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Old 17.10.2007, 16:52   #1
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Sunday, October 14, 2007
When it comes to our clergy and their contributions to our spiritual and intellectual welfare, no institution can rival the Mekhitarist order. And yet, writing nearly a hundred years ago, Daniel Varoujan has this to say about them: “The sermons of our clergy are as sweet as their prayers but their hearts are as black as their cassocks. There are some good souls among them who deserve our respect, granted, but the rest are a nest of vipers.” What Varoujan doesn’t tell us is that the “good souls” are invariably marginalized and rendered ineffective.
Varoujan was educated by Mekhitarist monks in Venice. So was I. It occurs to me now that they at no time emphasized the importance of unity and solidarity probably because they too had split into two independent branches, both of which are now bankrupt and moribund, not because they lacked popular and financial support but because they were taken in by smooth-talking crooks who stole their millions (perhaps even billions) by promising them greater wealth.
Because being duped comes naturally to us we feel the need to compensate by assessing ourselves as smart. But whereas our status as perennial dupes is a fact, our self-conferred superior IQ is fiction bordering on fantasy.
It has been said that once upon a time we were slaves; we are now slaves of former slaves. We could also say that, once upon a time we were dupes; we are now dupes of former dupes.
Here is another useful quotation by Daniel Varoujan: “What’s the use of acquiring knowledge and developing one’s esthetic judgment in a world run by ignorant scum?”
Monday, October 15, 2007
Whenever I am accused of being an atheist, I say, “I don’t believe in the god of our priests.” That seems to placate my accusers, who are more than eager to change the subject.
No word, no being, no concept has been more mercilessly, consistently, and ruthlessly exploited and abused than that of god.
“Man cannot create a single worm, yet he has created ten thousand gods.” And all these gods have their followers who claim their god is the only true god.
There are those who see god everywhere. There are others who see only his absence. And then there are men of faith willing to slaughter one another on grounds that all gods except their own are phonies.
In all organized religions, obedience to god inevitably evolves to subservience to men who speak in the name of god. It is easy to speak in the name of god, but much more difficult to speak with his wisdom.
Where there is talk of god, the result will be intolerance, hatred, persecution, torture, terror, and slaughter, all of which must be god’s way of punishing the arrogance of men who dare to speak in his name.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
One way to describe a theologian is to say that he is like an ant in a deep hole who claims he can describe what’s on the other side of the horizon as seen from the top of a mountain; or, he is like a man who searches for a black hat in a dark room, both of which (hat/room) are figments of his imagination.
As for interpreting the word of god: I urge you to read two classics in the field: Bertrand Russell’s WHY I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN, and G.B. Shaw’s preface to his play, ANDROCLES AND THE LION (which, like most of his prefaces, is longer than the play).
I wouldn’t be surprised if some day theological treatises are read the way we read science fiction today.
As Aldous Huxley explains in his PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY, mystics of all persuasions speak essentially the same language, and their two central messages are, (i) their visions or experiences are more real than reality, and (ii) they cannot be described with words.
My favorite mystics are the Zen Buddhists (who, by the way, happen to be atheists) and my favorite writer on Zen is not D.T. Suzuki but Arthur Koestler, and I quote from his THE LOTUS AND THE ROBOT: “Inarticulateness is not a monopoly of Zen; but it is the only school which made a philosophy out of it, whose exponents burst into verbal diarrhea to prove constipation.”
To those who say, we don’t want to know what others may have said on the subject; we want to know what you think. My answer is: I was brought up as a Catholic, which means, as a child I was thoroughly indoctrinated by priests, brothers, nuns, monks…the whole schmear. But I am no longer a child and long beards, big books, and solemn titles no longer impress me, and I respect an Eminence as much as I respect a Highness or an Excellency.
October 16, 2007
In his commentary on the recent Congressional vote on the Armenian Genocide (U.S. motion will damage relations with Turkey – Oct. 16) Gwynne Dyer writes that, unlike the Jewish Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire was not premeditated – in his own words: “It was certainly genocide, but it was not premeditated, nor was it systematic.” What he fails to note is that the Genocide was not an isolated or a spur-of-the-moment improvised reaction. The systematic massacre of Armenians began in 1894 and was followed up by successive waves of massacres in 1895, 1896, and 1909. The disposition to massacre was there long before the Genocide of 1915. In what way, may I ask, genocide by predisposition is politically or morally more acceptable than genocide by premeditation?
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Writing for Armenians is like trying to share your crust of bread with individuals who dine on five-course meals in four-star restaurants.
Nothing exposes our degree of civilization more effectively than the manner in which we conduct our disagreements.
In a kleptocracy, plutocracy, and generally speaking in all undemocratic governments, charlatans prosper because the men at the top need them to legitimize their power; and where charlatans prosper, honesty will be outlawed.
Knowledge increases in one direction, ignorance in all directions exponentially. One way to explain why Jack S. Avanakian knows everything, Socrates nothing.
To how many of our charlatans I could say, it isn’t that I don’t believe what you say, you don’t believe it either, and the only reason you are saying it is to see if you can fool me and get away with it. Because that’s how you measure your IQ: the more people you fool, the smarter you are.
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