Sunday, August 17, 2014

To me the teachings about the Bible and salvation were simple.

It wasn't just a matter of memorizing the ten commandments or saying the rosary, it was more complicated. Jesus lived in a world with dynamics and I wanted to understand the impacts of him and on him of the world he lived in.

This is a map of "The Levant" in case anyone wanted to know. It is a geographical reference. There is always unrest in that small patch of land.

My upbringing was Roman Catholic. I'll tell you how devout my father was; he got married on the Feast Day of St. Thomas. My father's first name was Thomas. His family was very Catholic. 

From an early age I rejected that intense focus on religion. I would take fainting spells in church for as emotional it was to me. He was a great provider and a doting father, but, obviously his devotions got in the way of a sincerely close relationship. 

But, to me when teachers talked about the saints and the like, they were real people. I always considered them real and not imaginary or too holy to consider their lives and how they lived them.

Growing up and putting religious teachings into perspective was easy. When I was a student in primary and secondary school, history was mandatory in every grade. So, when I learned about Jesus, he lived. He lived in the history I learned about.

He was a martyr. He believed in his thoughts and he liked to bring change to the lives of others. He accepted people as they were and sought to bring them a new spiritual awareness that would increase the dignity of their lives. 

Spirituality is what makes everyday a day for living. Spirituality can take many forms and to that end there are many ways of thinking, creating values and living. Jesus provided a new spirituality to people and they bonded with it. It was probably very romantic and he obviously charismatic. 

Spirituality is powerful and the devotion the followers of Jesus carried with them proved to be powerful enough to draw an army from far, far away into a foreign land to control the people motivated away from admiring the Roman Emperor.

I wanted to take time to put a perspective on this mixture of god and religion with government and politics the USA has gone through over the past decade. It isn't healthy to focus on a particular form of spirituality as if it is the only words a government speaks in relation to religion. Religion in the First World is not governing. Religion can govern. It has rules. But, for a country with many nations of people within it's borders to carry forward any form of religion as if a national priority is simply wrong. I find the decisions of the Robert's Court heavily tainted with religious bias. I don't believe it is a healthy court for the country. 

So, there you have it. I don't think of religion as political. It really isn't. Religions have doctrines. The only time they are political is when government spending is linked to it. That is the power of government to move a nation's priorities. The taxes we pay are for the improvement of our country, the education of our children and in support of a court system that provides the individual with justice. When the USA spends it's money biased to faith and other doctrine besides our constitution the country won't survive. When the USA bends toward faith it is ostracizing the values of other citizens not so inclined and in that insults the dignity and integrity of their lives. It plays out in social situations that are dangerous.

I guess the take away from all this is: When politicians quote scripture they are most probably using it as one liners to motivate a political understanding. My understanding of the Bible is that the words, sentences and paragraphs were never meant for one liners, they were meant for understanding. I can't image any author of any book of the Bible feeling proud of the use of their words for a political byline.

Jesus wanted to change people's lives for the better. He never entered into war regardless of the chronic upheaval and wars that surrounded him. He was a man of peace. I think he liked luxury and the facility that provided it. Luxury was comfort and comfort is what provides the ability to learn. It was not unusual for any society to find comfort and begin their endeavors into philosophy. That reality spans every empire or nation that has existed.

Jesus, to my way of thinking, was a fairly clever man who espoused his ideas and principles to those around him and out of that grew a new direction for spirituality. His friends, family and those in a very tight circle were his most devoted followers. Interesting. Out of a group of religiously drenched people came a new spirituality that burgeoned a new Roman Empire east of Italy. Powerful. 

Jesus' life was a turning point for him, those that most loved him and the world he lived in. He was a king maker. He was a revolutionary. He was a civil rights leader. He lived and died for what he believed and wanted for the world. It happened. It didn't happen in his life, but, it happened in the span of what would have been a normal life span. He was a radical and people loved it. He changed the world and over 2000 years later the values he taught survive. 

When his power is put into context and the full weight of his life is measured, he is by far the most intense movement that carried forward from a birth in a stable. It is nothing to play with and is sure doesn't belong on a political stage.

Judas Iscariot, the betrayer apostle.

One of Jesus' original 12 disciples. Judas Iscariot traveled with Jesus and studied under him for three years. He went with the other 11 when Jesus sent them to preach the gospel, cast out demons and heal the sick.

Now, I don't know what went wrong, but, maybe he wasn't good at casting out demons or something, but, he soured on this whole thing about Jesus being the son of God. 

Judas Iscariot son of Simon of Gerioth was a Judaean. He is believed to come from Hebron the town south of Jerusalem and a man of high character.

Judas seemed to go his own way when Mary of Bethany poured “a pound of costly ointment to anoint the feet of Jesus and then wipe them with her hair. It was the best, most expensive quality of spikenard.

Spikenard is on the coat of arms of Pope Francis. The statement under the emblem states: By having mercy and by choosing.  

Judas wanted to know “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”

Christ rebuked him for his miserliness: “Let her alone . . . . The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me” (John 12: 3-8). 

When Christ praised Mary Magdalen as a woman who “hath loved much” despite her sins, He acknowledged this very quality of unrestrained, uninhibited giving.

It was Judas that would not apologize for his protest to Jesus and bargained with a chief priest to disclose Jesus location for 30 pieces of silver. He would kiss Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani and expose Jesus to the Romans. He would then regret his actions and seek some solace with priests as he stated he has betrayed innocent blood. The priests rejected him and he threw the silver at their feet. He filled with despair and hanged himself in a field later purchased by the Sanhedrin with his own silver. The field would later be called "The Field of Blood."

St. Simon is mentioned only once in the Bible in Matthew 13:55

13:55 - Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

In the picture St. Simon is spending time with St. Jude. But, neither were saints then.

St. Simon had two additional names Simon the Cananaen and Simon Zelotes both mean "the Zealous." He was not a member of the political party known as the Zealots.

St. Mark mentions Simon as "a brethren of the Lord" (6:3). He was Jesus first cousin. Jesus' surrogate father, Joseph was Simon's uncle and his mother the Virgin's sister. Now, that is new to me, because, in the writings of James the Lesser, Mary was the only child of her parents.

 James the Lesser, a full brother to Joseph, Simon and Jude. It is believed they were the sons of Mary Cleophas the sister of St. Joseph (Christ's foster father). Of the four brothers, three became apostles.

James the Lesser was the Bishop of Jerusalem where all the meetings took place about the circumcision problem. James would be massacred and replaced by Simon. Better to keep it in the family.

Now according to some, the community in Jerusalem was provided a divine message to leave the city. Simon would move to Pella to continue as Bishop. 

Simon is considered to have been about eight years older than Jesus.

Eastern tradition states it is believed St. Simon died of a full age after preaching and teaching in Edessa. It is Western tradition that places him in Egypt with St. Jude and the two martyred.

Vespasian was the Roman general who would become an Emperor.

But to prove how much turmoil there was in Rome, there were approximately seven Emperors during the time of Jesus.

Augustus January 16, 27 BC – August 19, 14 AD

Tiberius September 18, 14 AD – March 16, 37 AD

Caligula March 18, 37 AD – January 24, 41 AD

First Christian Church established in 50 AD

Claudius January 25/26, 41 AD – October 13, 54 AD

Nero October 13, 54 AD – June 9, 68 AD

Galba June 8, 68 AD – January 15, 69 AD

Otho January 15, 69 AD – April 16, 69 AD

Vitellius April 17, 69 AD – December 20, 69 AD

Second Temple was destroyed 70 AD

Vespasian December 21, 69 AD – June 24, 79 AD

Actually nine emperors from the time of Jesus birth until his apostles were either dead or finished their work and simply old.

...February 67, (click here) to the command against the Jewish rebellion in Judaea, the scene of two disastrous Roman defeats in the previous year. The appointment was exceptional because Judaea had never before been garrisoned by a legionary army, and Vespasian was given three legions with a large force of auxiliary troops. For such an appointment Vespasian was regarded as a safe man—a highly competent general but one whose humble origins made it almost inconceivable that he would challenge Nero’s government should he win victories. As long as Nero was alive, this diagnosis was surely right. Vespasian conducted two successful campaigns in 67 and 68, winning almost all Judaea except Jerusalem. But on Nero’s death in June 68 he stopped fighting....

The currency of Rome looked a great deal like the one above with the bust of the Emperor. The currency is really the reason Rome commanded a ruling presence for so long. The Roman Legions were on the Dole. As long as they were paid, they were loyal. In order to keep the interest of the legions and to attract new members the pay was chronically an issue. Eventually, the Roman ruling class in Italy would run out of money and the Germanic tribes began to plunder them. Then the invasions were becoming more and more common and even the citizens of Rome began to destroy the city for their own wealth. This was the time Eastern Rome became the fortress to the Empire. But, it was also the time of the spread of monotheism.

To better understand the enslavement of the Jews...

...there is the battle/siege of Jerusalem.

In the year 66 AD (click here) the Jews of Judea rebelled against their Roman masters. In response, the Emperor Nero dispatched an army under the generalship of Vespasian to restore order. By the year 68, resistance in the northern part of the province had been eradicated and the Romans turned their full attention to the subjugation of Jerusalem....

By 66 AD, most of the teaching and preaching had already taken place and Jerusalem was a Jewish city. I just wanted to make it clear, Jesus and his apostles were very successful in bringing a new vitality to a religious movement that would spawn strong resistance against a Roman legion. The siege of Jerusalem would last four years.

It isn't as though the women of the Bible were all about babies.

Mary Magdalene traveled with Jesus.

When studying women in relation to religion, it is strongly held there was a change from the women during Jesus life. He changed the covenant with God. He changed it for men and women. 

Mary Magdalene is the second most revered woman in the Bible. The first being Mary the Virgin, mother of Jesus. 

Mary Magdalene tops the list of women when there is a passage about women. In the New Testament. She sort of epitomizes/perfects the 'new woman' under a new covenant. The role model if you will.

This puts it into context.

...How the past is remembered, (click here) how sexual desire is domesticated, how men and women negotiate their separate impulses; how power inevitably seeks sanctification, how tradition becomes authoritative, how revolutions are co-opted; how fallibility is reckoned with, and how sweet devotion can be made to serve violent domination—all these cultural questions helped shape the story of the woman who befriended Jesus of Nazareth....

Mary Magdalene provides impetus to other women to cast off their old selves and find a new way of walking and talking to better align with the new faith.

Mary Magdalene is a consort to Jesus. He allows her frailties to be on exhibition to allow the growth of her own devotion. She is one of the women present when he is crucified and at his resurrection.

There is little discussion of her background. She is just there. She reforms her self, but, it was easy to do. She was provided for while among the company of Jesus. The women of the time were chattel. They were dependent on husbands and sons. If they were alone or cast out of a house they found work being prostitutes. Prostitutes were not necessarily scorned. They did not have the social status of a wife, but, they weren't really an outcast.

In that light Mary Magdalene was that transformer of women. 

And yes there are academic studies of women within the practice of faith and their status and what they meant in that belief. 

The Hasmoneam Dynasty

Just as a point of reference, all the activities that define the Jewish faith does take place in this region of the world. Until the modern day when Israel was created, the land was dominated by empire after empire.

...Following further (click here) Hasmonean victories (147 BCE), the Seleucids restored autonomy to Judea, as the Land of Israel was now called, and, with the collapse of the Seleucid kingdom (129 BCE), Jewish independence was again achieved. Under the Hasmonean dynasty, which lasted about 80 years, the kingdom regained boundaries not far short of Solomon's realm, political consolidation under Jewish rule was attained and Jewish life flourished....

The Second Temple ends.

The Second Temple was from approximately 586 BCE to 70 AD. There is some differences in the time frame or the end of the first temple and the beginning of the second. But, basically there was a change in the status of Hebrews around the middle of the 500 BCE to 600 BCE.

...Because of these unrests (click here) on 39 AD Romans' Emperor Caligula forced Jewish King Herod Antipas and his wife Herodias into exile in Gaul (France). Then, Caligula granted King Herod Antipas's territory of Galilee and Perea to King Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of King Herod "the Great", who was ruling on other part of Palestine since 37 AD. Around 39 AD Emperor Caligula announced that he was God and he wished to be worshipped throughout the Romans' territories. Emperor Caligula sent an army to place his statue inside the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. This was a disastrous order which for sure would have caused uprising in Palestine. Luckily on 41 AD Emperor Caligula was assassinated before his order to be carried out....

The time of Jesus was a time when the Hebrew religion was again undergoing a great upheaval. The world was radically changing. The Rome Empire was splitting, the Second Temple was about to be ended. The time of Christ was not really a time of consistency. It was a time of revolution. The people were ready for a new ministry and he offered it to them. There was still peril in his life. Obviously. Rome was still the authority over the life and breath of Jesus. 

The end of a strong and sustained faith doesn't occur in an instant. It occurs over time, so Jesus was in step with the peril people were facing then. He found his greatest support among the wealthier citizens as a Rabbi. 

There was a very long history of Hebrew persecution in the region where Jesus called home.

The First Temple was a time of great joy for Judaism. I am sure there is a cite that can tell it better than I. But, the First Temple of the Hebrew faith existed from 883 BCE to 586 BCE. 

...In the fourth year of his reign, (click here) 833 BCE, King Solomon found himself at peace with his neighbors and began the construction of the Temple. The site chosen by King David was the top of Mount Moriah, where Abraham had once proved his readiness to offer up his dearly beloved son in obedience to G‑d's command....

It would be the Babylonians that would destroy the First Temple. It is interesting stuff if one wants to understand the momentum of history.

St. Matthew

St. Matthew also known as Levi in the books of Mark and Luke. Matthew means "gift of Yehveh." Yehveh (Yehweh) is among the earliest books of the Jewish faith and a name for God. Ultimately, at least that is what I was taught that there is no real word for God. There is no vocabulary. Yehvey is a pathetic expression by human beings to express their concept of God.

In the picture he is inspired by an angle when he writes.

Get this, Matthew was a tax collector for Rome. He collected taxes for a place called Capernaum. Guess where Capernaum is geographically? Capernaum is on the Sea of Gallalee. The people of Capernaum mostly held him in contempt. That isn't new for a tax collector. I'd think Matthew was a rather wealthy fellow. Jesus had no regard for public opinion. I would that rather obvious given the fact he scoffed at the power of Rome. But, when it came to Matthew I can understand why he saw him as a great attribute to his cause. He ran across Matthew and stated, ""Follow me, And he arose and followed him." Matthew (9:9-10).

Matthew was a rather powerful man. He didn't just collect taxes for Rome, he also traded in goods needed by Rome's Legions/military. He managed the collection of port duties, and oversaw public building projects. He was not only wealthy, but, also powerful.

Matthew wrote his book in Aramaic. The Jewish converts spoke that language. He called the teachings to coverts "The Faith of Judaea." He first taught the communities of Palestine. There is no complete record of the area of the world he taught, but, there are some notations he was in Ethiopia. It is also believed he taught the nations of the east such as Parthia and Persia (Iran). 

Parthis is a difficult definition in this time in Earth's history. Historically there is an empire that spans most of the Middle East, but, it occurs much later, about 150 to 175 years later. But, that sort of gives the idea of where he was when he taught. Anytime there is a mention of Persia that is Iran as it is today.

Matthew sincerely and profoundly believed Jesus was the promise to the Messianic Kingdom. He was also a disciple of St. John the Baptist whom is not an apostle. Matthew even falls back into Judaism at one time. That is understandable. He longs for people. He wants to bring them forward in their beliefs, but, he also longs for the life he had.

I found this rather interesting. Matthew didn't leave the area of his birth until Jesus was persecuted by Herod. When reading the text of the Christian Bible there is opposition to Herod, but, that same point of time in the Hebrew text Herod is an agreeable figure. There was a profound parting of the ways with the teachings of Jesus. Remember though Rome split at that time and the Eastern Rome Empire would become very powerful and in majority rejected polytheism. There was a lot going on and separation of ethnicities into autonomous nations of 'belief.'

The best departure by Matthew falls around the Council of Jerusalem. It was a time of new rules and new directions. Literally and figuratively. This was after the death of Jesus and in the years of 42 AD to 50 AD. Paul would build the first church in 50 AD. Interestingly, while Paul is not an apostle in the Catholic Church he is widely recognized Episcopal church. Schisms.

Jerusalem is still intact when Matthew writes his Gospels. The destruction of the city would come about 70 AD. So, from his writings it is fairly certain he and Paul and Peter were sort of together and on the same page in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

He is honored as a martyr but nothing is known of his death. It sincerely is not known if he lived a full life. He may have. He was favored by Rome. He was well known by Rome and for the most part Rome took care of it's own regardless of any activity otherwise. Romans were part gods. They were of pure blood. Therefore those that aided their ruling class were also elevated in social status. 

St. Thomas

St. Thomas is considered a Galilean although there is very little stated about his background. He was also known as Didymus, "The Twin" which is also the meaning of Thomas.

He was a Jew. He was also rather brave and dedicated to the message Jesus was bringing to the world as they knew it. When mounting hostilities were growing that would place Jesus life in danger he asked the apostles to travel with him.

Thomas was not with the other apostles when Jesus appeared before them after his crucifixion and death. Thomas refused to believe the revelations of the others unless he was able to see and put his hand in the wounds in Jesus side and in the nail wounds of his hands. Thomas was considered the doubter, hence the expression "Doubting Thomas."

Jesus would appear to the apostles eight days later and Thomas was present. Jesus stated he should make the tests he wishes, but, faith is not about proof. A group of in the Malabar coast of India named "the Christians of St. Thomas" claims he evangelized them and in that region of the world. 

It would seem after the weeks of Jesus resurrection and reappearance the Apostles would disperse and travel to evangelize. Pretty interesting really when one realizes there were only twelve apostles. They found themselves in different places and never really crossing paths or returning to a common place.

Thomas went to teach the Parthians, Medes, and Persians. He final destination would be
India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar coast. The region still boasts a large native population calling themselves "Christians of St. Thomas."  It is stated Thomas was martyred in 72 A.D. in Madras and buried in Mylapore. His feast day is July 3rd.

The Malabar Coast of India is on it's southeastern tip. It extends about 150 - 160 miles north from the southern tip. It is famous for trade routes. Here again we find an apostle of Jesus in a wealthier port cities. The methods of the apostles are in many instances predictable. They land in a foreign port, find those of influence and begin to teach them of the words of Jesus. 

CE is an abbreviation for "Common Era." Some would say Chrisitan Era, but, it is the same as AD, Anno Domini ("in the Year of Our Lord"). But, BCE means Before Common Era, or Before Christian Era or Before Current Era. I don't really understand why it is called Before the Current Era. There is definitely a turning point and it was the dawn of a new religion called Christianity. Those that depart from that hold onto their faith as Hebrews and don't really have a reference to time in relation to Jesus. The Hebrew calendar states it is 5774. 
It is always forever. Somehow, every belief system promises we will live forever. Love longs for forever. An interesting paradigm, isn't it? 

I've been waiting forever...

That silly dog will forever chase cars.

He's forever asking silly questions.

All those sentences are a lie. We know they are a lie, but, yet we accept them as a reasonable expression of our exasperating set of circumstances.

It's Sunday Night

Forever by Whitney Wolanin (click here for official website)

Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh
I want to be with you forever
And I know Oh Oh
Nothing lasts forever

Who knows what happens at the end
I'm not sure what I believe
But I want you to hold my hand
Follow the light that we can't see

Cause when I wake up 
You're in my dreams
There's no going back
No Guarantees

Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh
I want to be with you forever
And I know Oh Oh
Nothing lasts forever

I will love you 
Like there is no end 
Would you hold me
Til there is nothing left

Cause oh, oh, oh, oh
I want to be with you forever 
I can read you like a book
Your words are the versus that I need
You know my life with just one look

I'm you new set of beliefs
Cause when there is no hope and silence falls
I will be the one to sing you home

Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh
I want to be with you forever
And I know Oh Oh
Nothing lasts forever

I will love you 
Like there is no end 
Would you hold me
Til there is nothing left

Cause Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh
I want to be with you forever

Oh, Oh, Oh
Oh, Oh, Oh
I want to be with you forever

Oh, Oh, Oh
Oh, Oh, Oh
Oh, Oh, Oh

Cause when there is no hope and silence falls
I will be the one to sing you home

Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh
I want to be with you forever
And I know Oh Oh
Nothing lasts forever

Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh
I want to be with you forever
And I know Oh Oh
Nothing lasts forever

I will love you like there is no end
Would you hold me like there is nothing left
Cause Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh
I want to be with you forever

Oh, Oh, Oh
Oh, Oh, Oh
Oh, Oh, Oh
I want to be with you forever

Oh, Oh, Oh
Oh, Oh, Oh
I want to be with you forever

Oh, Oh, Oh
Oh, Oh, Oh
I want to be with you forever
I'll be along shortly.

Hamas Ceasefire Talks come to the USA!

The Black Folks in Ferguson, Missouri don't qualify as Americans to carry on the way they do.

The Black Folks in Ferguson are simply protesting night after night to rob and plunder the city businesses that never deserved any anger from them.

The Black Folks in Ferguson are similar to Hamas. They have to behave right and live up to standards set by others in order to receive any PROPER attention to their complaints.

So, as long as the police are facing Hamas in the USA, by damn it, they are going to have military preparedness from Homeland Security.

Perry and the US Senate GOP are guilty of abuse of power and coersion.

There are minimally ethic violations throughout, but, what is most troubling is the Republican Party acts as a unified group to intimidate 'the process' of governing under the USA Constitution. This isn't about a party line vote, it is about federally elected Senators acting to force a specific outcome in a state. That is use of federal authority outside it's right to do so. 

August 15, 2014

...That same month, (click here) a liberal watchdog group, Texans for Public Justice, filed a complaint against Perry, accusing him of abuse of official capacity, bribery, and coercion of a public servant. The judge appointed as prosecutor on the case Michael McCrum, who said “I cannot elaborate on what exactly is concerning me…But I can tell you I am very concerned about certain aspects of what happened here.” McCrum was nominated to be the United States Attorney in West Texas, but withdrew from consideration after Republicans in the U.S. Senate held up his nomination.
The indictment claims Perry violated two laws, the first of which prohibits public servants from consciously engaging in “misuse [of] government property, services, personnel, or any other things of value belonging to the government that has come to the public servants custody or possession by virtue of the public servant’s office or employment.” And the second of which bans coercion to influence “or attempt to influence” public officials in either “a specific exercise of his official power or a specific performance of his official duty” or “to violate the public servants known legal duty.”...

Be defunding an entire department Perry was inhibiting the outcomes of lawful governing processes. He was preventing the progression of justice. He is a party after the fact. The defunding prevents due process and 'the people' are not served.

What is the Criminal Process? (click here)

Why is it police can act against citizens in Ferguson, but, not Arizona?

August 17, 2014
VOA News

...On Friday, (click here) Police Chief Thomas Jackson said the officer who shot Brown initially stopped him because the teenager was blocking traffic as he walked down the street.  Police later said the officer did not know Brown was a robbery suspect....

The police have a right to kill citizens because they are unarmed walking down the street and blocking traffic? Really? There was no threat to Darren Wilson. A police officer can just kill if a black teenager isn't listening? Excuse me? Mr. Wilson needs to be charged and tried.

White America is waiting for the Black Folks to behave. The entire days of demonstration is completely lost while the threat to young black men continues.

White America believes police are above the law as long as they are safe and the police are doing their job. It is what White America pays for. They pay for the police to do their jobs. Good to know they are doing it. The soldiers on the streets have to be safe in order to do that job.