Responsible

Responsible

Pentecost 23

 

One of the first rules in marketing is to NOT use a word that puts people on edge.  With the title of this post I have violated that rule.  I make no apologies and trust my readers are mature enough to continue reading.  This series is about turning the ordinary into the extraordinary and while we will explore over two hundred ways to make that happen before its conclusion, I would be remiss if I did not point out the easiest way to make that happen – Be responsible.

 

In number thirteen of this series we discussed some of the ways we can live responsibly.  That post was entitled “ ‘R’ You Ready?” and, as you might recall, discussed ways to live responsibly by recycling, repairing, reusing, and reserving.  Let me add another ‘R’ word – remember.

 

I could have titled this piece Remember.  That would attracted more attention but I think, to be true to you the reader, I needed to be honest.  I don’t what to take you down a nostalgic path on memory lane to a lovely time in your childhood or teen years.  I neither am not extolling the good old days nor the virtue of a period long forgotten. 

 

I want you to remember the value of your life.  Hopefully you feel your life has matter because it definitely does.  All lives matter.  There is nothing so precious or fragile as the life of a human being.  We all enter this world through incredibly similar means, whether with the help of medical personnel or with only family present.  Whether it be by natural process or surgical means, the birth of a human being varies little age to age, culture to culture, religion to religion or absence thereof, economic status having no bearing.

 

While there are various means of dying, we all go through a similar reverse process when our life ceases.  In our birth and our death, we become equal and no one is better than another.  Yesterday’s funeral of Muhammed Ali proves my point.  It was attended by people of all races, socio-economic status, creed, age, economic strata, and color.  The legacy of this man who called himself “The Greatest” is that all could and did relate to his living and his words.  A black Muslim, Ali called a much smaller Caucasian Jewish man his “Little Brother”. 

 

Ali knew that truly we all are brothers and sisters.  Because of that, we all must live in a responsible manner.  Last night a concert was held in Florida and it ended with an autograph signing session where concert goers could get up close, personal, and meet the performing artists.  Sadly, because of the irresponsible actions of one attendee, the evening ended in death.

 

The shooter’s name has not, as of this posting, been released.  His name is not really the issue, though.  His actions are.  This man, for whatever reason, felt he had the right to irresponsible gun ownership and behavior.  He joins hundreds by doing this and adds to the tally of deaths at the hands of such people.

 

It is considered one of the basic freedoms granted in the United States Constitution to bear arms.  It was written immediately after the small group of colonies had defeated their mother country, a defeat many felt was made possible because the colonists were armed.  Early colonial life meant everyone was responsible for obtaining their own food.  The only grocery stores were found in nature and the kitchen garden or farm.  Carnivores hunted and killed animals for their meat.

 

Today, this right has negated the basic right of life for the victims of those whose mental capacity negates their ability to responsibly own a firearm.  The gun lobby protests changing or limiting gun ownership, saying it would put basic democracy at risk.  There are no easy answers other than for all of us to be responsible.

 

I do not know why this man felt he needed a twenty-two year-old singer from New Jersey to be his target.  A woman of faith, a professed Christian, would have made her a target in some countries but, again the Constitution guaranteed a right to her faith.  It guarantees everyone a right to their faith, providing said faith is really a faith and not mental instability or simply a quest for uncontrollable power.

 

I know of no country that guarantees its citizens to right to stand in front of a speeding train but apparently standing in front of a speeding bullet makes sense to many gun owners.  We are not calling for the elimination of trains; we employ safety measures to ensure everyone’s safety.  We can do better than just sit and watch more innocent people die.  We can and need to be responsible in our living.

 

 

Mystery of a Myth

Mystery of a Myth

Pentecost 133

Yesterday we began our discussion of Egyptian mythology by a quick nod to the oldest of the three pyramids at the royal necropolis at Giza.  Constructed somewhere between 2589 and 2504 BCE, the Great Pyramid of Khufu is the only one of the original three pyramids that remains intact.  Some of the blocks that comprise its construction weigh over fifty tons while the other 2 million-plus blocks weigh anywhere from two tons to thirty tons.  As mentioned yesterday, this pyramid is aligned with the constellation Orion but it is not the only one that is.  The pyramids of Menkaure and Khafre are also so aligned.

The Egyptians had a deep reverence for the sky but they also recognized that earth gave us the ability to live.  Perhaps that is why the interior temperature of the Great Pyramid at Giza is a constant temperature that equals the temperature of the earth, 20-degees Celsius or 68-degrees Fahrenheit.  More amazing is that the cornerstone foundations of this pyramid have a ball and socket construction, just like our shoulders, elbows, and knees.  This type of construction allows the pyramid to deal with heat expansion and earthquakes.  Even the mortar is mysterious.  After much analyzation, the exact composition is still unknown and attempts to reproduce it have been unsuccessful.  Unlike conventional mortar used in bricks, this mortar is actually stronger than the stones is binds and connects.

The Great Pyramid of Giza was also known as “Ikhet” which translates as “glorious Light”.  If you remember, we discussed yesterday how it was originally covered in casing stones made of highly polished limestone.  These stones would reflect the sun’s rays, causing the pyramid to sparkle and shine.  It has been determined that such a covering of shimmering limestone made the pyramid similar to a mirror, reflecting light that, if one stood on the mood and gazed upon its location on earth, the pyramid would have shone like a star.  The quarry from whence these limestone blocks were quarried as well as how they were transported to the construction also remains a mystery we have yet to unearth.

What we do know is that the Great Pyramid of Giza is today the most perfectly aligned, accurate to one-tenth of a degree, edifice in existence.  When constructed the North Pole was in perfect alignment with the pyramid.  It is also at the very center of the land mass of the earth.  If you look at a map or globe, this might not seem true but it is in how such a center is determined that makes the statement true.  East/west parallels and north/south meridians intersect at two places.  The parallel and meridians are determined to be those that cross the most land.  One place of intersection is in the ocean while the other is…you guessed it, at the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The walls of the Pyramid are also unique.  For one thing they are concave.  The centers have an indention which forms an eight-sided pyramid inside, visible only from the air and only in certain light.  The eight-sided pyramid is visible at dawn and sunset on two vernal equinoxes – spring and autumn.  The pyramid also contained a swivel door, found in only two other pyramids.  The coffer was built during construction as its size prohibits it passing through any of the doors.  Its construction is also unique.  It was made from one block of solid granite which would have necessitated saws with blades eight to nine feet long possessing teeth made of sapphire.  Hollowing out its interior required extreme vertical force and the use of tubular drills also made of sapphire.  If take the perimeter of the coffer and double it and multiply that by ten to the eighth power you have the sun’s mean radius.

The mathematics might be coincidental except too many such equations exist to be merely random.  The curvature of the faces of the pyramid matches the radius of the earth.  For over thirty-eight hundred years, this pyramid stood as the tallest structure on earth.  The relationship between Pi (p) and Phi (F) is also somewhat of a mystery regarding the Great Pyramid.  Phi is the only number whose square root is one more than itself.  Phi is also known as the Golden Ration, a so-called perfect number found throughout nature.  Pi is the circumference of a circle compared to its diameter.  The Great Pyramid illustrates the relationship of Pi and Phi as well as giving proof to the Pythagorean Theorem, developed by Pythagoras in 570-495 BCE.  Using the Pythagorean Theorem one can construct a Golden Triangle or a perfect triangle with a right angle of 90-degrees or a right triangle.  The Great Pyramid of Giza has four Golden Triangles and perfectly illustrates the relationship between Pi and Phi.

Thus we have a very mathematical, permanent structure, withstanding countless earthquakes and intrusion and thievery.  After all, this was a pyramid whose construction was ordered by a young man, for Khufu was only twenty years of age when he assumed power.  The pyramid took twenty-three years to complete and many myths revolve around both the demeanor and the leadership/tyranny of Khufu as well as the labor needed to create such a memorial.

All too often great leadership does not reflect great humanitarianism.  Andrew Carnegie once said:  “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” The American industrialist Henry Ford is known for having introduced the moving assembly line and created the world’s first production in 1908.  I think someone in Khufu’s regime might have beaten Mr. Ford to the punch on that.  The Great Pyramid of Giza was built with mathematical precision and teamwork and each worker had to have given it his best.

The Great Pyramid of Giza was a great monument for a pharaoh that was not a great humanitarian. It stands today as a testament to the mythological beliefs about the soul being taken to the heavens.  It also incorporates another great myth, that of the underwater world of Atlantis.  Remember the granite coffer in the middle of the Kings’ Chamber?  Supposedly it came from Atlantis.  There are no engravings or inscriptions – just a very large block of chocolate granite.  It is said that the golden capstone also shows water level marks from the flood for which Noah built his ark.  A pyramid built in 2589-2504 BCE showing a watermark from a flood supposedly occurring in 2304 BCE with a stone in the middle from a city written about by a man who lived 427-347 BCE.  And somehow they are all connected…mysteriously.

Pyramid or Something Else?

Pyramid or Something Else?

Pentecost 132

It is seven city blocks long and wide.  Known as the Great Pyramid of Giza (and yes, there are other “great pyramids” worldwide), it was constructed in 4500 BCE.  The name is something of a misnomer, however, since there are actually three pyramids.  They were constructed to honor the grandfather Khufu, the son Kaffre, and the grandson Menkaure.  The pyramid built to house the body of Khufu was coated with white limestone and had a gold capstone.  Like most pyramids’ purpose, we assume it was built to house the body of the pharaoh.  But could it have had a different purpose?  Was there another reason for the construction and why are the three pyramids placed in the positions they were built?

Storytellers in Egypt did not just tell stories.  They had archaeological show-and-tell artifacts to accompany their legends.  The legends of this region are plentiful and, although many visit things such as the Great Pyramid(s) and the various Sphinxes, not much is really known about most African and Egyptian mythology.  First of all, these stories were and still are mainly found in the form of oral tradition, passed from generation to generation by mouth.  Additionally, the belief systems were not that organized and it is difficult to identify the thousands of deities in these myths.  Froom Benin and the Fon religion to Mali with its Dogon mythology, every facet of living became symbolic, based upon some myth.

Egyptian writing refers to a limitless creator, the “Hidden One whose eternal form is unknown.”  In Egyptian mythology, a deity exists first as potential energy.  That energy or potential would then take shape, usually an animal form or combine with another deity.  It is really interesting to me that they treated their deities like scientists treat elements.  Think about the Periodic Table of Elements.  Each exists on its own and yet, most can and are combined to form something else.  Hydrogen and oxygen exist in their natural state but when combined, with twice as much hydrogen as oxygen, then they become what we known as water – H2O.

The Egyptian goddess Ra joined with the god Horus and became Ra-Horakhty; Isis, the Egyptian goddess who is the patron saint of mothers and children and not the radical terrorist modern group who goes around killing mothers and children, formed an alliance with Renenutet, a goddess of fertility and the harvest who was often portrayed in the form of a cobra, to become Isermithis.

It is important to note that while the Egyptians did not worship animals, they did hold in high esteem the animal forms they believed their deities took.  Animals were mummified so that they might be reincarnated.  Animals were also embalmed and received proper burials for much the same purpose.  It was believed that showing such reverence to these animal forms would give a person special blessings and consideration by the deities.  The reincarnated animals would act as liaisons between the gods and goddesses and mankind.

The power of a story is very evident in sub-Saharan Africa and it holds the attention today just as it did when the first stories were told.  One of the more famous myths is from the Ashanti of Ghana and it addresses how these mythologies came to be.  These Anansi stories, so named because the myth gives credit to Anansi, a crafty spider, for convincing the sky deity Onyankopon to release the stories in exchange for Anansi trapping various gods in his web.  The myth proclaims that Anansi, with the help of his wife, even captures Mmoatia, the spirit, considered a most impossible task.

The sky was very important to ancient Egyptians.  Writings known as Pyramid Texts refer to the stars as “imperishable ones”.  The Egyptians believed that, upon his death, the Pharaoh would be transformed into a celestial being.  Did they construct their pyramids, and especially the Great Pyramid of Giza to be more than just a large burial crypt?  The sides of all three pyramids face north, south, east, and west.  The entrance of the largest of the three pyramids faces due north to within one-tenth of a degree.  This is an amazing fact given the tools they had at the time of the pyramid’s construction.  Additionally the descending passage into the burial chamber itself also faced north.

The internal design of this pyramid is fascinating.  It is believed that the Egyptians determined due north using the Pole Star method.  The Pole Star would have been a fixed point and once due north was identified and the passageway built, then construction continued on the rest of the pyramid.  The King’s Chamber is at the heart of the sarcophagus and is directly on the center axis.  It would have contained the mummified body of the pharaoh.

The north and south walls have two shafts and we can only speculate at their purpose.  Was it to provide ventilation or perhaps illumination?  The Egyptians believed the soul was immortal and could not die.  They embalmed and mummified so that the “ka” or body could be unified at some point in the future with the “ba” or soul which, upon death, would be sent or beamed up to the stars.

Beaming a soul up to the stars may sound more like modern-day science fiction than ancient Egyptian mythology but the Egyptians thought of such long before Star Trek had Scotty beaming up Captain Kirk.  Remember, the Egyptians thought one’s soul went to the stars upon death.  The north and south shafts in the Great Pyramid of Giza bend at some point so they could not have simply been observation points.  They do, however, align with the brightest stars of the constellation Orion or rather, they would have aligned at the time of the construction.  We’ve discussed previously the North Star and how the North Star of today has not always nor will forever be the North Star due to something called precession.   The north shaft connected directly to Thuban or Alpha Draconis, a former North Star while the shaft on the southern side aligned with Osiris, the Orion’s constellation god of afterlife.  Osiris also represented the complete cycle of life to the Egyptians – birth, death, and resurrection.

We will discuss this Great Pyramid again but for now, ask yourself:  What captures your spirit today?  What gives your soul release?  What is it that allows you to feel free, really free in your mind?  The purpose of all of these myths was not simply to entertain but to explain.  We often forget to stop and ask ourselves some very important questions, questions like “What would really make my spirit soar?  I have a feeling the questions at the beginning of this paragraph, when you first read them, invoked answers in your mind that went something like this.  What captures my spirit?  Work and responsibilities; they capture and enslave me.  What gives me release?  Going home or, perhaps, going to the movies or out on the town.  What allows me to feel free?  A nice cold beer or piece of chocolate or maybe even a long hot soak in a hot tub or bubble bath.

It is important to know not only where we have been and where we are going, but also to know what drives us and what can give us rest.  Thuban is no longer the North Star but it remains an important nautical marker which continues to guide sailing vessels.  Naval historians know that the USS Thuban, an attack cargo ship served valiantly and was of great importance to the United States Navy during World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The naming of this ship is yet another instance of how ancient mythologies never fade away or die.  They are as immortal of the deities whose stories they tell.

Our living also leaves its footprint on the world.  We may never have a ship named after us or have a great pyramid built in our honor but we do leave our mark.  The trick is to make certain that we are leaving something positive.  We all have a legacy.  Unlike these myths and the spirits about which we are discussing, we can write our own story, create our own legacy.  What will you write today?