Hanging with my Homies. In defense of Normal Christians™ .

One of the hallmarks of Christianity has always been its inability to agree on matters of doctrine which has resulted in endless schisms throughout its history.

The ensuing internecine fights have all too frequently escalated into full blown warfare where opposing sects  have been hell-bent (sic) on annihilating each other.

Religion has a filthy habit of turning people into sects maniacs. 

In some instances success was almost 100%. Consider the Cathars, which is a perfect example from history where Normal Christians™ allowed heretics to run amuck.

Where they were unable to engage in open warfare, straightforward persecution was a quite acceptable substitute and this eventually led to large numbers of people fleeing the shores of Europe to America where they could pursue the correct interpretation of their religion without fear of being brutalized or burned alive by the heretics that drove them from their homelands.

Once there, all they had to do was decimate the indigenous peoples who refused to convert, acquire lots of human slaves to work the land, and they could celebrate God in relative piece and quiet.

Thank the individual-interpretation-of-the-Christian-god that Christians these days are not engaged in open warfare against each other – there are the Muslims for this.

However, Christians still enjoy battling over doctrine and this is most evident regarding the subject of Creation.

Of course, all Christians believe in Creation with a capital C and this denotes a Creator – also with a capital C whose name is God. Actually his name is Yahweh, but they prefer not to use this term too often as Yahweh was originally a Canaanite deity who the Israelites adopted and transmogrified to suit their eventual preference for monotheism.

No, what Genuine Christians™ specifically object about Creation is Young Earth Creationists.

This is the branch of Christian belief that considers the earth to be is around 6000 years old and the bible in its original form is the really literal, more literal than what other Christians believe Word of God. Thus, fig leaves really were once a Fashion Statement and  dinosaurs really did go on Noah’s ark.

For Normal Christians™ – those that accept evolution and believe the earth is billions of years old – Young Earth Creationists are the pebble in their shoe of reality; the Over the Edge nutters who drive all sane Christians round the bend. Or, perhaps even further round the bend?

The Pope himself thinks these people are off the chart.

And who would disagree? Not I!

(You gotta hang your hat with the man in the dress, right?)

I say we stand up for Normal Christians™ ; those Christians who believe a smelly, 1st century itinerant, eschatological rabbi and Lake Tiberius pedestrian who came back from the dead, and made the universe in his Yahweh guise, and fight these Young Earth Creationists and stamp out this silliness once and for all to ensure a return to the days when only Normal,Truthful and Factual Christian beliefs governed our lives.

Amen to that right?

Oh, and if you want to read a real interesting discussion with some super-duper interesting points raised by a super duper interesting Normal Christian™ ( named Charles) as he lambastes a Young Earth Creationist then here’s a link.

Tim Gilleand Asks: How Can All Those Scientists be Wrong? 

Ark

Leading you up the garden path. Rain Spiders.

Summer in Johannesburg means rain. And if we are fortunate, lots of it.

The rains did arrive, albeit late. We have had a few good downpours but so far, no classics. But we may yet.

With the rain come Rain Spiders. We saw out first ”Bert”, as we at the Ark’s spot affectionately call these beautiful and perfectly harmless arachnids. She was curled up in an upper corner in the shed, which we are using as a Table Tennis room. Thoroughly recommend this, by the way. Nothing like a few games of Table Tennis to put a spring in your step, smile on your face and drain all that stress away.

I didn’t have the camera with me last night, and as I thought about fetching it the heavens’ opened. The noise of heavy rain hitting the tin roof of the shed was almost deafening. By the time the rain finished Bert had disappeared.

But this afternoon, during a break from the office I wandered up to the shed and on the way passed this solitary cosmos. A slight movement caught my eye and look what I found!

A Baby Bert.

This poor thing looks as if it has been in the wars as it is missing two front legs on it’s left-hand side.

The injury didn’t seem to handicap its speed though, and it immediately dashed for cover.  It is still young and has up to twenty moults ahead. This is plenty of time to grow new limbs! The dismembering culprit was likely another, larger predator that was after a meal, so shedding these limbs may have actually saved Baby Bert’s life?

I waited.

After a few moments it reappeared and took up station in its original position and allowed me to take a few photographs.

1.rain spider 1

3.rain spider 4

4.rain spider 2a

5.Rain Spider 1a

6.Rain Spider shadow

And to give you some indication what these beauties look like when they grow up …

Bert 7

bert a (2)

With outstretched legs, this one was slightly larger than my hand.

for Sonel

The Big Bang Theory explained.

Sheldon Cooper is ‘real’.  I know this because I have watched every episode of the Big Bang Theory. At least twice.

In fact Sheldon is more real than Jesus of Nazareth. Oh yes indeed.

He might not be more real than an ancient preacher named Yeshua.

But then, like Jim Parsons who is claimed to be the man/actor behind Sheldon Cooper, I have never met Yeshua.

Noone has. And at least I have actually seen Sheldon Cooper. I have also heard his voice. I know what he is like. And with the aid of technology I can watch and learn all about him at any time I like.

I have no idea about Jesus of Nazareth. I only have the highly stylized sometime fraudulent writings of four anonymously written gospels. Four tracts that describe an individual and make such outrageous claims that, by any other standards, would only be believed by a fool, or someone gullible.

And I am most certainly not a fool. Which is why I know that Sheldon Cooper is simply a character in a Sit-Com. A narrative construct. And that is as far as his reality goes.

Which brings us to the bible.

Before the advent of the printing press transmission of the story of this supposed wonder worker; erstwhile Son of the god with a capital ‘G’ was done simply by word of mouth.

Later, things were written down, on papyrus, for example, in the form of a scroll.

It wasn’t until the fourth century that anything approaching a bible was put together under the direction of Emperor Constantine.

Until then, it was pretty much a case of ‘anything goes’ and there were myriad of supposed ‘’Holy Writings’’ and various ‘’gospels” in circulation.

But it was obvious to those in power that uniformity was the key.

Once this was established; rough edges sanded off, elaborated, embossed and polished, the consolidated ‘’Word’’ could be exported to all corners of the Roman Empire.

One god, with a capital ‘G’, and one Word.

What had, up to this point, seemed just out of arms’ reach: a relatively harmonious Empire, was now a distinct possibility and was right there, admittedly on the point of the short sword being held by that very arm, but within reach nonetheless.

Of course, in the beginning, a certain amount of culling was necessary – inevitable in fact, not least among Christians themselves. Not everyone embraced this new god with a capital G and the consolidated Word. In fact, it turned out that a lot more culling was required and the consolidated word was not so set in stone as was first thought.

However, eventually, a bible was produced. I say a bible because what was read in those far off days is not what the average indoctrinated Christian reads today. And when I say read I am stretching a metaphor to almost breaking point as most so-called Christians do not or have not, in fact, read the bible.

Oh, they may have read bits and pieces – but read it all? Studied it? Researched it? Understood it?

I can say with almost absolute certainty that the percentage of Christians who have actually read the bible is minute.

And this is in a day and age when literacy rates are quite high compared to the days when the Roman Emperor Constantine in collusion with the Catholic Church was busy inventing a religion.

So for who was the bible, this supposed Word of a god with a capital ‘G’ intended?

Not the ranks of the plebians or other heathens in far off lands. No. The vast majority of the known world was illiterate. These hand-written bibles were intended for the sole use of high-ranking church officials, and maybe a few trusted minions.

So, in effect, the Word of a god with a capital ‘G’ was still transmitted orally. And the interpretation of this word was a solemn responsibility that still required the help of the sword, and later, an array of devices and oft times fire to maintain the integrity of this Word.

These days, things are not quite so barbaric (how I can write that with a straight face is quite a feat, believe me).

Seriously, on the face of it, the simple threat of eternal damnation and torture are often enough, providing potential acolytes are indoctrinated early on in their religious upbringing.

And of course there are the Professional Apologists.  This insidious group of liars that, with an air of unwarranted and unearned respectability will help reinforce the lies the credulous have been inculcated with.

For the Christian – whichever version – the bible was never intended to be read by the masses. For them it is simply a symbol. And this symbol is of Roman Authority. A substitute for the sword and a different version of Pax Romana. A collection of spurious literature, carefully crafted to show that their god, the one with the capital ‘G’ had authorised Roman Rule.

And this notion was taken to the world, and a lot of the world bought it.

Isn’t it time to recognise you have been duped enough and will no longer be a fool, and say; No Thanks?

Ark

How long must we put up with the lies of religion?

Occasionally I wonder what it would take for someone such as the Pope to make a formal announcement that the religion of Christianity is simply bogus; a belief system built upon a foundation of delusion and lies. But of course, he would not likely ever do that.

Note that, I did not say never .

There are many hundreds of professional clergy of all denominations and religions walking away from their ”faith” every year. There are one or two former ministers blogging right here on Word Press and for professional Christian clergy who have come to realise the  fraudulent nature of their profession there is  the Clergy Project.

http://clergyproject.org/

Their tag line ….

Are you a religious professional who no longer
holds to supernatural beliefs?

Says it all I reckon, don’t you?

The reality of world religion, and especially the two major ones that seem to occupy so  much of World Headlines, Christianity and Islam, is that, the former is firmly rooted in the Bronze Age, and wants to keep us there, while the latter wants to drag us back to the Stone Age, both using as much  modern methods, including terrorism with up to date weapons, as they can get their filthy, disgusting hands on.

What must be done to break this merry-go-round of vile insanity?

Difficult call. But I will say this: while religion is given a ”free pass” and not obliged to put up or push off, then it will be around considerably longer than normal people would wish.

So for those who have already admitted the lies they believed, and especially if you are a former religious professional, including any apologists but are still ”hiding”, perhaps it’s time  to pull up a ‘soap box’ and begin to expose the lies, and not just tell us why you stopped believing but also – and perhaps this is even more important -how budding religious professionals are groomed in the art of corruption and lying?

Ark.

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.

Imagem 028

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.

Imagem 011

 

cspider 1

 

 

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.