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Halloween 2018

attitude choice education fake "holy" days Freedom insights Joan Winifred knowledge logic

the irony of: me enJOYing big CHUNKS of chocolate as i type this post protest (chose word cause it’s more poetic aka it tastes good to my ears and word palate…though, for the record, i don’t personally/bodily/literally participate in actual/concrete “protests” for political neutrality purposes/reasons)…

NOPE…i do–by (well-informed) conscious choice–refrain/avoid any and all Halloween rituals!…and will, most likely, boycott candy consumption tomorrow. LOL so, i’m “bingeing” ? 😉 on Godiva Dark Chocolate Almond and Hershey’s Dark Chocolate sans Almond…(gifts from Hubby and not endorsements by me of said brands) tonight–dressed as my boring/(non-fun) freckled self without mask/make-up–this makes my corny self chuckle.

Would You Agree? (at crucial times) Truth is NO laughing matter…BOO< BOO< BOO to You joanie!!!

Have You read my confessions??

2013, 14, 15, 16 Confessions of a Chocolate Lover

Sam What?

No, NOT a fan Man of Mass Mind Manipulation of Nations..no, thanks!

“You must not walk in the statutes of the nations.” “Do not learn the way of the nations at all.” (Lev. 20:23; Jer. 10:2)

reformation(s)…removing varnish..and tarnish?!

Halloween’s roots, although not found in the Bible, can be traced back to a pagan origin. The pre-Christian Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all celebrated a festival for the dead. These ancients believed that on these occasions the spirits of the dead returned; therefore food was left for them and lamps were kept burning so they would not lose their way.

The Celtic order of Druids worshiped Samhain, lord of the dead, as well as a sun-god to whom the horse was sacred. On November 1, which was also their New Year, they held a joint festival in honor of these gods. It was believed that the souls of those who had died the previous year because of their sins were confined to the bodies of lower animals, and at the time of this festival Samhain assembled them together, and they were released to go to the Druid heaven. On the eve of the feast of Samhain the pagan Celts used to keep bonfires burning, believing that this would protect them from evil spirits.

The many features of today’s Halloween and Day of the Dead celebrations can be traced directly back to paganism. The ancients associated this time of the year with the supernatural and with the thronging of dead spirits, so it was right in line with Catholic church policy to adopt this date for their All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day. The people were thus able to keep their pagan customs and beliefs and still celebrate what are called Christian festivals of the highest rank. But the varnish applied by Christendom to these pagan feasts is so thin that there is no questioning the fact that Halloween is rooted in paganism.

It is interesting to note that the Protestant Reformation was touched off on Halloween night. How so? Martin Luther, knowing it was the custom of the people to flock to the Palace Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on the eve of All Saints, picked that night to nail his ninety-five theses to its door. On reading them, the people’s smoldering resentment against the Catholic church burst into flames. Many pagan practices were cast off by the reformers, the celebration of All hallows Eve being one of them. [excerpted reading: w 11/1/1960 What Does Halloween Mean to You?]

{often wondered, but haven’t taken time to research…any? existing/trustworthy stats/data on

crime/violence/vandalism/aggression/bullying/suicide spiking/attributed to Halloween night.}

an observation–without hard evidence–from a non-participant/outsider…each year seemingly incrementally escalating of advertising and costumes, etc. seem much more outlandish and gory…over-the-top bloody-scary to me than in previous years.

Healthy Teeth to You:)…aka no rotten rituals…aka Understanding Truth about ideas/practices/origins/masks-disguises of dictators dictating cultural/religious holidays/dogmas…indoctrination(s).

freely enjoying my chocolate consumption in moderation as myself 🙂

10/20/18 @ 8:07 p.m.

Published by:

Being Selective

Breathing-Fragile-Life change choice conscientious-ness control courage education Freedom God humility insights Joan Winifred knowledge logic mind food motivation power questions spiritual food study Truth

Greetings:) Truth-Seeking-Reader.

Truth is a value i hold nearanddear (Not a typo). Since youth “Truth” (pursuing/acquiring/living it) has been my main objective, purpose, vocation, occupation!…obsession?-lol;)

For me, and obvious to any Regular Readers (Thanks for Your Time!:)), my priority is Spiritual/Biblical Truth…which trickles to other Truth topics…i.e., Science, health, etc.

Through the years, have had countless conversations with various Folks (the 🙂 and the 🙁 the pleasant, the disagreeable) from all walks of life, all walks of education, culture, religion including Agnostics and Atheists.

Every One is a teacher; for sure. Both positive and negative…conversations aka transmissions of knowledge…teach…(and possible mold).

Who is molding me?

A reocurring concern/cluster…family of spiritual questions bubbling to the surface among thinking, caring, loving people…seems to be:

Why is there evil?

Why would God allow suffering? When will it end?

IF God is all knowing and all powerful, did God “create” evil?

IF my life is predestined…why bother? (changing, trying, etc.)

Hoping this reading i’ve enJOYed (in the past) will help You now (and in the future)…resolve/reconcile…touch these seemingly tough topics of discussion.

Is Your Future Predestined?

Many people believe that their life and future are predestined by a higher power. They feel that from conception to death, we all follow a script already written in the mind of God. ‘After all,’ they say, ‘God is all-powerful and all-knowing, or omniscient, so surely he must know every detail about the past, the present, and the future.’

WHAT do you think? Does God foreordain our life course and ultimate destiny? In other words, is free will genuine or just an illusion? What does the Bible say?

Total or Selective Foreknowledge?

The Bible leaves us in no doubt as to God’s having foreknowledge. He knows “from the beginning the finale,” says Isaiah 46:10. He even used human secretaries to record many prophecies. (2 Peter 1:21) What is more, those prophecies always come true because God has both the wisdom and the power to fulfill them in every detail. Hence, God can not only foreknow but also foreordain events whenever he chooses to do so. However, does God foreordain the destiny of every human or even the total number who will gain salvation? Not according to the Bible.

The Bible teaches that God is selective when it comes to foreordaining the future. For example, God foretold that “a great crowd” of righteous humans would survive the destruction of the wicked at the end of the present system of things. (Revelation 7:9, 14) Note, though, that God did not give a specific number for that great crowd. The reason? He does not predestinate individuals. God is like the loving father of a large family. He knows that at least some of His children will reciprocate His love, but He does not predetermine the number.

Compare God’s use of foreordination with the way he uses his power. As the Almighty, God has absolute power. (Psalm 91:1; Isaiah 40:26, 28) But does he use his power in an uncontrolled manner? No. For instance, he held back from acting against Babylon, an enemy of ancient Israel, until the time was right. “I kept exercising self-control,” God said. (Isaiah 42:14) The same principle applies to his use of foreknowledge and foreordination. Jehovah exercises self-control in order to respect the free will that he gave us.

God’s control of his powers does not limit  him or render him imperfect. In fact, it magnifies his greatness, and it endears him to us, for it shows that his sovereignty truly is exercised not only with omniscience and power but also with love and respect for the free will of his intelligent creation.

Is God to Blame??

On the other hand, if God predetermines everything, including every nasty accident and vile deed that has ever happened, could we not rightly blame him for all the misery and suffering in the world? Thus, upon closer inspection, the teaching of predestination does not honor God, but casts a pall over him. It paints him as cruel, unjust, and unloving​—the very opposite of what the Bible says about him.​—Deuteronomy 32:4.

The Choice Is Yours

By means of his servant Moses, God said to the nation of Israel: “I have put life and death before you, . . . and you must choose life . . . by loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice and by sticking to him; for he is your life and the length of your days.” (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) Had God predestinated each Israelite either to love him and gain life or to disregard him and merit death, His words would have been both meaningless and insincere. Do you believe that God, “a lover of justice” and the very personification of love, would act in such an arbitrary way?​—Psalm 37:28; 1 John 4:8.

More Questions:

HAVE YOU WONDERED?

▪ To what extent does God exercise foreknowledge?​—Deuteronomy 30:19, 20; Isaiah 46:10.

▪ Why would God not predetermine everything, including the bad things that happen to people?​—Deuteronomy 32:4.

▪ What will ultimately determine our future?​—John 17:3.

God’s purpose and man’s plan(s)…

By means of the Bible, God is, in effect, saying to us: ‘This is my purpose for mankind and the earth, and this is what you should do to gain everlasting life. It is now up to you to decide whether to listen to me or disregard me.’ Yes, how perfectly God balances his powers of foreordination with his respect for our free will! Will you choose life “by listening to [God’s] voice and by sticking to him”? [excerpted reading AWAKE! 2009, Is Your Future Predestined?]

Tackling evil…

Normally, people want to be peaceable, honest, and kind. Why, then, do we often see violence, injustice, and cruelty? Horrific news reports are common. Is there someone trying to make people act badly?Read 1 John 5:19.

Did God make humans with an evil tendency? No, Jehovah God created humans in his image, with a tendency to imitate God’s love. (Genesis 1:27; Job 34:10) But God also dignified humans with free choice. When our first parents chose to act badly, they rejected God’s example and became imperfect. We inherited the tendency to sin from them.Read Deuteronomy 32:4, 5.

God wants us to resist our bad tendencies. (Proverbs 27:11) So he teaches us how to avoid doing wrong and how to find real happiness. At present, though, we cannot imitate God’s love perfectly.Read Psalm 32:8.

Although evil abounds now, God is permitting it for a limited time to allow all to see its sad consequences. (2 Peter 3:7-9) Soon, however, the earth will be filled with happy people who obey God.Read Psalm 37:9-11

[excerpted Where Did Evil Come From? Bible Questions Answered]

Humans:) we have the power of selection. We can choose to use…any talent, gift, knowledge, circumstance…for the good, better, best.

9/30/18 @ 10:56 a.m.

Peace & Purpose:)..to You Reader.

Published by:

beginnings

conscientious-ness education God insights Joan Winifred knowledge language science & spirituality spiritual food study things i learned True v. False Religion trust Truth

Happy Saturday…the beginning(?) of the week-end.
Or may be (?) Friday night is the real beginning of the week-end, eh?

Anyway, have You read…so, You have some context for current post.

Questions for Consideration(s): Don’t be scared to think!

Are the Many Religions too different or too similar? Is it like comparing apples to oranges? Both are fruit. Can we trace the ‘beginning’ of religion? What do the world’s religions produce? Edible fruit? Inedible fruit?

28. How can we find out if there is a common origin for the world’s religions?

28 We can get the answer in the same way that linguistic experts got their answers about the origin of language. By placing the languages side by side and noting their similarities, an etymologist can trace the various languages back to their source. Similarly, by placing the religions side by side, we can examine their doctrines, legends, rituals, ceremonies, institutions, and so on, and see if there is any underlying thread of common identity and, if so, to what that thread leads us.

29. To what can many of the differences among religions be attributed?

29 On the surface, the many religions in existence today seem quite different from one another. However, if we strip them of the things that are mere embellishments and later additions, or if we remove those distinctions that are the result of climate, language, peculiar conditions of their native land, and other factors, it is amazing how similar most of them turn out to be.

30. What similarities do you see between Roman Catholicism and Buddhism?

30 For example, most people would think that there could hardly be any two religions more different from each other than the Roman Catholic Church of the West and Buddhism of the East. However, what do we see when we put aside the differences that could be attributed to language and culture? If we are objective about it, we have to admit that there is a great deal that the two have in common. Both Catholicism and Buddhism are steeped in rituals and ceremonies. These include the use of candles, incense, holy water, the rosary, images of saints, chants and prayer books, even the sign of the cross. Both religions maintain institutions of monks and nuns and are noted for celibacy of priests, special garb, holy days, special foods. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it serves to illustrate the point. The question is, Why do two religions that appear to be so different have so many things in common?

31. What similarities do you see among other religions?

31 As enlightening as the comparison of these two religions turns out to be, the same can be done with other religions. When we do so, we find that certain teachings and beliefs are almost universal among them. Most of us are familiar with such doctrines as the immortality of the human soul, heavenly reward for all good people, eternal torment for the wicked in an underworld, purgatory, a triune god or a godhead of many gods, and a mother-of-god or queen-of-heaven goddess. Beyond these, however, there are many legends and myths that are equally commonplace. For example, there are legends about man’s fall from divine grace owing to his illicit attempt to achieve immortality, the need to offer sacrifices to atone for sin, the search for a tree of life or fountain of youth, gods and demigods who lived among humans and produced superhuman offspring, and a catastrophic flood that devastated nearly all of humanity.

32, 33. (a) What can we conclude from the remarkable similarities among the world’s religions? (b) What question needs an answer?

32 What can we conclude from all of this? We note that those who believed in these myths and legends lived far from one another geographically. Their culture and traditions were different and distinct. Their social customs bore no relationship to one another. And yet, when it comes to their religions, they believed in such similar ideas. Although not every one of these peoples believed in all the things mentioned, all of them believed in some of them. The obvious question is, Why? It was as if there was a common pool from which each religion drew its basic beliefs, some more, some less. With the passage of time, these basic ideas were embellished and modified, and other teachings developed from them. But the basic outline is unmistakable.

33 Logically, the similarity in the basic concepts of the many religions of the world is strong evidence that they did not begin each in its own separate and independent way. Rather, going back far enough, their ideas must have come from a common origin. What was that origin?

An Early Golden Age

34. What legend regarding man’s beginning is common to many religions?

34 Interestingly, among the legends common to many religions is one that says humankind began in a golden age in which man was guiltless, lived happily and peacefully in close communion with God, and was free from sickness and death. While details may differ, the same concept of a perfect paradise that once existed is found in the writings and legends of many religions.

35. Describe the ancient Zoroastrians’ belief about an early golden age.

35 The Avesta, the sacred book of the ancient Persian Zoroastrian religion, tells about “the fair Yima, the good shepherd,” who was the first mortal with whom Ahura Mazda (the creator) conversed. He was instructed by Ahura Mazda “to nourish, to rule, and to watch over my world.” To do so, he was to build “a Vara,” an underground abode, for all the living creatures. In it, there “was neither overbearing nor mean-spiritedness, neither stupidity nor violence, neither poverty nor deceit, neither puniness nor deformity, neither huge teeth nor bodies beyond the usual measure. The inhabitants suffered no defilement from the evil spirit. They dwelt among odoriferous trees and golden pillars; these were the largest, best and most beautiful on earth; they were themselves a tall and beautiful race.”

36. How did the Greek poet Hesiod describe a “Golden Age”?

36 Among the ancient Greeks, Hesiod’s poem Works and Days speaks of the Five Ages of Man, the first of which was the “Golden Age” when men enjoyed complete happiness. He wrote:

“The immortal gods, that tread the courts of heaven,

First made a golden race of men.

Like gods they lived, with happy, careless souls,

From toil and pain exempt; nor on them crept

Wretched old age, but all their life was passed

In feasting, and their limbs no changes knew.”

That legendary golden age was lost, according to Greek mythology, when Epimetheus accepted as wife the beautiful Pandora, a gift from the Olympian god Zeus. One day Pandora opened the lid of her great vase, and suddenly there escaped from it troubles, miseries, and illness from which mankind was never to recover.

37. Describe the ancient Chinese legendary account of a “paradise” at the beginning of history.

37 Ancient Chinese legends also tell of a golden age in the days of Huang-Ti (Yellow Emperor), who is said to have ruled for a hundred years in the 26th century B.C.E. He was credited with inventing everything having to do with civilization​—clothing and shelter, vehicles of transportation, weapons and warfare, land management, manufacturing, silk culture, music, language, mathematics, the calendar, and so on. During his reign, it is said, “there were no thieves nor fights in China, and the people lived in humility and peace. Timely rain and weather resulted in abundant harvest year after year. Most amazing was that even the wild beasts did not kill, and birds of prey did no harm. In short, the history of China began with a paradise.” To this day, the Chinese still claim to be the descendants of the Yellow Emperor.

38. What conclusion can we draw from all the similar legendary accounts of man’s beginning?

38 Similar legendary accounts of a time of happiness and perfection at the beginning of man’s history can be found in the religions of many other peoples​—Egyptians, Tibetans, Peruvians, Mexicans, and others. Was it just by accident that all these peoples, who lived far from each other and who had totally different cultures, languages, and customs, entertained the same ideas about their origin? Was it just by chance or coincidence that all of them chose to explain their beginnings in the same way? Logic and experience tell us that this could hardly be so. On the contrary, interwoven in all these legends, there must be some common elements of truth about the beginning of man and his religion.

39. What composite picture can be assembled from the elements common to the many legends about man’s beginning?

39 Indeed, there are many common elements discernible among all the different legends about man’s beginning. When we put them together, a more complete picture begins to emerge. It tells how God created the first man and woman and placed them in a paradise. They were very content and very happy at first, but soon they became rebellious. That rebellion led to the loss of the perfect paradise, only to be replaced by labor and toil, pain and suffering. Eventually mankind became so bad that God punished them by sending a great deluge of waters that destroyed all but one family. As this family multiplied, some of the offspring banded together and started to build an immense tower in defiance of God. God thwarted their scheme by confusing their language and dispersing them to the far corners of the earth.

40. Explain the Bible’s relationship to the legends about the origin of man’s religions.

40 Is this composite picture purely the result of someone’s mental exercise? No. Basically, that is the picture presented in the Bible, in the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis 1-11. While we will not go into a discussion of the authenticity of the Bible here, let it be noted that the Bible’s account of man’s early history is reflected in the key elements found in many legends. The record reveals that as the human race began to disperse from Mesopotamia, they carried with them their memories, experiences, and ideas everywhere they went. In time these were elaborated and changed and became the warp and woof of religion in every part of the world. In other words, going back to the analogy used earlier, the account in Genesis constitutes the original, crystal-clear pool from which stemmed the basic ideas about the beginning of man and worship found in the various religions of the world. To these they added their particular doctrines and practices, but the link is unmistakable.

41. What should you bear in mind as you study subsequent chapters in this book?

41 In the following chapters of this book, we will discuss in greater detail how specific religions began and developed. You will find it enlightening to note not only how each religion is different from the others but also how it is similar to them. You will also be able to note how each religion fits into the time scheme of human history and the history of religion, how its sacred book or writings relate to the others, how its founder or leader was influenced by other religious ideas, and how it has influenced mankind’s conduct and history. Studying mankind’s long search for God with these points in mind will help you to see more clearly the truth about religion and religious teachings.

Why Is Man Religious?

▪ John B. Noss points out in his book Man’s Religions: “All religions say in one way or another that man does not, and cannot, stand alone. He is vitally related with and even dependent on powers in Nature and Society external to himself. Dimly or clearly, he knows that he is not an independent center of force capable of standing apart from the world.

Similarly, the book World Religions​—From Ancient History to the Present says: “The study of religion reveals that an important feature of it is a longing for value in life, a belief that life is not accidental and meaningless. The search for meaning leads to faith in a power greater than the human, and finally to a universal or superhuman mind which has the intention and will to maintain the highest values for human life.

So religion satisfies a basic human need, much as food satisfies our hunger. We know that eating indiscriminately when we are hungry may stop the pangs of hunger; in the long run, however, it will damage our health. To lead a healthy life, we need food that is wholesome and nutritious. Likewise, we need wholesome spiritual food to maintain our spiritual health. That is why the Bible tells us: “Not by bread alone does man live but by every expression of Jehovah’s mouth.”​—Deuteronomy 8:3. [excerpted reading: Mankind’s Search for God, Chapter 2, Religion–How Did It Begin? pp. 39-40]

2:03 p.m. 9/29/18

Published by:

Searching: Truth

conscientious-ness education God insights Joan Winifred knowledge mind food never giving up! spiritual food True v. False Religion Truth

Greetings Truth Searcher🙂 Keep UP Your Search!🙂

We learned this: Myths can contain kernels/morsels of Truth…e.g., The Flood…(more than a legend).

(May be? these kernels serve as Morse code? an S.O.S. of sorts?)

Thus far, we’ve also learned this: Myths don’t always have a basis in fact or “in the Bible.” E.g., illusion of Immortality of the Soul…(false belief/incorrect teaching).

Ready to read…some more? (my blue highlights)

Sun Worship and Human Sacrifices

31. (a) What did the Egyptians believe about the sun-god Ra? (b) How does that contrast with what the Bible says? (Psalm 19:4-6)

31 The mythology of Egypt embraces an extensive pantheon of gods and goddesses. As in so many other ancient societies, while the Egyptians searched for God, they gravitated toward worshiping that which sustained their daily life​—the sun. Thus, under the name of Ra (Amon-Ra), they venerated the sovereign lord of the sky, who took a boat ride every day from east to west. When night fell, he followed a dangerous course through the underworld.

32. Describe one of the festivals to the fire-god Xiuhtecutli (Huehueteotl).

32 Human sacrifices were a common feature in the sun worship of the Aztec, Inca, and Maya religions. The Aztecs celebrated a constant cycle of religious festivals, with human sacrifices to their various gods, especially in the worship of the sun-god Tezcatlipoca. Also, in the festival of the fire-god Xiuhtecutli (Huehueteotl), “prisoners of war danced together with their captors and . . . were whirled about a dazzling fire and then dumped into the coals, fished out while still alive to have their still palpitating hearts cut out to be offered to the gods.”​—The Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas.

33. (a) What did Inca worship include? (b) What does the Bible say about human sacrifices? (Compare 2 Kings 23:5, 11; Jeremiah 32:35; Ezekiel 8:16.)

33 Farther south, the Inca religion had its own sacrifices and myths. In ancient Inca worship, children and animals were offered to the sun-god Inti and to Viracocha, the creator.

Various Gods & Goddesses…

Mythical Gods and Goddesses

34. Who made up the most prominent Egyptian triad, and what roles did they play?

34 The most prominent of the Egyptian triads is that made up of Isis, symbol of divine motherhood; Osiris, her brother and consort; and Horus, their son, usually represented by a falcon. Isis is sometimes portrayed in Egyptian statues offering her breast to her child in a pose very reminiscent of Christendom’s virgin-and-child statues and paintings, which came on the scene over two thousand years later. In time Isis’ husband, Osiris, achieved popularity as the god of the dead because he offered hope of an eternally happy life for the souls of the dead in the hereafter.

35. Who was Hathor, and what was her chief annual festival?

35 Egypt’s Hathor was the goddess of love and joy, music and dancing. She became the queen of the dead, helping them with a ladder to achieve heaven. As the New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology explains, she was celebrated with great festivals, “above all on New Year’s Day, which was the anniversary of her birth. Before dawn the priestesses would bring Hathor’s image out on to the terrace to expose it to the rays of the rising sun. The rejoicing which followed was a pretext for a veritable carnival, and the day ended in song and intoxication.” Have things changed all that much in New Year celebrations thousands of years later?

36. (a) What was the religious setting for Israel in the 16th century B.C.E.? (b) What special significance did the Ten Plagues have?

36 The Egyptians also had many animal gods and goddesses in their pantheon, such as Apis the bull, Banaded the ram, Heqt the frog, Hathor the cow, and Sebek the crocodile. (Romans 1:21-23) It was in this religious setting that the Israelites found themselves in captivity as slaves in the 16th century B.C.E. To release them from Pharaoh’s stubborn grip, Jehovah, the God of Israel, had to send ten different plagues against Egypt. (Exodus 7:14–12:36) Those plagues amounted to a calculated humiliation of the mythological gods of Egypt.

37. (a) What kind of characters were some of the Roman gods? (b) How did the conduct of the gods affect their followers? (c) What experience did Paul and Barnabas have in Lystra?

37 Now let us move on to the gods of ancient Greece and Rome. Rome borrowed many gods from ancient Greece, along with their virtues and vices. (See boxes, pages 43 and 66.) For example, Venus and Flora were brazen prostitutes; Bacchus was a drunkard and reveler; Mercury was a highway robber; and Apollo was a seducer of women. It is reported that Jupiter, the father of the gods, committed adultery or incest with about 59 women! (What a reminder of the rebel angels who cohabited with women before the Flood!) Since worshipers tend to reflect the conduct of their gods, is it any wonder that Roman emperors such as Tiberius, Nero, and Caligula led debauched lives as adulterers, fornicators, and murderers?

38. (a) Describe the kind of worship practiced in Rome. (b) How did religion influence the Roman soldier?

38 In their religion, the Romans incorporated gods from many traditions. For example, they took up with enthusiasm the worship of Mithras, the Persian god of light, who became their sun-god […], and the Syrian goddess Atargatis (Ishtar). They converted the Grecian Artemis the huntress into Diana and had their own variations of the Egyptian Isis. They also adopted the Celtic triple goddesses of fertility.​—Acts 19:23-28.

39. (a) Who ruled the Roman priesthood? (b) Describe one of the Roman religious ceremonies.

39 For the practice of their public cults at hundreds of shrines and temples, they had a variety of priests, all of whom “came under the authority of the Pontifex Maximus [Supreme Pontiff], who was the head of the state religion.” (Atlas of the Roman World) The same atlas states that one of the Roman ceremonies was the taurobolium, in which “the worshiper stood in a pit and was bathed in the blood of a bull sacrificed over him. He emerged from this rite in a state of purified innocence.”

“Christian Myths”…

40. How do many scholars view the events of early Christianity?

40 According to some modern critics, Christianity also embraces myths and legends. Is that really so? Many scholars reject as myths the virgin birth of Jesus, his miracles, and his resurrection. Some even say he never existed but that his myth is a carryover from more ancient mythology and sun worship. As mythology expert Joseph Campbell wrote: “Several scholars have suggested, therefore, that there was never either John [the Baptizer] or Jesus, but only a water-god and a sun-god.” But we need to remember that many of these same scholars are atheists and thus reject totally any belief in God.

41, 42. What evidence is there to support the historicity of early Christianity?

41 However, this skeptical point of view flies in the face of historical evidence. For example, the Jewish historian Josephus (c.37-c.100 C.E.) wrote: “To some of the Jews the destruction of Herod’s army seemed to be divine vengeance, and certainly a just vengeance, for his treatment of John, surnamed the Baptist. For Herod had put him to death, though he was a good man.”​—Mark 1:14; 6:14-29.

42 This same historian also testified to the historical existence of Jesus Christ, when he wrote that there arose “a certain Jesus, a wizard of a man, if indeed he may be called a man . . . whom his disciples call a son of God.” He continued by saying that “Pilate had sentenced him . . . And even now the race of those who are called ‘Messianists’ after him is not extinct.”*(According to the traditional text of Josephus, footnote, page 48 of the Harvard University Press edition, Volume IX.)​—Mark 15:1-5, 22-26; Acts 11:26.

43. What basis did the apostle Peter have for believing in Christ?

43 Therefore, the Christian apostle Peter could write with total conviction as an eyewitness of Jesus’ transfiguration, saying: “No, it was not by following artfully contrived false stories [Greek, myʹthos] that we acquainted you with the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it was by having become eyewitnesses of his magnificence. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when words such as these were borne to him by the magnificent glory: ‘This is my son, my beloved, whom I myself have approved.’ Yes, these words we heard borne from heaven while we were with him in the holy mountain.”​—2 Peter 1:16-18. * (According to the traditional text of Josephus, footnote, page 48 of the Harvard University Press edition, Volume IX.)

44. What Bible principle should prevail in any conflict between man’s opinions and the Word of God?

44 In this conflict between man’s “expert” opinion and God’s Word, we must apply the principle stated earlier: “What, then, is the case? If some did not express faith, will their lack of faith perhaps make the faithfulness of God without effect? Never may that happen! But let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, even as it is written: ‘That you might be proved righteous in your words and might win when you are being judged.’”​—Romans 3:3, 4.

Let’s focus on threads now…

Common Threads

45. What are some of the common threads found in world mythology?

45 This brief review of some of the world’s mythologies has served to indicate some common features, many of which can be traced back to Babylon, the Mesopotamian cradle of most religions. There are common threads, whether in the facts of creation, or in accounts about a period when demigods and giants occupied the land and a deluge destroyed the wicked, or in the basic religious concepts of sun-worship and an immortal soul.

46, 47. (a) What Biblical explanation can we offer for the common origin and threads of mythology? (b) What further aspects of ancient worship will we cover?

46 From a Biblical viewpoint, we can explain these common threads when we recall that after the Flood, at God’s behest mankind spread out from Babel in Mesopotamia more than 4,200 years ago. Although they separated, forming families and tribes with different languages, they started off with the same basic understanding of prior history and religious concepts. (Genesis 11:1-9) Over the centuries, this understanding became distorted and adorned in each culture, resulting in many of the fictions, legends, and myths that have come down to us today. These myths, divorced from Bible truth, failed to bring mankind nearer to the true God.

47 However, mankind have also expressed their religious sentiments in various other ways​—spiritism, shamanism, magic, ancestor worship, and so on. Do they tell us anything about mankind’s search for God?

[excerpted reading reference: Mankind’s Search For God, Chapter 3, Common Threads in Mythology, pp. 57-61]

9/28/18 @ 3:11 p.m.

p.s. Extensive lists (excerpted from book of various “fake” gods): (and including reference to:  Potent, Almighty, True God of Bible, Yahweh/Jehovah.)

Greek and Roman Divinities

Many gods and goddesses of Greek mythology held similar positions in Roman mythology. The table below lists some of them.

Greek Roman Role

Aphrodite Venus Goddess of love

Apollo Apollo God of light, medicine, and poetry

Ares Mars God of war

Artemis Diana Goddess of hunting and childbirth

Asclepius Aesculapius God of healing

Athena Minerva Goddess of crafts, war, and wisdom

Cronus Saturn To the Greeks, ruler of the Titans and

father of Zeus. In Roman mythology,

also the god of agriculture

Demeter Ceres Goddess of growing things

Dionysus Bacchus God of wine, fertility, and wild

behavior

Eros Cupid God of love

Gaea Terra Symbol of the earth, and mother and

wife of Uranus

Hephaestus Vulcan Blacksmith for the gods and god of fire

and metalworking

Hera Juno Protector of marriage and women. To

the Greeks, sister and wife of Zeus;

to the Romans, wife of Jupiter

Hermes Mercury Messenger for the gods; god of

commerce and science; and protector of

travelers, thieves, and vagabonds

Hestia Vesta Goddess of the hearth

Hypnos Somnus God of sleep

Pluto, Hades Pluto God of the underworld

Poseidon Neptune God of the sea. In Greek mythology,

also god of earthquakes and horses

Rhea Ops Wife and sister of Cronus

Uranus Uranus Son and husband of Gaea and father of

the Titans

Zeus Jupiter Ruler of the gods

Based on The World Book Encyclopedia, 1987, Volume 13.

[Box on page 45]

Assyro-Babylonian Gods and Goddesses

Anu​—the supreme god, reigning over the heavens; father of Ishtar

Asshur​—national warrior-god of the Assyrians; also god of fertility

Ea​—god of water. Father of Marduk. Warned Utnapishtim of the flood

Enlil (Bel)​—lord of the air; later paralleled in Greek mythology by Zeus. Assimilated by the Babylonians into Marduk (Bel)

Ishtar​—divine personification of the planet Venus; sacred prostitution a part of her cult. She was Astarte in Phoenicia, Atargatis in Syria, Ashtoreth in the Bible (1 Kings 11:5, 33), Aphrodite in Greece, Venus in Rome

Marduk​—first among the Babylonian gods; “absorbed all the other gods and took over all their various functions.” Called Merodach by the Israelites

Shamash​—sun-god of light and justice. Forerunner of the Greek Apollo

Sin​—moon-god, member of the triad that included Shamash (the sun) and Ishtar (the planet Venus)

Tammuz (Dumuzi)​—the harvest-god. Ishtar’s lover

(Based on the New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology)

[Box/​Pictures on page 60, 61]

Gods of the Roman Soldier

Rome was famous for its disciplined army. The cohesion of its empire depended on the morale and the effectiveness of the military legions. Was religion a factor to be reckoned with? Yes, and fortunately for us, the Romans left behind clear evidence of their occupation in the form of highways, fortresses, aqueducts, coliseums, and temples. For example, in Northumbria, in the north of England, there is the famous Hadrian’s Wall, built about 122 C.E. What have excavations revealed about Roman garrison activity and the role of religion?

In the Housesteads Museum, located near the excavated ruins of a Roman garrison on Hadrian’s Wall, an exhibit states: “The religious life of a Roman soldier was divided into three parts. Firstly . . . the cult of the Deified Emperors and the worship of the protecting gods of Rome such as Jupiter, Victory and Mars. An altar was dedicated to Jupiter every year on the parade ground of each fort. All soldiers were expected to participate in the festivals celebrating the birthdays, accession days and victories of the Deified Emperors.” How similar to the customs of armies of today, in which chaplains, altars, and flags are a regular part of army worship.

But what was the second feature of the Roman soldier’s religious life? It was the worship of the protecting gods and the guardian spirit of their particular unit “as well as the gods brought from their native lands.”

“Finally there were the cults followed by the individual. As long as a soldier fulfilled his obligations to the official cults he was free to worship any god he wished.” That sounds like a very liberal freedom-of-worship situation, but “exceptions were those religions, of which Druidism was one, whose practices were considered inhumane, and those whose loyalty to the State was suspect, for example Christianity.”​—Compare Luke 20:21-25;23:1, 2; Acts 10:1, 2, 22.

Interestingly, in 1949 a temple to Mithras was discovered in a bog at Carrawburgh, quite close to Hadrian’s Wall. (See photo.) Archaeologists estimate that it was built about 205 C.E. It contains a sun-god image, altars, and a Latin inscription that states, in part, “To the invincible god Mithras.”

[Box on page 62]

Egypt’s Gods and the Ten Plagues

Jehovah executed judgment on Egypt’s impotent gods by means of the Ten Plagues.​—Exodus 7:14–12:32.

Plague Description

1 Nile and other waters turned to blood. Nile-god Hapi

disgraced

2 Frogs. Frog-goddess Heqt powerless to prevent it

3 Dust turned to gnats. Thoth, lord of magic, could not help

the Egyptian magicians

4 Gadflies on all Egypt except Goshen where Israel dwelt. No

god was able to prevent it​—not even Ptah, creator of the

universe, or Thoth, lord of magic

5 Pestilence on livestock. Neither sacred cow-goddess Hathor

nor Apis the bull could prevent this plague

6 Boils. Healer deities Thoth, Isis, and Ptah unable to help

7 Thunder and hail. Exposed the impotence of Reshpu,

controller of lightning, and Thoth, god of rain and

thunder

8 Locusts. This was a blow to the fertility-god Min,

protector of crops

9 Three days of darkness. Ra, the preeminent sun-god, and

Horus, a solar god, disgraced

10 Death of the firstborn including Pharaoh’s, who was

considered to be a god incarnate. Ra (Amon-Ra), sun-god

and sometimes represented as a ram, was unable to impede

it

[Box on page 66]

Mythology and Christianity

Worship of the mythical gods of ancient Greece and Rome was in full sway when Christianity came on the scene nearly two thousand years ago. In Asia Minor the Greek names still prevailed, which explains why the people of Lystra (in present-day Turkey) called the Christian healers Paul and Barnabas “gods,” referring to them as Hermes and Zeus respectively, rather than as the Roman Mercury and Jupiter. The account says that “the priest of Zeus, whose temple was before the city, brought bulls and garlands to the gates and was desiring to offer sacrifices with the crowds.” (Acts 14:8-18) Only with difficulty did Paul and Barnabas convince the crowd not to make sacrifices to them. It illustrates how seriously those people took their mythology back then.

begs the questions:

To which God am i making sacrifices??

an impotent, fake god??

a Potent, Almighty, True God?!

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