A Note on the Origins of the Papacy 22/3/2013
A book I read by Hannah Arendt about the Nag Hammadi Codices revealed some interesting facts about the origins of Christianity and the Papacy.
The codices were written within 40 years of Christ’s death, several by Christ’s contemporaries, and therefore they were over two centuries earlier than some of the manuscripts that were compiled into the Bible.
The codices revealed the first Christians to be a spiritual and most apolitical bunch. For example, they had no priests and did not differentiate between men and women. They would meet and everyone present would choose a straw and whoever drew the longest, whether man or woman, would lead the meeting.
More crucially, the codices revealed an account of Christ’s resurrection hugely different to that in the Bible. Some said Christ appeared to Mary Magdalen first of all following his resurrection; others said the resurrection of Christ was something that could happen repeatedly to anybody – obviously the more metaphorical thinkers of the group.
Around 70 AD, Bishop Irene viewed these liberal attitudes as a severe threat to the proliferation of Christianity and he instigated a brutal massacre of his fellow Christians. He wanted it held as absolute fact that Christ appeared to Peter(who became the first Pope) following his resurrection, and he wanted the Church to have a strong political structure. The Catholic Church holds all Popes to be the direct spiritual heirs of Peter who was – it came to be claimed – Christ’s chosen one. Naturally, when an Egyptian stumbled on these codices preserved in some urns that had been hidden in a cave in Nag Hammadi, the Vatican did all in their might to keep their explosive contents concealed for as long as possible.
For me, this fascinating nugget is a reminder of the vast disparity between religious organisations and the heart of the religions they claim to protect. The greatest duty of the Pope, or any other religious leader of whatever faith for that matter, is to narrow the vast gulf between Divinity and political expediency as much as is, erm, humanly possible.
May the Divine come to the aid of the new Pope and all leaders of all faiths.
Theft & Religion, 27/5/2012
It has been my personal misfortune to note that the more vociferous and showy a person is about their religious sentiments, the more dishonest they are likely to be. I have seen this far too often for it to be mere coincidence and, indeed, I could almost draw a graph to demonstrate this phenomenon, which furthermore is universal and unbound by any particular faith.
A recent experience served as further proof of this. I was in a nightclub when my handbag was stolen from my arm. The thief turned out to be a Nigerian
and an evangelical Christian. The police got hold of his mobile and the thing was stuffed with videos of church gatherings and quotations from the Bible. The ‘thou shalt not steal’ commandment wasn’t there.
What goes on in the head of someone like this? Are they blind to their own hypocrisy? Are they schizophrenic? Do they assume everyone who is not part of their immediate congregation is a sinner and therefore fair game? Are they treating their place of worship like a football club – something that provides them with a badge of solidarity and a bit of entertainment?
Not being a psychiatrist, I can’t answer these questions. Shakespeare’s King Lear comes to mind, however. When he asks his daughter Cordelia to describe her love for him, she says that she ‘cannot heave her heart unto her mouth.’ He exiles her and divides his kingdom between Goneral and Regan, the daughters who expressed their affection in more florid terms. Before he knows it, Lear has been humiliated, robbed and cast out of his court. Then, of course, there is Moliere’s spectacular Tartuffe, who throws himself on the Church flagstones in religious fervour. This so impresses a local aristocrat, he moves him into his home. Before long, Tartuffe is trying to seduce his patron’s daughter and wife…
I can’t help feeling that discretion in expressing sentiment of any kind is a hallmark of its sincerity. When it comes to religion, a simple mathematical fact can be of assistance: the more time a person spends bashing people over the head with their faith, the less time they have for spiritual communion with his or her God.
Coffee Bar Glories, 19/10/2011
aren’t just about the caffeine kicks. They’re great places to clear the mind and read a book and – if abroad or somewhere new – get by means of discreet eaves-dropping an insight into the local spirit and what makes it tick. I love their displays of tantalizing sweets and savouries – the transient little works of art created by the strategic positioning of olives and parsley sprigs and a bit of thoughtful icing-‘n-piping behind the scenes. But, delightful though these may be, the much more nourishing fare they have to offer is in the less tangible form of unexpected food for thought.
The ancient cafes of Arabia used to often have a rawi – or story-teller – sitting in a corner reciting tales of glory and bits of news honed into elegant and witty rhyme. Rawis are no more, alas, and so it is up to the passing guests themselves to entertain each other. They rarely do, of course; this, after all, is the island of seething thoughts all rattling at the bars while their owners dig around for reasons to speak that are too rarely unearthed.
Yesterday at Finsbury Park’s Front Room, however, they were. Frost beneath the clear sky had Rob the owner talking about the mini Ice Age apparently on its way to Britain and it was this perhaps that got the three strangers gathered round him to hurriedly heat the air with a little impromptu conversation. Words and ideas flowed like an unstoppable river and later, a single sentence stayed in my mind:
“Happiness is not economically viable.”
This is what David – a freelancer who works social engineering strategies for creating events and internet communications – had said.
I objected and protested, of course, so he went on to explain.
“When communities are strong, people are happy being together most of the time. But when everyone is sitting alone in a little flat feeling lonely and unhappy, they feel the need to buy things and that’s what gets the economy moving.”
Chilling words. An Ice Age of the soul is already upon us it would seem.
So, come on, let’s all be un-economic and buy our coffee outside instead of putting on the kettle. And come on, I urge you: don’t sit there pretending not to notice the stranger sitting opposite you. Say something. – SPEAK!! (c)
The REAL Adventure, 14/9/2011
of this century is all the research into quantum physics. Alas, its progress is difficult to decipher through ordinary terms and language, let alone contribute to. However, reading articles suchs as the ones posted here
are enough to fire up the imagination of this particular author.
Enough has been translated of quantum matters to justify belief that herein might well be hidden explanations of all sorts of extraordinary phenomena such as moments of telepathy, premonition, deja-vu, the nature of Time and our place within it.
I have long thought that much of life is about discovering proof of all the things we already know – albeit instinctively and mutely – as though a map of the universe were lodged within our DNA. Maybe that is why sudden comprehension of something new is often accompanied by a sense of recognition…………..
Quantum shower produced by collision of 2 Particles
13th September, 2011
The date demands, perhaps, I seek a black cat whose path to cross so better to ward off ill fortune. But it’s cold and windy out there, and anyway, my downstairs neighbour has 3 very black and very large cats and living above them should be talisman enough.
Truth is – I must remind myself – I should have outgrown such superstitions by now. Comforting signs, talismans and good luck charms can all be reassuring but at best they are only bridges to innate powers that are already there. We all have them and should remember that, even when there are no cats in sight. ©
CHAOS BETWEEN THE SHEETS
Now then, before I lead you, dear reader, towards anti-climax and disappointment, let me clarify that the sheets referred to here are those made of paper, not linen or silk. – Although, come to think of it, silk might be involved at some point, maybe, hopefully…
For the past three weeks, I have been surrounded by them: paper sheets cover the floor, the sofa, the chairs, the tables. Some, I believe, have even managed to reach my bed…
At one point, upon writing ‘THE END’ – words so satisfying to an author and hopefully less so to their readers – I had this wonderful sense of completion – a series of events, thoughts and emotions being settled into one harmonious whole. Little did I know that before they could be safely brought to shore, they would need dismantling yet again – fragmenting, realigning, reformatting and so forth in order to fit safely where they belonged: the hard covers of a book!
In the midst of this maelstrom of only partially decipherable notes, the computer becomes a haven of clarity, order – legibility, indeed. I am powerless to resist its mesmerising pull and must confess I have fears of turning into a twitter junkie and compulsive surfer. I was just about to snap out of what I was starting to think could be a futile trance, when lo! A site I had jumped to informed me Dark Waters had garnered an audience not only in the US, but Saudi Arabia too. DW was displaying signs of its quantum components. It was with me here and also elsewhere – maybe on an ipad or an i-phone on top of a camel speeding through the desert!
Such a notion renders me incapable of taming sheets for now, but a little mental order might be restored by a dose of bed-time music. This is a song I would like to hear – especially in the desert… ©
A Note to all Writers
On that long road towards publication – the agonising over words and cadence, the research, the difficult drilling through frequent bouts of writer’s block, an author might light up his or her solitary way with the occasional flight of fantasy. I certainly did!
Well, with the imminent publication of my feature in the Mail on Sunday, it seemed that a little bit of one of these fantasies was
about to come true.
“Go and get your hair done in the morning. The photographer and make-up artist will come to you at about four. They’re lovely. You’re going to have a wonderful time. Today might be stressful, but tomorrow’s going to be all about fun and relaxation,” Sarah, one of my lovely editors at MoS assured me.
How did this much anticipated day pan out?
Well, your author had to drag her ancient laptop to the hairdressers. It’s a delightful place called Salon Seventy Two at the top of the hill just off Crouch End Broadway with views onto a stretch of green and adorned with crystal chandeliers that lend it a bit of a boudoir feel. It’s run by two sisters exceptionally devoted to their craft and whose company is always a joy. But instead of our usual banter and laughter, silence had to be imposed, and the two worked their skills on a grouchy subject hunched over her keyboard, hissing they make sure not to let their colourants and conditioners drip and to do all in their power to finish fast.
Mercifully, it was not raining that day, but at the bus stop there was an unusually anxious crowd. We were in the midst of the London riots and office workers had been instructed to go home as the rioters were on their way to Finsbury Park. I wondered what the bus would drive us into and whether it would be possible to get home.
My bit of road was quiet, as it turned out, but not my heart. – The necessary edits were nowhere near complete and it was deadline day. To my horror, the make-up artist arrived right on time. “Could you come back later?” was my disgraceful greeting down the intercom.
“Sure,” she said, “Can I drop my stuff off first?”
A tall young woman glided into my not too spacious living room and left. Her ‘stuff’ comprised three black cases which side by side took up some 1.5 metres cubed, no less. I wondered if she was planning to perform cosmetic surgery on me and typed on.
I still had not finished when the doorbell rang again. It was the photographer and he too was requested to come back later.
Not too long after, they were back. The photographer had his young son in tow. I still had not finished but had to let them in. ‘Well, if there’s no copy, a photograph won’t be published,’ was all I could come up with by way of hospitality.
Eventually, I filed off the piece and a very pleasurable half hour was had. I underwent the novel experience of having make-up applied to my cleavage and was told repeatedly to open my eyes wide. Once they had bid me a forgiving farewell, the only place I had to display their embellishments was the local supermarket before rushing back to plod on with digital version of book.
Such, dear reader, is the stuff that dreams-come-true are often made of. Is experience a cure? Not for me. Already, I am looking forward to writing my next book. This time, it will be easier, smoother, better organized………. As you can see, dreams, unlike their creators, never perish.
However, from that in the end stressful afternoon, I did glean a sentence of the slow burn type which I only understood next morning. It may be of particular interest to gentlemen of less than virtuous intent.
A couple of times, the MoS photographer said, “Could you please lift your diaphragm, dear.”
When I repeated the action on my own next day, I realised this was the very polite equivalent of “Please stick your tits out!” ©
It has been fraught with difficulty so far. When dealing with the truth, you need a lawyer, because – although the law requests one to tell the whole truth and nothing but – it seems it can have a problem with anyone who does.
So, Dark Waters has undergone deep scrutiny by a legal team. Edits had to be made. At times, it felt as if the lawyers were to have their way, only blank pages would be left.
Fact is stranger than fiction, it is said, but it would seem that the only repository of deep truth these days is within the pages of fiction.
Obstacles have been overcome at last, however. Kindle edition of Dark Waters is now available on Amazon
Paperback and hardback editions are also available from Amazon and from this site!