Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 23rd, 2009

I left my scent in every corner (March 24, 2009)

 

Vera Anderson lived in Medford, Oregon all her life; you may say she lived in a place, and when she married then she relocated to the other side of Main Street. 

Vera had dreamed of touring the world when she retires, but she died before her plan takes off. 

Vera’s testament was to be cremated; her ash was distributed to 241 pouches; 50 to the chiefs of the main post offices in the 50 States and 191 to every recognized States by the UN. 

These pouches of ash were to be scattered to places that Vera would have liked to visit.  All around the world communities assembled to decide of the best locations to visit and her ash was dispersed accordingly.

 

No matter what we claim of what happens after death, deep down no one is certain. 

Otherwise, death would not be the single all encompassing truth that our spirit and thought and actions revolve around, consciously or unconsciously. 

Without death, there would not be that great variety of religions, belief systems, and philosophies. 

I like to be on the optimists’ side and hope that we shall revisit earth.

For what is worth legally, I like to leave on this post my testament:  I want my body cremated and my ash sent to the UN.  The UN should disperse my ash in every region on earth where famine, genocides, civil wars, and utter poverty are rampant. 

It is only fair: like any wise animal, it is excellent to leave my scent in every corner of my domain Earth, in regions I failed to set foot on.

The kid that kept asking questions (March 24, 2009)

 

            The French Colonel Jean-Paul Setau was contributing money to the sick in under-developed States.  He specifically adopted (medically) a girl suffering of leprosy from India.  He visited this girl at the special hospital in France and the nun asked him to deliver spiritual (religious) education for the children.  Jean-Paul prayed and got the answer “go and find out the questions that kids might want answers for”.  Jean-Paul received a list of written questions from kids; a sample follows:

1)      Where do we go after death?

2)      Why are we afraid of strangers?

3)      Do extraterrestrials exist?

4)      Why accidents occur to even people who believe in God?

5)      What God means?

6)      Why we are born if we have to die?

7)      How many stars in the sky?

8)      Does the Lord listen to those who believe in other Gods?

9)      Why there are poor and sick people?

10)  Why God created mosquitoes and flies?

11)  Why the guardian angle is not close by when we feel sad?

12)  Why we love a few people and hate other?

13)  Who named colors?

14)  If God is in heaven with my dead mother, how come God can still be alive?

 

I have a couple of questions. First, if we are honest and sincere, then which one of the questions can you provide an answer to?  Second, if you indeed can answer a question, then how are you going to translate your comprehension to kids?  As for the first question I have no response; but I do have one for my second concern.  I suggest that you speak in stories and parables as Jesus did, but with a twist, that your stories are extracted from our current time and civilization such as video games, school life, urban situation, a few trip in nature, computer, internet navigation, biking, movies, pop songs, and what else do kids do to fill up the void and vacuum nowadays.  If you can come up with such kids’ stories that answer a few of the above questions then you can get rich, filthy rich.

 

            Okakura Kakuzo commented in his book “The Tea Ritual in Japan”:  When I judge someone I am conscious that the tribunal was set up for me: I am judging myself.  We do not see meanness in others: we can only notice our meanness. We can never forgive those who prejudiced us: We believe that we will never be forgiven.  We tell the harsh truth to our brother: We want to hide it in ourselves.  We show our force and power: We do not want others to witness our frailty.

            The ceremony of tea drinking is the adoration of what is beautiful and simple. The effort is focused on the imperfect gestures of everyday with the aim of attempting the perfect task.  The beauty is in the complete respect of what is being done. A day offers dozens of opportunities for perfecting awkward tasks.

Customs in the Levant: Figures of speech in the Bibles (March 24, 2009)

Note: The Bibles, New and Old, are packed with parables, stories, and figures of speech based on the customs of the Land in the Levant. 

In the Levant we understand intuitively these figures of speech that the West has hard time to comprehend.  

In the Levant we understand and readily accept the meaning, though it takes a life time to assimilate the true meaning.  

The Bible is packed with stories representing the customs and traditions of the in-land people because the Jews or Hebrew barely had any communication or trade with the coastal urban centers that had versatile and cosmopolitan customs.  Fact is in the time of Moses, Jerusalem was already an urban center 800 years ago. Jesus was born and raised in mostly coastal urban centers such as Haifa, Sidon and Tyr (District of Lebanon at the period)

Jesus said “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a person who is convinced that there is a treasure hidden in a piece of land. He gathers all his saving to buy the land” The preachers in Western civilization would like to interpret this sentence as a gold or silver mine in the land that need to be excavated and they go at great length into legal terms to differentiate among the words “hidden and buried”. 

The customs in our Land was to bury the jar of saved gold and silver coins in the garden on an unclaimed piece of land because the habitat was small (barely one large room where the entire household sleep and eat in) and could not sustain serious hiding places.  Tribes would hide their treasure in the desert before waging a battle and many would never survive to dig up their treasures.

Thus, the individual who bought the land thinking the jar was hidden in it, he would have to dig up most of the land anyway to find the jar of treasure, if he were correct in his information. 

The meaning is “in order to reach the Kingdom of Heaven you would have to go through the same process of fulfilling a dream by investing money, time, and effort most of your life”. Consequently, faith is a good starting point to sustain the duration in the long haul, but it is not enough if you lack charity in your heart; you have to learn to care and love and support your brothers and neighbors. It is a hard and long endeavor to pass through the “hole of the needle

For example, many predicators in the West tried their best to explain the concept of “a hole in a needle” when Jesus said “It is easier for a camel to go through the hole of a needle than a rich person to go to heaven”.  The preachers in the west invented a more plausible and palatable explanation by saying that “the hole in the needle” was the small door in the huge gate reserved for the passage of individual. They said that a camel could pass through if not loaded with baggage; another nice figure of speech though not correct.

In the languages of the Land, Arabic, Aramaic, or Hebrew the names of the small doors in gates were never called by anything that referred to needle. The language in the Levant is extravagant for describing the almost impossible tasks that require perseverance and ingenuity.

“Kingdom of heaven is like a land that was sawn with good grains of wheat.  At night, an enemy comes and saw “zouan” (a grain that resembles wheat but causes pain, dizziness, and suffering for many days when mixed with wheat grains; it is mostly used to feed chicken). The cultivators (slaves) asked the master permission to sort out and pull out the “zouan” from the field. The master said that it is useless since the whole field is ruined.”  

In dire periods of famine, many would mix “zouan” with wheat to make profit regardless of the consequences.  The honest master would not take the chance of being perceived as a fraud if his good grain was inadvertently adulterated with “zouan”.

In another verse, Jesus told the servants to patiently and meticulously remove the “zouan” from the wheat, then gather around a bonfire to burn the “zouan”

The same idea relates with leaven that was saved in a bag of wheat in order not to rot quickly; in another verse in order to leaven the entire bag of wheat flour.  In ancient periods, people would eat unleavened bread because it was very hard and difficult to keep usable leaven in hot and desert regions.  Thus, leaven had the bad connotation of a spoilage agent, such as when Jesus warned his disciples “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” but the contemporary people do not understand this figure of speech: they are living at an advanced and urban period when leaven is no longer associated with spoilage but as a good catalyst. 

Consequently, the parable of Jesus “Kingdom of Heaven is like a leaven that a woman hide in 3 bags of wheat flour until all the bags were leavened and ready to bake, refers to the good use of small quantities that can affect large lots.  Thus, a term could be used to convey contradictory meaning if we are not conversant with the customs and period of the saying.

In the Levant, cultivators believe that “zouan” will grow among wheat no mater how careful we proceed in sawing fields. Consequently, it is advisable to rotate the field to grow other kinds of harvests in order to have the opportunity to pull out all the “zouan” that spoiled the field for later wheat harvests.

Jesus said in the Lord prayer “Lord, give us our daily bread” The people in the Levant believe that their daily bread is not just from their labor:  The Lord had participated from start to finish to offering the daily bread.  I cannot help but offer a current and political rapprochement: the successive US Administrations and the media “talking heads” would like us to believe that whatever prosperity is befalling other States it is simply because of US contributions. On the other hand, whatever calamities and miseries the world is suffering should not be laid on the USA: the USA does not bear any responsibility and should not be blamed.

Jesus said “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a woman who had misplaced one of her ten coins.  She searches all nights and all days (when the husband is not home), she searches in every nook and cranny and she sweep the floor until she finds the missing coin.  Then this woman would call up her neighboring women friends to join her and celebrate” (Most of the time they spend more on these gathering than what the coin was worth).

People worked hard to earn a coin and the man of the house would invariable express his displeasure for a missing coin and every women had gone through the same experience many times in their lives and it was a real occasion for women to gather, recount, and recall their daily troubles. 

There are times for anxiety and relentless searches and times for relaxation and sharing.  There are moments for prioritizing our quests and leaving many tasks undone to focus on an urgent one, such as saving our soul in order not to anger our Lord. 

This story is almost identical in meaning to the shepherd who leaves 99 head of sheep grazing unattended in order to find the lost one.

The Last Supper: Customs in the Levant; Chapter 3.  (March 22, 2009)

 

Obeying parents is not just a filial feeling in the Levant (Near East region of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine) but a religious duty. 

The command is “Obey your mother and father” and God punished Adam for simply disobeying him, period.  The story of St. Luke when Jesus, at aged 12, was found discussing among the priests in the Grand Temple of Carmel as the clan went on pilgrimage is revealing: Jesus had priority to obey his Father; he reminded his parents that he has a duty to obey his God El first. 

In the Levant, no family starts or leaves on a trip before counting and making sure of the presence of all the members of the family. 

After the count, Jesus decided to return to the Temple. After the count, his family didn’t worry about Jesus because he was supposed to be amid the wider clan of relatives and because the Great Temple on Mount Carmel (not Jerusalem) was a familiar visiting place and no more than half a day walk to the town of “Bethlehem Efrateh” (Not the one close to Jerusalem) where they lived (on the east side of Mount Carmel in Upper Galilee) which was within the administrative district of Tyre (and not the Bethlehem in Judea).

 

At the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples are eating on the roof of a house.  In the Levant, most roofs have a grapevine dangling over an open shed called “aliyat“. The family gathers in that shed during the hot seasons that extend for seven months from Mid May to mid September.

Jesus and the disciples are sitting in a circle around several large platters of various dishes; everyone extends his hand to dip his piece of bread in the platter of his liking; there are no spoons or forks. 

The scene is not as represented by Leonardo Da Vinci in the customs of Florence where you see a server pouring wine in a single cup, starting by the most ranked in the gathering. 

In the Levant customs, before drinking the cup in one shot, the guest wishes long life to his friends and ask them to remember him if he is about to leave them for an extended trip; then he selects the guest sitting next to him to drink in the same single cup. After supper, the cup is passed around and everyone takes just a sip.  Jesus said “I longed so much to eat this supper with you before I suffer”

            Jesus said: “The first one to dip his bread in my platter will deliver me tonight” was confusing to the disciples because they all dipped in Jesus’ platter one time or another. Judas was always the second in command and must have arranged to have his favorite platter close to him and Jesus for easy access. Thus, Judas was the most plausible one to first dip his bread in Jesus’ platter.

Young John loved Jesus and expressed his feeling as to the customs of the Levant by reclining his head on Jesus’ shoulder. 

Jesus adhered to the customs of eating supper; his saluting expressions about eating his flesh or drinking his blood in remembrance of him had a spiritual undertone and suggesting that he was to leave his disciples for good. 

Jesus dipped a piece of bread in a platter and specifically offered it to Judas as a symbol of friendship, no matter what is in Judas’ heart and mind.

Jesus presented the box of money to Judas, the treasurer, as a sign that nothing is changed in Jesus’ faith to Judas loyalty in matter of financial transactions. Anyway, Judas was from a rich family and didn’t need small changes.

            In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus expresses his feelings of sorrows and pains as a Levantine; he lets his feelings pour out and wants his closest friends to share his feelings. 

Three times he invites Peter and the sons of Zebedee to keep the wake with him because “my soul is sad to death”.  Jesus was praying with such earnestness that his “sweating was of blood”. Jesus had no choice but to obey his Father and urged his God by saying: “Father, if it were possible to take away this bitter cup, but it is not as I wish but as you want”

            Judas approached Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and kissed him several times on the cheeks. Judas was thus telling Jesus, according to the Levant customs that, as of this instant, they are on a par in ranks and that Judas decided that he no longer considers Jesus as the Messiah.

Some one of a lower rank would shake hands and fake to kiss the right hand, but the higher ranked person would fake a kiss on the cheek. Judas was using a custom for greetings that was used as a sign for the soldiers to get hold of the leader.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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