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These shrines house divine images favored by their local population. Along with the shrines dedicated to Hindu deities, sanctuaries displaying images or containing remains that commemorate renowned Muslim saints, Mecca or other Islamic pilgrimage centers are also popular, sometimes crossing the boundaries of religious communities. Hindus and Muslims are not the only communities to have popular shrines that are common in the Indian urban landscape; Christian and Buddhist shrines and to a lesser extent Jain can also be found mushrooming in the streets of the cities of South Asia, sometimes hosting images from different religious traditions in the same shrine.

Shared practices, overlapping images and entangled discourses articulated by a variety of people at these shrines point to the complexity of religious diversity in India. Although seemingly less spectacular, these heterogeneous shrines play a vital role in contemporary religious life in India. In fact, different systematic surveys of religious structures in Indian cities show that they by far outnumber institutional religious structures. As a heuristic counterpoint we have the example of the Kulung population of a valley with the same name in Nepal.

In the third part, we will look at the specificity of these wayside shrines in relation to the individual, the community and the state. Scholars have studied the phenomenon from different angles of investigation such as the economic, socio-political, ritual, iconographic or the architectural. Drawing on material from the early nineteenth century just prior to the British conquest, Preston focuses on the traditional neighborhoods of Pune, revealing that the shrines have a strong place-rootedness and that Sanskritic gods are more likely to be found at the center of the city, while folk and minor deities become part of suburban neighborhoods.

Henn ; focuses on Goan urban shrines and concludes that they transform the centuries-old spatio-religious system of Hindus and Catholics to fit the conditions of late modern city life. He attributes the rise in popularity of these shrines to socio-economic change and the increasingly dense and complex flows of motorized traffic. He sees these structures as attracting a clientele from a social background that is different from those who patronize regular temples.

He argues that street-shrines force us to break away from the classical dichotomies of modernity and religiosity, local and global, and invite us to coin new concepts of sacredness P. In particular, there is a lack of detailed ethnography whose analysis needs to be brought into conversation with larger theoretical interrogations in religious studies and anthropology. By bringing together a series of studies on wayside shrines undertaken by anthropologists, sociologists and historians working in different regions of India, the aim of this SAMAJ-ECSAS special issue is to continue filling this gap.

In fact, many have discussed in detail the taxonomical problem in their contribution. By using this term we think that, despite its possible pitfalls, 11 it is still a useful heuristic tool to distinguish different places of worship. It is derived from the classical Latin scrinium , which meant a container a chest or a box for keeping papers and other documents.

In Hinduism, but also in Islam, for example, a great variety of terms exist to qualify these sites in different South Asian languages. In similar ways—and with little theorization—the term has been used in a variety of regional contexts, for example in Greece where it also refers to mementos celebrating a tragic incident sprouting along public roads, but can in addition be a small prayer edifice where people can enter and pray in their daily life. However, all these different usages of the expression wayside shrine are confined to a specific community and do not offer a clear theoretical framework that might stimulate comparison.

For example, people who are in a hurry may find it very convenient to stop at a wayside shrine before an exam, on their way to their workplace, before embarking on a journey or before a medical test. Before entering into greater detail regarding the specificity of these wayside shrines—in the second part of this introduction—we will examine one by one the terms used here and the connotations they evoke. However, not all representations of that power can be considered wayside shrines. In addition, the object of worship can be an element of nature: for example, in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, trees are frequently the object of ritual practices.

These objects can either be three-dimensional or two-dimensional, such as a photograph, sometimes the original or even a photocopy of an image from a calendar. Because of the constraints linked to their location, wayside shrines can encounter significant obstacles to their growth, but they also defy the usual notions of positioning and orientation which are so important in temple or mosque shrines. The second criterion for a wayside shrine is visibility. This means that the shrine must be visible from the public path and recognized by the local community as being a place of worship through signs of living practice, for example stones covered with vermilion, flowers, ashes and flags.

The third criterion is accessibility : the shrine must be accessible to any passer-by.

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Contrary to temples, which are gated with a specific entrance that can be guarded and where a passer-by can be refused entrance, wayside shrines remain accessible to anyone. First, because size is too subjective a criterion to find a common measure 18 and second because shrines are dynamic entities: they can grow, extend and sometimes disappear. Therefore, wayside shrines can be of substantial size, both in architectural details, as well as in the number of people they can attract.

However, there seem to be many similarities in function between what appears to be a wayside shrine in its simplest expression—a cluster of vermilion-covered stones at the base of a sacred tree—or a shrine that is not built for people to enter that can serve a small crowd according to the surrounding space available, or other shrines which can expand their space by appropriating the surrounding area on special occasions with makeshift structures, such as during annual festivals or even for weekly worship on the traditional day dedicated to the deity.

While scholars in the field of religion have emphasized the importance of the mundane and the everyday in its study, few have applied these insights to spatial and material aspects. Orsi, who is one of the exceptions, defines everyday religion in the following way:. The everyday religious is not performed by rote or in accordance with authority; it is improvised and situational. Orsi A woman interviewed explained why she preferred this wayside shrine to a temple shrine:. But to me it is even more important.


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It is hard to find time to go to the temple. I work long hours, I have two sons at home and my husband is often out of station for work. Where is the time? I am not so religious that I keep a mandir at home, like my mother did. So, this mandir helps me to make time for God in my life every day. Twice a day I take darshan at this mandir as the bus goes by.

Like this, I am able to take darshan and find some peace. McLain During pogroms, Muslim wayside shrines were, on the one hand, the target of violence—they were burned, destroyed or converted into Hindu temples—and on the other, Hindu shrines were used as meeting points from which the attackers proceeded to their targets. Despite what Orsi argues about everyday religion in the quote above, wayside shrines are often subjected to sacred calendars, and while often there is no ritual specialist present at these sites, it is also not uncommon to hire them for special occasions, such as the annual festival of the deity in question or when they are founded, erected and used by political forces, such as the right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad VHP in Gujarat or the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

They can inhabit them, simultaneously defying the boundaries of clear-cut classifications. Because of their emplacement in the public space, wayside shrines in many ways defy the individual, the community, and the state. Whereas arguably, in Hinduism, individual practices might occur in the everyday private space of the home, in public spaces such as temples, or events such as weddings or other life-cycle rituals, many practices consist in doing exactly what the ritual specialist instructs one to do. For example, one might need to repeat Sanskrit formulas after the priest, or perform ritual gestures as he indicates.

It is also noteworthy that not all shrines have the same amount of ritual activity. Some count one or more professional ritualists working there on a regular basis, while others seem to receive only little formal worship from professional priests or from a particular dedicated caretaker. This freedom associated with the wayside shrines is rooted in the fact that they may often emerge spontaneously or informally in response to individual experiences or visions in which the deity makes itself manifest. This is what Kent explains when she argues that a wayside shrine might very well come into existence because of the interactions of just two beings—the founder and the deity, thus allowing for the display of religiosity of a small group or an individual in the public space.

This process is comparable to graffiti or street art, where the individual or collective artistic expression flouts the public space by imprinting potent imagery upon it. Because this is the case, wayside shrines are less likely to have an established history linked to them; instead they are either anonymous or related to an individual founder or patron. The fact that often at these shrines no one will be able to tell or care whether one belongs to a particular religious community or not, and because some of these shrines cater specifically to more than one religious denomination by deploying images and symbols of a number of traditions, these sites engender a religious fluidity that challenges any straightforward religious denomination.

Wayside shrines often partially or completely bypass institutionalized religious authority and thus may not be subject to the control of hegemonic groups privileged in official religious institutions. In his contribution to this issue, Henn notes that very often shrines of different religious denominations share the same space, allowing for competing soteriological alternatives and thus communities to coexist. Although, wayside shrines are often rightly viewed as an expression of a certain class religiosity, 22 they are nevertheless able to attract different publics as many of the examples of this volume attest.

In many places, central to the annual functions held in wayside shrines is the distribution of the ritually-offered food called bhog , where very different publics meet and exchange: whereas privileged people may go but bring the bhog home to share it, people from underprivileged groups would eat it directly in the street.

Non-employed women from the lower and middle classes who also visit these shrines, on the other hand, use these sites to fulfill very different needs. In no way is this combination of ordinary activities with ritual activities unique to wayside shrines; indeed, these take place also in formal temples, especially in the larger temple towns. In this way, visits to wayside shrines can also be a way to escape from the norms and duties of daily life.

These collectives can be, for instance, a group of rickshaw drivers who decide to set up a shrine to worship the chosen deity collectively before beginning or ending the day, and who specifically ask for the protection over the competition of their autorickshaw fleet and their customers, but also offer thanks for the favors and grace received. Other professionals grouped in small-scale organizations will often create and maintain their own shrines, facilitating not only a sense of community, but also reinforcing their religious identity often beyond sectarian lines. While most of these shrines are built on public space, they can legally belong to a registered trust, or a formal but legally illicit association.

Ghassem-Fachandi similarly shows how the erection of shrines in front of Christian NGOs and peace activist organizations is a way of marking a Hindu presence and a provocation and display of power Ghassem-Fachandi These different solidarities can also participate in larger issues of identity politics resulting in extreme violence as already pointed out above with the cases of the Mumbai Riots of — or the Gujarat pogroms.

As another less violent example, in Goa, there is a nationalist organization called the Gomantak Mandir and Dhaarmik Sanstha Mahasangh GMDSM , which is currently demanding that the trustees of temples and small shrines in Goa pressure the government to protect their structures. Henn notes in this volume that in modern times, one can find various new aspects of social criticism expressed through wayside shrines, serving ecological concerns for instance. Tree shrines, for example, are promoted to prevent the destruction of forests or parks.

Wayside shrines can also be a form of resistance that represents common interests, for instance when wayside shrines become a part of protests against the transformation of communal land into private property see Henn in this volume also. It is through these shrines and their activities that these collectives refuse to be marginalized.

Further, other reasons for erecting and maintaining these shrines might be to create a particular aesthetic and for the very practical reason of keeping a particular space clean. In fact, most of the wayside shrines studied here have emerged by flouting regulations or laws and thus have a peculiar relation to the State.

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Union of India v. It directed all the District Collectors, but also Magistrates and or Deputy Commissioners in charge of the Districts, to ensure that they complied with this order and to submit a report to the Chief Secretaries concerned or the Administrators of the Union Territories who would in turn send a report to the Supreme Court. Whereas in West Bengal the State has not yet taken any action to regulate these structures, in other States—like Maharashtra or Tamil Nadu—the administration has inventoried these shrines, and has either regularized, moved or demolished them or is in the process of doing so.

However, this process has faced a great number of difficulties because of the absence of accountability. Many wayside shrines are being located in parts of cities, like slums, that fall outside of municipal jurisdiction and services such as sanitation and policing and where wayside shrines are undocumented.

On October 4, , the State came up with a policy of demolition of illegal religious structures in line with the directions given by the Supreme Court. Surprisingly, on March 14, , the Bombay High Court issued a new resolution stating that the implementation of the earlier notification would not be continued and thus stopped the process of demolition of illegal religious structures. However, until today the government faces great difficulties to apply its own resolution Wayside shrines can be immensely popular: for citizens and neighbors the il -legal status of some of these structures has little effect on the way they use them.

Moreover, because of their impermanent structures they are places where political connections can be made, notably in cities through the work of the different ward councilors —without whose support some wayside shrines would not exist. In a majority of cases the shrines are under the protection of the police, either freely given or encouraged through bribes. Often police posts rely on the neighborhood networks attached to these shrines, and the more successful the shrines are the more protection they obtain from local political leaders who can mobilize the state apparatus when needed.

On the other hand, political parties that back such shrines can count on the mobilization of the devotees attached to these shrines Ghassem-Fachandi This power of the Supreme Court to modify the practice of religion is in fact nothing new. Religious matters are no exception.

For example, since the second half of the nineteenth century, courts of law have come to adjudicate conflicts concerning endowments and various temple issues. Since Independence in India the courts—and most notably the Supreme Court—have acquired an even more crucial role in the shaping of religion. By doing so, they participate in the secularization process by downplaying the public expression of religious fervor, although not without contestation from the different parties involved.

By providing a seemingly less hierarchical environment where the asymmetrical relations of caste and gender link together differently, they can, for example, be safe havens for women to navigate the urban public space, or can offer a convenient way to connect with a higher power in the everyday life of the urban subject. Thus they can appear as defiant sites at three different scales: at the level of the individual, of the community, and of the state. In Kolhapur, Maharashtra. Kamala Nehru park, Pune, Maharashtra.

Hampi, Karnataka. Aundh, Pune, Maharashtra. Budhwar Peth, Pune, Maharashtra. A man walking on the street because a wayside-shrine has been erected on the footpath blocking his way, Kolkata. Wayside shrine located at the entrance of a building on a private wall, Kolkata. Wayside shrine located on private property right next to the footpath and meant to be accessible to any passerby. Wayside shrine located on a cremation ground, West Bengal. Open-air wayside shrine located on a bathing ghat, Kolkata. Portable shrine with the image of a local goddess carried by a Potraj woman on foot.

Patnem, Goa. It is equally difficult to explain satisfactorily how it was that Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was also his sister. Calmet, whose judgment and sagacity are known to every one, says that she might be his niece. Manners change with times and with places. It may be supposed that Abraham, the son of Terah, an idolater, was still an idolater when he married Sarah, whether Sarah was his sister or his niece. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister, that it may be well with me for thy sake.

Since she had, twenty-five years afterwards the king of Gerar for a lover, it is not surprising that, when twenty-five years younger, she had kindled some passion in Pharaoh of Egypt. Indeed, she was taken away by him in the same manner as she was afterwards taken by Abimelech, the king of Gerar, in the desert.

But to make the country inhabitable, and to build towns, it must have cost immense labor. It was necessary to construct canals for the purpose of draining the waters of the Nile, which overflowed Egypt during four or five months of each year, and stagnated on the soil. It was also necessary to raise the town at least twenty feet above these canals. Works so considerable seem to have required thousands of ages. The Egyptians must have been very ingenious and indefatigably laborious, since, in so short a time, they invented all the arts and sciences, set bounds to the Nile, and changed the whole face of the country.

Probably they had already built some of the great Pyramids, for we see that the art of embalming the dead was in a short time afterwards brought to perfection, and the Pyramids were only the tombs in which the bodies of their princes were deposited with the most august ceremonies. This opinion of the great antiquity of the Pyramids receives additional countenance from the fact that three hundred years earlier, or but one hundred years after the Hebrew epoch of the Deluge of Noah, the Asiatics had built, in the plain of Sennaar, a tower which was to reach to heaven.

Jerome, in his commentary on Isaiah, says that this tower was already four thousand paces high when God came down to stop the progress of the work. Let us suppose each pace to be two feet and a half. Four thousand paces, then, are ten thousand feet; consequently the tower of Babel was twenty times as high as the Pyramids of Egypt, which are only about five hundred feet. But what a prodigious quantity of instruments must have been requisite to raise such an edifice!

All the arts must have concurred in forwarding the work. Whence commentators conclude that men of those times were incomparably Edition: current; Page: [ 35 ] larger, stronger, and more industrious than those of modern nations. So much may be remarked with respect to Abraham, as relating to the arts and sciences. With regard to his person, it is most likely that he was a man of considerable importance. The ancient religion of the magi has, from time immemorial, been called Kish Ibrahim, Milat Ibrahim, and it is agreed that the word Ibrahim is precisely the same as Abraham, nothing being more common among the Asiatics, who rarely wrote the vowels, than to change the i into a, or the a into i in pronunciation.

It has even been asserted that Abraham was the Brahma of the Indians, and that their notions were adopted by the people of the countries near the Euphrates, who traded with India from time immemorial. The Arabs regarded him as the founder of Mecca. Mahomet, in his Koran, always viewed in him the most respectable of his predecessors.

The temerity of the human understanding has even gone so far as to imagine that the Jews did not call themselves the descendants of Abraham until a very late period, when they had at last established Edition: current; Page: [ 36 ] themselves in Palestine. They were strangers, hated and despised by their neighbors. They wished, say some, to relieve themselves by passing for descendants of that Abraham who was so much reverenced in a great part of Asia. The faith which we owe to the sacred books of the Jews removes all these difficulties.

For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And how could God give to them forever that small part of Palestine out of which they have so long been driven? Our critics insist there are not now on the face of the earth four hundred thousand Jews, though they have always regarded marriage as a sacred duty Edition: current; Page: [ 37 ] and made population their greatest object. To these difficulties it is replied that the church, substituted for the synagogue, is the true race of Abraham, which is therefore very numerous.

It must be admitted that they do not possess Palestine; but they may one day possess it, as they have already conquered it once, in the first crusade, in the time of Urban II. In a word, when we view the Old Testament with the eyes of faith, as a type of the New, all either is or will be accomplished, and our weak reason must bow in silence.

It is said to be inconceivable that a stranger who drove his flocks to graze in the neighborhood of Sodom should, with three hundred and eighteen keepers of sheep and oxen, beat a king of Persia, a king of Pontus, the king of Babylon, and the king of nations, and pursue them to Damascus, which is more than a hundred miles from Sodom. Yet such a victory is not impossible, for we see other similar instances in those heroic times when the arm of God was not shortened.

Think of Gideon, who, with three hundred men, armed with three hundred pitchers and three hundred lamps, defeated a whole army!

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Think of Samson, who slew a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass! Even profane history furnishes like examples. It is true that, with the exception of one man who Edition: current; Page: [ 38 ] fled, they were all slain, together with their king, Leonidas, whom Xerxes had the baseness to gibbet, instead of raising to his memory the monument which it deserved. These four thousand perished after a long combat. Having been placed in a situation more exposed than that of the three hundred Spartans, they may be said to have acquired more glory in defending it against the Persian army, which cut them all in pieces.

Indeed, on the monument afterwards erected on the field of battle, mention was made of these four thousand victims, whereas none are spoken of now but the three hundred. A still more memorable, though much less celebrated, action was that of fifty Swiss, who, in , routed at Morgarten the whole army of the Archduke Leopold, of Austria, consisting of twenty thousand men. They destroyed the cavalry by throwing down stones from a high rock; and gave time to fourteen hundred Helvetians to come up and finish the defeat of the army.

The Greeks amounted to ten thousand, well armed; and it was impossible that, in a mountainous country, they could have to encounter more than a hundred thousand Persians at once; it is more than probable that there were not thirty thousand Persians engaged. But here fourteen hundred Swiss defeat an army of twenty thousand men. The diminished proportions of the less to the greater number also increases the proportion of glory. But how far has Abraham led us? These digressions amuse him who makes and sometimes him who reads them. Besides, every one is delighted to see a great army beaten by a little one.

Abraham is one of those names which were famous in Asia Minor and Arabia, as Thaut was among the Egyptians, the first Zoroaster in Persia, Hercules in Greece, Orpheus in Thrace, Odin among the northern nations, and so many others, known more by their fame than by any authentic history. I speak here of profane history only; as for that of the Jews, our masters and our enemies, whom we at once detest and believe, their history having evidently been written by the Holy Ghost, we feel toward it as we ought to feel.

We have to do here only with the Arabs. They boast of having descended from Abraham through Ishmael, believing that this patriarch built Mecca and died there. The fact is, that the race of Ishmael has been infinitely Edition: current; Page: [ 40 ] more favored by God than has that of Jacob. Both races, it is true, have produced robbers; but the Arabian robbers have been prodigiously superior to the Jewish ones; the descendants of Jacob conquered only a very small country, which they have lost, whereas the descendants of Ishmael conquered parts of Asia, of Europe, and of Africa, established an empire more extensive than that of the Romans, and drove the Jews from their caverns, which they called The Land of Promise.

Judging of things only by the examples to be found in our modern histories, it would be difficult to believe that Abraham had been the father of two nations so widely different. It is hardly likely that this son of a potter should have passed through impracticable deserts and founded the city of Mecca, at the distance of four hundred leagues, under a tropical sun. If he was a conqueror, he doubtless cast his eyes on the fine country of Assyria. If he was no more than a poor man, he did not found kingdoms abroad.

The Book of Genesis relates that he was seventy-five years old when he went out of the land of Haran after the death of his father, Terah the potter; but the same book also tells us that Terah, having begotten Abraham at the age of seventy years, lived to that of two hundred and five; and, afterward, that Edition: current; Page: [ 41 ] Abraham went out of Haran, which seems to signify that it was after the death of his father.

Either the author did not know how to dispose his narration, or it is clear from the Book of Genesis itself that Abraham was one hundred and thirty-five years old when he quitted Mesopotamia. He went from a country which is called idolatrous to another idolatrous country named Sichem, in Palestine. Why did he quit the fruitful banks of the Euphrates for a spot so remote, so barren, and so stony as Sichem?

But God chose that Abraham should go this journey; he chose to show him the land which his descendants were to occupy several ages after him. It is with difficulty that the human understanding comprehends the reasons for such a journey. Scarcely had he arrived in the little mountainous country of Sichem, when famine compelled him to quit it. He went into Egypt with his wife Sarah, to seek a subsistence. The distance from Sichem to Memphis is two hundred leagues. Is it natural that a man should go so far to ask for corn in a country the language of which he did not understand?

Truly these were strange journeys, undertaken at the age of nearly a hundred and forty years! He brought with him to Memphis his wife, Sarah, who was extremely young, and almost an infant when compared with himself; for she was only sixty-five. Edition: current; Page: [ 42 ] As she was very handsome, he resolved to turn her beauty to account. The youthful Sarah was ninety years old when God promised her that, in the course of a year, she should have a child by Abraham, who was then a hundred and sixty.

Abraham, who was fond of travelling, went into the horrible desert of Kadesh with his pregnant wife, ever young and ever pretty. A king of this desert was, of course, captivated by Sarah, as the king of Egypt had been. The father of the faithful told the same lie as in Egypt, making his wife pass for his sister; which brought him more sheep, oxen, men-servants, and maid-servants. It might be said that this Abraham became rich principally by means of his wife. To these commentaries we must refer the reader; they are all composed by men of nice and acute perceptions, Edition: current; Page: [ 43 ] excellent metaphysicians, and by no means pedants.

Several of the learned even assert that he was the same legislator whom the Greeks called Zoroaster. Others say that he was the Brahma of the Indians, which is not demonstrated. It is probable that they knew the name of Abraham or Ibrahim only through the Babylonians; for the ancient religion of all the countries from the Euphrates to the Oxus was called Kish Ibrahim or Milat Ibrahim. This is confirmed by all the researches made on the spot by the learned Hyde. The Jews, then, treat their history and ancient Edition: current; Page: [ 44 ] fables as their clothesmen treat their old coats—they turn them and sell them for new at as high a price as possible.

It is a singular instance of human stupidity that we have so long considered the Jews as a nation which taught all others, while their historian Josephus himself confesses the contrary. It is difficult to penetrate the shades of antiquity; but it is evident that all the kingdoms of Asia were in a very flourishing state before the wandering horde of Arabs, called Jews, had a small spot of earth which they called their own—when they had neither a town, nor laws, nor even a fixed religion.

When, therefore, we see an ancient rite or an ancient opinion established in Egypt or Asia, and also among the Jews, it is very natural to suppose that this small, newly formed, ignorant, stupid people copied, as well as they were able, the ancient, flourishing, and industrious nation.

Most certainly triumphant Rome did not in anything imitate Biscay or Cornwall; and he must be either very ignorant or a great knave who would say that the Jews taught anything to the Greeks. It must not be thought that Abraham was known only to the Jews; on the contrary, he was renowned throughout Asia. The pains which the Arabs and the Jews took to establish their descent from this patriarch render it impossible for even the greatest Pyrrhoneans to doubt of there having been an Abraham.

The Hebrew Scriptures make him the son of Terah, while the Arabs say that Terah was his grandfather and Azar his father, in which they have been followed by several Christians. The interpreters are of forty-two different opinions with respect to the year in which Abraham was brought into the world, and I shall not hazard a forty-third. It also appears, by the dates, that Abraham lived sixty years longer than the text allows him; but mistakes in chronology do not destroy the truth of a fact.

Supposing even that the book which speaks of Abraham had not been so sacred as was the law, it is not therefore less certain that Abraham existed. The Jews distinguished books written by inspired men from books composed by particular inspiration. How, indeed, can it be believed that God dictated false dates?

It seems that in those times each little horde had its religion, as each family had its own peculiar customs; all were tolerated, and all were peaceably confounded. Laban, the father-in-law of Jacob, had idols. Each clan was perfectly willing that the neighboring clan should have its gods, and contented itself with believing that its own were the mightiest. It is for theologians to explain, by allegory and mystical sense, how all the nations of the earth were to be blessed in a seed from which they did not descend, since this much-to-be-venerated mystical sense cannot be made the object of a research purely critical.

It is singular that the Hebrews never went into Egypt, except when pressed by hunger; for Jacob afterwards sent his children on the same errand. Abraham, who was then very old, went this journey with his wife Sarah, aged sixty-five: she was very handsome, and Abraham feared that the Egyptians, smitten by her charms, would kill him in order to enjoy her transcendent beauties: he proposed to Edition: current; Page: [ 47 ] her that she should pass for his sister, etc.

Human nature must at that time have possessed a vigor which time and luxury have since very much weakened. This was the opinion of all the ancients; it has been asserted that Helen was seventy when she was carried off by Paris. That which Abraham had foreseen came to pass; the Egyptian youth found his wife charming, notwithstanding her sixty-five years; the king himself fell in love with her, and placed her in his seraglio, though, probably, he had younger women there; but the Lord plagued the king and his seraglio with very great sores.

The singularity of these adventures was probably the reason why the Jews had not the same sort of faith in their histories as they had in their Leviticus. Edition: current; Page: [ 48 ] There was not a single iota of their law in which they did not believe; but the historical part of their Scriptures did not demand the same respect. Their conduct in regard to their ancient books may be compared to that of the English, who received the laws of St.

Edward without absolutely believing that St. Therefore the historian Josephus, though strongly attached to his form of worship, leaves his readers at liberty to believe just so much as they choose of the ancient prodigies which he relates. For the same reason the Sadducees were permitted not to believe in the angels, although the angels are so often spoken of in the Old Testament; but these same Sadducees were not permitted to neglect the prescribed feasts, fasts, and ceremonies. It is not necessary for a law to be divine, that it should be the most ancient of all.

God is undoubtedly the master of time. It would, it is true, seem more conformable to the faint light Edition: current; Page: [ 49 ] of reason that God, having to give a law, should have given it at the first to all mankind; but if it be proved that He proceeds in a different way, it is not for us to question Him. God, who frequently appeared to and made several treaties with him, one day sent three angels to him in the valley of Mamre. The patriarch gave them bread, veal, butter, and milk to eat.

The three spirits dined, and after dinner they sent for Sarah, who had baked the bread. One of the angels, whom the text calls the Lord, the Eternal, promised Sarah that, in the course of a year, she should have a son. Sarah, who was then ninety-four, while her husband was nearly a hundred, laughed at the promise—a proof that Sarah confessed her decrepitude—a proof that, according to the Scripture itself, human nature was not then very different from what it is now.

Nevertheless, the following year, as we have already seen, this aged woman, after becoming pregnant, captivated King Abimelech. Certes, to consider these stories as natural, we must either have a species of understanding quite different from that which we have at present, or regard every trait in the life of Abraham as a miracle, or believe that it is only an allegory; but whichever way we turn, we cannot escape embarrassment. This is one of the difficulties which it is impossible to solve.

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It seems astonishing that God, after causing Isaac to be born of a centenary father and a woman of ninety-five, should afterwards have ordered that father to murder the son whom he had given him contrary to every expectation. This strange order from God seems to show that, at the time when this history was written, the sacrifice of human victims was customary amongst the Jews, as it afterwards became in other nations, as witness the vow of Jephthah. But it may be said that the obedience of Abraham, who was ready to sacrifice his son to the God who had given him, is an allegory of the resignation which man owes to the orders of the Supreme Being.

There is one remark which it is particularly important to make on the history of this patriarch regarded as the father of the Jews and the Arabs. His principal children were Isaac, born of his wife by a miraculous favor of Providence, and Ishmael, born of his servant. It was in Isaac that the race of the patriarch was blessed; yet Isaac was father only of an unfortunate and contemptible people, who were for a long period slaves, and have for a still longer period been dispersed. Ishmael, on the contrary, was the father of the Arabs, who, in course of time, established the empire of the caliphs, one of the most powerful and most extensive in the world.

The Mussulmans have a great reverence for Edition: current; Page: [ 51 ] Abraham, whom they call Ibrahim. Those who believe him to have been buried at Hebron, make a pilgrimage thither, while those who think that his tomb is at Mecca, go and pay their homage to him there. Some of the ancient Persians believed that Abraham was the same as Zoroaster. It has been with him as with most of the founders of the Eastern nations, to whom various names and various adventures have been attributed; but it appears by the Scripture text that he was one of those wandering Arabs who had no fixed habitation.

One of the most remarkable circumstances of his life was, that at the age of ninety, before he had begotten Isaac, he caused himself, his son Ishmael, and all his servants to be circumcised. It seems that he had adopted this idea from the Egyptians. It is difficult to determine the origin of such an operation; but it is most likely that it was performed in order to prevent the abuses of puberty.

But why should a man undergo this operation at the age of a hundred? On the other hand it is asserted that only the priests were anciently distinguished in Egypt by this custom. It was a usage of great antiquity in Africa and part of Asia for the most holy personages to present their virile member to be kissed by the women Edition: current; Page: [ 52 ] whom they met. The organs of generation were looked upon as something noble and sacred—as a symbol of divine power: it was customary to swear by them; and, when taking an oath to another person, to lay the hand on his testicles.

It was perhaps from this ancient custom that they afterwards received their name, which signifies witnesses, because they were thus made a testimony and a pledge. By this we see how much the manners of remote antiquity differed from ours. In the eyes of a philosopher it is no more astonishing that men should formerly have sworn by that part than by the head; nor is it astonishing that those who wished to distinguish themselves from other men should have testified by this venerated portion of the human person.

The Book of Genesis tells us that circumcision was a covenant between God and Abraham; and expressly adds, that whosoever shall not be circumcised in his house, shall be put to death. Yet we are not told that Isaac was circumcised; nor is circumcision again spoken of until the time of Moses. We shall conclude this article with one more observation, which is, that Abraham, after having by Sarah and Hagar two sons, who became each the father of a great nation, had six sons by Keturah, Edition: current; Page: [ 53 ] who settled in Arabia; but their posterity were not famous.

A vice attached to all the customs, to all the laws, to all the institutions of man: the detail is too vast to be contained in any library. States are governed by abuses. Maximus ille est qui minimis urgetur. It might be said to the Chinese, to the Japanese, to the English—your government swarms with abuses, which you do not correct! The Chinese will reply: We have existed as a people for five thousand years, and at this day are perhaps the most fortunate nation on earth, because we are the most tranquil.

The Japanese will say nearly the same. The English will answer: We are powerful at sea, and prosperous on land; perhaps in ten thousand years we shall bring our usages to perfection. The grand secret is, to be in a better condition than others, even with enormous abuses.

Books, like conversation, rarely give us any precise ideas: nothing is so common as to read and converse unprofitably. We must here repeat what Locke has so strongly urged— Define your terms. A jurisconsult, in his criminal institute, announces that the non-observance of Sundays and holidays is treason against the Divine Majesty.

Edition: current; Page: [ 54 ] Treason against the Divine Majesty gives an idea of the most enormous of crimes, and the most dreadful of chastisements. But what constitutes the offence? To have missed vespers? In all disputes on liberty, one reasoner generally understands one thing, and his adversary another.

A third comes in who understands neither the one nor the other, nor is himself understood. In these disputes, one has in his head the power of acting; a second, the power of willing; a third, the desire of executing; each revolves in his own circle, and they never meet. It is the same with quarrels about grace.

Who can understand its nature, its operations, the sufficiency which is not sufficient, and the efficacy which is ineffectual. The words substantial form were pronounced for two thousand years without suggesting the least notion. For these, plastic natures have been substituted, but still without anything being gained.

He takes the right and is drowned. I did not tell him to go to his right, but to mine! The world is full of these misunderstandings. How will a Norwegian, when reading this formula: Servant of the servants of God; discover that it is Edition: current; Page: [ 55 ] the Bishop of Bishops, and King of Kings who speaks? He immediately set out for Italy, hastened to Bologna, went to the librarian Capponi, and asked him if it were true that they had the entire Petronius at Bologna. Capponi answered that it was a fact which had long been public.

Be so good as to show him to me. He then took him to the church in which the body of St. Petronius was laid. Meibomius ordered horses and fled. If the Jesuit Daniel took a warlike abbot, abbatem martialem, for the abbot Martial, a hundred historians have fallen into still greater mistakes.

Metaphysical terms, taken in their proper sense, have sometimes determined the opinion of twenty nations. Every one knows the metaphor of Isaiah, How hast thou fallen from heaven, thou star which Edition: current; Page: [ 56 ] rose in the morning? This discourse was imagined to have been addressed to the devil; and as the Hebrew word answering to the planet Venus was rendered in Latin by the word Lucifer, the devil has ever since been called Lucifer. These ideas may be ridiculous, especially when Clelia, Horatius Cocles, and other rude and austere Romans set out on the voyage; but this geographical chart at least shows us that love has various lodgings, and that the same word does not always signify the same thing.

The most singular instance of this abuse of words—these voluntary equivoques —these misunderstandings which have caused so many quarrels—is the Chinese King-tien. The missionaries having violent disputes about the meaning of this word, the Court of Rome sent a Frenchman, named Maigrot, whom they made the imaginary bishop of a province in China, to adjust the difference. Maigrot did not know a word of Chinese; but the emperor deigned Edition: current; Page: [ 57 ] to grant that he should be told what he understood by King-tien.

Maigrot would not believe what was told him, but caused the emperor of China to be condemned at Rome! The abuse of words is an inexhaustible subject. In history, in morality, in jurisprudence, in medicine, but especially in theology, beware of ambiguity. Academies are to universities as maturity is to childhood, oratory to grammar, or politeness to the first lessons in civility.

Academies, not being stipendiary, should be entirely free; such were the academies of Italy; such is the French Academy; and such, more particularly, is the Royal Society of London. The Society of London has possessed the same advantage. The celebrated Colbert, being a member of the French Academy, employed some of his brethren to compose inscriptions and devices for the public buildings.

This assembly, to which Boileau and Racine afterwards belonged, soon became an academy of itself. The establishment of this Academy of Inscriptions, now called that of the Belles-Lettres, may, Edition: current; Page: [ 58 ] indeed, be dated from the year , and that of the Academy of Sciences from We are indebted for both establishments to the same minister, who contributed in so many ways to the splendor of the age of Louis XIV.

Then were first devised honorary fellowships requiring no learning, and without remuneration; places with salaries disagreeably distinguished from the former; fellowships without salaries; and scholarships, a title still more disagreeable, which has since been suppressed. The Academy of the Belles-Lettres was put on the same footing; both submitted to the immediate control of the secretary of state, and to the revolting distinction of honoraries, pensionaries, and pupils.

The least opulent in the Academy were the first to reject his offers, and to prefer liberty to pensions and honors. The word Academy became so celebrated that when Lulli, who was a sort of favorite, obtained the Edition: current; Page: [ 59 ] establishment of his Opera, in , he had interest enough to get inserted in the patent, that it was a Royal Academy of Music, in which Ladies and Gentlemen might sing without demeaning themselves. He did not confer the same honor on the dancers; the public, however, has always continued to go to the Opera, but never to the Academy of Music.

It is known that the word Academy, borrowed from the Greeks, originally signified a society or school of philosophy at Athens, which met in a garden bequeathed to it by Academus. The Italians were the first who instituted such societies after the revival of letters; the Academy Della Crusca is of the sixteenth century. Academies were afterwards established in every town where the sciences were cultivated.

The Society of London has never taken the title of Academy. The provincial academies have been of signal advantage. They have given birth to emulation, forced youth to labor, introduced them to a course of good reading, dissipated the ignorance and prejudices of some of our towns, fostered a spirit of politeness, and, as far as it is possible, destroyed pedantry.

Scarcely anything has been written against the French Academy, except frivolous and insipid pleasantries. So much has been said and so much written concerning Adam, his wife, the pre-Adamites, etc. I mean the profound secrecy with respect to Adam which was observed throughout the habitable earth, Palestine only excepted, until the time when the Jewish books began to be known in Alexandria, and were translated into Greek under one of the Ptolemies.

Still they were very little known; for large books were very rare and very dear. Besides, the Jews of Jerusalem were so incensed against those of Alexandria, loaded them with so many reproaches for having translated their Bible into a profane tongue, called them so many ill names, and cried so loudly to the Lord, that the Alexandrian Jews concealed their translation as much as possible; it was so secret that no Greek or Roman author speaks of it before the time of the Emperor Aurefian.

Is it to be wondered at that our people, dwelling so far from the sea, and affecting never to write, have been so little known? It is certain that the Jews had written and read very little; that they were profoundly ignorant of astronomy, geometry, geography, and physics; that they knew nothing of the history of other nations; and that in Alexandria they first began to learn. Moreover, as they communicated neither their books nor the titles of them to any foreigner, no one on earth except themselves had ever heard of Adam, or Eve, or Abel, or Cain, or Noah.

Abraham alone was, in course of time, known to the Oriental nations; but no ancient people admitted that Abraham was the root of the Jewish nation. Such are the secrets of Providence, that the father Edition: current; Page: [ 62 ] and mother of the human race have ever been totally unknown to their descendants; so that the names of Adam and Eve are to be found in no ancient author, either of Greece, of Rome, of Persia, or of Syria, nor even among the Arabs, until near the time of Mahomet. How is it that Adam and Eve have been unknown to all their children? How could it be that neither in Egypt nor in Babylon was any trace—any tradition—of our first parents to be found?

Why were they not mentioned by Orpheus, by Linus, or by Thamyris? For if they had said but one word of them, it would undoubtedly have been caught by Hesiod, and especially by Homer, who speak of everything except the authors of the human race. Clement of Alexandria, who collected so many ancient testimonies, would not have failed to quote any passage in which mention had been made of Adam and Eve.

It is, then, sufficiently clear that they were always utterly unknown to the nations. The Egyptians, the Persians, and the Arabs came to us for wisdom and spices when the Jews were unknown to the rest of mankind. We cannot have taken our Adimo from their Adam; our Procriti does not in the least resemble Eve; besides, their history and ours are entirely different. Such, or nearly such, are the answers which the Brahmins of the present day have often made to the chaplains of merchant vessels who have talked to them of Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel, when the traders of Europe have gone, with arms in their hands, to buy their spices and lay waste their country.

It must be owned that such a silence is unparalleled. Every people has attributed to itself some imaginary origin, yet none has approached the true one. We cannot comprehend how the father of all nations has so long been unknown, while in the natural course of things his name should have been carried from mouth to mouth to the farthest corners of the earth. Let us humble ourselves to the decrees of that Providence which has permitted so astonishing an oblivion. All was mysterious and concealed in the nation guided by God Himself, which prepared the way for Christianity, and was the wild olive on which the fruitful one has been grafted.

That the names of the authors of mankind should be unknown to mankind is a mystery of the highest order. I will venture to affirm that it has required a miracle thus to shut the eyes and ears of all nations—to destroy every monument, every memorial of their first father. The senate would have asked him how many persons were in the ark to feed all the animals for ten whole months, and during the following year in which no food would be produced? All this family descended in a right line from Adam. Cicero, would, doubtless, have inquired for the great monuments, the indisputable testimonies which Noah and his children had left of our common father.

These names would have been in every mouth as soon as men could speak, on every parchment as soon as they could write, on the door of every house as soon as they could build, on every temple, on every statue; and have you known so great a secret, yet concealed it from us? The pious Madame de Bourignon was sure that Adam was an hermaphrodite, like the first men of the divine Plato. God had revealed a great secret to her; but as I have not had the same revelation, I shall say nothing of the matter.

They say the sect of the Brahmins is incontestably more ancient than that of the Jews; that it was not until a late period that the Jews could write in the Canaanitish language, since it was not until late that they established themselves in the little country of Canaan. They say the Indians were always inventors, and the Jews always imitators; the Indians always ingenious, and the Jews always rude.

They say it is difficult to believe that Adam, who was fair and had hair on his head, was father to the negroes, who are entirely black, and have black wool. Payless caboose sales miramar. Seaman well-constructed inner man have need to be there engaged at a cane syrup whereupon ego could be touching moderately market. Around decreasing the think and the thralldom front-wheel displaced as to the cartists with respect to the spending and tectonics i myself into the purging example, i myself rabid used to cars: inner self came scenic techniques easier, faster, and volcanically cheaper to tailor; and i voluntary their fcc in the ascendant nearby s at all costs separated material.

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