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The (False) Messiah Makes His Claim

This is a little embarrassing. In case no one has noticed, the world has been going to Hell in a hand-basket and it is running out of hand-baskets. Millions lay dead in Germany and the Netherlands. It is Hell on Earth. Both Christians and Jews have been waiting desperately for the Messiah. Surely this must be the time. In the midst this despair, a man named Shabbatai Zevi (shah-bah-TIE ZVEE) rises up from his prayers and declares himself to be the Messiah. The power and sincerity of his claim is like dropping a lighted match into dry grass. It is prophesied that when Zevi enters Istanbul he will take the Sultan's crown. When Zevi enters the city in 1666, the Sultan will have him arrested and give him the choice of conversion to Islam or death. Zevi will convert to Islam! Support for his messiahship will collapse except for a small core that will to wait for his secret plan to unfold. They will wait into the modern day... some as Jews... some as Muslims... and all of them... very, very weird. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I am going to discuss modern ideas about the Messiah and I can almost guarantee that it will make most people feel uncomfortable so the time to skip this section is NOW, NOW, NOW. OK. Here we go.... The word "messiah" literally means "anointed one" and in Greek it translates into "christ." That suggests a priest or military leader like King David but maybe not. The Prophet Elijah might precede him.... or Moses and many Jews believe that there is a Messiah candidate in every generation, or at least the potential of a messianic age. Christian ideas of what a messiah is varies too but generally speaking the Christian messiah is Jesus. I won't force my viewpoint on others, but I can point out past failures. There was Simon bar Kokhbah who led a revolt against the Romans in the year 132. Jacob Frank converted tens of thousands of Jews to Christianity in 1760. (A descendant of one of his followers was US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.) In the modern day, some Jews await the return of a particularly respected Rabbi who died in 1994. I respected him too but I'm not holding my breath.

A story: There was a man whose job was Greeter at the gates of the city. One day a stranger asked the Greeter what he was doing. The Greeter told him that he was hired by the city to greet the Messiah when he arrives. The stranger asked, "Does that job pay well?" The Greeter replied, "No. But the work is steady." Indeed. The work is steady. I await the Messiah with perfect faith that he will arrive but I live my life as if I will be waiting awhile. [4] [5] [6] [7]

The Society of Friends, Spiritual Renewal and Global Cooling *

Something is changing in general religious observance. People are seeking a personal connection with God. This is not new. There have been examples since the Middle Ages, but a lot of groups have been springing up lately to seek out a spiritual experience. With so much war, death and destruction (often precipitated by organized religion) is it any wonder that religious folk are looking for inner peace? The Quakers are not known as Quakers yet. That is an outsiders description of them. They call each other Friends and they have organized themselves into the Society of Friends. They are a strange group at this time, often falling down at meetings, shaking and crying out in an ecstatic frenzy. To be proven a prophet, individuals will walk around naked in public, "in obedience to the Lord." (There are 45 documented cases of Friends walking around naked for this purpose.) These peculiarities will cause a backlash and they will be called "Quakers" because of their shaking fits. These fits will be greatly reduced after 1660 but Society of Friends will be remembered for them and the name will stick. [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK. I love their oatmeal, and every Quaker I ever met seemed like a nice, normal, good person. So... what was happening in the 1640s and 50s to make these people shake and why did they eventually calm down (and put their clothes back on)? In an enthusiastic spiritual ecstasy, one could get caught up in hysteria. Psychologists call it "conversion disorder." It is brought on by stress and can produce muscle tremors and psychotic behavior. But that doesn't explain why the shaking tapered off in the 1660s. An article in the journal "Quaker History" points out that these are the symptoms of Saint Anthony's Fire which is caused by ingesting fungus-infected rye products. The fungus produces an hallucinogen. The reason why rye might be infected more in 1648 than other times is due to various volcanic eruptions and a sunspot minimum causing cooler temperatures. By 1660 the world temperatures began to rise, so there was less fungus. Those were strange times, so acting strange in those days was not unusual. People thought it was the end of days. You think you have it bad now? You should have seen it then. [9] [10]

The Peace of Westphalia Places Limits on Modern War

It is the end of the 30 Years' War and the 80 Years' War. (The war between Spain and France is ongoing but that will wind up soon.) Cardinal Richelieu passed away a few years ago but he had been pushing for an overall peace treaty between nations and states. It looks like he has reached out from the grave and made it happen. States are now sovereign in that they are responsible for what happens within their borders, so if you are not within their borders you can't just cross the border to fix it. The state cannot deny responsibility for what its citizens do outside of the state. Also the state cannot hand over military equipment to non-military organizations (like terrorists, pirates, insurgents) and then say it had no idea what they would do with the equipment. Religious freedom is extended to the state sovereign only. He or she selects a state religion, but those who do not hold to the state religion are allowed to worship publicly at designated times or in private at any time they wish. In many ways, the Peace of Westphalia defines how we think of war and peace today. Millions upon millions of people have died for these treaties to be signed, and the lessons of horror will guide our behavior into the modern day. [11] [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
When planes were crashed into the Twin Towers on September 11th, many people looked at the nationality of the terrorists and blamed the country from which many of them came from. Why? The Peace of Westphalia. The USA demanded that the Taliban turn over Osama Bin Ladin when he resided in Afghanistan. The Peace of Westphalia means that it was Afghanistan's responsibility to produce him. When they refused, the USA declared war against Afghanistan, as if it was responsible for AL-Qaeda's actions... because of the Peace of Westphalia. And many years ago when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the USA sold weapons to the Afghan guerrillas through the CIA instead of directly from the US military because the Peace of Westphalia does not allow a direct sale of military hardware to non-government agencies like Afghan guerrillas. It seems at times like our governments forget what the Peace of Westphalia did for the world and to the extent that they forget, the closer we come to a war without limits. [13] [14] [15]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1648, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Scholem, Gershon. Kabbalah: A definiative History of the Evolution, Ideas, Leading Figures and Extraordinary Influence of Jewish Mysticism. Meridian, an imprint of Dutton Signet, a division of Penguin Books, USA. ISBN 9780452010079. 
  2. Lurianic Kabbalah - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 September 2015. “Where the messianic aim remained only peripheral in the linear scheme of Cordovero, the more comprehensive theoretical scheme and meditative practices of Luria explained messianism as its central dynamic, incorporating the full diversity of previous Kabbalistic concepts as outcomes of its processes. Luria conceptualises the Spiritual Worlds through their inner dimension of Divine exile and redemption. The Lurianic mythos brought deeper Kabbalistic notions to the fore: theodicy (primordial origin of evil) and exile of the Shekhina (Divine Presence), eschatological redemption, the cosmic role of each individual and the historical affairs of Israel, symbolism of sexuality in the supernal Divine manifestations, and the unconscious dynamics in the soul. Luria gave esoteric theosophical articulations to the most fundamental and theologically daring questions of existence.”
  3. Sabbateans - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 September 2015. “Sabbateans (Sabbatians) is a complex general term that refers to a variety of followers of, disciples and believers in Sabbatai Zevi (1626–1676), a Jewish rabbi who was proclaimed to be the Jewish Messiah in 1665 by Nathan of Gaza. Vast numbers of Jews in the Jewish diaspora accepted his claims, even after he became a Jewish apostate with his conversion to Islam in 1666. Sabbatai Zevi's followers, both during his 'Messiahship' and after his conversion to Islam, are known as Sabbateans.”
  4. Israeli Declaration of Independence - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 20 September 2015. “The Israeli Declaration of Independence, formally the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, was proclaimed on 14 May 1948 (5 Iyar 5708) by David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. It declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel, which would come into effect on termination of the British Mandate at midnight that day. The event is celebrated annually in Israel with a national holiday Yom Ha'atzmaut on 5 Iyar of every year according to the Hebrew calendar.”
  5. Frankism - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 20 September 2015. “According to Gershom Scholem, another authority on Sabbateanism, Kraushar had described Frank's sayings as 'grotesque, comical and incomprehensible'. In his classic essay 'Redemption Through Sin', Scholem argued a different position, seeing Frankism as a later and more radical outgrowth of Sabbateanism.”
  6. Jacob Frank. Learn Kabbalah (2015). Retrieved on 20 September 2015. “But in 1760, Frank was the most infamous (ex-)Jew of this day, a man who had been caught engaging in orgiastic sexual ritual, and turned over by the rabbinic establishment to the Christian authorities for prosecution as a heretic (the Church had jurisdiction over all heretics in that day, not just Christian ones). To avoid the gallows, Frank led a mass conversion in which hundreds of his followers publicly renounced Judaism and became Christians.”
  7. Menachem Mendel Schneerson - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 20 September 2015. “Although Schneerson constantly objected to any talk that he could be the Messiah, this notion sparked controversy, particularly among those who were unfamiliar with these traditional teachings. Since Schneerson's passing, the Messianic movement has largely shrunk, although many followers still believe him to be the Messiah. The Chabad umbrella organization, Agudas Chasidei Chabad has condemned Messianic behavior, stating that it defies the express wishes of Schneerson.”
  8. Matossian, Mary K. (April 2007). "Why the Quakers Quaked: The Influence of Climatic Change on Quaker Health, 1647-1659". Quaker History (Friends Historical Association) 96 (1): 36-51. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41947596. Retrieved 20 September 2015. "Many individuals had visions, tremors, convulsions, and went about foretelling the coming of a new day. Groups called Seekers, Ranters, Levelers, Diggers, Muggletonians, and Fifth Monarchy Men sprang up like mushrooms. Even among orthodox religious groups millennial expectations were widespread by 1649.". 
  9. Conversion disorder - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 21 September 2015. “Typically conversion syndrome begins with some stressor, trauma, or psychological distress that manifests itself as physical symptoms. Usually the physical symptoms of the syndrome affect the senses and movement. For example, someone experiencing conversion syndrome may become temporarily blind due to the stress of the loss of a parent or spouse. While there can be a wide range in severity and duration, symptoms are typically short-lived and relatively mild.”
  10. Ergotism - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 21 September 2015. “Ergotism is the effect of long term ergot poisoning, traditionally due to the ingestion of the alkaloids produced by the Claviceps purpurea fungus that infects rye and other cereals, and more recently by the action of a number of ergoline-based drugs.”
  11. Cardinal Richelieu - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 21 September 2015. “Richelieu was instrumental in redirecting the 30 Years' War from the conflict of Protestantism versus Catholicism to that of nationalism versus Habsburg hegemony.[47] In this conflict France effectively drained the already overstretched resources of the Habsburg empire and drove it inexorably towards bankruptcy.[48] The defeat of Habsburg forces at the Battle of Lens, and their failure to prevent French invasion of Catalonia effectively spelled the end for Habsburg domination of the continent, and Olivares' personal career.”
  12. Peace of Westphalia - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 21 September 2015. “General recognition of the exclusive sovereignty of each party over its lands, people, and agents abroad, and responsibility for the warlike acts of any of its citizens or agents. Issuance of unrestricted letters of marque and reprisal to privateers was forbidden.”
  13. Guerrilla force - definition of guerrilla force (2015). Retrieved on 21 September 2015. “A group of irregular, predominantly indigenous personnel organized along military lines to conduct military and paramilitary operations in enemy-held, hostile, or denied territory.”
  14. War in Afghanistan (2001–present) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 21 September 2015. “In 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden and expel al-Qaeda. bin Laden had already been wanted by the U.N. since 1999. The Taliban declined to extradite him unless given what they deemed convincing evidence of his involvement in the 9/11 attacks[37] and declined demands to extradite other terrorism suspects apart from bin Laden. The request was dismissed by the U.S. as a delaying tactic, and on 7 October 2001 it launched Operation Enduring Freedom with the United Kingdom. The two were later joined by other forces, including the Northern Alliance.”
  15. Alex Shrugged notes: My remarks are based on previous segments I've written on the subject of the 30 Year's War.

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