Monday, December 17, 2012

Saint Barbara (285-303)

Barbara was born in a city of the eastern Roman Empire around AD 285. Her father was a rich Olympian named Dioscorus.

Dioscorus was very controlling. While providing his daughter with every comfort, he forced her to live alone in one tower of his large house. That way he could control all people and information getting to her.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10, 11:13)

We might think of each day, from the time we wake up to the time we go back to sleep, as a journey. During this short journey, the only remaining journey we may have, we interact with other people as we encounter challenges. It is these challenges, and our responses to them, that constitute the adventures of our lives.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Olympian Iron Age: Hittites (1400) to Celts (800)

With the Stone Age began agriculture, cities, and war. The Bronze Age saw the growth of widespread trade in many goods based on a need for minerals (especially copper and tin). Oddly enough, with the Iron Age came the development of alphabets or systems of letters representing distinct sounds. This greatly increased the use of writing and, with it, the development of historical records and literature. With that, we humans transitioned from anonymous prehistory into a sustained narrative with named cities and individuals.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Knight-errantry as Prophetic Witness

As persons called by Jesus Christ to live as prophetic witnesses to him, we might think of ourselves as knights-errant.

To err is to make a mistake. To be errant is to make a habit of this. Errantry, however, came to mean wandering as a way of living in the positive sense of actively practicing virtue.

In medieval romances, knights-errant wandered the land in search of adventures. They would do this to test their virtue, help others, and glorify their courts. By wandering around, knights knew they would be confronted by unexpected challenges. Would they be resourceful enough to respond creatively? If so, they would witness with clarity to the lord or lady they served. If not, they could still redeem their failure by learning from it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865)

Ignaz Semmelweis was an early, important, and heroic contributor to the development of the germ theory of disease.

Semmelweis was born in the city of Buda, then part of the Austrian Empire, on July 1, 1818. He was the fifth child of ten. His father was a prosperous merchant.

In 1837 Semmelweis enrolled in the University of Vienna and began to study law. A year later he switched to medicine and earned his doctorate in 1844.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Meaningfully Remembering Yahweh (Deuteronomy 6:4-10a, 12)

Moses impressed upon the people of Israel the importance of meaningfully remembering Yahweh:

Hear, O Israel: [Yahweh] is our God, [Yahweh] alone. You shall love [Yahweh] your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

When [Yahweh] your God has brought you into the land that he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you…and when you have eaten your fill, take care that you do not forget [Yahweh], who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery (Deuteronomy 6:4-10a, 12, New Revised Standard Version).

These days it is very easy to forget about Yahweh. Through their mass media of communication, the six Olympian gods thoroughly dominate the Olympian society and culture in which we live. They control it so thoroughly that even we Christians vividly remember them and callously forget the one true god.

Yet Yahweh is the one and only odd god of truth, freedom, love, and vitality. He demonstrated this by liberating his people, our ancestors, in 1491 BC (Ussher) from the control of Jupiter, god of politics, as exercised by Pharaoh ruler of Egypt.

We express our love for Yahweh—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—by reading the Bible, remembering its words, and keeping them. We remember and keep them by weaving them into our daily lives. We do this by making them a meaningful part of our daily conversation.

Happily, Jesus is speaking anew through those words of Moses to us today. Happily also, Numa (the Holy Spirit) is taking these words of Jesus and is empowering us to hear and do them. As she does so, we will gradually improve in reading, remembering, discussing, and living them—to our good and Yahweh’s glory!

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.

Why the Trojan War Matters

In the Trojan War, Myceneans attacked the city of Troy and, after ten long years, succeeded in destroying it around 1184 BC (Eratosthenes).

Let us imagine, for a moment, that you and I are looking at a map of Olympia. Let us also imagine for a moment that, as we look at this map, we happily recall its most important people, places, and events of the last 6,000 years. As protracted and painful as it was, the Trojan War was not, in itself, one of those most important events. The Myceneans destroyed Troy but, soon enough, Mycenae itself was destroyed by others.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Prophetic Witnesses as Watchmen (Ezekiel 33:1-9)

Jesus Christ invites every person to become a Christian and every Christian, every day, to share Christ's truth, freedom, love, and vitality with others. We serve Jesus as witnesses when we do so.

This invitation to share his truth, however, carries significant responsibility. This is how Ezekiel put it:

Olympia: The Bronze Age

Bronze is an alloy composed of copper and tin. The Stone Age evolved into the Bronze Age as societies gradually replaced stone tools with ones made of bronze. The Bronze Age of Olympia began in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC but it didn’t reach northern Olympia for another thousand years.

Job as Faithful Witness (Job 29:7, 11-17)

Job was a faithful witness to Yahweh. Even so, Yahweh allowed Satan to strip Job of every good thing and leave him scraping his running sores while sitting in ashes. Job’s friends wrongly explained to him that Yahweh was punishing him for his wickedness. Job rightly maintained his integrity.

What I want to emphasize here are the ways in which Job faithfully witnessed to Yahweh:

            “When I went to the gate of the city
                        and took my seat in the public square…
            Whoever heard me spoke well of me,
                        and those who saw me commended me,
            because I rescued the poor who cried for help,
                        and the fatherless who had none to assist him.
            The man who was dying blessed me;
                        I made the widow’s heart sing.
            I put on righteousness as my clothing;
                        justice was my robe and my turban.
            I was eyes to the blind
                        and feet to the lame.
            I was a father to the needy;
                        I took up the case of the stranger.
            I broke the fangs of the wicked
                        and snatched the victims from their teeth” (Job 29:7, 11-17, NIV).

In the times of the prophet Ezekiel, the people of Jerusalem exasperated Yahweh because of their Olympian practice of taking what they wanted from people less powerful, more marginal, than they were. In pleasant contrast, Job committed himself to the well-being of every human being. He especially cared for those who were painfully marginal and needed some help.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Olympia: The Stone Age (4000-2000 BC)

As a storyteller, I try to stay close to the narrative of the Bible. At the same time, I like to maintain at least a nodding acquaintance with the narrative of the Olympian religious tradition. This dominant tradition tells the primary stories of our times and defines which stories are normative for our societies.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Olympia: Plains and Mountains

1. Plains. Northern Olympia contains an impressively long, broad, fertile plain. It begins at the foot of the Pyrenees next to the Atlantic Ocean, continues north to the English Channel, then stretches a long way northeast along the seacoast through and beyond Germania. An equally impressive plain lies between the Baltic and Black seas. Two smaller but still vitally important plains lie in the river valleys of the Danube (south of the Carpathian Mountains) and the Tigris and Euphrates.