Tag Archives: Christian faith

Who are you: Intensities and associations


Reunion in Amsterdam: two sermons in stone

“The square in front of Amsterdam Centraal railway Station is a good place to meet Narrator again after his trip from Florence [1]. I hear his specific rhythm in the bongos of the jazz band that plays Nature Boy [2] of Eden Ahbez [3] in the distance”, says Man.

“I hear, Narrator has seen us; he changes his rhythm”, says Carla.

Carla and Man listen to the singer:

There was a man [4]

A remarkable enchanting man

One says he wandered very far,

Very far, over land and sea

A little shy and sad of eyes

But very wise, so worldly-wise.

And one day, a magic day

He crossed my way, and while he spoke

Of many things, priests [5] and kings

He said to me:

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn

Is the immense wealth of goodness”

.

“The text of Nature Boy is adapted for us”, says Man.

After playing this song, Narrator takes his bongos, he says goodbye to his fellow musicians and he stands with Carla and Man.

“Beautiful song. Thanks for your card. Why did you invite us here as a starting point for the survey of “Intensities and associations” at the second common reality on our Odyssey to “Who are you”?”, asks Man to the Narrator.

Amsterdam_Sint_Nicolaas_Kerk[6]

“In the Golden Age at the beginning of the Reformation the smaller sea-going vessels – that had returned laden with merchandise from distant lands – had moored on this place. In the 19th century  Amsterdam Centraal railway Station was built at this place. Before the Reformation many expressions of the Christian faith could be seen everywhere throughout the city. Now we can only see two beacons of Christian faith from here. In the distance we see the tower of the Old Church [7], before the Alteration [8] – whereby the Catholic administration in Amsterdam was deposited –  the Old Church had been named the St. Nicholas Church after the patron of sailors. Here before us on the waterfront we see the Roman Catholic Basilica of Saint Nicholas [9] that had been built at the end of the 19th century as the third St. Nicholas Church; the second St. Nicholas Church which is now known under the name “Ons Lieve Heer op Solder” [10], is a hidden church on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal, .

Amsterdam_Onze_Lieve_Heer_Op_Zolder[11]

As introduction to “Intensities and associations”, I suggest to visit this afternoon the Basilica of Saint Nicholas and the Round Lutheran Church at the Singel for two sermons in stone that emerged from the Protestant Reformation. We can visit tomorrow the Old Church in the Centre of Amsterdam to look at the start of the Reformation”, says Narrator.

“The Basilica of Saint Nicholas has a Christian cross as floor map as many traditional Catholic churches; but a real church tower is missing and the Church is incorporated into the street plan instead of directing to the east”, says Man.

“I wish to show you the dome of the Basilica, because the ceiling displays the huge change that the Reformation had also caused within the Roman Catholic Church in Holland. Shall we go inside?”, asks Narrator.

Carla, Man and Narrator walk to the Basilica and go inside.

“The ceiling of the dome shows no painted sermon of the Catholic faith ordered to the Medieval Scholasticism with a Divine Trinity, a Roman Catholic worldview and heaven. This dome only shows the images of the four Evangelists of the New Testament and thus a reference to the Word of God in which the Son of God was sent to Earth for the salvation of the faithful. According to the painting of this dome, the four evangelists are the connection to the Divine Light. The reference to the Word of God – that the spectator could read alone after the rise of the printing press – in this painting of the dome has taken the place of the story in images in the domes of the churches in Florence. This change in the painting of the Church dome from the image of the self/Self according to the Medieval Scholasticism in the Florentine churches to the painting in this dome of intermediaries that refers to the Light of the Other – the invisible God –, shows similarities with the third revolution in the scientific development [12] with a reference to the open-minded and non-normative representation of the Light of the Other – in this case the Divine Trinity”, says Narrator.

“Also in this Basilica the light shines from above. With the light as hope for the resurrection, the dome itself shows the constant resurrection. “Et lux perpetua luceat eis –and let perpetual light shine upon them [13]”, says Man.

“On whom shines the perpetual light? Let’s rest this question until later on our quest. In Holland I am a woman from the South, in Florence I am a woman from the North. Although I think this Dome is also excessive, I feel more at home in this church than in the lavish churches in Southern Europe”, says Carla.

“Good question with many answers over which is fought hard. Many thought that they exclusively possessed the Divine Light whereby other lights had to be extinguished with fire and sword. Shall we go to the Round Lutheran Church at the Singel to observe the influence of the Reformation on Protestantism”, says Narrator.

Amsterdam_Koepel_Nicolaas_Kerk[14]

While Carla, Man and Narrator walk from the Prins Hendrikkade to the Singel, Narrator asks Man : “On which Buddhist question are you now working?”.

“With a – at first glance – very simple question with the metaphor of Indra’s Net in mind:

Question: “When arising and vanishing go on unceasingly, what then?”

Answer: “Whose arising and vanishing is it?”

And part of the accompanying verse:

Severing of entangling vines

Arising and vanishing in profusion – what is it? [15]

This question is very well applicable to the Reformation during the 80 year war in Holland; whose emergence and disappearance took place during this Reformation. What is “The” severing of entangling vines – arise and vanishing in profusion – of Christian faith in Holland? I do not know; “Mysterium est magnum, quod nos procul dubio transcendit” of “The mystery is great, that transcends us doubtless” [16]“, says Man.

“Life consists of change, but when everything is constantly changing, then change continues as a fixed constant. We have immediately mentioned the contradiction in this reasoning and in this starting point”, says Carla.

“I’m not so sure. The comments to this question states: “You don’t see the constant mover” and: “If you – the divine light? – agree, you have not yet escaped the senses, but if you disagree you are forever sunk in birth and death” [17]. This is a difficult question; it looks similar to the dilemma of the true faith and the direct relationship with God that the believers in Holland have constantly struggled with during and after the Reformation. There we see the Round Lutheran Church as a fortress in the shape of a donjon. The Lutherans were not allowed to build a church with a tower in Amsterdam”, says Narrator.

Amsterdam_Ronde_Lutherse_Kerk[18]

“This Lutheran Church reminds me of a hymn that I have learned at the Gymnasium in Rotterdam: “A mighty fortress is our God. A bulwark never failing” and “The enemy is nearing with raised flag”. At the end of this hymn is the verse: “God’s word will remain in eternity and not waiver an inch”. Let’s enter this bulwark”, says Man.

“The floor plan of the Church shows that the church-goers – as municipality in a circle – have focused their attention on the minister of the service: also these human municipalities need a “person in the middle” in order to establish and maintain mutual trust. The Church has no pictures, also no image of a Christian cross in the floor plan.

Plattegrond Ronde Lutherse Kerk Amsterdam[19]

In this church the rituals and the sermon in pictures have passed in the sermon of God’s Word. In this church sings no choir in the background, but the municipality sings at the top of their voices. The expressions of faith have changed from images, references, associations and persons in the middle as mediator for a relationship with God into an internalisation of God’s Word and singing of hymns together. In this church, it is important to be elected within God’s mighty fortress with a direct relationship with God, in which the minister expresses the common relationship with God”, says Narrator.

“This Round Lutheran Church shows me a donjon – a shelter and a private meeting – for the faithful and a rejection of and fear of infidels and dissenters. The Basilica of Saint Nicholas refers me as well via the evangelists to God’s Word, but is more distant in the reference to God and opener to outsiders as Christian beacon. The latter may have to do with my Catholic upbringing in South Limburg”, says Carla.

“Tonight I wish to give a short description of the 13th century Abbot Emo of Friesland as a contrast to the Reformation in the 16th century in Holland”, says Narrator.


[1] See also: Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 165

[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_Boy. John Coltrane with his quartet has recorded a version of this song on LP record. A recent (illegal?) record of this song is available via the following hyperlink: http://soundcloud.com/lennart-ginman/nature-boy-live-recording-eiv

[3] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eden_ahbez

[4] In Sanskrit – the language of gods in the world of humans – “man” means amongst others “tot hink, to believe and to observe”.

[5] In het woord priester zijn de woordkernen “pŗ”, “ish” en “tr” te herkennen die in het Sanskriet respectievelijk “in staat tot, beschermen of levend houden”, “God of Hoogste Geest” en “oversteken, overbrengen” betekenen.

[6] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sint-Nicolaaskerk_(Amsterdam)

[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[8] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alteratie

[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_St._Nicholas,_Amsterdam

[10] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ons%27_Lieve_Heer_op_Solder

[11] Bron afbeelding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ons%27_Lieve_Heer_op_Solder

[12] See a description of this third revolution in science: Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 50 en 51.

[13] Verse from the Catholic requiem mass. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_for_the_Requiem_Mass#Communion

[14] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sint-Nicolaaskerk_(Amsterdam)

[15] See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998, p. 183 – 186

[16] From the Papal encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharista by Pope John Paulus II. In the word “Eucharista” one can recognise “Eu” meaning “good” in Greek, “car” pronounced as “char” meaning “to move” in Sanskrit and “I s ” pronounced as “ish” meaning “being able to” and “the supreme being/soul” in Sanskrit. See also: Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013 p. 166 and Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 127

[17] See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998, p. 183

[18] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronde_Lutherse_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[19] Source image: Google afbeeldingen uit: Jaarboek Monumentenzorg 1990, Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers, 1990

Five common realities – facts and logic


On our contemporary Odyssey to “Who are you” we arrived for our fourth stage “facts and logic” in Florence.

Why do we start our stage “facts and logic” in Florence?

The emergence of the first facts and logic in people is shrouded in mystery [1]. How did mankind for the first time become consciously aware of a fact? When using a stone as a melee weapon or during love feelings for descendants? How did mankind for the first time consciously notice a logical link? When consciously eating plants with specific properties or on foreseeing pregnancy after sexual intercourse? We do not know.

200px-Venus_von_Willendorf_01[2]

At this fourth stage, we wish to avoid the world of religion [3] – or where people fall back upon when interpretation should be given to the unknown, because at other stages during our quest we will address religion adequately.

IMG_1408 (1)[4]

Due to time constraints, we also ignore the genesis and further development of philosophy in ancient times [5].

Our fourth stage “facts and logic” starts at the transition from the medieval Scholasticism [6] to the Renaissance. Both philosophies have attempted to consider the world as deterministic, that is: when the principles and the internal rules are known, then the past, the present and the future are determined. Both philosophical currents had made every effort to determine the order and the internal rules to get grip and insight into our world centred around God [7] within the Scholasticism, or around mankind and human reason within the ruling elite in the Renaissance [8].

From the beginning, Christianity has never stopped to debate the relationship between truth revealed from God in the Holy Scriptures and the continuous discovery of truth and facts by human reason – also seen as a gift of God within the Christian faith [9]; these debates reached their peak in expansion and complexity during the heyday of Scholasticism.

At the beginning of the Renaissance in and around Florence the origin for the discovery of the actual reality permanently shifted from the revelations by God in the Holy Scriptures to human reason centred around mankind. According to the Old Testament the earth – founded by God – will never move [10], but around 1600 AD Copernicus [11] and Kepler had conclusively shown that the earth revolved around the Sun. Galileo Galilei had defended this factual discovery in 1632 AD in his writing Dialogo sopra i due Massimi Sistemi di Galileo Galilei del Mondo Tolemaico e Copernicano (Dialogue from Galileo Galilei over the two main world systems, the Ptolemaic and Copernican) in front of the Church Inquisition. The Christian Church had sentenced him in 1633 AD to house arrest and permanently banned the Dialogo. Over 100 years later – in 1737 AD – Galilei was reburied from a humble graveyard to a tomb in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence. In October 1992 AD the name of Galilei was finally purified by the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II [12].

graftombe galilei[13]

The continuum of the transition of Scholasticism into the Renaissance is perceived at our visit to the Santa Maria del Carmine [14] and in it the Cappella Brancacci located in Piazza del Carmine [15] in Florence.

Santa Maria del Carmine[16]

The following post will include the report of this visit.


[1] For interested readers: a small corner of the veil over the early emergence of facts and logic is lifted in: Arsuaga, Juan Luis, Het halssieraad van de Neanderthaler – Op zoek naar de eerste denkers. Amsterdam: Wereldbibiotheek: 1999; in: Lewis-Williams, David & Pearce, David, Inside the neolitic Mind. London: Thames & Hudson, 2009; and in: Beyens, Louis, De Graangodin – Het ontstaan van de landbouwcultuur. Amsterdam: Atlas, 2004

[2] Image of the Venus of Willendorf estimated to have been made more than 20,000 years BCE. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_of_Willendorf

[3] For the emergence and development of religious ideas, we refer to the studies: Eliade, Mircea, A History of Religious Ideas, Volume 1. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982; Johnston, Sarah Iles (ed.), Religions of the Ancient World – a Guide. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004;  Mallory, J.P. & Adams, D.Q., The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007

[4] Stone circles in the Middle of England. Source image: Marieke Grijpink

[5] There are several standard works on the history of philosophy.

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholasticism

[7] For example: the Five arguments for the existence of God in de Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Aquinas

[8] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance

[9] See also: MacCulloch, Diarmond, Christianity – The first three thousand Years. New York: Viking, 2010 p. 141

[10] See amongst others: Psalms 93:1, 96:10, 105:5 and 1 Chronicles 16:30

[11] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaas_Copernicus

[12] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

[13] Tomb of Galileï in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

[14] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_del_Carmine,_Florence

[15] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brancacci_Chapel

[16] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_del_Carmine,_Florence

Carla Drift – Behaviour 2


People accept differences in behaviour and in dealing with each other to a certain extent. This acceptance is determined by mutual relationships within a worldview that gives an interpretation to the similarity and differences between people. This worldview also gives an interpretations to the similarities and differences between groups of people. Priests and leaders have a different place in society and they have other habits than labourers. Within a stable society with an uniform worldview, every individual and every group of people experience its place as necessary and appropriate within a higher order. The differences often have an interpretation and a higher purpose in a world order seen as predestined; every woman/man experiences her/his place and her/his life changes as perfectly normal – how extravagant and absurd the situation may seem in the eyes of outsiders.

In Africa men rest in the shade all day – in the Western world people work almost the whole day to sit half an hour in the sun. In Europe a walk to the next village takes a small hour – in Africa a similar walk of the same distance takes over half a day because all social contacts along the road are maintained.

[1]

In the Western – modern industrialized – world many couples life together in a small family consisting of two partners and a few children. The children continue to live in the family house until they are old enough to live independently.

According to the Western ideal, marriage comes forth from a romantic love affair that continues after a few years in a marriage in which – after one year – successively two to four children are born. When the children themselves get married by a romantic love affair, the two partners end up living happy and satisfied together until old age. This small family is pretty mobile to move along with the possibilities that the labour-market can offer.

[2]

The reality is often different than the ideal. First young people explore the world of entering into love relationships; they have a number of loose/fixed relations. After this orientation a partner choice follows for a long-term love affair. This romantic quest costs besides happiness, hope and expectations also disappointments, sadness and headaches; much literature and movies on this topic represent a summary of the difficulties. The starting love gets – with some luck and perseverance – shape in the vow of a long-term living together. After a number of seasons the partners decide to continue the long-term relationship in a marriage or cohabitation agreement. In reality approximately 36% of the marriages end in a divorce [3]. Everyday life does not live up to the common ideal. Within the small family, the relocation of labour to another part of the country is a sensitive event: who of both partners must revise her/his ambition in the labour market. A wedding or cohabitation agreement has also the characteristics of a business agreement in addition to a love relation.

More than half a century ago many people in the Western – agricultural – world lived together in an extended  family [4] where children, parents with their brothers and sisters, and grandparents lived  lifelong under one roof. A number of people died in the same bed in which they were born.

[5]

In this extended family, honour, the reputation of the family and the survival of the house/farm was of great importance for the establishment of good life-long relationships. When the family honour was damaged, it was impossible for potential suitors from the extended family to find adequate life partners. A marriage arrangement was – next to a societal agreement – mainly a business agreement for the extended family. New members joined the extended family with an advance on their legacy and other members left the house with wedding gifts to live in another family. Marriages were often arranged – children were married off.

In some agricultural areas nubile daughters were given the possibility to get pregnant in an outbuilding of the farm. After the pregnancy was visible, the marriage followed immediately. This farming community did not wish to risk the survival of the farm by marriages without offspring. The Christian faith could never eliminate this ancient way of matrimonial agreements with an enlarged guarantee on progenies.

The local community society closely monitored the reputation of the extended families: everything was done to restrain the “biology between people”. Young marriageable women were constantly chaperoned by the close family. In the Catholic South Limburg around 1950, pensions and hotel rooms were checked at the beginning of the night by local police on unwanted extramarital activities. In November 1961 – in the Protestant village Staphorst – a man and a woman were driven by the local inhabitants on a manure cart through the village to their shame for an extramarital relationship [6].

At the end of the sixties an underneath sense of uneasiness in society – partly caused by an increased prosperity and by the availability of contraceptives – gave rise to freer relationships between men and women. Young people were young and alternative and they wanted to explore life and their sexuality more openly. The second-wave feminism also changed the relations between men and women. Young people had more freedom to engage in sexual relationships and there were different ways of cohabitation available. The new possibilities also cause more uncertainties – the society became adrift [7].

In our society most married couples remain monogamous during their marriage. Many other ways of cohabitation also show a large degree of monogamy. Though the number of illegitimate children rapidly increase in Netherlands: between 1985 and 1995, the percentage of children born out of wedlock has risen from over 8% to 16%. Afterwards, the percentage increased from 25% in 2000, 35% in 2005 to 45% in 2009. The reason for this is probably the decline in Christian morality and the increased prosperity with greater autonomy of women [8]. It seems that the sequential monogamy – partners are monogamous within a relationship, but the relationships change over time – increases in our society.

In addition to monogamy, other societies also know polygamy [9] – more women with one man – and polyandry [10] – more men with one woman – or mixtures of both forms. In sparsely populated areas or in societies where a deficit has arisen to one gender, these other forms are necessary for the survival of the population. In the Arab world many warfare with a high mortality of the male population took place; in order to maintain the population, more women married with one husband – in case the husband could maintain these women. In the Caribbean and around Miami men of a particular class are imprisoned for a very long time; women proceed to “passers marriages” with available men – the woman has a relationship with a man as long as this man can care for the woman. In thinly populated areas more men have a lasting relationship with one woman so that better support in education of her children is ensured.

In areas in Africa and in some regions of the Himalayas polyandry takes place. An example is written in the Mahābhārata where on female protagonist – Draupadi – is married to five brothers – five other main characters – after the mother of the five brothers has said that her sons must share what one of the brothers has obtained. The brothers lived successively one year with their wife from which five sons came forth [11].

[12]

Another example of polygamy and polyandry is found at the Maasai in Kenya. Women and men live together in a mixture of polygamy and polyandry. A woman sometimes marries with an age group of men. A man is expected to give up his marriage bed to a guest/age mate – only the woman decides whether she wants to share the bed with the guest. All children of the woman are also the children of the spouse [13].

Bigamy, polygamy, polyandry and marriages between equal sexes are prohibited in many countries. Often there is a traditional taboo on uncommon forms of cohabitation. Many societies do everything – including banishment, hell and damnation – to eradicate unfamiliar cohabitation. Are other forms of cohabitation seen as inferior and unethical in order to suppress one’s own uncertainty and covert wishes for change? Or is it easy to regard other forms of cohabitation as an inferior cohabitation and as a consequence as deficit and unethical [14]? At tension and conflicts, there is the desire to demonstrate this inferiority and deficit of the others. Or, as Prof. Dr. W. Luijpen said in his lectures at the Technical University in Delft: “Evidence is compelling that others have to bend their knees “. This compelling may proceed in a stigma and the search for scapegoats within our neighbours. The tension may spiral in an armed conflict with massacres. Isn’t  accepting other ways of cohabitation – and the acceptance of the uncertainty and tensions about our own way of cohabitation – a better solution?

[1] Source image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mt_Uluguru_and_Sisal_plantations.jpg

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Old_marriage_at_Plac_Kaszubski.jpg

[3]  The Catholic Church recognises three grounds for divorce: death of one of the partners, “non- consummation the marriage” and a prolonged absence of one partner without a forecast on a return. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce

[4] Source image:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_family

[5]  Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FamiliaOjeda.JPG

[6] Source: Nieuwblad van het Noorden, 13 november 1961 – pagina 1.

[7] See also: Drift, Carla, Man Leben – One Life, A Biography. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 44 – 47.

[8] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buitenechtelijk_kind

[9] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamie

[10] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyandry

[11] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabharata

[12] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2716_PandavaDraupadifk.jpg.jpg

[13] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_people

[14] See also: Agar, Michael, Language Shock – Understanding the Culture of Conversation. New York: Perennial, 1994, 2002, p. 23, 37