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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Every time there is a major Christian festival, someone pops up with the claim that of course, this was really a pagan festival that Christians appropriated. And then the rest of the herd pass on whatever silly graphic has been created this time around to make the same claim.

Every single one of these claims is silly, tedious and ignorant. Not to mention intrinsically unlikely, given the determined opposition by Christian leaders East and West to any watering down or mixing of the Gospel message with local culture or religion.

Take the graphic going around FB over the last few days showing a statue of Ishtar, with the claim her name is pronounced Easter, and that, like obviously dude, that’s where Christians got the whole idea of Easter from.

There is not a single thing in that post/graphic which is true. Not even the statue – a statue of the queen of the night from the Old Babylonian period – some 2,000 to 1500 years before Christ. It could later, in the neo-Babylonian period (c600 to 500BC) – have been thought to be an image of Ishtar (pronounced Ishtar, as it is spelled, not Easter). But there are other possibilities, and archaeology is uncertain.

Ishtar was a minor goddess in the Akkadian/Assyrian/Babylonian pantheon. The Babylonians were defeated by the Persian Cyrus the Great in about 550BC, and the few temples dedicated to Ishtar fell into desuetude or were converted for use by Achaemenid deities. The Achaemenids then underwent a religious revolution of their own with the rapid growth of Zoroastrianism, before being defeated by the Greeks led by Alexander the Great at Gaugamela in about 331BC.

At Alexander’s death, the Eastern part of his empire was taken over by his general Seleucus Nicator. His dynasty, the Seleucids, maintained control over a large but declining empire that included most of the Middle-East until being defeated by the Roman general Pompey in 63BC.

By the time we get to 1st Century Judea we are more than 500 years from the time anyone had any serious interest in Ishtar, and 1400 kilometres away by normal trade routes.

There are no references to Ishtar in 1st Century Greek or Roman literature, and it is unlikely anyone living in Judea or Galilee or Samaria had ever even heard of her. Suggesting that because Ishtar and Easter sound vaguely alike they must mean the same thing makes as much sense as saying chocolate and choo-choo train sound alike so they must mean the same thing. It is just silly.

Quite apart from this, the word “Easter” was not used to describe the celebration of the Lord’s passion until over five hundred later, in England. Everywhere else, even today, the word for that celebration is Pascha, derived from the Hebrew word pesach, meaning Passover. It very early became a custom for Christians to give each other gifts of red-dyed eggs on the morning of Pascha, partly because they had been fasting from eggs and meat for the last forty days, and this was time for celebration, but more importantly, to symbolise passing over into new life won through the blood of Christ.

The Venerable Bede, the great historian of the early English Church, offered an explanation for the use of the term Easter in chapter fifteen of De Ratione Temporum (On the reckoning of Time), written about 725 AD:

“Nor is it irrelevant if we take the time to translate the names of the other months. … Hrethmonath is named for their goddess Hretha, to whom they sacrificed at this time. Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.”

In other words, Bede says that the name of the month of April, when the Pascha normally occurs, was Eosturmonath, and gradually Christians in England began to call the Paschal feast by the name of the month in which it occurred, so it became the feast of Easter.

However, careful as Bede usually is, this sounds like a “just-so” story; an explanation invented after the fact, and without any evidence. Kipling’s delightful Just-so stories were amongst my favourites as a child, and I can still tell you how the camel got its humph.

Bede is the only person to refer to a goddess by the name of Eostre. All later references to Eostre, or Ostara, or whatever other transliteration is given, including works by the Brothers Grimm, are based on this single sentence. It is likely that Bede simply assumed that because other Saxon months were named after gods and goddesses, Eosturmonath must have been too, so he deduced the existence of a goddess Eostre.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica has another explanation:

“There is now widespread consensus that the word derives from the Christian designation of Easter week as in albis, a Latin phrase that was understood as the plural of alba (“dawn”) and became eostarum in Old High German, the precursor of the modern German and English term.”

In other words, the Christian use of the phrase “In albis” – “at the dawn” (of new life, new beginnings, new hope) became in Old German “eostarum” dawning. Eosturmonath was named after the Paschal celebration. The word Easter ultimately derives from Christian use of the Old High German word eostarum, meaning dawn.

Whether Bede was right, or modern scholarship and the Encyclopaedia Britannica are right, the Pascha was well-established throughout the empire and beyond, long before a small group of Christians in England began using the name of the month to refer to the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.

Many of the media criticisms of Pope Francis have been unfounded, unfair, or simply silly. But this much more thoughtful article by Adam Shaw, an actual practicing Catholic, points out a history of mediocrity and confusing comments that are doing real harm. No question Jorge/Pope Francis is a great pastor and a caring man. But he does not have the intellectual capacity or discipline to be Pope. Of course, the fact is, he is Pope.

Some people would say this means he ought to be, and therefore whatever he says and does is part of the divine plan.

Yes but, yes but, yes but … human stubbornness or deceit or pride can get in the way of God’s perfect plan. That’s what sin does. There was a considerable amount of wrangling in the last conclave. That sends warning signs. What we can do is pray for Pope Francis, that God will lead and encourage him in the right way, and at the same time exercise the critical judgement, thoughtfulness and reason that the Church has always encouraged in its members.

All things work together for good, for those who love the Lord. Romans 8:28

Or so says this imam.

I know we are all fed up with hearing about this. But watch this, and think, seriously, whether the attitudes on display here are compatible with Western values and liberal democracy.

And I promise this will be the last thing I post on this. Until the next atrocity …

 

Iran is building a military base in the Kurdish heartland of Northern Iraq, apparently specifically to target the Kurds, who are leading the fight against ISIS.

If this marks a new level of understanding betweeen Iraq and Iran, then it amounts to the creation of a Shi’ite arc extending from Hezbollah in Lebanon, through Syria and Iran down into Shi’ite majority Iraq.

The Saudis won’t like this.

People seem not to realise that religious belief was essential to the development of science.

1. The belief that the world is real, objective, and largely independent of our perceptions, and not simply illusion (maya in Sanskrit). That is, that there is something real and enduring there to investigate.

2. The belief that the world is reasonable, and organised in a reasonable, that is, orderly and consistent way, not not simply according to the whim of ancestors or nature spirits or fickle and jealous gods.

3. The belief that the material world is good, and therefore worth investigating, as opposed to the view that the material world inferior, something to be spurned or escaped from.

We take these beliefs so much for granted; that the world is real and objective, that it is ordered according to laws which can be investigated and understood, that nature/the universe is good, and that investigating and learning its laws and systems is a good and worthwhile endeavour, that we forget that only one culture has ever held these views consistently over a long enough period for science to develop.

Science is a creation of the Christian West.

The more science drifts from Christian theology, that is, the more it drifts from understanding reality as independent and objective, and the more it drifts from believing truth is an absolute value in its own right, the more it will be become empty, political, and corrupt.

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Fukushima, vaccines, chemtrails. It is always the same.

CT (Conspiracy theorist) “Something really bad and scary is happening!”

Me “I don’t think there is any evidence to support that.”

CT “That’s because there is a massive cover-up. The (government, power companies, big pharma, Monsanto) are deliberately hiding the truth from the public.”

Me ” How do you know that?”

CT “Because there is no evidence. If they weren’t covering it up, there would be. Isn’t that obvious? Are you crazy or something?”

That is the subtitle of Paul Driessen’s powerful book describing how Western “green” restrictions on the cheap energy the West demands and takes for granted result in suffering and death in the world’s poorest nations:

It could just as well be the tile of Brendon Pearson’s article “Carefree ignore consequences of limiting supply of fossil fuels” in The Australian a few days ago. This is just a few paragraphs. Read the whole thing.

“The response from green advocates is that the emissions from coal and fossil fuels are different — they can be replaced by renewables. Let’s do the maths. Last year wind and solar ­energy produced the equivalent of nine days of global primary energy needs. Coal produced 109 days and fossil fuels combined produced 313 days of the world’s ­annual primary needs. Despite all these power sources, 1.3 billion people still missed out on electricity and a further 1.7 billion only had partial access.

To put this problem into context — the energy used by Christmas lights in the US in an average festive season is more than the ­national electricity consumption of many developing countries, such as El Salvador, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nepal or Cambodia.

Halting or limiting coal or fossil fuels output will simply mean that those with no or partial access to electricity would have to wait much longer in the dark.

That is an uncomfortable but incontrovertible fact. If you limit something or make it more expensive to the poor then you are delaying or denying that access. Not just for weeks, months or years, but generations. Hundreds of millions of people will live shorter, more miserable lives as a result of the choices of the comfortable and warm.”

That is it exactly. The cost of cozy green self-righteousness is that hundreds of millions of people will live shorter, more miserable lives.

A longish article from Mark Musser on the origins and continuing influence of the theory of sustainable development:

Understandably, Albert Speer Jr. has spent much of his life trying to escape the long shadow of his father, Albert Speer, the Third Reich’s architect during the 1930s who later was baptized as Hitler’s Armaments and War Production Minister during the heights of World War II. Albert Speer Sr. died in 1981. After serving 20 years in Spandau Prison, Speer made millions off of his best-selling books that described his life deep inside the Third Reich. In 1984, Albert Speer Jr. began a very successful architect company in Frankfurt, Germany called AS & P, or Albert Speer & Partners.

Today, AS & P is a very profitable high end international architectural company that has building projects in Germany, the Middle East, and in China. Much of Speer Jr.’s earlier financial success in the 1970s took place in Libya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. Speer Jr. loves the Middle East and Arab culture. He is currently working in Qatar. Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup because of Speer Jr.’s audacious plans to design a carbon neutral sustainable arrangement of soccer stadiums.

AS & P pursues a holistic approach to architectural design that roots all building activities into the surrounding culture, landscape, and regulatory environment. AS & P proudly advertises its emphasis upon sustainability in the area of ecology, economics, and social quality. AS & P has even published a “Manifesto for Sustainable Cities – Think Local, Act Global.” Albert Speer Jr. is also an international lecturer on environmental sustainability. According to Der Spiegel, Speer Jr. is credited with having introduced the idea of sustainability into German urban planning. Others consider him to be the green conscience of the construction architect industry and one of the first sustainable practitioners of green building in Germany itself.

While Speer Jr. has publicly stated he has purposefully tried to place as much distance between himself and his father as possible, this is not exactly true. In reality, Speer Jr. has followed his father’s footsteps, not only in terms of being an architect, but also because of his obsession with sustainable development.

Read the rest at American Thinker.

Roger Franklin writes in Quadrant Magazine:

On the western flood plain of the Maribyrnong, the lesser of Melbourne’s two brown rivers, Buddhists have built themselves a handsome temple and, most arresting, a gigantic golden statue of their guiding philosophy’s founder. It is quite the spectacle and well worth a glance as your Werribee-bound train approaches Footscray station. But unless you have a particular interest in the sound of one hand clapping, a glance is all it’s worth — and, obligingly, Buddhists don’t see any need for grants and government programs to promote “understanding” of their creed. Alas that another religion were so content to mind its own business. As Fairfax Media demonstrates today with a series of profiles — Australia’s Muslims Speak Up — it seems that one cannot be regarded as a fair and unbiased citizen without an obligatory knowledge of Islam, its adherents, their agonies and the bigotry we are told yet again makes the lives of Australia’s faithful so very difficult.

That, at any rate, is the series’ intent. The end result, however, is the polar opposite. Unwittingly, wrapped in its gush of multi-culti pablum, at least one of the profiles illustrates why one doesn’t need to be a peddler of prejudice to find Islam more than somewhat alien and not a little unsettling.

Read the rest.

Reading Aisha’s story in The Age, it seems clear that her every experience of islam was violent or at least unpleasant, from her failed marriage to her repressive and hostile high school, and most of her experiences of non-muslim Australian society were by contrast warm and colourful and welcoming. Yet all this seems to prove to her is that Australians are racists and it is no wonder so many muslims are angry.

Kind of puts it in perspective:

abortion2

Very, very sad. But surely this is not a surprise to anyone?

The mother of toddler Sanaya Shaib has been charged with murder after she confessed to killing the 13-month-old infant.

sanaya

An ISIS supporter has been charged after allegedly carving “e4e” — representing “an eye for an eye” into the head of an Australian Digger he was sharing a cell with. The former soldier, who served in East Timor, (and was) deemed a low security inmate, is fighting for his life following the alleged attack inside Kempsey prison on the state’s Mid North Coast.

It is believed the 18-year-old attacker choked the 40-year-old and carved ‘e4e’ into the front and back of the victim’s head. The teen then allegedly placed a towel over him and poured boiling hot water on him.

The former Toowoomba-based soldier was rushed to the Port Macquarie Base Hospital and put in an induced coma, believed to have suffered a broken sternum and severe wounds to his neck, head and face.

Senior prison sources said the 18-year-old attacker was a known supporter of the terrorist group and had been previously caught sending graphic images of beheadings via internal mail to other ISIS extremists housed in Goulburn’s Supermax.

Bourhan Hraichie has now been charged with causing grevious bodily harm with intent and intentionally choking a person.

Sources said the teen was also previously found to have a hand-drawn ISIS flag inside his cell, as well as having carved one into the wall. Hraichie had been isolated from other inmates previous to the alleged attack because he was being “disruptive”.

The pair were in the same cell for just a few hours before Thursday’s alleged attack inside the prison’s maximum security section. Authorities were alerted when a medical alarm system, known as a “knock up” was activated.

ISIS is known to use the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” mantra when inflicting their brutal torture. It is understood the teen allegedly used a razor blade to etch the slogan, but prison authorities would not confirm it.

NSW Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin confirmed the attack, saying it “appears to have had a strong fundamentalist element to it” and that the teen had “clearly identified himself as a radical”. “I am appalled that these two inmates were placed in the same cell,” Mr Severin said.

The general manager of the prison, Greg Steele, has since been stood down from the role.

From the always useful New English Review.

This is simply getting to the point of absurdity. We have to start taking what these people say about their own beliefs and intentions seriously, or more and more ordinary people are going to be hurt.

luton1

A couple of days after that advertisement appeared, Tanweer Ahmed, a Sunni Muslim, traveled 200 miles in an Uber car from Bradford in England, to Glasgow in Scotland, where he waited for Assad Shah to leave the convenience store where he worked, then stabbed him 30 times, stamped on his head, and sat on his chest waiting for him to die, which he did later that night.

“Mr Shah’s family, originally from Pakistan, are members of the Ahmadiyya Islamic sect, which preaches ‘love for all, hatred for none’, but is seen as sacrilegious by orthodox Muslims.” Family members now fear they will be Islamic murderers’ next targets.

The UK Daily Record quotes a source who says that “The hardline Sunni Muslims call Ahmadiyya Muslims kafir. They say they are non-believers.”

87 percent to 90 percent of all Muslims, or about 1.5 billion people, are Sunnis. Additionally, “the majority of modern Muslim scholars continue to hold the traditional view that the death penalty for apostasy is required.”

via Newsbusters

This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilisations which disregard it.