Archive | August 2012

It Isn’t Always About Zombies…Or Is It?

Apocalyptic thinking has often found its way into society on many levels. The crazed fans of zombie movies speak about the rise of mindless hordes seeking to consume the living masses until all is destroyed. Religions of the modern world have a long history on interpretations of their own scriptures and prophecies for the end. Scientists who study the world’s climate or the movement of celestial bodies have numerous theories as to the end of time. Most of them do believe that some form of extinction is possible, whether it is in the form of a cataclysmic event or humanity’s self-destruction. Political minds also have a sense of the end times by positioning themselves well based on their own beliefs. It is quite fascinating to see exactly how these ideas have become part of our society.

To most, the word apocalypse means the end of time, but it is actually a word that means a revelation of the unknown. The Canon of the Roman Catholic Church and its inheritors ends with the Apocalypse of John also known as Revelations. It is through this prism that the word has been coined to mean the end times. However, there is a study of the end times which is known as Eschatology. Many modern religions have their story of the end. One of the first things that a student of Eschatology learns is the manner in which the apocalypse, or revelation, comes to be. The hidden knowledge of the end can be explained in different ways.

One of the great debates in scholarship is the theme of eschatological thinking in the New Testament. The evidence to support this line is very strong in the passages. References made by the Gospels mention the return of God’s Kingdom start to frame the end times. In the letters of Paul, this theme continues as the anticipation of the Messiah’s return is at its core. The Revelation of John brings all of this thinking into context of the times. However, it was not until much later in the 18th and 19th century that the movement took a turn to draw together a great amount of scriptures to support the thinking. The Book of Daniel and Isaiah were drawn upon heavily to elevate the idea into the modern version of Dispensationalism. This begins to break up the prophecies of Daniel and Revelations to set some structure to the end times. From this theological study, modern congregations have taken on the terms of the Rapture and the Tribulation.

The Judeo-Christian eschatology is built on the cryptic prophets and apostles, but other beliefs explain more details to the end times. Ragnarok is the final battle of the Norse Pantheon which is laid out in two forms known as the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda. These tales set down the exact results of the battle of the gods. From this battle, most of the gods and monster find an end against each other. In the end, it leaves the world ready to become something new and rise from the destruction. The new world will be populated by two surviving humans. The elements of this story bring about a chaotic change to break apart the stagnant world that is dying.

The myths of end times often share some common traits and themes, but one thing that does hold true is the hope of humanity’s survival into the next world. Some people might consider the fearful images and horrific stories that come from the stories of Eschatology. However, the hope remains that it is not the true end. Myths can provide lessons but offering only despair is not part of their nature.

As to the scientific side, the end of the world might be easier to determine based on the evidence of planetary motion or the Sun’s life expectancy. Of course, predicting the forces of the universe may surprise us all in the same fashion that human nature does.

crudus animus

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Calm The Vengeance, Find the Justice

For many years, I have been convinced that there is truly no one qualified on this planet to pass moral judgment over another. We try to find a method to decide a judgment for a crime. As a society, we do have a sense of justice that separates itself from the intense feeling of vengeance. The harmony brought to the soul comes from the justice that is met, but it needs to be placed in a set of guidelines. Our society has developed the jurisprudence system to help provide this.

It is something that has been passed to us through some of the more democratic civilizations. At the conclusion of the Greek drama trilogy, Oresteia, by Aeschylus, Athena comes to act as judge over the matricidal actions of Orestes. It is within this context that ends the curse of the House of Arteus and initiates the metamorphosis of the Erinyes, spirits of vengeance, into the Semnai, spirits of justice. This is an example of how the ideals of being judged by one’s peers become important.

It was this story that inspired a great deal of understanding in the Ancient Greek civilization, mostly the documented Athenian culture. I was fascinated with the mythology being drawn into the play and setting the backdrop of a legal procedure. To me, it helped to strengthen my own convictions and further convince me that justice can only be found from the impartial. However, I believe that to find impartiality in our world is growing impossible.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not being cynical in this. I state this to bring the idea of revenge and justice back into the discussion. To forget the roots of our jurisprudence cripples its purpose. This brings me to the point that we are in the midst of great confusion and conflict in our society. Polarizing factors of politics, religion, or any area of great debate pull us to a side that might embroil us in emotions of vengeance rather than rational based justice. Athena brings calm to the Erinyes, so they will come to embody justice.

As to convictions, we are all very strong in certain areas. A touch of the world is hard to keep from our lives as we journey through, but one thing that does not fade from us is the strength of our convictions. In this, my definition of conviction is the sum of our passions, logic, and morals. Usually, these convictions are based on experiences that convince us that something fits into our world. For example, if one grows from a frugal household with little money or resources, a conviction against waste dwells in the heart of that person. Another person may have been a victim of a childhood bully. A conviction of helping to empower others develops in the person.

We are creatures of great emotions that fuel our passions. We are also capable of great leaps of logic to solve the problems that we face. It is through our principled conviction that we find the path through life. Let’s all take a moment to examine our world, but remember that as individuals we are capable of making decisions that are best for our well-being in life. Having an open mind brings into view the best solution for any problem. To make a decision or law based on a sweeping belief can help set guidelines, but it should never become the only solution to the proper.

I have often spoken on the very words of liberality and cognizance as part of my conviction. I truly believe that we are capable of holding true to our convictions while keeping our eyes open to understanding the situation in context. There is no need to have ignorance and intolerance rule every situation. We are better than that and must struggle to remain so.

crudus animus

A Huge Distraction

The season of politics is upon us. If one is not careful, a person can end up with a cruel, twisted sense of the entire system. Of course, I am often convinced that with each election season that a cynical side of me believes that is the point. I am not one for trying to sway the masses to my way of thinking or convincing anyone that they must agree with me on the issues.  However, I am starting to believe with more and more of my soul that the issues are a distraction from the true point of it all.

Let me explain what brings me to these thoughts. My spouse wanted to get a copy of the new release: Hunger Games. I have not read the trilogy, but the rest of the family has. So, I read the quick synopsis on the back of the movie and took a dive. At first, it was something that I would relate to the gladiatorial games of my beloved study in Ancient Rome. Huge gatherings of competitors with one purpose: please the crowd. For those that have not read the books or seen the movie, I will not be dropping any spoilers. This is just a support to my point. Those with power will do all they can to secure the attention of the masses with something entertaining that keeps them from thoughts of rebellion.

This is actually, at its core, a common theme in many myths and legends.  Cultures have provided examples of the authority keeping the common people happy and busy so they don’t recognize what is going on behind the screens. The ancient Greek city-states were often ruled by a democracy, but powerful citizens would rise to the stations of power and illegally seize control of the city. They were labeled a tyrant. Of course, a tyrant held power because it was given and because he would keep the common citizens too busy to realize what he was doing. Most of these tyrants would be responsible for great public projects.

For the Romans, the practice of distracting the masses with games and contests was actually something that evolved from their funeral processions. The gladiatorial games were inherited from their Etruscan roots, which held such events as part of funeral events. The Etruscan monarchy was overthrown and became the Roman Republic, but the games did not fade. The senate loved to present games as part of a celebration to distract the common citizen. By the time of Julius Caesar, this practice was an art form. Public games and bribes were passed out to the citizenry. Of course, the emperors found a way to step it up and use prisoners as part of the main events. Nothing gains support from the public faster than a few days off work and extra money for doing absolutely nothing.

So, one of the basic premises of the Hunger Games is this distraction. Others have commented on it with films like The Running Man. Once the public is hooked, it is like passing out candy.  They will never stop coming back for more. Why do you think reality shows are popular? Survivor essentially allows a group of people to use all the selfish skills of the human being and promote it for general consumption. Just look what people will do for a simple amount of money and fame. It is a sad state.

This leads me back to the election season. Pretty colors and loud conventions that are made for television may be the best way to get the message out, but beware that you are not pulled into the distraction and miss the real meat of the discussion. Vote on an educated position and not some constructed reality show of pundits and politicians. Avoid the intolerance and ignorance.  Embrace the liberality and cognizance.

crudus animus

A Little Change

This week has been a change in the regular routine as my spouse has returned to work three days a week. Between the two of us, it has been eight months since regular income has flowed back into the household. This has shifted responsibilities to me that are new for me. They include nightly homework with the three children. Now, this is only two night out of the week, but it has cut into the writing time.  Don’t get me wrong. I like the new changes, but it will take some time to adjust.  This brought me to the topic of the post.

Changes are never an easy thing, but we all have a need to understand them and persevere through them. That is not to say that all are difficult, but they do require a little change in the routine and thinking. As we are human beings that are capable of great things, I believe that we are in need of some great changes. The status quo might be a part of the formula in a society’s orderly function, but the stagnant ideas become soiled and corrupted. It is like a bottle of Italian dressing. The oil floats to the top and the rest of the ingredients sink to the depths.

My proposal is not a complete upheaval of society into a form of anarchy. In fact, I am often able to go through the day with a little structure and order. Those days are often easier to sail through, but, at the end, I face the question of the cost in the case of everyday being like that. Some part of my psyche taps me on the shoulder and speaks the words of the archaic wisdom that an easy life is never the best. Of course, I chalk that up to the old paradigm filtered into me via my upbringing. In a conservative Christian home, the doctrine is that an easy life leads to sin and destruction. Their point was that the straight and narrow way was hard and forced a person to earn the rewards at the end.

It is my proposal to break the cycle that we are all so used to and make a change. It can be something simple like new body soap or change in daily routine.  It can be drastic as a change in life career. Nothing truly stops a person except themselves. With this thought, I have considered a few changes to my own life. As I don’t exactly have a career at this time, I have an open field to choose from. I have turned to some strange changes to meet my needs, but nothing has struck me as becoming a constant. Writing this blog has become a bit habit forming, but I like that aspect.

My family has made some changes to their lives also and it is interesting to watch it all play out. The youngest has continued her quest to be an artist and dancer, so I have encouraged her to practice the technique of both. She has learned to mimic the motions of other dancers. She has learned to study the techniques of drawing. I have noticed that she loves both.

For the middle child, he has turned to learning more and more about the game of chess in a competitive manner. His strengths of strategy have accelerated as he plays against better players beyond me. I have noted to him that his aggressiveness has increased exponentially, which has made our games a little more competitive.  He grows with confidence everyday.

The eldest has turned her education focus to a vet tech program which allows her to embrace her love for animals. She truly loves to be around them, but to learn the technical side of caring for animals has opened her to a whole new world. I am very pleased with her work and hope that this continues this two year program.

My spouse and I are working to make the stability for the children a constant at home. Changes in our lives happen, but for them, it needs to stay consistent. In order to meet this challenge, we have made the changes that are necessary. Perhaps that is the point that I want to convey. Changes in our lives can be made for the better while keeping a strong, stable foundation.  Believe this at home and maybe society will start to understand the same idea.

crudus animus

A Step Forward

To me, this post marks a little milestone in my illustrious blog. This will be my fiftieth post and I hope to make the occasion something a little special. I note this as a milestone because it is the longest period of time with writing on a daily routine for me. It comes as a small bit of personal therapy to share bits of myself. I have recovered a lot from this and hope to continue. So, in honor of number fifty, here are some thoughts that I pulled from my files.

Each of us has a manner of philosophy when it comes to the different social issues that are swirling around the media coverage. In the past, during the present, and suggested in our dreams of the future, we have our idea of a utopian world. Some might see that the world would be at peace if cultural or religious beliefs did not get in the way of logical thoughts. This might lead a few minds to believe that if we were able to forget some of the differences that we have with each other, then we might have a chance to settle our squabbles over wealth, power, and resources.  However, what kind of a world would we have if everyone was forced to think the same?

This brought me to the idea that the human race has a strong root in the concept of conflict. It is just as strong as the need we have for stability and order. It is this very opposition of world views that fuels the events of the world and the stories of our cultures. In a fictional story, there is a need for the protagonist to move the world around from static order to healing change or from destructive chaos to stable order. The characters in the story work from these diametrically opposing views in their own ways.

It was this ideal that helped me come to the general thought of a novel that I am working on. In it, I was to shake up some of the classical myths such as Zeus reigning on high. I have been a student of these very stories. In recent times, I have watched movies and read books to compare my thoughts.  Most of them present the struggle of the Olympians facing off or being helped to battle against the imprisoned Titans.  In some, the Titans are attempting to escape and use someone to help. Others, the Olympians are simply trying to stay important to the mortals, so they do not become obsolete. In the end, the mortals find immortality as a hero to help the Olympians retain their powers.

So, here is my idea. From the collections of myths and epic poems, the ancient Hellenes were able to pass along a connection story of heroes called the Trojan Cycle. It is this thread of myths and legends that we are able to see the Trojan War and its heroes play out. By the end, we have come to understand the rage of Achilles, the authority of Agamemnon, and the cleverness of Odysseus. Their names live on and the Olympians continue to keep their place.  To the Romans, who inherited this legacy, the story continues into their world with the travels of Anchises and Aeneas.  Each tales is a struggle of the healing change against the static world except Aeneas.  He is presented at the foundation of Rome and its evolution into imperial order. My thought was what would happen if something through this cycle in a different way.

As it begins with a Titan confessing his knowledge to Zeus about the son of Thetis, I thought that it would be an incredible tale to have Zeus ignore the prediction and take Thetis for himself.  This simple turn would bring some great adventures and lead to a climatic conflict with all the races of classical mythology. I have constructed the characters and the outline. I hope to present some excerpts here and hope that everyone enjoys.

My thanks to all that have made this blog a success so far and I will continue to offer more.

crudus animus

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