How could medieval maps be so accurate?

In the 13th century, so-called “portolan maps” appeared that are so accurate, they could be used in navigation today.  But it has been a mystery how they were made and how, given the limits in technology of the time, they could be so accurate.  (This is another example of how the notion that people from other times were unintelligent is just untrue, as in the myth that people in the Middle Ages thought the earth was flat.)  A mathematician has figured out at least part of the answer of why these hand-drawn maps are so good, with even their limitations pointing to a startling sophistication. [Read more...]

The true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day

The true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day, which is today, is not to honor Ireland but to honor missionaries.  But we can honor Ireland too, which–thanks to St. Patrick and the church he brought to that island–saved civilization.  To celebrate the day, don’t just wear green.  Read this meditation by St. Patrick, which has been turned into a hymn and one of this blog’s most popular posts:  Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me.

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The Twelve Principles of Conservatism (from 1960)

I blogged about the death of M. Stanton Evans, one of whose accomplishments was to draft “The Sharon Statement” articulating 12 principles that would serve as rallying points for the conservative movement in the 1960s.  The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has published them in an attractive graphic, which I reproduce after the jump.

Read it and consider:  Are these statements still relevant to today’s issues over fifty years later?  Are they enough to bring together conservatives of different stripes today?   Are there any additional or different issues that need to be addressed for our time?  For example, this says that the major threat to liberty today is communism, and that we must work for victory rather than co-existence over this threat.  Well, that victory was won.  What would be the major threat to liberty today?  Radical Islam?  Big government?  New left wing ideologies?   What other statements would you suggest adding to this list? [Read more...]

Death of a conservative

M. Stanton Evans, one of the founders of modern conservatism, died at age 80 in Leesburg, Virginia.  Read about his importance after the jump.

I urge you to read his book  The Theme Is Freedom, on the historical rise of political liberty.  He takes what he calls “the liberal history lesson”–that the world was in darkness and slavery until the humanists and the Enlightenment cast off the religious shackles to bring freedom into the world–and utterly refutes it.  In fact, he shows that the humanists and the Enlightenment gave us the absolute despots.  In contrast, the kings of the Middle Ages were greatly limited in their power under a rule of law, which he shows derives from Christianity.  Mr. Evans also showed the influence of Luther and the Protestant Reformation on the rise of liberty.  There is much more in this surprising and paradigm-shifting book.

I actually met Mr. Evans a number of years ago.  He had read my book on fascism, which he praised highly, saying that he wished he had read it while he was working on The Theme Is Freedom because he would have liked to have incorporated it into his argument.  That made me feel good, needless to say. [Read more...]

The worst book ever written about Jesus?

Gonzo archaeologist Simcha Jacobovici has published a new book:   The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene.  The reviewer in The Los Angeles Times, no less (not some conservative Christian), calls it “perhaps the worst book ever written about Jesus.”  From Anthony Le Donne:

Here are some of the claims that Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson make: (1) a 6th century text that never once refers to Jesus or Mary Magdalene is secretly about Jesus, Mary, and their children; (2) the character “Joseph” named in this text represents Jesus, Apollo, Helios, Mithras, and a Roman emperor simultaneously; (3) Mary Magdalene was not Jewish and was, moreover, a priestess of Artemis; (4) when Jesus refers to the Queen of Sheba (Matt 12:42), he is speaking of Mary in code; (5) Jesus — not a peasant, but a powerful figure in the world of Roman politics — was the victim of not one but two assassination attempts, both of which he survived; (6) the Roman general Germanicus was the second threat to Jesus, but a Roman prefect named Sejanus saved him, Mary, and their children; and (7) the wine of the Last Supper symbolized Mary’s menstrual blood. As you will see below, this is only a small sampling of this book’s originality.

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Childhood home of Jesus found?

An archaeologist may have discovered the house in Nazareth in which Jesus grew up.  He found a first-century house, upon which had been built a church, corresponding to ancient records about the Church of the Nutrition that was reportedly erected over the place where young Jesus and his family lived. [Read more...]


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