Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Gen Eds H9a: Greeks and the Hellenistic Age

The ninth unit of world history in this series is "Waves of Conquest." We start off with the conquests of Alexander the Great and the Greeks that were before him.

This is part of my "General Education in a Nutshell" series. The series consists of ten subjects you might study in a general education or "liberal arts" core at a university or college. The first topic in the overall series was philosophy. So far in the world history section:
Alexander the Great
1. In the year 323BC, Alexander the Great died. He was almost 33 years old and in his short life had conquered the world all the way from Macedonia (above Greece) to the Indus River (in present day India). The world had never been connected in this configuration before, from Greece to India.

To be sure, the east had tried to stretch to Greece during the Persian wars of the early 400s BC. The Persian king Xerxes (husband of Esther in the Bible, ruled 519-466BC) tried to conquer Greece. But he failed, as we will mention below.

With the death of Alexander the Great, the Hellenistic Age began, the age of the Greek. Greek became the lingua franca, the "business language" of the world. This would continue throughout the Roman period. It is no surprise that when the apostle Paul writes Rome, he writes in Greek, not Latin. In fact, the Roman poet Horace (65-27BC) once wrote, "Captured Greece took captive her ferocious conqueror." [1] Rome may have taken over Greece militarily, but Greek language and ideas filled in the gaps of Roman culture.

When he was young, Alexander's father, king Philip of Macedon, hired the great philosopher Aristotle (385-23BC) to tutor his son. Under Aristotle's influence, Alexander took "scientists" of a sort on his military conquests to investigate the kinds of life they would encounter.

The Seleucids and the Ptolemies
2. After the premature death of Alexander, his kingdom was divided among his generals. Ptolemy I took Egypt (ruled 323-282BC). The native Egyptian leadership was displaced, meaning that the upper class of Egypt from this time on were Greek-speakers. Egypt was largely in control of Palestine also until the year 201BC.

The Jews were generally on good terms with these Greek Egyptians throughout this period. There had been a Jewish settlement in Egypt, even a Jewish temple at Elephantine there from the time of the Babylonian captivity in the 500s. [2] It was likely at Alexandria in Egypt that the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, were first translated into Greek. [3] This took place around the year 250BC.

3. A second general of Alexander, Seleucid I then took the eastern part of Alexander's conquests, from Babylon and Persia in the East eventually to Anatolia in the west (ruled from 305-281BC). He founded the city of Antioch in Syria that played such a key role in the earliest church (e.g., Acts 13:1).

The Seleucids tried to take Palestine more than once from the Egyptians but did not succeed until 301BC. [4] Jerusalem was thus largely under Greek-speaking Syrian influence until the Romans took control in 63BC. In the early 200s BC, Jerusalem was highly "hellenized" or Greek-ified. It was in danger of blurring into the broader culture of the day.

It was during this time that the Maccabean crisis took place. Daniel 11 describes many of the events of the early 100s BC in allusive terms. The book known as 1 Maccabees is the best historical source of information for these events. In 167BC, the Syrians demanded that the Jews stop observing the ethnic particulars of the Law, such as circumcision. The temple was defiled with pagan sacrifices.

A three year struggle of guerrilla warfare ensued, with a family that came to be known as the Maccabees the principal actors (macabee means "hammer"). Although they did not completely throw off Syrian rule, they did secure greater independence for Israel, with their family ruling as client kings under the Syrians down until the Romans took over in 63BC.

The temple was rededicated in 164BC, with Hanukkah (or the Feast of Dedication, see John 10:22) instituted to remember this restoration. This event is essential background for understanding the climate of Israel at the time of the New Testament. When Paul speaks of zeal for the law (e.g., Rom. 10:2), an image of the Maccabees should come to mind. If it were not for this crisis, we can wonder whether any Jews would have been paying any attention to their Scriptures at all at the time of Christ.

The Peloponnesian Wars
4. In Greece, the century leading up to the conquests of Alexander was one in which power shifted several times. The 300s BC began with Sparta in control. But it shifted to Thebes and eventually to Macedon under Alexander the Great's father, Philip of Macedon.

The late 400s BC had seen several decades of war between Athens and Sparta. Athens had been in control of most of Greece in the 400s, but it had been overly zealous in its thirst for control. This led to an intermittent war between Athens and Sparta from 431-404BC, from which the Spartans emerged victorious. [5] This briefly ended the democracy for which Athens is so well known. It also ended the Golden Age of Greece.

5. Nevertheless, it was during the 300s that Greek philosophy was at its high point. Socrates was commanded to commit suicide by drinking hemlock in 399BC. In the decades that followed, Plato would set up his Academy in Athens (in 387BC). After his death, Aristotle would set up his own school, the Lyceum, there (in 335BC).

After these two, the greatest philosophers of Greek history, the 200s would see several more philosophical schools founded. Zeno founded the Stoics around 300. They were known for the "stoa" where they met. Epicurus started his movement in a garden at about the same time.

The Persian Wars
6. Athens had come to dominate Greece in the early 400s because it had led "the Delian league" to defend Greece against the invasions of the Persians. [6] Sparta was also a key power in the defeat of the Persians.

In 490, the Persian king Darius (cf. Haggai 2; Zechariah 1; Ezra 6; Daniel 6) invaded Greece and confronted the Athenians at the Battle of Marathon. [7] Although they were vastly outnumbered, the Athenians were victorious.

Ten years later, Xerxes returned. In 481, a league was founded with the Spartans in control of the armies on land and the Athenians in charge of a fleet of ships by sea. Both were victorious. The Spartans (the 300) stopped the advance of Xerxes at a narrow pass at Thermopylae, while the Athenians beat the Persians in the waters around Athens in the Battle of Salamis.

The Persians were finally defeated for good in 479BC at the Battle of Plateia.

7. In the years that followed, Athens would set up the Delian League in 478 and be the dominant force in Greece during this period. They would however abuse this power leading to the Peloponnesian War and Athens' ultimate defeat by the Spartans in 404.

The dominant leader in Athens in this "Golden Age" was Pericles, who was the dominant political leader of Athens from about 461-29BC. It was he that had the Parthenon build on the Acropolis. And he fostered democracy among the males of the city to an extent that would not repeat itself until modern times. He is known for being a great orator.

It was also during this period that the great dramas of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides were performed in Athens at yearly festivals.

The Trojan War
8. In the same period that Rome was shifting from kings to a republic, Athens was slowly empowering its people. It has some harsh rulers in the 600s and 500s. We get the word "draconian" from Draco, a ruler in the 600s known for his harshness. In the early 500s, Solon is known as the great lawgiver of Athens, who gave voice to the lower classes of Athenian society. They were now able to vote in the "ekkesia," the Greek assembly.

But it would not be until Cleisthenes in 510 that democracy would truly stick. It was briefly interrupted in 411 and 404, but would continue until Philip of Macedon took control of all Greece in 337BC.

9. But there are of course tales of Greece from even earlier times. The Mycenaean Age was the age of the Trojan Wars (ca. 1200BC) between Greece and Troy, which was located on the northwest tip of Anatolia (Turkey). This was Bronze Age Greece, which came to an end around 1100BC, starting a kind of "Dark Ages" in Greece history down until the time of classical Greece.

In the Mycenaean period, Greece consisted of a number of "city-states" ruled by kings. Key cities include of course Mycenae, but also Thebes, Corinth, and Athens, which was not a dominant city at this time. It is about this period that "Homer" wrote in The Iliad and The Odyssey. Of course these stories were no doubt passed on orally for generations and only written down in their current form around 700 BC. Whether the genius who finally gave them their current form was named Homer, we cannot say for certain. 

In the story of the Trojan War, the wife of Menelaus is abducted by one of the sons of the Trojan king and taken back to Troy. A war ensues for her recovery. After ten years, the Greeks pretend that they are leaving but leave a wooden horse as a gift to the goddess Athena. The Trojans take the horse into the city not knowing that there are Greeks inside. At night, the Greeks open the gate and allow the Greek army in, resulting in the destruction of the city and the victory of the Greeks. From this we get the expression, a "Trojan horse."

10. The exact causes of the collapse of Mycenaean culture is not exactly known. [8] Some refer to a "Dorian" invasion that would especially take root in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. Others refer to the conquests of the "sea peoples" that we know as the Phoenicians. They are likely the peoples we know from the Bible as the Philistines, and they would settle north Africa at Carthage. They would seem to be a Semitic people.

We know that these sea peoples used iron, and thus were technologically more advanced than the users of bronze they conquered. Some of the conflicts in the books of Samuel in the Old Testament reflect this transition.

  • Guys like to go to war. Deal with it or else get defeated by the next Cro-Magnon to come along.
  • Movements often disappear on their own by natural attrition as their initial enthusiasts die off. They are often strengthened or reinvigorated by opposition.
  • People fight harder to defend their own lands and families than to conquer some distant one.
  • If you ever gain power, don't abuse it. If you treat those who are vulnerable to your power with respect (without making yourself vulnerable), you will reign long.
  • Technological advances often accompany historical victors.
Next Week: History 9b: Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians

[1] Epistles 2.1

[2] A simplistic version of Jewish history might find it odd that Jews would accept a temple somewhere other than Jerusalem. But it is not likely that the doctrine of one temple was firmly established at the time when Jerusalem was destroyed in 586BC, the time when the Diaspora or scattering of Jews was most strongly taking place. We should not think that the typical Diaspora Jew had the fully mature theology of the Old Testament as we know it. In fact, it is unlikely that the Pentateuch was in its current form at that time, let alone the other parts of the Old Testament.

[3] Called the "Septuagint" for the legend that seventy old men translated it. The earliest version of this legend is found in the pseudonymous, Letter of Aristeas. Pseudonymous means written under a fictive name.

[4] The Romans were already powerful enough in the year 175BC to keep the Seleucids from completely conquering Egypt. Egypt would quickly become Rome's main supplier of grain.

[5] The Greek historian Thucydides tells of the conflict in great detail in his Peloponnesian Wars.

[6] Herodotus, sometimes called the father of history writing, records these wars in his The Histories.

[7] The marathon gets its name from the fact that Phidippides ran the 26.2 miles from Marathon back to Athens to give news of the victory. According to the legend, he died after delivering the news.

[8] Minoan culture, on the island of Crete south of Greece, had ended around 1400, also for unknown reasons.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

8. Big Words for a Coward

The next chapter of Konrad Heiden's 1944 book, Der Fuehrer, is "The Beer Hall Putsch." My reviews of the first eight chapters were:
1. On November 8-9, 1923, Hitler finally rode the wave of his rhetoric to its necessary destination. He gathered about 3000 discontent and made a bid to make Germany great again by throwing out its current leaders. He of course had given his word more than once that he would not make a “putsch,” a coup to overthrown the legitimate government. But he would later claim that a putsch was always the plan.

At first the plan was to install the Crown Prince Rupprecht as king. If not for WW1, he would already be king of Bavaria. Those in control were largely monarchists anyway. Kahr, the current leader of Bavaria, was one. Hitler knew he would have the support of the resident war hero, Ludendorff, even if they did not speak beforehand.

But on the day the Crown Prince was to speak, he was too well guarded. The plan had been to go up to him and inform him that he was being restored as king and it was expected that the others would go along, since so many favored that result anyway. Hitler’s co-conspirators—Rosenberg from Russia and Max Richter—believed that taking control of the state’s police power was the first step toward national revolution. Restoring the king was seen as a way to that end.

2. The next opportunity was a night when Kahr was giving a speech at the Bürgerbräu Keller, one of the larger beer halls in Munich. Hitler first gained the support of the Munich police. Ernst Pöhner had always protected him, and Pöhner put a sympathetic official named Frick in charge the night of November 8.

So while Kahr was giving his speech, six hundred storm troops surrounded the beer hall. The police were told not to interfere. Hitler stood on a chair and shot his gun in the air. A machine gun was set up in the entrance. He was later said to have the expression of a madman, not calm and in control of himself, perhaps when all is said and done, quite afraid.

He bluffed out lies. “The national revolution has begun.” He said that the Reichswehr army and the police were marching throughout the city under the swastika banner, which was not true. He claimed that Ludendorff was in on the plan when he had no knowledge of these events. Of course he was game once he was brought to the scene.

3. The leaders of the city played along after Ludendorff arrived. Kahr was willing to be shot before then. Others to whom Hitler had promised never to putsch went along too—Lossow and Seisser. They all played along—or perhaps more likely, for a moment they were truly tempted to go along. A great number of the three thousand in attendance were enthusiastic about returning the monarchy to Bavaria and creating a national government.

Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser were allowed to leave, but now they hear from Berlin, from their superiors. Berlin has met. The broader army of the Reichswehr will not let this putsch stand. And Lossow had let this nobody civilian, a former corporal, Hitler, point a gun at him, a general, and call him a coward.

Now comes the reversal. Hitler had left to settle some resistance at one of the barracks, which opened the space in which Kahr and Lossow left. When he returns to the Bürgerbräu, they are gone. The minutes go by. He increasingly feels like things have gone amiss.

He begins to cower. He tries to send word to the Crown Prince asking for pardon of himself at Ludendorff. The emissary can’t find a car. By the time it arrives all is over.

4. Ludendorff is no coward. They will march on the city. Rudolf Hess flees with two of the lesser ministers in a car. He drives around, threatening to shoot them at the side of the road until he learns all is lost. Then he walks across the mountain into Austria. Hermann Göring seems keen on shooting hostages. He tells the police he will bash all their heads in if they shoot on them. He intersperses them among the troops.

But Hitler dismisses them at one point. He says later that he wanted no martyrs. He seems to be losing his resolve the longer into the affair it goes. Maybe he didn’t want to be shot.

They are on an ally coming into Odeonsplatz. Someone hears Hitler shout, “Surrender, surrender!” Someone tries to say not to shoot because His Excellency Ludendorff is coming. Who knows, if he had left off the “His Excellency” part they might not have fired.

But fire they did. Of the front row, only Richter was dead. His arm interlocked with Hitler may have pulled him to the ground. Most of the leaders dropped out of fear. Only Ludendorff and one other kept walking forward through the police line. The fourteen who died were almost all nobodies behind the leaders. Hitler scrambled off to a get-away car—the first to run away.

The putsch was a failure.

5. The economic and political conditions of Germany very quickly got better, and Hitler’s moment for revolution was over. France changed government and withdrew from the Ruhr. England, France, and Germany reached an agreement on the limits of reparations. The German currency was stabilized.

Meanwhile, those who judged the participants in the putsch were sympathetic to Hitler’s cause. Ludendorff was completely let off the hook. Hitler only ended up spending eight months in prison, during which time he wrote Mein Kampf. His trial actually gave him a platform in the media from which to give his agenda and to place himself as someone who could lead that glorious, nationalist future. What was he other than a destroyer of Marxism?

He was a great man, and what could great men do but be great?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday Paul 4

From last week
So Paul had no interest in Gentiles back then. They might as well all die when the Messiah defeated the Romans or else take their proper place as servants of the Jews. Or so he said with his mouth. Those were his conscious thoughts and words.

But there was this gnawing at him somewhere deep inside. As a child, despite the mocking of his family, somewhere down deep, he admired these "poor" Gentile God-fearers. "How sad," he felt somewhere inside, "that these non-Jews loved the one true God so much and yet were not born, by God's choice, as Jews." He had never said those words. It was the passing, unarticulated feeling of a young boy.

Now this sect of Jesus-followers had arisen. The Pharisee in him wanted to shut them up as enemies of God, although not all Pharisees felt this way. There were a few Pharisees that he suspected were sympathetic to the movement. These Pharisees believed that Jesus was the coming king. They believed that he had risen from the dead and was soon coming back with ten thousand angels to redeem Jerusalem from the Romans.

One of them named Nicodemus was quite open about joining the movement. He still followed the traditions of the elders and ate according to Pharisaic standards of purity. But he had been ostracized from eating with the haberim of Jerusalem. This was a group of Pharisees that only ate together according to the highest kosher standard.

What had really alarmed Saul was when the movement caught fire among the Greek-speaking Jews of Jerusalem. The first followers had boldly proclaimed that Jesus was the anointed one, the Messiah, but they were more of a nuisance than anything. It annoyed Saul that they seemed to have the power to heal the sick. Why didn't he have that power? The people were flocking to these Jesus-followers. Why didn't they flock to him? Deep down, he was jealous.

And how absurd, the idea that the anointed one would die on a cross, the consummate tool of Roman humiliation! It was scandalous! It was abhorrent!

But when the movement spread to Greek-speaking Jews, it seemed even more dangerous. Many of these individuals were born out in the Diaspora, like Paul was. These were the people Paul wanted to distance himself from. This was the part of Paul he wanted to deny existed. He despised them because they reminded him of himself.

And now they too were flocking to this Jesus. They were louder about it than the Aramaic speaking followers of Jesus from Galilee. Uncouth, he thought. They were making such ground in the Synagogue of the Freedmen that the Jewish ruling council, the Sanhedrin, sent Saul to serve as a spy of sorts, to see if he could subvert the movement...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Seminary PL33: Time Management

This is the second post on church administration in my "Seminary in a Nutshell" series. In this series, I first did a section on the Person and Calling of a Minister. Now this is the thirty-third post in a section on the Pastor as a Leader (see at the bottom).

The previous post gave one perspective on kinds of habits that a good administrators and managers have. This post gives some more tips.
1. Another classic in management and administration is Ken Blanchard's One Minute Manager. Here is a collection of tips from the book:
  • Take at least a minute a day to look into the faces of the people who work with you.
  • Something is wrong if the people above you in the organization think you are great but the people below you think you are horrible.
  • It's not either results or people. It's both.
  • "People who feel good about themselves produce results" (13)
  • Productivity is both quality and quantity.
  • Meet with the team, perhaps once a week.
  • A good manager makes it clear what those under her supervision are supposed to do, and that is what they are held accountable for.
  • A goal should be able to fit in 250 words.
  • 80% of the really important results of an organization will come from 20% of your goals (which should be in a person's key area of responsibility).
  • Identify problems in behavioral terms that are observable and measurable.
  • Agree with those under your supervision on what the goals are.
  • When you have a goal, revisit it regularly to see if you are making progress. Blanchard suggests writing it down but there are now electronic means.
  • Always praise others when they do something well. "Help people reach their full potential. Catch them doing something right" (23).
  • Supervisees should know that you are going to tell them how they are doing. And tell them. Give them a moment to feel approval or redirection.
  • Good managers give clear reprimands when someone under their supervision does something wrong. It is a brief reprimand that you feel and then it's over. The moment ends with reaffirmation.
  • The most effective minutes a supervisor has is the one he or she invests in people.
  • "We are not just our behavior. We are the person managing our behavior" (51).
  • "Goals begin behavior. Consequences maintain behaviors" (54).
2. Blanchard's book is not exactly on time management, although we would no doubt free up a lot of time if we followed its basic ideas. Because he emphasizes trust of your employees, clear goals with clear praise and correction, a lot of time would be freed up in supervision. A lot of time wasted in lack of clarity would be freed up.

For more conventional time management, I close out this post with notes from 15 Secrets Productive People Know about Time Management: The Productivity Habits of 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs. Here are some of the main points of the book, put in my words with my expansions:
  • Make every minute count. I should add that some purely "always be doing stuff" approach will not be as productive for most people as a day that includes social interaction, breaks, and so forth.
  • Time is your most important asset. There are 1440 minutes in a day. Know your every minute and where it is going.
  • Before you take on a new project, know how many minutes of your time it's going to take and whether you have them to give.
  • Have an MIT every day, a "most important task." Prioritize. 
  • Within each day, what are the tasks that will lead to achieve the MIT? Which one do I need to be doing right now?
  • Work on your number 1 priority in the first part of your day. Don't allow for interruptions (email, etc).
  • Work from a calendar, not a to-do list. Schedule tasks on your calendar ("time blocking"). Treat them like appointments. Schedule important things early in day. Don't cancel; reschedule.
  • Procrastination is a battle with yourself in five minutes. How can you sabotage your future self? How can you beat yourself when you know that in ten minutes you are going to procrastinate something you ultimately want or need to do?
  • Learn to accept that there will always be more to do. Don't feel like a failure because you go home from work without everything done.
  • Always carry a notebook. I'm laughing to myself because I have been doing a lot of the things in this book now for a few years. I'm not there yet, but this list is cracking me up.
  • Process email three times a day. Give 21 minutes to each session (321 method). 
  • Use "4Ds" with email: do it, delegate it, defer it, delete it (or archive). You might also file it.
  • Think twice before forwarding, blind copying, etc. Keep emails short. Deal with all email in 48 hours.
  • Put the action in the subject line (FYI, ACTION REQUIRED, No response needed, EOM--end of message, when the subject line is all there is to the email).
  • Treat meetings as a last resort. Start them on time. Make sure the right people are there and not the wrong people. Don't let the trivial take over. Don't let the wrong people dominate the meeting. Make sure they are scheduled at good times. Alternatively, I have also found that regular meetings can also serve as dedicated time to advance long term, quadrant II goals.
  • Say no, especially to things that do not advance your immediate goals. Every yes is a no to something else. "Beware of distant elephants." They may look small now... :-)
  • Eighty percent of the results will come from twenty percent of the action. This was also in Blanchard above. As you approach your life, your time, your work, where should your twenty percent focus be. Start there, focus there, and then branch into the other eighty percent.
  • Drop, delegate, or redesign. What activities can I drop entirely. What items can I delegate? What activities do I need to do but can redesign to do in a more time-efficient way? Play to your strengths and passions, not your weaknesses.
  •  Theme your days. Dedicate certain days to certain types of tasks. 
  • "Highly successful people take immediate action on almost every item they encounter." If a task can be completed in less than five minutes, do it immediately.
  • Invest the first 60 minutes of your day in activities that invigorate your mind, body, and spirit. Getting right to work isn't always the most efficient use of your time in the long run. Set your alarm accordingly. Sounds like devotions, a run, blogging. :-)
  • Productivity is about energy and focus, not time. That means good health. That means breaks. That means enough sleep.
  • The author gives some more tips even after he has reached fifteen. Capture, calendar, concentrate.
  • "Done is better than perfect." :-)
Next Week: Pastor as Leader 34: Project Management

Leadership in General
Strategic Planning
Church Management
Conflict Management
Church Administration

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

7. His Brand is Crisis

On to the next chapter of Konrad Heiden's 1944 book, Der Fuehrer, titled, "War on the Ruhr." My reviews of the first seven chapters were:
1. 1923 was clearly a pivotal year for Hitler. 1923 threatened his attempt to start a movement in a very key way--Germany was in danger of stabilizing. Hitler had no power if people weren't angry, if the people weren't crying for revolution of some sort. It hardly mattered what the revolt was about. It just needed to be something.

For these reasons, Hitler didn't need to be consistent about who the enemy was or what the threat was. He could shift from one to another. The key was that the discontent continued. The material used to stoke the fire was almost immaterial.

In a sense, the crisis didn't even have to be real. The key was that people felt it was real. It is not a situation for reason but for passion.

2. The French were the major fuel in this chapter. There are important lessons about how you deal with the conquered here. Heiden says that "Among the foreign conquerors, they [the Americans] alone had given the German population the feeling that understanding was still possible between victor and vanquished, a return to peace without bitterness and vengeance" (162).

When you use your current power to beat an enemy down, you are often sowing the seeds of your own future demise.

The British were less friendly but at least had the good of the region in view. Their key interest in post-World War I was the stability and security of the region. It was thus important to them that multiple countries had access to the North Sea, not just France. British self-interest also led them to oppose France taking the coal-rich region to the west of the Rhine river, the Ruhr. England needed to sell coal to France, which they couldn't do if France itself was in control of coal mines. On this issue, the British were with the Germans.

3. But the French leadership had a winner take all approach. The French people wanted no more war--something Hitler knew and would later use to his advantage. But the French leadership wanted France to expand to the Rhine. There were strikes in this 'Ruhr" region against the French occupation, but they hurt Germans more in the end than France.

Hitler's worst fear at this time was that the French would return the land to Germany. He needed that outrage to fuel his fire. But instead, Germany finally yielded. Yes--the imperialism of France kept the fuels of revolution burning.

4. World War I left Germany and Austria vastly diminished. Poland was created as a country, and the Polish enjoyed their new found freedom to the disadvantage of Germans living there. Czechoslovakia was also newly created. They were friendlier to their Germans but still a thorn in Hitler's side. Italy now had territory that had once been Austria's, but Hitler urged to let that go because he wanted the Fascist Italians under Mussolini on his side.

For a time, the situation on the Ruhr enabled people like Hitler to have weapons. But when it was over, he had to return them. This was a moment when his movement was in danger by reason of stability.

5. For a time, he took aim at the communists. He begged the leader of the German police in Munich (the Reichswehr) to let his group have weapons. He aimed to shoot up a peaceful communist rally. He was refused and threw a tantrum. With the help of his allies in the Reichswehr (Epp, Rohm), he took some anyway. Thankfully he chickened out. Instead he went to a Reichswehr camp and tried to get more people on his side. He failed, was surrounded, was forced to return the weapons.

His movement was very vulnerable. Sanity was in danger of prevailing. He needed crisis.

6. Hitler seems to have certain narcissistic personality traits. When you are agreeing with him, when he needs to get something from you, he is nice, quiet. He acts submissive. But if you disagree with him, he goes crazy. He makes promises to someone, but then breaks them and says the other person is to blame for it.

The moderates in leadership think they can use him. They don't want to destroy him, only keep him in check for their own purposes. Mistake. "They employed the illusory, halfway methods which have destroyed so many moderate rulers who thought that they could make pacts with extremists and use them as tools" (178).

They keep trying to bring the crazy Hitler back to reality, to the realm of facts. But you don't reason with a crazy man.

4. Underlying all this is a mass of malcontents, including former soldiers who are unemployed. They are desperate, a pressure cooker in need of a release valve. And Hitler had only stoked their fires. Either he must give them a release or they might even consume him.

This was an interesting dynamic to the chapter. The demagogue stokes the fires of revolution. There's a point where even the demagogue cannot back off. The fires cannot be stopped. Hitler promised the head of the Reichswehr in Munich, some man named Lossow, that he would not lead a revolt, a coup, a putsch, as it is called in German.

Lossow's response was prescient: "If you continue your propaganda in its present form, it will inevitably lead to a violent explosion some day, whatever your intentions. You can't just go on talking for years, some day you will have to act" (155)

Monday, January 09, 2017

Monday Paul 3

From last week
... So why couldn't the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah also atone for the sins of a Roman governor, even if he did not fully convert to Judaism?

Admittedly, Paul had not started his mission work with this understanding fully in place. It started as a question in the back of his mind, even in the very first year that he came to believe Jesus was the Messiah. But it would take some time to percolate and emerge in its full form.

It all started fifteen years previous, when he was still a Pharisee. As a Pharisee, he was quite zealous to force all Jews to keep the Law of Moses in all its details. And it was not enough to get them to keep what it said. They had to keep all the traditions that the fathers had passed down about how to live out the Law of Moses in everyday life.

So it was not enough for everyone to think that they were keeping the Sabbath day. It was not allowed for everyone to come up with their own sense of what it meant to work or not work. The fathers had debated this question already. The Pharisees might still debate some details, but they needed to get all Jews on the same page with them.

Paul saw this task as the key to the Messiah coming. If Israel would just keep the Law, God would send a king to overthrow the Romans and restore the kingdom to Israel.

So Paul could not have been further away from preaching to Gentiles when he was a Pharisee. As a child, he had known some Gentiles in the synagogue at Tarsus. "God-fearers," they called them. But his family talked badly about them and never socialized with them. "If they were really serious about God," his father used to say, "they would go ahead and get circumcised."

So Paul had no interest in Gentiles back then. They might as well all die when the Messiah defeated the Romans or else take their proper place as servants of the Jews...

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Seminary PL32: Habits of Effective Administrators

This is the first post on church administration in my "Seminary in a Nutshell" series. In this series, I first did a section on the Person and Calling of a Minister. Now this is the thirty-second post in a section on the Pastor as a Leader (see at the bottom).

The previous post was about unifying a diverse congregation. This post begins the final section of this series on the pastor as a leader: church administration.
Church Administration
1. We have spent a good deal of time looking at aspects of pastoral leadership and management. Leadership has to do with setting a course that others follow. It has to do with strategic vision and influencing a congregation to move in a certain direction. Management has to do with the high level operations of the church--how is it structured, how its parts interrelate to each other. Management is about making sure that the pieces of the church are all doing what they are supposed to do.

We finish out this leadership series with several entries relating to more mundane administration, although some of our remaining topics might also be classified as management. By administration, we are referring to the day to day operations of a church or organization. Someone has to enter data into spreadsheets. Someone has to issue checks. Someone has to maintain the website. For the purposes of this series, I am calling management those who make sure these tasks get done, and I am calling administration those who do them. [1]

2. A classic book on the kinds of habits that good leaders have is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. As these are central administrative skills, they seem like a good place to start this section on administration.

Managers are heavily involved in administrative tasks. It is almost inevitable that someone who is chosen to manage will have natural administrative skills. By contrast, not all leaders are gifted administrators or managers. If administration is a weakness for a leader, that weakness will still need to be managed, either by surrounding that person with the right kind of support or by developing coping mechanisms.

3. The first habit that Covey suggests an effective person will have is that of being proactive. To be proactive is to be ready. You see what is coming or what might come, and you are ready for it. Some of us enjoy a crisis--it makes us feel needed. But a church or organization that moves from crisis to crisis, when those crisis might have been avoided, is not a healthy church.

For example, there is usually an ebb and flow to giving in a church. Those who oversee the spending of the church should be well aware of these cycles and be prepared. You save in the "fat" months so you can survive in the "lean" months.

The same goes for church attendance. Church attendance in Florida tends to be very seasonal. A congregation may swell two or three times in winter when those from the north come down. Some then shrink to a few dozen in the summer. A good manager/administrator foresees these patterns and prepares accordingly.

You may have heard the expression, "The man with the plan is the man with the power." If you have not done your homework, if you have not prepared for possible objections, if you do not have contingency plans, the person who does will probably win the day. You have an event scheduled. What if it rains? Who is going to put out the chairs, or put them away?

4. Covey distinguishes between my "circle of concern" and my "circle of influence." The difference he makes is that the circle of influence involves things I can actually change and impact. I may be concerned about many things that I have no control over. On such things, I can only change my attitude. So I should focus on those things that I can actually influence. If I do, my circle of influence will expand.

A parting piece of advice in this section is to keep your commitments. Don't make commitments you can't keep and make sure you keep your commitments. If you don't, you won't be asked to make a commitment next time. Keeping your commitments expands your circle of influence.

5. The second habit is beginning with the end in mind. He talks a lot about mission statements and inappropriate objects for our "centeredness." From a Christian perspective, God-centeredness is the most appropriate centeredness. We love our spouse, but our spouse and family are not as central to our lives as God. We love our work. We love our church. We love our friends, but God is the center. Covey aims at being "principle centered," but we can correlate that to being God-centered as Christians. Obviously being pleasure or possession or self-centered or enemy-centered it deeply inappropriate from a Christian perspective as well.

We can perhaps best appropriate this section of Covey by suggesting administratively that good leadership, management, and administrative is outcomes oriented. It asks what the goal is before it starts. Covey suggests that leadership toward a goal takes place in your mind before management then implements those plans in the real world.

6. The third habit is to put first things first. In this section Covey gives the very helpful distinction between the four quadrants of a person's life. The first quadrant consists of things that are both urgent and important. We will obviously need to focus the brunt of our time on these. If we are proactive, we will not find ourselves living here every day, in crisis mode.

Quadrant II activities are important but not urgent. These tend to be put off for another day. A proactive person does not let these get to Quadrant I in a crisis. You set aside time to work on them so that the crisis never comes. Sometimes you have to get away, take a weekend and go somewhere to crank it out. Sometimes you can set aside a day in the office a week or an hour a day. But these important activities need to be made a priority before they turn into a Quadrant I crisis.

Quadrant III activities are urgent but not important. They are urgent. they need to be done. But they will not change the destiny of the church. These activities are prime activities for delegation. If a senior leader or manager finds him or herself doing too much of these sorts of activities, the organization is disfunctional.

Quadrant IV activities are neither urgent nor important. These are the time wasters. Of course we might mistake some activities for this category that really are important. Time around the coffee pot, within reason, builds relationships, helps clarify direction, and so forth. Everyone needs a break. Sometimes a few minutes blowing off steam can help you focus when you resume working.

But Facebook, Candy Crush, cable news--very limited amounts of time should be given to these sorts of activities, if at all. Even email should be managed. Email is part of the work these days, but not every email. You can create notifications to tell you when an email from a important person come through--you don't want to miss those!

You do not have to answer every email right away, and you do not need to get sucked into (or create) unnecessary email conversations. On the other hand, you should at least access your emails within 24 hours. Being able to handle email is an essential skill for an administrator. If you are someone who does not respond to important emails quickly, you may soon cease to be part of the decision making process.

7. The fourth habit is win-win. This approach asks, "What's in it for the person I'm trying to convince?" A person with enough power can do what he or she wants without considering the other person, but usually there are limits to this sort of power. Eventually there is revolution or firing.

But it's not a Christian way of thinking, which does to others as you would have others do to you. Basically, consider the feelings of others and the impact of your actions on others. Even if you are not an extrovert, even if you do not particularly need much fellowship, set aside time to talk to those you work with. Ask about the well-being of your employees and co-workers. Mean it. Just because it doesn't come naturally doesn't mean you aren't sincere. We are social beings. Be social.

8. Understand first, then be understood. There is a natural human tendency to jump to conclusions. We do it as parents. We do it listening to the latest media sound bite. Good leaders, managers, and administrators make sure they understand the situation before they start making decisions. "Diagnose, then prescribe." You don't want to take too long before acting if there is a crisis. That's a problem of a different sort. But you need to look before you leap.

9. Synergize. Covey here is looking for ways in which individuals in some relationship with each other can combine their energies together in such a way that the whole is bigger than any of the parts. It is so easy for adversarial relationships to develop between leaders-employees, faculty-administration, pastor-individuals in congregation. Compromise is better than a wise-lose situation, but synergy is better yet (win-win).

In a slightly different vein, there is only so much you can do in an organization, so hit has many birds with each stone that you can. Look for synergies. Look for multiple things you can accomplish with each action. To riff on a saying by Don McGavran, there are many things a church or organization could do, but what are the things it should be doing.

There are "opportunity costs." If you take one opportunity, you are inevitably turning down another. What are the opportunities you should take? You can't do everything.

10. Sharpen the saw. This final habit has to do with recharging your batteries. In another part of the series, we mentioned the importance of sabbath for a minister. You may be a machine, but you're not going to do anything if you have no power. Take time for vacation. Take time for family. Take time especially for God. You'll get more done in an hour with a good night's rest than in three hours of work with no sleep.

Next Week: Pastor as Leader 33: Time Management

[1] In another categorization, everyone who is not in the congregation might be considered "administrative."

Leadership in General
Strategic Planning
Church Management
Conflict Management

Friday, January 06, 2017

Friday Gen Eds MS12: The Forces of Motion

This is the twelfth post in the math/science part of my "Gen Eds in a Nutshell" series. The Gen Ed series consists of ten subjects you might study in a general education or "liberal arts" core at a university or college. I've already done the subject of philosophy, and I'm over half way through the world history subject on Wednesdays. I'm combining the last two on math and science into one series on Fridays.

Thus far in the math/science subjects:
Four Fundamental Forces
1. At present, physics talks about four basic forces in nature. The one most familiar to us is gravity, although we will ask in a later post if gravity is really a force or rather the curvature of space around massive objects. Some suggest it is based on an as yet undiscovered particle, the "graviton."

The second force we recognize the most is the electromagnetic force, which is the basis for electricity and magnetism. These are the forces that hold atoms together. These are the forces that cause friction. Ultimately, this force is behind how we move things around or how things react chemically with each other.

The other two forces have to do with the nucleus of atoms and so, while they are absolutely essential to existence, they are completely foreign to our experience. The strong nuclear force is what holds the protons of the nucleus together, even though they have the same charge. The weak nuclear force is what causes a nuclear process by which a neutron decays into a proton. [1]

Newton's Three Laws
2. In the 1600s, Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) set forth three "laws" relating to force and motion. We mentioned the first law in the previous entry. A body at rest wants to stay at rest, and a body in motion wants to stay in motion. The reason this does not happen is because of gravity (the things we throw forward fall to the ground and so cannot continue forward) and friction. We mentioned in the previous entry that the reason we fly off a merry-go-round or slide to the side in a car is the fact that our bodies want to stay in motion in the direction they were headed.

3. Newton's second law is often summarized in the formula F = ma. Force equals mass times acceleration. Another way to express the second law is that force is the instantaneous rate of change in the momentum of an object. We know momentum as the fact that our bodies want to stay in motion. If we are running down a hill, we may find it hard to stop because our body has momentum.

Momentum can be expressed by the formula p = mv, momentum equals mass times velocity. Another quantity is known as impulse, which is force multiplied by the amount of time the force is applied.

Another law is the conservation of momentum. The amount of combined momentum before a collision, for example, equals the combined momentum after a collision.

4. Newton's third law is often captured in the statement--"For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." So when a bug hits the windshield of your car, the force it acts on the windshield equals the force the windshield pushes back on it. But because the car is so much more massive than the bug (F = ma), it experiences a negligible deceleration (negative acceleration). But the bug experiences a massive deceleration with its tiny mass, causing it to go splat.

Although it may be counterintuitive, the floor is pushing back up on us (the "normal" force) to the same extent as our weight is pushing down on the floor. That is why we do not fall through. This might be a good point to mention that weight is a force and is technically different from mass. Mass has to do with how much "stuff" something consists of. Weight, on the other hand, is the force of gravity on that mass.

So our weight will be different on different planets because the force of gravity will be different. This is why we can jump farther distances on the moon. If we substitute g (the acceleration due to gravity) for a in the formula F = ma, we have the formula that our weight = mg.

Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation
5. Newton discovered that every object in the universe exerts a gravitational force on every other object in the universe. In particular, he discovered that this force decreased in relation to the square of the distance between the two objects. And it increased in relation to the two masses times each other. The formula looks like this:

F = Gm1m2/r2

The force of gravity between two bodies equals a constant (the number 6.67 x 10-11) times the product of the two masses, divided by the distance between them squared.

So the reason the earth holds us to the ground is because it is so massive. The moon is less massive, so its gravitational pull on us would be less.

Work, Power, and Kinetic Energy
6. In terms of motion, physics defines work as the distance for which a force is applied, so W = Fd. The standard unit of force is the newton, named for the scientist, so a unit of work might be the "newton-meter," which is also called a "joule" of work.

7. Another distinction often mentioned at this point in your physics journey is the distinction between potential energy and kinetic energy. Potential energy has to do with a situation where work is "waiting" to be done, where energy is on the verge of being set in motion. Let's say I am holding a rock in the air. If I let loose, it will fall. We might say it has a certain potential energy that can easily be put into motion as kinetic energy, the energy of motion. Similarly, if I have a wound up rubber band, it is ready to exchange its potential energy for kinetic energy and work done.

The formula for kinetic energy is 1/2mv2.

The relationship between kinetic energy and work can be expressed in what is called the work-energy theorem: the total work done equals the change in kinetic energy at the beginning and end or Wtot = K2 - K1 = ∆K. This also embodies another law, the law of conservation of energy. The total energy before and after any event or process will always be the same, even though some of the energy is effectively "lost" as heat (see entry covering the second law of thermodynamics).

8. Power is another category in this discussion, often expressed in watts. One watt is one joule of work being done per second. So power is the change in work done per time or P = W/t . Another way to express this is force times velocity.

Rotation and Force

9. The same basic rules apply to rotational motion as to straight line motion. For example, if we substitute the "angular" distance covered (θ) for the straight line distance and we substitute the "angular" velocity (ω) for the straight line velocity, we find the same distance and velocity equations apply to circular motion as to straight line motion. E.g., θ2 = θ1 + ω1t + 1/2at2.

By angular distance, I mean the angle in radians that a point has moved along the circle (in effect, the number of "radiuses" traveled along the circumference of the circle). Angular velocity is usually just the number of radians per second. The formula for the kinetic energy of a rotating body is directly analogous to the formula for straight line motion K = 1/2Iω2, where I is called the "moment of inertia." It is basically a way of expressing how the mass of a body functions in relation to it spinning on some axis. There are formulas for calculating what it would be depending on the shape of the body and where the axis is that you are rotating it around

10. Torque refers to a force exerted on something you are causing to rotate, such as when you exert force on a wrench to try to turn a bolt. The torque is the force you exert times the "lever arm," where the lever arm is the distance between the point of rotation and the "line of action" where you are exerting the force.

Summary of Formulas
  • momentum: p = mv
  • impulse: J = Ft
  • kinetic energy: KE = 1/2mv2
  • work: W = Fd
  • power: P = W/t
Next Week: Math/Science 13: Electromagnetism

[1] In the early history of the universe (about 10-12 seconds after creation), the electromagnetic and weak forces were probably merged in an "electroweak" force. Even earlier than then (10-34 seconds after creation), the electroweak force was probably combined with the strong force in a grand unified force of some kind. The search for this grand unified force continues.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Gadamer - Introduction 2

Previously on Gadamer

... These questions may seem to be invalid in the face of the upper hand that modern science has in the current delineation and philosophical basis for the concepts of knowledge and truth. And yet even within the sciences it cannot be avoided. The phenomenon of understanding not only pulls through all human relations to the world. It also has independent validity within science and contradicts the attempt to reinterpret it in terms of a scientific method. The investigations that follow are based on these contradictions, which assert themselves within modern science against the universal claim of scientific methodology. Our concern is to search everywhere for the experience of truth, which exceeds the realm under the control of scientific methodology, and to ask where and on what [experience] finds its own legitimation. Thus the "spiritual sciences" [1] are connected with areas of experience which lie outside science--with the experience of philosophy, with the experience of art and with the experience of history itself. These are all areas of experience in which the truth is revealed but cannot be verified with the methodical means of science. [2]

[1] Geisteswissenschaften, the studies of the arts and humanities, as it were, the non-sciences which would include philosophy, theology, etc.

[2] I perceive Gadamer here to be locating the humanities and the arts outside the realm of scientific methodology. In fact, he seems to be subsuming the sciences within experience in a way that anticipates Kuhn and others.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Gen Eds H8b: The Roman Republic

Oath of the Horatii, by David
The eighth unit of world history in this series is "The Age of Rome." This is my second post in that unit.

This is part of my "General Education in a Nutshell" series. The series consists of ten subjects you might study in a general education or "liberal arts" core at a university or college. The first topic in the overall series was philosophy. So far in the world history section:
The Founding of the Republic
1. According to legend, Rome was founded in the year we would call 753BC. In the Aeneid, Virgil has his hero, Aeneas, flee the defeated city of Troy with the destiny of coming to the area where Rome would be founded. [1] Aeneas has a vision of his descendant Romulus founding the city. He thus gave Rome a heritage as old as that of the Greeks, and made the dominance of Rome a final victory of the Trojans over Greece.

Romulus and his brother Remus, were said to survive after being abandoned as infants by suckling with a she-wolf. [2] Later they would return to those hills overlooking the Tiber River to found a city. But they disagreed on which hill to found the city on, ending with Romulus killing Remus. The founding of the city is dated from that time, when Romulus declared himself king.

According to legend, Romulus established the first three tribes of Rome, each of which was further divided into ten curia or wards each. Each tribe had a "tribune," and each curia had a "curio" as its leader. These divisions became the basis for taxation and for enlisting soldiers for battle. According to tradition Romulus also picked one hundred men to constitute the Roman senate. These "fathers" became the "patrician" class of Rome, while everyone left became the "plebs."

2. It is hard to know how much of these origin stories are historical, but they nevertheless give us a picture of how Rome understood itself at a very early stage. According to legend Rome had seven kings until Tarquin the Proud was expelled from Rome in 509 BC, the legendary beginning of the Roman Republic.

After Romulus there had been Numa Pompilius (ca. 700BC). He was said to have built the temple of Janus, whose doors were open when Rome was at war and closed when Rome was at peace. He is said to have established the office of pontifex maximus, the high priest of the Roman people, as well as the "Vestal Virgins," virgin priestesses who kept a sacred fire that was never to go out.

Tullus Hostilius and Ancus Marcius (600s BC) fought against neighboring tribes and extended Rome's rule over the immediate area. Tarquin the Elder was an Etruscan. According to tradition he established the circus maximus, where horse races took place. He also brought Etruscan customs for patrician clothing like the toga, as well as various Roman rituals.

After the elder Tarquin's assassination, Servius Tullius ruled in the mid-500s. He is said to have incorporated three more hills into Rome, completing its number at seven. He also expanded the number of tribes by thirty. The number of tribes was set at twenty at the beginning of the Roman Republic. [3] Then Servius himself was murdered.

The murderer became the final king, Tarquin the Proud, known for being a tyrant. His son infamously raped Lucretia, a virtuous wife who ended up committing suicide. Tarquin was finally deposed by Lucius Junius Brutus. Almost five hundred years later, his descendant Brutus would participate in the murder of another dictator, Julius Caesar--invoking the family precedence. [4]

3. The Republic was run by two consuls, who were elected by the Roman Senate to rule for a year. Outside of Rome they commanded armies, which were required to disband before crossing the Rubicon River. Every five years, the elected consuls became "censors" who took a census of the Roman people and adjusted the membership of the Senate appropriately.

In its fully developed form, ambitious Roman men would follow a path known as the cursus honorem, a "course of honor," a path that could lead to the highest offices of Rome. [5] It might start with notorious service in the military, becoming a tribune who commanded in the Roman legions. Once achieving senatorial status, a person might serve as a quaestor who served administratively in some way, such as directing certain games or being a paymaster.

Next one might become an aedile and given even more responsibility, such as running a temple. [6] Then there was the role of a praetor, which next to consul was the highest position a Roman male could have under normal circumstances. This was primarily the role of judge.

4. The Roman system did not develop overnight, and there were civil wars from time to time. As we would expect, the privileged often abused their power at the expense of the plebs, which occasionally led to revolt and civil war. Around 450, ten men (Decumviri) were appointed to draft a code of laws to create official boundaries and rights for the people. These "Twelve Tables" became the basis for Roman law.

Conquering Italy
5. By about the year 400BC, Rome more or less possessed the central area of Italy. But in 390, Celtic tribes from the north sacked the city. These were the Gauls who gave the name Galatia to the region Paul would later visit in Anatolia (Turkey). These were the Gauls who would wander first into the area of present day France, whom Julius Caesar would later fight. And these were the Celts who would migrate into Great Britain, the ancestors of the Scots, Irish, and Welsh.

Interactions would continue with the Gauls for the next two hundred years.

Rome would have three Samnite wars in the 300s, which extended Rome's territory southward in Italy. At the beginning of the 200s, Rome would war with the Greek colonies in the very south of Italy. These Pyrrhic Wars were waged with the king of Epirus, on the west coast of Greece, who technically won a couple battles with the Romans. But Pyrrhus experienced such massive casualties that we now use the phrase "Pyrrhic victory" to refer to a win that is involves such substantial loss that it can hardly be called a victory.

These Greek colonies in southern Italy are the location where the famed philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras had a somewhat religious community in the late 500s BC.

The Punic Wars
6. The three Punic Wars took place between Rome and Carthage during the years 264-146BC. Carthage is on the northern coast of Africa, where Tunisia is today. Carthage was a city of Phoenician origin and a major sea power. It was the Roman conflict with the Carthaginians that led it to develop its own fleet of ships.

The first war (264-41BC) was over the island of Sicily. In what would become a pattern for Rome, one party in a conflict called on Rome for help. Then by the end of it, Rome had annexed its territory. Soon Rome controlled not only Sicily but the islands of Corsica and Sardinia as well.

The second Punic War (218-201) is the one when the famed Hannibal crossed the French Alps on elephants and soundly defeated the Romans repeatedly in northern Italy. However, he lost so many soldiers and elephants in the process that he was not able to take Rome itself. Scipio Africanus would ultimately defeat Carthage on its own ground, reducing Carthaginian territory mostly to the city itself.

Rome largely provoked the third and final Punic War (149-6). Carthage had paid its debt to Rome. It was rebuilding its military. After a visit, Cato the Elder began ending each of his speeches in the senate with "Carthage must be destroyed." Rome made some unreasonable demands, which Carthage refused. They went to war, and Rome thoroughly destroyed the city, making it uninhabitable. It dismantled and then burned all its buildings to the ground, and sowed its fields with salt.

Rome was now in complete control of the western Mediterranean.

The Macedonian Wars

7. Rome's wars with Macedonia, to the north of Greece, overlapped with the Punic Wars. During the second Punic War, the king of Macedon allied himself with Hannibal, drawing the Macedonians into the conflict. This was the first Macedonian War.

Rome intervened again (200-196BC) when Macedon ignored its demand that it stay away from some of the Greek islands off the coast of Anatolia (Turkey). With Rome's honor at stake, it pounced until Macedon was back in line, then withdrawing to Rome again. Then the Greek Seleucids tried to expand into Greece and were again repulsed by the Romans (192-88BC). [8] This was the first time that the Romans had entered Anatolia.

There was a third and fourth Macedonian war. After the third, Rome became convinced that it needed to divide up the Macedonian kingdom and have a permanent presence in Greece. The fourth ended with the destruction of Corinth by Mummius in 146BC, the same year Carthage was destroyed. [8]

Rome was now in control of Greece and the Aegean Sea.

The Civil Wars
8. The late second and early first centuries BC were tumultuous for Rome itself. From about 134 to 44BC we have the "Crisis of the Roman Republic." In the 130s and 120s, two brothers known as the Gracchi tried to distribute much of the the land of wealthy patricians to the poor and to veterans. Both were killed, the first violence in Rome since the 500s. This drive to grant more rights to the "populares" stood at the heart of the conflicts--one side fighting for them, the other strongly resisting.

The next decades would see three slave wars and the slave revolt that ended with the death of Spartacus (in 71BC). Sulla would break the rules in 81 and bring his army across the Rubicon, setting a dangerous precedent that Julius Caesar would repeat a few decades later in 49BC. [9] The senate then understandably voted him dictator. As dictator, Sulla was empowered to undo some of the populist reforms that the Gracchi and others had made and reinvigorate the power of the upper class.

9. Then there was Pompey. Pompey distinguished himself as a general in the wars against Mithridates in Anatolia. At the end of those wars, Rome would effectively control the land we now know as Turkey. In the year 64, Pompey would intervene in a dispute between brothers in Jerusalem, and effectively Rome would now control Palestine as well. In 64, Pompey walked into the Most Holy Place of the temple, inspiring the writing known as the Psalms of Solomon.

The powerful Pompey was part of an informal and at first secret pact between three men--himself, the wealthy Crassus, and the popular Julius who would soon be declared Caesar. Julius also was pushing popular reforms, which the powerful senate had been able to resist since Sulla. But with these three in agreement--the first "triumvirate"--Julius was able to push some reforms through.

Crassus died in battle against the Parthians in the east in 53BC. Then Pompey and Caesar became enemies, and their armies fought against each other, with Caesar defeating him in 48. He was assassinated later that year in Egypt.

10. In 49BC, a year before he finally defeated Pompey, Julius Caesar followed the path of Sulla and crossed the Rubicon with his army. Now in control of the capitol, he set out to defeat Pompey, and was declared Caesar for ten years by the senate in his absence in 47BC. Then in early 44BC he was declared Caesar for life, leading to his assassination on the "Ides of March" that year, March 15.

Then Caesar's adopted son, Octavian, took to revenge. A second triumvirate formed with Octavian (who would become Caesar Augustus), Mark Antony, and Lepidus. While the first triumvirate was unofficial, the Senate made this second triumvirate an empowered unit more powerful than the consuls.

Brutus was pursued by Octavian, who defeated him at the Battle of Philippi in 42BC. Brutus committed suicide.

Eventually, tensions between Octavian and Mark Antony erupted into civil war between Roman armies as well. Antony had been having an affair with Cleopatra in Egypt (after marrying Octavian's daughter to create peace between himself and Octavian). Octavian had the senate declare war on Egypt, with Antony declared a traitor. Then Octavian defeated Antony at the Battle of Actium in 39C. Antony and Cleopatra then fled back to Egypt, where they committed suicide. From that point on Egypt was a client kingdom of Rome, a kingdom allowed to rule itself as long as it obeyed Rome.

In 27BC, Octavian was given the title "Augustus" by the Senate.

  • Foundation legends, symbols, and rituals are incredibly powerful, even though they are often historically dubious. 
  • If you turn to a bully in your hour of need, they will probably be your next oppressor.
  • Sometimes the cost of winning is so great that it is really losing.
  • If a state does not take care of the ordinary person, that person will eventually revolt against the system.
  • Sometimes an enemy provokes you so that, if you bat an eye, he has an excuse to destroy you.
  • When the cat's away, the mouse will play.
  • Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Watch your back.
Next Week: History 9a: Greeks and the Hellenistic Age

[1] The Aeneid was written in the early years of Augustus' reign (late first century BC) as propaganda to portray his reign as destiny, as fated.

[2] These tribes were geographical rather than based on ethnic or family relationships.

[3] The primary source for the legend is Livy, who wrote a history of Rome at about the same time as Virgil, Books from the Foundation of the City. The expression "from the founding of the city" was the way the Romans marked time. So Jesus was born about 747AUC (ab urbe condita, "from the founding of the city"), 6BC.

[4] Shakespeare has Brutus cry out, "sic semper tyrranus" as he kills Caesar--"thus always [to] a tyrant."

[5] The cursus honorem was not finalized until the time of Sulla's dictatorship in 81BC.

[6] Romans 16:23 seems to indicate that Erastus was an aedile in the city of Corinth.

[7] This is the same Seleucid thrust during which the Maccabean crisis took place in Israel.

[8] Corinth lay in ruins until 44BC, when Julius Caesar refounded the city. Commentaries on 1 Corinthians often quote passages about how immoral the city of Corinth was. Although it no doubt had its fair share of immorality at the time of the New Testament, it is at least worth knowing that the passages being quoted come from the earlier period of Corinth's history, before it was destroyed by the Romans.

[9] The expression, "crossing the Rubicon," refers to a decision that commits you to a certain course of action, whether you regret it or not. It's all or nothing now. Or as Caesar is thought to have said, "the die is cast."

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

6. The Art of Propaganda

The next chapter of Konrad Heiden's 1944 book, Der Fuehrer. is titled, "The Death of Money." The first six chapters were:
1. It is History 101 that it is easiest to bring about change when there is a crisis. The Romans gave away their republic in a time of civil war. FDR was able to create social security and other government programs in the wake of the Great Depression. The most devilish of leaders know that one way to get people to accept change is to manufacture a crisis. Of course if the people find out you have manufactured a crisis (or come to think that you have), you're toast.

Hitler did not invent the financial crisis of Germany in the early 1920s. People would get paid in millions of marks and rush to the lines at the grocery store to buy basics as soon as possible because the value of their currency might go down in half while they were standing in line.
Heiden actually seems to place a bit of the blame on a man named Hugo Stinnes, a mammoth industrialist who used his access to foreign money to buy up massive amounts of German property and industry. He would borrow a certain amount to buy, which then because of inflation became almost nothing to pay back.

Stinnes feared a Bolshevik revolution so much, he effected more or less the same thing--a government take over of the economy. As Heiden says, "socialism was the aim of the workers as well as the capitalists" (128). In Germany, money was dead.

Hitler surely would not have risen to power had it not been so. The economic misery into which Germany was descending was an opportunity for his agenda of a single, powerful German state.

2. Hitler was thus able to rise to power because he was able to bring together the "disinherited" of both the right and the left together (146). The spirit of his movement grew from the "uprooted" of right and left. He also knew that good-for-nothings are sometimes the best fighters. Hitler "led the uprooted proletarians and the uprooted intellectuals together" (147).

3. But the most interesting part of the chapter to me were the reflections Heiden had on Hitler as a successful propagandist. I will merely quote some of his statements from 1944:
  • "Insults aroused the enthusiasm of the masses" (134).
  • Hitler quote: "The German people is... a people passing little by little into decay" (135).
  • "He could deal in endless contradictions without becoming entangled, because he was able to put power into every contradiction" (135). Heiden gives two quotes from Hitler two days apart: "The spirit of resistance must be kindled from above" and "Salvation must come from below."
  • Hitler quote: "We are suffering from overeducation... But the bookworms are enemies of action... We have a class of people who are intellectually high, but they are poor in energy" (136).
  • Hitler would say hateful things off the cuff, which they would then edit in their later versions of them (138).
  • *** Propaganda is not the art of instilling an opinion in the masses. "It is the art of receiving an opinion from the masses" (139).
This is by far the most striking idea in this chapter. It is the idea that Hitler would say any number of different contradictory things, listening for an echo from the masses. His great skill was to be able to sense which statements resonated. He could sense the inner vibration of the things he said.
  • "It is the art of the great propagandist to detect this murmur and translate it into intelligible utterance and convincing action" (141).
  • "He did not have a plan and act accordingly; he acted, and out of his actions a plan arose."
  • "Rather than a means of directing the mass mind, propaganda is a technique for riding with the masses. It is not a machine to make wind, but a sail to catch the wind."

Monday, January 02, 2017

Monday Paul 2

from last week
... Nearly two years ago, the assembly of Antioch had received a word from the Holy Spirit of God to send Paul and Barnabas to the island of Cyprus. Although it was God's will, the mission also made sense from a human perspective. Barnabas was born on Cyprus and so had family connections there. Barnabas also had a cousin who was interested in going as a helper, John Mark, who was in his late teens.

The mission on the island was a turning point for Paul. On the far west end of the island, they came into conflict in the synagogue with a Jewish magician named Elymas. Elymas accused Paul of preaching another king other than Caesar and brought charges against him to the Roman governor of the island. Then Paul, full of the Holy Spirit, made a mist of blindness come over the magician. Right there in front of the proconsul, Elymas went blind for a time.

Needless, to say, the proconsul was shocked. Sergius Paulus had already found the idea of one God attractive. Now to see such power was proof to him that the God of the Jews was in fact that God. He invited Paul and Barnabas to dine with him several times thereafter. And after sharing so many stories of what God had done through Jesus and his followers, the governor become fully convinced of the Way.

It was in those days that God was leading Paul to understand his mission to non-Jews. Did Sergius Paulus need to convert fully to Judaism to be saved from the judgment that was coming? There had always been God-fearers in the synagogues who did not fully convert. The more he prayed about it, the more Paul was convinced that circumcision was not necessary for Gentiles.

He could not get out of his mind the fact that God had chosen to save the world through Jesus, through his death on a cross. It was a scandal. After all, he had spent so many years paying so much attention to the details of the Jewish Law. And now God revealed to him that the cross was the solution to God's favor? It made it seem like all those works of the Law had been completely ineffective before God.

So why couldn't the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah also atone for the sins of a Roman governor, even if he did not fully convert to Judaism?

It was on Cyprus that "Saul" started going by "Paul," even though he had that name from his first year. It started one day when Sergius Paulus called him "Paul." "Why not go by your real name?" he teased. That night in a dream the Lord said to him, "Yes, Paul, with this name you will be my apostle to the Gentiles."

Although they had originally planned to return from Paphos to Antoich, Paul sensed the tug of the Holy Spirit northward, to Galatia...