Saturday, June 14, 2014

"Simon, (whom he also named Peter,)" - Christianity and Colonization Complex Influences

Mt. Fuji and Sunset around Tokyo in the Rainy Season

Christianity and Colonization Complex Influences

In Japan African authors are not popular.

For example, it seems that only one novel among some works of Chinua Achebe (1930 – 2013), a Nigerian novelist, was translated into Japanese: Things Fall Apart (1958).

In 1948, in preparation for independence, Nigeria's first university opened.[24] Known as University College (now the University of Ibadan), it was an associate college of the University of London. Achebe obtained such high marks in the entrance examination that he was admitted as a Major Scholar in the university's first intake and given a bursary to study medicine.[24] After a year, he changed to English, history, and theology.[

While he meditated on his possible career paths, Achebe was visited by a friend from the university, who convinced him to apply for an English teaching position at the Merchants of Light school at Oba. It was a ramshackle institution with a crumbling infrastructure and a meagre library; the school was built on what the residents called "bad bush" – a section of land thought to be tainted by unfriendly spirits.[36] Later, in Things Fall Apart, Achebe describes a similar area called the "evil forest", where the Christian missionaries are given a place to build their church.

 He taught in Oba for four months, but when an opportunity arose in 1954 to work for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS), he left the school and moved to Lagos.

Also in 1956 he was selected at the Staff School run by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). His first trip outside Nigeria was an opportunity to advance his technical production skills, and to solicit feedback on his novel (which was later split into two books). In London, he met a novelist named Gilbert Phelps, to whom he offered the manuscript. Phelps responded with great enthusiasm, asking Achebe if he could show it to his editor and publishers. Achebe declined, insisting that it needed more work.

Back in Nigeria, Achebe set to work revising and editing his novel (now titled Things Fall Apart, after a line in the poem "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats). He cut away the second and third sections of the book, leaving only the story of a yam farmer named Okonkwo who lives during the colonization of Nigeria.
In the book Okonkwo struggles with the legacy of his father – a shiftless debtor fond of playing the flute – as well as the complications and contradictions that arise when white missionaries arrive in his village of Umuofia.[52] Exploring the terrain of cultural conflict, particularly the encounter between Igbo tradition and Christian doctrine, Achebe returns to the themes of his earlier stories, which grew from his own background. 
Things Fall Apart went on to become one of the most important books in African literature.[53] Selling over 8 million copies around the world, it was translated into 50 languages, making Achebe the most translated African writer of all time.
The most impressive part of Things Fall Apart is that there were a kind of segregated people in a community of the leading character Okonkwo.  They were discriminated from other residents for the reason that they were unclean spiritually in light of their religious traditions.

But when a European missionary came to the community in Nigeria, those people being looked down by mainstream residents first accepted the teaching of Christianity.  Then young men, including a son of Okonkwo, who had troubles with their parents, especially fathers, concerning life philosophy, left their homes and joined a newly built church and Christian community led by a European mission.

Indeed unhappy people in a local community of Africa were saved by European missions.  But there were always colonial rule behind such missionaries.  And this colonial rule penetrated deep into African local communities even leveraging diffusion of Christianity among minorities and the handicapped in those communities.  Consequently, African local communities lost a potential to solve their internal problems and correct social biases and evils that had produced those segregated or neglected members among them.

In other word, Christianity that was introduced into Africa through European missionaries helped some victims in African communities, but as a whole European missions deprived local communities of their chances to grow and establish their own social frameworks for modern justice and democracy.

Africa did not have strong and deep traditions of civilization.  They could not resists evils being introduced into Africa by Europeans, including European missionaries, merchants, colonial masters, and military.

Without Islam, Arabs and some Asians must have been also subject to spiritual colonization by European churches.    

In this context, India, China, and Japan have not been easy targets for the Christian Church and European Colonialists Complex.

Nonetheless, more tragic were indigenous people of America after the era of Columbus.  Their unique civilizations were almost nothing before invasion by Spaniards, Portuguese, and other European nations.

So, the World Cup Soccer Games are now going in Brazil, a country showing one example of this historical movement of global expansion of European/American material and religious influences.  Indeed we cannot almost see or discern any indigenous Brazilians even in stadiums, good or bad.

*** *** *** ***

Luk 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
Luk 6:14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,
Luk 6:15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,
Luk 6:16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.

Friday, June 13, 2014

"blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law" - Eusebius, Edessa and the Holy Shroud

In Tokyo

Eusebius, Edessa and the Holy Shroud

The most authentic document about the early Christianity was written by Eusebius in the fourth century.
Eusebius (260/265 – 339/340; also called Eusebius of Caesarea and Eusebius Pamphili) was a Roman historian, of Greek descent, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Early centers of Caesarea about the year 314 A.D. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon and is regarded as an extremely well learned Christian of his time.[1] He wrote Demonstrations of the Gospel, Preparations for the Gospel, and On Discrepancies between the Gospels, studies of the Biblical text. As "Father of Church History" he produced the Ecclesiastical History, On the Life of Pamphilus, the Chronicle and On the Martyrs. 
He played a major role when the Roman Empire accepted Christianity.
Eusebius succeeded Agapius, as Bishop of Caesarea soon after 313 and played a prominent role at the Council of Nicaea in 325. Eusebius, a learned man and famous author, enjoyed the favour of the Emperor Constantine. Because of this he was called upon to present the creed of his own church to the 318 attendees."[32] However, the anti-Arian creed from Palestine prevailed becoming the basis for the Nicene Creed. 
Eusebius remained in the Emperor's favour throughout this time and more than once was exonerated with the explicit approval of the Emperor Constantine. After the Emperor's death (c.337), Eusebius wrote the Life of Constantine, an important historical work because of eye witness accounts and the use of primary sources. Eusebius died c.339.
But, more important are his works.  He is the first author that comprehensively reviewed the whole process of emergence and deployment of Christianity.
In his Church History or Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius wrote the first surviving history of the Christian Church as a chronologically-ordered account, based on earlier sources complete from the period of the Apostles to his own epoch.[44] The time scheme correlated the history with the reigns of the Roman Emperors, and the scope was broad. Included were the bishops and other teachers of the Church, Christian relations with the Jews and those deemed heretical, and the Christian martyrs through 324 C.E. [45] Although its accuracy and biases have been questioned, it remains an important source on the early church due to Eusebius's access to materials now lost.
Let's see how his Church History is composed.
Church History (Book I) 
Chapter 1. The Plan of the Work.
1. It is my purpose to write an account of the successions of the holy apostles, as well as of the times which have elapsed from the days of our Saviour to our own; and to relate the many important events which are said to have occurred in the history of the Church; and to mention those who have governed and presided over the Church in the most prominent parishes, and those who in each generation have proclaimed the divine word either orally or in writing.

Chapter 2. Summary View of the Pre-existence and Divinity of Our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ.

Chapter 3. The Name Jesus and also the Name Christ were known from the Beginning, and were honored by the Inspired Prophets.

Chapter 4. The Religion Proclaimed by Him to All Nations Was Neither New Nor Strange.

Chapter 5. The Time of his Appearance among Men.
1. And now, after this necessary introduction to our proposed history of the Church, we can enter, so to speak, upon our journey, beginning with the appearance of our Saviour in the flesh. And we invoke God, the Father of the Word, and him, of whom we have been speaking, Jesus Christ himself our Saviour and Lord, the heavenly Word of God, as our aid and fellow-laborer in the narration of the truth.

Chapter 6. About the Time of Christ, in accordance with Prophecy, the Rulers who had governed the Jewish Nation in Regular Succession from the Days of Antiquity came to an End, and Herod, the First Foreigner, Became King.

Chapter 7. The Alleged Discrepancy in the Gospels in regard to the Genealogy of Christ.

Chapter 8. The Cruelty of Herod toward the Infants, and the Manner of his Death.
1. When Christ was born, according to the prophecies, in Bethlehem of Judea, at the time indicated, Herod was not a little disturbed by the enquiry of the magi who came from the east, asking where he who was born King of the Jews was to be found—for they had seen his star, and this was their reason for taking so long a journey; for they earnestly desired to worship the infant as God, — for he imagined that his kingdom might be endangered; and he enquired therefore of the doctors of the law, who belonged to the Jewish nation, where they expected Christ to be born. When he learned that the prophecy of Micah Micah 5:2 announced that Bethlehem was to be his birthplace he commanded, in a single edict, all the male infants in Bethlehem, and all its borders, that were two years of age or less, according to the time which he had accurately ascertained from the magi, to be slain, supposing that Jesus, as was indeed likely, would share the same fate as the others of his own age.

Chapter 9. The Times of Pilate.


Chapter 10. The High Priests of the Jews under whom Christ taught.
1. It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, according to the evangelist, and in the fourth year of the governorship of Pontius Pilate, while Herod and Lysanias and Philip were ruling the rest of Judea, that our Saviour and Lord, Jesus the Christ of God, being about thirty years of age, came to John for baptism and began the promulgation of the Gospel.

Chapter 11. Testimonies in Regard to John the Baptist and Christ.

Chapter 12. The Disciples of our Saviour.

Chapter 13. Narrative concerning the Prince of the Edessenes.

1. The divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ being noised abroad among all men on account of his wonder-working power, he attracted countless numbers from foreign countries lying far away from Judea, who had the hope of being cured of their diseases and of all kinds of sufferings.

2. For instance the King Abgarus, who ruled with great glory the nations beyond the Euphrates, being afflicted with a terrible disease which it was beyond the power of human skill to cure, when he heard of the name of Jesus, and of his miracles, which were attested by all with one accord sent a message to him by a courier and begged him to heal his disease.

3. But he did not at that time comply with his request; yet he deemed him worthy of a personal letter in which he said that he would send one of his disciples to cure his disease, and at the same time promised salvation to himself and all his house.

4. Not long afterward his promise was fulfilled. For after his resurrection from the dead and his ascent into heaven, Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, under divine impulse sent Thaddeus, who was also numbered among the seventy disciples of Christ, to Edessa, as a preacher and evangelist of the teaching of Christ.

5. And all that our Saviour had promised received through him its fulfillment. You have written evidence of these things taken from the archives of Edessa, which was at that time a royal city. For in the public registers there, which contain accounts of ancient times and the acts of Abgarus, these things have been found preserved down to the present time. But there is no better way than to hear the epistles themselves which we have taken from the archives and have literally translated from the Syriac language in the following manner.

Copy of an epistle written by Abgarus the ruler to Jesus, and sent to him at Jerusalem by Ananias the swift courier.

6. Abgarus, ruler of Edessa, to Jesus the excellent Saviour who has appeared in the country of Jerusalem, greeting. I have heard the reports of you and of your cures as performed by you without medicines or herbs. For it is said that you make the blind to see and the lame to walk, that you cleanse lepers and cast out impure spirits and demons, and that you heal those afflicted with lingering disease, and raise the dead.

7. And having heard all these things concerning you, I have concluded that one of two things must be true: either you are God, and having come down from heaven you do these things, or else you, who does these things, are the Son of God.

8. I have therefore written to you to ask you if you would take the trouble to come to me and heal the disease which I have. For I have heard that the Jews are murmuring against you and are plotting to injure you. But I have a very small yet noble city which is great enough for us both.
The answer of Jesus to the ruler Abgarus by the courier Ananias.

9. Blessed are you who hast believed in me without having seen me. For it is written concerning me, that they who have seen me will not believe in me, and that they who have not seen me will believe and be saved. But in regard to what you have written me, that I should come to you, it is necessary for me to fulfill all things here for which I have been sent, and after I have fulfilled them thus to be taken up again to him that sent me. But after I have been taken up I will send to you one of my disciples, that he may heal your disease and give life to you and yours.

Further accounts

10. To these epistles there was added the following account in the Syriac language. After the ascension of Jesus, Judas, who was also called Thomas, sent to him Thaddeus, an apostle, one of the Seventy. When he had come he lodged with Tobias, the son of Tobias. When the report of him got abroad, it was told Abgarus that an apostle of Jesus had come, as he had written him.

11. Thaddeus began then in the power of God to heal every disease and infirmity, insomuch that all wondered. And when Abgarus heard of the great and wonderful things which he did and of the cures which he performed, he began to suspect that he was the one of whom Jesus had written him, saying, 'After I have been taken up I will send to you one of my disciples who will heal you.'

12. Therefore, summoning Tobias, with whom Thaddeus lodged, he said, I have heard that a certain man of power has come and is lodging in your house. Bring him to me. And Tobias coming to Thaddeus said to him, The ruler Abgarus summoned me and told me to bring you to him that you might heal him. And Thaddeus said, I will go, for I have been sent to him with power.

13. Tobias therefore arose early on the following day, and taking Thaddeus came to Abgarus. And when he came, the nobles were present and stood about Abgarus. And immediately upon his entrance a great vision appeared to Abgarus in the countenance of the apostle Thaddeus. When Abgarus saw it he prostrated himself before Thaddeus, while all those who stood about were astonished; for they did not see the vision, which appeared to Abgarus alone.

14. He then asked Thaddeus if he were in truth a disciple of Jesus the Son of God, who had said to him, 'I will send you one of my disciples, who shall heal you and give you life.' And Thaddeus said, Because you have mightily believed in him that sent me, therefore have I been sent unto you. And still further, if you believe in him, the petitions of your heart shall be granted you as you believe.

15. And Abgarus said to him, So much have I believed in him that I wished to take an army and destroy those Jews who crucified him, had I not been deterred from it by reason of the dominion of the Romans. And Thaddeus said, Our Lord has fulfilled the will of his Father, and having fulfilled it has been taken up to his Father. And Abgarus said to him, I too have believed in him and in his Father.

16. And Thaddeus said to him, Therefore I place my hand upon you in his name. And when he had done it, immediately Abgarus was cured of the disease and of the suffering which he had.

17. And Abgarus marvelled, that as he had heard concerning Jesus, so he had received in very deed through his disciple Thaddeus, who healed him without medicines and herbs, and not only him, but also Abdus the son of Abdus, who was afflicted with the gout; for he too came to him and fell at his feet, and having received a benediction by the imposition of his hands, he was healed. The same Thaddeus cured also many other inhabitants of the city, and did wonders and marvelous works, and preached the word of God.

18. And afterward Abgarus said, You, O Thaddeus, do these things with the power of God, and we marvel. But, in addition to these things, I pray you to inform me in regard to the coming of Jesus, how he was born; and in regard to his power, by what power he performed those deeds of which I have heard.

19. And Thaddeus said, Now indeed will I keep silence, since I have been sent to proclaim the word publicly. But tomorrow assemble for me all your citizens, and I will preach in their presence and sow among them the word of God, concerning the coming of Jesus, how he was born; and concerning his mission, for what purpose he was sent by the Father; and concerning the power of his works, and the mysteries which he proclaimed in the world, and by what power he did these things; and concerning his new preaching, and his abasement and humiliation, and how he humbled himself, and died and debased his divinity and was crucified, and descended into Hades, and burst the bars which from eternity had not been broken, and raised the dead; for he descended alone, but rose with many, and thus ascended to his Father.

20. Abgarus therefore commanded the citizens to assemble early in the morning to hear the preaching of Thaddeus, and afterward he ordered gold and silver to be given him. But he refused to take it, saying, If we have forsaken that which was our own, how shall we take that which is another's? These things were done in the three hundred and fortieth year.
I have inserted them here in their proper place, translated from the Syriac literally, and I hope to good purpose.
Edessa is a place where the Holy Shroud (of Turin) was brought from Jerusalem after the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ Jesus, according to many works on this subject.

Indeed it is very impressive and it looks very extraordinary that Eusebius detailed the relationship between King of Edessa Abgarus and Christ Jesus.  There must have been something very extraordinary.  And that something must have been transfer of the Holy Shroud from Jerusalem to Edessa.
The Shroud of Turin or Turin Shroud (Italian: Sindone di Torino) is a length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion. There is no consensus yet on exactly how the image was created, and it is believed by some to be the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth, despite radiocarbon dating placing its origins in the Medieval period.
The historical records for the shroud can be separated into two time periods: before 1390 and from 1390 to the present. The period until 1390 is subject to debate among historians.[7] Author Ian Wilson has proposed that the Shroud was the Image of Edessa, but scholars such as Averil Cameron have stated that the history of the Image of Edessa represents "very murky territory"; it cannot be traced back as a miraculous image, and it may not have even been a cloth.
The religious concept of the miraculous acheiropoieton has a long history in Christianity, going back to at least the 6th century. Among the most prominent portable early acheiropoieta are the Image of Camuliana and the Mandylion or Image of Edessa, both painted icons of Christ held in the Byzantine Empire and now generally regarded as lost or destroyed, as is the Hodegetria image of the Virgin.
In 1997 Avinoam Danin, a botanist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, reported that he had identified the type of Chrysanthemum coronarium, Cistus creticus and Zygophyllum whose pressed image on the shroud was first noticed by Alan Whanger in 1985 on the photographs of the shroud taken in 1931. 
Max Frei, a Swiss police criminologist who initially obtained pollen from the shroud during the STURP investigation stated that of the 58 different types of pollens found, 45 were from the Jerusalem area, while 6 were from the eastern Middle East, with one pollen species growing exclusively in İstanbul, and two found in Edessa, Turkey.
So, Eusebius, a legend about Edessa and Christ Jesus, and the holy shroud must have some crucial linkage even if Eusebius had not realized that the holy shroud was carried into Edessa.

Anyway, Caesarea in ancient Palestine, Edessa, Nicaea, and Constantinople are not so far from one another.


Nicaea and Edessa

*** *** *** ***

Act 6:12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
Act 6:13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
Act 6:14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
Act 6:15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

"And forgive us our debts" - The Marian Apparition


The Marian Apparition

Miracles can happen.

Children can see holy spirits and citizens can see the sun dancing in the sky.
Our Lady of Fátima (Portuguese: Nossa Senhora de Fátima, European Portuguese: [ˈnɔsɐ sɨˈɲoɾɐ dɨ ˈfatimɐ][1]) is the title based on apparitions to three shepherd children at Fátima, Portugal, on the thirteenth day of six consecutive months in 1917, beginning on May 13. The three children were Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto.

The apparition is also referred to as Our Lady of the Rosary (a term first used in 1208 for the reputed apparition in the church of Prouille), because the children said the apparition called herself the "Lady of the Rosary". A combination of these titles is also seen, i.e. Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima (Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fátima).

The events at Fátima gained fame due to elements of secrets, prophecy and eschatology, particularly with regard to World War II and possible world wars in the future. Chief among these is also the alleged urgent need for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The reported apparitions at Fátima were officially declared "worthy of belief" by the Catholic Church.

As early as July 1917 it was claimed that the Virgin Mary had promised a miracle for the last of her apparitions on October 13, so that all would believe. What happened then became known as the "Miracle of the Sun". A huge crowd, variously estimated between 30,000 and 100,000,[9] including newspaper reporters and photographers, gathered at the Cova da Iria. The incessant rain had ceased and there was a thin layer of cloud. Lúcia, seeing light rising from the lady's hands and the sun appearing as a silver disk, called out "look at the sun". She later had no memory of saying this.[6] Witnesses later spoke of the sun appearing to change colors and rotate like a wheel.[10] Witnesses gave widely varying descriptions of the "sun's dance". Poet Afonso Lopes Vieira and schoolteacher Delfina Lopes (with her students and other witnesses in the town of Alburita), reported that the solar phenomenon was visible up to forty kilometers away.[10]

Columnist Avelino de Almeida of O Século (Portugal's most influential newspaper, which was pro-government in policy and avowedly anti-clerical),[6] reported the following: "Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression of the people."

Eye specialist Dr. Domingos Pinto Coelho, writing for the newspaper Ordem reported "The sun, at one moment surrounded with scarlet flame, at another aureoled in yellow and deep purple, seemed to be in an exceeding fast and whirling movement, at times appearing to be loosened from the sky and to be approaching the earth, strongly radiating heat".

The special reporter for the October 17, 1917 edition of the Lisbon daily, O Dia, reported the following, "...the silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy purple light was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds...The light turned a beautiful blue, as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral, and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands...people wept and prayed with uncovered heads, in the presence of a miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they."[13]
In the 19th century similar miracles occurred in France with appearance of Holy Mary.
The vision of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is said to have appeared to Saint Catherine Labouré in 1830 in the convent of Rue du Bac, Paris. She reported that one night in the chapel, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her and asked that a medallion be made to a design that she dictated. The lady added that, "All who wear this medal will receive great graces."[39] After spending two years examining her claims, her priest eventually took the information to his archbishop. The medal eventually produced came to be referred to as the Miraculous Medal. The front of the medal displays a picture of the virgin as she appeared to Catherine Labouré. The design on the reverse includes the letter M and a cross. Pope John Paul II used a slight variation of the reverse image as his coat of arms, the Marian Cross.

The apparitions of Our Lady of La Salette were reported in La Salette in France in 1846 by two shepherd children, Mélanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud, followed by numerous accounts of miraculous healings. The Roman Catholic Church investigated the claims and found them basically credible.

In 1858 Saint Bernadette Soubirous was a 14-year-old shepherd girl who lived near the town of Lourdes in France. One day she reported a vision of a miraculous Lady who identified Herself as "the Immaculate Conception" in subsequent visions. In the second vision she was asked to return again and she had 18 visions overall. According to Saint Bernadette, the Lady held a string of Rosary beads and led Saint Bernadette to the discovery of a buried spring, also requesting that the local priests build a chapel at the site of the visions and lead holy processions there

The apparitions at Our Lady of Pontmain, France also called Our Lady of Hope were reported in 1871 by a number of young children.
In 1804 Napoleon ascended to the imperial throne in Paris.  But at the end of the 19th century France became a republic through the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War  (1870 – 1871).

But the most important incident in France and its neighboring countries is the initiation of communism.
In late 1847, Marx and Engels began writing what was to become their most famous work – a programme of action for the Communist League. Written jointly by Marx and Engels from December 1847 to January 1848, The Communist Manifesto was first published on 21 February 1848
Later that year, Europe experienced a series of protests, rebellions, and often violent upheavals that became known as the Revolution of 1848.[106] In France, a revolution led to the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the French Second Republic.[106] Marx was supportive of such activity, and having recently received a substantial inheritance from his father of either 6000[107] or 5000 francs,[108][109] allegedly used a third of it to arm Belgian workers who were planning revolutionary action.
Europe was being split among the poor or laborers and the rich or capitalists.  France could have been another Soviet Union or another Nazi Germany.  But with a strong tie with Christian traditions and spiritualism as symbolized by apparition of Holy Maria, France could avoid moving into those extreme directions.

The Marian Apparition in Fatima preceded the emergence of Nazism and the Russian Revolution.  The miracle in Portugal should be regarded as a spiritual warning to these two great evil phenomena.   It is estimated that Nazis and Hitler killed six million Judaists and the Soviet Communist Party killed 20 million Russians and other peoples ruled by Stalin.  Taking into account of these scales of the tragedies, it is no wonder that God sent some spiritual warning to Europeans prior to the occurrence.

We have to be probably amazed at the historical facts that France did not become another Soviet Union or another Nazi Germany before WWII, and that Portugal, Spain, and countries in Latin America and Africa that were once under colonial rule of  Portugal or Spain were not involved in, or did not join, the Second World War directly.  It was realized by spiritual influences of the Marian Apparition in France and Fatima, in my view.

Now, have we seen miracles accompanying the Second Coming of Christ Jesus?  Are they the 9/11 Terror, the 2008 Financial Crisis, or the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident?

In 2005 the last witness of the Apparition of Holy Maria in Fatima died.
Lúcia died on February 13, 2005, at the age of 97. After her death, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (and later to become Pope Benedict XVI), ordered her cell sealed off. It is believed this was because the evidence needed to be examined in the course of proceedings for her possible canonization.[24]

Then Pope John Paul II died in April 2005.  Then Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was elected to Pope; he became Pope Benedict XVI.  However Pope Benedict XVI spontaneously stepped down to be succeeded by Pope Francis on 13 March 2013 (and he moved into the newly renovated Mater Ecclesiae monastery for his retirement on 2 May 2013).

It is no wonder that the Vatican is hiding two miracles: apparition of Holy Mary to Pope John Paul II in 2005 and that to Pope Benedict XVI in 2013.

*** *** *** ***

Mat 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.
Mat 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Mat 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"what they might do to Jesus" - The Gospel of Thomas and Syria

Tokyo in the Rainy Season 

The Gospel of Thomas and Syria

Syria is a very important place for Christianity.

It was on a way to Damascus that St. Paul was accessed by the spirit of Christ Jesus.  Even the Holy Shroud of Turin could be traced back to a region called Edessa around Syria.  And the Gospel of Thomas is considered to have been edited around Syria.
The Gospel According to Thomas, commonly shortened to the Gospel of Thomas, is a well-preserved early Christian, non-canonical sayings-gospel which many scholars believe provides insight into the oral gospel traditions. It was discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945, in one of a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library.

The Coptic-Language text, the second of seven contained in what modern-day scholars have designated as Codex II, is composed of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus.[2] Almost half of these sayings resemble those found in the Canonical Gospels, while it is speculated that the other sayings were added from Gnostic tradition.[3] Its place of origin may have been Syria, where Thomasine traditions were strong.

Unlike the canonical Gospels, it is not a narrative account of the life of Jesus; instead, it consists of logia (sayings) attributed to Jesus, sometimes stand-alone, sometimes embedded in short dialogues or parables. The text contains a possible allusion to the death of Jesus in logion 65[9] (Parable of the Wicked Tenants, paralleled in the Synoptic Gospels), but doesn't mention his crucifixion, his resurrection, or the final judgment; nor does it mention a messianic understanding of Jesus.[10][11] Since its discovery, many scholars have seen it as evidence in support of the existence of the so-called Q source, which might have been very similar in its form as a collection of sayings of Jesus without any accounts of his deeds or his life and death, a so-called "sayings gospel".

Valantasis and other scholars argue that it is difficult to date Thomas because, as a collection of logia without a narrative framework, individual sayings could have been added to it gradually over time.[28] (However, Valantasis does date Thomas to 100 – 110 AD, with some of the material certainly coming from the first stratum which is dated to 30 – 60 AD.[29])

Albert Hogeterp argues that the Gospel's saying 12, which attributes leadership of the community to James the Just rather than to Peter, agrees with the description of the early Jerusalem church by Paul in Galatians 2:1–14 and may reflect a tradition predating AD 70.[45] Meyer also lists "uncertainty about James the righteous, the brother of Jesus" as characteristic of a 1st-century origin.

Several scholars argue that Thomas is dependent on Syriac writings, including unique versions of the canonical gospels. They contend that many sayings of the Gospel of Thomas are more similar to Syriac translations of the canonical gospels than their record in the original Greek. Craig A. Evans states that saying 54 in Thomas, which speaks of the poor and the kingdom of heaven, is more similar to the Syriac version of Matthew 5:3 than the Greek version of that passage or the parallel in Luke 6:20.

As one of the earliest accounts of the teachings of Jesus, the Gospel of Thomas is regarded by some scholars as one of the most important texts in understanding early Christianity outside the New Testament.[66] In terms of faith, however, no major Christian group accepts this gospel as canonical or authoritative. It is an important work for scholars working on the Q document, which itself is thought to be a collection of sayings or teachings upon which the gospels of Matthew and Luke are partly based. Although no copy of Q has ever been discovered, the fact that Thomas is similarly a 'sayings' Gospel is viewed by some scholars as an indication that the early Christians did write collections of the sayings of Jesus, bolstering the Q hypothesis.

The Gospel of Thomas does not refer to Jesus as "Christ" or "Lord," as the New Testament does, but does call him "Jesus," and "Son of Man," which are concurrent with the canonical Gospels.[76] The Gospel of Thomas also lacks any mention of Jesus' birth, baptism, miracles, travels, death, and resurrection.[77] However, some of the sayings in Thomas are similar to sayings and parables found in the canonical gospels.

Elaine Pagels, in her book Beyond Belief, argues that the Thomas gospel at first fell victim to the needs of the early Christian community for solidarity in the face of persecution, then to the will of the Emperor Constantine, who at the First Council of Nicaea in 325, wanted an end to the sectarian squabbling and a universal Christian creed. She goes on to point out that in spite of its being left out of the Catholic canon, being banned and sentenced to burn, many of the mystical elements have proven to reappear perennially in the works of mystics like Jacob Boehme, Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross. She concludes that the Thomas gospel gives us a rare glimpse into the diversity of beliefs in the early Christian community, an alternative perspective to the Johannine gospel.
For a tree to grow tall and big, it should have roots expanding wider and deeper in the ground.  The success of Christianity implies that there were various types of believers in many regions of the ancient world from Rome to Jerusalem and Alexandria, Egypt through Syria.

Translations by: Thomas O. Lambdin (Coptic version)
                 B.P Grenfell & A.S. Hunt (Greek Fragments)
                 Bentley Layton (Greek Fragments)
Commentary by: Craig Schenk

I: Commentary

     The Gospel of Thomas is a collection of traditional Sayings
(logoi) of Jesus. It is attributed to Didymos Judas Thomas, the
"Doubting Thomas" of the canonical Gospels, and according to many
early traditions, the twin brother of Jesus ("didymos" means
"twin" in Greek). 
     We have two versions of the Gospel of Thomas today. The
first was discovered in the late 1800's among the Oxyrhynchus
Papyri, and consists of fragments of a Greek version, which has
been dated to c. 200. The second is a complete version, in
Coptic, from Codex II of the Nag Hammadi finds. Thomas was
probably first written in Greek (or possibly even Syriac or
Aramaic) sometime between the mid 1st and 2nd centuries.

II: Coptic Gospel of Thomas

P)   These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke
and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down.

1)   And He said, "Whoever finds the interpretation of these
sayings will not experience death."
17)  Jesus said, "I shall give you what no eye has seen and what
no ear has heard and what no hand has touched and what has never
occurred to the human mind."

18)  The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end will be."
     Jesus said, "Have you discovered, then, the beginning, that
you look for the end? For where the beginning is, there will the
end be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning;
he will know the end and will not experience death."

19)  Jesus said, "Blessed is he who came into being before he
came into being. If you become My disciples and listen to My
words, these stones will minister to you. For there are five
trees for you in Paradise which remain undisturbed summer and
winter and whose leaves do not fall. Whoever becomes acquainted
with them will not experience death."

20)  The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us what the Kingdom of
Heaven is like."
     He said to them, "It is like a mustard seed, the smallest of
all seeds. But when it falls on tilled soil, it produces a great
plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky."

III: Fragments of Greek Gospel of Thomas

     Several fragments of a Greek version of Thomas were found
among the Oxyrhynchys Papyri in the late 19th century. These
fragments consist of the preamble, and sayings 1-6, 26-28, 30-32,
36-38, and 39, as well as a saying not found in the Coptic
version, which follows 32.
32) Jesus said: "A city built on the top of a high hill and
fortified can neither fall nor be hid."

--) Jesus said: "Thou hearest with one ear, [but the other thou
has closed].

It is said that Christ Jesus preached around the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem in ancient Palestine for three years.  If he delivered his sayings at a pace of one per day, the total number of his sayings could be almost 1,000.  More Gospels could be found especially around Syria.  But the civil war now going on there might destroy some of them.  The situation in Syria is so grave to the entire Christian communities in the world.

We have to spend more budgets in research work to discover hidden Gospels that should contain more new sayings of Christ Jesus than in wars.

*** *** *** ***

Luk 6:9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?
Luk 6:10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
Luk 6:11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"Jesus said, Make the men sit down" - Jesus Christ and Jim Casy

Cloudy Tokyo

Jesus Christ and Jim Casy

Not all the Americans have been rich all through the American history.

Like any poor man in any country, a poor American is given a chance to consider good and evil deeper than any rich men.

Though not all the poor men come to decide to follow God, there is always one or more in them who try to find a right answer thinking in a right way and eventually reaching a right conclusion.  Maybe one of missions of writers is to depict such a man.  And it was done by John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. (1902 – 1968).
The Grapes of Wrath is an American realist novel written by John Steinbeck and published in 1939. The book won the National Book Award[2] and Pulitzer Prize[3] for fiction, and it was cited prominently when Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in 1962. 
Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, agricultural industry changes and bank foreclosures forcing tenant farmers out of work. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they were trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other "Okies", they sought jobs, land, dignity, and a future. 
The Grapes of Wrath is frequently read in American high school and college literature classes due to its historical context and enduring legacy.[5][6][7] A celebrated Hollywood film version, starring Henry Fonda and directed by John Ford, was made in 1940.
Who is Reverend Casy? Well, he's a lecherous old man who has given up on his life as a preacher. That's the simple answer. But, boy oh boy, do we miss out on a lot of good stuff if we forget to look further. Casy also happens to be the spiritual compass of the Joad family and of the entire novel. 
Casy trumpets a kind of philosophy similar to that first drummed up by the famous American philosopher and thinker, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson believed in one giant, invisible, collective soul that contains the souls of all the creatures of the world. He called this the "Over-Soul." (Read Emerson's essay on the Over-Soul here.) Reverend Casy hold a similar belief. Casy even tells Tom, "Maybe all men got one big soul ever'body's a part of" (4.41). Folks, we have the privilege of witnessing a man develop his own philosophy, piece by piece. And just where does this philosophy lead him? Toward a journey westward where he hopes to help his fellow workers. And where does this journey lead him? Toward a mission to fight for equality and justice among migrant workers in California. And where does this mission lead him? Toward his death.
Jim Casy 
Steinbeck employs Jim Casy to articulate some of the novel’s major themes. Most notably, the ex-preacher redefines the concept of holiness, suggesting that the most divine aspect of human experience is to be found on earth, among one’s fellow humans, rather than amid the clouds. As a radical philosopher, a motivator and unifier of men, and a martyr, Casy assumes a role akin to that of Jesus Christ—with whom he also shares his initials. Casy begins the novel uncertain of how to use his talents as a speaker and spiritual healer if not as the leader of a religious congregation. By the end of the novel, he has learned to apply them to his task of organizing the migrant workers. Indeed, Casy comes to believe so strongly in his mission to save the suffering laborers that he willingly gives his life for it. Casy’s teachings prompt the novel’s most dramatic character development, by catalyzing Tom Joad’s transformation into a social activist and man of the people.
The Grapes of Wrath Character Analysis - Jim Casy: The Preacher
Jim Casy exists as the philosopher, the motivator and the voice of reason in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The ex-preacher is used to express some of the book's major themes, explicitly articulated in his actions. Jim Casy, by fulfilling his predominant role as the novel's guiding moral voice, establishes not only a sense of god, but also one of morality and justice. 
Jim Casy is an ex-preacher who is unsure of how to use the talents he possessed as a preacher, if not as the leader to a flock of Christians. He is a fluent and persuasive speaker and spiritual healer but no longer appreciates his talents. By the end of the novel he learns to apply them towards organizing the migrant workers. He comes to believe so deeply in his goal of saving the tormented workers that he gives his life for them willingly. 
The ex-preacher is different from the other characters in that he sees his purpose and what is needed to be done much sooner than the other characters.
Steinbeck manages to give Jim Casey the exact initials as the historical savior (J.C.), which allows the reader to latch onto this connection from the beginning. Yet, Casey's relation to Christ goes beyond such mere coincidences, and plays out rather in their similar plans of action. One of the many similarities between Casey and Christ is that Casey had also drifted out to the forests in order to "soul-search" and discover the answers to sometimes hidden questions. In this particular situation, Casey himself states the comparison of Christ's and his actions while giving a grace at the Joad's breakfast table, "...I been in the hills, thinkin', almost you might say like Jesus went into the wilderness to think His way out of a mess of troubles" (Steinbeck ch.8). Casey further goes on during his rather rambling grace, "I got tired like Him...I got mixed up like Him...I went into the wilderness like Him, without no campin' stuff" (Steinbeck ch.8). With Casey's character openly admitting, without seeming conceited, that he and Jesus Christ are in some way similar, it continues to bluntly let the reader come to realize that Casey was indeed meant to be the Christ figure of this book.  
Yet another similarity between Jim Casey and Jesus Christ can be seen when Casey decides to venture off and join a union group in order to prevent...
Then, 20 years later, Steinbeck traveled America, driving a car with his wife and a dog named Charley.
Travels with Charley: In Search of America is a travelogue written by American author John Steinbeck. It depicts a 1960 road trip around the United States made by Steinbeck, in the company of his French standard poodle, Charley. Steinbeck wrote that he was moved by a desire to see his country on a personal level, since he made his living writing about it. He wrote of having many questions going into his journey, the main one being, "What are Americans like today?" However, he found that he had concerns about much of the "new America" he witnessed. 
Part Four
Heading east again, Steinbeck then cut through the Mojave Desert and made his way to Texas, where he and his wife Elaine attended what he called a Thanksgiving Day "orgy" at a wealthy cattle ranch near Amarillo. Steinbeck, whose third wife Elaine was a Texan, talked at length about the Lone Star State and its citizens and culture. He felt that "people either passionately love or passionately hate Texas," which he described as a "mystique closely approximating a religion," but he loved and respected Texas. After detailing his Thanksgiving at the ranch Steinbeck drove to New Orleans, where he witnessed the angry protests by white mothers outside a recently integrated public school in the Ninth Ward. By the time Steinbeck nears Virginia, he says that in his heart, his journey was over. His journey had ceased to be a journey and became something that he had to endure until he reached his home in New York again. After passing through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Steinbeck finds himself back in New York where, ironically, he realizes that he is lost and has to ask for directions home. As he spent a good deal of his journey lost, it becomes evident at the end of the story that being lost is a metaphor for how much America has changed in Steinbeck's eyes. America, it seems, is in a sense directionless and therefore endangered as it moves into an uncertain future marked by huge population shifts, technological and industrial change, and unprecedented environmental destruction.
And now 50 years after Steinbeck's travel with Charley, the US apparently is moving to a direction that is not toward the Kingdom of God but the Kingdom of Wealth.

In the US today you can be a kind of Jesus Christ or an Obama, but money rules and prevails.  Even though serious efforts made by honest and talented Americans in the past are recognized today, they are deprived of revolutionary power aimed at the Kingdom of God.

Nonetheless, are there other Steinbecks in China, India, Brazil, and other G20 countries?

*** *** *** ***

Joh 6:9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
Joh 6:10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
Joh 6:11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
Joh 6:12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
Joh 6:13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
Joh 6:14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

Monday, June 09, 2014

"Our Father which art in heaven" - Books and Authors worth Reading

Tokyo in Rain

Books and Authors worth Reading

List of the 100 Best Books of All Time

Things Fall ApartChinua Achebe1958NigeriaEnglish
Fairy talesHans Christian Andersen1835–37DenmarkDanish
The Divine ComedyDante Alighieri1308–1321ItalyItalian
Epic of GilgameshUnknown18th – 17th century BCESumer and Akkadian EmpireAkkadian
Book of JobUnknown6th – 4th century BCEAchaemenid EmpireHebrew
One Thousand and One NightsUnknown700–1500India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt/TajikistanPersian
Njál's SagaUnknown13th centuryIcelandOld Norse
Pride and PrejudiceJane Austen1813United KingdomEnglish
Le Père GoriotHonoré de Balzac1835FranceFrench
MolloyMalone DiesThe Unnamable, a trilogySamuel Beckett1951–53Republic of IrelandFrench, English

Top 100
100 Best Novels
by James Joyce 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
by James Joyce 
by Vladimir Nabokov 
by Aldous Huxley 
by William Faulkner 
by Joseph Heller 
by Arthur Koestler 
by D.H. Lawrence 
by John Steinbeck

Best 100 Authors 
1. William Shakespeare 
2. Charles Dickens 
3. Fyodor Dostoevsky 
4. J.R.R. Tolkien 
5. Leo Tolstoy 
6. Ernest Hemingway 
7. Jane Austen 
8. George Orwell 
9. John Steinbeck 
10. Mark Twain

The Best Short Story Writers of All Time

Edgar Allan Poe 1809  
Anton Chekhov 1860 
Ernest Hemingway 1899 
Arthur Conan Doyle 1859 
Franz Kafka 1883 
F. Scott Fitzgerald 1896 
J. D. Salinger 1919 
Flannery O'Connor 1925 
Roald Dahl 1916 
Rudyard Kipling 1865 
Jorge Luis Borges 1899 
Mark Twain 1835

List of best-selling fiction authors

AuthorMin. estimated salesMax. estimated salesOriginal languageGenre or titleNumber of booksCitizenship
Jirō Akagawa300 million[43]JapaneseMystery500+Japanese
Horatio Alger, Jr.200 million[26]400 million[27]EnglishDime novels135American
Jeffrey Archer120 million[55]270 million[56]EnglishCrime thriller30British
David Baldacci110 million[101]EnglishThriller25American
Stan and Jan Berenstain200 million[57]260 million[58]EnglishBerenstain Bears300+American
Enid Blyton300 million[15]600 million[16]EnglishChildren's literatureNoddyThe Famous FiveThe Secret Seven800British
Norman Bridwell100 million[99]110 million[100]EnglishClifford the Big Red Dog80American
Dan Brown200 million200 million[72]EnglishThriller including Robert Langdon6American
Edgar Rice Burroughs100 million[134]100 million[135]EnglishTarzanBarsoom and Pellucidar series and otherscience fantasyAmerican
Erskine Caldwell80 million[116]100 million[117]EnglishLiterature25American

*** *** *** ***

Mat 6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Mat 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Mat 6:10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.