The Etymology of the “Merry Christmas” Greeting

The greeting “Merry Christmas” was created in 1534 in London, England when it was written formally in a letter sent to King Henry VIII’s chief minister Thomas Cromwell from Bishop John Fisher. The letter states, “and thus our Lord God send you a mery [sic] Christmas, and a comfortable, to your heart’s desire” sent December 22, 1534

The Symbolism of the Islamic Garden

Islamic gardens act as symbolic representation of the archetypal eternal heavenly garden, an attempt to provide a small peak into what could potentially wait for a person in the afterlife. Repetition of geometric shapes in Islamic gardens help to emphasize the link between the physical world and thereafter. Circular fountains represent Jannah, the Islamic representation of heaven, as the circle is symbolic of heaven. The square is always utilized as a symbol of the Earth, with circular fountains often found within square indentations to act as a metaphor for heaven and Earth meeting. The term “Jannat-al-Firdaws” which means “Garden of Paradise” in Arabic, is mentioned many times throughout the Quran, with Chapter 55 of Surat al-Rahman (pronounced “suu-rat al rack-man”), which means the “all merciful” in Arabic, holding the best and most descriptive accounts of what this garden truly would look like if experienced. Water plays a crucial role in these accounts, with multiple layers of symbolism for life present which is why water is the most important element within an Islamic garden as it is symbolic of the soul. Rain was and continues to be viewed as a merciful gift from heaven within Islamic culture as Islam stems from one of the hottest regions in the world. Water is essential to Islam and an Islamic paradise garden cannot exist without the incorporation of water to some degree. Islamic gardens are separated into 4 specific quadrants because of the “chahar bagh” (pronounced “cha-harr bahh”) which means “4 gardens” in the Persian language of Farsi, directly related to the 4 rivers of paradise, including a river of milk, honey, wine, and water, an order and harmony which underlies everything within an Islamic garden

The 12 Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece

The Ancient Greeks believed in 12 gods and goddesses who were understood to reside upon Mount Olympus. These deities included Zeus (pronounced “zoose”) the king of the gods, Hera (pronounced “hare-ah”) the wife of Zeus and goddess of marriage and childbirth, Apollo (pronounced “ah-pol-oh”) the son of Zeus, sun god, and god of music and healing, Artemis (pronounced “art-em-is”) the daughter of Zeus, twin sister of Apollo, and the goddess of the moon and hunting, Aphrodite (pronounced “af-row-dye-tee”) the daughter of Zeus and goddess of love and sexual desire, Ares (pronounced “air-eez”) the son of Zeus, god of war and battle, and lover of Aphrodite, Poseidon (pronounced “po-sai-den”) the brother of Zeus and god of the sea, storms, and earthquakes, Demeter (pronounced “de-me-tur”) a lover of Zeus and the goddess of agriculture and fertility, Athena (pronounced “ah-tee-nah”) the daughter of Zeus and goddess of wisdom and war, Hephaestus (pronounced “heh-fai-sch-tus”) the son of Zeus and god of fire and art, Hermes (pronounced “hur-meez”) the son of Zeus, god of commerce and travel, as well as being a personal messenger for his father, and finally Hestia (pronounced “hess-tee-yah”) the sister of Zeus and goddess of the home and family

The 4 Types of Demonic Activity Recognized by the Catholic Church for Exorcism

The Catholic Church recognizes 4 distinct types of demonic activity which include Demonic Infestation (e.g. the presence of evil within an object or at a specific location), Demonic Vexation (e.g. person who experiences physical attacks from a demon), Demonic Obsession (e.g. person who experiences mental attacks from by a demon), and Demonic Possession (e.g. person who has had their body hijacked by a demon with the demon utilizing the victim’s body as though it was their own). Cases of formal exorcism in which a person believes they are possessed by a demon are rare with high ranking Catholic clergy typically seeing 1 – 2 dozen during their career, however cases of Demonic Infestation, Demonic Vexation, and Demonic Obsession are quite common with high ranking clergy typically observing thousands of these cases during that same time span. Although exorcisms are portrayed in media as relatively short exercises, it is not uncommon for those who believe they are possessed to have the exorcism ritual last for days, and for the possession believed to be present to last months or years in duration

The Japanese Shinto Faith

The Japanese Shinto religion translates to mean “way of the gods” in Japanese and primarily focuses upon ancestors and nature, with practitioners believing that every aspect of the universe has a deity (e.g. rivers have a god, mountains have a god, soil has a god etc.) with ancestors believed to have created the world for the current generation living within it. Japanese architecture is an excellent example of Shintoism as Shinto shrines are left in a minimalist state of color and simplicity, unlike contemporary Chinese architecture which is highly colorful and decorative. Shinto shrines never depict imagery of deities as the wood of the architecture itself is representative of nature, and from that simplicity and minimalism. This is also because it is believed that so many gods exist within nature that it would be foolish to only highlight a few in particular. Practitioners of Shinto observe festivals and holidays but no particular day of prayer, unlike monotheistic religions (e.g. Sunday for Christianity, Friday for Islam and Judaism etc.). There is no mainstay scripture of morality or ethical system attached to Shintoism. In Shintoism, old shrines are dismantled and moved for new shrines to be erected every 20 years. The 3 main elements of Shintoism are the mirror, precious stones, and wood

Indonesian Islam

Indonesian-Islam

In Indonesia, during the 16th century (although various sources of contrasting Islamic documentation state Islamic traders brought Islam to Indonesia in the 8th century), Islam had mass appeal to the general population. Islam strictly forbade discrimination and idolation of any monarchy or royal bloodline, and gave the common people the same opportunity to ascend to paradise as their rulers did. Islam does not have an intermediary when dealing with divine power which further made the religion attractive to the native islanders. These values made Islam more liberating in comparison to Hinduism and Buddhism which were the dominant religions at the time. The most recent mass conversion to Islam was during the fall of communism in Indonesia in 1965. Massive and brutal murders of communist party members occurred in the late 1960s as the accepted convention at the time was that communists were atheists and atheists were therefore communists. The safest method to ensure survival during this turbulent time, especially for the indigenous Javanese who adhered to local indigenous religions, was to declare themselves Muslim so they would not be mistaken for communists and by default, atheists

The Contradiction of Radical Islamic Terrorism

Radicalized Islamic terrorists and their supporters say that Jihad states in the Quran to “kill the un-believers, wherever you find them” which they use to justify terrorism and murder. In reality, they are twisting the actual words and context of the Quran. If read from front to back, reading Verse 1, and then after Verse 5, instead of only Verse 5, of Surah at-Tawbah, the Quran states [This is a declaration of disassociation, from Allah and his Messenger] “to those with whom you had made a treaty among the polytheists”, meaning “to the pagans you have drafted a treaty with”, “expected are those with whom you made a treaty among the polytheists” meaning that “the statement only applies to the pagans, not the polytheists who did not break the treaty and fight against Muslims, simply because they followed Islam”. The context is incredibly specific and only applies to a small group of individuals, but radicalized Islamic terrorists and their sympathizers, either purposefully or unknowingly (it doesn’t matter, as they are both incorrect) are going against the word of the Quran