Was Christopher Columbus a Jew?

“Some researchers have postulated that Columbus was of Iberian Jewish origins. The linguist Estelle Irizarry, in addition to arguing that Columbus was Catalan, also claims that Columbus tried to conceal a Jewish heritage.[82] In “Three Sources of Textual Evidence of Columbus, Crypto Jew,”[83] Irizarry notes that Columbus always wrote in Spanish, occasionally included Hebrew in his writing, and referenced the Jewish High Holidays in his journal during the first voyage.”






Sartor Resartus

Sartor Resartus (meaning ‘The tailor re-tailored’) is an 1836 philosophical novel by Thomas Carlyle.

It was overcast and rainy in Chester today, and quite dark by 4.30 in the afternoon. I stopped in at The Architect for an ale (Bragdy’r Gogarth ‘dark abbey ale’ from Great Orme in North Wales). I took a small book from the shelf: a 1906 edition of Sartor Resartus by the Scottish philosopher and satirical writer, Thomas Carlyle.



It was delightful. I ordered another half pint of Bragdy’r Gogarth and read further, loving the gentle and at times silly humour, and the strange written language that was the English of 180 years ago. I asked the barman if I could buy the book, as I doubted there’d be a big rush on Thomas Carlyle any time soon. “Have it,” he replied with a laugh, “put a few coins in the charity box”. And so for a few pennies I now own a 1906 edition of one of Thomas Carlisle’s important satirical works.

“In Carlyle’s view, civilization—that is, religion, government, and all the other institutional garments that human beings weave to clothe themselves—is frayed and shabby and needs retailoring.” –enotes

About describes we enlightened ones in  the 21st century rather well I think.

“Sartor Resartus teems with wit, irony, fun, either in the guise of, or gently
mocking from beneath, its seriousness and downright difficulty. It also playfully generates uncertainties between fiction and fact, disguise and the naked truth. The text’s humor, often lurking in obscure absurdities and a Sterne-like play with its own fictionality, tends to give way to a gravitas and profundity which
many nineteenth-century readers, particularly at first in America, found both fascinating and a solace for their evanescing religious faith.”

– Ralph Jessop





From Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:

monachopsis n. the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place, as maladapted to your surroundings as a seal on a beach—lumbering, clumsy, easily distracted, huddled in the company of other misfits, unable to recognize the ambient roar of your intended habitat, in which you’d be fluidly, brilliantly, effortlessly at home.

wytai n. a feature of modern society that suddenly strikes you as absurd and grotesque—from zoos and milk-drinking to organ transplants, life insurance, and fiction—part of the faint background noise of absurdity that reverberates from the moment our ancestors first crawled out of the slime but could not for the life of them remember what they got up to do…

exulansis n. the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it—whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness—which allows it to drift away from the rest of your life story, until the memory itself feels out of place, almost mythical, wandering restlessly in the fog, no longer even looking for a place to land…

odus tollens n. The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore—that although you thought you were following the arc of the story, you keep finding yourself immersed in passages you don’t understand, that don’t even seem to belong in the same genre—which requires you to go back and reread the chapters you had originally skimmed to get to the good parts, only to learn that all along you were supposed to choose your own adventure.

vemödalen n. the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist—the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip, the same closeup of an eye—which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself.

vellichor n. the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.

anecdoche n. a conversation in which everyone is talking but nobody is listening, simply overlaying disconnected words like a game of Scrabble, with each player borrowing bits of other anecdotes as a way to increase their own score, until we all run out of things to say.

Mauerbauertraurigkeit n. the inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like—as if all your social tastebuds suddenly went numb, leaving you unable to distinguish cheap politeness from the taste of genuine affection, unable to recognize its rich and ambiguous flavors, its long and delicate maturation, or the simple fact that each tasting is double-blind.

xeno n. the smallest measurable unit of human connection, typically exchanged between passing strangers—a flirtatious glance, a sympathetic nod, a shared laugh about some odd coincidence—moments that are fleeting and random but still contain powerful emotional nutrients that can alleviate the symptoms of feeling alone.


trumspringa n. the temptation to step off your career track and become a shepherd in the mountains, following your flock between pastures with a sheepdog and a rifle, watching storms at dusk from the doorway of a small cabin, just the kind of hypnotic diversion that allows your thoughts to make a break for it and wander back to their cubicles in the city.

ambedo n. a kind of melancholic trance in which you become completely absorbed in vivid sensory details—raindrops skittering down a window, tall trees leaning in the wind, clouds of cream swirling in your coffee—which leads to a dawning awareness of the haunting fragility of life…

aimonomia n. fear that learning the name of something—a bird, a constellation, an attractive stranger—will somehow ruin it, transforming a lucky discovery into a conceptual husk pinned in a glass case, which leaves one less mystery to flutter around your head, trying to get in.

hiybbprqag n. the feeling that everything original has already been done, that the experiment of human culture long ago filled its petri dish and now just feeds on itself, endlessly crossbreeding old clichés into a radioactive ooze of sadness.







Nostalgia by Emily Barker
and The Red Clay Halo.

Music adapted for the television series Wallander.


Excerpt from the lyrics

… a door that shouldn’t be in front of me

Twelve thousand miles away from your smile,
I’m twelve thousand miles away from me

Oh whisper me words in the shape of a bay

Shelter my love from the wind and the rains

Crow fly be my alibi
And return this fable on your wing
Take it far away to where gypsies play
beneath metal stars by the bridge

Oh write me a beacon so I know the way
Guide my love through night and through day

Only the sunset knows
my blind desire for the fleeting

Dark God

images (1)

Paulist Press International  |  2013

“The God of the Old Testament can shock readers of the Bible: he drowns his creation in the Flood, requires Abraham to sacrifice his son, destroys the first-born of the Egyptians the night before the Exodus, and ruthlessly eliminates the Israelites who were devoted to the worship of the golden calf. Throughout the centuries, many Christians and philosophers have rejected all or part of the Old Testament because of these divine characteristics that violently contrast with the image of the good and kind God of the New Testament. So, can we believe in a God who is macho, cruel, despotic, or who even indulges in ethnic cleansing? Thomas Römer puts forward a reinterpretation of these difficult passages in the light of the most recent research into the Old Testament. For the author, the characteristics that God appears to have, and that at first seem repulsive, are aimed at preserving the faith from dogmatic complacency by instilling in mankind the unexpected vision of a God who is engaged with the real life of humanity.”






The Invention of God


“Who invented God? When, why, and where? Thomas Römer seeks to answer these questions about the deity of the great monotheisms—Yhwh, God, or Allah—by tracing Israelite beliefs and their context from the Bronze Age to the end of the Old Testament period in the third century BCE.

“That we can address such enigmatic questions at all may come as a surprise. But as Römer makes clear, a wealth of evidence allows us to piece together a reliable account of the origins and evolution of the god of Israel. Römer draws on a long tradition of historical, philological, and exegetical work and on recent discoveries in archaeology and epigraphy to locate the origins of Yhwh in the early Iron Age, when he emerged somewhere in Edom or in the northwest of the Arabian peninsula as a god of the wilderness and of storms and war. He became the sole god of Israel and Jerusalem in fits and starts as other gods, including the mother goddess Asherah, were gradually sidelined. But it was not until a major catastrophe—the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah—that Israelites came to worship Yhwh as the one god of all, creator of heaven and earth, who nevertheless proclaimed a special relationship with Judaism.

A masterpiece of detective work and exposition by one of the world’s leading experts on the Hebrew Bible, The Invention of God casts a clear light on profoundly important questions that are too rarely asked, let alone answered.”



Journal of Hebrew Scriptures – Volume 17 (2017) – Review
“The Invention of God is an English translation (beautifully rendered by Raymond Geuss) of Thomas Römer’s L’invention de Dieu, published in French in 2014. The rather provocative title is not intended to reflect the antagonistic and somewhat widespread notion of Iron Age goat herders or corrupt priests fabricating the God of Israel out of whole cloth, but the longue durée development of the conceptualization of Israel’s patron deity. At the outset Römer outlines an important point of departure: a close reading of the Hebrew Bible demonstrates that God was not always the sole and only God over the entire universe. This raises a host of questions regarding the development of YHWH’s conceptualization and worship. The goal of the book is to provisionally trace the trajectory of that development from its earliest possible reconstruction to its final canonical form in the Hellenistic period.”

God’s salesman

Digging deeper: exposing a fool-baiting philosophy of refrigerator magnets and page-a-day calendars.

Norman Vincent Peale


How Norman Vincent Peale taught Donald Trump to worship himself: the magnate’s biographer explains the spiritual guide behind his relentless self-confidence. | By WENDA BLAIR



Criticism and controversy:




Mitch Horowitz, an award winning journalist, has traced the unseen and largely unknown origins and roots of both Positive thinking and Word/Faith theology in his book One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life,Crown Publishing, (New York, 2014, 338 pages).




The two movements of Positive Thinking and Word Faith in fact are very close relatives; one is ancestor to the other. This invaluable book is a history of all the key players and their roots in nineteenth century New Thought Movement. Horowitz sees the linkage and connects the dots between New Thought, Christian Science, Norman Vincent Peale, New Age thinking, the Law of Attraction and a number of Word Faith teachers. The book’s 14 page index helps enhance the retrieving of names and topics.

Men like Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) believed and taught that conjuring up mental ideas of a more positive life could fast track us to making it so. Horowitz explains

Positive Thinking:

“The principle of positive thinking is simplicity itself. Picture an outcome, dwell on it in your thoughts and feelings, and unseen agencies – whether metaphysical or psychological – will supposedly come to your aid. Seen in this way, the mind is a causative force….the content of our thoughts influences the nature of our experience, in concrete terms”, (page 4 – 5).

Is there then a mind power that can be controlled and manipulated to create better outcomes? Can our minds alone abolish disease, create wealth and refashion our reality? The author points out that positive affirmations heaped on suffering terminally ill patients can be cruel and thoughtless. It amounts to blaming sufferers for their suffering. Physical pain and the decline of aging cannot be wished away.

Positive Thinking concepts seem to be omnipresent and could be our national anthem. Like a virus it has infected large portions of the church. There is no doubt that many could be happier generally speaking if they had a better frame of mind but there is a limit to what our thoughts and minds can do. Horowitz seems to be for a balanced approach as he takes on the inconsistencies of the New Age and Positive Thinking movements. Howowitz states his approach:

“The outlook of this book is that positive thinking is less than it’s most enthusiastic exponents believe – it is not a psycho-spiritual magic wand or an all encompassing result-making law of life. But it is also a great deal more than what its critic see it as, namely a fool-baiting philosophy of refrigerator magnets and page-a-day calendars”, (pages 10 – 11).

Agree or disagree with the authors overall approach and perspective the value of this book is its detailed history of key figures in the positive thinking orbit as well as their modern day descendants.

In early America people focused on salvation in Christ, the church, godly living, hard work, loving others and service to one’s neighbor. The focus was first vertical and then horizontal. Horowitz traces how that all changed and the focus on the mind and the horizontal was seen as the primary focus. My take is that this leads its adherents and proponents to become totally man centered and not God centered.

As Horowitz traces the history of New Thought he concludes that the modern message of the Prosperity Gospel is simply New Thought repackaged with new technology and new venues. He lists Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, T. D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and many more. Horowitz traces current Word of Faith teaching back to E. W. Kenyon and details Kenyon’s attendance at a New Thought school. That school was the metaphysical Emerson School, (page 217). The book spends a number of pages on the career of Oral Roberts.

The book delves into the fascinating topic of Neuroplasticity (pages 259, 273-275, 276). Brain studies in this area have shown that ideas and strong thoughts can actually change brain structure and re-route the brain’s “wiring”. In other words from a Christian and biblical perspective positive thinking (unrealistic thinking) could change the brain in such a way as to create strong delusion. Certainly that is frightening food for thought.


“Psychologist Albert Ellis, the founder of Rational emotive behavior therapy and influential psychologist of the 20th century,[19]compared the Peale techniques with those of French psychologist, hypnotherapist and pharmacist Émile Coué, and Ellis says that the repeated use of these hypnotic techniques could lead to significant mental health problems. Ellis has documented in several books the many individuals he has treated who suffered mental breakdowns from following Peale’s teachings. Ellis’ writings repeatedly warn the public not to follow the Peale message. Ellis contends the Peale approach is dangerous, distorted, unrealistic. He compares the black or white view of life that Peale teaches to a psychological disorder (borderline personality disorder), perhaps implying that dangerous mental habits which he sees in the disorder may be brought on by following the teaching. “In the long run [Peale’s teachings] lead to failure and disillusionment, and not only boomerang back against people, but often prejudice them against effective therapy.” – Wikipedia



The New Age Peale Factor: (Part 1) Norman Vincent Peale and the Occult

By Warren B. Smith