30 Sep 2011
And meanwhile, in the deserts of central Australia, a group of some fifty or so young Christians among the Pitjantjatjara tribe (who were evangelised by Presbyterian missionaries as late as the 1920s or 1930s,)are preparing to undertake a monumental task: the translation of the whole of the TaNaKh into their mother-tongue.
From a newsletter of the Australian Bible Society - "in many cases they are the sons and daughters of the people who took part in the translation of The Pitjantjatjara New Testament, Tjukurpa Palya (the Good Message), which was dedicated at Easter 2002 and includes 15 percent of the Old Testament."
'Older Pitjantjatjara christians, especially those who were involved in the New Testament translation, are excited - "We are so happy that our children want to do this. We will support, mentor and train them".
They are embarking on a journey that cannot but transform them - psychologically, historically, spiritually. When they enter into the story, or pilgrimage, or Exodus of the Hebrews - which offers itself outward to all of humanity - they will encounter the story of a people who mastered the art of ruthless self-critique beyond what any others have ever done; who turned their backs on Tragedy, Fate, Destiny and Necessity and walked right out of the World of the Wheel, into a future that is open and that belongs to a God whose holiness is continuous with his goodness, grace and faithfulness.
There is a further note that I will add: that although it is currently fashionable among some modern western Christians to exalt the New Testament over the Old, and to dismiss the Old as archaic, violent, and unhelpful, even to refuse to read it and to fall into the Marcionate heresy of arguing that the God of the TaNaKh is not the God of the Gospels, actual Christian experience with the new churches - among the tribes of the Americas, say, or the tribes of Africa - is leading to a new, surprising (or unsurprising) realization: that if the new churches, that have sprung into being through the Gospel and Gospel translation, are to take deep root and endure and grow and mature, and if cultures are truly to be transformed and redeemed (however slow, painful, and full of dreadful backslidings this process may be), then the arduous task of translating the TaNaKh must also be undertaken, as soon as possible.
The best gift that Israel could give to the newly-freed nation of South Sudan and its fractious tribes (most of whom are new converts to Christianity, and in most cases to a Christianity that is quite strongly philojudaic) would be to send them scholars deeply versed in Biblical Hebrew, to assist their new churches with the accurate translation of the TaNaKh into as many of the languages as possible. It will help immensely with the hard psychological work that is necessary for them to become truly free of the many demons that governed their past and still haunt their present.
4 Feb 2012
Edgar J. Ridley
Geoffrey Clarfield's article, "The Golden Bough Once Again", is truly remarkable, since most of today’s so-called modern anthropologists see Frazer’s work obsolete. Geoffrey Clarfield is to be applauded for his analysis and insight on the relevancy of The Golden Bough in today’s civilization.
As a behavior scientist, I personally have been influenced greatly by Frazer’s work along with the work of the great, multidisciplinary anthropologist and Egyptologist, Cheikh Anta Diop. Frazer’s value is that he documented how human behavior reacted to the symbol systems that produced mythology and superstition, from the era of the so-called savage to modern man. The critical thrust of Frazer’s argument is that the neurological dynamics of early man are no different than that of modern man as he tries to make sense of his environment. The folklorist, Theodore Gaster, stated, “What Freud did for the individual, Frazer did for civilization.”
I often wonder why modern-day scholars, particularly anthropologists, see Frazer in a negative light and his concepts unworkable in the field of social anthropology. One of the things so admirable about Frazer is his honesty as he confronted the problem of the behavior pattern of humans. Clarfield brilliantly captured Frazer’s description of the superstitions that drove man to use ritual and sacrifice, in short, symbolic behavior, to make practically all life decisions. Clarfield also understands, which is so important, that modern man has adopted the same mental dynamics in his mythic lifestyle as so-called primitive man. I think that is one of the reasons why today’s scholars reject Frazer almost outright.
Indeed, Frazer has been thought by some scholars to emphasize the behavior patterns of the Western world. However, Frazer’s emphasis was global. His analysis of human behavior was thoroughly international in scope; remarkably, at the time of Frazer’s writings, the Eurocentric idea of Africa was not only racist but scientifically bogus. Frazer understood, and be clear about this, that Africa was the foundation for the diffusion of symbol systems and symbolic behavior throughout the world. The well-known opening to The Golden Bough, featuring Diana of the Woodland Glade and the rule of the sanctuary that succession to the priesthood could succeed only by slaying the incumbent priest in single combat ,is not unique to Europe, but in fact was an African ritual that came to Italy by diffusion. Frazer himself stated that he did not know the extent of Africa’s influence in Italy or indeed the Western world because such information was scarce and, I am sure, not emphasized. Frazer showed his honesty by that statement and I am sure that were he living today to witness our 21st century findings (genetics; physical and cultural anthropology), he would assert Africa’s great influence on the world. I’m sure he would be amused at the mythologizing that modern day scholars have attempted to do on recently-revealed scientific facts about African migration.
Clarfield, in his article, brought Frazer’s structure of Lake Nemi alive when he compared the similarity of the lakes and vegetation spread (that he encountered on his trip to the missionary hospital) to Frazer’s Lake Nemi. I would like to emphasize that human behavior is the origin of all that we do; it cannot be skipped over or ignored. No one has done a better job in describing human behavior as it has been affected by superstition and myth from pre-history to the modern day like Frazer. So I applaud Clarfield and join him in his concluding statement in his article, that ‘we avoid reading The Golden Bough at our own peril.’
Author of The Golden Apple: Changing the Structure of Civilization
Chairman, Edgar J. Ridley & Associates, Inc.
International Management Consultants
26 Apr 2012
Charles Taylor, Blood Diamonds & Islamic Socialism
Libyan Arab-Republic's trained and monitored Charles Taylor with his blood-diamond atrocities, and the RUF were 'students' of Islamic Socialism of Qaddafi and his mixture of: Arabist-Islamist-socialism 'Green Book.'
Merchant of death the former Hezbollah Mr. Bah, was also the high ranking general and Charles Taylor's personal confidant.