An Analysis of Competing Fundamentalisms by Sathyanathan Clarke

Reverend Doctor Sathiyanathan Clarke is a renowned professor of Theology at the Wesley Theological Seminary. In his epoch making work ‘Competing Fundamentalisms’, he analyzes fundamentalism in Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.
‘Religious fundamentalism in the 21st century is a beast with many heads’. Clarke seeks a dialogical interpretation of fundamentalism. The aim of religious fundamentalism is to generate violence and breed terror. There is a strong link between religious fundamentalism and terrorism.
Four Theories that underestimate the Role of Religion
Clash of Civilizations
In the Clash of Civilizations theory the author draws patterns of conflicting cultures. There is an interpretative analysis on how religions clash with culture on the one hand and there is a growth of multiculturalism and hybridity on the other.
Resistance to Empire
Resistance to Empire thesis proposes that religious fundamentalism arose as a resistance to the big powers imperialistic designs. There is a clash of interests between the commercial and the religious world. Religious fanaticism can be seen as a protest to challenge neo-colonial interests.
It’s the Economy Stupid
Here the author looks at the economic interpretation of history. From the Marxian point of view, religion and culture belong to the super-structure of the society. There is a paradox here, of poor economies and its people being driven to religious zealotry and at the same time the big rich like Osmana Bin Laden being driven to Islamic extremism.
Psychological Theories
The writer makes crucial point in formulating psychological theories to analyze religious bigotry. Lack of self esteem, hatred towards the other, belief in reward of heaven all are contributing factors in driving people towards radicalism.
Christian Fundamentalism
Christian Fundamentalism was a reaction against secular world view. Under the New Christian Right NCR, evangelists used digital and social media. After September 11, Christian fundamentalism grew its claws to claim American Society

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Throughout centuries American missionaries have worked globally to proselytize people to Christianity. Absolutism in Christianity can be traced to the Scripture—the Bible being the infallible world of God. A charismatic pastor in America burned the Quran. The absoluteness of Christ God being a redemptive savior and being an agent that will surpass evil with good forms an important ingredient in theo-politics. Christian fundamentalism started as a thorough rejection of enlightenment.
I would like to disagree with the author whether Christianity is a fundamentalism. Christian evangelists spread peace and love and work independently without being contextual in the geo-political scenario.
It is not an irony but a celebration to point out that in the 21st century there has not been a single instance of Christian terrorism. Conversion is a protestant culture and aims at winning souls rather than winning battles.
Islamic Fundamentalism
The author begins to explain that Western societies are suffering from Islamic-phobia. Amongst the various strands of Islam, there are the Sunnis who cover predominant parts of the world and have a deep rooted fundamentalism in their character. The Shya Muslims on the other hand possess a liberal theology.
Islamic militancy has two fold objectives: one, using Islamic laws as a solution to social, cultural and economic problems and two, creating a community of Islamic believers.
The attack of USA’s Twin Towers by Sunni Muslims and the retaliation made by America’s invasion of Iraq increased the storm and rage the Jihadists. The concept of an all global Islamic State remarks one scholar is psycho-pathological.
Islamic fundamentalists adhere submission to the one and all powering God Allah and obedience to the Sharia. They carry a bitter hatred for the otherness of people. The diehards also embellish the view that Quran is the voice of God conveyed by the angel Gabriel and recited by memory (Muhammad did not know to read and write) and written down by its faithful adherents.
Modernity and Globalization have transformed fanatic devotees of Islam into a worldwide movement.
There are two forms of Jihad—the lesser Jihad and the greater Jihad. Greater Jihad is waged against people who are un-Islamic and who threaten the religious order of Islam.
It’s a moot question to ask which of these fundamentalisms Christianity, Islam or Hinduism is the worst. The answer is left to the discretion of the reader.
Hindu Fundamentalism
Hindu Fundamentalism is oxymoronic. Hinduism is a paradox—on the one hand it is diverse, tolerant and permissive and on other hand it is veering towards violent extremism.
The beginnings of Hindu fanaticism can be traced back to the Mughal invasions in India and systematic destruction of temples. Mughals also had the aim of conversion of infidels to Islam.
Hinduism in the 21st century involved the resurgence of what is popularly known as the Hindutva or violent, terrorizing Hinduism.
Savarkar a Hindu extremist said : ‘I want all Hindus to get themselves reanimated and reborn into a martial race’.
Savarkar defined India as being Hindutva’s sacred space. Savarkar’s ideas were greatly admired by the RSS (a militant wing of the Hindus) chief and founder Hegdewar. Hindu militancy acquired fire during the 80’s
The RSS and the VHP both being militant outfits conjoined with the BJP, the political party of India which came to power in 2014. Its chief driven purpose was to create a Hindu state for India.
The Hindu zealots want to change Nehruvian Indian secularism to a hard faceted Hindutva ideology.
The mosque that was built by Babar at Ayodhya which is considered to be the birth place of Lord Rama (Holy for the Hindus) was desecrated and demolished by Bajranglal (militant Hindus) activists and it created animosity between the Hindus and the Muslims.
The BJP government also plays a sinister role of infusing Hindu ideology into the curriculum of schools.
It is because of the prevalent caste system in Hinduism, that the subaltern, pariahs like the Dalits and the Adivasis get converted to Islam and Christianity.
There was violent attack on a railway carriage leading to the killing of scores of Muslims that too women and Children during the Modi (now Prime Minister of India) regime in Gujarat.
Bible burning, rape, murder and humiliation of Christians (a Christian missionary and his wife were paraded naked) became the disharmony of the day.
The VHP Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (a fanatic Hindu organization/ Trump are you listening) allocated 55 Million dollars for promoting Hindutva.
To conclude I would like to say that we need dialogic theologies of all religions that would harness peaceful coexistence and sustainable democracies for the future of hope and peace in the world.

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Analysis of Death of a Salesman

Death of a Sales Man by Arthur Miller is one of the prominent plays which won a Pulitzer Prize. The play depicts the life of an American Middle Class Family in pursuit of the great American Dream. Here I would like to analyze the play from various schools of literary thought.
Existentialism
The protagonist Willy Lowman can be compared to Albert Camus’ Myth of the Sisyphus where the Gods torture Sisyphus by making him roll a boulder all the way uphill to find that it rolls down again. Willy Lowman is forced to do a menial job for a selling company. The tragic hero of the play is a person in pursuit of the great American dream but fails to achieve and succumbs to suicide. Looking at him from Sartre’s existential point of view, we find him a bearer of existential angst. Plagued by the power of negative thinking, Billy relapses into existential solipsism. Billy’s character reveals an overarching narcissism.
Marxian Perspective
Looking at the play from a Marxian perspective we find the play is littered with oppressive symptoms of a leviathan, showing the perils of a capitalist society. The proletariat are struggling workaholics. We find a society that is inhuman and dehumanizing. Society is fragmented and proceeds on bettering oneself with the forsaking of one’s neighbor.
Psychoanalysis
I would like to introduce the Lacanian concept of the mirror stage. The mirror stage in psychoanalysis is a stage where the child enters the realm of language and becomes a self, a subject. The mirror stage is an arena where Billy’s psyche conflicts with the aspirations and goals set by him. The mirror becomes an absurd theater of life. From a Jungian perspective, Billy Lowman is an archetype of a fool. He is living in an illusory demented world. I would also like to make a comparison of Billy Lowman with Cervantes’ Don Quixote. The follies of Don Quixote at one point of time were denigrated as a fool’s conquest for utopia. Don Quixote in psychoanalysis can be considered as a narcissistic hero who creates the myth of existential anarchic living. Billy Lowman is a tragic, stoic hero who becomes a king of neurotic behavior.
Feminism
Billy’s wife Linda Lowman is an essence of the sacred feminine. She can be compared to a mother Goddess who tries to balance with the realities of life and who strives to cope up with Billy’s dementia. She is an archetype of a classic American middleclass woman who tries to cope up with the realities of life.
Postmodernism and Post structuralism
Postmodern perspectives analyze how binary divide is created in language. Certain structures are privileged signifiers and others are marginalized. In Death of a Salesman we find capitalism and the bourgeoisie to be privileged signifiers where as Billy Lowman and the proletariats are marginalized. Capitalism and the bourgeoisie become structures that can be read as texts of interpretative deconstruction.

 

Analysis of Homer’s Odyssey through Neologisms

Homer’s classic Epic—Odyssey belongs to the cannons of Greek Literature. Odyssey is a description of the return voyage of the epic hero Ulysses after the Trojan War. He is faced with insurmountable problems with the sea God Poseidon being against him. At home in Ithaca there are various suitors who are greedy for his Penelope. He is successfully able to overcome all the problems and slay the suitors competing for his wife. Here I would like to analyze the Odyssey using newly coined neologisms.
Meta-Psychosis
Meta-Psychosis is a condition where Gods and Goddesses intervene in the fate of man. In the book we counter various aspects of meta-psychosis. Let’s look at the anger of Poseidon on Ulysses causing him to be ship-wrecked. Then there is Goddess Athena who pleas to Zeus so that he might be rescued. We encounter the hero being caught by the wiles of the nymph Calypso and Circe. Meta-psychosis in a modern context applies to humans who are subject to the fate of their destiny.
Demo-anarchism
Demo-anarchism is coined from democracy and anarchism. In the state of Ithaca presuming the death of the protagonist there are a number of suitors competing to gain their hand in marriage of Penelope. This can be classified as the existence of demo-anarchism. Penelope takes a bold stance and evades the wishes of the suitors. The Trojan War was a war fought on democratic grounds and it can be compared to the Gulf War where America freed Kuwait from the hands of Saddam Hussein. The decision made by the God Poseidon not to favor the journey of Ulysses is also a state of demo-anarchism.
Paradoxis
Paradoxis is a peculiar trauma faced by Ulysses when he is ship wrecked and stranded on various islands. He faces the condition of being in paradox of being human and being God. Yet he remains steadfast in his faith to be loyal to Penelope and to return to the island of Ithaca. When confronted by Calypso and Circe he is successfully able to evade their temptations by the intervention of Gods. Paradoxis also refers to the conflict of Gods weighing down on the fate of Ulysses.
Meta-Colonization
Meta-colonization is a symptom of Gods being colonialists and interfering with the life of the hero. The wrath of Poseidon and the ship-wrecking of Ulysses all point out the birth of colonization in a metaphysical sense. The whole history of European colonization has its birth in the poem. We find the character of the actor in the poem to be democratic, seeking the pursuit of democracy by the strength of character.
Mytho-poesis
Mytho-poesis is the characterization of the web of the super-natural and natural elements into the craft of poetry. Ulysses faces a mountain of problems while on his journey back from Troy. Some of the problems are created by Gods to test the character and strength of Ulysses. The poem Odyssey is intensely subjective and bears the catharsis of poetic subjectivity.

Deconstructing Plato’s Republic

Plato is the famous Greek Philosopher, along with Socrates and Aristotle. In the book written as a dialogue, Socrates discusses the themes of Justice, whether a man is happier as a just man or as an unjust one. The book also discusses the theory of forms and the immortality of the soul. The dialogue also discusses a city state ruled by a philosopher king.

 
Book 1
In the book Socrates asks his colleagues a definition of justice and they say that Justice is the art to do good to friends and bad to enemies. One of them describes justice as the interest of the stronger. Socrates upturns their definitions by saying that it is your advantage to be just and it’s your disadvantage to be unjust. At this juncture I would like to reiterate that Socrates is beating around the bush. A postmodernist would ask questions like whether justice is based on strength or doing good to friends and befriending the enemy. In a democratic society justice is based on Rousseau’s Social Contract where freedom is consensual proclivity. A democracy ensures equal opportunities for all and there is freedom and liberty. Of course a modern day democracy falls short of a Utopia. The question to be asked in postmodernism, will there be a just society without wars and fanaticism. Will the other be understood as one’s own self in poetic subjectivity? When will democracy shun force and coercion and foster the spirit of dialogue. There is no perfect paradigm of justice and justice is in the process of evolution.

 
Book 2
The young companions of Socrates argue that the origin of justice lies in a Social Contract. This is true to a certain extent as democratic principles are framed on the inclusive well being of all individuals. The second argument is flawed as it says that those who practice justice do so in order of fear of punishment. There are individuals who are just because they are peaceful and they don’t want to disturb the ethos of the society. Yes, justice is enforced by the rule of law. When a crime is committed, the laws of the super ego intervene and thwart the individual to be condemned.

 
Book 3
This book is a dialogue about education. They proceed to dissect that education should be based on three virtues: wisdom, courage and temperance. To think and dialogue about wisdom is a philosophical problem. Wisdom is a hyperbolic, semantic solipsism. Who is wise? If we look at the question from the standpoint of existentialism we come to a being and nothingness. Is Wisdom found in perfection? From the standpoint of courage I would like to ponder it philosophically: is it wrong to be weak? Is it wrong to be frail? Are martyrs courageous? Why should terrorists be considered as courageous? To pin point courage into an epistemology would be a philosophical problem. Again the body is an Epicurean brothel of desires. How can the ID exercise temperance? Morals are a weak point for existential philosophers. That’s why Sartre said: man is condemned to be free. The clever deify the ID, defy the Ego and subvert the super ego.

 
Book 4
Book 4 is also a repetition of justice as encompassing the three cardinal virtues: wisdom, courage and temperance. Hedonism, Epicurean-ism Existentialism and Postmodernism break up these virtues and promote a synthesis of unrestrained freedom. There is creative catharsis in anarchy and chaos.

 
Book 5
I agree with the thesis that all individuals irrespective of gender should receive the same education. The Greeks have gone a long way in emphasizing gender equality. The second argument is rather specious as it advocates that all offspring should be looked after by the state and should be ignorant of their biological parents. The family is the basic unit of the society. The parents play major role in the upbringing of their wards.

 
Book 6
In this book Socrates states that the Philosopher king should be intelligent, reliable and willing to lead a simple life. One of the flaws of a modern democracy is that leaders live an ostentatious life. They are flamboyant globe trotters. Most of them live in the gluttony of corruption. Postmodernism asks the question: when will philosophers become rulers. Again there’s the argument that truth comes from goodness. Truth has been deconstructed as semantic misnomer. Truth is preferential.

 
Book 7
Book 7 enunciates the allegory of the cave. There are people in a cave and there is a wall separating them from which they can see a chasm of light. Plato was trying to explicate the theory of forms. Beyond the sensible world there is an ideal world of forms. Here Plato is indulging in a metaphysical abracadabra. How can one separate matter and be an ideal as a form?

 
Book 8
This book discusses the four states of govt. through which every society will pass and they are timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny. Timocracy is the rule of property owners. Such a type of society is unjust and power becomes a privileged signifier. Next comes the rule of the Oligarchs, a rule of the rich and the powerful. Such a society is also one of privilege and marginalization. Democracy is the ideal form of govt. though we can truthfully murmur that there is no ideal democracy. Democracy has to evolve from coercive democracies to consensual democracies. I do not adhere to the view of Socrates that democratic societies would degenerate into tyranny. I would like to say that democratic societies are evolving. I would like to say that theocratic societies have degenerated into rabid, tyrannical fanaticism.

 

Truth a Discourse

Problematizing truth is a methodological problem. Philosophy always asks the question: what is truth. Socrates used to play with truth, by probing his students with an endless play of questions and answers and finally shedding of the ritual of the question itself in sheer sophistry. But again the question remains: what is truth: is this the truth: what ought to be the truth. Instead of posing truth as a discourse, I would like to dialogue with truth.
Religions amalgamate truth into a cauldron of value, a relation to the supernatural. They make it out that truth is essential for salvation, eternal life, and all the metaphysical attributes, that separate the divine from the human. Now what can this type of truth be defined? Truth is separated from reason and undergoes the ritual, an enigma of the supernatural. For a non believer truth makes no sense. Theistic truth can’t be defined but only experienced as proclaimed by the mystics. Such a concept of truth can be delusional. Truth in the religious sense can be described as theistic-mania. However religious truth has been dismantled by structuralism and postmodernism. Truth for them is a play of signs, a playful connection between the signifier and the signified. Theology from a metaphysical frame work has been deconstructed, that is the Logos of Presence is an empty sign. But still believers of theism regard it as something fundamental.
How can we portray truth in the scientific realm? There are conjectural truths. For example the idea of the Big Bang is conjectural. But the concept of DNA is verifiable through the experimental. So also is the existence of subatomic particles. There are also other types of scientific truths, the inductive and the deductive. The inductive truth stems from premises that are true and leading to conclusions. For example: All men are mortal. Socrates is a Man. Therefore Socrates is mortal. This is an inductive truth. For deductive truth: the premises can be true or false. If they are true, they lead to the right conclusions. For example sugar dissolves in water and metal does not dissolve in water.
Next I would like to take the Hegelian concept of truth and that being, arriving at a thesis, then an antithesis and finally a synthesis. The problem of Hegel’s truth is that there might not be a synthesis. Let’s take communism as an example. The domination, corruption and violence attached to communism shifted its crux from the synthesis that Communism is right to an antithesis. The synthesis today at the level of political praxis is leanings of political philosophy to the dialectics of production and profit. Dialectical materialism has grown in its stature to opportunistic capitalism. The ideological apparatuses of the state control and monitor the individual secretly. Capitalism has shed its tentacles and has united societies into global corporations. Global corporations go even to the extent of funding democratic elections and bringing to victory candidates of their choice. Here truth becomes a choice of being a value as an economic entity. Truth becomes manipulated for affluent economic consumption.
Next I would like to explain truth from an ontological, phenomenological, psychoanalytic perspective. I am also going to incorporate postmodernism into my narrative. Ontology explains the structure of being, the presence of making the meaning of being. Postmodern philosophy has challenged the existence of presence of being. What I would like to say is that meaning is always being made. The processing of meaning through contents consciousness (phenomenology) is a dialectical process. We can call the making of meaning as processual ontology. Let’s take the concept of meaning psychoanalytically. The Philosopher Sartre has given the status of being as unlimited freedom. But psychoanalytically meaning of being remains conditioned to the ID, EGO and Super Ego. Raw passions are controlled by the EGO, family moorings, and the Super EGO, the laws of the society, what Lacan calls as: In the Name of the Law of the Father. A being has to tight rope walk on these three psychological attributes the ID, EGO and the Super Ego. A Nietzsche’s follower would in post-modern sense would say: sublimate the ID, transcend the Ego and the Subvert the Super Ego. By doing so, man can become the Übermensch or the over-man. Truth in the post modern sense depends on how well, you can sublimate the ID, transcend the Ego and subvert the Super Ego.

 

Nihilism

I have read Camus’ book ‘Myth of the Sisyphus’. And I started my introspection on Nihilism. The senseless, the absurd, the chaotic, have to be transformed by living a life of creative authentication. One way of overcoming Nihilism is through language. I adopt Nietzsche’s dictum: the will to power. Everyday experiences are transformed into metaphoric nuances. Nihilism for Nietzsche is the affirmation of the Dionysian. Ecstasy and rhythms are vibratory metaphors to transform life to a higher plane of existence. A nihilist would also like to experience altered states of consciousness. What are emotive characteristics of Nihilism? Affirmation, Negation, Possession, are various states where the individual exerts through creative anarchy. For a Nihilist democratic dialogism is a process through which inter-personal harmony is experienced. A nihilist has to transform life by overcoming suicide. What is affirmation? Affirmation is a cathartic-yes-ness of experience. Negation is an existential mantra, a nihiliation whereby an individual exorcises an intentional object or emotion from the core to the periphery of existence. The very root of possession is passion. The human body is built on the roots to appropriate. A nihilist does not believe in after life. He or she has to live the life to fullest while inhabiting the earth.

 

Metaphor

In this article I would like to focus on how we try to discern a metaphor. I would like to focus on the cognitional faculty associated with metaphors. Discerning a metaphor can be aesthetic, religious, secular, cultural-historical and philosophical.
A metaphor in common day language is an adornment of words where there occurs a comparison between things. For example: His thoughts are a flying saucer. It means that his thoughts are fanciful and unrealistic. This metaphor has only one effect on the reader which is a pure aesthetic one, one of pleasure.

Let’s look at another example: He is a shady night. Here the metaphor embodies a semantic concept, meaning that he is not a straight forward person. This semantic attribute is related to a particular emotional quality and there by casting its roots into the soil of judging human qualities.
But some metaphors go beyond the aesthetic. Let’s take a Biblical metaphor which is also simile: ‘You should have faith as a mustard seed’. A simile is also related to the metaphor and uses like or as. Here mustard seed takes a meaning of the supra-sensible realm, beyond the aesthetic. Faith becomes dichotomized into smallness and reliance on the super-natural. We can utilize its meaning in the secular sense as the tininess of faith for obtainment of a thing or with a religious tinge, having faith as small as a mustard seed and relying faith on a transcendental power. The hermeneutic meaning is left to the discernment of the reader.
Next I would like to take an example of a metaphor having political and historical connotations. For example: Fascism and Nazism have become religious entities of fanatic Islam in the contemporary geo-political world. Here the meaning becomes a thesis (far- right dictatorships), an antithesis (unfair barbarism and cruelty and the holocaust) and synthesis (the aim of fanatic Islam to create terrorism and also dominate the world). I am using Hegelian Philosophy here. The meaning of this metaphor bifurcates into cultural, political and historic roots and brings up a daunting similarity with the contemporary comparison.
Next I would like to analyze a metaphor from feminist philosophy. For example: We or they are gender twins. This refers to woman who does not like to be labeled as she or he. Being gender neutral and the same time having a gender is an accepted norm of conceptual democratic post-modern philosophy.

Thus in my readings of the metaphor, I have left its discernment as aesthetics, as the religious, as the semantic, as the secular, as the historical, cultural and the political and also the philosophical.