Archive for the Spiritual Category

Dante’s Christianity

Posted in History, Poems, Religions, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2017 by Drogo

Christian Hell, Purgatory, & Heaven

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) was a major Italian poet for writing a very famous religious fantasy book called ‘The Divine Comedy’. Dante is called the ‘Founder of Italian’ because he wrote in Tuscan vernacular ‘vulgar’ dialect, rather than traditional or ‘proper’ Latin. Dante used a poetic literature style for his novel, which used the 3-line rhyme scheme (terza rima). Dante’s depictions of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven have inspired a large body of religious art, and influenced Christianity itself. His ‘Divine Comedy‘ represents the medieval mind combining religious and romantic imagery. Dante’s quest for his ideal love ‘Beatrice’ represents the soul’s journey towards God. Dante draws the reader into his transcendent fictional memoir by sharing common life phases, famous and infamous names, and biographical details. Dante called it a ‘comedy’ because the plot proceeds from turmoil to a happy ending; but the story is certainly a mixture of many genres. Fans that refer to it as ‘The Inferno‘ are usually most fascinated by the horrible torture scenes in Hell. Fear of Hell is very compelling for many Christians, fed by the classic ‘fire & brimstone’ sermons. Purgatory is similar to the torture myths of Sisyphus and Prometheus, with a spiral upwards. The Garden of Eden crowns its summit. The 7 deadly sins are cleansed in Purgatory, so loving sinners can earn going to Heaven. Heaven is made of celestial rings crowned by the golden Empyrean pyramid containing the essence of God. There are 9 ring levels each with 1 final chief control center, for a total of 10 layers per realm.

Dante’s book is similar to classical adventures in Hades, where the hero visits the realm of the dead and returns to the land of the living to tell the tale; except for Catholics there are 3 realms of the dead where heavenly ‘Paradise’ seems not within the Underworld, and with Purgatory takes the place of Mount Olympus. There are references to the Roma-Amor mirror dichotomy palindrome of public duty and private love, Sunwise vs Anti-diasil spiral procession, and Plebeian Secession.

Medieval Italy had a political struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines. Dante was part of the Guelphs, who favored the Papacy over the Holy Roman Emperor. Florence’s Guelphs split into factions around 1300: the White Guelphs and the Black Guelphs. Dante was among the White Guelphs who were exiled in 1302 by the Lord-Mayor.

The last word in each of the three canticas is stelle (“stars”).20171201_151134

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Romanesque and Gothic Architecture

Posted in Historic Architecture, Religions, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 15, 2017 by Drogo

Cathedral Architecture of the Middle Ages

Romanesque cathedrals were based on Roman basilica designs, with thick walls and high ceilings. Engineering innovations like Gothic arches, flying buttresses, and keystone vaulting allowed for higher and larger expanses. Stain-glass windows and sculptures were integral parts of Gothic style; Cathedrals had exterior demons and interior angels. Water spout sculptures were called gargoyles and grotesques were ornaments to ‘ward off evil’ in much the same way comedic caricatures and scary decoration do at traditional festivals like Halloween. By embracing cultural demons in some form, the stress of Sin has less power for some; while scaring others into obedience, lest they get captured by demons outside. The inner sanctum of the church was where God protects his followers.

Christian Crusades

Posted in History, Military, Religions, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2017 by Drogo

The Christian Crusades (1095-1410) invaded Jewish and Muslim territories, and used militant terrorism on locals. In 1095 Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komnenos I requested military aid from Pope Urban II. Whether Alexios was just complaining or wanted a show of mercenary support under Byzantine control, is unclear. Alexios had restored the Empire’s finances and authority, but he still struggled with foreign enemies, particularly the migrating Turks.

At the Council of Clermont later that year, Pope Urban preached for a Crusade to free the holy lands from the infidels. By giving more military forces than Alexios requested, Urban would be in a political position of power in the East. Local clerics through-out Europe were encouraged by Pope Urban’s declaration of holy war. Peter the Hermit led thousands of mostly poor Christians out of Europe in what became known as the People’s Crusade. In 1096 Peter claimed he had a letter from Heaven telling Christians to prepare for the Apocalypse by seizing Jerusalem from the Muslims and Jews. Europe witnessed the first major anti-Semitic massacre when these Crusaders terrorized entire Jewish communities in Rhineland Germany. Before they got close to Jerusalem, the first Crusader army was ambushed by the Turks and suffered heavy losses, causing retreat. The Kings of France and England refused to join Pope Urban’s Crusade of German despotism, but many other nobles began to rally troops from various countries based on bonds of lordship, family, ethnicity, and language. Foremost amongst the noble financiers were Count Raymond IV of France; Prince Bohemond and his nephew Tancred of Norman Italy; and lastly Godfrey and his brother Baldwin I, lords of Lotharingia. Combined with a Northern French army led by lesser lords, the armies totaled about 100,000 people.

The official First Crusade army led by nobles combined with some veterans of the first peasant army, and traveled to Byzantium. Emperor Alexios cautiously welcomed them, and made the princes and counts pledge allegiance to him. This allowed both East and West Christian Empires to unite against the Turkish Sultan Kilij Arslan I. In 1097 after a Crusader siege and a Byzantine naval assault, Nicaea was captured. Crusader envoys were sent to Egypt seeking an alliance. The Turks were not unified in defense of Aleppo and Damascus. The 3-month march to Antioch was plagued by starvation, thirst, and disease. Baldwin used 100 knights to claim his own territory in Edessa. Despite losses, the Crusader army embarked on an 8-month siege stalemate of Antioch. Bohemond persuaded a tower guard to open a gate, and the Crusaders entered and massacred the many Muslims and Christians of Antioch.

Sunni Islam under the Sultan of Baghdad raised an army to recapture Antioch, led by the Iraqi general Kerbogha. Having lost thousands through desertion and starvation in the besieged city, the Crusaders attempted to negotiate surrender. This was rejected by Kerbogha, who wanted to destroy the invaders. Morale within the city was boosted when a mystic soldier claimed to have discovered the Holy Lance of Antioch. Bohemond led his Franks to break the Muslim ranks, who surprisingly retreated and abandoned the counter-siege.

Fatimid Egyptians took Jerusalem from the Turks. Raymond left Bohemond at Antioch, and led his Crusader army rapidly along the South coast to Jerusalem. After some failures, Crusaders constructed two large siege engines; the one commanded by Godfrey breached the walls in 1099. For two days the Crusaders massacred the Jews and Muslims of Jerusalem and pillaged the City of God. Godfrey further secured the Frankish position by surprising the Egyptian Shia soldiers, who retreated to Egypt. By 1100 most of the Crusaders considered their pilgrimage complete and returned to Europe, leaving behind Godfrey, Tancred, and Baldwin. Muslims mistook the Crusaders for the latest in a long line of Byzantine mercenaries (eg Vikings), rather than religious paladins bent on long term conquest and control of people property. During the 1100s Muslims realized they needed to organize their armies like the Europeans were doing, so they could level the playing field at least for defense.

Moses Maimonides was a Jewish rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Morocco and Egypt during the 1100s. Moses Maimonides wrote the tractate ‘Sanhedrin’ in which he formulated 13 Principles of Hebrew Faith. The Sanhedrin summarized his opinion of the required beliefs of Judaism; which included the exaltation of God and Moses, the coming of the Jewish Messiah, and resurrection of the dead. Maimonides also wrote about charity and prophesy.

Knights Hospitallers, aka ‘The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem’, originated from an Amalfitan monastic Christian hospital cult in Jerusalem. After the first conquest of Jerusalem circa 1100, the Hospitallers also became a military order under Papal charter, charged with the care and defense of the Holy Land. The medieval Catholic military order endured and eventually became the modern Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

The Knights Templar were founded circa 1120 and lasted as an official Catholic paladin military order until 1312. The name ‘Templar’ comes from their full name ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ in the Order of Solomon’s Temple’. In the Dark-Ages Frankish knights in the court of Charlemagne paladins (cleric-warriors) tradition based on the legends of Roland and his other knights. Templars admired the image of pauper knights helping each-other by sharing the same horse. Templar knights with their red cross on white field coat-of-arms, became famous for dedication to faith, fighting, and finance.

Teutonic Knights, aka ‘The Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem’, were a clerical military mercenary order circa 1190. The Teutonic mission was to conquer and protect German Church interests including pilgrims and hospitals. The Teutonic Order has recently been only religious since 1929, but still confers limited honorary ‘knight’ awards.

Arabic philosophy was usually more enlightened than European philosophy under Christian theology during the Middle-Ages. We in the West are still learning from Arabic sources, how to interpret our own records better. Robert of Chester translated the Arabic book of the ‘Composition of Alchemy‘ in 1144.

After the establishment of the religious military orders of Hospitallers, Templars, and Teutonic Knights; Popes were granting money and property to those who fought papal enemies, making the crusades more blatantly political and economic, although many continued to use the theology as justification for war. True believers often cannot be counted, as we cannot know what people truly thought inside. People often are torn inside about loyalties and motivations, and religions are largely based on dealing with dualities in life.

More nobles from all over Europe led campaigns with smaller groups of crusaders. The loss of Aleppo and Edessa before 1150, led to propaganda for the Second Crusade. This time kings got in on the action. King Louis VII and Conrad III led armies from France and Germany to Jerusalem and Damascus, without major victories. Preaching anti-Semitism again led to attacks on Jews including massacres in the German Rhineland and other places, amid claims that the Jews were not contributing financially to Christian society or the rescue of the Holy Land.

In the 1160-80s Islamic power changed leaders from Zengi, to Nur al-Din, and finally to the most famous Saladin. Saladin united Aleppo, Damascus, and Egypt in the Crusade era. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, kicked off the Third Crusade by drowning in the Saleph River on route to the Holy Land. Richard the Lionheart, King of England conquered Cyprus in 1191. Philip II of France arrived at the siege of Acre, and with the help of his best buddy Richard, the French and English won. Richard and his English army travelled South along the Mediterranean coast, and defeated Muslims near Arsuf and recaptured Jaffa. Richard the Lionheart came close to Jerusalem, but realized he lacked the resources to capture and keep the city. This marked the end of Richard’s crusading career, but Richard preferred his properties in France so Prince John ran England (see Magna Carta and ‘Legend of Robin Hood’ – 1200s).

In 1200 Pope Innocent III began preaching for the Fourth Crusade in France, England, and Germany. In Venice the Doge plotted to use the Fourth Crusade to overthrow Emperor Alexios III of Byzantium. Crusader knights arrived in Venice and were unable to pay the Venetians for a fleet, so they agreed to attack Constantinople, sack it, and share what could be looted as payment. The crusaders conquered Constantinople twice, pillaging churches, and killing nobles and many citizens. The Fourth Crusade never got near Jerusalem.

Popular ecstatic piety led to the Children’s Crusade in 1212. Large groups of young adults and children gathered, believing their innocence would enable success, where their corrupt elders had failed. Most were captured and sold into slavery. Few went on to the Holy Lands. In 1217 the Fifth Crusade was led by Andrew II of Hungary and Duke Leopold VI of Austria, against Saladin’s Ayyubid successors in Egypt and Syria.

The Sixth Crusade was a negotiated truce, supported by force and concessions. Frederick II was a Holy Roman Emperor with some cultural sympathy for Islam, and arrived at Acre in 1228. The peace treaty gave Christians most of Jerusalem and access to Acre, while the Muslims kept their sacred areas, and the Sultan of Egypt could use crusaders as mercenaries. Pope Gregory IX attacked Frederick II, ruining Christian progress in the area. Next was the Barons’ Crusade, and finally several other crusades including those in modern times.

 

[to be continued]

 

 

 

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Stupid Crusades Video War commentary by Drogo Empedocles

Sexism vs Feminism: as a male artist

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Pagan, Psychology, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2017 by Drogo

About portraits of women as a male artist: Do all women have to be drawn by women, or only prudishly by men? Perhaps some feel in a Patriarchal society, men should be artistically castrated. When I am angry at men or myself, I do feel that severe hatred against abuse. If women do not think any man should be called a Feminist, they do not have to call me that, regardless of my intense desire to respect and love the symbol of divine feminine (goddess concept) which is in touch with humanity (the relation between our best qualities possible in reality, and the ideal mental world). Sometimes the difference between sexist exploitation and respect to a heroine in portraits is mood, attitude, and personality; and how much those are portrayed to the observer (beyond blatant abuse of a model). If the model conveys they are wanting to share their look with others, guarded or proud, warning or invitation, regardless of the photographer or artist, i think it speaks more about the model or the character of the subject as it should, since they are not meant to represent an object in the art, but a realistic living being with some kind of spirit. i think not all idols are false, if a person looks up to a hero as a subject of study and reflection. The humanity of a subject and how the observer feels about that, is where i like the activity to be. If i can get the observer to feel they have a relation to the subject, regardless of the artist, i feel successful. the power of emotion being with the subject actor, not the camera-man artist who best represents an observer. If an observer feels uncomfortable as an abuser or a victim of the subject, rather than as a more objective neutral non-judgmental observer, then it is no longer a show about observing, but participating like a theater in the round where the audience can get involved in the play, which is not predictable or safe, and can easily be condemned resulting from personal feelings from people who now feel a real involvement and responsibility to judge fellow participants in the act of art. i personally like to draw all shapes of people, some models do happen to be skinny, but i prefer to represent “normal sizes” which are realistically common, and work with people comfortable acting a role or presenting themselves how they want. Sometimes art involves normal traits and sometimes abnormal traits. . Large or small to me depends on the model, when using a model for who they are as a person, i like realism in proportion for serious pieces. For me the self-esteem of a model who I view as a friend is critical. If the observer views all sexuality as perversion, they will not like my observations of nature, and I must accept that is the view of many people who think women should be wrapped up and hidden from view, only men can be topless, or that all public nudity is sin (conservative society). Thank you for listening, enjoy art for art’s sake as much as possible, regardless of the human flaws of an artist that may or may-not be self aware of intentions and how those intentions relate to popular culture or social manners.

Sensible Sensuality, Rather Than Asceticism

Posted in Health & Fitness, Pagan, Philosophy, Religions, Spiritual, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2017 by Drogo

Sensuality vs Asceticism, a Subjective Dichotomy

Sensualists, or heathen hedonists as some prefer, believe that it is natural and good to satisfy ourselves. Sensuality in moderation means being in harmony with compassion and passion; but in the extreme a voracious hedonist will pay for their excess if their addictive craving hurts others and toxins result in abundance. Sensuality simply means receiving pleasure from our senses, as a natural and healthy practice for happiness.

Ascetics are religiously dogmatic abstinence purists, that view all indulgences as wrong. How one defines indulgences as abuse rather than satisfying means to temporal ends, determines how extreme their discipline. For example, if a person is hungry should they eat until they are full, or always eat the smallest possible amount? In Christianity the concept of Sin is used, to incite guilt and punishment for breaking the ascetic rules. In Buddhism, monastic obedience to the rules often uses similar corporal punishment, without having their own word for what essentially amounts to the same thing as “sin”. In monasteries asceticism goes beyond self-discipline, as hierarchy must maintain ordered control, for the rules to mean anything.

There are spiritual arguments for both Life paths, however some of us are biologically inclined and nurtured towards one way more than another. Some of us see nothing wrong with basing our lives around caring for sexual beings and accepting that sexuality is not only a biological instinct but also when respectful and compassionate is one of the highest pleasures. Others reject mammalian nature due to abuse, manipulation, and suffering caused by desire and attachment. To mentally abstain from sexuality can be easy for those with strong reptile instincts, but as might be the case for most who repress feelings, our neocortex uses a function Freud called the super-ego to deny our more id and ego impulses. In a similar way, some people believe we should express ourselves to be healthy, while others have believed we should suppress ourselves to be healthy. Most reasonable people use moderation rather than extremes, which ever label they use to describe themselves. Sensualists can have a pleasurable happy sufficient life, without being ruined by hedonistic uncontrollable urges; just as Ascetics can participate in common life, without starving or forcing others to starve by abstaining from compassion. Sensible satisfaction is a key to common happiness.

“Fill your belly.

Day and night make merry.

Let days be full of joy.”

– Siduri to Gilgamesh

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[note: will add hunter-prey, abuser-victim dichotomy complexity later, this essay assumes healthy sexuality, not abuse which can make asceticism much more appealing as defense for victims that view anyone who enjoys sex, like Dr. Ruth, as a predator or sick pervert, only one step removed from a molester. Connect to Epicurus.]

AA Economics – SCOD Transition Systems

Posted in Economics, Philosophy, Psychology, Spiritual, Sustainability, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2017 by Drogo

Religious vs. Business

Christian, AA, Buddhist vs Capitalist Business

Economics is a belief based philosophy that we can use psychology (behavioral) and accounting (math) to facilitate successful transactions of commerce. Some people want rational and peaceful economic systems in harmony with nature, and others want predatory ‘winner takes all’ systems as over-bearing master abusers. Before Marx wrote about communism and socialism, Christianity was founded on communal living and social services (similar to tribal Pagans). Christian social services are based on the concept that ‘giving is its own reward’ because God loves them, wants them to give without material or monetary benefit, and will reward them in the after-life for their sacrifice. AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) uses a Christian prohibitionist type of addiction therapy, run on member based donations and volunteer work. Buddhism has a similar charity concept that encourages vows of poverty and sacrifice.

Rather than predatory State Capitalism, or dogmatic Church Monarchy, we could change towards more moral humane systems. We can reward ‘givers’ more than ‘takers’. We need to be aware of the poor who give it all away, and the rich that take more than their fair share; because the system currently works in reverse. So we can develop a middle-ground between the two extremes of Religion and Business ideology. Communism clearly has the modesty of religious morality, and Socialism has the best aspects of trade & barter ethics. Clearly the best type of Capitalism (if it is to survive) will embrace egalitarianism for the majority of the population, that makes more property public and rewards those that give to others the most.

Predatory Capitalism is like an addiction, it is very hard to break a harmful habit if we feel we cannot stop ourselves from doing, even when it hurts ourselves and others more than it benefits them. Therefore perhaps a SCOD system of economic transition can be similar to AA, where we can admit we have a problem, and that by helping others we are solving the problem. Then we can begin apologizing to all those we could have given more to, when we only practiced Capitalism.

* This essay is an addition to the book:

SCOD Economics: Alternative Economic Theories

Patriarchy vs Matriarchy

Posted in Critical Commentary of Civilization, Military, Philosophy, Religions, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2017 by Drogo

My thoughts on why Feminism and Hermes/Aphrodite rights are so critical today –

I believe there are many types of relationships, friendship being most important. I tend to find that males can usually handle aggression better than females because of testosterone, but with gender such statements are of course generalizations. I do think that civilization has operated on the chemical and role differences in militaries and most power systems, allowing men to dominate politics and religion as well. Predatory Capitalism also seems based on competitive aggression more than compassionate sympathy. These patriarchal power structures may be why cultures tend to be so homophobic; as to admit to feminine ‘weaknesses’ like love and care are vulnerabilities that opponents can use against us. I think many of our problems in the World today are a result of our inability to place humanitarian leaders in power, that would balance the lop-sided ‘titanic’ systemic dynamic that has perpetuated demagogues over democracy.