February 28, 2012

Stumbling and bumbling

A response to three readers from The Immanent Frame by Robert N. Bellah
Doniger’s doubts about the actuality of the axial age focus mainly on India: Wasn’t something like theoretic culture, my index for the axial transition, already present in the Vedas, well before the Upanishads and the Pali Canon of early Buddhism, which are usually seen as exhibiting axial traits? My answer is that no, it wasn’t: the Vedas are largely tribal ritual poetry with a few moments of riddling that could be seen later as foreshadowing metaphysical developments, but are not that different from riddles in many tribal cultures. The startling thing is that the tribal poetry of the Vedas remained the basis of later Hinduism, or at least the Brahmins claimed it did, though it took an awful lot of interpretation to make it seem so. Something similar can be seen in the reworking of tribal myth in Genesis in the Hebrew Bible to make it conform to much later ideas.

The contraception mandate from The Immanent Frame by Daniel Maguire, Professor of Theology, Marquette University
Galileo would have welcomed the bishops’ current fixation on sexual-reproductive issues. In his day their focus was on the stars; their attention has shifted to the pelvic zone where they are once again stumbling and bumbling, claiming authority on issues where they have no privileged expertise. Increasingly, Catholic laity no longer dance to their music, especially on sexual reproductive issues where they and their theologians have long since had a change of mind. On issues like birth control the bishops are effectively in schism.
Their current zeal and bullying tenor has more than a tinge of panic. Their seminaries are emptying, clergy sexual crimes and hierarchical cover-ups are being exposed, whole dioceses are going bankrupt. Time for a little diversionary stress on birth control?

Back in 1983, Claremont Graduate School invited Whiteheadian philosophers and Jungian psychoanalysts to a dialogue concerning possible cross-fertilizations between process metaphysics and archetypal psychology (published as Archetypal Process: Self and Divine in Whitehead, Jung, and Hillman in 1989). James Hillman gave the keynote, wherein he admitted that “something further [was] needed” than his typical psychologizing [...]

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