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Dear Habermas
A Journal of Postmodern and Critical Thought
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Topic of the Week: Religion and Illocutionary Understanding

Religions by jeanne, a first draft because Father Adjakkpe is coming.

Learning to Hear One Another in Good Faith

This week's topic was prompted by Father Adjakpe's visit. In honor of his returning to visit with us before he goes back to Ghana, I figured we could least offer him a painting on religious tolerance. I didn't have much time (too many theses), but I'll be willing to take not only criticism, but also your versions, into account.

Father Adjakpe of Ghana
May 21, 2003
Social and Behavioral Sciences, Room F 125
1 to 5 p.m.

Discussion and References

Father Adjakpe specializes in moral theology. That's the Catholic term for it. Some of us call it Christian ethics. Some of us call it illucutionary understanding in the interest of governance discourse and peaceful co-existence. The Difference Between Moral Theology and Christian Ethics by Dr. Scott. Virginia Theological Seminary

I have led a life that has let me be a part of religions, and in each there is a distinct spirituality that attracts me. Yes, even Voodoo, that I watched being practiced as a child of 3 or 4 in New Orleans. Can't you just imagine the thrill of watching a young woman fervently shove pins into a little doll, especially when you were peaking through her window, and had observed some of her earlier flamboyant behavior? She was a practicing Catholoic, by the way.

In this week's painting, I tried to capture a variety of different images directly from my own experience and memory of religion. They all came together rather chaotically, bits and pieces here and there, as my memory pulled them out. I think I started with the cross, knowing that I wanted to include Eve and Lilith, the Other Eve, who refused to obey Adam in Jewish lore. Can you find the blond-haired Eve, twining herself about the tree that holds the cross, and the red-haired, red-limbed Lilith whose long luxurious hair is beaded and bouncing about as she struggles with Man? Adam? Satan? And maybe Eve, too? Whoever he is, he has horns, you see. And, of course the snake, the ever present snake. But I'm not quite sure where he fits into my iconology, so he's just kind of stuck there in a plane all to himself, apparently watching the three first humans of his lore and wondering if he wants to wade into all that.

Somewhere in the midst of it all a mosque emerged in the left corner. Its light blue and green jewels are reflective of the mosque I remembered from watching Baghdad lit up by bursting bombs in the sky. And the Guelphs. Do you remember the Guelphs? They were all over the site a year ago. Somehow they emerged as part of the Middle Eastern humanity, unlike us, and yet like us, and dancing a little like whirling dervishes, or maybe wrestling. At any rate, firmly planted in their own carefully delineated sandbox. Their territory, even a tad distant from the Christian trio.

And there, halfway between, merging the African continent with India, sits Buddha bringing some calm to the folderol here on Earth. Then, or maybe sooner, down in the right corner, popped up Ganesh, the Hindu elephant God. A statue of him sits in our foyer. I like the description of him I put up for you, as the one who both places and removes barriers on life's path. I do rather trust that he removes more obstacles for us than he places there. I also needed him here in the painting so that you wouldn't forget that the Pakistan-Kashmir situation plays as much of a role right now in world religions as does the Christian-Jewish-Islamic tradition. And well, of course, there's African Traditional Religion, too. I suspect the "guelphs over in the left hand corner in front of the mosque have some bit of ATR that they represent. And finally, the Magen David, symbol of the Jewish faith, in the sky, shining brightly like a star.

What does it all mean? I have no idea. Except that it's clear that we all know too little of each other's religions. There's a need for illocutionary discourse. Years ago, a young man in one of my classes told us that his parents had always taught him to respect other peoples' religions. Then they added, "But OURS is the real God." Yep! That's about where we are, folks. Time to start talking and listening in good faith. jeanne

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New This Issue NEW for the Week of May 19, 2003
Previous Issue: Week of May 12, 2003


Grades are due next week, so your work must be in. In case of difficulty, please contact:

  • Contact Bobby Nelson in the Multicultural Center. e-mail:
  • Or Patricia Acone, e-mail: or Pat Acone at 310-521-8860
  • or jeanne, e-mail:

Father Adjakpe of Ghana
May 21, 2003
Social and Behavioral Sciences, Room F 125
1 to 5 p.m.

Discussion and References

Yes, we know it's exam week. We understand if you need to come and go. We set it up for that. Please join us.

Shared Discourse with Father Adjakpe on Wednesday, May 21, 2003

All of these questions pertain to the issue of religion and illocutionary discussions. Look over as much as you can so that we can discuss the following questions: for theory and discussion guides.

  1. Moral theology is called different names by different religions, and religions exhibit different tolerances to one another. How important is the tolerance of these differences as we enter the twenty-first century, and how does Catholicism suggest that we approach them?

    Discussion and References

  2. In your first visit we asked questions about genital cutting in Africa. Although we thought we knew what we were talking about, we have since learned a great deal more. Genital cutting could conceivably come under the heading of moral theology, and certainly many religious groups differ on their interpretation and moral response to the cutting. How does the West's lack of understanding about African culture lead us to great moral indignation about practices we cannot understand or ascribe to? How might we approach this in an illocutionary discussion?

    Discussion and References

  3. Ghana is very near to Nigeria, where stoning for adultery is an acceptable acceptable punishment under Shariah. How does this relate to human rights issues? And how does a neighboring country manage disagreement over such issues? Who do we in the West handle it?

    Discussion and References

  4. Most of us are unfamiliar with African religion, and so we are tempted to say that African religion is all superstition. Frist of all, many Africans are Christians. Many more are Muslims. Some are Jews. Some are Hindus. How do we begin to sort out in our minds how these religions relate to indigenous religions and how we can effectively work towards illocutionary understanding of interdependent religious attitudes?

    Discussion and References

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  • Theses and Articles and Novels by Our Students

    • Article: May 5, 2003: Foucault and Chomsky on Human Nature and Politics: An Essential Difference? By Michael Daniels. Junior, Trinity University. San Antonio, Texas Comments and Discussion Questions up soon. jeanne

    • May 17, 2003: Index Page for Theses in Progress.

    • Millie Coulter: This series of files provides a good example of how to delimit your work.
    • * * * * *
      Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

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      Theoretical Musings for Us by Us

      • Modern Social Theory: Advanced

        • On "Knowing:
            After Hawkings pictrue from The Universe in a Nutshell.

            Strings and Branes: So What Do We Know?

          • May 17, 2003: Strings and Branes: So What Do We Know? I am a physicist. So it always bothers me a little when social scientists spout standards of positivism about "hard data." In Saturday's Los Angeles Times, the physicists of the world restored my faith in the need to tolerate ambiguity.

          • May 17, 2003: A New Slice on Physics By K.C. Cole, Times Staff Writer. Los Angeles Times. P A 1. "Is the world we see trapped on a thin membrane separating us from vast other realms? Some scientists say that would explain a lot." Backup.

          • May 20, 2003: The Story of the Superstitious Pigeon

      • Ethics and Integrity:

        • May 20, 2003: Dowry Too High. Lose Bride and Go to Jail Young Indian bride calls police when in-laws at wedding demand $25,000 more in diary.Backup As cultures mature with urbanization what wwas once tolerated is no longer OK. Bride's father is accepting of such change:
          "People say now it will be very difficult to marry my daughter again," Mr. Sharma said. "But I thought, if trouble is starting today, tomorrow may be worse. It could be killing. I thought, let the money go."

          Unfazed by the loss of her fiancÚ, Ms. Sharma said that since Monday she had received 20 to 25 marriage proposals, by cellphone, e-mail and letter."

      • Poverty and Social Justice:

      • Power and War:

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        Lived Experience: Narratives

        KIDS' Stuff

        Helping Your Student Get the Most Out of Homework National PTA. National Education Association. Link added April 13, 2003.

      • May 3, 2003: Educational Resources for Teachers at K - 12 Levels Center for Diseease Control. Free curriculum on health and public health. Link added May 3, 2003.
      • New for Kids this Week:

        • Treasure Magazine A Christian Magazine for Kids. Has some nice activities, great color, and it's a pdf file. We'll want to balance this with other magzines for kids, but if you want them to learn Christianity, this isn't a bad start. jeanne

        • The Hindu God: Ganesh The Elephant god. Son of Shiva. Ganesh Puja Interactive image of Ganesh Be patient. Takes a while to load. Or try clicking on red-orange background and selecting play. Then click on each of the circles that appear for the effects. Can you find Ganesh in my painting on the Topic of Religion this week?

        Art Shenanigans

        • May 22, 2003: The Art of the Matter The New Yorker Online. Art discussion on how one decides if this is junk or great art. An interview moderated by George Plimpton and a couple of art critics.

        • Ganesh Hindu God of obstacles, putting them in your way and removing them. He is the Son of Shiva, and sometimes, reportedly of Vishnu, too.

        • John Moody's Nine Stations of the Way of the Cross
          Jesus Dies Upon the Cross by John Moody, Episcopalian
          Jesus Dies Upon the Cross

          Painting by an Episcopalian artist, John Moody, "developed in 1958 as part of the Prayer Book revision by the Rev. Massey H. Shepherd for the Associated Parishes."

        • Simon Carr's Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb:

          Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb

          "Simon Carr is a painter, living and working in New York City. . . . The 'Stations of the Cross' series exhibited here were commissioned by the Church of St. Like in the Fields, in New York City.

          At his website, you can find some wonderful examples of Carr's work. That means, I like his work. One of my favorites is the pink-orange begonias in the fourth painting at Still Lives And the last landscape in Landscapes To see a large version of the little thumb-nail move your cursor to the thumbnail and hold it there. You'll have to wait a few minutes for the file to load. Be patient. It's worth it. jeanne

        • Victor Challenor, Challwood Studio, New York:

          Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross

          Liturgical artist Victor A. Challenor, the first life professed black lay brother of the Order of the Holy Cross, is a native New Yorker and was Sacristan at the Church of the Intercession in Harlem at the time he painted the Christ in Glory processional cross. Shortly thereafter he left the order to work in the library of the Union Theological Seminary before taking up full time design and creation of liturgical vestments in 1985. Today he and the Reverend Paul Woodrum, partners in Challwood Studio, Brooklyn, New York, are dedicated to creating contemporary, custom designed liturgical vestments and church appointments.

        • Images from Ground Zero, by members of The Episcopal Church of the Advent, Spartanburg. South Carolina.
          Jesus I Nailed to the Cross, photo by larry Moore of Church of the Advent, S.C.
          Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
          Larry Moore, Photography
          "A cross remains from broken beams and is seen beyond the church fence on the Golgotha-like site."

          The entire set of images representing the 14 stations of the Cross and the explanation of what the Church Members were trying to capture in this artwork are well worth the time to go through the whole exhibition. Please do.

          "For the missioners from the Church of the Advent these photographs, in their graphic portrayal of the result of hatred and wanton disregard for human life, represent identification with Jesus's suffering at the time of his crucifixion. It seems fitting that we end this ECVA exhibition with these photographs because they are a foretaste of the direction in which the Church is moving in employing visual imagery. In response to our Christian calling to engage the Gospel in the light of the contemporary issues we face, it is challenging to imagine the ways in which individual Episcopal communities will reflect visually upon their journeys in faith. Episcopal visual artists will continue to offer their creative gifts as made manifest in whatever media they use."
          From the Curator's statement.