Life Roles

Playing a role in life is a choice, but we can always set it aside and play another.

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Change in Egypt and US Foreign Policy

This article is superb: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/31/opinion/31douthat.html

There is a kind of imperialistic arrogance that exists in the U.S. on both the left and the right.  Each side criticizes the other for allegedly allowing some international event or crisis to take place: “If only the U.S. had done things our way, not yours, then all would have turned out well.”

Yet the reality is different.  We have much less control of events than we think.  The U.S. cannot determine what others do, especially when social media and internet technology allow open information flow.  We need to take a more humble approach to foreign policy and stop assuming that we are omnipotent.

Here is the link to my original comment at the New York Times:  http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2011/01/31/opinion/31douthat.html?sort=oldest

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Creation

Creation is a flow of multiplicity in an ocean of oneness.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Laurence Kant
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Chaos

Chaos is always lurking behind sturdy structures, offering the possibility of change and thus transformation.  This is the story of Genesis and of our world today.

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Foreclosing on On-Duty Soldiers

This is just another example of how many large corporate institutions have lost their moral compass.   Over the past several years, large banks frequently subject soldiers called to duty to unlawful foreclosures.  This is precisely why some regulation is necessary if we want to preserve a healthy, functional free market.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/business/27foreclose.html?_r=2&hp=&adxnnl=1&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1296353099-/N1TWrh0XYHJWyudn8MalA

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Walmart and Healthy Foods


I don’t buy food at Walmart, but Walmart’s recent decision to cut sodium and use whole grains will have a major impact on the broader US food market.  And that’s a good thing.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/20/business/20walmart.html?_r=1&hp

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Gateways

Space between breaths, dawn and twilight, midnight, change of seasons, a new moon, being born, marrying, dying:  Gateways where the Source reveals Itself.

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Doing the Right Thing

This is a moving story, a pitcher who gave up 12 million dollars, because he wanted to do the right thing and keep his self-respect.  Inspiring.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/sports/baseball/27meche.html?hp

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Self-Recognition

If we want others to see and acknowledge us, we must first see and acknowledge ourselves.

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The Past and Wisdom

The past provides the experiential data out of which we create wisdom.

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The One and the Many

Important matters are both more simple and more complex than we think.  I always find myself revolting against both those who facilely make broad generalizations and those who won’t say anything conclusive.  Events and ideas are more subtle than easy solutions or the denial of any solutions.  Such is the dynamic of the One and the Many.

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Theory and Practice: China Has an Economic Plan — The US Does Not

Robert Reich notes the fundamental difference between the economies of the US and China:  China has a plan, and we don’t.  This hands-off approach has characterized both Democratic and Republican presidential administrations.  In general, the US relies on faith in the free market place, while China assumes that the government must make careful plans to advance its interests.  Consequently, the Chinese invest heavily in green industries, even when there is no immediate profit and cost is high, because this technology is the future.  Whoever controls it will have an enormous advantage in global competition.  The US engages in talk, but not much action.

The US has an almost magical faith in the free market.  It’s almost as if the US believes that simply reciting an ideological creed will guarantee economic success.

The US still has one advantage:  the deep creativity and inventiveness that marks our culture.  Americans do not rely on the past and on tradition, but look for new and original ways of doing things.  This has always carried the US through before, and I hope it will continue to do so.  But can the US rely on this, while others make plans?

The whole issue relates to an even more fundamental matter.  Will human beings rely on ideology or on practical, integrative approaches to solve problems?  Ideology is  pure theory, ideas separate from concrete reality.  Communism, Marxism, radical free market capitalism, absolute pacifism, religious fundamentalism, and postmodern theory all fall into that category.  They are ideologies rather than evidence-based methods. Significantly ideologues exist on both the left and right. among both the secular and the religious.  Even when something contradicts the theory, followers of the theory simply ignore the data, because fundamentally day-to-day life is messy, confusing, ambiguous, contradictory, and therefore too difficult to interpret.

While the US has recently been primarily concerned with ideas about what should work, the Chinese and others are approaching matters pragmatically, testing for what actually does work.  The US would do well to return to its historical roots in pragmatism and develop more of a balance between theory and practice.

http://robertreich.org/post/2830348699

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Becoming

Becoming exists in the past and the future, not in the present.

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Being and Becoming Again

Being born means that we enter creation:  Being and becoming are joined

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Awareness

While we often sail along in life with seemingly nothing happening, awareness comes in explosive bursts, punctuating the monotony with volcanic eruptions.

Other times awareness slowly creeps up on us, grabbing us little by little as if it was always there.

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Studying Philosophy at a Community College

“As state universities cut back on humanities programs, LaGuardia Community College in Queens, N.Y., is going in the opposite direction. At LaGuardia, philosophy is king and challenging the stereotype that four-year colleges are for intellectuals and community colleges are for career training” (via Dianne Bazell).  Humanities offer students training in how to analyze, to think, to synthesize, and to transform themselves in a fast-past, changing, world.  Humanities also give students a chance to think about what matters, which is is a crucial skill for employees, organizations. and enterprises that must reinvent themselves.  (Via Dianne Bazell)

http://www.npr.org/2011/01/04/132633254/philosophy-valued-at-one-community-college

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Jewish Humor

I have today added a number of jokes to the Jewish humor section, including  Woody Allen’s classic “Sacrifice of Isaac” and “The Pope and the Jews” (a wonderful story that I use in multifaith gatherings to illustrate the importance of understanding how two different people can size up a situation completely differently).  Take a look:  http://mysticscholar.org/category/5jewish-quarter/humor-jewish-quarter/

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The Sacrifice of Isaac (Jewish humor from Woody Allen)

This is classic, all over the web.  Take a look at William Novak and Moshe Waldoks (ed. and annotated by), The Big Book of Jewish Humor (New York:  Harper & Row, 1981), p. 220

WOODY ALLEN ON ABRAHAM AND ISAAC

The Sacrifice of Isaac

And Abraham awoke in the middle of the night and said to his only son, Isaac, “I have had a dream where the voice of the Lord sayeth that I must sacrifice my only son, so put your pants on.”

And Isaac trembled and said, “So what did you say? I mean when He brought this whole thing up?”

“What am I going to say?” Abraham said. “I’m standing there at two A.M. I’m in my underwear with the Creator of the Universe. Should I argue?”

“Well, did he say why he wants me sacrificed?” Isaac asked his father.

But Abraham said, “The faithful do not question. Now let’s go because I have a heavy day tomorrow.”

And Sarah who heard Abraham’s plan grew vexed and said, “How doth thou know it was the Lord and not, say, thy friend who loveth practical jokes, for the Lord hateth practical jokes and whosoever shall pull one shall be delivered into the hands of his enemies whether they pay the delivery charge or not.”

And Abraham answered, “Because I know it was the Lord. It was a deep, resonant voice, well modulated, and nobody in the desert can get a rumble in it like that.”

And Sarah said, “And thou art willing to carry out this senseless act?” But Abraham told her, “Frankly yes, for to question the Lord’s word is one of the worst things a person can do, particularly with the economy in the state it’s in.”

And so he took Isaac to a certain place and prepared to sacrifice him but at the last minute the Lord stayed Abraham’s hand and said, “How could thou doest such a thing?”

And Abraham said, “But thou said —”

“Never mind what I said,” the Lord spake. “Doth thou listen to every crazy idea that comes thy way?” And Abraham grew ashamed. “Er – not really … no.”

“I jokingly suggest thou sacrifice Isaac and thou immediately runs out to do it.”

And Abraham fell to his knees, “See, I never know when you’re kidding.”

And the Lord thundered, “No sense of humor. I can’t believe it.”

“But doth this not prove I love thee, that I was willing to donate mine only son on thy whim?”

And the Lord said, “It proves that some men will follow any order no matter how asinine as long as it comes from a resonant, well-modulated voice.”

And with that, the Lord bid Abraham get some rest and check with him tomorrow.

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For more on the this story in the Bible:  see AqedahPart1a and AqedahPart2a.

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The Pope and the Jews (Jewish humor)

This is a well-known Jewish Joke and can be found on many sites on the web.  It;s a wonderful story that I use in multifaith gatherings to illustrate the importance of understanding how two different people can size up a situation completely differently.  In other words, we may be looking at the same objects, but we don’t necessarily see them in the same way.

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THE POPE AND THE JEWS

Several centuries ago, the Pope decided that all the Jews had to leave Rome. Naturally there was a big uproar from the Jewish community. So the Pope made a deal. He would have a religious debate with a member of the Jewish community. If the Jew won, the Jews could stay. If the Pope won, the Jews would leave. The Jews realized that they had no choice. They looked around for a champion who could defend their faith, but no one wanted to volunteer. It was too risky.

So they finally picked an old man named Moishe, who had spent his life sweeping up after people, to represent them. Being old and poor, he had the least to lose, so he agreed. He asked only for one condition to the debate. Not being used to speaking very much as he cleaned up around the settlement, he asked that neither side be allowed to talk. The pope agreed.

The day of the great debate came. Moishe and the Pope sat opposite each other for a full minute before the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers. Moishe looked back at him and raised one finger. The Pope waved his fingers in a circle around his head. Moishe pointed to the ground where he sat. The Pope pulled out a wafer and a glass of wine. Moishe pulled out an apple.  The Pope stood up and said, “I give up. This man is too good. The Jews can stay.”

An hour later, the cardinals were all around the Pope asking him what happened. The Pope said: “First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity.”  “He responded by holding up one finger to remind me that there was still one God common to both our religions. Then I waved my finger around me to show him, that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground, showing that God was also right here with us.”  “I pulled out the wine and the wafer to show that Jesus absolves us from our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of original sin. He had an answer for everything. What could I do?”

Meanwhile, the Jewish community had crowded around Moishe, amazed that this old, almost feeble-minded man had done what all their scholars had insisted was impossible!  “What happened?” they asked. “Well,” said Moishe, “First he said to me that the Jews had three days to get out of here. I told him that not one of us was leaving. Then he told me that this whole city would be cleared of Jews. I let him know that we were staying right here.”  “And then?” asked a woman.
“I don’t know,” said Moishe. “He took out his lunch and I took out mine.”

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Marooned (Jewish humor)

Marooned
A ship goes down in the ocean and Benny is the only survivor. He manages to swim to an uninhabited island.
Many year’s later, when a search party finally comes to rescue him, they see that he has constructed two synagogues on his tiny island.
“Why the two synagogues?” the leader asks Benny.
Benny points to the nearest one and replies, “That’s the one I go to every Saturday. The other one, I wouldn’t go inside if you paid me!”

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Via Lowell Nigoff.

This actually reminds me of a real story of the last two Jews in Kabul (Afghanistan) who did not get along at all with each other.  See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/1364310/The-last-two-Jews-in-Kabul-fight-like-cat-and-dog.html.

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Four Men in the Desert (Jewish humor)

Four Men in the Desert

Four men are wandering in the desert.  The German man says:  “I am tired and thirsty.  I must have a beer.”  The Frenchman says: “I am tired and thirsty.  I must have a glass of wine.”  The Mexican says: “I am tired and thirsty.  I must have a shot of tequila.”  The Jewish man says: “I am tired and thirsty.  I must have diabetes.”

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(From Hanna S. who found it on the web site of the Jewish Diabetes Association, via Lowell Nigoff)

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The New Pope (Jewish humor)

The New Pope

Every time a new Pope is elected, there are many rituals in accordance with tradition but there is one tradition very few people know about.

Shortly after the new Pope is enthroned, the Chief Rabbi of Rome seeks an audience. He is shown into the Pope’s presence, whereupon he presents the Pope with a silver tray bearing a velvet cushion. On top of the cushion is an ancient, shriveled envelope. The Pope symbolically stretches out his arm in a gesture of rejection.

The Chief Rabbi then retires, taking the envelope with him and does not return until the next Pope is elected.

The new Pope was intrigued by this ritual, and that its origins were unknown to him. He instructed the best scholars of the Vatican to research it, but they came up with nothing. When the time came and the Chief Rabbi was shown into his presence, they faithfully enacted the ritual rejection but, as the Chief Rabbi turned to leave, His Holiness called him back.

“My brother,” the Pope whispers, “I must confess that we Catholics are ignorant of the meaning of this ritual enacted for many centuries between us and you, the representative of the Jewish people. I have to ask you, what is it all about?”

The Chief Rabbi shrugs and replies: “But we have no more idea than you do. The origin of the ceremony is lost in the traditions of ancient history.” The Pope said: “Let’s retire to my chambers and then open the envelope and discover the secret at last.” The Chief Rabbi agrees.

Fortified in their resolve they gingerly pried open the curling parchment envelope and with trembling fingers, the Chief Rabbi reached inside and extracted a folded sheet of similarly ancient paper.

As the Pope peered over his shoulder, he slowly opened the envelope. They both gasped with shock –

It is a bill for the Last Supper from “Moishe Cohen’s Catering and Deli”.

This joke comes from Tzvi M. from Israel and via Lowell Nigoff of Lexington, Kentucky

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Translations of Genesis

These are examples of my new translations of two small portions of Genesis: © 2007 Laurence H. Kant:  http://mysticscholar.org/talkspubs/translations-of-genesis/

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A New Day

“A New Day”:  © 2010, Dr. Laurence H. Kant, Essay for the Evolutionary Envisioning Circle of the Annual Great Mother Celebration, September, 2010:  © 2010, Laurence H. Kant, All rights reserved:  NewDay1

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A Personal View of Kashrut (Kosher)

See Laurence H. Kant, A Personal View of Kashrut,” Opinion, Shalom, September, 2010, p. 11: Kashrut2

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Who Are We, You and I: Meditations on Death and Afterlife

See my talk:  Laurence H. Kant, “Who Are We, You and I: Meditations on Death and Afterlife”: Late Life Concerns: The Final Miles, Newman Center, Lexington, Kentucky, August, 2010: © 2010, Laurence H. Kant, All rights reserved:  Who Are We

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Aqedah (Genesis 22): Binding of Abraham and Isaac

See Laurence H. Kant, “Some Restorative Thoughts on an Agonizing Text:  Abraham’s Binding of Isaac and the Horror on  Mt. Moriah  (Gen. 22)”:  “Part 1,”Lexington Theological Quarterly 38 (2003) 77-109; “Part 2, Lexington Theological Quarterly 38 (2003) 161- 94: AqedahPart1a andAqedahPart2a

See also Laurence H. Kant, “Arguing with God and Tiqqun Olam:  A Response to Andre LaCocque on the Aqedah,” Lexington Theological Quarterly 40 (2005) 203-19 (this was a response to an article by André Lacocque, “About the ‘Akedah’ in Genesis 22:  A Response to Laurence H. Kant,”Lexington Theological Quarterly 40 (2005) 191-201): AqedahResponseToLacocque

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Antisemitism on Rise in West

See Laurence H. Kant, “Anti-Semitism on Rise in West,” op-ed, Lexington Herald Leader, January 8, 2007:  Antisemitism1

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Jewish Inscriptions in Greek and Latin

See Laurence H. Kant, “Jewish Inscription in Greek and Latin,” in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, 2.20.2:671-713.  Berlin:  Walter de Gruyter, 1987 at the following two links:  JewishInscriptions1JewishInscriptions2

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Fish and Fishing Symbolism in the Synoptic Gospels

See my talk:  Laurence H. Kant, “Fish and Fishing Symbolism in the Synoptic Gospels,” Synoptic Gospels Section, American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Chicago, November, 1994: © 1994, Laurence H. Kant, All rights reserved:  FishNTTalk1

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Ancient Synagogues in Jewish Inscriptions

See my talk:  Laurence H. Kant, “Early Jewish Synagogues in Epigraphic Evidence,” Archaeology of the New Testament World Group, American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, San Francisco, November, 1992: © 1992, Laurence H. Kant, All rights reserved:  SynagogueTalk1

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DaVinci Code and Passion of the Christ: Two Peas in a Pod

See Dianne M. Bazell and Laurence H. Kant, “First-Century Christians in the Twenty-First Century:  Does Evidence Matter?”,  in Restoring the First-century Church in the Twenty-first Century: Essays on the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement in Honor of Don Haymes, pp. 355-66.  Edited by Hans Rollman and Warren Lewis.  Eugene, OR:  Wipf and Stock, 2005:  Haymes

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Avercius (aka Abercius)

Final Draft before publication of Laurence H. Kant “The Earliest Christian Inscription:  Bishop Avercius’ Last Words Document the Emergence of the Church,” in Bible Review 17.1, February, 2001, pp. 10-19, 47:  AverciusBAS1

3b) Here is my most up-to-date edition of the text:  AverciusText

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Fish Symbolism

Here is my dissertation:  Laurence H. Kant, “The Interpretation of Religious Symbols in the Graeco-Roman World:  A Case Study of   Early  Christian Fish Symbolism” (3 vols):  Yale University, 1993.  Please note that the pagination in the PDF files, though close, is not exactly the same as in my original dissertation (due to formatting issues).

I originally intended this as part of a comparative study of ancient symbols, including the menorah for Jews.   Given the length of the project, this was not practical.  However, I regard my dissertation as comparative project whose goal is to understand the nature of religious symbolism.

There are many things that I would now change, including writing style.  Of note is the Avercius (Abercius) inscription text, which has several errors; for a correct edition, see above.  I also wish that I had  included a section on the use of fish and fishing symbolism in the gospels.  If interested, take a look at the text of a talk I gave on this topic in “Essays and Talks” in “Larry Kant.”

I have also somewhat changed my views of Freud and Jung.  I always appreciated them, but my dissertation is more critical of them than I would be now.

Diss1Diss2Diss3Diss4Diss5Diss6

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The One and the Many

We cannot get to the One except through the Many.

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Being and Becoming

Being and Becoming:  Being is who we are authentically; becoming is why we enter the cycle of life.  Being teaches us that the authentic present is eternal.  Becoming teaches us that change is ongoing and inevitable.  Wisdom involves integrating both.

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My Film Ratings

For anyone who wants to see my film rates, take a look at the following link:  http://www.imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=7737781 I think that you will have to join IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base), but this is a wonderful website, with full details on almost any film ever made anywhere.

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American Yoga

This is a timely piece giving a real sense of the difference between modern fitness yoga and the authentic tradition of spiritual discipline practiced by Indian yogis and yoginis.  Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice that was then adapted in other religious traditions in the twentieth century.  Yet, it has its roots in Indian religion, and this is how it first came to the US.  Yoga is not necessarily exercise or breath work, but a system of feeling, thought, and experience. In fact, Yoga does not even have to involve the body at all, but can consist of communal activities or study.  Yoga simply means “union” (as in union with God).

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/culture/3917/mormon-born_daya_mata_typifies_american_yoga/

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Mindfulness Training in the US Military

Because of the massive information overload that affects soldiers in the US military due to a heavy emphasis on sophisticated technology and multi-tasking, there is greater need than ever for awareness and grounding.  This article shows the unstated influence of Buddhist meditation, with its ubiquitous focus on mindfulness–an intriguing development.  (via Dianne Bazell)

http://nyti.ms/eEa6dV

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Israel, Iran, and the Stuxnet Worm

This is certainly better than a military attack or a war.  Of course, the same technology can be used for more nefarious purposes, and there’s the rub.  Still I prefer it done this way.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/world/middleeast/16stuxnet.html?_r=2

Then again, here’s another piece arguing that that the US and/or Israel did not design this worm and that its effect is much more minimal than what has been reported:

http://blogs.forbes.com/jeffreycarr/2011/01/17/the-new-york-times-fails-to-deliver-stuxnets-creators/

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