Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Orthodox Christian Church

I demand freedom to pay tribute to my Idol

People are more inclined to be loyal to a saint, a shrine, or an honored Imam, or apostle.

People have need to use their senses to get connected to a spiritual entity: you cannot expect human to think exclusively on abstract notion without the intermediary of their senses of seeing a representative picture, of smelling incense, of touching a bust, or of listening to a hymn.

One God who created man and the universe is fine, but is not sufficient for man.  Several Gods doing the job is more convincing and pragmatic: specialization is highly valued.

Monotheism is a totally abstract concept that no human was yet able to feel physically loyal to a one, all encompassing God.

Ever since man descended from his tree, his prime concern was struggling for his freedom to pay tribute to his favorite Idol God.

Fear of the many dangers threatening his survival forced man to seeking a much more powerful ally to protect him and come to the rescue.  Depending on his wide spectrum of phobia, man wanted the total freedom to worship and be loyal to his “loyal” companions in times of imminent dangers.

Man would not take for granted Idols imposed upon him; he wanted his personal choices that most satisfied his psychological world.  Freedom of belief is not a modern concept; man fought all his life and for millennia for this natural right and is continuing the struggle.

I noticed lately that my dad, at each pass in front of the Virgin Mary or Mar Charbel (a Lebanese National Saint), has to touch these pictures in the house with his index, kiss his index, and then sign the cross.

Dad is 85 years old and has refrained attending mass for years.  Mother is also devoted to the Virgin and all the national female saints such as Rafqa; she never misses an occasion to get in the car or a bus going to pay tributes to shrines; she pay money, that she has not, for the Saint so that the church make “good” use of it.

Obviously, Mar Charbel is in her pantheon too, along with the newly beatified Hardini.  Interestingly, miracles have a way of occurring at election times.

In all ages, whether a religion claim to be monotheist or polytheist people end up selecting a particular idol to pay allegiance to and write ex-votos to Him in order to be cured, enjoy prosperity, safety to the family, and safe travels.

Indeed, people are loyal idolater to whom they perceive to be pretty much handy, accessible, and an excellent intermediary to the One God.

For example, in Latin America people are loyal to the Virgin Mary and cannot think of any other Saint to turn to in time of distress; thus, St. Mary of (name a city or a village), or the Virgin of (name a city or a town) and you have hundreds of Virgin Maries, tailored made to a specific locality, ready to come to the rescue.

The Greek Orthodox Church cannot think of more than three female saints to name girls at baptismal ceremonies: it must be either Mary, Ann, or Elisabeth; as for male kids you have an assortment of complicated and long Greek saints with plenty of X and Ch.

In predominantly Moslem Egypt, and generally in North Africa, you have St. Fatima, Aicha, Ali, Hussein, the Imam of the regional legal sect, or the shrine of the veneered Sheikh of a locality is paid more attention and visits to any other worshiping figures.

Pictures of Moslem saints are prohibited in public places or in mosques but that do not prevent homes to hang pictures of their preferred saint as relevant to current standards of beauty for both genders.

There is this myth that the Jewish religion is the first to adopting monotheism; it is just a myth. 

Ancient civilizations were never monotheists; they all had an overall God, nominally superior to the other demi-gods but that nobody paid much attention to or prayed to Him or even remembered asking his help in ex-votos.

God El was the all encompassing God in the Middle East as was Allah in the Arab Peninsula or Zeus for the Greeks, but He never generated a dime to tribes that had exclusive rights to his worship.

People converged to more palpable and understandable demy-gods; cities and towns adopted one of them as symbol and recognition of their trades or power.  In general, more weight was given to the “messengers of a God” (they were written in plural) than to a specific God.

Yahweh (God of thunder) was one of the Gods to the Jews after Moses introduced Him during the long crossing of Sinai and the worship of the “golden cow”: the Jews had, before and after Moses, many regional demy-Gods who did exist even if at periods they were forbidden to be worship.

Jews might have converged to a unique God in Judea in the second century BC.  Many of Canaan demy-Gods were far more beneficial and interesting than this newly created Yahweh that came into the picture during war periods. In war time, Jewish mercenaries were asked to support Baal under the banner of the dusted off Temple and bust of Yahweh.

Salomon worshiped Ashtarout (the Goddess of Sidon in Lebanon), and idol Baal had many Temples in Jerusalem while Yahweh had only one.

One common denominator to all salafist or extremist religious sects (Christian, Jewish, Moslems, or cults) is being totally peeved and obfuscated that the One True God is being sidetracked for substitutes.

Joshua offered the Jews choices of keeping Yahweh as sole God or accepting other demy-Gods.  When the Jews decided to keep exclusively a “tribal” God then Joshua ordered all strangers’ Gods destroyed. In ancient time, destroying the bust of a God didn’t mean that he no longer existed, but that the local God was to be more efficient to the survival of the tribe or community.

When Prophet Mohammad entered Mecca without a fight, after 9 years of taking Yathreb as his headquarter for his companions, he ordered all the 160 idols destroyed or effaced (pictures) save two: Allah and the Virgin Mary.

Mary was not bestowed virginity at all but she was veneered as the mother of the latest great prophet Jesus (Issa).  In Islam, idols were no longer Gods and never existed as was the case in ancient cultures.

The early Protestants erased pictures and destroyed busts of all Saints except crucified Jesus.  For the Protestants, erasing pictures of Saints didn’t mean that Saints didn’t exist but they were not that worthy to be worshiped and supplant God through the interceding process.

The most honest monotheists were the “heretic” Christian sects that the Orthodox Christian Church during the Byzantium Empire persecuted relentlessly.  Most of these sects would not even bestow a divine nature to Jesus, and Marie was not virgin by any means; no pictures or drawings were permitted for any Saints.

The farthest that these sects could indulge in is to veneer the apostle whom they claimed to have written the “true” Testament they adopted and read in.  The Nestorian sect proselytized in China and translated its Bible in Chinese in around the year 600; it built churches all along the “silk road”.  Thus, you don’t need to create saints along with pictures and busts to have the faith that travels to China.

I have noticed that:

1. centralized churches promote many saints with pictures and busts; it is a tactic to please the people so that it may enjoy total control over their temporal existence;

2. that these centralized churches inherited pagan religions aided a lot to the widespread propagation of multiple idols for each locality.

Decentralized religions have no urge to promote idols and pictures such as in Islam: it is the temporal power at every state that appoints clergies, Imams, and sheikhs.

I don’t see why all that fuss for monotheism.

If a few tribes still refuse to believe that it is earth rotating around the sun or that earth is flat, why then submerge them with an extra abstract notion?

Killing and committing suicide attacks in the name of a God is not an abstract act; this does not mean that human mind cannot reach a level of distortion that far surpasses the mere abstraction of a One God, creator of man and the universe.

Note 1:  This is a revised version of my post “Mono-idolatry (monolatry) or monotheism? (Nov. 6, 2009)

Note 2: The Christian Greek Orthodox is the church of Byzantium that persecuted the “heretic” Maronites in the year 1,000 and forced them to settle in the northern mountain chains of Lebanon. Decades later, the Maronite allied to the Church of Rome  and has been a steady ally to France since then.

These persecutions took place at a period the Moslem Arabic empire was disintegrating into small fiefdoms and Byzantium re-conquered the coastal portion in Turkey and Syria. The second crusade campaign burned Constantinople and occupied the lands of Byzantium in Turkey, Syria, all the way to Jerusalem.

Note 3: The various Protestant sects have similarity with the Wahhabi Moslem sect by discarding icons and pictures of saints in their place of worship.  The Wahhabi makes it a trend to demolish any worshiping place that is decorated with pictures, icon, and shrines, whether they are Christians or Moslems…

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:

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.




August 2020

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