Friday, December 31, 2010

Dreaming in History

"Please excuse Theresa from class!  She has been ill."
~Queen Isabella

My prolonged absence from writing wasn't planned.  Illness struck our household.  First my son and then me.  I will spare you the details of our sickness and I hope my blogger friends are feeling well.  Now that I'm confident that everyone is on the mend, it is time to write. 

While I was ill, I had some interesting dreams.  I would blame the medicine I was taking , but I doubt antibiotics give you odd dreams.  The real culprit was a book.  Darn things...if you read to much, you are bound to have vivid dreams.  At least that is my experience.

This particular dream was inspired by the book, The Great Arab Conquest by Hugh Kennedy.  As the title suggests, the book chronicles the Arab conquest of the Middle East and North Africa during the 7th and 8th centuries.   Before I began producing phlegm at a rate no human should, I read the chapter on the conquest of Egypt.

Before the Arab conquest, Egypt had been ruled by first the Greeks under the Ptolemies and then incorporated into the Roman Empire.  By the time the Arabs invaded, Egypt was part of the Eastern Roman Empire, know as the Byzantine Empire.  Like many areas of the Middle East and North Africa at the time, Egypt was heavily Christian and still has a sizable Christian minority to this day.
A Coptic church in Egypt

The Christians in Egypt, however, weren't considered Orthodox by the Patriarch of Constantinople.  The Coptic (Egyptian) Christians and the Greek Christians differed on their views regarding Jesus.  At the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, the bishops decided that Jesus had to distinct natures.  He was both fully divine and fully human without the pesky sin thing getting in the way.  The Coptic church, agreeing that Jesus was fully divine and human, however, believed that Jesus had only one nature.

For the modern reader, this difference doesn't seem big, but for the Patriarch of Constantinople, this was enough to label them heretics.  Persecution of the Coptic Christians began.  When the Arab armies swept through Egypt promising religious toleration to everyone who paid a special tax, the Coptic Christians jumped on the band wagon.  Religious freedom is what they wanted and that's what they got for a century or two.

Whether my subconscious had formed an odd attachment to the Coptic Christians or my brain was drowning in mucus is hard to tell, but I dreamt that I was a monk at a Coptic monastery shortly before the Arab conquest.  The odd thing about this dream was that while I was a monk, I was still a woman.  Apparently this didn't bother anyone in my dream as we piously sang our morning vespers.  Suddenly, we heard pots clanging, the earth rattling and a giant dust cloud closing in fast on our monastery.

 "It's the Saracens," screamed the Abbott, "run."  Yes, I admit the dialogue is a little stiff in my dreams.  Maybe the Abbott should have said something like, "Hell's gates have opened and the Saracen is upon us.  Run or Satan's serpent will snatch you."  Seriously though, who would say that when their life was in danger?

The dream progresses as a run through the monastery searching for a way out. Screams and shrills follow me everywhere, but then I hear a distinct, "Mommy, Mommy."  Thinking that I mothered an Arab child, I wake suddenly and hesitantly open my eyes.  "Mommy, Mommy," said the voice innocently.  I opened my eyes and instead of seeing an invader, I see my son.  Not only was I glad that my son was feeling better, but that I wasn't around for the Arab conquest.  Invading armies don't make good bed time stories.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas To All and To All a Good Night!

Henry VIII is sending you his best wishes for the New Year!
I have so many kind and encouraging followers and would like to thank you all for reading my blog.  Like many bloggers, I'm taking Christmas Eve and day off.  My son needs extra special cuddles and my husband needs some good food in his stomach.  Ok, that was a little nauseating for many of you.  Regardless, I will be back after the holiday, as fresh and feisty as ever.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

If You Don't Like This Post Blame My Son, But He's So Cute You Wouldn't Want Too.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Forgive Me Father...For I have Sinned.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Opportunities for Women

Queen Isabella recommends this site.

For all you ladies out there, Elena from Tea at Trianon recommends the website BlogHer. It provides woman specific advertising and on your website and access to countless women bloggers. For more information, please click on the link below.

Tea at Trianon: BlogHer and Me

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Have a Merry Winthrop Christmas!

Tea at Trianon: The Ban on Christmas

John Winthrop wishes you an unhappy Christmas.

Later today I will be discussing Christians who don't celebrate Christmas. Elena at "Tea at Trianon" has already begun the discussion on the Puritans banning Christmas during the Interregnum period. I would like to say that great minds think alike, but she's quite superior to me. Enjoy!

Tea at Trianon: The Ban on Christmas

Monday, December 13, 2010

Scientists Find More Stars: Stars Did Not Realize They Were Lost

"I'm lost!"

Not only is the title clever, but it is a well written article about how science sometimes gets it wrong. Enjoy!

Scientists Find More Stars: Stars Did Not Realize They Were Lost

Flour, Flour Everywhere...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Saints Behaving Badly...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Behave, or Santa Will Slap You?

St. Nick wasn't always jolly.  Just watch yourself!

Most of us know that Santa Claus was inspired by a true person, a bishop named Nicholas of Myra. Apparently Nicholas' behavior wasn't always saintly, because at the Council of Nicaea he slapped Arius. Arius was the founder of the heresy Arianism and proclaimed that Jesus wasn't God. Nicholas, irritated beyond belief, slapped Arius. Below is a link to the story. Beware of Santa; he can get cranky.

Slappy Christmas! Get to Know the Real “Santa Claus” – Saint Nicholas

Sunday, December 5, 2010

ZENIT - An African View of Church and HIV

The blog "Tea at Trianon" shared this first, but it is a very powerful and thought provoking article on AIDS prevention from a Jesuit missionary. I don't know the answers to the AIDS epidemic in Africa. I wish I did. I hate suffering. Read if you are so inclined.

ZENIT - An African View of Church and HIV

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What About Jasper?

Jasper Tudor

I like Jasper Tudor.  He was the uncle of the Henry VII, son of Catherine Valois and Owen Tudor, an able warrior and brilliant strategist.  His political prow less and military experience helped his nephew become king, end the War of the Roses and start the Tudor dynasty.  These are ample reasons to respect him, but I'm not fond of him for these reasons.  It may sound absurd, even irrational, but I like his name!

Not that Jasper is a particular good name, but the fact that it isn't common in history makes it sound more agreeable to my ears.  History is full of Henries, Georges, Elizabeths and Catherines, which makes keeping track of who's who even more daunting.  Henry VIII married three Catherines and two Annes.  George is the name of several English kings, a President and someone else I can't think of right now.  As for the name Henry, don't get me started.  Countless English, French, German and Holy Roman Emperors were named Henry. 

One of the many Henries throughout history.

Getting confused with all the Henries, Georges, Catherines and Elizabeths in history is hard enough for historians, but for lay people it's even more confusing.  Was it Henry VI or V that won the Battle of Agincourt, or who was the first King George that could speak English?  When I taught a history class years back at a local community college, I often had to pause briefly to make sure I was attaching the right number to the king's name.  If I had problems at times, no wonder my students couldn't keep track of who was who.

So I ask all mothers and fathers out there, who plan on placing their children in the history books:  Please, please, please, give your child a unique name like Jasper.  It would make the world much easier and history less confusing if you did.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Pope's New Book: Has Anyone Read It?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How Did That Happen?: The Marriage of Catherine Valois and Owen Tudor.

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