January 2015 – Minutes

CLJP Minutes –January 13, 2015

Monticello Room, Westminster Canterbury

Present: Chip Sanders, Carroll Houle, Taylor Beard, David Warren, Ed Murray, Dianne Murray, John Peale, Jim Macdonald, Hal Horan, Peter Weatherly, David McFarlane, Carol Muntz, Jean Newsom, Bill Kerner, Elizabeth Kerner, Carl Matthews, Jim Bundy

John Peale opened the meeting with prayer.  Ed Murray reported that Phil Best and Guy Hammond were recovering from successful operations.

The Minutes of December 9, prepared by Horan, were approved.

No Old Business or announcements of coming events were mentioned.

Program:  Carl Matthews, reflecting on his career as a diplomat, observed that the Western powers have quite failed to understand the Middle Eastern mind.  What follows are a few gleanings, hopefully with some accuracy as to what was said.

To Westerners who have passed through the era of Enlightenment thought, factors such as reasoning, scientific verification, doubt, probabilities, etc. have become the mind’s default position. As a consequence, we find it very difficult to understand the Middle Eastern mentality and the culture it has produced.

To a Middle Easterner magical thinking can often pass for faith, which can lead to a certainty in certain areas closing off debate or toleration.

Often what is believed to be true about Holy Scripture is more important than what the document actually says.  Hence, what is taken to be true in the scripture can trump what the scripture actually states.  To give an approximation as an example, many in the West actually believe that the proverb, “The Lord helps those who help themselves”, is in the Bible. *

Gnostic apocalyptic thought and a belief that most—if not all—of the world was created by, at best, an incompetent and at worst, an evil demiurge, not the one God that sustains and saves still enjoys favorite status in this part of the world.

Before the First World War, the region was ruled quit successfully by a hierarchy that accommodated Moslems, Jews and Christians quite well, in that there was a place for all as long as each knew their place.  One’s authenticity was based not so much on theological thought and reason as it was on the community in which one was born into and died out of.

The wishes of Ben Guerin and the Western dream of Jews sharing the land with a Palestinian state has faded with the ascendancy of their more Eastern relative, the Ashkenazi Jews.

The meeting adjourned at 2:05 pm.

Respectfully Submitted, Hal Horan

* On certainty and faith.  Paul Tillich once remarked that doubt is not the opposite of faith but certainty.  On cherry picking holy writ.  All three faiths often engage in this—picking only the passages that support your point of view.  What follows was first applied to statistics, but it can apply to scripture as well, “Most folks use the authority of scripture the way a drunk uses a lamp post, more for support than for illumination.