May 20, 2008


Iranian Clerics Tell the President to Leave the Theology to Them (NAZILA FATHI, 5/20/08, NY Times)

In his almost three years as president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been harshly criticized in the West. But he is increasingly drawing fire from Shiite clerics here, who accuse him of using religion to distract attention from his government’s failure to deliver on promises of prosperity and political freedoms.

In a news conference last week, the president lashed out at those who were “insulting and mocking” him about a Shiite belief that he said was based on Islamic teachings.

The tensions surround Imam Mahdi, the 12th imam in a direct bloodline from the Prophet Muhammad, who the Shiite faithful believe will one day emerge from 1,000 years in hiding to save mankind and bring justice to the world. Tens of thousands of pilgrims go each year to the Jamkaran mosque near Qum, about 75 miles south of Tehran, where they believe that the imam will appear.

President Ahmadinejad, who came to office in 2005 declaring his intention to “hasten the emergence” of Imam Mahdi, said in a speech broadcast nationally this month that Imam Mahdi supported the day-to-day workings of his government and was helping him in the face of international pressure.

That was too much for senior clerics, who contend that they alone are qualified to speak on the topic.

Mahmoud is too much influenced by the West and not enough by Shi'a Islam. You can't immanentize the eschaton, Eschaton Redux: a review of
Eric Voegelin: The Restoration of Order, by Michael P. Federici (Austin W. Bramwell, National Review)
Today's challenge: Try, nonchalantly, to work into an everyday conversation the phrase "immanentization of the eschaton." Obscure to the point of pedantry yet luminous in its wisdom, the phrase bears the marks of its creator, Eric Voegelin, the 20th-century German emigre and political philosopher. In Jewish and Christian religion, the "eschaton" is the end time, when God will make heaven out of earth. Immanentization of the eschaton is thus a baroque term for "utopianism," which Voegelin regarded as the central error of modern times.

There is more to it than that, of course. Any free-market economist can warn you of the dangers of utopianism. Voegelin's formulation does not merely restate conservative chestnuts about human nature or the inefficacy of state planning, but suggests a far more peculiar, if not counterintuitive, conclusion: The crisis of the West is at root spiritual and is precipitated by the misappropriation of its religious symbols. To be more exact, our political problems are in fact problems within our souls, which have lost their capacity to experience the divine.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 20, 2008 8:22 AM

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Just wait till President Obama come to pay homage to me, you old fools.

Posted by: ic at May 20, 2008 1:14 PM