Religion in the Fertile Crescent.

The fertile crescent has birthed many religions, some which we still practice today such as Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Being the self appointed research historian I am, I did alot of research and here is a summary, for all my history nerds.

First things first, the fertile crescent is a crescent shaped fertile area that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian gulf. The region includes modern day Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria and Iraqi.

A Polytheistic fertile crescent.

By 3000 B.C. the Sumerians had formed 12 city states in the Tigris-Euphrates valley which included the famous cities of Babylon, Ur, Uruk and Eridu. Each city state had a chief deity who was worshipped in a Ziggurat / temple ( The Ziggurat was made of sun-dried bricks and decorated with colored tiles. A staircase climbed to a shrine atop the Ziggurat).

The Sumerian deities included; Anu, Enlil, Utu, Nanna, Inanna, Ninhursag, Enki, Nergal, Tamuz… The list goes on. Although the Sumerians worshipped and honored their many gods, they felt no personal connection with them. They pictured their deities as unpredictable and selfish beings who had little regard for human beings. Ordinary people depended on their own personal deities who not only protected them but also acted as mediators between them and the greater deities. The Sumerians also loved adventure tales. A good example is the story of Utanapishtum of Shurrupak ( a summary);

The gods were planning to create a great flood. The god Ea, warned Utanapishtum of the great flood and advised him to tear down his house, build a ship and into the ship bring seed of all living creatures. Utanapishtum did as advised, he took his family into the boat and closed the door. The old gods were ashamed of what they did and Ishtar cried ‘O how could I have done this to my people!’. Utanapishtum sent out birds to confirm whether the flood had subdued. When the flood subdued, the god Enlil touched his forehead and blessed his family.

Adapted from Gilgamesh. Retold by Herbert Mason.

NB: There is a striking similarity between the Bible’s Noah, and Utanapishtum of Shurrupak. Skeptics argue that the Jews borrowed the story from the Gilgamesh account that dates back to the 2000s B.C. I Believe the flood was an actual event that was passed down through generations. Since the Bible is God inspired, it therefore is a more accurate depiction!

The Akkadians ( nomadic semites) invaded and conquered the Sumerians in the 2000s B.C. led by Sargon I. According to legend, Sargon was born a herder, his mother abandoned him as a baby, setting him in the Euphrates river in a reed basket where a farmer found him and raised him as his own. The Akkadians adopted the Sumerian deities and practices.

The Amorites arose under a powerful ruler Hammurabi, whose main capital city was Babylon. They were a polytheistic people with deities such as Marduk, who was later known as Bel meaning ‘lord’, Shamash, Nergal, Tiamat and Ea.

The Assyrian empire rose to it’s full glory by about 650 B.C. with it’s capital city at Nineveh. The Assyrians worshipped deities such as Ashur, Ishtar, Shamash, Eilil and Ea.

The Monotheistic fertile crescent.

The Bible remains one of the main rich source of the fertile crescent history. Abraham originally lived in the city of Ur, where they worshipped the moon god Nanna. Around 1900 B.C. Abraham left Ur, along with his family and belongings and became a nomad. Linking Egypt and Mesopotamia was a strip of land called Canaan which The God of Abraham, Yahweh, had decided to give him. Yahweh determined wrong and right and expected people to act justly with each other. The teachings exist today as the religion of Judaism that shares many of its aspects with Christianity and Islam.

The Persians were the most powerful nation in the fertile crescent during the 540s B.C., under the powerful Cyrus. They were Polytheistic up until the 570 B.C. when a prophet called Zoroaster called for religious reforms. He preached that the world was divided by a struggle between good and evil. The god Ahura Mazda led the forces of good and a villain god, Ahriman, led the forces of evil. At the end of time, Ahura Mazda would triumph over Ahriman. Zoroaster also taught that humans had to choose between good and evil. Those who fought on the side of Ahura Mazda would be rewarded with eternal life and those who chose Ahriman would be condemned after death to eternal darkness and misery. These teachings were recorded in a book called the Avesta.

Christianity began with a Jew named Jesus who grew up in Nazareth. Jesus travelled through Galilee and Judea from about A.D. 30 to A.D. 33, preaching and winning followers. Jesus urged the people to turn away from sin. He urged that God was all forgiving towards all those that repented no matter how evil they’d been. Jesus’ disciples believed he was the Messiah, while other Jews considered Him as a somewhat astray Rabbi. In about A.D. 33, Jesus was arrested as a political rebel and crucified. After Jesus’ death, his disciples proclaimed He’d risen from death and began preaching Jesus is the way to salvation. His teachings are recorded in the Bible’s new testament.

Islam which means ‘ submission to the will of Allah ‘ began with Muhammad. After his marriage to Khadija, a wealthy widow, Muhammad spent time alone praying and fasting in a cave. In A.D 610, Islamic teachings hold that Muhammad had a vision calling him to be the apostle of the one true God Allah, to ‘recite’ and to ‘ rise and warn’ . Muhammad preached on social justice and equality. After a brief illness, Muhammad died at Madinah in the A.D. 632. His teachings have been recorded in the Quran.

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The classical dream.

Mr. Darcy, from Jane Austen’s pride and prejudice and Heathcliff, from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering heights, are among the most beloved romantic heroes of all time. What kind of classical novels lover would I be if I didn’t talk about this two hotties, and how they’ve managed to steal our hearts over the years?

Mr.Heathcliff.

Heathcliff is described as a dark person, both in complexion and character. He is an emotionally traumatized person due to his dark past, which paints a complex/mysterious/ bad boy picture to the readers. Edward Cullen from Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, Christian Grey from Erika Leonard’s Fifty shades of grey and Hardin Scott from Anna Todd’s After, are other legendary bad boy characters we can’t help but sigh over! They all have common characteristics such as introverted in nature or misanthropic, brooding, anger management issues and are sometimes accustomed to violence.

Heathcliff didn’t just love Catherine, he was obsessed with Catherine: Her body, mind and soul. He turned her into an object…the only object of affection in his life, and loved her with a ferocious passion. Catherine’s love for Heathcliff was equally fiery, she once confessed to Nelly, ” I don’t just love Heathcliff, I am Heathcliff,”. Their connection so strong, when she died, our hero came apart. The idea of being the only object of love and desire in a man’s life is quite tempting I daresay. That kind of ferocious passion though,has no place in reality. It only ends up destroying both the lovers and the people around them, as was the case of Heathcliff and Catherine.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Austen describes Darcy as a tall, noble, fine man with handsome features and wealth. He perfectly fits what a majority of today’s women would consider as their dream man. A man with such qualities is not only believed to offer provisions and security, but could also pass those genetic goods to your descendants!

Our Darcy’s personality is very captivating. He’s a moody, unapproachable, self absorbed and not to mention,very private man. Most women seem to be attracted to this. They see it as an opportunity to be the ones who finally cure the man’s character after everything else has failed. I’ve witnessed this in real life too, a woman will keep on dating a man whose behavior she can’t stand, claiming, “He’s going to change!”. In most cases, he never does.

Darcy, later on, falls madly in love with our heroine, Elizabeth Bennett. He could have any woman he wants, given his social standings, but he only wants Elizabeth…Dreamy, right?. He admires Elizabeth for the woman she is: An ordinary looking woman, very open-minded, chooses her own path, is not afraid to speak her mind, does not give in to societal demands and takes her future into her own hands (something the modern woman thrives to achieve). When a man admires and appreciates his woman for who she really is, she’s inspired and empowered. Every woman deserves a Darcy!

Darcy’s relationship with our heroine is to die for. Their love story isn’t your typical love story based on beauty, society’s expectations or vain amusements. Instead, they fall in love with each other’s personalities, minds and intellectual conversations. This blossoms to a beautiful marriage based on respect, passionate love and understanding. A woman’s dream marriage.

To top it up, Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship is a very realistic one. Modern day couples could relate to: love Is not always a ‘at-first-sight’ affair, the misunderstandings, the family drama and people working to tear you apart. Luckily, Darcy and Elizabeth get past the challenges and achieve happiness.

Existing on Earth.

You’re never truly free with a friend until they ask you, “What are your worst fears?”. Answers to this question always include death, poverty, darkness, natural catastrophies, the paranormal, losing a loved one, creepy insects, reptiles, lonileness… When I was younger, all of those might have been a thing for me, but now that I’m an adult, I see no point in being afraid of those, as they are either inevitable or unpredictable.

The only thing that scares me now is life itself.

Everything about life has proven to be complicated (I speak for myself), and I constantly find myself exhausted by life on Earth, wondering if it’s worth the effort it takes to live.

We are living at a time where everyone has a way of living right; how to be happy, how to make money, how to have a happy relationship, how to age gracefully, how to have a successful marriage, how to stay fit, how to retire young, what’s good and what’s bad… We then proceed to infect each other with a particular way of thinking that we pass down to our offsprings.

Plus, there has never been an end to sufferings on Earth. Even if we tried to end the sufferings, it’s still we ourselves who aid in the suffering of each other, using the insanity of our worldly systems and culture ( It’s not a horrible world, it’s just a world filled with horrible people.) We inflict pain on each other, enslave each other, oppress each other, go to war with each other and kill each other as soon as its possible to. Humans, after all, are creatures who need war and suffering to cry for each other or love each other (observe how tragedies all over the world serve to remind us we are human and bring us together in solidarity.)

It’s difficult to live simply and comfortably in a world like ours. Unless you either think and act like the world thinks and acts or adopt the world as it is. There are people who know no suffering, corruption, injustices, ignorance of mind, pain or hunger, all because they have adopted and accepted those things and thus their lives made simple.

The life of man is very brief and very miserable and as it is miserable it is well it is brief – Jeremy Taylor.

Isn’t life itself scarier than dying? What’s wrong with dying? Especially dying in Christ?
The Bible says death is just a sleep from which one will be awakened by the coming of our Lord. Its not a permanent state. The dreadful thing about death is leaving behind the people you love and having absolutely no idea how they would get by without you…

The only hope humanity has is God. His grace and unending love for us, despite all our short comings and human nature. He makes everything worth while, with a promise of eternal life that’s different from our earthly lives.

The convenient person.

To talk about conveniency, I’m going to look into Dolores Durer’s relationship with her husband Anthony and lover Victor, from The Bleeding Heart by Marilyn French.

Dolores and her late husband Anthony;

Anthony’s favorite word was Convenient… ” It’s convenient if we go to my mother’s place. Very convenient if we stay home during the vacation. More convenient if I drive. ” . Anthony only did things when they were convenient for him. He tuned Dolores on and off when it was convenient for him. He never bothered to think how she felt as long as it was convenient for him. Dolores accepted his nature, thinking she could cure it with love, fidelity and acceptance.

Dolores and Victor;

Victor doesn’t try to be convenient, it comes naturally. He is distant with his children because he claims it’s a biological bond only a mother can achieve, (The baby grows inside a mother, nursed out of a mother’s body, a mother can sense her child’s needs and understand even without speech). In truth, it’s just convenient for him to believe it’s biological, (I mean, if he’d taken his time to care and spend time with the children he’d know too. He’d be able to sense them and understand their cries without speech. It’s nothing magical). Victor occasionally pressures Dolores to tag along during his business trips, but spends time with her only when it convenient for him. Companionship when he wants it. Dolores saw herself as a bottle of Scotch, to be there only when wanted. He never thought of her as a person, but as a tool arranged for his pleasure. He left her in the lonileness of the hotel room day and night, came to her late and high after a night with his colleagues just to sleep with her.

This is a topic that had me feeling like, ‘Been there, felt that, done that ‘. I know how it feels to be a conveniency, as much as I might have treated a friend with conveniency. Nothing as worse as falling in love with someone who conveniently loves you. They are only there for you when they need you, they always have something to do or are too tired when you need them, they have the ability to tune you off for long periods even after an exciting time together, with unanswered texts and calls, your thoughts don’t matter at all…the list goes on…

I believe everyone on this planet has someone set aside, who loves them unconditionally and cherishes every moment with them. Don’t hold onto someone who only loves you conveniently. I know there is a devilishly exciting thrill in being “the one” who transforms them, resist it, let go and move on. There is peace in accepting and letting go than holding on and afflicting your feelings. You deserve someone who sees your true worth honey.

For the depressed.

A story of The little Match girl by Hans Andersen (I was eight years old…or maybe nine… I’m not sure… when I read the story, and it moved me to tears) for anyone who hasn’t read it;

Its a cold Christmas Eve, and a little girl, barefoot and cold, is trying to sell matches on the street. Unfortunately, no one is buying her matches. Afraid to go home because she’ll get a beating from her father, she huddles in the angle between two houses and lights the matches to keep herself warm. No one pays attention to her and the poor conditions she’s enduring. She lights a match and finds comfort in the visions the flames provide: Warmth, a beautiful Christmas tree, shooting stars…She lights another match, and sees the face of her late grandmother (the only person who’d ever shown her kindness and love). She lights all the matches just to keep the vision of her grandmother alive, and when she runs out of matches, the little girl dies of cold. The next day when people find her body, they express pity.

Looking back now, I think I can relate the little match girl’s story with depression ( The cold she endures,the sadness and loneliness in her heart, the flame visions which are her only escape…).

I got a few psychological quotes from World health Organization to help you guys understand what depression really is.

  • Depression is like being colour blind and constantly being told how colourful the world is, or drowning while everyone else is afloat.The feeling of helplessness, frustration and anger to how everyone is oblivious to you condition.
  • Not controlling your thoughts, but your thoughts controlling you. Your thoughts always working to keep you down, “you’re not good enough! You’re a failure! Everyone can see what a loser you are! No one cares about you! You’re on your own! Even God himself has abandoned you!”
  • Your lips saying, “Fine, thank you,”while your eyes scream,Please, help me!”. It’s easier to say you have an headache than it is to say you have a bleeding heart.
  • People think depression is crying, prolonged sadness, dressing in black, feelings of darkness and shutting yourself off from society, but then those always pass. Real depression is a paralyzing numbness to emotions and life. Unlike sadness and crying, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for a depressed person.
  • Tired, to a depressed person, is a permanent state, in which sleep is the only escape.waking up in the morning and dragging through the day just to get to bed at night.
  • Having to pretend that you’re enjoying your life on Earth. It never works though, each time you pretend you’re fine, you die a little more.
  • Depression is like feeling everything at the same time. Fear of failure at the same time urge to be productive, wanting friends at the same time hating to socialize, wanting company at the same time wanting to be alone…
  • They ask,”How are you doing ?” But what they really mean is, “Is it over yet?” . People not really understanding what you’re going through. You get accustomed to comments like, ” Do yoga, Try being more positive, it’s just a phase and you’ll get over it eventually,”.
  • Trying to find an outlet for all the emotional storm raging inside, mostly by drug abuse or excessive eating.

If you have a loved one fighting depression, perhaps you could try tuning in your empathy and being there for them, Listening and not judging, giving love and support, praying for them and giving them hope. That might uplift a depressed soul.

For any depressed person reading this,I won’t promise it will get better (it might,or it might not), but I hope you get the strength to truly live one day at a time and not give up. If you did it today, you can do it tomorrow, and the next day, and the following one. As a good Christian friend once told me, “Don’t look at yourself and the world, you’ll only get depressed, instead, look at the cross, that’s where your true worth is.”

Respect, love, or both?

We are living in a time and age where it’s a belief, respect is for men and love is for women. I believed that too, so much that i might have written a blog about it sooner. My thoughts on this topic have changed though, and I’ll tell you why by quoting two books; The Bible and Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ love and Respect for a lifetime.

First, a summary of Love and Respect. Many a man have a natural instinct to react in an unloving way when they sense disrespect or contempt from their partner, and when their female partners feel unloved, they react in a disrespectful manner. Respect and love hence go hand in hand, if she respects him, he will definitely love her.love is important for a female while males require respect. The only way to truly love a man is by respecting him for who he is as a human being.

The Bible has a lot to say about love and respect. Ephesians 5:1-2, clearly says:

Since you are God’s dear children, you must try to be like him. Your life must be controlled by love…

We are God’s dear children, and God is love. We are called to be like Him, so we are all called to love. Love, is not gender specific, alot of Bible verses are proof enough. A good example is that of Jesus, at the last supper, urging his disciples ( who were all male ), to love one another as He had loved them; John 13: 34 – 35. The disciples were not asked to respect each other,but instead, to love.

Respect is not gender specific either. Infact, proverbs 31: 30-31 says;

Charm is deceptive and beauty disappears, but a woman who honours the Lord should be praised. Give her credit for all she does. She deserves the respect of everyone.

If you read the entire chapter you will come to realize the verse is talking about a hardworking wife and mother. Alot of verses speak of respecting everyone, whether male or female; 1 Peter 2:17, Ephesians 6: 1-3, Hebrews 13: 1- 7, Leviticus 19: 32. As effective as Respect is, it’s not as powerful as love is: love forgives, love needs, love cares, love is patient… God Himself, as mighty as he is, wants our love above anything else. Men are just human beings, who are they to not need love?

About Ephesians 5:33, wives are asked to respect their husbands. I believe this is due to the husband’s position as the head of the family and one who has authority over his wife ( Our God is a God of order after all). We respect our bosses at work, our elders, parents and gurdians, someone with a higher rank than us…and at home, the husband is made boss by God. This doesn’t mean that a wife should be silenced, made to feel inferior or enslaved all in the name of ‘ respecting her man’ . Their should be true love and respect in actions ; listening to each other, growing together, serving each other and supporting each other.

Shaming women.

I read an article on the standard magazine, the Evewoman section, titled: The campus girl is not a wife. The campus girl was shamed as a sex object for campus boys, an adulterer, drunkard who spends her weekends in night clubs and weekdays nursing hangovers, the scarlet woman who cannot be domesticated by a man, poor culinary skills, conniving, calculating, sneaky, hypocrite etc etc. The campus girl might be all that, I’m not trying to deny it, but what about the campus boy? The campus boy is nothing close to a Puritan… he also sleeps around, is a drunkard,weekends spent in night clubs, a hypocrite, an adulterer and cannot be domesticated by a woman. Those aren’t qualities of a good husband either, why isn’t he shamed for that like she is? Society chooses to turn a blind eye to that and instead the campus girl is shamed and doomed for her actions, while the campus boy is encouraged to find a village wife with virtue and forget the ‘manner-less intellectuals ‘, despite his actions. For shame!

Some time last year, a Kenyan socialite and celebrity, ended their fairytale like relationship dramatically. She later decided to shame him, announcing his poor bedroom skills on social media and talking trash about him. When she was done, people on social media turned on her,slut shaming her for not being able to be satisfied in bed, called her bitter and still not over her ex. She learnt the hard way; You can never Shame a man for his sexuality. Around the same time, a sex tape of a couple having sex in Imenti house, Nairobi, was leaked. The video was making rounds on social media as an entertainment, people sharing the video, including the females (women don’t really stick together in this country). A lot of harsh things were said about the female, and nothing at all about the man. Later on, it was established the scene didn’t even happen in Kenya…still, the message was clear: You can’t shame a shameless man, you can only remind him of the awesome shit he’s done – Captain Perverto.

Let’s narrow it down to the average, unmarried woman in a relationship. If anything goes wrong, she will always pay a higher price than her man. It’s the woman’s morals that are shamed if she’s having sex with him, it’s the woman who is called names, it’s the woman’s mother whose parenting is questioned by society, it’s the woman who has an abortion, it’s the woman who sacrifices her semester education to have the baby , it’s the woman who has to work hard and balance her education/career with raising her baby, it’s the woman who gets judged for all that. Yet the man, luckily, has a choice to either pay the price with her or not.

Women, think about that.

Whenever you allow yourself to get involved with a man, the higher price will be yours to pay. It wouldn’t hurt if we were each other’s keeper; Avoid rejoicing in a sister’s shame, helping to spread rumors about her or sharing inappropriate videos and photos of her. After all, you never know, it could be your turn next