Recorded History   (2021Mar07)

Sunday, March 07, 2021                                          5:59 AM

Recorded History   (2021Mar07)

[It’s actually Nov. 1st, 2021, now. Hope you enjoyed your Halloween.]

Here’s something I typed in March. I’m not sure why I didn’t post it, at the time. Probably just some insecurity on my part, as to whether anyone in the world was still interested in anything but the media’s panic attack (read: ‘Special Breaking Report’s w/lots of high-priced air-time):


It’s ironic. (For me, at least—if you had watched the documentary about Suleiman the Magnificent and then looked up “1520: events in England” on Wiki, like I just did, you’d find it ironic too.)

Picture it. It’s the early sixteenth century, let’s say 1520. Suleiman the Magnificent is Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. His reign will see the patronage of the arts, architecture, and poetry. His Empire conquered parts of Europe, so his bench of artisans was varied and deep—including bookbinders.

Now, up to this point, the whole world read on an even playing field: anything important enough to copy multiple times, by hand, was handled by monks, scribes, whatever—writers, that is, but not like we think of writers. Literacy was a rare skill in 1520, even among gentry.

But, in England, in 1520, a guy named William Tynsdale published the first English translation of the Bible in England. Certainly, he had to run away immediately, because Henry VIII may have severed ties with Rome, but he was by no means leading the Reformation—his Clergymen wanted William executed.

After leading them a merry chase, as a lion-hearted English outlaw is wont to do—managing to spread hundreds of English bibles to new Protestant ‘preachers’, whose greatest imperative was piety and poverty—the Church of England clergy got their wish—but it was too late. Tynsdale’s translation was an excellent interpretation from original Greek and Latin texts.

Short decades later, the bible for which William Tynsdale was executed by strangulation (for heresy) and then burned at the stake (for good measure?) became legal, and was widely plagiarized—including large parts of the “King James Version of the Holy Bible” that soon followed.

Meanwhile, the Ottoman Empire is in the ascendant, fully engaged with the scholarship and research of the day, more than a conquering power—a civilizing influence under which much learning and sophistication is achieved.

Nevertheless, the Ottoman Empire got snagged on a technicality—we Westerners may have been brash enough to alter the “Word of God”, and invent movable type, etc. and so on, but the sacred script of the Quran was an entirely different matter. The flowing script of Arabic texts is far less amenable to regimentation than the Roman alphabet.

In the West, printing took off like a shot—and the Bible remains the greatest-selling printed book in history. For the Ottomans, another two centuries would pass before printing in Arabic would become common (and legal) in spite of reading, and trading, in printed books from the West.

It’s a little thing that made so much difference. The fragility felt by Ottomans towards the risk of desecrating the Quran, is much like the furor caused today, when someone dares to depict the Prophet’s portrait. I don’t know much about people from other countries or cultures. But I do know that the Mid-East is the longest occupied strip of dirt in the world—and those folks’ roots go deep—like primordial deep. And I’m not sure Westerners are prepared, or interested, in learning enough about them to keep them from trying to kill us, as a national pastime in some places.

[Okay, now I remember–that psycho ending! What the Hell was I trying to get at? I supposed I was thinking of the ‘modern crusades’, wherein Christians and Muslims consider themselves deadly enemies, regardless of treaties, alliances, or reassurances. And I’ll tell you: Some people just like to Hate–it’s what they focus on, as the point of existence. Lots of Christians and Muslims don’t feel that way–quite the opposite. But the Haters do exist. And we must keep an eye on them–whichever side they hate from.]

The Martyr Kashogi

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