Showing posts with label Rome. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rome. Show all posts

Monday, February 5, 2024

Do We Still Love Athletes Like Ancients?

Our love for the professional and victorious athletes continues to follow us all the way from ancient Greek times. And make no mistake, it is not the professionalism, but the glory that we enjoy. People completely alter their appearance and character when attending their favorite sporting event and cheering for their most loved competitor. 

If people gave 1/10th the enthusiasm toward actual problems in our country as they do to football, we'd be in much better shape. But for some reason, people don't want to take on the hard things in life, and so sports provide a literal escape from reality. People can forget for a time. This is both beneficial and destructive when taken to the extreme. 

We all need a break from time to time, but ignoring life can eventually lead to outright delusion. Ancient Rome had this same problem. People ended up caring more about Games than actually running the State. It's one of the reasons the Empire fell.

But the ancient Greeks were more moderate and reasonable with their love of Games. They were indeed important and even religious activities, but they did not constitute the whole or even the daily life of the people and their societies. They were largely part of the religious events of the day or festival, but the winners, especially those of the Olympics, could expect lavish reward, even including a pension. 

Of course, it was nothing like what athletes are given today, salaries that would be considered a ridiculous amount, especially given the fact that millions of Americans live in poverty, and 333 million children worldwide wake up every day in impoverishment. That's more than the entire population of the United States of America.

I do think exceptional athletes, as in ancient times, deserve a place of honor in the State. They go through many years of hard training, sacrifice, pain, injury and dedication so that they can reach the glory that they so desire, for themselves, their team, and their people. They reach status that most other people probably could not, and for their success and service, they deserve recognition and a pension. I do not, however, think that any athlete deserves a salary of 50 million dollars a year, or even in a lifetime.

I also feel that major Games, such as the Olympics, have lost their meaning. The Games were created to honor Zeus, King of all Gods. In short, they are religious and spiritual events that recognize and revere the Higher Powers, and acknowledge our own proper and unique place in life as human beings. But today, the sacredness is literally all gone. In my view, it's been reduced to mere competition of one person trying to outdo the other, and there is no understanding whatsoever of our humanity and the blessed abilities that have been bestowed upon us by the Gods. 

Not only do we pay athletes too much money, but the money and the mortal basically become the gods of the Games. The Olympics are losing their former glory. Viewership of the Olympics dropped by 40% worldwide during the last cycle. Even football, one of America's most loved past times, has experienced a drop in popularity by about 1 million viewers. 

There was a time when people were excited to love and impress Divinity and one another. When something is reduced to the mere rudimentary, the nature of it is to whither. But the Gods never whither or die. Everything about them is eternal and ongoing. That's probably one of the reasons the Greeks centered everything around their Gods. I'm not saying athletes should be forced into Hellenism or any kind of worship. I'm saying that larger meaning, something more than just self, is what will maintain everything, even ourselves.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

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Monday, January 21, 2019

The Falsehoods Of Christian and Jewish Persecution in Rome and Egypt

History is ripe with crafting, especially by those who have the privilege of writing it, and Christians have taken the reins for 2 millennia. Among the most common claims are those of Christian and Jewish persecution at the hands of mean old Pagans. It bothers me because, for one, it's either false or exaggerated, and two, it's used by some modern Christian leaders to arouse hatred against anyone who doesn't follow into the kind of society and government they want.

Top Egyptologists now agree that there is no evidence that the Jewish or Hebrew people were enslaved by Egypt. They did not build the pyramids; paid workers did, and the construction of highly religious state monuments would not have been given over to slaves. It would have been assigned to people heavily steeped in the state religious order, not slaves who were outsiders. The people who built the pyramids were, one, Egyptians not Jews, and two, were not slaves. Of course, the Jewish people may have indeed had contact with Egypt. If you read the Old Testament, the adoption of ancient Egyptian religious ideas cannot be denied, but the Jews were likely a warring power that was eventually ousted from the Egyptian kingdom, and if there were some captive Jews in Egypt, they were likely not mainstream slaves or servants. However, despite these facts, modern Jewish and Christian leaders continue to propagate the story of Exodus not as myth or belief, but as historical fact. But to be fair, some modern Jews have acknowledged that Exodus is in the realm of myth. It simply isn't factual history, not only because there's no evidence for it, but because we have evidence directly to the contrary. There's a reason that Moses and the story of Exodus haven't made it into a single reputable history book to this day, because they are baseless.

The Jewish people have most certainly faced real persecution in their history, but it wasn't from Egypt. In fact, their greatest persecution ever in the history of their world came at the hands of a professed Christian named Adolf Hitler who had 6 million of them murdered.

"My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter against the Jewish poison." - Hitler, April 12th, 1922 at Munich.

Moving onto Rome is a far stickier subject, but nevertheless, something the Christian church has exaggerated. The evidence for Jesus is smoke-screened enough for me to question if he even existed, but let's just say he did and he was simply a religious leader. Chances are, he wasn't punished for his religious beliefs. He was probably executed because he attempted to overthrow the Roman government. Rome was ripe with new religious cults popping up literally by the day. Rome did not mind accepting new Gods into its Empire. The idea of a new or non-Roman God was not, in itself, automatically rejected. In fact, when Rome conquered an area, one of their acts would be to invite the God of those people into the Roman State. While some may have been at odds with one another sometimes violently, even the Jews eventually excommunicated the Christians from their community in 90 CE. But the 313 Edict of Milan gave everyone freedom of religion, including Christians. However, the problem was that the Christians did not want religious freedom. They wanted religious dominance, and refused to allow Jesus to be worshiped alongside other Gods.

But the Christians had a problem. They weren't having much luck converting the general population, so instead, they appealed to leaders in government, who came to admire Christianity because of its ability to control massive amounts of people. Once governments had been Christianized, the forced conversions began, one of the most famous being under the rule of Theodosius I who outlawed the old Pagan and Polytheistic religion, closed down temples, and killed adherents who refused to convert. The Vatican itself likely sits on top of the Temple of Mithras that was there before, and what temples they didn't destroy, they reserved for the purpose of converting them into churches. The only non-Christian religion that remained legal in Rome was Judaism, likely because it was the predecessor. It must be made clear, on the basis of hard historical fact, that the ancient religion left through the immense force of government, not the people. If the early Christians just wanted to be free to practice their religion and nothing else, and most people willingly converted as they would want the world to believe, then why did they feel so threatened that they had to eradicate any religion that competed? Obviously, this would have led to conflict between Christians and the people they tried to impose upon, and would undoubtedly create "persecution" of Christians and their attempt at a religious dictatorship in Europe.

One of the greatest heroes of early Christianity, Paul, was also known for having his hands soaked in the taint of persecution himself when he spent two years in Ephesus warring against the Temple of Artemis and massively burning ancient Greek and even Jewish texts. He eventually fled to Macedonia after the local population rose up against him because of his criminal activity. The Christians couldn't remain safe in many places due, in large part, to their refusal to respect the rights, freedoms and properties of other human beings who didn't agree with them. Their establishments would go on in their early history to continue the persecution of non-Christians and Pagans, one of the most tragic being the brutal murder of the renowned Hypatia of Alexandria at the hands of a Christian mob assembled by the local Bishop. The more and more the Christians gained control, the more violent things became against non-Christians.

One of the biggest claims of persecution from early Christians was that they were punished for refusing to give tribute to the State religion of Pagan Rome. This is a dishonest statement. Everyone at that time was required to pay proper homage to the State, not just Christians. It wasn't as if it said that only Christians had to do it. It was law, and no matter what your religion was, you were not above the law. I agree there should have been more religious freedom than that, but there wasn't an organized effort to only pick on Christians. Anyone who didn't obey the law was reprimanded. It would be like me refusing to pay my taxes and then claiming that the State came after me because I'm Pagan. When in reality, it's because I didn't obey the law, and it wasn't like the Christians ushered in a Utopian time of freedom when they took over. They persecuted far worse anyone and anything that didn't accept their religion or its laws and church. Only in recent history in places like Rome and Greece have followers of the old religion been able to safely be open about their beliefs without being persecuted by the Orthodox powers, and to this day, some individual Christians still carry out violent attacks on Pagan and non-Christian gatherings and properties in various places around the globe.

As an historian, it would also be false for me to sit here and write that there were never any early Christians who were persecuted simply because of their religion. Of course there were. There have always been people who faced oppression for their beliefs, even Pagans at the hands of their own States. Everyone should have the inalienable human right to believe and live the way they want. But the idea that the Christians were the holy peacemakers of the world who never hurt anyone, and the Pagans were the evil monsters who wanted to kill them all and subjugate mankind to barbarism, belongs in a Christian fiction novel, not in a history book or on the podium of any legitimate speaker.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Work Cited
* LaBorde, Sharon, Following The Sun: A Practical Guide To Egyptian Religion, 2010. Print.
* Ellerbe, Helen, The Dark Side of Christian History, Morning Star Books, 1995. Print.
* Jones, Prudence, Pennick, Nigel, A History of Pagan Europe, Routledge, New York, New York, 1995. Print.
* Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1985. Print.
* Spivey, Nigel, The Classical World: The Foundations of the West and the Enduring Legacy of Antiquity, Pegasus Books, New York, New York, 2016. Print.

Monday, May 1, 2017

America's Pagan Heritage

While many either like to ignore, or simply don't know its reality, America's Pagan heritage is abundantly clear. In this post, I hope to reveal that reality to a wide range of American readers. This is a topic I have wanted to cover and share for a very long time because I hear so many people in our country trying to say that America is only meant for one kind of people and culture, when in fact we have always been a pluralistic nation for everyone from everywhere.

Take a look at the picture to your left. What is that? That's the US capitol. In fact, the House of Representatives, White House and many other government buildings and courthouses have this ancient Greek and Roman architecture, and the reason we mirror it is because ancient Greece was the first democracy and ancient Rome was the first republic. If you take a stroll inside our House of Representatives, you will see the faces of many historical lawmakers throughout the world's history on the wall where our lawmakers meet, among them being the Greek Polytheists Solon of Athens and Lycurgus of Sparta. The cradle of Western Civilization has always been in the hands of the ancient Greeks in so many ways.

What about this picture to your right? Surely you know what that is, right? It's the Statue of Liberty. But have you ever asked yourself, who is the statue depicting? The person you see is Libertas, the Roman Goddess of liberty. Speaking of New York, have you ever been to the amazing Grand Central Station? If not, pictures of it can be easily googled. Above the entrance, a God stands with a winged hat and a caduceus. He is Hermes, the Greek God of Travel and the Patron of Travelers. Some would also interpret Him to be Mercury, the Roman God. Several other statues of Greek Gods can be found at notable places around our nation, such as the golden Prometheus at Rockefeller Center.

Take a look at the picture to the left. Recognize that? It's the famous Washington Monument, which was built in honor of the commander of the colonial army against British tyranny in the American Revolution, George Washington. He was, of course, also our first official president of the new United States nation. It stands amazingly over 500 feet tall. It's definitely not something that would be easy to miss, but a lot of people probably don't know that the structure is an ancient Egyptian obelisk. The ancient Egyptians were among the most religious people in the world's history, and they worshiped the well-known Egyptian pantheon. The obelisk is considered one of ancient Egypt's most popular religious structures, one of their functions being to commemorate Egyptian spirituality and religion. 

Many Americans and westerners don't realize it, but if all of the Pagan heritage was taken away, there would be very little left. We stand upon the values and images of the ancient world, and I think it's time to, one, realize that truth, and two, understand that we can all live together without trying to push one another out for the sake of dominance. America is for you as well as me and everyone else. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,