Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Many cultures of the past were quite comfortable with homosexuality. Homosexuality was thought of as quite normal in feudal Japan and ancient Greece, for example. It was the wave of Christianity that brought with it taboos against same-sex relationships.
We will of course never know for sure if Leonardo Da Vinci was straight, homosexual, or any combination of the two. There is no "proof" left behind for us. However, Leonardo never married. He never had any female partners that were of note. He was an incredibly handsome and popular man, sought after by courts and patrons. He had no lack of interested females in his social group. He chose to ignore them.
Some say this is a self portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci, while others say it is not.
On April 8, 1476, an anonymous person brought an accusation to the church, claiming that Leonardo Da Vinci was having homosexual relationships with some of his students / companions. At the time, Leonardo was just turning 24. The explicit charge was that Jacopo Saltarelli, one of Leonardo's male models, was also his lover. As the consequences would have been quite harsh for Leonardo, he and the other accused individuals fought the charge and were acquitted. Leonardo had many powerful friends, even this early in his career, who helped him clear his name. He was put in prison for two months during this time.
It is interesting to note that Leonardo had several "close male companions" but never was linked to or married a woman. Leonardo was a great believer in Humanism - that human beings could choose for themselves what was good or bad and did not need to follow strict teachings of the church to find their path in life.
In 1502, Leonardo worked for Cesare Borgia for a short period of time. Cesare is famous as the conniving ruler used as the model for "The Prince" by Machiavelli, a treatise about how to keep power at all costs. Leonardo quit this job after only 9 months, apparently because his good friend Vitellozzo Vitelli was ruthlessly murdered by Cesare.
In 1507, Leonardo begins working for King Louis XII of France, keeping Milan as his base of operations. One of his favorite students was Francesco Melzi, who joined Leonardo at age 17. Franceso remained with Leonardo up until Leonardo's death.
While Leonardo did paint females in the course of his duties, most of his personal sketches involved nude male bodies - not females.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
What is The Da Vinci Code?
The Da Vinci Code is a novel by Dan Brown that has held one of the top two or three places on best-seller lists since early summer. More than 3 million copies (ed: now over 40 million) are in print.
In Brown's novel, the "Da Vinci code" refers to cryptic messages supposedly incorporated by Leonardo Da Vinci into his artwork. According to the novel, Leonardo was a member of an ancient secret society called the "Priory of Sion" dedicated to preservin the "truths" that Jesus designated Mary Magdalene as His successor, that His message was about the celebration of the "sacred feminine," that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had children and that the Holy Grail of legend and lore is really Mary Magdalene, the "sacred feminine," the vessel who carried Jesus' children.
Sounds like an intriguing bit of lost history. Is it? Long story short: No.
Is the Holy Grail really the "sacred feminine?"
The legend of the Holy Grail has taken many frms throughout history, but it has always identified the Grail as the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper. The idea of identifying it as the "sacred feminine" and tying it into a supposed bloodline emanating from a union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is lifted whole cloth from the 1981 classic of inventive esoteric wackiness, Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
Is the "Priory of Sion" a real group?
No. Brown begins his book with a statement, under the title "Fact," that there are documents supporting the existence of the Priory in the Bibliotheque Nationale. These documents havelong been understood to be forgeries, placed in the archives by an anti-Semitic supporter of the Vichy government named Pierre Plantard.
Does Da Vinci's The Last Supper really contain a code?
St. John and Jesus from
No. First, the idea that Da Vinci used any kind of code pertaining to any issue Dan Brown raises is unsupported by art historians.
Brown says that in this painting Da Vinci is telling us that the figure always identified as John the Evangelist is really Mary Magdalene, and that these two figures together form an "M," and that, because there is no grail in the picture, Da Vinci is telling us the "grail" is the sacred feminine of Mary Magdalene.
Unfortunately for Brown, art historians tell us that the effeminate-looking John is quite a typical representation for the time, as is a Last Supper portrayal emphasizing betrayal rather than the insttution of the Eucharist. In addition, the Last Supperis a dramatization of a scene from the Gospel of John, in which the institution narrative is not even described. No chalice? No problem. In context, it makes sense.
Who was Mary Magdalene according to the Scriptures?
St. Mary Magdalene is mentioned 12 times in the Gospels. She was healed of demon possession by Jesus (Luke 8:2), was present at the Crucifixion and the tomb and was sent by the Risen Jesus to the apostles to announce the Good News. Her feast day is celebrated July 22.
Who was Mary Magdalene according to Dan Brown?
Brown says Mary Magdalene was of royal blood, of the tribe of Benjamin, and Jesus' wife. According to Brown, after the crucifixion, Mary, pregnant with Jesus' child, moved to France and became the root of the Merovingian royal family.
He also says Jesus intended for Mary to be the head of his Church (celebrating the sacred feminine, remember) but that Peter wrested power from her, suppressed evidence of Jesus' real intentions and set into motion a 2,000-year conspiracy to demonize Mary Magdalene.
But Mary Magdalene is honored as a saint in the Catholic Church. How is that "demonizing?"
Don't ask me. What is true is that in the sixth century, Pope Gregory the Great conflated the figures of Mary Magdalene, the penitent woman in Luke 7, and Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, saying that before her conversion, Mary had been a prostitute or adulteress. This has always been a disputed identification, however. Church Fathers from St. Ambrose to St. Thomas Aquinas have been undecided on the issue, and in the Eastern Church, the three are seen as distinct figures. This question has never been pushed underground, either, a Dan Brown claims.
So, who is Dan Brown?
He is a former English teacher who began full-time writing in 1996. His second novel, Angels and Demons, featured the Illuminati, a vial of anti-matter and a papal conclave. He holds no advanced degrees in religion.
What's the basis for Brown's views on Mry Magdalene and her competition with Peter?
All that Holy Blood, Holy Grail stuff, of course, but then there are also the Gnostic Gospels.
Gnosticism was a dualistic, esoteric mode of thinking that was widespread during the early Christian era, although its influence was not confined to Christianity. The Gnostic Gospels are works reflecting the Gnostic take on Christianity. Some have been known for centuries, but previously unknown works — in the Nag Hammadi scrolls — were discovered in Egypt in 1945.
Some modern scholars and religious writers have seized upon various passages from the Gnostic Gospels as indicative of a competing, woman-centered element of early Christianity, especially a passage fro The Gospel of Mary in which Jesus kisses Mary and the apostles express envy of His love for her. Brown works this thinking into his novel, but, like many others, ignores a deeply anti-woman passage from another Gnostic gospel, the Gospel of Thomas, in which Jesus says, "For every woman who will make herself male will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven."
Gnosticism was rejected by Christianity, but not because of gender issues. Its claims (two gods, a belief that the created world was evil) were simply inconsistent with the rule of faith, as it was called, handed down from the apostles.
The canonical Gospels all date from the middle to late first century. The Gnostic gospels cannot be placed any earlier than the mid-second century. It is ironic, as historian James Hitchcock has pointed out, that elemets of a profession that have for years derided the Gospels as unreliable history have now seized on later documents as reliable guides to Jesus' intentions.
Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene married?
Dan Brown has one of his fictional scholars say it's a "matter of historical record." No nonfictional scholars would claim this. The "historical record" to which Brown refers are those 20th-century conspiracy books, not early Christian historical records.
Are Mary Magdalene's bones buried within the glass pyramid structure at the Louvre, as Brown presents it at the end of his novel?
No. Many things may have been buried with the pyramid, including good taste, but Mary Magdalene's bones are not among them.
Dan Brown claims that the idea of Jesus' divinity was dreamed up by the Council of Nicaea. Is this true?
No. When you read the Gospels and the letters of Paul, all of which date from the first century, you see a clear affirmation of Jesus as Lord.
The Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 was a response to the threat of the Arian heresy, which claimed that Jesus was a semi-divine creature, not of the same being as God. This was quickly becoming a popular belief and threatening the unity of Christianity.
The Emperor Constantine, aware that disunity in Christianity threatened the empire, convened the Council. Traditional faith was re-articulated in the more precise, philosophical terms that the heresy demanded and was accepted as the most faithful reading of the evidence about Jesus given to us in the Gospels.
Brown indicates that the Gnostic Gospels were widely accepted in early Christianity and that Constantine ordered them destroyed. Is this true?
No. The process of discerning the authentic Gospels was a lengthy one, but it had already begun in the early second century. Some communities used various other Gospels, but second-century Church Fathers frequently cited the four Gospels as authoritative. Their criteria were apostolic origins and fidelity to the rule of faith, not gender issues. Brown's conspiracy theory is a fabrication. Moreover, the final determinations about what constituted the Christian canon of Scripture were made by councils held after Constantine's time.
So, the whole "Mary vs. Peter" thing isn't true?
The historical evidence simply doesn't support it. It's based on speculation and a dramatic over-reading of a couple of passages from second-century fringe writings.
It's also illogical. Brown's argument rests on the assumption that the early apostles were concerned with suppressing the scandalous and radical. If that were so, why would they have the founder of their faith executed in manner reserved for the most shameful criminals?
It also is dependent on the assumption that Peter and his "party" were all about power. For what purpose, we have to ask? Did they get rich from their "version" of Christianity? Were they celebrated in their culture? No, they all died as despised martyrs. Some power trip.
This whole thing should fade pretty quickly, shouldn't it?
Probably not. The movie rights to The Da Vinci Code have been bought by Columbia, and Ron Howard is set to direct the film, probably to be released in 2005.
Besides being logically and historically flawed, The Da Vinci Code is filled with more minor, but no less risible, errors. Here are a few:
One of Brown's scholars says, "As the prophesied Messiah, Jesus toppled kings, inspired millions and founded new philosophies." We'd like to meet those toppled kings.
The Emperor Constantine did not make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in A.D. 325. It happened under Theodosius 50 years later.
Gothic architecture was not "masterminded" by the Knights Templar, a medieval military order that had nothing to do with the construction of Gothic cathedrals.
The Church did not burn 5 million witches during the Middle Ages. During the period 1400-1800, an estimated 30,000-50,000 people accused of witchcraft (20 percent of whom were men) were executed by Catholic and Protestant institutions and governments.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Kama tungeweza kurekebisha miaka kama vile kurekebisha mishale ya saa, ikaonyesha wakati tuutakao, tungeirudisha nyuma hadi kiasi cha miaka 2000 iliyopita.
Mfano, tuseme tumefanikiwa na sasa ni mwaka 30 au 33 Baada ya Kristo (30 B.K. au 33 B.K.), kutegemea ni mwaka upi unaotajwa na historia kwamba Yesu Kristo aliuawa. Ikiwa tunaishi katika wakati huo, kwa wale tunaoishi nchini Israeli, dini kuu tunayoifahamu katika mazingira yetu ni dini ya Kiyahudi.
Mwaka huu wa 33 B.K. na miaka michache ijayo, japo kuna wafuasi wengi wa Yesu Mnazarethi katika jamii yetu, lakini bado haijasikiwa imani ya kidini inayoitwa kwa jina la Ukristo. Hivyo ukituuliza habari za dini hiyo tutakujibu kwa usahihi kabisa kwamba, hakuna dini inayoitwa Ukristo, wala madhehebu yanayoitwa ya Kikristo.
Ukituuliza kuhusu Romani Katoliki, Lutherani, Anglikana, Moraviani, Presbyterian, Baptisti, Methodist, Waadventista-Wasabato, Wapentekoste, n.k., kwa usahihi kabisa tutakujibu, hakuna madhehebu hayo hapa Israeli, wala katika ufalme wa Kirumi. Mwaka huu huu wa 33 B.K., ukituuliza kuhusu Uislamu, tutakujibu kwa usahihi kabisa, kwamba, hakuna dini yenye jina hilo. Wala mtu aitwaye Mtume Muhammad. Maana Uislamu ulianza kama miaka 600 B.K. Wakazi wa Makka na Madina wakiutambua kama “madhehebu yaliyoibuka hivi karibuni”.
Ukatoliki ulipoanza yawezekana tarehe haijulikani. Lakini tukio la Mfalme Constantine wa Roma, mnamo mwaka 313 B.K., kuutambua Ukristo na kujaribu kuunda umoja kati ya serikali yake na kanisa ni hatua muhimu katika kuwepo kwa Romani Katoliki; ambapo viongozi wa kanisa waliongezewa na madaraka ya kiserikali. Kinachozaliwa hapa, mwaka huu 313 B.K., sehemu ya jamii inakitambua kama “madhehebu yaliyoibuka hivi karibuni”. Maana kina muundo tofauti na lile kanisa la Yerusalemu la mitume.
Tunasogea. Mwaka 1530 B.K., mvutano mkali unaibuka kati ya Padri Mkatoliki, Mjerumani, Martin Luther na wakuu wa Ukatoliki, hoja mojawapo kuu ni uamuzi wa Vatican kuugeuza msamaha wa dhambi kuwa biashara. Luther anayapinga mafundisho haya na kujiondoa chini ya Papa. Luther na waliomfuata wanaanzisha kundi jipya, hatimaye linajulikana kama Kanisa la Kilutheri, kufuata jina la Luther. Mwaka huu 1530 B.K., jamii inalitambua kama “madhehebu yaliyoibuka hivi karibuni” kutoka Romani Katoliki.
Tunaufikia 1534 B.K. (au 1535 B.K.). Mfalme Henry III wa Uingereza, Mkatoliki, anamtaliki mkewe Catherine. Anamuoa Anne Bolyn licha ya kukatazwa na Papa. Henry anaiondoa Uingereza chini ya mamlaka ya Papa. Anajitangaza kuwa mkuu wa kanisa la Uingereza. Anglikana inaanzishwa. Jamii iliyopo mwaka huu 1534B.K. inaitambua Anglikana kama “madhehebu yaliyoibuka hivi karibuni”.
Kihistoria, dini na madhehebu yote tunayoyafuata viliwahi kutambulika kama “madhehebu yaliyoibuka hivi karibuni”. Yaliyoibuka 300 au 1500 B.K., yana uhalali sawa na yale yaliyoibuka 1900, au sasa 2010 B.K. Hakuna lenye uhalali wa kuyadhibiti wala kuyatawala mengine. Maana YOTE “yameibuka hivi karibuni”. Bali “Aliye juu (Mungu na Kristo) ndiye” anayetawala, Danieli 4:32.
Mwandishi wa makala haya ni:
Elias S. Bilegeya
Box 54655, D’Salaam
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Takribani wiki mbili zilizpopita Mchungaji kiongozi Josephat Gwajima wa Kanisa la Glory of Christ (T) Church maarufu kama “nyumba ya Ufufuo na Uzima” aliahidi kuwarudisha na hatimaye kulionesha kanisa misukule wakiwa katika hali yao ya kimsukule akitumia msemo wenye mchanganyiko wa lugha ya kiingereza na Kiswahili “misukule fresh from shamba” ili kuweka msisitizo kuwa misukule hao wamerudishwa kwa nguvu na uweza wa jina la Yesu.
Misukule hao waliokuwa wamekatwa ulimi kipindi walipokuwa msukuleni huku watu wakidhania kuwa hawataweza kuongea tena ila BWANA Yesu aliwaponya na mara baada ya kufanyiwa maombezi misukule hao walianza kuongea na kuelezea kwa kina ni nani aliyewachukua, chakula walichokuwa wakila na mahali walipokuwa wakitumikishwa waliopokuwa misukule. Watu hao waliorudishwa kutoka msukuleni ni pamoja na Jeremiah, Charles Nduru na Mohamedi Mustapha.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Regardless of my position on homosexuality and/or the bill I can tell you what upset me was that Pastor Ssempa was preaching against people encouraging hate and tolerance. He shamed himself as a pastor by disregarding what he thought of as a sin as an action, and turned the people doing what he calls the sin into something less than human, said Kelsey Hartsell, a student from Pacific Lutheran University. She saw the gay porn show, and it upset her so much that she walked out of the presentation given by the pastor Martin Ssempa.
Kelsey studies in Kampala, and she said to Dr. Warren Throckmorton that many people were upset by the presentation. It apparently upset a lot of people, and they accompanied her when she walked out of the presentation. Dr Warren also said that the pastor is resorting to all kind of ways to tell the public that they should not support gays.
Hinn's wife, Suzanne, filed for divorce from the high-profile minister Feb. 1. The filing says the couple had been separated since Jan. 26, according to the Associated Press.
Hinn said his wife had been under great stress, but he and his children "never expected this to happen."
"Divorce was the last thing on my mind and theirs," Hinn wrote in the letter posted on his ministry Web site. He said it was a "total shock" when his wife's attorney called Feb. 17 to inform him that she had filed for divorce.
"Suzanne never gave the family even a hint that this was on her mind," Hinn wrote, adding that his wife's parents did not know she had filed for divorce until he told them Feb. 17. "Even to this moment, the children and I don't know why she did it. ... I love my wife, and I am praying that the Lord Himself will take care of this and bring healing to my precious family."
Hinn said his wife does not have biblical grounds for divorce because neither of them engaged in immorality throughout their 30-year marriage.
"We both have kept our covenant with God and stayed pure before Him, and I am praying with all my heart that our precious Lord Jesus will heal my family and protect His work for His glory," Hinn wrote.
Hinn said he does not plan to take a break from preaching and leading healing crusades worldwide. "I am going to continue preaching the Gospel and praying for the sick as I have for 36 years," he wrote. "I will not allow anything to slow me down or stop me. My commitment to my precious Jesus is forever, and nothing will ever change that.
Suzanne Hinn married the pastor in 1979, and has also borne four children with him. She filed for divorce on the 1st of February 2010, at the Orange County Superior Court. She wants to end the marriage because of some “irreconcilable differences” between her and her husband. There had been reports of problems amongst them, & both of them also claim that they had tried to make the marriage work, but things now have come to such a stage, that they have no option but to call it quits. However when news spread like wildfire that Suzanne had filed for divorce, then Pastor Benny Hinn said that he was taken by surprise.
“Pastor Benny Hinn and his immediate family were shocked and saddened to learn of this news without any previous notice. Although Pastor Hinn has faithfully endeavored to bring healing to their relationship, those efforts failed and were met with the petition for divorce that was filed without notice,” Benny Hinn Ministries said Thursday in a statement.
Yet looks can be deceiving.
People in this corner of western Uganda know the young man as King Oyo, one of the world's youngest ruling monarchs. The teen king rules over more than 2 million people in the Tooro kingdom, one of four kingdoms in Uganda that conjure images of pre-colonial Africa.
King Oyo lives for part of the year in a palace perched on a hill in Fort Portal, a place where bicycles stacked with bananas race past ramshackle huts in the shadow of a snow-capped mountain. He also has a palace in the bustling Ugandan capital, Kampala, where he studies at a private school while soldiers stand guard.
Friends at school greet him with hugs and handshakes, but back home, subjects kiss his feet while sprawled before him on the ground, as if they were doing push ups.
"I still find it a little uncomfortable when people bow, especially the older ones," says the king, whose full name is Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV. "My friends at school (could not) care less that I'm a king. They like me for who I am, not for what I am."
King Oyo has worn the crown for as long as he can remember.
He ascended to the throne aged three, after his father died in 1995. For his coronation, the toddler sat on a miniature throne and played with toys after a mock battle with a grown-up "rebel" prince. At one point, his majesty dashed from the throne to climb onto his mother's lap. He also yanked off a lion-skin crown that was too heavy for his little head.
The next day, King Oyo attended a meeting with Cabinet members who were old enough to be his grandparents.
Now he stands nearly six feet tall and looks much more regal. He sits on a throne draped with leopard skin and wears a royal robe of blue and gold, his cropped hair covered by a crown with a fluffy white tail.
"The first few years, I did not know what was going on," he says. "I think I realized when I was about 6 that I really was king, and my life was going to be different. I was going to have responsibilities toward a lot of people."
King Oyo oversees a Cabinet that includes a prime minister, board of regents and councilmen. The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, advises him. So does Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
In addition to serving as the figurehead for members of the Batooro tribe -- the group that makes up most of the Tooro kingdom -- the king oversees efforts to raise money for projects involving such things as health and education. He implements programs to boost cultural pride. He also helps oversee how his kingdom spends tax money that it gets from the Ugandan government.
The king makes major decisions with the help of regents and advisers. His mother, Queen Best Kemigisa, lives in the palace and works closely with him, though King Oyo will become the sole decision-maker when he turns 18 in a few weeks.
"It's a huge responsibility," the king says, "but I have a lot of support from my mother, my sister and others, so I know I can do it."
The job has its perks.
Fawning subjects give him livestock and spears. He travels to meet world leaders. And teenage girls and young women flock to his palace for public events, though the king changes subjects like a veteran politician when asked whether he's dating.
"I can't wait to see the new 'Twilight' movie," he says with a sly smile.
There are downsides.
King Oyo travels with a security detail of military guards who also hover around his school. That makes it hard to blend into a crowd.
"At times, I'll have things I want to do, but I can't just get up and do them like ordinary teenagers do," he says. "I can't always do what I want because I have obligations."
Kingdoms in Africa date at least to the Egyptian civilization, though their numbers have declined in the last few hundred years.
The monarchies are based on ethnicities, sparking concerns of a setback in national integration efforts, said Ndebesa Mwambutsya, a history professor at Makerere University in Kampala.
"Ugandans identify themselves first with their tribes and kingdoms, then as citizens," he says. "This works in most African cultures because people have lost faith in the government, and tribes and kingdoms provide a nucleus around which an identity can be forged."
Finding a balance between national unity and tradition can be a challenge, according to the professor.
"It's a paradox in itself. It is important that African culture is preserved because a people without culture is like groping in the darkness," he says.
"At the same time, there's globalization, there's consumerism, there's national integration. Making all those fit in with traditionalism is a tall order -- it needs perspective to ensure kingdoms are not counterproductive."
Many Africans, like the people in King Oyo's realm, identify themselves as a member of a tribe or ethnic group first and as citizen of a nation second. That is partly a legacy of colonialism, when European powers drew boundaries for countries and territories that lumped together people of various tribes and ethnic groups, including many who had a history of poor relations.
Tension between ethnic groups within the same country often has flared into violence around the continent. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which killed nearly 800,000 people, for example, was a result of inter-ethnic violence. So was the post-election violence in neighboring Kenya that left more than 1,000 dead in 2008.
In Uganda, the central government outlawed kingdoms in 1967, but the president reinstated four of them in the '90s on the condition that their leaders focus more on culture and less on national politics.
Other African countries, such as Lesotho and Swaziland, also have kings. The king of Swaziland is famous for festivals at which scores of virgins dance for him, but King Oyo is sedate by contrast. He presides over a kingdom where time seems to have stopped.
Snow-capped Mount Rwenzori peeks through the mist and glints under moonlight, a hulking backdrop to the shacks and banana plantations that dot rolling landscapes. The lush, green vegetation does not translate into wealth, though: Most people in the kingdom -- like people in the rest of Uganda -- live in poverty.
Even so, some people have pinned their hopes on the young king.
"His age brings a lot of financial support from leaders who want to mentor him and see him succeed," says Ruhweza Remigious, 34, a carpenter who lives in a mud hut across from the palace in Fort Portal.
"Most Africans are led by older people who don't do anything," Remigious says. "He is young and eager, and we hope he will give us a better life and modernize our infrastructures."
That's a heavy burden for anyone to shoulder. It puts particularly strong pressure on a teenager who likes to hang out with his buddies from school and root for his favorite soccer team -- Arsenal, of the Premier League in England.
So would he have chosen to be king?
"I'm not really sure if I can answer that question," he says. "Being a king is not easy. Sometimes I wish I could just be ordinary."