Monday, December 10, 2007

Reincarnation Banned? (Aug. 24, 2007)

According to Newsweek (August 20-27, 2007 issue), “In one of history’s more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission.” Al Queda too issues regular pronouncements on the limits and directions of its adherent’s thoughts and behavior in this current life as well as, more importantly, on their relationship to the afterlife. Certainly their definitive offer of 72 virgins attempts to institutionalize, as does China, management of the ‘world to come’ as well as one’s ultimate resolution of mortality – suicide bombings notwithstanding. An abundance of fatwas demanding the death of all disrespectful opposition, of all non-believers, of all sacrilegious iconoclasts further fine tunes their inordinate attempts to micromanage who lives, who dies and who inherits heaven or hell.

In this microcosm of certitude it seems that America’s commitments to freedom, democracy and individualism are becoming ever more passé in this world, a 20th Century relic consigned to the dustbin of New World experimentation, now that our world is increasingly dividing into the apologists and the Jihadists. It remains fascinating to watch China, as well as assorted other ‘economic tigers’ such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia and others as they vacillate between totalitarianism and functioning democracy – they may indeed end up being the balancing act that finally empowers or denatures radical Islam, once and for all.

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