Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 24th, 2008

 

“Magellan, the vanquisher of the seas” by Stephen Swig (September 30, 2008)

I read an Arabic translation of Stephen Swig “Magellan, the vanquisher of the seas”. Magellan is the first mariner to circumnavigate earth’s seas and oceans.  Medieval Europe got hooked on all the varieties of spices and perfumes arriving through the Arab Moslem World; the aristocratic classes even added spices to their drinks and the values of spices and perfume were more expensive than silver and gold; people even sold lands in exchange of spices and perfumes because they were common currencies.

Prices of spices and perfumes were extremely high because the sources of their production were remote lands and by the time every port taxed the shipments and then traveling the deserts of Iraq and Syria and with the loss of one ship for every five in the seas due to the danger of sea faring and pirates then the prices skyrocketed through multi-levels of middlemen.  The Arabic kingdoms knew well the sources of production in Malaysia, and several islands beyond Malacca Straight.  Malacca Straight is still now the most strategic location for maritime commerce where all the ships coming from China, Japan, Viet Nam, Thailand, Burma and the south-east Asian countries and islands have to cross that straight westward and the reverse for the Nations doing commerce eastward.  All the spices and perfumes had to cross the Arab kingdoms one way or another and most middlemen were Arabs.

The European decided to conquer the Near East under the pretense of a Holy War to re-conquer Jerusalem.  The main target was Egypt where the shortest route was shipments arriving in the Red Sea.  Unfortunately for the European coalitions three targeted Crusading invasions of Egypt failed miserably and the whole business failed for lack of incentives to finance further campaigns.

It happened that in 1415 one of the sons of the King of Portugal, Prince Henrick, started to doubt the theory and affirmations of Ptolemy which stated that there are no exits in the Atlantic Ocean when you sail west or south and that past the equator in Africa nobody can return alive because of the heat, fire and Evil emanations.  Ptolemy even said that past the equator Africa is not inhabited and is a desolate land. Henrick resumed his research and investigations and trained mariners and built ships to verify his new theories.  Henrick died before he experiences the successes of his endurance and far sightedness.

Within a century, Portugal, the tiniest and poorest State in Europe, became the strongest and richest nations.  Portugal ships colonized the whole of Africa, India, and Malaysia and even reached China and Japan. King Juan II of Portugal had a meeting with Christopher Columbus but didn’t see any value of discovering another route to India going west the Atlantic since the southern route was completely discovered and known and the Pope had allotted Africa and India to the kingdom of Portugal.  The King of Spain invested in Columbus and the Pope had to divide the Atlantic Ocean into two zones and lands discovered were distributed between these two kingdoms; Brazil was within the dividing line of Portugal.

Magellan decided to tour around the world by seas going westward as Columbus: his closest mariner friend Francisco Sroa convinced him that the route westward is far shorter in order to visit him in the spice islands of Ternate, Mulouk, Panda and Ambo Ana.  Francisco had been living the good life for nine years among the aborigines’ four islands; it seems that the Arabs had not reached yet these islands.

Magellan was of a noble family of the 4th rank and he participated in three naval campaigns to India, Malacca and the Moroccan pirates; he was wounded several times and he limped form his left leg the rest of his life.  He was short, silent and barely could articulate clearly his ideas.  The King of Portugal Manuello failed him twice to increase his monthly pays or even giving him a deserved officer rank.  After a year of research in the King bibliotheca for navigation accounts he befriended a well recognized cartography Roy Valero and they shared a secret plan.

Magellan headed to Spain and got married and managed after two years to meet King Charles Quaint who resided in Valladolid (the city of Al Walid).  He convinced the King and the naval syndicate of import/export “House of India” that the Spice Islands fall within the demarcation line of Spain.  The king signed a lavish document with his oath of honor giving Magellan 5% of the profit of the islands and lands that he discovers and two islands if he finds over six islands.  The King would let Magellan dispose of 5 ships and all the expenses for provisions and mariners for two years.

Magellan personally cared for every detail because he had no idea of anything about the climate, people and storms in the trip.  For 17 months that took to prepare the ships for sailing Magellan faced many threats, coaxing and betrayals from the Portuguese representatives in Spain and he overcame many schemes to cancel the project.  The total expense amounted to over 8 million Maravedi, excluding the salaries of the mariners. On September 20, 1519 the five ships left San Lucar port coming from Seville.  The total manpower was 265 mariners; the largest ship of 120 tons was named San Antonio, the next in weight of 110 was Trinidad  and led by Magellan, then Conception of 90 tons, then Victoria of 85 tons and finally Santiago of 75 tons.  Four of the ships were led by Spanish officers and selected by the Emperor.

At the last minute a Venetian nobleman named Antonio Bejavita joined the crew by request from the papal representative to Spain and he would become the biographer of the trip and of Magellan.  After leaving the Canary Islands Magellan headed south instead of west and the Spanish captains could not obtain any explanations from the taciturn and silent Magellan.  Most probably that Magellan was acting on secret information that King Manuello had ordered the capture of his ships.  Arriving to the coast of Guinea they had to wait 15 days for the western winds to carry the ships toward Brazil and they almost got destroyed by a terrible storm.  Luckily, the Portuguese port of Rio de Janeiro was still not thoroughly controlled and the ships managed to refill with potable water and food on December 13.  Magellan put under lock for disobedience Antonio de Carthajena, the Captain of the San Antonio. 

On January 10 the ships arrived at the current vast gulf Montevideo where the river Rio de La Plata empties.  Magellan first thought was that this estuary is the debouche to the Pacific Ocean.  After 15 days, the three ships sent to investigate returned with negative results.  The Equator was long past and the progress was toward cold and desolate regions.  On February 24 the ships arrived in the gulf of San Matthias and the investigations were negative again as was the cases with the gulfs of Bahia de Los Bathos and Bahia de Los Shrabajos.  Winter gained on them and by March 31 Magellan decided to spend the winter in the desolate small gulf of San Julian on latitude 49 so that the potential rebellious Captains and sailors would not dare turn back to Seville.

But the rebellion happened and mutineers captured three ships during the night.  Magellan counter-attacked in broad daylight and captured the Victoria which gave him an advantage and then blocked the retreat of the remaining two ships.  Magellan beheaded Luis de Mendosa and ordered Juan de Cartagena and the priest to be discarded on the land with some food.  Winter forced Magellan to stay in the gloomy and desolate Gulf of San Julian four months.  The Prince of the Sea made his mariners work non-stop to keep despair and depression at bay which might exacerbate their spirit.  

When spring arrived the mariners saw a fearful sight; a giant with large feet (Patagonia) was standing on a hill and gesticulating and throwing sand on his head, a sign that he is ready to communicate with them.  Unfortunately, one of the giant specimens was to be captured to send to the Emperor; he died miserably of hunger during the trip.  The ship Santiago was wrecked on the river Rio de Santa Cruz but the crews were safe; two mariners walked 11 days to warn Magellan of the disaster.

On August 24 Magellan resumed his voyage south intending to reach latitude 75 and returning via the Good Hope straight if he failed to find an exit to the Pacific.  Magellan was actually within two days voyage to his victory when he stayed two months on a tiny gulf.  On October 21, 1520 they saw what would be called “Head of the Virgins” with dark water.  Magellan ordered three ships to investigate the entrance and to return within 5 days.  Nasty storms almost destroyed the remaining ships waiting at the entrance.  Suddenly, they heard the ships firing their canons for the first time and the news was good: the water was salty and the depth of the water remained stable signs of an exit to a sea.  For the first time Magellan cried hot tears of joy!

The four remaining ships delved in that black desolate gulf; there was total silence and the ships were surrounded by high stiff cliffs and snow mountain tops shown further away and freezing winds blowing during the nights. At every bifurcation Magellan investigated the water ways. At one point Magellan sent the San Antonio toward the south-east branch and sent a canoe to investigate the south west branch while he waited at the entrance.  The canoe returned within 3 days with the definitive great news but the San Antonio crews rebelled and quit the trip and returned to Spain without giving notice.  The other three ships resumed their advance and exited to the ocean.

On November 28, 1520 the three ships fired their canons to salute the newly discovered ocean. Until Mars 6, 1521, the mariners sailed in a completely serain sea (thus, the name Pacific) with blue skies, very sunny and no winds. The mariners had to boil the leather of the mast to eat and 19 died of famine or the tenth of the total remaining crews. By Mars 17 the ships discovered three islands and they had reached the Philippines (called in honor of the later Spanish Emperor Philip II).  Magellan could now claim this land as his own since he had discovered more than 6 islands so far. The natives were impressed by the strength of iron and were bartering 16 parts of gold for 14 equal weight of iron.  Magellan ordered his crews from refraining to sell their spears and helmets for fear that the native get a wake up call to the true value of gold.

In the island of Massawa, Magellan’s slave renamed Henrick and who was captured in Malacca years ago discovered that he returned home.  This person was the first captive and first man who toured earth and returned to his native island!  On April 7, 1521 they landed on the main island of Sibo which was very prosperous and ate in Chinese porcelain dishes. 

In order to unify the islands under the Spanish throne Magellan convinced King Homabone of Sibo to conquer the smaller Island of Mactane headed by King Silabolabo.  Until now the natives were very impressed by the body armatures of the white soldiers, their rifles and their canons and Magellan wanted to impress King Homabone even further; he decided to conquer Macatane at the head of only 40 mariners.  Since the ships had to stay far at large the canons were of no use and the rifles of the mariners on the canoe could not even pierce the protective gears of the natives.  Magellan was killed and the Spanish retreated without retrieving their leader’s body.  The symbol of white invincibility was chattered. King Homabone decided to trick the Spanish navigators to a lavish dinner and killed 27 of the most important officers.  The remaining 115 mariners were left with no skilled navigators and elected Carvalo to lead them and they roamed the seas with no clue to where they were heading.  They had to burn the ship Conception that was leaking from everywhere.  They sailed for two months pirating whatever ships they encountered until they landed in Mindnaw in the island of Borneo.

Finally the crews revolted and appointed three individuals to lead them: Gomez de Spinoza on the Trinidad, Delcano on the Victoria and Ponsero the head navigator. One of the native captives led them to the Muluk Island, the ultimate goal of the trip, and loaded their ships with spices.  The ship Trinidad was to stay in the port for major repairs and only Victoria sailed to Spain.  Victoria was not to land on any Portuguese colony for fear of being captured and sentenced of treason.  On February 13, 1522 the Victoria left Timor meaning to return through Good Hope Straight without further landing anywhere.  Then meat got rotten and had to be thrown overboard and the bread got spoiled and famine returned scarier than ever.

 

On September 6, 1522 three years after five ships left to tour Earth, out of 265 mariners and more natives on the return trip from the Pacific islands only 18 mariners returned on the smallest of a decrepit Victoria.  The most glorious trip on seas was lead by Delcano, one of the early rebellious officers.  Only ten of the mariners of the San Antonio who arrived a year ago were living and they were saved from punishment because Delcado refrained from divulging the truth of their treason.

“Chroniques de Gaza” by Caroline Manger (September 29, 2008)

Caroline Manger, a correspondent to weekly French magazine Paris Match, wrote “Chroniques de Gaza.  Sous les bombes, la vie”, a documentary of the lives of the Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza district.  The manuscript is of 270 pages and divided into 24 chapters spanning from February 2004 before the Israeli colonies in and around Gaza were dismantled to August 2007 after the Islamists party of Hamas displaced the security services of the Fateh authority from Gaza.

During the second Palestinian “intifada” there were frequent skirmishes between the Palestinians and the Israelis living in the colonies in and around Gaza; the security conditions on both sides became untenable. Israel tried to bring security in Gaza by military force and by target assassinations of the Palestinian faction leaders but it failed.

Before former Israel Ariel Sharon PM decided to withdraw the colonies from the Gaza strip, no more than 360 square kilometers and surrounded by Israel from all sides, there were 21 Israeli colonies in this crowded and most dense location on earth.  The colonies were established after 1967 when Israel captured Gaza from Egypt at the instigation and strong support of Arial Sharon; they claimed that practically most of the houses and makeshift residences belonged to Ariel Sharon.

The Israeli colons were ultra-extremists on two counts politically and religiously; politically they wanted to push the borders of Eretz Israel as far as they could and they were as strict religiously as the Islamist Hamas Palestinians faction. The colons prohibited the establishment of movie theaters in their colonies and the households refused to install TV on account of impure display of images; the women washed fully closed, were hidden from male visitors by a partition and the beaches were separated by gender.  The pre-fabricated apartments and houses were mostly trailers ready to move out on short notice.  The colons adored Sharon they nicknamed him Arik. All the palm and olive trees in the fields separating the colonies from the nearby Palestinian villages were cut down so that the colons could have a clear view of any Palestinian infiltration! The families were mostly freshly arrived adventurous immigrants from France and ultra US conservative Christian-Jews.  Many US billionaires contributed to building bypass bridges so that the colons would not drive through Palestinian villages.

One colony needed 600 soldiers to protect 50 families and the Palestinian inefficient homemade missiles drove the Israeli government for frequent reprisals to the angst of the European Union.  Sharon then decided to vacate the colonies from Gaza because as he declared “Gaza was anyway never mentioned as belonging to the promised land”

Israel was not serious about any peace plan after the Oslo agreement in 1993 for offering a viable and sustainable Palestinian State and continued to impoverish the Palestinian newly formed Authority in Ramallah and Gaza and endeavored to destroy whatever new facilities and infrastructure that the European Union contributed to.  In May 2004 Israel launched operation “Rainbow and cloud” and sealed off Gaza and pounded it for 5 days and demolished the infrastructure and razed houses for a corridor before the final withdrawal of the colonies in August 22, 2005. On the fifth day of the war when all the guns went silent the Israeli snipers killed many children less than 10 years old to keep the reign of terror. The author gives horrid detailed account of the Palestinian victims and the situation in these makeshift clinics, transformed into hospitals, during Israeli military incursions.

For a year when Mahmoud Abbas was elected President the Palestinians wanted to believe in a peace process but it failed and Israel resumed its targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders such as its blind and paraplegic leader Cheikh Yassine and then his successor the pediatric Al Rantissi; thus Hamas gained supporters.  In the meantime, the colons who had pledged to fight the fight against any eviction left voluntarily two days before the ultimatum; the hefty compensations were a serious factor (obviously paid for by the US tax payers).

As soon as the Israeli colons departed then the Palestinian resistance fighters ventured into Gaza City; they were hiding for over six months in their dug out and undergrounds resisting Israel frequent incursions in Gaza and then they were awestruck to discover the luxurious trend that the cronies of the Abbas’ Authority were carrying on.  These fighters were not even merged into the Authority internal security forces because President Abbas decided to hire only young people of less than 22 of age to secure their loyalty.  The fighters found out that they were out of employment and their dedication and sacrifices not appreciated.

When a democratic election that the western States insisted on carrying in Gaza took place then Hamas ended up winning the parliamentary election by a land slide.  The Abbas’ Authority refused to cooperate with Hamas in the re-shuffling of the security services that harassed, imprisoned, tortured and even killed Hamas members since 1998.  Maybe Hamas prematurely agreed to form a majority government because the Western States cut off all financial aid to the new Hamas government and the civil servants were not paid for over 4 months.  The States of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia didn’t appreciate the coming into power of a radical Islamic party and did their best to put the squeeze even more.

Finally, Hamas evicted the Fateh forces, headed by strongman Dahlan, from Gaza when it realized that the US is funding the Authority’s preventive security services with over 60 million dollars for cracking down on Hamas.  The offensive didn’t last 5 days before the Fateh forces fled Gaza; many of the high paid and corrupt officers bribed heavily to have passages through the underground tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt.  The inhabitants of Gaza are living in wretched misery on $2 a day and over 60% of the work force is out of employment because this kind of democratic outcome does not suit the western nations.

Personal note:  In the mid eighties Israel transferred Islamic Palestinians to the southern borders of Lebanon hoping that Lebanon would welcome them as refugees; this did not happen.  The transferred Palestinians lived in makeshift tents for over six months before Israel was forced by the international community to re-transfer them to Gaza.  Thus, a new Islamic fundamentalist party was instituted called Hamas.  Many claim that Israel created Hamas, as the USA administrations created the Afghan Mujahideens to face the Soviet invasion, in order to destabilize the concept of a democratic bi-partisan government with Israel.  The Organization for the Liberation of Palestine (OLP) was lead by the Palestinian secular main faction of Fateh and headed by Arafat.  Israel would not accept this political structure for fear of demographic imbalance in the near future and wanted a purely Jewish State.

 

“Building a durable World”

That is the first time I felt compelled to review a magazine for its special issue on how to conserve a fragile earth.

The contents involve:

1. the new perils in galloping demography, altered eco-systems, megapolis, depleting resources, increased wastes of all kinds;

2. the necessary knowledge required on the depletion of our resources and the vanishing aborigine civilizations;

3. how to act for nourishing 9 billion inhabitants, producing with more economy, eradicating pollution, preserving the bio-diversity and re-thinking on the urbanization problems;

4.  the will to achieving the targets by a slow conscious awareness of our problems, the strategies of taxing pollution, and a notion of the socio-anthropology of industrial evolution.

Many minerals will be depleted within a few decades.

For example, relying on the current exploitation and the total known reserves, gold will be depleted within 17 years, iron within 79, silver within 13, nickel within 40, platinum within 56, copper within 31, lead within 22, cobalt within 112, zinc within 17, aluminum within 131, tin within 20, and palladium within 15 years, oil within 42, coal within 150, natural gas within 64, and uranium within 32 years.  Iron and aluminum are very abundant but would be very difficult to harvest any further at any economical cost.

There are a few elements in nature that are very abundant and human kind consumes a tiny fraction, but these elements are being degraded and polluted and quickly becoming sources for major health hazards, sickness and major diseases.

For example, in billion of tons, it is estimated that nature has oxygen in the amount of 10 at the power 9, hydrogen 3 at 10 power 7, calcium 10 at power 9, silicon 6 at 10 power 9, aluminum 2 at 10 power 9, sodium 5 at 10 power 8, potassium 2 at 10 power 8, titan at 10 power 8, magnesium 7 at 10 power 8, iron 1.5 at 10 power 9.

The coming catastrophe for the next generations for discovering the deterioration of the drastic imbalance between what earth and nature can provide and the marketing ideology for producing unnecessary items for the survival of mankind was not a deterministic evolution of industrialization.  

Human kind could have evolved relying on hydraulic and eolien and solar energies if trains were not discovered to function speedier with coal as an essential power product around the year 1830.

The train entered our culture as a mean for exactitude in schedule, in long distance transport and thus the delocalization of the centers of power from small towns in remote districts to main cities.

The train had important by-consequences since telegraphic lines were installed along the train lines and then two major world wars that invested on the “fire” energy resources.

The emergence of the textile industry for offering abundant varieties that invaded the market place increased the wants for comfort and consumerism behavior.

The reliance on the choice for “fire” instead of other forms of energies was partially a hazard though.  I think, it would ultimately have found the “fire” substitute for energy in the long run.

The industrialization in the USA and France relied mainly on the hydraulic form until the early XX century.  The main mistake was done for relying on qualified workers for the “fire” choice instead of the abundant under-qualified workers for the other choices.

Note: In “Science et vie” French magazine special issue of June 2008 (August 10, 2008)

“Igino Giordani” by Jean-Marie Wallet and Tommaso Sorgi (August 5, 2008)

 

This book is a short history on the Focolari Catholic community through a biography of the activities of the co-founder Igino Giordani. Before 1947, Igino Giordani was already a renowned Catholic writer who published hundred of articles and pamphlets; he was a soldier during WWI, an anti-fascist in the Christian Democratic Party and a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputy.

Giordani met Silvia Lubich in 1947 at the Italian Chamber of Deputy.  Igino was 54 years old and a father of four grown up kids; Silvia was 28 and had founded Focolari in 1943 after she decided that she should not be a nun or secluded in a convent or even married.  Lubich took the name of Chiara because she was attracted to the radical attitude of Claire of Assisi.  Chiara’s family home was destroyed by the American bombing of her home town Trente in 1944; her family moved out but she opted to stay with her community. This young community of females is formed to applying the words of Jesus such as when two or three individuals are united in Jesus’ name then He is among them; and transforming our own suffering into charity among neighbors.  Chiara had a period of visions in 1949 at Tonadico di Primiero which culminated into a meditation that became a charter for the Focolari.  Chiara wrote: “For me the suffering of those whom I approach, for me the suffering of what is not peace, happiness, ugliness and serenity because my paradise is in the heart of my spouse Jesus Christ.  I will seek the tears of those in tribulations through the communion of the all powerful Jesus.  I have to be like Jesus at the present moment throughout my life”

Giordani was a prolific writer in matter of Christianity, in ascetics, mysticism, dogmatic, morale but especially the apologetic aspect; he had found in Tertullien that Christianity was mainly struggle that John Chrysostome and Augustin of Hippone have worked out a way of life among the Christian societies where the laics and the married couples should live as monks; (that reminds me of the “Takfir fatwa” of the Moslem Sheikh Ibn Tamim when the Mogols were encircling Damascus in the 13th century; Ibn Tamim ordered al the Moslems to be knights during the day and monks at night fall).   Giordani discovered that the forefathers of the Church opted for a living Church where the workers, peasants and illiterates were associated in the community instead of being reduced to spiritual proletariats in modern time. 

When he listened to Chiara he said that the idea of God and the ideal image of God were replaced by the love of God, a living God. Chiara was not talking about God but communicated with God.  The Holy Ghost used to be a dogma that he never tried to comprehend but now the Holy Ghost impregnated his new life, became the warmth and fire and link between God and him.  Giordani changed his attitude and behavior from a scholar into practicing love every instant.

Igino fought in the Italian Parliament against allying Italy to the NATO during the “Cold War” period when the iron curtain of Stalin separated West and East.  Gioradani said that we are victims of a politic that is expressed by war which is worst than criminal because deicide since it kills one of the representation of God in man.  War bleeds the social organism everywhere.  In this war neither capitalism nor communism will vanquish; only cannibalism will win and the return of man of the jungle. If we want peace we have to work toward peace and not prepare for war because history has always been a teacher with no attending students.  When we are caught up with the fear of war then fear always leads to war. Igino forecasted that the regional European nations are tending toward a European inner-nation and Russia is also part of Europe and we have to accept each other for life to grow.

Igino is the member who, through his political and clerical contacts in the Vatican, allowed the Focolari to be accepted by the Church as an international institution instead of a local secular institution in the city of Trente.

Igino Giordani wrote an article on the “uselessness of war”.  War is wrapped in a sort of sacred cult demanding living sacrifices; thus when humanity would have progressed spiritually then war would be catalogued in the same rank as superstitions and witch hunting of the barbarous civilizations.  Only a few fouls demand wars, and the influential economical and financial conglomerates of the tiny minorities in any societies deliver senseless apologetics for starting wars because everyone desire to live in peace and live honorably and healthily. No State chief has ever claimed but noble reasons for waging wars and never for dominion because he knows that the citizens abhor war and its miseries. Joliot-Curie stated that the money spent on one day of war could have irrigated the whole of the Sahara desert. 

The first WWI was waged against nationalism and militarism and retaining economic markets and we obtained fascism and Nazism instead. Europe spent 1.2 trillion dollars and lost its primordial ranking in World politics and economy to the USA; Germany was so poor that war reparation was levied for the civilian casualties.  The second WWII was started to eradicate fascism and Nazism and we ended up with widespread communism and totalitarian regimes; this time around European Nations lost all their colonies.  The war cost 300 trillion dollars and the dead amounted to 32 millions among the soldiers, 25 million among the civilians, and 26 millions assassinated in concentration camps. The displaced persons were over 45 millions, the mutilated 30 millions and 30 million homes destroyed, and not counting the orphans and parents without offspring. The US population increased in the last 100 years 670% while its mentally sick persons increased 23,500% even though the USA did not experience direct invasions on its territory.  (These statistics reminds me of the calamities experienced by the Iraqi and Afghans civilians and the invading Americans soldiers).

The State that starts a war is the culprit regardless of the causes and all the excuses offered because it uses irrational means that de-humanizes man and disorganizes the social fabrics. 

 

Personal note: When you receive the grace then explanation stops.  Comprehending the scriptures with the power of the sole reason is tantamount of fundamental lie; whatever and however are good intentioned your interpretation the moral values you disseminate are fraught with suspicion. Most probably people will ultimately discover your lies through your behavior and activities that are not founded on true belief.

Note: This part includes my comments

 

It is well believed that it was Paul the genius organizer and founder of he Christian Church; he was the most prolific institutor of new communities in pagan cities, the one who expressed the message and doctrine in epistles, the first documented written message on Christ, and most importantly, the one who kept revisiting the new communities to strengthen them in their beliefs and organization.  Paul knew how to broadcast the new message; he asked the converts to mingle with the people during the numerous festivities, especially the pagan ones, and to accept invitations and to eat everything that is offered, except when the host reminds the guest that the meat was sanctified because in such a case it is not appropriate that the host forces his conscious upon the disciples.

 

The first generation of Christians strongly believed that the next coming of Christ was imminent, so soon that they would meet with Christ before they die. When Christians died in the various communities then the converts were baffled.  Paul had to encourage them by writing to them that when Christ comes back “as a thief” then the dead would be resurrected first and would meet with Him first before the living ones.

 

The Acts to Paul, an apocryphal manuscript written in the second century and discovered recently, says that St. Paul was decapitated in Rome during Nero on July 29, 64, the same date that Peter was crucified three years ago.

 

 

Notes (personal and others); the enumerated notes are not in logical orders:  

1. Paul was a big traveler by land and by sea and visited his new communities regularly all over Turkey, Macedonia and Greece with the intention of strengthening their organization and fighting off the counter-offensives of the Christian-Jews dispatched by Jack from Jerusalem to disrupt the successes of Paul.  These successive visits, at least three times, were urgent because the Christian-Jews managed to win over many of Paul’s communities because concrete customs overcome abstract notions.

2. The tactics of the Christian-Jews was to circumcise the new converts in order to gain physical recognition of their power in the name of the Jewish Law over the spiritual emphasis of Paul.  It is clear that people need formal rules and regulation to continue as a community and could not go on based on spiritual messages and follow Paul’s Hellenistic higher level of reasoning for long without frequent physical encounters with Paul.  

3. Jack took effectively the leadership of the community in Jerusalem around the year 44 when Peter fled the prison of Agrippa I.  I am under the impression that Jack, one of the real brothers of Jesus and who was hostile to Jesus’ message during his life, has struck a deal with the Sanhedrin, usually headed by a Pharisee Grand Priest, to desist from converting Jews in Judea.  It would have been impossible for the Nazarene community to survive in Jerusalem without a drastic deal with the Sanhedrin. My impression is that Jack had to send the important apostles that might contest his leadership out of Judea to proselytize the Jewish communities in the Diaspora so that he might remain a dead weight of gravity in Jerusalem for a reduced sect that suits his mentality of a strict Jew following the Law.

4. Paul was warned not to travel to Jerusalem but he was stubborn and wanted to deliver the collection that he amassed from the communities of Christian-Pagans that he had established.  I believe that Paul understood that the Christian-Jews are getting too powerful to overcome their meddling in his communities that he wanted to regain the favors of Jack.  Paul even accepted the recommendation of Jack to do penitence in the Temple for a week and had his head shaved.  It didn’t work as intended and Paul was captured in the Temple and went through many ordeals as a prisoner in Jerusalem, then sent to Caesarea where he stayed prisoner for over a year and then shipped to Rome as a prisoner.

5. Jack was lapidated to death in 62 by a Sanhedrin headed by the Sadducee Grand Priest Anan who took advantage of the vacancy in the Roman governorship at this period after Flavius died.  

6. It is believed, from a newly discovered Acts of Paul, that Paul was beheaded by order of Nero around 64 shortly after Rome burned; Paul was permitted to be beheaded because he was a Roman citizen and not crucified like Peter.

7. The first journey of Paul started from Antioch, to Selucie port, to Cyprus, and then from Paphos by sea to Atalie, to Perge, to Antioch of Pisidie, to Iconium (Konia), to Lystres, to Derbe, and then back in the same route and then sailed from Attalie back to Antioch of Syria.  He was lapidated and left for dead in Lystres. This trip lasted over two years and Paul must have walked over one thousand kilometers.

8. The second journey started from Tarsus, to Derbe, Lystres, Iconium, Antioch of Pisidie, to the region of Galatia up north, to Dorylee, and then sailed from Troas to Samothrace, then into Macedonia to Philipes, Amphipolis, Apollonie on the seashore, Tessalonique, Beroe, then by sea to Athens, Corinth, Conchrees, and by sea to Ephesus, Rhodes, then by sea to Cesaree, Ptolemais, Tyr, Sidon, and then to Tarsus. 

9. The third trip started from Antioch of Syria, to Tarsus, the Galatia region, Ephesus, Mitylene, Philippes, all the way to Corinth, then backtracked in same route and stopped by sea at Milet, Rhodes and Caesarea.

10.  Paul’s epistles and his name were overshadowed for a whole century after his death until a few of his communities rekindled his works.

11. St. Augustine in the IV century considered Paul his theological Master.

12.  The Church in the Middle Age totally obliterated Paul’s works and teachings and erected Peter as the patron saint of the Church.

13. Luther resurrected Paul because it was very convenient for efficiently attacking the Church making obscene commerce for the absolution of sins.  Luther spread the message of Paul through the newly discovered printing press by Gutenberg.  The core of Paul’s message is that the forgiveness of sins is done by faith in Christ who died for the forgiveness of our sins and his resurrection.  Consequently, all people can be saved by faith and do not necessarily need to know the Jewish Law and follow the rules in order to be forgiven.  The Protestant erected Paul as their patron saint.

14.  The Church had to follow suit, tactically, and opted to raise Paul at the same order as Peter but failed to build churches or cathedrals in his name.

15. Paul dictated his epistles to the disciple scribes who followed him.  His writings are passionate and logical but he was not a good orator.  Paul could preach and talk for hours on until his listeners fall asleep.  Paul didn’t need the Jewish teachings and Law to spread Christ’s message because he never mentioned Jesus teachings as the later New Testaments told us.  My intuition is that since Paul was very learned on the Pharisee Law and the sayings of the Jewish prophets and Fathers then it was very convenient to repeat by rot all that he memorized in his preaching, especially when confronting the Jews in the Synagogues. 

16. There is no proof that Paul ever married; the Christian-Jews went as far as saying that Paul agreed to be circumcised because he wanted to marry his mentor’s daughter but the later refused. I would not be surprised for the anti-feminist attitudes of Paul; no wonder since he was not physically appetizing and I assume that he was a taciturn man focused on learning the Pharisee laws for many years during his youthful period.  The anti-feminist behavior of Paul in his first apostolic trip was evident in his epistles that forbade women to join in the discussions in the meetings of the new communities and to totally and unconditionally obey their men since they are from their ribs.  Paul’s inclinations might be the consequences of his lack of exposure to women and awareness of the capabilities of women in the organization of the communities.  After Paul acquired more experience in dealing with women he practically changed attitude but not his rhetoric. When Paul met Phoebe in Corinth his judgments toward women changed and he accepted Phoebe to lead a new community of Christians. 

17. I recall that John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church in England, adopted the same strategy of Paul by constantly visiting his new chapters and then splitting them into smaller units when they grew very large to keeping communication efficient and organization manageable. 

18.  Paul performed many miracles and he recognized that he was flagellated 5 times by the Romans and wiped 7 times by the Jews.  He was imprisoned at least four times and twice extensively; he was shipwrecked at least three times and once Paul told us that he had to swim for over a mile to shore.  Paul never mentioned that he was lapidated, probably because the memory of watching Etienne being lapidated to death never left his consciousness.  It is hard to believe that anyone endured so many catastrophes in over 30 years of apostolic missions and kept up the faith strong and alive.

19. During Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem, he was assigned the mission of converting the pagan Greeks and Romans and Peter the Jews. When Paul was thrown in prison in Ephesus it is believed that the disciples of Jack, in cooperation with the orthodox Jews, were behind the plot.  

20. Peter was a married man as was Jack.  I suspect that Peter had a weak character with shifty convictions for a long time and was constantly changing allegiance among the apostles in Jerusalem.  Most of time, Peter sided with the uncompromising Jack, the real leader of the Jerusalem Christian community.  Peter was the elder of the original 12 apostles but he acquiesced to Jack’s leadership as is the tradition in patriarchal and monarchic systems where the eldest member of the close family (Jesus’ family) is generally offered the leadership.  Jack was frequently trying hard to undermine the work of Paul by sending messengers to places were Paul had established new communities and insisting on the application of the Jewish Law. 

21. Peter was illiterate and under the influence of myths and the Jewish Law.  My hypothesis is that, since Marc, a young disciple and not one of the original apostles, was the constant companion of Peter in his travels, and since Marc was the first person to put in writing the first version of the New Testament, then what was inserted as “Jesus proclaiming that Peter is the rock on which his church will be built upon” was inspired by Peter.  

22. If Peter traveled extensively with his wife outside of Judea it must be because his wife had firmer conviction than Peter in spreading Jesus’ message and might have been somehow literate.

23.  I am under the impression that Jack’s wife enjoyed the cozy life of the partner of the leader of the community and didn’t care much about changing anything in her status or the hard life of traveling.

24. Paul changed his name from the first king of Israel Shaoul, Saul, to Paulos or the (little) in Greek while he was in Cyprus with Barnabas so that he might be considered a Greek instead of a Jew during his apostolic trips. 

25. St. Peter also changed his name several times from Simon to the Aramean Kepha (rock) that Jesus labeled him and to the translated Greek name Petros and then known in the Latin form of Petrus.  So far, Paul was the first person who wrote about Christ in his Epistles before the first Bible was written 30 years later; he even wrote what Jesus said during the last supper about sharing bread and wine in memory of his body and blood; the entirety of the quotation was later transferred in the Bibles.

26. It is estimated that the population under Roman rules at the time was 50 millions and 10% had Roman citizenship. Consequently, The Diaspora Jews were numerous in every large city enjoying special status in taxes; Alexandria hosted the majority of the Diaspora and when Emperor Claudius chased the Jew out of Rome they settled in Thessalonica in Macedonia.

27.  So far the gathered epistles of St. Paul are two to the Corinthians, one to the Colossians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Galatea, one to the Philippians, one to the Romans, two to the Thessalonica, two to Timothy and one to Tite.

28.  The Acts of Paul mentions that Peter was crucified in Rome three years prior to Paul.  Peter might have been crucified upside down to satisfy the Church distinguishing Peter above all Saints and apostles because Peter said that he was not worth being crucified as Jesus.  I am not sure the Romans had the habit of changing their rules and regulations as people wished.

29.  During sabat the Jews in their synagogues follow an exact tradition; they read a chapter from the Torah (the parasha) then a passage from the Prophets (the haptara) the predication (the drasha) usually delivered by a visiting rabbi. Paul used to his status as a rabbi to predicate.  The Church adopted the same Jewish tradition in reading a passage from the old testament (mostly in Protestant Churches), then an epistle from Paul, then a chapter from the New Testament and then the predication, then the Credo, then the communion with Christ (in Roman and Orthodox Churches).

30.  Now, if the Jews are still waiting for the coming of a Messiah and the Christians are also waiting for the next coming of the Messiah then what is the problem between these two religions?  Maybe the Christians should believe strongly that Christ has already come to absolve us from our sins so that our spirit might live in peace and adore God not in fear but as a friend who will never deny us his absolution.

“L’Avorton de Dieu; une vie de Saint Paul” by Alain Decaux (Written inApril 23, 2008)

“A life of St. Paul, the runt of God” is an engaging book that describes in minute details the multiple apostolic trips of St. Paul, his message, his organizational skills and how his theology differed from the traditional Christian community established in Jerusalem that we are going to label the Christian-Jews in the review.  We can comprehend Paul’s epistles in their context and targeted purposes and we can enjoy an Antiquity tourist travel in the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Jewish Paul was born about the year 8 AC in Tarsus, in current coastal Turkey by Syria, from several generations of Jews living there and was a Roman citizen and inherited from his father. Paul is shown a cultivated Diaspora Jew and was imbibed with Hellenistic civilization as opposed to a Sabra Jew who speaks Hebrew and his culture was centered on the Hebraic Bibles.

Tarsus was founded by the Hittites around 1,400 BC and it was a large city of over 100,000 inhabitants by the sea-shore during Paul’s period. Paul was a tent maker by profession because Jews were supposed to learn a manual skill according to the Torah.

Paul’s dad sent him to Jerusalem when he was about 15 years old to get religious educated at the hand of the Pharisee rabbi mentor Gamaliel.

Paul joined a land caravan traveling by the maritime route through Lebanon.  He lingered many years in his education and extended his learning of the strict Jewish laws for another eight years; a long time for the period.  Thus, Paul was in Jerusalem during Jesus preaching and death, but Paul never mentioned these facts; possibly his mentor was not interested in Jesus’ news and Paul was left in the dark of current events.

The Pharisees were a Jewish sect with the most stringent numbers of laws, over 650 laws, to govern their daily life, a fact that Jesus condemned as laying too many burdens on anyone to be capable of obeying and following laws.  The main differences between the Pharisee and the Sadducee Jewish sects were that the latter didn’t believe in the resurrection, angels or spirit.

Paul was small in stature, skinny, bow-legged, and balding.  He could read Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Paul was plagued with arthritis, and pains were his lot for the remaining of his life.

He watched the Jews lapidate (kill to death by throwing stones at a person) St. Etienne in Jerusalem, the first Christian martyr.  The convert Etienne was a Hellenistic Jew from the Diaspora (he spoke Greek and knew its philosophy) in opposition to Jews from Judea who spoke Aramaic and could read Hebrew.

Etienne was bold enough to proclaim Jesus the son of God in the Temple at the moment Peter broke the secrecy and mystery of the Christians in Jerusalem by performing a “miracle”, ordering an invalid to walk.  After the lapidation of Etienne Paul lead the persecution of the Christians in Judea for many months and rounded many of them and sent them to prisons.

Paul even decided to drive his persecution of the Christians to Damascus when he was stricken blind by the apparition of Jesus to him.  Jesus appears to Ananias and orders him to visit Paul and give his sight back, which he did and then baptized Paul.

Paul then vanished for three years in Petra, the Nabataean Capital.  Nietzsche said: “The one who carries an important message needs to be silent for a long time; anyone who is destined to produce lightning has to become cloud”.

Paul worked in his profession and then fled to Damascus.  The Nabataean king pursued Paul to Damascus and Paul was aided to quit Damascus by being dangled in a basket from the fortified walls.

Paul walked to Jerusalem.  Joseph Barnabas from Cyprus introduced Paul to Peter.  Paul met Peter almost exclusively for 15 days and barely communicated with any one else of the apostles because they could not trust him for his earlier persecutions.

Peter, Jack (the brother of Jesus who was not a disciple at the time of Jesus teachings but to whom it is said that Jesus appeared exclusively to him after his resurrection), and John the well-loved by Jesus were the three columns of the Christian community in Jerusalem.  Jack was the de facto leader for the community and he was a strict Jew.  I assume that Peter filled in Paul on Jesus preaching period but Paul never accounted of their conversations.

The leaders sent Paul packing outside of Judea and back to Tarsus because there was much resentment for his previous persecutions.  Paul went about his profession as tent maker for three years in his hometown.

The large Christian community in Antioch of Syria, not to confuse with Antioch of Pisidia in the Anatolian region, was divided on the premise of whether the non-Jewish new converts should learn the Jewish laws and abide by them like being circumcised and eating “halal” meat or sharing meals together like was the custom among the early Christian communities.  Barnabas was dispatched to investigate.

Antioch was a large metropolis where the Christian convert were first labeled Christians instead of Nazarenes. Barnabas needed urgent help in this large metropolis.  Barnabas then decided to join Paul in Tarsus and bring him to Antioch.  That was the impetus that set Paul on his apostolic adventure and became a wide traveler.

Paul lives with Barnabas in Antioch for one year; they are both celibate.  Paul teaches more than baptizes new converts.  He talks with Romans as well as in Synagogues and he says: “My Master Jesus Christ declared to me that his grace is enough for me; thus, I lay my pride in my weaknesses, because my master’s strength offers all its measure in my weaknesses. The insults, persecutions, and anguish I offer to Christ“.

While the vast majority of the first generation of Christians believed that their purpose was to convert Jews, Paul ambition was to focus on converting the non-Jews.  In his second trip to Jerusalem Paul extracted an agreement from the three leaders (namely, Jack, Peter and John) that Paul will convert the pagans with the Jewish Laws relaxed while Peter would focus on the Jews and demands stricter prescriptions.  Thus, Paul set the problem of circumcision as a non-issue for the new converts and he started his new brand of theology without an agreement with the mother community in Jerusalem.

The five deacons of Antioch community permit Paul and Barnabas to resume their mission elsewhere.  Barnabas led Paul to his native land of Cyprus. The Roman Proconsul of Cyprus, Sergius Paulus, invited the trio Paul, Barnabas and the young Mark, the future writer of the first New Testament, to his palace.  The Proconsul became a believer and Saul changed his own name to Paulus.

Paul, Barnabas and Mark sailed from Paphos in the year 45 before the period of maritime restrictions to sailing during part of autumn and winter. From now on it seems that Barnabas has considered Paul as the head of the mission. They headed toward Attaleia, currently known as Antalya, with the purpose of visiting central Anatolia where the proconsul Sergius had farm lands.  The emperor August was worshiped as God in these regions as were the following emperors.

Mark quits the team of missionary at the city of Perge when he learned of the planned long, dangerous and gruesome trip ahead of him in the Taurus Mountains.  They reach Lake Egridir and then cross the high mountain of Sultan Dag toward Antioch of Pisidia that emperor August enlarged and modernized in the middle of no where.

The Diaspora Jews enjoyed special favors and rights from Emperor August and they were clever in frequently claiming their granted rights and appealing to the locale Roman authorities for redress and they were more educated than the autochthonous and spoke Greek or Latin.  There came a period where many local Greeks were seduced to learn more about the Jewish religion and their unique God and they attended the Synagogues and were labeled the “fearing-God” or “proselyte adorators”.

Paul is asked to speak during the sabath and he dragged on the history of the Jews, their prophets, and their fathers. Then Paul proclaims that there are limits to Moses laws because the messiah Jesus, son of God, was indeed sent and the Jews did not recognize Him and he was resurrected.  Jesus announced the pardon of the sins for all who believed in Christ, the Jews and the “fearing-God”.

The Jews started to perturb the atmosphere because they could not permit Paul to equal the pagans with the “chosen people” simply for believing in Christ.  Paul and Barnabas were forced by the local Roman authority to leave the city.

Instead of taking the Via Sebaste to Cappadocia, Paul and Barnabas walk to Konya (Claudiconium) and Paul preach and convert many pagans and then they had to flee in time before being lapidated.  They reach Lystre (present Hatursaray), a day walk, a small village that Cicero disparaged the inhabitants as ignorant and little evolved.  In fact they cannot communicate with Paul because no one speaks Greek or Latin. Paul performs a miracle and an invalid walks; the people admit naturally that God is incarnated in a human.

Eunice and her mother Lois are baptized; the Timothy the son of Eunice asks Paul to take him in his trips but he was still very young and will join Paul in his next trip to the region and stay his staunchest companion through thick and thin.  The Jews in Konya hear that successes of Paul and storm Lystre and easily communicate their anger to the inhabitants.

Paul is lapidated and left for dead.  Barnabas hides Paul at one of the converts’ house for a few days and then borrows a chariot to evacuate Paul to Derbe (currently Kerti Huyuk) where they stay six months until Paul recovers from his wounds.

It was winter and the sea is blocked to navigation and the crossing of the Taurus is not practicable.  Paul and Barnabas retraced their previous route and installed leaders (deacons) to each community that they had founded.  The first trip must have lasted at least two years before they sailed to Antioch of Syria.  The two well-defined separation between Christian-Jews and Christian-pagan is growing firmer and Paul to declare: “Freedom from sins comes from Jesus. The reign of God is not a matter of food and beverage; it is justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit“.

Representatives from the two camps converge to Jerusalem to take council. Paul and Barnabas take Tite with them and the community of Antioch pays the expenses for the trip; Tite would become one of Paul’s scribes and he was a pagan and uncircumcised.  Thus, the second apostolic trip of Paul began.

They traveled by land through Lebanon and Samaria.  We might date the first official council of the Church taking place in Jerusalem where critical issues were discussed.  Paul was so frustrated that he labeled the Christian-Pharisees “the intruder fake-brothers“.

Finally, Paul was given the authority not to burden the pagan converts with the Jewish laws.  The two delegates Silas and Judas accompany Paul and Barnabas to Antioch with the mission of delivering a letter from Jack stating that the Holy Spirit has decided not to burden the converts but with the inevitable exigencies of abstaining from eating the meat of the pagan or drinking the blood of sacrifices that have been immolated by suffocation. Paul later wrote that he never conceded to the Christian-Jews and not even temporarily.

Suddenly, the community of Antioch learns the prompt arrival of Peter.  In the beginning, Peter behaves correctly and partakes on the same table with the Christian-pagan.  The Jack sends messengers to Peter stating that it is not because a few pagans have acknowledged Yahweh and his Messiah that they should be considered intrinsic to the “chosen people”.

Consequently, Peter stopped sharing his meal with the Christian-pagan and communion tables were separated.

A rift between Peter and Paul aggravates the untenable situation. Barnabas sided with peter and would not join Paul on his apostolic trip. Paul wrote that he said to Peter in front of all converts: “We are just Jew by birth. If you act as a pagan how you could force the pagans to behave as Jews?  If we accede to justice simply by following the Law then it is for naught that Christ died”

Paul takes Silas on this second apostolic trip.  Marc accompanies Barnabas to Cyprus. Paul walks to Tarsus after 13 years of absence and confirms the communities that he founded on route.  Paul walks to the Galatea region during winter and crosses high mountains and then passes by Derbe where he got horribly sick but the community cared for him in his disgusting sickness.

In Lystre Paul insists to circumcise Timothy, of a Jewish mother and a Greek father, before taking him on his voyage! Most probably, Paul decided that his apostolic message would be less criticized by the Christian-Jews if all his companions are circumcised.

It is during that period that Paul instructs his disciples such as Tite and later Timothy on the responsibility of the episcopal and the deacons to obey the instructions of the Ancients in Jerusalem and how to behave in purity, not to indulge in drinking wine and be an example to adopt; he urges them for a husband to have only one wife and the children to be believers. Prayer could be done in any place by raising the hands toward the sky without anger or disputation.  Women should wear decently and put on modest adornment.  A wife should not be permitted to instruct in the faith or dominate her man and keep silent because she is from Man’s rib. A wife would be saved by her maternity, love, modesty and her sanctity.

All these restrictions and attitudes toward women are extracted from the book of the Genesee. The priorities in this new hierarchical institution were to convert and then to strengthen the convictions of the new Christians.

After visiting the previous communities the Holy Ghost instructs Paul to tour the Bithynia region, of present Ankara and Midas Sehri, with destination Troas on the sea-shore because a Macedonian appeared to Paul in dream and “implored him to visit Macedonia and come to their rescue”  Macedonia has not yet been visited by Christian missionaries. Luca is now a direct witness because he accompanies Paul to Macedonia.  Luca is a physician and a talented writer in classical Greek; he was sort of special correspondent to Paul of present day journalism.

From Troas Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luca sail towards Samothrace in the year 49.  The team walks the Via Egnatia toward Philippe, Thessalonica, Edessa, and Apollonia on the shore.  At Philippe they baptize Lydia who invite the four missionaries to stay at her home and Paul meets Syntyche and Evodie.  Paul was successful beyond hope in Philippe and founded a devoted community.  A slave girl was a seer and every time she saw Paul and Silas she would exclaim: “These two are the servants of God the Highest up”.  Exasperated, Paul ordered Satan to leave the body of the slave girl and she lost her power to the chagrin of her rich owner who made money out of his slave capacities.

The rich owner excited the Roman authority to arrest Paul.  Paul and Silas were flogged and put in prison.  Being flogged is a painful and many times a deadly punishment because the Roman special whip tears the flesh and the pain shoots out from the neck, descends to the toes, irradiate to the hand fingers and then pass by the heart as if stabbed by a knife; blood is vomited from the lungs.  Though Paul and Silas were Romans and should not be flogged they could not prove it because they had no acquaintances to support their claims in these new counties.

During the night in prison the area suffers an earthquake and the prison walls collapse. The jailer is convinced that his two prisoners have fled and is ready to commit suicide when Paul reassures him.  The jailer is baptized and he takes the prisoners to his home to be cleaned and fed and then returned to jail.  The authorities ordered the two prisoners free but Paul refuses and asks for the presence of the authority and formal apologies which are granted and Paul is asked to leave the city promptly.

The community offers Paul financial support to continue his mission south to Thessalonica, 150 kilometers away.  Luca does not accompany Paul, Silas and Timothy.  They pass Amphipolis then Apollonia then a swamp region infested of malaria.  Thessalonica was named in honor of the sister of Alexander and founded in 315 BC.  The Diaspora Jews living in Rome would flock to this city after Emperor Claude chased them out of Rome and became after 1492 the center for the Jews when Catholic Spain expelled them from Andalusia.

Paul pays a visit to his cousin Jason who provides Paul a job as tent maker.  Aristarchus and Secundus are baptized.  Paul is chased out of the city and leave during the night for Berea, 75 kilometers down south, with his two companions.  The gigantic palace of the kings of Macedonia is not far from Brea and where the tomb of Philip II is. Paul enjoyed a large success but again the Jews of Thessalonica are marching to Berea to get hold of Paul.

Paul flees without Silas and Timothy but several new converts accompany him to the port and sail with him to Athens.  The Athenians listen intently until Paul mentions the resurrection of Jesus and he is mocked and laughed at. Paul is furious and humiliated and will never return to Athens.

In Cenchrees, the port of Corinth, Paul finds a job as tent maker with a Jewish couple named Aquilae and Priscilla.  This couple will become his most steadfast allies. Corinth is famous for the thousands of expensive “virgins” consecrated to satisfy the pleasures of the pilgrims and the sailors. Paul attended the Olympic Games in the year 51. Timothy and Silas joined Paul after a long while and Paul starts dictating epistles to the Thessalonica and Philippes communities.

Paul realized that the majority of the Jews will refuse his message and thus he tore open his clothes and furiously proclaimed that from now on he will mostly address his message to the pagans.  This decision never meant that Paul relinquished his Jewish roots and that the Jews are the chosen people of his “own flesh” but it was more practical to focus on other religions, especially the “fearing-God” people who are waiting for fresh “Good News”.

Paul was beaten by the Jews in front of the proconsul Gallion who released Paul from the accusations heaped on him because the Jewish diversities in opinions were out of his jurisdictions.  Paul totally clipped his head before leaving Corinth in the spring of 52 by sea to Ephesus (Afasos).  Timothy, Aquilas and Pricilla accompany Paul.  Paul stopped over in Ephesus, time enough to present Aquilas and Pricilla to the community.

Ephesus was one of the main capitals in the Roman Empire and where Homer, Heraclitus, Pythagoras and Tales founded their sciences.  Another stop over in Cyprus and then landing in Caesarea and Paul walks to Jerusalem but we have no documents on what was the purpose and what happened.  Paul is back to Antioch where he started his apostolic life.

Paul does not stay long in Antioch because he got news from Aquilas and Pricilla in Ephesus that they have a real problem with a certain Apollos, a Jew from Alexandria,  who is a powerful orator and gives sermons in the synagogue on account that he knows Jesus who appeared to him. Apollos had been baptizing in the name of John the Baptist but never mentioned the Holy Spirit.

Paul is on his third apostolic trip and he is 45 years of age.  He will walk 1,100 kilometers with Timothy in a hot summer through mountains and valleys.  The two missionaries will visit the communities already created in Iconium, Lystre, and Antioch of Pisidia and then found new communities in Magnesia and Tralles.  They reach Ephesus (225,000 people) at the end of summer 52 and Paul would work as tent maker with Aquilas.  The day will come when Luca would be buried a martyr in Ephesus near the upper agora (the central meeting quarter of a city).

Paul chose Ephesus as the epicenter for his apostolic preaching because it was situated about equal distances (from 350 to 500 km) from the Galatea region, Thessalonica, Corinth, Philipes and Antioch of Pisidie.  From the jail in Ephesus Paul sent messengers and epistles to all his new communities in Galatia, Macedonia, and Corinth.   Ephesus was a rich city and held the seventh wonder of the world the Artemisia (Artemision), four times vaster than the Parthenon with 190 meters in length and 55 meters in width.

Paul stayed three years in Ephesus, performed many miracles and gained many converts and recognition; he teaches at the school of Tyrannos.  He sends disciples to evangelize in the neighboring cities of Colosses, Laodicee and Hierapolis.  He dispatches Timothy and Eraste to Macedonia.  The famous Apollos join Paul in Ephesus. It is mentioned that 50,000 manuscripts on exorcism have been burned when people started to perform healings in the name of Jesus.

The league of goldsmiths was losing money because Paul and his disciples were exhorting people to desist buying pagan artifacts. Paul is then was thrown in jail with a few of the leading disciples for over a year.  Meanwhile, the messengers of Jack are sent in large numbers to every community founded by Paul to rectify the orthodox doctrine rooted in Judaism.

The Christian-Jews are successful beyond imagination: Paul thus sent the most violent of his epistles to the Galatea communities.  The epistle starts: “Paul, apostle, not on behalf of men, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father.  The Gospel that I announced to you was not taught to me by a man, but it was transmitted to me by Jesus Christ when he revealed it on my way to Damascus. Is it because of The Law that you converted or because of your faith in the resurrection of Christ?  You who were guided by the Spirit how could you the flesh lead you to perfection? Christ had paid dearly to free us from the malediction of The Law”

St. Paul was not that interested in the details of Jesus’ teachings or his life history; Paul’s epistles never mentioned the name of Jesus alone but attached to Christ such as Jesus Christ or simply Christ (the one who was anointed); Paul got the important message that Christ, the Son of God, has come down among us to absolve us of our sins and that Christ was resurrected on the third day.

If Paul was not sent by Christ to spread the “Good News” among all the people then Christianity would have rationally been transformed to another Jewish sect and a minority sect at best.

Paul still believed that Abraham and all the fathers of the Jews were specifically chosen by God to convert all nations.  Many Christian sects have tried to connect Christianity as another branch to the Jewish root.

The Queen of Palmyra, “La reine de Palmyre” by Denise Brahimi  (Written on March 26, 2007)

The novel is about Hester Stanhope, this English lady who lived most of her life in the village of Djoun, Joun, in the Chouf of Lebanon from 1819 till her death in 1839.

This historical fiction based on facts is wonderful, critical and very funny.  It is written in the first person as Hester.  Since there is no introduction or preface,  I am not sure how much the author relied on confirmed letters or any sort of diary by Lady Stanhope.

Whatever I report is kind of review of this book and my knowledge of the region history, geography and traditions.

I appreciated greatly the details and the corny sexual innuendos and emotional descriptions of relationship among people coming from different civilizations, cultures, and traditions.

Lady Hester Stanhope was the niece of William Pitt, PM.  William was her mother’s brother and ruled England for 22 years since he was 25 years old and he died young by the age of 47.

Hester’s mother died when she was only 4 years old.  Lady Chatham was her grand mother, a very strict lady that apparently never fell in love.  Hester move in with William since the age of 25 and worked with him for over 10 years: She had the best political mind to instruct her on world affairs.

Four years after the death of William she left England in 1810, never to return.

Hester was a tall girl of over 185 cm, svelte, pretty with large hands and feet. She was healthy with a fighting spirit that saved her when the plague fever or something as dangerous hit her in Lataquieh in Syria.

The journey of Hester started by visited northern Spain to erect a marble tombstone over her fiancé, General Moore, who died during the retreat of the British army from the advance of Emperor Bonaparte.

She stayed briefly in Gibraltar, then in Malta where she dropped her lover girlfriend Elizabeth who was to wed a Maltese man.

Hester stayed in Alexandria, saw the ruling strongman Mehemet Ali in Cairo, and she moved on to Akka, Saida, Constantinople, Palmyra, and Latakieh before she settled in Djoun in the Chouf.

Her lover Michael, 10 years younger than her, accompanied her because the rich Michael’s father wanted his son to see the world and get instructions from Hester.

Hester fell in love with the French Colonel, Vincent Yves Boutin, on mission by Bonaparte in the Orient.  Boutin disappeared in the mountains of Ansarieh in Syria around 1815, this was the bastion of the Alawi Moslem sect. Hester waited a year for his return and then spent six hectic months pressuring the authorities to inquire about Boutin whereabouts.

Her friend Suleiman, the Pasha of Akka, reluctantly sent an expedition to Ansarieh which massacred villagers and destroyed the ancient fortress Kalaat el Kef without any results of finding news of Boutin.  Hester had to visit Ansarieh and stayed there for 6 weeks explaining her motives to the poor mountain people who listened silently.

Knowing a little about history and the culture of the region, I think that the Turks had a habit of persecuting this closed sect of Hashasheen that settled in the region near Aleppo.  The Hashasheen had transferred their headquarters to the Ansarieh region after the Mogul ransacked their impregnable fortress in North-East Iran.  The sect had ruled Aleppo and its environs for quite a time and were powerful during the reign of Salah El Dine.

Hester knew the Ottoman Sultan Mahmoud II who came to power during Pitt’s tenure and was a sure ally to Britain.

Hester had a long, close and turbulent relationship with Emir Basheer II of Lebanon for over 25 years; they had respect for one another and kept nagging one another over many little and big difficulties.

Hester spent her last years in Djoun in financial difficulty, which prevented her to instituting a center of Oriental research like Napoleon did in Egypt; she intended to retain the scholars who visited the region.  (Napoleon instituted the first Egyptian studies for archaeology,  ancient religion, culture and civilization which encouraged the European researchers to resume and build on the findings of the Napoleonic discoveries).  S

She lived a very frugal life in Djoun using wooden utensils, sleeping on the floor, going barefoot except during cold weather, raising goats and chickens and living from the resources of her land.  Hester was not a morning person: she could not bear being disturbed when she wakes up and needed her regular Turkish coffee served in her bed, several cups of coffee, and then she lighted her narghileh.

She took into drinking cheap rum and Lebanese wine in her later years, just as her uncle Pitt was barely sober during his long tenure as Prime Minister to King George III.  Hester died in 1839, a week before Sultan Mahmoud II and one year before Bashir II.

Hester could never find out the true religion of Basheer II because he was considered Druze, Maronite, or Sunni as people preferred to categorize him to their illusive wishes: Basher knew the local game perfectly and used to play on the animosities between Maronite and Druze, Metoualis (Shiaa) and Ansarieh, Kurds and Ismailieh.

Once, Hester confronted Besheer II and said: “Don’t you take yourself for Fakhredine when you claim to be the sole recognized chief in Lebanon?”  Basher retorted: “On which country are you governing Queen of Palmyra? Do you realize how much I had to pay the Bedouins of Palmyra to coronate you?  I am the one who ordered your diadem and I am the one who ordered the tribe of Aneze to obey you and celebrate your fictitious coronation.  Go ahead with your theatrical acts but let me govern my country”

Lady Stanhope realized that regardless of their difference of religions and sects, the fellahs (peasant) of Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine form one people in their customs, tradition and way of living. Most of the Orientalists who visited the region shared the same impression and Lamartine once said: “Egypt is one man but Lebanon is one people“.  The fellahs here have not the habit of being treated as slaves or being herded in any army by duress to work the mines or anything else far from his patch of land.

Hester could not suffer the normal contradictions in old Europe toward the other indigent out of unconsciousness or plain hypocrisy.  She wondered why the western bemoaned the reclusive life of the woman in the Orient though she was far happier and content with her lot.

Women used to wear the veil when out of their domiciles but the aristocratic women in London wore the veil too to set themselves apart from the common people.  The rich women in Lebanon spent their time taking care of their beauty and meeting leisurely, though little girls in Britain were hired to work over 14 hours a day.

The women in the Orient enjoyed their own financial independence that their husbands could not share and they always managed to satisfy their sexual appetites outside their homes.  The workers in the industrial age are stupefied and turning drunkards, bandits and prostitutes.  How could such an ignorant relic of physical and mental exhaustion vote appropriately in a democratic system?

There was no sexual inhibition in our region (Near East) during Hester time and lesbianism and gay relationships were taken as natural behavior and even healthy to add “amusement and inventing games”.  The servants naturally knew when Hester needed sexual release and they satisfied her tenderly, professionally, and respectfully.

When she asked Logmagi, her stable man and courrier, for tea he came in with a fresh rose in his teeth.

Hester believed that the domination of the Ottoman Sultan is by far a better deal and more benevolent for Syria, Lebanon and Palestine than Mehetmet Ali of Egypt: simply because the Ottoman Empire was getting old and weak and let its subject people more autonomous decisions within their regions.

She told Basheer II that the Arabs would become the masters of the Orient if they maintain the power of the Ottoman Sultan; otherwise other powers, like the Egyptians and especially the western powers, would take the Sultan place and considerably retard that advent.  Basheer agreed with her completely but was forced to ally to Mehemet Ali because the latter was stronger militarily than the Ottoman and he was brutal and merciless for those who sided against him.

It was during Hester time that steam ships made it easier to travel by seas and the French started their conquest of Algeria and northern Africa in general.  Even at this period Hester could no longer find differences between the two major parties in Britain, the Whigs and the Tories, who seek progress at any price by hegemony and the suppressing the dignity of the British people through mass production and the other oppressed people.

I am not sure about the author claim that William Pitt, in cooperation with Talleyrand, Napoleon’s Foreign Minister, encouraged Bonaparte to changing his objective from invading Britain to going to Egypt instead.  Napoleon invaded Egypt at least four years before he amassed his forces in Boulogne Sur Mer in order to invading Britain.  Unless the author is referring to Napoleon’s dilemma when he was just one of the three Consuls into selecting the next objective in 1798.

Bonaparte was sent to Egypt out of internal politics because the Senate and Directorate feared the rising political clout of Napoleon and wanted him as far away from France as possible.

I think it is the author who had the dates mixed up and not Hester, because the author said that Napoleon changed his mind and hurried to defeat the European coalition in the famous Austerlitz battle of the three Emperors of France, Russia Alexander I and Prussia Frederic-Guillaume.

Although Hester feared Napoleon’s threats to Britain, she considered him the genius of his century compared to those leaders that governed Europe after he was exiled to St. Helena. She was infuriated by the methods used to humiliate the Emperor of all Europe.

She was impressed by Napoleon pluck of enthroning himself and then crowning Josephine while the Pope was standing in the background.

“The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown, (March 12, 2008)

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I just finished reading this interesting book and I learned that Lebanon had banned the movie and the book.  The Vatican and the Church have enormous power, as well as any religious institution anywhere on Earth.

The story of “The Da Vinci code” is that Godefroy de Bouillon, the first King of Jerusalem who led the second Crusader’s campaign, discovered documents in the ruin of Herod Temple that prove that he descends from Jesus and Marie Magdalena.  Magdalena was also a descendent from Salomon’s royal blood of the Benjamin tribe and she had married Jesus and was a very influential woman among the Jews, and she was the favorite of Jesus among his disciples.

Jesus gave Marie Magdalena instructions to lead and administer the first Christian communities after his death.  Joseph d’Arimacy whisked Magdalena to France to save her from persecution after Jesus death and she gave birth to Sara.  The Jewish community in France adopted her and Sara and the Merovingian dynasty of France, which built Paris, were descendants of Sara.

For the first three centuries, the early Christians knew all these facts and considered Jesus to be their eminent mortal prophet and who resurrected on the third day.

Now, Helene, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine of Constantinople, became Christian and encouraged her son to change from paganism and adopt Christianity.  Constantine remained a pagan for most of his life, but for State reasons he decided to make peace with the overwhelming Christians in his kingdom and encouraged his people to adopt the new religion.

The price was that, since no two kings were to govern, then the Christian Bishops had to transform Jesus to a divine entity so that his descendents do not claim any rights to the Roman Kingdom.  The conclave of Nicee in the year 325 admitted the divine nature of Jesus and also that he remained a celibate. The vote was infavor by a small margin. Marie Magdalena was labeled a prostitute and the female were to be relegated to a second rank without any rights to the clerical order.

Furthermore, the hundreds of written biographies, chronicles, and religious books about Jesus were destroyed. The believers in particular “bibles” were hunted down as heretics and only four books were retained as representative of the New Testament after the council of Nicee.

Many violent persecutions followed, and those Christian sects labeled heretics were put to death. Many pagans’ symbols were included into the Christian religion, as well as the date of their festivities, in order to satisfy the pagans and enhance their indoctrination into the new religion.

During the Spanish Inquisition and over three centuries, more than 5 million females were estimated to have been burned on the stakes on account of witchcraft or worshiping the Devil or a Mother Goddess or belonging to sects that the Church did not approve of.  This witch-hunting frenzy was transferred by the Pilgrims to the New World of America.

King Godefroy instituted the Knights of the Temple to safeguard the documents and also to protect the descendents of Jesus and the sarcophagus of Magdalena, the Sacred Feminine. The mystery of the “Sang real” (real blood), transformed to Saint Grail throughout history, is specifically the attempts of the Vatican to get hold of these documents and the extermination of any descendents to Jesus and Magdalena.

The Templar Knights, (Les Templiers), became very powerful and the King of France Philip IV le Bel borrowed a lot of money from them.  In 1307, Pope Clement V coordinated with King Philip a vast clandestine operation that exterminated the leading Knights of the Temple on an October Friday 13.  The Knights of the Temple took the name of the Fraternity of “le Prieure de Sion”. Thus, Friday 13 became a symbol for the underground secretive sects.

According to the book, the sarcophagus of Maria Magdalena, the documents, and whatever is kept secretly, four large trunks in all, have been moved several times during 8 centuries. England was a location of choice for many centuries and the leading members of this secret sect learned English and wrote in English because it was a language not directly derived from Latin and thus, avoided the Vatican and French spies.  The Roslyn Chapel in Edinburgh, in Scotland, built in 1446 by the “Templiers” on the ruins of an ancient pagan temple dedicated to Mithra the Sun God, harbored for a while the Saint Graal.  It was recently moved to the Louvre and is under the miniature pyramid, two third of it buried underground.

Apparently, the rumors that this secret sect was planning to divulge the secrets to the public by the turn of this millennia, the End of Time, was a good motif for the Vatican to act feverishly to recapture the indicting documents.   Everything ends well and the documents would not be revealed to the public because people crave secrecy and myths.

(I have no problem with Jesus to have married and procreated, simply because the customs of the time required adults to marry, and Jesus would have been unable to carry out his mission and his teachings if he were celibate at the age of thirty.  I do have a problem with forcing Saint Marie to be a virgin, and consequently, spreading the notion that sexual relations are fundamentally sinful and creating the myth that Eve had destroyed the balance of peaceful coexistence between the sexes and shown man the route to dangerous knowledge, tendencies and behavior.)

That the Vatican and the successive Popes used violence to establish their earthly power is also understandable, but to eradicate facts and eliminate the liberty of free thinking and reason, and forcing the Christians to ignorance and lack of compassion is a sin that no rhetoric can absolve this absolute power. 

I do have problems with these secretive Fraternities that refrain from aerating their system of beliefs because they are tantamount to exercising exclusive power over their members and generating act of terrorisms.  Somehow, most of these Fraternities adopt Jewish symbols publicly, but they are mute about their pagan symbols which are legitimate when their meanings are explained to express a form of continuity among all religions: a continuity of human knowledge, moral and cultural development, and spiritual transcendence.

Gandhi’s non-violent resistance guidelines (February 21, 2008

Non-violent resistance methods (ahisma) and its extension of non-cooperative activities to unjust governments are not synonymous with the concept of passive resistance adopted in the Western culture; simply because non-cooperation entails sacrifices, pain and suffering that the uninitiated cannot endure

Even taking to the court for redress is considered by Gandhi as a form of violent method that should be avoided by the members of satyagraha.

Passive resistance is the method of the weak who does not believe in his internal strength facing violent forces and who eventually might use violent methods if afforded.  The members of satiyagraha adopt non-violent methods out of strength and confidence in the victory of truth by personal suffering and thus will never use violent means since the opposing person is not an enemy but the unjust laws that rob the citizens of their dignity as human united in life.

Non violence or satiyaghara means to adhere to truth or God who represents unity in every life.  Consequently, the initiated should be a true believer in God irrespective of which religion he belongs to.  According to Gandhi finding truth is the responsibility of the individual and is what he believes is just and good and thus, since truth is relative then non-violence methods should be adopted so that we don’t commit errors and crimes in forcing our positions by coercion, lest we discover later on that we were mistaken.

The initiated should work toward “brahmacharya” or sexual chastity in thought, seeing and touching and also chastity for seeking fortune and celebrity. Once we manage to dominate our senses, even once in our practice, then we cannot lose that achievement. The initiated should discuss issues of a program at length until he is convinced but finally he has to ultimately follow faith.

Gandhi has developed the guidelines for non-cooperative movements against governments that broke their oaths and pledges to serving the people and are exercising cruelty, exploitation and oppression.  The program of non-cooperation is of 4 steps, each step is meant to reach a higher level of disobedience to the authority.

The first responsibility is to expose precisely the project to the population at large through meetings and focused communication.

The second step is to convince the public servants to voluntarily abandon their titled positions and charges with the government and encouraging the lawyers and judges to stop serving the government.  No pressures should be exercised on the functionaries, especially if the movement is unable to provide for the bread winners. The private employees are excluded from the requirements of abandoning their services.

The third step would ask the army and security officers and soldiers to retreat from their duties.

The fourth step would amount to refusing paying taxes to the government.

In order to shorten the period of resistance with a successful outcome the organization of the non-cooperative movement should cater to the weakest members in social status or economic needs.  The members of the movement should stop taking loans from government funds; conflicts among the members must be resolved through private arbitrage because lawyers should suspend the exercise of their official profession toward the government.

The members should start boycotting public schools; (in this request I would include boycotting private schools so that no discrimination in economic status should be established).

The members should not attend any government reunions and meetings and ceremonies; they should refuse accepting any civil or military post.  In case of being under occupation, the members should rely solely on local and national products and manufactures “swadeshi” and thus boycotting imported consumer’s products from the colonial powers.

On the first day of the non-cooperation the members should spend the day in suspending work and focusing on prayer and fasting to clean the spirit of violent tendencies and exorcise anger and resentment because non-violent activities require serenity in thought, talk and action.

The strength of non-violent resistance is based on the pressures of the innocents on the tyrant’s behavior.

Gandhi had worked to instituting a non-armed security force, not carrying even batons, head gears or shields as a protection to the abuses of the mob.  This non-armed and non-violent security force of members adhering to satyagraha is meant to absorb the frustration and anger of the demonstrators at the expense of hurt and even death to the satyagrahis instead of returning violence with violent reactions.

Consequently, the members of this special security force would undergo serious training, physical, mental and emotional, that are meant to gain inner strength to facing the violent behaviors of fellow men. This force would be highly disciplined even more than soldiers and obey orders to serving the people in dangerous situations and catastrophes.

One of the main duties of this non-violent security force is to communicate and come to aid to ever family in the locality in daily life so that the inhabitants recognize them and feel very familiar to them and thus preventing deterioration in acute situations.

Gandhi made a distinction between “hartal” or going on strike and civil disobedience: the former can be understood by children and didn’t entail serious punishment by government but is a potent method to disseminating the message to the population at large:  The civil disobedience is a dangerous endeavor that has grave consequences of reprisal by the power to be and only the initiated and well disciplined satyagrahis can sustain the punishment, privation and suffering.

Gandhi also distinguished the sit-ins with fasting for personal interest and those done for the general benefit of the public.  Many crooks learned to fast in front of private properties in order to extort money from the proprietors who did not wished publicity or humiliations and Gandhi viewed these non-violent private interest actions as violent in nature.

Gandhi comprehends that the means used to an end reflect the consequences to the contemplated objective. Thus, if you steal a watch from a person then you are a thief; if you save money to purchase the watch then it belongs to you but if you beg the person to donate it then you are sending the message that you can be enslaved.

In that respect, people who revolt using violent means to obtain their rights end up not respecting the duties and responsibilities commensurate to their rights; however, if these same rights are snatched through non-violent methods then you are ready to assume your responsibilities and these rights do not turn out to be a burden to society in the long run.

Gandhi considers that the force of truth, using non-violent methods and attitudes, is the prime mover in our development. History, understood as the recording of wars engaged by monarchs, is at best an interruption in the natural course of peaceful endeavors by the normal people. Thus, it is the mostly non-violent activities of people that kept societies alive, functioning and developing.

Gandhi united with the Moslems of India during their “Caliphate” resistance movement against the British and maintained his alliance throughout all his movements of non-violence resistance.  There are several reasons for Gandhi’s relentless alliance with the Moslems in India: first, the British government had reneged on the pledge to maintaining the Caliphate institution after the WWI if the Moslems of India served in the British army.

At the time, the Sultan of Turkey was considered the Caliphate of the Sunni and the British eliminated that religious title for the Moslem Sunni of India.  Gandhi genius was:

1. to never undertake a non-violent resistance movement before allying to the Moslems of India and thus showing a united national front against the British colonial power and their countless unjust laws and atrocities of mass murders.

2. Gandhi elevated the mere political alliance to protecting unity of a movement into another level of a united society regardless of creed or social status.

3.  Gandhi respected any religion that believed that the search for truth can be done by having faith in a unique God.

4.  Gandhi encouraged the majority in any Nation to capitulate completely to the minorities’ requests so that no suspicion or violent reactions may be generated within a society; the basic tenant of this concept is that the majority will always be the winner as long as no confrontations are activated.

It has been proven that when a majority violently attacks a minority then they end up loosing in the long run because history always catches up with cowardly endeavors.  The modern actualities are striking evidences as in Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and Israel.

Capitulation is also advisable when the problem is merely related to material belonging.  Resisting armed forces and defending honor is legitimate and necessary in his philosophy.

Every government might have positive elements in its program but if it is unjust and does not preserve human dignity then the whole State system has to be pulled down.  It is not acceptable that a neutral State allows an invading army to cross its borders to attack another nation; Switzerland should have had at least the moral strength to prevent any resources to cross its borders toward Nazi Germany and never cooperate with this racist State.

Anyone who refuses to do military service but accepts to cooperate with a military State is NOT a satyagrahi.  When you pay taxes and aid a military State to maintaining its hegemony then you are part and parcel of the unjust State. You cannot eat the food that the army is protecting you to produce and consume and then refuse military service; your alternative is to flee to the mountains and feed on what nature provides.  A soldier who shoots in the air to disperse the masses is doing violence and not doing his job and shouldn’t have joined the army or an armed security force.

When asked in 1940 whether an independent India would institute satyagraha to its armed forces to defend the homeland Gandhi offered his own belief that India might be the first people that could show the way to peaceful entente with its neighboring nations.

He believed that letting conquerors capture the land without armed resistance is the shortest and direct method to evacuating them through non-violent resistance and non-cooperation; the numbers of martyrs would be far lower than the fallen soldiers and innocent civilians if a violent resistance is undertaken. Any invading army that crosses over the cadavers of innocent people who resisted its incursion is not about to repeat this brutal act because of human nature.  Furthermore, the people would not be paying heavily for useless armaments and fortifications.

When asked by a Jewish newspaper in 1936 in London on the Zionist movement Gandhi replied that Zionism as a spiritual movement is commendable, but if it is planning to capture Jerusalem and found a State by the use of arms and by the aid of Britain then it would be committing a grave error.

Gandhi declared that his allegiance to Hinduism is mainly pragmatic because it delineated clearly that the life struggle of an individual is to finding inner spiritual strength to linking with the truth of God and didn’t excite or scare believers into the notions of paradise and hell; Hinduism viewed the soul as indestructible and no clear distinction is made between spirit and body.

Gandhi struggled all his life to convincing the Orthodox Hindu institution that casting the untouchable is wrong and could not accept sermons of satyagrahi who practiced discrimination of the untouchables in their communities.

“Le livre des saviors” edited by Constantin von Barloewen, (December 22, 2007)

This manuscript is a series of interviews of thinkers that Barloewen considers as representative of this century such as, the Syrian poet Adonis, the Egyptian diplomat Butros Butros Ghali, the biochemist Erwin Chargaff, the French politician Regis Debray, the Latin American writer Carlos Fuentes, Nadine Gordimer, Stephen Jay Gould, Samuel Hutington, Philip Johnson, Leszek Kolakowski, Julia Kristeva, Federico Mayor, Yehudi Menuhin, Czeslaw Milosz, Oscar Niemeyer, The Israeli writer Amoz Oz, Raimon Panikkar, Cardinal Paul Poupard, Ilya Prigogine, Arthur Schlesinger, Michel Serres, Wole Soyinka, Edward Teller, Tu Wei-Ming, Paul Virilio,, and Elie Wiesel.

Adonis said: “I was born in the Koran”.  Adonis is the pseudonym of the Syrian poet Ali Ahmad Said Esber; he published his first poems at the age of 17.  Adonis collection “The chants of Mihyar of Damascus” started his career in 1961.  He founded the magazine Poems “Chi3r” with Yousef Al Khal and then “Mawakif” and translated many French poetry manuscripts.  He published “The time of cities”, “Memory of the wind”, “Prayer and sword”, and “Grave for New York”.

Adonis says that there are two texts for the Koran; the first text is the compilation of the revelations proper of the Prophet Mohammad, and the second text is a compilation of what the prophet said or alluded to and the interpretations of the ulamas called” Hadith”.  The jurists, the philosophers, the politicians and Caliphates favored the second text “Hadith”, which has eclipsed the main text in matter of daily rules and obligations.  The reliance on Hadith mainly transformed Islam into an ideology. The present problem is related to this dualism of the two texts.

Religious fundamentalism is a form of anti-modernity but we need to define and differentiate the meaning of modernity among regions.  Fundamentalism is anti-liberty, anti-change and anti-openness to other cultures but Moslem fundamentalism was encouraged by the Western Nations to counter communism. The Moslem mystics interpret the notions of hell and paradise symbolically.  Islam had been a culture opened to other religions and adopted the mixing among various cultures and Israel has to realize that it existence is linked to her intermingling with the culture of the neighbors.

Many believe that identity is pre-set and that the citizens have to find their identity at the source but identity is related to the future and is formed by perpetual openness to other cultures. My tradition is not just Arab but go al the way to over five thousand years before the Arab conquests.

The late Erwin Chargaff said: “No scientist knows what is life”.  Chargaff  is a renowned biochemist who contributed in the understanding of the DNA and taught at Columbia University for 40 years.  He considers the USA as a big waste disposal State with no culture: the melting pot or the lowest common denominator among the various ethic groups revolves around money.   It would take a miracle for the USA to acquire a homogeneous culture.

There is a mechanism in place that paralyses spiritual thoughts and sensibility: any form of pure poetry is viewed as grotesque in the US culture. The lyrical thinking of the 18th century was replaced by natural sciences; thus, instead of explaining what is life, the scientist analyze the components of life and try to colonize nature.  Chargaff states that what we comprehend is far remote from what we can do with science: the irreversible genetically altered genes in human and vegetables are very dangerous, scary and criminal.

The scientist of previous centuries used to dabble in the spiritual but the little scientists of this century have no idea of the general context and are very indifferent. Chargaff claims that science is interesting but should not be given too much importance: there should be no time limit imposed on any scientific discovery and thus, the less scientific institutions receive in grants the better for science and societies.

In the essential of progress we might still be as developed as the Neanderthal. We do not need to have more superior musicians or philosophers in order to claim progress. The history of the world is a catalogue of violent acts and accidents, and beauty has no place in that history. Nobody can teach us in the domain of literature and human sciences and we are on our own to conquer these fields.

Chargaff has religious sensibilities but he has no religion; he said that everyone should build his own chapel in order to defend his internal forces against the ambient impiety. It is dangerous that the sacred is vanishing from our culture and traditions.

Regis Debray said: “The Futurists are always wrong”.  Debray is a French writer, philosopher, and political activist.  He was President Francois Mitterrand’s third world foreign affairs. He was a war correspondent in Venezuella and Bolivia and served three years prison term in Bolivia in the 60’s. He published articles in “Les temps modernes” of Sartre and is the founder of the “mediology” and is more oriented toward the effects of religions in the secular domain.

He says that religion is linked to the idea of institutions and personified divinities but the religious has no need of a God or of confession; communism, fascism and Nazism were religious secular atheist ideologies.  Debray has coined this maxim “The less the secular authorities are spiritual the more the spiritual power is secular” and he gives as an example of the extensive secular meddling of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The source of cohesiveness in any community is founded on the sacred or faith in a final objective that guarantee its continuation; the sacred cannot be manipulated because it is not controlled by man.  A community has to open up to transcendental values such as lost paradise, myths, or even a Constitution in order to keep its internal unity and has to set boundaries too.  Thus, what attaches a group together is a certain faith, unlike individuals who may know but not necessarily have faith.  The group or community may be specialized organizations that set up rules and regulations and programs as sacred rituals.

The marketing tendencies of setting political programs in the Western States, which are supposed to satisfy peoples’ wants and wishes, do not enhance the political will or rationality, but purely the cult of emotion; and thus, the social and humanitarian aspects are replacing diplomacy at the expense of the ideal.  Communication used by the media propagate information in the dimension of space, while transmission of knowledge and traditions propagate information along the time dimension; and thus, the transmission vehicles, which characterize human development, such as family, school, university, and organization for educating and preserving the heritage of our ancestors are losing ground.

Carlos Fuentes talked about “the Creole or mixed offspring or the Latin American drama and the future myths”. Fuentes was born in Panama and is a Mexican writer, academic, politician and diplomat; he served a term at the UN in the section of international work and founded several literary magazines with Octavio Paz. His publications are “Days of carnival”, “The most limpid region”, “The death of Artemio Cruz”, “The songs of the blinds”, “New skin”, “Terra nostra”, “The old gringo”, and “The century of the eagle”.

Fuentes thinks that the 21st century will be marked by mass immigration from the South and East to Europe and the USA and poor Latin America will have no choice but to invade the USA, unless mass investment are allocated to that impoverished continent.  He is saddened that the Greek tragic dramas have been replaced by Hollywood melodramas, where one party is right and the other is the bad:  tragical dramas are not necessarily unhappy and pathetic stories because the two protagonists are both right in their positions depending on your philosophy and focus in values.

He described Don Quixote as the book of uncertainty; the name, locations and even the author are not clearly defined.  The locus of novels should be the media of the doubt, of re-questioning the dogmas and the uncertainties in the world.

During the revolutions for independence from Spain in 1820, the Latin American States decided that they had enough of Spanish culture but they had to seek education and culture from Europe and France because the indigent Indian and black minorities could not be of any substitute.  At that year, the USA issued the “Monroe doctrine” which stated that the USA reserve the right to intervene in Latin America and consequently, the population get their distance from acquiring knowledge and culture from this Calvinist and utilitarian State.

The Cuban Alejo Carpenter explained the Negro traditions, the Guatemalan Miguel Angel Asturias explained the Indian traditions, and the Argentinean Borges explained the Islamic and Jewish traditions; thus, the identity of Latin American took form in the 20th century.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2008
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