coromandal


if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you

Author Terry Eagleton takes to task Ditchkins – his name for the two headed beast:  Hitchens and Dawkins, who have been churning out books in support of atheism and reason and challenging the idea of God.  Eagleton illuminates Christian faith from a left perspective which serves to balance out all of the crapola about God that you get over here in this center right nation.  He talks about the blood and radicalism and necessary death of faith, and leaves out the riches and mansions:  Darwin is a child with a silly addicting dream, he says.  Without equivocation he tells us that to love is to live and if you really love, people will want to kill you.  Without equivocation, that this is the central truth.

The whole article is worth reading; here it is.

Here is the excerpt –

Jesus hung out with whores and social outcasts, was remarkably casual about sex, disapproved of the family (the suburban Dawkins is a trifle queasy about this), urged us to be laid-back about property and possessions, warned his followers that they too would die violently, and insisted that the truth kills and divides as well as liberates. He also cursed self-righteous prigs and deeply alarmed the ruling class.

The Christian faith holds that those who are able to look on the crucifixion and live, to accept that the traumatic truth of human history is a tortured body, might just have a chance of new life – but only by virtue of an unimaginable transformation in our currently dire condition. This is known as the resurrection. Those who don’t see this dreadful image of a mutilated innocent as the truth of history are likely to be devotees of that bright-eyed superstition known as infinite human progress, for which Dawkins is a full-blooded apologist. Or they might be well-intentioned reformers or social democrats, which from a Christian standpoint simply isn’t radical enough.

The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you. Here, then, is your pie in the sky and opium of the people. It was, of course, Marx who coined that last phrase; but Marx, who in the same passage describes religion as the ‘heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions’, was rather more judicious and dialectical in his judgment on it than the lunging, flailing, mispunching Dawkins.

Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching, Terry Eagleton, The London Review of Books

resources:

author:  Terry Eagleton

essay: Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching,

journal: The London Review of Books



annunciation

Here are three works by the photographer Gregory Crewdson, all untitled, set in the generic suburb, landscapes and portraits, each with strong beams of light.  They question our normative assumptions of what is real by showing meta real events.

The first is of a suburban neighborhood at dusk with stacks of railway ties in the foreground and several porch lights just on for the night.  There are three meta real lights:  the beam, the spot in the forground and the tree in the background.  All three light abjectly uninteresting subjects.

The second is a portrait of a woman perhaps in a dream, in her night clothes, simultaneously in her garden and in her kitchen.  She is a flesh and blood woman, fertile and organized. We see her in a meta real moment: conceivably the police have arrived, but more likely God or the Truth based on the intensity of the light.

The third is a pregnant woman in her yard at dusk in the suburbs, in the kiddy pool which her husband or boyfriend is filling with a hose while a friend sleeps on the lawn nearby.  The spot light is again extra human, like a renaissance annunciation:  a miracle birth in the yard.

Each image presents a narrative that collapses the distance between the banal and the transcendent wherein lies its power.

Untitled, from the series Twilight, Gregory Crewdson

untitled, Gregory Crewdson

untitled (pregnant woman/pool), Gregory Crewdson



take one child, her blood, a candle, some bread
April 27, 2008, 4:42 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Unbelievably, the nursery rhyme LondonBridge is Falling Down is connected with human child sacrifice. It seems rivers felt transgressed against by bridges and that the spirit of the offered child helped maintain functioning relations between the realm and governance of the city and that of the river. And, it wasn’t only the Thames that had a blood thirst: apparently quite a few European rivers developed refined, and costly, palates.

So, the child is set apart, taken from life, to mediate between human political need and the anger and unpredictability of a water god. I guess it’s the innocence and purity of the child that the river wants, a perfect substitute, or at least something as close to perfection as possible.  And, in theory,  a child fits that requirement well.

It makes me wonder whose family had to suffer, how that particular child was chosen, what was the relationship to society of the child and her parents before the murder, after the murder? One guess is low born, outcast, but just good enough (blonde curls?) to assuage the angry river.  A second could be zealous parents and possibly higher born. In either case, like religious parents who set aside one son for a lonely celebate life in the priesthood.

Except that she doesn’t mention the human sacrifices. It was apparently customary in the long ago and far away to secure a building or bridge through sacrifice to the deities of the area or river. The preferred offering involved children, their blood, or, if possible, the sealing in of a child with a candle and hunk of bread at the foot of the bridge. When the Bridge Gate at Bremen was demolished in the nineteenth century, the skeleton of a child was indeed found implanted in the foundations. Nor are songs about bridges falling down unique to Britain, with examples coming from Italy, France, and Germany. The idea behind the sacrifice was that the spirit of the youngster looked over the bridge using the light and stayed awake by eating the food.

In Romania it was believed that the sacrifice of a person’s shadow to a building or bridge would do the trick. People would be enticed to stand over the foundation and their shadow measured. This written measurement was then buried with the foundation stone. Sadly, it was also believed that the person whose shadow was buried in such a fashion would die within forty days of the building’s completion. So-called “shadow traders” still existed in Eastern Europe until the nineteenth century, and people would shout out warnings to those passing freshly erected buildings to beware in case someone stole their shadow. These are interesting, if gruesome, legends, but there is scant evidence linking London Bridge specifically to such practices.

“Rivers and child sacrifice,” you might scoff. “Dark Ages stuff!” Except that in the twenty-first century such practices still take place. On 21 September 2001, the headless torso of a young boy was found floating near Tower Bridge. He had been used as part of something called a muti ceremony, in which the body parts of a child are used for medicinal purposes or to bring good fortune to a business enterprise. Police throughout Europe believe that there have been perhaps a dozen such cases .

~from Heavy Words Lightly Thrown by Chris Roberts, Gotham Books, a division of Penguin Group (USA).