Thursday, January 20, 2011

The following blogspots center on a variety of subjects, which I have initiated. You are invited to look and respond. Not-Violence main subject Temple of Janis (John) site Arguments for systems change Sacrificial crisis in Latvia

I suggest you look at the links imbedded in these blogs or at the end of the blog as an integral part of my argument.
The 4th Awakening

34 A Raven Preparing Dinner (2)
© Eso Anton Benjamins

As the link (here) proves, pietism has many interpretations. This writer, too, has one, one that is perhaps more embracing and friendly one than the others.

I am convinced that the word “pietism” is unduly neglected due to too many negative interpretations wrongly attributed to its very nature. The negative arises not because of any inherent faults in pietism, but because of the anarchistic tilt propagated in public space is to the advantage of predatory competition. Anarchistic or “extreme” freedom (as opposed to responsible freedom) is encouraged by capitalism in order to be able to sell just about anything to just about anybody at just about any cost to the environment. Irresponsible freedom has been practiced for so long that many people believe that “freedom” heightened to the nth power is as much an individual’s right as it is tomorrow and forever. Pietism does not however speak on behalf of irresponsibility or extreme freedom.

I have been arguing that the subjective half of the Latvian language is an example par excellence of piety. I am predicating my conclusion on what I call the “endearing word”. The plainest example of the endearing word is when John is called “Johnny” or when someone dear becomes “dearie”. To endear means (to coin a new word) to en-love, except that en-love is not a word in use. In any event to endear or to en-love a rock implies an emotional relationship between the subject and the object, even if I, the subject, stub my toe against it and my address is one full of irony. Children enlove their mother when they address mother not as “mother”, but as “”mommy”, or as in the case of Latvian as “māmuliņa”. The very fact that I make an address using the endearing inflection sets up the object for endearment whether I endear out of habit or not.

The Latvian language can endear any noun and also sensitize verbs and actions or events. For example when Latvians describe the arrival of guests by saying “sasabrauca ciemiņi” (a-arrived guests) instead of “sabrauca ciemiņi” (arrived guests),. That extra “sa” or “a” puts a special emphasis on the event. It emotes; it puts greater heart in it. The American poet Robert Frost once said that it is impossible to write poetry unless one was familiar with the idiom of the language one was writing in. In the same way, one does not use the Latvian language to its fullest extent if one forgets to use the endearing word.

The fact that the origin of pietism is ascribed to the Germans is not all that surprising, because German like Latvian is a language that is able to endear. That the Germans are said to be the originators of pietism as a religious movement may not be true, but it helps emphasize the idea that the endearing word is in some sense to be identified with religion itself. To endear an object is to help charge it with the charisma of religion.

The reason why a people’s internalized religious sensibility should suddenly rouse itself and become an explicitly religious movement, suggests that what had once come to mind naturally was being repressed by overt violent means. Overt violent means often invite an overt violent reaction in defense. Unfortunately, while such a defense may be more than justified, it often becomes “reactionary”, that is to say, a blind reaction. Ever since the French Revolution the word has acquired a negative connotation, even though on technical grounds this is a prejudiced and political taunt.

The Latvian historian Kaspars Klavins in his book “apSTĀVĒŠANA” (Holding Fast-to) points to the role of the Herrnhuter movement in bringing pietism to Latvia and Estonia, two places in former Livonia where endearing, gentling, enloving had long been endangered and was facing a crisis of survival. These Livonian neighbors eagerly grasped the helping hand, because Herrnhuters appeared to offer organized resistance to the vulgarization of language as well as emotions. Unfortunately, Klavins does not ascribe to the movement its immediate causes, which more than likely are to be sought in the demoralizing consequences to the region of the Great Northern War (1700-1721).

As Professor Klavins states, Herrnhuter ideas had a long and enduring affect on Latvians; re (p.46): “In short, we are talking about a complex and reactionary (pretrunīgu) world of ideas, which long troubled the minds of many socially active Latvians…. ” It must be pointed out, that the Latvian word “pretrunīgi”, like the word “reactionary” has—depending on context—a self-contradictory meaning.

The various perspectives on Herrnhutism settled, on balance, on its negative aspects. Not that the movement was in any way dishonest. It brought Latvians together by organizing choirs, thus bypassing political polarization. It advanced democratic ideas by siding with the lottery system of elections. All the same, the times were more complex than the Herrnhuter movement of earlier days was designed to deal with. Mercantilism had made inroads into social consciousness and had become for many the object of desire for itself alone. This is probably the reason why pietism eventually came to be resisted by the propertied, who after having been helped out of the rubbish pit looked to find fault with the helper. To this day we hear that pietism stands for self-righteousness, false witness (liekulība), conceit, a fundamentalist religious perspective, an exaggerated sense of honor, exaggerated radicalism, and more such to better keep one’s self from discussing the subject.

Desire for overt political and mercantile power is probably the main reason why the Russian tsar, the German barons, and the secularizing neo-Christian ministers were in a hurry to repress the Herrnhuters and replace them as their betters. All three institutions were the very cause of the destruction of the endearing word and of the forces that brought forth pietism. All were angels of secular conceits.

Still, some of the negative aspects of the Herrnhuter influence served (at least for a time) as a kind of “necessary evil”. It turned reaction to the tsarist repression into nationalism; it reacted to the exploitation of labor by the barons into, both, communist immaterialism and capitalist materialism; and the Lutheran ministers played a more significant role in holding together the Latvian diasporas, because Latvian Lutherans (as perhaps not the German Lutherans) were largely formed by their reaction to the popularity of Herrnhutism. The Latvians who later fled from the occupying Soviet Union, found the Lutheran ministers welcomingly accepting of certain remnants of “native” culture. Among these remnants was the Johns Day Festival (emptied of its sacral content of course) and folk art. The last came fetishized, at the same time that it retained vague associations with the Children of Johns, payans, though mind cripplingly associated with the uncertain meaning of what ever is meant by the word “pagan”).

The Story of Crazy Jane and Clever John, Part 3
(…story begins at blog 15) Unfortunately, I have once again exceeded any reasonable blog limit and will have to delay the exciting adventures of Crazy Jane and Clever John for the next time. For those who may not recall the point where the story ends, the following are the last few paragraphs of the previous presentation:

Clever John was about to do as Crazy Jane advised when Crazy Jane interrupted him by putting her hand between his. “There is one more thing, I should tell you. Since you no longer have my father’s boots, the raven will fly you to where the gold is. You leave Rozinante in my care until you come back. ”

“Yes, but who will drag the gold to the castle?” asked Clever John.

“There are other magic ways,” answered Crazy Jane. “You will find them when the time comes. However, you need to know how to answer to the three questions the raven will ask you. Listen!” (To be cont.)

Asterisks & Links of Interest

Rene Girard, Violence and the Sacred (p.120,121), John Hopkins University Press.

Unchanged Feature: What is reality, what is myth?

Changing Feature: In the preceding posts, I started a compilation of video clips, which when seen as a linear sequence tell a story in a context which I hope will become apparent. This is a continuous story. If it began in the past, it is now moving parallel to the day we live in. Watching the film may or may not contribute to your understanding of my meaning. Put this clip as a tail to your  so others may see. The origin of this post is at 

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