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Thursday April 27th 2017Tim Candler9

 

     In the year 1760 something, Edward Gibbon was stricken by a vision. He was watching barefoot Christian monks at evening prayer in what had once been the Temple of Jupiter in Rome. Nor was he a great believer in stuff like miracles, his quarrels had led him toward the more rational theology that always struggles to accept the idea of a Divine Mystery, so I guess seeing the monks at worship in a temple once dedicated to the Roman God of Thunder might have presented him with a sense that in our species worshipping the irrational had an eternal provenance.  His vision was to write a history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire on the understanding that he would attempt to answer the question why that empire declined.

 

Past

    I guess in almost every respect Gibbon's adventure was an "Arc Exploration." And here I don't mean Arc in the Noah sense, I mean Arc in the sense of lighting the fuse of a rocket, following into the air and back down to earth again and there where it lands finding what may or may not be a pot of gold. Gibbon's pot of gold, his answer to the question, was vague but his Arc was an account, in my view, of a long series of power hungry lunatics whose sole sense of purpose was to destroy rival egos in pursuit of self enrichment. It took a long time for the Roman Empire to divide and crumble into the history books, its artifacts worshipped, its administrative structures emulated, its language given the attributes of a Masonic handshake. On the bright side the Scary Compost Pile is 105 degrees of Fahrenheit and rising. That's what's called huge where I live.

 

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