Fusion: Old into New
Healthier Choco-Chip Cookies
The Latin word “fusio” came upon the scene in the sixteenth century. It meant something was melted, not so much to be destroyed but to be changed – a type of evolution if you will. Fusion religions are just that. And while you might not be able to name three fusion religions off the top of your head, you do know elements of them – mediums, zombies, black magic, séance, and the word that was made popular in the Ghostbusters films, ectoplasm.
Syncretism is a word similar to fusion but where fusion is the combination of things into a melting of something new, syncretism relies on combining seemingly opposite things. The conquests of Alexander the Great brought about a fusion of cultures which led to syncretism as the Roman Empire conquered and spread. One of the first philosophical and religious meltings in the Greco-Roman world became known as Gnosticism. The term Gnostic was used by English poet and philosopher Henry More but it came from an adjective meaning “pertaining to knowledge – gnostikos”, fist coined by Plato in describing the intellectual dimension of learning as compared to the practical use of learning. Gnosticism incorporated elements of Oriental mysticisms and spiritualities with some from Judaism, Christianity, and Greek religious concepts and was quite popular during the Hellenistic period of 300 BCE to 300 ACE.
An Iranian prophet called Mani, living in the third century, combined elements of Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism in creating a fusion religion named after him, Manichaeism. An Indian reformer known as Guru Nanak, living in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, combined Hinduism and Islam to create Sikhism. Attempts to create a syncretism of Protestant Christian faiths in the seventeenth century by Theologian George Calixtus resulted in the same disapproval by orthodox religions as previous fusion religions received – disapproval and negativity.
Some historians have argued that all religion is syncretistic and studying the histories of the major religions might just bear witness to this claim. After all, the Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi is said to be the original Ten Commandments that is so important in the Jewish and Christian faiths. The Romans used Greek deities and later combined them with Celtic gods. As the Roman Army moved across Europe to the Atlantic Ocean, they not only gained territory, they combined their existing culture with that of the people they conquered. While syncretism was not a factor in the split of the Christian Church into the Roman and Eastern Orthodox faiths, it did become a factor in the Protestant Reformation. It is important, however, to note the differences between contextualization and syncretism. Contextualization is an interpretation of the religion into the culture whereas syncretism is a combining of different religions into a new one.
To this end, elements of Christianity were combined with mysticism to create a new type of Christian spiritualists who believe in the ability to contact the dead by holding séances, etc. in spite of passages from Deuteronomy and Luke which expressly forbid contact with the dead. Neo-Paganism is a fusion religion combining living with nature harmoniously with the worship of ancient gods and goddesses. The modern day religion of Wicca is one example of a Neo-Paganistic religion. Spiritualism is another old made new fusion religion. It has led to a new economical upswing in the paranormal industry and is sometimes seen more as a branch of science rather than religion. Condomble is a fusion of African religions such as Yoruba and Roman Catholic rituals which include animal sacrifices as the devout followers exchange offerings to the gods for security and eternal protection. Another fusion religion is the Hare Krishna movement, officially called the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Hara Krishna, made famous by musician celebrity Beatle George Harrison, believes the Hindu deity Krishna is a supreme manifestation of God, as was the Buddha and Rama. Today some Hindus will even worship at Krishna temples.
Some agree with Sigmund Freud in considering fusion religions are simply a matter of man’s life on earth, an evolution of cultures and faith. In his book: Civilization and Its Discontents”, Freud wrote: “Long ago he formed an ideal conception of omnipotence and omniscience which he embodied in his gods. Whatever seemed unattainable to his desires – or forbidden to him – he attributed to these gods. One may say, therefore, that these gods were the ideals of his culture. Now he has himself approached very near to realizing this ideal, he has nearly become a god himself. But only, it is true, in the way that ideals are usually realized in the general experience of humanity. Not completely; in some respects not at all, in others only by halves.”
Albert Einstein once said “What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.” Perhaps syncretism is the evolution of religious thought. Perhaps it is diversity of belief. Whatever and however one defines them, fusion religions have been around for quite a long time and evidently are here to stay. They, too, have given birth and some have evolved into completely new religions which we will next discuss. As actor John Wayne once said, “Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday.”
Healthier Choco-Chip Cookies
Let’s face it, cookies are not a health food item. However, you can healthier and still enjoy the occasional cookie. One way to make mealtime healthier is to make smarter choices. Instead of having a calorie and fat-ladened dessert, pick a fruit. Exchange pureed fruit for oils and/or butter in a favorite recipe and use spices and herbs instead of salt and sugar for flavoring. Skim evaporated milk makes a great substance for cream in many dishes and helps not only in counting calories but also in fighting high cholesterol.
3 large overripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ olive oil
2 cups oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 c shredded coconut
1/3 cup raisins and/or chopped nuts
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
6 oz carob chips (chocolate chips may be substituted)
In one bowl combine all the wet ingredients and stir. In another bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. When fully incorporated add the wet ingredients to the dry. Using a large soup spoon, place one spoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for approximately twelve minutes. Cooking times will vary depending upon the oven.