Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Chirstmas night TV experience - Messiah a la Claus Guth

Sad Christams evening global TV reality
How sad!  Why do not the TV's in Christian countries celebrate Jesus birth with joy and happiness?

We have at home a satellite receiver that gives us almost one thousand channels from Hotbird and Nilesat. For nice Christmas programs we searched. Scan we did - but no luck. Either secular programs not knowing it is Christmas or Islamic channels not knowing it is Christmas. Even the Palestine TV was touching the Christian feast of the minority population only sporadically before it began to broadcast the entire Christmas mass from Nativity Church. Mix station was as if someone had forgotten the camera on pointing at the crowd in front of the Bethlehem Nativity Church....

ZDF showed a lovely German Christmas program with hostess talking with guests, children singing carols and all kind of nice cliches. Some stations showed movies somewhat related to Santa Claus and his folks. Lebanese Christian stations had Arabic style holy music, slow almost funeral style songs. Trinity Broadcasting was overwhelmingly American.

It was quite depressing, really. Plastic Christmas, Santaclaus cult, repeating programs with candles and other attempts to reach some sort of atmosphere.

And then I reached Mezzo TV channel...
What iz thiz?

Absolutely heavenly music and a most strikingly human play in Vienna during Händel's 250 year celebrations.

Our family stopped everything and we all just sat down and watched and listened...

Claus Guth
Claus Guth (b. 1964) has directed a totally fresh Händel's Messiah which an impeccable gang of musicians and dancers performed to perfection.

Susan Gritton, Cornelia Horak (sopranos), Bejun Mehta (alto), Richard Croft (tenor), Florian Boesch (bass). Arnold Schönberg Choir, Jean-Christophe Spinosi conducting Ensemble Mattheus.  Perfecto.

Paul Lorenger dancing as symbolic Christ. Unforgettable.

Nadia Kichler talking in sign language as symbolic angel Gabriel. Angelic.

The touch of heaven on earth, the holy Words of Bible inteacting with the most mundane life stories of modern day people, the fascinating novel way to use a choir, the reality of lack of faith, those little details and props on the smoothly moving stage and lights and shadows making you now to laugh now to cry always to wonder and think...

Some comments
The singers, choir and orchestra out the brilliance of Händel's masterpiece in such a nuanced and committed manner that I do not expect this performance to be surpassed anytime soon by anyone.

The Messiah in Vienna was an absolutely amazing performance and I have never seen anything like it.

I will never forget the singing of Hallelujah in that funeral.

Or "I know me Redeemer lives" with a huge glass of red wine

Or "The Trumpets will sound"  ... just majestic from a drunken drug user

Heaven and earth touched

Word became flesh

A true encounter with the true Messiah through the Word of God, music and acting.

G.F. Händel would have enjoyed this performance enormously.

Messiah for today's wicked and adulterous generation.

Real Christmas
Sorry to confess, but strangely the Mezzo TV showing Messiah with contemporary message somehow felt much more genuine Christmas event than the Midnight Mass from the Nativity Church seen on another channel with cameramen concentrating on the faces of the important politicians present in Bethlehem 2012.

This is not secular Messiah as some critics would define it. Rather, this is the kind of theology that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was talking about as Alfred Eaker has noted (though he wrongly calls it "humanizing Messiah" - Isaiah 53 is very human).

"I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Lk 5:32 NIV

Sunday, December 23, 2012

For us a child is born!

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
    you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
    the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
    will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:1-7 NIV

And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor - so let us ask for His advise
Mighty God - so let us ask for His help
Everlasting Father - for He is nothing less
Prince of Peace - and let us pray for peace on Earth

O little town of Bethlehem

O come to us, abide by us
our Lord Emmanuel
our Lord Emmanuel

Merry Christmas - for us a child is born!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls

How Internet benefits us all through the generosity of sponsors and through the very hard work of many!
This is also major gift to humanity by Gooooogle.

Well, there must be competition between institutions in such a mighty subject, don't you agree!

Israel Museum Project was first one to open to the public.
Digital Dead Sea Scrolls

Israel Antiquities Authority Project was second one to open but is technically superior.
The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Library

Cambridge Digital Library

We are being spoiled, really!

Cambridge Digital Library

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Connecticut innocents

Adam Lanza, 20.

Their house may have been full of guns.

It might still be smart to look at his computer game collection and Internet game connections.

Popular violent computer games

  • teach how to aim and shoot with a variety of weapons and at multiple targets
  • reduce the shooting target into a moving object and something else than a human being

Norway has one example, Connecticut maybe another, how such games affect intelligent lonelies.

update 17 December 2012
Newtown local press reports that police discovered his computer and noticed that the detached hard-disk had been smashed into pieces.

update 20 December 2012
Senator Jay Rockefeller wants violent video games to be studied! PoliticoPro

Saturday, December 15, 2012

GoP: Young Earth Creationism and Jehovah's Wttnesses

Another Guide to the Perplexed definition

Young Earth Creationism and Jehovah's Witnesses are internally related movements born from the background of late 19th century Seventh Day Adventism.

Both claim to have NUMERIC KEY to the Holy Bible and raise it to the center of world view constructing belief-systems on false realities.

Jehovah's Witnesses look forward and calculate the date of the second arrival of Jesus and have developed a complex reality of the New World that He is going to bring upon future Earth.

Young Earth Creationism look backward and fix the date of the creation of the Universe on the genealogies of the Bible. They build a complex pseudo-scientific reality of the Old World that once existed upon Earth created on 4004 before Christ.

The claim on the inner relationship between Young Earth Creationism and Jehovah's Witnesses movements is based on documented history of the two movements roots in Seventh Day Adventism and its rationalistic, highly moral and Bible respecting heritage.

Because of the NUMERIC KEY both movements distort both the Bible and God's creation and rule of history.

GtoP: Darwinism and Marxism

Another Guide to the Perplexed definition 

DARWINISM (or EVOLUTIONISM) is an ideology born in 19th century England. Its origins are in the writings of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and his colleagues. Darwinism considers evolution through natural selection as the key to understanding the rise and evolution of life upon planet Earth.

MARXISM (or COMMUNISM) is an ideology born in 19th century England. Its origins are in the writings of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and his colleagues. Marxism considers private ownership of capital as the key to understanding the rise and evolution of human societies upon planet Earth.

Proponents of both ideologies have raised and still raise fierce criticism against religion
Darwinism against God the Creator
Marxism against God the King

EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY is a branch of science studying the origins and evolution of life upon planet Earth (Astrobiology elsewhere in the Universe). Charles Darwin (1809-1882) is among the Founding Fathers of evolutionary biology.

SOCIOLOGY is a branch of science studying the birth, development, evolution of human societies (there is also branch of sociology concerned with animals). Karl Marx (1818-1883) is among the Founding Fathers of modern sociology.

As strictly scientific disciplines neither Evolutionary Biology nor Sociology claim to be qualified to determine the existence or non-existence of God.

Scientists hold their personal belief systems - or lack of such - but pursue methodical research and interpretation on the basis of "what is given" (positivism, August Comte) or "what can be said in a meaningful way" (logical-positivism, Ludwig Wittgenstein).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Black Venus (2010)

Black Venus (Vénus noire) in its naked truth is a painfully disturbing portrayal of the human condition. It is also a powerful declaration of human rights.

The movie is based on the life of Sarah Baartman (also Bartmann). It was directed by Abdellatif Kechich (b. 1960 Tunis) and written by him with Ghalya Laroix. It is not only what approaches a historical documentary but also very contemporary as it contains elements so sadly familiar to many modern immigrants, strangers, aliens and other foreigners who are different in today's Europe, post-colonial England and France included.

Wikipedia tells:  "Sarah "Saartjie" Baartman (before 1790 – 29 December 1815) was the earliest and most famous of at least two Khoikhoi women exhibited as freak show attractions in 19th-century Europe under the name “The Hottentot Venus”.

Baartman's physique, characterised by large breasts and steatopygous buttocks, though common among the Khoikhoi was rare in Europe. There it aroused widespread public fascination and fed curiosity about the sexuality of non-European races.

Racism skewed perceptions of Baartman during her life and allowed her remains to become a museum display after her death. She is now seen as a potent symbol of the denigration and de-humanization of African peoples and their cultures during the colonial period." wikipedia

The Night
Sarah Baartman experienced the "interest" of white Europeans in early 19th century England and France. She was an orphan taken with the dream of "from rag to riches" from her native South Africa to London by her master, Dutch farmer Caezar. 1814 she is taken to Paris where her "career" degenerated from freak shows to French saloons and finally to alcohol and prostitution. At only 29 years Sarah became fatally ill and died abandoned alone. Her body was dissected by curious scientists and her remains were later displayed to the public in Muséum d'histoire naturelle, Paris.

Yahima Torres as Hottentot Venus
Image from Cranes are flying blog discussing the movie

The camera work focuses intensively on the face of Sarah who is acted with such great dignity by  Yahima Torres. The effect of following with such intensity her facial expressions - or lack of them - leads to a complete reversal of the concepts "primitive" and "civilized" in the minds of the viewers.

This powerful movie contains cruel naked debauchery and hypocritical attitudes of those judging others. All is exposed by director Adbellatif Kechich's cinematic skills in a truly painful manner - painful, because so truthful. We in the audience take part in the voyeurism and violation of her humanity by watching the movie - we know it but cannot stop looking and our basic instincts demand the right to do what we want to do regardless of the prise ... to others, that is.

It's a man's world!
Andre Jacobs as slave master Caezar 

The Poem
Image wikimedia

Sarah's earthly remains have been reburied in Vergaderingskop, Hankey, Eastern Cape, South Africa. The signboard showing the location of the tomb includes a poem dedicated to her by Diana Ferrus.

Diana Ferrus.
University of Western Cape.
Photo uwm Afrikaans
I have come to take you home
home, remember the veld?
The lush green grass beneath the big oak trees
the air is cool there and the sun does not burn
I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
Your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
the proteas stand in yellow and white
and the water in the stream chuckle sing-song
as it hobbles along over little stones.

I have come to wretch you away:
away from the poking eyes
of the man-made monster
who lives in the dark
with his clutches of imperialism
who dissects your body bit by bit
who likens your soul to that of Satan
and declares himself the ultimate god!

I have come to soothe your heavy heart
I offer my bosom to your weary soul
I will cover your face with the palms of my hands
I will run my lips over lines in your neck
I will feast my eyes on the beauty of you
and I will sing for you
for I have come to bring you peace.

I come to take you home
where the ancient mountains shout your name.
I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
the proteas stand in yellow and white:
I have come to take you home
where I will sing for you.

Poem copyright Diana Ferrus

The light
Black Venus is modern commentary to the words in the Letter to the Ephesians - who were not Sunday school children, either. These are not empty words - they are part of a divine message that eventually changed South Africa. This happened when the words reached also the oppressed and not only those in power. Ask, for example, Bishop Desmund Tutu or the Namibians.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:8-20 NIV

Image from Talk to Aletta blog

Some studies of Sarah and her world

Cuvier, Georges, (1817). Mémoires du Muséum d'histoire naturelle: Extrait d'observations faites sur le cadavre d'une femme connue á Paris et á Londres sous le nomme de Vénus Hottentotte. Muséum d'histoire naturelle.

Holmes, Rachel, (2006). The Hottentot Venus. Bloomsbury, Random House.

Koster, Marian and Lisa Leimar Price, (2008). Rwandan female genital modification: Elongation of the Labia minora and the use of botanical species. In: Culture, Health and Society, 10(2): 191-204.

Perez, Guillermo Martinez and Harriet Namulondo, (2011). Elongation of Labia minora in Uganda: including Baganda men in a risk reduction education programme In: Culture, Health and Society, 13(1): 45-57.

Praise, Clifton and Scully, Pamela, (2009). Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus: a ghost story and a biography. Princeton University Press.

Qureshi, Sadiah, (2011). Peoples on Parade: Exhibitions, Empire and Anthropology in Nineteenth-Century Britain. University of Chicago Press.

Sharpley-Whiting, T. Denean, (1999). Black Venus; Sexualized savages, Primal Fears and Primitive Narratives in French. Durham: Duke University Press.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Napoleon Dynamite Poster 
Napoleon Dynamite was written and directed by the American couple Jared and Jerusha Hess with Jon Heder as Napoleon.

I couldn't stop laughing - in a nice way.

It is very difficult to define why it is so funny.

It just is.

Very funny.

But more importantly, the movie does not poke fun on the characters in a malevolent way. It is very understanding and gentle towards all, good and bad, like a twisted mirror that modifies figures, emphasizes certain features and generates not mocking but happy laughter and real joy: that's exactly how he or she is!

Their other movie Nacho Libre (2006) has the same very warmhearted atmosphere spiced with humor and filled with surprising, real people with their dreams and hopes.

(Gentlemen Broncos (2009) I have not seen.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Claudio Monteverdi: L'incoronazione di Poppea

 L'incoronazione di Poppea - Teatro Real Madrid, 24 May 2010
Image Intermezzo
The editorian review describes the 2010 performance that I recently watched in Mezzo TV.
The culmination of a three-year Monteverdi project led by conductor William Christie and director Pier Luigi Pizzi at Madrid's Teatro Real, L'incoronazione di Poppea brings a potent blend of sex and politics, high drama and comedy. Leading the cast are Danielle de Niese, Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emanuel Cencic and Anna Bonitatibus.

William Christi, who most recently started 2012 at New York's Metropolitan Opera, conducting The Enchanted Island, is joined by the Les Arts Florissants as he evokes a veritable orgy of nuances, subtly creates atmosphere and shows a perfect sense for the accents of the piece. It took Christie and director Pier Luigi Pizzi three years to mount Monteverdi's three operas together. The result was a production full of elegance and beauty.

Performed in a new edition of the Venetian version of the opera by the musicologist Jonathan Cable, Poppea features a starry cast. Playing the upwardly mobile temptress of the opera's title is the glamorous American soprano Danielle de Niese, who, in the words of the New York Times, is "seductive enough to woo gods as well as mortals".

In an interpretation described as "overwhelming" by El Pais, the capricious Emperor Nero (Nerone) is embodied by French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. The brilliant Croatian countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic plays Nerone's rival for Poppea's love, Ottone, while Nerone's discarded wife Ottavia, is sung by the Italian mezzo soprano Anna Bonitatibus, described by Forumopera as "an incandescent Ottavia who vouchsafed a superb example of singing and of theatre".
Editorial Amazon.com

O tempora! O mores!
In his opening speech against Catiline, Cicero deplores the viciousness and corruption of his age. Cicero is frustrated that, despite all of the evidence that has been compiled against Catiline, who has been conspiring to overthrow the Roman government and assassinate Cicero himself, and in spite of the fact that the senate has given senatus consultum ultimum, Catiline has not yet been executed. Cicero goes on to describe various times throughout Roman history where consuls have killed conspirators with even less evidence, sometimes - in the case of former consul Lucius Opimius' slaughter of Gaius Gracchus (one of the Gracchi brothers) - based only on "quasdam seditionum suspiciones", certain suspicions of insurrection (Section 2, Line 3).
While listening to the music of Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) and his students that was performed to such perfection I casually googled Internet for historical information about the characters appearing in the play. And what shocking reading it makes, ugh. Robert von Ranke Graves (1895-1985) told us about those times in I, Claudius (1935) but reading the factual history and Tacitus is worse.

Considering the historical background Giovanni Francesco Busenello (1598 -1659) wrote a surprisingly self-contradictory libretto about the victory of evil over good. The opera was first performed in Venice during the carnival season 1642-43. They knew the story well; while the royal couple sings the heavenly final love aria the audience surely remembered that soon enraged Nero would kick pregnant Poppea to stomach causing her death.

Monteverdi's vivid music describes the characters vividly from the dignity of Seneca the Younger and Octavia to the strangely childlike Nero made helpless by the beautiful cunning Poppea. The music is harmonic and beautiful while the characters are grotesque murderers and conspirators of the worst kind.

In the introduction audience is warned that this is not a story how good wins over evil. And it is not.

Veni, vidi, vinci
The events date to the time when a new religion was spreading from the East and first considered a sect of the old religion of Judaism.

L'inconorazione di Poppea gives a highly realistic, almost twist in tongue description of the world into which the child of Virgin Mary was born.

The Roman authorities and the Jewish religious leaders crushed Him.

But quietly, from heart to heart, He won over this Iron Empire of power politics, legal systems, almost invincible military power, police force and cultural domination of Mare Nostrum.

Constantine the Great and with him the entire Empire of Rome knelt in front of the Man of Galilee only about three hundred years after He had been crucified in Jerusalem.

He had won and it was time for Western Rome to go.

Did humanity change?
It is so remarkable how Monteverdi and Busenello addressed the Venetian audience through the opera. They knew their people and were sure that the contemporary meaning of the play will not escape the Italian citizens of 17th century.

Nor are we any better than the Borgias or Flavians.

Humanity has not changed. Our interest in Monteverdi's baroque opera is proof of that, isn't it?

What has changed is the arrival of the Son of God with forgiveness, grace and God's love.

Who can love a world like this?

Our Heavenly Father can.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him
John 3:16-17 NIV

District 9 (2009)

Why is District 9 so effective?

Here are my suggestions in no particular order of importance

  • The background of District Six, Cap Town South Africa and the forced removal of its 60.000 inhabitants in the 1970'ies gives the movie an eerie reality; something that fits what Charles Peirce called "a ground for understanding signs". 
  • When Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell wrote the script and screenplay they adhered to the wisdom of H.G. Wells about SciFi "If anything is possible nothing is interesting". The vulnerability and limitations of the aliens possessing such superior technology and the weakness of the hero Wikus van de Merve (Sharlto Copley) makes everything in the movie unpredictable and interesting.
  • We feel with the characters. We smell the rotten things, feel the dusty wind, feel their pain and anguish and anger. We care about them, even the villains.
  • We feel that this is plausible. Since news and documentaries are the way we learn about distant places this is how most of us not living there would get information about an alien ship hovering over Johannesburg and about the problems in Soweto. The portable video camera emphasizes familiarity, reliability, telling the unedited truth.
  • District 9 is not the usual SciFi roller coaster with wows and huhs and eyees and then total emptiness after the ride. Instead, after watching the movie with many wows we feel that someone has opened a new perspective into how to look at things in apartheid South Africa past, in Africa present, in the human world around us, in us and those we love. 

Last but not least, District 9 is so effective because of Sharlto Copley who is living through the story and not acting at all.

The sad thing is that the depiction of us humans in District 9 is so sad and truthful. Our hearts go with the persecuted, the violated, those from whom we deny human rights and consider them aliens that can be treated anyway we wish.

Usually badly.

Christopher and his son. The most sympathetic characters in District 9.
Image Darksidecostumes

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Swedish freedom from religion

Gud får inte vara med när skolan samlas i kyrkan

Anna Ekström, generaldirektör, Skolverket
Claes-Göran Aggebo, undervisningsråd, Skolverket
Dagens Nyheter debat

These two administrators of Swedish school system say that you can go ahead and let your school keep Christmas time celebrations in a church building but do not dare to mention God there. No prayer, no singing, no confession of faith.

Such is the freedom from religion in Sweden today.

The term church means a sacred building intended for divine worship.

Once a building has been consecrated as a church it may not be used again for a secular purpose.

IMHO Any Swedish Christian church that has been used in such an unholy secular celebration of December 25 becomes a place where most serious blasphemy has taken place. Such a building should be consecrated as a place of worship by a Bishop before it can be called a church again.

Also I humbly advise all Swedish school principals to keep end of semester celebrations in any other place but do not go and mock God in His own house and make it Devil's house.

Who am I to judge or advise?

Nobody, really...

So pay attention to what I say and not to who I am or am not :-|

Dutch scrap blasphemy law

BBC News told 29 November 2012 that
Dutch authorities have decided to approve a motion abandoning a law under which it is a crime to insult God.

The legislation, introduced in the 1930s, has not been invoked in the last half century.

However, it still remains illegal under Dutch law to be disrespectful to police officers or to insult Queen Beatrix, the country's monarch.
read the entire BBC News article here
Considering my comment on the movie Titan A.E. a few hours ago in this blog this piece of news is very timely.

The legislation against "insulting God" was not introduced in order to protect God but to protect people.

As we can see in the world today blasphemous people are doing very well and are not afraid of the wrath of God or gods.

Fools as they are.

The problem is that God of Israel does exactly what He wants and when He wants and there is nothing we can do except to pray for Sodom and Gomorrah.

The Titan A.E. (2000) catastrophe

Don Bluth (b. 1937) wikimedia
Famed movie director Don Bluth and his friend, director Gary Goldman, surely had their hopes high for the future of 20th Century Fox Animation with the fabulously animated Titan A.E. (After Earth). After all, with the cast of voices of Matt Demon as the hero Cale Tucker, Drew Barrymore as his love interest Akima Kunimoto and Bill Pullman as Captain Joseph Korso the movie had the required popular stars. The animation of the Ice Planet is spectacular and there is enough action and emotional involvement to keep everyone in the audience interested.

So why was this such a box office bomb making barely half of its seemingly unlimited budget of 75 million dollars? Titan A.E. caused the immediate collapse of Fox Animated.

It has been suggested that the problem was in poor marketing that confused the target audience. Is this an animated post-apocalyptic science fiction movie or a Disney competition aimed at very young audience with some childish characters?

The glory of God

Image Sci-Fi Movies
I have another and much more serious theory why Titan A.E. was such a disaster.

The deepest problem is that the plot that does not give glory to God. Hans Bauer and Randall McCormick imagined a post-Earth world in 3028 where it is professor Sam Tucker who had the truly divine powers to device a machine that can create another planet instead of the one destroyed by the Drej.

The God of Israel who is the only real God there is says through prophet Isaiah
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
How can I let myself be defamed?
I will not yield my glory to another.
Isaiah 48:11 NIV 
The movie Titan A.E. is aimed at youngsters and young adults who are learning about the real world. It is corrupting the minds of these children as it does not give glory to God but instead elevates humans assigning them divine powers. (God has made as almost divine as Psalm 8 says).

So has the God of Israel no sense of humor then?

Is He really so jealous about His own glory that even an animated Science-Fiction movie, the words of a legendary pop singer or a Son of God like superhero capable of turning time back and raising a dead back to life can provoke His anger?

Fox Animation Studios is no more - it sank with Titan A.E. in 2000 A.D.
John Lennon (1940-1980) may have been more popular than Christ for Jesus never searched for the popularity of crowds.
Christopher Reeve (1952-2004) had to spend the rest of his life on wheelchair which he did splendidly but as disabled former Superman became also a global symbol of the fragility of us humans.

So my advise to Don Bluth and other gifted movie producers is: go and learn from Steven Spielberg how to give respect to God and how to glorify human spirit and achievement in a way that contains a dose of humility, as well.

"Abe" Spielberg is doing quite well, thank you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cyrus cylinder touring USA in 2013

Kyros sylinteri
BBC news

The Great King of Persia, Cyrus II (600 or 567-530 BC) ordered a document to be written after the conquest of Babylon in 539 BC.

British Museum expedition discovered the cuneiform seal in the ruins of Babylon in 1879 and it has since been on display in London.

During 2010-2011 the cylinder was on loan to Iran where about a million people came to see it.

According to BBC news the cylinder is now leaving for the first time to the USA. It will be on display first in Washington DC on March 2013 and continue from there to Houston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. (If all goes well it returns back to London after that... I am sure they have carefully chosen the insurance company to cover this trip.)

Cyrus grants religious freedom to the nations under Persian rule each worshipping their own gods according to their customs and permits exiled by the Babylonians to return home.

The document is first of its kind in the history of mankind watching over the rights of conquered people and the rights of minorities. It is therefore appropriate that a copy of the cylinder is on permanent display in the headquarters of United Nations in New York

Tomb of Cyrus II Pasargade, Iran
Alexander the Great visited the tomb twice

It is an interesting sign of our times and in a way saddening that the anonymous writer of the BBC news item does not refer to the holy Bible.

Great King Cyrus II is a central historical figure in the Jewish Bible and has a crucial role in the history of the Jewish people. The most magnificent texts are in Deutero-Isaiah where the God of Israel speaks about Cyrus

“Be silent before me, you islands!
    Let the nations renew their strength!
Let them come forward and speak;
    let us meet together at the place of judgment.
“Who has stirred up one from the east,
    calling him in righteousness to his service[a]?
He hands nations over to him
    and subdues kings before him.
He turns them to dust with his sword,
    to windblown chaff with his bow.
He pursues them and moves on unscathed,
    by a path his feet have not traveled before.
Who has done this and carried it through,
    calling forth the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord—with the first of them
    and with the last—I am he.”

Isaiah 41:1-4

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Defiling entertainment (Angus T. Jones)

Sarah Butler as Jennifer Hill
The Day of the Woman (2010)
And no, Jesus is not talking about the dangers of non-kosher food.
Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said,
"Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them."

After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.
“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.”(In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

He went on:
“What comes out of a person is what defiles them.
For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder,  adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
Mark 7:17-23

Quite a list that describes some of the story lines and plots we find so entertaining that millions of dollars are spent to defile us with the stuff. For without this, would it be true life, would it be even interesting?
We could easily give names of entertaining shows that are built around these themes rising from our human hearts

sexual immorality

Well, is there anything we good people can do about the entertainment industry - from movie theaters and Broadway shows to TV series and arcade games - that defile our children and us while enormously enriching those who do so?

Not much, I guess, for the show must go on.

It is still worth remembering the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.

Like a light in the night.

It is interesting in this context of the teaching of Jesus Christ in the New Testament that August T. Jones has apologised for calling Two and a Half Men "filth" and not to follow the example of the actors there.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Third Day Devonian

Tree-ferns in Nunniong, Australia
Image: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos
The earliest known trees appear in Devonian. The Late Devonian Wyazzit looked much like the unrelated tree-ferns in the photo and could grow 8 meters high.

The greening of land
"The Devonian period marks the beginning of extensive land colonization by plants. With large herbivorous land-animals not yet present, large forests could grow and shape the landscape.

Early Devonian plants did not have roots or leaves like the plants most common today and many had no vascular tissue at all. They probably spread largely by vegetative growth, and did not grow much more than a few centimeters tall. By far the largest land organism was Prototaxites, the fruiting body of an enormous fungus that stood more than 8 meters tall, towering over the low, carpet-like vegetation.

By Middle Devonian, shrub-like forests of primitive plants existed: lycophytes, horsetails, ferns, and progymnosperms had evolved. Most of these plants had true roots and leaves, and many were quite tall.

In the Late Devonian, the tree-like ancestral fern Archaeopteris and the giant cladoxylopsid trees grew with true wood. (See also: lignin.) These are the oldest known trees of the world's first forests. The earliest known trees, from the genus Wattieza, appeared in the Late Devonian around 380 Ma.

By the end of the Devonian, the first seed-forming plants had appeared. This rapid appearance of so many plant groups and growth forms has been called the "Devonian Explosion".

The 'greening' of the continents acted as a carbon dioxide sink, and atmospheric levels of this greenhouse gas may have dropped. This may have cooled the climate and led to a massive extinction event, Late Devonian extinction."

And God said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas; and God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind; and God saw that it was good.

And the evening and the morning were the third day.
Genesis 1:9-13 KJ21

1. Both texts specify the importance of plants that now begin to appear

2. Both texts list attributes of the various plant species

3. "Late Devonian Extinction"  -  "And the evening came" as boundary marks. Five major extinctions are known in the history of life on planet Earth. Genesis has six days of creation before the great Sabbath.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Leonard Chess, Jews and African-Americans

Leonard Chess with future stars
Courtesy of Chess family archives. Vanity Fair

Cadillac Records (2008) written and directed by Darnell Martin is in many ways a remarkable movie and not just because of the stellar performance by Beyoncé. The movie tells the real story of the efforts of record company executive Leonard Chess (1917 - 1969) to promote a number of African-American musicians in Chicago. Many of them have since become world famous and recognized in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"Chess was born Lejzor Czyz in a Jewish community in Motal, Poland (but now within Belarus). He and his brother Fiszel, sister Malka and mother followed their father to Chicago in 1928. The family name was changed to Chess, with Lejzor becoming Leonard and Fiszel becoming Philip." (wikipedia)

Jews and people with dark skin
On the dark side of the subject we must recognize that there is in Judaism an old stream of racism against "kushites", black people. Especially the Orthodox Jews have not found it easy to absorb the Ethiopian Falasha immigrants to Israel because of the colour of their skin.

Also, in the current 2012 presidential elections in the USA we can detect certain racial underpinnings among some of the Jewish Americans and Israelis which does not go undetected by the black American majority obviously supporting the re-election of Barak Obama whose family came to the states from Africa. (Or was forcibly brought...)

Breaking the ugly chains of racism
Against the background of racial tensions between Jews and African-Americans the life work of Leonard Chess is nothing short of amazing and a beacon of hope.

It is not at all exaggeration to say that the persistence, patience and visionary work of Chess was of fundamental importance in breaking the racism still deep in the white population of the US in the 1950'ies.

The phenomenal musical gift, hot rocking beats, unforgettable melodies and often heart touching performances of blues and R&B penetrated the world of the American white youth and no police could stop them from dancing.

This breaking of the ugly chains of racism is so well depicted in the film Cadillac Records that I wonder is there any better way for us to learn history then seeing it so well lived again by deeply committed actors?

Abraham's blessing
When God chose Abraham He made a most wonderful promise - the children of Abraham would be a blessing to the nations of the world.

And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time and said,
“By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed My voice.”
Genesis 22:15-18 KJ21

And indeed, the Jewish people have been and are also today a blessing to the nations of the world.

Leonard Chess is a Jew who was in his role as promoter of gifted musicians crucial in changing the perception of African-Americans in the United States of America.

In showingn what they can achieve the heritage of Chess Records is a blessing for dark skinned people living in the States - and everywhere around the world - as music probably more than anything else has made white skinned people to realize what is going on.

Muddy Waters (1913 - 1983)
Photo link

"Last night I lost the best friend I have ever had"
Used in one of the unforgettable moments in Cadillac Records when Muddy Waters finds Little Walter

Can blues get more blue than this?

Well, try Etta James  I'd Rather Go Blind

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sacrifice of Isaac and abortion of Jason

He was one of those new atheists who had only recently broken the covenant of his baptism and left the Christian heritage changing praise of God to mockery of all those who believe in Him.

"Oh Mikko", he said vehemently, "the Bible is full of such inhuman and horrific stories like the sacrifice of Isaac. Imagine that, in the name of religion a father is going to murder his son and burn the body in fire. He even makes his son to carry the firewood. No wonder fanatical people who read such stuff do evil things to fellow humans in the name of the Father."

"Bible takes the story of Isaac extremely seriously", I said to him, "and the sacrifice never actually happened - God Himself stopped Abraham from killing his only son."

"But have you heard of that guy who so casually asked his girlfriend to abort the baby?" I asked him. "He was all against limitations on abortion and in this case it was simply inconvenient to have to take responsibility of a child as both he and his girlfriend had plans for study and work. The child would have been a boy with his father's hair and mother's eyes. His girlfriend had always wanted to have a boy called Jason."

Suddenly he went quiet and I saw like a tear drop in his eyes. "Oh that bastard! He forced her to make the abortion and promised all good things to her, but after the abortion she became very depressed. After two years he left her for another girl and she made suicide. That girl who wanted to have Jason was my sister."

We sat quietly for a while.

"Bible takes the story of Isaac extremely seriously", I said to him, "and instead of killing his offspring, his only son, Abraham became the father of a great nation."

And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.”
And He said, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him; for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me.”
And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked; and behold, behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh [that is, The Lord will provide]; as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.”
And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time
and said, “By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son,
in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed My voice.”
Genesis 22: 10-18 KJ21

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Enemy at the Gates (2001) - first battle scene

Waiting for the enemy in a suburb of Stalingrad
When fighting the most fearsome army in the world
steel helmets might provide better protection than Nikitas
Photo wikimedia

When both Russian and German war veterans boo the epic movie Enemy at the Gates (2001) on the Battle of Stalingrad between 22 August 1942 to 2 February 1943, director Jean-Jacques Annaud must have done something right, as the saying goes.

The opening scenes of the film do bring to mind the famously rough scene in Saving Private Ryan (1998) depicting in graphic detail the Omaha Beach assault on June 6, 1944. But director Steven Spielberg was awarded with military honours and medals for telling it as it without demonising the Germans. In contrast, Jean-Jacques Annaud has been accused of severe historical inaccuracies and unfairness towards both Soviet and German fighters and officers.

Volga crossing
Therefore I did not and could not believe the first battle scene in Enemy at the Gates and said to myself "it cannot be".  The way Soviet soldiers are taken to the front in locked train wagons, forced by gunpoint to boats to cross Volga with petty officers eventually shooting with their pistols those who jump to water to escape a deadly Stuka squadron attack is already too much for me to believe. After all, these are Russian officers and Russian men, how could this be?

First attack on the enemy
But the real horror is in the depiction of the attack these shell-shocked men were taken straight from the boats to shout uraa and to run over an open town square against well-defended German position on the other side of it. The crazy attack is carried on by untrained men who have just arrived from a cruelling trip and who have been handed either a rifle or some bullets. The Wehrmacht, on its side, had provided soldiers with strong helmets and they have machine guns in addition to military rifles. Even some tanks are nearby to support the well protected line of highly trained German soldiers working in unison like a well-oiled machine.

The Soviet officers responsible for sending these hapless soldiers to certain death on such a frontal attack would today be judged as war criminals in court. Not to mention that after the useless and ill-prepared attack completely fails and those still alive try to run back to their own positions the Russians shoot their own men down. Possibly as a warning to other cowards...

Such a total waist of human lives, such stupidity by the commanding officers, such a lack of coordination, training and elementary military skills can surely not be! Mister Annaud surely has invented these things in the movie - they cannot possibly be based on what actually happened in Stalingrad.

One of the worst battles in human history
It bugged me so I just had to go and check the facts - never mind the duel between the two sharpshooters or the love story or the tragedy of the little boy - just to see how far from the truth Enemy at the Gates depiction of the battle must be.

And I was even more shocked after learning that probably it was exactly as Mister Annaud tells it, possibly even worse.

The Red Army sent thousands of men in Stalingrad to certain death in futile attacks against far superior German positions and executed those who tried to retreat or escape.

Did I say thousands?

Various scholars have estimated the Axis suffered from 500,000 to 850,000 casualties (killed, wounded, captured) among all branches of the German armed forces and its allies, many of them POWs who died in Soviet captivity between 1943 and 1955.

According to archival figures, the Red Army suffered a total of 1,129,619 total casualties; 478,741 men killed or missing and 650,878 wounded. These numbers are for the whole Stalingrad area; in the city itself 750,000 were killed, captured, or wounded.

The Soviet authorities executed approximately 13,500 Soviet soldiers during the battle, equivalent to almost two rifle divisions.
Also, anywhere from 25,000 to 40,000 Soviet civilians died in Stalingrad and its suburbs during a single week of aerial bombing by Luftflotte 4 as the German 4th Panzer and 6th Armies approached the city; the total number of civilians killed in the regions outside the city is unknown.

In all, the battle resulted in an estimated total of 1.7-2 million Axis and Soviet casualties.
The city was utterly destroyed.

Today, Volgograd is a vibrant modern city celebrated as the place where Hitler's unstoppable attack on mother Russia was stopped.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Truthful movie and World box office...

Copyright The Christian Science Monitor. Bennett

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Does God have a sense of humour?

The Laughing Baby

We had a friendly argument about does God have a sense of humour and I said "of course He has!"

"How do you know?" my sceptical friend asked.

"Well, the little baby is a bit apprehensive about who you are. You gently hide your face with your hands and then ... not too loud ... make a ding and a dong and a boo-a-boo. And what a laughter you get; like the purest river on the mountains so clear and genuine! Where comes this sense of humour from if not directly from our Creator.
I rest my case."

"Oh Mikko, you are so stupid with your never-ending god business. Do you not know that scientists explain the evolution of baby laughter as a defence mechanism that evolved during millions of years to protect helpless little humans against evil adults?"

I look at him thinking that DNA studies suggest that the separation of humans from chimpanzees took place only about five million years ago and say "You must be joking!"

But my friend does not have sense of humour in such serious matters.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

YECreationism and Jehovah Witnesses

Jehova Witnesses grew in the USA from the background of Seventh Day Adventist Church. The false teaching started from date calculations concerning the coming of Christ against the explicit warning of Jesus Himself.
"It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power."
Acts 1:7 KJ21
YECreationism grew in the USA from the background of Southern Baptism. The false teaching about God's world started from traditional date calculations using Biblical genealogies as the key.
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
Matthew 1:17
According to the Gospel of Luke there are total of 76 generations from Adam to Jesus. (Luke 3:23-28)

Both groups present religion combined with practical North-American rationalism. The false teachings are based on date calculations; Jehovah Witnesses calculate forward for the coming of the New World and YECreationists calculate backwards for the beginning of the Old World.

Both groups give false picture about the Bible and about God's majestic works of creation. Both represent their own internally logical view of the world in which the real contents of the Bible have less and less importance the focus being on the group's own distinctive subjects.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Uncertainty about Heisenberg

This is a Phos to alethinon bookmark
Quantum test picks uncertainty
by Jason Palmer
BBC News - Science and Environment September 8 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rita Coolidge - Your Love Has Lifted Me Higher

Rita Coolidge Anytime Anywhere
youTube Rita Coolidge Your love has lifted me higher

Dunno... there is something about Rita Coolidge's simplified 1977 remake of Jackie Wilson's 1967 Your love has lifted me higher R&B original that works for me... something more than just the nostalgia caused by hearing the genuine Hammond organ sound.

Perhaps the lyrics of the song catch something about true love - love between people and also God's love towards us.

For true love lifts us higher rather than pushes us down.

I wish I had the voice and then band to sing this to my wife in style!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Still doubting - John Granville Gregory

Still doubting. John Granville Gregory
Cheshire Bangor Cathedral, North Wales
Modern rendering of the Caravaccio classic

Dear Tim,

I painted Still Doubting. You wrote in a piece on your blog "He looks like a man, who having investigated will now stand up and say to his companions: 'Well, that was very interesting. Of course, I don't believe a word of this Jesus stuff'"

I choose the model because he was a friend and an intelligent one at that. He was a good chap too. So I think you may have projected values onto him that suited your position. I'd like to add that the photograph off the painting really is not very good, but then, I would say that wouldn't I!

Hope you don't mind my being picky,
best wishes John

Comment copied from Tim Parker's blog December 5 2006

Scepticism and belief

First some conceptual definitions from wikipedia
Skepticism or scepticism (see spelling differences) is generally any questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere.

Philosophical skepticism is an overall approach that requires all information to be well supported by evidence.

Classical philosophical skepticism derives from the 'Skeptikoi', a school who "asserted nothing". Adherents of Pyrrhonism, for instance, suspend judgment in investigations. Skeptics may even doubt the reliability of their own senses.

Religious skepticism, on the other hand is "doubt concerning basic religious principles (such as immortality, providence, and revelation)".

Most scientists are empirical skeptics, who admit the possibility of knowledge based on evidence, but hold that new evidence may always overturn these findings.

Doubting Thomases
True faith requires the possibility of doubt otherwise it is similar to knowledge.

Entire Bible is a collection of sacred Scriptures that almost purposely invite doubts and questions. Even the "evidence" for the most crucial event in the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from death, could hardly stand as "evidence" in court of justice or critical historical scientific research. A bunch of simple uneducated and probably quite superstitious ghost seeing Galileans, among them even some bewildered women, and at the end of a group of some five hundred mostly anonymous people telling that they have seen a dead man walking.

Gospel of John tells that during the momentous events in Easter in Jerusalem even some of those present when the dead man actually appeared had their doubts.

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:24-29 NIV

Scepticism - gangrene of the soul?
There are people who are simply unable to believe even if they want to. Bible has great understanding towards such persons and tells that even those chosen by God for special tasks, such as Moses and Aron, Peter or Paul, had their moments of doubt. Prophetic writings do castigate the people of Israel for their unbelief, lack of faith - but this seems to be something that belongs to the picture, human inability to believe what God says.

If lack of faith belongs to the picture of humanity, if those sceptical Thomases are actually an essential element of true religion that allows for doubt even while condemning it - why does Second letter to Timotheus warn about those two fellows, Hymeneus and Philetus, whose sick words eat Christian souls spreading like gangrene. Are these spreading doubts and causing unbelief among the innocent listeners?
Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.
2 Tim 2:16-18 NIVE
The answer is no!

Hymeneus and Philetus were not spreading doubts and asking sceptical questions about the assumed truths in the congregation.

Asking even the hardest questions and confessing lack of faith is allowed in the spiritual reality of the Bible. The Gospels tell us how Jesus of Nazareth realised the presence of disbelief, warned about it, castigated about it, but also helped those who suffered from lack of faith.

Actually, the two fellows warned about in Second Timotheus were believers and not sceptics. They were teaching faith but had departed from truth destroying the faith of some (this can happen).

Beware of believers!
Truth is a surprisingly hard word.

Sceptics are whipping us believers forcing us believers to reconsider the foundations of our faith. We believers are often naive and like to believe with the confidence of a child of God. But is this what we hear and have accepted really true?

A sure sign of a dangerous, gangrenous Hymeneus-like false teacher is the demand to believe. The atmosphere lacks the graceful invitation to ask for more faith from God Himself and is peppered with hidden or direct threats and warnings against all those who even in the secret of their hearts dare to raise critical questions about the message.

Faith in our Heavenly Father is a delicate flower that needs nurturing, water, warmth and care to grow into a healthy strong tree at the banks of the stream of life. Those who have departed from the Truth do not understand that use of spiritual violence is detrimental to these sensitive buds waiting to open into flowers and preventing healthy scepticism and questioning can suffocate and destroy them.

Truth, alethinon, is a surprisingly hard word especially for those who believe.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Boney M and the Bible

Boney M  BBC Top 10

Disco music has rarely been as powerful and memorable as it was with Boney M.

Their performance at Sopot 1979 Festival brings back the unforgettable beats, tunes and arrangements that are even today, 40 years later, immediately recognisable as "Boney M". The three beautiful ladies together with a skilful male dancer with his sexy voice made a brilliant contrast that has remained a Boney M hallmark ever since.

However, Boney M was not an immediate success. It was created in 1975 by German record producer Frank Farian but their first album Take the Heat Off Me was published the following year with lukewarm reception.

Things began to heat up with the 1976 hits Daddy Cool and Sunny. Once you hear them they do linger in your ears whether you want it or not! Similarly penetrating and memorable were the 1977 hits Ma Baker and Belfast.

By the rivers of Babylon
Show business and entertainment such as popular music aimed at the young disco generation may be very far from religion and the Bible. Some rockers are inspired by the opposite dark forces and show it in their music and attitudes. Instead, Boney M got their greatest hits and reached near the coveted 2 million sales (5000 short) with a "white" song with good words taken directly from the Bible

By the Rivers of Babylon (youTube)
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion... They carried us away in captivity requiring of us a song... Now how shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?
Psalm 137:1-4
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight...
Psalm 19:14
By the Rivers of Babylon stayed at the number one position in the UK for five weeks and sold over 1,985,000 copies and is one of the top ten all-time best-selling singles in the UK.

The contents are not necessarily understood in the Biblical Zionist sense by all - there is a genuinely Jamaican rastafanian interpretation where "Babylon" takes the meaning of a tyrant and the words have thus some Ethiopian side tunes, as well. But the words are pure Bible.

The group has had political comments since the famous visit to Soviet Union (please, no Rasputin!) As recently as in 2010 when Maizie Williams visited the Palestinian Culture Festival, organisers asked her not to sing By the Rivers of Babylon (The Telegraph) because of its Zionist content.

Mary's Boy Child - Oh My Lord
Another centrally Biblical theme brought Boney M their second great success - now actually dressed in white! It a Christmas song originally made famous by Harry Belafonte in 1956. Boney M released it in 1978 to their unmistakable beat and with mind penetrating simplicity

Mary's Boy Child - Oh My Lord (youTube)

"The single was recorded in a hurry early November, included in the group's live set and rushed out at the end of the month, topping the UK charts for four weeks during its eight week stay in the charts, and becoming the second single for the group in the all-time best selling singles charts." (wikipedia

This is and has remained a genuine Christmas song with no side interpretations!

The Keel and Caledonian orogeny

He set the earth on its foundations;
    it can never be moved.
You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
    they went down into the valleys,
    to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
    never again will they cover the earth.
Psalm 104:5-9 NIV

Continental drift - Iapetus ocean
Modern geodynamics deals much with the play of water and dry land during the geological history of planet Earth. It is a highly complex field of research but crucial in our attempt to try to understand the landscapes of our world. There have been periods when waters have covered mountains and valleys deep under like by a garment - the Psalmist may actually refer here to the ancient story of the Flood - and massive tectonic movements that have raised mountain ranges or folded them over. A vivid image of the process is given by the relatively young formation of Himalayas as the Indian continental plate pushes against the Asian plate and causes the majestic mountains to rise. Similar pushes have happened throughout the geological history of planet Earth.

Reconstruction of Late Ordovician Epoch 460 mya
The reconstruction shows part of the map of Earth before the majestic Caledonian orogeny took place. The land masses of Laurentia are separated from Baltica by the huge Iapetus Ocean. Baltica is separated from Avalonia by the Tornquist Sea. Tectonic plates laying under the crust of Earth moved slowly during the Devonian Epoch driving away the waters of the separating seas and pushing the edges of the plates up into mountain ranges.

Later on, continental drift again separated the land masses eventually creating what became the Atlantic Ocean between America, Eurasia and Africa.

Reconstruction of Late Devonian Earth 370 mya
The enormous pressure of land masses pushing against each other lifted massive mountain ranges that may have been as high as the Himalayas today. Later events and erosion has "polished" the Caledonian mountains into soft shapes and much lower remains perhaps one fifth of the original at 2000 meters or so. Nature thrives towards the peaceful balance of flat landscapes without the physical tensions that are caused by mountains and valleys.

Caledonian orogeny

Location of the Caledonian/Acadian mountain chains
in the Early Devonian Epochwikimedia
The Caledonian orogeny is a mountain building era (orogeny) recorded in the northern parts of the British Isles, the Scandinavian Mountains, Svalbard, eastern Greenland and parts of north-central Europe. The Caledonian orogeny encompasses events that occurred from the Ordovician to Early Devonian, roughly 490-390 million years ago (Ma). It was caused by the closure of the Iapetus Ocean when the continents and terranes of Laurentia, Baltica and Avalonia collided.

The Caledonian orogeny has been named for Caledonia, the Latin name for Scotland. The name was first used in 1885 by Austrian geologist Eduard Suess for an episode of mountain building in northern Europe that predated the Devonian period. Geologists like Émile Haug and Hans Stille saw the Caledonian orogeny as one of several episodic phases of mountain building that had occurred during the Earth's history. Current understanding has it that the Caledonian orogeny encompasses a number of tectonic phases that can laterally be diachronous. The name "Caledonian" can therefore not be used for an absolute period of geological time, it applies only to a series of tectonically related events.

The Keel

Geological map of Scandinavia
wikimedia Bjoertvedt
The fascinating geological map by Bjoertvedt gives detailed picture of the Keel as part of the extremely complex geological map of Scandinavia, Finland and the Baltic area. Many parts of planet Earth are covered with later sedimentary rocks covering like thick garments older rock formations sometimes under kilometres thick deposits.  The Caledonian orogeny is Postcambrian but in this Nordic corner of the world we can study it in relation to the early geological history of Precambrian Earth.

Cambrian deposit over Precambrian base - Slemmestad, Norway
Jan Ove R. Ebbestad and Elisabeth Sunding 2006

Young Earth Creationists
Learning about the making of the Keel and the landscapes surrounding it are in my mind a fascinating and also theologically significant exercise. It is admittedly very demanding and I confess my utter ignorance of most of the subjects mentioned here - I have much to learn and I am very eager to learn more as a Christian, child of the God who made these majestic landscapes of Scandinavia.

Not so Young Earth Creationists.

Because of the shackles of their faulty hermeneutics and forcing human rationalism into the Biblical revelation in all its intended ambiguity and complexity, YEC people must close their eyes to all this. It is impossible that there was a Devonian period when Laurentia and Baltica moved towards each other creating nappes and what not?

For all the Earth was made in seven days of creation about 4000 BC and so it must be. From this divine knowledge - that contradicts what we can learn from God's nature - they must find an explanation to the rise and fall of the Keel in what is geologically speaking less than a second.

They do so with admirable zeal, piety and imagination, thereby forging both the great work of Creator and falsifying the Word of God and bringing shame to the name of the God of Israel.


But so it is.