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Monthly Archives: November 2008

I am not a prude or a wowser by any gauge but I have got to tell you I find it repulsive the way the children of our “civilization” have been bombarded with uncensored images of war. The warnographers of this world have been given carte blanche to pervert the minds of our most vulnerable, while they diverted our attention away from the foulest of human behaviour and focused it on a campaign against the lesser of two evils pornography. The “god-fearing” leaders of the Judaeo-Christian and Muslim nations have consistently ignored the effect, of their insane lust for war, on the innocent and chosen instead to demonise anything vaguely associated with sexuality outside of the accepted norms. On a scale of one to ten how do you rate the amount collateral damage caused by war verses porn?

If we rate the billions of people who have had their guts ripped out by war as a ten, then I would suggest by comparison the victims of porn would be less than one percent. Why are we not as outraged at finding our youth splattering heads on the internet as we would be if they were digitally engaged in on line sex. Responsible adults would understand the irony of this and no matter what your particular brand of belief is, collectively pray that the incoming new world order gets it’s priorities in place and doesn’t continue on with the insanities of the outgoing warnography criminals.

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I have recently had my eyes opened to statistics of current importance; Less than 50% of Americans pay more than 90% of the taxes (conservative estimate). Now I don’t claim to know a lot about the U.S.A’s business but considering I have just had it rammed down my throat for the last two years, I feel qualified to make a few comments or observations (depending on which way you look at it).

Barak Obama (BO) has risen to the top of the pile, on a groundswell of public opinion, by representing the views of the of the united minorities who felt disadvantaged under George W Bush’s (GWB) reign. He made it his position to associate himself with the descendants of the slaves who were ‘liberated’ by the results of the Civil War and his children bare that distinction. John McCain (JMC), by comparison, failed in his attempt to become ‘fearless leader’ because less than 50% of voters, who previously had more than 90% of the influence, failed to convince the now united majority that BO was really a closet Muslim.

Now I wouldn’t be surprised if less than 50% of disgruntled, tax paying, voting, gun totting fundamental patriots started to aim their criticisms towards the “fact” that the funding for BO’s social policies (spreading the wealth) is going to be coming out of their taxes. If I had to address their concerns, I would point out that when slavery was in fashion none of the slaves paid any tax at all but they did all the work.

Don’t be blindsided by the rhetoric of the “right”; the largest tax payers sit on the shoulders of the ones who pay the least. Undermining them will only bring down the whole structure, as apposed to supporting them and strengthening them, which can only be for the benefit of the whole.

We here, down under, tend to follow the leads of our mates in the northern hemisphere, so it is with apprehension that I comment on the approaching new world order or coalition of the willing and pray that we don’t make the mistakes of the past by buying bi-polar policies of good guys and bad guys, tax payers and dole bludgers, Christians and Muslims and more to the point Slaves and Masters.

The funny thing about beliefs is there’s a lie at the centre of it; now I don’t know about you but I think that’s ironic. If a con-man, or to be more politically correct a con-person, wants to successfully sell you a lemon on the pretence it will ripen into an orange, they lie and you believe. If you have been unfortunate enough to purchase a load of lemons and intend to hand them out at half time at the footy on Sunday, then all is not lost if I can convince you of the lie in your belief; you can still turn them into lemonade. If you refuse to admit you have been conned and want to continue on believing the lie, then you are heading for a showdown.

When those who promote belief systems have a serious challenge aimed at them, they tend to hide behind the skirts of little old ladies saying" How can you shake our belief, when if what you are saying is true, then these little old ladies will be upset because they have lived their entire lives believing the lie”. This is were the ‘f’ an faith comes into it, fundamentally, they say: “Our oranges may look a little yellow and taste bitter but we have faith on the day they’ll be sweet, fu.” So how can you win against that type of dogma, the bigger the falsification, the bigger bad guy you become when you point out the truth. Now I know truth is subjective and one mans oranges are another mans lemons but don’t you think there’s far to many sour-pusses out there pushing yellow oranges onto people in the vain hope that you will have faith in their belief and not upset the apple cart.

I can foresee the criticism, I’ve used to many fruity metaphors and made a cocktail out of it when I should be sparing because there’s a lot of fruitcakes out there already, but you would have to admit it’s better than a ‘Rusty Salmon’ mornay. Anyway, the next time someone comes to your door handing out believer tracts, try taking the lie out of it and tell them to make beaver tracks or better still, go suck a lemon.

Back to Chapter Six

CHAPTER SEVEN

“I’m sorry to cut this short,” interjected Laurence “but I have just been informed that your journey to London yesterday did not go unnoticed by the powers that be. A search warrant has been issued and it would be to our advantage that we are not here when they arrive.”

“What?” quizzed Buzz?

“You must have been tracked on your return. I don’t think they know who you are and I’m sure they don’t know that Natalie is here but I have notified Sir Hamish and he will be here soon. We should make our way to the airstrip and then they can search the castle to their hearts content but they won’t find us or what they are looking for.”

“And what might that be?” Asked Nat and Buzz together at the same time

“Stolen artifacts,” replied Laurence “it seems as though you did your job to well Mr. Izzard and I must stress the urgency that we cut this discussion short and head to the airstrip without delay.”

“I’ll just run up to my room and get my computer.”

“That’ll be at the back door by now along with your other things, were I suggest we should be, let’s go.” Insisted Laurie


That was exactly what they did and leaving behind the castle they virtually ran out towards the long, flat and wide driveway just in time to see a small jet plane appearing appear over the hills, landing in spectacular style and pulling up right were they were standing. The hatch popped open and Sir Hamish was there ushering them in with a loud “all aboard.”

By the time they were settling themselves into their seats Hamish was back beside his co-pilot and taking off, this time they stayed low, very low. This time they were slaying under the radar.

“Where are we going?” asked Nat

“We will be crossing the coast of France and without entering their air space, following the border between France and Spain, through the Pyrenees Mountains and into the Mediterranean to pinpoint a villa on the Riviera that used to belong to Sadam Hussain. It has its own air strip even though it’s a bit overgrown now, since he hasn’t been using it lately, but it should serve our purposes adequately.”

“And what is our purposes, just out of curiosity?” asked Nat

“We will be interviewing a man who was the last man we know who saw your father Ms. McHale, before he jetted off to see you in Australia.” Replied Laurence

“So might he know something about the breastplate as well?” asked Buzz

“And why weren’t we told about this before?” asked Nat

“Yes and we have only just managed to track him down to this very villa.” Replied Laurence

“Does anybody else know about this place?”

“Oh yes, it was searched just like our castle is being searched right at this minute.” He replied

“Did they find anything?” Buzz continued asking

“Many priceless artifacts that they considered stolen by the Hussain family, Iraq’s heritage; they confiscated anything that seemed of any value and left the place a mess, it has been idle for sometime.”

“Will there be anyone else there?”

“Only us, it was our security forces that were given the job after the Yanks and that was how Joe McHale got on the job.”

“So there could be some important piece of evidence there that could help us solve this mystery and help get my father back.”

“Exactly Ms McHale, exactly.” Finished Laurence

The small jet came in low over the water and had barely crossed the coastline when the wheels touched down; it taxied towards the overgrown villa and pulled up right behind it, just like parking a car. As they alighted, a crumpled man appeared at the back door and waved a semi-friendly wave towards them. Laurence waved back in what was more of a salute, rather than a wave and then proceeded to enter the villa without any visible luggage. They all ended up in a Mediterranean style kitchen that must have been magnificent in its day.

“This is Andre.” Stated Laurence pointing towards the crumpled man as he directed his comments towards his fellow travelers

Gabriel stepped forward with an out stretched hand to introduce himself, which the stranger accepted and shook as if it was a wet fish. Buzz felt a shiver go up his spine but proceeded with the appropriate discourse anyway.

“My name is Gabriel Izzard, this is my traveling companion Natalie McHale and if you don’t mind me being expedient, did you know her father?”

“Yes I do.” Replied Andre

“What mind or know him?” quickly followed Nat

“I know him”

“Could you tell us about the last time you saw him?”

“About a month or two ago” he said in a slow heavy French accent

Speaking to this man was the equivalent of going to the dentist and Buzz had to spear a glance at Laurence who promptly looked at Andre in such a way that his attitude immediately improved and without further ado he volunteered the next statement.

“We have worked together at various times for over twenty years and the last time I saw him was no different than the rest, he did his thing and I did mine.”

“Where have you worked together?” Buzz interrupted

Andre paused annoyingly and lit up a Gauloise and after a long drawback exhaled “Egypt, Syria, South America, Ethiopia and the heart of Africa.”

“What was the purpose of your business in those places?”

“Security, I have saved your father’s life many times Ms. McHale, that was my job and it allowed him to go about doing his. The visit he paid here a few months ago was similar but was without incident; he went about his business in his usual way.”

“What was it he was doing here, precisely?”

“He was systematically going over all the artifacts that are still here, cataloging, making diagrams, photographing ruminants and making many notes. I will show you.” He said extinguishing his cigarette and walking off with a purposeful stride.

Laurence spoke up and said to Nat and Buzz “you go with him, I will check in with Sir Hamish.”

They quick stepped together to catch up with the disappearing Andre and soon found themselves in a very interesting part of the villa; it was a large room like a library that had been converted to contain pottery fragments and many small intricate items of no obvious value. In one corner there was a desk with open manuscripts and pieces of paper strewn all over it.

“This was where he was working, when one day he just jumped up saying he was leaving.” Intoned the Frenchman

“Did he take anything in particular with him?”

“Just the folder he had in front of him at the time.”

“Did he say where he was going?”

“No, he just got in his Cessna and took off; I thought he would be back because he did not take all his belongings.”

“Where are his things?”

“In the room where he was staying, I will take you.” He said as he turned and strode off again

After a few twists and turns they ascended a very wide marble staircase and entered a corridor of mirrors and doors, it was hard to distinguish which one was which. Andre didn’t seem to have any trouble picking out the correct one and after pointing it out he told them they could look around as much as they liked. He abruptly informed them that if there were any more questions he would be in the kitchen where there is coffee.

Nat and Buzz stood in the middle of the one time beautiful room now decorated only with the essentials of a traveling academic. They were feeling quite stunned that they had come so far, so fast and were looking at the pieces of the puzzle manifest in real time. Natalie walked over to the French windows that opened onto the veranda that overlooked the big blue of the Mediterranean; she stared in the direction of Egypt.

“Don’t worry, we’ll find him” reassured Buzz

“If only I could dream the moments of his abduction we could know exactly where he is” wished Nat

“Don’t fret; I know we are going about this in the right way. If you want to dream something up just grab a piece of the past that he was so interested in and go there, that’s where the answers lie. Think of the big picture and where it fits in, while I go downstairs and rustle us up some of that coffee. Start to make yourself comfortable, get over our rushed trip here and before you know it the answers we require will become so obvious you’ll wonder why we didn’t think of it earlier.”

He was standing quite close to her as he was speaking and she was still staring vacantly out to sea; she pivoted on the spot, kissed him squarely on the mouth and just as quickly pushed him away saying,

“I’ll be a good girl and do exactly as you say” and pointing to the door she finished with “now go get yourself a cup of coffee.”

He immediately left the room, closed the door behind himself and headed back to the kitchen where he must have beaten Andre to it, that and the fact that there was no Laurence or Sir Hamish in sight, had him brewing up for himself. When he was at coffee in hand stage he wandered off to the artifact library, sat himself down at the desk in the corner and started to go through the paper work that Joe had left strewn upon it. It had to hold the clues that he required, he made himself comfortable in the swivel chair that laid back in a way that you could easily put your feet up.

Outside Andre had teamed up with the others to hook the jet up to a forklift and drag it into the well camouflaged hanger. After they had achieved their aim, the four men seated themselves in the plane and began a discussion that if Nat and Buzz were there would have shone some light on their dilemma

“What do you think they will do when they find out?” asked James

“If all goes to plan they won’t have to find out.” Answered Hamish

“Nat will never believe that her father is a criminal.” Said Laurie

“He is not a criminal.” Chipped in Andre

.

“According to the C.I.A he is”

“They’re not saying anything to anybody, don’t forget they have broken international law by renditioning him.”

“They don’t care if they break the law”

“They are the law”

“If this thing in Zürich doesn’t work out, we could all end up in the same boat and up shit creek without a paddle.”

“It’ll workout, that boy’s got a head on his shoulders, none of you would have thought of it.” Said Laurence

“That’s right I told you so.” Chipped in Sir Hamish

“When do you think we will know?” asked Andre

“It’ll be a day or two before all the pieces fall into place and in the meantime let’s hope we don’t have to hightail it out of here. Now James I want you to fuel this baby up to the max, just in case and Andre, you can keep a constant watch on the radar to make sure we don’t have any surprise visitors. Hamish I want you to entertain the needs of our guests while I keep working on the Zürich plan to make sure all the chips fall our way.”

“Aye, aye Captain” came Sir Hamish’s broad reply

“Yes Sir.” Sounded the others at the same time

Gabriel wasn’t sure how much time had passed since he had finished his coffee; when he clapped his hands together, leapt out of the chair he had been sitting in and started running in the direction of the room he had left Natalie in. He burst through the door, startling her and almost yelled “He’s left us a map.”

“What?” Questioned a still startled Nat

“I think I can work out exactly what he was working on when he left here by following the notes and the method being used to catalogue. That’s got to tell us something about where he disappeared to and what it’s got to do with the breastplate.”

“Excellent, now you must listen to what I have learnt.”

“Go ahead I’m all ears.” Said a settled Buzz

“Remember when we first started doing this, we travelled back in time to Noah and the flood and the place we alighted at was called Nin-nar-mah or what we assumed was Nineveh; that place became the capital of the Assyrian empire. Ninmar was always their main deity, she and the two brothers Enki and Enlil split the world up between them, Enki had the south, Africa or Kish as they knew it back then and Enlil had the north ruling out of Nineveh. Ninmar was always going to fluctuate between the two; when she resided in the south Egypt flourished and when she resided in the north Babylon did.

The Breastplate was the symbol of she who carried that authority; some people have always been aware of that fact while others haven’t or have forgotten. In the past the rulers of Egypt knew it, the Babylonians did too. The sea peoples called Phoenicians knew it and the Greeks found out about it when Homer wrote of the search for the Golden Fleece.

When Troy was in its prime that’s where she and her breastplate resided, when Helen of Troy moved to Grease they went on to become world leaders. When Julius Caesar wanted to rule the world he moved to Egypt and married Cleopatra V11, a Greek Ptolemaic Queen who ruled from Alexandria. You can bet she had the Breastplate because she certainly had the appropriate temples, first in Alexandria with Julius and then in Jerusalem with Mark Antony.

The broad spread of information that has been made accessible to me has the power to overwhelm; the clarity that comes from focusing on one period is like a pressure release in a boiler that has been fully primed. Tempted as I am to leap forward to solve our problem, Mr. Izzard, I think what we have to do is focus on what is right before our eyes. Here we are thousands of kilometres away from home sitting in a modern day Mesopotamian despots abode surrounded by artifacts and fragments of the very past that we have been exploring. We have done the hard yards, we have studied the facts of the job at hand but what we have neglected is the heart of the matter. By seeking the actual breastplate of authority we have limited our end to being in a particular place and by concentrating on my father we have bowed to time constraints. What we have learnt already is sufficient to understand the association between the breast plate and ultimate physical power regardless of what time or place it is in. I assume it is not a magical power and that it is subject to the normal laws of physics. A rational explanation of the phenomenon is required if we are not going to slip into primitive superstition and that is precisely what I intend to devote my time to.”

I, for one, am impressed professor McHale, you have journeyed well; can I be of any further assistance or should I just beetle back to Australia and leave you to it?” asked Buzz

“Don’t be like that,” said Nat “you know I need you; in more ways than one.”

“What? Like a baker kneads the dough”

“Very funny,” she said whilst moving towards him “we are in this together Gabe whatever happens; besides I think I am falling for you.” She continued closing the gap between them.

They melted into an embrace and finally, lost for words, he kissed her with an intensity that had been pent-up since their first meeting; she met his intensity with some of her own but before it became embarrassingly long, Sir Hamish appeared at the door saying. “Will you be joining us for dinner or would you like room service?”

“No,” replied Buzz as he broke apart from her embrace “It’s a bit hot up here we’ll be joining you in the kitchen.”

“Arch, man, we’ll be on the terrazzo barbequing up a load of fresh seafood with some very friendly local fisher folk that I’m sure you’ll be impressed with. It’ll be yet another delight for your mouth, hee-hee.” He said as he turned and marched off down the hallway.

“Shall we?” asked Nat

“I’m looking forward to it.” Replied Buzz as he took her arm and walked side by side to the door, where he bowed and allowed her to take the lead.

By the time they ventured out on to the terracotta tiled veranda, the food was well and truly on the boil and the fisher folk that Sir Hamish had mentioned turned out to be very attractive people indeed. It was obvious they intended to stay on as not only did they have a bucket load of seafood on the grill but also a bucket load of local wine decanted into very large goblets. The music that was playing seemed to be theirs as well and Sir Hamish was trying to teach them how to do the Highland fling to the sounds of a very modern Ultravox beat.

It turned into a very enjoyable evening, just what the doctor ordered; the break from the hectic schedule was much appreciated and the light banter from the locals was educational as well as entertaining. There was much ado about nothing and nothing to do but have some well deserved fun; Hamish lifted his kilt on several occasions and Buzz managed to do a rap version of Hava-nagila with some pretty spectacular break dancing on the side. Natalie did her bit with a fine version of the chicken dance and even Laurence made an appearance when the 007 theme song was playing. Eventually it was Andre who turned out to be the party pooper when he unceremoniously announced that everyone’s luggage had been placed in their individual rooms and that for security reasons that’s where we all were expected to be in ten minuets when it would be lights out. So it was kisses all around and a very happy and tired crew that went to bed that night.

Breakfast was a continental affair, with a help yourself to a cup of coffee and a couple of chocolate covered croissants; Buzz prepared a tray for Nat and himself and took it to her, looking forward to continuing their conversation from the night before.

“Good morning.” He said all bright and bubbly

“Please don’t be so chipper, my head is a little sore from that wine last night; it certainly had some kick to it.”

“Here you go, this will help with that.” He continued in his chirpiness while pushing the breakfast tray in her direction.

“Are the others up yet?”

“I’m not sure, though I spotted Andre heading off somewhere; after you have showered and are ready for the day would you like to join me in the library of bits and pieces this morning?”

“Yes I would. I am keen to see what daddy was working on and weather it will assist us at all.”

“That’s good I’m sure you’ll be surprised how on the ball he is with his work it’s quite impressive.”

“I’ll see you down there, then.” She said, dismissing him with a wave.

Buzz left her to it, proceeded to the museum like room and began tidying the desk that they would be sitting at for the conversation pending. He then gathered some fragments from the appropriate shelves and put them in order to show Natalie but before she could appear James did.

“Laurence has asked me to show you to him as we have had some advancement on the Zürich situation overnight.” He said

“Fine,” replied Buzz “I’ll just leave a note here for Nat; how long do you expect we will be?”

“Half an hour or so”

Buzz quickly scrawled a note and propped it up where she could easily see it and walked off following James. Laurence had a temporary office made up for him on the top floor of the villa; it had once been a penthouse suite but for now it was relegated to a shadow of its former glory. James announced Gabriel then turned and closed the door behind him, leaving the two associates to their private conversation.

“We have a nibble,” stated Laurence

“Did you manage to get the fake breastplate in place?”

“No; but we managed to deflect the buyer until it is in place.”

“Do you think it will do the trick, will it fool an expert?”

“There won’t be any way to tell without taking it to a fully equipped lab, so to answer your question, yes it will work.”

“What about the tracking device, won’t that be detectable?”

“It has a neutral signal until we switch it on.”

“So what’s the chance that it will lead us to Joe McHale or his abductors?”

“Fifty- fifty at least” answered Laurence “but it’s the best odds we are going to get.

Gabriel finished his conversation with Laurence and after they had gone over some more of the intricacies he excused himself and began to make his way back to the library, hoping to meet up with Nat, sure enough when he got there she was busying herself with the items he had left on the desk for her.

“What do you think any ideas?” He asked

“It’s certainly systematic.” She replied

“I was particularly impressed with his connecting assumptions about the breastplate and the Parthian’s.”

“Do you know much about them?”

“Just that they were occupying Iraq around the time of Christ; they were an empire in their own right and an opposing force to the Roman Empire who fought them for hundreds of years. There were women who married into the royal families of the Parthian Kings as well as the Roman nobles and the Ptolemaic Greek dynasties were interbred with the Egyptian, Jewish and Syrian ruling classes. It seems as though the Parthian nobles had infiltrated all the cultural groups that we have been discussing around this time period and that they may very well be the ones that offered protection to Cleopatra V11 when she was in exile.”

“This is what I was talking about last night, the interconnectivity of this line of investigation passing through so many cultures that we risk upsetting many different religions. Some of the revelations I have been having in my dreams seem so heretical to most religions that I want to go through them with you and explore the spiritual ramifications.”

Buzz pulled up a particularly well padded chair, propped himself up with a couple of cushions that happened to be at hand and indicated that she should proceed with her current line of thought with the words. “Please expound you have my total attention and I couldn’t be more interested in what you have to say.”

On to Chapter Eight

Comments by Ken Brown after I posted on his Blog Site at:

c-orthodoxy.blogspot.com in reference to David Wenham’s quote on the relationship between Jesus and Pauls teachings.

November 7, 2008 3:36 PM Ken Brown said. ..

Wayne,
I certainly do not "unquestionbly accept" the claims of the New Testament writers, but there is in fact an aweful lot of good historical evidence that they cherished and passed along the words of Jesus as best they knew them. As for your speculations about the rise of Christianity, I don’t know of any concrete support to back them up.
The truth is, we wouldn’t know anything at all about Jesus if it weren’t for Peter, Paul and the other early apostles who remembered him and shared their memories (and hopes) with others. Without a doubt, the church that grew out this has done some horrible things (as people all over the world have done horrible things for all sorts of reasons), but Christianity’s admirable emphases on grace, trust in God, self-sacrifical love, and living in imitation of Jesus owe as much to Peter and Paul as to anyone.
Why be hatin’? 😉

November 7, 2008 4:00 PM Wayne said…

Dear Ken,
I think you misunderstand me. Firstly; I like your blog and your open invitation to discuss things. I don’t hate Paul, I just think he was one sick puppy. We are students of Theology, brothers in arms if you will and the Bible has been my constant companion for forty years, but I gota tell ya, the more I learn the more I question the legitimacy of Orthodoxy in that they have sold a lot of pork pies over the years and lived well on the proceeds.
On the question of "without peter and paul we would never have known Jesus’ teachings"; I disagree, the early church fathers canonized one version of events and did their best to eradicate all others, maybe we would have got a better version if it wasn’t for ‘Saint’Peter and his successors.

November 7, 2008 4:55 PM Ken Brown said…

Wayne,
No worries, I do indeed enjoy such discussions! But I’d like to see some facts to back up your accusations. For instance, there is certainly evidence that the later imperial church sought to eliminate "unorthodox" accounts of Jesus, but I don’t see how you can blame Peter and Paul for that, nor is it at all clear to me that the apocryphal works they destroyed were actually authentic. After all, we’ve found a significant library of this material at Nag Hammadi, and very little of it has any chance of being original (probably a few parts of the Gospel of Thomas, and perhaps a bit more), buried amidst a whole lot of gnostic thought which surely has even less in common with the teaching of Jesus than orthodoxy. To be sure there is a great deal about Jesus that has been lost to history, but as far as I can see that is despite the church’s efforts to preserve his memory, rather than because of them.
I do agree with you, however, that the entrenchmant of Orthodoxy (and often an "orthodoxy" that has little connection even with the Bible’s own emphases on love for God and compassion for the poor) as the test of salvation has caused a great deal of harm. But I’m certainly not as willing to throw out the church as a whole simply because it (like all human institutions) has often been abused. That’s just life; you take the bad with the good or you’ll end up with neither.

November 7, 2008 6:59 PM Wayne said…

The arena of what the church has destroyed over the years is certainly worthy of investigation, although I don’t know how anything concrete could ever be ascertained as the saying goes "the evidence has been destroyed" but my comments on Peter and Paul’s legitimacy as the rightful heirs to Jesus’ legacy, still stands and is backed up by very substantial evidence.
In his own words Paul admits to being the number one persecutor of Jesus and his followers. Jesus Himself is quoted as saying "Saul, Saul why do you persecute me", now my question to you is; if "Hitler had of been imprisoned for his crimes against humanity and whilst imprisoned for them, decided to write a third testament because he said he had seen the light, would we be obliged to accept his authority to do so, just on his say so, as was the case with Paul?

November 7, 2008 10:49 PM Ken Brown said…

You’re comparing Paul to Hitler? Really? Did Paul pack up the early Christians and send them off to be slaughtered? Did he raise an army and wage a war against the populations of neighboring countries? He was a persecutor of the earliest followers of Jesus (perhaps even the most active one for a few months or years), but the whole point of his conversion was that he rejected that old persecution, and all of the rest of his life (including all his letters) reflect a very different view.
In fact, the whole of Paul’s subsequent life is centered on a gospel based on God’s grace (offered to all people, Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free, male and female; cf. Gal. 3:28). Compared to this, Paul considers his old way of life "a bunch of crap" (rough translation of Phil 3:8). All of which is to say, the very violence and heresy-hunting you reject, Paul also rejected, as part of the old way of life from which Christ had redeemed him.

November 7, 2008 11:14 PM Wayne said…

In answer to your questions. Yes Saul did round up followers of Jesus and imprison them before sanctioning their murder as in the recorded case of Steven and yes he did raise and army and invade a neighboring state. What do you think he was doing on the road to Damascus?
His campaign of terror lasted ten years and because Jesus didn’t believe in the death penalty he was kept as a prisoner of Jesus before he was handed over to the Roman authorities for trial because the Parthian’s of Damascus had an extradition treaty with them.
So I’m sorry this offends you but my point is; just because Paul turned over a new leaf didn’t mean he had the authority to write as if he were God.

November 8, 2008 1:01 AM Ken Brown said…

Wayne,
This is preposterous. Paul was present at (not even an active participant in) one murder. Hitler organized the sytematic extermination of 6 million people. Paul organized a brute squad and set off for Damascus (a single neighboring town) but, by all accounts, abandoned the mission before he arrived. Hitler built a massive military-industrial complex, invaded, bombed and deported neighboring civilian populations with the goal of world domination. Paul recognized his error early on and spent the rest of his life declaring the very faith he once sought to destroy. Hitler never repented of his actions and committed suicide when his plans failed. I can’t believe you seriously think the two even remotely comparable.
Or do you think repentance itself is inherently illegitimate, that only those perfect from birth can be genuine followers of Jesus? I think Jesus himself would have disputed that, seeing as his whole message was summed up as "the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the good news!" (e.g. Mark 1:15). Jesus counted former prostitutes, tax collectors and zealots among his closest followers; I think he would have welcomed a former persecutor like Paul.
As for the rest of your "facts," they are anything but. There is no evidence that Paul perseucted the church for 10 years, most think he converted within a few months or years of Jesus’ crucifixion. And this notion that he was "kept as a prisoner of Jesus before he was handed over to the Roman authorities for trial because the Parthians of Damascus had an extradition treaty with them" is pure nonsense. Jesus, of course, was already dead, so Paul surely was not his prisoner (!), and in any event, Paul spent most of his life travelling throughout the Roman empire preaching about Jesus. He was eventually arrested and sent to Rome, not in Damascus but in Jerusalem, and not until 25 or more years after he became a Christian. Moreover, his arrest appears to have been based on his disregard for the Jewish law, but it was certainly not based on opposition to Jesus! Where are you getting your information?
Paul did indeed "turn over a new leaf," but he did not "write as though he were God." I’ll grant that he did have a bit of an ego, and sometimes got carried away (especially in Galatians). He certainly wasn’t perfect, but his whole life was built around God’s love as shown in Jesus, of which–he recognized better than anyone–an old persecutor like him did not deserve. To compare him to Hitler is the height of absurdity.

November 8, 2008 12:30 PM Wayne said…

Settle petal,your slip is showing.
The basis of our faith is that Jesus was resurrected (not dead), how can you stand up for Paul if you don’t even believe his own accounts of his trip to Damascus and the meeting with Jesus. The Parthians had very real treatise with Rome and had done so since the time of Augustus. The war against them was run out of Jerusalem and was waged for Three hundred years eventually ending up in the complete analyzation of their trading capital Palmyra; check your history books.
Now, I agree with you that Paul never reached the heights of depravity that Hitler did, I don’t think I vaguely suggested he did. I will tone down my comment that he thought he was God and just settle for Apollos but their are a lot of people who treat his writing as if they were the actual words of God.
I am sorry that you and your sources think that Paul converted shortly after he and his mates crucified the Christ but I am confident that if you bother to check it out, the evidence is in Paul’s actual accounts that he spent many years in the desert and was a prisoner of Jesus before he started his "missionary work" as an old man. So your assertion ‘he spent most of his life preaching the word of Jesus’ is the "absurdity".
I am a big fan of repentance and do believe it was a corner stone of Jesus’ teachings but as I search the New Testament, I fail to find the place where Paul actually says he is sorry and continually get the impression he is in denial; focusing mainly on his doctrine of Salvation by believing what he did to Jesus was for a good reason.
As any good criminal psychiatrist will tell you, that’s a problem when it comes to admitting crimes and a classic symptom of deluded prisoners of which Paul was one at the time of writing his Epistles.
Once again I am sorry if all this upsets you, maybe we should get off the subject of Paul. How do feel about the implication that Jesus might have been married to Mary Magdalene?

November 8, 2008 5:17 PM Ken Brown said…

Heh. This nonsense doesn’t upset me; it makes me laugh. By all means, let’s talk about Paul, but how about offering some actual sources to back up your outlandish claims. Preferably primary sources, though at this point I’d even accept a reference to a specific secondary source.
How about Galatians 1 and 2? Here Paul admits his previous presecution of the church, but that on the road to Damascus (actually, he never says where he was when it happened; this detail is drawn exclusively from Acts), he recieved a revelation from Christ and a call to preach to the Gentiles. This was when he converted, and it was after this that he spent three years in the desert, then visited Jerusalem briefly, then spent fourteen years preaching the Gospel before returning to Jerusalem for another short trip (it is unclear whether this trip was that recorded in Acts 15 or a previous one), but regardless Paul was certainly not persecuting the church (let alone waging war against Damascus!) during this time. At the least, it is certain that he was already doing mission work, planting churches and preaching Christ well before he wrote Galatians, which is dated to the late-40s CE(at the earliest) and the mid-50s CE (at the latest).
Even if we accept the late date, that still leaves nearly 10 more years before he was killed in Rome, and yes he did indeed spend that time (if not also much of the previous 17 years), founding churches and writing letters, all the while preaching about the love of God in Christ.

November 8, 2008 6:45 PM Wayne said…

Orthodoxy hates to be challenged and considers it’s position on all topic’s as the only one, all other explanations are ridiculed. It patronizingly takes the position of one who knows the truth and has to convert the unwashed. Without a "Primary" or "Secondary" reference, most people instinctively know that Orthodoxy has all it’s arguments boxed and categorized with reams of information gathered to support it’s case and puts everything else in the "unauthorized" basket. So when dealing with dissenters, the flat earth society has traditionally given a "fair" hearing to the "nonsense" of one who dares to challenge their established views. Only then do they burn them at the stake even if later they take on the new truth.
In my case I have given the primary source as the very words Orthodoxy has purported to be the "guardians" of, purposely steering clear of any "unauthorized" sources, but you refuse to deal with those points that are completely verifiable in the New Testament documents, choosing instead to pretend they have no validity because they differ with your interpretation.
My choice to converse with you on these maters is not conditional to your acceptance of my interpretation. It is not my job to educate you nor give you specific answers to your questions like you are my inquisitor. If you choose to research what I am saying or not makes no difference to me but If you wanted to, I would recommend that you reread the material like you actually have an open mind towards what I am saying and then make of it as you will.
If you ever come to the conclusion that what I’ve been saying about Paul has some place in the evolution of Jesus’ Church of Truth, then you might find some of my secondary sources useful; but some how I doubt it. Never the less here’s a beauty, "The Bible is full of texts which take up previous biblical ideas and modify, extend, or call them into question." Ken Brown (What does it mean to trust the bible.)

November 8, 2008 8:54 PM Ken Brown said…

Wayne,
I’m not trying to be patronizing, but you can’t expect these outlandish theories to be taken seriously if you are unwilling to offer proof. I’m a historian; I want to see evidence. I have little patience for bald assertion, whether in defense of orthodoxy or heresy, but especially when it comes to unconventional theories. Yet when I ask you for evidence, you claim that it’s my job to find it. That makes it kinda hard to have a meaningful conversation.

November 9, 2008 9:34 AM Ken Brown said…

Wayne,
We agree that the Bible should not be accepted unquestioningly. Don’t you agree that speculative historical reconstructions deserve equal scrutiny?

November 9, 2008 9:45 AM Wayne said…

What is this outlandish theory you speak of? All I have tried to say here is that Peter and Paul (Alias Simon and Saul) were of dubious character and totally unqualified to be advisers to the modern world. I have backed this up with Quotes and reference points from the most reliable sources but you seem to be incapable of dealing with it, choosing instead to manipulate the conversation away from the subject at hand and create dispersions about my legitimacy to make such assertions.
You are the one who makes it difficult to have a serious conversation. You have discredited yourself by demonstrating your basic misunderstandings of the tenets of Jesus’ Resurrection and go back on yourself via a mish mash of misunderstandings of the road to Damascus incident.
I really don’t think you know anything about the Parthians and their long struggle with the Greek speaking Romans from Jerusalem (of which Paul was one) but that is were you could come up to speed if we were to bother. There is plenty of information on the Internet easily accessible for your convenience.
www

November 9, 2008 12:15 PM Ken Brown said…

"What is this outlandish theory you speak of?" How about these:
"After Saul and his best mates make sure "the Christ" is nailed to a cross "for your salvation", he then begins a ten year campaign to exterminate every follower of Jesus he could find. This man was a deluded, mass murdering, maniac who was eventually stopped by Jesus’ Damascus faction and while he was rotting in jail, decided to write apologetics styled letters which eventually became the main ingredient for the doctrines of the fundamental Christian church of today."
I’m curious: If Paul didn’t convert until he was an old man "rotting in jail," how did he manage to found Christian churches in Galatia, Corinth, Philadelphia, Thessolonica, and throughout Asia Minor? Or is he "deluded" on this point?
"if Hitler had of been imprisoned for his crimes against humanity and whilst imprisoned for them, decided to write a third testament because he said he had seen the light, would we be obliged to accept his authority to do so, just on his say so, as was the case with Paul?"
Comparing Paul to Hitler is about as outlandish as it gets. Where is your evidence that Paul was a "mass-murdering, maniac"?
"His campaign of terror lasted ten years and because Jesus didn’t believe in the death penalty he was kept as a prisoner of Jesus before he was handed over to the Roman authorities for trial because the Parthians of Damascus had an extradition treaty with them."
This sounds like you’re saying that after his resurrection, Jesus didn’t return to the Father but stuck around for 10+ years, imprisoned Paul (after the "Damascus faction" arrested him? Is this your interpretation of the Damascus Road incident?) then extradited him to Rome (forgive me but my math doesn’t add up: Jesus died in the 30s CE; Paul died in the 60s. If Paul persecuted Christians for 10 years, what about the other 20?). Perhaps this is not what you mean (I sure hope it’s not!), but I find it ironic that you are accusing me of "basic misunderstandings of the tenets of Jesus’ Resurrection." Which tenets would those be?
"I am sorry that you and your sources think that Paul converted shortly after he and his mates crucified the Christ but I am confident that if you bother to check it out, the evidence is in Paul’s actual accounts that he spent many years in the desert and was a prisoner of Jesus before he started his "missionary work" as an old man."
Where is your evidence that Paul was complicit in the crucifixion of Jesus? And how do you explain Galatians 1-2, where Paul claims his call to minister to the Gentiles in the name of Christ came fully 17 years prior to the writing of the letter (only 3 of which were spent "in the desert")? And when do you think Galatians was written, anyway? More to the point, even if you are right that Paul persecuted the church for 10 years (which you have given no reason to accept), that still leaves at least 20 more years until Paul’s death; what was he doing during that time, if not missionary work? Which of Paul’s accounts do you have in mind, anyway?
Frankly, you’ve made a whole lot of assertions, but provided zero evidence. You claim you have backed up your claims with "Quotes and reference points from the most reliable sources" but other than referencing Matt 16:23 and 26:34 in the first comment, I cannot find among your comments a single quote or reference to any source, reliable or otherwise. Perhaps you can point some out to me.
Yet when I ask you for evidence or challenge your assertions, you claim I am the one "manipulating the conversation away from the subject at hand." I fail to see how I have done so, considering "the subject at hand" is how much Paul knew about Jesus and his teachings. To be honest, I don’t see where you have even addressed "the issue at hand."
You claim Paul’s own letters support your claim that he spent most of his life exterminating Christians (and waging war against the Parthians?), but you have not provided a single reference to support this contention (whether to Paul’s letters, another primary source, modern scholarly literature, or even a website). Instead you accuse me of patronizing, changing the subject, ignorance, and misunderstanding. And you say I’m the one making it difficult to hold a meaningful conversation?

November 9, 2008 9:42 PM Wayne said…

Well done Ken,
Now that I have you attention and you have actually stated what your concerns are, we can go through them step by step, if your up for it.
First on the agenda "Saul and his mates"; I know what I think of them but I am unsure of who you think that they were. The Sadducees, you must agree, were the ones who Jesus was continually referring to as a brood of Vipers (or do I have to back that up with a quote, pending your condemnation as an outrageous theory),were the main sect in control of the Temple at Jerusalem who formed the Sanhedrin, of which Saul was a member (as above), to stone people to death (as above).They were the ones who insisted that Jesus be crucified(as above) and even though Pontius Pilot washed his hands of their deluded, murderous, mania (and again I am sorry if this offends you but I am sure most decent people would agree with me) Complied with their request for fear of the ramifications of denying them.
Now before I go any further do you have a problem with my "theory" so far.
Wayne

November 10, 2008 6:27 AM Ken Brown said…

Wayne,
That’s a good start, but yes, I would prefer if you gave exact sources; generalizations are too easily manipulated and difficult to nail down. Thus:
The Sadducees, you must agree, were the ones who Jesus was continually referring to as a brood of Vipers (or do I have to back that up with a quote, pending your condemnation as an outrageous theory), were the main sect in control of the Temple at Jerusalem who formed the Sanhedrin…
I don’t know about "continually" (there are only four references to "brood of vipers" in the gospels, two of which are quoting John the Baptist: Matt 3:7 and Luke 3:7), but certainly Jesus was at odds with the Temple authorities, including the Sadducees, and sharply criticized them. No argument there. Here however:
…of which Saul was a member (as above), to stone people to death (as above). They were the ones who insisted that Jesus be crucified(as above) and even though Pontius Pilot washed his hands of their deluded, murderous, mania (and again I am sorry if this offends you but I am sure most decent people would agree with me) Complied with their request for fear of the ramifications of denying them.
You’re gonna have to back this one up. First, the purpose of the Sanhedrin was not to stone people to death. That may have sometimes happened (as in the case of Stephen), but it was not their purpose in existing, nor was it even within their legal right to do it. Most stonings seem to have been conducted by angry mobs, not officially sanctioned by the Sanhedrin (indeed, this is even true of the stoning of Stephen; and it is certainly true of the several times Jesus was almost stoned).
Second, where is your evidence that Saul/Paul was even a member? He was not a Sadducee but a Pharisee (Phil 3, Acts 23), and that was a large group, only a small portion of which were members of the Sanhedrin. Paul appears at the Sanhedrin twice according to Acts: in ch. 7 at the death of Stephen, where (I have already admitted) he was present, though it is unclear in what capacity. This is the only murder to which he can be specifically tied, so if you’ve got evidence that he was also complicit in Jesus’ death, you’re gonna have to be explicit about it (and give references).
As far as I know, there is no conclusive evidence that he was a member of the Sanhedrin itself, but even if he was I fail to see how that would prove him a "mass-murderer," nor how his (surely you agree: former!) membership would disqualify him as a follower of Jesus. After all, we know of at least one man who was explicitly identified as a member of the Sanherdin (Nicodemus; John 3:1) who, if John is to be believed, was welcomed by Jesus and later became a disciple. The question, of course, was not what he had done, but whether he would turn and follow Jesus.
And of course, according to Acts, it is shortly after the death of Stephen that Paul had his Damascus Road experience and rejected his previous life (Acts 9; or do you dispute this?). Thus, the only other time Paul appears in the context of the Sanhedrin is in Acts 22-23, where he is certainly not a member but a prisoner. While there, he specifically declares himself a Pharisee over against the Sadducees, who are accusing him of defiling the Temple (much as they previously accused Jesus). And of course, between Acts 9 and 22, Paul has had a complete transformation from persecutor to missionary. He has travelled throughout the eastern half of the Roman empire planting Christian churches (and suffering his own persecution for it), and preaching the very same self-sacrifice as Jesus taught. In fact, the only reason he is back in Jerusalem at all is to bring an offering collected from his Gentile churches "for the poor of Jerusalem" (Romans 15:25-27). It is this Paul who we meet in all his letters, not some "mass-murdering maniac."
Therefore, yes, I find the notion that Paul was a "mass-murderer," culpable for the actions of the Sanhedrin, outlandish. He wasn’t even living in Jerusalem for the last 20-30 years of his life, let alone participating in the actions of its ruling council.

November 10, 2008 11:07 AM Wayne said…

Dear Ken,
A simple "no" would have sufficed but I appreciate all the assistance you have provided and the Quotes are really handy. So back to the task at hand.
Now that we have agreed on the fact that the Sadducees and the Sanhedrin in particular, were not a very nice bunch of men, we can move on all the way to the next controversial outrageous theory of mine that "Saul (Paul) was a member".
Sadly, I can’t find out weather he actually paid his Union Dues that year, as they had a little problem with the records department when Rome Leveled the place, but then again all we really have to do is ascertain that he was known to be hanging around with the more radical types who were prone to stoning people at a moments notice.
Luckily, we have some excellent evidence in the N.T(Acts CH:7)when after Steven eloquently tried to explain to them some basic truths at an oficial "fair" hearing he was "stoned to death" because I think burning at the stake was out of fashon that year.
As you so wisely point out, Paul was just doing an impersonation of a coat rack at the time and as you point out it was just one tiny little murder.
So how am I doing? Can we move on to the next point yet or would you like an hours dissertation of the distinction between a Pharisee and a Sadducee (personally I don’t see much difference seeing they were rarely not mentioned in the same breath)?
Wayne

November 10, 2008 3:28 PM Ken Brown said…

Wayne,
You are welcome to move on to the next point, but I do not consider such details unnecessay. After all, look how they have changed the picture. Compare your last two comments with the first one you left on this thread: You go from calling Paul a "deluded, mass-murdering, maniac" and true forebear to all that has ever gone wrong in the Church, to admitting that we have no direct evidence of his involvement in any but one murder, and even there his precise involvement is uncertain (he was present and approving, but there is no evidence he actually committed the deed). Perhaps it’s just me, but there seems a pretty significant difference between the two positions. The first, I maintain, is outlandish and unprovable, the second is not. Can we agree?
In any even, please note that my point is not, and never has been, to absolve Paul of guilt. As 1 Timothy 1:12-15 (likely pseudepigraphal) rightly puts it, he was "a blasphemer, a persecutor and a violent man" but the emphasis there is (rightly) on the past tense: that is what he was before Christ, but everything changed when he experienced Christ’s "grace" for himself. I am certainly not suggesting that Paul’s involvement in Stephen’s death (or persecution more generally) should be ignored or dismissed as irrelevant. I am merely challenging your earlier comments that violence and murder characterized his life as a whole, rendering even his later apostolic ministry suspect. Please, reread your first comment on this post and tell me it isn’t over the top.

November 10, 2008 9:27 PM Wayne said…

Thank You Ken for allowing me to move on to my next point."Saul (Paul) a deluded, mass murdering maniac".
I can see where you need to have every little point clarified and please excuse my broad vision, when I should have realised tunnel vision was what was required. Properly expressed, with all that we know now, it should have read; Saul (Paul) who was known to hang around with deluded mass murdering maniacs, was a Blaspheming, Persecuting, Violent man and an author of outrage by his own admission in 1 Tim 1:13.
This was before he raised a "Brute Squad" and headed off for Damascus as stated in Acts 9:1-3 "Saul, with every breath he drew, still threatened the disciples of the Lord with MASSACRE; he went to the High Priest (Head Sadducee)for letters of commendation to the synagogues at Damascus, so that he could arrest them all, every man and woman belonging to The Way, and drag them back to Jerusalem."
Where, according to his profile on wikipedia, he centered his life for the rest of the 30’s before he started his missionary work in the 40’s.
Is that better,
Wayne

November 11, 2008 1:27 AM Ken Brown said…

Wayne,
That, at least, is not "outlandish," though I would still have some serious objections to it (for starters, you left Acts 9:3 out of your quote, which is a pretty significant omission!).
Unfortunately, at this point I am going to have to beg off the conversation. In the next week I need to finish a term paper (on, as a matter of fact, Paul’s knowledge of and attitude towards Jesus’ life and teaching) and get ready for a conference, and I have a great deal too much to do for both. Perhaps we can take this up again in a couple weeks?
God bless,
Ken

November 11, 2008 5:11 PM

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Today we begin a new era in world affairs as Barak Obama takes over the reins and people everywhere, who have not been happy with the way George Bush has been running things, look forward to seeing improvements. Will this be the outcome, or will we all be disappointed? Analysing what we are looking for in new management, might not be as difficult as the actual implementation of it; so let’s give it ago.

 

 Firstly, as stated in his election campaign, CHANGE is the ability to move from one state to another. We’ve been in a polarized conundrum for far to long; Republicans hating Democrats, Rich Bankers profiteering from Sub- Prime borrowers, Muslims bombing Christians, Blacks resenting Whites, Good guys against Bad guys, men over women. I have faith we are moving to a more multi-dimensional place where, regardless of your particular handle or field of dreams, you can get a better deal.

 

Secondly, as eluded to by his anti- war (in Iraq) rhetoric, PEACE comes with a cessation of hostilities. We do not need to solve the world’s problems to arrive at this much prayed for destination, just stop killing one another. We don’t seem to have a problem banning drugs in our communities because they kill people and ruin lives but we seem unable or unwilling to put bullets in the same category. Let’s all keep pushing for a relaxation of hardline policies in the hope it eases tensions and saves lives.

 

Last but not least on my list, is a MORAL CODE, that doesn’t place the emphasis on critisizing people for their sexual preferences or views on medical procedures, nor looks to Gordon Gecko as a saviour but begins, to value kindness to one another when dealing with people’s rights of opinion or dignity regardless of financial status. Mending fences is an honourable profession as long as it’s done to promote good will between neighbours and not to segregate and sanction. Paternalistic attitudes can be antagonistic when served up by big brother with no humility.

 

 Set your course to travel the road to a better future by adjusting your moral compass to the headings of, compassion, understanding and forgiveness. Have faith that change will come, hope that peace will prevail and that charity will once again become fashionable.

Here we are poised on the brink of, yet another, New World Order with its particular problems, solutions and policy slants. While we can be ecstatic about getting rid of the ones who got us into our present dilemmas, it is understandable that people are nervous about the incoming regime. For Australian’s the Bush-Blair-Howodd years came with a certain narcotic effect, pleasantly numbing one’s sensibilities to the inevitable cost of empowering money hungry, unecological war mongers and now we are not sure whether an Obama-Rudd coalition of the willing, are going to be able to pull us out of the mire.

Maybe the change we should be looking for is not a new order to the old system but a new system of order? One that is more applicable to the constant changes of modern life in the Twenty first century; not an out dated, dictator producing, paper shuffling bureaucracy that seem to produce an ongoing supply of stumble bums who eloquently brainwash us into what a good job they are doing.

Never before in the history of this planet have the peoples of the world had the opportunities that we have today to initiate and endorse a system that is run for the people, by the people; yet we continue to prop up a style of government that tends to favour the ones that run it. An educational based Internet voting system could provide us with the tools we need to participate in the decision making process that determines how we operate as a society. Any attempt to deride that possibility is an attack on the concept of real democracy; although people I come across continually allude to the ‘fact’ that the masses aren’t intelligent enough to really participate.

This conundrum stands before us like a monolithic obscurity, towering in its potential yet ignored because of its implications. More than any other human trait, bravery stands head and shoulders above all others in shaping that which we all admire in the achievements of our species and maybe, yet again, the quality needed to take the quantum leap forward towards a future we can all contribute to.

There is no valid reason why, with the technology at hand, mankind cannot seize the moment, take the reins and proceed towards a form of self government that could leave anything we have ever had before sadly lacking by comparison. If we actually took this step it would not be without its pitfalls and difficulties, in application ,but as with all things worthwhile its overall value could be directly proportional to this factor and in itself. should not be a reason for inaction.

Now I don’t pretend to have a consummate formula to solve the worlds problems but that doesn’t negate the premise that just because the whole, perfected program doesn’t exist at the moment we shouldn’t pursue the ideal. Only when a committed, sustained, combined effort has been attempted would a feasible alternative emerge and with the enormous potential on tap, it would be a shame if our young talent wasn’t give the encouragement to at least attempt a prototype.

My plea, in attempting to rattle the cage of our existing system, is that you don’t dismiss a possible improvement in Democracy by the use of Cyber techniques just because the ones who are perfectly happy with the flawed version we are stuck with now, don’t want change. Expand your horizons, broaden your mind, allow the room for improvement to permeate your tendency to leave well enough alone. If we all settled for near enough is good enough then you’d still be driving a model T and the landlords would have wedding night rights to your matrimonial bed.

Back to Chapter Five


Chapter  Six

“What an Exodus!” proclaimed Gabriel; sitting at the breakfast table with Natalie as she recounted her dreams from the previous night’s nocturnal flights. “You continue to amaze me, your revelations are once again, spot on. Are you sure you haven’t studied up on these things and are trying to con me?”

“No, certainly not,” retaliated Nat emphatically “are you sure you have studied these things sufficiently enough to assure me that what I am envisioning is a plausible alternative to what we have been led to believe by our religious and academic leaders?”

“Yes,” emphasized buzz, just as insistent “I have obsessed over these things more than anyone else I know and I assure you that the way you are explaining history answers more questions than it poses.”

“Well then Mr. Izzard, tell me what amazing exploits you have been up to.” Natalie digressed

“Do you remember how we surmised that the ancient Mereneith devised a plot to throw off her detractors by making a fake breastplate, like the Palette of Narmer, in solid gold?”

“Yes,” replied Nat “I had confirmation of that yesterday, with my conversations with Dorothy; she is quite the expert as well.”

“Really? Well I have come up with a plan to use the wisdom of Mereneith and employ our recent contacts in Switzerland to create a similar device, with the view to ensnaring the villains who have your father and the original bejeweled breastplate.”

“How, what, where, when?” stammered Nat

“Who, is what you should have asked, between Laurence and I, we have devised a version of the old shell game and have contacted all the players, who individually believe they will be the winner and get what they want. Greedy, crooked, ancient art dealers are going to think they are going to make a lot of money, maniacal collectors are going to think they are going to get a prized piece of booty, Scotland Yard detectives are thinking of the promotions they will get by bagging a hoard of crooks, art forgers are busying themselves making the pieces we will be playing with and security forces on three continents will be clocking up over time.”

“And what will we be doing?” asked Nat

“Waiting,” replied Buzz “waiting for the trap to spring and see who will be left holding the bag, in that bag should be your father and our treasure.”

“Brilliant.” Commented Nat

“That what I thought, now tell me more about this Queen of Sheba of yours. I’ll set the scene with what I know and then you can take over.”

“Once the Hebrews had escaped the clutches of a corrupted Egypt and placed themselves in Gods hands away from the sweeping arm of an expanding Babylon, they began to prosper again. Joshua’s forces had established themselves in the Holy land under Asher in the north and Judah in the south, the Ark of the Covenant remained at the Rock of deliverance. There were reports of constant fighting between the tribes and squabbles over who would be king; this kept them separated from the peaceful people of god who were continuing to grow as a great trading nation in Sheba. Eventually when Solomon the wise consolidated the wealth at the newly refurbished temple at Jerusalem and had the Ark placed at the center of worship, the Queen came to visit them.”

As he finished speaking, Natalie’s demeanour changed and a regal look appeared in her eyes. She stood, began gesturing with her arms and recalled the following events. “It was a glorious day when she finally sailed up the eastern fork of the Sinai Peninsular on the Red Sea, the pride of her fleet. Her entourage was quite small considering her importance but as she was entering by the front door of the stabilized kingdom of Solomon, the wise and just ruler, she felt they would be safe and welcomed; which they were. She had brought with her much treasure to lie at the feet of Solomon and had cautioned her whole caravan and guard to be constantly on alert as they were entering a brood of vipers. If they all played their parts well, they would all leave alive and with a treasure greater than the one they were carrying.

Although Solomon had heard of her journey to meet him and had sent men and envoys aplenty to assist in expediting her safe arrival, she insisted in moving at her own pace and camped outside his gates one final night before presenting herself and her delights to him the following day. His kingdom was at a time in history that would never be overshadowed, all was at order and all was in its place, his rule was never to be bettered.

The Hebrews had carved for themselves a place in the grand scheme of things; they sat squarely between two empires, not to be out done by either. Solomon was intent on displaying it to the world and the world was coming to him, by the time she walked into his presence, he had polished everything within his reach. Everyone who served him had done their job well; the palace glistened like a diamond set in pure gold and all the tribes were lined up in order of importance. Twelve tribes and a priestly caste presented themselves with Solomon at their center and he seated her at his side, on that giant stage.

She began the dialogue loud enough for all to hear, asking questions that were designed to allow him the space to display his wisdom, of which she praised at every opportunity. Every word and every gesture was like a part in a scripted masterpiece worthy of a Shakespearian epic. They parried with the expertise of two master swordsmen putting on a display for an adoring public, each cut and thrust crafted not to injure but to allow the opponent the opportunity to wow the crowd. The pandering and opulence went on for days and nights, what with gifts to exchange, banquets to be savoured, artists to be admired and beauty to be swooned over there was hardly a moment for them to share alone. Finally that moment arrived when Solomon dismissed all the others and had her totally to himself.

He wooed her like no woman had ever been wooed before and after he had known her for some time, on a balcony overlooking the temple; he proposed the concept of joining their nations together in Holy alliance. She deferred the moment suggesting that she would like to give him her answer in front of the Ark, alone before God. This stopped him in his tracks, for as far as he knew no woman had ever entered the Holy of Holies, he didn’t know how the head priest would respond to that request. Given a moment to think and not wanting to appear weak or restricted in his own kingdom, he reluctantly agreed.

Later that night, after he had removed all the people from the temple and its surrounds, he sent for her to come alone into the temple.

He met her outside the two massive doors that barred entry to any one who wasn’t sanctified. She was wearing a red cape and he was attired as only a king was allowed, they walked hand in hand through the empty temple and slipped passed the veil that protected Israel’s most precious sacred item from the prying eyes of all but the elite. As they stood there in awe at what they were looking at, he began to recite for her the words that would be recorded in the Song of Solomon.

By the time he had finished his recital, she had slipped off her red cape and was standing in front of the Ark wearing nothing but the astoundingly beautiful breastplate of Noah’s wife. Sparks flew and the sacred chamber immediately filled with lights of many colours as the Beloved of God was lifted up by light and held as if pinned by twelve shards of Technicolor above the Ark. Solomon passed out and by the time he had awoken, she had gone and so had the Ark. He wasn’t sure how long he had been out but he had left orders that they were not to be disturbed and they weren’t for what turned out to be a very long time.

As he left the temple his head guard ran up to him asking for instructions, he managed to indicate that no one was to go in there as he made his way into the palace and summonsed his personal advisers. After they had sufficiently yelled at one another for an appropriate amount of time, they managed to come to the agreement that Solomon was far to wise to be ripped off by a woman and that sending out spies to quietly to access the situation was the way to go. When they finally realized they were getting nowhere with their inquiries, they covered it up and it wasn’t spoken about again.”

——————————————

“What do you think?” sparked up Natalie, now in the grand old library of the castle.

Gabriel was furiously flicking through the pages of brick like text books, when he raised his head and said “I don’t know what to say, I’m, I’m awestruck, just continue, I mean please continue, if you can, if your all right with that.”

“Yes,” replied Nat “get me going again with what you know.”

“Well, it wasn’t long after the death of Solomon that the kingdom fell into disarray eventually being divided into the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin, led by Jehoshaphat and The northern tribes led by Ahab. The Phoenicians had become great and powerful at that time because of their ability to dominate the oceans of the world. They had brought back to their home in the Mediterranean, treasures from the four corners, spices from Java, precious stones from India, gold from Africa and even cocoa products from South America. Their main trading items were cedar and hashish from Lebanon and of course olive oil. They were a highly cultured people whose daily trading script gave us the alphabetical style of writing that we still use to this day. Their man in Lebanon was King Hiram whom had made available tradesmen and materials to Solomon, so he could furbish his temple.

Their Goddess and Queen were known to them as Eli and her image was carried on all of their vast fleet of Arabian style boats in the form of brass statuettes. The thin woman’s image has been dug up by archeologists all over the place. They were a ferocious people when it came to protecting what was theirs and their kingdom extended as far as Ethiopia and India. Their warships were figure- headed by the warrior Goddess, the war cry was Eli, Eli, Eli repeated over and over and if you heard it you ran in the opposite direction as fast as you could. The Polynesian’s claim to be their modern day descendants and I wouldn’t want to argue with them about it. They have been around since the glory days of Egypt and have participated in the building of all civilizations at some level.

Jezebel or Yeshubel was a princess to the Phoenician’s, her mother the Queen of Tyre had been a monarch in the Syro-Phoenician Empire for longer than most could remember. She was much loved by the Syrian people, who occupied most of Arabia and Mesopotamia, but she was despised by the mountain dwelling worshipers of Yahweh who saw her as the evil Babylonian goddess Ashtoreth. Her father was lord or king over the Syro-Phoenicians and honoured as the deity Baal. Jehoshaphat, the leader from Judea and his priests of Yahweh were dedicated to their extermination.”

Natalie started speaking and took over from Buzz in such a smooth way that it was hard to tell were he finished off and she began.

“Ahab, Asa’s or Asher’s other son, who was king of the northern tribes of Israel wanted peace more than his brother; when it was suggested that he could stabilize his kingdom and therefore dictate terms to Jehoshaphat by marrying Jezebel he willingly agreed.

Little did he know the trouble it would cause and the extremes that the priests and prophets of the southern tribes would go to in their war against Baal!

Jezebel had grown up in the privileged surrounds of the purple clad ruling class of a vast empire but her loyalties belonged to the religious cast.

She considered herself to be a priestess in the time honoured religion of her Matriarchal forbearers and desired nothing more than to unite all peoples under one god, the god of her mother and father, but to the mountain men from Jerusalem that made her their number one enemy.

She had prepared well for her journey into the poor, dusty kingdom of her betrothed and had received from her parents a caravan of riches to supply her and the hoards of beautiful young priestesses that she was taking with her from her father’s coastal city of Sidon. If she was going to rule these backward, poverty stricken people then some colour was going to be brought into their gray lives and with a company of well trained soldiers to protect them, she intended to tour the land of Israel and introduce herself to them personally.

They parked their caravan of delights outside the walled cities of the lowlands, setting up like a modern day rock concert drawing the people out to see her and her entourage perform music, fine arts, light shows and semi-naked belly dancing. Most were suitably impressed but the priests of Yahweh always managed to have a representative there yelling out abuses, generally degrading her and her religion. Eventually Ahab heard what she was doing and realizing how it must have been offending Jehoshaphat, rode out of his fortified city of Samaria to plead with her to stop what she was doing and come with him into the safety of his home where they would be married and live. He was not well prepared for this task and when he arrived dirty and unshaven from his hasty journey, was arrested by the impressive guard she had surrounding her camp. He was brought before her for sentencing and when he had finally convinced her who he was she ordered that he be taken away, bathed, shaved and when suitably attired be returned to her presence where they would begin discussions on their future.

This was done and over dinner, before the evening was out, his initial concerns were put to rest and although he was falling totally in love with this goddess from Tyre he was flabbergasted by her intentions.

Not only was she planning a feast for their wedding but proclaiming a public holiday for the celebration of the wedding of her goddess Ashtoreth to his god Yahweh. What she didn’t explain to him was that this would be a reenactment of the old Egyptian tradition of Isis wedding Osiris.

Nobody said that it would be easy, the known world was about to erupt into war. The Mede’s, Persians and mighty Assyrians were pushing in on the North and North-Eastern front, Egypt and Judea would be attacking them from the South. Their prophets and priests were to be murdered by Jehoshaphat, her parents people were pulling out of Tyre and moving to Libya to begin building Carthage and although they managed their rule for forty years Ahab and Jezebel where destined to go down in history as a failure. Eventually the whole area was swamped by the awesome might of the Assyrian Empire as it established it’s domination over all and ruled from Babylon with an iron fist. Not only did they defeat the Jews and take the Ark and all the Temple Items back to their headquarters, making all pay homage, but they overran Jezebels temples and took for themselves the ultimate prize of the goddess her self and her beautiful breastplate. She was taken as far as the Assyrian Kings home town of Susa, near the Persian Gulf, where she became known as Esther to her enslaved peoples and Scheherazade to Arabs. The tales of a thousand and one Arabian nights were about to begin along with the Jewish tales of a woman from their stock who went on to rule Nabuchodonosor’s Babylon.

“Wow!” exclaimed Buzz “I bet nobody has put those two together before.”

Natalie got up from where she was sitting and started pacing around the castle library shaking off the dreamy feeling she was experiencing. Stopping in front of Gabriel she asked

“ Why am I seeing all this now, when I feel like I should be tracking down my father’s abductors, speaking to the Lady personally to understand what I should be doing or at least finding out what’s going on with my business?”

“Well, it all seems massively important to me and I think you are doing just fine, handling all this.” Said Buzz in a very reassuring way. “I’m sure you’re on the right track and it’s going to be very important that we know these things when the time comes.”

“What is it that we are learning?” asked Nat, thinking it was about time that they reviewed “Can you put some order to it for me? I need to understand better why we are going down such a long winding path to get to this unknown destination.”

Gabriel took a long sip of the coffee he was holding and primed himself for what was obviously going to be a long winded explanation. “When we first met, we initially decided to do a series of guided meditations, leading us to tracking down your father and his abductors and although that still remains on the agenda, I think we have gone on to the larger canvas. I’m sure that if your father was here now he would tell you that we have become important players in a game that he and his associates have been playing for most of his life. There are things at stake here that are important to the greater humanity; you have tapped into a source of wisdom that has been driving academics, scholars, archeologists, historians, philosophers, theologians and even occultists for thousands of years. A lot of them dedicated their entire lives to understand just one of the pieces of your giant jigsaw puzzle and without their efforts we wouldn’t have such a good understanding, in acquired knowledge, of what you seem to be given as a gift. Even if what you are recounting is only half correct, its value as an alternative theory is of immeasurable worth. We have drawn a thread through the tapestry of history that you could call herstory; a viewing platform that allows for a totally different perspective and stands centralized to all cultures cutting through Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist and many more. We could be pioneering a way of seeing history that could help unify mankind, placing the feminine back into the Godhead where she seems to be sadly lacking. I can’t say for sure but I think your dreams are divinely inspired wisdoms that if correctly interpreted could help unite mankind in a world where we seem to be ripping ourselves apart over discrepancies on what happened in the past. So don’t sell yourself short in this intrigue of ours and don’t trivialize what we are learning, it could be the most important work you’ll ever do.”

Nat had finished circling the room and had seated herself down in front of buzz like a student ready for her next class.

Buzz responded appropriately “Now let’s review what it is that we have learnt so far; if we think of the time of Noah’s flood as the beginning of the current era then our view differs by placing Mrs. Noah in a position of importance like no male dominated religion has ever done. We have ascribed to her the longevity that has previously only been given to the men in her family; we have given her the authority over who, in her lot, were to be rulers of their people; we have associated with her an artifact of her authority that places her at the head of the Egyptian Pantheon of Gods from the power days of Egypt and laid witness to the passing down of that authority to her female descendants; we have associated her with the pre-civilized Celts of Europe and aligned herself with Sarah the Hebrew, Moslem matriarchal figure; given her more influence over the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and seen her descendants evicted as her fame grew in the Arabian world as the Queen of Sheba; now we are beginning to understand the importance she must of held for the Persians, Medes, Assyrians, Indians and Asiatics as the Syro-Phoenician princess who affected so much of their history and culture. That’s quite a list of achievements my dear Ms. McHale and I for one cannot wait to hear the next episode.”

Natalie jumped up off her chair and through her arms around him giving him the biggest hug he’d had for a long time. She said “That was the right thing to say Professor Izzard; it sounds so perfect when you say it and I’m so glad I’m going through this with you, I don’t know what I would do without you.”

Gabriel stood back a little embarrassed and stumbled through the moment like an awkward young boy, eventually pulling himself through it by saying “I think I will seek out Laurie and Dora to see if we can get a little lunch going.”

“That would be great,” said Nat “I’ll get myself in the mood to tell the next part of the story while we are having that lunch.”

Buzz returned to a much more enthusiastic Nat who was at this time reclining on the sofa that was conveniently placed in the corner of the study.

“Dora will bring our lunch in on a tray.”

“Good,” said Nat champing at the bit, ready to launch into the explanation of her most recent dream “what do you know of this Scheherazade?”

“Not much,” replied Buzz “only that she is the supposed author of the fabled ‘Thousand and One Arabian Nights’ and that she had been brought before a great king who had demanded of her a story every night that would hold his attention until he fell asleep. If she could do that he would grant her chastity and life.”

Natalie took over and continued her recollections “In the days when the whole of Israel and Judah was being taken into captivity by a dominating Assyrian Empire, Assuerus ruled as a mighty king in Susa. He had behind him Persian warriors, Median nobles and was honored in one hundred and twenty seven provinces from India to Ethiopia. The fame of the Queen who wouldn’t be ruled by any foreign power had spread to his ears, they called her Queen Vasthi and he wanted her for his own pleasure. Edicts and orders had been given to all his accomplices, as a top priority, to find her and bring her to him. Holofernes one of his top generals had lost his head over her and many had brought him women from various destinations to spend the night with him but as they couldn’t live up to her reputation. He would have them executed, that is until a Jew in exile from his still resisting homeland brought with him the one they called Esther.

The nephew who had abducted her from the ‘Palace in Tyre’ became known to the Assyrian Lord as Mordecai. He waited at the city gates in rags to be rewarded for his compliance with the royal decree to bring in the Queen. In the meantime Esther had to be tested to see if she was the one Assuerus had heard so much about; to prove herself worthy she had to be cleaned up, suitably attired and tell the stories of her rule to the King. This became a regular nightly occurrence and soon she and her stories became famous in all the lands. She won her favor with all and if it hadn’t been for her great beauty, wit and stories persuading Assuerus to offer her half his kingdom then Mordecai and his Jewish peoples wouldn’t have been in exile; they would have been exterminated.

Esther further secured her place in the Assyrian Kingdom when she showed Assuerus how to use Mordecai and his mates to defeat the Armenians and secure the Northern border. This allowed them the freedom and power over all of Babylon to move their residence closer to the Mediterranean and rule like Gods for many hundreds of years. The Assyrian Empire became the greatest Empire since the heydays of the Egyptians. She ruled beside Asher from Mt. Ararat in the North to the source of the Nile in the South, from India in the East to Italy in the west. Even though the spirit of Mereneith, Isis, Ashtar or Ishtar ‘Esther’ had saved Israel and Judea from extinction, protected them while they were in exile, encouraged them to become educated whilst they were there and had overseen the writing and compilation of most of the Old Testament; when Daniel was saved from the lion’s den, Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego from the fire and Ezekiel had his visions, they still look back to that as being the worst time in their history and remember her to this day as the ‘Whore of Babylon’.


On to Chapter Seven