Been There, Done That

commentary on many different thoughts

Month: June, 2015

Centerpiece

Thought you might like to meet the guardian of the cupcake tray:

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He’s all gumpaste!  The cupcakes are real, and are all gone.

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May I Recommend?

In case I have sparked any kind of interest in the man who became Genghis Khan, may I recommend the following:

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, by Jack Weatherford (Broadway Books, NY; 2004)

and from the other side:

The Devil’s Horsemen, by James Chambers (Atheneum, NY; 1985, originally published 1979)

Both are available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon, and I could possibly be persuaded to lend my copies if you ask.

Perspective

Want to know why I was so impressed with Genghis Khan’s attitude toward religious freedom?  Let me put it in perspective:

At the same time that the French envoy, Father Rubruck, was debating in Mongolia (with Buddhists and Muslims), his sponsor, King Louis IX, was busily rounding up Talmudic and Islamic texts into huge piles and burning them.  For this crime against history and humanity, the Church canonized him as St. Louis.

Remember, the Crusades are running about contemporary to this.  On one hand, the “civilized” world at war over religion.  On the other, the “barbarian hordes” engaging in free religious debate.

Just thought you might be interested.

One More Tidbit

On the subject of universal religious freedom, Genghis Khan set an example that I wish would be followed today.

The Great Khan welcomed missionaries from every possible religion to his court;  from Christianity of several stripes, including Nestorian and Byzantine, to Buddhism and Islam. He gathered holy men who represented all of these faiths and required them to compete in debates of religion much as they organized wrestling matches.

Officials laid down the rules by which they were to compete, and (to quote the French envoy to the court) “on pain of death no one shall dare to speak words of contention”.  Subject matter strictly limited to your religious dogma.  Debaters could use only words and logic to test the ability of their ideas to persuade.

I wish …

Public Education

Genghis Khan’s grandson, Kublai Khan, introduced the world’s first paper currency, one intended for use everywhere that the Mongol rule reached.

Kublai Khan also built on his grandfather’s public education efforts to create primary schools for universal basic education of all children in order to make everyone literate.

 

Did You Know?

Did you know that Genghis Khan (yes, we’re on a roll for a couple of posts) liberated Mongolia from foreign rule and united millions and millions of disparate peoples; created an alphabet; wrote a constitution (yes, a written constitution); established universal religious freedom (yes, universal.  More on this in another post); instituted a new system of warfare; marched an army from the distance between Canada and Brazil (just to give some perspective); and opened roads of commerce (the Silk Road) in a free-trade (yes) zone that stretched across the continents.

Not bad for an illiterate slave.

And by the way, while doing all this, he also established a free public education system.

More History!

In the past, I was often accused of being politically to the right of Genghis Khan.  BUT, and it’s a big but, did you know that:

In 25 years, the Mongol army subjugated more lands and more peoples than the Romans conquered in 400 years?

The hooves of the Mongol ponies splashed in the waters of every river and lake from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean?

That the empire of the Mongols stretched from  the tundra of Siberia to the tropics of India; and from the rice paddies of Vietnam to the wheat fields of Hungary; from Korea to the Balkans.

Think about it.  Not bad for one man!

Summer Solstice!

Happy Summer!

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These should be ripe next week.  I’m keeping my eye on them!

Vienna

I love Vienna.  From housing Starbucks in a building like this:

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to the Stephansdom (the Cathedral of St. Stephan in the heart of the old city)

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It doesn’t get any better than this.  I attended Vespers in the cathedral.  The organist played Bach and Handel, full out.  Organ music the way organ music is supposed to be heard.  It was (if you will pardon the unintended pun) a religious experience.

Blackpool

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 2015 British Professional Dance championships at the Blackpool Dance Festival in May.  What fun.  And what glitter!!!  Every vendor of ballroom glamor, glitz or gadgetry (how’s that for alliteration!) was there.  If you’ve ever been to the Quarter Horse Congress or the Trade Fair at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, you know what that’s like.

They are very, very strict about photography in the Ballroom, so I didn’t even try.  USA won the Professional Team Match and the Open Professional Ballroom!  We were second in the Open Professional Latin.  Go USA!!

Blackpool is a beach resort.  There is only one problem with a beach resort in northern England in May.  It’s COLD! But lovely.

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Abandoned beach – it was about 45 degrees and the wind was blowing!

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They shut down the Ferris wheel because of the strong wind!

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This is the Blackpool Tower.  Landmark since the 1800s.  Apparently you can see Ireland from the observation post at the top.