A brief stop in Andalusia

A brief stop in Andalusia May 28, 2022


In Sevilla
El Patio de las doncellas (“the Courtyard of the Maidens”) in Seville’s Real Alcázar (“Royal Palace”)
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)


La Giralda
Seville’s marvelous cathedral, with La Giralda, which began its life as the minaret for the Great Mosque of Seville and is now the cathedral’s bell tower. (Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)


Maria Luisa might have liked it
The Plaza de España in Seville, adjacent to the garden of Maria Luisa
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)




We docked this morning in the ancient Spanish city of Cádiz, which was founded by the Phoenicians more than three thousand years ago.  Alas, though, a choice was forced upon us, and we chose to join a tour to Seville, about two hours away.  I regret not seeing more of Cádiz, but I don’t regret visiting Seville.  It was our second time there, and it was really good to refresh our memories of the city and to see aspects and parts of it that we had not seen during our brief previous experience.  We visited the magnificent Plaza de España in the Maria Luisa Park, and then visited the royal palace (the “Real Alcázar,” from Arabic al-qasr) and the Cathedral of Seville, which is built upon the site of a preceding Moorish mosque and still includes major elements of that earlier Muslim building in its “close” and in its famous bell tower, La Giralda.  I was in hog heaven amongst all of the Arabic inscriptions and Arabic artistic motifs — an entirely inapt metaphor for my thorough enjoyment of the material heritage left by the famous Andalusian Convivencia.  (The city is situated, no less, on the Rio Guadalquivir = Arabic al-wadi al-kabir, “the big valley.”)  And the gardens of Maria Luisa made me almost want to seize the guide’s microphone and launch into the lecture that I gave two or three times annually during my entire tenure at BYU, on the concept of the Islamic garden and its antecedents in ancient Persia and in the descriptions of paradise given in the Qur’an.  After the touring, we had a tapas lunch not far from the Cathedral.


However, I think that it’s well past time for me to point out that we are paying for this cruise, which we’re taking with friends, on our own dime, from our own pocketses.  It hasn’t been paid for by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or by the tithe payers of the Church, or by the Cruise Lady company, or by the Illuminati, or by the Learned Elders of Zion, or by the Rosicrucians, or by any other shady conspiracy of clandestine financial backers with sinister motives.  It’s coming from our own personal bank account.  We’ve saved money and set aside funds to do such things.  We’ve foregone other things in order to allocate resources this way.  We don’t buy new cars very often, for example.  We don’t invest in vintage automobiles, collect rare stamps, attend Utah Jazz games, belong to a country club, or breed prize roses.  And we don’t play the horses or place big wagers in Vegas.


I say this because I know that some of my more obsessive and unhinged critics will be fretting themselves sick over our having taken this trip.  Our personal finances have them perpetually on edge.  But here’s the deal:  We’re doing it because we enjoy traveling and seeing things and learning about history and cultures.  We’re weird that way.  But I believe that we’re also within our legal rights to take such a trip.




This interested me:


“Elder Gerrit W. Gong addresses an Inter-American interfaith forum in Mexico’s Senate Chambers”


So did this, and I look forward to reading the book:


“One man’s unlikely spiritual journey from Black Panther to Latter-day Saint”




I freely though guiltily admit that I have been very neglectful of those who need constant stimulation from the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File©.  It’s my responsibility to take care of them.  So I’m pleased to be able to offer this modest little item as a temporary measure of relief for them.  It should provide at least a few deliciously savory minutes of indignation at the horrors that are routinely visited upon our world by religion and religious people:


“The ways new donations from the Church will help health care in Nicaragua”


And although I haven’t yet had the opportunity to read this article, which was kindly brought to my notice by Dr. Lynn Johnson, there’s a chance that it may also come ultimately from the Hitchens File.  We shall see:


“Religion, Meaning and Purpose, and Mental Health,” in Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 7/1 (2015): 1-12:

The present study was specifically designed to examine the associations among religious commitment, belief in meaning and purpose in life, and psychiatric symptoms among the general public using data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey (BRS). The BRS obtained data from a nationwide sample of 1,714U.S. adults, 1,450 of which are included in the current analyses. The central hypothesis of the study, based on identity theory, was that religious commitment would interact with belief in meaning and purpose in their net associations on psychiatric symptoms: general anxiety, social anxiety, paranoia, obsession, and compulsion. Specifically, it was hypothesized that believing life lacks meaning and purpose will have a more pernicious association among highly religious individuals, than it will among individuals who are less religious. Other hypotheses derived from previous research were also tested. The results confirm the central hypothesis of the study for 4 of the 5 classes of psychiatric symptoms. The results are discussed with respect to identity theory, evolutionary threat assessment systems (ETAS) theory, and the hostile world scenario.


The article was written by Kathleen Galek (The Spears Research Institute, Healthcare Chaplaincy, NewYork, New York), Kevin J. Flannelly (Center for Psychosocial Research, Massapequa, New York), Christopher G. Ellison (The University of Texas at San Antonio), Nava R. Silton (Marymount Manhattan College), and Katherine R. B. Jankowski (Center for Psychosocial Research, Massapequa, New York).




In other news:  I’m evidently still in a furious rage about the FX/Hulu miniseries Under the Banner of Heaven.  Somebody said so online.


Posted from the Gulf of Cádiz, off the coast of Spain



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