Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Christianity

 

Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in God. Why should you be that surprised?

“How can you call yourself a Christian, let alone a minister?!”

I get asked that question frequently and the questioner is hostile more often than not.

Still, I like to answer it if I believe the questioner is sincere.

Though I self-identify as a Christian and I am an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I raised eyebrows a few years ago when I posted an article on my website about how my personal beliefs don’t align with those of most Presbyterians.

For example, I believe that:

  • Religion is a human construct
  • The symbols of faith are products of human cultural evolution
  • Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about him is in the form of legend
  • God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force
  • The Bible is a human product as opposed to special revelation from a divine being
  • Human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there’s no afterlife

In short, I regard the symbols of Christianity from a non-supernatural point of view.

And yet, even though I hold those beliefs, I am still a proud minister.

But I don’t appreciate being told that I’m not truly a Christian.

Why is that so many people think my affirmations are antithetical to Christianity?

I think it is because Christianity has placed all of its eggs in the belief basket.

We all have been trained to think that Christianity is about believing things. Its symbols and artifacts (God, Bible, Jesus, Heaven, etc) must be accepted in a certain way. And when times change and these beliefs are no longer credible, the choices we are left with are either rejection or fundamentalism.

I think of Christianity as a culture.

It has produced 2,000 years of artifacts: literature, music, art, ethics, architecture, and (yes) beliefs.

But cultures evolve and Christianity will have to adapt in order to survive in the modern era.

Many of those paths will be dead ends.

As Daniel Dennett once said, the dinosaurs really have not died out because modern birds carry on many of their traits.

Similarly, as religions evolve, they may look similar in some respects and quite different in others. You may not even call some of them religions anymore, depending on how you define the word.

I believe one of the newer religious paths could be a “belief-less” Christianity.

In this “sect,” one is not required to believe things. One learns and draws upon practices and products of our cultural tradition to create meaning in the present.

The last two congregations I have served have huge commitments to equality for LGTBQ people and eco-justice, among other things. They draw from the well of our Christian cultural tradition (and other religious traditions) for encouragement in these efforts.

I think a belief-less Christianity can be a positive good for society.

Belief-less Christianity is thriving right now, even as other forms of the faith are falling away rapidly.

Many liberal or progressive Christians have already let go or de-emphasized belief in Heaven, that the Bible is literally true, that Jesus is supernatural, and that Christianity is the only way. Yet they still practice what they call Christianity.

Instead of traditional beliefs, they emphasize social justice, personal integrity and resilience, and building community. The cultural artifacts serve as resources.

But what about belief in God?

Can a belief-less Christianity really survive if God isn’t in the picture? Can you even call that Christianity anymore?

In theory, yes. In practice, it is a challenge because “belief in God” seems to be so intractable.

However, once people start questioning it and realize that they’re not alone, it becomes much more commonplace.

Since posting my article — and in response to my ministry in general — many have opened up to me that they didn’t believe in God but they liked coming to my church. One young woman, after going through my confirmation class, joined the church.

She read her faith statement in front of the congregation. It was a powerful articulation of her social justice commitments in which she added that she didn’t believe in God. The congregation enthusiastically welcomed her, of course.

Personally, even though I don’t believe in God as a supernatural agent or force, many still do. I utilize the symbol “God” in worship.

This may be viewed as cheating but since our cultural tradition is filled with images of God, it is near impossible to avoid.

As a symbol, I’m not yet ready to let go of God. It is a product of myth-making — I know that — but the symbol incorporates many of our human aspirations.

I find that “God” for me is shorthand for all the things for which I long: beauty, truth, healing, and justice. They’re all expressed by this symbol and the stories about it.

Someone quipped that my congregation is BYOG: Bring Your Own God. I use that and invite people to “bring their own God” — or none at all.

While the symbol “God” is part of our cultural tradition, you can take it or leave it or redefine it to your liking. That permission to be theological do-it-yourselfers is at the heart of belief-less Christianity.

I understand some Christians may react with hostility and panic to this idea — they already have — but it deserves an honest discussion.

Patsy Z sent this link on FB

VERY interesting, coming from a priest! Surprisingly open-minded and logical! Makes sense from a community perspective.

The question is: does this thinking work at all in the religious frame?

Or better call this community something else and frame it differently?

I get asked that question frequently and the questioner is hostile more often than not.
patheos.com
Note: Aren’t we all living within sets of cultural constructs?
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How have you been “existing”? (Jan. 25, 2010)

            The main philosophy of the last century was called “Existentialism” that Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980) disseminated after WWII with the cooperation of Simone de Beauvoir who published “The second sex”.  What differentiated Sartre’s existentialism from Kierkegaard, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Heidegger is that Christianity is no longer a crutch to lean on for processing the concept to its final outcome.

            In that philosophy, man and woman have no innate “nature” to fall back on.  They just have to create themselves, their “natures” (their “essence”).  The feeling of alienation is that mankind was created without his will and yet, he is condemned to be free for taking responsibility of his actions knowing that there are no eternal values or norms for guidance and directions.  The individual has to create his set of values and his nature from actions among choices, even default choices.

            That Sartre’s existentialism allied to Marxist movement (Sartre never accepted to be a member of a political party) is part of this century struggle for enjoying the freedom that we never asked for; but “man is condemned to be free” in taking responsibility of his actions simply because he is created to be conscious of his existence and his death: mankind is not “in itself” but “for itself” and an individual relies on his existence to be whatever he might otherwise be “his nature”.

            For example, Stephen Hawkins, this crippled astrophysicist, grabbed the question of his interest (nature) “How the universe was created”.  That Hawkins offered the Big bang theory is irrelevant to the universe or to everyday man is important philosophically.  What is most important is that Hawkins must have enjoyed “the meaning of his life”.  The Big Bang proposition may be accompanied by all kinds of mathematical formulas it does not make it more believable than a childish storytelling in Bibles that are so funny to kids.  For example, why just one Big Bang? Is it because God must be one and only one?  Anyway, how many of us seriously engaged on his journey for discovering the meaning of his life existence?

            Current nuclear physicists are fundamentally pre-Socratic in their quest for the elemental matters; they want to be able to offer a satisfactory explanation of “what is matter?” This problem is thus a vital part of their “life’s philosophy”, the “essence” or an answer to the question “what is my nature”?

            Existentialism was the source of modern style in writings called the “absurd”.  For example, when you show the lack of coherence or meaning in life, then the reader or audience is forced to cultivate his “own meaning” of the story.

            Things have changed.  The world can be felt as reduced to a Town Square; instant audio-visual communications around the world is discouraging people to move out and investigate “his universe”.  The Renaissance man had to travel on horses for long distances to educate his curiosity and talents.

            Arne Naess disseminated the eco-philosophy which stated that western paradigm line of thinking is taking the wrong direction for a sustainable earth: Man is not in the upper chain of evolution and he has no right to destroy the other living creatures for his perceived universe.

            The new wave of occultism, New Age, alternative lifestyle, mysticism, spiritualism, healing, astrology, clairvoyance, and telepathy are consequences of collecting mass “coincidental” happenings among the billion of people and which are relayed instantly on the Internet.  These coincidences can be explained rationally, especially if we believe in the power of the subconscious for erratic behaviors.

            The worst part is that millions are still brandishing old Books or Bibles claiming every word for “truth”; as if we are in the Dark Ages.  Sciences and technologies have done serious empirical attempts to answering most of the dialectical problems in philosophy such as how the universe was started, how knowledge developed and progressed.  What is outside the realm of sciences is in the domain of faith which should not be confounded with religious philosophical belief systems.

            The “meaning of life” is not a solution: it is the trip, the journey to answering a single definite bothering question, a question that interest you mostly among hundreds of other pretty much non answerable questions.  This trip means working toward a resolution to the question “What is my nature?”  It is hard work, relentless, and tricky journey but nothing has meaning if we don’t feel the obstacles and hardships.

548.  What Blend of Goddesses are you? Answer (part 2); (Oct. 31. 2009)

 

549.  Battle of the Titans; (Nov. 1, 2009)

 

550.  Christianity: From total persecution to State religion: what happened? (Nov. 1, 2009)

551.  How to educate a prime idiot in less than six months? (Nov. 3, 2009)

552.  Beware of the senile stubbornness of an 88 year-old Patriarch; (Nov. 4, 2009)

Christianity: From total persecution to State religion: what happened? (Nov. 2, 2009)

            By the beginning of the fourth century, Christians in the Roman Empire were no longer persecuted as a sect behaving contrary to the Roman values.  The Christians have suffered one of the worst waves of persecutions from 303 to 311.

The father of Constantine persecuted the Christian mercilessly and Constantine witnessed the massacres. Constantine inherited England and France as co-Emperor, one of three other co-Emperors to the Roman Empire that dominated the Mediterranean Sea.

This article is not about the fictitious story or not of Constantine seeing the symbol of the Christians at night or in a dream before the battle to capturing Rome from Maxence in 312. This post intends on explaining the moratorium on Christian persecutions as this sect reached the threshold of a minority of 10% of the total population.

At that period, a Christian was not born a Christian: he was not baptized a week or longer after birth.  A Christian had to prove that he believed in Christ as the Redemptor of our sins, that Christ resurrected from death and that God is the creator of man and the universe and that God is One and all powerful, and all our actions were to be offered in honor of Him.

The intellectuals and educated leaned toward this concept of a unique God, an abstract God who is not emulated on earthly natural powers or actual planets and Sun: it was the cultural rage of the time.  The high ranked in the Roman caste system didn’t have to proselytize or proclaim their conversion; this task was relegated to the poorer Romans in the caste system so that the Christian religion spread its tenants with example of persecutions in arenas for the pleasure of the Romans.

The four co-Emperors needed stability in their respective allocated Empires and they needed the Christians support in the highest administrative jobs.  If the Christians were about 10% of the total they constituted a much higher ratio in the Orient and in Africa.  After Constantine won the Orient he was left with only one co-Emperor Licinius in Africa.

Emperor Constantine who build Constantinople (later to be named the Byzantium Empire) converted to Christianity and was both pragmatic toward the vast majority of pagans and an intolerant Christian who wanted to unite all the Christian sects in his empire, a sort of centralized orthodox church with a dogma that suited a newly converted Emperor.

Christianity was Not a new ideology to Emperor Constantine; that would be the case a century later. The people were born in the rituals to being “patriotic” to the Roman Empire and to obeying the reigning Emperor. The people were not dupe: not a single ex-voto (in Greek or Latin) to an Emperor (living or dead) was found. People asked and demanded from their Gods to be cured or saved from calamities.

The temporal sovereign was considered a need to safeguard the peace and continuity of the communities; as long as no new heavy taxes were imposed the Emperor could be labeled “The so good and beloved monarch”. The luxurious way of life of the monarch was accepted as a right that fit the position: the monarch didn’t have to abuse of pageantry to impress upon the people, it was not a sort of propaganda to remind the people of his role and power. It was simply a right attached to the position of power.  All that an Emperor had to do is to occasionally speak on the virtue of the existing rituals so that to clear the void and the silence in the kingdom.

In 325 Emperor Constantine summoned all the Bishops to a conclave in Nicaea (Turkey).  The conclave dragged on for four months and ended with a slight majority agreeing to a new abstract dogma of the Trinity of Father, Son, and the Virgin Mary, the Holy Ghost and the Credo.  The dissenting Christian sects were labeled “heretics” because they wanted to believe in One God and not bestow divinity on Jesus and much less on Mary.

Ten years later Emperor Constantine defeated Licinius and became the sole Emperor to the Mediterranean Sea Empire. Persecution of the heretic Christian sects started in earnests and they had to flee to the eastern shores of the Euphrates River, a kingdom under the Persian Sassanide Empire.

Apparently, Emperor Constantine was never defeated in military battles; if he were he might have had a second thought about his all powerful protector new God; at least he might have listened more seriously to the heretic Christian Unique God.  Two years before his death, Emperor Constantine defeated the Germans and wrote to the Bishops meeting in conclave in Tyr (Lebanon) “The Germans are converting to Christianity; they are convinced that our God cannot be defeated or vanquished.”

Constantine died in 337.

From this year to 400 Christianity could have easily lost its supremacy as the Emperor religion.  Emperor Julian reverted to paganism but died two years later; he could have easily converted the whole Empire to paganism which was the vast majority.  Several Christian Emperors were elected by factional armies not on religious ground but for many other reasons.

One main reason that Christian Emperors succeeded to the throne in the next 60 years was because the paganism was flexible, indifferent, and tolerant, while the Christian Church was exclusive (once converted then you are sucked in) and it grabbed tightly at any rights it gained.  The minority Church used to the hilt the temporal power of the Emperors to affirm its positions.

In 394, Emperor Theodosius managed to defeat the pagan German General Arbogast in Slovenia. This defeat was a pure fluke of nature: a violent wind blew in the face of the combined more powerful Roman/Germanic army.  Arbogast had reigned in Rome and installed a figure head Emperor Eugene; he re-confirmed paganism in Rome and for six years paganism was master in the western provinces. Also, two years earlier to the definitive battle, Theodosius had banished all public pagan rituals in the Orient in reaction to Arbogast attempts to restore paganism.

This military defeat had set the stage for the supremacy of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Thus, in the 5th century, the number of bishops jumped drastically; from around 6 to 50 in North Italy, from 20 to 70 in France (Gaul), and in North Africa the number tripled. The pagans transformed Christianity into paganism rituals of visiting every new sanctified Saint or shrines where miracles were invented and propagated.  Pictures and statues of Saints and the Virgin Mary proliferated much quicker than churches.

When Islam conquered the Near East by defeating Heracles in the battle of Yarmouk, the heretic Christian sects (the true monolithic sects) converted to a religion that coincided with their belief system in One and Unique God and that accepted all the Jewish and Christian Bibles as forming integral part of Islam’s fundamental doctrine.  If the Byzantium Empire had selected the Christian heretic dogma instead of the Trinity Islam would have never emerged to fill this vacuum since the Prophet Muhammad was initially a convert to one of the Christian-Jewish sects in Mecca.

There are two distinct civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea. 

The main difference is in the transmission of rituals and traditions among the people.  The Oriental civilization accepts a temporal sovereign who appoints the religious clergy of bishops and Imam (a decentralized religion) and the western civilization was comfortable with the cast of the clergy using the temporal power to expand its dominion over the people (a centralized religious power in Rome); that was the case after the year 400 in pagan Rome.

The Christian religion emulated the trend of former civilizations and a major schism occurred in 1000 between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches based on the perception, power, and the rights of the temporal power. In fact, Emperor Theodoric of Constantinople exerted pressures on Pope Gelase 1st to submit to the temporal rights of the sovereign; then, the Pope created the theory of separation of the spiritual and temporal powers in order to appease the Emperor.

While the Orient experienced a resurgence of the sciences and rational thinking in the 7th century, Europe was engulfed in the Dark Age till the 15th century because the Catholic Church prohibited any rational challenges to its authority.

Islamophobia is anathema to rational thinking; (October 18, 2009)

 

            Islam is quickly becoming an integral religion in the Western world.  There is a growing sense of uneasiness for Islam devotees: they pray at least three times a day facing Mecca (the Kaaba) and take seriously the fasting month of Ramadan. The various Christian sects barely practice their religion; the “Christians” mostly use their religion as political platforms during voting seasons to discriminate among cultures for the “proper way of life”.  A recent scandal broke out in England: the government is wire taping the Moslems on ground of social study.  In France there was an attempt at disqualifying Arabs as carrier of any philosophical civilization that could have impressed on European Renaissance.  The Arabic media didn’t respond to “Aristotle on Mount St. Michelle” simply because the book talked of philosophical import and didn’t discuss the scientific aspects.

            The main confusion in Europe or in the Arab/Islamic world is about what Empires we are alluding to: Arabic Empires (culture) or Islamic Empires (civilization) and how to discriminate among the cultures of each one of the Empires.  The modern nationalistic models (brainchild of emerging Europe) could not correspond to ancient models of thinking and thus, the attempts to explaining past Empires with modern models of what constitute a nation is confusing research and biasing facts with awkward interpretations.

            In all periods, elites of Empires needed an ideology to assure the articulation of various heritages (Arab, Persian, Byzantium, Roman, Greek, and Aramaic).  The unstable structure of ancient Empires frequently pressed upon its elites to rethink the new culture of the emerging Empire and re-construct it via a mould where diverse elements were poured in (ethnicity, community, belief systems, and language).  Thus, social thinkers struggled to present a coherent understanding of the new Empire; the purpose was not an erudite analysis for posterity but to get the new Empire functioning properly.

            This post is meant to investigate the allegation that European civilization is fundamentally the heritage of ancient Greece civilization.  I have examined the contention that “Europe civilization is because of Christianism”, a proposal that I refuted in a previous post (read “The Barbaric Catholic Church of Rome”) where the centralized church prohibited the influx of “heretic” scientific manuscripts to Europe from the Near Eastern Byzantium Empire and later from the Islamic Empire till way the 16th century.

            The best route for this examination is to consider two civilizations that imbibed the Islamic Empires.  The first Umayyad Arabic Empire 650 to 800 AC had for Capital Damascus; the culture in the Near East in that period was principally Hellenistic in the sense that scholars and educated people wrote in two languages, the Greek and Syriac languages (Aramaic dialect developed in Edesse, current Turkey) ; the common people spoke the language of the land or Aramaic.  Aramaic is the root language for Hebrew and the various local languages, especially the two Arabic branches that were spoken in Mecca and in Yemen.  It is in this period that lasted 150 years that translation of Greek and Syriac manuscripts into Arabic received its impetus.  Translation of Greek works to Syriac continued way into the 9th century. The people easily assimilated the spoken Arabic of Mecca and gave Arabic its proper alphabet and grammar.

            The second period can be called the Islamic Empire when the Capital was re-located to the newly erected city of Baghdad (Baghdad was to become the largest metropolis in this Empire of over one million inhabitant); this Islamic civilization was marked by the Persian culture and language with high import from India: trade was cut off with Europe for many centuries first during the Mamluk Empires after kicking out the last remnant of the Crusaders and later the early Ottoman Empire as Constantinople fell in around 1450. 

            The Umayyad Dynasty exported to Islamic Persia the embryo of the current scientific works and the nascent Islamic philosophy (falsafa); the more developed scientific works were later mostly written in Persian language; the same scholars wrote the disciplines that were related to religion, philosophy, rhetoric, legal, mathematics, and algebra, in Arabic because they were needed for the proper function in the administration of the Empire.  Educated and cultured people who were familiar with Greek works met in “salons” (majalis) to discuss on various subjects, philosophical incursions into the possible, the intellect, the sensibility and the soul. 

            Schools of learning were erected and knowledge was no longer the prerogative of the initiation of master to disciple for rich people. By the first century of Islam (8th century), schools were exploding everywhere with targeted practical disciplines (algebra, geometry, arithmetic, trigonometry, jurisprudence, theology (kalam), science of tradition (hadith), history, linguistic, lexicography, math combinatorial analysis, cryptography, and grammar) mainly to support the functions of the Empire administration and train cadres for offices such as fiscal, heritage, religious calendar, and army logistics. The schools were inspired by different traditions such as Greek, Persian, Indian, and Syriac).  By the second century of Islam specialized schools in theoretical mathematics, medicine, physics, optics, and astronomy were booming.

            The first acknowledged Moslem philosopher Al Kindi (9th century) admitted that Aristotle was the most eminent Greek philosopher and wrote: “We have to thank the prior thinkers who shared with us what is right; they made it more accessible to us researching the truth and they provided the premises that leveled the way for what is true.  Offering reasons and demonstrations are part of the acquisition process in the sciences for veracity. Those strangers to scientific inquiries are trafficking in religion even though they have got no religion: indeed the one who sells one thing does no longer belong to him.”

            Personally, I tend to attribute the name of Islamic civilization for the import of scientific disciplines such as mathematics, astronomy, medicine, physics, optics, and chemistry.  Arabic civilization should be restricted to the Umayyad Dynasty period in matters of rhetoric, legal, practical mathematics, Kalam (reflection on the world according to the Koran paradigm), grammars, language, and the import of any outside scientific knowledge that the Old World reserved in Constantinople, Persia, India, and China.

            A follow up post will demonstrate that European Renaissance in the 16th century was fundamentally Islamic scientifically; the decentralization of the Christian power away from Rome was also inspired by the decentralization nature of Islam as a religion.  The title is “Europe’s Renaissance is Islamic”.  It is worthwhile for researchers not to confuse the recent period of Islamic radical decadence with early Islamic civilization that lasted from 650 to 1100 AC in the Orient and then re-surfaced in Andalusia (Spain) from 800 till 1400 AC.  After 1400 AC Christian Spanish monarchs chased out the Moslems and Jews from their kingdom; the Catholic Church in Rome instituted the Inquisition to harass the new converts to Christianity.

The devil is NOT in the details; (October 16, 2009)

 

            Details are what bring people together to communicate, dialogue, and negotiate to reach compromises.  The main wall that separate among communities is the concrete wall mixed with myths, general concepts, and abstract notions.  Strong with draft details each organization can start to sort out the differences and comprehend the big picture; it is never the way around in social behavior. I will discuss two cases, one religious and the other of political nature.

            After the crucifixion of Jesus many Christian sects were born in the Near East in the first four centuries.  Fundamentally, these sects were almost identical in applying the Jewish daily rituals or the Jewish 650 laws of “correct” conduct. What separated these sects were abstract concepts that did not harm their peaceful coexistence in separate communities of believers: they never attacked by force one another; military persecutions started when the Church acquired central power in Constantinople; whole “heretic” sects and entire communities had to flee to safety. 

            Thus, The Mighty Wall was erected after 325 AC when Byzantium Empire decided to adopt Christianity as the main religion of the Empire.  Thus, the central power concept of the Empire dictated that church should be centralized.  Instead of focusing in negotiating on the details that split the various sects an upper abstract super-structure on concepts was imposed; concepts such as the dual nature of Christ, the deity of the threes (the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit), the virginity of the mother Mary and on.  This time around, the sects were to join the Orthodox Church by force if need be: a central Empire cannot permit disunity, even on totally nonsense abstract conjectures!

            Consequently, the labeled “heretic” sects had to flee beyond the eastern shores of the Euphrates River (to the Persia Sassanide Dynasty).  The Nestourian sect reached China and translated “their” Bible into the Chinese language. Many other “heretic” sects settled in the Arabic Peninsula; the Christian-Jewish “Ebionite” sect was firmly entrenched in Mecca; the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, Ain Warkat, was the Patriarch of this sect and Muhammad learned to read in the Aramaic Ebionite Bible; Muhammad aided his uncle in the translation of this specific Bible into the Arabic slang of Mecca.  Thus, Islam is originally a common denominator “heretic” Christian sect, one of many Christian sects in the Arabic Peninsula; the Prophet had to delete all the abstract notions to unite the sects; it was named Islam or the belief in the One and only God.

            The strong animosity of the Catholic Church of Rome against Islam was not directed at a religion such as Buddhism or Mazdean but at a new “heretic” Christian sect usurping its central power in the Near East. The Orthodox Church in Constantinople was more lenient with Islam because it understood its genesis and the causes for the need of this new “heresy”; for Constantinople Islam was the oriental counterpart of Protestantism to Rome when Islam became the dominant religion in the region. 

            It is said: “the enemy of my enemy is my ally”; this Machiavellian principle was lost to obscurantist Catholic Church. Rome was too far away and fought Islam with the ignorance of abstract concepts. For the Catholic Church in 1,000 AC, Islam was doubly “heretic” instead of just the counterpart to the central Orthodox Church of the Byzantium Empire: it failed to realize that if Islam spread so fast and so widely it is mainly because most the labeled Christian heretic sects quickly converted to Islam as representing their system of belief against the monopole of Constantinople.

 

            The other case is the concept of a Syrian Nation with well delimited natural borders including Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and part of Iraq to the west of the Tiger (Dujlat) River. This concept was highly widespread among the people of the region as the Ottoman Empire was dying during WWI.  It was still even more alive during the mandate of France and Britain to the region (Near East) after WWI. The people in the Syrian Nation speak one language and have the same customs and tradition.  This nation was as natural as ABC; the immigrants were first called Turks during the Ottoman Empire and then they were all called Syrians regardless of location or religion.

            The main problem is that the political parties spent two critical decades proving the evident (according to the newer definitions of the West for a Nation) instead of making the effort to developing draft detailed programs on the type of political administrative structure for this nation, the social representation, and election laws; (for example, is it a Federal structure like the USA where each mandated State is fully autonomous with local government and local parliament, or provinces tailored made to religious, ethnic, and sectarian majorities, or loosely united States with open borders, common money, central army, or centralized foreign affairs; is Syria to be a monarchy and what kind). 

            Instead of discussing detailed programs, political parties mushroomed with abstract concepts not based on facts or pragmatic long-term goals. The colonial “mandated powers” of France and England had field days of “dividing to rule”.  Every sect established its political party in every potential State claiming either total independence, or seeking a pan-Arabic Nation of Arabic speaking majorities in States, or Islamic Nation.  We watched the emergence of communist parties disclaiming the notion of affiliating to a nation, to sectarian parties claiming democracy, socialism, and progressive. The worst propaganda that was encouraged by the colonial powers is to incite citizens against the Syrian people with the objective of discrediting the word Syria and giving it a bad connotation.

              Natural borders of chain of mountains, desert, or large rivers do not necessarily protect from invasions; natural borders certainly encourage people to trade and interact inside the borders.  It is the internal rough geography and terrain that protects from outside military incursions.  Once a force crosses the border then Syria is an open land all the way to Egypt. Syria, or the Near East, was continuously occupied by foreign armies: these foreign invaders had to retreat quickly or get absorbed culturally. Whatever monuments, constructions, temples, sport arena, or scholarly works that were attributed to invading nations (Persia, Egypt, Greek, Rome, or Arab) are basically the work of the Near Eastern civilization, their scholars, their craftsmen, and their adventurous business acumen.

            The City-States in the Near East (Tyr, Sidon, Byblos, Ugharit, Mary …) competed in commerce and trade but never attacked one another militarily.  In Greece, City-States frequently waged military wars against one another.  The Near Eastern people adopted defensive strategy; even Carthage in its apogee refrained to antagonize Rome militarily.

            Egypt and Persia frequent invasions in the Near East did not last long.  The Greek were absorbed: what Europe claim as Greek civilization is nothing less than the civilization of the Greek writing Syrians who spoke Aramaic.  Rome was finally absorbed: the Roman Laws are of the legal minds from the school of Beirut and the latest Emperors were born, raised, and educated in Syria. The Byzantium Empire was fundamentally a Near Eastern Empire.  The Arabs from the Arabic Peninsula were absorbed when Damascus was selected as Capital during the Umayyad Dynasty; the Arabs were absorbed by the Persian civilization when the capital shifted to Baghdad.  The Mogul retreated quickly but established long lasting Empires in India and Afghanistan. The Ottoman conquered this land and could not be absorbed: the Syrian people were already exhausted from many years of successive invasions, religious obscurantism, and immigration by scholars to greener pastures.  France and England retreated within two decades.  Israel failed to retreat on time and is now being absorbed as Near Eastern regardless of Israel attempts to seeking European image.

            Consequently, failing to writing a draft on a possible administrative program for the Syrian Nation opened the door to abstract concept instead of working out negotiation and dialogue on pragmatic matters that concerned the people.

Nietzsche’s “Christianity is a carbon copy of Judaism”, (Part 5, March 6, 2009)

Nietzsche said about his rational style: “Honest men do not exhibit their reasons by argumentation. What needs to be demonstrated is not worth the effort” He could not feign cold and impersonal objectivity.

He regarded the Socratic method of rational argumentation as “symbol of degeneracy”, a powerful poison that altered “the Greeks’ taste”. 

 

Since thoughts are required to generate ideas, and act on the written thought, Nietzsche demands from his readers to stimulate the value of patience in reading his works.

Philology, in a period when we read a lot, is the art of learning and teaching how to read.  We need to meditate half an hour on a paragraph; this habit has all the merit for interpreting aphorism”.  Nietzsche does write in order to be listened to and not to be discussed.

Nietzsche displaces the question of truth to the “value of truth“; and thus,

moral intentions, or the systems of value judgments in relation to the conditions of existence, constitute the germ from which the entire plant grew”. Consequently, the method of Nietzsche is to uncover the origin and the true genesis of the values disseminated by the philosophers, the preachers, and the prophets.

The free spirit should analyze the genealogy of values since “Truth is this type of error without which a certain type of living species would not know how to live. From life perspective, it is how we perceive values that all depend in the final analyzes” 

Amoral Nietzsche is a kind of hyper-moralist since he intends to free mankind of the poisons that himself secrete; poisons such as the value systems diffused in “symbols, masks, sickness, hypocrisy, misunderstanding, cause, remedy, stimulant, and poison.”

For Nietzsche, Christianity, and in general, religions and their sacerdotal caste systems are characterized by stifling and oppressing societies. In order to criticize Judaism and then Christianism Nietzsche had first to laud the origins of Judaism.

Nietzsche considered the Old Testament as a work of art “where we find men, things, and words in a style so grandiose that the Latin and Greek literature have nothing to lay upon it”.  (Actually, the written style of the Old Testament is the Levantine style, this Near-Eastern region on the east of the Mediterranean Sea and west of the Tiger River in Iraq.  The stories recount the customs and traditions of this homogeneous people in the Near East for thousand of years, sharing the Aramaic language and the same religion, sets of structured Gods, architecture of the temples, and mythical stories of the Land).

Nietzsche went as far as writing that the Jews “are the most remarkable people in the universal history to whom we owe the most influential moral law in the world” before the Jewish sacerdotal hierarchies transformed the religion into an instrument of interpreting happiness as a recompense, and misfortune as sin punishable for the disobedience toward God.  

(Actually, the moral values are the one of the Levant, and the horror war stories and genocides committed against Canaan and the Philistines are pure fictional stories that the Jewish scholars in Alexandria of 200 BC decided to attach to the history of the Levant in order to create for the Jews a place under the sun…

The psalms of David and Solomon are carbon copies of the psalms of the Land, from Babylon, to Canaan, to Assyria, and the religion of the Middle East, written over 2,000 years before the first Jewish scribe wrote the first chapters in Alexandria around 200 BC.)

For Nietzsche, Christianity emulated the worst kind of religious philosophy that the Jewish sacerdotal caste ended practicing and enforcing upon society, a carbon copy of the seriously altered Judaism.

Nietzsche considers that Christianity was conceived as the art of lying piously and has been perfected through many centuries of serious training techniques. Nietzsche claims that “Sin, as is felt wherever Christianity dominated, is a Jewish invention, a moral for slaves, and thus, Christianity endeavored to spread Judaism around the world”.

Note 1: I think that Christianity in Byzantium and Medieval Christianity in Europe tried to distance itself from Judaism on political ground by adopting pagan ceremonies, pomp, and symbols. The reformists of Luther, Protestants, and Calvinists steered Christianity back to the fold of Judaism.

I have read and published many book reviews and articles on early Christian sects. I have to concur that the early Christian sects were fundamental in disseminating Jewish customs, traditions, and laws.  They opened the way for Judaism to penetrate many “gentile” countries. 

A Jewish Kingdom Kazakh was established in the Caucasus by converted Jews (Ashkenazi) that had no origin with Near Eastern Jews (Sephardic). These Ashkenazi expanded to Central Europe, Russia, and Germany after their Kingdom was ransacked around the year 950 AC and now they established the Zionist State called Israel. 

Moslem religious sects emulated the early Christian-Jewish sects’ customs and dogmas and aided in the spread of Judaism even further toward East Asia.

 

Note 2: As Anti-Semitism was understood in the early 20th century, Nietzsche was not anti-Semite.  He lambasted this wave in Europe as “muddle and stupidity in the spirit, and conscience of Germany press that are leading the Jews to the slaughterhouse as a scapegoat in order to absolve all the public and private malaise”.  Nietzsche also blamed vigorously the wedding of his sister to an anti-Semitic leader. 

He wrote: “it fills me with melancholy and bitterness.  It is a question of honor for me to have a clear and neat stand against anti-Semitic attitudes and activities.  I fear and have great repulsion that this party might use of my reputation and my name for their own cause.” 

Nietzsche position is consistent with his quest to return to the original values that glorify life before the sacerdotal castes high-jacked the religious institutions and altered the moral values to enslave man.

 

Note 3: The Zionist State of Israel has been pressuring the world community to adopting a ridiculous definition of anti-Semitism: any State or individual that criticizes the Zionist genocide and apartheid policies against the Palestinian people should be labeled anti-Semite.  The USA, France, and Italy’s Berlusconi are slipping toward that dangerous path and trying hard to resist a vigorous denouncement of the recent Israeli’s genocide war in Gaza.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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