I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Saint John, Letter to Galatians 4:16

Freedom of Religion - Freedom from Religion - Freedom of Public Display of Religion and Traditions

We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief.
Ronald Reagan (Temple Hillel Speech, 1984)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Michel De Nostradame: The Nostradamus Prophecies

Nostradamus In an article I wrote previously, Prophecy of 2012, the Mayan Calendar Prophecy, a French apothecary turned prophet was mentioned. His name was Michel de Nostredame (Latin = Nostradamus).
Michel de Nostradamus was born on December 14th 1503 and died July 2nd, 1566. He was a French Apothecary and a seer who published collections of his prophecies that have become famous around the globe. He is best known for his book Les Propheties, the first edition published in 1555. This book has rarely been out of print since his death and it has attracted cult popularity among millions throughout its history.
Nostradamus was part of the French Renaissance and his prophecies have been applied to the alleged Bible Code and other prophetic works, such as the Mayan Calendar theory.
Nostradamus’ birthplace is questionable, but it has been established by scholars as Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in the south of France on December 14th, 1503 (though it still is “official” among circles as December 21st). He was one of nine children of Reyniére de St-Rémy and grain dealer and notary Jaume de Nostredame. The family had a Jewish background, but Jaume's father, Guy Gassonet, had converted to Catholicism around 1455, taking the Christian name “Pierre” and the surname “Nostredame”. His known siblings included Delphine, Jehan (1507-1577), Pierre, Hector, Louis (born 1522), Bertrand, Jean and Antoine (born 1523). Not much else is known about Nostradamus’ childhood, although it is surmised that he was educated by his maternal great-grandfather.
When Nostradamus was 15 years old he entered the University of Avignon to study for his baccalaureate. After one year he was forced to leave Avignon when the university closed down because of an outbreak of plague. In 1529, after some years in the field of apothecary, he entered the University of Montpellier to study for a doctorate in medicine. He was expelled shortly after when it was discovered he had been an apothecary, a trade banned by the university. The expulsion document still exists in the faculty library. After his expulsion, Nostradamus continued working as an apothecary and became famous for creating the “rose pill” that supposedly protected people against the plague. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lupa, She-Wolf and the Discovery of a Roman Grotto

One of the best known legends of antiquity, for anyone familiar with the history of Rome, Italy, is the tale of how it became founded. It begins with a man named Numitor and his brother, Amulius. Amulius eliminated his brother and banned Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, from having children, thus eliminating any heirs to the throne over Amulius’ children. Rhea was sent to serve in the temple as a Vestal Virgin, where she was tutored to be a priestess and who was to remain a virgin in the temple service. She became pregnant and gave birth to twins – Romulus and Remus. The legend does not reveal who the father was. Amulius sentenced Rhea Silvia to death, being justified because she didn’t keep her vows of virginity in her service as a Vestal Virgin. It was also ordered that the twins be killed as well, but the servant given the mission to do so could not do it and left them in a basket on the banks of the Tiber river. The legend states that the twins were raised by a she-wolf by the name of Lupa, a Latin name also used for female prostitutes and for priestesses of a fox goddess.
A shepherd discovered the boys and brought them home to be raised with his family. The famous bronze statue of the she-wolf suckling the twins is at the entrance to the City Hall at Rome’s Campidoglio and has become a symbol of ancient Rome and Latin romantic tales in Spain as well as Romania. 

Book Review: A Mended and Broken Heart by Wendy Murray

Saint Francis of Assisi Francis of Assisi was/is the Catholic’s favorite saint and in the book A Mended and Broken Heart written by Wendy Murray, who has written numerous books on Christian topics, as well as articles for Belief Net, portrays Francis’ love of nature and animals and his renunciation of wealth and yet a man of many facets. In his lifetime he was:
a poet, a warrior, a knight, a lover, a madman, and a saint.
Wendy Murray reveals a complex man and his extraordinary relationship with his spiritual soul mate, Clare of Assisi.
His full name was Francis di Bernardone and was born in Assisi in Umbria in 1182. His youth was spent aspiring to be like the Arthurian ideology of medieval knighthood. After one day, instead of shunning a leper, which would be the normal thing to do in that society, he embraced him instead. According to history that was the moment that changed Francis for the rest of his life, and became so dedicated to his faith he stole from his father to provide for the repair of the local church. His father took the matter up in court and while on trial he not only gave the money back to the court for the father, but stripped down to nakedness literally giving his father the clothes off his back. After that, Francis dedicated his life to as saintly a life as humanly possible and founded the Franciscan Friars. He was canonized two years after his death in 1226, and Pope Alexander commissioned Bonaventure to write Francis's official biography. After the biography was completed, all other biographies were destroyed.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chapter 9: Early Christianity - Organizing a New Religion

Fall and Rebirth of Rome  
One thousand years before the birth of Christ, Rome, the city that became the capital of the known world, conquest was established and men and intellect had maintained it. It was founded by survivors of Troy and begun with the adaptation of Greek culture, to include the concept of a republic and a senate.
Four hundred years after Christ’s birth, once again a great change had occurred and the greatest civilization in the world came to an end; but out of the ashes arose the beginning of another and the Christians who had struggled for so long to exist became the founders of the new Rome. The once persecuted people called Christians became the founding principle of the new Rome under the leadership of bishops and cardinals who had been ordained by the Apostles of Christ, all under the prime leadership of the Papal authority. The Church converted the barbarians who were instrumental in the fall of the Roman Empire; but unlike its previous society, superstition and the papal power would replace science, educational thought and republican senatorial government, which had been weakened by emperors and military coups. [I]