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I have been busy with a book which I am glad to say is finished. I do not intend to publish it my self but with a publisher. I cannot say any more than the book is a concise guide to the scriptures and squarely built up on the Word. I am happy with  three months  of concentrated effort. I shall be more happy if I can polish it further. After a week I hope to take up that part.

The book has 49500 words and for any one who wants to study the Bible on sound doctrinal principles it ought to serve the purpose.

benny

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Outside perception which is natural and cast in the human image is an all inclusive world that I as a Christian would call as kingdom of heaven. Different sets of rules work in each world that is permitted but not accepted for ever. In the age of grace we need to realize serving God is the door to Kingdom of God and serving Mammon is a trip along the broadway to destruction.

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Miracles must be explained as blessings flowing from the greater to the lesser.

In the midst of winter my wife and I packed peanuts along the branches in our front garden for birds to peck at. (It is like food reserves stashed in the Arctic regions for Arctic explorers to help themselves in need.) I wanted to observe myself how many kinds of birds would pass their way through. Sure enough the birds came down flapping their wings to gorge on the precious food. It struck me that they must be thinking it a miracle to find peanuts spouting from birch saplings! I know where these peanuts come from and how much the local garden center charges for each. For the birds not having this knowledge the sight must seem incredible.

In the gospel of St. Matthew we read of a miracle of Jesus. In his earthly ministry he found himself in a desert place. It was late for the crowd who had come to hear Jesus speak find a place to find food. The disciples found the crowd was great that they had no means to provide food for all. Unconcerned their fumbling Jesus said, ’Give ye them food to eat.’ They exercised their reason, ’Shall we go and buy two hundred penny worth of bread?‘ They knew the cost of food but not what Jesus could do. It was for Jesus nothing extraordinary. Five loaves and two fishes he multiplied so each could be fed and there was still left over. Jesus had the means to feed them and also knew when. A miracle was possible because the kingdom of heaven and kingdom of men overlapped when Jesus walked the earth.

Before the Passion Jesus told Peter:’ whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound…’(Mt.16:19) Since Jesus has opened up a way miracles do occur where a need exists and one takes responsible as a servant of the kingdom of heaven. In the Old Testament miracles that Elisha and Elijah performed were as prophets from the Kingdom of God.

To sum: miracles as we perceive them on earth is but a trifle for those who inhabit the kingdom above. Raising Lazarus from death was a miracle but I do not assume that did give him immortality. Lazarus of Bethany would have died like every other. It was an exercise in faith and Jesus worked a miracle for the benefit of others demonstrating his own approaching death and the resurrective power that would lift him to his Father. Jesus truly loved the dead man and it connected his own death and the life after death through Lazarus  for all mankind. A miracle that increases the faith of a believer is a means to turn him towards the world beyond. When Jesus was accused of working miracles by the power of Beelzebub he said,”If I cast out.. by the spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” (Mt. 12:28) Any other way or for any other purpose if a miracle is performed I would consider it as suspect.

benny

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One microgram of table salt is a grain of salt. Merely because we cannot peer into its intricate arrangement with our naked eye is not a reason to dismiss it as though it is beneath further notice. It seasons our table and it can also enlarge our understanding of the world and our own make up. We are not merely flesh and blood with many appetites; nor our success in the world is in satisfying appetites that we never can say enough.

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower/ Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.”

Firstly let us look at a salt in terms of its basic physical and chemical arrangement.

In an earlier post I had mentioned salt is the result of so many atoms of sodium and chlorine ( 1 raised to 16 zeros) Each element is locked in a precise fashion and the nature of forces acting between these atoms and it gives salt its ubiquitous usefulness. Sodium is corrosive while Chlorine is a poison gas. Lo and behold when these are rearranged into a specific crystal shape nature of individual constituent in isolation collapses. Instead it is salt that can add taste to food which is otherwise bland or stale.

Sodium and Chlorine are arranged in a predetermined position it has transcended its common nature. In Christian theology born again experience would mean such a turn around of our old nature. When Jesus said,’The Kingdom of God is among you it means the nature of forces that kept sodium or chlorine in any other combination has been translated into something new. Indwelling experience of a Christian being to true to his new nature is the work of Holy Spirit, the third office of the Triune God.

benny

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In an earlier post I had discussed quantum computing is of a different league than digital computing. Today’s computers, like a Turing machine, work by manipulating bits that exist in one of two states: a 0 or a 1. Quantum computers aren’t limited to two states; they encode information as quantum bits, or qubits, which can exist in superposition. Having qubits means it has an inherent parallelism. It is this property that allows a quantum computer to work on a million computations at once, while your desktop PC works on one. Let me quote Scientific American: Physicists have now shown how to encode three quantum bits, the kind of data that might be used in the computers of tomorrow, using just two photons. (For those who think science is not of interest may skip over to the second section) Let me refresh about computer memory from my previous post. Atoms, ions, photons or electrons and their respective control devices are working together to act as computer memory and processor. It is vital to compress data lest it should clog up the hard drive resulting in the Internet traffic to slow down. In classical computing a series of any number of identical bits encodes essentially the same information as just one bit. For quantum objects, however, this is not the case. Because in quantum computing same measurement made on distinct, but identically prepared, qubits will yield a range values. As such, accurately recording the quantum state of just one qubit involves taking measurements of multiple identical copies and averaging the results. Now, a group of physicists in Canada has shown for the first time that it is possible to compress the kind of data that might be used in the computers of tomorrow — known as quantum bits, or qubits. For example, if three qubits can each be in a superposition of 0 and 1, measuring them would yield eight possible outcomes: 000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110 or 111. But for the averaged measurements there are just four options: 0, 1/3, 2/3 or 1. For instance, 001 yields (0+0+1)/3 = 1/3, as do 010 and 100 (the same digits, but in a different order); 110 yields (1+1+0)/3 = 2/3, just as 101 and 011 do. Because the qubits are identical, the extra information in the ordering can be simply discarded, say the researchers. To make the point, Steinberg draws a classical-physics analogy. “Keeping all of the information,” he says, “is like storing the complete works of Shakespeare just to find out the average rates at which letters are used in the English language.” The results are due to appear in Physical Review Letters.

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When St. Paul writes to the Church of Corinth he writes about Moses leading the children of Israel through the wilderness. He gives the Hebraic account an altogether new twist. He explains the significance of manna and the Rock. In the books of Moses we read he did as he was commanded of God. He smote the Rock that supplied water to satisfy their thirst. Paul adds, “for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ (1Cor.10:4) Here is an example of superposition in which the coming of Jesus and his ministry was foretold. If it was divine will in the manner the children of Israel were fed the same will must be present in the miraculous ways in which gentile nations are provided for. God’s will cannot play ducks and drakes with his creation. After all God promised Abraham thus,” in thee all families of the earth be blessed.”  Gen.12.3

benny

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Spread of Christianity
outline: waves of diaspora create hubs to facilitate spread of new religion, merchants and missionaries, St. Paul-religion mixed with gentile ideas and worship

Christianity spread through the Roman empire. Via Appia made it easier. St. Paul as a Roman citizen( he was from Tarsus in South- Central Anatolia) was free to move freely through the extent of the Empire. The Roman Empire was then comparatively at peace, The wide sovereignty of Rome gave the apostles of Christ access to different nations, many of whom had become civilized under Roman influence.
Since emperor Theodosius I (379-395 AD) the official state religion of the Roman Empire was Christianity. Subsequently, former Roman territories became Christian states which exported their religion to other parts of the world, through colonization and missionaries.
We may need to look back even before the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem in 70 AD. Under the Assyrian and Babylonian empires saw diaspora of Jews and were many hubs of Hebrew faith with local synagogues. Each group carried traditions of their fathers. Early Jewish Christians carried the new religion to these congregation of Jews. These early Christians were merchants and others who had practical reasons for traveling to northern Africa, Asia Minor, Arabia, Greece, and other places. But in the missionary zeal and sustained effort to spread the gospel of good news none would match Paul. St. Paul was converted from his Hebrew belief and had set himself to be an Apostle for Christ. His success partly owed to the groundwork laid by others before him.

Antioch was a major centre of Hellenistic Greece then part of Syria province. It was here the sect were called Christians for the first time. Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons in the second century believed that Paul and Peter had been the founders the Church of Rome. Despite of persecutions under many Caesars the Christians thrived and during the reign of Constantine the Great Christianity became the state religion. Influence of Greece was already in the cities such as Alexandria, Antioch, Rome, Caesarea, Paphos and Anatolia. These in turn would serve as hubs of proselytism and pagan ideas in course of time will mingle with the new religion*. The earliest bishops of Rome were all Greek-speaking, the most notable of them being Pope Clement I. (* sun worship: prayers are offered while looking toward sunrise in the East” because the Orient represents the birth of light that “dispels the darkness of the night” and because of the orientation of “the ancient temples. Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7, 7, 43, GCS 3, 32. or Origen (c. AD 185-254) whose view was that the East symbolizes the soul looking to the source of light. Origen,67 De oratione 32, GCS 2, 400, 23.)
One of the Church fathers of Catholicism Augustine of Hyppo ( 354-430AD) was converted from Manichaeism that had its origins in the heavily Gnostic area of the Persian Empire.
Manichaean ways of thinking had an influence on the development of some of Augustine’s Christian ideas, such as the nature of good and evil, the idea of Hell, the separation of groups into Elect, Hearers, and Sinners, the hostility to the flesh and sexual activity, and so on. Spread of religion whether along the Silk Road or via Appia followed more or less a similar pattern. Unconsciously the venerable Church father while systemizing Christian philosophy would add his own intellectual coloring to Christian belief-system.
While Church of Rome was established in the West of the empire the converts from the pagan world would bring their own practices and add to the many rites and symbols of the pagan world. This we see even in our times. In Mexico or in India Christianity would be colored by the beliefs of people. These would be a point of controversy during the Reformation period.
benny

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Roman road system

Via Appia is the crowning achievement among transportation network of the ancient Mediterranean world, extending from Britain to the Tigris-Euphrates river system and from the Danube River to Spain and northern Africa. In all, the Romans built 50,000 miles (80,000 km) of hard-surfaced highway, primarily for military reasons.
The first of the great Roman roads, the Via Appia (Appian Way), begun in 312 bce, originally ran southeast from Rome 162 miles (261 km) to Tarentum (now Taranto) and was later extended to the Adriatic coast at Brundisium (now Brindisi).
Their numerous feeder roads extending far into the Roman provinces led to the proverb “All roads lead to Rome.”

Via Appia today
The Roman roads were notable for their straightness, solid foundations, cambered surfaces facilitating drainage, and use of concrete made from pozzolana (volcanic ash) and lime. Though adapting their technique to materials locally available, the Roman engineers followed basically the same principles in building abroad as they had in Italy..
The Roman road system made possible Roman conquest and administration and later provided highways for the great migrations into the empire and a means for the diffusion of Christianity. (Of this I shall come to by and by.)
In 73 BC, a slave revolt (known as the Third Servile War) under the ex-gladiator of Capua, Spartacus, began against the Romans. Slavery accounted for roughly every third person in Italy.
Spartacus defeated many Roman armies in a conflict that lasted for over two years. While trying to escape from Italy at Brundisium he unwittingly moved his forces into the historic trap in Apulia/Calabria. The Romans were well acquainted with the region. Legions were brought home from abroad and Spartacus was pinned between armies. Many men escaped into the mountains. Only a thousand Romans died. Six thousand of the fleeing slaves were captured by Pompey’s troops and crucified along the Appian Way, from Capua to Rome. Spartacus’ body was not found.
It was Rome’s brutal message to any one who thought of overstepping the limit.
The road that the Romans built like the Silk Road will lose its importance in time. But what it carried across endures long after these physical,geographical realities.
Note:
In 1919 the Spartacists took their inspiration from Spartacus. Spartacus was an idea.
The Spartacist’s had extreme left wing political views. This group split from the SPD (Independent Socialists) in frustration at the SPD’s role within Government. The leaders of the Communist party were Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebnecht. The aims of the Spartacist’s were outlined in their Manifesto:
The Spartacist Manifesto 1918
The question today is not democracy or dictatorship… Rather, it means using all instruments of political power to achieve socialism, to expropriate the capitalist class, through and in accordance with the will of the revolutionary majority of the proletariat.
On January 1st, 1919, members of the Spartacist movement rose in an attempted revolution. Initially this move was opposed by both Liebnecht and Luxemburg, the leaders of the movement. The newly formed Weimar Government reacted promptly, and brutally. The army was deployed to bring the revolution to an end, and these were aided by the Frei Corps, a paramilitary group consisting of former servicemen. Order had been restored to the streets of Berlin by the 13th of January. Both Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebnecht were killed whilst in police custody.( http://www.schoolshistory.org.uk-spartacistuprising)
To recap:
Like real people roads also carry their significance. The Silk Road was a highway for exchange of ideas, transfusion of cultures between east and the west. In the concluding post I shall write about via Appia as a facilitator of European history.
(To be concluded)

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There is yet another scandal brewing concerning the Catholic Church in the Netherlands following allegations, which were published last weekend in the NRC Handelsblad newspaper.
It not only sounds ludicrous as a medical procedure, but in moral terms it’s downright barbarous: castrating young men to “cure” them of their homosexuality. Yet this was how the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands treated gays in the 1950s, according to the Dutch newspaper, which claims at least 10 men were forced to go under the knife at the church’s behest. The Dutch parliamentarians are now called to demand an inquiry into the issue, raising questions about whether the church received political cover to take such extreme measures.
The newspaper said the castrations were regarded both as a treatment for homosexuality as well as a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse. The newspaper said 20-year-old Henk Heithuis had been surgically castrated on the instructions of Catholic priests in 1956 after he told police he was being abused at the Harreveld boarding school in Gelderland. Although the monks were convicted of the abuse, Heithuis was nonetheless sent to a Catholic psychiatric hospital and then castrated. He died two years later in a car crash. How did that conveniently occur? The more we know of the Church the more unsavory and murkier it gets. The Dan Brown’s book pales into insignificance as we get to read of the thugs who are dressed in purple and given a tiara impose their own free will on others. These unctuous fools mouth moral primers for the followers while they practice altogether different.
I can see the opulence of the Cathedrals where monkeys in their cloth rising to give homilies to a congregation of dead. The skeletons receive sacraments by habit and go to their own ways no better than how they went in. This circus shall go on unless the State take concerted steps to treat it as a criminal organization breeding teachings detrimental to good sense and public decency. It is as virulent in their extreme view of treating human lives as trifle as much as Jihadists who coerce children to be suicide bombers are. The West for all its liberal traditions allow these elements to go with impunity taking terrible toll in perverting natural good sense and causing incalculable damage.

tailspin: The newspaper also adds there are strong indications that at least nine other young men were castrated around the same time, either for whistle-blowing or for supposed homosexuality.( Time.com – Mar 23, 2012)

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