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."


Alois of Arabia and Volcanic Yahwism

Meet “Alois of Arabia” - politically unsuccessful and today virtually unknown rival of Lawrence of Arabia.
     His full name and titles were the Rev. Prof. Dr. Alois Musil. Among Arabs he was also known as Musa ar Rueili. He was a Roman Catholic priest from Moravia, a professor of Hebrew and Old Testament studies in seminary, a published anthropologist, explorer and geographer of the Middle East.
    One hundred years ago the anthropologist and archeologist T.E.Lawrence was recruited by British Intelligence to instigate an anti-Ottoman rebellion among Arabs. Alois Musil was instructed by his country - the Austro-Hungarian Empire - to keep it from happening.
    We all know how it ended - Lawrence of Arabia was phenomenally successful in undermining the Ottoman Empire. It is less known, that after the Great War, Lawrence advised strongly against the Allied Powers carving and dividing the Near East into artificial colonies. One hundred years later and with all those original colonial borders on fire, we can appreciate his wisdom.
    And a century later Alois Musil is also being appreciated again, in this case for his interesting geographical and theological insight. With his theological as well as ethnographic and geographic knowledge, he located some pivotal Exodus stories not in the Sinai Peninsula, but he placed them in the volcanic fields of Northwest Arabia.
    Now, after a century in virtual obscurity, Musil’s (and other’s) old theories are being given a fresh look. I would still warn against using them to rationalize biblical miracles; I would still warn against an attempt to prove the historicity of biblical narratives. But these century old theories, together with modern volcanological knowledge can offer us new insights into the complex, eruptive, disruptive, truly geology-strong and above all Arabian (sic!) origins and nature of our Judeo-Christian Faith. This Sunday we will look for Volcanic Yahwism. Auspiciously it brings together my two big passions, theology and volcanology.

   And if you read this far, here is Mark Twain's vivid description of his 1871 visit to the Kilauea Volcano and his inspiring observation of the volcanic gas emissions, mostly steam, rising from the Helema’uma’u Crater being illuminated at dark by the incandescence of the lake of molten lava beneath it. (Mark Twain: Roughing It, Chapter LXXIV.)

     A colossal column of cloud towered to a great height in the air immediately above the crater, and the outer swell of every one of its vast folds was dyed with a rich crimson luster, which was subdued to a pale rose tint in the depressions between. It glowed like a muffled torch and stretched upward to a dizzy height toward the zenith. I thought it just possible that its like had not been seen since the children of Israel wandered on their long march through the desert so many centuries ago over a path illuminated by the mysterious “pillar of fire.” And I was sure that I now had a vivid conception of what the majestic “pillar of fire” was like, which almost amounted to a revelation. 

I personally share Mark Twain's feelings of awe and reverence. A similar, although smaller, lava lake has been present in the so-called Overlook Vent of Helema’uma’u Crater since Spring 2008 producing identical phenomena as documented on the pictures above or beneath.

No comments: