Friday, March 21, 2008

The Seven Aphorisms vs. The Ten Commandments

This is interesting. Adherents of a religion/philosophy called Summom (the photo on the left is of their pyramid in Salt Lake City in the photo) attempted to have monuments of its governing principles--called the Seven Aphorisms--placed alongside monuments of the Ten Commandments in two cities in Utah. The cities refused, so the Summom filed suit and eventually won their case in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Pat Robertson's law group the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ--sound like any other legal groups you've heard of?) has picked up the cities' case and will argue it before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 28th. This move by the ACLJ may not seem surprising since the ACLJ is a religious group, however, as blogger Ed Brayton points out
What I find fascinating about it is how it conflicts with the ACLJ's long history of arguing equal access cases. Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ argued the Merghens case and the Lamb's Chapel case, both important victories for the concept of equal access to public facilities. Yet here they are arguing against that idea.
I'm quite interested to see how the Supreme Court rules. It seems a no-brainer to me, though.

In case you're curious, here are the Seven Aphorisms:
  1. Summum is mind, thought; the universe is a mental creation (the principle of psychokinesis)
  2. As above, so below; as below, so above (the principle of correspondence)
  3. Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates (the principle of vibration)
  4. Everything is dual; everything has an opposing point; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes bond; all truths are but partial truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled (the principle of opposition)
  5. Everything flows out and in; everything has its season; all things rise and fall; the pendulum swing expresses itself in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates (the principle of rhythm)
  6. Every cause has its effect; every effect has its cause; everything happens according to Law; chance is just a name for Law not recognized; there are many fields of causation, but nothing escapes the Law of Destiny (the principle of cause and effect)
  7. Gender is in everything; everything has its masculine and feminine principles; gender manifests on all levels (the principle of gender)
Summum teaches that these were the original commandments given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai--the set of commandments that Moses destroyed after coming down the mountain and being digusted with the Israelites. Moses went back up the mountain and came down with "lower laws that were more readily and easily understood by the Israelites", i.e. the Ten Commandments.

hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars


Pomoprophet said...

Theres nothing I detest more than hypocrisy! At one time i supported the ACLJ in their fight against the ACLU. I have never liked the ACLU for their staunchly bias anti-religous positions. If the ACLJ is going to take a similar bias approach and not truely support the 1st amendment like they so claim, then they are truely no better than the ACLU and will never again get my support.

seithman said...

If my understanding after reading the first couple pages of the ACLJ's brief on this topic is correct, I suspect they will ultimately lose.

Their argument is that this is not an "Equal Access" case at all, but a "government speech" case. It's based on the idea that the Ten Commandments monument is not privately owned, but donated to and now owned by the city government. So their decision to display it is theirs alone. The whole argument is that the city is not required to accept the donation/ownership of Summum's monument.

The fly in the ointment I see with that is that if they win this case, they open the Ten Commandments monument open to a court challenge. After all, if that monument is owned and displayed by the city government (and the ACLJ's own legal victory would lock them into that), then it could be interpreted and challenged as a case of government promoting or establishing one religion over others. And we know how things went with Roy Moore on that count.

So like I said, I think the ACLJ has probably just put themselves into a lose-lose situation.

But again, this is my cursory, untrained interpretation of the matter.

-- Jarred.

TweetyJill said...

If these are really the original laws, I am really glad Moses dropped the tablets. No, I am not smart (enlightened?) enough to understand what these laws are saying at the first glance. It is hard enough to follow the don't lie, don't kill commandments which are easy enough to understand.

Although I can see traces of Newton's Laws of Motion in these laws. I wonder what Sir Isaac would have thought of these.

Joe Moderate said...

Although I can see traces of Newton's Laws of Motion in these laws. I wonder what Sir Isaac would have thought of these.

Ha! I didn't think of that, but now that you mention it, the aphorisms do come off sounding like "equal and opposite reaction" stuff.


Joe Moderate said...

Apparently Summum wasn't invented until 1975, so perhaps Newton's laws influenced it strongly...

seithman said...

The Aphorisms come from numerous sources, including some esoteric and even occult traditions. For example, the second one is the first few words on the legendary "Emerald Tablet" and is a very common phrase in the Western Magickal Tradition.

Though Newtonian influences wouldn't surprise me, either. After all, many esotericists like to draw parallels between their spiritual beliefs and the laws and theories of the physical sciences.

-- Jarred.

Joe Moderate said...

Whoa. That was really interesting, Jarred. Do you know much about the occult? I seem to recall you are a pagan, right (although pagan isn't the same as occult)? Please forgive my ignorance; I'm so ignorant about anything outside Bapticostal Christianity...

C and I have a dear friend in our Quaker Meeting who is a pagan. She and her husband held a really moving pagan-Quaker baby blessing last year. It was cool for me; my first semi-pagan experience.

seithman said...

You know, I'm struggling with finding a way to answer your questions which is accurate without being so subtle and nuanced that I start sounding like a double-speaking politician. ;)

If we take the first definition of occult I found at (" of or pertaining to magic, astrology, or any system claiming use or knowledge of secret or supernatural powers or agencies"), I think we can at least say there's a lot of overlap between Paganism and the occult. After all, a significant number of Pagans (myself included) do practice some form of magic. Others Pagans don't and have no qualms about expressing their dislike for and distrust of magic, so the two are not synonymous.

I'd say I have a slightly-more-than-cursory knowledge of the occult. Any study of Paganism -- especially the modern witchcraft movement -- would be practically impossible without at least an introduction into the basic teachings of men like Aleister Crowley and groups like the Golden Dawn. But I couldn't go into any details. So for example, I could tell you what "The Book of Law" is, but I couldn't recite it for you. ;)

The Quaker Pagan friend you mention wouldn't happen to be Cat Chapin-Bishop, would she? I doubt she and her husbands are the only Quaker Pagans out there, but they're possibly the most well known ones in the blogosphere.

-- Jarred.

Joe Moderate said...

Interesting. Interesting.

Actually, no; my friend is not Cat Chapin-Bishop. And did you say husbands (i.e. plural)?

seithman said...

Erm, that should've been husband. As far as I know, Cat only has the one. The S was a typo on my part. Sorry about that. :)

RikFleming said...

I hear the Ferengi are going to seek to have the Rules of Acquisition placed there too!

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