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This is an Open Thread / Coffee Hour and all topics of conversation are welcome. Today's suggested topic is the Tower of Babel extended metaphor.

Photo from Wikipedia: Tower of Babel (painting by Lucas van Valckenborch)
What is for dinner? How are you doing? What is on your mind. If you are new to Street Prophets please introduce yourself beyond the fold in a comment. This is an Open Thread / Coffee Hour and all topics of conversation are welcome.

Continuing from last weeks discussion, Street Prophets Coffee Hour: The Quilt Metaphor, of the two major archetypes we have fully realized in the Tower of Babel metaphor the Elliptic Umbilic.  

I'm using the word metaphor in an expanded sense that includes the the story behind the building of the tower, the fall of the tower, and the visual metaphor of the tower. Stories are considered extended metaphors. And stories are even more powerful when accompanied by great visuals such as the Tower of Babel.

The Tower of Babel (Hebrew: מגדל בבל‎ Migdal Bavel Arabic: برج بابل‎ Borj Baabel) forms the focus of a story told in the Book of Genesis of the Bible. According to the story, a united humanity of the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating from the east, came to the land of Shinar (Hebrew: שנער‎), where they resolved to build a city with a tower "whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."

God came down to see what they did and said: "They are one people and have one language, and nothing will be withheld from them which they purpose to do." "Come, let us go down and confound their speech." And so God scattered them upon the face of the Earth, and confused their languages, so that they would not be able to return to each other, and they left off building the city, which was called Babel "because God there confounded the language of all the Earth".

Wikipedia: Tower of Babel

I find it a bit ironic that I should be pointing out a Cautionary Tale from the Bible as it applies to my local political struggle in Vallejo.  But, as it turns out one of the candidates running for city council this November, Pastor Anthony Summers, is deeply involved with the Vallejo Faith Organization. See my diary: Vallejo Faith Organization - Dominionism Proxy?.

It is rumored that his agenda is to change the form of Vallejo's governance to a "strong mayor" system.  A visit to a local moderated blog announcing his candidacy, Pastor Anthony Summers declares his council candidacy, shows in the comments that some of the Vallejo citizens are concerned his being used by the current Mayor to accomplish this agenda.

The strong-mayor form of mayor–council government usually consists of an executive branch, a mayor elected by voters, and a unicameral council as the legislative branch.

In the strong-mayor form the elected mayor is given almost total administrative authority and a clear, wide range of political independence, with the power to appoint and dismiss department heads without council approval and little, or no public input. In this system, the strong-mayor prepares and administers the city budget, although that budget often must be approved by the council. Abuses in this form led to the development of the council–manager form of local government and its adoption widely throughout the United States.

In some strong-mayor governments, the mayor will appoint a chief administrative officer who will supervise department heads, prepare the budget, and coordinate departments. This officer is sometimes called a city manager; while the term used in the equally popular council–manager government, the manager is responsible only to the mayor in this variant.

From Wikipedia: Mayor-Council Government

America has not progressed to the stage of division between secular and theocratic we see in Egypt but unless the Vallejo public recognizes the fundamental difference between the two approaches of governance we may find ourselves in a similar struggle.

This candidate and some current members of the Vallejo city council, including the current mayor, tend to isolate themselves from the diverse population we have in Vallejo. Because of this isolation, their use of language tends to take on form of the Tower of Babel. Their words and ideas are forged on Sunday and determined by authority from the top down.

My worry is that these "candidates of faith" have turned their backs on empirical evidence and all the values found in the Age of Enlightenment. For example when I spoke to Pastor Anthony Summers about his position on the Age of Enlightenment he was unfamiliar with it and thought I was referencing Buddhist beliefs.

This lack of common language indices and shared history between the secular and religious is guaranteed to produce grid lock in government.


Jonathan Gordon

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cookie Jar - N/T (6+ / 0-)

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 11:07:36 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for some great ideas. (6+ / 0-)

    In the fall I'm involved in an Honors Seminar on the Origins of Language and Religion. In the past, a high percentage of the students have been from conservative Protestant backgrounds and have difficulty getting beyond the Tower of Babel to understand language origins and complexities. Like many things in the modern scientific world, understanding begins with evolution.

  •  Tower of Babel in Jewish Midrash (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anodnhajo, arizonablue, SchuyH, linkage, JDsg

    Whenever one of the construction workers fell to their deaths, the people didn't care and merely doubled their efforts to complete the building project.  But whenever a brick fell and shattered, they cried and mourned for the shattered brick.  God saw their inhumanity and destroyed their tower and scattered the people.  From Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer.

    Ojibwa's comment is very disturbing - that so many young people are so indoctrinated that they cannot separate religion from science and history.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 01:39:31 PM PDT

  •  I'm upset (4+ / 0-)

    and the usual group I hang out in has been ... irregular of late.

    I ran over a rabbit this morning on my way home from work and I'm overwhelmed with emotions still, 9 hours later.

    I don't profess any religious affiliation, although I was raised Catholic loosely.

    I don't know, like I said I'm upset. How the hell do I make what happened right with the universe and in my own mind? Maybe I'm just overreacting or being over emotional. It was a graphic experience, sight, sound and feeling of the impact.

    I don't fucking know.

    "take the long way home"

    by anodnhajo on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 02:10:44 PM PDT

    •  In my neighborhood we are inundated with rabbits (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SchuyH, anodnhajo, linkage

      Can't walk out the front or back without seeing at least one, and usually you see several.  And they've been eating up the flowers in front.  I sprayed anti-rabbit/deer spray, and it smelled so bad the neighbors complained, but it didn't stop the critters from eating more flowers and I am ready to give up.

      Don't know if that makes you feel better, but my remaining flowers would thank you.

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 02:58:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It happens, sadly (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Navy Vet Terp, SchuyH, anodnhajo, linkage

      We live in an area with large populations of rabbits, quail, ground squirrels and other desert life.

      There are times that we cannot stop when a critter darts in front of our vehicle and we drive slow and keep our eyes peeled for wild life, yet it happens.
      And we always feel bad but we also have vultures and crows and they need to eat, too, so that's what makes us feel better.
      It's a cycle of life.

      All we need is LOVE!

      by arizonablue on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 04:39:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think the world needs more people (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      anodnhajo, linkage

      willing to sit and listen when someone says "I don't fucking know," rather than try to tell them how they should feel. IMO, sometimes it's more comforting to know that someone else is asking the same questions and feeling the same frustrations than to have that person try to come up with an answer. I don't know if that helps, but feel free to shout your yawp of frustration and confusion if you wish.

      "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." - J.R.R. Tolkien

      by SchuyH on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 09:27:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thought for a second you said... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      anodnhajo ran over a rabbi!  Whew!  Either would be terrible, but as long as the accident wasn't intentional...

      Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

      by JDsg on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:51:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Today's FB Status: (0+ / 0-)

    Ramadan Mubarak to everyone who begins fasting later this morning [Wednesday, July 10th]. This is going to be a very odd Ramadan for me as I've been told by one of my doctors (Muslim) not to fast this year due to my recent surgery (fasting will upset my blood sugar levels, which I need to maintain for my foot to heal quickly and properly). Of course I will try to fast later in the year after I've healed, insha'allah. However, in the meantime, may Allah (swt) accept all your fasts and grant you what you request of Him in your duas when you break your fasts. Ameen!

    Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

    by JDsg on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:47:25 AM PDT

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