Monday, May 15, 2017

District Attorney To Declare Texas Mother Of 5 Innocent In 2007 "Murder" Of Foster Child

Image result for hannah overton
"District Attorney To Declare Texas Mother Of 5 Innocent In 2007 'Murder' Of Foster Child"
ABC News

"Hannah Overton Deserves To Die In Prison"
Red Alerts

Alan: I have always been drawn to the tragedy of miscarried justice.

Compendium Of Best Pax Posts On Miscarriage Of Justice And Misplaced Punishment

In the case of Hannah Overton, I have provided ABC's 7 year-long documentary examination of the case. 

I have also provided Red Alerts' view that Ms. Overton is a cruel, calculating child-killer who "deserves to die in prison." 

In the absence of overwhelmingly decisive evidence -- often scarce and always debatable -- it is surprisingly easy for "strong cases" to be made on opposing sides of any issue. 

We see daily evidence of this polarization as we hunker down ever more emphatically in our emotional, attitudinal and epistemological "silos."

This is why "American conservatives" and "American liberals" see themselves as paragons of virtue and "the other" as daemonic, if not satanic (much of this duality due to the unacknowledged Manichaeism that infected Christianity at the outset.

The issue of guilt and innocence is particularly important in my own life since two friends are 9/11 Truthers. 

Both friends also believe (in broad outline) that the "purported" slaughter of twenty 6 and 7 year olds at Sandy Hook Elementary School was staged by a troop of actors employed by Homeland Security to feign carnage in order to turn citizen sentiment against The Second Amendment
(I highly recommend this documentary film.)

Although I believe Ms. Overton is innocent and that Adam Lanza slaughtered 26 human beings, I also recognize that there are many persuasive arguments that diverge from The Official Story of 9/11. 

The collapse of Building 7 for example sure looks like a controlled demolition. 

If the Twin Towers were brought down by controled demolition, how do we know those charges were placed by U.S. government operatives and not operatives from some other polity or terror group? There is a world of difference between spotting factual irregularities and ascribing agency. To claim that an "inside job" is attributable to the federal government is, for me, a bridge too far. Among "truthers" themselves there are myriad explanations which recalls the Protestant Reformation when first one sect, then another and another, broke with orthodoxy, each claiming its inerrant divine provenance. 

There may be a "9/11 Swamp." 

But as time goes on there is less agreement about motivation and agency. 

I am reminded of the many factual discrepancies in the four canonical gospels, discrepancies that never deter "true believers" from cobbling together disparate verses of The Good News, thus enabling them to devise a coherent, satisfying view of the Nazarene's life.

However, true believers are satisfied with their individually-edited accounts by overlooking the discrepancies and contradictions that abound in the original sources.

UNC-CH Professor Bart D. Ehrman:
Biblical Exegete And Former Christian Evangelical
The Bible and Textual Analysis

I also believe that judgments concerning the lives of other people "over there, far away" -- when we ourselves were not witness to those distant events -- are best left in the realm of belief, not Absolute Certainty.

This is not to say that we cannot - or should not - become passionate about our beliefs, but rather to admit that we know very little with Absolute Certainty and are wisely advised to "confess our faith."

However, my "conspiracist" friends' views of 9/11 and Sandy Hook give pause for they do not "confess faith." 

Rather, they assert Absolute Certainty that their views are objectively true and, not surprisingly, they are irrepressibly intense in their assertions. (I grew up a believer in pre-Vatican II orthodoxy, and although my childhood catechism taught that there was "no salvation outside the church," I never felt the need to become "locked and loaded" behind that ecclesiastical teaching.)

The faith of my conspiracist friends has the hallmarks of evangelical proselytization, which over my lifetime as a student of comparative religion and religious sectarianism, impresses me as incandescent determination to persuade oneself by way of persuading others. 

In a word, my friends seem compelled. 

And obsessive.

They have little (if any) apparent ability to suspend judgment and no discernible interest in doing so. 

During the Reagan administration, I found myself in a similar position, fervently advocating on behalf of Nicaragua's Sandinista government for which I worked in 1988 and 1989, only to realize (from "insider" information) that a number of Sandinista leaders were shamelessly corrupt and that Daniel Ortega had sexually abused his daughter from age 11 onward. (Before these revelations were made, my wife and I named our son for "Daniel" in large part to honor "el gran héroe de la revolución Sandinista! Siempre adelante, ni un paso atrás!")

Although there are significant differences between my own Sandinista fervor and the conspiracist zeal of my friends, what is perhaps most notable is that they "come across" as "religious converts" who have received "revelations" of Absolute Truth.

I find vanishingly little Absolute Truth in the world. 

Furthermore, I believe absolutism arises from a need for certainty in an unsettling -- and always unsettled -- epistemologial universe where political views deploy along a bi-polar spectrum, a spectrum that is "relative" by nature, not absolute. 

As friend Paul put it during our undergraduate days at University of Toronto: "Right wing, left wing... No bird ever flew with just one." 

It is the dynamic tension between "the poles" that "makes the world go around." 

Mono-polarity, on the other hand, is literally a "monopoly" wherein monopolists occupy self-confirming bubbles, denying the muck, muddle and murk of "the world as it is" --- which is not to deny that the world is a swarmingly fertile place with unexpected - and glorious - cross-fertilization at every turn.

As the "user comments" in "Deserves To Die" reveal, the absolute certainty of "self-rightness" (never far-removed from "self-righteousness") makes these critics unusually harsh in their judgments, a harshness whose frequent outcome is that "true believers" "sign off" on "contempt for infidels," a judgment which brings in tow their frequent willingness to consign them to eternal damnation. 

The Thinking Housewife: "We Can Be Pretty Sure That Many Good People Are Roasting In Hell"

I have read that the most difficult and hotly-debated question in the Myers-Briggs (Psychological) Type Indicator is "whether mercy or justice is more important."

As someone who admits that I rarely know the ultimate wellspring of my own motivations, I cannot bring myself to be absolutely condemnatory of others.

All of us are buffeted by circumstances beyond our control and many of our crucial formative circumstances are, I believe, unknown to us.

We are all stuck where we are stuck.

This is not to say that I refrain from railing against behaviors I believe to be wrong.
But refraining from Absolutism is, in my own feeble way, acknowledgement that there is no final recourse but to say (however half-heartedly) "I forgive them for they know not what they do." (Immediately followed by, "God forgive me for not knowing what I myself do.")

Image result for pax on both houses, blaise pascal

Around 500 B.C. Chinese sage Lao Tze (Laozi) observed that "the profoundest truths are paradoxical."

When I combine the bedrock importance of irony with the centrality of paradox -- chiefly Voltaire's paradox that "the best is enemy of the good" -- I realize that my beliefs are my beliefs, and that we only declare ourselves in absolute possession of Truth at great - even cosmic - peril. (If terrestrial Armageddon comes to pass, I would bet the farm that it will be provoked by absolutists on at least one side of the conflict - and probably both.)

Image result for pax on both sides, armageddon

"The terrible thing about our time is precisely the ease with which theories can be put into practice.  The more perfect, the more idealistic the theories, the more dreadful is their realization.  We are at last beginning to rediscover what perhaps men knew better in very ancient times, in primitive times before utopias were thought of: that liberty is bound up with imperfection, and that limitations, imperfections, errors are not only unavoidable but also salutary. The best is not the ideal.  Where what is theoretically best is imposed on everyone as the norm, then there is no longer any room even to be good.  The best, imposed as a norm, becomes evil.”  
"Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander,” by Trappist monk, Father Thomas Merton

More Merton Quotes

Our beliefs are worth dying for. 

Our presumption of absolute knowledge is not.

Pax tecum

Beliefs I would not live without:

"You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do."
Tom Weston S. J.

“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”

Dorothy Day

"Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not shown mercy."
The Epistle of James

"Virtue is its own reward and vice its own punishment" 
(a subset of which is: "We are not punished for our sins... but by our sins.")

"Love and do what you will."
St. Augustine

"The real function of discipline is not to provide us with maps, but to sharpen our own sense of direction so that when we really get going we can travel without maps." 
Thomas Merton

Simone Weil: "The Mysteries Of Faith Are Degraded..."

And although it is not exactly a belief, I must conclude by saying that "Those who sing pray twice."

Minimize Noise Maximize Music | made w/ Imgflip meme maker
"Those who sing pray twice."
St. Augustine of Hippo (Attributed)

St. Cecilia
Patroness of Musicians

Arvo Pärt - Cecilia, Vergine Romana

Arvo Pärt: 24 Preludi Per Una Fuga - Santa Cecilia, Vergine Romana

Arvo Pärt: Magnificat

Arvo Pärt: Stabat Mater

Arvo Pärt: Te Deum

Arvo Pärt: Even If I Lose Everything 

Arvo Pärt: De Proundis

Arvo Pärt: Silentium

Arvo Pärt: Da Pacem

Arvo Pärt: Nunc Dimittis

Arvo Pärt: Spiegel Im Spiegel

Arvo Pärt: Fur Alina

Arvo Pärt: Für Anna Maria: Complete Piano Music played by Jeroen van Veen

Arvo Pärt: Summa For Strings

Arvo Pärt
(Pärt, an Estonian, has been the most performed living composer for the last 5 years.)

Related image
Saint Cecilia in Death

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