Re: [xmca] Don Quixote meets Reinhold Niebuhr

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Sun Oct 09 2005 - 13:01:27 PDT

Hi Ana--

I am unsure whether or not we disagree concering the Niebuhr statement.
I do not equate religious with divine intervention nor, in my understanding,
do all religions.

I am uncertain whether or not human beings are capable of creating the
conditions for a just
society. But the committment to believing it is possible, illussion or not,
and acting on that
committment, appears to be a precondition for living humanely, and perhaps
for achieving that
illustional, delusional, state..

As to my literacy skills, or my reading of the book, I am even less certain.
I did not find it easy.
But I found it more and more absorbing the more I read. It also helped to be
reminded of the
history of Spain and times in which Cervantes lived when Spain was visiting
its form of Barbarism
on the not too gentle people of what is now Mexico and to be faced daily
with pictures of the desperate Africans scalling
razor wire fences to get into Spain. A lot of things came together in the
context of those days in Spain to allow
me to develop a little.

On 10/9/05, Ana Marjanovic-Shane <> wrote:
> Mike,
> I fully agree with the quotation in its "moral" -- however, I would
> question the use of the term "religious". For something to be a vision,
> am maybe even an impossible vision, it does not to be religious. At
> least not the way I understand to term religious. I cannot believe that
> the ideal society and the ideal levels of individual development can be
> achieved only through a divine intervention. In fact, I think quite the
> opposite: that unless the humanity learns how to create conditions for a
> just society and conditions in which every individual can realize
> her/his potentials to the fullest possible degree, such a society or
> people will never become true.
> I love Cervantes' "Don Quixote" -- not just for his character and
> meaning but also for the way it was written (although I can read it only
> in translation). One thing in your post struck me as very important. You
> seem to have rediscovered the meaning (or one of them) only after you
> finished reading it, and not while you have been reeding it. I had an
> impression that you peeled off a layer of your own literacy skills and
> found out some deep hidden archaic skill that is built into literacy,
> but is not conscious any more. Something like not being able to use an
> automatic part of a skill and having to do it step by step with a
> conscious effort, almost like the first time...
> Ana
> Mike Cole wrote:
> >While in Spain my wife and I read Don Quixote, well, the first book of
> Don
> >Quixote.
> >It was an odd experience in some ways because at first the novel is both
> >familiar and
> >alien. We know some of the most outrageous misadventures but not the book
> >from which
> >they have been abstracted. We know what it means to be quixotic, or at
> >least, we know
> >conventional uses of the term.
> >
> >But reading an early 16th century novel is not akin to reading John
> Grisham
> >or even Saul Bellow.
> >The form of story telling is archaic with many sidetrips and it takes a
> long
> >time (it took me a long time)
> >to enter the world imagined up by Cervantes, drawing upon his often
> bitter
> >experiences.
> >
> >Talking about the book yesterday we seemed to converge on the idea that
> part
> >of what made the novel
> >more compelling the more one read, and after one was through reading, was
> >the realization that Don
> >Quixote, in his manifest madness, humanized the world around him. Not
> just
> >in his imagination, but
> >in the reality as narrated by Cervantes.
> >
> >Today, reading the work of a colleague about topics far from xmca
> discourse,
> >apparently, I came upon
> >a quotation from ISCAR or mathematics education. Yet it appears to
> describe
> >rather precisely, in the
> >idiom of religous thought, the foundations for the power of Don Quixote
> to
> >humanize his enviroment, and,
> >oddly enough, the foundations for what I believe to be the efficacy of
> the
> >5th Dimension activities I engage
> >in. Here is what Niebuhr wrote. What do you think?
> >mike
> >
> >>From Moral Man and Immoral Society
> >Furthermore there must always be a religious element in the hope of a
> just
> >society.
> >Without the ulrarational hopes and passions of religion no society will
> ever
> >have the
> >courage to conquer despair and attempt the impossible; for the vision of
> a
> >just
> >society is an impossible one, which can be approximated only by those who
> do
> >not
> >regard it as impossible. The truest visions of religion are illusions,
> which
> >may be
> >partially realized by being resolutely believed. For what religion
> believes
> >to be true is
> >not wholly true but ought to be true; and may become true if its faith is
> >not doubted (p. 81)
> >_______________________________________________
> >xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> --
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Ana Marjanovic-Shane
> 151 W. Tulpehocken St.
> Philadelphia, PA 19144
> Home office: (215) 843-2909
> Mobile: (267) 334-2905
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