How Akbar and Elizabeth changed religion for the best / worst

During the 1500’s, two great leaders changed their countries religious beliefs, Akbar the Great was very successful with his policies, while Queen Elizabeth, not quite so. Akbar used policies of universal tolerance to create peace in his kingdom. To show that Akbar, a muslim ruler, was fully tolerant, he took a hindu woman as his wife, something which had almost never been done before. He also appointed hindus in high cabinet positions and abolished all taxes imposed for being a Hindu or a non – muslim. During this time, Akbar’s empire was experiencing an overwhelming amount of trade. Due to this, people of various faiths and cultures passed through his land, and Akbar decided to welcome them all and to talk to them about their beliefs. After gathering all this information from them, he made his own set of beliefs, looking to transcend the disagreements and conflicts between religions and called it Din-i-llahi – or divine faith. These views and actions were enough to make peace between religions is his kingdom. Elizabeth, on the other hand, used a weak compromise to try to bring peace. Instead of being tolerant like Akbar, she changed small details about two similar beliefs, Protestantism and Catholicism to make her own, new religion, Anglicanism. She kept parts of the Protestant faith, such as allowing priests to marry, and to deliver their sermons in English, but also kept some of the finer points of Catholicism such as priests wearing fine robes. She also had the services revised to seem less Protestant and more akin to the Catholic faith. After this effort, both sides still wanted more. The Catholics who were dissatisfied with Elizabeth even tried to replace her with her sister, Mary Queen of Scots who was known to favor Catholicism. Elizabeth also received more serious threats from Phillip II, the Catholic king of Spain.

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Eunuchs Being Called Daddy, and the End of the Han Dynasty

Level 7 – Undetermined Number of Sentences – Opinionated topic sentence (i.e., argument), three different points with specific examples, secondary information, specific dates/key figures, primary source evidence, manipulating key primary source information so that it is weaved into your own words through ellipses and/or brackets, specific vocabulary, appositives, insight, natural transitions that link to previous sentence, thoughtful conclusion.

Through its time in China’s history, the politics, economics and religion of the Han Dynasty was constantly changing for the worse. When the peasant emperor; Liu Bang came into power, he followed the Daoist beliefs, called “Wu Wei” which was to let the people farm and to stay out of their way. By doing this, he managed to keep taxes low, live simply, and also kept a decent army for the defense of his kingdom. However, he did not maintain full control of his kingdom, giving away half of his kingdom as fiefs. Three emperors later, Wu Di came into power and took back all the fiefs, sometimes by force, and re-created the central government structure from the Qin. Though, unlike Liu Bang, Wu Di made confucianism the state policy and, like Chinese Constantine, gave jobs in the government to people who followed his favored belief. However, he did not let just any confucian get government level jobs, he had them take a test on how well they knew the principals of their belief. During the time, the emperor and his court was guarded by eunuchs, who had a heavy influence over the emperor and his successors, this started the practice of bribing eunuchs to persuade the emperor to make decisions that benefited you. A devout Confucian; Wang Man realized this was slowly destroying the empire and how bad the emperors were, and how large the rich – poor gap was. He then states a coup d’etat, and forcefully overthrows the government. When Wang Man is in power, he then confiscates land from the rich and redistributes it to the poor, who do to a natural disaster ( a river changing course), turn against him and Wang Man is assassinated by the people he tried to help. The final Han Emperor slaughtered confucian officials, all under the influence of the eunuchs, this emperor was so blinded that he began calling one of the eunuchs “daddy”. In the end, the peasants, led by Zhang Jiao’s Way of Peace, formed the Yellow Turban Movement, and raised a rebel army to support them, this army then went and killed scholars, divided land equally, attempted to make women equal, and all of this in “the name of God”. This rebellion was crushed by generals and the army, these generals then became warlords and the Warring States period started again.

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Bad Romans = Good Christianity

Level 6 – Eight Sentences – Opinionated topic sentence (i.e., argument), three different points with specific examples, secondary information, specific dates/key figures, specific vocabulary, appositives, insight, natural transitions that link to previous sentence, thoughtful conclusion.

Though Christianity had been opposed since almost the very beginning, with the perfect combination of a constantly growing slave population, unfairly divided wealth, and an emperor who favored them, Christianity managed to rise to be the religion of Rome. Starting from 0 A.D. the Roman Empire began expanding. Every city they conquered brought in more and more slaves for Rome. Due to the growing amount of cheap workforce, the Plebeians were becoming increasingly unable to find work, thus they sank into poverty. This is where Christianity comes in. Christianity preaches that poverty is blessed, and that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, then it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” ( Matthew 19:24 ). There was also the unfair distribution of wealth that helped Christianity, with so much of Rome’s wealth and important jobs staying with the few wealthy patricians, the number of increasingly poorer plebeians increased dramatically, which meant that the number of christians did too. It also helped that Christianity was the religion that the Plebeians most easily associated with. Christianity also had its “divine” influence on the rule of Rome; Emperor Constantine. In 312, Constantine had a problem, his step brother Maxentius were at war with each other. However, according to Eusebius’ “Life of Constantine”, the night before the battle, Constantine’s army was marching when he glanced towards the sun, and saw a cross of light with the words “in hoc signo vinces” – which in english means “In this sign you shall conquer”. Constantine went on to win the battle and later the war with the sign of the cross on his shields. After this, he favored Christianity and gave better chances to Christians. However, this alone wasn’t enough to make Christianity the state religion. The emperor who followed; Theodosius took it to the next level by outlawing paganism and burning pagan temples only to build churches on top of them. Now one of the world’s major religions, Christianity was just in the right place at the right time.

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Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, and Early Jews: The Superior Civilization?

If there was ever a debate on which civilization was greater; The Mesopotamians, the Ancient Greeks or the Early Jews, the views on women, God(s), and the body and love would have to be considered.

Views on Women

The society in Ancient Greece viewed women as less powerful than the males. In the Iliad, Hera needed the help of two other gods to distract / seduce Zeus. The fact that she had to seduce him to make him look away from the war shows that she wasn’t powerful enough to make a significant difference if she took a side in the war.

The story of Genesis (which is the first book in the Torah) says that women were made to help / serve men, and that they were created from and for men. God also created them for man AFTER all the cattle and wild beasts. Towards the end of the time in the Garden of Eden, woman is tempted by the snake to eat the apple, and in turn tempts man to eat the forbidden apple. Because of woman, God threw humans out of the paradise.

In ancient Mesopotamia, if GilgameshIN  shows how they acted and what they believed, women were honored and trusted even by the king. They were made priestesses, and because of this were viewed to be next to the gods. Women in this society were given more respect than in ancient Greece and with the early Jews.

Views on God

In Genesis, with the early Jews, God was an all loving all caring God. He had created man and gave him domain over all animals, and once that wasn’t enough, created a partner for man. However, once humans had disobeyed his one law; “don’t eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge”, then he became wrathful and expelled them from paradise. In fairness to God, he only had one rule to follow, and man still found a way to break it. So maybe he had some right to be angry.

In Mesopotamia, humans were created to serve the gods. However, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds; they believed that Uruk (the first walled city) was created (indirectly) by the gods. They also had woman as priestesses, and through sex, believed they were closer to the gods.

With the Ancient Greeks, gods were feared and revered at the same time. Mood on the gods differed from city-state to city-state. If the god(s) took your side in a war, then you loved them and sent offerings / sacrifices to them regularly. However, if the gods were against you in a war…… then you had a major problem. Though even the gods didn’t take the same side for every war; in the Trojan war, there was a split between the gods. However, both city-states still worshiped all the gods. Even if they worshiped the ones who helped them a bit more.

Views on Body, Nature and Love

In Mesopotamia, the body and love were considered religious, and were celebrated. They considered sex as a way to get closer to the gods, even in Gilgamesh, sex civilized Enkidu and destroyed his wild, untamed side. In this way, sex was used to make the wild less…. wild.

In ancient Greece, the body and love were used as a sign of love and as a tool for seduction. Hera used the power of love / sex to make Zeus distracted, if the Ancient greeks saw this behavior from their gods, them they must think that it isn’t bad and they don’t frown upon it.

With the early Jews, God had thrown humans out of paradise because the became aware of the fact that they were naked. This may show that they think that we should be ashamed of the body and that God created ignorance for bliss.

In the end, I believe that the Mesopotamians would be the better civilization because they had better treatment of women, more respect for the gods, and they treated sex and the body maturely and didn’t consider it dirty and sinful, and they used it less maliciously than the Greeks.

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Are we created from violence or by peaceful means?

“From dust you came, and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19)

When we die, will we return to violence of to eternal peace? The creation stories of the Bible and the ancient Babylonians differ greatly, from the  peaceful creation in 7 days, to the war between the gods that lasted years.

In the Babylonian story, the two first gods (salt and fresh water gods) created silt, which became land. Out of this land came three other gods, and one of them went on to create wind gods. These wind gods annoyed the first two gods, so they decided to punish them. One of the wind gods finds out and destroys the saltwater god. Two wind gods then  have a child who is the sun god. The sun god then plans to rule the gods, and after assuming a warrior form (much like Zeus) subdues the last of the first two gods, and rips her in half to form heaven and earth.  He then orders gods to make humans to serve them.

— In short, a very violent and drawn out creation

In contrast to the Babylonian version of creation, the genesis in the Bible talks about an all loving god who created the world in 7 days, and gave humans domain over all creatures. The humans then proceeded to break the one rule that God had laid down and were expelled from paradise.

These stories, a few thousand years apart but written in the same area are greatly different. From the war of the gods to the creation by only ONE God, from a violent fight and creation of humans to serve, to a peaceful creations of humans to rule over animals and love God. If we return to that from which we came, these two different stories may be an even older, and much less simple version of heaven and hell.

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Gilgamesh and the Bible, Value of women in ancient texts.

The story of Adam and Eve is very different to the Epic of Gilgamesh.

In the Bible story, the first man is created by a single god who is interpreted to be male. Woman is then created to entertain man AFTER the animals, and was not made as an equal. She also is the one who a caused us to live away from God.

In Gilgamesh, the two uneatable MEN are both created by lots of gods, but primarily by the goddess of creation. Enkidu is created to be an equal to Gilgamesh, not his servant / entertainer. In the end, they both became friends and lived in paradise.

These two stories have few similarities, the most important one was the use of women as a seductress, in the Bible, to tempt Adam into eating the apple, and in Gilgamesh to civilize Enkidu.

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Women: From Priestesses to Making Sandwiches

Around 2,000 BC, in the city of Uruk (with the goddess Ishtar as their main dog), priestesses were the topdog. They had the most influence and power, we believed that they were the reason that we were civilized. 1,500 years later, they were the reason that mankind got kicked out of the garden of eden, and forever tainted us with “original sin”.

How did this happen?

In the beginning, you had the small city-states who had priestesses as the direct connection to their city’s main god. You also had the Epic of Gilgamesh, where a goddess created an unmatchable wild force, and a priestess civilized him by having sex. Here, there is a belief that a woman created us and civilizes us.

Then came the first empire. An empire started by a male: Saragon. This empire called for male rulers, who were stronger and more agressive than the female priestesses. With this change also came the change of god, we left the goddess of creation or love, and moved onto the god of lighting or sky.

Then came the Bible’s genesis, where a male god created man, and then AFTER trying to please him by creating cows, sheep, birds and all other animals, he then created woman. Then, woman ate the forbidden fruit and got humans kicked out of paradise. Since she made us suffer in the wild, she had also been punished with a painful child birth. These days, it is difficult for a woman to hold any major power in a church. Big difference from 4,000 yrs ago eh?

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