Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The disappearance of CHOCOLATE!

Yes, the disappearance of our beloved chocolate is foreseen for the near future. This is based on the current decline in cocoa production in West Africa, due to the spreading of viruses affecting the trees; hence it is believed that chocolate will not be purchasable by the masses. It will most probably be renamed the "brown gold".

If the current situation continues, then chocolate will have the same price as the caviare. Also this will be amplified by the fact that the farmers are paid very little, which does not give them an incentive to continue the time-consuming cultivation of cocoa, especially with the increase of tree viruses. Lets hope that a rapid and positive solution will be given to this issue.    

Monday, January 30, 2012

Phaistos Disc

The Phaistos Disc is a disk of fired clay from the Minoan palace of Phaistos, located in the South of the biggest Greek Island, i.e. Crete, believed to date since the 17th century B.C. It is, even to this day, one of the most famous archaeological mysteries, since no one knows the reason for its creation. It was discovered on June 3rd, 1908 by the Italian archaeologists Luigi Pernie, being kept in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. 

The symbols are divided into groups, using small lines, leading them towards the epicentre of the Phaistos Disc. It has captured the imagination of numerous professional and amateur archaeologists; many attempts have been made in order to decipher the code behind the disc's signs, however there are disputed exegeses to this riddle, hence we still do not know what is written on the Phaistos Disc.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

The ethical bases of classical realist thought

Realism and especially classical realism is the only political thought to have a life time of nearly 2.500 years. The main representatives of realism are Thucydides, Machiavelli, Carl von Clausewitz, Waltz and Hans Morgenthau. This theory had time to mature, showing that the main actor in politics is the state. The ethical bases of classical realist thought are power, order, stability, balance of power, interest and justice. All realists use these to explain their theories and express each one according to the events of their time, in the international and domestic scene.

Power and the balance of power play a grand role in realism, since in the international anarchical arena there is no place for error. Each state should have power and if deemed necessary should try to maximize it, if this helps with the stability and the survival of the state. This seems to leave little space for morality, especially in difficult situations where survival is more important than morality. Politicians need to choose between the evils they face, choosing the lesser evil each time. Machiavelli believes that the Prince should act with good deeds but if deemed necessary, he should be willing and ready to act in a wicked way for the benefits of the state. This is the bases of raison d’état (i.e. national interest over morality). Hobbes on the contrary dismisses the idea of morality in international affairs. As Thrasymachus (in Plato’s Republic), Schmitt and Hobbes believe “might makes right”.[1] So we acknowledge that through Thucydides, Machiavelli and Hobbes, international relations is understood as being amoral, where ethics cease to exist. Cohen on the other hand believes that ‘universal moral rules do apply to international relations’[2], for example one state cannot go to war against a state that is not a threat.    

Order is a theme dealt by the central governing authority. Domestic and international politics do not seem to be separate since they interact towards one action taken by the state, for example war. Thucydides and Morgenthau agree with this idea. Without order the community is easily driven to anarchy; as Aristotle observed ‘law has no power to compel obedience beside the force of habit’ (Politics 1269a20).[3] This is why stability needs to be insured domestically but also internationally. Stability brings peace and development.

Another factor in classical realism is the balance of power which can be achieved with the military capability of each state and its alliances. This is a universal element in international politics. We see through history that imbalance of power and alliance can provoke war. This is a phenomenon which is seen especially with great powers. When one great state shifts the balance towards its interests, then the other superpower believes it is threatened, directly or indirectly. This is the case with Athens and Sparta. Athens tried to maximize its power by conquering islands (e.g. Melos, Melian Dialogue- where the strong do what they will and the weak do as they must) and by increasing its allies. This is what triggered Sparta in to going to war against Athens, believing that this would ensure her existence. This is known as the Peloponnesian War, written by Thucydides. Morgenthau also sees the necessity of balance of power. Without it, states would go to war all the time. On one side there would be rising states who would be arrogant enough to go to war, overestimating their powers, and on the other hand states trying to keep the status quo who would be defending there sovereignty. Politics for both Morgenthau and Thucydides is a race of achieving great power domestically and internationally. 

   Interest and justice go together for one main reason, without justice interest is groundless and can drive a state to total disaster, due to its overconfidence. This is the main factor that led Athens to its destruction, giving Sparta the satisfaction of winning the war. This is an imperialistic mistake of many empires and states which have fallen in the past, but also the reason why states in the future will perish. Political actors should always be fair, especially hegemonic powers and leaders. If they lose this virtue then they will not only misplace its peoples’ trust but also the international community’s too. This can only be achieved by worthy leaders who know the states’ limits and what benefits its interests. Justice is important for all the states, not only for the powerful ones. With it they can influence other actors, especially smaller ones. There are many ways of achieving this but maintaining justice is the biggest benefactor in international relations, creating a good relation between state and people. It also helps the states to maximize interest, for example economic benefits. Self control is important making world politics a stable and peaceful arena where states can improve in every respect. Without it political actors reach hubris, which leads inevitably to catastrophe, as it did with Napoleon and Hitler.

Another main factor in international relations is prudence. Morgenthau believed that this is “the supreme virtue of politics”.[4] With it politicians see clearer the consequences of their actions and also try to make the proper decisions, without this meaning that they do not try to satisfy their interests. Prudence is not a weakness but a virtue.

With all of these being the ethical bases of realism we are able to understand realism in depth but also understand its representatives who through experience have examined international politics, giving us theories and ways of understanding the world around us; why for example the tension between the two super powers during the Cold War escalated, or why the USA invaded Iraq. Realism shows how the world has functioned for more than 2500 years, confirming historically the repetition of events and actions.     

[1] Stefano Racchia, “Restraining Imperial Hubris: The Ethical Bases of Realist International Relations Theory”, Constellations Volume14, No4, The Author. Journal compilation (2007), p. 533
[2] Stefano Racchia, “Restraining Imperial Hubris: The Ethical Bases of Realist International Relations Theory”, Constellations Volume14, No4, The Author. Journal compilation (2007), p. 535
[3] Richard Ned Lebow, International Relations Theories, (Oxford, Oxford University Press 2007),  p. 55
[4] Stefano Racchia, “Restraining Imperial Hubris: The Ethical Bases of Realist International Relations Theory”, Constellations Volume14, No4, The Author. Journal compilation (2007), p. 542

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A blind dog with a guide dog

A dog in England, which has lost her vision, has a guide dog taking care of her; however they are currently looking for a home, since their previous owners can no longer take care of them. The staff from the centre in Shropshire which takes care of dogs is currently looking for someone who will take care of blind Lily and her best friend Madison.

The pair has been inseparable for 5 years from the time when veterinarians had to remove both eyes of beautiful Lily. She lost her eyesight when she was 18 months, after suffering from a rare disease, in which the eyelids grew inwards. Nevertheless when both dogs take  a walk they walk close to each other, touching each other in order to follow the same route. It is undoubtedly a lovely spectacle, emphasising the importance of friendship. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

St. Gregory's Liturgy in London

Yesterday marked a unique and in many ways a historic event, where by at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of All Saints, London, we celebrated the Liturgy of St. Gregory the Theologian. This Liturgy is not normally celebrated within the Greek Orthodox World under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, however it is a valid Orthodox Liturgy, celebrated by other Patriarchal Churches. 

This Idea was born by certain members of the Archdiocese who wished to celebrate this 'different' Liturgy in order to explore other Liturgies within our ecclesiastical tradition. Nevertheless it also was a good chance to celebrate it and honour Archbishop Grigorios of Thyateira and Great Britain, who's nameday is today. 

However the one issue we had was that no one within our Archdiocese had ever celebrated this Liturgy, hence we had to revise the numerous texts we could find from the U.K., Greece and Cyprus and we had to 'practice' the Liturgy, in order to know what, how and when to say the certain hymns and blessings.

The Liturgy was celebrated yesterday by Fr. Vassilios Papavassiliou (All Saints Church), Fr. Christodoulos Christodoulou (St. Nektarios Church), Fr. Savvas David Vasileiadis (St. Sophia Church) and Deacon Pavlos Lambrou (St. Demetrios Church). The chanters who chanted at this unique occasion where Alexandros Procopiou (Protopsaltis at the Twelve Apostles Church), Stefanos Thomaidis (Protopsaltis at St. Sophia Church) and Dimitrios Salapatas (Lampadarios at All Saints Church). 

Of course many more priests from all over the United Kingdom came to view and be part of the Liturgy, since it is a once in a lifetime occasion for many. Also Fr. Zacharias from the Monastery in Essex was present.

The Liturgy of St. Gregory also included an inspiring homily by Archbishop Grigorios. What astonished many was the fact that he referred to the chanters as being the backbone of the Orthodox Church, since they are a big part of the liturgical life of the Church. 

The Liturgy's epilogue was given by Fr. George Zafeirakos, the priest in charge of All Saints Cathedral, who on behalf of all the clergy, the chanters, the church committee and the congregation, gave a wonderful icon to Archbishop Grigorios. The gift was icon-painted by the same icon painter (George Tsatsiadis) from Thessaloniki, who painted the fabulous icons placed within All Saints Cathedral. 

A wish of many is for this occasion to be an annual one. The success of this Liturgy has made all of us wish to celebrate the other Liturgies within the Orthodox tradition, i.e. The Liturgy of St. Mark, St. James and many more. I personally would like to thank everyone involved in this celebration, i.e. the priests and chanters stated above. Also a big thank you has to go to Fr. Vassilios Papavassiliou for initiating this whole event and Fr. Savvas Vasileiadis, who wrote, in digital form, the text of the Liturgy, after many of us concluded in the final form of the Liturgy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Weird facts from the past

Each epoch has its weird facts and daily routines which characterise it, making it distinct from the next or the previous one. Here are numerous facts from the past:
-3000 years ago, in ancient Egypt, if you were 30 you were old. Most people died young (in regards to our era).
-In ancient China, doctors were paid only when they cured the sick. If the patient got worse then they had to pay him. (interesting paradigm)
-In ancient Rome, if a slave escaped he was considered a criminal, on the charges of stealing himself, since he belonged to his master.
-In the 19th century if you attempted to commit suicide and failed, you were condemned to death. 
-The handshake came into being in the medieval era, in order to show each other that they were not carrying a gun. 
-The shortest war in history was between England and Zanzibar, in 1896. It lasted for 38 minutes. 
- It is estimated that during the last 3500 years there were only 230 years of peace in the "civilised" world. 
-At the time of Peter the Great, anyone wishing to grow a beard, had to pay a special tax. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hagia Sophia Virtual Tour

Hagia Sophia was the Patriachal Basilica in Constantinople being the best example of Byzantine Architecture in the World. The Orthodox still see it as the prominent Orthodox church, as the Catholics do St. Peter's in Rome. Seeing that many cannot travel to Istanbul, a very interesting virtual tour exists in order for one to see the tremendous beauty of this building, which started of as an Orthodox Church, then became a mosque and currently is a museum. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Aerial view of Greece

Thinking of were to go on holiday this summer (yes a bit early), I came across this fantastic video showing a few good places one can visit in the Mediterranean country. Still haven't decided, but watching this video, I already want to visit all of these places. Enjoy! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Eastern Catholic (Uniate) Church Conference

The Centre for Eastern Christianity, Heythrop College, University of London hosted on the 18th-19th of January a conference entitled “The Eastern Catholic Church in Contemporary Europe”.  Its focus was numerous paradigms from Eastern Catholic Churches, their history, current situation and future prospects. The name given here is, for some, misleading, however they also have other names, according to previous historical events. They are also known as Greek Catholics (especially in the West) and Uniates (mostly within the Orthodox World).

It is significant to identify the different approach and respect that exists in regards to the Eastern Catholic Church. Of course the Orthodox World has various issues concerning the existence of this church, which can also be given the title ‘Churches In-between”, meaning between the two historic and ancient churches, i.e. the Orthodox and the Catholic. Nevertheless no one can deny that they are a significant expression of the diversity of Catholicism in the modern world. The Uniates acquire a distinct ecclesial, religious and social identity, not only in Europe, where they were ‘born’, but globally, especially through the countless Diaspora churches.
The conference’s objectives were to explore various ecclesial and religious contexts of Eastern Catholicism in modern history and contemporary contexts through numerous case studies. The findings of this conference will be published on the 1st of November 2012 by Routledge, entitled ‘Eastern Catholic Christianity in Contemporary Europe’.
Many of the authors of this book attended the conference in order to analyse and present their findings. The introductory analysis emphasised how this symposium was an important one in understanding not only the Eastern Catholic Church but generally the Roman Catholic Church. It is evident that the Uniate church has been persecuted during its short history, either by the communist regimes in the countries where they are based, or by the Orthodox established Church, which does not accept and respect (in a way) the existence of these churches in the East. However it is vital to state that some Orthodox views were expressed in this conference, but no polemical language was evident, since it was understood of being a Western - Catholic perspective on this issue.
The name given to this church differed in the talks. Simon Marincak, talking about the Slovak Greek Church, explained that the official name is Greek Catholic, while Daniela Kalkandijeva, talking about the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church, expressed the view that in Bulgaria the name Uniate is easier and widely spread.
In the Romanian case it was articulated that the Austrian Empire called the Greek Catholics Uniates, while naming the Orthodox, Non-Uniates, creating thus a polemical relationship, which of course had to cease to exist in order to create a positive and harmonious relationship between the two. However, it was pointed by Ciprian Ghisa that the union between the Catholic and the Greek Catholic Church was achieved in fide and not in ritu. Here it is crucial to make an important point; there is a distinction between the Catholics and the Uniates in respect to their liturgical rite, meaning that the Roman Catholic Church uses the Latin Rite, while the latter uses the Byzantine Rite (which is also used by the Orthodox Church). Lucian Leustean expressed the view that the Orthodox Church perceived the Uniate Church, and the other churches, as a Trojan Horse, which had to be destroyed. He is of course not wrong in stating this. This view is not only believed but also vividly expressed by many Orthodox hierarchs, due to the problems and issues created by their existence in Eastern Europe.
What struck, mainly the Orthodox participants of this conference, was the fact that the Greek Catholic churches are very nationalistic, in comparison to the universal character of the Roman Catholic Church. The most nationalistic church, in my view, by far is the Armenian one (paper given by John Wooley), which only accepts as its members Armenian nationals. This certainly will produce future problems, threatening its existence, especially in the Diaspora.
Anthony O’Mahony investigated the Italian Albanians, the Greek Catholic (Byzantine) Church in modern Italy, and also the Eastern Byzantine Catholic Church in Greece and Turkey. It was stressed that after Vatican II the Greek Catholics were not seen as a distinct group but part of the Catholic Church. However the speaker came to the conclusion that, when looking at historical events, we should read them forwards, where relations between the Orthodox and the Catholics is evident, and not backwards, where disunity is emphasised. The Greek Catholic Church is an autonomous Catholic Church of the Byzantine (also known as the Constantinopolitan) liturgical, historical and cultural tradition. Being an Eastern Catholic became a possibility during the end of the Ottoman rule, hence the birth of the Greek Catholic Church in Greece and Turkey, commencing in Constantinople. Currently the Uniate Church in Athens serves Ukrainian, Romanian and other Greek Catholics, giving it an international character and not a nationalistic one.
The Russian paradigm (given by Stafanie Hugh-Donovan) is interesting, since a key reason of its birth was the fact that many believed that through this, unity between the Orthodox and the Catholic Church would be realised. However it was the Georgian case (given by John Flannery) which had an intriguing and unique fact, i.e. it is the only Orthodox Church, via Patriarch Kiril the II, which has recognised the Uniate Church.  The Eastern Catholic Diaspora (paper given by Fr. Robin Gibbons) is a current and important issue, seeing that Christianity, globally, has altered. The centre of the Christian faith has shifted from the European continent towards the Americas, Sub-Saharan African, but most importantly towards Asia (especially China and India). This is mostly the case with the Catholic, Eastern Catholic, Anglican and Protestant Churches; however the Orthodox Church seems to be remaining in Europe. (These statistics are based on recent research, expressed also through a recent article on the number of Christians worldwide, where the Orthodox are only 12% of the world Christian population). Nevertheless new issues will arise, which in many cases will be problematic, since Christianity seems to be changing as a whole and on a global level, where the Diaspora is an important part of all churches and jurisdictions, making the idea of new solutions on numerous matters imperative.    
What is essential to identify is the fact that all the different and nationalistic Eastern Catholic Churches came into communion and under the umbrella of the Roman Catholic Church, during different periods, for different reasons, having dissimilar ecclesiology. Nevertheless, Rome accepted them all. It was significant, for an Orthodox, to identify that the Roman Church is diverse and has within it numerous and distinct traditions and practices.
The conference ended with a Melkite Greek Catholic Liturgy in the College's Chapel, situated within the ground of the University. This of course was realised with kind permission of the Sisters of the Assumption, who were also there. It was an interesting and wonderful Liturgy, being of the Byzantine rite, however containing various Catholic (Latin) rite elements, making it distinct both from the Latin and the Orthodox Byzantine Liturgical rites. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

St. Gile's Cathedral, Edinburgh

St. Gile's Cathedral, The High Kirk of Edinburgh, is the historic City Church of Edinburgh. With its framed crown spire it stands on the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. 

It is the Mother Church of Presbyterianism, which also contains the Order of the The Thistle, i.e. Scotland's chivalric company of knights headed by the Queen. 

This church is one of the most historic and romantic buildings in Scotland. Founded in the 1100's, this church has witnessed executions, riots and celebrations. One of its attractions, i.e. the famous crown spire, has dominated Edinburgh's skyline for over half a millennium. 

It consists of many tiny aisles and chapels, each with its own distinct and memorable story. Also the variety of the numerous stained glass windows emphasise the wide range of traditional and modern styles. St. Giles is the patron saint of the town, whose feast day is celebrated on the 1st of September. St. Giles was a 7th century hermit and later abbot, who lived in France. He became the patron of both town and church due to the ancient ties between Scotland and France. 
According to legend, Giles was accidentally wounded by a huntsman in pursuit of a hind and, after his death in the early 8th century, there were dedicated to him hospitals and safe houses for cripples, beggars and lepers were established throughout England and Scotland within easy reach of the impoverished and the infirm. St. Giles is usually depicted protecting a hind from an arrow, which had pierced his own body. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The "Door" of Naxos

The "Door" of Naxos, known by the locals as "Portara" is a monument which strikes the visitor upon arrival, since it is near the main island's port; considered to be the emblem of the island of Naxos. Portara means big door, due to its large size. This monument, which has been forgotten by time, is part of the marble gateway of the temple dedicated to God Apollo. 
The temple was built in the 6th century B.C., during the reign of tyrant Lygdamis, when Naxos was a commercial and cultural centre. The actual door is located on top of a very small island, joined to the town of Naxos, given the name Bacchu's island. Today its known as Palatia. 

However, later the Christians used many pieces from the ancient temple. Even the Venetians used part of the temple's marble in order to build the castle, on the top of the city of Naxos. 
According to mythology, Theseus abandoned Ariadne under the Palaces, where later God Dionysus kidnapped her, inspiring countless sculptors, musicians and painters, making Naxos known worldwide. According to tradition the first Dionysian celebrations took place here, due to this event.   

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What it means to be poor

A middle class father, wanting to teach his son what poverty is, took him to a village, specifically to a family that lived on a mountain. They spent three days and two nights in their house. Whilst returning home the below conversation took place:
"What did you think of this experience?"
"It was good", replied the son with his eyes staring into the void. 
"And what did you learn?", insisted the father.

The son then replied:
"We have a dog, while they have four, we have a pool that reaches the middle of the garden, while they have a river until the eye can see, with crystal clear water and natural beauty. Our garden is fenced, while at the same time they have a massive one. We buy our food, while they grow it. We listen to CDs, whilst they enjoy a symphony of birds, frogs and other animals and this is complimented by the neighbour's singing. We cook with an electric cooker and they produce great food by cooking with wood. In order to protect our selves we live in four walls with an alarm, while they leave their doors open, protected by their friendship with the neighbours. Our lives are surrounded by cables, phones, internet, however they are connected to life, the sky, the sun, water, greenery, mountains, animals, fruits of the land, family...
The father was stunned by the boy's reply. The son then concluded by saying:
"Thank you father for showing me how poor we are". 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Titanic facts

Titanic is considered on of the worst disasters in human history, sinking on its maiden voyage taking with it 1.595 lives. Here are various facts surrounding the Titanic. 

- There were no cats on the Titanic, although people usual brought them on ships in order to bring good luck and to disperse of any mouses. 
-Titanic was the same length as the hight of the Empire State Building. 
- There were also two dogs which were saved. 
-The prices for a cruise on the Titanic in 1912 were: First class: $4.350, Second class: $1.750, Third class: $30.
-There were 13 couples celebrating their honeymoon on the ship. 
-Titanic was loaded with 900 tones of luggage and goods. 
-The time between the moment they saw the iceberg and the moment the ship crashed in to it was a bit over 30 seconds. 
-Titanic sank 2 hours and 40 minutes after it hit the iceberg. 
- The sinking of the Titanic was predicted in 1898 by Morgan Robertson, as analysed here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Although it is a minimal process that passes almost unnoticed, the muscles around our eyes that make them open and close are the fastest in our body. In fact our eye lids are able to make us blink five times a second, without stressing. 

On average, the human being blinks 15.000 times a day. However women blink much more than men. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Various food facts

Food, well any kind of food, whether it is tasteful or not, is something we need to live and grow. However there are various interesting and strange facts in regard to it, which many people do not know. Some of the countless facts are:
- Milk chocolate was invented by Daniel Peter, who sold the idea to his neighbour Henry Nestle. 

- In order to produce one kilo of honey, bees must visit 4 million flowers and travel a distance equal to 4 times round the Earth.
- The oldest restaurant in the world, which still exists, is the St. Peter's Stiftskeller in Salsburg, Austria. It began in 803 A.D. as a monastery that had a tavern for travellers. 
- Three quarters of the fish caught can be consumed by man. However the rest is used to produce products such as glue, soap, margarine and fertilizer. 
- The most expensive marmalade in the world is 'Confiture de groseilles'. The jam recipe derives from the 14th century and is gooseberry marmalade. It is produced in the tiny French town of Bar-le-Duc.
-28 gr. chocolate contains about 20 mg. of caffeine.
- Banana is the most popular fruit after tomatoes, worldwide. In Western countries they represent 3% of the total sales of a supermarket. 
-There are over 10.000 varieties of tomatoes.
-The last years food production has risen faster than the global population.
-The number of people who died of starvation in the last 25 years of the 20th century is less than the number of people who died of starvation in the last 25 years of the 19th century. 
-During the Middle Ages sugar was a luxury, costing nine times more than milk.
-90% of fish is caught in the Northern Hemisphere.
-Approximately one billion snails are served in restaurants annually. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

London 2012 Mascots

If your going to ask me, every mascot (especially the ones from the recent Olympiads), are talked about, not always in a good way, due to their weird look and symbolism. Of course you get various critics who claim that there were better options, with better symbolism. The London 2012 are not an exception to this rule. 

It is an Olympic year, and an important one for London since it is the host city of the coming Olympic Games. The mascots are Wenlock and Mandeville for the Olympics and the Paralympics respectively. Wenlock is named after the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock where in the mid 19th century the Wenlock Games became the inspiration for the modern Olympic movement. 
On the other hand Mandeville's name derives from Stoke Mandeville (Buckinghamshire) where Stoke Mandeville Hospital is located. Dr. Ludwig Guttmann set up a spinal unit in the 1940s. He tried to find ways to inspire the soldiers in his care by establishing the Stoke Mandeville Games, that were seen as a forerunner to the modern Paralympics. 

Merchandise is of course important for a global event like the Olympics and Paralympics, hence the mascots will help generate a respectable and large income for the organisers of the London Olympic Games, expected to surpass £70 million this year. They even have their own site (http://mascot-games.london2012.com/) where you can play games, explore their massive gallery, discover new sports and make your own mascot. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus

I came across this video on Facebook (as you do) and YouTube posted by various friends. I found it tremendously interesting; in a way it expresses (at points) the Orthodox belief, i.e. that Orthodoxy is not a Religion but The Church.
The author of this poem claims under his video (on YouTube) the following:
"A poem I wrote to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion. In the scriptures Jesus received the most opposition from the most religious people of his day. At it's core Jesus' gospel and the good news of the Cross is in pure opposition to self-righteousness/self-justification. Religion is man centered, Jesus is God-centered. This poem highlights my journey to discover this truth. Religion either ends in pride of despair. Pride because you make a list and can do it and act better than everyone, or despair because you can't do your own list of rules and feel "not good enough" for God. With Jesus though you have humble confident joy because He represents you, you don't represent yourself and His sacrifice is perfect putting us in perfect standing with God".
I welcome any comments on this very interesting matter!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Egyptian Gallery, Met Museum

The Egyptian Gallery in the Metropolitan Museum in New York is one of the biggest ones within the museum. The collection of ancient Egyptian art consists of approximately 26.000 objects of artistic, historical and cultural importance, dating from the Paleolithic to the Roman period , i.e. from 300.000 B.C. to the 4th century A.D.

The entire collection is located in the Lila Acheson Wallace Galleries of Egyptian Art, with objects arranged chronologically over thirty nine rooms.

However the Temple of Dendur is probably the most impressive ancient Egyptian exhibit. The Temple was a gift from Egypt towards the U.S. given in 1965. The Temple of Dendur was presented in recognition of American contributions to the UNESCO campaign to save Egyptian monuments in Nubia from the waters of the lake formed by the Aswan High Dam. 

These contributions came both from private sources and from a special congressional authorization requested by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. In 1967, acting on the recommendation of an advisory committee, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded the temple to the Met, for permanent installation and exhibition. The Temple was officially opened to the public on September 27, 1978. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Husband cuts of his wife's fingers because she went to university

A jealous husband might be imprisoned for life because he cut off his wife's fingers, who went to university without his permission. 30 year old Rafiqul Islam blindfolded his wife ( Hawa Akhter) and tapped her mouth, telling her that he had a surprise for her.

Conversely, however, he held her hand, cut her five fingers of her right hand, while a relative tossed them in the trash so the doctors later would not be able to put them back. Rafiqul Islam is an immigrant worker in UAE, whilst his wife lives in Bangladesh. After visiting her he warned her of the negative consequences she would have if  she did not stop studying. She of course refused, hence he took matters into his own hands. Nevertheless this is another negative paradigm of sexism in our modern world. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Keramikos Cemetery

Keramikos cemetery has been numerous things during its history, i.e. a shrine, a city gate, artists' quarter and the largest and oldest cemetery in Athens. The name given to this specific location derives from the prevalence of potters' workshops on the grassy banks of the river Eridanos, which cuts through the site, marking the north-west boundary of Ancient Athens. Another tradition dictates that it was named after Keramos, the son of God Dionysus and Ariadne, who was the hero of the potters. 

In 478 BC, that boundary was built in stone with the construction of the Themistoclean Wall around the entire city; the foundations of the wall to this day mark the outer edges of the Keramikos site. The Dipylon Gate and the Sacred Gate are easily evident, built in the 5th century BC. Great processions, during the city's major religious festivals, have passed through these gates on the way to the Acropolis and other religious sites. 

Cemeteries have always been an object of human curiosity, explaining the mystic charm of Keramikos, which dates back to the 12th century BC. 

The 'attractions' in Keramikos are the beautiful tombstones with depictions of the dead or scenes from mythology. 

Keramicos became famous after Pericles' Funeral Oration, contained in the second book of the History of the Peloponnesian War, written by Thucydides. Pericles, who was the mayor and governor of Athens at the time, delivered the funeral oration by the end of the first year of the war between Athens and Sparta (430 BC). This speech is even today analysed by numerous academic disciplines, including history and politics, due to the fact that it explains the way Athenian Democracy functioned, giving a basis for later generations on how to form a political speech in difficult occasions.