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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 […]