‘Gunpowder, Treason and Plot’

A glance over the medieval shoulder reveals religious intolerance and a capacity for atrocity equalling anything seen today. When Henry Vlll, the English king, separated from the Church of Rome in 1534 to form the Church of England, Protestantism was forced upon the population and those who dissented were made to pay fines, thrown into prison, tortured  or killed. Elizabeth 1st  succeeded Henry and the Spanish Armada set sail to restore ‘the true religion’ at the popes behest. The Armada failed and centuries of division and religious persecution of Catholics followed.

Catholics were seen as potential traitors and required to deny their allegiance to the pope.The Jesuit priesthood entered the country on behalf of the papacy and laws were tightened.  In 1585, theAct Against Jesuits, Seminary Priests and other suchlike Disobedient Persons made it High Treason for a priest to reside anywhere in England or for anyone to hide or assist a priest.Harsh laws meant fines, imprisonment or forfeiture of property could be imposed on those who brought Catholic artefacts into the country, heard mass or sent children abroad to schools or seminaries. The Catholic population became increasingly estranged.  Elizabeth died childless in 1567 and was succeeded by James V1, King of Scotland who became James 1 of England.  The two Protestant kingdoms  became the United Kingdom in 1603, further alienating the Catholic minority. Continue reading

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GOOGLE ‘GOD’?

My intention in writing this article was to pose the question: Is technology driving us towards a godless society?  As a starting point I decided to google ‘God’ simply to obtain a definition, expecting of course that there would be several.  Of the the first 3  references: 2 referred to the release of the film Godzilla which grossed  $93 million dollars in its opening weekend and $518,369,590  within weeks. The third reference was to the web hosting giant ‘godaddy’. None of the remaining references related to a Creator, a Supreme Being  or a Deity.  God, whatever we assume that word to mean, would seem to have been supplanted in the mass consciousness by commercialism and entertainment; the question however remains – what part if any does technology play in this?. Continue reading

ISLAM AT CHRISTMAS

Surprisingly,  there are more similarities than differences  between Christianity and Islam. 

shine_quranThe definition of a Muslim is ‘One who surrenders to the will of God’. Mohammed is acknowledged by the faithful as the final messenger sent from God; chosen to receive verbal communication from Archangel Gabriel, to guide mankind to the last days. This became the Quran.

Jesus is revered by Muslims as a prophet and and referred to under various titles, the most common being al-Masīḥ  (“the Messiah”). Muslims believe that Jesus will return to earth near The Day of Judgement to restore justice and to defeat al-Masih ad-Dajjal  (“the false messiah”. (also known as the Anti Christ). Jesus is named in the Quran more often than the patriarchs, Moses (136 times) or Abraham (69 times). His Islamic name is Isa ‘the word of truth’ and he is referred to as “Ibn Maryam” (son of Mary).  Muslims believe Jesus was  sent by God as a final prophet to guide the children of Israel; he is unique in being the only prophet in Islam who neither married nor had any children Continue reading

Reaping what we Sow

Some 30,000 years ago, the Paleo-Indians, the ancestors of Native Americans, followed herds of animals from Siberia across Beringia, a land bridge connecting Asia and North America, into Alaska. By 8,000 B.C.E., these peoples had spread across North and South America. The tribal peoples were diverse but all Indians lived in organized societies with political structures, moral codes, and religious beliefs. The idea of private land ownership was foreign; all land was held communally and worked collectively. Most of the Four Corners region belongs to semi-autonomous Native American nations, the largest of which is the Navajo Nation, followed by Hopi, Ute, and Zuni.

400px-4corner4 CORNERS REGION:  The United States acquired the four corners region from Mexico after the end of the Mexican–American War in 1848. Colorado Territory was created in 1861 and in 1863 Congress created Arizona Territory from the western part of New Mexico Territory. Gold was discovered in California just days before Mexico ceded the land to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Under the treaty, Mexico recognized the U.S. annexation of Texas, and agreed to sell California and the rest of its territory north of the Rio Grande for $15 million plus the assumption of certain damages claims.  The people of these newly created states share jurisdiction for the region along with  the Navajo Nation and Mountain Ute Tribe. Tribal nations living within the 4 Corners region  include the Hopi and other Ute. Continue reading

Money as Power

                

                 “The love of money is the root of all evil”  Jesus Christ

Many might think that the wealth amassed by the Catholic Church is in conflict with the teachings of Jesus who advised his followers ‘If you have two shirts, give one to the man that has none’ and warned that ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven’.

Where did the wealth of the church come from?

The medieval church had amassed its fortune over centuries of supremacy over the European monarchies. In more recent times during the Unification of Italy the Catholic Church was deprived of its papal states which included Rome itself and almost one third of the Italian peninsula. In order to a provide territorial  identity for the Holy See (the ecclesiastical governing body of the Catholic church) an agreement was made between the Kingdom of Italy represented by the fascist leader Benito Mussolini and the Holy See represented by Pope Pius XI . The Lateran Treaty of 1929 recognized the papal state under the name  ‘Vatican City’ as a full sovereign independent  state . A walled enclave located within the city of Rome, covering 110 acres, it is the smallest independent state in the world. Today Vatican City continues as an ecclesiastical monarchy ruled by the pope, the highest offices of State are all held by Catholic clergy.

Through this treaty Italy agreed to pay the Vatican State $39million dollars in cash  and $52 million in 5% government bonds as indemnity for the loss incurred when the papal states were incorporated into  Italy in 1870. In 1942 the Vatican was exempted from certain taxes on dividends however in 1962 the government placed a tax on all stock dividends. The Vatican refused to pay, citing the Lateran Treaty and threatened to sell its Italian stocks and shares which would have caused a financial collapse of an already shaky market and the fall of the government. They remained exempt.

Power is dependent upon networks: The Holy See is a separate and distinct sovereign entity recognized in international law since medieval times. It is the ecclesiastical governing body of the Catholic Church, operating from its home territory, Vatican City State.  Governance of the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide  is by a  hierarchical structure of the pope, the College of Cardinals and the Curia ( a Latin term meaning ‘Court’ in the royal sense). The Holy See  maintains formal diplomatic relationships with 180 sovereign states, the European Union and others.

Power is defined in many ways, not least by money.  ‘Vatican Billions’ written in the 1980s by the late Avro Manhattan, revealed the vast wealth and influence of the Catholic Church around the world. He described  “the biggest financial power, wealth accumulator and property owner in existence. She is a greater possessor of material riches than any other single institution, corporation, bank, giant trust, government or state of the whole globe.’ Renowned for the secrecy of its operation, with no oversight, the Vatican Bank has been worryingly described as the perfect money laundering system 

The Wall Street Journal has said that the Vatican’s financial deals in the U.S. alone are so big that very often it sold or bought gold in lots of a million or more dollars at one time. “The Vatican’s treasure of solid gold has been estimated by the United Nations World Magazine to amount to several billion dollars. A large bulk of this is stored in gold ingots with the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, while banks in England and Switzerland hold the rest.’

“The Vatican has billions of shares in the most powerful international corporations… “In a statement published in connection with a bond prospectus, the Boston archdiocese listed its assets at Six Hundred and Thirty-five Million ($635,891,004), which is 9.9 times its liabilities. This leaves a net worth of Five Hundred and Seventy-one million dollars ($571,704,953). It is not difficult to discover the truly astonishing wealth of the church, once we add the riches of the twenty-eight archdioceses and 122 dioceses of the U.S.A., some of which are even wealthier than that of Boston.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels 
 is known to the local people as the Taj Mahony after their cardinal who had oversight of the project. It cost almost $200 million to build. The altar alone was said to have cost $5 million, the main bronze doors cost $3 million, $2 million was budgeted for the wooden lectern and $1 million for the tabernacle. $1 million was budgeted for the cathedra (bishop’s chair), $250,000 for the presider’s chair, $250,000 for each deacon’s chair, and $150,000 for each visiting bishops’ chair, while pews cost an average of $50,000 each. The budget presumably does not cover community outreach services which are not provided. Parishioners in need of  housing, food or money are obliged to use the neighborhood parishes.

For a history of the papacy see: Jesus Chronicles – The Lost Teachings Published by Epiphany Press. Available through Amazon

 

 

Metaphysics of the Christmas Story

How real is the Christmas story to you?

It may be no more than the tinsel and the tree, the shopping and the presents, the turkey and the treats; in short an opportunity for self indulgence and partying. For millions it is so much more, a time of deep significance, of reflection and spiritual renewal; the remembrance of a promise, angelic visitation and guidance, a merging of the celestial and the terrestrial. The rational mind rushes to dismiss what in the 21st century may seem fanciful and deluded. The story however does not rest on superstitious beliefs but on the science of metaphysics and is worthy of investigation from that position.

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