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Nietzsche’s superman, Islam, and Covid-19 ( Part I) – Daily Times

Posted: August 22, 2020 at 2:55 am


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When Friedrich Nietzsche ran to stop the brutal owner of a horse from thrashing it mercilessly in Turin, Italy, and threw his arms around the animal crying, I understand your pain, it gave us an extraordinary insight into his character and mind; more than his usually convoluted philosophic utterances. Nietzsche, who blithely declared to the world, God is dead could not bear the cruelty to the animal. While the image of Nietzsche is that of a world-class philosopher grappling with esoteric philosophic insights into the human condition and forever engulfed in controversy, this account reveals to us his sensitive nature that would have made the great Jain sage Mahavira proud. This episode also triggered his mental breakdown from which he never recovered.

Ten years later in 1900, after living in a vegetative state, he was dead. Ever since his breakdown he had been in the care of his sister. They had grown apart and had very different ideas about life and politics. She not only made her own edits to his work at will but after his death projected and distorted her brothers thought in alignment with her own pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic prejudices. She had migrated to Paraguay to attempt to create a colony of like-minded right-wing Germans and falsified her brothers ideas and ideology to curry favor with the Nazis. She even entirely fabricated numerous letters that she published in his name. This was morally reprehensible but she was doing thriving business in Nazi Germany. So impressed was Hitler by her loyalty that he attended her funeral. Nietzsche scholars have condemned her criminally scandalous forgeries (David Wroe, Criminal manipulation of Nietzsche by sister to make him look anti-Semitic, The Telegraph, January 19, 2010).

Nietzsches bermensch

Nietzsches mind was like a vast, dark, and dangerous cave. In it dwelt flying creatures with sharp teeth. There were also those wondrous ones with luminous eyes conveying compassion and kindness. To enter the cave was an adventure and one never knew what would come flying at you. Take the matter of slavery. Nietzsche made several comments on slavery which are unacceptable to us. There is simply no excuse for the dreadful and disgusting institution of slavery. Nietzsches supporters cannot exonerate him by citing illustrious figures like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and arguing that even the founding fathers of the greatest Western democracy owned slaves so the institution of slavery at that time was somehow excusable. They cannot also brush away this information because it comes in fragments from obscure notes of dubious sources and was perhaps influenced by his sister who was busy distorting his work over which he had little control. Nor can the supporters take his references to the Greeks whom he admired and argue that because they had slavery it was somehow acceptable. To me it is likely that Nietzsches fragments on slavery reflect his broader philosophy on the subject and he stands condemned. There is much to be explored and researched for the scholar in Nietzsches writing. But those entering the cave must do so with a strong torch and a stronger heart.

The process whereby man progressed to Superman, according to Nietzsche, began with ones will to do so. Between animal and Superman was man and man had to aspire to become Superman. To move beyond man, he had to aspire to the next stage of creative evolution

Nietzsche is without doubt considered one of the greatest of Western philosophers and certainly one of the most controversial. From his bushy Groucho Marx mustache and eyebrows to his statement declaring God dead, Nietzsche seems to invite controversy and comment. One of Nietzsches concepts is that of the bermensch, a superior man, a beyond man or super man who, through his being, justifies the very existence of the human race. It is one of his most famous, and in the wrong hands, as we will see below, notorious concepts. It comes from Nietzsches celebrated magnum opus, Thus Spake Zarathustra. In the novel, Zarathustra, the protagonist, retreats to the mountains at the age of thirty to seek knowledge and wisdom. Ten years later he has achieved his aim. His heart is overflowing with wisdom and love, like a bee with an abundance of honey, in Nietzsches words. He now wishes to share what he has gathered with humanity. On the way down from the mountain he meets an old man who predicts the people would not accept his message except with hatred and ridicule. People were miserable and although they lived in an advanced material society and indulged in base pleasures, they were still miserable. In spite of their condition they rejected the wise mans offer to share his wisdom. In the end they chased him away with their hatred and ridicule. Nietzsche, like the protagonist of the book, sets out to share his wisdom and love. And like the protagonist, Nietzsche also meets with ridicule and hatred.

The process whereby man progressed to Superman, according to Nietzsche, began with ones will to do so. Between animal and Superman was man and man had to aspire to become Superman. To move beyond man, he had to aspire to the next stage of creative evolution. He was called the last man because that was the last stage before he could become Superman. It was different from Darwinian mutations and biological combinations with no aspirational aspects.

In terms of those people who had qualities of the Superman, Nietzsche gave his own personal list. They included Goethe, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Montaigne and Voltaire. It is a list that most Europeans could identify with. Indeed, for Nietzsche, Goethe is probably the closest a human being can be to the idea of the Superman.

The ideal qualities of the Superman, Nietzsche wrote, were Caesar with Christs soul. For those surprised to find Napoleon on the list, it is worth pointing out that others saw these figures as Superman too. For example, for Hegel, the eminent German philosopher, Napoleon was the very embodiment of the modern state and the Absolute or the world-soul on horseback. The Duke of Wellington famously said that Napoleons presence on the battlefield was the equivalent of 40,000 soldiers and a similar remark was made of Saladin, who we could call a Muslim Superman, at the time of the Crusades.

The writer is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC, and author of Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity

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Nietzsche's superman, Islam, and Covid-19 ( Part I) - Daily Times

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August 22nd, 2020 at 2:55 am

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Nietzsche’s superman, Islam, and Covid-19 ( Part II) – Daily Times

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Examining the qualities of Nietzsches Supermen figures we may deduce some broad characteristics: they have a sense of destiny; something is driving them to spread their message and understanding to the world. They are generally protective of the weak and the vulnerable and concerned about the minorities. They are inclined to see the big picture and are not so concerned about minor things that may occupy other people. They are bold and independent in their thinking which often causes opposition and controversy. Their actions have an impact on distant places and into the future of which perhaps even they are not aware. Because they are extraordinary in their lives and aspirations, they are often lonely even though surrounded by followers and admirers.

They find followers rather than companions. They often spend time by themselves, retreating to isolated caves and mountains. They are brilliant in their strategic choices and moves. They are not always successful and since they are creating new ideas and challenging old ones, they often suffer a backlash that may even cost them their lives in the process. Even after they die, they cross time and space and remain alive in the imagination of their followers. As Nietzsches list of his own figures who approached and approximated the Superman is subjective and personal, each one of us is entitled to drawing up our own list. It is an exercise to be recommended as it will tell us as much about ourselves as our society..

Nietzsche followed Goethe in his admiration for the Prophet of Islam. Nietzsche compared the Prophet to Plato, one of the foundational figures of Western civilization. For Nietzsche, Plato thought he could do for all the Greeks what Muhammad did later for his Arabs

When Nietzsches Zarathustra went up the mountain seeking a species of Superman, he did not quite appreciate that they were in plain sight all along. Indeed, the concept of the Superman is not new. We have examples from the past going back several thousand years of figures who could justifiably be called Superman, from Moses, who parted the sea, turned his staff into a snake that ate up the Pharaohs snake, and climbed a mountain to talk to God, to Jesus Christ, who walked on water and gave life to a corpse. There are other figures such as the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II who brought the different religions and communities in his empire closer together through scholarship and in mutual respect. In Hindu mythology we have examples of ancient heroes performing superhuman feats. Most societies have their own towering figures that they view as supermen-or superwomen. So, while among Christians, Jesus is the ultimate Superman, among Hindus it is Lord Ram, among Buddhists Lord Buddha, and so on. Platos philosopher-king was a prototype Superman and Alexander the Great was seen as an early Greek version of the Superman. Earlier in Nietzsches century, Thomas Carlyle had written his celebrated On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History which was similar in scope to Nietzsches Superman idea and included several figures such as the Prophet of Islam, Rousseau and Napoleon that could over-lap with those on Nietzsches own list.

Insan-i Kamil: The Prophet as the Muslim Superman

For Muslims, the figure of the Superman is represented by the Prophet of Islam. The Quran stated that God created man to be Gods vicegerent on earth; a super superman if you will. The high status and expectations of man are inherent in Islams theological vision and philosophic understanding of the nature of man. That philosophic vision is suffused with the notions of compassion and mercy. This potential in man finds its ultimate expression in the Prophet of Islam, the model and example for Muslims to aspire to. Gods greatest attributes are derived from his two most popular names-Rahman and Rahim-Compassionate and Merciful and as he is the Messenger of God the Prophet is described in the Quran as a mercy unto mankind. The Prophet is known in the Islamic tradition as Insan-i Kamil or the Perfect Man, the equivalent of the Superman, and he is also called Khayr ul Bashr, or the best of mankind.

There are indeed interesting parallels between Nietzsches Superman and the Perfect Man in the Islamic tradition as personified by the Prophet. Is there a more direct relationship between the two concepts? Did the way that Muslims conceive of the Prophet of Islam, in turn, influence the construct of Ubermensch or the Superman? If so what are the intellectual links to possible sources that we can trace? The clues are many although some are admittedly weak. Yet it is worth exploring some of the connections which may heighten our understanding of both concepts and their similarities.

Nietzsche may have been consciously or unconsciously influenced by the Islamic notion of the Perfect Man through sources such as Goethe, his number one exemplary role model for the Superman. While Goethe wrote his devotional poem in honor of the Prophet called Mahomets Song at the age of 23, at age 70 he publicly declared he was considering devoutly celebrating that holy night in which the Quran in its entirety was revealed to the prophet from on high. Goethes comments on Islam have led to speculation about the extent of his commitment to the faith, for example, in the following verse: If Islam means, to God devoted/ All live and die in Islams ways. In fact, Goethe himself sometimes wondered if he was actually living the life of a Muslim, writing, when announcing the publication of his poetic work West-Eastern Divan, that the author does not reject the suspicion that he may himself be a Muslim.

No Muslim can be unmoved by Goethes poem, Mahomets Song, dedicated to the Prophet of Islam, whom he calls chief and head of created beings. Goethe had intended to write a longer piece in which Hazrat Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet and himself a Superman figure as a great scholar and warrior, was to have sung the poem in honor of his master, but the project was never completed. Mahomets Song is a powerful expression of the desire to discover unity in the universe while searching for the divine. Goethe uses the metaphor of an irresistible stream that flows down from the mountains to the ocean, taking other streams along with it. Here are some verses from the poem:

And the streamlets from the mountain,

Shout with joy, exclaiming: Brother,

Brother, take thy brethren with thee,

With thee to thine aged father,

To the everlasting ocean,

Who, with arms outstretching far,

Waiteth for us

And the meadow

In his breath finds life.'

Nietzsche followed Goethe in his admiration for the Prophet of Islam. Nietzsche compared the Prophet to Plato, one of the foundational figures of Western civilization. For Nietzsche, Plato thought he could do for all the Greeks what Muhammad did later for his Arabs. Muslims, who have been fascinated by Greek philosophers like Plato, have invariably seen the Prophet of Islam as the philosopher-king that Plato dreamed of and the Muslim community, as in the example of the early settlement in Medina, as the realization of Platos ideal City. Nietzsche also followed Goethe in his admiration for the great Persian poet Hafiz. Nietzsche wrote a poem extolling the heroic virtues of Hafiz including the fact that Hafiz was a water drinker-along with Christianity the drinking of alcohol was one of Nietzsches bugaboos about Europe. In Thus Spake Zarathustra, Zarathustra is referred to as a born water drinker. The poem Nietzsche wrote in honor of Hafiz is entitled To Hafiz: Questions of a Water Drinker. It is worth reminding the reader that Islam forbids the drinking of alcohol and Muslims are thus quintessential water drinkers.

In spite of the potential for research, the interest in Islam of Goethe and Nietzsche has been relatively unexplored and even neglected. There are many dissertations waiting for the diligent researcher in this field. Most Germans, who acknowledge Goethe as the Shakespeare of the German language and the classic Renaissance man, do not know about Goethes enthusiasm for Islam, which lasted his entire life. Bekir Albo?a, the secretary general of Germanys largest Islamic organization, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), when interviewed for my project Journey into Europe in Cologne, described Goethe as a brother to me, and a great thinker with a great affinity for Islam. Goethe wrote a wonderful poem about our Prophet, he said, referring to Mahomets Song. Albo?a complained that in Germany the Islamic dimension of Goethes work is ignored, if not intentionally suppressed. As for the subject of Nietzsche and Islam that too remains largely uncharted territory. (For a detailed discussion of attitudes to Muslims in contemporary Europe see my book Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration and Identity, 2018). Nietzsche, Islam, and Christianity

The writer is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC, and author of Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity

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Nietzsche's superman, Islam, and Covid-19 ( Part II) - Daily Times

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August 22nd, 2020 at 2:55 am

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Leprosy of the soul? A brief history of boredom – The Conversation UK

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We all respond to boredom in different ways. Some may find a new hobby or interest, others may instead rip open a bag of crisps and binge watch a new Netflix show. Boredom may seem to you an everyday perhaps even trivial experience. Surprisingly, however, boredom has undergone quite a metamorphosis over the past couple of centuries.

Well before the word boredom cropped up in the English language, one of the earliest mentions of boredom is in a Latin poem by Lucretius (9955BC), who writes of the boring life of a rich Roman who flees to his country house only to be find himself equally bored there.

The first recorded mention of the word boredom in the English language seems to be in the British newspaper The Albion in 1829, in the (frankly impenetrable) sentence: Neither will I follow another precedental mode of boredom, and indulge in a laudatory apostrophe to the destinies which presided over my fashioning.

But the term was popularised by Charles Dickens, who famously used the term in Bleak House (1853) where the aristocrat Lady Dedlock says she has been bored to death by, variously, the trying weather, unremarkable musical and theatrical entertainment, and familiar scenery.

In fact, boredom became a popular theme in English Victorian writing, especially in describing the life of the upper class, whose boredom may reflect a privileged social standing. Dickens character James Harthouse (Hard Times, 1854), for example, seems to cherish perpetual boredom as indicative of his high breeding, declaring nothing but boredom during his life as military dragoon and on his many travels.

In the second part of the 19th century and during the early 20th century, boredom gained notoriety among existentialist writers. Their view of boredom was often less than flattering, and one that confronted all of humanity, not just the upper class with its presumably empty existence.

The early existentialist Danish philosopher Sren Kierkegaard, for example, wrote: The gods were bored; therefore they created human beings. This was, according to him, only the beginning of the trouble with boredom. It would eventually lead Adam and Eve to commit their original sin.

Unsurprisingly, Kierkegaard declared boredom to be the root of all evil. Several other existentialists shared this unfavourable view. Jean-Paul Sartre called boredom a leprosy of the soul, and Friedrich Nietzsche, agreeing with Kierkegaard, remarked that: The boredom of God on the seventh day of creation would be a subject for a great poet.

Arthur Schopenhauer took the cake when it came to being gloomy about boredom. According to him, the human capacity for boredom was nothing less than direct evidence for lifes ultimate lack of meaning. In his fittingly titled essay, Studies on Pessimism, he wrote:

The truth of this will be sufficiently obvious if we only remember that man is a compound of needs and necessities hard to satisfy, and that even when they are satisfied, all he obtains is a state of painlessness, where nothing remains to him but abandonment to boredom.

A world of boredom, the existentialists seemed to warn, is a world without purpose.

The 20th century witnessed the emergence of psychology as a scientific discipline. While our understanding of many emotions slowly increased, boredom was surprisingly left alone. What little psychological work on boredom existed was rather speculative, and more often than not excluded empirical data.

These accounts hardly painted a more positive picture of boredom than the existentialists. As recently as 1972, psychoanalyst Erich Fromm blatantly denounced boredom as perhaps the most important source of aggression and destructiveness today.

During the past few decades, however, the image of boredom has changed once more, and with it has come an appreciation of the hitherto discredited emotion. Development of better measurement tools allowed psychologists to examine boredom with greater accuracy, and experimental methods allowed researchers to induce boredom and examine its actual, rather than presumed, behavioural consequences.

This work reveals that boredom can indeed be problematic, as the existentialists assured us. Those who bore easily are more likely to be depressed and anxious, have a tendency to be aggressive, and perceive life as less meaningfull.

Yet, psychology uncovered also a much brighter side of boredom. Researchers found that boredom encourages a search for meaning in life, propels exploration, and inspires novelty seeking. It shows that boredom is not only a common but also a functional emotion that makes people reconsider what they are currently doing in favour of more rewarding alternatives, for example increasing creativity and prosocial tendencies.

In doing so, it seems that boredom helps to regulate our behaviour and prevents us from getting stuck in unrewarding situations for too long. Rather than merely a malady among the upper classes or an existential peril, boredom seems, instead, to be an important part of the psychological arsenal available to people in the pursuit a fulfilling life.

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Leprosy of the soul? A brief history of boredom - The Conversation UK

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August 22nd, 2020 at 2:55 am

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Free Will Astrology: August 19, 2020 – River Cities Reader

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ARIES (March 21-April 19): "We never know what is enough until we know whats more than enough," said Aries singer Billie Holiday. I don't think that applies to everyone, although it's more likely to be true about the Aries tribe than maybe any other sign of the zodiac. And I'm guessing that the coming weeks could be a time when you will indeed be vivid proof of its validity. That's why I'm issuing a "Too Much of a Good Thing" alert for you. I don't think it'll be harmful to go a bit too far and get a little too much of the good things; it may even be wise and healthy to do so. But please don't go wa-a-ay-y-y-y too far and get wa-a-ay-y-y-y too much of the good things.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Taurus author Honor de Balzac (17991850) took many years to write The Human Comedy, an amalgam of 91 intertwined novels, stories, and essays. For this vast enterprise, he dreamed up the personalities of more than 2,000 characters, many of whom appeared in multiple volumes. I bring this to your attention, Taurus, because I believe that the next 15 months will be an excellent time for you to imagine and carry out a Balzac-like project of your own. Do you have an inkling of what that might be? Now's a good time to start ruminating.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Not until the 19th century did humans begin to take organized actions to protect animals from cruelty. Even those were sparse. The latter part of the 20th century brought more concerted efforts to promote animal welfare, but the rise of factory farms, toxic slaughterhouses, zoos, circuses, and cosmetic testing has shunted us into a Dark Age of animal abuse. I suspect our descendants will look back with horror at our barbarism. This problem incurs psychological wounds in us all in ways that aren't totally conscious. And I think this is an especially key issue for you right now. I beg you, for your own sake as well as for the animals', to upgrade your practical love and compassion for animals. I bet you'll find it inspires you to treat your own body with more reverence.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Cancerian literary critic Harold Bloom bragged to the New York Times that his speed-reading skills were so advanced that he could finish a 500-page book in an hour. While I believe he has indeed devoured thousand of books, I also wonder if he lied about his quickness. Nonetheless, I'll offer him up as an inspirational role model for you in the coming weeks. Why? Because you're likely to be able to absorb and integrate far more new information and fresh experiences than usual and at a rapid pace.

LEO (July 23-August 22): "Magic lies in challenging what seems impossible," says Leo politician Carol Moseley Braun. I agree with her, but will also suggest there's an even higher magic: when you devise a detailed plan for achieving success by challenging the impossible, and then actually carry out that plan. Judging from the current astrological omens, I suspect you're in an unusually favorable position to do just that in the coming weeks. Be bold in rising to the challenge; be practical and strategic in winning the challenge.

VIRGO (August 23-September 22): "Joy is a mystery because it can happen anywhere, anytime, even under the most unpromising circumstances," writes author Frederick Buechner. What he doesn't say is that you must be receptive and open to the possibility of joy arriving anywhere and anytime. If you're shut down to its surprising influx, if you're convinced that joy is out of reach, it won't break through the barriers you've put up; it won't be able to land in your midst. I think this is especially important counsel for you in the coming weeks, Virgo. Please make yourself available for joy. P.S. Here's another clue from Buechner: "Joy is where the whole being is pointed in one direction."

LIBRA (September 23-October 22): "I transformed stillnesses and darknesses into words," wrote Libran poet Arthur Rimbaud. "What was unspeakable, I named. I made the whirling world pause." In accordance with current astrological potentials, I have turned his thoughts into a message for you. In the coming weeks, I hope you will translate silences and mysteries into clear language. What is unfathomable and inaccessible, you will convert into understandings and revelations. Gently, without force or violence, you will help heal the inarticulate agitation around you with the power of your smooth, resonant tenderness.

SCORPIO (October 23-November 21): "Your desires, whether or not you achieve them, will determine who you become," wrote author Octavia E. Butler. Now is a fertile time for you to meditate on that truth. So I dare you to take an inventory of all your major desires, from the noblest to the most trivial. Be honest. If one of your burning yearnings is to have 100,000 followers on Instagram or to eat chocolate-covered bacon that is served to you in bed, admit it. After you're through tallying up the wonders you want most, the next step is to decide if they are essential to you becoming the person you truly want to be. If some aren't, consider replacing them with desires that will be a better influence on you as you evolve.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22-December 21): If you can manage it, I recommend taking a break from business-as-usual. I'd love to see you give yourself the gift of amusement and play a luxurious sabbatical that will help you feel free of every burden, excused from every duty, and exempt from every fixation. The spirit I hope you will embody is captured well in this passage from author Okakura Kakuzo: "Let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things."

CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19): Rapper Eminem advises us, "Never take ecstasy, beer, Bacardi, weed, Pepto-Bismol, Vivarin, Tums, Tagamet HB, Xanax, and Valium in the same day." What's his rationale? That quaffing this toxic mix might kill us or make us psychotic? No. He says you shouldn't do that because "It makes it difficult to sleep at night." I'm going to suggest that you abide by his counsel for yet another reason: According to my analysis, you have the potential to experience some wondrous and abundant natural highs in the coming weeks. Your capacity for beautiful perceptions, exhilarating thoughts, and breakthrough epiphanies will be at a peak. But none of that is likely to happen if you're loaded up with inebriants.

AQUARIUS (January 20-February 18): "Everyone who has ever built a new heaven first found the power to do so in his own hell," declared philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. That's a rather histrionic statement! But then Nietzsche was a Maestro of Melodrama. He was inclined to portray human life as a heroic struggle for boldness and liberation. He imagined us as being engaged in an epic quest to express our highest nature. In accordance with your astrological potentials, I propose that you regard Nietzsche as your power creature during the coming weeks. You have a mandate to adopt his lion-hearted perspective. And yes, you also have a poetic license to build a new heaven based on the lessons you learned and the power you gained in your own hell.

PISCES (February 19-March 20): Here's some knowledge from author John le Carr: "In every operation there is an above the line and a below the line. Above the line is what you do by the book. Below the line is how you do the job." According to my analysis, you have, at least for now, done all you can in your work above the line. That's great! It was crucial for you to follow the rules and honor tradition. But now it's time for a shift in emphasis. In the coming weeks, I hope you will specialize in finessing the details and massaging the nuances below the line.

Homework: Meditate on the possibility that you could gain personal power through an act of surrender. Visit FreeWillAstrology.com.

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Free Will Astrology: August 19, 2020 - River Cities Reader

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August 22nd, 2020 at 2:55 am

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Free Will AstrologyWeek of August 20 | Advice & Fun | Bend – The Source Weekly

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LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): "Magic lies in challenging what seems impossible," says Leo politician Carol Moseley Braun. I agree with her, but will also suggest there's an even higher magic: when you devise a detailed plan for achieving success by challenging the impossible, and then actually carry out that plan. Judging from the current astrological omens, I suspect you're in an unusually favorable position to do just that in the coming weeks. Be bold in rising to the challenge; be practical and strategic in winning the challenge.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): "Joy is a mystery because it can happen anywhere, anytime, even under the most unpromising circumstances," writes author Frederick Buechner. What he doesn't say is that you must be receptive and open to the possibility of joy arriving anywhere and anytime. If you're shut down to its surprising influx, if you're convinced that joy is out of reach, it won't break through the barriers you've put up; it won't be able to land in your midst. I think this is especially important counsel for you in the coming weeks, Virgo. PLEASE make yourself available for joy. P.S. Here's another clue from Buechner: "Joy is where the whole being is pointed in one direction."

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): "I transformed stillnesses and darknesses into words," wrote Libran poet Arthur Rimbaud. "What was unspeakable, I named. I made the whirling world pause." In accordance with current astrological potentials, I have turned his thoughts into a message for you. In the coming weeks, I hope you will translate silences and mysteries into clear language. What is unfathomable and inaccessible, you will convert into understandings and revelations. Gently, without force or violence, you will help heal the inarticulate agitation around you with the power of your smooth, resonant tenderness.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): "Your desires, whether or not you achieve them, will determine who you become," wrote author Octavia E. Butler. Now is a fertile time for you to meditate on that truth. So I dare you to take an inventory of all your major desires, from the noblest to the most trivial. Be honest. If one of your burning yearnings is to have 100,000 followers on Instagram or to eat chocolate-covered bacon that is served to you in bed, admit it. After you're through tallying up the wonders you want most, the next step is to decide if they are essential to you becoming the person you truly want to be. If some aren't, consider replacing them with desires that will be a better influence on you as you evolve.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): If you can manage it, I recommend taking a break from business-as-usual. I'd love to see you give yourself the gift of amusement and playa luxurious sabbatical that will help you feel free of every burden, excused from every duty, and exempt from every fixation. The spirit I hope you will embody is captured well in this passage from author Okakura Kakuzo: "Let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things."

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Rapper Eminem advises us, "Never take ecstasy, beer, Bacardi, weed, Pepto-Bismol, Vivarin, Tums, Tagamet HB, Xanax, and Valium in the same day." What's his rationale? That quaffing this toxic mix might kill us or make us psychotic? No. He says you shouldn't do that because "It makes it difficult to sleep at night." I'm going to suggest that you abide by his counsel for yet another reason: According to my analysis, you have the potential to experience some wondrous and abundant natural highs in the coming weeks. Your capacity for beautiful perceptions, exhilarating thoughts, and breakthrough epiphanies will be at a peak. But none of that is likely to happen if you're loaded up with inebriants.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): "Everyone who has ever built a new heaven first found the power to do so in his own hell," declared philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. That's a rather histrionic statement! But then Nietzsche was a Maestro of Melodrama. He was inclined to portray human life as a heroic struggle for boldness and liberation. He imagined us as being engaged in an epic quest to express our highest nature. In accordance with your astrological potentials, I propose that you regard Nietzsche as your power creature during the coming weeks. You have a mandate to adopt his lion-hearted perspective. And yes, you also have a poetic license to build a new heaven based on the lessons you learned and the power you gained in your own hell.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Here's some knowledge from author John le Carr: "In every operation there is an above the line and a below the line. Above the line is what you do by the book. Below the line is how you do the job." According to my analysis, you have, at least for now, done all you can in your work above the line. That's great! It was crucial for you to follow the rules and honor tradition. But now it's time for a shift in emphasis. In the coming weeks, I hope you will specialize in finessing the details and massaging the nuances below the line.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): "We never know what is enough until we know what's more than enough," said Aries singer Billie Holiday. I don't think that applies to everyone, although it's more likely to be true about the Aries tribe than maybe any other sign of the zodiac. And I'm guessing that the coming weeks could be a time when you will indeed be vivid proof of its validity. That's why I'm issuing a "Too Much of a Good Thing" alert for you. I don't think it'll be harmful to go a bit too far and get a little too much of the good things; it may even be wise and healthy to do so. But please don't go waaayyyy too far and get waaayyyy too much of the good things.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Taurus author Honor de Balzac (17991850) took many years to write The Human Comedy, an amalgam of 91 intertwined novels, stories, and essays. For this vast enterprise, he dreamed up the personalities of more than 2,000 characters, many of whom appeared in multiple volumes. I bring this to your attention, Taurus, because I believe that the next 15 months will be an excellent time for you to imagine and carry out a Balzac-like project of your own. Do you have an inkling of what that might be? Now's a good time to start ruminating.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Not until the 19th century did humans begin to take organized actions to protect animals from cruelty. Even those were sparse. The latter part of the 20th century brought more concerted efforts to promote animal welfare, but the rise of factory farms, toxic slaughterhouses, zoos, circuses, and cosmetic testing has shunted us into a Dark Age of animal abuse. I suspect our descendants will look back with horror at our barbarism. This problem incurs psychological wounds in us all in ways that aren't totally conscious. And I think this is an especially key issue for you right now. I beg you, for your own sake as well as for the animals', to upgrade your practical love and compassion for animals. I bet you'll find it inspires you to treat your own body with more reverence.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Cancerian literary critic Harold Bloom bragged to The New York Times that his speed-reading skills were so advanced that he could finish a 500-page book in an hour. While I believe he has indeed devoured thousand of books, I also wonder if he lied about his quickness. Nonetheless, I'll offer him up as an inspirational role model for you in the coming weeks. Why? Because you're likely to be able to absorb and integrate far more new information and fresh experiences than usualand at a rapid pace.

Homework: Meditate on the possibility that you could gain personal power through an act of surrender. FreeWillAstrology.com

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Free Will AstrologyWeek of August 20 | Advice & Fun | Bend - The Source Weekly

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August 22nd, 2020 at 2:55 am

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Don’t misrepresent Atheism – The Shillong Times

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Editor,

Apropos the letter No Country for Atheists, (ST August 19, 2020), I wish to bring to your attention the factual errors and blatant misrepresentation of the humanist and atheist community of Meghalaya. I myself have been an atheist since the 6th grade. Now as a full grown adult I have still remained so. I wish to encourage the author of the particular letter and others who are interested to educate themselves on the beliefs and ideals of the great humanists or atheist thinkers like Voltaire, Nietzsche, B.R Ambedkar, Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins etc. Much progress in the fields of science, literature, medicine, philosophy, etc have been made by atheists and humanists. Many of their books are available online for free or in libraries. I also wish for the authors to understand that atheism and humanism are mutually exclusive. Something which would have been easily understood if one would spend time to research the topic instead on relying on hearsay.

Humanism is a rationalist outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Atheism on the other hand is the absence of belief in any divine entity or power. Not all atheists are humanists and not all humanists are atheists. In fact you can follow a religion and be a humanist. As for the accusations that atheism is destructive there can be no denial that there have been some atheists who use their nihilism and depravity to justify their misdeeds just as there have been plenty of adherents of different faiths who commit atrocities in the name of their chosen gods. Beware of painting large groups of people with broad brushes. It is always wise to research and read up on an issue before writing. Calling one particular community as destructive is callous. If the author had been writing about another religious or ethnic community in such a way she would be liable to face legal consequences. As such, most of the humanist and atheist community are rather mellow, level headed and compassionate individuals. They would rather their deeds speak for themselves rather than argue pointlessly in the legal system. The world today is shaped by humanist and atheist beliefs. Without the pursuit of scientific, political and social knowledge the world today would be trapped in the barbarism of the mediaeval ages where feudal lords commit atrocities in the name of their religion. The ideas of liberalism, democracy, human rights, etc originate from humanist ideals that placed human life over that of the divine. In conclusion, I wish for everyone to read up on humanism and atheism even if they are faithful adherents of their religion. The pursuit of knowledge will broaden their horizons and perhaps next time when criticism is used, it will have some basis on reality.

Yours etc.,

Leon Gabriel Kharkongor An Atheist

Via email

Editor,

A sense of shame came over me after reading the letter No country for Atheists,(ST Aug 20th, 2020). We Christians need to introspect and face facts. Meghalaya has a majority of Christians living within its borders but when we look back at what has been done and what we have achieved since 1972, it is us Christians who need to keep quiet and stop justifying any kind of retort. Christ would really not want to be a Christian in Meghalaya. All important indicators show how bad everything is in the state and who has been leading it for years- Christians. This is not to take anything away from the unsung warriors of Christ because a lot has been achieved through their hard work and dedication.

We have churches in every corner and the freedom to worship anywhere but look at the condition of our state. Corruption is rampant, the weak are being oppressed, nature is over exploited beyond its capability to regenerate and we depend on outsiders to control any further destruction; the list goes on. I hide my face in shame (I cant repeat the word enough) and ask for forgiveness on behalf of all decision makers these past decades. We cannot defend anything when the evidence clearly proves otherwise. We need to admit to our mistakes and failures if there is to be any hope for the future.

To the highly controversial subject of forceful conversion, I personally have never been a fan of numbers. How many followers each denomination has will not matter to God when I was taught (correct me if I am wrong) ever since I was a child that He is interested in the heart? People follow Christ because of how he lived; he did not have to force anyone. This is what our churches need to teach people now more than ever. Heaven and hell is not going to mean anything for people trying to survive an already very difficult and challenging world. Maybe then we can face greed and pride head on and compromises like the planned shopping mall will not happen. Only then can we all work together for a better solution to the unemployment problem that the government is saying justifies this course of action.

Yours etc,

Via email

Editor,

It is interesting to read the opinions expressed by several writers through your esteemed daily. Some of the letters/articles are very scholarly and they never fail to inspire us to think big. They broaden our outlook.They even push us to soar up into the higher truths. The light of KNOWLEDGE can alone dispel the darkness of ignorance. So, that LIGHT coming from any source must be welcome. More importantly, the right knowledge helps us become saner and more compassionate towards our fellow beings regardless of what faiths or customs or traditions they practice.Mr. Sanwame War, in one of his letters, emphasizes that religion should encourage us in free-thinking, creativity, and self-inquiry. This really appeals to me. God is the supreme source of creativity.The realm of God is accessible to those who have come out of the narrow cocoon of dogmatism. Excessive dogmatism leads to hatred. Hatred spiritually drags us down weakening our thinking and intellectual capability. Free-thinking, of course within the boundaries of morality, can considerably help us shake off prejudices. Many of us continuously choose to carry a load of biased opinions against others, their faiths/customs without ever knowing that, at the end of the day, they are only going to pollute our mindset. Harbouring malice corrodes our inner self, obstructing our pathway to divinity or, more precisely, self-realization.

I would like to further add, that if religion is all about looking down on others and hurting them, then one needs to stand up and fight for HUMANITY FIRST. Todays major crises, nay, senseless brutalities and bloodshed, are usually due to the flawed interpretation of words of our beloved prophets who otherwise stood for humanity and peace. Just look at the recent incident of Bengaluru, Delhi-riots, Gurdwara suicide bombing in Kabul. also many other places across the world, which are in fact inspired by hatred for other faiths. If religions lead to such violence and killings, then we must have badly misread our holy scriptures. Lord Jesus, Lord Krishna, Prophet Mohammed, Buddha are doubtlessly the embodiment of love and service, they never preached violence. HUMANITY AND SERVICE TO MANKIND are what they lived for till their last breath. So, following in their footsteps, lets first believe in service to mankind, and love one and all without discrimination, being kind and compassionate as aptly concluded by Jennifer Dkhar in her letter Understanding religion (ST, 20thAug). It is our compassion towards His creatures that melts the heart of the ALMIGHTY.He will then surely open His doorway to heaven for us. HE might cut us to size if we hurt humanity inthe name of religion.

Yours etc.,

Salil Gewali,

Shillong,

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August 22nd, 2020 at 2:55 am

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National Couple’s Day 2020: Quotes About Love To Share With Your Partner – International Business Times

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Tuesday marks National Couple's Day, celebrated to cherish the love and togetherness. Even though the day is not an official holiday, people use the occasion to celebrate the special personin their lives.

Here aresome quotesfromQuotabularyandGoodreads to share feelings of love and appreciation toward your significant other.

1. "Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made!" Robert Browning, "Rabbi Ben Ezra"

2. "Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time." Maya Angelou, poet, and civil rights activist.

3."Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." Lao Tzu,Chinese philosopher

4. "But, my God, it's so beautiful when the boy smiles" Anna Nalick, singer-songwriter

5. "You cant blame gravity for falling in love." Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist.

6. "It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages." Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosopher.

7. "Truth is everybody is going to hurt you: you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for." Bob Marley, Jamaican reggae singer.

8. "Absences are a good influence in love and keep it bright and delicate." Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist.

9. "You can never control who you fall in love with, even when you're in the most sad, confused time of your life. You don't fall in love with people because they're fun. It just happens." Kirsten Dunst, actress.

10. "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." Aristotle, philosopher

11. "Immature love says: 'I love you because I need you.' Mature love says 'I need you because I love you.'" Erich Fromm, psychologist

12. "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return." Eden Ahbez, song "Nature Boy"

This is a representational image Photo: Getty Images

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August 22nd, 2020 at 2:55 am

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Cold Chain Tracking And Monitoring Market 2020 | Coronavirus Impact Analysis | Trends, Innovation, Growth Opportunities, Demand, Application, Top…

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Cold Chain Tracking And Monitoring Market research report covering the current trend and effect on the business of COVID-19. This intelligence report includes investigations based on Current scenarios, Historical records, and future predictions. An accurate data of various aspects such as Type, Size, Application, and end-user have been scrutinized in this research report. It presents the 360-degree overview of the competitive landscape of the industries. SWOT analysis has been used to understand the Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and threats in front of the businesses. Thus, helping the companies to understand the threats and challenges in front of the businesses. Cold Chain Tracking And Monitoring Market is showing steady growth and CAGR is expected to improve during the forecast period.

Prominent Players Profiled in the Report are Sensitech, Inc. ORBCOMM Testo Rotronic ELPRO-BUCHS AG Emerson Nietzsche Enterprise NXP Semiconductors NV Signatrol Haier Biomedical Monnit Corporation Berlinger & Co AG Cold Chain Technologies LogTag Recorders Ltd Omega Dickson ZeDA Instruments Oceasoft The IMC Group Ltd Duoxieyun Controlant Ehf Gemalto Infratab, Inc. Zest Labs, Inc. vTrack Cold Chain Monitoring SecureRF Corp. Jucsan Maven Systems Pvt Ltd.

Key Types Hardware Software

Key End-Use Food and Beverages Pharma & Healthcare Others

Global Cold Chain Tracking And Monitoring Market report provides you with detailed insights, industry knowledge, market forecasts and analytics. The report on the global Cold Chain Tracking And Monitoring industry also clarifies economic risks and environmental compliance. Global Cold Chain Tracking And Monitoring market report assists industry enthusiasts including investors and decision makers to make confident capital investments, develop strategies, optimize their business portfolio, innovate successfully and perform safely and sustainably.

Cold Chain Tracking And Monitoring Market Region Coverage (Regional Production, Demand & Forecast by Countries etc.):

A Free report data (as a form of Excel Datasheet) will also be provided upon request along with a new purchase.

Overview of the chapters analysing the global Cold Chain Tracking And Monitoring Market in detail:

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August 22nd, 2020 at 2:55 am

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David Gilbert on John Hughes and Being Seventeen – The New Yorker

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Photograph by Tim Knox / eyevine / Redux

Your story in this weeks magazine, Cicadia, follows three seventeen-year-olds on their way to a party in suburban Cincinnati, in 1986Best friends cruising together. On the cusp of senior year. When did you first start thinking about these boys and that party? How important is the eighties setting?

O.K., so on December 11, 2015, I was watching Last Year at Marienbadyeah, yeah, I was in a moodand halfway through the film the oblique nature of the narrative sort of opened up to me, and I decided I was watching this profound cinematic experiment in repetition, in terms of the acting and the roles played, right down to the looping character of projected film, of life captured but then remaining forever static, the built-in essence of this drama. Like I said, I was in a mood. So I wrote myself this e-mail (verbatim):

A story of a performance, done 10,000,000 times. The dialogue forced, insisted upon them, for this performance. All the players aware of the hell they are in.

Told from multiple point of views. All the action and dialogue the same, fated, but the voices inside their head aware and conscious of whats going on.

Kind of like Groundhog Day with theater being the metaphor. All stuck in the same role.

This was the beginning of Cicadia. But I could never figure out how to crack the code. The minute attempts at communication within the closed system. The budding of meaning, which, budding endlessly, would become meaningless. The basic mechanism of the multitrack plot. It was like geometry, and Im horrible at geometry. So four years passed, my thoughts occasionally flexing around the idea, until I was watching Ferris Buellers Day Off, probably for the fiftieth time, and I wondered, Hmm, what it would be like for Ferris if he was forced to relive this day every time someone pushed play. Like his soul had been captured in Panavision and he only existed for an hour and forty-three minutes of run-time. That was his life. Maybe he was confused. Maybe he was lonely. Feeling trapped. Maybe he wondered if the same was true for Cameron, for Sloane, for Jeanie, for Mr. Rooney, if they were all stuck, unable to acknowledge their shared predicament. Thats interesting, I thought. And complicated. I might be bad at geometry, but I love problem-solving in writing. So I set out to create my own version of a John Hughes movie and to try to convey, under the surface, the psychology of this setup.

Are you confused? Because I am.

And for a while, that was the problem with the story. It was confusing and too attached to its oblique cleverness.

Enter Nietzsche and the concept of the eternal return and my grad-school philosophy class with Fred McGlynn, at the University of Montana. This was back in 1994. Fred is easily one of the best teachers I ever had. Fred constantly smoking in the classroom. Freds distinctive rasp. Freds enthusiasm and sense of humor and massive brain, displayed in clouds of chalk dust and smoke. I ended up taking three courses with himI hope youre well, Fredand I always sparked to Nietzsches idea of eternal return, and I thought maybe I could mix memory and recurrence into the story, and create a more universal impression of how we experience the past and how it operates on the present and the future. Were all caught in our loops. And were always coming of age. Or at least I am.

We see events unfold through the point of view of one of the boys, Max. Hes always prided himself on his B-minus persona, but hes much smarter than that. The story captures him at a point where hes thinking about whether to leave that old persona behind. How aware is Max of what he might lose?

I dont think Max is really aware of the bigger picture, only the big picture within this small world. Hes stuck in his head. But he is acutely aware of the micro-losses. The repercussions of his casual disdain. The misunderstandings. The missed connections. The mistaken assumptions. The inevitable betrayals. He has a desire for meaning thats bigger than himself but also contains himself, a.k.a. the adolescent urge. But, unlike in Groundhog Day, theres no possible liberating version of the day, no sloughing of ego, just the deep understanding of imperfection, along with a bit of hope, of course, in the form of change, which happens via profound noticing. In this endless present, Max needs to see something fresh every day. And theres always something fresh to notice and to feel.

The story takes place as a seventeen-year brood of cicadas is hatching. Were the cicadasand the titlean integral part of the story from the outset? Or did the idea of metamorphoses come as you were writing?

There was a small cicada hatch last summer, and my daughters loved searching for the exoskeletons left behind on the trees, almost like Easter but, instead of hunting for eggs, they hunted for the terrestrial remnants of cicadas. Theyd pick the husks from the trees, their lingering grip on the bark always a surprise. And the anatomical detail was amazing. A perfect cicada sculpt. And I was calling them cicadias, and my daughters were always correcting me. Cicada, Dad! Cicada, Dad! But I kept on messing up, because my brain is weird that way, and I thought of arcadia, and these cicadas dropped into the Last Year at Marienbad/Ferris Buellers Day Off idea like a match into a puddle of gasolineI often need a third thing to trigger thingsand I was, like, Yes, yes, of course, the story should happen during a cicada brood, and then I recalled going to a high-school-graduation party thrown by Holly Brown, in Cincinnati, in 1986, during one of those massive seventeen-year broods, and the cicadas were everywhere, a freaky plaguelike marvel, and I thought, Ill use Cincinnati and that memory.

Cicadia unspools over one night in 1986, yet theres a sense in which its the story of a night thats being told over and overit could be a night thats about to happen or a night thats already happened. How important is that sense of a shifting perspective?*

Like I said above, really, really important. But I wanted it to operate on both planes. Those are my favorite kinds of stories. I wanted Max to be cynical and optimistic, not only because of the hellish circumstances and his own coping methods but also because of the nature of teen-agers when it comes to the present and the future. They havent yet discovered the blurring past. Or it can seem that way. By the end, Max is humbled by time. Like we all are.

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David Gilbert on John Hughes and Being Seventeen - The New Yorker

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August 22nd, 2020 at 2:55 am

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On Faith: Individualism is America’s religion | Perspective – Rutland Herald

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Recently, The New York Times published a long exchange between two of the papers well-known and excellent opinion writers, Ross Douthat and Frank Bruni, Is Individualism Americas Religion? Im not sure their exchange answered the question, but Im willing to answer it here: Yes, individualism is Americas religion, and its killing us.

Individualism, as a Western European and American idea and term, is of quite recent origin. It was first used in a pejorative way in the 1830s. It did not become used in a positive sense until the 1850s and its positive sense was linked directly with the value of accumulating personal wealth. James Elishama Smith (1801-57), a former socialist, argued that individualism was essential in order to foster the increase of personal property and happiness.

Individualism as an English language term from its beginning has been associated with what has come to be known, in American Protestantism, as the Prosperity Gospel or the Health and Wealth Gospel. This approach to Christianity teaches financial blessing and physical health are the will of God for those individuals who have the right faith, strong enough faith and a personal relationship with Jesus. This type of religion became a major force in America during the so-called Healing Revivals of the 1950s, and it has remained a prominent characteristic evangelical and Pentecostal American religion ever since.

Donald Trumps only religion growing up was his familys regular attendance at Norman Vincent Peales Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan, which was headed by Peale from 1932 till 1984. Peale took the individualism of the Healing Revivals to wild extremes. His most famous book was The Power of Positive Thinking, in which he taught, as he did almost every Sunday, that ones individual habits of positive thinking and having faith in God will always be rewarded by God.

It is worth remembering that the mental health community of the U.S. criticized Peale severely. His own earlier collaborator, the New York psychiatrist, Smiley Blanton, pulled away from Peale and refused to endorse the famous book. It is my own opinion, along with many others, that Norman Vincent Peale was one of the worst things ever to happen to religion in America. He was largely just a plain old con man and was the perfect preacher with the perfect message for future con men and one in particular.

The hero myth America has created for itself is all bound up with extreme individualism and positive thinking on many levels. With the advent of the ever-popular genre of the Western novel and films, we have perhaps the most vivid symbol of American individualism: the rugged, stand-on-his-own cowboy who overcomes everything think Clint Eastwood. Another symbol is the insanely rich tycoon who made his millions by hook or by crook and by a will-to-power drive straight out of the pages of Nietzsche think Donald Trump.

American evangelical and Pentecostal religious movements present a version of Christianity that is, at its foundation, based on the individuals will power and highly personal relationship with Jesus. In this approach to the Christian religion, the spiritual journey of all true Christians is a reenactment (unknowingly) of the archetypal personal journey of the Individual Hero. This archetype has been examined at great length by psychologist Carl Gustav Jung and mythographer Joseph Campbell, who focus on what they called the process of individuation.

This sounds rather wonderful and heroic, perhaps, until one goes back and re-reads the Old and, especially, the New Testament. A huge focus in Hebrew scripture, again and again and again, was the establishment of the collective tribal identity and collective functionality of the Hebrew people as a group. Likewise, in the Christian New Testament, the focus is on the forging of a new group of people, the group of the apostles, the larger group of the disciples, the creation of a church, the sacred obligation to foster love and peace and brotherhood not only for your own group but even for your enemies. It is not easy to read Judeo-Christian Scripture and come out thinking it is a handbook for fostering individualism.

Its not easy, but it has been done.

This willful misreading of Scripture was one of the worst tragedies of the 20th century. The consequence is that we find ourselves at the beginning of the 21st century with two mighty forces of extreme individualism tearing apart the fabric of society: 1) the force of post-modern relativism, whereby everything seems to boil down to not much more than everybody has their own individual opinion and thats fine and 2) the force of the Prosperity Gospel, which accentuates ones personal, individual relationship with Jesus above all else and promises it will make you individually more healthy and wealthy.

It is never pleasant to point out Christianitys internecine conflicts, but here is a big one: the evangelical/Pentecostal tradition has built itself on the Prosperity Gospel model of Christianity, whereas the Catholic tradition has built itself on the Passion of the Cross model of Christianity. The former preaches about a path to individual success and salvation via a personal relationship with Jesus and being born again; the latter preaches about a path that is filled with much suffering where we must take up our cross and be willing to give our very lives (even unto death) for the greater good of our brothers and sisters, as Jesus gave his life for us on the cross.

These are two very different forms of Christianity. It is no accident that Donald Trump claims to be a Christian of the evangelical stripe. He may (or may not) succeed at it, but thats the stripe he comes from. Joe Biden is a practicing Catholic. He may (or may not) succeed at it, but thats the stripe he comes from.

One of these versions of Christianity fosters individualism in a society that, for my money, already suffers from too much individualism. The other version fosters denial (or at least reining in) of individual self will for the benefit of others and the community.

Religion is on the November ticket, whether one likes it or not. In Trump vs. Biden, we couldnt ask for a starker contrast. There it is, boiled down to its very essence. Do we want to vote for the primacy of the individual and individual rights above all else, or do we want to vote for the primacy of the collective good and civil rights above all else?

I hope I dont presume too much, but I think I know what Jesus Sermon on the Mount teaches us to do.

John Nassivera is a former professor who retains affiliation with Columbia Universitys Society of Fellows in the Humanities. He lives in Vermont and part time in Mexico.

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