Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chained and Devoured by Wild Beasts

Mary of Nazareth and "I Do Not Believe in Atheists."


By John Taylor; 2011 Apr 23, Jalal 13, 168 BE


Our local Super Video store is casting off its old VHS cassettes, giving piles of them away for free. Many films are therefore coming my way that otherwise might never do, including a copy of "The Message" (the only Hollywood movie about the life of His Holiness Muhammad, which I searched for many years and did know they had). One of the castoffs is "Mary of Nazareth," which I watched the other day when ailing with the latest bug imported from the kids' school.




The movie is entirely pious in intent, often cloyingly so. It traces the life of Mary from the time of her betrothal until she is taken in by John, the beloved disciple, at the bidding of her Son from on high on the cross. I was interested to learn that Mary was a babe, a real beauty, kind-hearted to all, lovely in every way. And well she probably was. The Bible does not seem to dwell on things like that, though it does say something about where the eyes are, there is the heart. As a male, it helps a lot to see her portrayed as a babe.


Anyway, the script leaves out the agony that, the Qur'an tells us, she suffered when impregnated by the Holy Spirit. More surprisingly, it glosses over the aspersions on her character after she claims her pregnancy was prayer induced rather than the usual cause. Joseph takes her in and that is that. The Qur'an has her despairing, begging God to take her life, in the face of the vicious bullying that she must have got when she claimed to have been "known" of God in the full Biblical sense. The movie has her keeping it quiet, which, come to think of it, would have been the wise thing do, considering the circumstances. She does not even tell Joseph, she waits until the Holy Spirit, in the form of a spotlight, tells him Himself.




But one good thing about seeing the movie is that it points out something I had not realized from just reading the sparse Biblical account of her life -- that Mary had been put into dire danger of death-by-stoning when she got pregnant out of wedlock. Joseph just had to say the word, and that was the end of her. This puts in a different light the scene where, later on, Jesus sits writing on the ground while, in order to test him, his enemies come to him with another accused woman (as portrayed in this film). The woman is less innocent this time than His mother had been, of course, but still, it is as if Jesus was writing the story of his mom, of the calumny and backbiting that had assaulted her when he was in her womb, right there in the dirt -- a story of a sainted mother accused unjustly. (Now we know from many studies that such trauma in pregnancy has long lasting effects on the lives of babes in the womb.) So, they ask what should they do with her? He replies, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." This says a lot more about condemnation, guilt and innocence, and forgiveness, than if you hear the story in isolation from his origins.


The film also puts the scene where Jesus as a twelve-year-old wanders off into the temple and when upbraided for leaving his parents, replies, "You should have looked for me in my Father's house." Joseph is hurt by this, for it implies that he is not Jesus' father ... as indeed he is not, he realizes painfully. Again, you miss that in any other account of the story. And again, when Jesus later on to his followers denies his family, saying his real bros and sisters, moms and dads, are those who follow the will of God. You see it from the family's point of view. To be a member of a holy family, you have to take your relations on faith even more than us not-so-holy-family members do.


Some movies are justified by one scene. Memorably, for example, Mel Gibson's Hamlet was pretty negligible throughout, except for the one scene, the final fight scene, which was better done than I have ever seen it portrayed. Leave it to an action star to do a fight scene well. Watch that movie just for that one miserable scene.


Similarly, there is one scene in this film that is truly unique and memorable, and which worked so well that I found myself in tears, not fully knowing why. It justified the whole movie, which otherwise is just a pretty mediocre retelling of the life of Jesus. This is the scene where the female followers of Jesus, who had been hanging back out of reverence for her, come to Mother Mary and share their spotty backgrounds with her and she tells them, oh, just watch it for yourself. When they get up to walk away and ask permission to walk with her and she replies, "Why should I not walk with my sisters?" Well, the next several scenes get all blurry from annoying tears filling your eyes.


I have been auditing a rather strange book called, "I do not Believe in Atheists," written by a guy who after he debated some of the new atheists decided that their arguments are fanatical and dangerous enough to warrant this book.


I Don't Believe in Atheists by Chris Hedges




Listening as far as I have, I am reminded of a fellow who uses a shotgun to kill a mosquito in his own house. After a few shots, it no longer matters if he got the bug or not, what matters now is the destruction he is doing to his own dwelling. Or perhaps I should not say a shotgun but a bazooka or some other anti-tank weapon that shoots out a massive fire backwards even as it sends a missile forwards. Essentially, the result is that in order to destroy the contemptuous attacks of atheists on religion, he totally destroys any reasonable basis for believing in God. He may not believe in atheists, but it is not clear that he is on the side of God either, or even understands it. Let me distill his argument to clarify what I mean.


This anti-atheist holds up belief in original sin as the essence of religion. He writes, for instance, that:


"Those who insist we are morally advancing as a species are deluding themselves. There is little in science or history to support this idea."


Anyone who believes in moral progress is a dangerous fanatic, liable to turn into a Hitler or Stalin, or some other monster ready at any moment to tolerate any amount of violence, law breaking and bloodshed in order to uphold his or her favorite utopia. Humans are sinful, ever subject to falling down into sin again. Humans may progress in science and every other way, but moral improvement is utterly out of the question. Life and moral progress are like a race where you fall down at any time, except that if you fall, you are dragged right back to the starting line. A few saintly people fight rear guard actions against evil authorities, defiant fellows like Martin Luther King or Gandhi, but even they do not bring us forward, they are essentially just making an heroic gesture in the face of relentless evil. There is no way humans will ever get beyond sin.


This kills the mosquito of atheism effectively enough -- assuming it does not fly out of the way -- but it absolutely demolishes any basis we might have for hoping that religion will do any good in the world. It sets on fire any hope that God can make us better, morally or socially. As the Qur'an puts it, "They chain up the hands of God." (Q5:64) That is just what the New Atheists are doing; like wild dogs, they tear away at the flesh of a helpless god whose hands are chained up, who is completely helpless to defend himself.




Having just watched "Mary of Nazareth," I am reminded of the scene where Judas kisses Jesus in order to identify him to the Roman soldiers, who then arrest him. Original sin is a kiss of Jesus. Christians who buy into it think they are loving their Lord, but in reality they walk not to the cross but straight to the tree on which Judas hanged himself.


Think about it. If we are irredeemably sinful, if we and our entire generation are born in sin, then no amount of suffering or effort will ever get us out of the muck. Despair, ye fools. Mary suffered all those hurtful accusations for nothing. The cross was just another vain gesture in the face of inexorable evil. The promises throughout scripture of a better time in the end are false. Faith, hope, charity are pipe dreams.


Once again, the movie Mary of Nazareth juxtaposes two scenes from the life of Jesus in a way I had never thought of, which say volumes about the falsity of original sin. It shows Jewish leaders and followers shouting at Pilate unashamedly, "We have no king but Caesar!" They are, in effect, denying God. Their God is chained up, a no-account slave of the worldly power of Caesar.


Then Pilate turns to Jesus and says, "Why are you doing this?" And Jesus replies, "What I do, I do to demonstrate the truth." And Pilate says, "What is truth?" He denies knowing what he is doing. This denial is the mirror image of what the Jewish leaders just did. He denies his only justification for being there. If power is not wielded by those who know what they are doing, truth and right are vain, progress is a pipe dream and power is its own justification. Secular denial mirrors denial by the so-called sacred. Both are corrupt power, both cause the suffering and death of God's Son.


It is absurd to think that God can be chained up and left to be eaten by wild beasts. What is being denied here, by believer and New Atheist alike, is not so much God as the nobility and worth of our human station in relation to God.


As Aristotle put it, Man by nature desires to know. And surely we want to know in order to gain power to make things better. Our nature as human beings is invested in progress and improvement. That is what approaching both God and truth are all about, for heaven's sake.




Baha'u'llah teaches this too. If you are not serving all humankind, you have not attained your human station. This is in the Lawh-i-Maqsud, where He says, "That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race." (Tablets, 163) He explicitly connects belief in the possibility of progress, especially moral progress, to becoming human, how much more to belief in God.


"All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. The Almighty beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man." (Gl. 214)


He goes on to point out that one reason we teach the Faith is to tell Caesar what the truth is, why God created us, and why it is important to hold to His truth.


"Say: O friends! Drink your fill from this crystal stream ... Let others partake of its waters in My name, that the leaders of men in every land may fully recognize the purpose for which the Eternal Truth hath been revealed, and the reason for which they themselves have been created."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Six Stages of Reform


By John Taylor; 2011 Apr 19, Jalal 11, 168 BE



Comments on Panorthosia, Chapter 19: "Concerning The Initial Stages Of Universal Reform And Its Subsequent Progress Towards Success, And Explaining What Is Required For Its Wise Execution."


The mind of John Amos Comenius was rooted in the Middle Ages. I mean, in a good way. In fact, to grasp his medieval sensibilities is key to understanding how a Reformation thinker could after so many centuries still be in the van of progressives. Admittedly, there are good reasons why chivalry was left by the wayside, just as there are good reasons that Greek and Latin are no longer the languages of scholarship, and why witch burnings, aristocracy, autocracy, patriarchy, hierarchy, trial by combat, animal executions and many other corrupt practices were abandoned. The code of chivalry, however, did have its advantages, which Comenius appreciated. He included some of its better elements in his plan for a new world order.







The 19th Chapter of Panorthosia lays out a process of global reform in six "stages," each of which he expands upon in a subsequent chapter, going from the individual, the family, schools, churches, politics and, finally, universal reform of the entire human race. This strict set of procedures he compares to the way builders put together a building.


"This gradual advance towards the improvement of our affairs and the development of our happiness follows the example of the wise architect who first works on the stones and beams, then erects the walls, and makes a vaulting to join them together. Finally he puts a roof over them all, and sees that many component parts constitute one single home." (Panorthosia, Ch. 19, para 15, pp. 15-16)


The editor of the English edition of Panorthosia points out that Francis Bacon, whose works Comenius read carefully, had made a similar point that the technique for erecting a building on site is not the same as that used for assembling its component parts, and that analogously society is joined and protected by different means. Undoubtedly, both writers had in mind the remarkable techniques by which those anonymous geniuses built medieval cathedrals across Europe. This achievement is still recognized as one of the greatest technological wonders of the age.





Unlike gradualists today, however, Comenius did not think that methodically going through a set procedure meant that it would be impossible to tackle personal, familial, local and global problems all at once. Just as the cathedral builders, once their techniques were refined and the local populace involved, knocked together many buildings in relatively quick succession, so the process of global reform could potentially work at several levels at once. In the 19th Chapter, Comenius hastens to point out that rapid, simultaneous reform was commonplace when the need for it was deemed urgent.


"I say all people at the same time, because the first way towards speedy success is to tackle the task on a universal scale. For example we frequently see our largest cities being cleaned up all at once in a single day on the approach of an anniversary or the arrival of a king, when everyone attends to the sweeping of every space that belongs to him in front of his own house. Therefore let us all begin in God's name to play our part together, scholars, churchmen, and politicians alike, no matter how small our individual share of the world may be." (Comenius, Panorthosia, Ch. 19, para 9, pp. 13-14)


Comenius goes on to point out that the key to speeding up global reform will be to learn to enlist the wholehearted support of experts in all three of the central elements of progress, those who, once corruption is eliminated, can engage the untapped intellectual, spiritual and executive powers resting dormant within us all.


"So from now onwards let scholars begin to enlighten their own and other men's minds more fully, and churchmen to inspire their own and other men's hearts more passionately with true heavenly fire, and politicians to administer justice better (according to true laws of justice) in their own and other men's courts." (Ch. 19, para 10, p. 14)


As we unleash these three potent forces on every level of society at once, we can rapidly grasp our reason for being and attain to happiness. We will,


"truly release ourselves from the labyrinths, and be truly restored to God and attached to freedom, and truly achieve the supreme end of life, which is peace of mind." (para 12, p. 14)


Coordinated Operations




It may seem paradoxical to suggest that reform can be both methodical and universal at the same time, or, to use more current buzzwords, at once algorithmic and multi-tasking. He resolves this by pointing to an image, the illustration that he apparently chose as the headpiece to the series of works that he collectively called the Consultatio, of which the Panorthosia was the final volume. The several chapters that follow Chapter Nineteen each end in a summation, usually using a citation from this illustration, each of which comes out of imagery in a Psalm or a Biblical prophecy. Unfortunately, I have not located this picture, but he describes it in a note to the 13th paragraph of this chapter,


"It is for this reason that I have an illustration in the frontispiece to this 'Consultatio' depicting

i. Lights being kindled from the light of God and shedding in all directions;

ii. Righteousness and Peace kissing each other, and everything beginning to flourish again on the Earth;

iii. All the inhabitants of the earth occupied with the worship of God, so that the prophecies of Psalms 86:3 and 100:1, etc., may appear to be fulfilled." (Panorthosia, Author's Notes for Ch. 19, p. 19)

In choosing this unifying structure, Comenius clearly had in mind an early multimedia technique known as the emblem. Emblems included quotes from several sources, often in several languages, as well as graphic representations, often using the visual language of heraldry. Heraldry is a medieval tradition where a knight sports a particular device on his shield, a family displays symbols of its honour, origin, ideals or accomplishments using prescribed images on an emblem or escutcheon, accompanied by a motto, often in Greek or Latin. In the same way, kingdoms symbolized the virtues to which they aspired through depictions of beasts, either real or mythical. This was a good aspect of chivalry that fell unfortunately into desuetude.


Since, as we have seen, Comenius believed in leadership not by compulsion but by advice and accreditation, he clearly intended in these six chapters of Panorthosia that individuals, families, schools, churches and nations should earn the right to display the saying that he places at the end of each chapter.


For example, the twentieth chapter of Panorthosia, that concerns the "first stage of reform, which must begin within each individual," would offer the right for individuals to wear, like a medieval knight, this device on his or her escutcheon:


"Here is a splendid image of God."




This refers to the assertion in the Book of Genesis that man was created in the image of God. Abrahamic religions tend to be suspicious of images because the mind needs to block out external images in order to perceive the inner virtues that make humans images of God. This is why Comenius suggests that a declaration affirming that society recognizes that a person is displaying divine virtues would be the pinnacle of human attainment. The full final paragraph in this chapter states,


"Therefore no matter who you are, you must reform yourself according to God's good pleasure and with His help, so that angels and pious men are able, as it were, to read on your forehead the inscription: `HERE IS A SPLENDID IMAGE OF GOD.'" (Comenius, Panorthosia, Ch. 20, para 24, p. 28)


It is obvious that individuals, even if they work as soldiers, no longer walk around carrying a shield displaying a heraldic device. We do, however, display our credentials in the form of degrees, credit cards, driving licenses and, on the Internet, passwords and digital sign-on procedures. In the second volume of Cosmopolis Earth I will discuss in detail how world governance in future might make use of such declarations.


Similarly, Comenius in the twenty-first chapter suggests how families who "conspicuously" display unity between husband and wife and show affection between parents and children, might earn the right to display another device, one based on a quote from Corinthians, which declares of that home,


"THIS IS THE DWELLING PLACE OF VIRTUE, ORDER, AGREEMENT, AND GOD AMONGST MEN! Therefore let nothing that is evil ever enter it!" (Panorthosia, Ch. 21, para 18, p. 37)


In chapters that follow, Comenius offers similar suggested mottos for schools, faith groups, politics and even, in Chapter Twenty-Five, the world government, which he calls the World Assembly or Ecumenical Council. The device he suggests for this supreme body is a direct quote from Isaiah,


"Thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night for the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish." (Isa 60:11-12, cited in Panorthosia, pp. 152-153)

This citation, again, is astonishingly modern in spirit, not only in its emphasis on "openness," which of course is the mantra of the open software movement, but also in its emphasis on voluntary membership in the family of nations. The prophesy suggests that world governance will use self-interest -- or, at least, fear of perishing -- as the motivator for continuing in that world government.


All in all, what Comenius suggests is a system of reform through rewards and honours, one that offers, before all else, prestige to those who would live up to clear standards of the highest virtue. For instance, in Chapter Twenty-Four, which is devoted to how to universalize the world of politics, he suggests the following byword:


"Any state which frames its laws with a view to the blessing of God and its own salvation will earn the right to use the inscription, `HERE IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH, WHERE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PEACE HAVE KISSED EACH OTHER.'" (Psalm 85:10, cited in Panorthosia, Ch. 24, p. 127)




This essentially foreshadows the content of the most recent and probably the most realistic proposal by a world federalist. In it, James Yunker proposes a stage of transition to world government in the form of what he calls a "Federal Union of Democratic Nations." (see James A. Yunker, The Idea of World Government, Routledge, New York, 2011, pp. 106-111) This union would be open to all nations who call themselves democratic.


Once a borderline country joins the organization, however, it would be offered incentives to improve their freedom of the press, transparency, election fairness ratings, and so forth. Such positive reinforcement of improvements to the preconditions of democracy would eventually raise standards to the point where all nations become just and democratic. This, Junker holds, would be more effective than threatening to declare war on nations who decide to withdraw from a global government. A Federal Union, Yunker proposes, would be an acceptable first step to a stronger world government to be introduced later on.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Towards a Pinocchio Law

Foolishness in the News,

Real Roots of Competition


By John Taylor; 2011 Apr 16, Jalal 07, 168 BE




There are several chapters in my book-in-progress on John Amos Comenius and Panorthosia that deal with wisdom. Universal wisdom, pansophy, is, for him, a precondition of world order.


As I write about wisdom and pansophy, I try not to comment on the news. If I do that too much, I will surely never finish this book.


But the nuclear disaster in Japan made it very hard. What kind of ship of fools would build nuclear reactors in the most earthquake and tsunami prone area on earth? We are talking folly on an epic scale. Really, it is amazing that an entire industry can lie in the faces of the public for so long and not suffer any consequences. I have seen proposals for making the telling of lies illegal. Call it a Pinocchio law. In this case surely, somebody should go to jail for blatant mendacity under Pinocchio legislation. Trouble is, the government of Japan has been doing the same thing to the people from the day the crisis started. Who do you appoint to guard the guardians? Meta-guardians?


George Monbiot is going around defending the nuclear case, based on holes he found in a debate he had with Helen Caldecott. He is missing the point. The point is that no nuclear power has ever been generated without heavy subsidies from us, through government. If an economic activity is not economical and it is impossible for insurers to back it up when things go wrong, then what better reason could there be to shut the whole industry down immediately and never look back?




The more news I read, the harder it is to shut up. For example, President Obama railroads the UN and NATO to attack Libya, has U.S. planes lead the assault, then remembers that he is required by the U.S. constitution to inform Congress before engaging in hostilities. Oops. Obama is a law professor advised by dozens of legal experts. How could a blunder like that slip by?


The list goes on.


Then I ran across this, from Kant's famous peace plan. It expresses one's feelings exactly.


"One cannot suppress a certain indignation when one sees men's actions on the great world-stage and finds, beside the wisdom that appears here and there among individuals, everything in the large woven together from folly, childish vanity, even from childish malice and destructiveness." (Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View, 1784,


In setting up a Pinocchio law, all you have to do is set up a leader board where the truth of any public statement is measured according to factual results determined later by statisticians and other experts. Any statement by a public figure should be displayed visually for all to see, if only on the Web. If the facts vary from what is stated by them, have a portrait of that public figure grow its nose a little longer. Once it stretches beyond a certain point, jail time or fines or some other punishment can normalize the image.


Again, this is derived from a divine teaching, "by their fruits ye shall know them..." Socrates, according to Xenophon, talked about the same idea. We just have to visualize and put into graphic form, what he describes.


"It seems strange enough to me that a herdsman who lets his cattle decrease and go to the bad should not admit that he is a poor cowherd; but stranger still that a statesman when he causes the citizens to decrease and go to the bad, should feel no shame nor think himself a poor statesman." (Xen. Mem. 1.2.32)


A few months ago, I audited Karen Armstrong's book, Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet (2001, from Orion Publishing).




Two quotes from the Qur'an jumped out at me and bit me on the nose. I have been keeping them in a safe box, but I take them out now to show you, very carefully. To me, they are making some very advanced points about evolution. The first talks about cultural evolution.


"Unto every one of you We have appointed a (different) law and way of life. And if Allah had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but (He willed it otherwise) in order to test you by means of what He has given you. Vie, then, with one another in doing good works! Unto Allah you all must return; and then He will make you truly understand all that on which you were wont to differ." (Qur'an 5:48)

It is important not to miss what is being said here. We have many cultures, languages and races for a divinely inspired reason. God wants it that way. He does things for a reason. The market fundamentalists did not invent the idea that competition is a good thing. It is a teaching of God. He encourages groups to work apart and vie with one another in excellence, and everybody benefits from the invisible hand -- another religious teaching that did not come from Adam Smith or any other economist, it is scriptural.


Abdu'l-Baha, in one of His letters to Dr. Forel, pointed out that the Genesis myth, so often used in opposition to evolution, in fact, is the origin of the whole idea of evolution. It starts off telling how God created light, then earth, then animals, and so forth until humans came along. The entire idea of good coming out of fair competition, in nature, in human ideas, it comes from God's teachings.


The other Qur'an quote talks about the good in other faiths. Muhammad looks back at older faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and points out that there are pious believers who, again, "vie with one another in good works." Religion is in essence not a field for self-congratulation on being right while others are in error. It is not even a place where ideas or groups compete; it is a fraternity where true believers lovingly compete with one another in virtue, not as many lamps under many bushels, but in showing one light to the world.


"[However] They are not all alike. Among the People of the Book there is an upright community who recite the revelation of God during the night and fall prostrate before Him. They believe in God and the Last Day, enjoin what is right and forbid what is evil, and vie with one another in good works. They are of the righteous and whatever good they do, its reward will not be denied them. God knows those who fear [Him]. (Qur'an 3:113-115)

Baha'u'llah says something parallel when He declares that this faith is not a "field for the foolish and faint of heart," it is a jousting field where you a charger and fight your spiritual battles in the name of God.


"This is not a Cause which may be made a plaything for your idle fancies, nor is it a field for the foolish and faint of heart. By God, this is the arena of insight and detachment, of vision and upliftment, where none may spur on their chargers save the valiant horsemen of the Merciful, who have severed all attachment to the world of being. These, truly, are they that render God victorious on earth, and are the dawning-places of His sovereign might amidst mankind. (Baha'u'llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas, para 178, p. 84)




This describes the divine art of struggle and competition, a battle to remove folly, arrogance and insolence at the root. It starts within, it starts with the self-assessment that Baha'u'llah prescribes for us all, every day, every moment of our lives. Anything that visualizes and charts our progress in this regard, has to be welcomed by us, and by all, for ultimately the question, "Who will guard the guardians?" has to be our own vigilant selves in living up to the Covenant.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thoughts about the Canadian Election


My former college roommate, Marius Marsh, wrote the following editorial, which I include without alteration.  At the end, though, I added an interesting assessment of the fairness of Canadian democracy, which I just stumbled across, called:  "On the quality of Canada's electoral system."




Dear Friends


    I am urging you to consider an extremely serious issue regarding the upcoming election that is being almost completely missed in the election coverage.  This issue is described in the following piece.  I ask that you read the following with an unbiased eye and that, in the spirit of open democratic discussion disseminate the material as widely as possible.  I ask that you keep the piece in its entirety wherever possible to maintain its coherence.

The piece is included below in the body of this email, but is also attached as a text file.




To the People of Canada


    We, the voters of Canada, have been called to exercise our democratic right to vote due to a unique event in the 140 plus year history of our British parliamentary system. How we choose to vote is likely to have consequences that will continue to reverberate through the democratic history of Canada and the 54 countries of the British Commonwealth for decades, if not centuries to come. This unique and crucial event is becoming lost in the clouds of rhetoric and campaigning that surround this election. There is a critical need for all Canadians who are eligible to vote to drop all their prejudices that result from affiliation to any particular political party in order to reflect deeply on the meaning of the term “Contempt of Parliament.” It is due to the finding that a particular party was in contempt of parliament that this election was called.


    The dictionary definition of “contempt” is: “A feeling that a person or thing is beneath consideration or worthless, or deserving of scorn or extreme reproach” (Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 2nd Ed.).


    Parliament includes the House of Commons, which is the only portion of the Canadian Government that is democratically elected by the people of Canada.


This means that a political party has been found to be acting toward Parliament as if the only democratically elected portion of our federal government is beneath consideration or worthless. As a result, Parliament lost confidence in the governing party.   A few moments of reflection on the above in an unbiased manner should provoke a realization of the extreme severity of the situation, and of the potential immense consequences of the upcoming election on future parliaments.  Before voting, Canadians of all political stripes must ask themselves what message they would be giving to all future governments by giving their support, through their vote, to the practice of being in contempt of parliament.  To re-elect a party after it had been found to be in contempt of parliament would be actively encouraging future governments to;


  • withhold from Parliament, and hence from the Canadian public, crucial information requested by parliament and needed to make intelligent and informed decisions
  • withhold documents needed to initiate public enquiries
  • ignore rulings of the Speaker of the House
  • alter conclusions of signed documents provided by civil servants, without taking responsibility for the alterations


This could be a severe blow to vital systems that maintain democracy.


    For those of you who may feel that the vote of non-confidence was a result of a biased or weak Speaker of the House, you should be aware that Peter Milliken is highly respected by all parties in the House, and, indeed, the Conservative House leader has stated, prior to the election being called, his feeling that Peter Milliken would “go down in history as, if not one of the best Speakers, the best Speaker the House of Commons ever had”.


    The people of Canada should be aware that, since this is the first time in the history of the British Commonwealth that a governing party has fallen due to being in contempt of Parliament, this is not a normal election. We may choose to remain ignorant of the situation, of the importance of our vote, and of the long term implications, but, our ignorance may not be forgiven easily by future generations who may have to suffer the consequences of our re-electing a political party that has been found to view Parliament as “beneath consideration or worthless”.



On the quality of Canada's electoral system


Canada's overall score of 25.75% for electoral fairness means that Canada's electoral system is significantly more unfair than fair.


In consideration of the research and findings, the source of the electoral unfairness is severe inequality in the media and severe favoring of candidates and parties which were successful in the previous election. The success in the previous election and control of the media are mutually reinforcing forces. It should be noted that in principal, a person who wins for example a marathon, is not given a significant head start in the next marathon simply because he won the previous. He starts at the same place as the other competitors. In Canada's electoral system, candidates and parties successful in the previous election are given inexplicably a very significant head start or advantage in the next election and throughout it.


In contrast to Egypt (under Mubarak) which received a 0% overall score for electoral fairness and Tunisia (under Ben Ali) which received a 10% overall score, Canada is from 15.75% to 25.75% better. Yet Canada is still significantly in the failing zone for electoral fairness. (A passing grade is 50%.) Moreover, in Egypt and Tunisia, the source of electoral unfairness stems from state control, whereas in Canada, the source of electoral unfairness stems from media dominance and favoring of dominant parties.


To put Canada's failing score into further perspective, Finland received an overall score of 40.75% for electoral fairness. This score means that the Finish electoral system is more unfair than fair, while Canada's electoral system, as mentioned, is significantly more unfair than fair.


The source of Canada's failing grade for electoral fairness stems likely from the fact that the majority of the Parliament determines the election rules, and the majority of Canada's parliamentarians have the support of Canada's mainstream media and broadcasters. Basically and inexplicably, the majority of Canada's federal politicians are making the rules of their own game. It is a self-perpetuating system favoring particular political parties who have the support of the mainstream media, in a never ending cycle of electoral unfairness.


Pasted from <>





Friday, April 08, 2011

Come the Postliminium


Preparing for a Postliminium


This is a draft of a chapter in my book-in-progress, Cosmopolis Earth



Section Title: Cosmopolitan Leadership


By John Taylor; 2011 Apr 08, Baha 18, 168 BE


Preparing for a Postliminium


A New Trivium


Comenius envisaged the introduction of two new professions, the tribune and the magistrate, as well as the RTC-ROC, or the right to advisors and a reciprocal obligation to comply with their advice, as coming at a later stage in what he calls the Postliminium. This unfamiliar term originally referred to the administrative changeover when a knight errant returned from soldiering and took over the management of his farms and estates from their trustees. Postliminium is also a legal term, dealing with the rules for restoring land to its original owners after the re-conquest of a territory.




For a Christian leader, "postliminium" would also have a religious resonance. At the end of the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:25) the boss in his postliminium takes his trustees into account for how they invested a sum of money (talents) in his absence. In an earlier work, Comenius wrote,


"Remember the reward that He promises to His good and faithful servants who employ the talents entrusted to them in such a way that they gain others, and the threats that He utters against the slothful who bury their talents in the earth." (Great Didactic)


Christians, then, expect a divine Postliminium where God takes human management into account. Unlike his contemporaries, however, Comenius made no sharp dichotomy between postliminium as the end time promised in the Bible and the political and scientific unification of the planet that will take place after a world government has been formed.


In Panorthosia, then, Postliminium describes a sea change in all human affairs, religious, political and educational, that must begin as soon as war is permanently outlawed by a grand conference of humankind.


Comenius expected a long period of soul searching leading up to the postliminium. He does not say how long the preparation would take, only that everybody, especially leaders of thought, would be busy unifying language, philosophy, faith and practical policy. He devotes well over half of Panorthosia -- not to mention the several books preparing for Panorthosia, called collectively the Consultatio -- describing the transformations in thought, morals and habits that would ready the world for the Postliminium.




Come the Postliminium


Comenius may have expected it to take a decade, perhaps longer, for thinkers from all continents to prepare the world of thought by converging in their own ideas and rectifying and standardizing the climate of opinion in the peoples of the world. Early in Panorthosia, he suggests that three earlier works in the Consultatio series would be helpful in preparing for universal reform, since they show how to diagnose the wrongs and distractions in human affairs that will need to be eradicated first.


"The evils that have arisen in our lives even up to the present day have perhaps been clearly exposed in my Universal Wisdom, Universal Education, and Universal Language, inasmuch as we forgot how to attend to the essentials of Education, Politics, and Religion, and instead filled all these with the non-essential, the irrelevant and the trivial." (Panorthosia II, Ch. 5, para 23, p. 96)


Comenius had, in these earlier works, put forward what he regarded as a modernization of the old trivium that had dominated the elementary curriculum throughout the Middle Ages.


The trivium taught what were thought to be three fundamental elements of thought, grammar, logic and rhetoric. Grammar forms thought, logic puts it together and rhetoric communicates it. These elementary disciplines prepared for the quadrivium, which was taught in the universities, the four disciplines being: arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. Unfortunately, since it was taught in Latin only to sons of the gentry, this educational program failed to unite the locality or the whole of Europe, much less the whole world. They were much too general, theoretical and, well, trivial, to be useful in comprehensive reform.




Instead, a curriculum is needed that will balance social responsibility with our three inner powers, mind, soul and spirit. Comenius's trivium was designed to serve the natural philosophy (science and education) that had just come into existence, as well as to renew politics and revivify religion. It sought to do this by placing each of these three, science, faith and practical politics, at the center of children's studies from the earliest age. This would unite outer with inner realities and pave the way for universal reform and the Postliminium.


Towards a Global Constitution


We have already discussed two applications of this trivium that could hurry the coming of the Postliminium -- the simplification project and the use of wisdom as a global ideology -- which he termed pansophism. Both are part of a broader project to enlighten all humans, a massive educational initiative that would not end with the arrival of a world government but in fact would accelerate, since funds formerly wasted on war would be released into more productive investment.




Comenius here addresses our lack of what a recent textbook on the subject calls a "widespread sense of shared values and aspirations," since the "precondition for world government is world community." Thus the bulk of Panorthosia, and the books leading up to it, attempts to solve a problem that is still regarded by specialists in international relations as the chief obstacle to a world government. In a recent world federalist assessment of this expert consensus, James A. Yunker expresses a hope that our lack of a sense of "world community" among civilizations and cultures can be overcome by what Comenius would call a Postliminium.


"Once a limited world government has been established, it might then evolve, by gradual stages, toward a more authoritative and effective government authority. In other words, the existence of a formal world government, even though relatively weak at first, would tend to support a growing sense of supernational patriotism (i.e. "world community"), and strengthening world community would enable a stronger and more effective world government, which in turn would further strengthen the spirit of world community, and so on. A snowballing effect might take place, leading eventually to a very strong sense of world community, and a commensurately authoritative and effective world government." (James A. Yunker, The Idea of World Government, Routledge, New York, 2011, pp. 80-81)


Once the program of universal reform is well underway, Comenius proposes, our next step will be to agree upon a global constitution. The entire lead-up to the Postliminium should be a period of reflection, consultation and preoccupation with what the content of this global constitution should be. He does not say so openly, but Comenius evidently intended that the final book he was writing, Panorthosia, should be a draft of this constitution, if not the actual text itself. Immanuel Kant had the same ambition over a century later when, also at the end of his career, he wrote his famous "sketch" for a permanent peace.




During the past twenty years, there have been efforts by many groups in "civil society" to draft a broad based constitution in the form of the Earth Charter.

Whatever the contents of the world constitution may be, perhaps the most striking feature of Comenius's suggested process for implementing and safeguarding its provisions is another new profession, which he called "senators of the world." In coming chapters of Cosmopolis Earth we will look at how these agents of a global constitution would operate.