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This is my favourite Toni Braxton song. It came out in 1996, going to #2 on the US R&B chart and the top ten on pop charts throughout western Europe and the Anglosphere (except for New Zealand). This was one of the few English-language songs that Amor 93.1 FM in New York used to play. It does in fact sound very much like a Spanish love song to me. Might be the guitar. In Spain it went to #2.

In the video she is in love with Tyson Beckford, the fifth most gorgeous Black man in the world.

See also:

Lyrics:

[Verse 1]
Don’t leave me in all this pain
Don’t leave me out in the rain
Come back and bring back my smile
Come and take these tears away
I need your arms to hold me now
The nights are so unkind
Bring back those nights when I held you beside me

[Chorus]
Un-break my heart
Say you’ll love me again
Undo this hurt you caused
When you walked out the door
And walked out of my life
Un-cry these tears
I cried so many nights
Un-break my heart
My heart

[Verse 2]
Take back that sad word goodbye
Bring back the joy to my life
Don’t leave me here with these tears
Come and kiss this pain away
I can’t forget the day you left
Time is so unkind
And life is so cruel without you here beside me

[Chorus]
Un-break my heart
Say you’ll love me again
Undo this hurt you caused
When you walked out the door
And walked out of my life
Un-cry these tears
I cried so many nights
Un-break my heart
My heart

[Bridge]
Don’t leave me in all this pain
Don’t leave me out in the rain
Bring back the nights when I held you beside me

[Chorus]
Un-break my heart
Say you’ll love me again
Undo this hurt you caused
When you walked out the door
And walked out of my life
Un-cry these tears
I cried so many, many nights
Oh un-break my

You might also like
C’est la Vie
B*Witched
Moving On Up
M People
One for Sorrow
Steps
[Post-Chorus]
Un-break my heart oh baby
Come back and say you love me
Un-break my heart, sweet darlin’
Without you I just can’t go on

[Outro]
Say that you love me, say that you love me
Tell me you love me, un-break my heart
Say that you love me, say that you love me
Tell me you love me, un-break my heart
Say that you love me, say that you love me
Tell me you love me, un-break my heart
Say that you love me, say that you love me
Tell me you love me, un-break my heart

Source: Genius Lyrics.

Egypt in 2800 BC

GBHTR_044

Note: This is so far back in time that dates can be off by up to 100 years or so. I follow the dates in “The Princeton Dictionary of Ancient Egypt” (2008). 

  • Location: north-eastern Africa, the last 1,000 km of the Nile where ships can freely sail north of the rocky Cataracts.
  • Population: probably about 1 million.
  • Major cities: Memphis.
  • Language: Archaic Egyptian – in archaic hieroglyphic writing, now used for more than mere labels.
  • Religion: idol worship in temples of Horus, Osiris, Seth, etc. Apis bull. The seeming end of human sacrifice. The rivalry between Seth and Horus of myth seems to take political form as a religious struggle in Egypt. See below.
  • Government: not sure who was king in 2800 BC – this period is shadowy.
  • Economy: wheat, cattle. Olive oil from Palestine.
  • Transport: Nile River, sail boats, donkeys. Roads and wheel transport are rare, camels unknown.
  • Technology: irrigation, mud bricks, copper (not yet bronze), paper.
    • Newish: dam, chair, book, page numbers, 365-day calendar.

The last 100 years:

  • Kings:
    • 1st Dynasty: Qa’a
    • 2nd Dynasty: Hetepsekhemwy, Raneb, Nynetjer, …. ?
  • Qa’a, the last of the king of the 1st Dynasty, is buried, with “only” 26 of his hangers-on, not hundreds like some earlier kings of Egypt. He is the last known Egyptian king to buried with strangled employees.
  • Hieroglyphic inscriptions become longer and more complex under Qa’a. They move beyond being mere labels.
  • The 2nd Dynasty (-2890 to -2686), the first half of it, covers most of this period. But there is little direct evidence of it. We know more about the 1st Dynasty than the 2nd, which is odd: generally speaking, there is less evidence the further back you go in time, not more. All we have from the -2800s itself is the tomb of Qa’a, some galleries near the tomb of Unas in Saqqara, and the names of three kings written on the back of a statue of the priest Hotep-dif (pictured above). The three names are Hetepsekhemwy, Raneb and Nynetjer. It is unclear what kings came afterwards.
  • Seth v Horus: There seems to have been some sort of religious struggle, with the 2nd Dynasty overthrowing the Horus-centric religion of the 1st Dynasty with a Seth-centric one:
    • Kings are suddenly no longer buried at Abydos, the holy city of Osiris, father of Horus.
    • In the next century, the last kings of 2nd Dynasty kings will put the jackal-like Seth animal above their name, instead of (or in addition to) the falcon of Horus. The 3rd Dynasty restores the 1st Dynasty practice of just putting the falcon of Horus above the king’s name.
    • Human sacrifice was practised before the 2nd Dynasty but, as far as we know, not during or after.
    • Many of the royal monuments of the 1st Dynasty were set on fire, perhaps during this time.
    • In Egyptian mythology, Horus and Seth are enemies. Seth represents chaos and destruction, the desert and foreign lands.

Meanwhile in Britain, brown-skinned people like the Whitehawk Woman are working on the second version of Stonehenge – still being made of wood.

– Abagond, 2023. 

See also:

535

If all of human history took place in one year, from the invention of Egyptian hieroglyphics in -3200 to just now in 2023, that would come to 435 years a month, 100 years a week, or 14 years a day.

Carl Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar used this trick to show how vast all of time is, all 15 billion years of it. But the same can be done to human history – most people do not seem to understand how vast that is either.

This is something I am trying to wrap my head around.

The Sphinx appears in February, Herodotus, the “Father of History”, not till July, halfway through. Christ and Caesar appear in August. The Pilgrims show up at Plymouth Rock on December 3rd, two hours after the first Black people arrive in Jamestown in 1619. Radios and cars appear on Christmas Eve, etc. And all of that, in turn, fits into just the last 11 seconds on Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar. Each month on this calendar is just about a second on Sagan’s.

The History Calendar would go something like this, using Western Spotlight History:

  • Jan-Jul: Ancient Middle East (Egypt and Mesopotamia)
  • Jul-Sep: Classical Greece and Rome
  • Sep-Nov: Medievel and Renaissance Europe
  • Nov-Dec: Modern West, US history (Pilgrims to present)

The Bible, from Abraham to the Apostles of Christ, runs from March to August.

In particular:

This is most like the Mayan Long Count, which begins in -3114 and reached the end of baktun 12 in 2012 (which is why some were saying the world would end that year). A baktun divides history into periods of 394.3 years – close to the 435 years that each month here represents.

“The Rise of the West” (1963) by William H. McNeill, despite its name, is one of the less Eurocentric world histories I have. It devotes about this much space to each quarter of the year:

  • Jan-Mar: 110 pages
  • Apr-Jun: 140
  • Jul-Sep: 170
  • Oct-Dec: 400

The White Inventor Argument says White people are best because of their inventions. But they have been clearly ahead of China only since about 1800 or December 15th – the last two weeks. And already that is beginning to fade. Egypt was unsurpassed till about the end of May when the Sea People arrived.

– Abagond, 2023.

See also:

546

KJV pro and con


Every version of the Bible has pros and cons, unfortunately. The King James or Authorized Version (KJV/AV) is no different:

Pro:

  1. The best English translation: Most translations, of any book, have to strike a balance between being literal and being easy to read. The KJV got away with being literal, shaping the English language to itself instead of the other way round. So much so that since the 1800s it has been widely considered a masterpiece of English literature! Literal and literary at the same time. What other English translation can match that?
  2. Good textual basis for the New Testament: The Greek text that it translates is very close to what most Christians have known through most of time. Since 1881 most new English translations translate a Greek text that is being ever “updated” by Western scholars who remove thousands of words.
  3. Fixed, stable text: It has not changed since 1769, and then only to modernize the spelling and punctuation and fix some typos in the original 1611 version. That shields it from new fashions in scholarship, from modern ideas, like about homosexuality, and so on. It also gives you a text to study and memorize that is not constantly changing and which is always in print. (The first two modern mainstream translations of the Bible I read are no longer in print.)
  4. No paragraphs: Most King James Bibles start each verse on a new line, which makes it way easier to look up verses to better understand the Bible. There were no paragraphs in the original Hebrew and Greek. Ancient writers did not organize their thoughts into neat little paragraphs with topic sentences. Strunk & White did not come out till 1959.
  5. Most printed: It is the most printed (or copied) Bible in any language in all of history. If the god of the Bible acts in history, as the Bible claims he does, then this has to count for something. Some say that it is no accident that English has since has become a world language. When the KJV first came out in 1611, English had fewer speakers than Swiss German has now.

Con:

  1. Archaic language: This is feature not a bug: even in 1611 the language was archaic. I find it curious that the people who complain the loudest about it are the ones with university degrees. The language is not that hard to get used to. Translations that make the Bible easy to read often mask its depths. The Bible is not a comic book.
  2. Missing books: The Apocrypha is in fact part of the KJV, though rarely printed since the early 1800s.
  3. Bad textual basis for the Old Testament: It translates the Hebrew Masoretic text, not the Greek Septuagint that Jesus and Paul, you know, mainly quote. This makes it seem like the Bible is constantly misquoting itself. Why? It is completely unnecessary.
  4. Heretical: There seem to be few if any outright mistranslations but there is a general watering down of how the Bible had long been understood. Because the translators – Anglican and Puritan Protestants all – had rebelled against that understanding. “Christ” in the Psalms becomes “annointed”, “priest” becomes “elder”, etc.

– Abagond, 2023.

See also:

552

The 1619 Project: Race

Note: This is my summary of chapter 2 of “The 1619 Project” (2021) – the book, not the television show. As in the book, “America” means US America and the 13 British colonies that it grew out of. Quoted text is straight from the book. 

This chapter was so disappointing. It should have been named “Rape” not “Race”.

As I understand it, each chapter looks at how race has informed and malformed different aspects of US society – democracy, freedom, justice, medicine, etc. And this chapter does that for rape. At that level it is a solid contribution. But as the chapter on “race” in a book like this, it had to nail it while also laying the groundwork for the other chapters. It started out doing that for the first 5 pages, but then got sidetracked onto rape. The way White people were freaking out over the 1619 Project, I thought it had nailed it. As it turns out, they were freaking out over a side swipe.

This chapter is written by Dorothy Roberts, a professor of law, sociology and Africana Studies at Penn. She gives her own summary of the chapter in the last paragraph:

“Black women were crucial to the racial-classification system established by white colonists to maintain and manage slavery. The colonial legal apparatus treated them as innately unrapeable and their children as innately enslaveable, while the culture justified that barbarity by slandering them as lascivious Jezebels. This destructive thinking has been reinforced by laws, politics, and myths that, to this day, monitor racial boundaries and Black women’s sexuality and childbearing.  These ideas circulate in police departments, child welfare agencies, county clerks’ offices, medical clinics, and the ubiquitous racial boxes we are required to check. The creative work of Black women activists can help lead us toward liberation from this damaging heritage.”

Rape: She shows how racist thinking in the US has left Black women and girls wide open to be raped without any practical recourse to the police or the courts. It seems that at least 12% of slave women were raped, probably way more – the law made it not only unpunishable but profitable for slave owners. Even today, according to one study, only 1 raped Black woman in 15 reports it. Roberts makes clear why they have such little faith in the police and the courts. Where slavery left off the Jezebel stereotype (of Black women as loose) took over. So much so that even in 2008 (and presumably still today) police were saying stuff like this in their emails:

“All sex was consexual [sic]. Parents are unable to accept the fact of this child’s promiscuous behavior caused this situation”

That was about Danielle Hicks-Best. She was just 11. Gang raped. The police arrested her and put her in a mental institution.

And let’s not forget about Daniel Holtzclaw, a police officer who was convicted of 18 counts of sexual battery and rape in 2015. From 2009 to 2014 nearly a thousand police officers in the US lost their badges for sexual misconduct.

All of this goes back to 1662 when Virginia passed a law saying:

“all children born in this country shalbe [sic] held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother.”

Overturning English law in favour of a principle the Romans applied to their pigs: partus sequitur ventrem – “the offspring follows the belly”. This made both race and slavery a hereditary condition. All else flows from that.

– Abagond, 2023. 

See also:

599

Natalie Cole: Our Love

Remarks:

This is my favourite Natalie Cole song. It went to #1 on the US R&B chart in 1978. It did not chart outside of North America. Hard to believe she has already been gone seven years.

Requiescat in pace.

See also:

Lyrics:

[Verse 1]
You’re my morning star shining brightly beside me
And if we keep this love
We will last through all eternity

[Pre-Chorus]
It’s just the way we are, I love it, love it
It’s just the way it should be

[Chorus]
‘Cause our love will stand tall as the trees
Our love will spread wide as the seas
Our love will shine bright in the night like the stars above
And we’ll always be together, our love
[Verse 2]
My love is surely one thing
You can surely depend on
In times of darkness and fear I go to you
I know you’ll make me strong

[Pre-Chorus]
You’re gonna make me happy
You’re gonna make me smile

[Chorus]
‘Cause our love will stand tall as the trees
Our love will be for the whole world to see
Our love will change people’s wrongs to right
And we’ll never die
‘Cause we’ll always have each other

[Instrumental Break]

[Chorus]
Yeah, ooh, ooh, ooh
Our love will stand tall as the trees
Our love will spread as wide as the seas
Our love will shine bright in the night like the stars above
And we’ll always be together, yeah
Our love, yeah, our love
We got a good old-fashioned love
Baby, baby, our love
Hey, hey baby, our love
We got a mighty, mighty fine love
Baby, baby, our love
Our love
We got a mighty, mighty good love
Baby, baby, our love

[Outro]
Ooh, that’s right, bring it down, just a little
‘Cause love is soft, love is sweet
Love is nice and love is gentle
Love is joy, love is pain
Love is laughing in the rain
I’ve got love on my mind
Love is always right on time
Love is you, love is me
Love is just a little baby
I’ve got love on my mind
Love is always right on time
Love is you, love is me
Love is gonna set you free, yeah
(Baby, baby, our love)
Our love
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah (Baby, baby, our love)
Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh (Our love)
Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh (Baby, baby, our love)
Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh (Our love)
Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh (Baby, baby, our love)

Source: Genius Lyrics.

Egypt in 2900 BC

Pharaoh Den smiting Asiatics in the First Dynasty, -2900s. (British Museum)

Note: This is so far back in time that dates can be off by up to 100 years or so. I follow the dates in “The Princeton Dictionary of Ancient Egypt” (2008). 

  • Location: north-eastern Africa, the last 1,000 km of the Nile where ships can freely sail north of the rocky Cataracts.
  • Population: reaches 1 million.
  • Major cities: north to south: Sais, Memphis, Abydos.
  • Language: Archaic Egyptian – in archaic hieroglyphic writing.
  • Religion: idol worship in temples of Horus, Neith, Osiris, etc. The king as Horus made flesh. Belief in the afterlife. Human sacrifice practised. Apis bull.
  • Government: Semerkhet, second-to-last god-king of the First Dynasty.
  • Economy: wheat, cattle. Olive oil from Palestine.
  • Transport: Nile River, sail boats, donkeys. Roads and wheel transport are rare, camels unknown.
  • Technology: irrigation, mud bricks, copper (not yet bronze), paper.

The last 100 years: covers most of the last half of the First Dynasty:

  • kings – Djer, Djet, Den, Anedjib, and Semerkhet of the FIrst Dynasty.
  • and a queen – Merneith, the first recorded queen in Egyptian history. She ruled in the name of her young son Den. Den gives her a tomb fit for a king alongside the other kings buried at Abydos, the holy city of Osiris, god of the afterlife.  He lists her with the other kings of the First Dynasty, but later kings left her off the list. Merneith was named after:
  • Neith – a goddess based in Sais in the Delta, she of the shield and the crossed arrows. The Greeks will see her as Athena.
  • the double crown – Den becomes the first to combine the red crown of the Delta and the white crown of the Nile Valley into one double crown (pictured).
  • “he of the reed and the bee” – Den is also the first pharaoh to give himself the title nsw bty (Ancient Egyptian did not record vowels). In English this is usually translated as “King of Upper and Lower Egypt”, but literally it means “he of the reed and the bee”. The bee represents Lower Egypt, the Delta, where stood the House of the Bee, Neith’s temple.
  • the oldest papyrus roll comes from this period.
  • growth of government – papyrus and hieroglyphs – paper and writing – make possible a large bureaucracy – and a:
  • census – King Den carries out the first known census in Egypt, “a census of all the people of the north, west and east”. Taxes, though, go back at least 200 years, to King Narmer.
  • human sacrifice is still in full swing: pharoahs continue to be buried with dozens to hundreds of strangled employees. But this is about to end – there is little sign of human sacrifice in Egypt much past this date. The strangled are replaced in time by shabtis, small figurines with magic spells written on them to bring them to life to serve the king in the afterlife.
  • “smiting Asiatics”, as Egyptologists like to call it, is now a thing (pictured at top). Asia (meaning mainly Palestine) is a source of war and trade.
  • population – Egypt now hits a million. But that is only about a fifth of its peak in ancient times.
  • trees – now rare in Egypt.

Meanwhile in Britain, brown-skinned people like the Whitehawk Woman are working on the first version of Stonehenge.

– Abagond, 2023. 

See also:

561

abortion

Not a picture of a dismembered fetus.

Abortion is the killing of an unborn child, legal from coast to coast in the US from 1973 to 2022.

Terminology:

  • embryo: an unborn child before the 11th week since a woman’s last period.
  • fetus: an unborn child after the 11th week.
  • pro-life: against abortion rights
  • pro-choice: for abortion rights, as in the catchphrase, “a woman’s right to choose”.
  • abortion-on-demand: abortion given when the woman wants it, even without being a dire case (rape, incest, threat her life, etc).

Where abortion is legal: Abortion-on-demand was legal in 2022 in the blue and dark purple regions, at least for the first 17 weeks, limited elsewhere to dire cases:

Roe v Wade: It was on January 22nd 1973 – or 50 years ago on Sunday – that the US Supreme Court in Roe v Wade (1973) ruled that having an abortion was a right across the land. And it was on June 24th 2022 – or seven months ago next Tuesday – that the Supreme Court in Dobbs v Jackson (2022) ruled that it was no longer a right: each state could make its own laws.

The Southern Strategy is where the Republican Party in the US uses issues of race and religion, like abortion, to get “hard-working Americans” to vote against their class interests. It gave us Trump. It also gave us a Supreme Court stacked with anti-abortion judges from the Federalist Society. Abortion allows Republicans to paint the Democrats as being without morals. How could any honest, God-fearing person possibly vote for them?

The South Side of Chicago in 2011: the poster says: “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.” (Jill Stanek).

Black genocide: From time to time, from the Black Panthers to White Evangelicals, the claim is sometimes made that abortion is a form of Black genocide. In 1978, for example, Mildred Fay Jefferson, the first Black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School, said:

“abortionists have done more to get rid of generations and cripple others than all of the years of slavery and lynching.”

The Hippocratic Oath in 275 AD said:

“Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion.”

The 1964 AD update says nothing about abortion.

The Bible: Exodus 21:22:

“If men quarrel, and one strike a woman with child, and she miscarry indeed, but live herself: he shall be answerable for so much damage as the woman’s husband shall require, and as arbiters shall award.”

An unborn child is simply called a “child” (yeled in Hebrew) not a “fetus” (nephel or golem). And causing its death is seen as wrong.

In Luke 1:41,44 the personhood of John the Baptist in the womb is clear.

Religion: Where different religious groups officially stand on abortion as of 2016 according to Pew Research:

Note that this does not always match what the rank and file think. For example, the Catholic Church sees abortion as the taking of an innocent life, yet in May 2022 about 56% of US Catholics, including President Biden, thought abortion should be legal in most cases – almost the same as the US as a whole: 61%. Even among Catholics who attend Mass at least once a week it was 30% (see Pew Research).

– Abagond, 2023.

See also:

540

The 1619 Project: Democracy

Note: This is my summary of chapter 1 of “The 1619 Project” (2021) – the book, not the television show. As in the book, “America” means US America and the 13 British colonies that it grew out of. Quoted text is straight from the book. 

In America slavery is older than democracy – and way older than full democracy, which is only some 50 years old. It did not merely practise slavery, as many societies have down through history, it was built on slavery. “Slavery affected everything about society.”

Samuel Johnson, an English writer, in 1775:

“How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?”

Two reasons:

  1. In 1775 Lord Dunsmore offered freedom to any enslaved person who joined his Ethiopian Regiment to fight for the British.
  2. It is easy to champion democracy when most of your poor are in chains, as they were in places like Virginia, a hotbed of the American Revolution that gave us the likes of Washington, Jefferson and Madison.

One of the main freedoms they were fighting for was the freedom to get rich off of running forced labour camps (aka plantations) – and to practise the torture that that required.

For the South the American Revolution was in defense of slavery, just as the Civil War nine decades later, even if couched in terms of “liberty”, as did Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate South.

From the Founding Fathers of 1776 all the way down to Lincoln in the closing days of the Civil War in 1865, US freedom, democracy and equality were for Whites only. The Supreme Court was quite clear about that in 1857 in the Dred Scott  case. From the book:

“Democracy existed for citizens, and the  ‘Negro race,’ the court ruled, was ‘a separate class of persons,’ one the founders had ‘not regarded as a portion of the people or citizens of the Government’ and who had ‘no rights which the white man was bound to respect.’ This belief, that Black people were not merely enslaved but a slave race, is the root of the endemic racism we cannot purge from this nation to this day.”

Even Lincoln did not believe in full equality for Black people – just for the right sort (war veterans with education).

The idea of the US as a multiracial democracy comes not from Washington or Jefferson or even Lincoln, but from Black activists and, during Reconstruction (1865-77), the Radical Republicans – “rare white men such as Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner who truly believed in Black equality.”

Even a hundred years later during the Civil Rights Movement:

“For the most part, Black Americans fought back alone, never getting a majority of white Americans to join and support their freedom struggles.”

Which is not surprising:

“Free Black people posed a danger to the country’s idea of itself as exceptional in its creed of freedom and equality; they held up a mirror into which the nation preferred not to peer. And so the inhumanity visited on Black people by every generation of white Americans justified the inhumanity of the past and the inequality of the present.”

And so:

“The truth is that as much democracy as this nation has today, it has been borne on the backs of Black resistance and visions for equality. Our founding fathers may not have actually believed in the ideals they espoused but Black Americans did.”

– Abagond, 2023. 

See also:

589

 

From the post of the same name on Womanist Musings, July 13th 2008, before it compleyely disappears from the Internet:

Abagond: ..Homosexuality is a sin. St Paul says so in the book of Romans. With all due respect, I think he knows about this better than either of us. Going by whatever American society says is right is a terrible moral guide. I have not taken any survey, but I think most black people know that.”

Right, because the bible is the most neutral source to turn to. Can you point to a book with more acts of violence, and misogyny, I doubt it?  It interests me how you can point to the bible as the source of your hatred and yet conveniently ignore things like judge not lest ye be judged, and do unto others as you would have done unto you, or how about  let he who is without sin cast the first stone?

I don’t believe that I need to provide more than his own words to prove his homophobia.  The point I think that it is important to fixate on, is how isms interlock in his mind.  This is not a phenomena that is unique to him. Someone like him is only capable of seeing oppression in the way that it effects him, and this is only possible because despite his position as a marginalized body he exists with forms of privilege in this world. By not being able to stand up for another group that is equally marginalized, what he is in fact doing is reaffirming the same power that constructs him as less than, the very same dynamics are at play.  Oppression, is oppression, is oppression, you are either for it, or against it. There is no such thing as a good or acceptable form of oppression, and to perpetuate it through thought, deed, or action while decrying it when it happens  to you, is to use the master tools, as Audre Lorde would say.

All of the “isms” are interconnected and  in fact they form the cycles of power in our society thus creating the demarcation of difference.  It does not weaken your position to admit that others share a similar plight with injustice. Seeing the pain that is inflicted in marginalization should give rise to allies,and new partnerships, not to further ‘othering’.  If he could understand that homophobia is just as much a civil rights issue as racism, sexism, abelism, or classism, etc what he could potentially do is increase the number of people with which he had access to, to build a foundation for a cohesive attack on privilege. When you say I don’t like those “type of people”, or that “those people” are less than, not only do you limit them but you limit yourself. I know that even if Abagond should decide to read this post, it will probably fall on deaf ears, but for those of you reading who are active in the struggle for justice, remember that if you cannot empathize with others, you should not expect the same courtesy in return.

See also:

1851 media diet – a review

I was on an 1851 media diet in late 2021 and early 2022. I was reading “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, (1852), a chapter a week to match its serialization 170 years before and added a media diet to it: most (but not all) of my reading, news and music also had to come from at least 170 years ago.

I modelled my media diet on what Thoreau said in “Walden” (1854) just a few years later: that most people in his town of Concord read just the Bible, the newspaper and cheap, contemporary fiction. So that is what I did, though the fiction would be a cut above since the trash fiction of 1851 has not survived, just the classics, like “Jane Eyre”, “Moby Dick”, and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. And I read non-fiction too.

What I read:

  • Bible: King James Bible, a chapter a day
  • news: The Economist, Frederick Douglass’ Newspaper
  • books:
    • Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852): a chapter a week
    • Thoreau’s 1851 journal.
    • Frederick Douglass: Speeches, 1841-51
    • Nov 2021: Phillis Wheatley: Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773)
    • Dec 2021: Olaudah Equiano: Interesting Narrative (1789)
    • Jan 2022: James W.C. Pennington: The Origin and History of the Colored People (1841)
    • Feb 2022: 
      • Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre (1847)
      • Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1849)
    • Mar 2022: 
      • Sojourner Truth: Narrative (1850)
      • Melville: Moby-Dick (1851)
    • Apr 2022: finish reading “Moby-Dick”.
    • May 2022: Josiah Henson: Life.
    • Jun 2022: read half of Martin Delany: The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered (1852)

What I listened to: Mainly classical music, like Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin, which I just could not get into for the most part.

Remarks: I was left with two main impressions:

  1. How the King James Bible loomed over everything – except for The Economist. Religiously, morally, even down to its taste in English. Charlotte Bronte and Frederick Douglass clearly breathe the same Anglo-Protestant air. The Authorized King James Bible was their Iliad, their Koran, their Dante. Its only rivals were Shakespeare and the Book of Common Prayer – the two main things this media diet lacked in hindsight that it should have had.
  2. How narrowly ethnic it all was! It was like reading 16th century Ukrainian literature or something. Their world seemed to be shrunk down to the Anglosphere of the past 300 years or so – to 8% of mankind and 6% of history. This is seen best in the Bible itself: the King James translation is a heretical Protestant translation and, as stripped back and watered down as that was, they twisted it and stripped it down even further so that only two passages mattered in the end – what I call the Slaveholder’s Bible. But, if you are going to limit yourself only to the newspaper, cheap, contemporary fiction, the King James Bible – and to pastors who depend on Sunday collections, giving them every reason to tell you what you want to hear – this is what you get. And now it is even worse than that for most people in the US.

– Abagond, 2023.

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The Kinks: Better Things

Remarks:

This is my favourite Kinks song, even though it seems highly unlikely I would have known about it. I never bought their records, nor did anyone I know, I do not remember seeing it on MTV, and it only went to #92 on the US pop chart in 1981 (#42 in their native UK).

I tnought “bluest sky” in the first line was “blu-ed sky”, which made it seem poetic to me, more than it actually was.

See also:

Lyrics:

Here’s wishing you the bluest sky
And hoping something better comes tomorrow
Hoping all the verses rhyme
And the very best of choruses, too
Follow all the doubt and sadness
I know that better things are on the way

Here’s hoping all the days ahead
Won’t be as bitter as the ones behind you
Be an optimist instead
And somehow happiness will find you
Forget what happened yesterday
I know that better things are on the way

It’s really good to see you rocking out
And having fun
Living like you’ve just begun
Accept your life and what it brings
I hope tomorrow you’ll find better things
I know tomorrow you’ll find better things

Here’s wishing you the bluest sky
And hoping something better comes tomorrow
Hoping all the verses rhyme
And the very best of choruses, too
Follow all the doubt and sadness
I know that better things are on the way

I know you’ve got a lot of good things happening up ahead
The past is gone, it’s all been said
So here’s to what the future brings
I know tomorrow you’ll find better things
I know tomorrow you’ll find better things
I hope tomorrow you’ll find better things
I know tomorrow you’ll find better things
I hope tomorrow you’ll find better things

Lyrics:

Source: Songfacts

Egypt in 3000 BC

Egypt 3,000 years before Christ had just started to use paper, made from papyrus, and had a new capital: Memphis.

Note: This is so far back in time that dates can be off by up to 100 years or so. I follow the dates in “The Princeton Dictionary of Ancient Egypt” (2008). 

  • Location: north-eastern corner of Africa, the land within a few miles of the Nile River from the Great Green sea (the Mediterranean) to the Tropic of Cancer – the last 1,000 km of the Nile where ships can freely sail (they already have sails) north of the rocky Cataracts.
  • Population: just under 1 million
  • Major cities: north to south: Sais, Memphis, Thinis, Abydos.
  • Language: Archaic Egyptian – in archaic hieroglyphic writing.
  • Religion: idol worship in temples of Horus, Neith, Osiris, etc. The king as Horus himself. Belief in the afterlife. Human sacrifice practised.
  • Government: Djer, third god-king of the First Dynasty.
  • Economy: wheat, cattle. Little rainfall – the Nile goes right through the Sahara – but every summer, starting the day after the star Sopdet (Sirius, Sothis) rises on the morning on July 17th, the Nile floods bringing water and soil, mainly from Ethiopia. Irrigation makes even better use of this gift of the Nile upon which Egypt is built.
  • Transport: Nile River, sail boats, donkeys. Roads and wheel transport are rare, camels unknown.
  • Technology: irrigation, mud bricks, copper (not yet bronze).
    • Newish: paper (papyrus), oven, flail, candle wick

The last 100 years:

  • Memphis was founded by King Aha and made the capital of all Egypt. The Ancient Greeks said it was founded by King Menes – and, as it turns out, on the Naqada Label (pictured at top), one of his names was Men. But the Greeks also said Menes was the first king of Egypt, which we know as Narmer, who was probably Aha’s father. Both were from Hierakonpolis way to the south, but is much easier to rule Egypt from Memphis (or Cairo, just 24 km to the north) because it stands near the demographic centre of the country: about as many people live to the north in the Nile Delta as live to the south in the Nile Valley – the Two Lands of Egypt.
  • hieroglyphic writing, like Egyptian art, has not yet achieved its standardized, classic form. And it is still making the jump from picture writing to writing sounds. Both these things make it hard to read. Hieratic, its simplified, cursive form, receives a huge boost from:
  • the invention of paper – made from papyrus. It is much lighter, more portable and more compact than older writing media: stone, pottery, limestone flakes, etc.
  • human sacrifice – a direct result of belief in the afterlife and the absolute power of the king. When King Djer, our present ruler in 3000 BC, dies he will have some 600 people strangled to join him in the afterlife: guards, officials, women, dwarfs, etc. Even his dogs, who are buried the same way as his concubines.
  • Abydos: Most kings of the First and Second Dynasties were buried not near Memphis at Saqqara, but far upriver at Abydos, the holy city of Osiris, god of the afterlife.
  • Nubia – Egypt begins its long-time policy of destablizing Nubia, the country just to the south.

Meanwhile in Britain, brown-skinned people like the Whitehawk Woman are working on the first version of Stonehenge.

– Abagond, 2023. 

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553

 

Benedict XVI

Joseph Ratzinger (1927-2022) was a German theologian who ruled the Catholic Church as Pope Benedict XVI from 2005 till 2013, when he resigned. The last time a pope resigned was Gregory XII in 1415, to end the split between pope and antipope.

He will probably be most remembered for “Summorum Pontificum” (2007), which allows the Traditional Latin Mass and its sacraments to be freely practised once again, as they had been for over a thousand years before Vatican II (1962-65). If it was good enough for the saints, it was good enough for him. But Pope Francis has already started to crack down on that with “Traditiones Custodes” (2021).

Timeline:

  • 1941: turns 14, forced to join Hitler’s Youth. A cousin with Down syndrome put to death by Action T4, a Nazi eugenics programme.
  • 1943-45: German army. Deserts. The US army uses his house as a headquarters and takes him as a prisoner of war.
  • 1951: priest
  • 1959: professor of theology
  • 1962-65: Council of Vatican II. Works with the likes of Hans Kung and Edward Schillebeekcx to reform the Church. He is an admirer of Karl Rahner, whose liberal ideas helped to inform the Council.
  • 1977-82: Archbishop of Munich.
  • 1982-2005: Head of the Congregration for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF), fka the Roman Inquisition, set up to defend the Church against heresy.
  • 2005-13: Pope Benedict XVI.
  • 2013-22: pope emeritus. Continues to live at the Vatican and wear his white papal robes.

God’s Rottweiler: At Vatican II he was a reformer, but he was shocked by the wave of student radicalism in the late 1960s. By the 1980s he was taking a hard line on doctrine, on things like abortion and gay rights. The White Liberal Press called him “God’s Rottweiler”.

In 2006 Benedict said:

“For 60 years now, I have accompanied the path of theology, especially biblical studies, and have seen seemingly unshakeable theses collapse with the changing generations, which turned out to be mere hypotheses: the liberal generation (Harnack, Jülicher, etc.), the existentialist generation (Bultmann, etc.), the Marxist generation. I have seen, and see, how, out of the tangle of hypotheses, the reasonableness of faith has emerged and is emerging anew. Jesus Christ is truly the Way, the Truth, and the Life – and the Church, in all her shortcomings, is truly His Body.”

and in 2021 he said of same-sex marriage:

“We are witnessing a distortion of conscience which has evidently penetrated deeply into sectors of the Catholic people. This cannot be answered with some small moralism or even with some exegetical reference. The problem goes deeper and therefore must be addressed in fundamental terms.”

But God’s Rottweiler was all bark and no bite: By the 1990s the CDF was largely toothless: it issued statements on doctrine but had no way to back them up. And even as pope he did little to bring heretics into line.

Paedophilia: He gets low marks here too. He did little to fight it – as archbishop, head of the CDF, or pope. As Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, noted:

“I would hate for him to be remembered as someone who did the right thing because from our perspective, Pope Benedict’s record has been abysmal.”

– Abagond, 2023.

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533

books I read in 2023

Last updated: January 11th 2023.

Some of the books in 2023 that I read, am reading, or hope to read (guided in part by my century readings and Egyptian century of the week):

Read:

(nothing yet)

Currently reading:

Steven Snape: Ancient Egypt (2021) – this is the newest and coolest-looking of the eight or so books I hope to read on the history of Egypt, from 3100 BC to 2023 AD. This one only goes up to 395 AD.

The 1619 Project (2021) – US history reimagined from the point of view of 1619 (when the first Black slaves arrived) instead of 1776 (when White Americans declared their independence from the UK). Banned from being taught in Texas, so you know it has to be good.

Novum Testamentum (405) – the New Testament as translated by St Jerome. I am using the Clementine Vulgate version as the most trustworthy of the Latin Bible translations. I read the gospels in Latin way back when. Now I want to read the whole thing in Latin.

Aquinas: Commentary on Matthew (1200s) – kind of silly to read commentaries written by US Baptist professors, like in the Holman Study Bible, when I can read this instead. It has both the original Latin and an English translation.

Hope to read this year:

I want to read at least one thing from each century – see my list of century readings.

Suggestions welcomed!

– Abagond, 2023.

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