On Mother Theresa again: "Unfaith"

(Hat tip to C4 for the coverage He’s got all the links you’d ever need or want…and more possibly).

I’m loathe in a sense to bring this up again because it doesn’t matter a whit obviously for Theresa. She is wherever she is. It matters (I guess) only for us, which ought to be remembered in all this commentary (mine included)–how self-centered this whole thing can easily become.

None of it in a sense matters, so therefore I’ll just dive in knowing that Theresa, God, whatever is going to be whatever it/they/we are.

That said, it does matter relatively. At least when moronic de-humanizing screeds abound–they have to be combatted.

C4 has the links for the usual cast of characters–Hitchens, Dawkins, etc. But Sam Harris has weighed in too, which is a shame. He’s better than those guys. He knows more, has had more intimate experience of meditation and should not so easily dismiss inner turmoil to score a cheap, short-term victory against religion. He doesn’t realize his own criticisms undermine his own project for a science of contemplation.

A little known Christian (non)mystic by the name of Hadewijch comes to mind (nondual realizers in my books actually transcend the divide between mystics and “regular” people). H was a 12/13th c. Dutch woman. Not a nun important to note, but a member of the Beguines.

In my previous ramblings on this issue, I discussed more the Christian phenomenological map and noted that Theresa may have suffered unnecessarily because of certain subtle attachments to high mystical realms.

Hadewijch adds a key element in this regard—the notion of “unfaith” (her term in translation). Unfaith was not atheism. This is the first and most important point. When you understand experientially what Hadewijch meant by “unfaith”, you will see how flat, pathetic Hitchens and New Atheist Crew are. Atheism is just the flip side of weakly developed theism.

In other words, atheism/theism are both of the relative world. Where all questions eventually get reduced to something like: Is the universe for or against us (or neutral?)?

For Hadewijch that question was inquiry, was to be faced through not every solved (dis-solved). Unfaith was the point at which one faced finally into the awful reality of all relativity but has not yet awakened to the Absolute.

A person has gone through all the previous stages: subtle union with God, the Witness, Causal Darkness. Visions perhaps. Lack of visions. Dark nights. Ecstasy, suffering. Whatever.

At some point the individual realizes that all of this have still left him/her ultimately at the core un-happy, confused, and searching. One must realize that all of these are changes of condition/state. And that (from the Ultimate pov) all such changes/conditions are ultimately unfulfilling. For they come, arise, decay and pass. Including union with God. Which Theresa of Calcultta seemed never to understand/accept. She was going through the natural cycle of decay/death of her soul and its union with God.

Unfaith Hadewijch boldly proclaimed comes next. One simply sits and lets all thoughts/feeling arise and faces the great existential questions and all of one’s assumptions/positions through this burning fire. (Usually located in the right-causal heart).

You have to face the bigiges: God and the Devil (let them pass/choose no side). Heaven and hell. Good or evil. Theism and atheism.

Choose no side. See that all are relative.

Unfaith is not the opposite of faith but rather the suspension of the faculty that determines faith or lack of faith.

Alternatively, it could be the realization that all such positions (atheism and theism, life is meaningful vs. life is meaningless) are faith. Unfaith is the natural relative counterbalance to faith.

After awakening, there is neither faith nor unfaith.

Theresa, I would guess, never went into this realm of unfaith. And as one smart commenter noted, this could be attributed in part to the fact of her being in charge of the Missionaries of Charity.

Hadewijch was not a nun. She had no superior. She was not in the public eye. She was able to isolate herself for awhile to experience her “unfaith” time. And also to readjust after her awakening to the Nondual. [What Bernadette Roberts called the God Awful moment, a 2nd Incarnation—-entering the marketplace with open hands in the Zen Oxherding Pictures].

Theresa was sadly not afforded those life conditions. Whether God wanted it so or not, is not for me to decide. It is a difficult choice to make, when all the information is not out there. Talking about God’s will without any mention of the institutional and theological obstructions/obstacles and ignorance/repression of the truth seems fairly sterile and empty to me.

If Theresa had gone to unfaith she would have had to face the possibility that the entire order was just relative. Was locked into the wheel. This is a tough place to go because it is a knife’s edge. Thinner than the razor you are preached upon. I know from experience.

It is hard, for someone raised to love and sacrifice, to face the possibility that I/you/we have never really loved (from the Absolute pov), have never really sacrificed.

In Unfaith there is the deep anxiety that on the far side of Awakening, you will no longer care. I’m sure that partly explains Theresa’s existential dilemma. God had fled from her inner life but was seen everywhere in her outer life. But outer/inner are themselves just another version of the same basic duality.

Published in: on August 31, 2007 at 8:34 am  Comments (3)  

shadow 101

Been thinking of late about the unconscious. About psychology in general I suppose.

Archetypally you have the Freudians and the Reichians. Freud–especially through Neo-Freudianism championed by his daughter Anna–thought the unconscious should be made conscious and then controlled. “Integration” often was a mask for Freud’s (admitted) bourgeoise conservative European values. [Btw, Anna Freud was a lesbian who because of such values hated her own sexuality and was essentially frigid her whole life]. Cognitive therapies, script therapies, voice dialogue(?) are in this general vein.

Reich, originally a disciple of Freud, then later a breakaway heretic, argued that the unconscious should be expressed, its native wildness not tamed by Freudianism. Much of the Human Potential Movement stems from Reich.

[The terms of the debate I think are a little wonky given that both Freud and Reich shared the same over-emphasis on the uber-nature of libido/sexuality. Both save civilization (either for good or bad) too much as simply a store of repressed/sublimated sexuality.]

Continue Reading

A third axis, I suppose, is the Jungian one: that the unconscious is symbolic images/stories of the collective unconscious. The mytho-poetic, the hero journey, all these flow from the Jungian premise.

And perhaps a fourth–body, bioenergy, therapies. The concept of the bodyego is one I’ve been playing with. That the body (bioenergy/prana/lifeforce) has its own as it were center of gravity (body consciousness, not literal physical center, although they may be related). If so, then the bodyego would have a body-unconscious. And this to me seems to be (correctly) the working assumption of body therapies. Somewhat similar to Reichians, but still I think different enough to merit a separate category.

Which just then puts the Freud-Reich question back another layer: is the body-unconscious to be more “integrated”/controlled or expressed? Clear both have a role. Too much Freudianism becomes Anna Freud. Becomes mental control and therapies built around patching people up so they can be sent back to the workforce and be good worker bees. Too much Reichianism–the danger is regression not repression. Many of the expressed elements of the unconscious are immature, self-centered, destructive forces that should be (a la Freud) held in check. Others aren’t. And even some of the immature, self-centered stuff should be expressed but in safer environments (my Freudian streaks now showing, so say the Reichians).

Of these (admittedly too general) four major camps, I’m more drawn to the body realm at this point of my life. I still read Jung and find him fascinating, but I’m not in any way looking to heal my archetypes. I bring this up in my continued thread around self-esteem, becoming more process-attentive and creative. I’ve worked hard in my life on the mental and the spiritual aspects, but not as much in the emotional. I feel like the Freudian/Reichian split is still too cognitive—again express or not express the unconscious but the unconscious depicted in a more cognitive-ish light. Even when describing say libido, still very cognitive. Not wrong, but not really seeming to get at what I’m after at this point (meaning perhaps what those schools do point to in some fashion or another I’ve touched).

The difficulty, for one, is language/mapping. The body/bioprana stuff recalls a Great Chain (matter, body, mind, soul, spirit). Whereas, in post-metaphysical writings, body/matter is not the lower two rungs (as such) but the exterior correlates (the “without”) of all interiors (the “within”).

So there is a matter-matter and a body-matter and a mental-matter, soul-matter, and spirit-matter, as it were.

So there would be a hierarchy of body therapies depending on the differing levels of the body/matter. And how all of that relates to the emotional line, which seems to be really somehow intimately linked. Huge room for growth in this area.

Published in: on August 31, 2007 at 8:03 am  Comments (2)  

Meet the Iraq War

On Meet the Press this past Sunday, Russert led a roundtable with Thomas Ricks, Richard Engel (one of the few Western reporters to speak Arabic and live in the Middle East), and Michael Gordon.

Ricks says that, like all Shakespeare’s tragedies, there are 5 Acts. And Iraq has not yet reached Act IV.

Act I: Invasion
Act II: Post Saddam (Purple Fingers, CPA, Bremer, Insurgency, Casey-forward base mode)
Act III: Petraeus and Surge
Act IV: Post-surge (Baker-hamilton?)
Act V: Post US effect on the Middle East/region.

Ricks believes that Bush will draw one brigade (5,000 troops) per month from March through October of next year. That will then leave the US force back to its pre-surge levels (circa 130,000). Bush will then keep the troops I believe in surge-lite mode. Will continue the Petraeus strategy of embedding, counter-insurgency, and so-called national reconciliation.

I think only the next US president will start Act IV. Unless the Senate Republicans and the Senate Democrats agree to legislate Baker-Hamilton as the Law and force a constitutional crisis. But Reid will want timetables and the Republicans I think would ultimately punt on such a situation.

I think therefore we are looking at another 5-10 years in Iraq. This is why commentators were pointing out that the surge was not so much a surge as an escalation and further entrenching of the military in Iraq.

But as Ricks points out, all discussion should start from realization that there are no good options and every option has major dark sides that could be exploited.

Whether Bush, legislated, or the next (Dem?) Prez, if a Baker-Hamilton like position is adopted, Act IV will basically be (in Ricks’ words) about 3 NOs: No Genocide; No Regional Conflict; No Safe haven for Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

And as Ricks contends that strategy will be as equally unwinnable (another Fiasco) as the current one was. For Ricks, the two most likely outcomes are the breaking up of Iraq and/or control by Sadr. But neither of those will end the violence only opening up a new phase (possibly more violent).

Moving back to bases and training/advising, fighting al-Qaeda will give space for an explosion of the civil wars. More Shia death squads, bodies on the street in the morning. So that policy doesn’t work. Even a soft-partition only reduces some kinds of violence. Moving back to bases will lead to massacres/genocides.

Engel points out that Iraq will probably not just break up into three but probably something more like 5 fiefdoms. A major Shia civil war will take place between Sadr and SIIC/Hakim. Engel is also right that Maliki’s gov’t will fall. Not a question of if but when. And Engel predics (correctly I bet) that a series of gov’ts will rise and fall.

Engel basically calls for a dictator/strongman. He thinks new elections should be called (don’t know if that is a good idea). Provincial elections which the Sunnis didn’t participate in, giving the Shia disproportionate power at the provincial levels. And the US soldiers will not be happy with the return to the base model.

[Gordon adds nothing really other than the administration/military line. How local reconciliation is happeing, how the Sunni tribesman model could be a model for other groups across the country. How that would work is never explained.]

The hardline right (Hewitts of the world) are already lining up their narrative that if and when the Dems begin Act IV and the violence rises (as it will and must), that this is Vietnam all over again. The “stab in the back” from the Democratic Congress that lost the war which we were just on the verge of winning.

To combat that will require more than saying Bush got us in, Bush screwed up the post-invasion, etc. They will have to attack not the surge but the strategy of a central government. And not just criticizing al-Maliki. Levin and Clinton are too stupid to realize this won’t matter and stop the Hewitt line.

Change the rules of the game. Admit that no matter what violence will occur. Admit that there are no good options left, instead of scoring cheap political points on Maliki or Bush.

Published in: on August 28, 2007 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Comment on Radical Middle

How’s this one for postmodern self-referentialism? Mark Satin has excerpted a piece from this blog regarding his article on immigration. So I’m linking (here) something that I’ve already written on this blog. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see it. I’m linking to him linking back to me. Weird world.

Published in: on August 28, 2007 at 10:06 pm  Leave a Comment  


In Ohio, visiting my family (and going to the Bengals-Colts preseason game Friday!!!) for the week. Expect blogging to be a little lighter. It’s 1 am right now for example.

Published in: on August 28, 2007 at 10:03 pm  Comments (1)  

9 to 10 years

As John Robb says, kudos to the genius of the PR campaign by Petraeus and crew.

But the military presentations left her stunned. Schakowsky said she jotted down Petraeus’s words in a small white notebook she had brought along to record her impressions. Her neat, looping handwriting filled page after page, and she flipped through to find the Petraeus section. ” ‘We will be in Iraq in some way for nine to 10 years,’ ” Schakowsky read carefully. She had added her own translation: “Keep the train running for a few months, and then stretch it out. Just enough progress to justify more time.”

“I felt that was a stretch and really part of a PR strategy — just like the PR strategy that initially led up to the war in the first place,” Schakowsky said. Petraeus, she said, “acknowledged that if the policymakers decide that we need to withdraw, that, you know, that’s what he would have to do. But he felt that in order to win, we’d have to be there nine or 10 years.”

  blog it

Published in: on August 25, 2007 at 6:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

"Sanctuary Cities"

Good piece by Ron Brownstein.

Looks like Romney is pushing for this issue to be the Gay Marriage Equivalent of 2004 in 2008.

clipped from www.latimes.com
His criticism draws on a legitimate concern: After 9/11, the nation has a greater incentive to identify everyone inside its borders, either legally or illegally. But turning city workers into immigration snoops won’t advance that goal.

If a mayor announces that he will check people’s papers at police stations, school admission offices and emergency rooms, illegal immigrants are unlikely to line up in those places to be discovered and deported. They are more likely to abandon those services — with dangerous consequences for all city residents.

Some cities, by condemning federal immigration raids, have carried the “don’t ask, don’t tell” impulse to excess. But Romney has overreached too with his threats against “sanctuary cities” like New York (and presumably Los Angeles). Romney’s aides won’t say what New York should have done differently in its policy toward illegal immigrants. Maybe that’s because the city, like many others, chose the most practical response available.

  blog it

Published in: on August 25, 2007 at 6:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Breakdown Iraq

National–>Tribal (LL)
Industrial–>Pre-industrial (LR)

clipped from www.msnbc.msn.com

While security is returning to some areas of Baghdad, modern conveniences aren’t necessarily following. The Iraqi capital is no longer the place described in the old guidebooks, a metropolis of casinos, culture and Western-run hotel chains, although vestiges of that city can still beĀ  found. Instead, unceasing violence has thrust Baghdad back to a more primitive era, forcing its people to take up pre-industrial occupations and rediscover almost forgotten technologies. The collapse of municipal water services has revived the profession of well-digging, especially in the Green Zone, where foreign diplomats are reluctant to give up their flush toilets and showers. Donkey and horse carts are increasingly common on the capital’s streets; the animals are cheaper than trucks and less likely to be held up in searches for hidden explosives.

  blog it

Published in: on August 25, 2007 at 6:31 pm  Leave a Comment  


Tom Segev on ForeignExchange. Segev is one of the better “New” historians of Israel. He gives the shadow side to the Six Day War in 1967. The foil to Segev (the “bright” side) is Michael Oren. Other “New” Israeli historians are too mean green meme and only blame Israel for everything (e.g. Norman Finkelstein).

Segev is not in this camp. He is right that Palestinian suicide bombing never has helped the Palestinians. I like his formulation: Pal. suicide attacks can not threaten the state of Israel but what they do threaten is the ability of Israel to respond rationally.

What really centers on the 67 War, 40 yrs later, is whether Israel should have taken over the West Bank, East Jerusalem. It’s hard to decide because each has a point. Oren is right that it did create some better security positions. For Segev, the occupation undercuts the rationale for a Jewish state (by colonizing 3 million non-Jews who are not given rights, voice, opportunity, etc.). I think that is right as well.

Same with security fence. In the short term it does reduce violence (point Oren). In the medium-long term it leaves Israel further and further weakened, isolated, and the Occupation (and it is an Occupation) it is a cancer on the moral soul of Israel.

Segev interestingly though is moving to a third position. He used to a liberal. That is he fit into the basic scheme of “Land for Peace” (Rabin, Barak). I think Land for Peace could still work in certain ways with Syria.

The conservative-Likud position (Netanyahu) is Security Fences, further settlements (illegal) in the occupation, constant warfare, and blame Palestinians for everything.

Segev points out that neither has worked. Sharon’s unilateral disengagement failed which was an attempt at any other position. He says the conflict at this point can only be managed. And he is right that it could be managed more rationally than it is right now.

With Segev all have failed and there is no real chance for now. [One positive that is currently somewhat possible: Saudi Arabia recognizing Israel and the West Bank economic development.] But long term that can not work either. Hamas has to be part of the deal at some point.

tags technorati :
tags technorati :
tags technorati :
Published in: on August 25, 2007 at 5:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

One Che cont’d.

I’ve discussed before (via William Easterly) there are “planners” and “searchers”.

Planners usually fall into the liberal tradition. Liberal in the more modern sense. From Keynes, FDR, social welfare states, Jeffrey Sachs “End of Poverty”, to the communism/socialist state owned system. Top-down.

Searchers typically fall within the conservative tradition (modern Anglo-American conservative tradition). Bottom-up.

The Anglo-American common law tradition is more a searcher tradition. Localized scale, trial and error, organic.

The Latin American world comes from the Roman (Catholic and Spanish/Portuguese colonial) tradition which is top-down planner model.

There is very little budge in that system. Which when there is challenge, tends to push the momentum in the other direction (communism). But the same mindset in reverse: top-down, planner model.

Latifunida-right wing aristocratic agrarian empire versus left-wing communist/state socialist model.

Published in: on August 25, 2007 at 5:17 pm  Leave a Comment