Book of Isaiah – Isaiah, son of Amoz, was a statesman, counselor to Kings and a prophet in the Old Testament around the 8th-century BCE. He apparently lived in Jerusalem, having a profound influence in the Kingdom of Judah.
Like many other books in the Bible, scholars question the authorship of the Book of Isaiah. While some fundamentalists still believe that all of the books of the Bible were written by the authors ascribed to them, contemporary biblical scholars generally agree that the prophetic book written in Isaiah’s name contains material from at least two other unnamed prophets, known as Deutero-Isaiah and Trito-Isaiah.
The Isaiah recorded in the Bible shows some hostility towards his political enemies, but this is tempered by his hope for a better future that he never sees… not in this world, anyhow. Wikipedia nicely sums up the bulk of Isaiah:
The first 39 chapters prophesy doom for a sinful Judah and for all the nations of the world that oppose God, while the last 27 prophesy the restoration of the nation of Israel and a new creation in God’s glorious future kingdom; this section includes the Songs of the Suffering Servant, four separate passages referring to the nation of Israel, interpreted by Christians as prefiguring the coming of Jesus Christ.¹
In Trito-Isaiah God reveals his total sovereignty over human life and thought:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are my ways your ways, says the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.²
After the Assyrian invasion of 701 BCE, it is generally believed that Isaiah was martyred.
² Isaiah 55 : 8-9 . This is one of my favorite Biblical passages and it was instrumental in my conversion to Catholicism. During a transitional stage in my life a non-Catholic Christian, quite out of the blue, suggested I read Isaiah 55 : 6-9. When I did, the power of the words hit me hard and I eventually converted to Catholicism. Interestingly, the numbers 55 and 69 had already been personally significant for several years prior, in a sort of ongoing synchronistic way. So hearing the Christian suggest I read that particular passage, and the effect it had on me, contained special significance. It seems that God usually works that way (MC).
- Book of Isaiah (altruistico.wordpress.com)
- Isaiah the prophet, son of Amoz (sharperthanatwoedgedsword.wordpress.com)
- Fear Leads To Spiritual Darkness (nweatherhead.wordpress.com)
- The Beginning (discoveringisaiah.wordpress.com)
- Starting Monday off with a message from God (aliendad.wordpress.com)
- “What should we learn from the life of Isaiah?” (altruistico.wordpress.com)
- Who is the “Man of Sorrows” in Isaiah 53? (verse4psalm37.wordpress.com)
- Status Report Day 98 (journeyofthebible.wordpress.com)
The Bar Mitzvah [Hebrew "son of the law"] is a Jewish rite of passage where a young male aged 13 or young female aged 12 comes of age and officially accepts full religious responsibilities. The term also refers to the person for whom the ceremony is observed. Strictly speaking, the Bar Mitzvah is for boys and the Bat Mitzvah is for girls. But often the term Bar Mitzvah is used for both genders.
The modern form of the Bar Mitzvah is not described in the Jewish Bible. But the books of Exodus and Numbers do mention the importance of attaining the age of majority, which back then was recognized as age 20. It’s not until the Talmud that we find the term “Bar Mitzvah.”
- Presenting: The Dopest Bar Mitzvah Invitation in History! (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- 31 Reasons Why Bar & Bat Mitzvah’s Were The Best (buzzfeed.com)
- Book Review: Danny Siegel’s Bar and Bat Mitzvah Mitzvah Book (journeytomitzvah.com)
- Great Moments In Rappers Performing At Bar Mitzvah Parties (complex.com)
- Happy Purim and Pesach, 2013 Bar Mitzvah awaits your donation now! (midnightabbi1eligoldsmith.wordpress.com)
- Avery’s “Bark Mitzvah” (cardstore.com)
- More Etiquette for Bar & Bat Mitzvah Guests (coffeeshoprabbi.com)
- What’s in a Mitzvah? (journeytomitzvah.com)
- Mazelmoments To Release New Reports On The Latest in Weddings, Bar & Bat Mitzvah Party Planning for 2013 (prweb.com)
- Before he’s a man, bar mitzvah boy goes viral (religion.blogs.cnn.com)
Bahai is a relatively recent world religion. Adherents of Bahai claim that God is progressively revealed through a sequence of teachers, including Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, and its Persian founder, Baha’u'llah (1860′s).
The religion is monotheistic, emphasizing monogamous family life, obedience to government authority, personal honesty and cleanliness. Bahai schools and media programs are flourishing.
Baha’u'llah originally went by the name Mirza Hoseyn, a Shi’ite Muslim. Hoseyn aligned himself with the Bab, head of the Babis, a Muslim sect claiming to have privileged knowledge about ultimate truth. The Bab was executed for treason by the Iranian government and Hoseyn was then exiled by orthodox Sunni Muslims.
Hoseyn went to Constantinople (Istanbul). There, in 1867, he declared himself to be the Imam Madhi (“rightly guided leader”), as foretold by the Bab.
Violence ensued and he was banished to Acre, where he developed the contemporary doctrine of Ba’hai: Universal brotherhood and the unity of all religions. Pilgrims from Iran and the USA journeyed to Acre to learn about his teachings.
- Ever Read a Book That Made You Re-think? (pukirahe.wordpress.com)
- Hanging Out With Buddha or Jesus? (pukirahe.wordpress.com)
- What Book Should I Read? (pukirahe.wordpress.com)
- OSU’s Bahá’í Campus Association (osu.uloop.com)
- First Thing You Do on Waking Up? (joyfulwayfarer.wordpress.com)
- Viewpoint: Baha’i Peace Park continues to grow in Muskegon as a place of meditation for all (mlive.com)
- Bahá’í student expelled from Iranian university ‘on grounds of religion’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Cruelty: Intolerance victims (wvgazette.com)
- Nava Na’imi, a Baha’i citizen from Esfahan arrested (zendanianesiasi.wordpress.com)
- Baha’i faithful in area hope Iranian persecution ends (vcstar.com)
In the ancient Egyptian religion of the New Kingdom the ba represents, generally speaking, the individual characteristics of a person, roughly analogous to the personality.
The ba was often understood in terms of the effect it had on others, not entirely unlike the New Age idea of the ‘past life review’ (where the recently departed soul allegedly sees how its good and bad actions in life impacted others).
In the vision of the afterlife described in the Pyramid Texts, the ba is said to return to the mummified body at night, essentially going to Osiris (as the god of the dead). Then it returns to the land of the living during the daytime, free to roam as a spiritual presence.¹
S. G. F. Brandon says that the ba originally connoted spiritual power.²
Depictions of the ba might be present in Old Kingdom funerary statues, although scholars debate this point. More commonly the ba is said to be represented in the New Kingdom as a bird with a human head.³
Related Posts » Ka
¹ Donald B. Redford ed., The Oxford Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology, 2003.
² S. G. F. Brandon ed., A Dictionary of Comparative Religion, New York: Scribner, 1970.
³ Redford, 2003.
- Kemetic Round Table : Ritual Purity (warboar.wordpress.com)
- Extremely interesting investigation on Reincarnation (tsemtulku.com)
- Welcome To Egypt…. (roxcell.wordpress.com)
- Ancient Mysteries – Re: The Dendera Light, Demystified and Explained (disclose.tv)
- Review: The Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia: By Archibald H. Sayce (mbplee.wordpress.com)
- Aswan: A city of charm (dailynewsegypt.com)
- Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt (socyberty.com)
Cybele was a Mother Goddess with local manifestations in Asia Minor, Greece and Rome. Some scholars believe that she originated in Anatolia around 6000 BCE. She appears in literature and sculpture from about the 5th century BCE onward. She presides over the gods, humans and beasts.
The lion was her sacred symbol. In statues, reliefs and coins she’s often depicted seated on a throne with a lion on either side.
Sir William Smith in his Smaller Classical Dictionary says
The Corybantes were her enthusiastic priests, who with drums, cymbals, horns, and in full armour, performed their orgiastic dances. In Rome the Galli were her priests.¹
In Rome she was introduced as an official state religious figure and hence closely regulated and officiated by upper class priests.
Today, some people are drawn to her cult and, perhaps, numinous power – or what they believe is her numinous power. So her worship continues in the 21st century among New Age and neoPagan religious groups.²
¹ Sir William Smith, Smaller Classical Dictionary [revised by E. H. Blakeny and JohnWarrington], New York: Dutton, 1958.
Cults and Religions – What’s the difference?
Many debate the differences between religion and cults. Some say there’s no difference. In other words, religions are cults and cults are religions. But this kind of thinking arguably doesn’t do justice to the complexities of faith and the supernatural.
One difference seems to be that, in a cult, a charismatic leader is undeservedly glorified. Some say that this would make Abraham, Jesus Christ, Mohammad, Buddha and Mahavira cult leaders. But cults also display a relatively short longevity (after the leader dies, the cult dwindles away). This didn’t happen in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Jainism. So they can’t be called cults by that standard.
Another difference is that cults typically isolate new members from their families and unbelievers. Religions tend to be less drastic, with most (not all, mind you) accepting interfaith relationships.
Steven Hassan, an expert on cults, says
Since all destructive cults believe that the ends justify the means, they believe themselves to be above the law. As long as they believe that what they are doing is “right” and “just,” many of them think nothing of lying, stealing, cheating, or unethically using mind control to accomplish their ends. They violate, in the most profound and fundamental way, the civil liberties of the people they recruit. They turn unsuspecting people into slaves. ¹
Others say the difference between religions and cults is a matter of degree, especially with those religions and cults that attract, institutionally legitimize and reproduce authoritarian personality types and the legalistic beliefs and structured practices that these individuals participate in.
In these instances, religious or cultic affiliation apparently provides a convenient means for the psychologically immature to overlook unresolved emotional issues. Accordingly, some critics of religion maintain that religious affiliation provides a safe but essentially cowardly means for unleashing centuries of culturally and perhaps genetically inherited anger onto those who don’t wish to sacrifice their free will to the dictates of an institution. These critics say that most religious institutions must incorporate (or reject) new developments within the context of their limiting teachings and traditions.
This too, seems somewhat simplistic. For religious believers will often say they are fully choosing to cooperate with God’s will as progressively revealed to them within their particular religious organization. Apparently there’s a richness in their spiritual life that the secular critics just don’t get. And individuals belonging to orgqanizations seen by outsiders as cults often say the same thing. “You don’t understand…”
This can make it difficult to tell the difference between a religion and a cult. Meanwhile, many new religions are cropping up. And some say they’re nothing more than cheap covers created by creepy masterminds aiming to get tax breaks on donations made by gullible believers.
When in doubt, draw a chart
One of the definitions for “cult” in Merriam-Websters dictionary is: “a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents.”
The following chart compares some of the main beliefs and practices found within religions and cults. This is not the final word. The items in each column don’t universally apply and many of the distinctions made in this chart are debatable. In keeping with the classical sociologist Max Weber, however, this chart offers ideal types.
Ideal types are generalized constructs. They don’t provide precise definitions and they’re not comprehensive. But they are thought-provoking. And that’s their main purpose.
Above chart elaborates on many sources, including Gregg Stebben’s Everything You Need to Know About Religion (The Pocket Professor, Denis Boyles ed., New York: Pocket Books, 1999: 25-26).
¹ Steven Hassan, Combatting Cult Mind Control, Rochester: Park Street Press, 1988, p. 36.
- The beauty and the pain of fundamentalist religion (vridar.wordpress.com)
- Scientology Founder’s Great Grandson Denounces Religion As A Dangerous Cult! (perezhilton.com)
- Granddaughter Of Westboro Baptist Church Founder Defects From Hate-Cult To Speak Out (VIDEO) (addictinginfo.org)
- Scientology should NOT be protected as a religion… (girlygirl.typepad.com)
- Mexican Authorities Raid Sex Slavery Cult Led By Reincarnated Christ Figure (disinfo.com)
- Claimed By The Cult: A Mother’s Fight To Rescue Her Son-Author Recounts Experience Saving Her Son From A Religious Cult (paramuspost.com)
- Author Geneva Paulson Recounts Experience Saving Her Son from a Religious Cult in New Book (prweb.com)
- “Cathy Don’t Go”: A religious cult’s lost new-wave gem (chicagoreader.com)
A creed (Latin credo: I believe) is a general or precise set of religious beliefs which (apparently) are written in unambiguous language.
The philosopher of religion Thomas McPherson maintains that saying
I believe in God
is quite different from saying
I believe that God exists
The former statement, he argues, avows an attachment, commitment and basic trust in the subject matter. It’s a statement of faith. The latter statement is simply a neutral opinion or, if not perhaps neutral, it’s certainly a cooler, less emotionally involved statement.
By way of contrast, consider
I believe in my country
as compared to
I believe that my country exists
McPherson says these statements are similar to the pair of statements about God’s existence. But he also claims that saying you believe in your country doesn’t entail the same degree of involvement as saying that you believe in God.
McPherson’s claim that saying “I believe in God” reveals the most passionate of all beliefs is questionable. Dialectical materialists forwarding in the work of Karl Marx, for instance, sometimes seem tremendously passionate about their “faith” in the object of their belief.
A good example of a dialectical materialist who seems to “believe in” Marx’s ideas with great intensity can be found in J. D. Bernal, whose Science in History, Vols. 1-4. follows the Marxist ideology pretty closely.
But not only Marxists can get passionate about their beliefs. Social thinkers like Roland Barthes have argued that American patriotism, particularly during the 1950s, arguably had all the intensity of a religious faith. That is, the idea of the American Spirit connoted a intense set of beliefs about the superiority and moral goodness of America.
- Eddy Laing: Why Historical Materialism Matters (dogmaandgeopolitics.wordpress.com)
- Holy Father’s Wednesday audience: “Do not be afraid to go against the grain to live your faith, and resist the temptation to conform” (en.radiovaticana.va)
- Sinner’s Creed: A Memoir (therockriff.wordpress.com)
Cosmology is a term used by anthropologists, philosophers, scholars of religion and theologians to denote an individual or group understanding of the world, the universe and beyond. This “map” may or may not include an account of creation.
In contemporary science the term cosmology denotes the creation, structure and evolution of the universe, as with the Big Bang theory.
For all their social legitimacy and status, from a spiritual standpoint modern scientific cosmologies can fall short by ignoring the possibilities of hellish, purgatorial, astral and heavenly realms that could permeate and interact with life on Earth and, indeed, life throughout the universe (assuming life exists beyond our planet).
Perhaps most scientific cosmologists in the 21st century are so focused on their way of seeing the world that there’s little or no room in their hearts, minds and souls to experience numinosity. If they did, they’d probably revise their theories to make them more comprehensive.
Cosmology arguably bears a direct relation to ethics. But these two spheres of inquiry are usually kept apart by philosophers, scholars and theologians. This arbitrary separation of cosmology and ethics has its pitfalls. For instance, a dominant cosmology that excludes the importance of numinosity is probably not going to seriously consider persons claiming to experience numinosity. As a result, persons of numinosity might be marginalized and discriminated against.
While many may naively suppose that science pins down truth, a look at the range of current scientific cosmologies (note: plural) will hopefully dispel that belief.
Instead of truth, what we arguably find is a group of stories, not entirely unlike the ancient myths that preceded them. True, these more recent stories are based on scientific (i.e. measurable and replicable) observation.¹ But their fragmentary nature highlights the fact that human beings cannot really grasp the whole. Not that there’s any harm in trying. But when researchers lose their sense of humility and start overreaching the limits of their observations, all sorts of problems can arise.
For an excellent list of the latest scientific imaginings, see Historical Cosmologies (the latter entries in the chart). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmology. And for a brief timeline see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_cosmology.
¹ At least, this is what we’re told. In reality fraud and deceit can creep into the halls of science, just any other human endeavor. See Broad and Wade, Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science.
- The Vertical Cosmological Argument and the Fallacy of Composition (humblesmith.wordpress.com)
- Modern Cosmology: Interactive Computer Simulations … (physicsforme.wordpress.com)
- Einstein’s “biggest blunder” beats dark energy in explaining expansion of the Universe (gizmag.com)
- “A” is for axion (Alphabet of Cosmology) (catch26.wordpress.com)
- Astronomers have found the largest structure in the universe (theverge.com)
- Stellar performances finally gain the limelight (newscientist.com)
- The Kalam Argument – Reddening the faces of atheists everywhere (ferlans.wordpress.com)
- Dynamic, dark energy in an accelerating universe (spacedaily.com)
- Astronomers discover the universe’s largest known structure (slashgear.com)
- What is the purpose of the Universe? Here is one possible answer. (io9.com)
Not until fairly recently has corruption been recognized as a valid topic within the social sciences, perhaps partly because it’s not easily verified. Also, shrewd researchers wishing to avoid repercussions in an imperfect world may know when it’s best to keep quiet.
Corruption most often involves bribery and abuses of legitimate authority.¹ In business and government corruption may take place between as few as two people or among a relatively small number or insiders. Some examples in government would be employing a less qualified person than others or closing a business deal as a result of clandestine social and/or economic connections. In business, examples would be market collusion and all types of fraud involving more than one person.
Extreme conspiracy theorists contend that a so-called ‘culture of fear’ is purposefully orchestrated by inherently deceptive governments in order to legitimize wars and bolster certain markets. Along these lines, some believe that corruption has permeated Western culture to a degree formerly associated with so-called third and second world countries. But again, proof is usually hard to find and, most likely, always will be.
Within psychology and especially theology, the term corruption refers to specific individuals or groups whenever an action is deemed morally degrading by another group claiming moral authority. In some circles of Eastern and Western mystical theology corrupt acts are said to “pollute” the individual soul (or in Buddhism, to attract negative skandhas).
These two ideas of corruption – the social vs. the psychological and theological – may at first seem separate. But on closer inspection, they’re arguably connected. As Jesus puts it in Matthew 7:18, “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a rotten tree cannot produce good fruit.” True, Christ is talking about true and false religious prophets in this passage, but it seems fair to generalize this idea to all aspects of life.
So what does this mean for the average person in our imperfect world? Even the upright schoolteacher or respected academic has probably photocopied material that is under copyright. And many decent folks made cassette tapes of their favorite albums back in the day.
The answer to this question has spawned a lot of debate in philosophy and theology about ethics, and clever thinkers have come up with a range of ideas from “situational ethics” to “necessary evil” to try to grapple with the realities of imperfect beings living in an imperfect world.
Moreover, in sociology and economics were hear arguments about the alleged positive aspects of crime–for instance, crime is said to be good for anti-crime businesses and services (e.g. anti-virus software), as well as for neutral market areas (e.g. the old cassette tape). And even the classical sociologist Emile Durkheim believed that a limited amount of crime was good for society because it helped to define boundaries for acceptable vs. unacceptable behavior, this awareness strengthening society as a whole.² But ultimately, it seems only God can know what’s right and wrong, this also being one of Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 7:1).
¹ For a good list of these potential abuses, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption.
² For a good discussion on Durkheim’s view, see http://misssrobinson.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/how-do-functionalists-explain-crime
Corruption - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (plato.stanford.edu/entries/corruption)
Transparency International (transparency.org)
- ‘Good governance vital to fight graft in society’ (arabtimesonline.com)
- (Video) Study names Chicago most corrupt city in United States (nalert.blogspot.com)
- OpBerlusconi: Anonymous Launches Campaign Against Italian Government – Video (news.softpedia.com)
- Watch Video as Protesters storm Nigeria Ministry of Justice over Corruption (dailygistxtra.com)
- Corruption and Political Parties (anaksisahbom.wordpress.com)
- Pakistan tries new way of tackling corruption (miamiherald.com)
- Punjab tries new way of tackling corruption (dawn.com)
- Ghana’s defence sector corrupt – TI (ghanabusinessnews.com)
- TI reports defense sector corruption (fcpablog.com)
- Political Corruption (towardchange.wordpress.com)
Consubstantiation is the teaching about the Lord’s Supper that says Christ is “in, with, and under” the bread and wine, which themselves are not altered in substance.¹ It’s often associated with Martin Luther, even though he spoke in terms of “sacramental union.”
The teaching, however, resonates with Luther’s view that Christ’s divine and human aspects are so closely united that he is omnipresent within all of creation.
Wikipedia outlines the, perhaps, first visibly historical incidence of consubstantiation:
In England in the late 14th century, there was a political and religious movement known as Lollardy. Among much broader goals, the Lollards affirmed a form of consubstantiation—that the Eucharist remained physically bread and wine, while becoming spiritually the body and blood of Christ. Lollardy survived up until the time of the English Reformation.²
¹ An alteration of substance but not of form is key to the Catholic belief in transubstantiation.
Related Posts » Eucharist
- On Eucharist (intostillness.wordpress.com)
- The ‘Jesus’ the World Loves (pilgrimpassing.com)
- “I think I understand how the typical Protestant feels… (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- Confession of faith for Jewish converts to Christianity, from the Church of Constantinople (dailyminyan.com)
- Can a non-Catholic receive Communion at a Catholic church? (swordsoftruth.com)