Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

the Minotaur metaphor from Yanis V.

May 10, 2015

The day after we arrived in Greece for a vacation, they SyrizaNws
held an election there.

The leftist Syriza party won, propelling Alexis Tsipras into the office of Prime Minister. With no delay, Mr. Tsipras appointed Yanis Varoufakis as the new Finance Minister for Greece.

Before that week was over, these two men were visiting national leaders all over Europe. They were abruptly leaping into the Continental fracas of unbalanced financial equilibrium between their bankrupting government and the Euro creditor overlords up north.

Messers T and V immediately let it be known that their negotiating strategy on behalf of the Greek people would be very different from that of their predecessors. Austerity was not working to solve the problem, and would no longer be tolerated by the poor people of Greece. And it was time to acknowledge that fact. Something had to change.

That was about 3 and a half months ago. Now, in May 2015, the then-newly-appointed finance minister Mr. Varoufakis has already been replaced; he is now moving on to other roles in the international order of things (if “order” is an appropriate word for whatever it is that holds our nations together.)

As I write this, on a Sunday morning in May, in the USA, I am 2/3 of the way through reading Mr. Varoufakis’ book The Global Minotaur;

http://www.amazon.com/The-Global-Minotaur-Financial-Controversies/dp/1780324502

I can tell you I am not surprised that his role as a negotiator was so brief. The man is a truth-teller. (of the leftist type; there are truth-tellers on both the “left” and the “right”.)

As a regular ole conservative-leaning working-stiff kind of guy, I’ve done quite a bit of reading on this financial Crisis that has engulfed us since the fall of ’08. Mr. V’s explanation of that 6-year devolving tsunami is the easiest to understand that I have seen.

Yanis’ strategy is centered on what we call these days a narrative. That is to say, a kind of story. He converts the whole unfolding circus of events into a story based upon the ancient Greek mythical tale of a terrible flesh-devouring beast, the Minotaur. If this sounds far-fetched, it is.

My conservative brethren these days disdain the narrative approach to elucidating current events; they prefer, as Sgt. Friday used to say back in the day. . . just the facts, ma’am.

As if such a thing–separating facts from fluffy hype–were possible in this day and time of cyber bewilderment. Even statistics, raw numbers, are near-nonsense nowadays; they’re almost useless for making sense of contemporary fiscal/financial conundrums.

One has to survive by intuition in the 21st century.

There’s “spin” imposed on everything! Consider the unemployment figures that the BLS cranks out every month. Talking heads await those stupid numbers on the first Friday of every month, so they can have something to talk about, forming projections and predictions about future events based on stuff that already happened last month. Looking for the “trend.”

To hell with the trend! What’s the truth?

Unemployment rate, or Labor participation rate?–you tell me which one really tells the tale.

It’s like the CPI, Consumer Price Index. They leave fuel and food costs out of the equation, when those two factors comprise the biggest impact on every “middle class” household budget. Go figure.

But I digress.

Here’s this lefty, Mr. Varoufakis, an economist. He writes a very interesting book, using the Minotaur analogy narrative, and helps me understand what the hell has been happening in the world of money, which is to say the real world.

And though he claims to be some kind of neo-Marxist, I don’t care. If some conservative can do a better job of explaining why the free market has been buried under a landfill of toxic assets and leveraged finance-babel, let him/her do so.

I’ve blown my wad here in ranting, which is something I hate to see in other blatherers online, so I’ll not weary you with more of this grievance;

I’ll not explain the Greek’s minotaurial metaphor. Except to say it involves  the global recycling of economic surpluses since the post-WWII Bretton Woods financial arrangement that slanted everything in the world toward American advantage.

But now, since 1971, when Nixon shut down the gold window, all of that US-favoring international baggage has been lost in an airport somewhere between Brussels and Beijing and so the great recycling flow of surpluses has reversed. So that now it morphs into recycling deficits instead of surpluses and the winners will someday be losers and vice versa and so austerity is for the birds and now Mr. V thinks the Bretton Woods potentates should have listened to Mr. Keynes in 1944 instead of Harry Dexter White.

Or something like that. More about this later, probably next week after I finish the book. I suppose I’ll have to jump over to Hayek or Schumpeter or Mr. Volcker for some right-leaning controlled financial disintegration explanations after this tragi-comedic death-toggle with Greek mythology.

 

Glass Chimera

Be aware of Greeks bearing debts

April 25, 2015

Greece is, you see, the opposite of California, and I’ll tell you why.

The first thing is: Greece is very old. California is, on the other hand, very new.

The “West”–that is to say, California and all the rest of us New World types– actually started in Greece about three thousand years ago. Greece was the “West” because it was westward from what was, in ancient times, the Old Country, the region we now call the Middle East, or Levant, or Holy Land, depending on your point of view.

Long ago, after Alexander and his military legacy turned the Persians back at the battle of Marathon, long about 490 b.c.e., the people of the Greek city-states began joining together to form an historical entity that we now call Ancient Greece.

And since that time, the whole thing of Greek culture moved westward and northward over a couple of millennia  of time. The great thrust of Western thought, anchored in a mental discipline called philosophy and a political idea called Democracy,  inspired empires and nations from those ancient days until the present day.

We still dream about governing ourselves in this thing call a democracy, but it has never quite manifested in a way authentic to the original concept.

Probably never will, but it’s a nice thought.

A  couple hundred years after the Greek Golden Age, the Romans came along with their Republic and their empire. Much of their marvelously innovative empire-building was rooted in Greek thought and mathematics (Euclid and Pythagoras). A lot of what the Romans did was direct imitation of Greek stuff. A good example of this is their omnipresent use of Columns for holding buildings up.

You’ve heard of Doric columns, Ionic columns?

That’s Greek stuff. Except that–guess what!–the Doric and Ionic names originated across the Aegean sea from Greece, in a region called Asia (Minor), which is now Turkey. Go figure!

A couple hundred years after the Greek Golden Age, along came the Romans. What they ended up doing was much grander and more elaborate than what the Greeks did. They took Greek columns and turned them into a universal architectural art-form. Those two earlier Column designs–the Doric and the Ionian– were not fancy enough to suit the Roman sense of grandiosity. So the Romans decorated the capitals (tops) of their columns with new, leafy frou-frou carvings and castings  which came to be called Corinthian.

The Corinthian name, however, was not Roman, but Greek. Corinth was an important city in Greece.  So once again, go figure.

Figuring is important to the whole advance of Western civilization. Everywhere Greeks and their European progeny went, they were figuring stuff out.

Thus did Western Civilization expand over millenia of time. Along came the Germans, French, Spanish, British, all of them making ever grander plans,  striving to construct their own versions of civilization.

When the Greco-Roman enterprise got to the big Sea at the end of Europe–aka the End of the Earth–its expansion was delayed for a few hundred years. But then along came Cristoforo Columbo and Presto!, Western civilization took a grand leap across the Atlantic Ocean.

Now we Americans know about Boston, New Yawk, Philly, etc etc etc;  and we are intimately familiar with Paul Revere and Grampa George Washington. Why we even know about Charleston and Savannah and all that unreconstructed goings-on down south, but what’s important here is California!

Why?

Because Americans are adventurers. Our forefathers and foremothers hit the ground running after we got off the boat in Baltimore or Ellis Island or wherever it was.

Before you knew it, we were all the way over on the far other edge of the continent, in California, baby!

Or bust! That’s what the Okies said.

And that was, if you think about it, the very end of the Greek frontier. From Athens to Anaheim, westward ho all along the way. That’s all she wrote.

The westward expansion of Greek culture ended at California. It couldn’t go any farther. Why, even when they o’erleaped the wide Pacific, what did they find?

China!

It doesn’t get any older than that–China. No Westward expansion there, although the Brits made a few dents, and of course there was Marx and all that People’s trial and bloody error.

Now We Americans have a saying: as California goes, so goes the nation.

That means that, from the 1849 Gold Rush on, the great exploratory thrust of American ingenuity and creativity originates in place called California.

The land of fruits and nuts.

And broccoli, lettuce, grapes, wine, silicon, integrated circuit chips, beach boys, beach girls, computers, iPhones, movies and pop culture, etc etc etc.

So once all the migrant Europeans got themselves planted on the East Coast back in the 1800s, they built so many cities, and built them so quickly, that before you know it they got overcrowded and pulled up stakes to head West.

Go West, young man, wrote Horace Greeley, about a hundred and fifty years ago.

And very quickly. We developed America from raw earth,  from Schenectady to San Francisco in less than a hundred years, blazing a yankee trail all along the way.

And when we hit up against that great Pacific rim, the grand tide of our exuberance struck a sea wall and then it swayled back the other way: Disney in Paris, McDonald’s in Athens, Kennedy in Berlin!

But now–and my mind misgives some consequence yet hanging in the stars–our grand millenia-old Restatement of Greco-Roman expansionism strikes, back at its ancient nascence, an Athenian rampart.

So I see the next phase of history this way: As Greece goes, so goes the West. And this is what it looks like, according to a pic I recently snapped in Athens:

EarthBraceAgor2

Which is to say, a propped up portal. Where can we go from here?

Glass Chimera

Persian ram, Grecian goat

April 5, 2015

If you wonder where all that Iranian bluster comes from,

take a look at what in Persia, long ago, was done.

Out in the  Zagros mountains about 2500 years ago,

a band of Persians came together to put on quite a show.

They spread out in a way to make the world’s first empire;

from Nile to Indus, from Caspian to Gulf, they did not tire.

A fellow named Cyrus, who was known to be Great,

subjugated peoples far and wide to start this ancient state.

Before anyone named it Iran, or Persia, it was called Achaemenid,

like the name of former President Ahmadinejad, and what he thought they did.

 

After Cyrus the Great had died, and also Cambyses his son,

a Magian usurper tried to abscond their royal Persian run,

but Darius,  distant relative of Cyrus, slew that pretender,

then gave credence to Zarathustra, and whatever Ahuramazda might render.

Darius the Mede, who ruled from Persepolis to Phrygia,

extended Achaeminid lands from the Hindus to Lydia.

But Persian conquest was in Greece contested;

its expansion was halted– at Marathon arrested.

Then young Pheideppides ran 26 miles from Marathon to Athens

to tell Athenians about their defeat of Darius’ Persian I’ryans.

 

This fierce Persian/Greek contention had been foretold in a biblical vision

by the Hebrew prophet, Daniel, with symbolic precision.

He saw a ferocious horned goat attacking a great horned ram

which is what happened, metaphorically, when Alexander conquered anciant Iran.

These days it seems them I’ryans are on the move again,

now declaring Islamic Republic, Shariah, and all things Shia Mohammedan.

Their hegemony looks restrictive, legalistic and  Islamist totalitarian,

with dissidents imprisoned, like Daniel in  lions’ den.

Now ayatollahs want to raise new Islami-I’ryan Persian empire

with Shia militia, Hesbollah, and centrifuged ire.

 

If we be lucky today, the Greeks will again stop them Persians.

But it may not happen; Greece has gone broke with too many dispersions.

So what will the world do when I’ryans insurge to destroy Arab leagues?

Will it be like the last Reich, in Aryan blitzkriegs?

 

Smoke

A Tale of #GreekDebt

February 13, 2015

A New swelling of national Debt, in a country as old as the hills

compels northern EU partners to halt Greece’s spending thrills.

So they bind up Hellenic budgets with a cord called Austerity;

It’s the only way, they say, to get back to Euro-prosperity.

A few years down the road, and Greece is really hurting;

the Greeks are sighing, even crying: this Austerity’s not working.

We need our jobs back; we’re tired of all these layoffs,

Just give us something Greek to do besides supplying EU payoffs.

GkAgoraModel

Now along comes a liberator, a homegrown politician,  Alexis Agonistes.

He’s got homegrown renown and resolve unbound, to set free the Economy of Greece.

Chosen by the Austere-stretched people of that ancient Hellenic polity,

Alexis steps up to the mike to strike, and dispose of austerity.

With his fearless finance guy, Yanis the Untamed, standing at his side,

bold Alexis tells all the Eurocrats it’s time to let the Greek debt slide.

Growth is what we need, says he, invoking the holy grail of the economic world.

Just release this Troika bondage, and scrap these EU rules. Let Greek flags fly unfurled!

FlagsAcrop

You’ve worn us out with repayment plans, and schedules without end.

Let us do the hire and fire; we’ll pay you when we can,

‘Cause we’re Syriza ’bout strong labor, wages and good jobs for our nation,

And we will rescue our Hellen from your Troyka domination!

AthenaRRWolf

Now the Germans told the Belgians and the Brits told the French,

Beware Greeks bearing debts; they’ll sink our Euro inch by inch.

But here’s the message from Syriza, and it surely isn’t funny:

Beware the Troikan horse, and Europeans demanding money.

Centars4

Glass Chimera

Boston is from Athens; New York is from Rome

February 8, 2015

Having just returned from a week in Athens and a week in Rome, I have to say this: There’s a lot of old stuff there.

It is obvious to me that, as Americans, we live in a New World. Our infrastructure and buildings are decades, or a mere century or two, old.

Europeans live in an Old World. Buildings and roads there  are centuries, even thousands of years, old.

And yet, within that Old World, there is a noticeable “old” and “new” between Athens and Rome. There was a time–around 100 bc–when Rome was the new kid on the block. Greece’s culture and structure, stretching back into antiquity three or four centuries before Rome’s, was nascent and contemplative.

GrkColGlyf

In a mysterious kind of way, the dawn of Western civilization in Greek culture was delicate, as compared to Rome’s bigger-is-better bluster and in-your-face bravado.

BroknColm

Think of it this way:  Boston is from Athens; New York is from Rome.

Or think of it another way: Ancient Greece is like old Virginia; ancient Rome is like Chicago, Houston, L.A.

Or yet another way: The Greeks were Adams, Franklin, Jefferson; The Romans were Carnegie, Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan.

As Athens is the birthplace of democracy, Boston is the birthplace of American politics. World-changing ideas there caught a continental foothold that, once established, went on to inspire representative governments around the world.

The Roman Empire eventually degenerated into a dictatorship, but the Republic upon which Rome was established had its philosophical roots in the earlier Greek democracy.

When the Romans came along in history, a few centuries after the Greek golden age (450-400 bc),  they did everything bigger and better. Emperor Hadrian of Rome (117-138 ad) strode into Athens and fell in love with the place. But for him it was a diamond in the rough, not glitzy enough, and it needed to be bigger, on the scale of Empire, instead of City-state. He rebuilt the ancient Greek temples more impressively, in expanded proportions. His take-charge hegemony extended the city of Athens in a big way, by means of Roman high-tech engineering. Massive Roman engineering projects ensured that citizens could get around on new, sturdily-built highways. Hadrian’s update was like as if, bringing L.A. and Houston to colonial Boston.

Check this out, the ancient Greek theatre of Dionysius, which was begun in Athens about 500 bc on the south slope of Acropolis:

ThetrDiony1

Jimmi, our guide in Athens, mentioned the tragicomedy plays (Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides) and other events that were performed in this first major theater, during Greece’s golden age of 450-400 bc. These dramatic and sport events came  long before the Romans got there. The Greeks did get a little wild with their pagan Dionysian celebrations.

One person in our walking-tour asked Jimmi if gladiators had fought at the Theatre of Dionysius. Jimmi said there had been sporting events performed there that involved fighting, but not spectacles of death. The fight-to-the-death scenario was a Roman thing, he said. That’s Jimmi the Athenian guide’s version anyway.

The death-dealing gladiatorial contest is thought to have come later, in the Colosseo at Rome.

In the Rome-dominated city of Athens of 161 a.d., Herodus Atticus (Greek developer with a Roman name) re-defined the whole architectural concept of  theatre on a grand scale, with three times the capacity of the old one. His new showpiece, just a few hundred meters away from the old theater, was erected according to the new, grandiose template of Rome’s emerging status as a world power:

AcropVwTheatre

After walking around in those two cities for half a month, I came away thinking of the difference between them like this:

~Greek wrestlers, Roman gladiators.

~A sportly Burt Lancaster, overpowered by Stalone’s Rocky.

When we traveled away from Athens, our next stop was Rome. A day or two after arriving in that megalopolis, we went to the Colosseum. While standing inside that mega-stadium, Pat and I were listening to the iPhone audio,   Rick Steves was filling our ears with history about the gladiatorial contests inside that structure. Thousands of Roman citizens watched in the stands as one fierce fighter would overcome another. The fans would pass judgement with thumbs-up or thumbs down. It was a bloody death spectacle that appeased some blood sport inside the Roman power structure.

ColosmN

And it seemed to me:

Athens: Olympics. Rome: American football.

Athens: College basketball. Rome: Professional basketball

Athens: James Bond. Rome: Jack Bower

Athens: Lawrence of Arabia. Rome: Schwarzenegger’s Terminator

Athens: the Old North Church and Paul Revere.

Rome: the Empire State Building and Godzilla

Athens: Chevrolet. Rome: Hummer

Athens: San Francisco. Rome: Los Angeles

You get the idea.

Smoke

Road to a Grecian Turn

January 30, 2015

With apology to John Keats, a new poem for 2015:

 

Oh, You unbridled bride of Entitlement,

Can you still afford to pay the Rent?

You, love-child of Austerity and Free-spending,

Is your ambrosia Never-ending?

Paid debts are sweet, but those unpaid are sweeter

says your new Syriza leader,

’cause we’ve got to get the people working,

so in Unemployment they’ll not be lurking.

Ah, happy, happy days that cannot end,

as long as EU-lovers still do send

debt forgiveness, and credits new

so you’ll never bid EU adieu.

UmbrelSyntagm

Who are these coming to the Sacrifice?

a little help from Euro friends would sure be nice.

The Germans, the French, will surely come

and Play the Games until they’re done!

MarblStrt2

Oh Athenic State, on marbled path of Austerity

Can you reach that elusive peak of Victory?

Winged Athens, her goddess wings now torn away–

Has she lost her head in heat of the fray?

PleatedFigur

Oh, for ever may you live, and Greece be fair!

as long as EU pals still care.

Austerity puts Prosperity on the go–

That’s all you really need to know!

Glass Chimera

AcrpRokFlag

A World in Harmony, or Not

January 29, 2015

AcropVwTheatre

This morning I am watching the sky over Athens, Greece, as a new day brightens this fascinating city.

Yesterday, Pat and I toured the Acropolis, a mountaintop collection of ancient Greek temples. Greeks of 2500 years ago believed in a multiplicity of gods who were contending with each other for power.

I woke up thinking about their pantheon of many gods, and how different that belief is from my Christian faith in One God.

Believing in one God means the world is in divine harmony, because God made the world the way it is supposed to be. This belief enables me to reconcile the obvious contradictions of good and evil in this world.

The pagan religion, it seems to me, does not enable a believer to adequately find true harmony in this world, because all the “gods” or forces of nature or spiritual forces, are contending with each other. Therefore there is no ultimate reconciliation of good vs. evil.

Is the universe in harmony with itself, or not?

So this morning I am considering this idea of harmony, or not-harmony. Is the world humming along in a harmony that was coded into it by a Creator? Or is it just a bunch of god-wannabe forces working against each other?

Just looking around in the world as it presently exists, it seems more like the latter.

Being a musician, I began to consider musical harmony. Think about the perfection that Mozart manifested in his symphonies and sonatas. Lots of harmony and perfect precision there. It’s nice to listen to, and very impressive. But I prefer the dynamic, existential dissonance of Beethoven’s music. Why is that?

Is there something about the dis-harmony, or dissonance, that is more appropriate, or more true, than appreciating a harmony that doesn’t really exist?

But let me go back a little further in musical time that Mozart and Beethoven.

Harmony and dissonance in music go back further than those two geniuses.

A half a century or so before them were Bach and Vivaldi.

Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi were able to appropriate old modes and melodies that had been floating around since ancient (Greek, Indo-European, etc) times, and weave them into intricately constructed masterpieces of musical construction.

Bach was a pioneer in this; he was a genius. He experimented with the ancient Greek modes, blending them with tuneful elements of his own Germanic heritage to produce new inventions of musical expression that had never been heard, or even dreamed of, before. In fact, a series of his compositions are called “inventions.” They are carefully constructed, in almost the same sense that the later sound-generating machines of Edison, Bell, or Marconi came to be known, in the late 1800s, as “inventions.”

While Bach was the master inventor of the new (what we call baroque) music, Antonio Vivaldi was, during that same period, the grand master of musical passion. His universally popular “Four Seasons” (my all-time favorite) violin concertos express a level of instrumental virtuosity that surpass, by their emotional intensity, Bach’s work, which is more cerebral or scientific.

Of course Bach had his emotions going hard-at-it too, but in a very different–what we might call a “German”–way. While Vivaldi was. . . from Venice.  And. . . well, you know how Italians are, very expressive. (This all goes back, metaphorically, to the Greeks and Romans.)

Bach and Vivaldi were analogous to the Bill Gates and  Steve Jobs of their age.

Just as Bach had propelled the world into totally new forms of music in the 1700s, Bill Gates, working in the late 1900s, wove computer software into a whole new world of innovative technology.

Just as Vivaldi had propelled the violin, oboe and other instruments into unprecedented explorations of emotional catharsis, so did Steve Jobs, by his unpredictable innovations make computers “sing.”

While Bach was carefully constructing, on his keyboards, inventions of technical music wonder, Vivaldi was making the world ring, and sing, with creative passion.

There were others, of course, of that age: Telemann, Corelli, Pachelbel. Many great musicians during the baroque.

Then along came a prodigy: Mozart. He cranked out one masterpiece after another, and made it seem as simple as breathing. In Amadeus, music found its highest possible level of precise perfection.

Even so, listening to a meticulously perfect Mozart symphony or sonata does not pack the dynamic crescendo that would soon arrive under the masterful musical poetry of Ludwig von Beethoven.

What Bach did with the keyboard was raw creative genius, honed into exquisite constructions of sound. It is similar to what Gates did with software.

What Vivaldi did with instruments–violin, oboe–was pure passionate profundity, similar to what Jobs did with (what used to be called the computer) Apple.

Now, how did I, watching the day dawn in Athens,  arrive at all this rumination about Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Gates and Jobs?

I don’t know. How irresponsible of me.

I began this inharmonic quest about two hours ago with intentions that were totally different from what this essay has become. While watching a new day brighten the sky over Athens, I had an idea about the difference between paganism–belief in multiple gods or forces of nature that are contending with each other–and Christianity, which eventually dominated Greek (and European) culture. Having toured the Acropolis yesterday, I was considering all the huge architectural structures that the ancients had constructed here in Athens.

Those Greeks, and later the Romans, of ancient times seem to have been highly motivated with memorializing their devotion to a pantheon of many gods, mostly Athena and Zeus. They did so by building very large structures of architectural precision and grandiosity. I’m quite amazed, but there’s something missing here.

Then a Hebrew teacher named Paul came to Athens. He saw all their temples and memorials devoted to the gods, and promptly proclaimed to them otherwise:

This pantheon, or multiplicity, of forces you are  worshipping– I have to break it to ya– are not

truly gods. Rather, those entities are merely elemental forces in nature, and all of them subservient in power to One God:

YWHW, who sent his son to show us how to live and die.

What an innovator that Paul was. What followed is history, as Christian Europe would attest for the next 1900 years or so.

However, methinks some consequence, yet hanging in the world, shall bitterly begin with this year’s contentions.

Glass Chimera

Turning the World upside qomu in Athens

January 27, 2015

I am 63 years old now.

But a long time ago, when I was 27, my life changed in a big way.

I had made a mess of things, having tasted too freely of the pleasures of this world. My own lusts and weaknesses were dragging me down into a terrible moshpit of overstimulated sensuous confusion.

When I finally hit bottom, I turned to Jesus and he dragged me up out of all that depravity. He set my feet upon a rock,

AeropRoc

and gave me a new start in life.

After a while, a year or so, of getting straightened by God and his ways and means committee, I got some definite direction. Many good things happened during those days. I met Pat, who became my life-mate, and has been so for 35 years, as of yesterday, January 26, 2015.

We gravitated to a small town in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, USA; there we joined a little New Testament church and linked up with some other like-minded Christians, many of whom were, like me, refugees from the rat-race world of 1979.

Our little flock was led, New Testament style, by a pastor, Tom.

Tom had read the Scriptures quite a bit, a lot more than I had, and he was teaching us about the message of the gospel proclaimed therein.

We had a little community of believers–all of us young, in our 20s and 30s mostly–and we were determined to do things right to live in Christian community, doing it “by the book.”

The “book” being the Bible.

It was a great life. Still is, but there have been some changes.

Tom taught us quite a bit from a New Testament book called the Acts. In the Bible, Acts is the first book after the four gospels.

We learned a lot. Pat and I like to think we had a lot going for us, raising our three children in a little Christian bubble of the Holy Spirit’s (and our) construction.

Tom was heavy into the book of Acts. Acts of the Apostles.

A very important part of that great narrative in Acts is this:

The eleven men (of the original “twelve apostles”) who walked this earth alongside Jesus stayed in Judea after Jesus’ death by crucifixion, resurrection, and  ascension into heaven. Then the Lord brought forth, from the Pharisee sect of the Jews, a really zealous preacher who spent most of his life traveling in the eastern Mediterranean, delivering the message of Jesus to his fellow Jews, but also to Greeks and Asians and anyone else who would listen.

I must say that, over those first twenty or so years of living in tight Christian community and implementing the gospel as preached by our pastor Tom, then Ben and others, I got a little tired of hearing about Paul all the time.

Paul this, and Paul that. What about the main main, Yeshua haMeschiach, Jesus?

But this is no simple question to answer, although the gospel itself is simple–it had to be, so that all men and women could comprehend it and receive it.

This is what frustrates intelligent people so much about the gospel–that it is so dam simple.

The gospel had to be simple so that it could be accessible to all men and women. The message is: Jesus was crucified by men for our sin (he had no sin of his own) so that we could believe in his resurrection and be rejoined with God.

Now it just so happens that today, as I write this, Pat and I are in Athens, a great city of the world. What a city! Such a city.

I love the place.

And because of what we saw and heard yesterday from Jimmy, who led us through a tour around the Aereopagus and the Acropolis, I have gained a new appreciation for old brother Paul, who traveled through here about 1,950 years ago.

Because, as Jimmy put it, Paul stood at the Aereopagus, the place where seekers gathered on a hillside in Athens, and told all those wise folks that the “unknown” God whose identity and work so were so elusive to them–this unknown God– had indeed been revealed to us through the eternal life of Jesus, the Christ, Messiah.

And, as Jimmy put it, Paul sought to convert these Greeks (who worshipped a multiplicity of gods) into Christians. Good luck with that, Paul!

Here’s the rock from the top of which Paul probably addressed the Athenian seekers:

AereopPlaq

Quite a task that was, that Paul took unto himself.

And so I learned yesterday that Paul wasn’t such a stodgy old religious guy. Rather, he was spiritual revolutionary, trying to turn the religious world upside down. And because of his  trailblazing work, and the work of many others who have followed  him through history, the gospel of Jesus has trickled through history and time to me, an American wandering through the city of Athens in the year 2015. Pretty revolutionary stuff. Paul did indeed “turn the world upside down.”

I hope you can relate. Thanks for stopping by.

Glass Chimera