I keep chewing over the role of growth in the development of the United States. At the moment, it seems a bit like the royal road into the American (un)consciousness. I’m sure some of that is just the excitement of finding a new approach to this material. Still, there is much that can be worked by exploring these avenues. Without undertaking the journey quite yet, I want to layout a rough outline of the map this approach suggests.
I have seen this meme floating around lately. The image attached to it varies (some variety of norse-flavored fantasy), but the caption always reads thus:
JESUS PROMISED THE END OF ALL WICKED PEOPLE
ODIN PROMISED THE END OF ALL ICE GIANTS
I DON’T SEE MANY ICE GIANTS AROUND
I smiled and chuckled the first few times I saw it. How clever, I thought, a nicely done zing, regardless of my opinion on the subject matter. I started watching people reply to it and realized they didn’t get it. Then I realized I didn’t get it. Then I realized, the ‘getting’ is in the getter. Then I thought of Aristotle.
I have recently spent some time reading Jung’s Liber Novus (aka The Red Book); it reminds me of Philip K. Dick’s Exegesis. Anyone who has read both texts will probably not be surprised by the comparison. Both are the works of intellectual men dealing with powerful religious experiences that transform their relationship to themselves and their world. Both approach the experience with their full intellectual and creative capacities. The many substantive differences between the two works has a lot to do with the resources, cultural and personal, available to their creators.
So, I came across this article over at Religion Dispatches which led me to an article by Melissa Harris-Perry in The Nation in which she articulates her view of religion’s place in politics. It makes for interesting reading in light of her response to Cornel West’s criticisms of the President. While she espouses support for the sort of theological views endorsed by Cornel West, she does so in a way that doesn’t commit her to them.
I have dipped in and out of discussions about the proposed community center, Cordoba House/Park51, in Lower Manhattan. All in all, I’m struck by how hollow the discussion feels. It’s either about sweeping political virtues (‘freedom of religion’ or ‘freedom of speech’ or ‘sacred remembrance’ or ‘defending our culture’ or etc.) or narrow personal feelings. The reality of the situation seems hopelessly lost between those two poles.
It’s a combination toxic to healthy society because, without the mediating concrete situation, people tend to either identify more and more intensely with their political position for its own sake, absent its results or they disengage from political activity in general, abandoning the civil sphere to the ideologues.
[4/2/2012: Heavily revised to articulate the argument of this short essay in a more general fashion. Previous version relied over-much on a very narrow discussion of witch hunts going on in the online pagan community.]
One of the difficulties in making sense of the reports of Nigerian witch hunting rests not just on our inability to access the ‘life on the ground,’ but also on the presuppositions we bring to terms like ‘witch hunt.’ For those of us with roots in the European world, we have the cultural baggage of the Enlightenment to deal with as well.
I have a handful of posts in various stages of completion, but then this Wild Hunt post comes up in regards to Nigerian witch hunts. I’m going to put the other posts on hold for a moment and just talk a little about this one. I don’t have anything strong to say, just some thoughts about how the picture is more complicated than it appears.