About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."

2018/08/16

Light-Bringer

The Morning Star above the East horizon
If you know me on Facebook or Instagram, you might notice that I love colourful dawns and dusks. In summer, I am happy to get up at 5am so that I can have a look on the theater of colours and shapes. That way I also often encounter the planet Venus in its dual form of Morning or Evening Star.
    Interestingly, many cultures and languages, including my native Czech, have two completely different names for the Morning Star and for the Evening Star. It is also true about Latin, old Greek and biblical Hebrew. It is quite possible that a very long time ago people did not recognize the Morning and Evening Stars were the same planet.
    But then a very old myth told the story that morning and evening stars were born as twins. Before the invention of writing, such stories were the way to preserve and pass on to next generations the recognition that the morning and evening stars were closely related - just like a pair of twins. There is a myth from West Semitic culture inscribed on cuneiform tablets from Ugarit (KTU 1.23), which preceded the Hebrew bible by number of centuries that states Shachar and Shalim (Morning and Evening Star) were twin brothers and an identical planet - Venus.
    And that is something you might not know about the Bible.


      Similarly in the ancient Greek culture Phosphoros (Morning Star) was identified with Hesperos (Evening Star) and in Latin Lucifer was identified with Vesper.
       Join us this Sunday as we decipher how and when it happened that the Latin name for morning star LUCIFER got such a bad rap. In fact, Lucifer is such a beautiful and meaningful name! In Latin it means “the light-bringer”. How, why and when did it happen that Lucifer (Light-bringer) was made into a personified evil? You might be surprised!

July Northern skies from my living room (about 38 hours apart)



2018/08/08

Counting stars

Calibration lasers of the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea
God famously promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars (Genesis 15). Of course it was a metaphor because stars were proverbially innumerable. But are they really? It all depends how you count and what instrument you use.
    Abraham had the great benefit of dark nights unpolluted with our modern electrical lights, but on the other hand, he had only his naked eyes. How many stars can an eye observe?
    Astronomers came up with the answer. Under ideal conditions in a moonless, deep dark night without any light pollution a sharp healthy human eye can observe stars down to 6.5 magnitude and such celestial objects can be counted. If we subtract the Sun and the Moon and all the planets, we end up with 9,096 stars across the entire sky. With a wide open horizon you can see about 4,548 stars and if you add few planets we end up with 4,550 or so stars - and thus also descendants promised to Abraham.
    Interestingly, such a number is not far off from what archeology tells us about population in ancient Judea. The Early Iron Age settlement in Jerusalem, a period to which the Bible positions David and Salomon, was about one or maximum two thousand people. Judean highlands had perhaps a few more thousand. Only the Judean Plain by the Mediterranean Sea was slightly more populous.
    The entire Judean kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital could have a population of 10-12 thousand. It was truly a small, pocket size, provincial kingdom and counting descendants like stars with a naked eye might not be far off. And that is something you might not know about the Bible.

Join us this Sunday as we continue our Celestial theology observing, counting and rejoicing in stars.

2018/07/31

Overcoming Lunacy

The Moon with a rainbow halo in cirrus clouds (with the Jupiter beneath). 
My dear wife Martina seems to be under the spell of the moon, or more precisely I should say her work is. As many of you know, she is an Internist at a hospital in the Bronx and she often complains about being on call during full moons.
    Frankly, it defies any attempt for quantified systemization: sometimes it is about a higher number of patients, other times patients are fewer, but more complicated and yet at other times it is not about patients at all, but about their difficult relatives. Whatever the reason, around the full moon I know that I or our son Jakob can prepare dinner at least an hour or two later than usual.
    Many professionals in hospitals are convinced about the influence of moon over their work and they are not alone. Some police departments are on record for scheduling extra officers for the full moon nights.
    Scientists meanwhile insist that there cannot possibly be any direct physical mechanism for the Moon influencing human behaviour. They claim that all this anecdotal evidence is just that, anecdotal. They call it all an "illusory correlation", we are simply much better in remembering events rather than nonevents. (If something unpleasant happens during a full moon, we remember it, when nothing happens, no one notices.)
    But frankly, I am not convinced by these skeptics. Especially in the summer the full moon is very bright. I observed and photographed bright rainbow-coloured halos around the moon. All that extra light at night, let me put it mildly, can be responsible for more eventful nights. With the moon out more people are also out and more things can happen... And when you distribute it among large samples of people it can certainly have a psychological and spiritual impact. At least it is a possibility...

This Sunday we will leave all the sinister aspects of the Moon out and instead of lunacy we will concentrate on positive and beneficial aspects of the Moon. We will look how the Moon fits positively into our Christian faith.

2018/07/26

Cult of Sun

The Bible tells us that King Josiah, as a part of his religious reform of Judean religion, removed from the Jerusalem temple horses dedicated to Sun. (2 Kings 23:11). And I  intentionally left out the definite article before “Sun”, because here it does not designate a heavenly body but almost certainly represents a name of a solar deity.
    It is well known fact that flaming chariots with horses were frequent attributes of ancient solar deities. And in Jerusalem these solar horses were most likely dedicated to YHWH (the LORD) who absorbed the role of the solar deity and was vested with the attributes of Sun god.
    King Josiah allegedly cleansed the temple and religion by eliminating this pagan adulteration. But strangely even in the Bible itself there are still indications that the worship of Sun continued (for instance Ezekiel 8:16).   
     Centuries later, in the fourth century BCE, we have archeological evidence. It comes to us in the form of a coin, quoter-shekel, minted in Judea. The Jewish coin depicts a bearded figure holding a hawk or falcon and seated on the winged chariot.
    An inscription around his head has been deciphered by scholars in two different ways. Either it reads YHW and identifies the figure as the god YHWH, or it might read YHD which indicates that the coin was minted in Yehud (Persian province of Judea).
    In any case, it is not a winged wheelchair, and the bird is not a pet. Both are well known attributes of solar deities. This is clearly a depiction of the YHWH, the LORD God, as a Solar Deity. (And let us leave aside the Commandment against depicting the LORD, clearly it hadn’t been as strictly observed, as we were made to believe.)
    This solar cult in the Jerusalem temple and these relatively late examples of the fusion of YHWH with the Sun god is something you might not know about the biblical religion.

Come and join us this Sunday as we continue our series of Celestial Theology this time concentrating on the rich, beautiful and deeply meaningful solar metaphors and images.

2018/07/19

Parent in Heaven


On Wednesday night I was on the roof of our building preparing for this Sunday’s Sermon by taking picture of planet Jupiter and its Galilean moons.
          I have to acknowledge that to the best of my best knowledge, Jupiter is never directly mentioned in the Bible. How could it then be the theme of Sunday? What could Jupiter have in common with our faith? And how could it, for instance, speak to our concerns for migrant children and babies separated from their parents? How could Jupiter inspire our faith or religiously anchor our protest against our babies-abusing government?
          Well, any time we talk or pray to “God the Father” or “Father in Heaven” we are, perhaps indirectly and unknowingly, invoking Jupiter. Because the name Jupiter comes from Proto Indo-European dyau-pater and can be understood and translated from old Latin or Greek as “God Father”
          Join us this Sunday as we reject the toxic and abusive masculinity and rejoice in the protective kindness of our Parent in heaven, protector and defender of widows and orphans.





Interestingly the planet Jupiter plays this protective role. Some astronomers propose that Jupiter functions as protector of life on our planet by substantially reducing numbers of comets and asteroids which could cause us harm. We could observe Jupiter catching and defusing of a comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 in 1994. Some of the impact brown clouds in Jupiter atmosphere (all in line near the planet's polar region) are each as large as continental USA.

2018/07/05

Mālama ‘āina

Rainbow over Ahu Tongariki on the eastern shore of Rapa Nui
Mālama ‘āina is a Hawaiian expression for the gentle, thoughtful and loving nurture of the land. Pacific islanders can indeed teach us how to live in harmony with our planet. Their islands are like small worlds with limited and finite resources. Polynesians had no other option but to learn how to be careful stewards of their small worlds and there were also some tough lessons.
    One such place that encountered a tough lesson was Rapa Nui (also known as Easter Island) an island famous for its megalithic statues - moai.  It is just a speck of land, a lonely island of 60 square miles, in the middle of the ocean, thousands of miles from the nearest land (five hour flight from Santiago).
    In the last century Rapa Nui people were blamed for catastrophic deforestation of their island, supposedly in order to erect those famous stone monuments. But recently scholars had second thoughts about it. Deforestation was most likely caused by stowaway rats and extremely difficult environment with slow growth rates.
    Archeologists and anthropologists are actually discovering and confirming the resourcefulness of Rapa Nui people. They were thoughtful and industrious stewards of their small island. On this minuscule world buttered with constant winds and cursed with inferior soils, Polynesians perfected the skill of farming rocks. They grew their food in small rock gardens, they crushed old lava (an improvised fertilizer) to provide nutrients for their plants, they even used small stones as mulch to keep moisture in the soil and to keep precious soil from being taken by strong winds. In a small island with extremely limited resources these were examples of their Polynesian mālama '
āina - loving care for their land.
    This Sunday, as we continue our celestial theology, we will look up at the biblical rainbow and discern and be inspired by similar stark yet hopeful message of hope in finite world.

2018/06/26

Earth and Sky

Sunset at Mauna Kea - also known as Mauna Wākea
One of the oldest known Greek poets Hesiod tells the story of Gaia and Uranus (Mother Earth and Father Sky), how they gave birth to the whole Greek pantheon and thus indirectly begat the entire Universe. That is actually the original meaning of the word Cosmology - a story about the birth of world.
    Similar stories are known from around the world. On the very opposite side of the world, in Hawai'ian mythology I am familiar with a similar Polynesian myth about Papa (mother Earth) and Wākea (father Sky) and how they originated the birth of a habitable world, individual islands, human culture and even started famous royal families.
    As surprising as it might sound, the Bible also contains interesting traces of a similar story. These cosmogony stories are never really dominant in official religion, they live in the background of people’s worldview. In the biblical tradition this story got overshadowed with the “official” creation story (in six days) and possibly it even got censored for its unorthodox content. But it is still present, and most visibly in the context of the creation story. Just like Greek or Polynesian mythologies the Bible mentions a “Genealogy of Earth and Sky.”
(Gen 2:4) And that is something you might not know about the Bible.

As we begin this Sunday a three month long series of Celestial Theology, we will start by looking closer at this genealogy of Earth and Sky and draw encouragement, joy and inspiration from their almost forgotten, yet powerful message.