CRASH COURSE HOLIDAY LANDMARK SERIES: Three Sundays – December 1st, 8th & 15th, spanning five centuries of art, two thousand years in the making.
CRASH COURSE HOLIDAY LANDMARK SERIES: Three Sundays – December 1st, 8th & 15th, spanning five centuries of art, two thousand years in the making.
Whilst it is unlikely Scotland’s patron saint ever actually visited the country, we have been celebrating St Andrew’s Day for centuries.
St Andrew was born in the biblical village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee in between the years 5AD and 10AD.
He was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples and was as a fishermen in Galilee. Andrew was a Christian preacher and is thought to have traveled to Greece on a Christian mission. However when there, he is believed to have been killed by crucifixion, on a diagonal cross-shaped crucifix at Patras.
His links to Scotland are unclear, but one particularly well-known story centres on St Andrew’s role in battle betweel the Scots and Picts, and the Angles in the 9th century.
According to legend, St Andrew appeared to the Pictish King Óengus mac Fergusa (Óengus II) in a dream and told him his army would be victorious. On the day of the battle, the symbol of a saltire – reminiscent of the diagonal cross St Andrew was crucified on – appeared in the sky and Óengus II and his army were triumphant.
Scotland’s flag was chosen in honour of that moment, and it is also how the ancient town of St Andrew’s got its name.
The tradition of celebrating it on this day was conceived by 18th century ex patriots in the United States, who were keen to reconnect with their Scottish roots.
Different regions of Scotland have their own traditions and events to commemorate the day.
East Lothian hosts the annual Saltire Festival with a 10K night run, golfing tournament, crafting workshops and traditional music performances.
Elsewhere, you can find a stunning torchlight procession through the Glasgow’s West End.
This excerpt from a homily on the Gospel of John by St. John Chrysostom is used in the readings for November 30, the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, son of Zebedee and brother of St. Peter. Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist before he left John to follow Jesus. The Gospel of John tells us that it was actually Andrew who brought his brother Peter to Christ. With Philip he presented the Gentiles to Christ and set the stage for the feeding of the 5,000 in the wilderness by bringing the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus. After Pentecost, tradition tells us that he preached the Gospel to many nations and was put to death by crucifixion at Achaia. A famous statue of the martyred apostle carrying his cross can be seen near the main altar at St. Peter’s basilica in Rome.
After Andrew had stayed with Jesus and had learned much from him, he did not keep this treasure to himself, but hastened to share it with his brother. Notice what Andrew said to him: We have found the Messiah, that is to say, the Christ. Notice how his words reveal what he has learned in so short a time. They show the power of the master who has convinced them of this truth. They reveal the zeal and concern of men preoccupied with this question from the very beginning. Andrew’s words reveal a soul waiting with the utmost longing for the coming of the Messiah, looking forward to his appearing from heaven, rejoicing when he does appear, and hastening to announce so great an event to others. To support one another in the things of the spirit is the true sign of good will between brothers, of loving kinship and sincere affection.
Notice, too, how, even from the beginning, Peter is docile and receptive in spirit. He hastens to Jesus without delay. He brought him to Jesus, says the evangelist. But Peter must not be condemned for his readiness to accept Andrew’s word without much weighing of it. It is probable that his brother had given him, and many others, a careful account of the event; the evangelists, in the interest of brevity, regularly summarise a lengthy narrative. Saint John does not say that Peter believed immediately, but that he brought him to Jesus. Andrew was to hand him over to Jesus, to learn everything for himself. There was also another disciple present, and he hastened with them for the same purpose.
When John the Baptist said: This is the Lamb, and he baptizes in the Spirit, he left the deeper understanding of these things to be received from Christ. All the more so would Andrew act in the same way, since he did not think himself able to give a complete explanation. He brought his brother to the very source of light, and Peter was so joyful and eager that he would not delay even for a moment.
I cannot think of a better song/music video for this day than Scotland’s very own Big Country…
Astronomers using a radio telescope in Western Australia have captured a stunning new view of our Milky Way galaxy. The image taken of the heart of the galactic center is from the Murchison Widefield Array and reveals what humans would see if our eyes processed radio waves. “This new view captures low-frequency radio emission from our galaxy, looking both in fine detail and at larger structures,” said Astrophysicist Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker, from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).
Residents of the Canadian city of Edmonton were bewildered on Tuesday evening when an eerie beam of light appeared in the sky and sparked some truly fantastic theories for what had created it. The wondrous sight was reportedly first spotted at around seven o’clock at night and remained visible for hours. As is often the case with such events, numerous puzzled observers posted photos of the odd illumination on social media and speculated about what it might have been.
It would seem that the two most popular possibilities offered by amused witnesses were that the beam was an indication that aliens had arrived or, failing that, the illumination was demonic in nature. More serious-minded individuals raised concerns that the strange light was coming from a disaster of some kind and proceeded to flood the phone lines of the fire department, who eventually took to Twitter to offer an explanation for what people were seeing in the sky. Fortunately, it turned out that the beam of light was neither alien nor demonic and had a much less sinister origin.
According to the Edmonton Fire Rescue Services department, the beam of light was coming from a nearby refinery which was burning excess and unusable gasses in a process known as ‘flaring.’ They went on to thank residents for reporting the seemingly strange event and assured them that “this is not a fire event.” And for those in Edmonton who may have missed all the commotion, the department said that the flaring will continue for the next two days, so they may get a chance to catch a glimpse of the ‘alien’ beam tonight.
If you are accustomed to my blog (or even my past tweets for that matter), you are no doubt used to several daily features I post. These will all return to my blog in December. Meanwhile, you can always see past posts on the topic by doing a quick search.
It has long been observed that cows appear to have a talent for weather forecasting and are able to predict when rain is on the way, but until now their navigational abilities have been largely ignored and considered utterly ridicules.
Their innate ability to find north is believed to be a relic from the days when their wild ancestors needed an accurate sense of direction to migrate across the plains of Africa, Asia and Europe.
Dr Sabine Begall and colleagues from the University of Duisburg-Essen (a public university in Duisburg and Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany) looked at thousands of images of cattle on Google Earth in Scotland, England, Ireland, India and the USA. They also studied 3,000 deer in the Czech Republic. The deer tended to face north when resting or grazing.
Although, in many cases, the images were not clear enough to determine which way the cattle were facing they were aligned on a north/south axis.
The scientists concluded that they were behaving in the same way as the deer. Huge variations in the wind direction and sunlight in the areas where the beasts were found meant that the scientists were able to rule out those factors as being responsible for the direction they were facing.
“We conclude that the magnetic field is the only common and most likely factor responsible for the observed alignment,” the scientists wrote in an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
It is already known that many species use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate across the planet. Examples include migratory turtles, salmon, termites and birds.
Animals are thought to use their own internal magnets made of crystals of magnetite. Homing pigeons have a small amount of the substance on their beaks, which gives them their uncannily accurate powers of navigation.
A Crash Course Historical Perspective of Acts 27 & 28
Tracing the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, he was arrested in Judea, tried, and then transported as a prisoner to Rome. From the standpoint of historical evidence, the account found in the book of Acts recording Saint Paul’s voyage and shipwreck is supported by a wealth of detail. History provides us with a striking meteorological and nautical confirmation of the biblical record.
Acts 27.12 – 28.1
Luke records that the ship drifted for fourteen days in the gale and then shipwrecked on the island of Malta, halfway across the Mediterranean. This account of a fourteen day gale, followed by a shipwreck on a remote island, reads like a tall tale.
However, the meteorological and nautical evidence demonstrates, and in rather spectacular fashion, that these events must have occurred just as Luke records them.
The most important piece of evidence is the exact compass bearing of the gale. This bearing can be established by means of three separate calculations.
First, Luke states that Euraquilo struck shortly after they left Fair Havens. In other words, the ship must have been less than halfway to their intended destination at Phoenix. They must have been somewhere between Cape Matala and a point seventeen miles W.N.W. of the Cape when the gale struck.
Second, there is the relation of the island of Clauda (or Cauda) to this start point. Cape Matala is on a bearing of east 7 degrees north from the eastern edge of Clauda, while the halfway point to Phoenix is east 40 degrees north.
For the ship to get behind Clauda, Euraquilo must have been blowing from a point somewhere between these two bearings. The point midway between these two figures is east 25 degrees north (or E.N.E. 1/4 N.). This cannot be more than a point and a half off the actual direction of the wind.
Third, Luke states that when they got behind Clauda, the sailors were afraid that they would be blown onto the Syrtis sandbanks of north Africa. However, for them to have been blown onto those banks from Clauda, Euraquilo would have had to have been blowing from a point somewhere between east 18 degrees north and east 37 degrees north.
The point midway between these figures is east 27 degrees north. This figure is only 1/4 point off the mean figure of the previous calculation. These three calculations establish that the direction from which the wind was blowing could not have been more than a point off the designation E.N.E. 1/2 N.
This brings us to a another dramatic piece of evidence. As the ship drifted west from Clauda, it would have been pointed due north. We know this because it could not have been pointed directly into the wind without capsizing.
In other words, it had to have been pointed north, just off the direction from which the wind was coming. Using this information, we can calculate with some precision both the direction and rate of the ship’s drift to the west.
Ancient records reveal that Egyptian grain ships were the largest vessels of the time, being about the size of an early nineteenth century sailing vessel. This size is implicitly confirmed by Luke’s statement that there were 276 people on board.
Since their ship was pointed due north, while the wind was from the northeast, we can roughly calculate the direction of ship’s lateral – or sideways – drift.
The azimuth, or direction, of the ship’s drift from Clauda would have been approximately west eight degrees north. The island of Malta is not directly west of Clauda. Instead, Malta’s bearing from Clauda is exactly west eight degrees north.
This brings us to yet another piece of evidence. Luke states that it took them fourteen days to drift to Malta. The distance from Clauda to the easternmost point of Malta is 476.6 miles. To calculate the westward rate of drift of their ship, it is necessary to know two things: the size of the ship and the force of the gale.
We know the approximate size of the ship and it is possible to establish the mean intensity of the gale. We can then calculate an average rate of drift for Paul’s vessel. This calculation reveals an average westward drift of one and one half miles per hour. Thus it would take Paul’s ship about thirteen days to drift to Malta. Luke records that it took them fourteen days.
In a related story dated September 2019, researchers claim to have identified an anchor from St. Paul’s shipwreck on the island of Malta.
“The ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf,” according to the Acts of the Apostles. “Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta.”
Acts also notes that four anchors were dropped from the ship and subsequently cut loose, enabling the ship to run aground.
The Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration (BASE) Institute believes that it has identified evidence of the shipwreck, which occurred around 60 A.D.
In a post on the organization’s website, BASE says that four ancient anchors were recovered by local divers, adding that only one of the anchors has been preserved. “The fourth anchor was preserved as part of a deceased diver’s legacy to his widow,” BASE writes. The organization, which is led by Bob Cornuke, also believes that the shipwreck happened in St. Thomas Bay on Malta’s southern coast, as opposed to in what is now known as St. Paul’s Bay in the north of the island.
A bit like little black dresses, a girl can never have too many recipes for chocolate cake in her armoury. I recently read about an Italian chocolate cake made with a particular red wine and decided I just had to recreate it, albeit with a twist. Mine was made with Rioja so I suppose that would make it Spanish!
I often find chocolate cakes that use cocoa powder rather than melted chocolate can be a bit dry but this time I reckoned the wine would counter the issue – and I was correct in my assumption. This is a lovely moist cake that, at a pinch, could be served warm as a dessert with either ice cream, creme fraiche or whipped cream.
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My e-Book Nature Photography: Making Photographs with Impact is for sale, just click on the title. To view more of my photography please click on http://www.rakmilphotography.com I visited Loch Ness a long while ago when it was far more difficult to fake a photograph than it is today, of what could be the monster. […]
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