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I need to challenge myself mentally after a day of eating clam chowder and bacon bits while sitting around with family. I’ll try and summarize my paper on how Christianity came to be the main religion in the Roman Empire and help to explain some of the religious connotations of this Christmas holiday that most of us take for granted.
The Roman Empire back in the 4th century and preceding centuries was essentially a pagan state. The physical land boundaries were vast and covered many different areas that was essentially split into the East and West Empire and run by competing generals. After a series of civil wars, my main dude Constantine I came out on top. It was pretty good times for him, having defeated his rival generals and defending the lands against the Franks (think France), Visigoths (think goths, but mostly Germans and mostly Arians), Sarmatians (Arabian), and Alamanni (upper Rhine river). Who were those people, you might ask? – Not important, they lost and that’s why no one really cares about them. Back to Constantine…
So this dude is essentially boss to a HUGE stretch of land that incorporates all kinds of different cultures, traditions, beliefs, rituals etc. So long as these people recognize Roman law what does he really care about how they live? Most of the people he rules are all pagans anyways (majority) and they believe in many gods that perform many different functions in daily society as well as maintain a value structure that’s pretty honky dory with Roman life. Values like “leaving riches,” to “preserve the rites of their family and their ancestors,” and that the worship of private gods is forbidden so that worship is to those gods those worthy of merit such as “intellect, virtue, piety [and] good faith.” Sounds good on paper, but oh wait, what’s this? Christianity contradicts this?
Yes, it would seem that Romans looked unfavorably at Christianity in the first 3 centuries AD because of a couple of things your Sunday School teacher forgot to mention. Do you remember the story about how Jesus up and left his home and walked about the Earth proselytizing and collecting believers/followers? Well here’s what they failed to mention about those people that followed this strange man claiming to be the son of a God to a virgin woman – these people have families they just up and abandoned. Joseph Potter (substitute a better Roman name if you wish) is working out in his field when all of a sudden this dude with long hair and a beard wearing white cotton robes comes up to him and starts spitting some game. He blabbers on about salvation and does some pretty cool party tricks and Joseph is like, “this guy is definitely legit, I should follow him.” So Joseph up and leaves his family in the middle of the work week with no alimony or child support and essentially no way to provide for his poor wife and kids. Dick move, Joseph.
Thing is, he wasn’t the only one to abandon his family like that. Hundreds upon thousands of people were getting caught up in the belief of millenarianism (belief in the second coming of Jesus) at the time after Jesus’ birth. After all, no one put a timetable on that little miracle day. Around 70 AD people are looking at one another like, “shit, what if that dude was right? I can’t miss that whole rapture thing, I’d look like an idiot!” Well it didn’t happen in the first century or the second century or the third century but that didn’t stop people from abandoning their responsibilities to their family. Not only that, but when Joseph left he didn’t leave his estate to his family but, rather, he gave it all to the Christian Church. In a time when land = money and money = power the Romans were pretty concerned with this minority power. Consequently, that whole Roman value of passing on and leaving riches to one’s family was in serious jeopardy thanks to these Christian assholes. So what do you do with a cult-like minority who are running around and wrecking your societal values? If you’re emperor Nero, you blame Christians for a big ass fire that burned for 6 days and destroyed a bunch of shit (including his palace).
Yep, Christians were sporadically targeted for various crimes throughout the first and second century and well into the third century. Emperor Decius and emperor Diocletian did some more fucked up shit to the Xians (the X here is used like it is in Xmas. Shorthand way of saying Christians is now Xians) from 249 AD until Diocletian’s retirement in 305 AD. Basically they took church property and harassed the Xian elite, much to the favor of local elites looking to gain power. Then, in 312 AD Constantine the Great issued the Edict of Milan which granted religious tolerance to all religions. Wait, what? Really? After years of persecution and labeling Xians as scapegoats and criminals they’re just going to let them off the hook like that? Short answer: yep. Long answer: brilliant power move on Constantine’s part. We’ll get to that in a bit but the Edict of Milan is actually pretty significant so let’s take a gander.
The Edict of Milan was a significant document in not only achieving toleration of Christianity by the Roman state, but allowed for a significant part of the state to represent Christian authority by accepting “the Christian god to the tutelary deities of the Roman state.” Another significant statement in the edict grants the “freedom to follow whatever religion” a free man desires on the basis that “each man may have a free opportunity to engage in whatever worship he has chosen” (Drake 195). The document is explicit in developing a more laissez-faire approach on the part of the state in order to ensure “that no cult or religion may seem to have been impaired by [the emperors].”
Here’s the rub on why this document is important. The Roman Empire is fucking huge, but we already established that. Constantine had a vision of his empire as this huge track of land that was to be his “kingdom” (kingdom, hmmm. Sounds familiar from some kind of scriptural mentioning). In this imagining, Constantine is the king, seated at the hand of power, and mediator of all religion; including Christianity which just so happens to have this whole…thing…about a kingdom and an idea about the ‘guy’ who rules this kingdom. See what he did there?
Christianity was organized at this point in time under the Catholic Church with their hierarchy of bishops and cardinals and officials of the church (who happen to have land and power from all those Joseph Potters who left their estate like idiots). This meant that the leader of all of THESE people would truly maintain power and have underlings that will bow to his command at a local level; priests submit to their regional leaders and these regional leaders submit to the emperor. Thus, Constantine’s policy of freedom to choose religion effectively unifies the Empire when Christianity becomes the monotheistic monarchial power with Constantine as a representative God on earth. When Constantine takes control of the Eastern Empire in 324, his vision is put into motion at the Council of Nicaea. At this council, Constantine urges the bishops to provide a harmonious Christianity to supply the Empire with “universal concord”. As such, communities would need to be controlled both legally and religiously, a function that bishops provided quite efficiently. The power of the bishops grew to that of a Roman official capable of managing large estates, dispute his rights with other officials of the state and legally and judicially gain power (Goodenough 55).
That’s all good and well to assuage the threat of a minority uprising on the part of Xians, but what of the Roman pagan majority? Well, Constantine was a smart dude. He realized that he would have to combine pagan beliefs and Xian beliefs in order to get the two sides fighting for the same cause. Part of this was done through strategic symbols. One such symbol was the “Sol Invictus,” or pagan Sun god. There’s a story that says Constantine was fighting a battle on some bridge and as he was winning there was a flash of light above him (presumably from this god) and a figure appeared that said something like, “Hey dude! If you put me on flags and shit and worship me you’re gonna win this shit!” So he did. He put the solar symbol on some coins and on his flags and everyone was pretty cool with that. People from Gaul saw it as Apollo, pagans thought of it as their old pal Sol Invictus and Xians were like, “that’s totes Jesus.” So, in 213 the Sol Invictus became a symbol of mixed interpretation.
Constantine also put into place a bunch of legal and political supports which were meant to blend pagan and Xian concerns. He even went so far as to say that if provincial rulers fucked up or abused people because of their religion he’d handle the matter personally, like, Old Testament style. Funny thing is, Constantine never committed himself to Xianity until he was on his deathbed, ready to die. It wasn’t uncommon to have these deathbed conversions around this time. The world was shit and a pretty scary place to live. There wasn’t a whole lot of hope out there which is precisely why Xianity was so appealing. I mean, if you were starving and homeless and your whole family is dead (yeah, sorry your family has to die in this hypothetical situation) and some dude walks up to you with crazy party stories about “this one time I turned water into wine,” and “I can make one piece of bread feed like, a million people,” and “you’ll totally be reunited with your fam in heaven when you die,” how do you NOT get a little interested?
Anyways, Constantine converts to Xianity on his deathbed but it brings up another intellectual roadblock surrounding the use of the word superstitio in the writings that talk about this event. Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, was a Christian writer of apologetics and history who discusses how Christians, “with any semblance of consistency, modify or replace the separatism of the persecution era with an appropriate ideology of Christian empire.” What that means is that Xians, because they had power and control thanks to Constantine’s little blessing, have the power to control HOW history is recorded. Remember that whole time period when they were labeled criminals and scapegoats and Nero basically through gasoline on his own city and gave the Xians matches? Yeah, they’re all martyrs now. Just Xians struggling for their right to
party practice religion. Now that whole time period is thought of as a cleansing period that was intended to bring society closer to God. Remember all those people ditching their homes? Definitely a sign of the second coming of Jesus. Constantine as the ruler of a “kingdom?” Yeah, Moses and Jesus were God’s agents as well so Constantine was just doing his part to fulfill a larger Christian story.
Back to this whole superstitio thing, it was basically a law put into place in 294 AD that had your typical band on being a sorcerer and doing magical shit. Wizards didn’t have such a great reputation back in those days and it was punishable by a great offense to be seen as one. But wait, Jesus can raise people from the dead?! Alright, let’s burn the Xians for that. And they did, until Constantine did his whole ‘Xianity rise to power’ thing. Then the tables turned and all of those important Xian officials were like, “wait, uh, Lenny, did you just see that Jew fly?” “Uh, no, Carl, what are you talking abo-. OH, yes. Yes, that Jew just flew we should probably kill him.” It was in this time around the 5th century that the Xian elite realized they could pretty much do and say what they wanted to about other religions and use old Roman law to get the result they wanted.
With the alliance of Constantine, Christianity took hold of the Roman state in which religion was firmly grounded and flourished in a legally and judicially benefitting relationship. Although Constantine’s vision constituted an ambiguous unity between paganism and Christianity, the power of Christianity through apostolic succession and bishops as community leaders was able to coerce the power of the state, ensuring the future success of Christianity. Scholars such as Eusebius encouraged the Christian support of the Empire and established a pious sentiment which was furthered by the heretical fervor of claims of superstitio. Thus, the once persecuted Christian movement found the road to success through the Roman state which laid in wait for a dictating religion. As it stands in history, “No religion has ever been able long to keep its exalted idealism untarnished in a time of prosperity; the Christian Church under Constantine and his successors made no exception to the rule” (Goodenough 40).
If you want my sources, just ask. If you want to plagiarize…actually you probably could because I don’t think any professor would credit this blog for anything. The thoughts and views presented here were based on the collection of information for a class on Christian Religious Traditions and the rise of Christianity in the 4th century under Constanatine I. The idea behind it is to give you a clue about how Xianity went from being a dumpy religion into this powerhouse, all because Constantine gave it its first big break. Had that never happened we probably wouldn’t be talking about whether or not we should say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” and Fox news would be short days and days of talking points during the holiday season.
Sabrina Salerno – Boys (Summertime Love). I’m going to clue you in to what she was saying with a breakdown of the lyrics:
Boys and girls in the summertime love
Summertime love on the beach tonight (This is where the gangbang is happening)
Say hey, say you, say me, say what(Say, have you heard about that gangbang?)
Everybody has gotta car (Awesome, we can all drive to the beach for the gangbang and use our headlights as spotlights to attract more people)
Don’t stop, don’t move (Simon SAYS don’t stop, don’t move)
I just get your body in the groove (Obviously I’m the warm-up act for the main girl we all bukkake at the end)
I said hey, I said who (I said, actually don’t tell me who you are. This gangbang is more fun when I don’t know who’s plowing me)
I said me, I say you gotta get in the groove (Find that g-spot babylove)
Credit to Theodore Stafford on this gem.
Can men and women be friends? More than that, can men who are attracted to their female counterparts be ‘friends’ with said female? The term ‘friend’ becomes the crux of the issue as women will agree to the question, obviously with a different conception of friendship than their male ‘friend’. The men will respond with a firm no, or tiptoe around the issue so as not to seem insensitive to the idea of biological attraction getting in the way of a social relationship. Honestly, my own opinions have me believing that the issue of friendship should be further discussed as it pertains to two females, two males, between homosexual and between heterosexual relationships. If you were to compare the dominant discourse pairing of a man and woman, both heterosexual, I would say that a male would perceive the intimacy of friendship as an attractive quality (with physical attraction magnifying the potential for lust) and supersede the qualitative consignment of the word ‘friendship’. Women, on the other hand, are able to perceive the relationship between their heterosexual male counterpart as a mutually beneficial relationship without any heightened arousal or attraction. Perhaps it’s a biological component of man’s coding to suggest a higher likelihood of passing on traits if he becomes sexually aroused by a woman who has shown characteristics of intimacy. In this case, friendship provides a level of intimacy in the way of proximity (friends often spend time together, sometimes between just the two of them). Friendship also provides an increased exposure to one individual over another which means the potential for protection after the investment of passing on genes (if the male is able to pass his seed to the female, friendship provides more time spent with the female to defend against other males looking to also pass his genes). From another perspective, females perceive a healthy female friendship in a man’s life an attractive quality. This is confirmed by several interviews or casual exchanges I’ve had with girls who say that they look for a guy with close female friends. Thus, friendship has the quality of helping in mate selection.
Weigh in on the subject if you’ve got something to add.
STRIKE OF THE PANTHER
This video has: 1. A furry in a chicken suit. 2. An English schoolboy. 3. A dominatrix. 4. A blow-up sex doll, and 5. A whip. Great opening fight scene set in a brothel from Brian Trenchard-Smith’s 1988 sequel to the ’87 action flick “Day of the Panther” starring Edward John Stazak as Jason Blade.
Alright, the title sucked me in so I had to read the article. This one is from the student newspaper of Roger Williams University, The Hawks’ Herald, and written by a guy named Ben Whitmore.It’s a well-written article that goes into the issue of the recent wave of acceptable partial nudity that masquerades in the form of yoga pants. Seriously, yoga pants are a weak attempt to mask lustful laziness. Whitmore has the perspective of a student much like that of any college campus so substitute your own University in and it’s probably fairly accurate from a male’s perspective.
There are many things I do not like about Roger Williams University. For starters, I don’t like that most RWU students appear to not place value on education. I don’t like that many professors reward under-researched, inarticulate, and thoughtless work with passing grades, rather than calling students on their bunk junk. I don’t like that some University administrators make policy decisions based on how perceived outcomes would make the University look rather than how the student population and the quality of their education will benefit. I don’t like that I am in the same senior class with a girl who asked a friend in the library the other day, “Wait, where is the Supreme Court? Like, is there more than one?”
Yet, I understand that RWU’s flaws are not unique to the school; the world is full of people who have views and behaviors that I don’t personally agree with. I have made peace with the good, the bad, and the ugly at RWU, and I will be proudly walking across the stage in May and getting my diploma with the University’s name on it.
However, there is one school trend that I can no longer remain silent about, one article of clothing that most female students wear that makes me ashamed to be a fellow classmate of theirs.
I hate yoga pants.
I’ve heard that what I refer to as yoga pants, some consider to be “leggings.” I’ll eliminate confusion by offering a Jeff Foxworthy-esque definition: you might be wearing yoga pants if you are wearing form-fitting spandex tights and it is rainy out, or you need a self-esteem boost, or you are fulfilling exhibitionist desires, or you don’t know how else to express your sexuality, or if you are wearing attire that is so skin-tight and so form-fitting that I can see your vagina.
There, I said it.
Yes, ladies of RWU, when you wear yoga pants and your shirt stops at your waist, I can see your lady parts.
Yoga pants do not count as real pants; they, unlike actual pants, reveal the intimate curvature of women’s bodies with unabashed honesty.
Yoga pants are opaque nudity.
Now, I refuse to be called a pervert for noticing that sex organ of yours that is separated from me by only a thin layer of spandex. I am not asking for you to show me; you are showing me and asking me not to look. There is a difference.
And also, I understand that yoga pants are soooo frickin’ comfy and that because other women wear them, you get secret female style points for publicly demonstrating your ability to be a part of a trend. I respect your right to be comfortable and to earn these points.
But I still don’t like them, and I don’t like how many women on this campus wear them.
I wonder, women, when you wear yoga pants, why you don’t just wear a shirt, or a sweater, or a vest, or a jacket, or some article of clothing that is long enough to reach below your waist. Why is the trend to wear spandex-based, highly form-fitting pants, and not to cover your privates?
Don’t you remember that scene from Little Miss Sunshine? About a specific part of a camel’s foot? About the embarrassment? The awkwardness?
That’s how I feel when I see you.
And it is an embarrassment and awkwardness fraught with mixed emotions. There are an abundance of very attractive women on campus and, I must admit, I don’t think yoga pants are all bad. Yoga pants make butts look good, and I can’t truly blame you yoga-pant wearers for wanting to flaunt. Part of me is, at heart, a yoga pants fan.
But the rest of me stubbornly objects. I can’t help but feel that women who wear yoga pants have a false modesty that says, “I want to show off my body, but I am too embarrassed to be overtly sexual, so I will just wear skin-tight, curve-revealing clothing to satisfy my exhibitionist desires in socially acceptable means.”
There’s nothing wrong with personal empowerment, but there is something phony about the way women seem to do it by wearing yoga pants.
I get the sense that women wear yoga pants to feel sexy without getting judged as a slut, yet I see something demeaning in women wearing yoga pants and parading around their half-silhouetted vaginas all day.
I sincerely encourage you, ladies of RWU, to feel sexy and be comfortable in your own skin. But please realize this: when you are immodestly flaunting your body by wearing next-to-nothing clothes and thinking that you’re still keeping it classy, the joke is on you.
How can you not like cheap, 90s computer effects and fat men with beards (and the tune is catchy).
Russian snowboarders in “the main movie of the year ‘La Resistance’ from WeAre2012 studio.” Half an hour worth of riders from another country. I know some of you will enjoy the spectacle.
This is a really cool/well-done documentary on Afghanistan from someone who has lived in the area for a number of years. I’ll turn to their words to explain:
As each of us has his own impression of Afghanistan that is predominantly marked with pictures of foreign forces, explosions and terror, we were privileged to have access to capture daily life and portrait some people of Afghanistan.
We hope the pictures you know will merge with the pictures you see and will enrich your view on the country in the Hindu Kush.
Kabul and Mazar-e Sharif
We wanted to go to other places as well but there were several incidents and security was too bad. Just one day after shooting at the blue mosque in Mazar-e Sharif a mob started from the very same place storming the UN building.
I have lived from 2006-2008 in Kabul doing my civil service for a humanitarian aid organization. This March I had the chance to go back with my fiancé to show her the place I love and to capture the beauty of this country with our cameras.
At the same time I made this as a tribute to a dear friend, who was shot in the streets of Kabul. Gayle inspired me in her love and dedication for the Afghans.
After a full summer with other work we had now the chance to do the editing.
Lisa-Maria Puy who composed the music for us was wonderful to work with. We met her on Zanzibar island and back in Germany she composed this wonderful soundtrack within just 3 days (and nights).
A compilation of some of the best extreme sports WIN from 2011. I’m not even going to pretend like I know what half of the tricks are so I’ll leave it to the professional commentators for their input and be satisfied with having put it on the site. Cheers to those of you enjoying the powder lands.