Leading you up the garden path: Incy Wincy ….

Platyoides Scorpion Spider

The Scorpion Spider: Platyoides.

Wiki:

Platyoides is a genus of spiders belonging to the family Trochanteriidae. Its members are known as scorpion spiders and are found in sub-Saharan Africa and its islands, Madagascar, Réunion, Aldabra and the Canary Islands.

The genus is nocturnal in habit and has developed extreme flattening of the body adapted to living in narrow cracks, particularly under loose bark.

Only the second time I have ever seen this species so it was quite a treat.

I noticed this one chilling on the tiles in my office and managed one photograph before it moved like lightening and disappeared under a filing cabinet.

Leading you up the garden path. Whats the buzz?

megachile 3

This gorgeous bee is  a female Megachile. I snapped her buzzing around the gazanias in the late afternoon sun on the east side of the garden. You can plainly see her underside is covered in pollen, picked up while weaving her way back and forth over the gazania.

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Megachile bee 40

Megachile bee 1

And in one of the yellow daisies right next to the gazanias I spotted this tiny green crab spider.

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How Christianity was brought to the World….maybe.

Re-blog.  An oldie.

The centurion acknowledged the messenger with a curt nod, turned and entered the inner sanctum of the tent.

A senior army officer stood washing his hands at one of the numerous hand basins.

‘General?” the centurion said.

‘Yes, Antoninus.’

‘He’s here,sir,’ the centurion announced.

‘Already? He must be exhausted. That was a long ride. Has he been fed and watered? Him, I mean, not the horse,’ the General chuckled.

‘He has been offered food and drink, sir. He took a little wine, but  says he will eat after he’s seen the Emperor.’

The centurion shrugged, as if to suggest: Not my problem if some stupid old religious idiot wants to die on his feet.

The general smiled as if reading Antoninus’ thoughts.

‘Have him sent through, then. We can’t have the martyrdom of yet another follower of Chrestus on our conscious, can we? Especially not through starvation.’

‘Yes, sir!’ Antoninus grinned back at his senior officer then turned to fetch the visitor.

*

‘How are you, old friend?’ enquired the Emperor, embracing the old man.

‘Tired, my lord. Very tired. But made stronger by the presence of the Almighty. He upholds us all.’

‘Indeed he does, indeed he does,’ Constantine replied solemnly.

There were a few moments introspection from both men, before the Emperor took Eusebius by the elbow and guided him to a seat, at the table.

Dismissing several slaves, Constantine proceeded to fill a gold platter with food then filled a goblet with wine which he put before the old man.

After five minutes devoted solely to eating and drinking, Eusebius wiped his mouth on a cloth napkin then washed his hands in a hand basin of lemon water.

‘I can guarantee the support of every Bishop in the east. The west will follow. Why would they not? A Christian empire. My God! It is more than they could have ever dreamed of. Diocletian almost broke us. We cannot take another monster.’

Constantine’s eyes narrowed in the wan light.

‘Well, there is still the matter of my brother-in-law to take care of first.’

‘God will guide you, Constantine. You will prevail.’

Constantine smiled at the familiarity, thinking: He better you old fool. He damn-well better.

‘General? What news of Maxentius?’

‘We will not have to endure a siege of Rome after all, sir. Even now he readies his troops outside the city.’

‘Good. He will try to prevent us crossing the Tiber, but that will be his downfall.

The men are ready?’

‘Yes, sir. Dissent amongst Maxentius ranks has already been sown. It will be like having our own Trojan horse.’

Constantine laughed.

‘Bless the Greeks, eh, Eusebius?’

Eusebius smiled and nodded.

‘When I take the field tomorrow I shall claim the victory in the name of Chrestus. And I want a cross painted on every soldier’s shield before we go into battle. Tell the troops I have had a vision.’

‘Yes, sir,’ the general replied.

Constantine clapped his hands. Two slaves entered.

‘Go, now my old friend. Rest. Sleep. Tomorrow you shall have your Christian empire.

Eusebius left, guided out of the Emperor’s tent by the slaves.

‘I wonder what he was like, eh?’

‘Excuse me, sir?’

‘This Chrestus. The prophet that Eusebius goes on about.’

‘Ah. Never held much stock in it, to be honest, sir. One god is as good another. If it brings stability to the empire I’d worship a toad.’

Constantine smiled.

‘But a toad will not likely have so many followers. And none prepared to die in its name. And of course, there are the taxes.  I mean, tribute, to consider.’ Constantine winked.

‘When this is over, general, how would you like to retire to a nice villa in Spain?’

‘Sounds like a very pleasant idea, sir.’

‘My mother has expressed a desire to visit Jerusalem. Maybe she might find the cross, eh, general?’

‘I will send word to ensure she does, sir,’ the general replied, straight-faced.

‘Wonderful. Now I think I shall retire. I have a vision to dream. Good night, General. God preserve us tomorrow.’

‘Any particular one, sir?’ the general asked smiling.

‘Why, general. Have you become a heathen again so soon?’

Constantine retired to his sleeping quarters. General *Tacticus bellowed with laughter as he left the tent, giving the bemused centurion a comradely slap on the shoulder.

©The Ark.

*Constantine defeated Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28th 312 to become sole emperor of the east. In 324 he attacked Licinius, eventually routing him at Adrianopole and Chrysopolis to become sole emperor of east and west, declaring Christianity the sole religion of the empire.

 * A hat tip to Terry Pratchett.

Oh, For God’s sake! “I don’t care one Iota …”

Around the 4th Century, when the Catholic Church was hard at work inventing a religion, there was a heresy called Arianism.

It was started by a church presbyter called Arius who claimed and taught that Jesus was not of the same substance (stuff) as God; that Jesus was not truly divine but a created being.

Many folks believed this and it became so popular that the orthodox church wanted it stamped out ASAP as it reduced Jesus to a demigod and thus Christianity was little more than polytheism.  Couldn’t have that, no sir!

Anyhow, at the Council of Nicea, 325 ce, called by everybody’s favourite Genuine Christian™, Constantine the Great, Arianism was declared a heresy and the Orthodox Mob issued their own creed which states that the Son (JC) is homoosiun to Partri (“of one substance of the Father”) thus declaring that he is all that the Father is: completely Divine.  Had to, I guess, otherwise Christianity would have soon gone for a burton. Shame really, but there you go.

Constantine had his son, Crispus executed. He also had his wife, Fausta murdered at the behest of his mum, Helena. Fausta was left to die in an over heated bath, effectively boiling her alive.

Oh, and the Church made Constantine a Saint too. How nice!

Ye are known by the company ye keep – gotta love them Christians, right?

So, all sorted, right? Wrong.

Arianism would not lie down and die and its adherents regrouped and lobbied Constantius II who once he became sole emperor in 350 pretty much crushed the Nicene party. Good for them right? Too true!

But you can’t keep a good myth under a bushel or whatever they say and eventually after much to-ing and fro-ing, the  Arian persecution by emperor Valens, the  Orthodox Mob consolidated. Then, in 381 at the second ecumenical council of Nicea, Emperor Theodosius I (he that made Christianity the one and only religion allowed in the Empire) helped ensure that Arianism was proscribed and a statement of faith, The Nicene Creed , was issued.

And they all lived happily ever after… let the  persecutions fun begin … tra … la … la.

So the iota?

Well, there was also another crowd who adhered to Semi –Arianism. Really, I’m not joking. These lot, however, admitted that the Son (JC) was “like” (homoiousios) the Father but not of one substance. (homoousios) with him. This doctrinal controversy revolved around two words distinguished by a single iota (ι) and gave rise to the popular expression:

“It makes not one iota of difference”.

So now you know why Jesus was deemed to be divine. Because it is written.

Here endeth the lesson.

 

 

 

Knocking on Heaven’s door. Religion does no harm. Oh,really?

Haven’t posted any fiction for a while, so I thought I’d dig out a few oldies. Please excuse any errors. 

Charlie withdrew his hand and absently rubbed his fingers together. They felt moist, almost clammy.

He looked down at David and knew the end was close.

“I’m going to phone her,” he said to the nurse who merely nodded and tried to force a smile.

“Hello?” said the tremulous voice on the other end.

“It’s me, Mary, Charlie,”

There was a pause and Charlie could hear the distinct sound of rosary beads being threaded through fingers.

“Hello, Charlie,” replied Mary, her voice now more composed.

Charlie wanted to scream down the phone at her, but knew that, even now, with David so close to death she would not respond to rage or to accusations or even pleading. He took a deep breath and calmed himself.

“He hasn’t got long,” he told her, trying to introduce a measure of gentleness into his tone.

“I will ask God for direction,” she replied.

You damn well do that, Charlie thought viciously as tears threatened to squeeze between his tightly closed eyelids and he wondered whether God would find time in his very busy schedule for a little tête-à-tête over a cup of tea. He never swore as a rule and hardly ever lost his temper but Mary always brought the worst out of him. For a moment the sound of the rosary beads seemed overly loud in the earpiece as if Mary were seeking an immediate answer from God.

“Goodbye , Charlie.”

“Goodbye, Mary,” Charlie replied, unable to keep the woodenness out of his voice.

On impulse he called her back before she put the phone down. “Mary! Wait. Mary? Are you still there?”

“Yes, Charlie, I’m here.”

“He asked me to tell you he loves you.”

Charlie thought he heard a stifled sob before the connection ended, the click of the phone sounding almost like the hammer of a pistol being cocked.

Charlie stared at the screen of his cellphone for a moment, shuddered involuntarily and then went back inside the ward.

The cruel injustice he thought mirthlessly. Here was David, dying from HIV/AIDS and not because of the ”sin” of being gay – he almost spat the words – but because of a tainted blood transfusion.

Charlie approached the bed once more. The nurse was adjusting the oxygen mask. It was like starring in a real-life version of the movie Philadelphia. They had watched that movie together, as had every gay couple no doubt, swearing what happened to the character played by Tom Hanks would never happen to them.

And how many had found /would still find themselves in exactly this situation?

The nurse nodded an acknowledgement and quietly left the room.

Charlie didn’t know what time it was. He had fallen asleep in the chair next to David’s bed. The room was in semi-darkness, lit only by a small table lamp.

David was sleeping, his shallow, tortured breathing made more audible through the acoustic effects of the oxygen mask he wore. He looked like a gross version of a fighter pilot.

The door opened and Mary stepped inside. Startled by her appearance, Charlie was at first rooted to his chair, but he quickly regained a measure of composure. Rubbing sleep from his eyes he rose to greet Mary, pulling at his disheveled clothing in a feeble attempt to appear respectable. David’s mother had this effect on people. She valued respectability above almost every other virtue. Scruffiness was to be avoided at all costs.

“So, God answered, then?” Charlie said, unable to keep the sarcasm from his voice.

“God will not be mocked, Charlie. But no, He did not answer. I went to see Father Dolun.”

A grey-haired figured stepped into the room behind Mary.

“Charlie,” the priest greeted him quietly.

Charlie offered a thin smile and took the outstretched hand.

Behind them a small cough suggested David might be waking. Charlie went over to the bed, caressed David’s forehead tenderly.

David’s eyelids fluttered open and a pathetic smile etched itself across his lips. Charlie reached for the glass of water on the night stand. Lifting the oxygen mask from David’s face he placed the palm of his hand underneath David’s neck and raised his head up to allow David to sip the water.

Mary regarded her son with a feeling of hopelessness. Charlie glanced up from administering to David and for a second he thought he saw compassion. If it was there it quickly vanished to be replaced by the severe, tight-lipped expression Charlie had come to know.

“For the love of  God, Mary, he’s your son!” Charlie pleaded.

“He has committed mortal sin. He is in Hell already,” Mary relied.

The priest laid a restraining hand on Mary’s arm that was immediately shrugged off.

“Well?” Mary spoke to Father Dolun. “He still considers himself a Catholic. Isn’t it about time you asked him?”

Charlie stepped back, too full of hurt and anger to refuse the priest as he drew close to the bedside.

“I have nothing to say, Father,” David said, “other than I forgive you. It was a long time ago. I was a young boy and … ” David’s voice trailed off.

“Forgive him?” Mary demanded. “Why should you forgive Father Dolun? What is he talking about , Charlie?

Charlie grimaced.

Father Dolun turned. His face radiating acute pain and even acuter shame.

“Mary,” the elderly priest croaked. ”I need to ask forgiveness for something.”

Behind him, David closed his eyes and sighed for the last time.

The Ark

Flared trousers and Obnoxious Bouncers.

For some reason the missus was humming an ancient refrain before dinner that she couldn’t remember the name of. Well, I have a pretty good memory for music of most sorts and immediately recognised it: Everybody Dance.

You have to be at least 25 or dyslexic to remember the band – Chic.

I was never one to go doolally over Disco. In fact the word Yuk comes to mind. Though I must confess to getting togged out in my Number Ones so’s to be able to wheedle my way past hulking bouncers into clubs; mostly to see bands, but on occasion to discos.  Discos attracted women and this was the other reason to go clubbing! But as I said, with very few exceptions I felt disco music was generally gag awful.

Chic was an exception.

Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards were two accomplished session musicians and the masterminds behind the band.

I could listen to Edwards play bass ’til the cows come home and he has been cited as a major influence by a great many bass players.

His bass line from Chic hit “Good Times” has become one of the most copied pieces of music in history, and had a huge influence on musicians of many genres when released and was the inspiration for “Another one bites the dust’ by Queen.

Sadly, he passed away in ’96 from pneumonia. 

Nile Rogers is still active, and Chic still perform.

Although the band has had myriad of vocalists, for me, their first singer is the one that always brings a fond smile.

Norma Jean Wright.  Simply irresistible.

 

 

T’ra

Ark.

 

*P.G. Rating. The Ark’sTomatoes.

*P.G. Part-Time Gardening.

I haven’t tried to grow tomatoes for years; the last attempt was a dismal failure so what homegrown toms we have had for the past few years have been small cocktail tomatoes that have grown erratically around the property of their own accord from seeds that originally appeared from goodness’ knows where?

The rear end of a bird I suspect!

Anyhow, we haven’t seen any cocktail tomatoes for a while and with the severe temperatures we’ve been having down here in Johannesburg and environs ( love that word!) and the drought conditions that have resulted in insane fruit and veg prices I decided to try and turn my hand at growing a few things.

The chillis are looking seriously hot, by the way.

Around the pond are numerous pots, some quite large,

pond

which are there primarily to act as a deterrent against Mrs. Grey Heron purloining our koi

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– and they seem to be proving effective. So far.

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But I dug out the flowers in a few pots and replaced them with tomatoe seedlings with a, ”Let’s see what happens” attitude.

As you can plainly see, they have recently begun to bear fruit.

Chuffed does not begin to describe how I feel, and when they ripen I will post a few pics in celebration of the Ark’s ”greenish” fingers.

Homegrown

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My soul is at stake … I need advice.

It is one of the mysteries of life – the human lottery if you will, that where we are born will so often determine our lives and in the case of our death our eternal soul.

Much is made of freewill by Christians yet one does not have to be that astute to realise a baby has no choice in its birth and the religion (if any) it is indoctrinated with.

The world’s major religions all claim to be the right religion.

All claim evidence yet all ( as far as I am aware) also place tremendous stock in faith.

So here’s the thing.

Christianity is a proselytizing religion and it is vital that believers at least try to convince non-believers or those who believe in other gods, or the wrong interpretation of the Christian  god as they are commanded by the character, Jesus of Nazareth.

I have no religion. My soul is apparently in grave danger of spending eternity in Hell.

This I do not want to happen. Is there a Christian out there who can offer a watertight argument for their god?

Ark.

 

 

 

Why I Care About Biblical Slavery

A deconvert and former evangelical who discusses the reasons why he cares about biblical slavery.
A truly excellent post that also exposes professional apologists for the liars they are.

”In this series, I hope I have shown that the arguments of evangelical apologists are worse than poor. They are dishonest. (Review Does the Bible Regulate the Care of Slaves? if you don’t believe me.) The worst lie is the claim that I have heard and read many times: “The Bible never condones slavery.” That lie is either ignorant or cynical — take your pick — as I showed in Did God Command Slavery, or Merely Tolerate it? Either way, professional apologists ought to know better.

This level of dishonesty on the part of Bible-advocates pervaded every single issue I looked into. I found that brand-name evangelical apologists were ignorant of readily available facts, misrepresented their opponents, twisted quotations out of context (even from the Bible!), reasoned poorly and told bald-faced lies. By contrast, the arguments from the secular side were generally better-informed, better-reasoned and much more honest.”

If you have never visited The Beagle before, I recommend you go read his blog.

 

Path of the Beagle

We finally arrive at the end of this series on biblical slavery. I’d like to tell you now why I bothered. Bible-believers don’t enslave anyone these days, so why not just be happy about that and move on? There are three reasons.

  • This has been an act of penance.
  • This serves as a window to why I left evangelical Christianity.
  • I want to make the world a better place.

Before I get to them, I want to mention a question that more than one evangelical has asked me: Why do I care about anything at all? If I’m nothing more than a bag of chemicals, why don’t I just maximize my pleasure-of-the-moment until my chemical reactions cease? I’m sorry to say that I won’t be answering that question here. It deserves its own series of posts. (Stay tuned!) [Done, here.]

An Act of Penance

For about 40…

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