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  • Modern Magic in Afghanistan: Omar and the Prophet’s Cloak September 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Modern Magic in Afghanistan: Omar and the Prophet's Cloak

    Acts of magic are rare in the modern world. But every so often things happen that individuals and more importantly crowds interpret in this light. 4 April 1996, Mullah Omar, the one-eyed Taliban leader, appeared in central Kandhar in front of a crowd of over a thousand devout muslims. Omar was about to undertake an […]

    ISIS and Their Historical Caliphate Cobblers June 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval
    ISIS and Their Historical Caliphate Cobblers

    ***Dedicated to Ricardo and his Missus*** ISIS is a group of Islamists who have recently made it on the news by taking over a quarter of Iraq and an adjacent and not insignificant area of poor mutilated Syria. Flick through ISIS news reports and most will involve atrocity stories including decapitation, crucifixion and human bonfires: […]

    Monotheistic Moments November 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Monotheistic Moments

    There seems to be no question that early human societies were polytheistic. Might it even be said that polytheism is the natural human condition? Perhaps monotheism is the equivalent of Big Macs and fried mars bars, whereas we should all really be eating freshly killed gazelle and the fruits of the forest? There is, in […]

    How Islam Created the Italian Renaissance November 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    How Islam Created the Italian Renaissance

    The Renaissance! What’s not to like: Leo flying; Micky chipping at marble; men in tights and women in bodices; the pop, snap, crackle of Kultur; and cherubs falling from the sky like hailstone. According to the textbooks fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italians, more particularly the urban Italians of northern Italy rediscovered the Greek and Romans and […]

    The West Without Christianity: Neo-Platonism, Allah or Jupiter? September 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The West Without Christianity: Neo-Platonism, Allah or Jupiter?

    Woke up with a crazy counter-factual thought. Let’s say that Christ is born and becomes messiah to a select group of Nazarenes. He is crucified and allegedly rises from the dead: keep or strike the ‘allegedly’ as pleases you. However, then things go awry. Paul never has a migraine on the Road to Damascus and […]

    Peter, Abraham and Muhammad on the Wrong Side of the Urals June 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Peter, Abraham and Muhammad on the Wrong Side of the Urals

    Here’s a bizarre scenario (with no basis in the historical record…). c.c.c.1000 a Jewish, a Muslim and a Christian missionary find themselves on the wrong side of the Ural Mountains among a horse-killing, horse-worshipping pagan people (and before anyone writes in there is some ancient and medieval evidence for Jewish ‘evangelism’). The Christian missionary, Peter, […]

    The Evils of Chess! April 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Evils of Chess!

    Chess! The taut, horrid syllable is enough to unveil the rotteneness at the heart of that most dreadful of games. Avoid it! Turn from it! Ostracise those who play it! Ok, Beach is playing out here, but he recently came across this extraordinary quotation from an Anglican vicar from Essex, at the death of his […]

    Roman Empire vs Caliphate in Sub-Saharan Africa October 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Roman Empire vs Caliphate in Sub-Saharan Africa

    By the mid first century AD the Roman Empire had run against four limits, limits that its subjects would never overcome: in the west, the Atlantic; in the north, the German tribes (thanks Varus); in the east, the ‘Persian’ Empire and its successors; and in the south, the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert beyond. […]

    Crowds #4: Religion July 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Crowds #4: Religion

    Beach has so far offered up three crowd photo collections: August 1914, Speaking to Crowds and Crowds as Art. Today he thought he’d move in a little deeper with religious crowds from a small file he’s been building up over the last couple of years. The picture that head’s this post is one of his […]

    Islam Creates Europe June 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Islam Creates Europe

    Modern Europeans tend to have mixed feelings about the rise of Islam: Islam and Christianity have, after all, been butting heads for the last fifteen hundred years. What is not normally appreciated though is the fundamental role Islam had in creating Europe. Islam, it will be remembered, was born in the Middle East in the […]

    Suicide and Historical Loopholes April 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Suicide and Historical Loopholes

    Suicide has proved abhorrent to most spiritual traditions. Certainly, the great monotheistic religions and most of the far Eastern religions have condemned ‘self-murder': cue lots of pulpit bashing and descriptions of hell or unpleasant reincarnations. This begs the question though of what you can do if you live in 500 BC or 500 AD or […]