Comments: opinion columns

Aidan Rankin writes in the Guardian Face to Faith that the ‘many-sidedness’ of Jainism could inoculate us against fundamentalist rigidity.

Where ever did he get that from? Jainism is the first rejection of God’s Good Creation among the Indo European Religions. The First Radical Dualism. Fundamentalist rigidity, if ever.

Giles Fraser wrote: “A community is fraught with internal conflict and division. Just as the self-destruct button is about to be pressed, a rather unlikely culprit is dredged up, often a bit weird and different — certainly, somebody who looks the part as the bearer of blame.”

… somebody who looks the part… ?

Mr Fraser led me quite astray with this one – but then I don’t have a telly ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 3:25pm GMT

I don't know where this understanding comes from (Göran Koch-Swahne), of how a fundamentalism is produced. Yes Jainism renounces the world, but produces a behaviour that affirms the world. The point is, if everyone practised ahimsa then there would be peace throughout the ecological order as well as throughout humankind.

I wonder what sort of world would this God so affirmed want? Does this God want a world of God-affirming Fordmakers, that ends up burning up resources and producing pollution on every continent, or does this God prefer the last God-ignoring Fordmaker, who, similar to Buddha, preached a way to individual enlightenment that resulted in affirming the world?

We don't affirm our own religion by attacking others. I rather think Christianity is doing well enough in the fundamentalism stakes too.

There are a few houses in this street that ought to be put in order first. It might be an idea to invite the Jains in to offer some advice.

Oh and I rather agree with Giles Fraser, that seeing a reflection of a large section of this society we zap its most obvious member in this trashy world of circulating money.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 9:39pm GMT

Quick question - I managed to read Martin Reynolds' moving article the first time I clicked on the link, but ever since I ended up at the log in page of the Tablet which seems to be for print subscribers only. Is the article freely accessible still?

Posted by Erika at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 9:43pm GMT

You may find that you have to use Internet Explorer to access that site successfully. That has been my own experience. But the article is supposed to be freely available.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 10:45pm GMT

I have always admired the Jains without having met any. Probably a bit of a romanticised view. But I do love their witness to ahimsa and hate the thought of unintentionally standing on tiny creatures, without realising it. Buddhism gives me a perspective, which helps me to live with this. The Cross, compass like, seems to bring all things together in some kind of embrace....

Posted by laurence at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 11:19pm GMT

Erika --

You do have to register for The Tablet & you do have to enable cookies -- I think that ought to do it (I use Safari to get there every Friday morning with no problems).

BTW -- I envy the UK having a fine Catholic publication like The Tablet -- we really have no equivalent in the USA (yes, I know about Commonweal & NCR & I rest my case!)

Posted by Prior Aelred at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 11:42pm GMT

An excellent reply by Pluralist. Non-violence, Non-attachment and Multiplicity of view points are the three basic pillars of Jainism. One needs to free your mind from dogmatic notions to understand the universal applicability of these three principles.

Posted by Shah at Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 1:18pm GMT

Funny celebration, this Candlemas (Daily Telegraph report highlighted). I've never really given it any attention before, like another bit of Christianised Paganism. One particular hymn on the Sunday struck me as so repugnant in defining women via the Virgin Mary that I stopped singing it - put the brakes on - and yet the sermon giving some background about the whole matter of how understandings of this point in the calendar and the decline of this churching of women thing and indeed purification in favour instead of an emphasis on light was really rather insightful.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 3:37pm GMT

Just as a follow up to my previous message, this Sunday evening was another meaty sermon around the whole Candlemas etc. thing, the sort of sermon you can learn from thanks to having a particularly well read and good lay reader. These human resources make all the difference. But at one point I laughed, and was told after it was put in "for my benefit" (!).

It was a section that we might question the basis of the infancy narratives, and acknowledge the doubt in the gospels about the status of Jesus, but unless you believe in the incarnation as Paul implied (?) then you're wasting your time. That was my laughter point - not aloud. So I said to him afterwards: like these infancy narratives don't support it, further narratives don't support it, but Paul does - well, did Paul believe in the incarnation? Er, in reply he said later texts hint it but they might not have been written by Paul, of course. No - so unless you, bang, believe this, that and the other you're wasting your time. Not then the Jewish Christian approach of the Shekinah and walking with God, which is consistent with the texts, or all those early Christians... But I said it was very meaty, very good.

Showing my book last week led to a discovery of another chap there (who by membership of a group is at least as radical as me) and so with him there was a similar discussion, though unfortunately he couldn't hear a lot of it. He said it's, you know, encouraging people in, that we know only as much as you do, and we go on the road of discovery together. Quite.

The point of this is that whatever may be the requirements put on those with Church jobs, that a learning and discovery Church is - I'd suggest - a distinctive model that is attractive, and is welcoming, and treats people as adult equals on their journeys. It is a warm approach and open, to investigate and discover what this tradition can say about contemporary lives in their difficulties and successes.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 7:51pm GMT

I know and like Aidan but would qualify his message.
The doctrine he is preaching is no less absolutist than the one he is questioning. Let's be sceptical about everything - but everything. Not much nuance or differentiation there.

I have always reckoned that a third rate mind thinks everything is easy; a second-rate mind thinks everything is difficult and unknowable; a first-rate mind differentiates gradations here - between very difficult and very easy.

Thoroughgoing scepticism is, as has often been pointed out, self-refuting. It is only held sometimes, I suspect, by those who want to differentiate themsleves as far as possible from fundamentalism. In so doing they become votaries of another fundamentalism.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Tuesday, 30 January 2007 at 12:07pm GMT
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