Saturday, July 12, 2014

Contrary Opinions

Now and then I encounter someone who holds very strong opinions that are different than mine. That is OK with me but sometimes it is not OK with the other person. If an opinion is contrary to their opinion then it is all wrong and a barrier goes up. One must be able to listen to contrary opinions and carefully compare the facts with ones own opinion. A change may be in order.

My eldest darling daughter wrote a note expressing her opinion in response to one of my puns and then added “In point of fact, the combination of my mother and father could only lead to children not afraid to voice any opinion, on anything.”

I am very pleased that both of my darling daughters have excellent logical minds that are able to form opinions and then defend their positions. They are both loquacious and competent communicators. Their father is very proud of their abilities.

As one who loves a good turn of words, including puns, I am not surprised that they also enjoy reading and exploring ideas. I firmly believe that learning is a life long occupation in an effort to expand our minds.

Our own opinions are important but we need to be able to examine new information and if it warrants a change of opinion be willing to make the change. It has been said that where three are gathered there are four opinions. There is the opinion of each person and the group opinion. I always believe that my opinion is correct or I would not hold it. I have always been willing to reflect on new information and reconsider my position. I have to admit that it is not always an easy process.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Real Atlantis

Lately I have watched three different so called documentaries about Atlantis. They each place the fabled city in a different place, one was near Japan. They can not all be true and I suspect that none of them are true. Even the original story by Plato was likely a fabrication.

The story of the Isle of Atlantis first occurs in Plato's two dialogues the "Timaeus" and the "Critias." Plato's story centers on Solon, a great Greek legislator and poet who journeyed to Egypt some 150 years before Plato. While in the Egyptian city of Sais, Solon received the story of Atlantis from some priests. According to Plato the priests respected Solon's reputation and cordially welcomed him. They also respected the Athenians, whom they regarded as kinsmen, because they believed their deity Neith to be the same deity as the Greeks called Athena. Therefore, she was believed to be the patroness and protector of both Greece and Egypt.

The story that the priests told Solon was unknown to him. According to ancient Egyptian temple records the Athenians fought an aggressive war against the rulers of Atlantis some nine thousand years earlier and won. These ancient and powerful kings or rulers of Atlantis had formed a confederation by which they controlled Atlantis and other islands as well. They began a war from their homeland in the Atlantic Ocean and sent fighting troops to Europe and Asia. Against this attack the men of Athens formed a coalition from all over Greece to halt it. When this coalition met difficulties their allies deserted them and the Athenians fought on alone to defeat the Atlantian rulers. They stopped an invasion of their own country as well as freeing Egypt and eventually every country under the control of the rulers of Atlantis. Shortly after their victory, even before the Athenians could return home, Atlantis suffered catastrophic earthquakes and floods until it disappeared beneath the sea. All of the brave men were swallowed up in one day and night of horror according to legend. This is why the Egyptians were ever grateful to the Athenians. Also in the story Plato gives is a history of Atlantis that shows how the rulers eroded to such a state were they wanted to conquer everyone. This history had been recorded by Solon in notes that were handed down through his family.

Today the best archaeological site for the fabled Atlantis is the island of Santorini which is essentially what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion, destroying the earliest settlements on what was formerly a single island, and leading to the creation of the current geological caldera. Some of the houses in ancient city of Akrotiri are major structures, some amongst them three stories high. Its streets, squares, and walls were preserved in the layers of ejecta, sometimes as tall as eight meters, and indicating this was a major town. In many houses stone staircases are still intact, and they contain huge ceramic storage jars, mills, and pottery. Noted archaeological remains found in Akrotiri are wall paintings which have kept their original color well, as they were preserved under many meters of volcanic ash. The town also had a highly developed drainage system and, judging from the fine artwork, its citizens were clearly sophisticated and relatively wealthy people.

Pipes with running water and toilets found at Akrotiri are the oldest such utilities discovered. The pipes run in twin systems, indicating that the Therans used both hot and cold water supplies; the origin of the hot water probably was geothermic, given the volcano’s proximity. The dual pipe system suggesting hot and cold running water, the advanced architecture, and the apparent layout of the Akrotiri find resemble Plato’s description of the legendary lost city of Atlantis, further indicating the Minoans as the culture which primarily inspired the Atlantis legend.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Civil and Religious Weddings

There are many religions in America and they each have their own traditions concerning the wedding ceremony. There is also the civil wedding ceremony to consider.

In the civil service a couple needs a license and an authorized person to sign the document. The authorized person only has to verify that the two people before them are the ones on the license and ask them if they want to be married. When they answer in the affirmative the license is signed and they are married. All cut and dry and legal. This is the type of marriage that does not involve religion and is a civil right according to law.

A Christian Wedding and weddings of most religions is quite different and in the United States it involves having the same license of the civil wedding but also much more. In my church a groom and a bride come to make vows to each other and God. They come seeking a blessing on their marriage and home. It is the making of vows that makes all the difference.

When a marriage vow is made the couple actually make two vows at once. They make vows of commitment and fidelity to one another and they make those same vows to God! It is this act that makes the wedding ceremony sacred in every religion. Each religion sets its own standards for weddings and are not bound by equality under the law as civil weddings are.

In a Christian wedding the vows are binding until death do us part. Jesus made only one excuse for divorce and that was adultery. When a person breaks the marriage vow a double sin is committed. The first sin is against the spouse and the second is against God. I count it a very serious event to make a vow to God. Breaking a vow to God is not something one does lightly and I always stress that to couples about to get married in the church. There is an eternal aspect to a vow made to God and it stays with you that long.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Math Terror

I know people who freeze up when told to do some math. Balancing a check book is more than they can do. Math is a life skill that escapes them and they must rely on others to do it for them.

There are other people – most of us who develop math skills as part of our education and consider it just part of life. We may not of have majored in math at collage but we understand the concepts enough to get by in life. Math does not scare us nor does it entice us to do more than necessary.

Then there are those rare people for whom math is their first love. Not only does it come easy for them but they are truly gifted when it comes to numbers. It starts early in life when they learn to count and actually play with numbers the way other children play with toys. Strange as they may seem society needs these math gifted people.

So my friends are you gifted, skilled or in abject terror when it comes to math?\