Lego My Logos!

I finished Logos this afternoon by John Neeleman, and I have to say it’s a long read.  Most of that length, however,is necessary as a story vehicle.  Neeleman takes you on a walking tour of the main character Jacob’s life, from childhood until an ultimately happy ending (more on that later).  The story starts in the opulence of Roman occupied Jerusalem and ends in the opulence of Rome.  Along the way are sojourns in the barren deserts of Palestine and the lush oasises of the Levant.  The landscape itself is featured so often that it is a major character central to the plot.  The character of Jacob, a rich Jew and son-in-law of Ananias of Bible fame, goes from having everything, to having nothing, to slowly climbing his way back onto the top, very similar to Barabbas.   He even comes to a reconciliation with the Christians at the end, just like Barabbas.  However, Jacob is an emotional child through out much of the book.  He reflects a lot of men and people.  He rages when he should be calm and loses his nerve when he needs it the most.  While the loss of nerve is a realistic character trait, Jacob’s naivety and ability to be easily won over by those that have terribly altered his life is somewhat beyond the suspension of disbelief.

Logos deals not only with one man’s life journey, but also with the fictionalized lineage of the Christian faith.  Turns out the Baptists were wrong.  The story of Christ is just a made up story, pulled from tidbits of reality, the myths of the Middle Eastern world, and the Jewish belief in a Messiah.  Modern Pagans have been saying this for years.  While of course this is a figment of Neeleman’s imagination, this story is very plausible.  And, just as I always suspected, Paul is a very slimy person and a liar.  And gay.  In fact a lot of these characters come across as gay, bi, and into dominance and submission.  Of course, in reality, that’s the whole of the Roman world.  Although Jacob has three wives, one legal and two common law, he still engages in common adolescent and early adult bi-curiosity. Jacob is often put into positions of power and expected to be dominant, but he is never able to fulfill that role and constantly defers to the Alphas around him.  He may look like a bear for most of the novel, but all he really wants to be is a cub.

Neeleman never gives in to the temptation to explore the homosexuality that is constantly poking at the robes of this novel begging to get out, but he does indulge his readers in several incredibly hot heterosexual sex scenes, which is wonderfully refreshing.  Sex between Jacob and Hannah, the legal first wife, is very kosher and married.  Sex between Jacob and Maryam, his second wife, is fiery and wild, just like the sand they lie in.  Sex between Jacob and Hypathia, his third wife, is opulent and bestial.

It helps to have a small background in Biblical history, but it’s not necessary.  If you want to read related books, I suggest Agrippa’s Daughter by Howard Fast, and Dr. Hillman’s double trouble duo: Original Sin and Hermaphrodits, Gynomorphs, and Jesus.  

So, what about this ending I alluded to?  Well, the ending had such promise to go so many ways, yet in the end it went the way you could see it headed toward, which left me a little disappointed.  I had really hoped that Jacob would finally get a steel rod for a backbone, but Neeleman never gave him one.

Info From Novel Publicity–I didn’t write any of the Following stuff, just an FYI

About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of LOGOS! Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on another participating blog:

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official LOGOS tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

About the book: While novels and cinema have repeatedly sought after the historical Jesus, until now none have explored what may be a more tantalizing mystery—the Christian story’s anonymous creator. Logos is a literary bildungsroman about the man who will become the anonymous author of the original Gospel, set amid the kaleidoscopic mingling of ancient cultures. Logos is a gripping tale of adventure, a moving love story, and a novel of ideas. None of this should be regarded as out of place or incompatible in a novel about Christianity’s origin. Dissent, anarchism, and revolution—and incipient Christianity was no less these things than the Bolshevik, the French or the American revolutions—inevitably have involved ideas, adventure, and romance.
In A.D. 66, Jacob is an educated and privileged Greco-Roman Jew, a Temple priest in Jerusalem, and a leader of Israel’s rebellion against Rome. When Roman soldiers murder his parents and his beloved sister disappears in a pogrom led by the Roman procurator, personal tragedy impels Jacob to seek blood and vengeance. The rebellion he helps to foment leads to more tragedy, personal and ultimately cosmic: his wife and son perish in the Romans’ siege of Jerusalem, and the Roman army destroys Jerusalem and the Temple, and finally extinguishes Israel at Masada. Jacob is expelled from his homeland, and he wanders by land and sea, bereft of all, until he arrives in Rome. He is still rebellious, and in Rome he joins other dissidents, but now plotting ironic vengeance, not by arms, but by the power of an idea.
Paul of Tarsus, Josephus, the keepers of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and even Yeshua, the historical Jesus himself, play a role in Jacob’s tumultuous and mysterious fortunes. But it is the women who have loved him who help him to appreciate violence’s dire cycle.Get LOGOS through Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: John Neeleman spends his days working as a trial lawyer in tall buildings in downtown Seattle. He lives in Seattle with his wife and children. He also represents death row inmates pro bono in Louisiana and Texas. As a novelist, his editorial model is historical fiction in a largely realistic mode, though there are hallucinatory passages that reflect Neeleman’s concern with philosophical and spiritual matters, in part a residue of his religious upbringing. He was raised as a seventh generation Mormon, and rebelled, but never outgrew his interest in metaphysical concerns.
Connect with John on his publisher’s website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads..
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Abraham, cover your women!: Piercing the Veil, Part 2

Before we move on to explore why different religions and cultures wear veils, I forgot to mention in Part 1 that the Dance of the Seven Veils became immensely popular after Oscar Wilde published his play Salome in 1891.  Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations only added to that popularity.

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Many different people veil, both men and women.  However, when people speak of veiling, they typically only think of women and only think of veiling in terms of religious reasons.  Originally, veiling was a cultural phenomena that was a necessity due to the climate in the Fertile Crescent.  People originally covered up to protect their head, face, and respiratory system from the Sun, heat, and dust associated with the Middle East.  As time went on, this practice became a part of different societies’ cultures and was continued even when they migrated to areas where the climate was more hospitable.  Even later in the history of veiling, the cultural practices of different people were backed up and supposedly “mandated” by religious texts.  What was once a practical, utilitarian piece of clothing became transformed into a symbol for everything from religious piety and modesty to gender equality and sexual fetishes and conversely oppression.

Let’s start by looking at Islam.  According to Ahlam Al-koor, my female guide from the Islamic Center of Charlotte and who has only worn the veil for the last ten years (http://barbedpentacle.com/2012/02/blessed-be-thy-feet-part-3-section-b-2-my-ironic-flight/), veiling is not mandatory in Islam (although all the women I observed in worship wore veils of some sort, and I was told to come veiled and well covered).  Women who choose to veil do so because it’s a cultural throwback to early pre-Christian cultures when women covered their hair for modesty.  Muslim women also “cover up in an effort to get men to threat them as equals–to focus on their brains and not their cleavage.”

While I do believe that at its core, the custom of veiling in Islam is more of a cultural practice than a religious one, there are many scriptures in the Quran that support veiling, known to a lot of Muslims as the custom of hijab.  The two most often quoted are: “And tell the believing women to lower their gazes and be modest, and to display of their adornments only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms.” (Sura An-Nur 24:31); “O; Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go outside).  That will be better, that so they may be recognized and not molested.” (Sura Al-Ahzab 33:59).  The second scripture is the one that has been quoted to me most often when I’ve asked why Muslims veil.  If it was good enough for Mohammed’s wives, then it’s good enough for me (or the women in my family), seems to be the sentiment.

If you will recall from the above mentioned blog entry about the mosque, there is a lot of style and forethought that goes into which veil a woman chooses to wear.  Many of the veils are flashy and anything but modest in pattern or cloth.  There are also many different styles of veils with varying degrees of facial coverage.  The choice as to how much to cover up seems, for a lot of women, to depend on their cultural background.

Just the plain old hijab is the most basic form of the veil.  This was the look I went for with my scarf.

These two styles were the most popular at the Islamic Center, with the scarves either matching or color coordinated with the ladies abayas.

These styles were more common with the older worshipers at the center.

Although to me personally, these two styles are the most alluring, none of the ladies at the Islamic Center wore niqabs or burquas.

There are some conservative sects of Judaism that require or encourage their female participants to “veil”.  Veiling, in case you haven’t noticed, is a loose term that many people use to simply mean a head covering.  This practice stems from the Old Testament verse in Numbers that says:  Moses is “exceedingly humble, more than any man in the world” and that Jews should strive to be like him (12:3).  Here again, I suspect that the practice was a cultural one first that was later justified by scripture.  This principal of humility and modesty is called tzniut, and it dictates modest behavior and dress for both male and female Jews, especially during worship.  Married Jewish women in Conservative and Reformed synagogues are often encouraged to cover their head in some manner, while married women in Haredi and Hassidic communities are often mandated to do so by their synagogues.

There are many different styles of head coverings employed by Jewish woman who follow the custom of tzniut.  These range from everyday hats to elaborate scarves.  The three most common form of head coverings employed are wigs (or hair falls), snoods (yes, think Gone With the Wind and Highland Games), or mitpachats/tichels–which are scarves.  Some ladies will tie their scarves under their chins, but most tie them at the back of the neck or head in a knot, either tucking the scarf ends up or leaving them down.

Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head. But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved. For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil. A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given (her) for a covering? But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God.  1 Corinthians 11: 4-16

 There was a time in European and American culture, when etiquette dictated that a proper lady wear some sort of head covering outside of the house, and going back a little further, that a proper lady also wear some sort of head covering inside of the house.  While in the 19th and 20th centuries it was seen as a mandate of etiquette and fashion, the practice stems from the above verses from Corinthians.  This is also why until the early 20th century women typically wore long hair.

Today, there are many different Christian women who still take these verses to heart and cover their hair all the time or at least when they pray or attend church.  If you say “Christian” and “veil” in the same sentence, most people will think of nuns first.

Why do nuns veil?  The simple answer is because of these verses in Corinthians.  However, their manner of veiling is due to the medieval fashions during the era when many orders were being formed.  The most popular and modest feminine head covering at the time for married ladies was the wimple, and thus it was adopted.  Being that it was a head covering worn by married women, the wimple further represented the nuns’ positions as brides of Christ (So, Jesus is a polygamist?  Just something to ponder.).

Before Vatican II in the 1960′s, Catholic women wore prayer veils to Mass.

Some of these veils consisted of plain kerchiefs or hats, but some women wore prayer shawls that were reminiscent of mantillas–those lacy symbols of Spanish culture that perfectly blend fashion, sex appeal, and Catholic and Islamic influences.

A majority of Catholic women do not wear veils to Mass any more due to changing values and different edicts handed down from the Vatican.  There are certain times, though, when you will see more veils than usual at Mass. These are first communions and during the Lenten season.  Whether or not Catholic women veil is also contingent on the age of the parishioners and where they live.  When I was in Spain, I periodically attended Mass, and all of the older women and some of the middle-aged women in the smaller towns covered their heads for Mass.  Some chose lacy mantillas without the comb, but many opted for dark kerchiefs tied under their chins.

Other Christian women besides Catholics cover their heads for prayer.  Mormons do so on occasion, but the most well-known in America are the Anabaptists,  which include the Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites, and other groups.  These ladies also follow the mandate of Corinthians, but leave their prayer veils and kapps on all the time because a true and pious Christian should understand that the opportunity for prayer occurs continually throughout the day.

Just as with other religious groups, these ladies wear a variety of styles of coverings, some based on personal choice, but most are based on their community’s choice.  Most people are familiar with the thin prayer kapps, but some prayer kapps are made out of sturdier cloth or are more heart-shaped (like a buttocks basket).  Other groups, like the Hutterites, wear a kerchief tied under their chins.  Still others clip and pin small prayer veils to their hair.  Many of the Anabaptists in my area wear the white prayer veils clipped to their hair.

The third and final part of “Piercing the Veil” will focus on the modern or not so modern trend (depending on how you look at it) of veiling in Paganism.  It will appear before the Samhain season is over and the veil is back in place.

These folks see some really great cocks all the time:

The Geeky Kink Event http://thegeekykinkevent.com/

Passion And Soul: http://passionandsoul.com/

Knotjokin Rope Floggers: http://www.knotjokin.etsy.com

Tonia Brown www.thebackseatwriter.com

Just Smack Me!: http://barbedpentacle.com/just-smack-me-a-wooden-spoon-decorating-contest/