Who Hijacked Our Country

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Eighth Century Church in Syria

Archaeologists are all excited about finding an 8th century church in Syria.

What’s the big deal about an 8th century church? The United States is full of them.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

Well, as a medievalist, I am always happy to learn about new archelogical finds in what used to be called the Dark Ages, now the Early Middle Ages.

In terms of religious significance,
I'm not really sure.

Now we don't have any 8th century Syrian churches, but we do have Assyrian churches.

November 13, 2008 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Enemy: Mostly I was thinking of those gung ho Christians who want to take us back to the 8th century.

November 13, 2008 at 5:42 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Maybe it's an 8th century Scientology church. Long live Xemu!

November 13, 2008 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lew: Uh oh, that sounds like the name of an evil spirit. Could it be...Satan :)

November 13, 2008 at 6:07 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

That church was quite the historical find. The link to the elroy page was interesting, too.

As for gung ho Christians who want a return to Middle Age ways, I caution them to be careful what they wish for. I heard somewhere the Bible includes prohibitions against graven images and idolatry. A browse through one of the Christian books-and-regalia stores at the mall turns up plenty of examples of both. At least, I think someone who draws a sharp line on these things would say they do.

November 13, 2008 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: Damn right they need to be careful what they wish for. There are all sorts of prohibitions in the Bible that the holier-than-thou brigade tries to ignore. It mentions usury a lot more often than homosexuality. A lot of banking executives would be getting burned at the stake, plus those who worship graven images, eat shellfish, and dozens of other "sins."

November 13, 2008 at 11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to get up at the crack of dawn, go jogging and them come home and relax to Rocky and Bullwinkle before I would get showered and go to work. If I got home too early I got Jimmy Swaggert. So I started to watch amazed as he would put Jesus right in the middle of the old testament and make him a vengeful person.

Fundamentalist love the Old Testament. Rocky and Bullwinkle always made more sense.

Every time I watch a Bible show on the History Channel they use these distinguished scholars (from established seminaries and many whom are priest) who seem the most nonreligious people you've ever seen as they are always quick to point out how confusing and poorly put together the bible is.

The article mentions how much many Fundamentalist sects seem to disagree and yet doesn't explain how they have always managed to put away their differences very well and work for a common bond. Yet I remember the story how Jerry Falwels moral majority never opened their meetings with a prayer because with so many sects there - they couldn't agree on one.

I can see them eventually turning on each other and stabbing them in the back - BUT! They would have to have taken over by them and I don't want that to happen - talk about a real civlwarinqusition.

I find the article ambitious but just as you can't argue with a bigot, you can't argue with a fundamentalist. Their brainwashing is highly efficient. Not just fed passages but these are put together in a complex story - in a sense they have read the bible.

Someone's version of it!

I have argued with fundamentalist on how the bible was used to support segregation and get the same answer.
"well they were wrong?"

So may next question is:

In my lifetime almost 70 percent believed those passages were right how did we change as no one ever rewrote the bible.

But as the guy said you can see how they have taken advantage of progress - but then right wing thinking people always love to take advantages of certain liberal liberties with no guilt what so ever.

Like my co worker who on the same breath screams about liberals effecting his paycheck then on the same breath demands his right to overtime.

I wish this guy luck.


November 13, 2008 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: These Fundamentalists are so selective, they can make God or Jesus loving, hateful, vengeful, forgiving, all-powerful, totally helpless -- anything that's convenient for their argument.

That's funny how they can say in retrospect "oh, they were wrong," even though the Bible is supposed to be infallible and divinely inspired, and anybody using the Bible for "evidence" has God on his side.

I remember a Mad Magazine cartoon several decades ago called "You Can't Argue with a Bigot." Arguing with a Christian fanatic is equally impossible.

November 13, 2008 at 11:48 PM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

I went to Roman Catholic schools for thirteen years, and I don't ever remember homosexuality being brought up, but I certainly remember usury. Usually because as kids, we would then make bad jokes about Uranus and such.

The Bible can be summed up by Ned Flanders after his house got hurricanized: "I've done everything the Bible says, even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff!"

November 14, 2008 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Randal: 13 years of Catholic school -- no wonder your posts are all over the map :)

The Catholics I've known (the ones who were religious) have all had a strong sense of social justice along with their "moral" outrage at gays and abortion. I think it's relatively recent that "religion" and "morals" are synonymous with hating everybody who's different, with no more emphasis on helping others, which is what most of the Bible talks about.

November 14, 2008 at 11:23 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Anonymous, I used to get a bigger kick out of Boris and Natasha than Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Boris to Natasha, who's down on her knees, supposedly giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and external heart massage: "That's it, out with the good air, in with the bad air; out with the good air, in with the bad air."

I often recall that scene when I see or hear Dick Cheney.

November 14, 2008 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger Ron Nasty said...

The world has changed a lot in the last twelve centuries, however, religion hasn't at all, if ya know what I mean.

November 14, 2008 at 3:08 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

I think American Christians can be divided into two broad groups.

You have fundamentalists who are usually Bible literalists. If I understand them correctly, they believe the Bible is God's handiwork, even though He might not have written everything down Himself. (It's a "The Lord works in mysterious ways" thing.) So, they believe the Bibble itself is divine and not to be questioned or quibbled with.

I think mainstream Protestant faiths mostly have some appreciation of what the Bible is made up of and how it came to be. That is, stories, parables and fables. The popular wisdom of ancients as handed down through generations orally, until was finally written down in ancient languages, then translated into Greek, Latin and modern languages.

The chance of things in the Bible getting mangled through ineptness or spun for advantage by various sects, faiths and rulers over many centuries seems obvious. So, I think many mainstream Protestants take the Bible with a grain of salt.

I think many Catholics do as well, for the same reasons, although like fundamentalist Protestants, the Roman Catholic Church officially considers the book sacred and divine in its own right, and thus not to be questioned. (Randal, please correct me if I'm wrong about that.)

Just to give one nonreligious example of where people can go wrong trying to follow popular wisdom of days gone by, consider the home remedy for burns. For generations it was considered good practice to slather butter or grease on a burn. It was thought to be soothing and protective. People were still doing that when I was a kid — awhile back, I admit, but not exactly ancient times.

In fact, seared flesh is extremely vulnerable to infection all by itself. But if you really want to make a bad situation worse, quickly, just put food out for the bacteria on nearby skin and in the air. The "bugs" consider butter and such haute cuisine. It provides a secure landing zone and rich nourishment in which they multiply. Yeah, that's it, make the poor burn victim a living petrie dish.

So, while there is certainly plenty of worthwhile ancient wisdom to be gleaned from the Bible — the Golden rule, honor thy mother and father, etc. — common sense indicates to me that what a lot of it is really supposed to mean, and why it's in there, is largely unknown and probably unknowable at this point. Taking the whole thing literally seems like a prescription for trouble, in one's life, family and society.

November 14, 2008 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ron: Nope, some people never change.

SW: That pretty well sums it up I think -- the people who think the Bible literally means every word, and people who believe in the basic teachings of the Bible while realizing that it's been altered through centuries of translations, rewritings and re-interpretation.

Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of people who are gung ho about the fire and brimstone parts of the Bible (their reasoning is "because the Bible says so") and yet they ignore the "helping others" passages.

I think most Catholics are consistent -- they have that sense of fairness and social justice along with all the "moral" preaching. (That's a generalization of course.)

November 14, 2008 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

I want to add more to this discussion, but I'm sleepy. I will soon be blogging on this topic--Christians and the Bible as I'm reviewing a new edition online for a publicist. I consider myself Christian, but maybe I shouldn't because I borrow from other faiths too--hard to explain, but I like the gospels, but not much else in the NT; I like the stories in the OT, but I don't like Yahweh much--in fact I don't think the OT and the NT have anything to do with each other thematically. A lot of Christians who believe that the Bible is the ultimate word of God haven't read it in the original nor studied the politics of translation. Anyway--I'll let you know when I do this--hopefully my next blog.

November 14, 2008 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Enemy: For myself, I'd have to call myself an agnostic. I don't believe or disbelieve anything religious, metaphysical, etc. I read some occult-parapsychology books in the '70s which made a lot of sense; if I had to define a belief it would probably be from those books.

But I'm not attached to any of those ideas, so maybe "belief" isn't the right word. Whatever turns out to be the "truth," that's the way it is. I do find the entire subject really fascinating. It's too bad there's so much emotional baggage attached to any kind of religious-philosophical discussions. I'm open to any and all ideas and I think everybody should be.

November 15, 2008 at 12:30 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Tom, your open mindedness plays a big part in making Hijacked a really good blog, IMO. It's a valuable and too-uncommon quality in people, especially where politics and religion are concerned.

I shake my head in frustrated disappointment when someone says, "I don't (or let's don't) discuss politics or religion because, you know, it's too likely to end in hurt feelings or hard feelings, or both."

Why? What's the problem if someone expresses differing beliefs? Why should it be traumatic if someone questions something a person believes or believes in?

How hard is it to say: "OK, that's your thought. It's different from mine, but interesting (or not). Here's what I think . . ."

Down that path, people gain food for thought, get to compare ideas and insights and perceptions. Beliefs worth believing can stand up to being challenged or questioned.

Maybe it's a case of me being too judgmental, but when I hear the "Let's not ..." statement, I suspect what the person holds is unexamined, unquestioned dogma that was swallowed whole. In my book, dogma is to sincere faith what being handcuffed is to holding hands with someone.

November 15, 2008 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: Thanks. Yes, it's too bad differing opinions can't be shared and discussed without all the emotional baggage attached.

I come from a family of almost exclusively Republicans; mostly those East Coast "country club Republicans" that the Far Right looks down on for not being "true believers." Political issues are almost never mentioned at family gatherings; it's that elephant in the room that everybody pretends they don't see.

I think you're right that when people are closed-minded and have a tantrum when somebody disagrees, it's because their belief is unexamined. They can't stand the possibility that this cherished belief might not be true so they react with blind fury when somebody questions this belief.

November 16, 2008 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

If it's in Syria then Im happy so that the Myth of Christians being violated in the Middle East ends. People in America still don't know that there are many Arab Christians living with Arab Muslims very peacefuly since Christ time until today.

November 16, 2008 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ali: I guess it isn't newsworthy when different races and religions live harmoniously. I read somewhere that one of Israel's large cities (Haifa I think) has very smooth relations between Israelis and Palestinians. But fear and bloodshed make more news and sell more advertising.

November 16, 2008 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

Tom, the media and movie industry in the US portrays Arabs as Muslims only while Jesus and Moses were born on Arab soil. Before 1948, Jews used to live peacfuly with their Christian and Muslim brothers in the Middle east, after all we saved the Jews when they were expelled by the Spanish 400 years ago. But after the creation of Israel which resulted in Palestinian diaspora, Jews feared Arab anger and they migrated to Palestine. Many Palestinians didnt leave their lands when Israel was created in 1948 and stayed in Haifa, Jaffa, Acre and they were given Israeli citizenshop (AKA Arab Isrselis) and they live side by side with Jews but sometimes tension happen. In Jordan Christians and Causacians reperstent 30% of the population, in Lebanon they are 50%, in Yemen, Iraq, Iran and Tunis we still have some Jews. Things you wont hear on US media

November 16, 2008 at 11:16 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ali: Thanks for the information. It makes sense. I've been to Iran, but none of the other countries you mentioned. Iran was a pretty versatile mix (this was 1976-77); not a bit like the one-dimensional image portrayed in the American press.

November 16, 2008 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

Im sure Iran now is very different after the Shah days and it's controversal but hey, Women there have more rights than in Saudi Arabia which is the largest US Alley ih the region. I dislike Ahmed Najadi, I think even Iranians do. The situation in Middle East especialy in Israel and Palestine is very complicated and complex and the talk about a 2 state solution is rediculous as you can't seperate arab towns and villages from Israeli ones and having an Aparthied wall doesnt help either. I always call for 1 state solution for all, where all citizens have the right to live, work, move, education, healthcare, clean water, protection which Palestinians now under occupation lack. Also the right of return is very important as well as the status of Jerusalem, see neither Obama or any American president would understand that. change must come within the Israelis and Palestrinians, they live there and they know better. I only wish Obama can push and force those bastards (from both sides) to realy implement peace

November 17, 2008 at 12:09 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ali: All very good points. No doubt, the dynamics in Middle Eastern politics are much more complicated and nuanced than most Americans will ever understand (or care about). I have al-Jazeera linked at my blog. I don't go there as often as I mean to, but it sure shows a different perspective on global issues than you get from the American media.

November 17, 2008 at 12:50 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

Thanks Tom, I also recommend the following links:

November 17, 2008 at 1:22 AM  
Blogger Miss Kitty said...

Ow! That was COLD! And also incredibly funny.

November 17, 2008 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ali: Thanks. I'll check out those links. I'm already on Democracy Now's mailing list, but I'm not familiar with the others.

Miss Kitty: Cold and funny, my favorite combination.

November 17, 2008 at 12:27 PM  

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