Similar to Daniel Ellsberg in my generation, these men have put their idealism ahead of their personal fate. Certainly “they” tried to “get Ellsberg” but failed. This week, “they” forced down an aircraft that they thought might be carrying Snowden so it had to be rerouted. “They” will stop at nothing to assure that such a release of information never occurs in the future and we are kept in the dark.
Again the public has been “brainwashed” to believe that the ”truth” of these matters is not as they clearly are — like the weapons of mass destruction that were not! But no one appears to care, and the killing and the destruction go on.
Why should families here and in Afghanistan suffer so much? Why should our infrastructure suffer because the assets are used elsewhere to try to maintain the “empire” that we have created?
Anyone who knows history knows how this all will end if we do not change our goals and methods of operation — absolutely similar to the Roman Empire and many others.
It’s widely acknowledged that Jesus was a thoroughly practicing Jew throughout his life. Anglican Priest Bruce Chilton expressed that conclusion explicitly and concisely in his book “Rabbi Jesus”: “It became clear to me that everything Jesus did was as a Jew, for Jews, and about Jews.”
But what about Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles? It’s generally accepted that Paul was the true founder of a new religion called Christianity. Biblical scholar Gerd Ludemann, author of several books about Jesus and Paul including “Paul: Founder of Christianity,” affirms that “Without Paul there would be no church and no Christianity.” Ludemann adds, “He’s the most decisive person that shaped Christianity as it developed. Without Paul we would have had reformed Judaism … but no Christianity.”
Paul converted Jews and then Gentiles to Jewish Christianity, basing these conversions on his belief in the teachings, resurrection and divinity of Jesus. But powerful evidence within “Acts of the Apostles,” the book of the New Testament that chronicles Paul’s mission, reveals that Paul, like Jesus, remained a dedicated Jew until his execution. In fact, if Paul had simply stated that he was no longer a Jew but the leader of a new religion, he would not have been imprisoned or executed.
During Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem, his appearance and teachings in the Temple in Jerusalem set off a disturbance in which some Jews rioted against him (Acts 21:26-28). He was then charged with blasphemy by the Sanhedrin and would have to stand trial before the Jewish authorities — and face a possible death sentence. The Sanhedrin was able to indict Paul and put him on trial by the special privilege that the Romans gave the Jews. Judaism was a protected religion under the Roman Empire in the time of Jesus and Paul. Jews had their own King (Herod the Great, Herod Antipas and Herod Agrippa). But more important, the Jewish leadership was invested with the right to rule over Jewish affairs. They could bring charges against Jews who violated Jewish laws or who were deemed blasphemous or heretical. That power is why the Sanhedrin was able to indict Jesus. It also explains why the Sanhedrin was able to authorize Paul’s persecutory frenzy to chain and drag back to Jerusalem Jewish followers of Jesus in synagogues as distant as Damascus (Acts 8:3; Acts 9: 1, 2). Although the Sanhedrin could bring charges against Jews and even set the punishment, only the Romans could execute (although that’s not entirely clear since some violators of Jewish law were stoned to death by Jews).
The special status of Jews was first stated in an edict by the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus in 1 B.C.E. and reaffirmed by Emperor Claudius Augustus in 41 C.E.:
Edict of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus on Jewish Rights, 1 BCE
Caesar Augustus, pontifex maximus, holding the tribunician power, proclaims: Since the nation of the Jews and Hyrcanus, their high priest, have been found grateful to the people of the Romans, not only in the present but also in the past, and particularly in the time of my father, Caesar, imperator, it seems good to me and to my advisory council, according to the oaths, by the will of the people of the Romans, that the Jews shall use their own customs in accordance with their ancestral law, just as they used to use them in the time of Hyrcanus, the high priest of their highest god; and that their sacred offerings shall be inviolable and shall be sent to Jerusalem and shall be paid to the financial officials of Jerusalem; and that they shall not give sureties for appearance in court on the Sabbath or on the day of preparation before it after the ninth hour. But if anyone is detected stealing their sacred books or their sacred monies, either from a synagogue or from a mens’ apartment, he shall be considered sacrilegious and his property shall be brought into the public treasury of the Romans.
Later, during the ministry of Paul, the Emperor Claudius reconfirmed the special status of Jews:
Edict of Roman Emperor Claudius Augustus on Jewish Rights, 41 CE
Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, pontifex maximus, holding the tribunician power, proclaims: …Therefore it is right that also the Jews, who are in all the world under us, shall maintain their ancestral customs without hindrance and to them I now also command to use this my kindness rather reasonably and not to despise the religious rites of the other nations, but to observe their own laws.
The Romans were tolerant of all religions under their rule as long as adherents obeyed Roman law and paid taxes. While Jews could rule over Jewish matters, they had no jurisdiction over people of other religions. In principle, Roman paganism was an affront to Judaism. But they could do nothing about that other than negotiate with the Romans to mitigate pagan practices in the Temple area and in some public Roman ceremonies.
After his arrest, Paul faced charges of blasphemy: “And after five days Ananias, the high priest, descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the Governor against Paul” (Acts 24:1).
Paul could only be charged if he were a Jew. After being detained for two years he was brought before the new Roman governor Porcius Festus. The Sanhedrin repeated the charge of blasphemy: “Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him [Festus] against Paul, and besought him” (Acts 25:2). Fearing a trial before the Sanhedrin, Paul invoked his right as a Roman citizen to be tried in Rome. Festus granted Paul his choice: “Hast thou appealed unto CÃ¦sar? Unto CÃ¦sar shalt thou go” (Acts 25:12).
At no time during Paul’s lengthy ordeal did he repudiate Judaism or declare that he represented a new religion. Had he done so, he would have been immediately released — especially since he was a privileged Roman citizen. The Sanhedrin wouldn’t have had any authority over Paul.
After a long treacherous trip that included a shipwreck that almost killed him, Paul arrived in Rome and was put under house arrest. He promptly invited the Jewish leadership of Rome to his residence to explain why he was imprisoned:
“Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto CÃ¦sar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.” (Acts 28: 17-20)
Still, Paul said nothing about a new religion. On the contrary, he presented himself to the Roman Jewish community as a loyal Jew who was being persecuted for his revisionist views. Since the Romans had no quarrel with him, as a Roman citizen, and with the Sanhedrin a continent away, there would be no viable case against Paul — if he had denounced his affiliation to Judaism and declared a new religion. At this point in his life, facing trial and execution for blasphemy against Judaism, didn’t Paul have every reason to sever his tie to Judaism? The Sanhedrin, representing traditional Judaism, sent a clear message by their action against Paul: “We will not accept your beliefs and teachings about Jesus.” Despite this definitive rejection, Paul didn’t choose the obvious way out of the clutches of the Sanhedrin: declaration of a new religion. This strategy never even showed up for discussion. Paul chose to go to his death as a Jew. Why?
Paul’s vision was to make his brand of Judaism — with the recognition of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah — a world religion easily accessible to everyone. He never surrendered that passion. But after his death the accelerating conversion of Gentiles to a movement that began as Jewish Christianity became increasingly distanced from Judaism — and a new religion was launched.
Nevertheless, an understanding of the deep connection to Judaism held by the founders of Christianity should highlight the common ground of Judaism and Christianity and pave the way to reconciliation between the two faiths.
The boring thing about modern democracy is that we almost never elect truly crazy people. Oh, sure, we’ll vote in somebody with mild eccentricities or sexual appetites, and we may refer to some extremist as “crazy,” but back when rulers took the throne based only on their bloodline, a nation could wind up under the fist of someone who was literally “howl naked at the moon” insane.
Don’t get us wrong — we’re sure it was a nightmare for everyone involved. But it does make for hilarious stories down the line.
#1. Justin II of Byzantine Heard Voices, Bit People on the Head
Justin II was a sixth century emperor of Byzantine, which was how they rebranded the Roman Empire after it wasn’t cool to be the Roman Empire anymore. Also, apparently they let pretty much anyone be emperor in those days, because Justin II was nucking futs.
History remembers Justin mainly as a kind of shitty leader who wound up losing most of Italy to Persia, which, if you’re the emperor of Rome, is dropping the ball pretty badly. But the ancient historian John of Ephesus recounts some interesting facts about Justin’s personal life, like how he would hear voices in his head and scream and hide under his bed to escape them. Apparently, the only way his servants could help him out was to play organ music throughout the palace to drown out the voices.
They’d have had better luck with dubstep.
That part of the story is key: the fact that nobody knew how to treat mental illness back then. So it wasn’t much fun to be around the palace when Justin II went into full crazy mode — it’s said that when his servants were rushing around trying to restrain him, he would fight back by biting them, often on the head. Eventually, the servants had to go to greater lengths to entertain him, and came up with a solution that would appeal to any toddler — building a makeshift throne on wheels and pushing Justin around the palace on it, to his great delight. As John of Ephesus puts it, “… having placed him on it, his chamberlains drew him about, and ran with him backwards and forwards for a long time, while he, in delight and admiration at their speed, desisted from many of his absurdities.”
“Couldn’t you just ride hookers like a regular monarch?”
#2. Charles VI of France Thought He Was a Wolf and/or Made of Glass
Charles “the Mad” VI was king of France from 1380 (when he was 12) to his death 1422, all during the Hundred Years’ War with England, and when your country is fighting something called the “Hundred Years’ War,” it’s really unfortunate if the man sitting on the throne is nicknamed “Charles the Mad.” Unless it means he’s really angry. (It doesn’t.)
“What if we just add an extra “D” and tell people he really hates drunk driving?”
In 1392, during a trip through a forest to look for a fugitive who had attempted to murder an adviser of his, Charles VI randomly attacked his own knights, killing some of them, until they all managed to hold him down and carry him back to the castle. They concluded that he was probably just under a lot of stress, as it was the first time that Charles had shown signs of not really being totally right in the head.
In the following years, Charles would go through episodes of forgetting people’s names, including his own, and the fact that he was king. Oh, and he would also run through his castle pretending to be a wolf, howling at people. And he freaked out when people touched him because he thought he was made of glass.
“Bring me the head of the one they call Bruce Willis.”
Eventually, Charles’ batshittery reached such a fever pitch that the monarchy of France broke down into civil war, with his brother vying for power on one side and his first cousin leading the other. That’s a war breaking out during another war. This infighting allowed rival countries like England to attack with impunity, and by the end of Charles VI’s rule, much of France was occupied by foreign powers. He could have done something about it, but, you know, somebody might have touched him.
#3. Christian VII of Denmark‘s Chronic Masturbation Problem
Christian VII rose to the throne of Denmark in 1766, even though everyone was pretty sure he was crazy. That probably had something to do with the fact that he would often throw food at his dinner guests … but then, rich people can be real jerks. His reign seemed otherwise pretty normal — that is, until the masturbation started.
At some point, Christian developed a newfound fascination with his penis, by which we mean he jerked it so often that it interfered with his duties. The court physicians actually worried that Christian’s chronic habit was affecting his health — they thought that it would render him infertile and that it was stunting his growth, which was the 18th century version of “Stop that or you’ll go blind.”
But at least Christian didn’t usually do it in front of visiting dignitaries. What he did do was leapfrog over them when they bowed to him, and sometimes he’d slap people in the face in the middle of a conversation for absolutely no reason. OK, so that’s actually the second thing he did that we would also do if we became king.
Eventually, Christian’s mind was so far gone that his personal physician, Johann Streunsee, basically yanked the whole kingdom out from underneath him by talking the king into handing over control of his executive decisions, as well as boning the queen behind Christian’s back. Presumably he was too busy jerking it to notice.
#4 Farouk of Egypt, the Pickpocket King
The last ruling king of Egypt, King Farouk, was as nutty as most of the world’s leaders seemed to be during World War II, and was ultimately the reason Egypt decided to pack it all in with this whole monarchy thing. Known early in his reign for his excessive partying and gambling, Farouk was once described as a “stomach with a head” after he grew to over 300 pounds. According to his sister, he would drink 30 bottles of soda a day and eat caviar straight from the can. But gluttony is pretty much expected, if not mandatory, for a despot. That alone certainly would not qualify him for this list.
But more bizarre for someone with infinite money, Farouk was a complete kleptomaniac, once stealing a watch from Winston Churchill. He later claimed to have simply found it lying around, but neglected to mention that he’d “found” it in Churchill’s pocket.
You’re also about to ‘find’ my foot in your ass.”
Another time, after having nightmares about lions attacking him, Farouk decided to take a trip to the Cairo Zoo to see the lions. And by see them, we mean shoot them while they were in their cages, because that’s a perfectly reasonable reaction to night terrors if you are insane.
Finally, when Hitler’s army was preparing to invade Egypt, it’s safe to say that Farouk was the only world leader to send Hitler a telegram thanking him for coming to kick his country’s ass. He didn’t like the British forces occupying his country, and apparently he figured Nazis were somehow a step up.
As you might have guessed, Farouk wasn’t too popular with the people, who supported the British and were pretty anti-Nazi. In 1952, he was overthrown, and upon raiding his treasures, an interesting discovery was made: Farouk had tons of coins, magic tricks, stamps … and the world’s largest porn collection.
#5. The Zhengde Emperor of China Liked to Play Make-Believe
The Zhengde Emperor was emperor of China in the beginning of the 16th century, having taken the throne at the age of 14, and as far as anyone could tell, he remained 14 for the next decade and a half of his rule.
For instance, Zhengde liked to play games of make-believe instead of, you know, running a giant empire like he was supposed to be doing. In fact, he built a whole fake city block on the imperial grounds where he would pretend to be a shopkeeper, to the puzzlement of his subjects, who were forced to go along with it.
Occasionally, he pretended he was a general and went on raiding parties (almost getting captured) with an army dressed all in silk, for some reason. Weirder still, he invented for himself an alter ego he named Zhu Shou, whom he would “order” on pointless raiding parties, to the exasperation of his government, who had to pretend they weren’t just talking to the emperor in a wig. There might be a powerful lesson here in the fact that the dude was king, but still preferred fantasy to reality. Then again, maybe he just found being king way more boring than he imagined.
Eventually Zhengde died in predictable fashion: after getting really drunk and falling off a boat during a fishing trip.