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The God Delusion is a great read; funny and witty in places and deadly serious in others. The author, Richard Dawkins is a professor and a scholar of renown and of course the brilliant writer of several significant books.

The God Delusion is divided into chapters with the several headings within each chapter making the book easy to read.  Dawkins is an atheist who has written, and lectured on, a great deal about the harm religion does to children, by religious indoctrination, which he believes is a form of child abuse. This book was right up my alley, so to speak. Christianity, just as much as Islam, teaches  that unquestioned faith is a virtue.

Religion, whether either one or other of the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity or Islam, is full of contradictions…no wonder children are confused. And it’s not just Muslims who are inspired to become martyrs. I can remember as a child revering those Christian martyrs whose stories we heard every day from the pulpit or in catechism classes. These three monotheistic religions have engaged in extreme violence against their respective ‘infidels’ and apostates. One only has to read the Qur’an to know that Islam is not a religion of peace.  Dawkins quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson “ …the religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next”…Except, writes Dawkins, ‘we are not allowed to laugh at Islam, under threat of fatwas!’ And anyway, Dawkins comforts his fellow atheists by promising us that monotheism is doomed to subtract one more god and become atheism. It cannot come soon enough for me and the millions of other atheists around the world.

Another thing about monotheistic religions that has no place in 21st century in my view, is that they enjoy tax-free status and as Dawkins states: ‘… far better to abandon tax-free status for religions altogether… because it helps to promote them while allowing them to avoid the rigorous vetting imposed on secular charities.’  Dawkins has researched the huge amounts of money amassed by TV evangelists in USA unscrupulously ‘stolen’ from believers. And believe me, the amounts of tax-free ‘donations’ these religious thieves steal from the true believers are the only ‘awe’ inspiring thing about the capitalist religion of televangelists.

I was especially interested in the chapter in which the author, who is a biologist and supporter of the Darwinian theory of evolution, discusses his views on religion as a ‘by-product’ of something else. Once again evolution of the human species comes into play and indeed does make sense to me. A theory that posits a selective advantage to children’s brains that possess a  ‘rule of thumb’ in order to keep children safe and so preserve human life; e.g. the experience of previous generations. Obey your parents, obey your tribal elders, ‘especially when they adopt a solemn minatory tone.’ This makes perfect sense to me having been indoctrinated since infancy into Catholicism which ensures children do not question anything they are told, and never learn to think for themselves. It has perhaps allowed so many children to be sexually abused by clergy with impunity, for centuries. Believe, and obey without question!

I love Dawkins’ description: ‘The god of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant in all fiction: Jealous and proud of it, a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak. A vindictive, blood thirsty, ethnic cleanser. A misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully!’  What chance do children have when  they are inculcated from infancy, to believe in, and fear, this vile father figure of a god?

Many scholars, including the author, are of the view that it’s the very moderate inculcation of religious teachings that inspire suicide bombers, and Dawkins discusses this at length. He also enlightens the reader on the many arguments that arise between creationists and atheists, and this was intriguing and at times gobsmacking that creationists actually believe such pie in the sky fairy tales in the face of proven and widely accepted scientific research and findings.

Scientists posit that we humans have evolved and so are products of natural selection; so ‘we should ask what pressure or pressures exerted by natural selection originally favoured the impulse to religion’ and Dawkins gives us compelling answers. The roots of morality and why we are good is also a riveting chapter and I urge all those who believe that religion acts as humanity’s ‘moral compass’ to at least read this chapter. Morality was a factor in human existence long before religions came into being. Dawkins asks  if our moral sense has a Darwinian origin, and he suggests that readers will find no surprises in this chapter if they are well read and open minded, which of course those indoctrinated with religious dogma throughout their childhoods very likely won’t be! In any case, writes Dawkins, his purpose in analysing scriptures is to demonstrate  that most religious people who claim to derive their morals from scripture do not really do so in practice. But, he adds, ‘suicide bombers obviously do.’

As Dawkins states, the Bible and Qur’an are ‘plain weird…as you would expect of chaotically cobbled together anthologies of disjointed documents composed, revised, translated, distorted and improved by hundreds of different authors, writers, copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning several centuries.’  He also discusses at length the Old Testament stories taken from much older mythologies, which I found especially interesting.

One of the most ridiculous statements Dawkins elicited from an interview with a well-known televangelist, was that he blamed the disastrous flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, on a lesbian who lived in the city at the time. And he recalls the statement by a certain Anglican bishop, ‘thank god Jesus spoke the Queen’s English.’  Historic Mecca, the cradle of Islam is being buried in an unprecedented onslaught by religious zealots, but as Dawkins avows, there isn’t an atheist in the world  who would want to bulldoze Mecca or the Buddhas of Bamiyan,in the mountains of Afghanistan, for example.

And of course we all know that scriptures are blatantly misogynist and the author highlights relevant, horrific passages, full of rapes incest, sodomy, which would have been enough to add to my childhood nightmares if I’d read them at that time. For instance, in one chapter, two male angels (whatever they are) were sent to Sodom to warn Abraham’s nephew, Lot,  to leave that city. Lot invited the angels into his house and when all the men of Sodom gathered around outside and demanded that Lot hand over the angels so they could sodomise them, Lot refused and instead offered his two daughters ‘which have not known men’ to do with whatever they wanted. However, he warned them to do nothing to the two men whom he was protecting under his roof! Eventually Lot’s wife is turned into a pillar of salt and Lot commits incest with his two daughters. Dawkins suggests here that parents do not use the bible to teach their children morality. It’s obvious that zealous protectors of the Bible and Qur’an cherry pick chapters pertaining to peace whenever it suits them, because neither of these books can support their claims  that their religion is a religion of peace and morality. Nothing could be further from the truth. And the latest ludicrous claim by some Muslim women that Islam is not only a religion of peace, but also a ‘feminist’ one, is laughable! And how does it help to engender equality of the sexes, when the men of Jewish faith pray and thank god every day, for not making them a woman?

Dawkins provides the reader with clear and concise reasons why he believes moderation in faith fosters fanaticism,  and I found his reasons for this perfectly feasible. He uses the phrase ‘moral zeitgeist’,  spirit of change, or ‘enlightened consensus’, of which the opposite is the dark side of religious absolutism or extremism. His point is, and this is important in 2017,  that even mild or moderate religion helps to provide the climate of faith in which extremism naturally flourishes. It goes without saying of course, that indoctrination begins in early childhood because parents inflict their religious beliefs onto their children.

In his book, Dawkins quotes respected journalist, Muriel Gray, writing in the Glasgow Herald, 24 July 2005, with reference to the London bombings: Everyone is being blamed, from the obvious villainous duo of George W Bush and Tony Blair, to the inaction of Muslim ‘communities’. But it has never been clearer that there is only one place to lay the blame and it has ever been thus. The cause of all this misery, mayhem, violence, terror and ignorance,  is of course religion itself, and it seems ludicrous to have to state such an obvious reality, the fact is that the government and the media are doing a pretty good job of pretending that it isn’t so.

Religious indoctrination and absolutism  has, in my humble opinion, allowed children of all Abrahamic religions to be sexually abused by their own paedophile clerical minders and others of their own faith. Dawkins writes: ‘More generally, (and  this applies to Christianity no less than to Islam), what is really pernicious is the practice of teaching children that faith itself is a virtue. Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument. Teaching children that unquestioned  faith is a virtue primes them, given certain other ingredients that are not too hard to come by, to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for future jihads or crusades. Faith can be very dangerous, and  deliberately  to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong. It is purely and simply a violation of childhood by religion.’

Dawkins quotes another scholar, Patrick Sookhdeo, director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity: The mantra, ‘Islam is peace’ is almost 1,400 years out of date. It was only for about 13 years that Islam was peace and nothing but peace…For today’s radical Muslims – just as for the mediaeval jurists who developed classical Islam, it would be truer to say ‘Islam is war’. One of the most radical Islamic groups in Britain, al-Ghurabaa, stated in the wake of the two London bombings, ‘Any Muslim that denies that terror is a part of Islam is kafir.’ A kafir is an unbeliever ( i.e. a non-Muslim), a term of gross insult…Could it be that the young men who committed suicide were neither  on the fringes of Muslim society in Britain, nor following an eccentric or extremist interpretation of their faith, but rather that they came from the very core of the Muslim community and were motivated by a mainstream interpretation of Islam?

Food for thought: Is the reason Muslims murder and torture those who criticise or make fun of Islam and their prophet, because they know that if Islam endures the same scholarly scrutiny that Christianity and Judaism have in recent decades,  that it will be revealed as the sham that it really is? I urge readers to place their Bible, Qur’an or Torah in their home library on shelves alongside other great classics of  literary fiction.

The other night I watched a news item showing a Muslim child, barely five years old, at a kindergarten, dressed in a black hijab and full length black dress….while the other children around her were dressed in pretty, colourful clothing, their pretty hair tied up in dainty ribbons and bows  …how is this conducive to a small child feeling a part of the community she lives in? And why do Muslim women insist on wearing clothing that makes them stand out from the crowd and attract negative and sometimes abusive reaction from extremists of other religions? Surely religion is a private matter to be celebrated at home or in a church or mosque?

-Anne Frandi-Coory 20 June 2017

Luciana Cavallaro – *author *writer *historian *teacher *university supervisor

Today, I would like to introduce to you an amazing lady and friend, Anne Frandi-Coory. We connected on Twitter five years ago, when another equally lovely lady, Melanie Selemidis recommended Anne to read my short stories. It was from then on, we found we had not only a common interest in ancient history and mythology, but we also shared the same culture, an Italian heritage. I’ve since read her heart-wrenching autobiographical/memoir, Whatever happened to Ishtar? and more recently, read her latest publication, Dragons, Deserts, and Dreams: poems, short stories and artworks. Her latest book, is a unique collection of poetry, artwork and stories of her familial heritage. Click here for my review of the book.

Anne blog

Anne Frandi-Coory *author *writer *poet *painter *genealogist

I asked Anne if she’d honour me with an interview, and she said yes!  In this candid interview, Anne is honest and her answers will make you want to reach out and hug her. Enough with my ramblings, and over to Anne…

  1. Why did you write this book in this unique compilation?

For a few years after publishing  Whatever Happened To Ishtar?  in 2010 I felt a deep seated  need  to paint and write poetry incorporating some of the memories and family stories I’d written about.  Writing Ishtar?  helped me to organise  my childhood trauma into some kind of chronological order and gave many of the fractured  memories context and adult understanding.  That’s when  poems  and  brush strokes just flowed from me although I’d never written poetry or painted on a canvas in my life before.  Any  task or project I have embarked upon, be it career, marriage, motherhood, writing or painting, I have done with a passion, I know of no other way. Once a particular  passion grips me,  I let no one, or nothing, stand in my way.

I loved reading  to my children when they were little and later  I read to my grandchildren, whenever I helped out with their care. My grandchildren love to share their vivid imaginings with me so when I had completed the painting and poetry of the painful past,  I was inspired to paint images of my young grandchildren’s imaginative stories,  along with the natural world around us, and to write poetry to enhance them all.

Whenever family came to visit they were keen to see whatever painting I was working on and how it was progressing.  I kept a record of these and the rest of my works in a folder. I had intended to write another book when I realised one day looking through my folder, that I had already written and illustrated another book!  Somehow, all the different poems and stories just seemed to fit when I re-arranged them into a certain order. I felt that everything I’d written and painted summed up my whole life. I could see the pain of the past, and the joy that my grandchildren had brought into my life and how much we loved walking around the lakes near my home, watching wildlife and learning together.

  1. How do the poems and short stories relate to each other?

There are two short stories in the book. One relates to my Lebanese grandparents’ emigration from Lebanon to Australia then on to New Zealand, based on my grandfather Jacob Coory’s diary. I wrote the  other story especially for the book because I wanted to encapsulate all the research I’d done into my Italian family history which highlighted the heartbreaking lives of mothers and daughters, especially that of my great grandmother, Raffaela  Mansi Grego.  Compared to the Italian women in my family tree, my Lebanese grandmother and her daughters had a relatively happier existence. The poems pick up some of the hardships the women suffered, and how it impacted upon following generations. Catholicism featured largely in the lives of both my paternal and maternal families, much of it detrimental and in my view, added greatly to the suffering of the women and their daughters. The societies they lived in were patriarchal and certain cultures and conventions  hadn’t changed for centuries. I believe that when a Christian god was installed as the Almighty One and Only God, and pagan gods and goddesses were relegated to nothing more than Classical Studies, life for females became much darker. In this way, the short stories and many of the poems are a literary reflection  of my maternal Italian and paternal Lebanese heritage.

  1. The first third of your book is dedicated to the wrongs done to others and to Mother Nature. I thought the poem, a homage to Daniel, Zahra and Caylee was particularly moving. How does your own childhood manifest in these poems?

The tragic deaths of Daniel, Zahra and Caylee  were front page world news during the years I was writing  my first  few  poems, and their stories really affected me and stayed with me. I couldn’t get them out of my mind, so I sat down one day and wrote a poem especially for them. The words just poured out, and I dedicated it to all abused children. Only then could I get on with my other writings.  My own childhood was full of fear, loneliness and gross neglect by family and others who should have been caring for me, and I felt deeply the horrors  Zahra  and Caylee  had  endured in their short lives from their own families. Daniel came from a loving family, but his last moments at the hands of the  stranger  who murdered him would have been terrifying.  All because a bus driver decided not to stop and pick him up at the bus stop. Likewise, the cruelty that some humans inflict on animals I find deeply disturbing. Life can be fickle, children and animals so vulnerable.  Humans have the intelligence and power to do so much good on this wonderful planet earth,  but sometimes it seems to me that greed and evil are winning. I fight depression by putting my thoughts down on paper. Sometimes they develop into stories and poetry.

  1. It was evident to me from reading your book and from your artwork, this project was filled with love, heartache and triumphs. What experience are you hoping readers will gain from your book?

I wanted women, especially mothers, to soak in my words, to be able to relate to them and for those of us who were raised within strict Catholic institutions, to know that others share the harm done to us and understand.  I would like readers in general to see the balance in my works…that love and the kindness shown by others can overcome tragedy.

Of course I have also written poems which celebrate the imagination of children and the allure of animals and the natural world.  I hope readers can share the joys I have found in my affinity with animals and children, and the solace that the natural world  can bring to our lives if we can accept that we are a part of nature and that we must live in harmony with it.

  1. How difficult was it confronting your own troubled childhood and that of your familial history, when writing the poems, short stories and painting? Did you learn anything while on this journey?

It was much easier than writing Ishtar?  because then I was confronting a jumble of fractured memories without any context. Each time I discovered new information it was another emotional hit and it left me exhausted, depressed and emotionally troubled. However, painting always leaves me in a state of equilibrium and the poems are already formed, seemingly, in my subconscious, so that I am merely transferring them onto an empty page.

Did I learn anything? If I did, it was that much of the emotional pain that I had carried around with me for most of my life, had largely dissipated.

  1. There is a search for innocence, love of a family and tribute to beloved pets in the latter part of the book. Does this reflect contentment and happiness in your life now or are you still seeking solace and answers to your abusive childhood?

When I was a child incarcerated in various  Catholic institutions, the natural world and animals did not feature in my life at all. Any reference to animals or nature were in abstract, that is, told through the prism of religion: God made everything on earth, Noah saved animals on the Ark during  the great flood and St Francis of Assisi loved animals. Most of  the children’s books we were given to read were illustrated bible stories, the images always of perfect human beings and animals.  We knew nothing at all about the actual world outside. When I was a young mum, we had a menagerie of many different animals;  as my children grew up and learned to cherish animals, so did I.  There is no doubt in my mind that animals taught me so very much about motherhood, life, death and loyalty. For instance, as a child, I was terrified at the thought of death. My nights were filled with nightmares of my own and others’ deaths. Having witnessed many times the death of beloved pets due to old age or accident while bringing up my children, I realised how animals accept death as a part of life. Not for them the maniacal scenes of death and destruction nuns and priests often imposed on us as a warning against sin. At first, I could not believe how peaceful death was when our first pet cat was euthanised after a long and happy life. I expected writhing and meowing in  agony and as the tears streamed down my face I waited in trepidation; instead our beloved feline died quietly in my arms. I had paid for the vet to come to our house so our pet who had never left our gardens could be surrounded by that which he loved.  The vet too had tears in his eyes, witnessing my distress. Not everyone I come into contact with is so gracious about my emotional states or as understanding of my passions.  It has been a long process, but yes, the happiness and contentment reflected in Dragons, Deserts and Dreams, is real. I remain  a bit of a recluse, preferring  to strictly control who comes into my life because I still live with trust issues which prevent me from having a normal social life.

  1. What is your next writing project? Will it be inspired by your family’s history or of your life today?

 I have correspondence from hundreds of readers, and both Lebanese and Italian descendants living around the world  which has the potential to be transcribed into a very powerful book.

I’ll await and see what spirits contrive to move me.

  1. Where can people purchase your book?

 Dragons, Deserts and Dreams can be purchased worldwide from Amazon and other online bookstores or if readers live in Australia or New Zealand they can purchase a signed copy directly from me through my blog here

  1. Where can people connect with you?

I’m always happy to receive comments and correspondence from readers either through comments on my blog or via email at   afcoory@gmail.com

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More information about books written by Luciana Cavallaro Here

 

 

 

Charles Freeman’s book about civilisations of the Ancient Mediterranean

I have just been reading Egypt, Greece and Rome; Civilisations of the Ancient Mediterranean by Charles Freeman , published 1999.  What an amazing book of 638 pages.

Not as much of a chore to read as you might think. The author breaks the book into easy to follow chapters and titled paragraphs.  He uses date charts, date lists, events and maps to great effect and to which I referred constantly during the reading of the book.

The book has given me a better insight into the pre-history of these amazing civilisations, and to their relevance today. Mr Freeman takes the reader on an epic journey from Egypt in 4,500 BC to Eastern and Western Empires up to 1000 AD.  He brings together the most interesting and salient stories. In one sense, not much has changed.  Constant wars, plagues, atheism, religious diversity,polemics, politics, the fight for democracy, all played a part.

Carthage (now Tunisia) , for instance, was a prosperous and thriving Phoenician city in the 5th Century BC, and Greece was pioneering philosophy and   theatre.   Greek philosophers travelled the Mediterranean teaching students to “look” at both sides of an argument.  Trading goods between the various states was the chief activity that brought so many disparate groups together.  What I also loved about this book, are the references to legend and myth, and how they intertwined everyday life across the Mediterranean world. I especially enjoyed the sections on Classical Greece, a favourite era of mine, and the references to its literature.

In Chapter 14, Mr Freeman expands on the 5th Century origins of drama (one of the greatest of Athenian Inventions, by no means a universal human experience),  poetry, tragedy, theatre with such names as Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, and Aristophanes, that satirical playwright extraordinaire.

During these times, beliefs in various gods were tied in with natural events,  human frailty and excesses.  Travel was relatively easy throughout Greece and the Mediterranean, and even non-citizens could find skilled work. Differing versions of the genealogy of gods wasn’t a hindrance, and most visitors ‘slotted in’ with local lore.

It was interesting to read the section on Sophists. The original meaning of the word ‘Sophist’ was anyone with exceptional talent.  However, members of this group were attacked  by both Plato and Aristophanes (satirically) for daring to present arguments  for and against any motion. Sophists can be credited with pioneering the study of religion as a social and anthropological phenomenon according to Mr Freeman. They disagreed strongly with the belief that there was some divine principle at work in the Universe. (Modern atheists, take note!) The Sophist, Protagoras, spent most of his life as a travelling teacher. He wrote: “Concerning the gods, I am unable to discover whether they exist or not, or what they are like in form; for there are many hindrances to knowledge, the obscurity of the subject and the brevity of human life.”  He proclaimed: “Man is the measure of all things.”   Athens was implementing democratic governance at this time and Protagoras’ proclamation could be taken as the slogan of democratic Athens.  Other Sophists suggested that gods originated in man’s experience of nature. The various gods had been created as personifications of natural phenomena such as the sun, moon, rivers, water and fire. To the Sophists men of shrewd and subtle minds invented for man the fear of the gods, to “frighten the wicked even if they acted, spoke or thought in secret.”  By the end of the century free thinking on religious matters was less tolerated.  Pestilence, war, tyrants and destruction killed optimistic fervour.

I wonder, is this what is happening in our world now?

 

-Anne Frandi-Coory  1 February 2011

Mary & Jesus? No, actually Ancient Greek statue Tyche or Fortuna, the centre figure of a flourishing cult

updated 15 November 2013

Mercy: St Bartholomew's Day, Paris, 1572. 'Ill-fated love affair between a Catholic & a Protestant'. John Everett Millais 1829-96. This is the day thousands of Protestants were slaughtered by Catholics.

Mercy: St Bartholomew’s Day, Paris, 1572. ‘Ill-fated love affair between a Catholic & a Protestant’. John Everett Millais 1829-96. This is the day thousands of Protestants were slaughtered by Catholics.

Has Pope Benedict gone completely mad? He recently stated via a Catholic publication that politicians should behave like Joan Of Arc!   “With her deep prayer life and total devotion to serving God and the good of her fellow citizens, St. Joan of Arc is a wonderful model for Christian politicians”, Pope Benedict XVI said. “Hers is a beautiful example of holiness for lay people involved in politics, especially in difficult situations. Faith is the light that guided all her choices,” the pope said January 26 during his weekly general audience.  What a load of b…….  This is just another Church smokescreen to hide its vast problems.

Joan of Arc’s real name Jeanne d’Arc, The Maid of  Orléans, France. Clad in a white suit of armour, and carrying her own standard, Jeanne was leading an array of loyal French fighters to battle against the English, who were trying to take possession of her beloved Orléans.  Jeanne and her followers won that battle but on the way to relieve Compiégne, she was captured and sold to the English by John of Luxembourg, and they handed her over to The Catholic Holy Inquisition.  It seems to me,  Jeanne was burnt at the stake because she was leading a French army against the British. It was politics not religion, but a smokescreen was desperately needed.  Easier to torture and murder a young woman if she was found guilty of heresy and sorcery; less public sympathy.  The British didn’t want the blood of a  heroine on their historical hands.

But, and here’s the rub: Recent historical evidence has challenged the traditional account of Jeanne d’Arc. The contention is that Jeanne d’Arc has been confused with Jehanne, the illegitimate daughter of Queen Isabeau of France and Louis, duc d’Orléans, brother of the King. Now, how is Pope Benedict going to fix this problem given the Church’s teachings on the grave ‘sin’ of sex outside marriage, not to mention illegitimate births and the spectre of purgatory?

The Catholic Church ‘forgave’ Jeanne and made her a saint in 1920.  Perhaps the Church has canonised the wrong woman?  Now wouldn’t that cause ructions at the Holy See?

But let’s get back to what the Pope is actually saying in the 21st Century: “Christian politicians should not worry about doing the best for their country, but rather spend their time praying and fighting for their religion,  ie  Catholicism”.  There have been enough religious wars over millennia, and they’re still going on!

Shouldn’t the Pope and the Vatican be spending their time bringing paedophile priests to justice and helping their abused victims instead of pontificating about a brutal and savage murder committed by the Catholic hierarchy in the 15th Century?  I believe that the reason priests have been brutalising children for centuries is that they have never been brought to justice for their crimes.  Instead the Church has “forgiven them their sins” and allowed them to continue to prey on innocents.   These evil priests have been “indulged” by the Catholic Church.

Quote from The Ethical Nag’s Blog:

John Swales was only 10 years old back in 1969 when he and later his two younger brothers as well were first assaulted by

Father Barry Glendinning at a summer camp for low-income kids in Ontario. He told Maclean’s magazine in its December 7, 2009 issue:

“The real failing here is the institutional response to these deviants. Every culture, every occupation, has these issues of sexual abuse. But few have the ability to conceal sexual abuse of children like the Catholic church does.”

In Catholic theology, an indulgence is the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. The indulgence is granted by the Catholic Church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution. The belief is that indulgences draw “House of Merit” accumulated by Christ’s  superabundantly meritorious sacrifice on the cross (what?!) and the virtues and penance of the saints. They are granted for specific good works, prayers,  and what the Church will not openly admit, money.  Lots of it.  We all know many priests come from wealthy Catholic families.  No wonder deviant priests re-offend time and again!

Indulgences replaced the severe penances of the early Church. More exactly, they replaced the shortening of those penances that was allowed at the intercession of those imprisoned and those awaiting martyrdom for the faith.

Abuses in selling and granting indulgences were a major point of contention when Martin Luther  initiated the Protestant Reformation. (1517).

This is the word that inspires SeifAndBeirut

There are all sorts of suggestions flying around the world presently.  “Empower and educate women in the Middle East and other islamic regions, and they will influence their men to embrace  peace.”   This could be true. Some people believe change will encourage the war mongers and the religious fanatics to desist in killing  innocent women and children. But it will take many more thousands of years for any drastic changes to take place; change has always been painfully slow in Arab countries.  For one, religion might have to take second place in schools, and I can’t see that happening any time soon.  (It was the best thing that ever happened in western countries.)  Look what has just taken place in Pakistan, for instance.  A politician speaks out against blasphemy laws: a woman can be stoned to death for using the name Mohammed in the wrong context.  This is blasphemy?  Then this liberal politician was shot at close range by his body-guard and it seems the whole of Pakistan is rejoicing.  Hundreds of thousands of uneducated, brain washed (or brain-dead) rabble waving placards and praising the bodyguard as a hero.  How frightening this must be for minority Christians and the women awaiting death in brutal prison cells.  It is obvious the Pakistani Judiciary will not be able to punish the guard because that will just inspire more killings.  Where were the thousands of protestors when women accused of murdering their brutal husbands, were stoned to death by men in the street?   None of it makes any sense.  But that’s religion for you.

See previous posts: The Problem Being FemaleDichotomy of  Women.

I agree with Seif;  there is no doubt that the Arab World needs to CHANGE.   But when?

One of the damned being dragged to the fires of hell by demons – Part of Last Judgment hanging in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican

 

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Pope Francis is now the Pope and leader of the Catholic Church. Still, nothing has changed!

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World News: VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI baptized 21 newborns in an intimate ceremony in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday that marked the end of the Christmas season.

Standing under Michelangelo’s magnificent “Last Judgment” fresco, the pope poured water on the foreheads of 13 baby boys and eight baby girls. Some babies screamed, others squirmed, some slept through it. Benedict prayed for their “life and health so they can grow and mature in the faith.”

Or perhaps to be molested by paedophile priests.   Until the pope and the Vatican hierarchy make changes within Catholicism, nothing will change! Call me a cynic, but years of being brainwashed with stories of hell-fire and brimstone as a child, have made me so. The nightmares a large part of my childhood. (Whatever Happened To Ishtar?) The Last Judgment fresco is an amazing artistic achievement by Michelangelo, I have seen it for myself in person.  But the scene which covers most of a wall in the Sistine Chapel is horrifying, and is what is promised for our innocent children if we do not baptise them in the ‘Faith’. What he is really saying is: get them young, so they can grow up indoctrinated in the ‘Faith’ and the money will continue to roll in and continue to  enrich the Vatican.

‘The Pope was quoted as saying  that, in an ever-changing society without firm cultural references, it has become more difficult to educate children in the faith, and urged parishes and parents to cooperate. The babies — aged between four weeks and four months — are all children of Vatican employees.’

What a contrast in the two images, but an accurate portrayal. The fact is that not all in Catholicism is light & happiness, that is the problem.  There are too many dark, dark depths that have not been dealt with satisfactorily by the Pope and the Vatican power brokers, and until that is done, they should not be allowed near children.  Anyway, that’ s my opinion.

Muslims firebomb Christian Church in Egypt

Some Muslims are nothing more than thugs consumed by hate, disguised as religious fanatics. The problem is that there are thousands of them swarming across the Middle East and Christians are soft targets. At least Christianity has moved forward with the times, but Islam is still fomenting in the dark ages. No wonder the uneducated masses are following a religious belief system that is just plain stupid.

Muslims have been targeting Christians for hundreds of years.  Muslims were the reason my Lebanese ancestors fled from Iraq to the hills of Lebanon in the 14th Century. It is one of the reasons my Grandparents  left Lebanon for New Zealand in the late 19th Century.  More in  my book ‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?’ .  Nothing has changed.  My heart goes out to the minority Christian communities in Iraq and other muslim countries.  Christmas, the focal point of Christian beliefs, is a time of fear for Christians in Muslim countries instead of a time for celebration and joy.  See world news item below:

BAGHDAD – Militants attacked at least four Christian homes Thursday night with a combination of grenades and bombs, killing two people and sending fear into the already terrified tiny Christian community.  It was the first attack against the country’s Christian community since al-Qaida-linked militants last week threatened a wave of violence against them. Christians went so far as to tone down their Christmas celebrations in what was a peaceful holiday, but the attacks Thursday night demonstrated the intent of militants to keep up their deadly pressure on the Christian community.

In the deadliest attack, assailants in southwestern Baghdad threw two grenades inside the home of a Christian family, killing two people and injuring five more, police said. In a different neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, militants planted a bomb near a Christian home. Two people were injured in that attack. Then another bomb planted near a Christian house in western Baghdad exploded, injuring one member of the family as well as a civilian who was driving by, police said.

Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed that two people were killed Thursday evening; he said a bomb planted near the fence of a Christian home in southern Baghdad also exploded but he had no information about casualties in that incident.  “The aim of these attacks is to prevent Christians from celebrating the New Year’s holiday,” al-Moussawi said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but such attacks have generally been the work of Sunni militants linked to al-Qaida.  The casualties were confirmed by hospital officials. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk to reporters.  The attacks are sure to ratchet up tension in the tiny Christian community still living in Baghdad. At least 68 people were killed in October when militants stormed a Baghdad church during Mass and took the congregation hostage.

Thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled to northern Iraq, fearing further attacks.  Father Mukhlis, a priest at the Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad where the Oct. 31 hostage incident occurred, called the Thursday attacks “direct oppression” against Iraqi Christians.

He said one Christian family already was staying at the church because they were worried about militants targeting their home. The family was planning to travel Friday to the Ninevah Plains area of northern Iraq which is home to a large Christian community and much safer than the rest of Iraq.  Last week, al-Qaida warned of further violence against Christians, leading many in the community to tone down their Christmas celebrations and cancel many events such as evening Mass and appearances by Santa Claus.

The Christmas holidays also coincide this year with the Shiite holy month of Muharam, an important holiday for the country’s Shiite Muslim majority.

Some Christians said they were also playing down the Christmas holiday this year out of respect for their Shiite neighbors, but other Christians reported intimidation by members of the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia backed by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who pressured them not to celebrate the holiday publicly.   Christian leaders estimate 400,000 to 600,000 Christians still live in Iraq, according to a recent State Department report. At one time before the war, that number was as high as 1.4 million by some estimates.   – Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report.

Another interesting post from: seifandbeirut.com

Lebanon has alway been home for minorities in the Middle East. A haven for those persecuted, chased out of their homes, and face destruction in their original homes. The Armenians, Palestinians, Assyrians, and even many Syrians have taken refuge inside of Lebanon over the years… their treatment, whether good or bad, has always seemed irrelevant. We simply focus on the fact that “hey, we take in all the refugees of the Middle East”.

I think its time, finally, to tackle the treatment of refugees inside the country. We have almost 250 000 – 300 000 Palestinians inside Lebanon, almost 150,000 Armenians (who are now Lebanese citizens, and not considered refugees anymore), and now 50, 000 Iraqi refugees in Lebanon. This post, for specific reasons,  is going to focus specifically on the latter group as it is the most recent group of refugees in the country. Most, almost 79%, of Lebanon’s Iraqi refugees are Iraqi Christians who fled Iraq for their safety after sectarian groups threatened their safety. Now for the sake of making things clear, sectarian groups in Iraq represent very small portions of the population, keeping in mind Iraqi Christians and Muslims have lived along side each other for hundreds and hundreds of years prior to this time, with very little tensions and fighting.


 

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