宗教左派(邱慕天)

Source Link:  本文首發於香港《時代論壇》 【全球視野】宗教左派。本文為作者增編修訂版。

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去年12月隨著台灣同性婚姻的街頭對立形式升高,我在《台灣醒報》撰述了〈宗教道德右派在意的不是基督教〉一文(同香港《端傳媒》轉載)並試圖指出,台灣宗教右派最強勢的政治指導綱領,並非來自基督教的歷史信仰傳承,甚至也不是北美的基要主義神學,而是保守群體的既有道德信念,及對其舒適圈利益的合法捍衛。

既有宗教右派,是否有「宗教左派」?據3月底《路透社》所言,在保守福音派力挺的川普總統當選後,美國的宗教左派正化作社運力量、於街頭成形。

該文旋即引發熱烈議論。美南浸信神學院長莫勒(Al Mohler)便是反對有任何已成氣候的「宗教左派」:他認為,左翼思想的信仰人士或許不少,但因關心的議程多元而分散,在與各種「進步價值」力量合作的過程中,群體特徵一下便消散;你分不出他們與世俗進步派的臉孔有何不同。

威斯康辛州聯合基督教會的牧師舒茲略帶挖苦地指出,美國唯一有組織政治行動的宗教左派叫做「民主黨」。民主黨是一個多數成員為基督徒的世俗政治社群,它的非宗教性恰好凸顯了「宗教左派」在社群意識黏著度低、信仰上欠缺明確輪廓。

「世俗左派」在墮胎、移民、經濟、女權、戰爭等都有特定立場。嚴謹的聖經詮釋很難對這些立場照單全收。多年前一項有趣的調查顯示,宗教右派的大宗乃是「常上教會卻不熟聖經」的基督徒;但隨著讀經頻率的加添──從聖經更多讀到上帝的心意,在社經、移民、種族問題上,都會更接近左派的取態,唯獨性道德觀還是趨向保守。

天主教宗方濟各即是如此──他挺移民和經濟重分配、卻反墮胎、與激進女權或性權論述的光譜遙遠。《路透社》報導採取寬鬆的認定將他列為「宗教左派」,卻對「宗教右派」採「樣樣須符合」的嚴格認定,標準可議。

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photo by media.salon.com

終究,以「基督宗教立場」進入各種社會倡議的挑戰,在於以上帝為名的人們,透過「神學」梳理信仰社群矛盾的能力、在於人們是否願意在「一主一信一洗」的啟示傳承下,進行有規範性的思想辯論。500年前的基督教改革以最血腥暴力的方式在歐洲發生,乃因足以協調教內歧異的「規範性權柄」已給改革瓦解。在名為「唯獨聖經」的口號下,竟淪到用武力拳頭決定:誰的詮釋正確?

左右政鬥至今日不曾脫離法國大革命以降的世俗議程。對一個真正在意教會與神學的人,「宗教左派顯影」僅是「公關意義」大於一切:向世人說明基督徒的社關取態不只「右翼道德十字軍」一種罷了。兩者卻同樣不足以作為基督真理的顯揚、不足以與那包覆世界內在框架(immanent frame)的耶穌政治掠美。

當教會上到「外邦人的法庭」進行政治鬥力與控訴,那無疑已是基督身體的破碎、道成肉身神學的失語。從宗教左右派身上,宗教改革的最大挑戰500年後仍在──那便是走出宗教戰爭的公共神學語境。

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[文摘] The 3rd Lebanon War Could Be Mutually Devastating

Source Link: Ten years after last Lebanon war, Israel warns next one will be far worse

 

“In 2006, Hezbollah fought a guerrilla war. Today, Hezbollah is like a conventional army.”

Ten years after Israel and Hezbollah fought a bloody but inconclusive 34-day war in July and August of 2006, there are 7,000 Hezbollah fighters in Syria, a regional military power trained by Iranian commanders, funded by the Shiite Republic to learn the most sophisticated armaments available, such as 4th gen Kornet guided anti-tank missiles. They pilot unmanned aircraft and fight alongside artillery and tanks. They have taken rebel-held villages with Russian air support.

  • Ten years ago, Hezbollah fired 4,000 short-range crude rockets. Today, the group has 100,000 rockets, including thousands of more accurate mid-range weapons with larger warheads capable of striking anywhere in Israel. The challenges posed by Hamas are almost trivial by comparison.
  • Israel fought the first Lebanon war in 1982 against the PLO, a conflict that saw Israel occupy southern Lebanon and lay siege to Beirut. Hezbollah arose during that war. The second Lebanon war came as a surprise for both sides. Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers at the border, which sparked a sustained aerial and ground war by Israeli forces — and tough resistance by Hezbollah — it had stood toe-to-toe with them.
  • Hezbollah has then spent the past decade transforming hundreds of villages in southern Lebanon into covert fire bases with hidden launch pads, many rigged to operate by remote.

The next war will be a terrible war. In the event of war Hezbollah would try to inflict heavy damage on Israeli cities, power plants and airports to degrade national morale. And one cannot allow Israeli cities to face 1,000 Hezbollah rockets a day.

Hope these serve as a dual deterrent. Screenshot_2016-05-16-15-16-58

[文摘] Donald Trump Exposes the Split Between Ordinary and Elite Evangelicals

Source Link:  Donald Trump Exposes the Split Between Ordinary and Elite Evangelicals

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/02/donald-trumps-evangelical-divide/458706/

In the Trump phenomenon, we see there is a growing divide between ordinary evangelicals and evangelical leaders. Michael Lindsay’s class distinction is as relevant as it was when he first explored it.

  • Evangelical populists are working-class Americans who are pragmatic in their politics. One poll shows 63% of them rally behind Trump.
  • Cosmopolitan evangelicals are highbrow cultural elites in business, media, academia, and politics. According to World magazine, high-ranking evangelical leaders favor Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

    They are supporters of the so-called Evangelical Immigration Table included the National Association of Evangelicals, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and the political arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    When the Wall Street Journal reported, “Evangelicals push immigration path,” they mean them actually.

 

 

[文摘] China’s Tyranny of Characters Might Not Succeed (and Be Succeeded)

The English subbing of Dynasty Warrior 6 & 7 & 8 is totally not a bad work, which I just found out these two days by bumping into them on Youtube.
The work certainly helped popularize that part of Chinese history (namely, the Three Kingdoms era, of which I am a serious enthusiaste) among a new generation of foreign (non-Chinese) game players.
The thing is, due to the lack of scholarly materials (and of accurate translation of either first or secondary materials on that history), these foreign audiences got serious confused about what is in DW6/7/8, what is in Romance of the Three Kingdoms (the novel 三國演義 written in Ming), and the Records of the Three Kingdoms (the historical account 三國誌 written by Chen Shou in West Jin). I am so sad with their inability to get the different layers of facts straight, especially some Thai and Vietnamese players claimed to have the authoritative say because « Chinese history is a mandatory class at their school. »
Anyway, the Economist article here is also dealing with a very complex and historical part of Chinese culture that i’d say without significant exposure to local knowledge would be hard to avoid mistakes. However, the authoritative weekly has gotten the job beautifully done.
It touches the following things about the tension of retaining current Chinese writing system with Mandarin pronunciations:
1)
The Communist Party is basically pursuing the course of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor, for linguistic unification by suppressing the use of regional dialects, « just as the British authorities tried to get rid of the Gaelic languages in Scotland and Ireland in the 18th century, and many companies are going along with it. »
2)
China in reality it is like medieval Europe—a continent full of different languages, nominally united by a written lingua franca (classical Chinese analogous to Latin).
The Europe got rid of Latin for regional languages (German, English, etc.) just like classical Chinese became dead, too. But China has managed to avoid a linguistic fragmentation with the introduction of plain Chinese (白話文) and with Mandarin as the official way to pronounce it.
Some revolutionaries, including Mao Zedong, initially wanted to scrap Chinese characters altogether and replace them with an alphabet. They settled instead for a simplification of the characters and a standardisation of how they are pronounced and written in Roman letters, known as pinyin (拼音). //
3)
Early in the technological revolution, many thought the complexity of inputting characters into computers might kill them off completely. But the opposite has happened: “Pinyin allows anyone to read and write anything they can say.” Just type “chang” or “mao” in pinyin and choose from a selection of 5 or 6 characters pronounced that way, easing the burden of having to recall the characters cold.
4)
Slogging away at the rote learning of characters (by speaking into their phones and computers—in their own languages and dialects) leads to “character amnesia”-many digital natives now have difficulties writing an article by pen, but it also help release cognitive resources for thinking other things outside the boxy prison of Chinese characters.
And as they become more reflective and creative- as we could see how the Chinese language is re-appropriated, new words and phrases are coined in an unprecedented way, would Beijing still be able to achieve the same level of imperial state control as that ancient counterparts?
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[文摘] Gefährliche Versprechen (The Perilous Sykes-Picot Agreement of WWI)

Source Link: https://leserservice.zeit.de/die-zeit-diese-woche/?r=titel&bmMailId=1OUJRHHJ-1OMKH9HS-Q8T17V6&pa=

This is an around 65% summarized translation of  Die Zeit’s article « Gefährliche Versprechen » (Nr. 21, 2016 vom 12.05.2016) in mainly English and some free-floating Chinese. The article critically looks at the legacy of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of WWI in May 1916 for its centennial retrospection.

Screenshot_2016-05-16-15-16-58

That there could be such a demarcation, a division of the Ottoman Empire, was something no one dared to think back in 1914 at the beginning of World War I; and even in January 1915 this idea still strained the Foreign Ministers in London and Paris.

For British diplomats and military men, it is feared that as this amounts to a humiliation of the Sultan and Caliph, it might trigger another holy war which could spill over to the Muslim population of India. France, which had invested in the Ottoman Empire, was also heavily betting on the region’s stability.

But the course of the war forced the British and French to rethink.

Constantinople joined the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary in the war by the end of October 1914; and in 1915, it caught all parties in surprise that the Battle of Gallipoli turned out to be one of the greatest Ottoman victories during the war. The Allies’ naval attack was repelled by the Central Powers after eight months’ fighting, as the land campaign was abandoned and their invasion force was withdrawn to Egypt. At the same time Ottoman fighters in Mesopotamia operated successfully against the British-Indian expeditionary forces.

It has marked a defining moment in the nation’s history, a final surge in the defense of the Ottoman motherland. The victory formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence between 1919 to 1923 under Kemal Atatürk, who first rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli.

As the situation of the Russian worsened by the German advances in the east, the fear that Russia could withdraw from the war after making a peace treaty grew. British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey had therefore set up a secret treaty in the spring of 1915, which promised Russia significant territorial gains in prospect if the Allies would be victorious over the Ottoman Empire. In return, Tsar Nicholas II also supported French demands for areas in Syria, Cilicia (on the southeastern Mediterranean coast of present-day Turkey) and Palestine, as if that the wants of more than 20 ethnic groups in the multi-ethnic Ottoman empire would mean nothing in the face of the strategic interests of the Grain Britain and France.

這種以權力政治劃分疆界,而不考慮現有的地緣牽連或當地居民的利益的思維特性,讓人聯想到的是1814年至1815年間維也納會議的分贓設定。

British policy was thus laid out with the mindset for the region’s further development in the long term course, eyeing at the fundamental importance of the Suez Canal and Egypt for the networking of its global empire.

Already in 1915 Sir Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Egypt, has begun to negotiate with Hussein ibn Ali, the Sherif (郡治安官) of Mecca and leader of the Hejaz, (the region in what is now Saudi Arabia) for moving Arab descent soldiers of the Ottoman army to desert to fight against the Sultan. The promise to assist him in the establishment of an Arab kingdom was the return. (Both failed their stated promises, though.)

With Baghdad and Basra (the southwesternmost Iraqi city located on the Shatt al-Arab nearly the Gulf between Kuwait and Iran) marked as red provinces, their future were to be associated with the Great Britain as a protectorate and hence should be subject to the British’s direct management and control. The region from the Iraqi Kirkuk to Gaza was to be under British informal control. Blue zones were inked for defining France’s dominion. They included Cilicia and the regions of the Syrian coast. 另外有些地方為英法共管。

Finally in the area between Damascus, Aleppo and Mosul the promised Arab dominion should arise. But should there be an independent state? A monarchy? A confederation of several states with Arab leader? Unfortunately the Allies were too preoccupied at the strategic thinking to win the Arabs as a partner in the war against the Ottoman Empire to get interested in this important discussion. The possibility of an independent state is also conceived in the naive thought that the Arabs would automatically conquer most of the important cities of the contemplated territory itself – cities that are today known as places of violence: Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement also foresaw an international administration of Palestine, as Haifa (the third-largest city in Israel,  located below and on Mount Carmel, as a seaport city lying on the Mediterranean coast) was granted a special status as the end point of a newly constructed oil pipeline stretching from Iraq under British control  – which shows how developed the resource of oil had become in this world war.

Russian government got Eastern Anatolia. This entire region of Nagorno-Karabakh (Berg-Karabach) is still a conflict zone until now between Russian-backed Armenia and Azerbaijan, to whom the Turkish President recently assured his unconditional help.

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Since the discussion in 1916 about an independent Arab state there was a disregard of the ethnic and social reality, as a homogeneous pan-Arabism should have been out of question in the first place. Within the narrow stratum of intellectuals in the Middle East very different visions were laid out to compete against each other, and few regional leaders even attempted at all to pursue the course of actually establishing a separate Arab state.

It should be noted that what the pyrric victory of the Great Arab Revolt under the leadership of Hussein ibn Ali against the Ottomans has given rise is not a homogenous movement. Although the pan-Arab circles under the Hashemites were particularly supported by the British leadership, but they represented only one current among many.

There were people who advocated an Arabic state solution of a Greater Syria (the Levant), which claimed the area now Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Israel.

At the same time, the British government has always focused on meeting the British Zionist Chaim Weizmann (a Zionist leader born in Belarus, who served as President of the Zionist Organization and later as the first President of Israel): Early Weizmann had been impressed by the idea of Zionism developed by Theodor Herzl (Austro-Hungarian political activist and one of the fathers of modern political Zionism, at whose initiative the Zionist Organization was founded) in his book The Jewish State. This idea of this state, so it haunted Weizmann before, is that it be built in line with the historical territory of Palestine. Most politicians from the Allies’ side argued that given the supposed global influence of the Jews – especially to potential lenders in North America, this arrangement can only be beneficial for the war against the Central Powers .

1916年的賽克斯 – 皮科協定,仍沒有脫離早期殖民思維妥協的傳統,布爾什維克發表於1917年12月的秘密協議,則殘酷地揭示了西方列強的「帝國主義陰謀」。The Arab leaders, however, appeared only mildly upset in their acknowledgement to this conspiracy because the military situation of the Ottoman Empire was so dire at that time that all Arab eyes had turned to the partaking in the big pie of the emerging post-war order.

The agreement, however, resulted in a juxtaposition of competing models of order: Pan-Arab arrangements here, Zionist ideas there, and in between were area alignments according to their particular interests. The credibility of European policy got seriously damaged by this contradictory action and the maneuvering over concessions made with various indigenous leaders, and so what began in May 1916 ended up being those problems with which the diplomats had to deal at the Paris peace conferences in 1919.

For a moment in Paris, it seemed there a post-war order on the basis of national self-determination, advocated by the US President Woodrow Wilson, had prevailed. But could the right claimed by the Polish, Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Balts, Finns or Irish also be claimed by Asian or African colonial societies? Given the increasingly important role the British and the French Empire played in the Arab world, this was particularly a tough pill to swallow.

Wilson’s program seemed to be the starting point for a comprehensive decolonization as it successfully blocked the Western European diplomats in Paris. But in the decomposed zones of the multi-ethnic empires such as Russia and Austria-Hungary and the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire, the World War soon passed into civil wars and ethnic conflicts, leading to the further disintegration of the region.

After November 1918, there is the emergence of entirely new violence centers: within Europe it was Ireland, where in 1918 the Civil War began, and the Baltic States, but also in the Middle East and in India, where the Amritsar Massacre took place in 1919, as the end of the World War for many regions of the world just does not mean the end the violence.

“Equality requires common rules for all peoples of the earth.” Henri Barbusse wrote this in his book Le Feu in 1918. This hope continues to this day- yet to be realized. The disappointment with the results of the post-war order is a shared fundamental experience of the 20th century.

 

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