Saturday, December 26, 2009

Disneology #3: Dinosaurs, Young Earth, Old Earth


Creationism is a term often embraced by Judeo-Christian conservatives and often reviled by religious and secular liberals. The term refers to a philosophy of the origins of the universe in which an agent (God) is actively involved in the formation of everything in the universe. As suggested in my previous commentary, the presence of an Agent implies an Act, a Scene, an Agency, and a Purpose. The scientific theory presented in the Universe of Energy seems to lack an Agent. Hence, it could be inferred that the origin of the universe was NOT an Act. It had no Scene, required no Agency, and HAD NO PURPOSE. Small wonder that theologians are hesitant to overwhelmingly embrace this view of the origins of our universe! Indeed, this view of origins is clearly capable of supplying a strong motive for some to reject science altogether—to pursue a purely antagonistic stance. Many have been tempted, therefore, to “throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Some atheists, agnostics, and Bible-believers have asserted that the Bible teaches that the universe (heavens and Earth) came into being in six twenty-four hour periods, not 13 billion years. They say that, according to the Bible, the entire process began approximately 6000 years ago, beginning with the six days of creation. To support the believers’ view—countering “scientific” evidence of fossil remains, carbon dating, etc.—they pose the question: “How old did Adam appear when God created him?” Did he look as if he were 25? Then, if God can create a man who, though newly crafted, appeared to look 25 years old, He could create a universe that appears to look 13 billion years old (even though it is really only 6000 years old). True enough, if you accept the premise that God created Adam to appear to be 25. The syllogism works, if the premises are accepted:

• Major premise: God can create things to appear much older than they are.

• Minor Premise: The universe appears to be much older than 6000 years.

• Conclusion: God can create the universe to appear much older than 6000 years.

This reasoning is, of course, tied to the definition of God as omnipotent. Some do not accept the Major premise of the syllogism, but those who believe God to be omnipotent have no problem with the premise. Yet, some of these individuals, while they might accept the premise, wonder about the extended syllogism, concerning the Biblical teaching. They question whether it is actually true that “the Bible teaches that the universe (heavens and Earth) came into being in six twenty-four hour periods, not 13 billion years.” Are people of biblical faith inextricably bound to a view that is in such disharmony with current scientific views?

In the Introduction to my book Persuasion, Proposals, and Public Speaking (2nd edition), I demonstrate how I use the analytical method of Stephen Toulmin. Toulmin extends the syllogism by providing for situations in which some of the premises or conclusions might not be true. In my book, I use the O. J. Simpson trials as examples of Toulminian analysis. In this situation, let’s apply Toulminian analysis to the view that the heavens and Earth are only thousands of years old.

Certainly, it is possible to interpret the Genesis account of creation as stating that the entire universe and its inhabitants (up to and including humans) were completely created in six twenty-four hour periods, just a few thousand years ago. This translation is possible because the word “day” (YOM, in the Hebrew) most frequently refers to “one twenty-four hour period.” We could submit the Toulminian Claim that the Bible possibly teaches that the universe is a few thousand years old. Nevertheless, Toulminian analysis next permits us to attempt a Rebuttal. A rebuttal typically begins with the word “unless.” So, here is one rebuttal: “unless the term day/YOM can mean something other than a twenty-four hour period.” As it turns out, that is the case. In addition to the twenty-four hour denotation, the word YOM also, at times, simply means “light,” as opposed to “darkness”(Genesis 1:5).

YOM also refers to time periods other than the twenty-four hour variety. In the first chapter of Genesis, God created man—both male and female—and gave them instructions to multiply and fill the Earth, all in one YOM (Day Six). In the second chapter, there is an expanded discussion of several steps in this process. First, God creates Adam, a male, and instructs him to keep the Garden of Eden, to name the animals, to refrain from eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, etc. Then, God notices Adam’s loneliness, brings a deep sleep upon him, removes a rib from his side, fashions it into a female (Eve), and brings her to Adam. Later (when Adam and Eve are not together), a serpent successfully induces Eve to eat from the Tree, and Eve subsequently successfully tempts Adam to do so. They invent clothing and hide from God. God discovers them and interrogates them. They are cast from the Garden of Eden and FINALLY told to be fruitful and multiply in the Earth. These are quite a few events to have all been completed in one twenty-four hour period. Nevertheless, Genesis 5:1-2 confirms that Adam and Eve were created in a YOM.

Consider another example of YOM lasting longer than twenty-four hours. In Genesis 2:17, God tells Adam that “in the day you eat” from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, you shall surely die. Since (according to Genesis 5:8) Adam lived 930 years, the YOM in which he ate and died appears to be quite long. In fact, this nearly-one-thousand-year-long YOM appears to be close to the famous formula found in Psalm 90:4: “For a thousand years are in [God’s] eyes as a YOM . . .” Changing the Hebrew word YOM/day to the Greek term HEMERA/day, Second Peter 3:8 declares: “One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day.” There may be another answer to the rebuttal that Adam died in the YOM in which he ate from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. That answer would pertain to the definition of another curious theological word: “die.” I’ll write more on that issue in a later commentary.

A third example of YOM lasting longer than twenty-four hours is found in Genesis 2:4. This verse seems to suggest that ALL of creation—heavens, Earth, plants, animals, and humans—occurred in a single YOM. Even those who suggest that God created all things in 144 hours are hesitant to assert that it all happened within 24 hours.

While sound Biblical scholarship certainly permits the interpretation that the heavens and Earth and all varieties of inhabitants were formed in 144 hours, this is not the ONLY possible interpretation. Those who wish to discredit either the Bible or science on that basis may be mistaken.

Furthermore, a second rebuttal may be advanced against the claim that the Bible teaches that the universe is a few thousand years old. This rebuttal may be phrased: “unless the first word of the Bible has been mistranslated.” The first word of the Bible in the original language of Hebrew is BERESHIT. It is almost always translated: “In the beginning.” There is, however, a problem with that translation. The problem lies in the fact that the term BERESHIT is a Hebrew “construct” form. This means that the term “Beginning” should be connected with another noun by the word “of.” The second word of Genesis is NOT, however, a noun; it is the word BARA’, a verb, translated as “He created.” Among the possible solutions to this translation problem, Hebrew scholars have suggested that the textual helps that lead us to see this as a verb may be mistaken. (These textual helps were not in the original written Hebrew text.) It is quite permissible, if the textual helps are removed, to read BARA’ as a noun (or Gerund): “the creating.” This is how the translation of Genesis 1:1-2 might, thus, read: “In the Beginning of God’s creating the heavens and the Earth, the Earth was formless and void.

If the translation just offered is true, we do not know for certain exactly where the Genesis creation account begins. What is the exact point in the beginning of creating that the first day described in Genesis actually begins? It’s somewhere in the beginning, but the Earth is apparently already in existence, albeit in a formless and chaotic state. Of course, this is not the ONLY possible translation/interpretation of Genesis 1:1-2, but NEITHER is the translation: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.”

So, what am I suggesting? I am suggesting that those who choose to interpret the Genesis account of creation as occurring within a very short time span have some reasonable (syllogistic) basis for taking that position. Yet, those who believe the heavens and Earth took a much longer time to develop need not throw the baby out with the bath water. Young Earth and Old Earth both have possibilities in Judeo-Christian theology. Toulmin just shows how the various arguments are made. On the other hand, what does it matter how long God might have taken to create the universe, if He is truly ETERNAL.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Disneology 2: Imagine that You Were God


What would you DO, if you were God?
• If you were unrestricted in terms of resources (you owned everything),
• If you were unrestricted in terms of power (you were omnipotent),
• If you were unrestricted by time (you were eternal),
• If you were unrestricted by knowledge (you knew everything; you were omniscient),
What would you do?

In this commentary series, I am using Walt Disney as my representative anecdote. Walt had restrictions in resources; he was nearly bankrupt several times. He had restrictions in power, time, and knowledge; yet, he DID something. What did he do and why did he do it? Kenneth Burke offers a way of analyzing Walt Disney’s motives: Burke’s Pentad. I devote a chapter of my book Implicit Rhetoric: Kenneth Burke’s Extension of Aristotle’s Concept of Entelechy to explaining how the Pentad works, but (very simply) it proposes that human behavior be viewed as Drama. Every drama requires ACTS that must be performed within SCENES. The acts are performed by AGENTS who use certain tools or methods (AGENCIES) to perform the acts. These four terms are easily remembered by thinking of the game “Clue.” The ACT in Clue is given; it was the “killing of Mr. Body.” Players must determine the AGENT. Was it Colonel Mustard, Miss Peacock, Professor Plum? They must determine what AGENCY was used by the agent—a knife, lead pipe, rope, revolver, wrench, etc. The players must also determine the SCENE in which the killing takes place. Was Mr. Body killed in the kitchen, conservatory, ballroom, study, or library? What is not included in the game of Clue is the PURPOSE. Why did Colonel Mustard kill Mr. Body in the kitchen with the knife? Was Mrs. Mustard cheating on her husband with Mr. Body? Was Mr. Body stealing from or blackmailing Colonel Mustard? Did Mr. Body attack Colonel Mustard, thus forcing Mustard to kill Body in self-defense? Consistency demands an answer. Drama demands that, in the final analysis, we understand how all parts of the drama fit together.

Consider the accomplishments of Walt’s life as one primary ACT. Walt’s consummate act was the production of the most successful family entertainment entity in the world. You listed the elements of this consummate act-- his inventions, innovations, and “creations”—in your completion of Assignment #2. What do all of these elements have in common?

In what SCENE did Walt’s act take place? The answer to this question is two-fold. There was Scene 1—the circumstances that prompted Walt to produce his empire. This scene included personal, family, and national hardships described in the film you viewed at the conclusion of your visit to “Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream.” Scene 2 is the scene Walt personally produced—Disneyland, Walt Disney World, the various motion pictures, etc. Producing Scene 2 involved, technically, several of Walt’s individual ACTS.

What sort of AGENT was Walt? While his theme parks prohibited drinking, Walt personally drank too much. While his movies are usually rated G, his own language would have often earned him an R rating. While his Pinocchio character eschewed drinking and smoking, whiskey and chain-smoking are the agencies that killed Walt. He once remarked, "I know drinking and smoking are sins because you aren't taking care of the body God gave you." Nevertheless, he never changed his behavior. Walt, however, should not be reduced (as an agent) to his vices or his virtues. Consider what his unique character was like (as in a drama). Our goal is not to view Walt as a god, but only to consider how elaborate and consistent God’s creation would be by comparing it with the elaborate-yet-consistent inventions and innovations of the genius Walt Disney. We should consider what type of human would do the things that Walt did. There is an AGENT-ACT ratio to consider. What kinds of agents perform what kinds of acts?

Technology was the AGENCY used most by Walt. Other primary agencies were classical music and classic literature. Motion pictures had been around for awhile, but no one had used high quality artistry and combined it with motion pictures and classic literature to produce something like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. While the technology always seemed to be cutting edge, Walt did not pursue technology for technology’s sake.

So, why did Walt do what he did? What was his PURPOSE? According to Walt Disney, his dream of Disneyland was prompted by his social nature (a nature which, incidentally, biblical texts also impute to God). Walt cites as his motive for creating Disneyland his experience with his own children. He found himself taking the children to a park, and then sitting idly on the sidelines while his children played. He thought it would be wonderful if there were a Scene in which adults and children (Agents) could do things together (Act). He therefore used technology, money, and Imagineering (Agencies) to create Disneyland—his new Scene. Why? He (Agent) created (Act) Disneyland (Scene) with money, technology, and Imagineering (Agencies) in order that families could socialize (Purpose). He wanted adults and children to do happy things together.

The point of this commentary, however, is to imagine what would motivate God, not Walt Disney. The first chapter of Genesis indicates the prime Agent WHO was acting—God/Elohim. The same chapter states WHAT the Judeo-Christian God DID (Act). He created the heavens and the Earth and all that dwell on Earth. Chapter 1 indicates HOW God did what He did. He used spoken Word (Agency). Chapter 1 describes the WHERE, the Scene into which God brought order—formlessness and void (the Tohu and Bohu of the Hebrew text). The second chapter of Genesis offers a glimpse into WHY God did this act. Apparently, it was his social nature (Purpose). We see a picture of God walking with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening. We see God asking Adam to be his collaborator. Adam is invited to name the animals God created. We see God understanding that Adam, himself, was lonely. He needed a companion, Eve. We see God as a parent figure, setting limitations. We see Him disappointed when his newly-formed creatures-in-His-own-image distrust Him and violate the limitations He set. Much later in the Bible, John expresses God’s purpose in one of the most famous verses in the New Testament—John 3:16. “For God so LOVED the world, that He gave his only begotten son . . .”

So, that’s the Biblical account. What kind of Agent does what kind of Act? Imagine that you were God. What would you DO?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Disneology #1: Who is God (as compared to humans)? What is Disneology?

The New World Encyclopedia ( states:

“Throughout history, the vast majority of people in the world have believed in a God. Yet, although notions of an absolute divine power are found in virtually all of the world's religions, the precise definition of what God is . . . varies greatly among the religions, within specific sects, and even from person to person. Typically, monotheistic theology describes God as omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent (and in most theologies, immutable), as well as both the creator and sustainer of the universe.”

One way of viewing what God might be like is to consider the greatest humans the world has ever known and subtract out all the frailties and limitations. The reverse of this process is called anthropomorphism, from the Greek words anthropos (meaning man/human) and morphos (meaning form/shape). When humans attribute their own characteristics to God, they anthropomorphize. They reduce God, in a sense. Similar reduction occurs when physicians refer to their patients only in terms of their specific ailments—the hematoma in Room 212, the C-section in Room 533. Kenneth Burke sees such reduction in Behaviorism, as Behaviorists reduce humans to sheer animals, while Burke argues that humans are a unique variety of animal; they should not be so reduced. Humans are symbol-using (symbol-making, symbol-misusing) animals. Other animals communicate using signals, as opposed to symbols. I shall write more concerning this symbol use in future commentaries. For now, I just mention it to demonstrate my point: In defining God, I move in the opposite direction from reduction, from anthropomorphism. Instead of reducing God to humans, I elevate God from humans.

Some of the limitations of humans are referenced in the famous theological descriptive terms—omniscient, omnipotent, eternal, omnipresent, and immutable.
• Immutable means that, while humans change constantly, God is unchangeable; He is the same—yesterday, today, and forever.
• Omnipresent means that, while humans can only be in one place at a time, God is not confined to any single location at any specific time; He is present everywhere in the Universe at all times.
• Eternal means that, while humans are time-bound (they are born, they live a while, and they die), God has no beginning and no end.
• Omnipotent means that, while humans have been able to harness the energy of the Earth to send spacecraft to the Moon, Mars, and beyond, this power is infinitesimal compared to a God who created the entire universe (of which man’s space exploration has only scratched the surface).
• Omniscient means that, while humans know many things, God knows all things.

Humans are neither immutable nor omnipresent. No humans are eternal. A few, such as Enoch and Elijah from the Bible, are said to have never died, but they certainly were born. Hence, they are not eternal in both temporal directions. Powerful humans, throughout history, have sometimes been thought of as gods—Hercules, Alexander the Great, the Pharaohs of Egypt, Roman Emperors, etc. Yet, all of these powerful humans eventually fell. The humans, throughout history, whom society has termed “geniuses,” have been those who seemed to know more things that most other humans. While not being thought of as gods, Albert Einstein, Aristotle, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Edison, Leonardo DaVinci, William Shakespeare, and Wolfgang Mozart have been monumental figures in history. To this list of recognized geniuses, I would add the names of a lesser-known genius—Kenneth Burke—and a very well-known genius—Walt Disney.


None of these geniuses are gods. They all have/had significant frailties and limitations. Even the Greek part human/part god, Hercules, is depicted as a glutton and drinker, “capable of random outbursts of brutal rage” ( Alexander the Great was a megalomaniac. The Bible depicts terrible atrocities committed by the Pharaohs and various Roman Emperors. Sigmund Freud was a heavy cigar smoker who developed oral cancer. Thomas Edison was an early participant in film piracy. In 1902, his agents obtained a copy of a copy of “A Trip to the Moon” by Georges Méliès. He made multiple copies and showed it in America before Méliès could. This eventually bankrupted Méliès. Albert Einstein divorced his first wife and married his cousin. Kenneth Burke divorced his first wife and married her sister. Burke drank too much and spoke in vulgarities. By contrast, Walt Disney often opposed drinking. His theme parks did not market alcoholic beverages during his lifetime. His movie “Pinocchio” featured a conscience for Pinocchio, named Jiminy Cricket (a euphemism for “Jesus Christ”) steering the puppet away from alcohol, smoking, and truancy. Christian Filmmakers Academy faculty member Geoffrey Botkin observes: “Budding filmmakers will study Walt's mastery of cutting-edge technology and classic storytelling and the ‘19th century values’--monogamy, faithfulness, patriotism and virtue--that infused his stories” ( Nevertheless, the same academy criticized the Walt Disney Corporation for its gay-friendly policies and for its production of such movies as "Priest," "Dogma," and "Pulp Fiction," after Walt’s death.

While these geniuses had faults, they also were significant “creators”—a primary epithet applied to God. Consider the artistic creations of DaVinci, Mozart, Shakespeare, and Disney. Think of the discoveries of Einstein, Freud, Aristotle, and Burke. Ponder the inventions of Edison. Their individual contributions affect all who live in the modern world. Yet, I have chosen to set apart the genius Walt Disney as a point of reference for my analysis of theology, philosophy, and rhetoric. When we think of God as omniscient, our best examples of human genius are suitable points of reference. Among these geniuses, one stands out as the most well-known to humans of all ages and cultures. The Christian Filmmakers Academy, referenced earlier, observes that Disney “exercises an alarmingly vast global influence.” The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is the number #1 tourist destination in the world. Disney artistic creations are probably better known by all ages and cultures than those of DaVinci, Mozart, or Shakespeare. Disney even pays tribute to the genius of others throughout his theme parks and motion pictures. Furthermore, I have a good grasp of the genius of Disney. I reside in Florida. Even when I lived in the Midwest, I made annual trips to Florida. My wife and I honeymooned in Florida in 1970, just as Walt Disney World was being built. Whether our home was in Iowa, Illinois, or Indiana, we travelled each year to Florida and Walt Disney World. All of my four children—Shane, Charise, Auburn, and Tristan—and my daughter-in-law Dena have worked for Walt Disney World. I have also travelled to Disneyland in Anaheim and to Disneyland Paris. I know the parks and the creative productions of Disney. Lastly, I think it will be fun to view theology, philosophy, and rhetoric through Disney symbols. Those who travel to Orlando with their families may find in my commentaries opportunities to discuss theology, philosophy, and rhetoric as they visit Disney locations.

I wear no blinders. I am fully aware of (and frequently in agreement with) the religious and philosophical criticisms of the Walt Disney Corporation. My approach is not an attempt to discover the theology or philosophy of Walt Disney. Yet, even when I disagree strongly with the theology or philosophy implicit or explicit in Disney, I at least encounter the issue with which I disagree. I have an opportunity to explore the pertinent theology, philosophy, and rhetoric as each issue arises.

What, then, is Disneology? It is an exploration of theology, philosophy, and rhetoric. It uses Disney symbols as the starting point for each commentary. If archaeology discovers the vast repository of human culture from past generations, then Disneology discovers the vast repository of human culture that appeals to some segment/s of our current generation. Where better to explore theology and philosophy than at the most collectively successful cultural repository of our generation?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Movie 2012 and End-of-the-World Scenarios

Why is the human psyche so attracted to scenarios of the end of the world?

Last weekend, the movie 2012 opened. It set a box office record for the openings of nonfranchised movies. I arrived at the theater fifteen minutes before the scheduled showtime. (This, we all know, is 30 minutes before the show begins.) Other showings for the evening were sold out, but I found a seat for this showing, albeit, in a very crowded theater auditorium. Based upon trailers I had seen for this movie, I expected it to lay out a developed Mayan argument for anticipating the end of the world on the Winter solstice (December 21) of the year 2012. This, I thought, would lend verisimilitude to the movie, in the way Jurassic Park carefully laid out its explanation for its premise that dinosaurs could be genetically recreated (i.e., dinosaur DNA being found in blood devoured by a mosquito that was subsequently captured in amber). Instead, the Mayan dating premise was just paid lip service (almost in passing) a few times. It appeared to me that the creators had just developed an end-of-times movie, and since the date of the end of the Mayan calendar was approaching, they decided to link their movie to the Mayans, as an afterthought. The website of National Geographic debunks several myths related to the premises of the movie: 1. Maya Predicted End of the World in 2012, 2. Breakaway Continents Will Destroy Civilization, 3. Galactic Alignment Spells Doom, 4. Planet X Is on a Collision Course With Earth, 5. Solar Storms to Savage Earth, and 6. Maya Had Clear Predictions for 2012.

Actually, 2012 is just the latest installment in humanity's extraordinary fascination with the end of times.

In 2006, former Vice President Al Gore's documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, based on his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance, predicted dire consequences for the Earth, due to global warming.

In 2004, a science fiction movie, The Day After Tomorrow, attempted to dramatize the dire consequences Mr. Gore predicted.

In 1997, NBC TV aired the movie, Asteroid, in which the United States government tried to stop an asteroid collision with the Earth.

In 1995, Kevin Costner starred in the movie, Waterworld, in which the polar ice caps melt and most of the Earth's land mass is underwater.

In 1983, ABC TV aired the movie, The Day After, in which the United States and the USSR mutually destroy each other in nuclear war.

In 1968, Charlton Heston starred in the movie, Planet of the Apes, based on the premise that the human domination of the Earth would end after humans engage in nuclear war. Evolved apes would take charge of the Earth.

This list is only illustrative, not exhaustive. The list does not even include the many end-of-time speculations emanating from the religious world.

Kenneth Burke's classic Definition of Man includes the phrase, "rotten with perfection." Burke suggests that humans have a compulsion to see things completed or perfected. Why do die-hard fans not leave sporting events before the end of the game? (I pity the fans of the Indianapolis Colts who turned off their sets, Sunday night in the 4th quarter--when the Colts were 17 points down to the Patriots!) Why do we not leave a movie before its end? Why do some flip prematurely to the last chapter of a novel to see how it ends? Burke's answer: We are rotten with perfection. Burke calls his philosophy "Dramatism." He explains that humans tend to view their behavior as "action" rather than as "sheer motion." Action, as in drama, always has a beginning, middle, and end. We are fond of looking back to our beginnings--the Book of Genesis, the founding of our Country, the story of our Birth. We also, then, have a compulsion to envision our ends--the Book of Revelation, the Fall of our Country, etc. One notable exception to this point about envisioning our ends, as any life insurance salesman will tell you, is the idea of envisioning our death. In my book, "Persuasion, Proposals, and Public Speaking (2nd ed.)" (Say Press, 2009), I trace the sale of a life insurance policy through the 21 Sales in a Sale. Clearly, one essential ingredient in the sale of life insurance is getting the prospect to envision his/her own death. Most prefer not to think of that.

Perhaps, the most fascinating of all end-time scenarios is found in the Book of Revelation. Throughout the past 2000 years, audiences have tried to interpret and apply its symbols. In my book, "Revelation: The Human Drama" (Lehigh University Press, 2001), I offer a Burkean perspective on why this book is so compelling. I argue that John (the author) sees all of history as one huge Human Drama. He
writes of the Lamb as the "alpha and omega," the "first and the last," the "beginning and the end." He taps in to that human compulsion to view history dramatistically. I argue that he sees human history in the way one looks in a mirror. Seeing all the way back to the Beginning allows us to see all the way forward to the end. In the same way the beginning and end of such movies as Forrest Gump and The Lion King are mirror images of each other, John sees the End of the world as the mirror image of its Beginning. Creation, the Tree of Life, marriage, and an ideal world exist at both extremes of the drama.

As in all dramas, there is conflict and tension along the way, but the serpent who stirs up chaos in the beginning is the dragon who is devoured in the Lake of Fire in the end. In the dedication to my book, I sum up the representative anecdote: "Adam had Eve. God had Israel (and the first Jerusalem). Jesus has the church (the 144,000, the New Jerusalem). I have Linda. This is dedicated to my bride." In each epoch of history, John sees a woman/bride struggling with a serpent/dragon. In the first two epochs, the serpent/dragon wins. In the third epoch, the woman/bride wins. The bride's name is "New Jerusalem." She marries the Second Adam and lives happily EVER AFTER.

Which Psychotic Entelechy Killed 13 at Fort Hood?

I am not a narrow-minded defender of my own religion and philosophy. I look as critically at the mistakes of my own religion as I do the mistakes of other religions and philosophies. I stated in my book "Psychotic Entelechy: The Dangers of Spiritual Gifts Theology" (University Press of America, 2006):

"I hold a master’s degree in Hebrew from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University. I had a Christian, a Moslem, and a Jew on my thesis committee. I have great appreciation for Judaism. I learned a great deal about my own religion by studying Rabbinic Judaism. I also have considerable respect for Islam. I find also find in the writings of Kenneth Burke, the agnostic, much wisdom."

Even though I am a Christian, my first publication on the concept of psychotic entelechy involved a critique of a Christian sect, the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas. My essay, "Waco and Andover: An Application of Kenneth Burke's Concept of Psychotic Entelechy," was published August, 1999, in The Quarterly Journal of Speech. In that essay, I defined psychotic entelechy as "the tendency of some individuals to be so desirous of fulfilling or bringing to perfection the implications of their terminologies that they engage in very hazardous or damaging actions.”

I concluded that David Koresh engaged in psychotic entelechy, and in April of 1993, eighty-six persons died because of his entelechy. In my book "Psychotic Entelechy," I blamed a very common (but, in my view, mistaken) Christian doctrine for producing a David Koresh. I warned that this doctrine has the potential to produce others with psychotic entelechy. I am aghast that the religion I love teaches this dangerous doctrine so cavalierly and uncritically. Nevertheless, Christianity did not supply the psychotic entelechy that killed 13 and wounded 29 in the Fort Hood Massacre. That psychotic entelechy was supplied by Islam.

In "Psychotic Entelechy," I explain the Islamic psychotic entelechy:

"In the instance of the Islamic terrorist attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, specific interpretations of Islamic scripture were carried to extremes. By his use of the Koran, Osama bin Laden sought to persuade his fellow Muslims that America should be attacked.

. . . What seems clear is that the rhetoric of Osama bin Laden has many receptive ears. Whether or not bin Laden is personally motivated by psychotic entelechy, many in the Islamic world appear to be open to the psychotic entelechy expressed in bin Laden's rhetoric.
To unite Muslims everywhere, bin Laden's appeal is to the one source of authority that transcends all of the factionalism in Islam--the Koran. . . . there are several anti-Jewish and anti-Christian comments in the Koran:

• 'So, for their breaking the compact, and disbelieving in the signs of God, and slaying the Prophets . . . and for their saying, "We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary . . . And for the evildoing of those of Jewry, we have forbidden them certain good things that were permitted to them . . . ."' (I:123)

• 'They are unbelievers who say, "God is the Messiah, Mary's son."' (I:130, 139)

• 'They are unbelievers who say "God is the Third of Three."' (I:140)

. . . While identifying Jews and Christians as 'unbelievers' and 'evildoers,' the Koran recommends conducting holy war against unbelievers and evildoers:

• 'And fight in the way of God with those who fight with you . . . . And slay them wherever you come upon them . . . such is the recompense of unbelievers.' (I:53, italics mine)

• 'When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds . . . . And those who are slain in the way of God [i.e., believing martyrs] . . . He will admit them to Paradise.' (ii:220, italics mine)

. . . Two and one-half years before 9/11, bin Laden and his associates issued a statement that purported 'to be a religious ruling (fatwa) requiring the killing of Americans, both civilian and military':

. . . The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it an any country in which it is possible to do it."

Whether the Fort Hood Massacre was a plot hatched by al-Quaida or not, it was produced by Islamic psychotic entelechy. According to information gathered by the Washington Post, the alleged shooter, Nidal Hasan presented a PowerPoint presentation, entitled, "The Koranic World View as It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military," during his senior year as a psychiatric resident at Walter Reed Medical Center. In that presentation, Hasan said, "If Muslim groups can convince Muslims that they are fighting for God against injustices of the 'infidels'; ie: enemies of Islam, then Muslims can become a potent adversary ie: suicide bombing, etc." [sic] . . . We love death more then [sic] you love life!" Hasan’s use of the word “we” tells the whole story. He identifies with Islamic jihadists. He subscribes to an Islamic psychotic entelechy.