Category: Middle East


This is a different dog, Chippers, also rescued by Animals Lebanon.


Animals Lebanon in Beirut is helping many Syrian refugees with their animals.


In the September 9, 2013 issue of the Lebanon Daily Star, Brooke Anderson, in her article “Animals Lebanon marks five years of awareness,” writes about the dedicated work that Animals Lebanon is doing in circumstances made challenging by the nearby war in Syria.


Now around one quarter of the population of Lebanon is made up of refugees who have fled from Syria.


In November 2012, Jason Mier, Executive Director of Animals Lebanon,  received an email from a man in Damascus.  An accompanying photo showed the man, wearing a hardhat, sitting with his dog, who he’d had for fourteen years.  The man, whose name is Maan, wrote that he’d been more or less confined to his small apartment for the past year with his dog, Juicy.  The neighborhood was being bombed every day.


He wrote that he was planning to go to Switzerland to live with his daughter, but that he wouldn’t leave without Juicy.  Because of the Swiss quarantine regulations, his dog wouldn’t be able to enter Switzerland for two months.  He’d prepared nine pages of information and travel documents for Juicy, and he asked that Animals Lebanon please help by finding her a safe place to stay for two months until she could enter Switzerland to be with him.


Of course, Jason Mier immediately replied that they would help, and he found a foster home in Beirut where Juicy stayed for two months, before joining Maan in Switzerland.


Animals Lebanon is receiving about five similar requests each day from Syians for help with their animals, as well as the sixty or so requests they normally respond to.


Jason Mier says there are four small zoos in the Damascus area, and it’s difficult to get information about how the animals are doing.


In areas of Syria where there’s been a lot of shelling or where there are food shortages, life is very hard for the animals.  Animals Lebanon does everything they can to help.


To read the original article in the Lebanon Daily Star, click here.


To visit the website of Animals Lebanon or to donate, click here 


Photo: Courtesy of Animals Lebanon / This is a different dog, Chippers, who was rescued in Lebanon and now has a happy home in the U.S.



In the current crisis, Animals Lebanon is helping refugees from Syria and their animals, as well as an influx of animals from people leaving Lebanon. A brief update – for an earlier update, click here. – Editor

By Jason Mier

Animals Lebanon


Update – September 4, 2013

…We are in a very tough situation and know we are really going to need help…

Now we have a woman from Syria who evacuated with her six cats. She and the cats are staying with us until we can get her and them a plane ticket, hopefully on Saturday.

We also have a whole new zoo to empty. I was here the day before the 2006 war and visited zoos in the south. So many of those animals died because they could not be reached, or others were given too much food at the end of the war. I don’t want to be in a position where the same thing happens to these animals. Two lions, two tigers, three macaws, and two crocodiles. The rest are local wildlife that can be placed here.

To visit the website of Animals Lebanon or to help the animals with a donation, click here.

Photo: Courtesy of Animals Lebanon / Nacho was tied up his whole life and abused by people, until he was rescued by Animals Lebanon. Despite this history, he remained a very gentle dog, and he is now happily adopted in the US!


In 2006, during the War in Lebanon, while bombs were falling on nearby buildings, the people of what is now Animals Lebanon were courageously feeding community cats in bomb-damaged buildings and rescuing as many animals as they could. Now they are preparing for whatever events may come in a worsening situation. — Editor

By Jason Mier,

Animals Lebanon,


Update – September 3, 2013

Dear All,

Lebanon and this region has steadily become less safe over the last two years, and much more so in the last six months. The Prime Minister resigned in March which causes the Council of Ministers to collapse, and there has been no progress at forming a new Council of Ministers. Parliamentary elections were not held as an electoral law could not be agreed, and in June Parliament gave itself an extension until November 2014.

There have been three major car bombs in the last few weeks, and major clashes in parts of most major cities – some going on for days. Just last week a car bomb was diffused by police only a kilometer from our office. In the last few days some airlines have changed their schedules to avoid night flight and minimize time aircraft are on the ground.

When the President of the US spoke recently the streets were empty, people are following every word and trying to understand what to do… We are looking at it as we have one week to get ready and prepared for as many outcomes as possible.


As happened in the 2006 war, there are already more difficulties in sourcing animal food and supplies, an increase of cats and dogs being left behind as people leave the country, changes in fundraising, and we expect the possibility of animals trapped in zoos or pet shops that are not being fed or cared for, and concerns for the safety of everyone involved.

There are four staff including myself. They all have family in other parts of the country so can move to other areas temporarily if necessary. All have valid passports and there are countries they can travel to without needing a visa beforehand.

We are currently caring for approximately 40 cats and ten dogs, all located in Beirut. We are working to identify empty buildings or land that we could relocate to outside of Beirut if necessary. This would require costs of approximately $5,000 to construct or modify a space to make it suitable to house these animals.

We have a six to twelve month supply of all items necessary for the care of these 50 animals including food, litter, bedding, medication, water.

60 transport cages have been bought and put in storage, we are trying to find more. These would be for movement of animals within Lebanon, or to fly these animals abroad, or to provide to the public if they are exporting a cat or dog.

An ‘export guidelines for cats and dogs’ has been finalized in English and Arabic for distribution. Last week we answered 17 requests for help to export cats and dogs.

There are also a number of wild animals we are working to rescue-

– one Nile crocodile, approximately 1.5 meters, loose in Beirut river, no sanctuary secured

– two adult lions (one male, one female) and two adult tigers (sex unknown), kept at private zoo in the Chouf mountains outside of Beirut, no sanctuary secured

– six Hamadryas baboons, kept at zoo in south, accepted by Princess Alia Foundation in Jordan but have not been able to arrange a vet to do the necessary vaccines and tests

We have been backing up all of our files on external hard drives for storage outside of Lebanon with two of our major supporters.

… I am hoping we have thought through and prepared as much as possible… Either way our work and what is possible has changed…



To visit the website of Animals Lebanon or to help with a donation, click here.


Photos: Courtesy of Animals Lebanon

Top photo: Clara was abandoned at a young age and rescued by Animals Lebanon. She is now happily adopted in Lebanon.

Second photo: Tyson is one of Eva’s six puppies.  Eva was shot and blinded while pregnant, and was rescued by Animals Lebanon.  Tyson is now happily adopted in the U.S.


edited 800px-Tower_of_Jericho

This tower is in Jericho, not Syria.

Tell Qaramel, on the Qoueiq River,  is 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Aleppo in northern Syria.

In 1999, a joint Polish-Syrian investigation of this area was led by Professor Ryszard F. Mazurowski of Warsaw University.  They came up with a number of astonishing discoveries – among them five round stone towers, each more than 18 feet in diameter with walls over four and a half feet thick. The site has been carbon dated to between 10,900 and 8850 BC.

The towers were built around 10,000 BC, older than what was previously believed to be the oldest known stone tower in the world, the one found at Jericho. Depending on the dates used for the tower at Jericho, the towers in Syria are between a few hundred years and two thousand years earlier.

These dates fall between the Younger Dryas, a time of cold and drought, and the early Holocene, when the earth began to grow warmer, following the Ice Age.  We are still in the Holocene epoch today.

The dates of Tell Qaramel are, for Phase One: 10,900-9,700 BC; for Phase Two: 10,300-9,300 BC; for Phase Three: 9,280-8,850 BC.  Phase One and Two overlap.

This is one of a number of discoveries in recent years  which take the origins of civilization much farther back in time than previously believed. These origins now extend back to the last Ice Age, long before archeologists used to think civilization began.

Sadly, Aleppo is now a battleground in the Syrian Civil War, and, as is the case in all wars, ancient archeological sites are in extreme jeopardy.

Aleppo itself is one of the oldest cities in the world, and has been inhabited since at least the sixth millennium BC, as is shown by the dating of excavations there in Tallet Alsauda. Aleppo is mentioned on cuneiform tablets in Ebla and Mesopotamia during the third millennium BC, when it was known as  Armani to the Akkadians. It is a much older city than Damascus.

The five round towers from around 10,000 BC, 15 miles north of Aleppo are older than the Pyramids, older than Stonehenge, older than every other stone building in the world – at least among those we know about. There is every reason to believe that there may be many extremely ancient civilizations buried under the sands and on the sea floors of the world’s oceans.  Of the builders of the round towers, we do not know the name of the people who built them, their language, where they may have come from, and who they may have become during their travels through history.  There is so much about our past on the earth that we have no inkling of.


A technical discussion of Tell Qaramel dates can be found here.

A less technical, speculative, but interesting, discussion of Tell Qaramel, by Rob Roy, can be found here:


Photo: Reinhard Dietrich / Wikimedia Commons /  “I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.” / Tower of Jericho, Tell es-Sultan archaeological site, ca. 7000 BC.  





Poems by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, thirteenth century Persian poet

Translated by Coleman Barks

Shadow and Light Source Both

How does a part of the world leave the world?

How does wetness leave water? Dont’ try to

put out fire by throwing on more fire! Don’t

wash a wound with blood. No matter how fast

you run, your shadow keeps up. Sometimes it’s

in front! Only full overhead sun diminishes

your shadow. But that shadow has been serving

you. What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is

your candle. Your boundaries are your quest.

I could explain this, but it will break the

glass cover on your heart, and there’s no

fixing that. You must have shadow and light

source both. Listen, and lay your head under

the tree of awe. When from that tree feathers

and wings sprout on you, be quieter than

a dove. Don’t even open your mouth for even a coo.

From Soul of Rumi

by Coleman Barks



Who Says Words With My Mouth?

All day I think about it, then at night I say it.

Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?

I have no idea.

My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,

and I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.

When I get back around to that place,

I’ll be completely sober.  Meanwhile,

I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.

The day is coming when I fly off,

but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?

Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?

I cannot stop asking.

If I could taste one sip of an answer,

I could break out of this prison for drunks.

I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.

Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This poetry, I never know what I’m going to say.

I don’t plan it.

When I’m outside the saying of it,

I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.

From Essential Rumi

by Coleman Barks




Essential Rumi and Soul of Rumi are available at


Photo: / Wikimedia Commons / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. / Mourning Dove, Cabin Lake Viewing Blinds, Deschutes National Forest, Near Fort Rock, Oregon


For more poetry by Rumi, click here.     

Gobekli Tepe

Gobekli Tepe



Just a few years ago, an amazing complex of structures was discovered in eastern Turkey.  Known as Gobekli Tepe, these are about twenty stone circles – not formed of rough-hewn stone, like Stonehenge, but formed of straight, precisely cut and polished stone columns, with lintels across the top, decorated with animal sculptures.  These have been dated to around 12,000 years ago – thousands of years earlier than any previously known complex of carved structures.


They were apparently covered up by earth a couple of thousand years after they were created.  One can only suppose they were sacred sites and when the people were compelled to leave them, for whatever reason, they covered them up in order to preserve them to avoid having them deteriorate and fall apart over time.


The time that they were created, around 10,000 BC, coincides with the ending of the last Ice Age.


Gobekli Tepe is written about extensively in the book, Forgotten Civilization, by Robert Schoch, a geologist who gained international renown (and some measure of ridicule) for his work with John Anthony West, related to the Sphinx in Egypt, and the hypothesis that the Sphinx is much, much older, by thousands of years, than previously thought.


Dwarkadheesh Temple

Dwarkadheesh Temple


Graham Hancock, another well-known exponent of the concept that there was a high civilization, unknown to us, in the extremely remote past, examines this in his book Underworld, which looks at a number of sites, now underwater, which are evidence of very ancient, unknown civilizations.  His theory is that, because it is an accepted scientific fact that sea levels rose dramatically when the ice melted at the end of the last Ice Age, that the remains of ancient civilizations, which would have been located on what was then the coast, would now be entirely under the sea, often many meters below the surface.  Many of these sites have been found and Graham Hancock has dived some of them – at the island of Malta, Yonaguni which is off the southern coasts of Japan, Dwarka and other sunken cities off the coasts of India. At these and other underwater sites, there are very extensive remains of ancient megalithic structures.


There is growing interest in this concept of lost civilizations – really of a lost history of the world – and an increasing number of writers who investigate this topic.  It is also covered in the TV series, Ancient Aliens. Ancient Aliens leaves itself open to a certain level of ridicule by proposing that really just about everything in the distant past must have been built by ancient aliens who sailed to the planet earth in UFO’s.  This can strain the credibility even of those who have no problem at all believing in either UFO’s or very ancient civilizations.


However, the series does an excellent job of covering a great many really fascinating archeological sites of extreme antiquity, and is very much worth watching solely for the footage of these sites – if one isn’t too much put off be the assumption that ET himself must have built every single pyramid and every ancient ruin.



The throne room of Knossus

The throne room of Knossus



A new series on the H2 Channel is America Unearthed, in which the forensic geologist, Scott Wolter, travels across the U.S. looking into ancient sites on the American continent which indicate that America was discovered, not just by Columbus, and not just by the Vikings around 1,000 AD, as nearly everyone now accepts, but by many peoples from all corners of the world over many thousands of years.  For example, on Great Isle, on Lake Superior, there have been dug around 5,000 pits, used for extracting copper – one of these was dated to 3,700 BC.  The dating was done of cut and shaped timbers that were in place in one of the pits, supporting a large piece of copper.  A stone containing carved letters was found, and these turned out to be the letters of the Minoan script – the Minoans lived on the island of Crete, where, around 3,000 BC and earlier, they had a great need to mine copper to provide metal for the Bronze Age.  Perhaps they sailed all the way to the Great Lakes, and mined the copper that they found there to fuel the Bronze Age.


It seems increasingly clear that history, as we have been taught it, is simply not true.  It is woefully incomplete, and there are vast chapters of the ancient past that are only just beginning to come to light.  Great civilizations, unknown to us, may have extended for millennia back into the mists of time, perhaps other great worldwide civilizations from tens of thousands of years ago – or hundreds of thousands – or who knows?  Perhaps galactic civilizations lasting over billions of years?  If that’s too far-fetched, don’t worry – it was just a fleeting thought.  Even the sites now found from only a few thousand years farther back into the past will be sufficient to radically alter our view of history.


The well-settled world which we thought we knew fifty or sixty years ago – with its carefully defined boundaries and its nicely stable limitations – is not true.  The walls are falling down – all the preconceived notions – of history, of assumptions about the nature of the physical universe, about “reality” – all these are being upended.


This, if you like, is “the end of the world.”  It is the end of our tidy, finite, limited conceptualization of the world.  Concerning physics, it is the end of the Newtonian world.  Concerning history and archaeology, it is the end of history as we have known it.  It is, simply, the end of our human-imposed boundaries.


With string theories and multiple universes, ancient unsuspected high civilizations, with aliens of all sorts, ancient and modern – with everything that we could not previously have imagined, the world we had grown accustomed to has come to a close, the walls have come tumbling down, and a vast multi-verse of unfathomable, mystic realms — of myth and magic — awaits us.


Top photo: Author: Teomancimit / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” / One of the carved columns at Gobekli Tepe.


Second photo: Author: Scalebelow / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” / The Dwarakadheesh temple (Dwarakadhish temple/Dwarkadhish temple) at Dwarka, Gujarat, India.  The temple is thought to have been constructed on top of Lord Krishna’s original residential palace, by his grandson, Vajranabha.


Third photo: Author: Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons /”This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” / The throne room at the Minoan palace of Knossus on Crete.


To watch a video showing the ruins of Dwarka, off the west coast of India, click here.  (This is from the H2 program Ancient Aliens, but don’t let the ancient aliens distract you one way or the other; the relevant point here is to show you the ancient ruins.)



To watch the full episode of America Unearthed, “Great Lakes Copper Heist”, click here.






Imee Ooi

By Elizabeth Doyle


Imee Ooi — I like New Age music. It gets a bad reputation when people feel like it’s taking something sacred and making it palatable to people who don’t appreciate its raw form — transforming something important into something that makes lovely white noise.  But it doesn’t have to be thin.  When it’s done well, New Age music can be sacred in its own rite — a merging of ancient chants or hymns with the modern science of enhancing music’s emotional impact. It can be a joining of two powers, a holy intention and a relaxing experience, rather than the watering down of just one power.  But only when it’s done well! Here’s a Malaysian New Age composer, Imee Ooi, who I think does it very well: Click here.



Mariem Hassan



Mariem Hassan — Here’s an interesting lady. She was born and raised in the western Sahara desert — one of ten children in a nomadic family. And boy, can she sing! I love it when she does that classic Saharan call-out, with her tongue fluttering like a wing. She’s Sahawari, and has survived annexation and refugee camps, both of which she’s been very outspoken about. Women have played a strong role in her culture, and you can see that confidence and competence when she performs. The language of her songs is Hassaniyya, an Arabic dialect. And she does write them. I’ve really never seen anything quite like her before:   Click here.






The Kirkyard Stone, Aberlemno, Scotland

Capercaille — Speaking of annexations, this is a very popular Scottish folk band, singing a song about England’s treatment of Scotland. This band has been around since the 1980s, which is quite remarkable, because the popularity of Celtic sounds wouldn’t take off until a bit after that.  I only have one of their albums, and this is my favorite song on it.  What I like about them is not only their instrumental expertise, the singer’s likeable voice, and the fact that they are early pioneers in the genre, but also their liveliness. The fact that they’re singing about something terrible, and yet, instead of feeling weighed down by sluggish intensity, the song feels … very, very alive. It’s interesting! Click here.


Top photo: author:Florenus / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain / Composer Imee Ooi


Second photo: Author:Carlos Fernandez San Milan / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license / Mariem Hassan


Third photo: Original uploader was Xenarachne at en.wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported / The Kirkyard Stone, Aberlemno, Angus, Scotland, UK

By Elizabeth Doyle

Kazim Al-Saher — A lot of people outside the middle east have never heard of this man, but he’s so famous in that region that he’s been called the “Caesar of Arabic song.” He may be one of the best selling singers in the history of the Arabic world!  Maybe.  That’s a pretty strong statement, but maybe!  Kazim is an Iraqi, and a graduate of the Baghdad Institute of Music. I believe he lived in Egypt during the recent war, but was recently very enthusiastically welcomed on a humanitarian trip home to Iraq. He has a beautiful voice. Click here.












Mamak Khadem — Inspired by Persian poetry to become a singer, this woman has a voice that absolutely soars.  She was born in Iran where she sang from the time she was a child, and she later studied classical Indian singing as well. Her songs always sound as though she’s singing them in a trance.  Here she is singing live. Click here.

And here’s one of my favorite songs in my music collection, sung while she was part of a group called Axiom of Choice.  It’s called “Parvaz” or “Flight” and you definitely feel like you’re floating on the wind when you listen to it. Click here.












Flight of the Conchords — This is just for fun!  This is a pair of friends in New Zealand who call themselves Flight of the Conchords, and sing comedic folk songs together.  They became an absolute cult sensation in many countries across the world, particularly among sarcastic young adults.  They even had a television series on HBO for a while.  I’m not sure what they’re up to these days, but a few years ago, this duo and this video was a bit of a rage. It’s comedy, but a lot of creativity goes into the musicality of their songs as well!  Click here.

Top photo:  Wikimedia Commons / This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Y.Momani. / Kazim Al-Saher

Second photo: Photo by User Zereshk / Wikimedia Commons / This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. / Picture of painting from Hasht-Behesht palace, Isfahan, Iran, from 1669.

Third photo: A. Aruninta / Wikimedia Commons / Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License / Mount cook, New Zealand

Christ with St Mina, 6th century icon, Egypt

In 325 AD, the First Council of Nicaea was held.  This was the first Christian council of bishops.

Though this is all a little obscure, there is a point to having a look at the First Council of Nicaea.  It wasn’t just a long-ago, irrelevant event, important only to Christian theologians and of no relevance to anyone else.

It was, on the contrary, a stepping stone setting off down the path that a part of the world has followed from that time until this –  which has impacted the whole world – and continues to do so.

It illustrates a pattern, a mindset, and a modus operandi – a handbook in how to exercise dominion – which may be said to have led down a long, unfortunate road to the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Age of Exploration, and even today, to the mindset that believes that the earth, the environment, the oceans, the forests, and even outer space are to be “used” and not worshipped.

Before the Council of Nicaea, the multitude of Christian sects had no overall leader;  the various pockets of Christianity were pretty much free (barring occasional persecution and martyrdom by the authorities) to worship in any way they wished.

image of Christ

The glimpses we can see of  Jesus in the earliest writings about him portray a man who is a teacher, a healer, a mystic, a psychic, a miracle worker, even a magician.  He is not a revolutionary in any political sense; he relates to individuals of all strata of society equally, the rich and the poor.  When he is not speaking to crowds, he often spends his time alone in the deserts and on the hilltops, where he seeks inspiration, surrounded by nature.

He is not all gloom and doom, but has a light-hearted side—turning the water into wine at a wedding. He is looked down on by some for spending his time with not quite the proper kind of people, sinners and tax collectors.

One of the few times he is portrayed as angry is in a temple, seeing the doves in cages about to be sacrificed.  He releases the doves, overturns the cages, and scatters the coins of those who are selling the doves.

There is something magical about his presence, reminiscent of the magical quality of passages from the Mahabharata or the Ramayana.  There are repeated speculations that Jesus may have spent time in India.  We do not know.  It is stated in the gospels that he spent his earliest years in Egypt; this was the Egypt where the ancient religion of pharonic times was not yet dead.   By the time he was twelve, he was back in Palestine, able not only to read and write (which must have been unusual for a carpenter’s son), but to hold a learned discourse over several days with the elders in the temple.

Three hundred years after he was killed for being a heretic and an insurrectionist, his followers existed in scattered bands, some led by women, with varying views of who he had been and what he stood for.  Clearly he had had absolutely no intention whatsoever of establishing a church in the temporal world.  As a mystic, he was the farthest thing from an administrator. There are many indications that he looked forward to the imminent end of the world, shortly following his death.  But that failed to happen.

Lake Iznik, Turkey

The First Council of Nicaea, in the spring of 325 AD, was held in present-day Iznik (Nicaea), in Turkey.  It is a walled, fortified city, whose western wall rises up from Lake Iznik, which lies in between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.  Around 300 bishops gathered there, convened by the Emperor Constantine.  The Roman Empire was in quite an unsettled state at the time (perhaps rather like our own times), it seemed like a good idea to bring about a greater degree of order and cohesion, at least to the realm of religion.  In short, things were out of control, and there was an urgency to putting everything into line.

A convocation of scholars and theologians might sound like an opportunity, through open discussion, to arrive at levels of spiritual truth and insight.  Indeed they did spend several weeks in discussion. They came up with the Nicene Creed to standardize Christian beliefs, with a list of canons to regulate procedures and how things were to be done, and with a correct way to calculate the right date for Easter. All in all a fairly productive meeting.

But there was one more thing – there was a hidden agenda.  The council had actually been called to suppress the heresy known as Arianism and to consolidate the power of the church in the hands of the bishops.  In other words, to establish, not a spiritual path to enlightenment, salvation, grace, or whatever – but a power structure of a purely temporal sort, which would hold dominion over the lives of the faithful for centuries to come.

Arius didn’t originate Arianism, he had predecessors before him, but he was a leading advocate of this sect, which was named after him. Most likely he was originally from Libya, and he lived as a bishop in Alexandria. We don’t know as much about him as we’d like to because nearly all positive writings about him were burned in one of the first book burnings in history.

Sort of coincidentally there had been an even earlier big book burning, also in Alexandria, of the Library of Alexandria, which in 48 BC destroyed many priceless books of the ancient world. Plutarch wrote that Julius Cesar had “accidentally” burned the library.

Montsegur, the last stronghold of the Cathars in southern France, another suppressed heresy

Anyway, Arius is described by a contemporary as being an ascetic, very distinguished-looking, of high intellectual ability, who was charming and charismatic.  The core belief of Arianism was that Jesus Christ was not God, or at least not anymore than anyone else was – but (paraphrased) that the spirit of God is potentially in everyone and that we all have a connection with God.

Arius, along with a couple of his associates, was present at the Council of Nicaea, and there was a great deal of discussion about the truth or falsehood of his beliefs.  The trouble was that, really, the whole discussion was rigged ahead of time. Constantine had called the meeting to obtain a specific result – the suppression of Arianism and the establishment of what became, from that time onwards, orthodox Christianity.  So there were no real discussions at all – only a pretense of openness, and in the end Arius and his two friends were banished—sent off to the Roman Province of Illyricum, which is now in the general vicinity of Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia.  After a while, Arius was able to get away from Illyricum and make his way back to Palestine, where he found refuge for the rest of his life.

The point here is not primarily to have a discussion about Christian theology, but rather to cast some light on the ways that people put themselves into power – for good or for ill.

Continued in Part Two

Top photo: Wikimedia / public domain / Christ and Saint Mina, 6th century icon from Bawit, Egypt, now in the Louvre

Second photo: Simon Ushakov / Wikimedia / public domain

Third photo: QuartierLatin1968 / Wikimedia / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Fourth photo: Emeraude / Wikimedia / public domain / seen from the bottom of the hill