THE TRUTH AND THREE TEACHERS

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”
Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him.” –The gospel according to John 18.33-8

In a five-year period in the late nineteen-sixties and early nineteen-seventies, I encountered three figures from a slightly earlier generation who it seemed to me put together the scattered themes of my eduction and offered a set of ideas with some intellectual coherence – that in short were true. Although there was some overlap, the three would by no means entirely agree with one another. And the annealing of their ideas for me was to some extent accomplished in the fire from the US assaults on southeast Asia and the ever larger questions of history, politics and ethics that those crimes posed.

That was in fact rather late in my formal eduction – I was doing a doctorate in the history of Christian thought and taking my first academic job (at Notre Dame), where I thought I was supposed to tell the truth to people even younger than I. In spite of time spent in schools considered to be the best in twentieth century America, I was still too ignorant to realize that the regnant attitude to truth in the American academy was that proposed by the Roman prefect in the occupied province of Judaea in the first century. And the source of the attitude was the same, too – people under authority: people who had to give up control over what made them human – their conscious work of head and hands – in order even to eat regularly. Some did that all too willingly; some less so.

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FROM TIMOTHY RADCLIFFE OP

‘Nobody lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel but on a stand so that it gives light to the all in the house.’ This may have been one of Jesus’ many little jokes, because according to one distinguished biblical scholar there probably were people who did exactly that. There were, it seems, three conflicting laws to be obeyed on the night of the Sabbath. One must light a candle; one should have sex to honour God; and one must not have sex with the lights on. Solution! Light a candle and then put it under a bucket!

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Some notes on the art of failure (unedited) by Dan Estabrook

A talk by my second son.

Trailer for Julie Taymor’s Tempest!

Flyer from AWARE October 2010 demo

THE ANTI-WAR ANTI-RACISM EFFORT (AWARE) OF CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, ILLINOIS, SAYS,

“LET’S TALK ABOUT THE WAR”

A member of AWARE, David Green, sent the following letter to the newspaper at the University of Illinois:

The vast majority of 9/11 observances in this country cannot be seen as politically neutral events. Implicit in their nature are the notions that lives lost at the World Trade Center are more valuable than lives lost in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and elsewhere; that the motives of the 9/11 attackers had nothing to do with genuine grievances in the Islamic world regarding American imperialism; and that the U.S. has been justified in the subsequent killing of hundreds of thousands in so-called retaliation.

The observance at Saturday’s football game was no different. A moment of silence was followed by a military airplane flyover; in between, Block-I students chanted “USA, USA.” This was neither patriotism nor remembrance in any justifiable sense, but politicization, militarism, propaganda and bellicosity. The University of Illinois is a public institution that encompasses the political views of all, not just the most (falsely) “patriotic.” Athletic planners should cease such exploitation for political purposes. They might at least consider how most Muslim students, American or otherwise, would respond to this nativist display; or better, Muslims and others that live their lives under the threat of our planes, drones and soldiers.

The overwhelmingly white, privileged, Block-I students should be ashamed of their obnoxious, fake-macho, chicken-hawk chant, while poverty-drafted members of their cohort fight and die in illegal and immoral wars for the control of oil. University administrators need to eliminate from all events such “patriotic” observances, which in this country cannot be separated from implicit justifications for state-sponsored killing.

–David Green, University Academic Professional

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Flyer from AWARE Sepember demo

[The following leaflet was distributed on 4 September 2010 at the regular monthly demonstration by the Anti-War Anti-Racism Effort of Champaign-Urbana IL.]

~ THE WAR IS NOT OVER ~ IT’S EXPANDING INSTEAD ~
OUR GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO KILL PEOPLE IN THE MIDEAST; PRESIDENT OBAMA CONTINUES TO MISLEAD US ABOUT WHY

Last Tuesday night President Obama gave a speech about the war that his administration is conducting in the Middle East.  Unfortunately, his account was so misleading as to amount to a substantial lie:
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God and Creation

[This is a section - which I take to be within the limits of fair use - from a book by the late Oxford theologian Herbert McCabe, OP - "God Matters" (London, 1987 - the title is at least a triple pun).  It's part of a larger argument in which McCabe, a Wittgensteinian Marxist, was an active participant.]

In my view to assert that God exists is to claim the right and need to
carry on an activity, to be engaged in research, and I think this throws
light on what we are doing if we try to prove the existence of God. To
prove the existence of God is to prove that some questions still need
asking, that the world poses these questions for us.
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Ending the war

The Long War for oil in the Greater Middle East – from Palestine to Pakistan and from Central Asia to the Horn of Africa – has produced some heroes: Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and their associates.

But we won’t have won until Obama, Clinton, Gates et al. are in cells in The Hague, awaiting trial before an international court, like Milošević. Those out of office, from the Bush and Clinton administrations – and before – by rights should accompany them.

The Nuremberg trials however came only after the collapse of the aggressors’ armies. We can push for that by pointing out the illegality of the use of troops without a declaration of war, and by demanding that our representatives stop voting money for it (as, I’m delighted to say, my Congressional representative – a Republican, Rep. Timothy Johnson – has done, here in Illinois’ 15th CD).

“Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it’s from Neptune.” –Noam Chomsky