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Syrian Widow Seeking Refuge in Zadieh, Syria

Syrian Widow Seeks Refuge in Zadieh, Syria
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Syrian widow seeking refuge in the Presbyterian Church in Zadieh, Syria (Jan 2017)
This small and beautiful church in the mountains east of Tartous was taking in as many refugees as it could and providing them sanctuary. The pastor died a few months after our departure from a heart attack. Obviously, we can see the trauma on her face and in her eyes.

Meeting the Bishop of Mosul, Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf

Bishop of Mosul, Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

 

I was in Damascus, Syria in Jan 2017 four days with a group of people. We were fortunate to have an audience with the Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church centered in Damascus. As the archbishop started the meeting, he stopped in mid-sentence remembering something important. He told us that the Bishop of Mosul, Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, was staying in the church/monastery for one more night–he was staying there while Iraq and Syria were being ravaged by Islamic radicals. Mosul, ancient Nineveh, was viciously attacked by ISIL (Da’esh), and the bishop, after staying as long as he could in Mosul, sought refuge in Damascus in the headquarters of his church and under the protection of Assad’s forces. You can see his video below from 3 Nov 2014 where he states what is happening to Mosul and the Christians there. The title of the video is “The Bishop of Mosul is Weeping.” The Archbishop told us that Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf was leaving the next day to return to Mosul and rebuild his church and the Christian communities. The Archbishop dispatched an assistant to ask the Bishop of Mosul to join us for a moment. Little did I know who he was or how significant he is to Middle Eastern Christianity. He joined us and as soon as he walked in, his presence was overwhelming and generous. Just by looking at him you could tell that he had transformed his unspeakable sufferings into something beautiful. I also thought he looked exactly like some of my Harley riding friends back home. I actually looked at his hand to see if he wore a biker ring. I know, I should be more mature than this. He sat down while we were being served hot tea by the young priests. One priest offered him tea, he looked around before taking, and noticed that one of our group had been missed. I had noticed this but didn’t want to speak out of turn. The Bishop of Mosul stopped and asked the young priest to serve the one of us who did not have tea. Then he took his tea. He did not speak disparagingly of America, but he asked with true confusion why Americans were so intent on destroying his country, his church, his Christian brothers and sisters? Why would the “Christian” American president destroy a country, kill over 600,000 Iraqis, and then leave an opening for ISIS? Why would the American president be so intent on destroying Christian churches and Christian communities, some as old as 1500 years? Later, I was able to talk with him and shake his hand. No doubt, he is one of the greatest humans I have met.

“Balthazar” by Shogh-Ian

“Balthazar” by Shogh-Ian
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

 

And since it’s Share-Your-Art-Friday–is that a thing?, I received this piece 2 weeks ago from my favorite Armenian artist, Shogh-Ian. She’s a young artist doing unique and astonishing work.

Portrait in Red and Black by Dr. Shafik Radwan (2011)

Dr. Shafik Radwan
Portrait in Red and Black
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Dr. Shafik Radwan
Portrait in Red and Black
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

 

I was able to purchase another piece of art from one of the greatest working artists in the world, Dr. Shafik Radwan, again through Zawyeh Gallery. This is the fifth Radwan we now own and present.

My Future Daughter and Her Red Moon (2011) by Ms. Asma Ghanem

Asma Ghanem
My Future Daughter and Her Red Moon
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Asma Ghanem
My Future Daughter and Her Red Moon
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

 

 

I fell in love with this immediately, for many reasons, but one major one being my own perspective and studies. I see in this painting 4,000 years of Syro-Palestinian-Phoenician with a little bit of Mesopotamian thrown in. This is rooted in a subterranean and beautiful shared past. What an amazing fusion of contemporary and ancient. I’m not trying to over-read your work–this is one element that triggered my responses. Impressive, indeed.

King University Foundations Teaching Assistants

King University Foundations TAs
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
King University Foundations TAs
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
King University Foundations TAs
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

King University Foundations TAs
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
King University Foundations TAs
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
King University Foundations TAs
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
King University Foundations TAs
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
King University Foundations TAs
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
King University Foundations TAs
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
King University Foundations TAs
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

Save us the hollow call for unity, Franklin Graham: Opinion in Charlotte Observer

Save us the hollow call for unity, Franklin Graham

Charlotte Observer

UPDATED JANUARY 11, 2021 11:45 AM

Last Thursday, one day after the deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, Franklin Graham had a message for Americans.

“The division in our country is as great as any time since the Civil War,” he tweeted. “I am calling on Christians to unite our hearts together in prayer for President-elect @JoeBiden and Vice President-elect @KamalaHarris, and for the leadership in both parties.”

It was the kind of statement this country needs to hear, a call for reconciliation that you’d expect from a faith leader. Except just two weeks before, this leader’s arms were folded, not open. “Many people believe the presidential election was stolen from @realDonaldTrump,” Graham tweeted on December 28, “and if conservatives lose control of the Senate, there is nothing to stop the radical agenda of the left.”

Earlier in December, Graham echoed the same election lies that fueled the Capitol invaders. “When he says this election was rigged or stolen,” Graham said of the president, “I tend to believe him.”

Unite our hearts? Save it, Rev. Graham.

Get ready for the big walk back, America. Get ready for the agitators to now call for peace. Get ready for the same people who played along when the president stoked a nationwide fury now wanting to calm everyone down.

Like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who said after last week’s siege: “We must come together and put this anger and division behind us. We must, and I am confident we will, have a peaceful and orderly transition of power.”

This is the same Ted Cruz who, as the mob was forming in Washington, encouraged “peace” and “order” by declaring: “We are gathered at a time when democracy is in crisis.” It’s the same Cruz who the week before shouted at a Georgia rally that “We will defend our constitution” and “We will not go quietly into the night.”

All for election fraud that didn’t exist.

This costume change, brazen as it is, is hardly surprising. For years, Republicans and conservative leaders have told Americans that what they see isn’t actually true, that Donald Trump’s unhinged tweets and intemperate attacks are merely the products of media and Democrats picking on him. Just as guilty, although slightly less hypocritical, are the Republicans who chose to be silent about the president and Charlottesville, the president and “shithole” countries, the president telling Proud Boys to stand back and stand by.

Many of these same Republicans, including members of Congress from North Carolina, added their names to an amicus brief supporting a Texas lawsuit that falsely claims the 2020 presidential election was tainted with fraud and should be overturned. They nodded or looked the other way as Trump’s election claims got more bizarre, his efforts more desperate, his language more incendiary.

Only when Trump being Trump resulted in five deaths and a ransacked Capitol did some rediscover their principles and their spines. But even now, Republicans are arguing against a second impeachment of the president, on the grounds that it would inflame his supporters.

Never mind the hypocrisy of calling for calm shortly after you’ve been yelling “fire.” This also is blame avoidance — not only for the president, but those who bowed and cowed in all the moments that led up to this latest, most horrifying one.

Unity? Yes, we need to move toward it. But to get there, we need those responsible for Wednesday, including Donald Trump, to be held accountable. We need the leaders and the party that enabled him to take responsibility and earn the country’s confidence and trust again.

A good start would be to admit what is plainly true, that the 2020 election was not stolen from the president.

Until then, save us the hollow words of reconciliation.

That includes you, Rev. Graham. You’ve long had an affinity for telling folks — whether they’re Girl Scouts or a gay presidential candidate or a bank that dares put a lesbian couple in a commercial — how their behavior is leading to the decline of America. You’ve especially liked singling out individuals and groups to repent and be accountable for their sins.

We won’t be so presumptuous to declare what’s a sin or who needs to repent. We don’t even think you’re wrong in suggesting that Americans need to find a path and a peace they can share. But before you start calling for everyone to come together, it might help if you came clean about what tore us apart.

FYI Trump’s Latest Yemen Move Is Far Worse Than The Capitol Riot

FYI Trump’s Latest Yemen Move Is Far Worse Than The Capitol Riot

Written by Caitlin Johnstone, Jan 12, 2021 caitlinjohnstone.com

While the Capitol riot is being hysterically compared to Pearl Harbor and Kristallnacht by the political/media class, the Trump administration has done something far, far worse that is receiving far, far less attention.

The US State Department has officially announced its intention to designate Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group, as many had previously warned. Humanitarian organizations have been condemning the move as it will make it more difficult to provide aid to a population that is already being brutalized by the worst mass atrocity in the entire world, a Saudi-led atrocity which could not occur without the help of the western power alliance.

We are already seeing some effects of this designation.

Yemen Solidarity Council@YSCouncil

We are ceasing all operations in the United States for the time being, as well as putting a temporary halt to our intended plans for humanitarian fundraising.

Let it be known that the Trump Administration just criminalized foreign humanitarian aid to .

View image on Twitter

Antiwar‘s Dave DeCamp reports the following:

The terror designation will hamper the efforts of international charities that deliver food to Houthi-controlled areas, where 70 percent of Yemen’s population lives and malnutrition is the most widespread.

Aid agencies fear their work in north Yemen will now be criminalized since the Houthis are the authority they have to deal with and make transactions with. US terror designations open up sanctions on any individuals or entities that do business with those Washington brands as terrorists.

Pompeo said exemptions would be made for humanitarian goods. But any additional roadblocks for aid agencies will cause more suffering in Yemen since the situation is so dire. “Even with exemptions, the operation will be compromised,” said Janti Soeripto, the president of Save the Children, according to AP News.

The United Nations conservatively estimates that some 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war between the Houthis and the US-backed Saudi-led coalition, mostly from what it calls “indirect causes”. Those indirect causes would be disease and starvation resulting from what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls “the worst famine the world has seen for decades”.

When people hear the word “famine” they usually think of mass hunger caused by droughts or other naturally occurring phenomena, but in reality the starvation deaths we are seeing in Yemen (a huge percentage of which are children under the age of five) are caused by something that is no more natural than the starvation deaths you’d see in a medieval siege. They are the result of the Saudi coalition’s use of blockades and its deliberate targeting of farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites, and cholera treatment centers with airstrikes aimed at making the Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen so weak and miserable that they break.

In other words, the US and its allies have been helping Saudi Arabia deliberately kill children and other civilians on mass scale in order to achieve a political goal. Which would of course be a perfect example of any standard definition of terrorism. The unfathomably savage and bloodthirsty US empire designating the Houthis as a terrorist organization is the least funny joke that has ever been told

The Trump administration has just designated Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist organization while facilitating the worst mass atrocity on this planet in the Saudi-led assault on Yemen. Here’s an article I wrote about this depraved move last month:https://caityjohnstone.medium.com/we-are-the-terrorists-e86c1c4483fb 

We Are The Terrorists

The Trump administration is reportedly close to moving the Houthi rebels in Yemen onto its official list of designated terrorist…

caityjohnstone.medium.com

This move is quantifiably far, far worse than anything Trump could possibly have done to incite the Capitol riot, as it will kill far, far more people, yet the mass media fixate on one news story while virtually ignoring the other. This is because the Capitol riot story feeds into partisan narratives and manufactures consent for authoritarian domestic terrorism laws, while the Yemen story highlights the depravity of US imperialism. The plutocrat-owned media does not exist to give you a truthful representation of the world, it exists to keep the wheels of the empire rolling along.

There’s a weird taboo against saying some things are worse than other things, especially when it involves things the mass media tell us are of cataclysmic significance. People shriek “Why are you minimizing the Capitol raid??” and “Why are you comparing them! It’s not a pissing contest!” This is stupid. All things are not equal to other things, and figuring out the ways in which news coverage is disproportionate and not reflective of reality is a very important part of making sense of the world.

So now Americans are being fed a steady diet of narratives about the threat Trump’s radicalized base poses to people of color, while ignoring the fact that Trump is currently implementing policies which facilitate the butchery of people of color. Only difference is the latter is hidden behind geographical remoteness, and is far more egregious.

Americans Only Care About America. Their Rulers Only Care About World Domination.

“The story of Kanye and Kim’s divorce is going to generate more news media views than the entirety of the Yemen war since it began.”https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/americans-only-care-about-america 

Americans Only Care About America. Their Rulers Only Care About World Domination.

It matters that the mass media do not cover news stories with an accurate degree of proportion. It matters that they keep the public’s gaze diverted from the horrors of empire while radically distorting their sense of reality. This isn’t some idle “contrarian take”. This matters.

In the last couple of centuries we’ve progressed all the way from expecting our leaders to murder brown-skinned people while saying racist things to expecting our leaders to murder brown-skinned people while condemning racism. The murder hasn’t changed, and the racism hasn’t really changed either. All that’s changed is the norms of how it is put into practice.

This matters.

Traveling through Turkey with my Kurdish driver, Yusuf

Yusuf in Göbekli Tepe
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

Yusuf, my beautiful Kurdish driver who watched over me and took me to Göbekli Tepe in 2015 and would occasionally serenade me with his songs. Around lunchtime one day he abruptly turned off the road and headed into I don’t know what. I thought this was it–my kidnapping. Nope. It was my lunch. He knew this great little place–tent–with the most fab food. We were the only ones there, and he continued to educate me and tell me stories. I can’t verify this or absolutely agree with it, but, in the main, Kurdish people are the finest people on this earth. And the photo is one of the monumental pieces from Göbekli Tepe now the oldest known “temple”. 9,000 BCE. This finding, still in excavation, pushed hunter-gathering culture back 2 millennia–think about that. Because of Göbekli Tepe we now have to rewrite human history. I just had to go see it for myself.

Göbekli Tepe
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

Trump’s evangelicals were complicit in the desecration of our democracy by Michael Gerson

Trump’s evangelicals were complicit in the desecration of our democracy

Written by Michael Gerson, Washington Post, Jan 7, 2021

Trump’s evangelicals were complicit in the desecration of our democracy: WAPO

The practical effects of the fascist occupation of the U.S. Capitol building were quickly undone. The symbols it left behind are indelible.

A Confederate flag waved in triumph in the halls of a building never taken by Jefferson Davis. Guns drawn to protect the floor of the House of Representatives from violent attack. A cloddish barbarian in the presiding officer’s chair. The desecration of democracy under the banner “Jesus Saves.”

This post-apocalyptic vision of chaos and national humiliation was the direct and intended consequence of a president’s incitement. It was made possible by quislings such as Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who turned a ceremony of continuity into a rallying cry for hatred and treason. In the aftermath, Republican legislators who still don’t support President Trump’s immediate removal from office by constitutional means are guilty of continuing complicity.

Capitol Police were unable to stop a breach of the Capitol. Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig and a former Senate Sergeant at Arms describe the events. 

All this leaves President-elect Joe Biden in a difficult position. Prudence would advise two weeks of patience and then an upbeat attempt to turn the national page. Justice would dictate arresting, trying and imprisoning President Trump for sedition at the soonest possible moment.

As of now, I am in the justice camp. The only way to restore boundaries of law and decency is to enforce them.

The coming weeks will see a gradually arriving reckoning. Political leaders who sought access and influence over the past four years through a political alliance with insurrectionists and domestic terrorists are responsible for unleashing insurrectionists and domestic terrorists. This is true of some Federalist Society conservatives, who cared only about judicial appointments. It is true of some economic conservatives, focused only on tax and regulatory policy. And it is true, above all, of Trump evangelicals, who sought to recover lost social influence through the cynical embrace of corrupt power.

I come back to this group repeatedly, not only because I share an evangelical background and resent those who dishonor it, but because the overwhelming support of evangelicals is the single largest reason that Trump possesses power in the first place. It was their malignant approach to politics that forced our country into its current nightmare. As white nationalists, conspiracy theorists, misogynists, anarchists, criminals and terrorists took hold of the Republican Party, many evangelicals blessed it under the banner “Jesus Saves.”

Jesus had something to say about political deals with the devil: “Get behind me, Satan!” My point is less theological: The political and religious costs of a tight evangelical alliance with violent bigots and crackpots were easily foreseen. I and many others foresaw and foresaw until our fingers ached at the keyboard. Yet Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress and the others either shut their eyes or shared in Trumpian hatreds. “There has never been anyone,” said Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, “who has defended us and who has fought for us, who we have loved more than Donald J. Trump. No one!”

“We didn’t vote for him to be our pastor or our husband,” explained Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America. “We voted for him to be our bodyguard.” But what if the bodyguard you hired turns out to be a brutish, bigoted, narcissistic, authoritarian thug who wants to burn down any democratic institution he can’t control? Perhaps the moral character of political bodyguards actually matters. Perhaps evangelicals should not be hiring bodyguards in the first place, but rather supporting moral leaders who seek the common good.

The damage is now done. And it is not my purpose to pick through the ruins of destroyed reputations. It is tempting to call unforgivable the equation of Christian truth with malice, cruelty, deception, bigotry and sedition. But that statement is itself contradicted by Christian truth, which places no one beyond forgiveness and affirms that everyone needs grace in different ways. There is a perfectly good set of Christian tools to deal with situations such as these: remorse, repentance, forgiveness, reformation.

The collapse of one disastrous form of Christian social engagement should be an opportunity for the emergence of a more faithful one. And here there are plenty of potent, hopeful Christian principles lying around unused by most evangelicals: A consistent and comprehensive concern for the weak and vulnerable in our society, including the poor, immigrants and refugees. A passion for racial reconciliation and criminal justice reform, rooted in the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity. A deep commitment to public and global health, reflecting the priorities of Christ’s healing ministry. An embrace of political civility as a civilizing norm. A commitment to the liberty of other people’s religions, not just our own. An insistence on public honesty and a belief in the transforming power of unarmed truth.

What would America be like if these had been the priorities of evangelical Christians over the past four years — or over the past four decades? It would mean something very different, in that world, to raise the banner “Jesus Saves.”

Was Khirbet Qeiyafa a Judahite City? The Case against It by Nadav Na’aman

Was Khirbet Qeiyafa a Judahite City? The Case against It by Nadav Na’aman

This is an older article (2017), but it just came up on my feed elsewhere. If you are interested in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, especially Judahite history, and you are somewhat acquainted with the current argument between theo-political archaeologists like Garfinkel and Faust and historical archaeologists like Na’aman then you should read this. Make no mistake that many theo-political archaeologists are reading strong, unfounded assumptions into their interpretations of places in Palestine and Israel. For me, Na’aman, though hewing to the written text too strongly, is right up there with archaeologists like Gunnar Lehmann, Ayelet Gilboa, Tallay Ornan, and Raphael Greenberg. During and after the disappearance of Samaria (aka Israel) (not the city itself–the inhabitants) in 721 BCE, the Judahite kingdom comes to the fore in the 8th century BCE.
These are a few of my photos of Qeiyafa from July 2012.
Khirbet Qeiyafa
Don Michael Hudson, PhD (July 2012)
Khirbet Qeiyafa
Don Michael Hudson, PhD (July 2012)
Khirbet Qeiyafa
Don Michael Hudson, PhD (July 2012)

Israeli Soldier Defending Himself Against an Old Arabic Lady

You support…wait, what? Colonization, apartheid, racism, murders, torture, jailing children, checkpoints, land theft, home demolition, unrelenting oppression, unjustified and ongoing imprisonment, and disgusting misogyny? And it’s not even their land? Oh, ok. At least we’re clear now.
By the way, do you know the true way to recognize who the terrorists are?
They’re the ones with the weapons. Always.

King University Bible and Religion Spring 2021

We start our Spring semester two weeks from today. I am excited to get back to it. Bring on the vaccine! This is my 41st year teaching in higher education, and I love it more than ever. Teaching at King also makes all the difference in the world for me, and I am extremely proud of my school and our department. Here are some photos of promos from the near past.

King University Bible and Religion
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
King University Bible and Religion
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
King University Bible and Religion
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
King University Bible and Religion
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

SW Virginia Higher Education College for Older Adults: “What’s Going on in the Middle East”?

SW Virginia Higher Education College for Adults
“What’s Going on in the Middle East?”

I will be doing a lecture series for the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center and the College for Older Adults via Zoom:

THURSDAYS
Jan. 14 – Feb. 18, 2021
10:00 am
____ What’s Going on in the Middle East? KING UNIVERSITY LECTURESHIP SERIES. As usual, more than we can imagine. Why are we (Americans) bombing Yemen? What’s behind the “Deal of the Century” for Israel and Palestine? What’s happening now in Syria, and where is Russia in all this? Why do some members of both Democrat and Republican administrations want to damage Iran permanently? What’s in it for us? What’s going on in Lebanon and why does Hezbollah remain in the news? Join me as we tackle some of these tough issues we see or read in our daily news. But, just as we have done in the past, let’s look below and beyond the mainstream media. Our class will be imminently relevant and help us understand our worlds better. Instructor, Don Michael Hudson, Ph.D. (among many other degrees and fellowships), Chair of the Department of Religion and Bible at King University.
You can follow this link to get more information and register for this event: https://www.swcenter.edu/coa/

Ancient Ugaritic (Ras Shamra) Entrance

Ancient Ugarit (Ras Shamra)
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Ancient Ugarit, Ras Shamra, outside current Latakia, Syria
(Jan 2017)
This is the view of the (or an) entrance to the city pre-1200. Nothing of this beauty or scale existed in the Levant–especially the So Levant with the possible exception of ‘Asqalon–but that was Canaanite, of course.
“The foundations of the Bronze Age city Ugarit were divided into quarters. In the north-east quarter of the walled enclosure, the remains of three significant religious buildings were discovered, including two temples (of the gods Baal Hadad and Dagon) and a building referred to as the library or the high priest’s house. Within these structures atop the acropolis numerous invaluable mythological texts were found. These texts have provided the basis for understanding of the Canaanite mythological world and religion. The Baal cycle represents Baal Hadad’s destruction of Yam (the god of chaos and the sea), demonstrating the relationship of Canaanite chaoskampf with those of Mesopotamia and the Aegean: a warrior god rises up as the hero of the new pantheon to defeat chaos and bring order.” Plagiarised from Wikipedia
Much of Israelite–but especially Judahite–Iron 2A-Hellenistic religion(s), anti-religion(s) are derivative of Ugaritic “culture” or what is represented by Ugaritic culture. In other words, major portions of the HB are directly or inversely transmuting No. Levantine culture, i.e. hatred of Baal and Asherah. Once again, I speculate that the OT/HB is a clash of Northern/Southern (Phoenician-Syrio-Egyptian) cultures and the war between fertility and desert religious worldviews.
But the good news in all this is I finally saw Ugarit in Jan 2017–I never thought I would see this site.

Jonathan Pollard: Israel spy greeted by Netanyahu after flying to Tel Aviv

Jonathan Pollard: Israel Spies Against America

 

Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard greeted by Netanyahu on arrival in Israel on a private jet belonging to Sheldon Adelson, Donald Trump’s principal donor. Pollard is being celebrated as an Israeli hero. It is a picture that spawns many expletives and questions, most notably “Why is it that the people that hold the United States in such contempt are the recipients of billions of dollars in direct ‘aid’ every year plus trade and co-production agreements that amount to much more? How did the American people come to be screwed so badly and openly by their so-called elected representatives on behalf of a foreign country that has brought us nothing but grief?” by Philip Giraldi

“On This Earth”: Tell el-Farah North, Palestine

Tell el-Farah North, Palestine
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

Tell el-Farah North (Ancient Tirzah) near Nablus, Palestine

(Dec 2016)
“We have on this earth what makes life worth living: the final days of September, a woman
keeping her apricots ripe after forty, the hour of sunlight in prison, a cloud reflecting a swarm
of creatures, the peoples’ applause for those who face death with a smile,
a tyrant’s fear of songs.”
On This Earth, Mahmoud Darwish

Christmas Flowers

We’ve been going to the Wiesbaden market for almost 3 years now, and we keep passing the most incredible flower/evergreen stand. And they sell these 3 feet tall I don’t know what they are flowers. I finally broke down and bought 3 of them. They bloomed today–magnificent.

Wiesbaden Flowers
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Wiesbaden Flowers
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

Chora Church, Istanbul, Turkey

Chora Church, Istanbul, Turkey
Chora Church, Istanbul, Turkey (Mar 2015)
My favorite church in all the world. “Chora”–church beyond the walls, church out in the fields, church on the edge, church out in the “emptiness.”
“The original, 4th-century monastery containing the church, was outside Constantinople’s city walls. Literally translated, the church’s full name was the Church of the Holy Saviour in the Country (Greek ἡ Ἐκκλησία τοῦ Ἁγίου Σωτῆρος ἐν τῇ Χώρᾳ, hē Ekklēsia tou Hagiou Sōtēros en tēi Chōrāi). It is therefore sometimes incorrectly referred to as “Saint Saviour”. However, “The Church of the Holy Redeemer in the Fields” would be a more natural rendering of the name in English. The last part of the Greek name, Chora, referring to its location originally outside of the walls, became the shortened name of the church. The name must have carried symbolic meaning, as the mosaics in the narthex describe Christ as the Land of the Living (ἡ Χώρα τῶν ζώντων, hē Chōra tōn zōntōn) and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the Container of the Uncontainable (ἡ Χώρα τοῦ Ἀχωρήτου, hē Chōra tou Achōrētou).”
Totally plagiarised from Wikipedia.

The Price of Purple: Archaeologists have found new evidence of a robust dye industry that endured on the Mediterranean coast for millennia

The Price of Purple: Archaeologists have found new evidence of a robust dye industry that endured on the Mediterranean coast for millennia

Archaeology Magazine, Nov/Dec 2020

Written by Sara Toth Stub/Photo by Michael Eisenberg

“Elgavish (first excavator of Tel Shikmona 1960’s) collected thousands of artifacts. These include the stained pottery, weaving and spinning equipment, carved figurines, and hundreds of storage vessels. He portrayed the site as a residential Israelite city that flourished in the tenth century B.C. After sorting through the artifacts and documents, however, Shalvi and Gilboa view it differently, seeing Tel Shikmona not as a city but as an industrial site focused on the dye industry, especially between the tenth and sixth centuries B.C. Further, they believe that defining the site as exclusively Israelite does not reflect the region’s complexity. Some archaeological layers also contain evidence of the Phoenicians, whose coastal territories lay to the north of the Israelites’ settlements.”

From “the tenth to the sixth centuries B.C.” this was Phoenician–not Israelite even though it was predictably determined to be “exclusively Israelite” by Elgavish. Once again here is archaeology determined by theo-political presuppositions and not evidence. Good to see that Shalvi and Gilboa are sticking with the evidence at hand. Perhaps we are finally moving into what I call the third wave of archaeology in this area of the world. Smart, scientific scholars have abandoned “biblical” archaeology (first) and finally beginning to expose “Israeli” archaeology (second) with all its flaws, hidden assumptions, and theo-political agendas. Good scholars are turning to the Syro-Palestinian wave (third) wherein we follow the evidence no matter where it leads, truly understand the magnitude of the complexities of those transitional periods, and utilize informed, scientific ethnographies of the citizens of the plains and hills, villages and cities. I suspect, as the evidence continues to comes forward, that we will find a significant presence and impress of Phoenician culture on this formerly so-called “Israelite” culture(s) leading all the way to Tel Dan and Samaria to name two. This article is one more example. Sadly, though, the writer of this article is still stuck in the second wave. “North of the Israelite settlements”? What are these? Where are these? During what time periods? What defines an Israelite settlement? If the time period is 10th-6th centuries BCE, then how can anyone say with seriousness “north of the Israelite settlements”?

The Holy Spirit: God at Work in the World by William Simerly

“William Simerly has attended King University since the Spring of 2019 obtaining a B.S. in Religious Studies. In addition to his course work, William is currently the Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Knoxville, TN. William is a postulant for the priesthood in the Episcopal Church and will begin his seminary studies in the fall of 2021.  William’s time at King has deeply impacted his discernment to ordained ministry and he is grateful for King University and the Bible and Religion Department for their role in his education.”

The Holy Spirit: God at Work in the World

Written by William Simerly, King University

            The Holy Spirit has been, since the beginning of Christianity, a source of deep affection and deep division.  The faithful have taken comfort from the beautiful descriptions of the Spirit found in the Bible throughout the millennia, while at the same time, theologians have debated what, who, and how the Spirit works among God’s people. Wars, schism, and more have been the result of these theological debates. In this paper, I hope not to cause a war or schism, but instead to shed light on how the Holy Spirit has moved and worked among God’s people and how it continues to do so to this day. There are two important ways of examining the Spirit: examining the nature of the Spirit, and the work of the Spirit.  I will start by examining the nature of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit, by its nature, is a “spirit.” It is not a concrete thing by its original nature. The Spirit is however a person of the Trinity. Karl Barth states, “…the spirit is himself God, the same one God who is also the Father and the Son; he acts both as Creator and as Reconciler, as the Lord of the covenant” (Barth). The Bible, when describing the Spirit, always uses non-living, physical means when describing the Spirits appearance or perception by humans. Genesis 1: 1-2 states, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” In this first depiction of the Spirit, it is portrayed as a, “wind from God,” hovering over the primal waters of creation. However, this is not the only place in scripture where the Spirit of God is described as a wind. In Acts 2:1-2 it sates, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” These two separate depiction of the Holy Spirit as a wind help to illustrate the fact that the Spirit found in Genesis is the same Spirit and God found in Acts with the birth of the Church on the day of Pentecost. By the Spirit being portrayed as a wind, it allows the reader to begin to understand the fluidity that it has by its very nature.

The Spirit is not only described as a wind in scripture, but also as the very breath of God. In Genesis 2:7 it states, “… then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”  This scene portraying God as breathing the very breath of life into Adam portrays the Spirit as the giver of life. In John 20:22-23 it says, “…he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” Both of these passages from scripture portray the first and second persons of the trinity breathing onto humans and imparting the Spirit to those humans. This shows ultimately the power of the Spirit: the power to give life to Adam, and power to the apostles to do the work that Jesus has given them to do.

The Holy Spirit is also most famously described in the Bible as a fire. Exodus 13:21-22 states, “The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” This depiction of God leading the people by day and night in a pillar of cloud and fire is one of the most recognizable depictions of God’s Spirit from the Old Testament. The Spirit is most famously depicted as fire in the Book of Acts. Acts 2:3-4 says, “Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” This scene from the Day of Pentecost and the birth of the Church illustrates the Spirit as tongues of fire resting on the heads of the gathered disciples, and the Spirit allows them to speak in other languages and share the Good News with those gathered in Jerusalem.  These two separate biblical stories show the Spirit as an agent of renewal. The Spirit led the Israelites out of Egypt and into a new life, and in Acts the Spirit gave the apostles the ability to build the church and renew the faith of the whole world in the God of Abraham and Jesus.

The second way that the Holy Spirit can be examined is by its work throughout the scripture. Hildegard of Bingen, a church mystic and writer wrote the following about the work of the Holy Spirit:

“I, the highest and fiery power, have kindled every spark of life, and I emit                        nothing that is deadly. With my lofty wings I fly above the globe: With                              wisdom I have rightly put the universe in order. I, the fiery life of divine                            essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the                                waters, and I burn in the sun, moon and stars. With every breeze, as with                             invisible life that contains everything, I awake everything to life.”

This depiction of the Spirit helps to put a lens on the rest of the depictions of the work of the Spirit found in the Bible.

One of the very first actions the Holy Spirit does in the Bible is found in the Book of Genesis. As quoted earlier, the Spirit was with God at the beginning of creation. The Spirit was God’s agent of creation, hovering over the waters and bringing life to the world. The Gospel of Luke also portrays the Spirit as bringing life to the world, this time in the conception of Jesus, “The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God’” (Luke 1:35). Both of these biblical passages show the Holy Spirit to be the agent of creation and the incarnation. The Spirit brought life to the whole creation and also conceived new life in Jesus the Christ that would eventually renew the life of the world and bring about the Kingdom of God.

Another way that the Spirit works in the Bible and in our world today is that it leads us. In the Book of Exodus, the Spirit of God led the Hebrews out of bondage in Egypt into a new life in a new land.  The Spirit did this by being a physical pillar of cloud and fire. John 14:12-13 states, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” As Jesus says in this quotation from John, the Spirit will lead the apostles in their teaching and will lead the church.  Jesus was not done teaching and God was not done revealing truths about himself, so the Spirit was sent to us to continue this revelation from God to this day.

Finally and most importantly, the Holy Spirit is the bearer of Good News. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus reads from a portion of the prophet Isaiah, “He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”” (Luke 4:17-21).  This episode from scripture illustrates how the Spirit is the bearer of Good News. The Spirit seeks out and finds those on the margins and calls the Church to invite them in and make the family of God broader and wider.  The Spirit gave Jesus the power to begin his ministry of reconciliation and sharing God’s love. That same Spirit calls us to the same ministry today.

In conclusion, the Holy Spirit is a complicated and compelling subject.  The third person of the trinity has been given many names and has done many things throughout time, but to me the greatest of these is “comforter.”  The Holy Spirit comforts and guides the Church on our mission of reconciliation; a mission of reconciliation to God and each other.

Works Cited

Barth, Karl. Evangelical Theology: an Introduction. W.B. Eerdmans, 1980.

The Bible. The New Oxford Annotated Version, 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2001.

 

 

Abby of Hildegard von Bingen

Abite Hildegard von Bingen
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

So, so, German, and we love it 🙂 This is at Abby Hildegard von Bingen before you enter the church. And there is a watering dish right there for the pups. Imagine that you and I live and write in such a way that “our” influence 800 years later even takes care of the animals. Sybil of the Rhine indeed.

The National Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Latakia, Syria

The National Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Latakia
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

A widow from The National Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Latakia, Syria. One of the most striking women I have photographed. She and 300 of her fellow congregants greeted us with a warm and generous reception in our honor–all this during the heat of the war in Syria. This is the largest Presbyterian Church in Syria with over 1,000 members. As we were walking into the church we passed the graves of those Presbyterians who founded the schools, hospitals, and churches in that part of Syria over 150 years ago. (Jan 2017)

Dheisheh Palestinian Ghetto, Bethlehem, Palestine

Psalm 9

Poem by Mahmoud Darwish

O rose beyond the reach of time and of the senses
O kiss enveloped in the scarves of all the winds
surprise me with one dream
that my madness will recoil from you
Recoiling from you
In order to approach you
I discovered time
Approaching you
in order to recoil form you
I discovered my senses
Between approach and recoil
there is a stone the size of a dream
It does not approach
It does not recoil
You are my country
A stone is not what I am
therefore I do not like to face the sky
not do I die level with the ground
but I am a stranger, always a stranger.

Dheisha Palestinian Ghetto
Bethlehem, Paletine
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Dheisha Palestinian Ghetto
Bethlehem, Paletine
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

Rhine Valley, Germany

Rhine Valley
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Rhine Valley
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Rhine Valley
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Rhine Valley
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Rhine Valley
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Rhine Valley
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Rhine Valley
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Rhine Valley
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Rhine Valley
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

Abby of Hildegard von Bingen, Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany

“We shall awaken from our dullness and rise vigorously toward justice. If we fall in love with creation deeper and deeper, we will respond to its endangerment with passion.” Hildegard von Bingen

Abite Hildegard von Bingen
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Abite Hildegard von Bingen
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Abite Hildegard von Bingen
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Abite Hildegard von Bingen
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Abite Hildegard von Bingen
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Abite Hildegard von Bingen
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Abite Hildegard von Bingen
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Abite Hildegard von Bingen
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Abite Hildegard von Bingen
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Abite Hildegard von Bingen
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Abite Hildegard von Bingen
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

A Killing In Iran – Who Gains From Yet Another Assassination: Written by Philip Giraldi

A Killing In Iran – Who Gains From Yet Another Assassination
Another cut and paste article as FB will not allow the link…
A Killing In Iran – Who Gains From Yet Another Assassination
Philip Giraldi, December 3, 2020
It is not often that one can agree with the pronouncements made by former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan, but his tweeted comment on the killing of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh suggesting that the incident “…was a criminal act & highly reckless. It risks lethal retaliation & a new round of regional conflict. Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage & to resist the urge to respond against perceived culprits” was both restrained and reasonable. Or it was at least so until sentence two, which was clearly intended to attack Donald Trump and praise the incoming Joe Biden administration, which Brennan just might be seeking to join.
Bearing in mind that John Brennan was the guiding hand behind President Barack Obama’s kill lists of Americans who were marked for death by drone it is difficult to understand what moral high ground he seeks to occupy in the slaying of Fakhrizadeh. Brennan, who was a leading critic of Trump and who may have led the clandestine effort to undermine his election and term in office, subsequently found himself in an exchange of tweets with Republican Senator from Texas Ted Cruz which degenerated into a trading of insults. Cruz responded “It’s bizarre to see a former head of the CIA consistently side with Iranian zealots who chant ‘Death to America.’ And reflexively condemn Israel. Does Joe Biden agree?” This produced a riposte by Brennan that “It is typical for you to mischaracterize my comment. Your lawless attitude & simple-minded approach to serious national security matters demonstrate that you are unworthy to represent the good people of Texas.”
The assassination of Fakhrizadeh, the “father of Iran’s nuclear program,” took place on a road near the town of Absard to the east of Tehran. According to initial accounts, the Iranian scientist, who has long been targeted by name and in public fora by Israel, was traveling in an SUV together with his wife plus bodyguards and a driver. Initial reports suggested that there was a Nissan truck parked on the opposite side of the road loaded with what appeared to be wood, though it may have turned out that the wood was concealing a bomb which may have been triggered by a signal from a surveillance satellite. The bomb was detonated to disable Fakhrizadeh’s vehicle before an attack on the car by five or six gunmen with automatic weapons who had emerged from a vehicle following the SUV began, again according to initial reports, including reporting by eye witnesses. The Iranian official news agency FARS is now claiming, however, that the attack was carried out by a remote controlled machine gun concealed on the truck, which subsequently exploded, and no human attackers were involved. It is presumed that the bodyguards and driver were killed in the exchange. Fakhrizadeh was badly wounded and died in hospital shortly thereafter. Photos of the SUV reveal shattered windows, blood streaks, and numerous bullet holes as well as other damage from what may have been the bomb.
Iranian news agencies are now reporting that at least one of the attackers has been arrested, and if that is true he will surely be made to talk regarding what he knows. They are also reporting that two of the assailants were killed in the exchange with the bodyguards, which, if true, means they will possibly be identified. Clearly, the attack was well planned, was able to employ considerable resources, and was based on intelligence that would be very hard to obtain, particularly as the Iranian government was taking steps to protect Fakhrizadeh, to include details of his travels.
The killing comes just two weeks after intelligence officials confirmed that Al Qaeda’s second-highest leader Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah was shot dead together with his daughter by alleged Israeli supplied assassins on a motorcycle on August 7th. The hit was reportedly carried out at the request of the United States based on Abdullah’s claimed involvement in the 1998 deadly attacks on two U.S. Embassies in East Africa. The claim that Iran has been harboring al-Qaeda is already being used by the Trump White House to justify increased pressure on Iran and it might possibly even serve as part of a casus belli.
The two assassinations are not linked except perhaps in terms of sending a message to high level Iranians that they are not safe even in their own country even when they are given bodyguards.
The claim that Fakhrizadeh was in charge of a secret Iranian weapons program, made regularly by Israel and the U.S., is not generally believed by most authorities. Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which nuclear armed Israel is not, and its facilities are subject to regular unannounced inspections.
Likewise, the killing of Qods Force commander General Qassem Soleimani in January in a U.S. drone attack was intended more regarding sending a message concerning possible consequences of reckless behavior than it was about actually killing one man.
Whatever programs Fakrizadeh and Soleimani were involved in will continue without them. Nevertheless, assassination of Iranians linked to the country’s former and current nuclear program has been Israeli policy since 2010. As many as a dozen Iranian scientists and technicians reportedly have been killed. So-called “targeted killings” have been a regular feature of Israel’s “national defense” strategy. In addition to the Iranians, at least seventy Palestinians have been assassinated.
Though Israel has clearly ordered the assassinations, it is generally believed that the actual preparation for the attacks have been carried out by Mojahedin e Khalq or MEK, a Marxist cult that came into prominence at the time of the Iranian revolution against the Shah. It is generally regarded as a terrorist group that once was virulently anti-American and killed a number of U.S. officials. MEK is a curious hybrid creature in any event in that it pretends to be an alternative government option for Iran even though it is despised by nearly all Iranians. At the same time, it is greatly loved by the Washington Establishment which would like to see the Mullahs deposed and replaced by something more amenable to western and Israeli worldviews.
MEK is run like a cult by its leader Maryam Rajavi, with a number of rules that restrict and control the behavior of its members. One commentary likens membership in MEK to a modern-day equivalent of slavery. The group currently operates out of a secretive, heavily guarded 84-acre compound in Albania that is covertly supported by the United States, as well as through a “political wing” front office in Paris, where it refers to itself as the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
MEK, which is financially supported by Saudi Arabia, stages events in the United States in Europe where it generously pays politicians like John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani and Elaine Chao to make fifteen-minute speeches praising the organization and everything it does. It’s paying of inside the Beltway power brokers proved so successful that it was removed from the State Department terrorist list in 2012 by Hillary Clinton even though it had killed Americans in the 1970s. MEK also finds favor in Washington because it is used by Israel as a resource for anti-Iranian terrorism acts currently, including assassinations carried out in Tehran. Israel, in fact, directs most terrorist acts carried out by MEK inside Iran.
So those are the players and, at first glance, one might reasonably come to the Ockham’s razor conclusion, i.e. that Israel ordered MEK to kill Fakhrizadeh, an order which was then executed. But that would be to ignore some of the politics currently playing out in Washington. First of all, Israel would not have carried out the high-level assassination without the consent of the White House. Indeed, U.S. intelligence resources might well have played a key role in locating the Iranian scientist. Second, the Trump Administration has clearly adopted a policy of “maximum pressure” against Iran, which has included strangling the country’s economy through sanctions, condoning Israeli attacks in Syria and elsewhere, and destabilizing moves, to include assassinations, designed to make the nation’s leadership both vulnerable and nervous. It is the application of an Israeli strategic doctrine referred to as “Campaigns Between Wars,” meaning constant aggression to erode an enemy’s ability to fight without actually crossing a line that would start a shooting war.
A direct role by the Trump Administration in the assassination should not be ruled out as it is clearly seeking to harden Iranian antipathy towards any new comprehensive arms control or nuclear agreement with the incoming Biden team. Trump himself reportedly raised the possibility of bombing Iran earlier this month, though he was talked out of it by his national security team, but the Israeli Army meanwhile is on alert in case of an American attack. There are confirmed reports that B-52 bombers, capable of deploying the 30,000 pound penetrator bombs that can destroy targets deep underground, have been sent to the Middle East, presumably to Qatar where the U.S. has its principal airbase in the region. They would presumably be used against Iran’s main nuclear development site at Natanz.
Israel is in a strong position right now. Iran has significant military resources to respond to the killing, including the drones and missiles it developed and used in September 2019 to devastate the state-owned Saudi Aramco oil processing facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia. But if it does react robustly to the assassination and sparks a conflict that inevitably would include the United States, it would be a war that Bibi Netanyahu has long sought, destroying Iran at what he hopes would be minimal cost to Israel. If Iran does not respond, Israel will no doubt push the White House to be even more aggressive in its remaining time in office while hardliners within Iran will also demand an end to any agreements with western powers. Taken together, that would make sure that any attempt by the Biden administration to engage diplomatically with Iran would fail.
The ultimate provocation by the United States would, of course, be to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. Unthinkable? Perhaps, but perhaps not. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz is already reporting that “U.S. President Donald Trump has more than a month before he leaves the White House, and on his way out he could set the world on fire. In starting this conflagration, it seems as though he plans to strike every match in the box. Standing beside him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be more than happy to lend him a lighter.”

Netflix Presents a Mysterious Hollywood mission in the Iraqi city of Mosul

Mosul Film Critique

Mosul Film Critique by Safaa Al-Saleh 

(You can open this link in Chrome and read in English)
If you get a chance, watch the film “Mosul” streaming on Netflix. I really liked the film and found it interesting. Below you can find an Iraqi (I think he is Iraqi) critic’s review, which I think important. I don’t quite fully understand what he is writing, but he gives the film a positive review and yet critiques the usual “Western” portrayal of binary heroes or villains, and especially the simplistic way most of us in the West view the complexities of another culture(s). You can click on the link in Chrome and translate it to English. Do watch “Mosul” if you get a chance and see a different perspective on the battle against Da’esh.
“In the movie “Mosul”, we were faced with a reality of violence, devastation and betrayal, interspersed with the story of a group that finds itself carrying out justice in its own way that resembles the style of the criminal himself. We see them being slaughtered and killed in the same way, despite their belonging to what is supposed to be official regular forces, and the film’s producers try to provide the logical justification for their actions with the magnitude of violence and horrific horror in a reality in which trenches overlap, positions are mixed and the lines between good and evil are blurred and right and wrong.” Safaa Al-Saleh

West Bank, Palestine, Wadi Qelt

West Bank, Palestine
Wadi Qelt
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
West Bank, Palestine
Wadi Qelt
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

Shooting east and north from “Jericho Road”

 
“The Moon Did not Fall into the Well”
 
What are you doing, father?
I’m searching for my heart, which fell away that night.
Do you think you’ll find it here?
Where else am I going to find it? I bend to the ground and pick it up piece by piece just as the women of the fellahin pick up olives in October, one olive at a time.
But you’re picking up pebbles!
Doing that is a good exercise for memory and perception. Who knows? Maybe these pebbles are petrified pieces of my heart.
 
M. Darwish, trans. Ibrahim Muhawi

Burg Frankenstein

Burg Frankenstein

From Wikipedia:

“In 1673, Johann Conrad Dippel was born in the castle, where he was later engaged as a professional alchemist. It is suggested that Dippel influenced Mary Shelley‘s fantasy when she wrote her Frankenstein novel, though there is no mention of the castle in Shelley’s journals from the time. However, it is known that in 1814, prior to writing the famous novel, Shelley took a journey on the river Rhine. She spent a few hours in the town of Gernsheim, which is located about ten miles away from the castle. Several nonfiction books on the life of Mary Shelley claim Dippel as a possible influence.

Dippel created an animal oil known as Dippel’s Oil which was supposed to be equivalent to the “elixir of life”. Dippel attempted to purchase Castle Frankenstein in exchange for his elixir formula, which he claimed he had recently discovered; the offer was turned down.[6] There are also rumours[who?] that during his stay at Frankenstein Castle, Dippel practiced not only alchemy but also anatomy and may have performed experiments on dead bodies that he exhumed. There are rumours[who?] that he dug up bodies and performed medical experiments on them at the castle and that a local cleric would have warned his parish that Dippel had created a monster that was brought to life by a bolt of lightning. (The use of lightning to bring Frankenstein’s monster to life comes from the 1931 film and isn’t in the novel.) There are local people who still claim today that this actually happened and that this tale was related to Shelley’s stepmother by the Brothers Grimm, the German ethnologists. However, none of these claims have been proven to this date, and some local researchers doubt any connection between Mary Shelley and Frankenstein Castle.”

 

Burg Frankenstein, Don Michael Hudson PhD
Burg Frankenstein, Don Michael Hudson PhD
Burg Frankenstein, Don Michael Hudson PhD
Burg Frankenstein, Don Michael Hudson PhD
Burg Frankenstein, Don Michael Hudson PhD
Burg Frankenstein, Don Michael Hudson PhD
Burg Frankenstein, Don Michael Hudson PhD
Burg Frankenstein, Don Michael Hudson PhD
Burg Frankenstein, Don Michael Hudson PhD
Burg Frankenstein, Don Michael Hudson PhD
Burg Frankenstein, Don Michael Hudson PhD
Burg Frankenstein, Don Michael Hudson PhD
Burg Frankenstein, Don Michael Hudson PhD

Kloster Lorsch

From Wikipedia:

“The abbey was founded in 764 by the Frankish Count Cancor and his widowed mother Williswinda as a proprietary church (Eigenkirche) and monastery on their estate, Laurissa. It was dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The founders entrusted its government to Cancor’s nephew ChrodegangArchbishop of Metz, who became its first abbot. The pious founders enriched the new abbey by further donations. To make the abbey popular as a shrine and a place of pilgrimage, Chrodegang obtained from Pope Paul I the body of Saint Nazarius, martyred at Rome with three companions under Diocletian

On 11 July 765, the sacred relics arrived and with great solemnity were deposited in the basilica of the monastery. In 766 Chrodegang resigned the office of abbot, in favour of his other duties as Archbishop of Metz. He then sent his brother Gundeland to Lorsch as his successor, with fourteen Benedictine monks.

That same year, there was a dispute about property rights between Gundeland and Cancor’s son, and the abbey was moved to an Ice Age dune, a few hundred metres from its original location on a small island in the Weschnitz. In 772, Gundeland applied to the highest authority, Charlemagne, who found in his favour. Gundeland gave the abbey with all his properties to the king, turning it into a Royal abbey.

The abbey and basilica were then renamed in honour of Saint Nazarius: the main church of Saints Peter, Paul, and Nazarius was consecrated by the Archbishop of Mainz in September 774, in the presence of Charlemagne.”

 

Kloster Lorsch Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Kloster Lorsch Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Kloster Lorsch Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Kloster Lorsch Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Kloster Lorsch Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Kloster Lorsch Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Kloster Lorsch Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Kloster Lorsch Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Kloster Lorsch Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Kloster Lorsch Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Kloster Lorsch Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Kloster Lorsch Don Michael Hudson, PhD

Kloster Lorsch in the Round

Kloster Lorsch
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Kloster Lorsch
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

From Wikipedia:

“The abbey was founded in 764 by the Frankish Count Cancor and his widowed mother Williswinda as a proprietary church (Eigenkirche) and monastery on their estate, Laurissa. It was dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The founders entrusted its government to Cancor’s nephew ChrodegangArchbishop of Metz, who became its first abbot. The pious founders enriched the new abbey by further donations. To make the abbey popular as a shrine and a place of pilgrimage, Chrodegang obtained from Pope Paul I the body of Saint Nazarius, martyred at Rome with three companions under Diocletian

On 11 July 765, the sacred relics arrived and with great solemnity were deposited in the basilica of the monastery. In 766 Chrodegang resigned the office of abbot, in favour of his other duties as Archbishop of Metz. He then sent his brother Gundeland to Lorsch as his successor, with fourteen Benedictine monks.

That same year, there was a dispute about property rights between Gundeland and Cancor’s son, and the abbey was moved to an Ice Age dune, a few hundred metres from its original location on a small island in the Weschnitz. In 772, Gundeland applied to the highest authority, Charlemagne, who found in his favour. Gundeland gave the abbey with all his properties to the king, turning it into a Royal abbey.

The abbey and basilica were then renamed in honour of Saint Nazarius: the main church of Saints Peter, Paul, and Nazarius was consecrated by the Archbishop of Mainz in September 774, in the presence of Charlemagne.”

Bansky in Brugge?

Bansky in Brugge?
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

 

Bansky in Brugge? I don’t know, but Christina and I were wandering the beautiful maze that is Brugge and stumbled upon this sign of hope. Of course, we both have seen this same image on the apartheid wall in Bethlehem so it was quite a shock to see in Brugge too. I don’t know if it’s really Bansky or not, but one of his most brilliant postures is that Bansky is Bansky whether it’s Bansky or “not.”
“Hope is the thing with feathers.” Or balloons.

Meet Our Graduates: Erin Graybeal

Erin Graybeal, King University
Meet Our Graduates:
Erin Graybeal
“My time at King fundamentally changed me as a person. When I began my time there, I was scared of the world hiding in a bubble protected by an ironclad worldview. My first semester at King completely obliterated that in Foundations of Christian thought and practice. I was always curious, but in a rule-following kind of way. Most of my real, deep questions were suddenly no longer taboo and that was exciting and dizzying for me. What would I do without a “Solid” foundation? What if that foundation was never really stable at all?
For some unknown reason, Dr. Don Michael Hudson saw a spark in me and invited me to join the Philosophy and Religion Department in redesigning the Foundations course. He wanted to support students like me to ask new questions without fear in small groups of our peers. He also wanted to have a solid set of readings and questions that supported that thinking and work. I had the enormous privilege of co-designing, being a teaching assistant, head teaching assistant, and nationally presenting at conferences for that course. This allowed me to continue learning by pairing my major-education-with time to continue wrestling with questions of faith, culture, and pragmatism and get paid for it. I would not be the educator or human I am today without that time.
In a space surrounded by the freedom to ask questions, and professors and friends that really cared for my growth, I was able to change for the better. King provided me with the opportunity to not know-it-all and be ok with the gray of life. It also offered me the uncommon opportunity to work hand-in-hand with world class professors to take on tasks and learn skills I had no business having by normal standards. I believe I am a part of something bigger while simultaneously believing I can change the world because of King. I can hold two opposing thoughts or opinions because of King. I can hold my own in a room of experts because of King. I know I would never have had those experiences at another University, and I remain proud of my education there.”
The full story is that Erin approached me after a class and said, “You know, I think this class could be better.” I hired here right there to help me design a better class, and she did. Her prints are all over the Foundations course, and she helped me design this class over her four years at King. This has taught me a great lesson as a professor–students should be designing our classes as well. We are deeply grateful that Erin chose to study at King, and I look forward to all the good and great things she will do. Her works and design continue to educate 100’s of college students every semester.

Photos of Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome, Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Ancient Rome, Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Ancient Rome, Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Ancient Rome, Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Ancient Rome, Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Ancient Rome, Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Ancient Rome, Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Ancient Rome, Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Ancient Rome, Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Ancient Rome, Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Ancient Rome, Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Ancient Rome, Don Michael Hudson, PhD

Raids and Arrests in West Bank Jerusalem

Bushra Al-Tawil

The Palestinian Information Center, 9 November 2020

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) launched a raid and arrest campaign on Sunday night and at dawn Monday in various areas of the West Bank and Jerusalem. Several Palestinians were arrested including a journalist.

In Nablus, IOF arrested on Sunday night the journalist and released prisoner Bushra Jamal Al-Tawil at Tiar checkpoint on the Yitzhar road. Tawil was taken to the Hawara camp, south of Nablus.

IOF released Tawil at the end of last July 2020 after spending 8 months in the occupation prisons.

Tawil was arrested for the first time in 2011, and she was sentenced to 16 months. She spent six months because she was released in the Wafa Al-Ahrar prisoner exchange agreement in December 2011. Then, she was re-arrested again in July 2014, and she was sentenced to ten months in prison, which is the continuation of her previous detention before the prisoner exchange agreement.

The third arrest was in November 2017, and the Israeli authorities ordered her administrative detention for eight months. The last arrest was on December 10, 2019.

Tawil’s family suffered from the occupation’s targeting of them through successive arrests. Her parents were arrested several times in the past, and her father spent a total of 14 years in the occupation’s prisons. Her mother was also arrested on 08/02/2010, and was released on 01/02/2011.

In another development, IOF patrols stormed Jaffa street and the area surrounding Al-Ain refugee camp, west of Nablus.

Eyewitnesses reported that Israeli soldiers stormed a store and confiscated items from inside the store in the presence of the owner and he was detained.

In Qalqilya, the IOF soldiers fired stun grenades and teargas canisters in the area near the separation wall in Jayyus, northeast of Qalqilya.

In Tulkarem, IOF arrested Imad Fahmi Ammar, 38 years, after raiding his house in Qaffin town, north of Tulkarem, and seized his personal phone and amount of money.

IOF broke into a library in the Al-Ashqar complex in the middle of the Martyr Thabet Thabet Square in Tulkarem and searched it. Confrontations erupted between the Palestinian youths and the IOF soldiers who fired tear gas canisters, without any injuries reported.

The areas of Jalazun refugee camp and Dura al-Qara town, north of Ramallah, witnessed an incursion by IOF, which coincided with the launch of a drone over the camp and the town.

In al-Khalil, the IOF soldiers arrested the two brothers Musab and Salah Al-Zughayer after they raided their houses.

IOF arrested the ex-prisoner Muhammad Shaheen and Muayad Walid Amr from Dura, southwest of al-Khalil, after they raided and searched their homes.

Local sources stated that IOF arrested two Palestinians from Beit Ta’amer, east of Bethlehem, and seized a vehicle of one of them.

Three brothers were also arrested after IOF raided their relatives’ house in the village and searched it.

The sources pointed out that IOF arrested a young man after storming his relatives’ house in Aida camp, north of Bethlehem.

In Jerusalem, the Israeli occupation intelligence stormed the house of Silwan Club’s president, Marwan Al-Ghoul, and served him a summons for investigation on Tuesday, in Room 4 in the Al-Maskobiya center, west of the occupied city.

Read more at
https://english.palinfo.com/45290
@Copyright The Palestinian Information Center

IOF Soldier

The Guardian can try rewriting the history of White Helmets’ James Le Mesurier, but the truth is there for all to see

The Guardian can try rewriting the history of White Helmets’ James Le Mesurier, but the truth is there for all to see

 

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | October 30, 2020

A fetishistic Guardian article seeks to rehabilitate the life and death of the former British soldier turned ‘humanitarian’, but cannot explain away his lavish lifestyle, missing money, and all the other financial irregularities.

On the morning of November 11, 2019, James Le Mesurier, founder of Syria’s controversial White Helmets, was found dead in Istanbul. Since then, the Western establishment has struggled to get its story straight on the man, his professional history, the group he founded, and how he died.

The latest example of mainstream media narrative management in the ever-mysterious case came in the Guardian on October 27, in the form of a 6,000-word hagiography of Le Mesurier, authored by its veteran Middle East reporter Martin Chulov.

Many at this point will be familiar with the idolatrous portait it paints of its subject – a heroic humanitarian committed to benevolent causes who saved untold lives, tragically driven to suicide by a “disinformation campaign led by Russian and Syrian officials and peddled by pro-Assad bloggers, alt-right media figures and self-described anti-imperialists.” Nonetheless, it marks the first time the significant controversy surrounding his financial dealings has ever been explored, let alone mentioned, by a British news outlet.

In July this year, the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant published a long-read of its own, explosively revealing how, three days prior to his death, Le Mesurier ‘confessed’ via email to the White Helmets’ many international donors, who’d funded the group to the tune of hundreds of millions over the years, that he’d committed fraud.

The disclosure was prompted by an internal audit by a Dutch accountant of the finances of Mayday, the foundation started by Le Mesurier to find, train, and support the White Helmets. The audit found, among other things, that he had been paying himself and his wife, long-time UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) operative Emma Winberg, “excessive” salaries and supplementing the totals with unjustifiably vast cash bonuses; that his employment of his wife represented a potential conflict of interest; and that he might be guilty of tax evasion.

While claiming this malfeasance wasn’t intentional, Le Mesurier took full and sole responsibility, and expressed fears that further investigation could expose yet more “mistakes and internal failures.”

Monetary misconduct

Damning stuff indeed, but De Volkskrant’s seismic disclosures have been curiously ignored by all other Western media outlets until now. The Guardian’s article deals with the damning revelations, both directly and indirectly – Le Mesurier, whom Chulov knew personally, and with whom he clearly maintained an intense affinity, is acquitted on all charges. Indeed, the White Helmets founder is said to have simply “unravelled under the weight of claims that would later prove to be false.”

The author is at pains throughout to frame “disinformation” as fundamental to Le Mesurier’s untimely demise, in terms of causing him immense “stress,” which led to him “disintegrating” mentally, damaging his reputation and that of the White Helmets in the eyes of world opinion, and, in turn, stoking erroneous suspicions in donor countries that he and his company were engaged in various improper activities.

The question of how a battle-hardened military veteran could be so deleteriously impacted mentally and emotionally by “attacks on Russian television and social media,” particularly if they were entirely without substance, is unasked and unanswered.

There’s little doubt Le Mesurier wasn’t in a good state during his final weeks. It’s been widely reported he was taking sleeping pills and psychiatric medication. Less well amplified were Turkish news reports alleging he and his wife had “fought violently” while dining out together the day before his death.

Chulov alleges “a distressed Le Mesurier” told friends just before he died that claims of Mayday’s monetary misconduct “seemed to come from nowhere.” In fact, questions about what purpose the vast sums donated to the company were put to, and where they all ultimately ended up, had long circulated.

While his article states that donor countries maintained their support for the White Helmets “despite the disinformation surrounding the group’s work,” this isn’t true. In September 2018, the Dutch government ended its backing, after a damning Ministry of Foreign Affairs report outlined serious concerns about Mayday’s financial practices, including an almost total lack of oversight over, and even awareness of, how its money entered Syria, and precisely whose pockets it eventually lined.

However, Chulov feels confident dismissing any and all suggestions of embezzlement, for he’s in possession of a report by forensic auditors Grant Thornton, conducted at the request of Mayday’s donors, which concluded there was “no evidence of misappropriation of funds” by Le Mesurier and Winberg.

Except that he isn’t, because it hasn’t been made public, at donors’ express request. Instead, he relies on the claims of a nameless “source familiar” with the report – which could conceivably, of course, be Winberg herself.

Excessive salaries plus bonuses

It’s clear Grant Thornton’s report isn’t an unalloyed clean bill of health, either – the auditors found “significant gaps in the administrative organization and internal control environment of Mayday” and “identified significant cash transactions that have not been (fully) recorded in the cash books and/or general ledger.”

Moreover, due to Mayday’s “informal” working environment, many key discussions took place “orally and over WhatsApp,” meaning auditors “had to reconstruct a number of financial events and are unable to provide certainty in those cases.”

Chulov is quick to dismiss the significance of these failings as nothing more than “shoddy” bookkeeping, contending “auditors found nothing to support the far more serious allegations made” against Le Mesurier – despite apparently not having actually read the report himself.

Likewise, he concedes Mayday’s executive salaries had been “higher than industry standards”, although his anonymous source familiar with the report is on hand to reassure him, and readers, “they were not off-the-scale high.” In 2017, Le Mesurier informed the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs he was paying himself a salary of €24,000 per month, before bonuses – several orders of magnitude higher than the designated salary ceiling at other Dutch government-funded enterprises. And considerably more than the $150 a day the White Helmet rescuers on the ground received.

References to Le Mesurier founding three separate companies named ‘Mayday Rescue’ – Mayday Rescue FZ-LLC in Dubai, Mayday Search and Rescue Training and Consultancy Services Ltd in Turkey, and Stichting Mayday Rescue Foundation in the Netherlands – are predictably absent from the Guardian’s article.

Accounts aren’t publicly available for any of them – the Dutch entity, while not registered as a charitable organisation, is characterised as being ‘without commercial enterprise’, so doesn’t have to file accounts at all. Dutch ‘stichtings’, or foundations, are openly advertised by Dutch law firms as ideal ways for wealthy individuals and corporations to minimize tax liabilities and distribute funds internationally.

The company nonetheless complied with governance and transparency requirements, appointing a Secretary and Treasurer. As such, the UK government could plausibly claim that Mayday Rescue, to which London funneled £43 million between 2015 and 2018, was, to the best of its knowledge, fully above board.

Tax havens and tangled webs

Except the £43 million actually went to Mayday Rescue FZ-LLC in Dubai – something only begrudgingly admitted by the FCO in March 2019, in response to a Freedom of Information request, after much heel-dragging and obfuscation.

Dubai is a notorious tax haven, and FZ-LLCs – Free Zone Limited Liability Companies – aren’t subject to any taxes on dividends, so they can be used to easily and opaquely repatriate profits. The entities are required to maintain accounting records, which can be inspected by authorities, but aren’t required to file accounts of any kind.

It may be significant that one of Stichting Mayday Rescue Foundation’s three directors, alongside Le Mesurier and Winberg, was a British Army veteran, Rupert Davis, who, in April 2016, founded the company Chameleon Global. Dissolved in October 2020, it was categorised as dormant – that is, non-operational – for the duration of its existence. Le Mesurier also founded other companies, with indeterminate connections to his assorted Mayday entities. For instance, in April 2017 he established Sisu Global BV in the Netherlands. It has never filed accounts, in breach of Dutch law. Le Mesurier resigned in November 2018, but Winberg apparently remains a director.

In January 2019, Le Mesurier registered My Zahara Limited as a dormant company in northern England, at an address belonging to a company formation agent specializing in, among other things, compliance with money laundering regulations, suggesting he intended to use the firm to repatriate money from his overseas firms.

Davis was also, until April 2019, connected to Sisu Global BV, a company in the Netherlands founded by Le Mesurier in April 2017. It has never filed accounts, in breach of Dutch law. Le Mesurier himself resigned from it in November 2018. Winberg apparently remains a director.

Chulov also, again predictably, dismisses as “disinformation” allegations that the White Helmets were “created by governments determined to remove Assad from power”; that Le Mesurier was “an agent of western intelligence, using a rescue organisation as a Trojan horse for regime change”; and that the organization was in any way affiliated to violent extremist groups.

What are matters of public record, however, is that the White Helmets were funded by the very governments avowedly committed to ‘regime change’ in Syria via covert and overt means; that Le Mesurier’s professional history included spells as a military intelligence operative; and that the group has openly collaborated with the Al-Nusra Front, among other jihadist elements, and engaged in violent activity.

In a June 2015 speech discussing his founding of the White Helmets, Le Mesurier cited a market research agency study which found that, in fragile environments, security forces garner low levels of public trust while first responders have the highest as a key motivating factor in his decision to establish a “humanitarian aid group.”

Untold millions for propaganda

That the White Helmets’ benevolent image was very carefully constructed and promoted by a government attempting to achieve ‘regime change’ is amply underlined by FCO documents leaked by hacktivist collective Anonymous.

The documents reveal that ARK, a firm founded by FCO veteran Alistair Harris where Le Mesurier worked between 2011 and 2014, played a pivotal role in promoting the White Helmets, developing“an internationally focused communications campaign to raise global awareness” of the group to “keep Syria in the news.”

Along the way, ARK, among many other endeavors, produced a documentary on the White Helmets, and ran its various social media accounts, among them the Facebook page for Idlib City Council, at one time mooted as a potential interim government to replace Bashar Assad. When Al-Nusra took the city, the White Helmets were filmed celebrating the ‘victory’ with the group’s fighters in its main square.

ARK profited to the tune of untold millions of pounds from these and other information-warfare efforts. The same illicit file tranche also reveals InCoStrat, founded by none other than Emma Winberg, also reaped large bounties for manipulating public perceptions about Syria, within and without the country. In one file, the firm boasted of surreptitiously “initiating events to create media effect” and of “using media to create events.”

One example of the former strategy saw InCoStrat produce mock Syrian currency, in three denominations, imploring Syrians to “be on the right side of history.” It was intended to ensure that international opinion remained arrayed against Assad, at a time “media attention has shifted almost exclusively towards ISIS and some influential voices are calling for co-operation with the Syrian regime to combat ISIS.”

The file states: “The notes are due to be smuggled into regime-held parts of Syria once formal clearance has been authorized by HMG officials … We will engage the international media to create a story around the event … The message to the regime [is] covert but active resistance continues.”

Another document indicates that Winberg’s InCoStrat also established Basma – “a media platform providing human interest stories and campaigns that support [UK government] policy objectives” – and engaged in propaganda operations in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, training and maintaining a network of journalists who were “instrumental in reporting on events in Basra.”

On the subject of propaganda, establishment efforts to rehabilitate Le Mesurier are scheduled to continue apace in future.

Starting on November 9, the BBC will transmit a 15-part radio documentary on Mayday Rescue. Over the summer, Chloe Hadjimatheou, a reporter on the project, approached a number of journalists and researchers who’d publicly raised questions about the White Helmets, asking if they wished to contribute to the program.

Several of the individuals targeted subsequently published their correspondence with Hadjimatheou, showing that the program’s preordained agenda and objectives couldn’t be more blatant.

What is clear is that any suggestion Le Mesurier was a British intelligence operative surreptitiously attempting to foster regime change in Syria, or that the White Helmets weren’t an entirely benevolent, independent humanitarian organization will be rubbished, and all voices critical of the group will be smeared as witting or unwitting agents of the Russian and Syrian governments.

By Kit Klarenberg, an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. Follow Kit on Twitter @KitKlarenberg

Meet Our Team: Teaching Assistant: Kayla Gillenwater

Kayla Gillenwater
King University

 

Meet Our Team: Teaching Assistant
Kayla Gillenwater
Senior
“My name is Kayla Gillenwater. I am a senior at King University. I enjoy traveling in my free time as well as cooking. I currently work full time as a CT Technologist while attending King to work toward my bachelor’s in biology. I wanted to further my education so I can better serve my community as well as my family. This is my first year as a TA for Foundations of Christian Thought, and I have very much enjoyed working with the students in this course. I first took this class my Junior year at King and enjoyed how eye-opening the material and how interactive the class was. I even was able to attend a trip to Israel with King.”
We are so glad to have Kayla with us before she graduates and moves on to great and good things. In class last year, Kayla and I discovered we both came from the same little place in SW Virginia–Yuma. Our families had/have places just a few miles apart. I love it that King still serves students in Southern Appalachia (a-pa-Latch-a, please). Kayla is smart and hard-working. She impressed me when we traveled to Israel-Palestine last March–she was up for any and every food. Respect.

Meet Our Team: Teaching Assistant: Adeline Campbell

Adeline Campbell
King University
Meet Our Team: Teaching Assistant: Adeline Campbell
“Hey everyone! My name is Adeline Campbell, and I am from Abingdon, Virginia. I am a sophomore, majoring in nursing and minoring in psychology. I plan on becoming a travel nurse. I also have an on-campus work study position. In my free time, I love to travel, hike, paddle board, play volleyball, and hang out with friends and family. I took Foundations of Christian thought and practice my very first semester at King and absolutely loved it. I was honored when Dr. Hudson asked me to be a TA. This is my second semester as a TA. It has been such an awesome experience getting to know students and making personal connections. This past spring, I was blessed to have the opportunity to travel to Israel with Dr. Hudson and several other TA’s. The trip to Israel will always have a special place in my heart through all the relationships and memories made.”
As Adeline says, this is her second semester with us, and we are the fortunate ones. She is also the third Campbell sister to attend King and serve as a TA for Foundations. She is from a fantastic family in Abingdon, and they have sent all 3 of their daughters to study with us. We had a great time in Israel-Palestine and found a great coffee shop in the old city. Thank you, Adeline, for all you do for your students. You will be a fantastic nurse in the years to come. We need more like you.

Israeli Military to Imprison Israeli Woman for Refusing to Join the Israeli Occupying Forces

Hallel Rabin
We Are Not Your Soldiers
Hello, my name is Hallel Rabin. I’m an 18 year old refuser from an Israeli kibbutz and tomorrow I’ll be sent to prison by the Israeli military. Just before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I refused to join the Israeli army and was held in military prison over the holiday. I’ve already been jailed for 14 days, because I don’t want to become a soldier for the occupation of Palestine. I tried to ask for exemption on the grounds of conscience, but the military refused to grant it. Instead, I’ve been sent to prison time after time in order to break my spirit.
Tomorrow I’ll be incarnated for the third time in the course of a month.
We are living in a period of both change and struggle. Everywhere in the world, young people are fighting for real democracy, and are using civil disobedience to combat racism and injustice. But for Palestinians the injustices of the past continue to prevail. In the territories occupied by Israel, basic human rights and liberties are constantly denied, while the Palestinians are deprived of the freedom to live freely.
I was raised on the values of freedom, compassion and love. Fighting to keep another nation enslaved contradicts these values. For too long, the good people of Israel have agreed to participate in the atrocities committed by the occupation. While I know my refusal is small and personal, I wish to be the change I want to see in the world, and to show that another way is possible. Little people make big changes. It is time to shout: There is no such thing as good repression, no such thing as justifiable racism and no more room for the Israeli occupation.

Meet Our Team: Brittany Rivera

Brittany Rivera
King University
Name: Brittany Rivera
Class: Junior
“My name is Brittany Rivera and I am a Junior at King. I’m from St. Thomas, USVI and I am majoring in English: Writing. This is my third semester being a TA and I really do have a lot of fun with it. In my free time I like to draw, read, or I just spend some time online talking to friends and watching videos.”
We are very fortunate to have Brittany with us now for the 3rd semester. She’s smart, competent, and knows exactly what to do and how to help our students. Many days she is taking a second group because another TA is out for the day, and she pulls it off with no problems. Thank you, Brittany, for all you do for us and King.

Angels Unawares: Berlin

Angels Unawares: Berlin
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Angels Unawares: Berlin
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Angels Unawares: Berlin
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Angels Unawares: Berlin
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Angels Unawares: Berlin
Don Michael Hudson, PhD
Angels Unawares: Berlin
Don Michael Hudson, PhD

Meet Our Team: Teaching Assistant: Amanda Meadows

Amanda Meadows
Foundations of Christian Thought and Practice
King University
Meet Our Team: Teaching Assistant
Amanda Meadows
Sophomore
“Hello! My name is Amanda Meadows and I am from Bristol, Tennessee! I am a sophomore at King and I am working towards a major in Biology with a minor in Mathematics. This is my first semester as a Religion TA, but I am absolutely loving the opportunity to help guide my fellow peers through this class and to teach them to think critically! I am also a Chemistry Lab TA, Biology Administrative Assistant, and I hold a management position at my job outside of school. I have always loved the academic aspect of school, so I have been on the President’s List for the past two semesters. In what little free time I have, I enjoy going to church, listening to music, hanging out with my family and friends, and working retail! One of my passions in life is helping those around me, so I hope to one day obtain my doctorate degree and become a Geneticist or an Anesthesiologist. I am very thankful for the role professors and student at King have played so far in my life, and I am excited to see what these next 2 years hold!!”
We are so grateful for Amanda’s work with her students this year in Foundations. And I love it when our future scientists are teaching in a religion class like this. She is smart, rigorous, and caring. Thank you, Amanda, for all you do in spite of being busy and competent with many other things.

Meet Our Graduates: King University Bible and Religion: Trevor Wentt

Meet Our Graduates: Trevor Wentt
Trevor Wentt, King University
“I came to King on a wrestling scholarship and stayed because of my professors. I actually tried to transfer out of King–twice. The major I thought I wanted wasn’t there, yet God had different plans for me. While there, I found photography, had my worldview constantly expanded by my classes and through the friendships and mentorships that developed with many professors. Yet, in some ways, my experience differed from most. As a young black man, I was growing into consciousness concerning what it means to be black in this country at that time. I was supported by many professors and encouraged to continue growing. I was even gifted Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man for my birthday one year by Dr. Don Hudson, which has been a formative text for me. Although, inevitably, I experienced pushback and racism from some students in this time of growth, I was supported by others, both professors and students alike. At King, I was challenged to think, question, and help people see the world and God in a more expansive way. From fitness to where I went to graduate school, King helped shape me. Although I have slightly more debt than I’d like, King gave me incomparable freedom and flexibility to become. Since then, I’m currently pursuing making art to challenge perspectives and give hope to marginalized and oppressed peoples full-time, after working in churches and finishing up my MACM from Emmanuel Christian Seminary. King was nothing short of formative, and I am grateful.”
We were fortunate to have Trevor come study with us. He’s one of those students who taught me to question my own thinking and step out of my comfort zone. He is a beautiful man who creates beautiful works. And he continues to teach me. Next semester I will be offering a class at King: “When the Coat of Many Colors Runs Blood Red: Race and Christianity in America,” and Trevor has agreed to advise us and participate in this class. Keep an eye on him–he will do good and great things as he already does. Thank you, Trevor, for trusting us with your undergrad education. You left King a better place than when you began.

Modern American Christianity written by Nicole Clark, King University

Written by Nicole Clark, King University, Religions of the World

Modern American Christianity, Nicole Clark

Nicole Clark is an undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies at King University. Her greatest hope is to glorify the Lord with her life and “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Modern American Christianity

Modern American Christianity, Nicole Clark

Almost 1,700 years after the Council at Nicaea affirmed one of the most fundamental doctrines of Christianity about Jesus’s deity and humanness, I sometimes wonder if the modern American Christian message looks anything like that of the early Christian church. I see a few noticeable differences today that might shock the early church leaders. The boldest of which is the step away from the most basic premise of Christianity, that there is just one God. There has also been a shift in the attitude towards wealth and the hope of what heaven will be.

  1. Monotheism is a little blurry.
Modern American Christianity, Nicole Clark

The most fundamental belief in Christianity is the belief that there is just one God who created and continues to maintain all things. Kenneth Copeland and the Word of Life movement have blurred the lines of what monotheism means today in order to give people the power to speak change into their own lives. Men like Copeland, Benny Hinn, and Creflo Dollar point to Psalm 86:2, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you” as proof that believers are God and can act in the power of God as well. Verses such as Jer. 10:6, “there is none like You, O Lord” and 1 Sam. 2:2, “there is no one holy like the Lord, indeed, there is no one besides You” contradict the claim that man can be anything like God.

To claim oneself as Holy or having the power to speak something into existence goes against the basic premise of Christianity. Colossians 1:16 states, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.” There is but one God, and the Bible affirms that He alone created everything. In Isaiah 64:8, God’s people are described as “the clay” and He as “the potter.” The created thing cannot be equal in power to the creator and to suggest otherwise changes the God of the Bible into a mere idol of man’s own desires.                                                                                                                                 

  1. The pursuit of wealth is now a core message.
Modern American Christianity, Nicole Clark

In the quest to have eternal life, a rich young man came to Jesus and asked him what he must do. In Matthew 19:16-22, Jesus told the man, “sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Jesus’s message of self-sacrifice was too much for the young man, and sadly, he walked away without the assurance of true faith. Jesus’s message of sacrifice and devotion to God has drastically changed over time.

The largest and most popular churches in the U.S. now preach that “it’s God’s will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty” and not live in debt (Joel Osteen). God indeed desires for his people to prosper, but not in temporal and earthly ways. Jesus told his followers not to focus on earthly treasures, but instead focus on heavenly and eternal rewards (Matt. 6:19-21). Even more condemning of worldly riches, Jesus warned that a person “cannot serve God and money” (Matt 6:24). There can be only one master of the heart.

 

  1. Heaven is the new vacation hotspot.
Modern American Christianity, Nicole Clark

Another aspect of Christianity that has changed is this newly revised vision of what Heaven is going to be like for individuals. The Bible says, in heaven, there will be no more sin and believers will be in the presence of God (Rev. 21:4-8). However, the modern American version of heaven has little to do with finally being free of sin and worshipping God and more to do with living in luxury. It’s not much of a surprise that America’s third-richest pastor, Benny Hinn, paints a picture of heaven as an extravagant city surrounded with jewels and gold with little mention of heaven’s true purpose. Jesus promises eternal life in heaven for believers who confess that Christ is the Son of God who was the propitiation for the sins of his people. Heaven, however, is not a shiny bejeweled vacation spot where people can indulge themselves in their greatest desires. Heaven is the dwelling place of a Holy God. Fellowship and worship of God in heaven should be the heart’s desire of every Christian.

Humankind seems destined to twist the Holy Scriptures to fit their own ideas and desires. When I look at Christianity today, I wonder how the most fundamental beliefs got manipulated and lost. If Christianity is to be based on the monotheistic principle that there truly is only one God, then there must be reverence for that and man must stop trying to make himself into his own idol. In the quest for a perfect and prosperity filled life, Jesus warns that there is room for just one master in a person’s life. We should never lose site of the call to repentance and faithful obedience to the one true God, the God of the Bible. Only then will we have a right view of wealth and ultimately, heaven.

For a more detailed review of what the modern American Christian message looks like today, I highly recommend the 2018 documentary,  American Gospel: Christ Alone (a condensed version is available on YouTube).

Works Cited

American Gospel: Christ Alone. Directed by Brandon Kimber, Transition Studios, 2018.

Bennet, Karen. “The Shocking Net Worth of These 10 Richest Pastors Will Blow Your Mind.” Cheat Sheet. 31 Jan. 2019  https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/net-worth-richest-pastors-will-blow-your-mind.html/

“Heaven.” Find Shepard, 5 Aug. 2019, https://www.findshepherd.com/bible-verses-about-entering-the-kingdom-of-heaven.html.

Hinn, Benny. “A Most Beautiful Teaching on Heaven. You’re Going to Love it!” YouTube,  uploaded by Benny Hinn Ministries, 11 May 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3nJHy7fOjw.

Hudson, Don Michael. Foundations of Christian Thought and Practice: Selected Readings and Workbook. E-book, Pulp Press, 2013.

“Promised Land.” My Olive Tree, 2020, https://www.myolivetree.com/prophetic-reasons-to-plant/,

Kenneth Copeland Ministries. 2020. https://www.kcm.org.

Money.” The Order of Preachers, 11 Oct. 2015, https://orderofpreachersindependent.org/2015/10/11/riches-the-rev-deacon-scott-brown-opi/.

“One God.” Bible Timeline, 2020, https://bibletimeline.org.uk/additional-reading/an-age-of-pluralism.

 

 

The Adaptation of Buddhist Practices in the Western World: Why It’s a Good Thing

Written by Kimberly Courtney, King University, Religions of the World Final Project

The Adaptation of Buddhist Practices in the Western World: Why It’s a Good Thing
Kimberly Courtney

Kimberly Courtner lives in East Tennessee. She is a full time Human Resource Analyst, wife, and mother of six. She enjoys time with her family, church, traveling and learning new things.

The Adaptation of Buddhist Practices in the Western World:

Why It’s a Good Thing

The Adaptation of Buddhist Practices in the Western World: Why It’s a Good Thing
Kimberly Courtney

My son at the Gakwonsa Temple in Cheonan, South Korea

            Buddhism is one of the largest religions in the world today, and is expected to increase up until 2030. This religion originated in Tibet and is based around the teachings of Buddha. There are traditions, practices, and beliefs of this religion that are unique to this religion, but similar to the Hindu religion as well.  Those that practice Buddhism – known as Buddhists – believe in reincarnation. That is, they believe that death is not the end but instead a person is reborn after they pass. Buddhists believe that finding enlightenment is how to stop the cycle of rebirth. They believe that one must achieve inner peace to find enlightenment.  Enlightenment occurs when aversion and clinging are abandoned. Not a goal to be attained; it is effortlessly realized as the way things naturally are when aversion and clinging are abandoned.

For some, Buddhism is a religion. For others, it is a philosophy, while others practice Buddhism to find themselves and experience inner peace. Buddhism is a religion that is practiced worldwide. It is the study of oneself and the study  is to forget oneself, and to  forget oneself is to be enlightened by all things.  According to World Population Review, in the United States alone, 1.2% of the population is made up of practicing Buddhists. This is a growing number  to seriously consider. According to an article in The Atlantic, “Buddhism has been popular in various forms among certain celebrities and tech elites, but the religion’s primary draw for many Americans now appears to be mental health.” The article goes on to say how many Americans are adapting the practices of Buddhist meditation to heal their overall mental health and to cut costs on medication, therapies, and physician visits that are so expensive  to the working person.  Like the old practice of the religion, many are finding that the power of healing is instilled in the simplistic recitation and meditation of the ancient art of Buddhism.

The Adaptation of Buddhist Practices in the Western World: Why It’s a Good Thing
Kimberly Courtney

The Byodo-In Temple in Ahuimanu, Hawaii

Common practices of the Eastern civilization can be seen as useful practices in our Western world today. Little did we know that these practices have worked for many centuries in the East among the people of the Buddhist religion. The practice of meditation or mental development is also a growing trend here in the Western world.  Eastern Buddhists look within themselves to find the calming and clarity to reach their inner peace, This being a form of meditation or Samatha. The object of this practice is to let the thoughts that come to mind arise and then simply let go of them, thus clearing the path to inner peace. Another practice of meditation is Vipassana, or insight. Vipassana allows a person to see things as they really are, liberating one to the highest happiness. Maitri or Metta Meditation will activate interest in others, the cultivation of benevolence, loving kindness or goodwill to others once the mind has been freed.

The Western world is adapting these ancient practices to achieve their own health and well being. The users of this practice in the West are not using the ancient art as a religious tool or practice. The western civilization has conformed these practices to a therapeutic concept from the daily stresses of the rat race we live in. Psychological science states that mindfulness can illuminate the workings of the mind, noting that a person can actually heal themselves depending on the state of mind. The constant interactions with one’s environment  depicts the level of treatment one can give themselves.  This in turn correlates the amount of healing or depth of inner peace that one receives.

The Adaptation of Buddhist Practices in the Western World: Why It’s a Good Thing
Kimberly Courtney

It is common to see Buddhist quotes and teachings in everything from calendars to movies in America today.

It is amazing that an ancient praxis can be used as a common cultural wave in society today. According to the New York Times, “ Meditation has now become a practice recommended for everyone.” The article goes on to say, “Yet Buddhism long ago generated insights that modern psychology is only now catching up to, for example, psychology has lately started to let go of its once-sharp distinction between “cognitive” and “affective” parts of the mind; it has started to see that feelings are so finely intertwined with thoughts as to be part of their very coloration.”  Secular Buddhists practices are growing in America today.

In recent studies, there has been a decline in stress and the adverse effects of stress in individuals with higher amounts of stress just by using the practice of meditation. There has also been a notable decrease in anxiety in individuals through meditation who have job-related anxiety in high pressure work environments. According to Healthline.com, some forms of meditation can decrease depression and improve a person’s overall  emotional health and leave them with a positive outlook. Meditation has been a key source in expanding the shrinking attention span, sharpening one’s mind and concentration, reversing patterns in the brain that lead to mind-wandering, and overall worry and stress.

Using this ancient art is beneficial not only to the emotions and psyche but the mind and body as well. Getting into the habitual practice of meditation in the pop culture western world can be an easy feat. There are many practicing meditation studios, gyms, and programs to join . Most of these cost less than the average therapy session with a psychologist or the average monthly gym fee. There are also practicing Buddhist temples in the Western world for those who want to indulge in the spiritual practice of Buddhism.

At the end of the day, Buddhism is a thriving religion that managed to make it from a simplistic beginning in a distant land that continues to grow in not only the Eastern world but also in the Western world as well.  Whether the practice be spiritual or secular, the outcomes of both are intertwined and beneficial for human beings. Buddha himself said it best: “Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.” This is where the West meets the East and they become one.

Referenced Articles

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/06/opinion/buddhism-western-philosophy.html

https://mindworks.org/blog/buddhist-meditation-techniques-practices/

https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/buddhist-countries

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/03/buddhism-meditation-anxiety-therapy/584308/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation#TOC_TITLE_HDR_6

https://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/26/us/beliefs-development-modern-buddhism-traced-mix-eastern-western-influences.html

 

 

 

 

 

Could the Split with the Catholic Church be Prevented? Written by Mallory Davis:

Written by Mallory Davis, King University, Religions of the World

Mallory Davis, King University

My name is Mallory Davis. I was born and raised in Monahans, Texas a small town in the Permian Basin. I graduated from Monahans High School in 2019 where I participated in Acapella Choir, Lady Lobo Juniorettes, cheerleading, track, and a four-year varsity swimmer. I was a regional swim qualifier all four years and served as team captain my junior and senior year as well as being named Outstanding Female Swimmer those two years. My hobbies include scuba-diving, boating and fishing, and rebuilding old cars with my dad. I have led praise and worship at my hometown church and been actively involved in community service. At the end of my senior year of high school, I signed on as a dual athlete at King University to swim and cheer. I am currently a sophomore at King.

 

Could the Split with the Catholic Church be Prevented?

Mallory Davis, King University

Henry VIII has always been a controversial character in English history. The man was notorious for divorcing his wives or having them beheaded attempting to secure a male heir leading to the old adage, “Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced beheaded survived.” Life for a wife of Henry VIII was not very easy, but what if his first wife Catherine of Aragon could have given him a surviving male heir? Would he have still split from the Catholic Church, or would he have continued to stay with his wife of 24 years? Logistically, several things suggest that the break from the Catholic Church did not have to occur. Henry held a devout devotion to the Church in his early reign and was extremely devoted to Catherine of Aragon during her early childbearing years. Worried about securing the Tudor legacy, Henry only turned to divorce as a last resort after Catherine was unable to produce a living male son.

Henry’s Religious Upbringing

Henry VII had been religious from a very young age as was expected of him because he was only second in line to the throne. It was custom for the first son to become a high-ranking church official. Henry was given the best education possible and participated in things such as sports, music, and art. He would also partake in mass five times a day unless he was hunting; then he would only take part in mass three times a day. When his brother died at age 15, the death left Henry as the sole male heir changing the course of Henry’s vigorous religious training forever. Henry had to leave behind the idea of becoming a church official, but although he would be leaving it behind, he never forgot what he was taught by the Church and many things that he did after being crowned King of England at 17 reflected his staunch religious upbringing.

Henry’s Life with his First Wife, Catherine

Catherine of Aragon, in my opinion, was Henry’s only true love. He fell in love with her when she was stuck in England when Henry VII, Henry’s father, was trying to figure out what to do with her after his brother Arthur, Catherine’s late husband passed away. Henry VII solved this problem by marrying her to his second son who would succeed him as king.  He was married to Catherine for 24 years, longer than any of Henry’s other five wives. It was not until Catherine was in her 40s, and it had become apparent that she would not bare Henry a living male heir that he began to look for ways to solve his dilemma. His lust for a son who would take over for him after he died made him begin to look for other ways to get a male heir.

Henry Tries to Legitimize His “Bastard” Son 

After it became apparent that Catherine would not be able to give Henry the heir he wanted, he came up with a few ideas to remedy the situation. One of these ideas was legitimizing his healthy “bastard” son with Elizabeth Blount, a maid of honor to Queen Catherine. She became one of Henry’s many mistresses, and she had borne him a healthy son, Henry FitzRoy, in 1519.  Henry VIII decided that if he could not have a healthy boy with Catherine, he would make his healthy bastard son with Blount a prince by legitimizing him. Henry publicly acknowledged this son and bestowed many honors on him, including giving him the double Dukedom of Richmond and Somerset. It has been suggested that FitzRoy was bestowed with such lavish titles and positions

Defender of the Faith

Throughout these early years in Henry’s effort to begat an heir, he maintained a strong relationship with the Catholic Church. He even wrote a book called Assertio Septem Sacramentorum in which he defended the Catholic Church from religious leader Martin Luther who had written Ninety-five Theses, arguing against the perversion many felt was rampant in the Catholic Church. As a reward, Pope Leo X gave Henry the title “Defender of the Faith” in 1521.  It was not until 13 years later that Henry VIII would be forced to completely break from the Catholic Church after disagreeing with the pope over several things, most importantly, the refusal to grant an annulment from Catherine, who was by that time, obviously beyond child-bearing years. The annulment would essentially declare a marriage null and void, essentially saying that the marriage had never occurred in the first place. Henry had petitioned for this annulment based on Catherine’s brief marriage to his brother and the Biblical book of Leviticus’s teaching against marrying a brother’s spouse.

The Pope’s Refusal to Annul

Pope Clement VII delayed and denied Henry’s request for annulment for many years, citing several reasons for the denial.

  • The main reason was that the pope and the Catholic Church had already granted a dispensation for his marriage to Catherine, essentially saying that the Levitical passage did not apply to Henry. He could not annul a marriage that had been approved by the Church in the first place.
  • Secondly, the Church feared that an annulment such as this would be viewed as a divorce which was not recognized. It was against basic beliefs. As Henry was the “Defender of the Faith” and the king, the pope especially would not allow this divorce. It was believed if the king was allowed a divorce, then common people would believe it was okay to divorce their wives as well.
  • Finally, Catherine of Aragon was the Holy Roman Emperor’s niece. Charles V had conquered Rome and was holding Pope Clement VII as hostage. He refused to allow the pope to grant Henry’s request for annulment as he would not allow his own family to break from Catholic law and be disgraced by a divorce. Catherine herself was a very devout Catholic and had petitioned her uncle to fight for her cause.

Henry Divorces Catherine and the Church

For Henry, divorce from Catherine had been a last resort, but now it was the only option he had left. As the Church would not grant the annulment or a divorce, he had to take matters into his own hands. Henry’s mind was made up. He would turn his back on his own faith. Instead of prolonging the situation any longer, Henry declared himself the Head of the Church of England, breaking from the Catholic Church. He made Thomas Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury who then quickly granted Henry his desire divorce from Catherine. During these years of waiting for an answer from the pope, Henry had fallen in love with the young Anne Boleyn, one of Catherine’s ladies in waiting. In less than a year after his divorce from Catherine, Henry married an already pregnant Anne who had promised to bear him the son he so desired. In 1533, Anne gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. Later, she gave birth to two stillborn boys, and Henry would have her beheaded on false allegations of treason to continue his quest for a son. However, by this time, the breach with the Catholic Church had become irreparable, and Protestantism was quickly spreading through England and other parts of Europe.

In Conclusion

Henry’s obsession with having a male heir finally led to his break with the Catholic Church. He maintained a strong relationship with the Church right until the end, indicating that if Catherine had ever been able to produce a living male son, he would not have pursued the route he finally took. Henry had first tried to legitimize his bastard son Henry FitzRoy and sought annulment from his first marriage before resorting to divorce and breaking with the Church. Only after the annulment was denied by the pope did he become desperate enough to completely part ways with the Church. This parting had grave repercussions on the future of religion in England. The Catholic monasteries were dissolved, and priests were relieved from their duties. Attending mass became illegal. Citizens were forced to take an oath to Henry VIII as the Head of the Church of England, and many who refused to do so were executed. Ultimately, the most consequential effect of Catherine of Aragon’s inability to produce a living male son for Henry was the establishment of Protestantism in England under the new Church of England.

SOURCES

Henry VIII. (2020, January 03). Retrieved September 28, 2020, from

https://www.biography.com/royalty/henry-viii

How Henry VIII’s Divorce Led to Reformation. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2020, from

https://www.history.com/.amp/news/henry-viii-divorce-reformation-catholic-church

Person. (2008, August 08). Henry VIII. Retrieved September 28, 2020, from

https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/rulers/henry-viii.html

Hindu Widows and Marriage Traditions by Savannah Stringer

Written by Savannah Stringer, King University, Abingdon, VA: Final Project for Religions of the World

Savannah Stringer
Hindu Widows and Marriage

Hi, my name is Savannah Stringer. I live in a wonderful small town named Abingdon in VA. I am happily married to my amazing husband. We got married back in March, so we haven’t been married long, but we were together five years before we decided to make it official. I am a dog mama to two dogs. I have a girl Weimaraner named Ophelia and a boy German Shepard-Pit Bull mix named Sammy. I don’t have any kids yet but one day I will. I decided to go back to school this fall to get the degree I have always wanted, and I am glad I made this choice.

Hindu Widows and Marriage Traditions

 

Hindu Widows and Marriage Traditions
Savannah Stringer
King University Philosophy and Religion

What happens when a Hindu woman becomes a widow?

They are treated badly when their husband dies

They their heads are shaved

They are not allowed to remarry

They wear white so people know that they are a widow

Hindu women who become widows are usually the poorest of the poor and when their husband dies, they become just a financial burden to their families. They are not shunned because of religious reasons. Ironically, they are shunned because of tradition. When this happens, they must shave their head as they are no longer allowed to wear their hair long. They are no longer allowed to wear jewelry, and they typically wear white and even their shadows are considered bad luck. Once her husband dies, she is immediately thought of as an object instead of a “she”—a woman with an identity. From now on she will be referred to as a “it”.

Why does a widowed woman have to wear white?

White is considered the color of mourning and is often the color she wears to the funeral service

It is believed that a woman needs to be in a constant state of mourning once her husband dies

She is compelled to wear a white saree for the rest of her life

White means purity in the Hindu religion and shows respect

Her husband is considered the biggest jewel in her life, so she must abandon any color once he dies

White gives the widow positive energy so that she can face life’s biggest challenges

It encourages the widow to seek God

Hindu Widows and Marriage Traditions
Savannah Stringer
King University Philosophy and Religion

Why are widowed women not allowed to remarry?

Various social and cultural reasons impose on a remarriage

It is believed they belong to a high-caste Hindu

They are only supposed to marry one time in their lives

Why do widowed women have to get their heads shaved?

It is a sign of bereavement

It makes them unattractive to men

It marks them as a widow so other people know

Hindu Widows and Marriage Traditions
Savannah Stringer
King University Philosophy and Religion

Why are widowed women treated badly when their husband dies?

They are a financial burden to their family

Family says that widows bring bad luck

They must do what they can to survive

They have to beg for things like food and water

They have to beg for money so they can buy themselves the stuff they need

Tradition in Hindu Marriage

Hindu Widows and Marriage Traditions
Savannah Stringer
King University Philosophy and Religion

There are nine main stages in a Hindu marriage and these stages are:

  1. Jayamaala
  2. Madhu-Parka
  3. Gau Dann and Kanya Pratigrahan
  4. Vivaha-homa
  5. Paanigrahan
  6. Shilarohan and Laaja Homa
  7. Sapta-Padi
  8. Surya Darshan and Dhruva Darshan
  9. Ashirvada (Blessings)

Jayamaala

  • First, the bride’s parents welcome the groom and his family at the boundary of the house where the wedding is taking place. Then they apply red kum-kum (kind of powder) on their foreheads to mark them. Both families are introduced marking the start of the relationship between them. The bride and the groom then exchange garlands (jayamaala) and say: “Let all the learned persons present here know, we are accepting each other willingly, voluntarily and pleasantly. Our hearts are concordant and united like waters.”

Madhu-Parka

  • The groom is brought to a decorated altar called ‘mandap’ and offered a seat and a drink which is a mixture of milk, ghee, yoghurt, honey, and sugar.

Gau Dann and Kanya Pratigranhan

  • Gau’ means cow and ‘Daan’ means donation. Today, the exchange of gifts, which is usually clothes and ornaments takes place. The groom’s mother gives a necklace (mangala sootra) to the bride. Mangla sootra is the symbol of marital status for a Hindu woman. ‘Kanya’ means daughter and ‘Pratigrahan’ is an exchange with responsiveness from both sides. The bride’s father declares that their daughter has accepted her groom and requests for them to accept her.

Vivaha-homa

  • Then a sacred fire is lit and the Purohit (Priest) recites the sacred mantras in Sanskrit. Offerings are offered to the fire whilst saying the prayers. The words “Id na mama” meaning “it is not for me” are repeated. This teaches the virtue of selflessness required to run a family.

Paanigrahan

  • Then comes the ceremony of the vows. The husband is holding his wife’s hand and he says, “I hold your hand in the spirit of Dharma, we are both husband and wife”.

  Shilarohan and Laaja Homa

  • Shilarohan is climbing over a stone/rock by the bride which shows her willingness and strength to overcome difficulties while pursuing her duties. Both the bride and groom gently walk around the sacred fire four times. The bride will lead three of those times and the fourth time the groom will lead. This is where he is reminded of his responsibilities. Then the couple join hands then the bride’s brothers pour some barley, which is offered to the fire, showing that they all will work together for the welfare of the society. Then the husband will mark the parting of his wife’s hair with red kumkum powder. This is called ‘sindoor’ and is a mark of a married Hindu woman.

Sapta-Padi

  • This is the legal part of the ceremony. The couple will walk seven steps reciting a prayer after each step. These are the seven vows which they exchange. The first is for food, the second is for strength, the third is for prosperity, the fourth is for wisdom, the fifth is for progeny, the sixth is for health and the seventh is for friendship. In some regions, instead of them walking the seven steps, the bride will touch seven stones or nuts with her right toe. Then a symbolic matrimonial knot is tied after the ceremony.

Surya Darshan and Dhruva Darshan

  • The couple will then look at the Sun in order to be blessed with a creative life. Then they look in the direction of the Dhruva (Polar star) and agree to remain unshaken and steadfast just like the Polar star.

Ashirvada (Blessings)

  • The couple is then blessed by the elders and the priest that way they have a long and prosperous married life.

 It is important to clarify the misconceptions about Hindu marriages:

  • Arranged marriages and child marriages. Hindu Scriptures prohibit the use of force or coercion in marriages.
  • Arranged marriages are based on an agreement from both the bride and groom and should not be confused with a forced marriage.
  • In the Vedic period, all child marriages were strictly prohibited. Later, due to political and economic changes, some new social traditions were started, and they differed from the Vedic teachings.
Hindu Widows and Marriage Traditions
Savannah Stringer
King University Philosophy and Religion

Child marriages and the tradition of wedding gifts were some of the changes which the reformist movements in the modern times have tried to correct. Child marriages are now banned by law in India, although the reports suggest that the practice has not been stopped.

Works Cited

Kapoor, A. (1970, June 24). 8 Dehumanising Customs Indian Widows Have Faced Through the Years. Retrieved September 25, 2020, from https://www.vagabomb.com/8-Absurd-Customs-Indian-Widows-Have-Faced-Through-the-Years/

Madhok, D. (2014, June 25). Indian womenwill never be equal as long as these 9 laws remain on the books. Retrieved September 25, 2020, from https://qz.com/india/224632/indian-women-will-never-be-equal-as-long-as-these-9-laws-remain-on-the-books/

Religions – Hinduism: Weddings. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2020, from https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/ritesrituals/weddings.shtml

Dr. Martin Luther King at Sophienkirche Berlin, Sept. 13, 1964

Dr. Martin Luther King at Sophienkirche Berlin, Sept. 13, 1964
Christina and I were walking in Berlin Mitte early Sunday morning on our way to tour the underground in East Berlin. We were wandering the streets looking for a good cappuccino and German pastry. We stumbled upon this church–Sophienkirche. The front is bullet-riddled–I think–and it has stood for centuries. The church is German Evangelical and stood during the years of Soviet-Communist rule and remained holding worship services. Then we saw the poster that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had preached here and held lectures. MLK insisted on speaking to the Christians living in East Berlin, GDR, Sept. 13, 1964. Everything about his visit was communicated by word-of-mouth. So here was a Christian minister hated and slandered by multitudes of American Christians speaking to Christians persecuted and oppressed by the Stasi and the GDR. The church is next door to the oldest Jewish cemetery in Berlin, and across the street is an Islamic center.
 
“Martin Luther King was the first preacher and civil rights activist who came to the GDR.”
 
His message?
 
“No man-made barrier can erase the fact that God’s children live on both sides of the Wall.”
 
“Where people break down the walls of hostility that separate them from their brethren, there it is that Christ completes his ministry of reconciliation.”
 
May all walls come down.
But beware if you tell the truth to a world full of people hating the other(s).

 

Sophienkirche Berlin
Jewish Cemetery Berlin
Sophienkirche Berlin
Jewish Cemetery Berlin