Saturday, December 10, 2016

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, December 10

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch 

NATIONALISM AND AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY IN A TRUMP ADMINISTRATION


TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY - WHAT IT ISN'T AND WHAT IT MIGHT BE: Chapter Ten from a George Schultz tome called 'Blueprint for America'. Incoming Secretary of Defense Matis is a second author of this chapter on national security( Hoover Institution). This conventional Republican approach to foreign policy is the policy Mr. Trump argued against and defeated in the Republican primary. This Matis chapter is no more an indication of a Trump foreign policy than the Mike Pence stance on Russia in the VP debates. We summarize this because it is a succinct statement of a dominant pattern of thinking in the Republican Senate and House. We summarize it because this is the foreign policy our nation needs to change to put America first and put an end to the interventionism of the globalists:
Their Threat Assessment - A Decline in Management of State System:

  • "Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations, exercising veto authority over the diplomatic, economic, and security interests of nation states in Russia’s “near abroad” and attempting to carve a recidivist sphere of influence that is out of step with modern international practice on sovereignty.
  • China is doing the same, demanding veto authority over the rights of its neighbors in the South China Sea. is behavior follows a classical Chinese “tribute” model that demands deference from “lesser” nations in Beijing’s sphere of interest."

"In the Middle East, two brands of violent jihadists attack the state system using religious affiliation:

  • Sunni brand (Al Qaeda and associated movements) declared war on the West in the 1990s. More recently, ISIS has declared a caliphate, bulldozed the border between Iraq and Syria, and is still winning a war in the geopolitical heart of the Middle East. It is now striking outward, regionally and globally, exactly as it said it would do.
  • Shia brand (Hezbollah, Hamas, and others supported by Iran) declared war on the United States in 1983, arms and trains terrorist organizations, acts as kingmaker in Lebanon, and across the Middle East supports the revolutionary cause it espouses, also challenging state legitimacy. Iranian negotiators have achieved a good outcome from the nuclear talks. e unfortunate aspects of that agreement were a result, in no small part, of the perception that the United States needed a deal more desperately than the Iranians and of the belief among all involved that America would not exercise a military option."

A Ringing Indictment of our Debt: (they have this right for sure)
"Our national debt is the primary determinant of our strategic latitude. No national security strategy is possible if we fail to reduce our debt payments. Seen from a broader perspective, America’s current fiscal situation is our central national security challenge. Our fiscal house is in disarray and we are on an unsustainable spending path. Even if interest rates remain at the current historically low rates, the end of this decade will see us paying more tax dollars to service our debt—interest paid to Riyadh, Moscow, and Beijing—than we have available to fund all of the Defense Department."

Finally, our top allies and priority enemies: "Our strategy must restore strengthened military ties with allies: NATO, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Middle Eastern nations ( Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia)...

Priority challenges we would confront are: Russian belligerence, Chinese activities in the South China Sea, ISIS and Iranian aggressiveness, and drug-gang activity south of our border. Developing specific counterweights to these challenges would dictate the military alliances we develop. These goals would be to use the strength of our military alliances to help create constructive relations with Russia and China; to crush ISIS, Al Qaeda, and their franchises; to checkmate Iran’s mischief; and to secure our borders."
COMMENT ON LIMITS OF THIS ANALYSIS AND HOW PRESIDENT TRUMP MAY CHART A DIFFERENT COURSE: The linkage of all Shia movements to Iranian jihad and the absence of any similar indictment of the Saudis instigating Sunni jihadists is exactly backwards. Our "ally Bahrain" is a Shia population ruled by a Sunni king upheld by the Saudis. The political forms of Shia Islam are not comparable to the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia. Iran has been at war with Israel since 1979, and the US until just recently. Iran's support of Hamas (who are jihadist Sunnis not Shiites) was temporary and part of their state war against the State of Israel. Acts of war between belligerent countries do not constitute the same terrorist threat to world order as the worldwide Wahhabi jihad movement which is set against states and religions not submitting to their caliphate.
The chapter characterizes Iran as the most threatening hegemon in the Mideast. There is no mention of its role as a national bulwark in the Mideast against the Salafist Sunni movement that has given us Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS (not mentioning every jihadist who has struck the US homeland and France, as well as Al-Shabaab in Somalia, the Chechnyan rebels in Russia, and Boko Haram in Nigeria). This is another Washington think-tank report which seems incapable of making crucial religiously-based distinctions at the heart of our conflict.
The “State Management System” which they fear is breaking down is not about nations as much as a dog whistle to globalists and international bureaucrats who use the “rule based system" of international courts and agencies to impose their brave new globalist order against the natural bonds of religion, nation and family.

Regarding Russia and China: these two sovereign countries are treated as criminal nations as they exercise regional authority. These great civilizational nations are going to practice "their own Monroe Doctrines." We should seek a concert of great powers with them and acknowledge their important dominant roles in their own regions. This is in fundamental opposition to the encircling "balancing of allies" strategy we have employed for decades. Mr. Trump will talk tough to China on trade but he will be much more respectful to them as a great nation. President Trump will not be organizing coalitions of "the little guys" who harass their bigger neighbors and then come hide under the American shield. Hopefully President Trump and a strong Secretary of State will know how to approach the leaders of large nations ("the big guys”) as respectful partners in forging a stable peace as a concert of powers.



The alliances in this region are changing as we speak. Of special note is Egypt’s growing acceptance of the Assad-Russia alliance. Egypt and Jordan are the most important Sunni Arab allies needed in a new formulation of Mideast policy. They are both more reliable to Israel than the Saudis. Neither of them has participated in an assault on our homeland. Mr Trump’s proposed alliance with Russia will place him in a unique position to consolidate these new alliances. This will allow a way out for the Israelis from their once necessary, but now deadly, embrace of the Saudis. If the US could bring an end to the Israel-Iran war and renounce any intention of breaking Israel into two states, an utterly different paradigm would be presented for the Arab nations to relate to. This would allow Sunni Arabs to consolidate themselves in the national forms best suited to submit to the will of God and  eradicate the demonic Wahhabi ideology from their Holy Cities. (See a new strategy).


NIALL FERGUSON, BRITAIN’S BEST HISTORIAN ON KISSINGER, TRUMP, AND WORLD ORDER: An excellent summary of Kissinger insights on goals in China relation. It is unfortunate that, in the televised interview with Fareed Zakaria and Kissinger, that these notions were not better discussed. Mr Zakaria was so intent on besmirching President-elect Trump that he sabotaged his own interview. Kissinger was clearly annoyed with his host’s immaturity. Above all for Kissinger, he does not want America to contest China’s role in its own region. Republican hawks have never understood China like Mr Kissinger. The Thucydides Trap is the tendency of a dominant power to go to war with a regional ascending power. Kissinger is right to warn that this be avoided. For too many US war hawks, a clash with China is inevitable. Thus we should prepare and initiate when most advantageous. The linked article shows the advantage of employing a few historians to balance the female careerists and "principled conservatives" who have formulated our State Department policy for a generation. Since the end of WWII, mainland China and the government of Taiwan have said there is one China. Each laid claim to be the legitimate ruler. When Nixon went to China, we withdrew recognition of Taiwan as the representative of China, and Mao’s government took their place at the UN. The US no longer recognized the Taiwan government as the ruler of China nor as deserving a representative in the UN. The US trades arms with Taiwan, and lets China know we would resist the use of force to unite the country. There is a substantial movement in Taiwan to be considered an independent country. The US has never agreed to support independence.

McCAIN AND GRAHAM SEEK TO PROTECT SAUDIS FROM 9/11 FAMILIES: The Senate odd couple from Saudi Arabia have obfuscated the foreign policy about the source of 9/11 terrorism for over a decade. A new debate is emerging. A McCain connection to the Saudis. One of the great travesties of our debased foreign policy has been the role of John McCain as the temperamental veteran so ready for war, and yet so void of culturally informed strategic thinking.

GENERAL MATIS AT DEFENSEA profile.



WHY KEEP THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE (from another source): There are 3,141 counties in the United States. Trump won 3,084 of them. Clinton won 57. There are 62 counties in New York State. Trump won 46 of them. Clinton won 16. Clinton won the popular vote by approx. 1.5 million votes. In the 5 counties that encompass NYC -- Bronx, Brooklyn (Kings), Manhattan (New York), Staten Island (Richmond) & Queens -- Clinton received well over 2 million more votes than Trump. (Clinton only won 4 of these counties; Trump won Richmond). Therefore these 5 counties more than accounted for Clinton winning the popular vote of the entire country. These 5 counties comprise 319 square miles. The United States is comprised of 3,797,000 square miles.

IN FRANCE, CATHOLIC FILLON AND NATIONALIST LE PEN - NO LEFT-WINGERS IN SIGHT:  Fred Siegel of City Journal on the strange reconfiguration in the upcoming French election.

ITALY'S DEC 4 VOTE COULD LEAD IT TO REESTABLISH ITS NATIONAL CURRENCY (THE LIRA) AND ABANDON THE EURO - THIS FUNDAMENTAL ASSERTION OF NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY WOULD BE MUCH MORE CONSEQUENTIAL  THAN BREXIT. THE BRITS NEVER ADOPTED THE EURO CURRENCYThis written before the no vote, but a good explanation of what may follow the resignation of the Prime Minister.



BALTIC STATES: RELIGION AND ETHNICITY: "Catholics make up about 78 per cent of Lithuania’s 3 million inhabitants, compared to about 20 per cent in Latvia (pop 2mill) and less than 1 per cent in Estonia (pop 1.3mill). Latvia and Estonia were once 80% Lutheran. The atheistic Nazi and Soviet regimes helped reduce the Protestants to 30% (Latvia) and 10% (Estonia) today. All three Baltic States are home to Russian minorities: 6 per cent in Lithuania, 26 per cent in Latvia and 25 per cent in Estonia. Latvia has barred Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and at least one prominent Orthodox priest from entering the country."
"Lithuanian Archbishop Gintaras Grusas said citizens are anxious about military threats from neighbouring Russia but said support from Europe and the United States helped calm those fears. The US-born archbishop, president of the Lithuanian bishops’ conference, told Catholic News Service, 'The old Soviet empire mentality is still alive, and there are many in Russia who consider the three Baltic states part of that empire.' "

THOSE QUOTATIONS ARE FROM CATHOLIC HERALD IN THE UK: Is there some irony that the head of Lithuania Church being quoted about Russian threats is an American? Is there any suggestion that it might be a violation of religious liberty to keep the spiritual head (the Russian Patriarch) of 15% of Latvia's citizens out of their own country? Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia -- the Baltic States where religion, ethnicity, and nations intersect in a dangerous neighborhood. Pay special attention to Latvia and Estonia with their Orthodox minorities and 1/4 Russian-ethnic populations.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Friday BookReview: five painters of early America



From a review by Frank Freeman about Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution Through Painters' Eyes :



Paul Staiti, a fine arts professor at Mount Holyoke College, has written a book about five painters who juggled the demands of art and the demands of history during the American Revolution and afterward.

Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) was an apolitical, erratic genius from Rhode Island. Stuart was the most talented artist of the five, "the master artist of the early republic." He went to London, spent time with Benjamin West and John Trumbull, then returned to America with his creditors in hot pursuit. He drank too much, bathed too infrequently, was a felon who often never finished paintings he had been paid for, and sold commissions to other painters. Of course, everybody loved him. Stuart forged his artistic bond with George Washington. His portrait of the first president resides on the one dollar bill.



Archbishop John Carroll by Gilbert STUART
(our country's first Catholic bishop)




                                               
The artist John Trumbull by Gilbert STUART


Connecticut-born John Trumbull (1756-1843) was a man who fought in the Revolution and witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill. Because of perceived slights from Congress, he resigned his commission and devoted himself to painting. He went to London to study with Benjamin West, but also conspired to smuggle money and supplies to America, for which he was imprisoned. Edmund Burke, among notable others, secured his release from jail. Just as John Copley associated with John Adams, Trumbull associated with Jefferson, especially in Paris. If John Adams was a rigid and unimaginative man, Jefferson was creative and brilliant—although he is also depicted as cruel and manipulative.

... John Trumbull returned to America and, after a long series of unfinished projects, was able to practically single-handedly convince Congress to commission four huge paintings to be exhibited in the Capitol rotunda. Fortunately, during the Civil War Trumbull’s rotunda paintings were covered with canvas to prevent likely damage during the war. Such damage, Staiti writes, “would have been a tragic loss.”


                     
Alexander Hamilton by John TRUMBULL



                           
Battle of Bunker Hill by John TRUMBULL


John Singleton Copley (1738-1815), began his career in Boston and, like Benjamin West, ended up in London. Beer drinkers are unwittingly familiar with Copley’s painting of Samuel Adams. Copley is also famous for Watson and the Shark (1778) and for his portrait of Samuel Adams’ cousin, John Adams (1783), a portrait that Adams commissioned while seething with envy about the popularity of Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson.

   
"Watson and the Shark" by John Singleton COPLEY

               
by John Singleton COPLEY



Benjamin West (1738-1820) of Pennsylvania never knew the trauma of war firsthand. With the help of patrons, he traveled to Europe while relatively young and settled in London, where he eventually became “court painter to King George III, who was both his friend and benefactor.” Incredibly, West supported the Revolution. “Given West’s Patriot Sympathies,” Staiti writes, “emerging unscathed from the Revolution was a political high-wire act of the first order.”

[As a child of an innkeeper's large family, some Indians taught him how to make paint from riverbank clay mixed with bear grease in a pot!]




Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin WEST

                     
"William Penn's Treaty with the Indians" by Benjamin WEST


Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) was a native of Maryland who apprenticed as a saddle-maker and then decided to learn to paint to earn more money. He did well studying with West... and then returned to an America embroiled in the Revolution. Peale fought with George Washington’s forces in 1776 along the Delaware—fought but also painted portraits of Washington as the war continued.

Peale’s Dante-esque description of war in the winter of 1776 is one of the most moving passages in the book.

In the middle of the nightmare scene Peale encountered a frightening stranger. “A man staggered out of the line and came toward me. He had lost all his clothes. He was in an old dirty blanket jacket, his beard long and his face full of sores … which so disfigured him that he was not known by me on first sight.” In few moments he realized who it was. “Only when he spoke did I recognize my brother James.” Ensign James Peale had escaped from New York [which the British had taken], staggered into Washington’s encampment, and then into the arms of his brother.

                         
Thomas Jefferson by Charles Willson PEALE



                                 
Nathanael Greene by Charles Willson PEALE
(the Quaker who became Gen. Washington's ablest officer)


Professor Staiti writes: "Unlike European states that could rely on ethnic bloodlines, class kinship, monarchic paternalism, and age-old systems of patronage to help people understand who they were, where they came from, and how they figured into the nation, America, with its fluid classes, immigrant influxes, unruly habits, individual rights, mixed histories, and differing religious, moral, political, social, and racial character, needed a single event—the Revolution—to create the bonds that might tie citizens to each other."

This book illustrates that chaotic process through five painters who captured it on canvas for posterity, for us.
                                        

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dec 8th -- IMMACULATE CONCEPTION: She who is the greatest instrument of the Holy Spirit


[first published December 8, 2013]



In a pure act of mercy and grace God called Mary into existence free of original sin  to be the new Eve. This truth was long held by Christians, but formally acknowledged by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

Amidst these years of too many corrupted churchmen, it is no coincidence that the two infallibly declared papal dogmas of the last two centuries  define the spotless beginning and the incorruptible end of Mary’s life when she shattered the ultimate glass ceiling. These truths remind us that at her core the Apostolic Church is Marian, and she hath not sinned. It is a singular gift to the Catholic imagination that we have a feminine beauty to inspire our poems, our songs, and our prayers. Her ever-pure life cleanses the mind that contemplates her.  


"Mary Immaculate, star of the morning,
  Chosen before the creation began,
Chosen to bring in the light of thy dawning,
  Woe to the serpent and rescue to man.

Here, in this world of both shadow and sadness
  Veiling thy splendour, thy course hast thou run:
Now thou art throned in all glory and gladness,
  Crowned by the hand of thy Saviour and Son.

Sinners, we worship thy sinless perfection;
  Fallen and weak, for thy pity we plead:
Grant us the shield of thy sov’reign protection,
  Measure thine aid by the depth of our need.

Bend from thy throne at the voice of our crying,
  Bend to this earth which thy footsteps have trod:
Stretch out thine arms to us, living and dying,
  Mary Immaculate, Mother of God."
                                                     



                       

On this feast of the Immaculate Conception, here is part of a prayer by Saint Maximilian Kolbe:
O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you…
For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
V. Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin. 
R. Give me strength against your enemies.
Amen.

                                             
Father Kolbe organized his spiritual Militia in fealty to her who "cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array" (Song 6:9).



Ponder this prayer that Pope Francis wrote to the Immaculata:

"O Mary, our mother,
today the People of God feast in hailing you as Immaculate,
preserved forever from the contagion of sin.
Receive the homage I offer you in the name of the Church
that is in Rome and across the whole world.

To know that you, who are our Mother, are totally free from sin
gives us great comfort.
To know that, over you, evil has no power, renews our hope and strength
in the daily struggle that we must undertake
against the threats of the evil one.

But in this fight we're not alone, we are not orphans, because Jesus,
before dying on the cross,
gave you to us as our Mother.
We, then, while being sinners, are your children,
sons and daughters of the Immaculate one,
called to that holiness which shines in you from the beginning by God's grace.

Enlivened by this hope,
we today seek your motherly protection for us,
for our families, for this city, for the entire world.
May the power of God's love, which preserved you from original sin,
through your intercession, free all humanity from every spiritual and material slavery,
and make victorious, in our hearts and in events, the design of the salvation of God.

Make it so for us, your children, that grace might prevail over pride
and that we might become merciful
as our heavenly Father is merciful.
In this time that leads us to the feast of the Birthday of Jesus,
teach us to go against the current:
to strip ourselves, to lower ourselves, to give of ourselves;
to listen, to be quiet, to focus away from ourselves,
so to make space for the beauty of God, the source of true joy.

O our Immaculate Mother, pray for us!"



UPDATE -- It is on this day in 2015 that the Holy Father is instituting a Year of Mercy:
"I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center. It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord’s words: 'Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (cf. Lk 6:36).' "

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"The Navy is not going to be caught napping"


Today is the 75th anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor. 

"The Navy is not going to be caught napping," the secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, had promised a mere three days earlier. The Japanese attack—boldly conceived, assiduously plotted and rehearsed, shamelessly perfidious—torpedoed not only battleships, but American complacency. 
Japan’s great victory, however, was a catastrophic miscalculation. Never since have Americans been so collectively aroused, ignited and determined. The empire’s doom was assured even before the attacking aircraft had returned to their carriers 200 miles north of Oahu. Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the commander in chief of the Japanese fleet and architect of the attack, feared as much. If ordered to go to war with America, he had warned, "I can guarantee to put up a tough fight for the first six months, but I have absolutely no confidence as to what would happen if it went on for two or three years."

(From an essay by Robert Garnett, a professor at Gettysburg College).






UPDATE -- Someone else pointed out this interesting fact:
"In an ironic twist of history, the Japanese employed the exact same surprise tactic [in an earlier war]. They launched a raid on the Russian fleet moored outside Port Arthur in Manchuria in 1904, kicking off the bloody Russo-Japanese War."


Chinese fishermen and their cormorant birds

                                                                                 


Before coming across these pictures, I was not aware of the ancient Asian technique of employing birds to catch fish.

Take a look at this short video that explains the dying art.




This article gives further explanations, as well as clear proof that cormorants are not minnow-chasers.




Another stunning photograph of the early-morning fishermen.





UPDATE: Falconry has also been a manly sport for centuries.

Among the most interesting of the 40 falcon species are the peregrines --
which can dive-bomb their prey at 200 mph!


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Catholic Sociobiology -- The Solidarity of Shared Classifications: Emile Durkheim and Mary Douglas


[first published May 31, 2016]


by Dr. David Pence


                       



 Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) was a Jewish French scholar who is considered the Father of Sociology. Mary Douglas (1921-2007) was a Catholic British anthropologist who was one of his most eloquent interpreters.   

Durkheim was not a believer, but he revolutionized the sociology of religion (The Elementary Forms of Religious Life) and is considered the pioneer of  studies concerning the sociology of knowledge (Primitive Classification with Mauss). Dame Douglas was a practicing Catholic all her life, and that allowed her entry into the communal form that both scholars wrote about so well. When asked how she could be both a Catholic and an anthropologist she responded, "Let me start by saying I find that an incredibly ignorant question." Her first important work was Purity and Danger. Though she described it as "obscure, intuitive and ill-prepared," it won her a place in the world of sociology. In that book she explained how all societies (not just the primitives) establish taboos -- which protect a sacred ordering of reality, and threaten danger if the purity codes are transgressed. Her most eloquent work, How Institutions Think, was "a coherent argument about the social control of cognition." She began that work noting "the hostility that greeted Emile Durkheim and Durkheimians when they talked about social groups or institutions as if they were individuals. The very idea of a suprapersonal cognitive system stirs a deep sense of rage. An individual that encompasses thinking humans is considered to be a nasty totalitarian type…" This rage was especially expressed in the influential anti-religious The Authoritarian Personality (1950) by another sociologist, Theodore Adorno.

Both Durkheim and Douglas accepted religion as a fundamental social reality, which organizes the attention structure, and intellectual classifications, which dictate how members of the religion or social group think and act. Douglas was indebted to Durkheim, who she wrote "was convinced that the Benthamite model by which a social order is produced automatically out of the self-interested actions of rational individuals was too limited because it gave no explanation of group solidarity."

Durkheim’s first task in the scientific empiricist intellectual milieu of his time was to convince scholars and thinkers to respect "religion as grounded in the nature of things." His fieldwork was with aboriginal tribes in Australia. His definitions: 
"Religion is a unified system of belief and practices relative to sacred things -- that is to say, things set apart and forbidden -- beliefs and practices which unite into one moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them."   
"Religious beliefs display a common feature: a classification of real or ideal things into two classes -- two domains -- one containing all that is sacred and one containing all that is profane. The sacred and profane are always conceived by the human intellect as separate genera. In the history of human thought, there is no other example of two categories of things as profoundly differentiated, as radically opposed to one another. Sacred things are protected and isolated by prohibitions. Religious beliefs are those representations that express the nature of sacred things and the relations they have with other sacred things or with profane things. Rites are rules of conduct that prescribe how man is to conduct himself with sacred things." 
Above all, Durkheim saw religion as a social reality. If a religion were "morally dense," its classification systems, prohibitions and commandments would be internalized by members of the group. Religious sensibility tied a man to his group and nature in a very particular way. It offered to the individual not just random thoughts and vocabulary words but classifications -- time, space, person, causality, matter and spirit. These classifications are deeply rooted in the nature of things and allow the child born into such a system a clear path to enter into a shared community capable of describing reality. He saw creeds and beliefs as shared representations of reality. He argued that men couldn’t really have a serious meeting of the minds if they do not agree on fundamental categories like space, time, and causality. These categories are not discovered by each man but bequeathed by the social group in the structure of language and religious practice. 

"Society is a reality, sui generis; it has its own characteristics that are either not found in the rest of the universe or are not found there in the same form. The representations that express society therefore have an all-together different content from the purely individual representations and one can be certain in advance that the former add something to the latter. Collective representations are the product of an immense cooperation that extends not only through space but also through time; to make them, a multitude of different minds have associated, intermixed and combined their ideas and feelings; long generations have accumulated their experience and knowledge. A very special intellectuality that is infinitely richer and more complex than that of the individual is distilled in them." 

Mary Douglas wrote of Durkheim:
"He harped always on one theme, the loss of classificatory solidarity. He deplored its irreplaceability and the crisis of individual identity that followed from the absence of strong, supporting, publically shared and privately internalized classifications. He taught that publically standardized ideas (collective representations) constitute social order. He recognized that the hold they have upon the individual varies in strength. Calling it moral density, he tried to measure its strength and to assess the effect of its weakness."  

                                                   

Durkheim turned the empiricist individualistic thinking on its head with his short book Suicide. He did a methodological study of that horrible, most individualistic, act and interpreted it in terms of loss of social cohesion. It was a pioneering work in sociology in terms of studying and interpreting a particular social phenomenon in terms of societal context. He found Protestants more than Catholics, men more than women, the unmarried more than married as likely to commit suicide. He also discussed what he called 'anomic suicide' affecting people who have lost their place in the social order during times of upheaval. The breakdown of religious adherence, national identity, and a defined role in the division of labor could all exacerbate the anomic’s confusion and loss of social place. Historical eras in which social changes led to a loss of social solidarity, clear identities, and status would have more suicides. 

In Durkheim’s work there is an abiding respect for the collective social systems transmitted through time, which have allowed generations to survive and reproduce. He respected the rabbis of his ancestors with all their prohibitions more than the pompous university student ready to explain away the collective consciousness in an arrogant display of individualism. But Durkheim is no Rudolf Otto (The Idea of the Holy). He does not acknowledge the numinous experience of the Holy, which created that fundamental category of the sacred. He knew something was real in religious ritual, but contended it was the shared emotional experience which solidified group solidarity. This is what Arab Muslims call Asabiyyah -- the group feeling of social cohesion. While Durkheim did not don his kippah (skullcap) in submission to G-d, he recognized the power of Asabiyyah and he knew it was more than the sum of individuals in congregation. His recognition of "classificatory solidarity" certainly influenced the work of Philip Rieff who lamented the Freudian therapeutic personality replacing the internalized character of the religiously sanctioned soul. Durkheim has articulated a more convincing set of arguments for both the Christian religion and American nation than most theologians and political theorists. He has recognized the "suprapersonal cognitive system" though he could not see the Divine Persons at its heart. Let us heed his wisdom. 

(NEXT WEEK: A conclusion on Mary Douglas)

Monday, December 5, 2016