an Iranian about 
> >the WTO attack
> >Date sent:           Wed, 12 Sep 2001 14:31:00 -0500
> >
> >> Eric,
> >> 
> >> Could you please clarify what the term "religious bigot" 
> >means when you use
> >> it and perhaps provide a few examples of what types of 
> >groups would be
> >> considered religious bigots according to your definition?
> >> 
> >> Thanks,
> >> Ethan Post
> >> 
> >> 
> >> >-----Original Message-----
> >> >From: Eric D. Pierce []
> >> >Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2001 12:46 PM
> >> >To: Multiple recipients of list ORACLE-L
> >> >Subject: (Fwd) Re: Message from an Iranian about the WTO attack
> >> >
> >> >
> >> >
> >> >------- Forwarded message follows -------
> >> > to:              WINNT-L_at_PEACH.EASE.LSOFT.COM
> >> >Date sent:        Wed, 12 Sep 2001 10:46:29 -0700
> >> >
> >> >You can't be serious.
> >> >
> >
> >...
> >
> >> >I'm not "taking sides", those are the facts. Both "sides" in the 
> >> >Israeli/Palestinian war are full of racism and religious bigotry.   
> >> >
> >> >Here is a good resource for understanding the problem:  
> >> >
> >> >

> >
> >...
Please see the official ORACLE-L FAQ:
Author: Eric D. Pierce

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Received on Wed Sep 12 2001 - 17:58:10 CDT

Original text of this message