Adonis Diaries

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What Pope Francis Was Doing in His Twenties

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What Pope Francis Was Doing in His Twenties. Image Credit: AP

It’s a story of revolution, tango, missing lungs, sock factories and nightclubs.

It begins with an unrequited love for a pretty girl and soccer dreams dashed by flat feet.

So goes the biography of Pope Francis — previously, Jorge Mario Bergoglio — the native Argentine, TIME‘s 2013 person of the year and rockstar pontiff who never ceases to make headlines with his humility and love for the destitute.

Like his current frugality, his early years were characteristically unassuming.

According to biographer Luis Rosales, Francis was born to working-class parents in 1936.

His father, an Italian immigrant, expected his son to work from an early age. While studying to become a chemical technician in high school, Francis worked as a janitor and accountant at a local sock factory.

He went on to become a chemist, and even briefly served as a nightclub bouncer.

Image Credit: AP

A true Argentine, he openly professes his lifelong love for tango and soccer, activities complicated by his flat feet. He also played basketball growing up. Physical activity, however, would become more difficult as a young man, when he lost part of his right lung — not the entire thing, as some accounts have suggested — due to an infection.

His tale is not without romance.

As a 12 year old, he wrote a love note to a girl, complete with a drawing, with the caption: “This is the house I’m going to buy you when we get married.” The girl’s father beat her for fraternizing with a boy, cutting the budding affair short.

Francis’ alleged, prophetic last words to the girl were: “If I don’t marry you, I’m going to become a priest.”

The pope has also confessed to having a girlfriend as a teenager who was part of his tango-loving group of friends, and to having become “dazzled” by a woman while in seminary.

All in all, the young Bergoglio was everything you would expect from a pious, humble Argentine growing up in the ’40s and ’50s.

But there was a characteristic of the aspiring priest that was unique, something that would go on to profoundly shape his papacy: He was fascinated by politics.

Bergoglio grew up during a watershed period for Argentina.

He was just a young boy in 1945, when hundreds of thousands of workers famously descended on Buenos Aires’ main square, la Plaza de Mayo, to demand that Juan Domingo Perón — the populist who would become the country’s most consequential president — be released from prison.

Like the childhood memories of the terrorist attacks on September 2001 marking the beginning of millennials’ grappling with the role of the United States in the world, Bergoglio came of age during an intense period of class consciousness and political upheaval in Argentina. According to Rosales, Bergoglio strongly identified with the struggle to extend protections to society’s lower classes under Perón.

Image Credit: AP.

Working in the chemistry lab, a young Bergoglio became close with an avowed communist, who sparked his interest in Marxist writing. He read communist publications growing up, he says, and loved “every article,” which guided his “political formation.”

“But I was never a communist,” Francis says. It was because of his “political preoccupations” that he delayed attending seminary school for a full four years after deciding he wanted to become a priest, though he claims his political beliefs never went beyond the “intellectual plane.” His career, however, tells another story.

While serving the Church in Argentina, Bergoglio developed a reputation as a savvy political operator. He clashed with the administration of the current president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and her husband who served before, over issues like marriage equality and socioeconomic inequality.

As the leader of the Jesuits, he was a powerful player during the period of the military dictatorship and had to walk a fine line. Though allegations have surfaced that he didn’t adequately protect some of the priests that reported to him, the accusations haven’t stuck.

Image Credit: AP

But it has been during his papacy that Francis’ political genius has truly shown.

On issue after issue, from homosexuality to priest celibacy to inequality, he has projected a kinder, more modern Catholic Church without changing a single piece of doctrine.

For someone who said he wouldn’t use the Internet until he turned 75, he has been a skilled communicator in the digital age. His photo ops — whether kissing a disfigured man, washing the feet of AIDS victims, calling for peace in the Middle East or zipping around in a Ford Focus — instantly go viral, projecting a vision of humility to millions of people.

If this pope thing doesn’t work out, our friend Francis could have a promising career as a political consultant.

Spain to ease naturalization of Sephardic Jews, who were expelled in the 16th century?

Spain has announced that it will ease the naturalization of Sephardic Jews whose ancestors were expelled 500 years ago.

And all the “Arabs” who dominated Spain and were expelled by the same Catholic monarchs and Church? Is their turn very soon for the easing up on their naturalization?

JTA in the Israeli daily Haaretz published on  Nov.24, 2012 “Change in policy to benefit descendants of Jews expelled 500 years ago; Jewish group urges legislating practice“.

Sephardic Jews already benefit from a preferential naturalization procedure that requires them to live in Spain for only two years before claiming citizenship.

But the change, which was announced on Thursday, means that Jews will have to present only a certificate confirming their ancestry to claim a Spanish passport. (Like what kind of certificates? And who is qualified to confirm the validity of certificates going 500 years back in history?)

The Federation of the Jewish Communities of Spain, an umbrella body, congratulated the government for “recognition of a right which does not depend on any government decree.” (Does this means that the Spanish Catholic monarchs and the Church violated recognition of rights?)

In its statement, the organization added that the announcement needs to “culminate in a legal text that will specify the conditions to be met to assume nationality.”

The government did not say how many Jews it expected to apply for citizenship, but it noted that a large number of Sephardic Jews lived in Turkey and across Latin America. (How many descendants in 500 years? Are we talking of 10 million who are still alive?)

While estimates differ, the number of Jews living in Spain – 25,000 to 45,000 people out of a total population of 47 million – is only a fraction of the number who lived in the country before 1492, when Jews were forced to convert to Christianity or go into exile.

If you can read ancient Spanish and decipher its calligraphy  read “The Alhambra Decree that ordered the expulsion of Jews from Spain”

The Alhambra Decree that ordered the expulsion of Jews.

Photo by Wikipedia Commons

For curiosity sake: Many Popes of Rome were from the Near-East (Lebanon and Syria)…

A few of Roman Emperors were from the Near-East. Alexander Sawirus threw a grandiose celebration on the millennium anniversary of the Roman Empire around the year 220. In order to be able to celebrate, Alexander had to sign a peace treaty with Persia, and to agree to pay a yearly tribute…(The borders of the Roman Empire extended to the western side of the Euphrates River)

The clerics Emile Eddeh published an article detailing the 6 Popes of Rome who were originally from ancient Lebanon:

1. Anicetus I (155-166). He was elected at the death of Pius I, and encouraged the priests to have their long hair cut and wearing simple black attire.  He prohibited the clerics to wear loose and colorful garments. Saint Policarpus, bishop of Smyrna (current Turkey), discussed with Anicetus the case of reserving a common date for the celebration of Paques among the Oriental and Western Christian Churches.

Emperor Marcus Aurelius executed the Pope . Anicetus body finally rested in 1617 at Rome where Emperor Alexander was buried.

2. John V (685-686). Pope Agathon had dispatched John to Constantinople in 680 to represent him at the Third Conclave during Emperor Constantine IV. John was elected to replace Pope Benedictus II. He wooed the churches in Sardinia to join the central church of Rome, and died during the reign of Justinian II who hated the Maronite bishop John (Yuhanna) Maron.

3. St. Sergius I (687-701). He reconfirmed the temporal power of the church and was ideologically in conflict with the Byzantium Emperor. Sergius was key in the election of John Maron as the first Patriarch of Antioch.  Sergius spread the custom of veneering the Virgin Mary as mother of God, in grandiose celebrations: Mary was not included in the theology and not adored or veneered up until this period…

4. Sicinius (708): He replaced Pope John VII and was already pretty old. He undertook to rebuild the demolished walls surrounding the city of Rome.

5. Constantine I (708-715).  He confronted the schism that proclaimed Jesus to have a unique will (Monotoly sect)…

6. St. Gregory III (7131-741). He organized a conclave in St.Peter Cathedral that welcomed 193 bishops. The results of this conclave was to counter the decisions of Emperor Leon III. The Emperor ordered the destruction and removal of all icons and pictures of saints in churches and homes…

Pope Gregory found refuge at the French King Charles Martel who had stopped the incursion of the Spanish Arabs into France.  The Saxon King went to pilgrimage to Rome and issued the monetary coin of “St. Peter dinar

Is religion bunk?  Case of Byzantium Empire; (Apr. 18, 2010)

I read a couple of days ago the history of the Byzantium Empire and the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

This historical account of the rise and demise of a “Christian” Empire got me into thinking about this ridiculous infighting based on religious dogma.

I learned that the emperors of the Byzantium Empire were relegated to vassals to the Ottoman Sultans since 1350.  The Byzantine Emperor paid tribute and could be summoned anytime to join the Ottoman Sultan in military campaigns against “Christian” regions and cities.

Many Byzantine Emperors travelled to Europe and extended their stay for years drumming up support for the Empire in the Orient and were turned down for discordance on religious dogmatic positions.

The Catholic Church based in Rome demanded first the unification of the Catholic and Orthodox sects before financial or military support are extended to Constantinople.   For example, the Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople came up with a consensus stating that the two natures of Christ share a common energy. Papal Rome refused this gimmick.

The Orthodox Church offered another alternative “The two natures of Christ share common will” and this proposition didn’t fly well.

The orthodox Church came back with this idea “The Holy Ghost emanates from God through his son Jesus“; Papal Rome insisted that this ghost emanates from the father And the son…

Irrelevant divergences that had nothing to do with religion but political power and dominion.  The two sects agreed on the message of Jesus and that he resurrected; then what is all this fuss about?

Actually, Constantinople was basically reduced to a City State since 1350: the Ottoman Sultans had conquered Serbia, Bulgaria, and Albania, and the northern regions of Greece.  Constantinople managed to survive and sustain 4 sieges simply because the Ottoman Sultans had not yet built a naval power to block the maritime entrance in the Golden Horn estuary for supplies.

The wealthy maritime powers of the City Republics of Venice and Genoa were at war most the 14th century: When Venice came to the rescue for a price, Genoa plotted to deprive Venice from any concessions by using and abusing of contending Emperors in Constantinople.

In 1402, Constantinople had an extension on its life because the Mogul Tamerlane (Timor Lank) of Samarkand had defeated the Ottoman army and cut it to pieces.  Otherwise, the Ottoman Sultans could easily conquer most of Europe, including Italy 50 years earlier.

By 1450, Constantinople had barely 50,000 inhabitants and 7,000 valid individuals to defending the city walls extending to 22 kilometers.  The plague had stricken several times and prosperous merchants had immigrated to southern Greece.

Religion is not even an ideology: it just permeates all aspects of life and is a prime factor in political problems.

Political professionals use and abuse of religious inclinations as a cover to mobilize energies for exercising extensive power.

What variants of democratic systems managed to do was to establish institutions and laws that counter, prohibit, and occasionally punish political professionals and civil administrators from using religion for State interests and programs.

Nietzsche wrote: “God is dead but mankind is always locating God’s Shadows in caverns. Mankind has still got to vanquish the Shadows.

Religion potency is that it survives and is implicit in political programs:  religion is used as the omnipresent symbol for any kinds of changes or the continuation of statue quos.

Although science in modern time has somewhat supplanted religious dogmas, even the rational scientists are profoundly contaminated by religion in many aspects of their research.  Faith is still a catalyst to rational understanding and frequently the engine for reasoning.

Scientists thrive to homogenize their theories (as religion does) and impose concepts by consensus until a few bold minds disturb the consensus (paradigm shift).

So far, science has prolonged the period of mankind ignorance because it refuses to be based on relevant cultural meaning:  Science is neutral! Maybe this void of cultural basis in science is mainly the consequences that modern scientists are no “Renaissance Men” and lack essential human knowledge to communicate and interact with common people.

Fact is, most researches are financed by institutions with explicit purposes and implicit ideologies.

Is religion bunk?

Religion impresses kids and the elderly. Kids are ignorant and elderly are eternally scared of the next eternal unknown.

It is better for kids to learn and be instructed on the UN Charter with all its supra-laws corresponding to all kinds of human rights.

As for the elderly, it is good to remind them of the dictum of US diplomats: “When dealing with the US institutions then you better not put all your eggs in one basket”.

I suggest to the elderly and terminally ills not to put all their eggs in a single religious dogma.

Cases of “Historical Dialectics” of human and knowledge development; (Dec. 23, 2009)

            Dialectics is not only used to comprehend historical development of human or knowledge development but is basic in discussions and effective dialogues. Hegel was first to introduce “dynamic logic” and used the term of historical dialectics as the interaction of an extreme opinion (thesis) that generates an opposite extreme counter opinion (antithesis) which results in a consensus (synthesis).  Historical dialectics is a macro method for long range study and it does not explain the individual existential conditions (survival situations).  Hegel offered dialectics as a method for explaining how human knowledge developed by constant struggle between contradictory concepts among philosophical groups. The purpose of his method was to demonstrate how the “universe of the spirit” or ideas managed to be raised in human consciousness.

            Before I offer my version of knowledge development it might be useful to giving a few examples of historical dialectics. In Antiquity, the pre-Socratic philosophers were divided between the Eleatics or philosophers who claimed that change of primeval substances was impossible: we cannot rely on our senses.  Heraclites reacted with his position that we can rely on our senses and that everything in the universe is in a state of flow and that no substance remains in its place.  The synthesis came Empedocles who claimed that we can rely on our senses but that what flow are the combination of substances but the elementary particles do not change. 

            The Sophists during Socrates were the paid teachers of the elite classes and tore down the mythological teaching of the period and focused on improving individual level of learning.  They were in effect in demand by a nascent City-State democracy of Athens that relied on a better educated society to participate in the political system. Socrates reacted by proposing that there are fundamental truths and knowledge is not an exercise in rhetorical discourse. The same dialectics worked between the world of ideas of Plato and the empirical method counterpoint of Aristotle.

            In the Medieval period the Catholic Church set up a barrier or distance between God and man and forced people to believe that all knowledge emanates from God.  The Renaissance man (wanting to be knowledgeable in many disciplines) reacted by promoting the concepts that God is in every element, that man is a complete microcosm of the universe, and that knowledge starts by observing nature and man.

            Another example is the position of Descartes who established that rationalism was the main source for knowledge.  David Hume responded by extending that empirical facts generated from our senses are the basis for knowledge. Kant offered the synthesis that the senses are the primary sources for our impressions but it is our perceptual faculties that describe and view the world: there is a distinction between “matter” of knowledge or the “thing in itself” and “form” of knowledge or the “thing for me”. Kant became the point of departure for another chain of dialectical reflections.

            Many philosophers used the dialectic methods to explaining other forms of development.  Karl Marx wrote that Hegel used his method standing on its head instead of considering human material conditions. Marx claimed that “philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it”; thus, he defined three levels as basis of society: condition of production (mainly the geographic, natural resources, and climatic conditions), means of production (such as machineries and tools), and production relations (such as political institutions, division of labor, distribution of work and ownership). Marx claimed that the main interactions are among the working class (the new slaving method of production) and the owners of the means of productions or the ruling class: it is this struggle that develop the spiritual progress.  Another dialectical process is the extreme feminist political claims of equality between genders which brought about a consensus synthesis for a period.

            My view of progress is based on the analogy of combination of two schemas:

            The first schema is the coexistence of two strings of evolution (picture a DNA shape): the knowledge development (mainly technological) and the moral string (dominated mainly by religious ideologies).  The second schema is represented by historical dialectic evolutions in the shape of helical cones. The time lengths of cycles for the two strings are not constant: the technological progress phase has shorter and shorter cycles while the moral string has longer cycles.

            The two strings are intertwined and clashes frequently.  When one string overshadow the other string in evolution then there are a slow counter-reaction culminating in stagnate status-quo phases between the two forces. Technological or level of sustenance period has time length cycles that is shrinking at the top of the cone before the cone is inverted on its head so that the moral time length cycles start to increase and appears almost invariant (that what happened in the long Medieval period that stretched for over 11 centuries in Europe); then the cone is reverted on its base for the next “rebirth” cycles (for example the Renaissance period that accelerated the knowledge string ascent).

Modern Europe re-defines Christianity; (Nov. 5, 2009)

A few years ago, the European Parliament was considering attaching a clause in the Constitution that Christianity is the foundation of Europe’s civilization. It didn’t pass and Europe saved its modern identity as promoter of human rights and human dignity. How could a religion (one of the many in Europe), one of the various attributes in the vast matrix of a civilization be the exclusive characteristics of Europe?  Europe is a heterogeneous society of Nordic, Slavic, and Mediterranean climate and cultures and was dominated intermittently by several Empires.

Modern Europe has extended to its citizens a minimum of human rights.  This respect to human dignity was not the case until late in the 20th century.  Respect of man did not evolve historically as a continuum but in bounds. Retrospective historical studies tend to discover just the illusion of human respect for rights and dignity.

Europeans claiming Christianity to be the foundation for Europe’s new trend for “mercy, forgiveness, and kindness” (trying to attach these attribute to Europeans) forget that for many centuries the strongest faith in Europe was the taste for violence such as in the Inquisition, the chasing out of the Moslems and Jews from Spain, the Crusading campaigns, the conquest of overseas lands with the benediction of Papal Rome, the division of the conquered lands among the European monarchs by Papal decrees, the religious mass massacres among the Christian sects and factions with Papal consent, the so many wars in Europe where the Catholic Church was an integral party, and the worst of all the Dark Age in Europe that lasted from 400 to the 15th century because the central religious power in Rome was apprehensive of rational thinking and forbade the influx of scientific works that might rob it of its temporal power.

There are Europeans claiming that it was Christianity that set the foundation of the individualistic character in Europe, a non-conformist attitude to the collective norms, rituals, and traditions, the will for self-realization rather than clinging to the behavior of rank and file; these chauvinistic Europeans are also relying on entrenched illusions.  The Christian Church was the personification of harassing free thinkers and burning who defied the Christian central dogma for many centuries. Once baptized as a Christian at birth, you had no other alternatives but to obey the Christian laws.  Christianity was the most exclusive religion among all religions:  It coerced colonized people by force into Christianity.  As “Saint” Augustine wrote “It does not matter the faith of a new convert; what counts is what time and rituals will produce in the long run on him and his descendents.”  This is exactly the tactics of western globalization “Promote the consumerism of technological gadgets and the world will acquire faith in the superiority of western civilization”

It is paganism that disseminated liberal thinking of individuality.  A pagan could worship any other idol in foreign lands (with different name but with the same potency in his mind) and he was never persecuted. A pagan could switch idols that suited his interest of the period and his community would not persecute him or ex-communicate him on his God’s preferences.

The modern principle of universality (which means that individuals of all genders, races, colors, and origins have the same mental potentials and capabilities as human and that the differences reside in societies) was never a Christian dogma. Christianity never had this meaning of universality in its dictionary of laws; a slave was a slave by birth and should accept his condition and offers his miseries and plights as sacrifices to God Jesus who suffered for the entire humanity and forgiveness of the “original sin” that never existed. The discovery by the Europeans of the universality of mankind was due to the de-colonization process, an implicit discourse on the role of society during the 20th century.

How could equality and fraternity have emerged from Christianity in order to claim that Europe’s roots are Christian? Lactance in 314 wrote “People are born equal. In societies where people are not considered equal then justice is not served.  Yes, within the Christian communities there are rich and poor, masters and slaves by the flesh but they are equal in the spirit.”  How sweet! Lactance was repeating St. Paul’s ejaculation that added oil to the machinery of the caste system. Gregory “the Great” considered charity what was offered to nobles reduced to poverty because of the huge suffering they felt of being considered within the rank of the poor classes; thus, the true poor people by birth were so used to their way of life that they didn’t need much charity to survive.

The Western Christian Churches (Catholic and Protestants) supported and maintained the caste system of nobility and the “others” non-noble classes.  The feudal lord had the right to crush his vassals with all the might he possessed as a father had the rights over his kids.

There are many Europeans who claim that it was Christianity that promoted the separation of the spiritual off the temporal power on the basis of Jesus saying “Give to Caesar what is due to Caesar and to God was is due to God”;  this is total nonsense.  Most of the wars in Europe were launched by monarchs against the temporal influence of Papal Rome in state matters.  Neither the Catholic Church not the various Protestant sects relinquished their temporal “rights”.

Protestantism had this indirect advantage that it weakened the central power of Papal Rome; thus, Islam scientific manuscripts were permitted to enter Europe; this new openness to rational discovery was the main catalyst for the Renaissance period and the qualitative jump into modernity.  It does not mean that the previous sentence of Jesus had no influence in the mind of modern Europe; it does not mean also that Christianity willingly relinquished its temporal influence based on that sentence.  The Prophet Mohammad also urged Moslems to acquire knowledge even from China; it worked for four centuries; it does not mean that Moslems remembered that encouragement most of the time.

There are Europeans, when pressed to give an identity (other than their State), they might opt for their religious denomination (with utmost reluctance in Europe) and thus, when a European says that he is Christian it is sort of family name, the latest in heritage, as cathedrals, old churches, and the paintings, sculptures, and music of the Renaissance period. Christianity cannot be used as identification because it won’t do: most of the US citizens also claim to be Christians, as is the case with Latin Americans; does this means that they could also be considered Europeans or European civilization roots?

Modern Europe is democratic, secular, with laws guaranteeing free religious beliefs, free speech, gathering, and opinions, human rights, sexual liberty, welfare states, open borders and travel.  Modern Europe is anathema to the principles and practices of Christian Churches.  Christianity must be glad that the modern European civilization is giving it not just a mere face lift but a totally different identity.

Note 1: This topic was inspired by the last chapter in the French book “When the world became Christian” by late Paul Veyne.

Note 2:  Ten years a go, Europe was the scene of large genocide; not just between “Christians and Moslems” but among Christians of Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox on the basis of “ethnic cleansing” in former Yugoslavia.

The barbaric Catholic Church;(October 13, 2009)

There is a resurgence of Islamophobia in France couched under the pretext of discovering the origins of European civilization as a combination of Greek and Christian cultures. It would be worthwhile to set the historical facts straight for any meaningful reply.

By 324 AC, the Roman Emperor Constantine had defeated the three other co-Emperors and is the sole ruler of the Mediterranean Sea Empire, including England, France, northern Africa, Egypt, Turkey, and the Near East to the Euphrates River. Emperor Constantine ordered the Bishops of all the Christian sects in his Empire (they were a dozen at least) to meet in Nicea (Turkey) to adopt a unifying “dogma” for a central Orthodox Church based in Constantinople. By a slight majority, bishops who agreed to Constantine’s radical abstract dogma (he was a new convert) started to persecute the “heretic” Christian sects who fled to the western side of the Euphrates River that was under Persia Empire.

From 325 AC to around 700 AC there was a Christian Empire dominated by Byzantium with Capital in Constantinople. This empire was to the east of the Euphrates River, crossing Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, all the way to England and including North Africa. To the west of the Euphrates River there was a Persian Empire, mostly under the Sassanid Dynasty.  For four centuries, the Christians of the Orient under the central power of the Church of Constantinople shied rational thinking and sciences were halted.

The Arabic Empire, around 650 AC, did not conquer the western part of Turkey which remained with the Byzantium Empire until 1450 when the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad 2 entered Constantinople and spread all the way to the borders of Vienna in Austria. The Christians of the Orient, especially the heretic sects, converted to Islam that represented a pragmatic common denominator religion away from the Orthodox Church. Rational thinking got a boost; translation of foreign knowledge and Greek manuscripts to the Syriac and Arabic languages got underway; it was about time.

In around 1000 a major schism in Christianity split the Catholic Church of Rome with the Christian Orthodox Church of Constantinople. Actually, the initial Crusade campaigns had for objective to conquer Constantinople and coerce the Orthodox Church into uniting with Rome. That is what took place and Constantinople was ransacked and burned before the Crusading forces marched on toward Jerusalem. The other successive Crusading incursions had for objective to capture Egypt and free the spice routes directly to Europe without paying taxes to the Moslem Kingdoms along the maritime and land caravan routes.

The Koran was translated in Constantinople in the 9th century. It was translated in Toledo (Spain) in the 12th century but was not disseminated in Europe.  Europe got aware of Islam’s concept of decentralized religious power in the 16th century when printing made it feasible; this was the period when the Catholic Church of Rome experienced its decline on holding on absolute religious and civilian power.

Thus, from 325 to 1450 Europe was Christian.  Why Greek civilization, if Europe insists on taking the source of its culture from antique Greece, was not prevalent during over 11 centuries?  Why Europe remained barbaric till the 15th century?  Is it because the Christian dogma of Rome was barbaric and refused other civilizations and cultures to infiltrate Europe?

Certainly the Christian clerics were at least bilingual, mostly Latin and Greek, and consequently, if Greece had any culture it would have been translated into Latin. Some would give the lame excuse that the scholars in Europe, mostly the clerics, could read the Greek manuscripts in their original forms and had no need to translate any manuscripts into Latin or other live languages; this would be another proof that the Catholic Church of Rome was barbaric and refused philosophical and scientific disciplines to penetrate into Europe.

Europe experienced a demographic surge around 1000 AC; it is after getting in contact with the Near East culture and civilization (under Arabic/Islamic kingdoms) during the Crusading campaigns that culture entered Europe from the open door.  Even after the total defeat of the Crusaders in 1200 the Near East culture permeation would continue via Andalusia in southern Spain. The Arabic/Moslem civilization in Spain was the main source for the transfer of sciences into Europe until the “Christian” Spanish monarchs conquered completely Spain in around 1400 and chased out Moslems and Jews from its territory.

Greece after Aristotle did not produce much in culture.  It was just a brilliant century for the City-State of Athens during Pericles period, as so many glorious periods for a dozen other City-States that dotted the Mediterranean shores and the Euphrates River, from Mary, Harran, Edessa, Ugarit, Tripoli, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon, Tyr, and much later Alexandria, Antiochus, and Ephesus, and on that scholars and archeologists have to start focusing on for the origins of civilizations.  The proof is that the Byzantium Empire that was established in Greece for over 11 centuries is no where mentioned as source for any worthwhile civilization.

Macedonian warriors under Alexander conquered the Near East.  It is not because the Near East people, from Alexandria, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and coastal Turkey, who assimilated the Greek language and spread their own culture and civilization in the Greek language that Europe has to claim its civilization to Greece. Europe should not.

It is the Near East culture and civilization that assimilated the languages of the various conquerors (Mesopotamians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs from the Arabic Peninsula, Ottomans from the Turkish Plateau, and the most recent French colonialism, and English colonialism) that absorbed and disseminated the fundamental cultures and civilizations to its neighboring environment.

It is not because of the invasion of nomadic warriors from the Arabic Peninsula that Arabic civilization should be labeled Arab.  Why the Mogul Empires that lasted longer than many Empires and stretched much further than many are not given any civilization?  It is a shame that Europe still feels the urge to attribute civilization to military conquering warriors.

Europe would have remained barbaric if it was not superseded as a superpower by the USA and Russia after WWII. The recent colonial dominations and the slaughtering of indigent people is a striking proof.  The single streak that the USA inherited mostly from Europe is its barbaric pre-emptive wars against smaller nations and its racist tendency for hegemony whenever the chance knocks.

Thus, the break up of the “heretic” protestant sects with the Catholic Church of Rome opened the way for Europe’s renaissance and the transfer of Islamic scientific discoveries and scientific methods with sound mathematical discipline. Strong with new sciences the “heretic” Protestant sects created models of nationalism to civilize the “barbarians” of the world.  Renaissance of Europe turned out not to be driven toward humanitarian purposes but based on exclusive nationalism proprietary that exhibited its brutal and ugly racist behavior for many decades.

After the 18th century, Papal Rome tried hastily to catch up with the scientific trend and put up a face of progress and the conservator of scientific investigation.  This obscurantist religious central power initiated and backed all European invasions; it supervised the extermination of aborigines under the guise of “Christianize” the pagan barbarians.

Note: I use shock titles to lure readers; those who patronize my blog comprehend that my posts are highly rational: They are the work of much analysis and reflection. I have no zeal to dwell into religions of any kinds. I would like readers to refer to my recent post “Damascus saved the Greek culture and language”.

Europe’s “Renaissance” is Islamic; (October 19, 2009)

This post will demonstrate that Europe’s “renaissance” in the scientific disciplines and scientific research methods could not have been launched without the import of Islamic scientific manuscripts and knowledge in the sciences and mathematics.

In a previous post I demonstrated that the Catholic Church of Rome was the most obscurantist religion from 400 AC (when it exercised central power to Europe) till late 16th century: no scientific manuscripts or “heretic” opinions were permitted to reach her sphere of spiritual and temporary influence. During all that period, Europe’s borders were practically opened to all kinds of trades except in two instances after the Crusaders were kicked out from the Orient about 1200 and when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire in around 1450.

Europe didn’t dare challenge the Papal restrictions to knowledge until Martin Luther weakened the central religious power.  This qualitative shift was long due for a modern paradigm.  Islam never adopted any centralized religious power and thus managed to acquire knowledge “even from China” as the Prophet Muhammad admonished the Moslems.

In the same vein, Orthodox Christian Church of Byzantium was the obscurantist central religious power in Constantinople that wasted four centuries on the Near East region to produce any worthwhile scientific advancement. This region had to wait for Islamic Empires to conquer most of the Near East from the Byzantium Empire for sciences to get a new lease on life.

Islam civilization had fundamentally the zest to acquiring scientific knowledge, while feeling confident that the One and only God is a rational creator.  Without the breakout from Papal influence, Europe would have never greedily acquired Islamic scientific manuscripts and then translate them into Greek, Latin, and German and thus move on to experience renaissance.

After the 17th century, Papal Rome hurried to catch up with the trend and exhibited the will to show off that the Catholic Church is the main conservator of sciences and its promoter.

As a brief post, it will refrain from being exhaustive. The medical field was highly developed. Al Razi treaties were translated as early as the 13th century by Gerard de Cremone.  Ibn Sina (Avicenna), an acclaimed physician and eminent philosopher wrote many books on medicine and in pharmacopeia; his main translated medical manuscript was the basic source in Europe as late as the 18th century.

The renowned mathematician Al Khwarismi (820 AC) wrote “The beginning of algebra” (Kitab al Jabr); he developed what is known as algorithm; in his honor Europe gave this field of math his name (Algorithm).  Ibn Yahya al Maghrebi wrote “The brilliance in algebra” (al baahir fil Jaber). Actually, current mathematicians have discovered that an ancient Islamic mathematician solved Fermat theorem that was stated in 1620 and which took centuries to be demonstrated lately in Europe.

The Element of Euclid in geometry was translated by Al Hajjaj in the 9th century and commented extensively by Al Tusi.  Al Biruni founded the geodesic and mineralogy disciplines.  Around 770 Caliphate Al Mansur hired Indian astronomers.  Caliphate Al Maamun built the first observatory on mount Qassioun by Damascus around 830 and astronomy received a new impetus: Al Fazari and Yaaqub ibn Yarid adapt the Indian astronomy table Zij al Sindhind; the Almageste of Ptolemy is translated and Al Farghani wrote a compendium on the sciences of stars; Thabit ibn Qurra works on the Book of Solar Year; and Al Batani wrote the Sabean Tables.

The mathematician and astronomer Ibn Al Haytham (Alhacen) in the 11th century developed strong doubts on Ptolemy cosmology model and offered several updated models; he presented the concept that it is not productive to do astronomy and physics before acquiring firm knowledge in mathematics. Al Haytham offered a mathematical model for astronomy instead of the cosmology alternative of drawing schemas of the world with concentric circles and other schematic models.

Kepler (see note 1) adopted Al Haytham line of investigation in studying astronomy.  As a matter of fact, European educational systems of sciences focus mostly on mathematics as primary disciple before venturing into studying sciences.

The newly radical Islamist Mogul invaded Damascus and were defeated by the Mamluk’s Empires of Egypt.  The Mogul Hulago built the famous observatory of Maragha (Nizamiyya) in Mosul (Iraq). This observatory was the center of astronomy for thirty continuous years and graduated famous scientists.

The center was directed by the eminent mathematician and jurist the Persian Kamal al Din Ibn Yunus. Among the astronomers were Al Urdi, Al Tusi, Al Shirazi, Zij Ilkhani, and Ibn al Shatir.  Al Tusi proposed different cosmological models with non-concentric circles. Ibn Al Shatir synthesized the models for the Universe perfectly geocentric and completely different of Ptolemy’s. Copernicus adopted integrally Al Shatir’s cosmology; he even replaced the exact Arabic alphabet with the Latin counterparts; Copernicus didn’t need a translated version since the schema was self-evident.

Islamic Andalusia (Spain) (from 800 to 1,400) took the rationality relay as the central power in Baghdad weakened around 1050 by the arrival of newly radical converted princes from the central Asia provinces and the Caucasus.  Ibn Baja, Ibn Tofail, Ibn Rushd were the prominent thinkers whose works were quickly disseminated in Spain and Padua (Italy).

Europe’s “Renaissance” was becoming receptive to knowledge after 11 centuries of the Dark Age that was imposed upon it by the Catholic Church of Rome. Albert the Great, Dietrich of Freiberg, and Master Eckhart were avid readers of Islamic scientific manuscripts of Avicenna, Maimonides, and Averroes (Ibn Rushd).  The Prussian Emperor Frederic the Great was educated in Sicily and received his knowledge directly from Islamic sources.

Note 1: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/learning-paradigm-for-our-survival/

Note 2: I stated historical facts; it is by no means a completely coherent model for the genesis of European civilization; it would be advisable to refrain from extrapolations at this stage.

The barbaric Catholic Church; (October 13, 2009)

 

            There is a resurgence of Islamophobia in France couched under the pretext of discovering the origins of European civilization as a combination of Greek and Christian cultures. It would be worthwhile to set the historical facts straight for any meaningful reply.

            Since 325 AC to around 700 AC there was a Christian Empire dominated by Byzantium with Capital in Constantinople. This empire was to the east of the Euphrates River, crossing Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, all the way to England and including North Africa. It was basically a Mediterranean Sea Empire.  To the west of the Euphrates River there was a Persian Empire, mostly under the Sassanide Dynasty.  The Arabic Empire did not conquer the western part of Turkey which remained with the Byzantium Empire until 1450 when the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad 2 entered Constantinople and spread all the way to the borders of Vienna in Austria.

            In around 1000 a major schism in Christianity split the Catholic Church of Rome with the Christian Orthodox Church of Constantinople. Actually, the initial Crusade campaigns had for objective to conquer Constantinople and coerce the Orthodox Church into uniting with Rome. That is what took place and Constantinople was ransacked and burned before the Crusading forces marched on toward Jerusalem. The other successive Crusading incursions had for objective to capture Egypt and free the spice routes directly to Europe without paying taxes to the Moslem Kingdoms along the maritime and land caravan routes.

            Thus, from 325 to 1450 Europe was Christian.  Why Greek civilization, if Europe insists on taking the source of its culture from antique Greece, was not prevalent during over 11 centuries?  Why Europe remained barbaric till the 15th century?  Is it because the Christian dogma of Rome was barbaric and refused other civilizations and cultures to infiltrate Europe?  Certainly the Christian clerics were at least bilingual, mostly Latin and Greek, and consequently, if Greece had any culture it would have been translated into Latin. Some would give the lame excuse that the scholars in Europe, mostly the clerics, could read the Greek manuscripts in their original forms and had no need to translate any manuscripts into Latin or other live languages; this would be another proof that the Catholic Church of Rome was barbaric and refused philosophical and scientific disciplines to penetrate into Europe.

            Europe experienced a demographic surge around 1000 AC; it is after getting in contact with the Near East culture and civilization (under Arabic/Islamic kingdoms) during the Crusading campaigns that culture entered Europe from the open door.  Even after the total defeat of the Crusaders in 1200 the Near East culture permeation would continue via Andalusia in southern Spain. The Arabic/Moslem civilization in Spain was the main source for the transfer of sciences into Europe until the “Christian” Spanish monarchs conquered completely Spain in around 1400 and chased out Moslems and Jews from its territory.

            Greece after Aristotle did not produced much in culture.  It was just a brilliant century for the City-State of Athens during Pericles period, as so many glorious periods for a dozen other City-States that dotted the Mediterranean shores and the Euphrates River, from Mary, Harran, Edessee, Ugharite, Tripoli, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon, Tyr, and much later Alexandria, Antiochus, and Ephesus, and on that scholars and archeologists have to start focusing on for the origins of civilizations.  The proof is that the Byzantium Empire that was established in Greece for over 11 centuries is no where mentioned as source for any worthwhile civilization.

            Macedonian warriors under Alexander conquered the Near East; it is not because the Near East people, from Alexandria, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and coastal Turkey, who assimilated the Greek language and spread their own culture and civilization in the Greek language that Europe has to claim its civilization to Greece. Europe should not. It is the Near East culture and civilization that assimilated the languages of the various conquerors (Mesopotamians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs from the Arabic Peninsula, Ottomans from the Turkish Plateau, French colonialism, and English colonialism) that absorbed and disseminated the fundamental cultures and civilizations to its neighboring environment.  

            It is not because of the invasion of nomadic warriors from the Arabic Peninsula that Arabic civilization should be labeled Arab.  Why the Mogul Empires that lasted longer than many Empires and stretched much further than many are not given any civilization?  It is a shame that Europe still feels the urge to attribute civilization to military conquering warriors.

 

Note: The title was meant to be catchy to drive through the purpose of the topic. I have no zeal to dwell into religions of any kinds. I would like readers to refer to my recent post “Damascus saved the Greek culture”.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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