Archive for October, 2012
Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard’s Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry could serve all Canadians, and especially the Aboriginal community, had the authors been able to break from the narrow vision of a small group of academics who promote atheism and a variety of discredited materialistic explanations of the complex world we inhabit today. There might have been an opportunity to identify the waste at the top in government programs to help aboriginal communities – the millions of dollars paid to lawyers and consultants compared to hundreds or thousands of dollars actually spent to improve the lives of real people. Instead, Widdowson and Howard wrongly insist that the indigenous peoples of the Americas lived primitive lives and understood nothing of value for today and therefore, collectively and individually, they must forget the past, adapt to the present and train for the future. A good place to begin dismantling the arguments put forward by Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard is their clever reference to Hans Christian Andersen’s invented fairy tale as the title of the introduction to their exposition. Unfortunately, our story is about an Empire, not one Emperor, and the Empire is naked more like a buffalo carcass left to rot with its hide torn away, or a plucked eagle, whose fluids drip from 16 pellet wounds, than the Emperor, who willingly took off his clothes. But, of course in our story, the Empire bears neither guilt nor shame. And Widdowson and Howard are quick on the draw, using the inflammatory verb spark right in the first paragraph, which of course ignites flames and a fire spreads quickly to their main target, Traditional Knowledge.
In fairness to Francis Widdowson and Albert Howard, they are correct in drawing attention to the parasitic relationship far too many lawyers and consultants enjoy with monies allocated for Indigenous Peoples. A prime example of misdirected money is the legal fee paid to the Merchant Law Firm in the recent Residential School Class Action Suit. Miraculously, however, in spite of the abundance of tricksters of all colours within the Aboriginal Industry, some funds reach the hands of good people, who are making positive changes in the lives of more and more people. But followers of Historic Materialism, like Widdowson and Howard, would have a tough time recognising most of these changes.
Historic Materialism is a theory, or perhaps a school of theorists, who developed what Karl Marx called the Materialist Conception of History in 1859. Matter disconnected from Spirit, or not imbued with or created by spirit, was inconceivable to humans prior to about 1450. Even those early students of physical laws, like Giordano Bruno, Copernicus, Galileo and Leonardo never questioned the existence of God. Academic thought reached it low point with the recognition given to the French physician, Julien Offray de La Mettrie, and his work titled L’homme Machine, Julien Offray de La Mettrie (November 23, 1709  – November 11, 1751) was a French physician and philosopher, and one of the earliest of the French materialists of the Enlightenment. He is best known for his work L’homme machine (“Machine man”), wherein he rejected the Cartesian dualism of mind and body, and proposed the metaphor of the human being as machine.(Wikipedia) Marx lived his nearly 65 years right in the middle of the 19th century, when materialism had its largest following and greatest credibility. Even though materialists are in high places today, like the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford, held by British biologist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, a 2006 bestselling non-fiction book and professorial fellow of New College, Oxford ,(Wikipedia) they are a small minority.
Over the course of the twentieth century, all efforts to explain our existence without God or some God-like presence have run their course and more plausible explanations unfolded from scientific spiritualism or spirit based science. Subsequently, the task in the twenty-first is no longer to question God, but to bring together the conflicting relationships to the divine that exist across our world. Our struggle is finding the commonalities that allow us to experience Spirit within the earth and all its inhabitants in ways that promote harmony and to strive constantly to reduce those areas of misunderstanding that cause the rampant friction and violence. Although Widdowson and Howard try hard to sell their Worldview as the recipe for world peace, they bury any good ideas they might offer under an impermeable membrane of materialism and atheism. And, even when they invoke the spirit of Mr. Give Peace a Chance, they are unable to shake the perception that their work may have racial bias and, even if this is not a factor, there are far too many references in the book that are based on lack of information or misinformation to give it any credibility as a work of science or as an academic writing based on rigorous scientific research.