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Tereza Coraggio

Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.

We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.

We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.

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Past Shows

 

Kicking the Dogma

Sunday, Dec. 1, 2008

3P-003 Show Information (includes MP3 download link)


Welcome to Third Paradigm. On last week's Sunday show, called "What's God Got to Do with It?" we looked at the similarities between Darwin's Survival of the Fittest and the Biblical Cain and Abel story. Both saw reality as based on the superiority of some over others, although one called the reality Nature and the other called it God. Today's religious rant will follow up by examining the concept of scripture, and how it squares with the concept of equality. Before that, we'll look at the re-creation of a day of spending into a day of listening, the experimental creation of a forum for spiritual politics in Austin, and the interactive procreation of a charter for compassion in the world's religions. But first, I'll read a quote from Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama:

Photo source: http://www.panhala.net/Archive/The_Doctrine_Is_Compassion.html

We can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom.
But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion....
This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith.
In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque
or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine or dogma.
Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple.
The doctrine is compassion.
Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity,
no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

My friend Joe Riley, who sends these poems out on a yahoogroup
called Panhala five times a week, adds this note: (Remembering the people of Tibet
and the victims of Tiananmen Square on the opening of the Beijing Olympics.)

Last week we talked about Black Friday, the biggest shopping day, turning into Buy Nothing Day, thanks to the Shopocalypse. This is brought to us by Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, known for his movie, "What Would Jesus Buy?"

Buy Nothing Day was also brought to us by the good people at New American Dream. Among their suggestions for the day was an Eat-In – a public gathering to share food and celebrate the people who grew it and prepared it, which was a major theme of our Thanksgiving show on Third Paradigm. The Eat-In idea was conceived by the Slow Food Nation, and put on by the Youth Group "Food from the Earth," and participants in the Real Food Challenge's Month of Action. Here in SC, we also had 100-mile Thanksgivings, in which all the food came from within a 100-mile radius.

http://www.charityfocus.org/new/insp.php
Along with reducing passive consumption of products and food, CharityFocus sends this Fact of the Day:

Happy people spend a lot of time socializing, going to church and reading newspapers – but they don't spend a lot of time watching television, a new study finds. That's what unhappy people do. Although people who describe themselves as happy enjoy watching television, it turns out to be the single activity they engage in less often than unhappy people, said John Robinson, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland.

What Happy People Don't Do – NY Times

The Center for SCREEN-TIME Awareness has launched A Lifestyle for the 21st Century, a campaign to reduce screen-time and encourage real experiences with real people in real time. They're introducing Take Back Our World, a program for Middle and High School Students, their teachers and their families. One of the initiatives is Family Dinner Night: picking a night that can't change where after dinner, you pull out a board game, a deck of cards or something else and make a night of it.

I've just had three teenage boys from Alushta (Ukraine) arrive to stay in our garaj mahal for 2 weeks – a trumpet player, an alto sax and a long-haired drummer guy. Part of the sister City band program. We're going to see if we can get some concerts going after dinner. We'll see if I have more success with that than some of my ideas for what my teenagers should do.

Beck Hansen writes: I think everybody should just turn off their TV machines and make up their own songs about whatever comes to mind-their couch, their friends, their loaves of bread. Everybody's got their own songs. There should be so many songs out there that it all turns into one big sound and we can put the whole thing into a pickup truck and let it roll off the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Photo by Yizhou Jiang, flickr.com/photos/danniao

Along with songs, there's a group called StoryCorp that believes everyone has their own story to tell. They've turned Black Friday, that day when you're stuck with your family and you don't know what else to do but go to the mall, into a National Day of Listening: They write: start a new holiday tradition—set aside one hour on Friday, November 28th, to record a conversation with someone important to you. You can interview anyone you choose: an older relative, a friend, a teacher, or a familiar face from the neighborhood. They have a free Do-It-Yourself Guide to download (NPR) So far, StoryCorp has recorded 35,000 stories in their Story Booths, which are preserved in the Library of Congress, but the DIY model takes it into viral networking warp speed.

Here's one of the 35,000 stories:

Recorded in Roanoke, Lillian Howell, 89, tells her son Thomas
about moving from Ohio to Virginia during the Great Depression.

Photo Source http://www.storycorps.net/listen/stories/lillian-howell-and-her-son-thomas
Listen to their Story on PRX.org
Lillian and Thomas Howell

Now we'll go from the Great Depression to the Great Correction,
a song by Eliza Gilkyson

The Great Correction

Everyone tied to the turning wheel
Everyone hiding from the things they feel
Well the truth's so hard it just don't seem real
The shadow across this land

People 'round here don't know what it means
To suffer at the hands of our American dreams
They turn their backs on the grisly scenes
Traced to the privileged sons

Down through the ages lovers of the mystery
Been saying people let your love light shine
Poets and sages all throughout history
Say the light burns brightest in the darkest times

It's the bitter end we've come down to
The eye of the needle that we gotta get through
But the end could be the start of something new
When the great correction comes

Down to the wire running out of time
Still got hope in this heart of mine
But the future waits on the horizon line
For our daughters and our sons

I don't know where this train's bound
Whole lotta people trying to turn it around
Gonna shout 'til the walls come tumbling down
And the great correction comes

~ Eliza Gilkyson ~
Listen to the Great Correction     Source

Eliza Gilkyson
From Eliza Gilkyson's CD Beautiful World

You've been listening to Eliza Gilkyson's The Great Correction. She wrote this song for " Last Sunday," a monthly gathering in Austin, Texas that she co-hosted with University of Texas professor Robert Jensen and Presbyterian minister Jim Rigby. They created "a place to combine interests in progressive politics beyond the electoral arena, spirituality beyond traditional churches, and music beyond concerts and bars." After a run of six Last Sundays, they assessed the experiment and concluded the project was a great success and a huge failure.

Jensen writes, "The success came in presenting relevant information, provocative analysis, and good music to audiences from 300 to 500 people, on subjects ranging from race relations in our largely segregated city to U.S. domination of the world. Highlights included a UT–Austin economist's discussion of the economics of climate change and an explanation by Workers Defense Project organizers and clients of how immigrant workers are sometimes cheated by employers out of hard–earned wages. But the failure," he continues, "was that we didn't help the audience become more than an audience, during or after the event, but in that failure were useful lessons about contemporary politics... we must keep talking. One of the clearest lessons from Last Sunday is that many people lack a place to listen, learn, and talk about new ideas. That was Last Sunday's clearest failure – we never found a formula for making the gathering more of a conversation than a series of lectures and performances... Future efforts have to better balance people's desire to react and engage with the need to control a program so that the loud and long-winded don't take over."

And to that I say, with Reverend Billy, "Amen, brother!" having often wished more public discussions were held with an egg timer. Eliza Gilkyson and Last Sundays were brought to my attention by Yes! Magazine, who featured her song in their Fall issue on Purple America: Ending Red and Blue Politics.

Featured Topic – Kicking the Dogma

Last week, we looked at the similarities between Darwin's theory of evolution, which is based on the survival of the fittest, and the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, which assumes God's rejection of Cain before he does anything wrong, and his guilt for having killed Abel without evidence or trial. In both paradigms, nature or God is hierarchical. We could even say whimsical. There are some who are more valuable to God or nature, and some who are less, for no apparent reason. But in both cases, it turns out to be the same group of people who are favored by both God and nature from the tiny geographical region of Northwest Europe. We'll get more into that later. First we'll hear a video clip from Karen Armstrong, well-known writer on religion and author of A History of God. Her most recent book Is The Great Transformation: the Beginning of our Religious Traditions. She's a frequent lecturer at the Jesus Seminars which I attend, where international Bible scholars listen to presentations and vote by color on how credible the authenticity of the passage is. When Karen Armstrong won a prize to do anything she wanted, she created a "Charter for Compassion" to bring together voices from all religions and backgrounds and remind the world that while all faiths are not the same, they all share the share the core principle of compassion and the Golden Rule.

[Karen Armstrong – A Charter For Compassion]
http://www.karmatube.org/videos.php?id=1402

This charter is being written collectively over the course of four weeks. You can participate by going to http://charterforcompassion.com/projects . Last week's section was the Affirmations – descriptions of the eight core elements of compassion. The one I chose to respond to is "Compassion as a lens for scripture." I wrote the following: "To read scripture through the lens of compassion is to take the perspective of any person who might feel diminished, hurt, or excluded by it. If we define scripture as the Word of God and it implies that some people are less valuable than others, we're accepting a God of inequality. We might read compassion and others condemnation, but what matters is how those people feel who it refers to or leaves out. Equality needs to be our single dogma, and any scripture questioned that kicks the dogma."

In the very phrase, "Compassion as a lens for scripture" is the recognition that scriptures, viewed plainly and without special lenses, aren't fair to everyone. The scriptures create victims – there are people whose sanctity is violated by the demeaning and injurous way that they're presented, which has led to the worst of physical injuries, land theft, enslavement, being stripped of human rights, torture and death. This is what James Carroll, author of Constantine's Cross, calls "blood libel." Blood libel is an intentional slander that has real, life-threatening or ending consequences.

Putting Equality Before Compassion

To view statements of blood libel with compassion, and say to ourselves, "Well, here's how, if we twist ourselves into a pretzel, we can view this as meaning something else," is condescending. As justice comes before charity, so equality has to come before compassion. If the scriptures are open to interpretation, then God is ambiguous. But I don't think that they're ambiguous at all. We want to see them as ambiguous because we don't want to face that they're grounded in the superiority of one group over another. Rather than the scriptures being a higher moral ground that can inform and enlighten us, what Armstrong is admitting is we need to bring that higher moral ground TO the scriptures.

In effect, then, we're bringing the Word of God that's written in our hearts, minds, and DNA – the deep-seated knowledge that all people are equally valuable – to the very compromised and confused texts that we're accepting as the basis of the world's religions. We don't see religion as existing outside of the margins, rather than between the lines. Orthodoxy comes from the same root as orthodontics – to keep in straight lines. Heresy comes from heresia, which means "to choose." Christians, Jews and Muslims are all called "people of the Book." Every major Western religion is seen as bound and channeled into some straight lines of text. And even those, like Karen Armstrong, who are questioning the contents of the Books still accept those Books as the only foundation of the world's religions.

Throwing Out God with the Religious Bath Water

Yesterday, on my way to the Farmer's Market, I heard the late Alan Watts giving a speech on FRSC. He was talking about why we shouldn't throw out God with the religious bathwater. The Bible is a concept of God, and making one concept of God into something to be worshipped is to create an idol. That's against the core tenet of Judaism. To make an idol, as Rabbi Michael Lerner says, is to put something over the face of God, which is the Judaic root of the word blasphemy. Watts continued that it doesn't mean that we should therefore accept that concept as really representing God, and then reject it. We should reject the concept presented by the book and then go about the business of creating our own concept. "God isn't dead," he says, "only the concept of God."

I was with him all the way through this part of the talk. But then he went on to quote Jesus and Paul when they question scripture. Huh? If all we know about Jesus and Paul is what we know from scripture, why do we give them credibility in what they say about scripture, as if they exist apart from it? Jesus says, "Even the devil can quote scripture for his purpose..." Paul says not to be bound by rules like the Jews, but love God and do as you will. One of the scholars from the Jesus Seminar, Bill Arnal, who teaches in the Dept of Religious Studies at the U. of Regina, sent me this response last night to a paper I'd written: "if I understand you correctly, it sounds like you are arguing that the... canonical gospels... betray, in their use of language, a strong bias that we might call, for lack of better terminology, 'pro-Imperial.' If this was your point, it is well supported by the evidence you cite, and, in my view, wholly correct. I'd go even further: I think we can see numerous instances in which material has been visibly redacted with such a view in mind; ...I think it would be worth fleshing out, on your part, ...what kind of historical trajectory this implies, i.e., the "why" of the matter. Do you think that the gospel authors are preserving the views of Jesus (or, at least, of whatever tradition predated them), or changing them? Why make such changes? What were the relevant pressures? And so on."

Between the Sorry Thief and the Freedom Fighter

In next week's religious rant, we'll look at why I think the redaction theory – which means that the Bible was fundamentally changed – doesn't go far enough, based on the very exciting research that Bill and other scholars of the historical Jesus are doing. Their research leads, in my mind, to some inescapable conclusions that are so radical that even the researchers themselves, so far, aren't seeing it. We'll also look at the paper that Bill was responding to, entitled "Jesus: Imperialist or Revolutionary?" which focuses on a word typically translated as "thief," but which some scholars believe should be translated as "terrorist." In my paper, I agree with the latter and go further in recognizing that one person's terrorist is another person's patriot.

This has been Tereza Coraggio as your host of Third Paradigm, broadcasting from Free Radio Santa Cruz. Tune in next Thursday when our feature will be "Questioning the Existence of Money." Thank you to Skidmark Bob for production and editing, and for the referral to our closing song from Swati Sharma, Small Gods.

Thank you for listening.