Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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Or perhaps it proves no such thing, and the killings were merely political, like other assassinations of the non-nonviolent.

Assasination also works on the violent. That's why mobsters use it as a tool against each other.

Gandhi was betting, hypothetically, that there were enough Germans who were as decent as the British; that organized, dramatic nonviolent protests would have caught the world's attention and compelled its conscience in a way that rumor, firsthand testimony, and intelligence of the Holocaust did not; that the moral imperative of saving a broadly stigmatized and scapegoated people would have trumped other strategic considerations; and so on.

So, how would the appalled masses have stopped the Nazis? More pacifism? Seems impractical.

Also, I will note that Gandhi was making a hypothetical bet with the lives of others. Perhaps had he come of age in another empire he would have made other choices.

For the record, no idea what Jesus would recommend about the Iraq situation.


I don't understand why everyone thinks Jesus was a pacifist. He wasn't.

I am not at all shocked to hear that about Gandhi. Why do we expect anyone, however famous and self-righteous, to be more than human?


Scratch Scratch

An eye for an eye?

Turn the other cheek?

Love thy neigbor?

Smite them?

Scratch Scratch

On Gandhi ... Ice has it right

On Jesus ... depends if you are Southern Baptist, Catholic, or presidential hopeful stopping by every church you can find.

Tom Strong

For anyone who's interested, neo-neocon offered a fairer and far more comprehensive critique of Gandhi's pacifism in a series of posts a couple of years ago. I think she overstates his absolutism somewhat (he did not, contrary to what Thompson and Code Pink apparently believe, oppose all violence equally).

I admire Gandhi greatly, but I don't agree with the way he's been practically sainted in recent decades. He was a brilliant and deeply flawed individual. Like WWJD, WWGD usually ends up being an exercise in soft-headed narcissism.

Tom Strong


I will note that Gandhi was making a hypothetical bet with the lives of others.

Sounds like what we do here!

Tom Strong


I don't understand why everyone thinks Jesus was a pacifist. He wasn't.

I think it's pretty understandable.

"But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword."

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."



I will note that Gandhi was making a hypothetical bet with the lives of others.

Sounds like what we do here!

I am an American citizen. I make real bets with other peoples lives.

(And no, that isn't snark.)


At risk of stating the overly obviously I would note that Jesus preached about how an individual is to find salvation, and not on how a nation should conduct foreign policy.

Tom Strong

I am an American citizen. I make real bets with other peoples lives.

Icepick, nothing you've ever written has moved me more deeply.


WWJD about Iraq? ... Each of us will see Jesus doing exactly what we would wish him to do ... or what we would do.

True words, Amba. But would Jesus have any more to say than he did about the Roman occupation of his own land and the oppression of his own people?


Tom, I think that's the only way to view citizenship.

Eva Kopie

It's always odd to come across seemingly contradictory information about a idealized figure. I have a tendency to canonize George Orwell, myself, for 1984--and you know, I read once that he submitted a list of potentially Communist authors to the government in the forties, recommending that they not be allowed to publish. It shook me up. But it's true, he's not a god. Just human.

And Tolstoy--he may have died in bed--but not, I think, peacefully. His non-violent, rejection-of-possessions ideals ruined his family life and got him excommunicated from the Russian Orthodox church. Funny, huh? Tolstoy--maybe the greatest Christian novelist but for Dostoevsky himself--died excommunicated. And the church, i hear, even today refuses to reconcile.

Theo Boehm

What Would Jesus Do about Iraq is an impossible question from almost any perspective.

A more-to-the-point question is, What Would Caesar Augustus Do about Iraq?

You have to imagine he would have done better than our idiot President and the rest of the disfunctional American political and cultural elites.

But to return to Code Pink:  Making Gandhi into a papier-maché saint won't do.  He was more complex than that.  It's important to remember that he was first and foremost a Hindu.  We may admire many of his actions, but do we really understand the basis for them?

There are a number of statements encountered in the holy writ of India that puzzle modern Westerners.  For example, in the Bhagavadgita, the Lord Krishna says that the consummate yogi cannot do wrong things.  Even if he kills, he doesn't, because he does not identify with the body or the mind which kills.  This sort of thing, together with the Gandhi's statement about the Holocaust, sound monstrous to Western ears.  But you will hear ideas like these from gentle Hindu yogis who would not harm a fly or eat a single fish.

None of this makes sense unless you understand the Hindu perspective:  The world is basically illusory.  We are subject to reincarnations (Samsara), whose nature is determined by our past actions (Karma).  The goal of life is attainment of Nirvana or union with Brahma through liberation from the cycle of birth and death (Moksha).  Along the way, we must follow laws, rules, practice our religion, etc. (Dharma).

All this should be well-known to modern Westerners, but I wonder.  Are these concepts with which contemporary liberal person would feel comfortable?  Western liberals should perhaps understand more about Hinduism and try to think through what such a world view means before appropriating its personalities and symbols for their ends.  They might be surprised.


The kind of comment that presents a brief, distilled education. Thank you, Theo.


In general, "liberal" or "progressive" today means a person who admires the secular "enlightened" thinking that originated in 19th century Europe. It involves respect and admiration for human intelligence, goodness, and potential, and rejection of supernatural beliefs.

There are religious liberal/ progressives, but they usually emphasize human aspects of their religion, and downplay the supernatural aspects. For example, they find quotes in the bible seeming to show that Jesus was a socialist pacifist (he was not -- bible quotes can be taken out of context to say anything you want about Jesus, or about anything).

(Not all progressives are secular humanists, and some are new age mystics.)

Tolstoy was, I guess, the first example of a secular humanist Christian. He considered love of humanity, rather than of God, to be the essence of religion. And, ironically, he couldn't even get along with his own family! (typical, I think, of pacifists).

Tolstoy's philosophy could be described as mystical humanism, rather than secular humanism, since Tolstoy was of course not an atheist (hardly anyone was back then).

But I think the shifting of worship from the supernatural to humanity, resulting from people like Ghandi and Tolstoy, is part of the foundation of contemporary progressivism, including groups like Code Pink. This is an extremely idealistic perspective. Human beings are considered potentially all good. The divine aspects of humanity are worshipped, and the demonic aspects are ignored.

I think Marx falls into this category, and most socialism in general. And of course socialism is a major ingredient in contemporary liberalism/progressivism.

So that's where I think Code Pink is coming from. Very idealistic, very (in my opinion) out of touch with reality. This kind of idealism usually results in hypocrisy and intolerance of other views.


Good one, real. This subject has long, deep roots and it is cool that you guys are tracing them.

Theo Boehm

Thanks, Amba. I'm afraid in my quest to be succinct you've gotten the smallest of mini-Hindu explications and not much in the way of a conclusion. Realpc has some good observations, and, while not wanting to beat this to death, here are a few more of mine.

Modern Western liberals who think Gandhi's non-violence was a good thing should understand the origins and implications of it. Gandhi's ethics are not those of Western liberalism. Martin Luther King adopted many of Gandhi's tactics because they worked well in the context of a basically law-driven Anglo-Saxon society. Gandhi understood his opponents well, and used Anglo-Saxon attitudes and traditions to defeat the British. MLK, as a Christian, most emphatically, however, did not share Gandhi's theology, however much he used Gandhi's tactics for good ends in an American context.

Gandhi and the Hindu Congress were not interested in a free, prosperous, more egalitarian India as we might understand it. They were interested in getting rid of the impure, foreign element, so that India might more freely engage in its Dharma of spiritual advancement. That they adopted many elements of the British democratic and Parliamentary tradition was not an ultimate end, such as a Westerner might be satisfied with, but a practical means to govern such a country to allow it to pursue its spiritual goals.

If you believe that this world is an illusion, that all life is bad and that sentient beings are caught on the wheel of birth-death-rebirth, that Karma operates to reward and punish beings for actions in their past lives, and that the ultimate goal of existence is union with Brahma, well, you have an outlook radically at variance with that of Western liberalism. This world view holds to the principle of non-violence for reasons of personal Karma, while at the same time tolerating vast injustice and terrible violence so long as it's perpetrated by other people.

Thus, Jews accepting slaughter would accrue much spiritual benefit, while the bad Karma would be on those who did the killing for the Nazis. Murdered Jews, depending on their Karmic situation, might have the possibility of coming back as someone further along the road to union with the Godhead, perhaps even a Swami, while the Nazis henchmen might come back as miserable worms, and have to endure many, many rebirths before they, too, might have the possibility of escaping these mortal coils and union with Brahma.

It's important to realize that this outlook, among other things in the culture, has led to an element of latent fascism in Hindu thought. It is well known that the Nazis used Hindu symbols and terminology (e.g., the Swastika and the word 'Arayan') to distinguish their movement, and that there was a fair bit of phony Hindu-based mysticism that floated around higher Nazi circles. Hitler and company at least partly fancied themselves as modern-day Arjunas and Krishnas, Arayan heroes making their own rules.

Now, we shouldn't blame the spiritual traditions of India for the Nazis any more than we should blame the music of Wagner. But there is an element of truth to the notion that in each case there were things that lent themselves to appropriation by the Nazis. In Hinduism, the quest for 'purity' is an obvious point of connection.

In addition, the transcendent and otherworldly cosmology, the focus on the transitory nature of life, and the obsession with personal salvation through escape lead quite logically to actions and events that can be horrific to a Western liberal. Along with Gandhi's formulation for the Jews, two things that spring to mind are the millions dead in the war following Independence, and the perpetuation of the idiotic caste system, as much as official India would like to get rid of it/sweep it under the rug.

Now, I'm not making a blanket condemnation of the Hindu tradition. On the contrary, I'm a great admirer. But I approach it with, I hope, my eyes open. The powerful insights and practices of Hinduism, including yoga, are among the treasures of humanity. But those who would adopt parts of this religion and world view without coming to grips with the meaning and history of the whole are deluding themselves. This was pointed out to me many years ago by a well-respected and quite brilliant Swami who also made plain the fascist connection.

I hope that our Code Pink dilettantes would consider more closely the choice of statues they wish to erect to non-violence. As an American, I prefer Dr. King, and would leave other holy men to their own cultures and traditions.


And who said blogs (or at least their comments) aren't substantive!


You made an insightful comment Theo Boehm but I am afraid you are covering only one part of Hinduism. Hinduism is composed of six school of thoughts, and is vast, can barely be considered a religion, but mainly there are two strands of thought that dominate Hinduism - which is asceticism and the life of the householder. To translate, the central question of human existence in Hinduism is whether one can achieve enlightenment being a householder (what we all are) or by being an ascetic, by forgoing pleasure.

The philosophy of the Gita or the householder was not followed by Gandhi. Gita basically held that if you are a warrior, you have to fight, without the end in mind, for a JUST CAUSE. A Just War, according to the Mahabharatha, with which the Gita is a part, is when you have exhausted all means of peace and have a righful claim on a throne. Pracically, it meant if one is a husband, one cannot just drop out of the world and be a ascetic. If you are a mom, you have to do your duties as a mom, if you are a daughter, you have to fulfill the duties of a daughter. You can be a daughter and be close to God - according to the Gita, there is no contradiction. One cannot understand the Gita without reading the Mahabharata which provides the context.

Gandhi was part of the "ascetic" movement. Do not forget that the main influence in his life was Jainism, which asserted ahimsa, or nonviolence towards animals. This was the reason Gandhi became a vegetarian, held fasts for months and had strange diets. Pacifism or ahimsa is part of the ascetic movement where you renounce the world and you renounce violence towards all sentient beings. Yet Gandhi combined this asceticism and non-violence with "this worldness" - which was influenced by the Gita.

By the way, to call Congress Hindu is a joke- the first president Nehru was an agnostic who did not believe in a God or Hindu traditions, his daughter who next became president was also an athiest whose son Rajiv Gandhi became a Roman Catholic. In fact, they were so nominally Hindu that RSS, a fanatic Hindu organization opposed them. The violence of partition is not because of Hindu philosophy but because one million people were crossing borders -- the madness caused by religious differences (Hindu, Muslim and Sikh) resulted in ethnic cleansing that all groups participated in equally. It is to Gandhi's credt (his fasting) that he stopped somewhat the Hindus from communal killing in Bengal.


This is to not to sugarcoat the atrocities that are commited due to the philosophy of Hinduism, the Caste system comes to mind, but Hinduism IS NOT responsible for the current state of Indian Politics. The ELITE that governed India, after the leaving of the British, were British in thinking if not blood. Nehru comes to mind as a prominent socialist western intellectual - and he and his dynasty were hugely influential. India wanted democracy not because it was practical but because of the idealism of Ambedhkar, Nehru and Gandhi, all of whom were educated in the West. In fact, even the concept of one huge unified India is impractical if not for the idealism of the nation state, which was borrowed from the Enlightenment. All three were influenced by Western rationalism and the Enlightenment. Perhaps the majority thought of the British leaving as some sort of "purification", I do not know, but the masses were not as influential as the elite in the initial years of Independence. India has cultural differences but by god, reading about it, one thinks that they were some mystical fatalistic people. Anyone who visited India knows that it is extremely hard to generalize about India. The Nazis were not influenced by Hinduism because of its philosophy but because they thought it was the religion of the ARYANS -- they were attracted by the Caste System, not Indian Philosophy. There is no TRADITIONAL version Hinduism that is fascist- in fact, the Hindu fascist movement in India takes inspiration from Hitler rather than the Hindu scripture (if you ask them to describe Hinduism, they would describe it as feminine and weak, compared to Islam). Politics in India is complicated and is not because of Hinduism. he influence of Hinduism is at best cultural. Sorry for the long rant but I hate it when a culture is othered. Just because someone is the other does not mean they are beyond the pale of Western rationality. Democracy, atheism, and rationalism all have precedent in India -- the mystical side is overemphasized even if the Indians are a paricularly superstitious lot.


I hate it when a culture is othered.

I hadn't heard "other" used as a verb. I like it. It's sort of the way I feel about the word "alien," as in "resident alien." It's so . . . alienating.

This post has virtually become a mini-college course. I'm grateful for the learning.

Tom Strong

Now, where is eusto?

Theo Boehm

I must say I was a little hesitant to write anything about this because of its controversial nature, and because I knew that someone with an Indian background was sure to have objections.  On the other hand, I always enjoy a discussion that helps sharpen my own thinking while, if spirited, remains civil.

First of all, I should say that I do have a sense of how enormous Hinduism is, but in this case I was just trying to convey some basic concepts.

'Hinduism' is rather like 'Judaism,' only more so. It encompasses an entire culture, several languages and distinct peoples.  'Vedanta' is the term sometimes used to denote the religion, but even there one gets into trouble, as it is hard to separate religion from culture, and so it's a term used mainly by Western enthusiasts and certain Indian proselytizers.

Attracted as I was in my youth to the ideas behind Hinduism, it was obvious that as an outsider, I would never fit in or be able to begin to understand the vastness of Hindu culture and the myriad of sects and varieties of religious practice.  The Swami I briefly studied with made this point as well.  He was not particularly interested in California dilettantes, among which I don't think he counted me, but he was adamant that one had to learn Sanskrit, at the very least, and learn the scriptures—the Upanishads and  Bhagavadgita, for starters—in the originals.  (Talk about tough Scriptural sledding!)  He agreed that Buddhism was perhaps the best path for me, although he cautioned me to learn Pali as quickly a possible, in order, as he put it, "to avoid being taken in."  Please understand if I tend to put Hindu religious matters in Buddhist terms, that's because it's my conceptual framework.

You're right about the Congress not being Hindu in the religious sense.  But the Congress of the pre-Independence days attracted an increasing Hindu following—secularized, English-speaking agnostic Hindus, to be sure, along with many ordinary people. Here it may be compared to the Israeli Labour Party: Not for the very religious perhaps, but essentially nationalist, pragmatic if necessary, and obviously independence-minded. The Congress  lost Moslem membership in the course of the 20's and into the 30's, and was riven by factional disputes accelerated by Gandhi's imprisonment in the early 20's.  Like so many historical matters, this is an enormously complex subject, not for a blog comment.  Suffice it to say that the Congress remained at the end of the day committed to freedom from the British Raj, while other more specifically Hindu groupings, principally the RSS, were more committed to the idea of a Hindu nation.  This led to tremendous difficulties and not a little violence during Partition.

I retain my point about Gandhi's view of India's development being basically spiritual, as there are plenty of examples in Gandhi's own words.  And Gandhi wasn't alone in emphasizing the spiritual nature and mission of an independent India, despite the Congress not being a specifically Hindu or religious organization.  This may be an example of how 'Hinduism' was so broadly understood and diffused.  It's rather like 'Christendom' when referring to Europe and perhaps America in the 19th century and before.  At the time, politicians such as Lincoln, who were not specifically religious, could make all sorts of Biblical references in public statements and justify things such as the Civil War in rather Christian terms, and not be thought at all wrong or odd for doing so.

It's true that Gandhi attempted to occupy an uncomfortable middle ground between acetic and householder.  Was he to be a holy man or a politician?  This issue ultimately led to his assassination, as there were many who objected to him in either role, but especially as one who 'sold out' Hinduism.

I do retain my objections to the underlying world view that informed his acetic practice. This is an example of the essential division between East and West regarding spiritual and, by extension, moral matters.  And it forms the basis of my objection to Gandhi as a subject for an American political monument, however short-lived.

Perhaps this is 'othering' a culture, but, from my perspective, there ARE differences in cultures and outlooks.  And, believe me, I'm not saying one is superior to another.  India has produced great music, art, architecture, and literature, but so have other civilizations.  In my opinion, the unique contribution of the cultures of the Indian subcontinent to the world, so far, has been their powerful spiritual traditions and practices.  The world is indeed becoming more unitary, and cultural differences are vanishing under a seeming digital tidal wave, often of American origin.  India is poised to take its place among the top two or three countries in the world, and not because of its holy men or spiritual practices, but because of its scientists, mathematicians, engineers, industrialists, bankers, military men, and its vast pool of talented individuals.  But that's looking forward.  This argument is about the past and a figure from the past and the uses to which his memory is put in contemporary American politics.

Now because I have enormous respect for India, I retain the right to criticize parts of her culture, just as my Indian friends have felt free to criticize parts of American politics and culture and have had objections to Christianity.  Have my Indian friends been 'othering' us?  I don't mind.  I frankly enjoy someone else's perspective.  The one thing I sense about these discussions is that because there is mutual respect, we can freely and frankly air these differences.  It's generally a better situation than with many others in this world who, as a rule, quickly become contemptuous of us stupid Americans. 

As far as the violence of the Partition is concerned, my informant was the Swami mentioned above.  He was a young man just released from a British prison when he saw first-hand the horrible ethnic cleansing that engulfed so much of India. He came away from that experience very disillusioned with the RSS and Hindu nationalism, and, in fact, left the country in 1977 when the Janata Party came to power.  I met him the following year in California.  I admit my understanding of this period may be distorted by the grinding of others' axes, but, like my uncle who fought in the Spanish Civil War and came away similarly disillusioned, people who have lived through an event are invaluable to those of us who wish to understand it, but are glad we never had to experience it ourselves.

It is indeed hard to assign blame when three large communities were at each other's throats.  But, again, I retain my criticism of the Hindu outlook in this mess.  Perhaps it's because I expected more and found those I thought should be saints to have been proven all too human.

Theo Boehm

Not wanting to clog up poor Amba's blog with book-length comments, let me offer a summary of what I should have said yesterday:

1.  I'm sorry to say that Gandhi is not the best model for American liberals who profess non-violence.  He came to non-violence from a religious tradition that, if examined dispassionately, has an entirely different ethical basis than the Judaeo-Christian tradition that, like it or not, lies behind and informs modern Western liberalism.  Gandhi's shocking statements about Jews are the logical result of his and his co-religionists' spiritual and ethical framework. Liberals who want to embrace the world views of the Hindu/Buddhist complex of religions certainly may—I was one of them—but they should do so with their eyes open. 

2.  Western liberals should also be aware of the very real right-wing tendencies latent in a certain amount of specifically Hindu thought and political action.  The history of the RSS, Janata, and current manifestations such as the BJP, all bear this out.  Gandhi was the head of the Congress, a secular/socialist organization. Heavily Hindu and secular, in the end it was home to a broad spectrum of non-Moslem society, and was certainly not right-wing.  But Gandhi's own personal acetic religious practices have, in many people's minds, rather right-wing implications.

These kinds of contradictions are seen in the histories of many other religions and point to the difficulties of mixing devout religion and politics.  Jimmy Carter may be seen as a rough analog.  Carter's own Southern Baptists have become more right-wing and political, and Mr. Carter finally resigned in protest. We will never know what Gandhi would have done with his own religious practice under the pressures of Indian independence.  

3.  While Mahatma Gandhi was the nearly perfect leader for India in his time and one of the all-time great figures of history, modern Americans interested in non-violence would be better served by Martin Luther King as an example.  Dr. King managed to avoid the doctrinal absurdities and disputes inherent in all religions and focused instead on the daily struggle before him.  Admittedly, his task was not so great as Gandhi's, but he went about it with an American practicality and good will that those today who view themselves as progressive and non-violent would be well-served to imitate.


Thank you for your very reasonable post, Theo Boehm. I realized that my post was long and somewhat angry yesterday, it was done in a moment of passion, so let me explain why I said what I said.

Since the Iraq War, there has been a thesis floating around that eastern cultures, by virtue of their own traditions are not capable of reason and democracy. People, especially but not limited to Right wing idealogues has seized unto this to denigrate eastern religions as inherently being mystical and irrational. This, for me, is dangerous - because it would assert that people of eastern origin have to renounce their traditions and adopt a Judeo-Christian outlook to be rational. I do not want to renounce my traditions and I am certainly not irrational. I take pride in the Dead White Males of the Enlightenment, in America, the country that influenced many. I have read Western classics and found in them, a universal sentiment that all could embrace. Western Civilization is a universal civilization - but western civilization is not alien to me precisely because my traditions inform me of some of the same sentiments, though not all (Spinoza is particularly dear to me because he comes closest to my traditions in terms of spirituality).

2. I would say this again - Hinduism can have right wing tendencies, Hinduism can have left wing tendencies, Hinduism can have autocratic tendencies, Hinduism can have democratic tendencies - because Hinduism has no position on any political issue whatsoever save vegetarianism and animal slaughter (which would make it left wing). The Head of the RSS are cultural Hindus, many of the people who head this organization are atheists and they try to resurrect an idea of "Ram Rajya" or the Rule of Rama -- a marginal idea in Hinduism at best, which is only influential in the cowbelt area in the North, because of their memory of occupation by Muslim invaders. This is the reason BJP/RSS do not gain any votes in the South or the East of India -- because they don't have any tradition of Ram Rajya or any memory of Muslim oppression-- it is a local phenomenon. I would not say that Christianity has fascist tendencies even if they have been many movements that are Christian and fascist. Being a Christian would make a person socially conservative - but it would not influence one's choice of government. Similarly being a devout Hindu would make one a vegetarian, but would not influence any foreign policy.

3. Now that you have stated your reasons on whether Gandhi could be an American Model for NonViolence, I would not object and I could see your point of view. A more reasonable American model for Nonviolence and civil disobedience would be Thoreau, a man I greatly admire and the man who inspired Gandhi to take up Satyagraha (besides the very obvious influence of Tolstoy). Thoreau would be a libertarian in today's political context, though even he was a Christian mystic with a flair for Eastern philosophy (He also read the Gita). If by American, one means non-mystical and being pragmatic, Gandhi would not be a good model. Gandhi was uniquely made for the subcontinent, his human flaws were informed by the subcontinent - he was not a simple man to understand and the objection you put forth in your argument is the same that Orwell put forward in his. He is anti-human in the sense that all saints by their very impulse, are anti-human -- he was not a secular messiah but simply a religious man who influenced history. If you are secular, embrace Gandhi understanding that Gandhi was a religious man.

4. I am from the South of India, a region that was not at all affected by Partition and that, even today, is not beset by communal violence. The South also has historically had a large Christian population, the Syrian Christians, and other heterodox movements. Hinduism where I am from is largely apolitical, a sort of ritual one does and if it does have political implications - it is for traditional causes (like the government should not take money from the temple). Historically, the role of priest and warrior were separate, and politics is usually not informed by religion. The history of the north, of the masculine violent Hinduism is based on the idea of retaliation against their past where they were treated shobbily by invaders who were mostly Muslim.

You are free to criticize Hinduism - in fact, criticism of all religions and civilizations should be encouraged regardless of a person's origin or religion. The criticism of the British of 19th century Hinduism led to more reforms and vibrance than the previous five hundred years under various rulers who were content under the status quo. I would agree that there is a difference between the Abrahamic religions and the Eastern traditions, and between Eastern and Western civilizations, mainly in their outlooks. Being a Hindu and agnostic, or Hindu while revering Prophet Muhammed is no big deal while it is important in the West for a congruence between rituals and beliefs or for an articulation of one's beliefs. In a sense, it is best that Hinduism is being held responsible for actions it may or may not have influenced - it is much better than what is happening now to other religions, namely an evasion of responsibilty by stating that it is not "true X" or "true Y".


If this is globalization, I say, Bring it on!

I love the idea that we have a corn belt, and you have a cowbelt!


Wow. Can we keep 'em, amba? :0)

It does make me miss Eusto- Theo has his breadth, eh?

If Ghandi is the ~posterboy~ for the Code Pink ladies- Liberals(all?)then he must only stand for anti-war because(in my way of thinking, anyway)abortion and even the newer Assisted Suicide issues are taking lives- a no-no w/anyone following Ghandi. So, maybe that is the Right of Ghandi??? I could be blowing air.


I think the ~he~ was supposed to be ~they~- although it works either way. Possibly.

Theo Boehm

Avi - It's interesting you mentioned Thoreau.  I live in Concord, Massachusetts, and we get quite a dose of Thoreau!  There was an example of someone who should have been an acetic holy man.  I've read that his writings appeal to the Chinese, too.  Lin Yutang, I believe, wrote that he translated some of Thoreau into Chinese, and his Chinese friends all thought it was some classical poet.

BTW, as a little piece of local color, the pronunciation of 'Thoreau' in Concord is not in the French manner, with the emphasis on the last syllable.  It's done locally by slightly emphasizing the first syllable: 'THOreau.'


Amba and Karen - Thanks!

You will definitely want to keep Avi.  He's a gem, and exactly the kind of interlocutor I enjoy.  I don't thinkl we'll agree on everything, but he is the sort of commenter who is informative and sharpens one's own thinking in the bargain.

As for me, I'm sorry I've never read any of Eusto's comments, but now that I know about him, I'll poke through the archives.

I've been reading this blog for some time.  Amba is a wonderful writer, the best diarist on the Internet.  I actually feel guilty reading a particularly well-written or affecting post, because it seems it shouldn't be free.  Amba, if you write a book or a magazine article, you have one automatic sale here.  And I'm not joking when I say that this is one blog I would actually pay money to read.

I'm a bit of a refugee from Althouse.  I've tried to be a regular commenter there, but her blog is now swarming with lefty trolls, and many of the better regulars have drifted away. I plan to join them. The choice of topics here is also a bit more congenial to my outlook.  So, if you don't mind, I may poke my head in and say something from time to time.

Thanks again.


Theo -- please do!! You guys are enhancing the hell out of my blog.

Now if I were Ann Althouse, I'd put "the best diarist on the Internet" on the masthead! I'm partial to that Blake quote, and it's also a nuisance to republish the entire blog, with all its pages, which is what you have to do to change the masthead . . . but thank you. (Like my brother, I got lots of practice by being a compulsive diarist pre-internet. Graphomania, I think it's called.)


Perhaps Karen was touching on this, I'm not sure, but another little known (in the West anyway) fact about Ghandi is that his views on sexuality were almost identical to Catholic teaching: he was against contraception, abortion, pre-marital sex, etc. I don't know if he ever addressed "assisted suicide" but there can be no doubt that he would have opposed it.

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