Tag Archives: history

Review: A History of Religious Ideas 3: From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms


A History of Religious Ideas 3: From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms
A History of Religious Ideas 3: From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms by Mircea Eliade
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The third volume of “A History of Religious Idea – From Muhammed to the Age of Reforms” by Mircea Eliade covers the vast religious area between:
• Religions of Ancient Eurasia including shamanism, paganism, and the “Celestial God”
• Christian Churches in the eighth and ninth century
• Muhammed and the unfolding of Islam
• Western Catholicism from Charlemagne to the start of the Reformation
• Judaism in the Middle Ages
• Zwingli, Calvin and the Catholic Reformation
• Tibetan Religions

Similar to the first two volumes, this vast area of religious ideas is described in a considerable depth in this third volume, although experts will certainly notice significant major omissions at once; e.g. the Reformation in Holland is not covered.

Although I have the impression that Mircea Eliade could not finish this third volume: highly recommended!

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Review: A History of Religious Ideas 1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries


A History of Religious Ideas 1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries
A History of Religious Ideas 1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries by Mircea Eliade
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In volume I of “A History of Religious Ideas”, Mircea Eliade opens on page 5 with explanation of a ritual of “mystical solidarity” from the Stone Age, that I have not read anywhere else.
In this ritual hunter-gatherers see the blood of the prey as similar in every respect to their blood; and by killing the prey they identify themselves with their prey for two reasons. They seek redemption for the sin of killing their prey, and they identify with their prey to maintain their unique system of survival for both hunter and prey. This ritual – altered, revalorised and camouflaged – is still within our modern society.

This paragraph shed a different light on the many kinds of charity that captains of industry perform in the later part of their life.

This first volume continues with an abundance of religious developments of mankind in the Indo-European society until the Dionysiac festivals.

A must read to get an overview of the religious ideas with one remark: ideas unknown to me are covered in depth, but religious ideas that I have studied before, are described more superficial; but this remark says more about me as a reader than about the content of the book.

Highly recommended.

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Carla Drift – Nomadic existence 3


At the end of the summer holidays, the school board did not need a teacher for math and science. I decided to move on. After the black page in my history, I was not interested in trekking. Life was dull and weary, like a meal that tasted like putty. But I had to move on. There was no other choice: I did not belong at the place where I was. The days were stringing together. Autumn started and it was soon dark before the evening meal. The hills showed themselves in a dark red glow like clotted blood.

[1]

That year the winter started early. In end of November it froze solid and snow was falling. In early December I found a man lying in sleeping bag far too thin for that time of the year. The man had a dark blue colour, but now he was pale. By the hypothermia he was not approachable. With difficulty I moved him into my caravan. I put the heating on, put him in my bed and laid down beside him. For first time, I was pleased with a hot flash by the transition. After a few hours the man was still nauseated and shaky. I made something to eat and to drink. With great reluctance he eat and drank. Every a few hours I have repeated this action. The next day we moved to a winter camping. The owner looked suspiciously at the man with the appearance of a wanderer. On this camp-ground we washed his clothes. He showered  and I cut his hair and trimmed his beard. Now he looked presentable again. Now I had a goal in my life again, although temporally.

In my youth I cared for my sisters without success and for my dolls with success, but that did not count. Later I had nobody to care for. I only had to look after myself – a lonely bird did not know otherwise. During my research others sometimes took care of my safety. But now I had someone to care for – a proud man.

He was born in Africa around 1960. His mother cared for him, for his brothers and sisters and for his father. His father was an wandering storyteller who received care and shelter when he visited his mother. Then he told his adventures and everyone was happy.

At school he learned reading and writing from the nuns. The rest of his life, he visited every library for food for thought. From his father he learned storytelling.

With the change from boy to young man, he noticed that he fell in love with other young men. His mother sent him away to a country where men may love other men. After a long trip he arrived in Amsterdam. His life was a feast. His exotic fragrance wafted through the city: he met the best and most beautiful lovers. But also in this city he slept in the open air – on a balcony or with all windows open if he was with someone. From an exotic young man, he became an older man with greying hair and a flax beard. The love floated as fast as the years. This spring he started to drift; his wanderer’s existence began. In his biography more about his life.

[2]

Still he could not and he did not want to sleep under a roof; the first nights after our meeting he was far too weak for objections – I left a small light on. For the next cold nights we painted the starry sky in luminous paint on the inside of the roof of the caravan: in the dark it seemed as if we were under the starry sky. When the weather was good, we slept outside.

Together we moved on that winter. We told each other of our adventures. I also told in vague wordings about the black page in my history. He told his dark pages. We did not have a relationship: he loved men and I was closed in this area.

The following post is about the start of our Odyssey.


[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herfst

[2] Source image: processing in several ways of a photo.

Carla Drift – Nomadic existence


Carla Drift – Nomadic existence

I cannot write more about my work in the area of crimes against humanity, because I will bring other people and myself in great danger. With state secrets, secret services, authorities and powers which have added stark dark pages to history, one cannot be too careful.

In Western Europe, many people think that this dark pages are written by authorities and powers in distant countries. From South Limburg I did not have to travel far. South Limburg itself had never had many ambitions to fulfil a role in world history, maybe robber gangs like the “buck riders” [1] added a few footnotes to history. I leave further research into black pages in history by South Limburg to others.

[2]

From my village in South Limburg I did not need to travel far for a number of my investigations. With a few hours walk to the East, I arrived in Germany with crimes against humanity during the Second World War. With a few hours walking to the West, Belgium is located with Congo as black pages in history; in elementary school we only learned the abuses against fathers and sisters and massacres of innocent believers, but later more became known [3]. To the North, Holland is located with its dark history in the slave trade. Also dark pages were written during the suppression of rebellions in Indonesia [4] where a President of the Council of Ministers [5] in his early years has personally played an active role. Finally – against the wishes of Holland – Indonesia became independent after a war that was called police actions [6] in Holland. I was involved in investigation into war-crimes during this war. Furthermore I have done research on all seven continents – also in Australia with Aborigines and in North America with the world power.

[7]

After every research in the tropics, I came home exhausted and sick. Luckily I still had places at home where I could recover. In Amsterdam I had my room in the house of friends of Man and me for a long time. When I came home in South Limburg there were always happy faces – when I came and when I went again; I was always greeted as the prodigal daughter but I was too independent and bold – “vreg”; the pastor, the Mayor and the City Council noticed this pretty fast. In short, several temporary places to recover and to make preparations for new investigations with all adventures involved. Always under a disguise playing a game of hide-and-seek in order not to be unmasked with all fatal consequences involved.

About 10 years ago, I left my room in Amsterdam, because the friends of Man and I decided to live in a smaller apartment at their old age. Their beautiful house in the Centre of Amsterdam was sold. I left my room with a rucksack, a sleeping bag, a bivouac sack, lightweight camping gear and some clothes. All my books were in the University libraries – with a number of library cards easily accessible. I sold my other belongings. All in all, an enormous wealth.

Several years ago I came back from a research in the tropics – but now I was seriously ill. I did not recover fully: after small efforts I was quickly tired. I noticed in my body and soul that tropics years counted double; After some 20 years in the tropics I had reached my retirement at the age of 50 years old . With my savings and some small consultancies, I could bridge the time until my “state pension”.

After a nomadic existence of researcher with recovery periods in Amsterdam with friends and in South Limburg with family, I was now dependent on a new place to live. In South Limburg I did belong any longer in the society of the village where I grew up – I left too long ago. My father and mother were proud grandparents of the children of both my sisters. These nephews and nieces were almost independent – two were studying, one was craftsman and the youngest was still following high school. My sisters were happily married with nice partners. My friend from my childhood was well either. He came along when I was in Amsterdam for a visit to world city with all its challenges. Sometimes he visited me abroad. How welcome the home nest in South Limburg might appear, I did not belong there any more.

I was a nomad, but a nomad who needed a roof during bad weather and cold nights. Through friends I bought a caravan that was adapted for wintertime.

[8]

There was another problem: I had no driving licence and I did not want to get one. Trough acquaintances in South Limburg, I bought a small tractor. My father checked the tractor on shortcomings. I think no tractor was ever so thoroughly checked, because my father intuitively felt that this might be one of the last things he could do for me – his problem child and apple of his eye.

[9]

The village waved me goodbye when I left with tractor – caravan combination and I waved back, again only happy faces. The following post is about the treks with this tractor – caravan combination.

News

My publisher has its new website available:

www.omnia-amsterdam.nl


[1] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokkenrijders

[2] Source image:  http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokkenrijders

[3] See also: Reybrouck, David Van, “Congo – Een geschiedenis van”. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2010

[4] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atjehoorlog

[5] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hendrikus_Colijn

[6] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politionele_acties

[7] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aborigines_(Australi%C3%AB)

[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caravan_(aanhangwagen)

[9] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tractor

Carla Drift – Travelling 2


Central Africa took me. Temporarily I disappeared in Central Africa. My passport included a different name. On paper I did research to the effects on the health status [1] of the inhabitants by the infectious disease Malaria. I also gave information about this disease. By this research I integrated in the country and lived with the inhabitants.

The infectious disease Malaria is transmitted by the malaria mosquito. When a malaria mosquito stings a human to suck blood, the saliva of the malaria mosquito can infect this person with Malaria [2]. There are several forms of Malaria with their own course of disease in the form of flaring up of the fever.

Malaria mosquito [3]

Malaria is endemic in many rural areas around the equator. The malaria mosquito thrives best in warm rainy areas or in dry regions after rain. In Central sub-Saharan Africa 85 – 90% of the fatal Malaria infections occur.

[4]

Due to this research into the health condition, I could easily travel in Central Africa. I had access almost everywhere – also in refugee camps and I got low-threshold contacts with almost all groups. These contacts provided a wealth of information about the health status.

This main entrance was a side door for my actual study on the causes and consequences of genocide in Central Africa. Between the activities around the interviews to the health situation, I casually asked information about the life of the people I visited. Sometimes veiled, sometimes directly, the important witnesses told me their story about the horrors they had experienced during conflicts. Occasionally I got direct statements about excesses. In this indirect way, I received important information for my actual research.

Rwanda Refugee camp in East Zaire [5]

Of course, I reported on the health situation in the areas that I visited and the information was useful. But this research was hide-and-seek in order to protect the safety of the many interviewees and for my own safety.

By the research into the health condition, I could perform my actual study trip in relative safety. The paid study trip was in principle a very dangerous journey. The State leaders in Central Africa who may have had a share in the genocide, were obviously very hostile towards our research. The victor and/or the ruler determines how actions in the past should be looked upon and within which framework these actions might receive an appropriate place in history. No strange eyes with very critical and painful remarks were desired. If the rulers or perpetrators knew of my research, then the lives of the witnesses and my research were in immediate danger.

Because I came from an European country that could offer its inhabitants a reasonable protection in Africa, I probably had not to fear immediate danger of from the rulers. Overt aggression against me would quickly cause a diplomatic conflict with the Western world and parts of Africa. Probably I would – after many not too gentle interrogations – be expelled due to interference with domestic affairs with abandonment and destruction of all my study material. The consequences for the interviewees were more far-reaching.

The rulers would not directly show their aggression against the aim of my study trip. They also played cat and mouse. Their aggression against such an investigation was always present via detours. Every roadblock, every incursion into a village, all paper controls could be dangerous. Travelling with a group of researchers who asked all kinds of delicate questions, was in my opinion a veiled declaration of war. Researchers who performed similar studies, came in big trouble.

I decided to perform my share in the research on my own. I travelled with aid and under the care of local inhabitants. As a woman I could be included in women communities. I was open to my hosts and they received me with hospitality. They protect me – as one of their children – for the dangers of the environment and for dangers of robbery and worse.

Rwanda country side [6]

During the last years of my studies, I travelled a lot on my own in Europe. This study trip in Africa, I also decided to travel on my own. From my early years I played hide and seek in many ways. On this subject I especially learned caution by reading the books of John Le Carré and Len Deighton. I decided to only travel with the help of various reliable local people.

In this unknown world with uncertainties, mysteries and doubts, I trusted on patience, tolerance and my awareness of my ignorance. I did not stick to the first signals, and I left behind all initial ideas and prejudices. Via detours – usually concealed and unobtrusive – I got an awful lot of information [7]. I let these impressions mature and I hid cryptic notes between the results of my research on the health state.
As a researcher on the health state, I lived together – in a privileged position – with the people on the places that I visited. I visited many villages and refugee camps.

Water pump in Rwanda [8]

Eventually a number of factors caused that I had to finish my study trip. First the budget was depleted. Secondly a final report was necessary for follow-up actions by the organization that had requested this research. In addition, I had to keep in mind than my stay in these areas became increasingly visible. My open-minded stay with the local people could very quickly turn into an explosive situation for everyone. With the data of my research, I travelled to a reliable airport for my departure.

[1] Carla Drift is a fictive name, the investigations into the health situation and the details are also fictitious. No person or research into the causes and consequences of genocide in Central Africa has been model for the posts about the life of Carla Drift.
[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria
[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria
[4] This world map shows the prevalence of Malaria. The scale increases from light yellow to dark red. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria
[5] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwandan_Genocide
[6] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwanda
[7] See also: Brooks, David, The Social Animal – The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement. New York: Random House, 2011, p. 248
[8] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria

Carla Drift – Study Humanities 2


In line with psychology and history, I studied the history of legislation and the limited role of language in the field of emotions, culture and character.

I studied the history of Law to receive a better understanding in the organisation of the society and the relations between individuals themselves. Long ago, everything was private and group law. In birds, the occupant of a territory has just a little better chance than an intruder – usually the intruder disappears unless the occupant is careless or is unable to defend his territory. The occupier needs the  territory to have sufficient food for the young birds.

[1]
A similar mechanism plays a role when people assert right on an area. In addition, people have developed customary law and hospitality for visitors. This hospitality is sometimes confined in guest law [2] – often exchanges of gifts as “objects in the middle” take place to achieve and consolidate confidence between inhabitants and visitors.

[3]
A long time ago, rulers already used law to show who had the say – was the boss [4] – in a given area. One of the oldest laws is the codex of Hamurabi [5]. With the dissemination of this Codex in cuneiform on pillars within his empire, Hamurabi showed who had control over the habits and the order within his reign. This codex of Hamurabi was a long list of penalties for infringements – most sentences had characteristics of “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. Almost all penalties could be bought off with an “object in the middle” to restore confidence – the penalty on accidentally wounding the neighbour at work could be bought off with transfer of cattle to restore mutual confidence.

[6]

In addition to the right between people, there was also law that was aimed at the general interest. A part of this public law was included in treaties between kings and rulers themselves. The difference between these kings and rulers and the contemporary warlords is in many cases only gradual. The difference shows in the degree of cruelty and tyranny; occasionally the rulers and kings are wise and moderate. These treaties usually start with a recital that included the order and the habits already established between the parents or ancestors of the rulers; after the recital followed the agreements built on the former order and finally the provisions for non-compliance were mentioned in the Treaty. These sentences ranged from war statements to full eradication of family and populations.

Another form of public law was the law of war in which the habits for war and sieges were determined. A few examples. A city may usually prevent siege and looting by handing over a ransom until the time came when the city was completely surrounded; then only a complete surrender was acceptable. The looting of the city after the surrender or sacking took a set time of usually a few days. After that time the booty was distributed among the conquerors; after the conquest the inhabitants of the city were usually without rights for a certain time – sometimes they fell into slavery.

In addition to these forms of public law, there was also Community law – for example the use of common pasturage. By the end of my studies I read a study about old Irish law [7]; It is surprising how common this legal form – with many forms of mutual duties of care – still is. Much attention was given to preserving the general interest. Recently in our world, the Community law also includes the right of education, development and deployment for betterment of society. In the interest of the community, punishments such as “eye for an eye” are often changed in, inter alia, education and social reintegration.

In the field of language I studied how language reflected the relationship between people and how the world view is reflected in language. Later on our Odyssey we will encounter many examples.

Erich Fromm [8] has stated in one of his studies that we have lost the language for intensity and association. During my studies I noticed that our language is also very limited for expressing emotions, culture and character. In our contemporary society we cannot express ourselves adequately on emotions, love and culture. We do not discus much about these topics – language was not an adequate means for communication about deeper emotions between my great love and I. We always could communicate our emotions much better by using behaviour, movements and body language. The important decisions between my great love and I were always made intuitively – our underbelly was far more important than our thoughts and words. I once read that when French ask “Comment ça va?”, this “ça” relates to the lower abdomen – a beautiful thought. Probably we communicate in the field of emotions, culture and character more by behaviour such as body language and hospitality, openness and acceptance on the one hand, and ignoring, excluding and aggression on the other hand. In Holland until about 30 years through the pillarisation, the inhabitants were absolute masters in living next to each other with complete different religions. Nowadays ignoring between children is seen as a form of bullying – maybe this modus vivendi in Holland prevented far worse actions.

In my job I kept myself busy with statistics and correlations between results of investigations; staff and students in the Humanities could use some help in this area. As a limited intellectual challenge, I followed the developments of population mathematics; later I used this knowledge in different studies about crimes against humanity. This intellectual challenge I kept for myself – it seemed to me a good idea to play hide and seek at this point, because this form of mathematics was not included in the curriculum for humanities.

The next post is more about my daily life in Amsterdam – also a kind of hide-and-seek.
________________________________________
[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogels
[2] See also: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastrecht
[3] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastfreundschaft
[4] Man Leben would have remarked that “bhâsh” has the meaning “to speak, to name” in Sanskrit.
[5] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Hammurabi
[6] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi
[7] See also: Kelly, Fergus, A Guide to Early Irish Law. Dublin: Duldalgan Press, 2005 (first edition in 1988)

Carla Drift – Study Humanities in Amsterdam


After my third academic year, I moved in the beginning of the summer holidays with the help of study friends from Delft to Amsterdam. I had found my new room with support of the charming man with whom I had followed the lecture series philosophy in Delft that were given by Prof. Dr. W. Luijpen. Halfway through the lecture series I understood that his name was Man Leben. He introduced me to friends of him who lived in the inner town of Amsterdam; they had a room available on the first floor. My whole study time in Amsterdam I lived in this room; I soon changed from a lodger to a housemate with my share in the overall domestic life – cooking, cleaning, a drink at the end of a busy day and very occasionally a feast. The friends of Man were happy with a nice person in their house and I needed this domesticity after I had left Delft with empty hands. Later more about this.

[1]

In Delft, I had followed the compulsory courses of humanities and philosophy. In addition, I chose to follow many additional courses in this area. I could not continue my technical scientific study in the direction I had in mind. After discussions with many people about my motives, I chose to continue my study in the field of humanities in Amsterdam – already the second mainstream of my study in Delft.

With my Bacholor in a technical study, I hardly receives any exemptions for subjects in the humanities. I read quickly and fortunately I could pass the compulsory courses in a high pace. Within a year, I had caught up with my study to beginning Masters level.

My study included psychology, especially focused on the development of people and behaviour of people in their daily life. In Delft, I had already studied the hierarchy of needs described by Abraham Maslow. Additionally, I studied how people learned to look and see; what processes play a role in imprinting and imaging. Imprinting and imaging can take place by looking at examples of parents and opinion makers, but it can also happen physically by eating spoiled food – afterwards the food that is associated with the sickness, will never taste pleasant anymore. I studied greed in relationship to survival of people; in doing so, I read many studies on the role of individuals in conflict and warfare, the consequences of these conflicts on individuals and the interactions between both. By glorification and honouring of heroic deeds during the warfare, individuals and societies are made ready for acceptance of the horrors of warfare. According to the inprinting in people and society, these horrors are required to achieve a higher goal in the field of religion, survival, prosperity or overcoming of basic fears; often these horrors are even glorified. Later, I followed a special topic on the interaction between literature and art on the one hand and warfare violence on the other hand. After following this subject, I always looked different at certain expressions of art. A number of Dadaist and surreal artists have acquired their visual language in the trenches of the first world war; they literally have seen the horrors – corpses and horses – hanging in the trees.

[2]

[3]

In the field of sociology, I studied group behaviour with my special attention to imprinting and imaging by initiation rites and groupthink. Also changes within groups – caused by the corresponding group dynamics – and the impact of these changes on the personal life of group members were studied by me. During the beginning of the first World War, the participation of young men was voluntary, but if this “voluntary” participation was not done, than the young men and their families were physically and mentally completely excluded from the local community – more examples follow later during our Odyssey.

[4]

I studied how history took shape over time under the influence of prevailing images of reality within a society. Often history was written by the victor or by the ruling class. By tradition the ruling class imposed upon society whether hunting of animals was a noble activity – a privilege of the nobility – or ordinary poaching – by people without privileges. The same way of imaging determined when a conquest had to be seen as a triumphant benefit for society or vile robbery of legal property. The reality and the associated image were often adapted to the needs and wishes of ruling class or to the emerging new class of rulers. One hundred years ago, the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin has noted quite rightly that within a year the revolutionaries in Russia would be worse than the tsar in their imaging and in their actions [5]. By the end of my study, I studied with great interest “The History of the personal Life” composed by Philippe Ariès [6] and George Duby [7]. This study showed that although everything changes, very many old elements remain active in a modified form. According to old Roman law, a father has the right to accept or reject a child after birth: the baptism of a new-born baby may still be a remnant of this old patriarchal law. The Roman Empire persisted in Belgium and the southern Netherlands in the Church provinces of the Roman Catholic Church. The chasubles of the priests in the Catholic Church still show strong resemblances  with the prevailing mode in Rome in the fifth century after Christ.

In the following post more about my study of the history of law and language.


[1] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amsterdam

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I

[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrealism

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eerste_Wereldoorlog

[5] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Bakunin

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippe_Ari%C3%A8s

[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Duby