Ponder Ancient Muslim Tolerance


Posted almost three years ago in reaction to anti Muslim sentiment, exasperation couldn’t begin to fathom where we find ourselves today. Religious intolerance will be the death of us all.

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I doubt many could fathom a world of religious tolerance under Islam. Ancient history lends itself to images of holy war, crusades and religious oppression.

Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453 – a crushing blow in favour of the Ottoman Empire – orchestrated by a 21 year old visionary. According to Sharia law, non-Muslims were guaranteed freedom and protection from persecution. Once Ottoman rule was established, it made little sense to squabble over religious differences.

The Arabic word for “nation” is millet. The Ottoman Empire allowed each “millet” or religious group to elect leaders and practice freely as a “nation” under Ottoman protection. Each “millet” was free to enforce their own rules – Islamic law did not apply to non-Muslim “nations”.Criminal acts within a “millet” were dealt with under religious laws of that nation. The only time Islamic law applied was when crimes involved people of two separate nations or was perpetrated…

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Core No. 7


The search term “Egyptian core 7” directs more traffic to this blog than all other search terms combined -go figure…

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It strikes me as appropriate – my 701st post not only contains No. 7, but resonates with ancient wonder that got me blogging in the first place.

No. 7 requires an open mind, suspension of belief, dismissal of dusty textbook historical timelines, willingness to resist alien conspiracy theories and a good dose of childlike wonder. To ponder No. 7, is to accept we know jack about the past. Clear your mind of rolled eyes, dismissive platitudes, tin foil hats, new age fruit cakes, divine intervention and crocks of shit.

In 1881 British archeologist Flinders Petrie found something remarkable near the great pyramids at Giza. He didn’t unearth great riches or open an undisturbed tomb. Petrie picked up a piece of granite – a 4000 year old chunk of construction debris. A treasure politely tucked away in the Petrie Museum of Egyptology in London, England – one that defies explanation, logic…

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MLK Day


First posted 4 years ago, I do so again because nothing has changed. Donald Trump blithers “Make America great again” without an inkling of what a great nation stood for. MLK knew what it meant. He knew racial inequality choked the premise America might ever be great.

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Today, January 18, 2016 is Martin Luther King Day in America. A federal holiday falling on the Monday closest to January 15, the day MLK was born in 1929. MLK was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Establishing MLK Day wasn’t easy – a 1979 vote by the House of Representatives –  defeated by 5 votes. In 1980/81, six million signatures supporting MLK Day were collected on a petition to Congress – deemed “the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history”. Republican Senators Jesse Helms and John Porter East from North Carolina led the opposition. Helms orchestrated a filibuster against the bill in 1983, producing a 300 page document alleging King associated with communists. New York Senator Patrick Moynihan threw it on the Senate floor, declaring it a “packet of filth” as he stomped on it. On November 2, 1983 president Ronald Reagan set aside…

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In God We Trust


First posted over a year ago – here I go again. The moral of this story applies more than ever before. Wake up America.

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The last thing this Canadian possesses is a degree in American history. Perceptions stem from proximity, reading, news media and travel – personal experiences responsible for cementing notions of “In God We Trust” America as “One Nation Under God”. It never occurred to me that one nation under God was created by corporations in a post Depression United States.

The United States began with a secular motto – E Pluribus Unum, Latin for “One For Many”, a reflection of one federal state comprised of many individual religious and political units.

I wonder how many Americans have heard the name H. W. Prentis, head of the National Association of Manufacturers in 1940s America. Post Depression American corporations came up with a strategy to undermine Roosevelt’s  “New Deal” , a popular plan dubbed the Social Gospel movement, (helping each other with the aid of an activist government, rather than dwelling on sin…

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Teotihuacan Notes


Technical difficulties sorted out – a re-post with images.

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Thirty miles northeast of Mexico City, Teotihuacan (a founding member of my bucket list ) waited. Having spent a few days in Mexico City, skittish pre-travel advice/warnings to “book in advance”, “take a reputable tour” and “avoid public transit” had long since evaporated. We hailed a street cab, destination – Terminal de Autobus del Norte. At the bus station,  paid 46 pesos each (under $4 Canadian return trip ) and hopped a coach leaving every 15 minutes for Teotihuacan.

Going in I knew Teotihuacan (City of the Gods) was a UNESCO World Heritage site. The largest pre-Aztec city in central Mexico, covering 20 square kilometers, dominated by Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, both situated along Avenue of the Dead’s considerable 2.4 km reach. Above all I knew Pyramid of the Sun was lined with Mica, a sheet mineral prized for thermal conduction and electrical insulation properties. Mica quarried thousands…

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Once Upon A Time….


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If you know the story of Mary Poppins  you’ll know that the children could only understand what the birds were saying when they were very young. Open hearts and minds; unfettered by responsibility, or yearning to be anything other than what they were; gave them a portal to endless wonders. Explanations were unnecessary – imagination a tool rather than a task. Peter Pan never grew up, Alice disappeared down a rabbit hole, and Dorothy travelled to Oz.

My early years were spent in those places. Never bored or at a loss for what to do, nothing seemed impossible. I devoured Greek mythology,  could name every constellation in the night sky. There were forts to build, tunnels to dig, hollow logs to explore. I wasn’t afraid of trolls or goblins, I knew how to avoid their tricks. Fairies danced for me every evening, certain it was just a matter of time until they invited me for tea.

Not…

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