Pete Trumbore I’m going to warn you now, this post is even more esoteric than usual. But it is a diversion from the usual seriousness on display here, so bear with me.

24-September-2021BORE

I want to introduce you to a very old and now rare American tradition with roots in Scotland, still practiced by church communities in places like Alabama, Kentucky, and Oklahoma who are bound together by shared faith and musical inheritance.

It’s called lined-out hymn singing, a call-and-response form of sacred song whose roots in this country can be traced to the Scots tradition of a cappella Gaelic psalm singing which can still be heard in the remote and isolated communities of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, especially the Isle of Lewis.

It is a precursor to the obscure form of group a cappella singing that I do, shape-note singing from a hymnal called The Sacred Harp. I’ve written about this before in this space.

It is frankly hard to describe the sound of lined-out singing. It is haunting and raw, almost primitive in its intensity. This is literal hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck music.

I have never heard it in person, though some of the folk that I sing with when I travel to Alabama for Sacred Harp singings (back in nearly forgotten pre-pandemic times when such things were still possible) also sing lined-out hymns or psalms. Apparently if you’ve seen the Loretta Lynn biopic Coal Miner’s Daughter, you can find lining-out depicted at her father’s funeral.

Apparently the music, once common in 17th and 18th century Britain and America, fell victim to disputes about what music was appropriately edifying for singing in church. You can dig deeper into the “controversy” as it played out in Puritan New England here.

I’ve only experienced this tradition through recordings and videos found on YouTube. But it turns out that there is a fantastic short documentary from Yale University that digs deep into the music and the communities that still sing it – Hebridean islanders, a Black congregation from Alabama, a White congregation from Kentucky, and a Muskogee Creek congregation from Oklahoma who brought the music west with them on the Trail of Tears.

The documentary is called “A Conjoining of Ancient Song,” and you can watch it below. Here’s the introduction to the film, posted at Vimeo:


A special Yale documentary retraces the trajectory of a rapidly eroding form of congregational singing out of Scotland and into African American, Native American, and white American religious song traditions. The Yale Institute of Sacred Music, one of the film’s sponsors, organized a first screening at the University in April 2013, and offers it to the public here.
The renowned jazz musician and ethnomusicologist Willie Ruff began his journey began several years ago, when he followed up on his friend Dizzy Gillespie’s claim that some remote African American congregations in the Deep South sang hymns in Gaelic, according to Ruff’s website. Consulting The Massachusetts Bay Colony Psalm Book from 1640 in Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, he found that the form, in which one church member calls out the first line of a Psalm and the rest of the congregation continues to chant the text in unison, had been a common worship practice in Colonial America. Pursuing the inquiry, Ruff made the startling discovery that this call-and-response service, chanted by descendants of African slaves in the American South and by white congregations in remote churches of Appalachia, was actually still intoned in Gaelic in its original form in Scotland’s remote and culturally isolated Outer Hebrides.
In 2005, he organized an international conference at Yale, bringing together a few of the almost extinct congregations still practicing the ancient line-singing tradition. The Free Church Psalm Singers of the Isle of Lewis, Scotland; the Indian Bottom Old Regular Baptists of southeastern Kentucky; and the Sipsey River Primitive Baptist Association of Eutaw, Alabama, came to perform a shared service that had adapted over generations to their diverse idioms. In the course of that conference, he learned that the tradition extended to the Muskogee Creeks in Oklahoma as well, and two years later, Ruff, who traces his own lineage back to the crossroads of races and cultures represented in the unusual custom, organized a second conference at Yale to gather Native American, African American and Appalachian line-singers together for the first time.
The 30-minute documentary “A Conjoining of Ancient Song” is the story of Willie Ruff’s journey connecting Gaelic psalm singing and American Music.

It is a wonderful film, with haunting music and profound emotion. The academics are, at times, well, too academic. But the real people who sing this music, and the connections they have with each other, bonds of faith, fellowship, and tradition, are deeply touching.


Professor Peter Trumbore blogs @ Observations/Research/Diversions.

Music For A Friday: Lined-Out Hymnody

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Ninety

Christopher Owens 🔖The recent controversy surrounding Sally Rooney has been interesting.


 Some have lamented it as an example of how even light fiction has become a weapon in the Arab/Israeli conflict. Some fully supported her decision, citing South Africa as an example of how a boycott can be successful. Some accused her of anti-Semitism, asking whether she would allow her novel to be translated into Mandarin.

Obviously, this being Twitter, rational and nuanced debate (largely) went out the window in favour of the stances we are all familiar with. What I did notice, however, was a train of thought that seemed to (inadvertently) run through both sides that suggested that the subject of Palestine was a taboo subject in Israeli society, as if there was tacit agreement among the population that it was a problem that could only be dealt with through violence.

This, of course, is a ridiculous notion. This subject is analysed, discussed and dissected throughout the country whether it be in academia, politics or on the street. Itai Kuskus, frontman of Tel Aviv hardcore band Jarada, has said that:

The Israel/Palestine climate is always there. I believe every Israeli hangs around with this lump in their back …We know the gravity and the importance of these matters, and we’re the first reaching out to our buddies over the fence, at least as much as we can as private individuals against a monstrous system.

Two other private individuals include Lavie Tidhar and Shimon Adaf.

Both born in Israel, although in differing circumstances (Tidhar grew up in a northern kibbutz while Adaf was raised in Sderot, not far from Gaza), they nonetheless view Israeli society through a critical eye and write fiction.

Art and War serves as a conversation/debate/essay between the two of them. Discussing everything from genre fiction, to why we write and how our subjects contribute to the world around us (as well as Israeli society, Palestine, secular and religious Jewish culture/history) it is a fascinating read. It’s a joy to read how these friends (clearly in awe of each other’s work) bounce off each other, disagree and take subjects into areas one would never consider.

As an example, when talking about his novel One Mile and Two Days Before Sunset, Adaf writes that the protagonist:

…was able to avoid moral issues. He was quite cunning about it – he defines himself as a ‘clerk of small human sins’…It wasn’t that he waved away morality, just that he reduced it to cases in which taking a moral standpoint does not undermine his convictions about justice…What do you do with a clever guy who solves the mystery, finds the culprit, but refuses to act upon his knowledge?

Extra kudos goes to Tidhar celebrating marginal literature like:

Zionist romance chapbooks from the 1930’s. Detective fiction. Erotica…it was never meant to last…And I’m fascinated by it. Because it wasn’t important literature…it had a certain freedom, even a certain honesty…

Anyone who has read a Jim Thompson novel will attest to the truth in this statement.

Fans of the art of writing will find much to explore in this book, likewise those with an interest in Middle Eastern politics will have a field day with the nuanced discussion around Israeli culture. All of these strands of thought are brought together in two short stories written by the authors which not only explores the violence around them but also questions how successful the medium of writing is in exploring this topic.

Sally Rooney should read this.

Shimon Adaf and Lavie Tidhar, 2016, Art and War: Poetry, Pulp and Politics in Israeli Fiction. Repeater Books. ISBN-13: 978-1910924044

⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist. 

Art And War: Poetry, Pulp And Politics In Israeli Fiction

 



A Morning Thought @ 1027

Dixie Elliot 🔖 I just finished Reading In The Dark by the late Seamus Deane.


Set in Derry in the period between February 1945 and July 1971, it is a novel, in the form of interlinking short stories, which are narrated by an unnamed Catholic boy.
 
An opening quote taken from; 'She Moved Through The Fair', hints at the theme of the novel.

'The people were saying no two were e'er wed But one had a sorrow that never was said.'

The narrator takes us through a series of stories which come with a title and a date; for example, 'Crazy Joe - August 1951.' It is a time when every street had at least one ghost and the devil himself would turn up to play a game of cards. The first chapter opens with a ghost on the staircase of the narrator's own home. A ghost seen by the eyes of his mother but not his own. An unhappy ghost.
 
But ghosts aren't real, only the past comes back to haunt those who have a secret they want to keep hidden, even from their own families.
 
This is a tale about growing up through hard times. It tells of the innocent games played in decaying streets or the adventures of imagination which took the young on long trips to Grainan fort. It is set at a time when the memory of The War of Independence and the partition of Ireland was still fresh in the minds of the narrator's parents. Grainan fort stands on a hill overlooking a border which can't be seen, but it's clearly there. It has it's part to play in this tale.

As each short story follows on to the next one, there is humour throughout, but slowly a secret begins to unravel, just a small piece at a time. This mystery is what keeps us wanting to read on. As we do we begin to see the ghosts ourselves, for it becomes a secret as dark as the back lanes at night where the ghosts of our own childhood often lurked.
 
The narrator's mother is haunted by this secret, she knows most of the story, but not all of it. His father only knows part of it. This part he eventually tells his sons while on a trip to Culmore, as they waited out a rain storm in a country church. His mother had long before revealed what she had been told to her own father, who had been an IRA leader in the city, but never to her husband. She let him live with what he believed, therefore her secret was a cruel secret.

It only ever came to light because of a crazy man and what he had witnessed in the early hours of a morning, in July 1926, while he also sheltered from the rain.
 
Crazy Joe was in and out of Gransha asylum, where his mental illness was treated with acts of brutality, but he knew what he had seen.
 
This was a time when the laws of the land were brutally enforced by the RUC man and the laws of God were often beaten into the mind of a child by the priest.
 
The narrator's grandfather was an atheist, besides being a Republican, and he feared neither man nor god. He resisted when they brought the priest to save him on his deathbed.
 
"Don't let them get me at the last moment, son. Don't let them."

The grandfather took his atheist beliefs to the grave but it was a terrible injustice which haunted him until he took his final breath.
 
His daughter, the narrator's mother, only learned of part he had played in this injustice as he lay dying. The whole dark secret was complete and it would destroy her.
 
The novel is beautifully written, it is poetic and funny in equal parts.
 
"...lino from which the original pattern had been polished away to the point where it had the look of faint memory."
 
I am glad that I only read the reviews on it after I had finished reading it because, for the most part, they give the plot line away. Not knowing what the hidden secrets were made the book all the more enjoyable.

Seamus Deane, 1997. Reading In The Dark. Publisher: Vintage. ISBN-13:978-0099744412


Thomas Dixie Elliot is a Derry artist and a former H Block Blanketman.
Follow Dixie Elliot on Twitter @IsMise_Dixie

Reading In The Dark

Caoimhin O’Muraile  ☭ A simple but inadequate answer to this question is yes, as any form of hatred towards another human being particularly on the grounds of colour, gender, sexual orientation or xenophobia should be. 

The point is, what exactly do we mean by “misogyny”? Is it the same as sexism? A simple definition was “the hatred of women” which, in 2002 the Oxford Dictionary revised to “hatred or dislike of or prejudice against women.” This adds a little more clarity but is still insufficient. According to the sociologist, Allan G. Johnson misogyny is:

A central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and, as such, is an important basis for the oppression of females in male dominated societies. Misogyny is manifested in many ways, from jokes to pornography to violence to the self-contempt women may be taught to feel towards their own bodies. 

The Collins Paperback English Dictionary again inadequately puts it as simply “the hatred of women”. The word “hatred” appears in many definitions and Allan Johnson correctly uses the word oppression. He also uses the word “sexist” which I would argue, though being equally wrong, sexism is not quite the same. First cousins yes, siblings no.

Johnson uses “pornography” in his definition. Does pornography add up to the “hatred” of women? In today’s real-world pornography is no longer isolated to men having sex in erotic positions with women, but, and for those of this orientation, men with men and women with women, do these add up to “hatred” of women? How many middle-aged couples today watch soft porn to spice up their flagging sex lives? Do these activities support “hatred” of women? Does the husband purchase a pornographic movie because he hates his wife and wishes to humiliate her? No, of course not and usually for such couples who feel the need the decision to watch such material is joint, between the two of them. The same rule applies to homosexual and lesbian couples, and certainly does not equal “hatred” of women. If misogyny, once it has clearly been defined is a “hate crime” then, surely, the same law must apply to Misandry, the hatred of men by women. Though very much less reported and, no doubt the number of cases be less it is, nevertheless, a hate crime but like Misogyny, Misandry must be clearly defined. A little more on this later.

Misogyny is often confused with sexism, which is again wrong, but less aggressive. For example, women are, particularly in the workplace, treat as the “weaker sex” in doing certain tasks. The men who take this attitude, mistakenly, are not doing it because they “hate” women but because in their own way in many cases (though not all) are trying to help. Another sexist act is the, these days lesser spotted wolf-whistle which again, belittling as they are/were, are not meant as acts of “hatred” against the female victim. The former US President, Donald Trump, was described as misogynous and with good reason. Many of his remarks, some caught on tape, depict women as objects for his own sexual pleasure when, and where it suited him. That is nothing short of misogyny and far more aggressive than the sexist wolf-whistle. Trump was caught on tape as referring to women “loving” being touched in certain parts of their anatomy. This is clearly misogynous and can not be taken as pure sexist banter.

Is paying women in the workplace less than men misogynous? Does it amount to “hatred” of female employees or is it old-fashioned outmoded sexism? My own view is because women are forced to a large extent to take it or be out of work amounts it to Misogyny, no question. Women should be paid the same rate as men for the same job, that should be obvious but, alas, it is not to many employers! I would be interested to hear the views of readers, particularly though not exclusively, women on this issue because these are my opinions which others may disagree with or my wish to add to.

“A woman’s place is in the home” is this just old-fashioned sexist stereotyping or is it misogynous? My view, and again this is an opinion, is that if a woman is forced by an aggressive partner to stay at home, “behind the kitchen sink” then it is unquestionably misogynous. If, on the other hand, it is a matter of choice as some women prefer to stay at home then that is a different issue. The unpaid labour carried out chiefly, but in modern times not exclusively, by women in the home like rearing children cannot be deemed misogynous or, in many cases, even sexist. This is because the maternal instincts in many women dictate to them they stay at home, often without a partner, to bring up their children. Some would have it no other way.

Is Misogyny applicable only to men behaving badly towards women? Sociologist Michael Flood argues; “Though most common in men, misogyny also exists in and is practiced by women against other women or even themselves”. For example, in a same sex relationship is it possible for the dominant partner to be misogynous towards the other? Is it misogynous for a man to, in the old-fashioned way, to make a pass at a woman in a public house, a library, a cinema or any other public place? I would argue offering to buy a woman a drink in a pub with the hope of striking up a conversation then, who knows a relationship, is not misogynous. It is just traditional boy meets girl and there is nothing either misogynous or sexist about it. if, on the other hand, the woman refuses the drink or makes it plain she does not want to know and the man continues this then becomes at very least harassment. In modern times there appears to be an effort to stop any discourse between man and women for fear, usually by the man, of being accused of misogyny or sexism. Therefore, the traditional way of striking up a relationship has been replaced by so-called “computer dating agencies” where all the chatting is done via an over-priced dating agency on a mobile phone, desktop or PC. Is this an attempt to amass huge profits out of the man meets woman scenario? I think most definitely the answer is yes. These agencies may work for some people, and to those the very best of luck, but personally I prefer the natural, traditional, meet in a public house, offer to buy the woman a drink, or ask if I can join her, and take it from there. if a rebuke comes, which nine out of ten times is the case (unlucky me) then back off as harassment is the next step. It is a question of drawing the line. This same rule of thumb applies to a woman approaching her intended male target in similar surroundings. If she scores then great, if not, back off! This is not rocket science and overpriced agencies, though they may have their uses for some, must never replace the traditional methods of discourse.

As touched on earlier we hear of cases in domestic relationships of husband beating by a violent female partner. These are less likely to be reported due to the “macho” image all men are supposed to have. They feel humiliated at the thought of reporting being a “battered husband”. This comes under Misandry or the hatred of men. It is exactly the same as misogyny but the other boot on the other foot, so to speak. If we are to classify Misogyny as a hate crime then so to must Misandry be also. Before either or both can be perhaps the following could be described as misogyny and misandry:

1) Unwelcome touching, primarily though not exclusively, by men on women (this can occur and does in same sex relationships). The same rule applies to unwelcome advances by women on men.

2) Physical or verbal abuse of a woman by a man (or same sex partner) which again should apply to Misandry also.

3) Insulting language about the woman’s anatomy, which almost certainly falls outside sexism and enters misogyny.

4) Forcing the woman (or man) to perform acts, sexual or otherwise, against their will.

5) Forcing the woman, against her will, to remain at home all day while the man goes out to work.

6) Forcing the woman to sit in doors at night looking after the kids while the man goes out, usually to the pub.

This list is not endless and additions would be welcome.

Middle-class liberals have relegated misogyny in importance, either by design or accident, by claiming in some cases every act of discourse by a man to a woman to be misogynous or, at very least, sexist. The example of man meets woman in a pub has been used above, but there are those who would have us all communicating via a computer. To do otherwise, some would have us believe, is misogynous by implication or sexist. 

This is taking a very serious issue and belittling it. These same people do the same with racism. They take the slightest issue, in the case of racist language in Britain they banned the use of the word “Blackboard” in schools deciding it was/is racist. In the meantime, real racism which needed/needs tackling was/is going on in the streets every day. Something similar is happening with the word misogyny. While real “hatred” against women goes unreported, often resulting in women being killed, petty little comments are being taken out of proportion. For example, it is not misogynous to say to a woman, “thank you love”, it is just a term and could be deemed the opposite of misogyny. In parts of Yorkshire, England, it is common for people to refer to each other as “my old luv” (a nonstandard spelling of love) male to male, male to female, female to female and female to male it is just part of the local discourse.

Yes, Misogyny should be made a hate crime along with Misandry but let us have a clear definition of what constitutes both. Otherwise, we will have men and women before the bench simply for speaking to each other!

Caoimhin O’Muraile is Independent 
Socialist Republican and Marxist

Should Misogyny Be A Hate Crime?

 

A Morning Thought @ 1026

Matt Treacy ✒ The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Doctors David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their “discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.”


They might have been pipped for that prize had SDLP MLA Pat Catney been quicker in revealing his discovery that “some men experience menstruation.” He made this ground-breaking research public when he explained his rationale for the Period Products (Free Provision) Bill which he is sponsoring in Stormont.

The legislation is remarkable – or ought to be if we were still living in anything resembling a sane society – for containing not one reference to females; women or girls, since humanity has apparently laboured under the misapprehension for millennia that women and girls are the only people who do actually have periods as part of their biological cycle.

The proposer in January of the equivalent Bill in the Seanad, Fianna Fáil Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee, must be kicking herself that her text merely suggested that it apply to “everyone.” She did however introduce the Bill by claiming that it was a “fitting tribute to the women, girls and trans people of Ireland.”

In seconding the proposal, Senator Fiona O’Loughlin quoted Gloria Steinem “who once said that the world would be a very different place if men had periods.” No doubt it would, but they don’t. Indeed, the rest of the debate in the Seanad was relatively sensible and none of the speakers obviously seriously believe that the provision of such products is a matter for males.

Which leads one to the conclusion that all the strange elisions and distortions of language are nothing more than lame attempts to signal that the proposers are somehow pushing out the envelope of radicalism. Which when it comes to Fianna Fáil Senators and SDLP MLAs is worthy of a hearty guffaw.

Matt Treacy has published a number of books including histories of 
the Republican Movement and of the Communist Party of Ireland. 

SDLP Bill On Period Poverty Never Mentions Women Once

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Eighty Nine

Noel Byrnewriting in the Irish Freethinker and Humanist Magazine on the theological fiction of an omnipotent god. 

Wikipedia gives twenty eight attributes of the Christian god. It is impossible in an article such as this to deal with such a number and so I will deal principally with the Omni attributes of Omnipotence (all powerful), Omniscience (all knowing), Omnipresent (present everywhere) and Omnibenevolence (all good), their relationship to each other and some of the other alleged attributes. 

It is the illogicality and incoherency of these fictive attributes that is the subject of this essay. These particular attributes arise in the philosophy of religion based on Anselm’s “perfect being” ontological proof of god’s existence that attempts to show that “god is a necessary perfect being that none greater can be conceived”. This attempted proof is strictly “a priori” which means it is entirely dependent on reason and logic and not on experience. It is about a god with all the maximal positive attributes theology can think of. With these attributes theologians have created a god that theology itself seems unable to comprehend, a morally and mentally supreme being which to theologians and believers is a mystery, and to the godless a chimera. Theologians have inverted the faults, flaws and weaknesses of man and created their own Ubermensch, giving him supernatural qualities and then glorifying them in their anthropomorphic divine god.

Omnipotence

This attribute includes creation of the universe ex nihilo as well as the supernatural worlds of heaven and hell and the inhabitants of both. I will not deal with some of the philosophical arguments against god's omnipotence such as can he make a stone so big that he cannot lift it, as obviously I can, given enough cement and sand. Nor such as can he make a square circle. I am taking omnipotence in the sense of being capable of doing anything which is logically possible. Although if he is capable of miracles, theophanies and resurrections, he should be capable of illogicalities as we must presume logic is also of his creation and omnipotence should mean totally unlimited power.

This universe with man at the apex is supposedly god's perfect creation. This is a god who could have created any other logically possible world. Any modern person, given god's abilities and powers, could design and create a much better world. Why did he not create a world without natural or moral evil? If evil exists, as it surely does, then it is also part of gods creation. Everything is supposedly god's creation except himself. If god is omnipotent then there is nothing he cannot do. However if he is all good or omnibenevolent, then he cannot do bad or evil things such as sin. But to be omnipotent allows one to do evil. Not being able to sin limits his omnipotence and he is therefore not fully omnipotent. Omnipotence allows him to spare mans suffering and hurt, yet he does not spare us. 

Omnipotence and perfect goodness are inconsistent. God cannot be both. If god is perfect and living in total perfection why create at all? What reason would god have? Creation implies a need or a desire. A need or a desire signifies a lack and a lack implies imperfection. With god's omnipotence he could imagine or sense a universe and man without having to actually create it. A perfect god would also create perfectly. To do otherwise would signify imperfection. It is obvious to mankind, let alone god, that creation is imperfect.

The Holocaust on its own is sufficient to show the unintelligibility and bad design of an Omnipotent and all loving god, not to mention the millions of species which have gone extinct. God according to the theologians is the cause of everything, which means he is the cause of both good and evil. If he is not the cause of everything then he is not omnipotent. So is evil in the world by god's will or is it here in opposition to god's will? If god is omnipotent, wholly good, and evil exists, there is a contradiction between these three propositions. If any two are true then the third is false. Omnipotence, perfectly good and the existence of evil together are both incoherent and illogical.

Omniscience

This means god knows everything including his own actions in advance and with perfect foreknowledge he could not change his mind. Accordingly he has no free will or choice. This also shows the illusoriness of prayer. There are many instances where you cannot know that you don’t know something. This must also be true of god. Religionists place their god maximally above humans in positive attributes and abilities. If there is even one thing that god does not know, that invalidates his omniscience. 

Perhaps this god of the theologians is a lesser god and knows nothing of a higher god or gods who may have attributes far in excess of his attributes and of which he knows nothing and who created him? This is as provable as the god of the theologians we are dealing with here. Perhaps there is a group of gods, some more superior than others of which he is unaware. Perhaps some entity, a being or group of beings, in some other physical universe unknown to us may have created our universe or arranged our singularity. Certainly physicists envisage and theorize about multiple universes. There is no logical reason to assume the originator or creator of our universe is a supernatural being of any sort and certainly not required to have all the attributes attributed by theologians. And then of course wouldn’t the existence of any such being need to be explained in terms of its origin or creation and so we get into infinite regress. Looking at our world as it is, if there is a god, he certainly does not have the properties of a perfect designer or of being all good. It is possible to have a god who could have created a world similar to this but without suffering or evil. Such a god would be a greater god.

If god knew everything from eternity and before he created, then he knew Adam would eat the apple even before Eve was created. He knew his creation was imperfect yet continued on and then finally destroyed most of his creation at the time of the flood, again even though he knew before his creation that he would destroy all mankind apart from Noah and his family. So, at the exact moment God was creating humans, he knew they were imperfect and that he would wipe them out with a flood. By knowing this, God created humans with the express intention of killing them, and he did this while also knowing that he would one day send Jesus, his son, to Earth to redeem us from our sinfulness once and for all. 

None of this makes any sense. And this conclusion raises serious charges at the door of this allegedly “loving” God. God must thereby share in the guilt of Adam. What about Satan? Satan is another of god's creations, who with his omniscience, god knew would rebel and tempt humans. Apparently he is still roaming the world and causing temptation. Why does this Omnigod not destroy him or keep him confined in hell? God appears to be an Omnipotent being who does not get his own way. Doesn’t say a lot for god's intelligence, design plan or omnipotence to create angels who are out of his control!

Omnipresent

This attribute means present everywhere and at all time. If god is omnipresent then he is also where evil is - in rape, war, hunger, thirst, illness, the holocaust. If he is not in such places then he in not omnipresent. He must also be in hell. He must be in every atom and particle, he must be in every bomb, bullet and missile. He must be in all sin, dirt and filth, defilement and corruption.

God is also allegedly timeless and immutable. Now if god exists outside of time then he cannot exist within the universe which is in time and constantly changing. To be in the world he would need to be temporal. Any change to god would alter his perfection. Because god is perfect he cannot change. To change would be to improve or disimprove and either such movement would mean not being supremely perfect prior to the change. Being unchanging means god cannot have a human body as bodies constantly change. If he exists outside universal time means not to exist in the universe at all. So why bother? 

Some apologists would say god lives in an eternal present. An eternal present is a self-contradiction and illogical. Who or what was this god before the universe? There was no time, no space, no things, and no events. Just god existing, no light no sound, no nothing. There was no god. What we call god is a human concept and construct to try and explain ultimate questions. The theological concept of the omnigod fails utterly in this attempt. What is happening with the omnigod is the confusion between the concept of a god or controlling force and the thing in itself.

Omnibenevolence 

This refers to god's moral perfection and implies god's moral responsibility for his actions and this would include perfect justice, mercy, compassion and love. It is one of the easier attributes to dismiss. Gratuitous and natural evil in the world are obvious to everyone. Evil and suffering of themselves contradict an omnibenevolent and omnipotent god. Not to forgive, or show love and compassion would not be omnibenevolent. The creation of Hell, a place of terrible and everlasting punishment, is not the act of an omnibenevolent an omnipotent god. Hell was created by a god who knew his creation was imperfect and knew how much of humanity would finish up there. It was quite possible for him not to allow those he knew would finish up in hell not to be born, yet he did not do so. Our birth was compulsory. We had no choice in it. 

If we accept Eutyphro’s first choice then whatever god does is good by definition. This means genocide and slavery as per Yahweh are good. God therefore cannot be omnibenevolent as the term would in this case include evil. Any reading of the bible immediately debunks god's omnibenevolence. There is in Christianity only one god, as such the Yahweh of the Old Testament is the same god as the Jesus of the New Testament. The father and the son are one in the trinity. Jesus is Yahweh’s son and indeed the embodiment of the first person of the Trinity, god the father. The Yahweh of the old testament said by Richard Dawkins to be:

arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction; jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capricious malevolent bully.

A true description of the god of the Old Testament. Yahweh and Jesus are one. This whole issue of evil is of course the obvious and outstanding evidence against omnibenevolence as we all “walk mourning and weeping in this valley of tears”.

If god cannot create good without evil then that is a restriction on his omnipotence. The fact of unnecessary suffering in the world is inconsistent with a god who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. Why did god create a tree that gave knowledge of evil, and with his omniscience know that Adam would eat of it and thereby cause suffering for all mankind? If god really had man's qualities maximally magnified, would he not exercise his infinite power to render all men happy? 

We can scarcely find anyone on earth who is fully satisfied with their lot. If omnigod clearly always knew from eternity that the sacrifice of Jesus would ultimately provide redemption for sin, then why does he destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all life apart from Noah and his family at the time of the flood? The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and life on earth at the time of the flood must somehow not have been part of Yahweh’s divine plan of Jesus’s redemption? Yet the Bible implies the redemption was for all of humanity. If so this makes the destruction of the two towns and the flood unnecessary, capricious and maliciously murderous. Such an entity would not qualify as an omniscient and omnibenevolent god.

Why would this all-perfect god tempt Adam? Why is he so immersed in the puny concerns of one bronze age, goat herding tribe, trying to capture a piece of land on this small planet, concerned enough to assist in having the native people of that land, women and children included, slaughtered ? Why come to this particular desert tribe, who after two thousand years are still waiting on their messiah. Surely a failure of divine thought! There were many sophisticated cultures around at that time to whom he could have appeared. 

Omnigod is supposedly without needs or appetites, yet in the bible he can be angry or loving. These attributes are also contradicted in Jesus who is supposedly god and man. As man he changes, has feelings, emotions, and needs and therefore is not this perfect being of the attributes. The supposed Trinitarian nature of god also contradicts the omnigod who is simple, one and unchanging. This Omnigod bears no resemblance to the god that the average religionist believes in and prays to. The god we have been discussing is really only a glorified human. It comes from the thought that the universe must have a cause and the cause must be greater than man. As the highest creation we know is man, so is this god anthropomorphised. 

The absence of all evidence of gods existence is sufficient reason to make it most unlikely he exists. It is the illogicality of these attributes and the failure of the arguments for god's existence that make “faith’ necessary for belief. There is a major difference between the idea of god and the existence of god. None of these attributes prove that god actually exists in reality. Everything we are discussing here is absolutely speculative as there is absolutely no evidence of this entity with its wonderful attributes. Why would god require these useless attributes for eternity anyhow if they served no purpose before he created and after our universe is gone?

The proposition that god or gods exist does not logically imply he or they are the creator of the universe. Even if the god with the maximal attributes we are discussing here were shown to exist it does not in any way prove the Christian god. It would only prove the existence of a particular god in a possible pantheon.

This omnigod of theology is only an abstraction to be debated philosophically and theologically.

 ⏩ Noel Byrne is a committee member of EOLI. He is a retired Civil Servant and a Humanist, with a principal interest in Philosophy, and a particular interest in Ethics and Morality.

The Illogicality Of The Omni-God

 

A Morning Thought @ 1225

Fra Hughes“Israel” is not the hapless victim it portrays itself to be. It is a political cancer in the host body of west Asia and the Middle East, and like all cancers, if it is not removed it will destroy the host.

First Published In
Al Mayadeen English.

“Israel” projects its omnipotence throughout west Asia and the Middle East. The quality of having unlimited or very great power.

This power is derived from the political and the financial support given to “Israel” by Europe and America.


The American taxpayer subsidises “Israel” to the tune of 3.8 billion dollars per year, which helps heavily cover the cost of healthcare and education in “Israel”. America has a rising homeless population estimated to be around 600,000 and 1.5 million, no clean water in Flint Michigan and stands accused of a continuing systemic racial war against its Afro American citizens.

Europe which extends “Israel” preferential trading status has many universities collaborating with Israeli research ventures. It gives political cover for “Israel’s” perpetual annexation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the illegal ongoing siege on Gaza.

The mainstream media continues with the decades-long narrative that “Israel” is a small embattled enclave under constant threat of violent destruction from its regional neighbours and needs all the moral, physical and financial resources it can amass to prevent its imminent destruction.

“Israel” has one of the best-equipped armies in the region and militarily occupies Palestinian territory in the West Bank. The Palestinians in Gaza have no army, no air force and no navy to protect themselves from Israeli tanks, fighter jets, attack helicopters, gunboats and nuclear submarines.

The Jewish National Fund has been buying land in Palestine from 1901 onward, encouraging Jewish immigration to Palestine. The land bought in particular from absentee Ottoman Turkish landlords was used for Jewish migrants to work the land, build homes and colonise the landscape.

These purchases continued through 1914-1918 when Palestine came under the rule of the British Empire after Turkey's defeat in the First World War.

These continual flows of Jews thrived under British encouragement with the signing of the secret Balfour Declaration that would permit a Jewish homeland to be created inside the land of Palestine.

The changing demographics and the instability brought by migrants resulted in riots in Jerusalem in the 1920s. The displaced Jewish community refused to integrate with their host nation and continued to build civil structures that would eventually partition Palestine and create a Jewish homeland on the broken dreams, broken bones and broken bodies of the indigenous population.

After the Second World War 1939-1945, a shadow government had been formed by the Jewish terrorist organisations of the Stern gang, the Hagenah and the Irgun. “Israel” was then created by the partition of Palestine via the United Nations. The new “state of Israel” was granted 52% of the land and subsequently expelled by force 750,000 Palestinians. Forced expulsion and genocides were perpetrated against Palestinian people: the Nakba or Great Catastrophe. Many fled to Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Gaza, Jordan and throughout the world. Many of the Palestinian descendants are still living in refugee camps in West Asia and the Middle East waiting to return home, to re-join towns, cities and farms as guaranteed by UN resolution 194. The Israeli government which allows Jews from any nation in the world to immigrate to “Israel”, yet it refuses to allow Palestinians the right of return.

Again in 1967, during the six-day war launched by “Israel” to preserve its military advantage in the region. In an unprovoked war, the remainder of Palestine, including the West Bank and Gaza were illegally occupied together, with the Golan heights in Syria.

From 1967, “Israel” has systematically colonised The Palestinian Territories, continuing to expel Palestinians from their homes and their land while appropriating their culture.

“Israel” is not the hapless victim it portrays itself to be. It is a political cancer in the host body of West Asia and the Middle East, and like all cancers, if it is not removed it will destroy the host.

‘Israel’ is among the leading armies in the world. It has a population of 8.8 million million. Without American and EU military and financial support, “Israel” would be forced to stop discriminating against the indigenous Palestinian population.

Enter peaceful trade negotiations and nonaggressive treaties with its partners in the region?

It can be argued that “Israel's” bullying and provocative actions are a direct consequence of its birth parents, the UK and USA that support “Israel” unconditionally.

The occupation of the West Bank is illegal. The siege on Gaza is illegal.

Settling Israeli citizens into newly constructed colonies is illegal under the 4th Geneva convention.

The settlements are illegal.

The theft of Palestinian land is illegal.

Denying the right of Palestinians to obtain medical treatment is illegal.

The continued aggression towards Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Iran are all illegal.

Bombing Damascus is an illegal act of war. “Israel” routinely targets Syria, and deploys efforts to support Daesh groups, Takfirist mercenaries that are illegally occupying large swathes of the Syrian territory, in a proxy war that involves America, the EU, Gulf States and Saudi Arabia.

The entire destabilisation of West Asia and the Middle East can be left at the door of the creation of yet another white European colonisation project. This is not in America or Africa but in Palestine.

The comparison between what is happening now in the region is reminiscent of the white European colonization of North America and Canada. The indigenous populations were occupied, then ethnically cleansed, dispossessed and finally marginalised to the point of extinction. The same colonial usurpation occurred in Australia and New Zealand.

Indeed the Wild West forts, homesteads and colonisation were the templates for “Israel's” annexation and absorption of the occupied West Bank. The only difference was the century during which these devastating occupations occurred.

From the Wild West to the Middle East, the same colonial mind-set is at work. “Israel” may seem omnipotent, all-powerful and invincible. Indeed it is the only country in the region that possesses a nuclear arsenal, and refuses to publicly acknowledge.

“Israel” was defeated in 1973 when Egypt recaptured the Sinai Peninsula which had been occupied by Israeli army since the 1967 war.

It faced a humiliating defeat due to Hezbollah resistance, when it was forced to retreat from Lebanon under cover of darkness after years of illegal occupation of South Lebanon, although it still occupies the Sheba farms.

The Israeli aggression was mainly designed to fragment and Balkanise Arab and Persian neighbours. However, these aggressive and murderous attacks have actually united the opposition that “Israel” was keen to destroy.

With Iranian troops and Hezbollah defending Syria, continuous Israeli aggressions were led against Iran, assassinating its scientists and military leaders. At this level, we have witnessed the emergence of the axis of resistance,

Now Iran, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Hezbollah and more recently with the advancements in Palestinian resistance technology in Gaza, an amazing united opposition against “Israel” has re-emerged.

"Israel" has the military might to confront any country in the region, because its strength is measured by the armament supplied by the American Administration.

While “Israel” hopes to lure America into a military confrontation with Iran with its false flag attacks on maritime shipping in the Gulf by blaming Iran, the possibility of a wider conflict cannot be ruled out.

With Both China and Russia offering support to Iran and Syria, a global explosion could erupt.

By evicting Palestinians from their homes in Sheik Jarrah, “Israel” sets upon peaceful worshipers at Al-Aqsa mosque and the continued Judaification of Al-Quds (Occupied Jerusalem) by the presence of illegal settlers. This provocative policy reignited the Palestinian’s will to resist the Israeli occupation from all parts of the West Bank, Gaza and increasingly Palestinians from inside. It has become clear that “Israel” is not omnipotent.

It is impotent.

Yes, it can bomb Gaza, getting the region back to the middle ages, but it cannot Make It Submit.

It can occupy the Golan Heights and the Sheba Farms but it will not commit ground troops in Lebanon, Gaza or Syria.

It could only launch proxy wars: to bomb civilians from the sky and assassinate from a distance, to carry out low-level attacks on Iran and destabilize Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, but it has neither the capacity nor the courage for a street fight.

11 days in May showed how an occupied unarmed people could resist the might of one of the largest best-equipped armies in the world.

The Palestinians fight every day with stones and rocks against guns, tanks and fighter planes. They suffer innumerable deaths unreported by the West. They watch their sons and daughters having legs shattered by Zionist snipers of the Israeli “defence” forces for daring to stand up against the illegal, apartheid state that occupies and murders them.

Israel's strength is undeniable yet it has proven a facade.

As long as it is supported and sponsored by its birth parents America and now the EU, it will continue to aggress the neighbouring countries, like a spoiled child to lash out, at all those around it.

Bad behaviour is seemingly rewarded with more bombs, missiles, aircraft and submarines to further bully the neighbourhood.

No one wants further aggression war or destabilisation in the region. The resistance is a strong force for peace and stability.

“Israel” is facing a huge backlash from civil society all over the world. The question is, will it be enough to force the changes the world needs to see peace in West Asia?

Only time will tell.

One thing is for sure, the resistance will have a say in the outcome.

I stand with those who challenge continued Apartheid Israeli aggression.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al Mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

𒍨The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al Mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Fra Hughes is a columnist with Al Mayadeen. 

Israeli Omnipotence And Those Eleven Days In May

James Kearney ✒ delivers the first part of his speech at a Blanketmen / Armagh Women reunion in Belfast ten years ago this month.

 
The Armagh Experience

The Long Kesh Experience


⏩ James Kearney is a former Blanketman.

Blanketmen And Women