Some interesting links Elsewhere (March 2015)


tussi

March 2015 was a strange month, with time running in weird circles, computer problems and not that much time to read articles, so my list of interesting links elsewhere is quite short, and one day later than planned…
(Picture by myself, ‘kleinhoefblad’ (Tussilago) is a sign of spring here, but yellow is hard to get right on photograph with my small cheap camera;…)

I linked on FB to a article called The Joy of Promiscuity this month., because I liked the pictures even… Yes, my interests are diverse and this one really might not be for everybody…  (It’s about breeding perennial kales… What DID you think?)

What scares the new atheists by John Gray, himself an atheist but not impressed by Dawkins and Co.

The antimodern musings of the Orthodox Father Stephen resume with the provocatively titled post saving a democratic man.

Filmmakers move away from white Jesus. Which is not a bad idea, but moving away from American Jesus might even be more needed (be it Hollywood or the American ‘conservative’ version… There are wrong ways of representing Jesus in a culturally coloured way that go much deeper than just skin colour..

10 bad reasons to become Pagan; This one makes me wonder: what are good and what are bad reasons for being a Christian (or atheist for that matter)

Pope Francis: A Christian who does not protect creation ‘does not care about the work of God’ <– This friend speaks my mind…

Micael from Sweden about an American pastor named Dollar and stuff like that: Why You Shouldn’t be Rich: The Poor and the Climate Can’t Afford it

There are no heroes in the kingdom of God by Paul Munn

Why it is important to recognise there are diverse sources of diversity. by Matt Stone on curious Christian.

What can Christians learn from neo-pagans and ‘magickal’ traditions?


esoMatt Stone at curious Christian recently asked the question “Can Evangelicals Learn from Occult Traditions?” on his blog. It’s a questions that deserves way more comments and discussions than he did get. In it he did refer in his post to a book with a similar title called ‘Can evangelicals learn from world religions’ by Gerald R. McDermott that I haven’t read but that looks very interesting.

McDermott wrote a superb book entitled, “Can Evangelicals Learn from World Religions?” The text explored the ways theologians of the likes of Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin had historically engaged with Pagan philosophers of the likes of Plato and Aristotle and asked what a similar exercise might look like today. In the process McDermott explored aspects of Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism and Islam that Christians, evangelicals included, could profit from … even if only to rediscover forgotten aspects of their own tradition.

I do believe that every tradition, Christian or otherwise, is most likely to have things we can learn from, and things we should not learn at all. So I would definitely answer the question with ‘yes’, and for my own post (which is also part of the March 2015 Synchroblog – What I Appreciate About [Other Religions] I will broaden it a bit “What can evangelicals learn from neo-Pagans and ‘magickal’ traditions?’.

I’ve been having online conversations with neo-pagans, witches, other ‘occult’ folk and newagy types for a while now. A lot of my prejudices, weird stereotypes and outright lies that some Christians told me about them were shattered there, and I did meet a lot of wise and interesting people (as well as negative creeps and dangerous idiots, but Christians, atheists or Muslims do have those as well…), and I did learn a lot of things from them.

(Yes, I might have entered conversations and places that wouldn’t have been safe without Divine protection and the gift of spiritual discernment, but hanging out with other people, even Christians isn’t without risks either and might require the same amount of discernment and Divine protection actually…)

So what could we learn from Occultists, neo-pagans, wiccans and others who practice magick as a part of their religion?

1. Recover some of what we’ve lost in modernity
Modernity as we know it is a strange place for Christianity to find and contextualise itself, and getting too modernised can be quite dangerous for the Christian faith even. (Which is true both sides of modern Christianity, fundamentalism and liberal Christianity, although often in opposite ways)
A lot of modern Christians for example are quite handicapped when it comes to the ‘invisible world’ after what the enlightenment did to our culture. (See also Thoughts about the spiritual ecological naivete of modern Westerners for a more thorough exploration of that problem)
There is much more than meets the eye and can be dreamt of in our modernist philosophies, but even if we try to go there can can really struggle with finding ways to understand and conceptualise it from our modern paradigm in a way that makes sense…
Yes, we lost a lot in the age of disentchantment that protestantism and the Christian renaissance-humanism of Erasmus started and that has been influencing us for roughly 500 years now, creating a very non-supernatural world for us. (Which might ironically be the biggest magical trick ever , seeOur nonmagical modern world as the biggest magical trick ever…)
But Christianity is deeply connected with the supernatural world, and has a lot of claims that are quite useless in a purely naturalist/materialist paradigm. Which is not so strange; Christianity as we know it has pagan and Jewish roots, not enlightenment ones, and was born inside of a much more enchanted world than ours. And no matter how hard we try, we won’t make much sense of a lot of the gospel writings without an understanding of a world that is more than our modern materialist one.

Pentecostalism and Charismatic Christianity are probably one of the ways in which the Spirit sent us a correction of this disenchanted false worldview, but sometimes even those religions are through and through modern in a photonegative way. And here it can be interesting to connect with those who have retained their connection with the supernatural. (Yes, I know neo-Paganism and Wicca are mostly modern reconstructions, but we still can learn a lot from how they try to make sense of the Spiritual world in modernity sometimes.) I also think that the thoroughly postmodern chaos magick and its chaosunderstanding of paradigm shifting could have taught the emerging church a lot that it needed to not fall into the rigid and very dogmatic bounded-set neo-left-liberal trap that it ended up in… Which doesn’t make sense for a disappointed postmodern oecemenical evangelical as myself…
(See also: Some postmodern paradigm-shifting: from C.S. Lewis to chaos magic and back…)

2. See who the other really is without prejudices
In some Christian circles there are very scary views of ‘the occult’ that are worse than fiction, and that should be placed in the library net to stuff like the medieval maleus maleficarum. Some people even paint a view of non-Christians being just different groups of demon-influenced groups that all work together to hinder Christianity,  mostly in the form they regard as ‘the one true faith’, liberal Christians or even churches who have a slighly different view on god knows what bible verse might even be on the other side too with all of the other evil infidels… Which does not mean that there’s a lot of dark stuff going on among the magickal folk, but sometimes what Christians think occultism is is complete nonsense. (Take this Carman song as a good example)

We should never forget that as Christians we should care for the truth, and not spread lies about anyone, not even about Satanists. (most of which follow Anton Lavey and don’t believe in the entity Christians call Satan anyway) So it is always etremely inmportant to listen to people and let them self-identify instead of spreading wild stories and conspiracy theory. And even if we completely disagree with what someone believes we should not distort it if we describe it.

A lot of Christian descriptions of ‘occultism’ are not just slander but just outright ridiculous. Frank Peretti in his ‘darkness’ books for example lets new agers, devil-worshipping Satanists and atheists work together to oppose Christians (of a very conservative American variety). I’ve you’ve ever met people of any of those groups, the chance that they will work together and have common goals with the other 2 groups are not bigger than with fundamentalist Christianity. No atheist will like new-age or satanist superstition more than Christian superstition. A Satan-worshipper will not bother with secular atheism andd look down upon fluffy new-age BS. And no Newager in his right mind (hmmm) will get involved with either inverse-Christian Satanism or a worldview that excludes the supernatural…

Most of these people are not concerned with opposing Christianity, except where it hinders them in being who they are and doing what they want to do. If people are opposed they will try to stop that opposition. But non-Christians who agree with the Christian ideas about God and that want to oppose that God are quite rare. Most have totally different ideas about God/gods/the Divine/whatever… and are not interested in fighting with a misconception although they might fight the power of Christianity when in power, or criticise the things they see wrong in it (sometimes rightly). People generally do not want to attack a God they don’t believe in. Opposing God as Christians see Him is meaningless and out of the question for most non-Christians. There is no specific anti-God conspiracy!

So it can be very interesting to just talk with people like neo-Pagans, Wiccans, and others and let them explain what they believe and practice in their own words. FB groups like the Pagan and Christian moot or Watchtower are very interesting here for example.

It’s true there are a lot of people in and far beyond magickal traditions that are not very positive towards Christians. But that’s often because Christians have been very negative towards them. The least we can do as Christians is try to listen, try to understand who they are. They are all humans like us, and a  lot of them want to do a lot of good in their own way. And there’s really a lot of people in those communities who have been hurt and are still regularly hurt by Christians  who spread all kind of weird accusations about them. Nothing Christlike about that, we can do a lot better, guys!

3. Acknowledge the parallels and learn from them
This will probably be my most controversial point here. But yes, studying magick (even if it’s in theory in my own case) as a Christian can open our eyes to certain parallels between certain beliefs and practices within Christianity and paganism or magickal/occult traditions. (Let’s not forget here that most Western Occult traditions are derived from Christianity btw., except for paganism, Wicca,chaos magick and the like… )

Yes there are parallels between ‘energy healing’ and faith healing, and there is a lot more to say about ‘Divine energies’ (an Eastern Orthodox concept). Jesus seems to be doing forms of ‘magick’ in some of his miracles.  We can even see shamanic motifs in the gospels. (this bible study by ‘Captain Longpost’ on Marks gospel on the Pagan and Christian Moot forum is recommended for everyone.)

A lot of magick is done with the invocation/evocation of deities or other entities, and our Christians prayer can be seen as in the same category. We are oathed to Christ, the incarnation of the Creator of the Multiverse, and we do find our spiritual power and authority in Him.
This does not mean that other gods do not exist btw, we only do not regard them as gods to worship as Christians. My view about them is that they are more on angel/archangel level than the same species as the Supreme Being anyway…

But there also is a grey zone with human power that most people don’t believe in… A lot of magick is about projecting strong will (think also about ‘the secret’, ‘the law of attraction’ and even pop-chaos magick sigils) and recognising this can help us discern where Christians move outside of Christianity to revert to human magick. Without being focussed on God miracles are not something to be impressed by, and not something that needs to even be connected with Christianity at all. Just magick… And some ‘name it and claim it’ stuff very easily rolls into these kinds of magick, with a lot of miracles and rock’n roll going on…

…while Elvis has left the building already…

What we should never forget as Christians
We should not forget that as Christians, we are ‘oathed to Christ’. We are to root ourselves in God, the Ultimate Reality, Ground of Being, Creator of the universe through the incarnated and resurrected Christ, God-with-us, and through His Spirit in and around us. It is important to see this as a Reality, not just an article of faith to intellectually accept. Heaven and Earth are full of His Glory, as the ancient Hosannah-hymn says. In Him we live, in Him we move, in Him we have our being…

We live in a Spiritual world that is bigger than we can understand or grasp, and more Real than we can perceive with our senses. The material dimension is only one part of it (although not unimportant to us embodied beings, and apparently to God, who incarnated in one of us!).

One of the most-neglected but most-needed gfts of the Spirit might be the discernment of Spirits. I do think we should all ask the Holy Spirit for a bigger dose of that, and not only when we participate in interfaith dialogue with world religions or magickal folk, but also within Christianity. A lot of stuff, from theology to miracles does have other sources than the Holy Spirit, sometimes human, sometimes darker than that. And we often don’t recognise that at all…

shalom

Bram

This post is part of the the March 2015 Synchroblog – What I Appreciate About [Other Religions].  Be sure to read the other participants too::

Some interesting things elsewhere (Februari 2015)


glycymerisAs we approach the end of the month, it’s time to post the new list with ‘some interesting things elsewhere’.  The picture is indeed from ‘elsewhere’ (my offline life even) and is a fossil Glycymeris-shell I found when I was walking along the river Nete here in Lier, Belgium. Most likely a Pliocene Glycymeris varabilis if my determination attempts are correct.

Let’s go from the Pliocene to pre-Christian paganism, or at leeast the reconstructed forms of it: Last month I posted about the New Norse temple in Iceland, the first in 1000 years. If you want to know more about the reconstructed paganism, here is an interview that the ‘highpriest’ Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson in 3 parts: part 1, part 2, part 3. And I also found an older article a new beginning for Greek Paganism too. It seems that our myth of secularisation and linear evolutionary views of religion need some serious reconsidering…

There are certain blogs I will tell you to read every time I get the chance. Lana Hope with Confirmation Bias, Worldview Bias, and Arguments for and Against God’s Existence. Eric from the Jawbone of an ass with The Gods By Any Other Names.  Some criticism of our modern economic views on Holy Spirit activism in The Economy of Need and the Economy of Greed.

Sarah Moon with 16 Things That Happened When I Went to The Creation Museum. Seems to be quite a weird place if you ask me….

Some myth-busting about the middle ages. (I don’t know why it is mostly a certain kind of atheists that like to perpetuate this kind of ahistorical lies, but it can be very annoying and I frankly do expect more from people whose highest ideal is ‘reason’)

David Wilkersons book ‘the cross and the Switchblade’, about how he as a country preacher went to the street gangs of NY in the fifties to bring the good news of Jesus, and did some quite spectacular things was very important for me as a teenager. So reading this on the Wartburg Watch about the organisation he started saddens me a lot: Is Teen Challenge an Abusive Rehab Program?
The Quaker Testimony of… Truthiness? by Micah Bales. How seriously do we take ‘let your yes be yes and your no be no’?

If you want to join the secret society of the Illuminati, please visit their site. And oh, download their printable black’n white folder in  PDF. If I were the most mighty secret society on Earth I’d definitely have a printable black’n white folder in PDF on my website…

Carl McColman with Seven hopes for the Christian (and church) of the future. Based in Karl Rahner’s saying that ‘the Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all’, a sentiment which I echo…

New Aaron Strumpel record: Bright Star

(And oh, if you missed my re-release of a very obscure Bram Cools CD-R from my ‘Contemporary Christian Muzak’ period last month and you like obscure Christian lo-fi; go here: CCM II: psalms and prayers in lo-fi)

Twitter bio generator: “Twitter advocate. Devoted coffee evangelist. Wannabe food maven. Amateur travel fan.” Not me, but there are probably a lot of people on twitter to whom it would apply…

Bill Kinnon on Narcissistic and/or Psychopathic Church Leadership.  It seems to me that narcissists in leadership are always dangerous, but are also very common. It might cost us our planet one day…

Christian supernatural author Laura Cowan with Coming out psychic. Raises some interesting questions… Coming out with this kind of abilities doesn’t fare well in either conservative Christian (evil demon-possessed occultist!)vor certain atheist circles (such things are not real because Science™, please let them cure you and don’t  disturb our materialist worldview…)

 What did you see that was interesting this month?

Bram

The virus of evil: animal farm revolutions and the cycle of violence…


Today we will explore the following potentially controversial one-liner:

Hate and violence are an infection that often spreads in new ways through their victims.

So what does that mean? It’s just another way of describing the cycle of violence, that so often works as a vicious circle….

From the beginning of our human history, certain forms of evil have always been furthering themselves in the form a spiral of violence. This spiral of violence works a bit like a zombie apocalypse: if the zombie bites you, you get infected with ‘zombieism’ and thus become one yourself, and you will most probably bite others too.
Surely my comparison isn’t perfect: The big difference here is that zombies generally work together against uninfected humans, while the evil aroused in us by violence and hate done to us is mostly directed to those who infected us with it. But hate and violence do work like an infection passed on to their victims nonetheless.

The principle is very simple: other people filled with hate and violence towards us do evil to us, and that damages us (or even kills us or people around us) and part the reaction to that evil is that it creates similar hate and violence growing inside of us.
It is probably one of the least-recognised effects of evil done to us, although one of the most destructive too. Evil done to us often grows more evil in us and thus generates a  new host from which it can operate. It’s often very simple: the people attacked in a barbaric war will fight back with equal barbarism. The oppressed become the oppressed. The hurt will become the hurting one. Thanimalfarme bullied becomes the bully…
The violated go on violating the violator and those who are in his camp, and so on…  The spiral of violence is sad and often very predictable, and will never bring us forward. The only thing that come from such a reaction is new variations on the well-known ‘animal farm revolution': the animals who have killed the farmer will in the end become worse than the farmer ever was. Like a friend of mine says in one of his songs:

History does not repeat itself, it just escalates

I repeat this: one of the most dangerous effects evil done to us can have is to take us as it’s new host to continue its life cycle like a virus that goes from host to host, mutating freely to adapt and maybe even get more vicious.  And it’s hard to stop this cycle. Our human sense of justice demands that we are righted, and that the evil is repaid.
We often forget here, blinded by the logic of this virus, that revenge does never make anything right or does not bring anything or anyone gone back, it only devours our soul from the inside and dissolves our own humanity!

Real justice is restorative! Evil must be stopped, and its influence limited, not just on us, but also in us!

Now, what I’m telling here is not very new at all. It’s something known to a lot of tradition, from the words of Jesus to some sayings from the Buddha or the Tao Te Ching. Take for example the next saying:

He who holds on to hate is like one who drinks poison and expects the other to die. (ascribed to the Buddha)

Deep down inside we should know this. Hate will only destroy us from the inside, and evil will never work drive out evil, violence is not the best way to stop violence (except in the case that the other side is completely exterminated). It will not make the world better. We need to stop this virus, this endless cycle.

If we want to live, we need to erase the cycle of violence. This means that we need to answer evil with good. Even in our heart. Especially in our heart.

Let’s contemplate the words of Jesus in Luke 6 in this regard:

27 “But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 To the person who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well, and from the person who takes away your coat, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your possessions back from the person who takes them away. 31 Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to be repaid, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Yes, it’s the radical Christ-stuff of loving enemies and repaying evil with good. It’s also quite important if we indeed believe that loving God and loving our fellow human is what matters most in this life.

If we don’t get a revolution in which everyone gets rid of this evil, including both those who are victims as those who are lead by it; it will be completely ineffective. The only revolution that makes sense in the long run is the revolution that restores the humanity of both the oppressor and the oppressed, and rids both of the evil that keeps them from recognising each others shared humanity!

This does not mean that we should give in to evil, we should confront it everywhere we meet, but we should never give it the chance to make us dehumanise the person on the other side. Even though there are times that for our own safety we can’t be in the same room as someone who has done us evil, we should not hate them. We might need to cut all their influence from our lives, and we need to realise the nature of what has been done to us and not minimise or conceal it.

But we should not allow hate to root in our hearts. We should not allow dehumanisation of our enemy. If the terror has won our hearts and has found a new host, it doesn’t even matter whether we or the terrorists win.

And even in the case that pacifism doesn’t work and violence has used, we should mourn for every fellow human on the other side that dies. Killing a human being made in Gods image is always a terrible thing, no matter how messed up they were. Our real enemies are never flesh and blood, but the systems, lies, etc that make us enemies.

Note also that what I’m saying here is inspired not just by Jesus and the Buddha, but has been lived out by people like Ghandi and Nelson Mandela, or for example closer to myself Pat Patfoort whom I once saw in a seminar on nonviolent conflict-solving. She developed her ideas when she was in Africa, and works with very traumatised people in war zones (Rwanda, Chechnya and so) , as well as giving relationship counselling since it works on all scales.
Western pacifists can be a bit naive and otherworldly sometimes, and if they have only been staying in their couch reading blogs instead of going to the country their own government is bombarding at the moment (like Shane Claiborne did) it can  be not very convincing. (That said, we’ve tried to use violence for much longer and it didn’t work either… I mostly only escalates unless one of the sides goes extinct.) But If people can reconcile the traumatised after a genocide like Pat Patfoort does, you do get my attention….

I do think also here of how Corrie Ten Boom as a WWI concentration camp survivor of WWII said after the war that it was the victims of the Nazi brutality who were able to forgive were the ones who were best able to rebuild their lives. Which makes a lot of sense in the light of what we’ve said.

Our soul is way too important to let it be filled with hate, and to let us dehumanise others, no matter what they’ve done.

Love is the only law, and the only thing that will remain

love and peace

Bram

 

Fleabites, or looking at the crusades from another angle (Philip Jenkins)


Since people are talking about the crusades a lot lately on FB, which seems to have to do with something the American president has said on some breakfast prayer thing, I thought it might be a good idea to bring some balance and  some historical perspective with a quote from Philip Jenkins, from his very interesting but challenging book ‘the lost history of Christianity’

“The story of the Crusades is well known, but less celebrated is the much more acute challenge to Muslim power caused by Christian attempts to create an Eastern Front against Islam. During the thirteenth century, the Muslim states suddenly found lost historythemselves under attack from a lethal enemy whose activities made the Western Crusades look like fleabites. The Mongol assault on the Islamic world began in 1219 when the forces of Genghis Khan attacked the Khwarezmid Empire of central Asia, taking such great cities as Bukhara and Samarkand. Over the next forty years, Mongol power extended over most of western Asia, through a series of campaigns in which they devastated ancient cities. When Merv fell in 1221, the
Mongols slaughtered virtually every man, woman, and child in the city, not to mention many thousands of refugees from surrounding areas. Contemporary accounts claim that the dead ran into the hundreds of thousands, or even millions. Ani in Armenia never recovered from the sack of 1236, while Mongol devastation ended the golden age of the Christian kingdom of Georgia. In 1258, the Mongols under Hulegu, Genghis’s grandson, perpetrated a historic massacre in Baghdad itself, ending the caliphate and conceivably killing eight hundred thousand residents. Over the next century, Hulegu’s successors ruled the Ukhanate, one of the Mongol successor states, a vast empire stretching from the boundaries of India to western Anatolia. When modern-day Iraqis denounce American occupiers as the New Mongols, they are invoking memories of the direst moment of their history. The Mongol threat remained acute until 1303, when Egyptian forces decisively defeated them in Syria.” (p120-121)

Yes, thinking of the crusades as very important to the history of Islamic empires in the middle-East is quite Eurocentric and not very realistic in that it forgets much more powerful and important players, Philips even says the crusades were like fleabites compared to the Mongol powers, who did end the mighty Abbasid caliphate of Baghdad in 1258, the third caliphate to  sucdeed prophet Muhammed himself. (As a sidenote: there were parallel caliphates in this age, but afterwards the caliphate has never been resurrected in the same way, even though two rogue groups did proclaim a new caliphate in 2014, the IS in Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria!)

Some more historical notes:

1. The Mongols did have several state religions, afterwards they converted to Islam and they were part of the erasure most of Asian Christianity between the Middle-East and China, often without a trace.

2. the crusades did harm other Christians too, and more than fleabites actually: the fourth crusade, which didn’t even reach Jerusalem did bring a much greater split between the Catholics and the Orthodox than the great schism itself did: when they conquered Constantinople in 1204 and did a lot of evil and very unchristian things there. It was the final break-up between Western and Eastern Christianity!
(Not to mention the later Albigensian Crusade which did erase the heretic Albingensians and  most of the Waldensians from Europe… They just had the wrong religion…)

3. We should not think of the Europeans as being more powerful colonisers and conquerors than the Muslim empires all the time. If we go back and forward in time from the crusades we see that there are other times when a Muslim conquest of Europe wasn’t as unthinkable as it is to us now. Charles Martel had stopped the early Arab conquests into Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732, which might have meant the end of Western Christianity in the heart of Europe (at a moment where Eastern Christianity in the form of the East-roman empire was quite strong btw).
The Ottoman empire after overtaking the Byzantine (East-Roman) empire  by conquering constantinopole in 1453 was a formidable power that, again, could have succeeded in taking over much of Europe. Emperor Philips II of Spain managed to drive them back (a turning point was the battle of Lepanto in 1571)
But don’t forget that parts of Spain (yes, the mighty mighty European Power that not only did send the inquisition and the army of Duke Alva here to the Netherlands long ago but colonised much of South and Middle America) was in hands of Islamic powers between 711–1492. The year the Americas were discovered was the year Europe was freed of Muslim powers, and then they could go on colonising themselves…
By the way: f Philips II wouldn’t have to fight the Turks he probably would have had the power to fight the protestants in the North, and have erased protestantism not just from the Southern Netherlands (He did that very thoroughly, Flanders  and the Southern part of the current Netherlands were quite universally catholic after the fall of Antwerp in 1585 and remained so until the dechristianisatoion of the 20th century…)

(Someone of facebook told me this week that Americans associate Spanish with poor illegal immigrants. We in this part of Europe see the Spanish as a powerful aggressive invading power who brought the inquisition here to rid us from heresies like protestantism. And I do think the Inca and Aztec people would have even stronger opinions about them…)

4. If we’re talking about the Europeans as colonisers we should not forget that the powerful European powers who colonised other continents were often oppressing other Europeans closer by. And the great colonising wave in the last 500 years is only unique in that Europeans did cross great distances. Empires in Eurasia, inculding the Mongols, Arabs and the Ottomans named already and earlier the Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Huns and Greeks have been conquering big parts of the Eurasian continent at least since Alexander the Great.  The crusades against Muslims were not that spectacular at all in this big picture., let alone successful.
The big difference with the European colonisation wave in the last 500 years is the superior technology, not only when it comes to weaponry but also far-distance travel, which made it possible to colonise places far away over the ocean. Something that hadn’t happened before in the history of the planet. The Arabs and Ottomans had conquered a vast empire for example in West-Asia and North-Africa, but only in places they could reach by land or from a short distance over sea… (This includes the crusades.)
The only parallel with  what Europeans colonisers did in the last 500 years might be the Polynesians who did colonise a lot of Oceania and even very remote places as Hawai, Easter Island and New Zealand, but they generally didn’t steal countries from other people with much violence as the modern Europeans did, they colonised mostly uninhabited places. (where they ravaged ecosystems and brought extinctions, but that’s outside of the scope of this post)

Last Note: Islam and Christianity are very diverse religions, and can never be seen as one ‘power’. If I speak about an ‘Islamic power’ or empire, I mean an empire that has the Islamic religion as core part of their identity. But there have always been more different Islamic countries, some of which did fight each other. Lumping all Muslims together is the same as thinking that the Byzantine empire of the 1400s and contemporary America or Mexico are the same thing, because they all are Christian…

Peace

Bram

Some interesting things elsewere (Jan 2015)


noodle

I used to have a series called ‘Some interesting things elsewhere’  that disappeared when my time got absorbed by other things very different than blogging. I was planning to resurrect those series, and make one list of interesting reads that I encountered each month at the end of said month, but suddenly it’s February already, not January anymore, and my list isn’t that long yet and I still haven’t posted the first one… But I still think it’s not a bad idea to resurrect this series so here is the first edition nonetheless…

So what did I read recently that stood out?

Lana hope with ‘an instrumental view of language and Christianity: a critique‘. Just read it!

Two interesting reactions to the whole Charlie Hebdo thing from Khanya in South-Africa and Vinoth Ramachandra in Sri Lanka.

Heather Goodman with some critique of a more fringe Charismatic theory that relates contemporary studies of epigenetics with the supposedly biblical idea of ‘generational curses’.

This Orthodox text would make a lot of sense if it wouldn’t have the exclusivisionist part in the end: the spiritual person is not  moral!

An older article from the ‘Anglican pentecostal’ that explores the idea of being ‘slain in the Spirit’ with the Orthodox idea of the ‘energies of God. Very interesting line of thought!

Magickal blogger Peregrin Wildoak makes a lot of sense here in his analysis of the word ‘love’ in the works of Aleister Crowley. Although not a Christian himself when he speaks from a Christian paradigm he seems to understand Christianity better and make more sense than a lot of Christians for some reason…

If Jesus talked about loving our enemies, he meant it, and he also meant our real enemies, not just people we vaguely don’t like. Good piece on formerly fundie.

Morgan Guyton is having a very interesting series called ‘radical Jesus ‘101’ on his blog. In the first issue about who and what is God he compares the trinity to ‘a polyamorous  love triangle’ (it even makes sense and is quite orthodox…)  Be also sure to read the second part called  is humanity good or evil.

And this just came in: Eric at the Jawbone of an ass with identifying religions to species. And when we’re in the category ‘other faiths': Iceland to build first temple to Norse Gods in 1000 years. (I decidedly like neo-paganism more than materialist atheism and logical positivism, so in today’s world I find this good news…)

so what did you read?

Bram

Bram Cools music electronic re-release: CCM II: psalms and prayers in lo-fi


(This is an update about the strange music of Bram Cools) Years ago I had a band called the Contemporary Christian Muzak collective (or CCMC). We tried to play some kind of experimental Christian music that did both try to connect to God and make some interesting sounds that hadn’t been used 100 times before already. Most of it was some kind of rough folky indierock, although we had some very weird free-from noise and experimental impro-parts as well… We only did a few concerts but we did have a lot of fun, and I really miss those days! But time passes and things change, and the bandmembers had families and other bands and other stuff going on, so it all sort of fell apart. We never did any studio-recordings as a band, and no real CD-worthy live recordings have been made. So all that’s left is my own home-recorded multitrack-versions with mostly myself on a lot of instruments. (And Bram Beels on didgeridoo sometimes) I still need to finish some of those songs, but the plan is still to have all the CCM songs available one day. But because that day will not be tomorrow, I will make some of that music available in another way:

So today we announce the bandcamp re-release of:

CCM II – psalms and prayers in lo-fi CCMIItracklist: 1. onzevader (intro) 02:30 2. dead end streets 03:17 3. the hippie song 04:28 4. not a tame lion (MiniDisk version) 03:46 5. Elvis has left the building (lo-fi mix) 03:59 6. Father I am tired (MiniDisk version) 02:38 7. stones cry out 04:13 8. last words to the first church (lo-fi mix) 03:52 9. Yeshua (MiniDisk mix) 04:28 10. qualities 05:47 11. feelings say nothing (reduction mix) 06:22 12. dood aan de graankorrel* 03:13 (* originally a hidden bonus track)

It’s very rare Bram Cools demo CD-R (on 15 copies originally) that was available only on one concert of the CCM (Contemporary Christian Muzak) collective in 2006. (Which was actually the last time we played under that name if I remember well) It does contain some classics in standard versions, and other songs in completely different incarnations, but it has most of the songs that we did play live with CCMC in one version or another. Some of those were recorded solo on MiniDisk, others were arranged very sketchily in primitive lo-fi manner…

Find more Bram Cools music for download at bandcamp.com. Or check out this older overview here on this blog.

(All music is currently ‘choose your price’) enjoy (if you’re into that kind of music…)

peace

Bram