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Showing posts from December, 2014

Welcome to the Universe

There are six principle components of reality that may be considered eternal. They are Dust, Gas, Ice, Fire, Light, and Darkness. Our entire reality is formed from these ingredients. The highest order  of these are Light and Darkness, which both religious and scientific authorities agree must have existed first, In The Beginning. These are followed by the three practical states of matter: Solids, Liquids, and Gases. In space, which is not darkness, but the area in the midst of both Darkness and Light, the most base form of solid is particulate, and Dust obscures vast portions of visible light in the universe, effectively producing darkness. Gases also abound, but in the case of liquids, without a land mass of some kind to contain it, and a moderate heat source that won't boil it away, the default state of liquid is Ice. Therefore, in universal terms, the three natural states of matter are dust, gas, and ice. The sixth component of reality is Fire. Fire is a force of life and dest…

The Arab Side of the Jewish Question

The best explanation for the persistent hostility between Arabs and Israelis, in painfully cynical terms, is the absence of a powerful Arab lobby in the history of the American political machine. The academic answer is far more complex, but it is arguably this peculiar distinction that must be credited, not with the origin of the Arab/Israeli conflict, but certainly for the tragically resilient blood feud narrative into which the conflict grew, and the international conspiracy which not only sustains the crisis, but literally thrives upon it. The declaration of Israeli Independence on 14 May, 1948, condemned generations of Jews and Arabs to a life of violence and brutality. The powerful irony, however, is that the Zionist movement, upon which this new state was formed, began as an altruistic attempt to save a seemingly doomed race of mercilessly embattled European Jews from inhuman atrocities committed by and/or under the unconcerned eyes of their neighbors, police, soldiers and rule…

Modernization and the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire is famous for its size, scope, and influence upon the histories of nearly every major European country. Why then, did the concurrent attempts at modernization seem to fail for Turks, where the Egyptians succeeded? In short, the Turks, who wielded so much power and authority, failed to solidify their gains. One argument, and a strong one, is that they bit off more than they can chew. Another argument, equally compelling, is that they were simply beaten into bankruptcy. And yet another argument contends that reforms failed for Ottomans because of an insurmountable surge of internal resistance, from basically every direction.

The Contemporary Crucible: A Stage Review

Shreveport Little Theater and Heather Hooper teamed up to bring Arthur Miller's frustratingly resonant McCarthy Era masterpiece to life in a brilliant, on-stage production that only the deep south can truly deliver to form. Though at-times high-school-esque in cue and oration, local performers quickly descended from their traditionally contemporary sets and yoga-panted characters into an immersive frenzy of intrigue, confusion, and madness. Needing little artistic license to recreate the dialects and scenic commonalities of religious social influence, Hooper's cast takes conservative advantage of that stereotypical southern twang so often characterized as a bane to artistic and intellectual culture, and delivers a powerful (and disturbingly familiar) rendition of an age-old American theme: Persecution.

The Empire Fights Back

In the 19th century, the so-called “balance of power” which western nations sought after the atrocities of an unrestrained Napoleon finally began to shift, from Ottoman, to European favor. Having been stopped twice at the gates of Vienna centuries prior, the Islamic tide slowed to a trickle as the unification of Russia and Germany began to solidify resistance to Ottoman control. As the Ottomans struggled to respond to a rapidly changing set of enemies, Persians and Egyptians endured their own internal changes as well. Together, these three centuries-old Islamic players on the world-stage would suffer the intense stranglehold imposed by British, Russian, and French imperialism. The consequences would forever change the middle eastern perception of its own security forces, and would, in many cases, undermine internal diplomacy as sweeping attempts at reform drew the ire of tribal and religious conflict. The result for Egypt was a strong nationalist dynasty that would persist into the mi…

Saints, Martyrs, and Marxisms

Though Karl Marx's indictment of the Christian religion in Social Principles reflected the irreverent indignation of a seemingly oppressed dissident, both angry and tinged with callous cynicism, it is difficult to relegate his commentary to mockery. Marx writes with great passion about the unfavorable outcome of what he treats as kind of a grand, eighteen hundred year long experiment. The great irony in the western religious and political rejection that walled off what became a semi-Marxist empire and a dominant global socioeconomic force is that beneath his rebellious tone, what Marx suggests about mainstream institutional religion only echos the cries of many so scholars, prophets, and reformers which precede him. What links Marx with the most fervently radical religious fire-and-brimstone preacher, with the most prolific humanitarian saints, and with the most successful church reformers is the courage to hold what is arguably the world's most important governing authority…

Stood Up by Jesus

To understand Ellen White's Great Controversy concerning the Sabbath, it is necessary to first discuss the Day-Age Theory which inspired the Millerite movement, in which followers of William Miller assembled a series of scriptural passages which they maintained, when decoded, revealed what they believed would be the year of the rapture. White elaborates extensively on a careful examination of passages from Daniel, Ezra, and Mark with the assumption that the references to day, or days, should be translated as years instead, as extrapolated from associative references in Numbers and Ezekial, and set against a timeline of known biblical events. Drawing on Miller's equation of the word sanctuary with the earth and the word cleanse with the second coming of Christ, White demonstrates how the passage from Daniel could be interpreted to support Miller's famous claim that the world would end (or change profoundly) in 1844.

Falwell Rising

In short, the ubiquitous evil corrupting the Great American consciousness, in the words of '70s fundamentalist evangelical radio star Jerry Falwell, is a product of a society in which “missing is the mighty man...who will call sin by its right name.” As Adam's first divine mandate was to name things, Falwell graces his audience with a neatly ordered laundry list of social iniquity, authoritatively assuming the character role of his own absent protagonist. Among those perpetrating such damnable social degradations Falwell enumerates homosexuals, welfare recipients, women who speak out of turn, and, apparently, “humanists” in general. He issues a call to the “silent majority” on behalf of God, with strong nationalist overtones, to seek renewal of God's law and scriptural morality. From the inauguration of Ronald Reagan to the time of this writing, those who listened and heeded his call have been an inextricable force in American politics, and have arguably influenced the en…

On Religious Pluralism

In Problems with Religious Pluralism, John Hick presents the problem of absolutism in plural societies as one stemming from “tribal loyalties” which inhibit the universal path and weaken the connection to what he refers to as the “ultimate” or the common experience of God through different cultural identities. Hick borrows a term he attributes to Rosemary Reuthers: “Eclesiatal-Ethnicity,” which he defines as unique “religious traditions passed down from generation to generation” as opposed to acquisition via “deliberate comparative judgment and choice.” Among a diverse history of contributors to Christian thought, Hick stands out for his novel approach. In an organization fractured by endless forays into logical debate by rigidly uncompromising proponents of wildly divergent interpretations, Hick promotes a kind of universal concilliarism, underwritten by an arguably well reasoned set of premises, and supported by lucid observations of modern trends away from absolutism.

1001 Nights of Revelation

The most central component of Islam, and subsequently, the most critical historical component, is Allah. The Penguin Selection of famous tales, composed during the Abbasid dynasty of ambitious Arab Khalifas, in the eighth and ninth century C.E., begins, as all great works do, with a dedication. This one reads “Praise be to Allah Lord of the Creation, and blessing and peace eternal upon the Prince of Apostles, our master Mohammed.” This meandering anthology, Tales from a Thousand and One Nights, chronicles the adventures and misfortunes of a most fascinating race of men, strong and willful, yet compassionate and compromising. These curious tales reveal a depth of imagination, culture, and wisdom arguably unrivaled by western literature, presumably until Dante himself set out to embark on the greatest adventure of all: the quest to meet God.