Showing posts tagged religion

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Posted at 10:22am • Permalink  • Tags: religion echr


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Posted at 1:33pm • Permalink  • Tags: religion secularism politics


How old was Mary when she was filled with the Holy Spirit?

A Christmas challenge: how old would the Virgin Mary have been at the time of the Annunciation?

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I wish you a merry winter solstice

It’s a shame the solstice is no longer on - or fluctuating around - December 25th. It would be nice for that day to have some real, physical significance.

In 46 BCE, Julius Caesar in his Julian calendar established December 25 as the date of the winter solstice of Europe (Latin: Bruma). Since then, the difference between the calendar year (365.2500 days) and the tropical year (~365.2421897 days) moved the day associated with the actual astronomical solstice forward approximately three days every four centuries, arriving to December 12 during the 16th century. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII decided to restore the exact correspondence between seasons and civil year but, doing so, he did not make reference to the age of the Roman dictator, but to the Council of Nicea of 325, as the period of definition of major Christian feasts. So, the Pope annulled the 10-day error accumulated between the 16th and the 4th century, but not the 3-day one between the 4th AD and the 1st BC century. This change adjusted the calendar bringing the northern winter solstice to around December 22. Yearly, in the Gregorian calendar, the solstice still fluctuates a day or two but, in the long term, only about one day every 3000 years.

And more from Wikipedia:

The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months. Starvation was common in winter between January and April, also known as the famine months. In temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time.

Influenced by the Ancient Greek Lenaia festival (held in honour of Dionysus), Brumalia was an ancient Roman solstice festival honoring Bacchus, generally held for a month and ending December 25. The festival included drinking and merriment. The name is derived from the Latin word bruma, meaning “shortest day” or “winter solstice”.

Sol Invictus (“the undefeated Sun”) or, more fully, Deus Sol Invictus (“the undefeated sun god”) was a religious title that allowed several solar deities to be worshipped collectively, including Elah-Gabal, a Syrian sun god; Sol, the god of Emperor Aurelian; and Mithras, a soldiers’ god of Persian origin. Emperor Elagabalus (218–222) introduced the festival of the birth of the Unconquered Sun (or Dies Natalis Solis Invicti) to be celebrated on December 25, and it reached the height of its popularity under Aurelian, who promoted it as an empire-wide holiday. With the growing popularity of the Christianity, Jesus of Nazareth came to be given much of the recognition previously given to a sun god, thereby including Christ in the tradition.

There seems to be an incredible cultural history represented in this one day (or collection of days*): religions rising, co-existing, merging, superseding others and, ultimately, being forgotten; on top of the ancient yet continuing importance of the shortest day and alongside countless non-religious influences (e.g. Dickens, Prince Albert, Thomas Nast). I have a new-found respect for Christmas!

There are so many gods and festivals - from all around the world - to choose from at this time of year but personally I look forward to putting the Bacchus back into Christmas.

* For another complication:

In the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church first placed Christmas on December 25, a date later adopted also in the East. The original date of the celebration [of Jesus’s birth] in Eastern Christianity was January 6, in connection with Epiphany, and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church and in Armenia, where it is a public holiday. As of 2011, there is a difference of 13 days between the modern Gregorian calendar and the older Julian calendar. Those who continue to use the Julian calendar or its equivalents thus celebrate December 25 and January 6 on what for the majority of the world is January 7 and January 19. For this reason, Ethiopia, Russia and Ukraine celebrate Christmas, both as a Christian feast and as a public holiday, on what in the Gregorian calendar is January 7.

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Posted at 8:55pm • Permalink  • Tags: religion general christmas history


I was going to write about David Cameron’s speech - based on the anniversary of the King James Bible - but I feel he’s tried so hard not to say anything of substance (in the important, political sections at least - and with some exceptions) that it would be unfair or simply impossible to pick it apart.

But the following extracts might help demonstrate some of the issues I have with it:

we are a Christian country. And we should not be afraid to say so.

Let me be clear: I am not in any way saying that to have another faith - or no faith - is somehow wrong.

But what I am saying is that the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today. Values and morals we should actively stand up and defend.

Responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, self-sacrifice, love …pride in working for the common good and honouring the social obligations we have to one another, to our families and our communities …these are the values we treasure.

Yes, they are Christian values.

And we should not be afraid to acknowledge that.

But they are also values that speak to us all - to people of every faith and none.

And I believe we should all stand up and defend them.

Those who oppose this usually make the case for secular neutrality

My main objection is that he seems, possibly deliberately, to be confusing secularism with some straw man of moral relativism in which no-one promotes nor admonishes any kind of behaviour (other than the distinction of legal or illegal). Few are going to argue that the public, church, PM and other parliamentarians shouldn’t promote the values listed - which are apparently Christian, first, and universal, second. But how does Cameron get from that perfectly reasonable point to the implication that the state itself needs to be officially Christian; that the Queen should be the head of the Church of England; that the PM should choose the Archbishop of Canterbury; or that bishops should have reserved places in Parliament while the PM and his values need the approval of his constituents. Is he suggesting that if the Church of England - representing only 20% of Britons - were, as secularists would like, not formally interwoven with the state in these ways then there could be no discussion or promotion of values, or even that the docile public (particularly the nasty 80%) would lose their sense of right and wrong?


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Posted at 11:33pm • Permalink  • Tags: global affairs politics saudi arabia religion


"I love jesus, and the cross and if you dont, I hope someone rapes you!"

"these people are the f’ing scum of the earth. can we start killing them now? few groups are filled with more hatred than atheists.”

Emphasis added. lol. (some info on the source)

Posted at 1:42pm • Permalink  • Tags: religion ground zero politics


Video: “Why the media screw up science Part 1: Sources”

I thoroughly recommend this YouTube channel, the “main purpose of [which] is to explain in simple terms the conclusions of scientific research, and correct some of the unsourced crap we get fed on the Internet.” Excellent videos from a former (current?) science correspondent.

The main topics are climate science (e.g. “Earth facing mini-ice age!!" debunking), creationism and a series on natural history.

Posted at 9:17pm • Permalink  • Tags: science climate change religion creationism tabloids


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Posted at 1:49pm • Permalink  • Tags: have pity religion rapture mental illness