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."

2018/01/17

Umami catchers

Do you know what GARUM was?
    It was a Hellenistic fish sauce. In the Greco-Roman world it was like a soy sauce for Asian cuisine. The only difference being that garum was more an indication of social status. The rich people bought expensive fish sauce imported from distant provinces. While the poor used dreks left from the production of this fish sauce. They flavored their porridge with a paste of crushed fermented salted fish.
    Catching fish for the production of garum and slated or pickled fish was the occupation of the first disciples of Jesus. They were industrial fishermen. From ancient history* and archeology** we know they were hardly making ends meet and they were exploited. They paid their regular temple and imperial taxes. But as fishermen, they also needed to buy fishing licenses, they had to pay for use of the harbour (or just for docking or landing) and they had to pay tolls for bringing their catch to market.
    At the end, they had hardly enough to stay alive. They were catching fish which they had to sell (and could not eat), so that the rich could enjoy fermented pleasures. They must have felt like a little fish trapped in a large and unjust exploitation net of fees, tolls and taxes. Are we surprised that many of them were ready to leave behind the tools of their exploitation and follow Jesus joining his reform movement?
    That is how Galilean fishermen heard the call to unite with nothing to lose but their nets in which they themselves felt ensnared (To paraphrase one well-known German philosopher).
   Let us rejoice this Sunday in leaving behind umami business to capture the true fresh and just zest of life.
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* For instance the Galilean town Magdala was also know in Greek as Tarichae - which literally means "a place for processing (salting and fermenting) fish". Or for instance a biblical scholar, K.C.Hanson, reconstructed from different ancient sources a complex Galilean fishing economy.
** I wrote about a discovery of the Galilean fishing boat in one of my earlier blog posts.

And for the curious or knowledgeable a quiz question with a small reward -- Would you know who was that "Well-known German philosopher" and what would be his wording of that quotation Fishermen unite, you have nothing to lose but your nets? Write me by email or talk to me after worship.

2018/01/04

Epiphany Today

This is an icon of "Our Lady who brings down walls". The icon was commissioned by Benedictine nuns from Emmanuel Monastery in Bethlehem. It is written (that is the proper verb used for painting icons) by Ian Knowles on the 26ft tall Separation Wall dividing Israeli and Palestinian Bethlehem.
    History teaches us that walls do not really work. Roman border fortifications including the famous Hadrian Wall in Great Britain did not work. The Chinese Great Wall as impressive as it might be, was actually only a small part of many constructed over a number of centuries and considering the amount of work and endeavor, those walls also did not work, all were eventually abandoned. We all know the history of the Maginot Line (French defenses before WWII) and I personally experienced growing up behind the Iron Curtain. I vividly remember rejoicing over its fall (you might recall pictures of the end of the Berlin Wall).
    All such walls are in fact a treatment of symptoms instead of real underlying problems. They are delusional, ineffective and relatively short-lived. They are manifestations of some deeper political, moral or spiritual bankruptcy.
    This Sunday we will celebrate Epiphany. A deeply meaningful holiday rooted in a picturesque legend about the wise-ones paying a visit to the newborn Jesus. It can hardly escape anyone that such a journey would be extremely difficult if not outright impossible to take today. Just imagine religious officials traveling from Afghanistan and Iran, crossing war-torn Kurdistan, Iraq and Syria eventually arriving to the towering Separation Wall and its dangerous checkpoints.  
    Yet right there is the deepest meaning of this Epiphany story. Early church created and embraced this story because it went to the roots and addressed the causes of misunderstandings and animosities among the peoples, cultures, races and religions. It taught the early church an alternative, positive and constructive vision for our world. Vision of the rational, multi-cultural and multi-faith world without walls. Join us in celebrating this beautiful and deeply meaningful holiday.