Sunday, 21 February 2016

A puzzle about Jesus

I'm a big supporter of Jesus but I do have a puzzle about the fuss made over his resurrection.

Jesus resurrected three people Nain, Luke 7:11-17, Jairus' daughter, Mark 5:21-43 et al and Lazarus John 11:1-44.

On the way to Jairus' house and almost as an aside, and seemingly without stopping, he cured a woman who had been menstruating non stop for 12 years.

After resurrecting the young woman he thanked his father. We must assume his father in this case was either God the Father or the Holy Ghost, and it would seem that while Jesus was in human form he wasn't quite fully God because he needed a bit of help from 'above'.

Although Jesus can be a bit gnostic at times and refer the the 'kingdom' (of God) that is within us all.

He had to travel to Bethany on the outskirts of Jerusalem to see Lazarus and was in danger of being stoned for the things he was preaching.

If he made a regular habit of saying wine becomes my blood at supper time, that would have been enough to get him stoned in those days. Drinking blood, and especially human blood is an abomination to Jews and so would be the blasphemy of all blasphemies. Second only to insulting God itself. God as a male wasn't part of the Jewish belief. There were plenty of male Gods around, Mithras for example, who had wine changed into blood to be drunk at meals. It was later Christians, or possibly Jesus himself who androgenized what was to become the occidental triple Roman God of the West.

His disciples suggested travelling by night but Jesus made a comment with hidden meanings about travelling during daylight. I think this comment means stand up for what you believe to be true even if you will get into trouble. Even to the extent being stoned or burned at the stake. So I think Jesus would have been in favour me writing this koan.

When he got to where Lazarus lived he was met by Mary (Magdalene) who told him Lazarus had been dead for, at least four days, he'd been in a tomb for four days. So he was probably dead for about five days. You were entombed very quickly in those days, there was no laying about on trestles in the front room for a week.

When they got to the tomb, which was a cave, it had a big stone in front of it. Bethany was very close to Jerusalem so it must have been near the tomb Jesus would eventually use. perhaps it was the same one?

It might be worth noting that to have a tomb, even a cave, you had to be quite well off, at least middle class a skilled craftsperson (like Saul) or a professional and upwards. Plebs did't have tombs they just put dead bodies out in the desert or somewhere similar until all the flesh had gone and they could put the bones in an ossuary (or down a hole somewhere that served as an ossuary for the plebs).

So Jesus' friends were middle class at least. Worth mentioning that the middle class did very well under Roman rule. The Romans left the middle class of the empire well alone in a similar way that David Cameron won't let his Rottweiler, Ian Duncan Smith - IBS (sorry IDS) loose on the pensioners of Britain. I digress...

Jesus told Mary to roll away the stone. Mary said there would be a horrible smell. Jesus groaned at her lack of faith. When the stone was rolled away Jesus told Lazarus to come on out; and out he came full of life dressed in his grave clothes.

OK so what's the big puzzle?

Why is there such a big deal about him resurrecting himself when he had already done it three times before. The last time involved a tomb and the rolling of a stone - almost like a dress rehearsal.

It should have been expected that he would resurrect himself...

What do you think?

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Do salad and other leaves lose vitamin c when stored in gas filled supermarket bags?

Yves Dupertuis and colleagues at the Geneva University Hospital looked into this.

They found that providing the bags are multilayered and that all the air is removed from inside the bag. Meaning there is no oxygen inside the bag when the leaves are stored, vitamin C can last up to about 68 hours.

Brief summary of the results:

Vitamin C degrades very quickly, within minutes, when stored in ordinary EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) bags. Vitamin C is almost completely degraded after 7 hours in EVA bags.

The same applies if there is any oxygen left in the storage bag.

Vitamin C can last for up to about 68 hours in multi-layered (ML) plastic bags stored at 4 degrees, and about 24 hours stored in ML bags at 21 degrees.

I don't know what type of bags supermarkets use or how long the leaves are in the bags before they go on the shelves. My guess is about 110 hours from field to plate.

As far as I can tell - it's not easy to find accurate information on this subject. Most salad leaves are about 4 days old when they get to the supermarket shelf. So there's a good chance that all the vitamin C will have gone from the leaves.

It does seem that vitamin C degrades very quickly. Once the bag is opened I would guess all the vitamin C will be gone within an hour or two.

On a positive note they found that other vitamins are more stable so these leaves are still good for you.

I don't know if you can find any more information about this?

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Interesting use of virtual reality to treat depression

Researchers at University of London and ICREA in Spain have used virtual reality goggles in an innovative approach to treating depression by helping patients feel more self compassion.

Fifteen patients were involved. They first watch a virtual reality body of themselves.  Then a virtual reality scene where their VR self comforted a distressed child until the child recovered. Then watch a scene where a compassionate adult comforted the VR self until they recover.

Nine of the 15 reported a reduction in depression symptoms and four reported a significant reduction in severe depression.


Friday, 12 February 2016

What was the essence of Gnostic Christian Teaching?

Early Christians were divided between gnostics and orthodox, or literalists.

Orthodox Christianity became the norm via the Catholic Church.

The essential difference between the two groups, I think, is that the gnostics sought to find 'god' within the self whilst still alive and the Jesus story is an allegory.

 The orthodox or literalists taught a need for church guidance to find God after you die and that the Jesus story is historical fact.

Freke and Gandy call this payment in advance with no guarantee.

A summary of the gnostic approach seems to be to step outside of everyday life and observe the soul. The soul in Greek, the language of early Christianity, is the psyche.

A contemporary meditation practise known as 'mindful meditation' or just mindfullness, teaches that we should step outside of ourselves and passively observe our stream of thoughts. Or passively become aware of the world around us without becoming involved. This can be combined with meditation practise such as focussing on the breathing.
(NHS description of mindfulness)

I wonder, what is the similarity between gnostic teaching and mindfulness...
What do you think?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Getting up (in the morning) tips

change your alarm to something you like
Get up early
Biologist Chris Randler claims people who get up early are more proactive. Probably means going to bed early. It does give you time to do enjoyable things before setting off to work. Perhaps routine can be made more enjoyable by being 'mindful'.

Eat a good breakfast
The NHS recommend things like muesli, oats, fruit and beans on toast.

Change your alarm... from the standard buzzer to something you like.

Do some exercise
Gentle or careful stretching is good and can be done sitting on the edge of the bed. OK if a thought that has just popped into my mind has also popped up into yours, it's the perfect excuse to wake up a bit earlier. And it's good for sciatica.

A reflection on a meditation in relation to Gnostic Christianity

Years ago I was taught to meditate by a Buddhist monk.

During a meditation I experienced a 'conjoining' or becoming one with God.

Reflecting back on that experience I realise that it was just a step on the way – so to speak.

Although it was an expansive experience the 'God' I conjoined with was an entity.

If I had continued meditation practise I might have gone beyond physical or imagined entities.

I do occasionally practise mindful meditation. I might argue that this keeps a person at the outer edge of meditative practice.

If you concentrate on one thing – breathing for example and when thoughts intrude just let them slip away, rather than observing them, you (with practise) will move into a deeper state.

This note has come from studying contemporary work (Freke & Gandy et al) on early Gnostic Christianity and puzzling on some of the sayings of the person known as Jesus.

If the writer of the allegorical Jesus story (Who we can still call Jesus as we might refer to a character in a story) was asking us to ponder on the mystical and puzzling sayings, this would be a form of Zen meditation.

But at this stage in my study I don't think s/he is. I think the Jesus/author is describing what happens as you move towards what Buddhists would call enlightenment.

I haven't grasped the process yet but I think it is an occidental mix of mindfulness and oriental Buddhist meditative practice.

Apologies if the words practise and practice r grammatically incorrect – this is a koan in itself.