Hesiodic Works and Days # Hesiod’s Theogony describes his version of creation accepting the gods as delivering justice. In Works and Days, a more practical almanac on living an ordinary life, he appears to advocate for leaders to make laws and Early in the seventh century AD, Hesiod, a contemporary of Homer and Solon, comments on the urgent demands of the ordinary peasants not to be victims of the arbitrary jurisdiction of the aristocrats.

    Origins of Greek gods # Precis of Hesiod’s Theogeny – The origins of the gods Muses who dwell in the house of Olympus, and tell me which of them first came to be. In truth at first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundation of all the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus, and dim Tartarus in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth, and Eros (Love, fairest among the deathless gods, who unnerves the limbs and overcomes the mind and wise counsels of all gods and all men within them.

    Biblical Women # Eve was the first woman, created by God to be a companion and helper for Adam, the first man. Everything was perfect in the Garden of Eden, but when Eve believed the lies of Satan, she influenced Adam to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, breaking God’s command. Eve’s lesson was costly. God can be trusted but Satan cannot. Whenever we choose our own selfish desires over those of God, bad consequences will follow.

    The Crusades # Some histories describe the Crusades as a sightseeing lark on the way to Jerusalem! The Holy Land Crusades began in 1095 AD when European Christians sought to regain land around Jerusalem. The bloody battles endured until the fall of Acre in 1291. This is one of the most fascinating periods in history. From Richard the Lionheart to the mighty Saladin, from the emperors of Byzantium to the Knights Templar, A magnificent epic of Holy War between the Christian and Islamic worlds unfolds.

    Mahatma Ghandi 1869 - 1947 # Born to a Hindu caste family in India, decaying for centuries, constantly making itself archaic, had closed up; and the rules of Gandhi’s Gujarati merchant caste—at one time great travelers—now forbade travel to foreign countries. Foreign countries were polluting to pious Hindus; and no one of the caste had been to England before. Ghandi left in 1888 to study law. To please his mother Gandhi had taken vows not to touch wine, meat, or women while abroad.

    Frank Epp (1929-1986) # What happened to Frank Epp is happening all over the evangelical and ecclesiastical world, including Jewish, Catholics, evangelicals and even Muslims; vicious, ferocious, mean – spirited polarising attacks on enlightened leaders by ultra - extremists. I prefer the ultra – moderates. The malice that infects so much of religious animosity is one the nastiest elements of the sanctimonious piety of all religions throughout history. We are often haunted by the dead, those who refuse to stay dead.

    Sex and Religion # Religion and Sex Sumerian # Gilgamesh, corrupted by his power, became an abusive oppressive tyrant. He insists on the droit du seigneur: he, not the groom, spends the wedding night with the bride. The gods, listening to the complaints of his people send a priestess, the Goddess of Love, Shamhat, a sacred prostitute, to seduce Enkidu, the wild brutalised man, and they make love continuously for six days and seven nights.

    The Rise of Muslims # Muhammad (born c. 570, Mecca, Arabia died, 632, Medina) founder of Islam and the proclaimer of the Qurʾān. The religion quickly caught on in Arab lands and in the 1070s the Turks from the Steppe, swept away many Arab Muslim dynasties. The Turks seized control, setting up regional centers of power in formerly Arab cities. Like Christianity spread rapidly after the fourth century, we need to question why, by the eighth century, Islam controlled most of the east and southern lands of the Mediterranean.

    Superstitions # People believe what they want to. W.H. Auden has a beautiful line in The Shield of Achilles: “They (soldiers) marched away enduring a belief Whose logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief.” Rational people can rationalize or justify almost anything. We are good at self-deception. All ideologies can be self-serving and delusional. That’s why philosophy, history and great literature is such a good guide to reality. All early civilisations relied on gods.

    Apostasy # The formal disaffiliation from, abandonment or renunciation of a religion or ideology. It can also be defined within the broader context of embracing an opinion. Secular apostasy: - When founding principles give way to pragmatic compromises in everyday life; espousing high ideals but perverted by base morality. The problem with hypocrisy is that it shatters truth. If we believe in a principle, but don’t apply it ourselves, that principle is essentially meaningless.

    Epidemics # Influenza Plagues and Pestilence have been with us since early times, originally seen by superstitious people as the result of offending the gods. Influence - power from heaven – Influenza was considered punishment for disobeying authority. Biblical # One of the earliest records of plagues was one Moses unleashed on Egypt when Pharaoh would not free the enslaved Hebrews. It was divine punishment for injustice, and an assertion of religious power in the battle between Egypt’s gods and the god of the Hebrews.

    Inquisitions # The Inquisition is an historical persecution that originated in Southern France around the turn of the 13th Century and lasted about 500 years after spreading throughout Europe including England. Napoleon is credited for putting an end to its bloody ethnic cleansing. It is without a doubt the darkest and bloodiest period of Christian history, making the barbaric antics of Daesh or ISIS look like a Sunday school picnic.

    Violence and Religion # Religions tend to arouse deep passions, strong convictions and assumptions of righteousness that justify entitlements of power to impose their views on others. Most conquer territory by a combination of coercion and conversion forcing the indigenous inhabitants, as part of their hegemony, to adhere to their teachings and practices - Catholics in South America, Protestants in North America and Africa, Muslims in North Africa and in the Balkans, later India and Afghanistan and the Hindus vied the Buddhists for hegemony in the Orient.

    Apostasy # The formal disaffiliation from, abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. It can also be defined within the broader context of embracing an opinion Secular apostasy: - When founding principles give way to pragmatic compromises in everyday life. Apostasy – espousing high ideals – perverted by base morality. The problem with hypocrisy is that it shatters truth. If we believe in a principle, but don’t apply it ourselves, that principle is essentially meaningless.

    Imagination, fantasy, illusions, chimera # Mythomane - a person with a strong or irresistible propensity for fantasizing, lying, or exaggerating. Literature is based on make believe. As Margaret Atwood wrote, both the reader and writer know what is fiction, but agree to believe it. Ashleigh Brilliant coined this saying: Now that I have abandoned my search for truth, I’m looking around for a good fantasy. For survival, we need some self-deception and useful delusions.

    Evangelicals # Religious sectarianism has been the cause of more murders and blood shed in the world than any other cause. Christians against perceived heretics, or any other faiths; Catholics versus Protestants and vice versa, Hindus versus Buddhists, Muslims, Sihks .. Muslims versus Christians and other infidels, Buddhists versus Hindus, Tamils or Muslims - and everyone against Jews. All sanctioned by religion. Thomas Paine defined theology as the study of human opinion and fancies concerning God.

    Judas Iscariot, betrayer or faithful? # Inveterate mindsets are sometimes so ingrained, nothing can disturb them. Once an historical person has been successfully slandered, it is almost impossible to redeem their reputation or rightful status. Perhaps the most demonised is Judas, deemed to have betrayed Christ. Learned, conscientious scholars have a disobliging view basing conclusions on a closer reading of evidence. A recent documentary on the last week of Jesus in Jerusalem, by Hugh Bonneville, shows a number of scholars talking about Judas who appeared to fully accept that Judas is no longer the villain he has been portrayed over the past two centuries.

    Saints and Martyrs # The word “saint” comes from the Greek word hagios, which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious." "…Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem" (Acts 9:13). “Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda” (Acts 9:32). “And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons …“ (Acts 26:10).