Monday, June 24, 2013

Ancient, Medieval, and Modern No More

Our modern Olympian culture conventionally divides the history of Olympia (see Glossary) into three periods: ancient, medieval, and modern. Ancient history is understood to begin with the emergence of cities and writing about 3000 BC. It ends with the collapse of the western Roman empire around AD 400. Modern history begins with the Renaissance of Roman culture in Florence around 1400 and continues to our day. Renaissance thinkers were the first to use the term, “Middle Ages,” to describe the historical period between their own day and the days of Rome which they aspired to relive. So the Middle Ages span the centuries between 400 and 1400.

We will not be using these categories. Our goal is to become clearer witnesses to Jesus. Speaking of history in terms of ancient, medieval, and modern won’t help us to do that. Instead, we will speak of history in terms of ages based on religion because religion expresses the most important beliefs, values, norms, and stories shaping any age.

We begin history with the moment of creation and the very brief time following it. We might call this very brief period Moments of Conviviality. Once Adam and Eve break our relationship with Yhwh, one another, and the rest of creation, everything gets deadly serious.

From 4000 to 1925 BC, we have the Age of Olympianity or Olympian times. While Jesus values freedom, Olympianity is the religion of power. The gods of Olympus promise us that successfully gaining power will provide us with all the security, happiness, importance, justification, and meaning we need. So, while Yhwh, the one odd god, understands only truth, love, and life as being consistent with freedom, the six gods of Olympus favor falsehood, indifference toward others, and even death as necessary means for gaining power. This age is when Olympianity first finds its full and virtually unchallenged expression.

From 1925 BC to AD 70, we have the Age of Judaism or Judaic times. During these times, Yhwh enabled Abraham and his descendants to live as witnesses to him. In doing so, he blessed the and others through them. As we study the history of Olympia, we will reflect on how Abraham and his descendants witnessed radiantly or poorly to Yhwh in the context of a society and culture fully dedicated to the six conventional gods.

From AD 70-622, we have the Age of Christianity or Christian times. We will note, for example, how Christians started as a radical challenge to Olympian society, culture, and individuals. We will also attempt to learn how Christianity, like Judaism before it, eventually became conventional by fatally compromising with Olympianity.

From 622-1648, we have the Age of Islam or Islamic times. Again, we will seek to celebrate the new ways in which Muslims witnessed to the one odd god--or learn from the old ways in which they failed to do so. We will also note the mutual impact of Islam, Olympianity, Judaism, and Christianity.

From 1648-2008, we have the Age of Exuberant Olympianity or Exuberant times. During these our times, Olympianity has achieved its most robust expression. In doing so, it has completely overwhelmed and absorbed almost every meaningful Jewish, Christian, and Muslim alternative to it.

Finally, from 2008 until now, we have this Period of Transition or Transitional period into which we have entered. While an exuberant Olympianity overwhelmed and absorbed almost all meaningful alternatives, it too now faces its own inevitable crisis of meaning.

Our conventional Olympian culture divides history into ancient, medieval, and modern times. We will divide it into Olympian, Judaic, Christian, Islamic, Resurgent, and Transitional times with the hope that this will help us to better understand the ways of Jesus. By doing so, perhaps we may yet develop a meaningful alternative to the bankrupt beliefs and practices of conventional Olympianity, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.