SCOTLAND SUNDAY PHOTOS 4 – GLEN DOUGLAS

You can look at all the photos in this series HERE.

Today  the photos are of Glen Douglas. If you go half way up Loch Lomond you come to a highly overpriced pub called the Inverbeg Inn. Just next to it is a turnoff that goes away from the Loch. If you go up that road you will find yourself here…

Also, all these were taken on different occasions so the light and vegetation are a bit different…

If you go down into the Glen there is a beautiful little river which runs into the loch too…

CARL SAGAN FOR REDNECKS

This came via infiniteregress on twitter who I concur with when he says…

“I’m not the biggest Family Guy fan, but this was inspired”

(There is something below the video as well)

This is not as frivolous as it might seem. There have been many allegations that certain nature documentaries have been altered to remove references to evolution and so on. A few years ago Martin Wisse pointed out that that Dutch Evangelical TV had been editing Attenborough programmes to remove all references to evolution. The links for 3 videos [in English] demonstrating the editing were HERE, HERE and HEREbut have since been removed.

A LITTLE TALE FROM THE AMERICAN EMPIRE

When I was in South Korea, something that would often interrupt my nights out was the American military. This happened particularly in Seoul but not only there.

To set the scene, you might be out in a bar in Itaewon in Seoul with a few friends and as the night got on a little bit you would suddenly be confronted with military policeman who were demanding to see your ID.

The point is that these were not Korean military policeman, they were American.

They were looking for soldiers who had not returned (or were not going to return) to their base before their curfew.

A couple of times I argued the point with them and said I was not going to show them any ID. I said “I’m not American and this isn’t the USA. Can’t you hear from my accent that I am obviously not American?”

However, this usually only served the purpose of making the people I was out with  angry as they had already all shown their ID and were anxious to continue the night. Those people were for the most part not American but they didn’t seem to have a problem with it the way that I did.

I must say that on the two occasions I made a point of (initially) refusing to show ID, the military police were not particularly aggressive or rude. They just stood there and continually asked to see identification and made it quite clear that they weren’t going anywhere until I showed them it.

The argument would then continue until my companions started getting angry with me because the argument “could just be stopped in 2 seconds” if I would just show that I wasn’t a soldier.

To my shame, both times I did eventually do it but not without it leaving a bad taste in the mouth.

IS JUDAS GREATER THAN JESUS?

I rarely do a guest spot but this article was written a while ago by my friend Declan, otherwise known as Lonesonesparrow and I thought it very interesting, so here you go….

Is Judas greater than Jesus?

By lonesomesparrow

We are familiar with the expressions “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” It’s funny how biblical references become part of everyday speech. It’s somewhat less funny and more disturbing how biblical references sometimes become part of modern day thought and belief. Thank goodness there are some who don’t literally take these ancient misinterpreted texts for truths. As Martin Luther King said “The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.”

SO are we worshiping the wrong guy? Modern day parlance associates the word traitor with the person Judas Iscariot. Thirty pieces of silver is often quoted as the price of betrayal. There are many flaws in the story.

There is an apparent contradiction in the idea of “the betrayal of God“. The main questions seem to be these:

  • Did Judas exist in his time only to betray Jesus just to fulfill the prophecy?
  • Why did Jesus allow Judas to betray him?
    • Was Jesus unable to prevent the betrayal?
    • Did Jesus willingly allow the betrayal to go ahead?
    • Did Jesus actively try to cause the betrayal to happen?
  • Why is it that the ‘villainy’ of Judas becomes greater and more pronounced as one reads from Mark to John?

The early anti-Christian writer Celsus deemed literal readings of the story to be philosophically absurd, especially because Jesus knew about the treason in advance, and told of it openly to all the disciples at the Passover meal, as well as singling out who the traitor would be without attempting to stop him.

The text of the Gospels suggests that Jesus both foresaw and allowed Judas’ betrayal. In April 2006, a Coptic papyrus manuscript titled the Gospel of Judas (see above section) dating back to 200 AD, was translated into modern language, to add weight to the possibility that according to early Christian writings, Jesus may have asked Judas to betray him [3]. While this seems quite at odds with the Gospel of John, where Judas is portrayed as an arch villain, the Gospel of Mark is much more ambiguous and could be considered to be fairly consistent with the stance of the Gospel of Judas on this question.

Philosophical questions

Judas is also the subject of many philosophical writings, including The Problem of Natural Evil by Bertrand Russell and “Three Versions of Judas“, a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. They both allege various problematic ideological contradictions with the discrepancy between Judas’ actions and his eternal punishment.

  • If Jesus foresees Judas’ betrayal, then it may be argued that Judas has no free will, and cannot avoid betraying Jesus. If Judas cannot control his betrayal of Jesus, then he is not morally responsible for his actions . The question has been approached by Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, which differentiates between foreknowledge and predestination, and argues that the omnipotence of the divine is not sufficient grounds for eliminating the existence of free will. Is free will not God’s greatest gift to mankind?
  • If Judas is sent to Hell for his betrayal , and his betrayal was a necessary step in the humanity-saving death of Jesus Christ, then Judas is punished for saving humanity. This goes hand-in-hand with the “free will” argument, and Aquinas’s Summa deals with the issue of free will in demons and other beings instrumental in the life of Jesus that are nevertheless damned.
  • If Jesus only suffered while dying on the cross and then ascended into Heaven, while Judas must suffer for eternity in Hell, then does Judas not suffer much more for the sins of humanity than Jesus? Should his role in the Atonement be that much more significant? As Borges puts it in “Three Versions of Judas“:

“The ascetic, for the greater glory of God, degrades and mortifies the flesh; Judas did the same with the spirit. He renounced honor, good, peace, the Kingdom of Heaven, as others, less heroically, renounced pleasure.”

  • Does Jesus’ plea, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34) not apply to Judas? Is his atonement insufficient for Judas’ sins?
  • It has been speculated that Judas’ damnation, which seems to be possible from the Gospels’ text, may not actually stem from his betrayal of Christ, but from the despair which caused him to subsequently commit suicide. This position is not without its problems, but it does avoid the paradox of Judas’ predestined act setting in motion both the salvation of all mankind and his own damnation.

The damnation of Judas is not a universal conclusion. The Roman Catholic Church only proclaims individuals’ Eternal Salvation through the Canon of Saints. There is no ‘Canon of the Damned’, nor any official proclamation of the damnation of Judas.

Motivation

The Kiss of Judas, by Giotto di Bondone 

The Kiss of Judas, by Giotto di Bondone

Was the monetary value of 30 pieces of silver the only motivating force for Judas’ actions considering that 30 pieces of silver was also the price one paid for a slave that had been gored by an ox in Old Testament Law? After seeing Jesus’ popularity declining, was Judas’ motivation for handing Jesus over an attempt to force the hand of God into action? Jesus often spoke of creating a kingdom and saving his people. Many times Judas saw Jesus escape capture and stonings. Judas might have been trying to spur Jesus into a war with the Romans by telling them where he was.

The last reading may be plausible if the etymology of “Iscariot” (see below) could be related to Sicarii, a sect of the Zealots committed to the violent overthrow of Rome. If Judas was a Sicarius (which may or may not be historically possible), then it’s possible that he saw Jesus as the Messiah in the fashion expected by the Zealots: a military leader who would defeat and cast out the Romans. If this scenario was the case, then Judas may well have been trying to force Jesus into a position where he had to reveal himself as the divinely appointed warrior-king who would destroy his enemies.

In conclusion Judas Iscariot was not spurred by Satan as was written by Luke 21:37-22:6 “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.” It was against Satan’s wish for Jesus to fulfill his story and save humanity by dying on the cross. Therefore why would he want Jesus to be betrayed.

The gospels are flawed and it could well be that Jesus and Judas were in ca-hoots. If this were to be the case- Jesus got all the glory and Judas took the flack. In my view Judas’ sacrifice is greater than that of “The Messiah”.

 

THE 16th of FEBRUARY

A dark day in Scottish history indeed.

I here paraphrase what someone said about it at the time. It is a political principle I think that holds good if you change the names and circumstances too…

“It’s better to have our politicians here in Edinburgh where we can throw stones at them because not even the strongest arm can throw as far as London.”

Here is part of the wikipedia entry on the subject…

The Treaty could be considered unpopular in Scotland: Sir George Lockhart of Carnwath, the only member of the Scottish negotiating team against union, noted that `The whole nation appears against the Union’ and even Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, an ardent pro-unionist and Union negotiator, observed that the treaty was `contrary to the inclinations of at least three-fourths of the Kingdom’. Public opinion against the Treaty as it passed through the Scottish Parliament was voiced through petitions from shires, burghs, presbyteries and parishes. The Convention of Royal Burghs also petitioned against the Union and not one petition in favour of an incorporating union was received by Parliament. On the day the treaty was signed, the carilloner in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, rang the bells in the tune Why should I be so sad on my wedding day? There were also massive protests in Edinburgh and several other Scottish burghs on the day it was passed by Parliament, as threats of widespread civil unrest resulted in Parliament imposing martial law.

Also, here is a beautifully sung version of what Robert Burns said about it too.

  1. Fareweel to all our  Scottish fame
    Fareweel our ancient glory
    Fareweel even to our  Scottish Cname
    Saefamed in martial story
    Now Sark rins to the Solway sands
    And Tweed rins to the Ocean.
    To mark where Englands province stands
    Sic a parcel of rogues in a nation
  2. What  force or guile could  not  subdue
    Through many warlike ages
    Is wrought now by a coward  few
    For hireling traitors wages
    The English steel we could disdain
    Secure in valours station.
    But English gold has been our bane
    Sic a parcel of rogues in a nation.
  3. I would, ere I had seen the day
    When treason thus could sell us
    My auld grey head had lain in clay
    Wi’ Bruce and loyal Wallace
    But pith and power ‘till my last hour
    I’ll make this declaration.
    We were bought and sold for English gold
    Sic a parcel of rogues in a nation.

(VERY) SHORT STORY

Explanation in the comments (maybe).

SLIP-UP

The man faltered and fell down the stairs but it didn’t echo. The stairs were steep, and the old osteoperitic bones almost powdered on impact. When his head hit the cold stone floor  it didn’t reverberate enough for anyone to notice. A dog outside barked for 10 minutes but eventually found more interest in the smells it could get to on its side of the door, and went away.

ANNIVERSARY OF AN ATROCITY

(This is a repost from a couple of years ago but I think it is worth a look if you didn’t read it then.)

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Something nice for Valentine’s day I think…

It is so often said that war is natural part of human behaviour that many people just accept it. Conflict or disagreement certainly might be, but full-on war is a different matter.

Most people know about the 1914 Christmas Truce in WW1 when the British and German soldiers played football and exchanged gifts (note for some American readers – WW1 started in 1914, not 1917 and WW2 started in 1939, not 1941).

This is usually presented as a one-off – a freak occurrence, but that simply isn’t true. It also happened in 1915 with the Germans and the French and in 1916 there was a truce on the Eastern front.

When I was at school and computers were in their 64k stage we were given a programme to play around with in one history lesson. Extremely basic though it was, the idea was that you were the British General deciding what tactics you could use to defeat the Germans in World War 1 given the tactics and equipment of the time.

The trick was that although it was possible to win the game, it wasn’t possible to do it without a bloodbath on both sides. I think it in its own way, it was meant to be a little anti-war statement.

However, the game didn’t give you the option of simply not attacking and not attacking was the way that many people survived in World War One.

In the earlier stages of the war informal truces sprung up all over the place. Both sides would aim artillery far and wide, this was understood as an offering of peace and reciprocated. In many places it then became a kind of game. Snipers would aim to miss but in a showing-off ‘look what I can hit’ way. This was partly to pass the time and partly to warn that if the truce was broken then there was a capability of reprisal. Contrary to popular belief the conflict was very low-intensity in many places at different times. There are many eyewitness accounts of the soldiers apologising to each other for firing too near.

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This changed of course when the officers – the ones far removed from the front line that is – heard about it. They were appalled by this sort of behaviour and devised new tactics like surprise raids and so on which destroyed the fragile trust that opposing soldiers had built up.

After the war of course it was the generals that had insisted on the continuation of mass random slaughter that were awarded medals and had statues of each other erected. Of the officers in the field who insisted on pressing on, well, many of them were shot in the back by their own side as they advanced toward the opposing army.

In many societies around the world in pre-industrial times the object of war was not the genocide of the opposing group but rather the humiliation. From some of the Native Americans to societies in Africa, actual fatalities were very unusual. Some sources even describe what is essentially a high-intensity game of tag (involving a smack with a stick). In other places a tit-for-tat, one of yours for one of ours kind of conflict often persisted over a long time but without an eruption into absolute warfare.

It may be that there is a part of our genetics that leads us toward conflict but it is certainly not the cause of the mass slaughters that have happened through history. Rome wanted to conquer, other groups wanted to live and let live. Genghis Khan would wipe out thousands, other groups at the time didn’t.

It is demonstrably untrue that the Romans and other groups throughout history that have and are conducting mass slaughter and conquest on the genocidal scale are genetically diverse enough from those living next to them to have a different set of genetic imperatives, so it must be societal conditions that lead to this kind of behaviour. And as we all know, societal conditions can change.

Why mention all this today?

Today is an anniversary. Not valentines day, but the anniversary of an atrocity carried out by British and American forces in World War 2 – the bombing of Dresden which occurred on the night of the 13th/14th February 1945 when the war was nearing its end. Dresden was not regarded as a strategically important city, which is why it hadn’t been bombed up until then. Russian troops were also closing in on the city.

The BBC, in their ‘On This Day‘ section are showing the report from 1945 and there is a little section which says..

The Dresden raid caused a public outcry. Even Winston Churchill, who had urged Bomber Command to attack east German cities, tried to dissociate himself from it.

However, they miss an important part out. They say that explosives and ‘incendiary bombs’ were dropped, which is true. What they don’t say is phosphorus was dropped – a chemical weapon. Eyewitnesses reported that the temperature was so hot in some places that in the wreckage of homes were found puddles of metal that had once been pots and pans.

Kurt Vonnegut wrote brilliantly about this in his book Slaughterhouse 5. He was a prisoner of war in Germany at the time.

Oh, and the BBC neglected to mention for a long time that white phosphorus was used recently in Fallujah. This was despite the fact many people were giving them evidence and urging them to. Even when they did mention it it was very brief and swiftly consigned to the memory hole.

THE MASSACRE OF GLENCOE

Today is the anniversary of the massacre of Glencoe…


Oh cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe
And covers the grave o’ Donald
And cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe
And murdered the house o’ MacDonald

They came through the blizzard, we offered them heat
A roof ower their heads, dry shoes for their feet
We wined them and dined them, they ate o’ our meat
And slept in the house O’ MacDonald

Oh cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe
And covers the grave o’ Donald
And cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe
And murdered the house o’ MacDonald

They came from Fort William with murder mind
The Campbell had orders, King William had signed
Pit all tae the sword, these words underlined
And leave none alive called MacDonald

Oh cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe
And covers the grave o’ Donald
And cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe
And murdered the house o’ MacDonald

They came in the night when the men were asleep
This band of Argyles, through snow soft and deep.
Like murdering foxes, among helpless sheep
They slaughtered the house o’ MacDonald

Oh cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe
And covers the grave o’ Donald
And cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe
And murdered the house o’ MacDonald

Some died in their beds at the hands of the foe
Some fled in the night, were lost in the snow.
Some lived to accuse him, what struck the first blow
But gone was the house of MacDonald