Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Saturday, November 1, 2003day link 

 Sports
picture I'm not particularly into sports, but soccer at least seems like a sport that makes some kind of sense to me. Anyway, France Telecom had given us a set of soccer tickets, to be nice to us because it took a long time to get our DSL line debugged. So, we attended our first real soccer match. Toulouse Football Club against AJ Auxerre. Which was kind of fun and interesting, at least since it was only the players who were out in the rain. 3-0 for the foreign team. As the news says "Auxerre disposes of Toulouse without any problem".

The other day we went on a tour of the old Roman Arena in Toulouse. 1900 years ago, that was the main sports entertainment. The arena had seats for half of Toulouse's population at the time, and gladiators would fight bears and wolves and each other. Not that there's much left of the arena today, but I have a good imagination.
[ | 2003-11-01 18:11 | 6 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Mary and JC
picture ABC TV plans a documentary looking into the possibility that Jesus had a wife. Should hardly be a news item, but apparently that is something that causes controversy. The show is based on The Da Vinci Code, a novel I haven't read, but which is based on lots of research found in other places. Like, I've read Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Which in part presents an excellent case for the story that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had descendants and that there's a lot of intrigue around secret groups of people carrying on and protecting their blood line. Anyway, as to the Da Vinci thing, look at the famous "Last Supper" picture. As Michael Rivero says:
"That's a woman sitting next to Jesus, occupying the traditional position of a wife. Under Judaic laws of the time, Jesus could not be a Rabbi unless he were married. But Jesus marriage and his children are the secret Christianity does not want you to know, because the early Christian church leadership was based on the concept of apostolic descent, which only works if Jesus died without heirs. In the 1200s, the Catholic church, in order to consolidate power, undertook to erase from the world the descendants of the historical Jesus, and all public record that they had ever existed. In the process, 1/2 the population of Southern France was murdered."
I don't know if it was exactly half, but it was pretty bad. And there we're talking here about the Albigensian Crusade in which the catholic church wiped out the Cathars and carried out a general genocide. "Kill them all, God will recognize His own." Anyway, a number of the trails of Jesus and Mary Magdalene seem to lead here, Southern France, the Languedoc area. And the Cathars happened to have their very own idea of what to believe in. Dan Sewell Ward says:
"What did the people of the Languedoc do to deserve such a crusade? The Languedoc practiced a civilized, easy-going religious tolerance, much like Byzantium. In contrast to the fanatical zeal that characterized other parts of Europe, the Languedoc was a place where learning and philosophy flourished, poetry and courtly love were extolled, and Greek, Arabic and Hebrew were enthusiastically studied. Schools devoted to the Kaballah -- aka, Ha Qabala, the ancient exoteric tradition of Judaism -- thrived.

The key problem, from Rome's point of view, was that the Cathars in 1200 constituted a heresy which could conceivably displace Roman Catholicism as the dominant form of Christianity. In general the Cathars subscribed to a doctrine of reincarnation and to a recognition of the feminine principle in religion. Indeed, the preachers and teachers of Cathar congregations were of both sexes. At the same time the Cathars rejected the orthodox Catholic Church and denied the validity of all clerical hierarchies, all official and ordained intercessors between man and God.

At the core of this position lay an important Cathar tenet -- what the Church called the repudiation of "faith". In the place of "faith accepted at second hand", the Cathars insisted on direct and personal knowledge, a religious or mystical experience apprehended at the individual in a firsthand fashion. This experience has been called gnosis, from the Greek word for "knowledge", and for the Cathars it took precedence over all creeds and dogma. Given such emphasis on direct personal contact with God -- priests, bishops, and other clerical authorities became superfluous. Also, Popes. Oops."
Sounds much preferable to me. No wonder they were massacred. But they aren't exactly gone. The spirit of the Cathars is quite alive today with the people who live here. It is an important memory and historical background for who people are, and just about everybody who's lived here for a while is ready to tell you the story, and you see books and magazines and TV shows everywhere about the Cathar heritage. And, I must admit, I find it rather intriguing myself.
[ | 2003-11-01 18:11 | 12 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Israel and US biggest threats
There's apparently some controversy around a large EU poll which was asking in part what country people considered to be the biggest threat to world peace. The answer was Israel. And what country contributes the most to world instability, to which the answer was the United States. The controversy wasn't about the precision of the poll, but about the fact that less explosive parts of it were published first. Anyway, I'd tend to agree with the results, and I would probably have given the same answers. Weapons of mass destruction and distraction in the hands of well-funded fanatics is a dangerous thing. And reports like this makes me a bit nervous.
"American-made Harpoon missiles, armed with nuclear warheads, are now aimed by Israel’s fleet of Dolphin-class submarines against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Following September’s exclusive report in American Free Press about Israel’s submarine nuclear attack capability, over 100 Harpoon cruise missiles have been secretly airlifted to the remote island of Diego Garcia, a joint UK-U.S. base in the Indian Ocean.

The three Israeli submarines that arrived at the base early this month were each loaded with 24 Harpoon missiles.

They then set sail for the Gulf of Oman—bringing Iran’s nuclear facilities all within range of the submarines’ payloads.

The decision to launch them is entirely in the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Just as Sharon gave Washington only a short warning before he gave the order to attack an alleged terrorist camp deep inside Syria, he has made it clear to Washington that the same rule of engagement will apply if it comes to launching the Harpoons."

Not that I know if it is correct, but it wouldn't be particularly surprising.

(Addition, November 6th: As it turns out, there are plenty other validations of the same news item, including public acknowledgements. See, for example the Guardian)
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