You may not like what he says, you may not agree with his conclusions, but his thinking and his writing are so broad, rich, and in-depth that all but the most iconoclastic, the most radicalized, is forced to consider his perspectives.
“The three were kidnapped at gunpoint at the American Atheist headquarters in Austin, Texas on a Sunday afternoon…They all thought they were going to live once the ransom money was delivered. It didn’t turn out that way.”
“I do not think it appropriate to teach non-science in a biology class – especially non-science that is really a form of literalist Christianity in disguise. Even if it were appropriate, I would not want the kind of conservative evangelical religion taught, that I think ID represents. But it is not appropriate and in the US is illegal.”
“Helen Duncan is my favorite. Huge, chain-smoking woman who used to swoon and occasionally pee herself in the frenzy of spirit possession. Helen had the scientists stumped. She’d produce ectoplasm … even though the researchers had frisked her and done a cavity search prior to her entering the séance chamber. Turned out she was a talented regurgitator.”
“The issue that animated his life and his thought was that of religious intolerance. The Jews who excommunicated him at the tender age of 23 had themselves been victims of a prolonged, horrific exercise in both religious (as well as racial) intolerance. Spinoza uses this history of suffering to reason his way into uncompromising universalism, an outlook that reduces all the contingencies of birth–our religion and race and, by extension, our nationality, gender, sexual orientation–to details of no significance whatsoever in the real process of self-fulfillment.”
“This means that we are a people who now live in that shadow world of quasi-existence. What matters to us is not necessarily what is real, but what is possible given the state of things. This is a big change, and constitutes a fundamental shift in the way we understand the world.”
“You clear me? I clear you? It’s not hypnotism, if that’s what scares you. You’re fully conscious. You merely learn how to scan your tapes. Then you’ll be getting full recalls in real time. Visio, sonic, tactilic, and olofactoric. Kinesthetic — which is weight and motion. Somatic — that’s pain. Thermic and organic — your insides. In Dianetics, organic is also emotive. The fact is, you don’t cry because you’re sad. You’re sad because you’re crying. Emotion is physical, not mental like that spooky Freudian stuff.”
The Book of Job and a central section of the Indian epic Mahabharata present interesting perspectives on some timeless questions.
To sum up in a phrase the true and deepest character of Lawrence’s genius, it was given by his close friend Aldous Huxley in an introduction to the first collected letters shortly after his death: he was a mystical materialist. And thereon hangs the tale I shall unfold.
To look at one of the treasures on display in this wonderful exhibit, the Kennicott Bible, is to view an example of the shared heritage of Jews, Christians and Muslims. This is the key note of Crossing Borders. The Kennicott Bible and the other stunning, hand-written works on display show the “cross-pollination” of art and ideas among the cultured elites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam during the Middle Ages. More to the point, it is a testament to the shared devotion of these three faiths to the same God.
As Barnstone notes in his introduction, Aramaic has verse forms that are difficult to render in Western languages like Greek, Latin and eventually English. The Gospels, the “Good News” of Jesus, were written down and shared with the rest of the world in prose, not poetry. A vital link to the actual words of Jesus was lost.
The Metropolitan Museum exhibition charts the fascinating, if complex, process of cultural transformation that took place throughout the Middle East during the seventh to ninth centuries. For all of the thrust-and-parry military campaigns that took place, a spirit of mutual accommodation often characterized relations between the Byzantine Empire and the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates that governed the Islamic world for much of the Middle Ages.