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Final Word on Constantine

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

We begin with questions on Constantine, the first Roman emperor to embrace Christianity

WHY IS CONSTANTINE KNOWN AS CONSTANTINE THE GREAT? WHAT EPIC DEEDS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH HIS NAME?

His original name was Flavius Valerius Constantinus. “The Great” derives from his own self-conferred cognomen as Invictus Constantinus Maximus Augustus, meaning, “His Majesty the Great, Unconquerable Constantine”, as evidenced by a coin that was minted in 313 AD.  He was nonetheless a great man in his own right. He united an empire that had been fragmented for ten years.

At the time he acceded to the throne in July 306 AD, two other rulers laid claim to parts of it. He first became King of Britain, Gaul (modern-day France, Belgium, and Luxemburg) and Spain and after a series of victorious battles ensconced himself as undisputed emperor of the entire Roman Empire in 324 AD. 

He was emperor for 31 years (306-337), the second longest reign in the Roman Empire: only Augustus (Gaius Octavius) ruled longer at 40 years. Ten emperors who came after him proudly carried his name.  

YOU SAID CONSTANTINE WAS A CHRISTIAN ONLY OPPORTUNISTICALLY. COULD YOU FURTHER SUBSTANTIATE YOUR ARGUMENT AS AMONG CHRISTIANS HE IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO THEIR FAITH?

The Christians who salute Constantine as one of Christianity’s greatest mascots are horribly misinformed. Constantine never became a Christian.  The Catholic Encyclopaedia itself says tales of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity are legendary.

Constantine was a Catholic – kataholos in Greek, meaning a “universal faith”. He founded Catholicism, not Christianity. Catholicism was a blending of several faiths that included pagan faiths. Just look at the ritualistic garbs and protocols of the Vatican papacy today and you will agree with me that Catholicism is replete with pagan elements.

Catholicism was a political manouvre. Constantine wished to unite his empire because it was torn apart by religious factions and feudings. In order to unite his empire, he decided to forge a syncretic religion that artificially fused all of them into one.

In so doing, he decided to project Christianity – which itself was riven with antagonistic sects – simply because it was the most docile and had made a lot of headway in Europe and was practically the main religion of the day there.

IT IS SAID CONSTANTINE WAS BAPTISED ON HIS DEATHBED. WHO BAPTISED HIM?

It is not certain who performed the rite or when. There are actually two versions of the emperor’s alleged baptism. One says he was baptised by Pope Sylvester I of Rome in 326 AD after he cured him of leprosy. The other version, which we encounter in the writings of Eusebius of Caesaria, is that he was baptised a few days before his death by Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia (Izmit in today’s Turkey).  

IS IT TRUE THAT IT IS CONSTANTINE WHO CHANGED THE CHRISTIAN DAY OF WORSHIP FROM SATURDAY TO SUNDAY?

No it is not. The gospels themselves make it resoundingly clear that the early church, the one that was first led by Simon Peter and subsequently by James the brother of Jesus, met on “the first day of the week”, which is Sunday.

Of course the Jewish establishment frowned upon this setup. It was one reason the establishment persecuted the leading lights of the early church such as Simon Peter and the brothers John and James the “Sons of Zebedee”.

The misconception that Constantine changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday arises from his decree of March 7 321 AD. On that day, he declared that, “On the venerable Day of the Sun, let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed.”

Throughout his reign, Constantine worshipped Apollo, the “Saviour Sun God”. Apollo was the Greek name for the Anunnaki god Utu-Shamash, the son of Nannar-Sin (Zeus) and the grandson of Enlil, the Jehovah of the Bible.

Constantine  never worshipped Jesus whatsoever. So his decree of March 7 was in honour not of Jesus but of his own Sun-God Apollo. Note that Constantine simply hallowed Sunday; he did not proscribe the Sabbath. The person who proscribed the Sabbath was Pope Sylvester I (reign: 314-335). It was he who decreed that “the rest of the Sabbath should be transferred to the Lord’s Day (Sunday).

HOW COULD CONSTANTINE HAVE BEEN A PAGAN WORSHIPPER WHEN ALL RELIGIONS OF THAT   DAY AND EVEN OUR DAY WORSHIPPED/WORSHIP THE SAME ANUNNAKI GODS BUT IN DIFFERENT GUISES?  

Humans have always been played by the Anunnaki. The idea of  the same Anunnaki gods posing as a distinct god of a particular religion was their strategy of divide and rule.  Let us take Nannar-Sin, the second-born son of Enlil, the Bible’s Jehovah predominantly.

As god of the Jews, he was called Yahweh. As god of the Ishmaelites, he was called Allah. As god of the Greeks, he was called Zeus. As god of the Romans, he was called Jupiter. But as far as Christians and the Jews were concerned, Zeus, Jupiter, and Allah were little more than idols. Of course the Romans and Greeks had the same view of Yahweh. Yet unbeknown to all, such was the foolproof wool pulled over their eyes by the Anunnaki, all these were one and the same god. 

You are therefore right when you say in deifying the Sun-God Apollo, Constantine was no different from any other person who claimed to worship Yahweh, Jupiter or Allah.  I suppose Constantine was aware of such a subterfuge, as a result of which he decided to take political advantage of this blindfold.    

YOU SAID JESUS WAS BORN IN MARCH 7 BC. WHY THEN DID CONSTANTINE CHOOSE DECEMBER 25 AS THE BIRTHDAY OF JESUS?

It was not Constantine who declared December 25 as the birthday of Jesus; rather, it was the Catholic papacy.   Constantine chose December 25 to honour his Anunnaki Sun God Apollo. Like most Anunnaki gods, Apollo was worshipped as a Saviour Sun God.

The sun element stemmed from the fact of the sun being the sustainer of life on our planet. In ancient times therefore, the Sun was referred to as the Saviour.  As such, Sun Gods like Apollo were called Saviour Sun God because they were deemed as indispensable as the sun.

December 25 was particularly chosen by Constantine as the ceremonial birthday of the god Apollo because astrologically, the Sun reaches its lowest point (from the point of view of the northern hemisphere) in the sky on December 22, the so-called winter solstice.  From December 22 to 24, it is basically stationary: the metaphor is that it has “died”.  

Then on December 25, it begins to move to bring with it the season of spring. Thus on December 25, the sun was said to have “risen”  or  be “born again”.  That’s the reason Constantine chose the day as a ceremonial birthday of his god Apollo. The first such birthday was celebrated in 336 AD. A few years later, Pope Julius I (Bishop of Rome from 6 February 337 to his death in 352 AD) declared that Jesus’s birthday would also be celebrated on December 25.  The finger of indictment should therefore point to the Vatican and not to Constantine.

WHAT GREAT THINGS DID CONSTANTINE DO FOR CHRISTIANITY?

Granted, Constantine was a counterfeit Christian but what he did for the faith was epoch-making: without him, Christianity would not be the pervasive and authoritative faith it is today. The watershed event was the promulgation by the emperor of the 313 Edict of Milan which allowed freedom of religious expression in his empire.

Christianity was of course just one of the many religions that benefited from the edict but this augured well for the faith all the same. Before the advent of Constantine, Christians had been at the mercy of  institutionalised harassment and persecution.  Emperor Dioclesian for one instituted what was to become known in history as the Great Persecution, which lasted from 303 to 311 AD.

Christian assembly buildings were razed down and every Christian who refused to offer a sacrifice to the emperor (who fancied himself as a demi-god) or his god faced death. Constantine put an end to all this with the Edict of Toleration in 311.  One chronicler further underscores the emperor’s invigoration of Christianity thus:  “Constantine took over the role of patron of the Christian faith.

He supported the Church financially, had an extraordinary number of basilicas built, granted privileges (e.g., exemption from certain taxes) to clergy, promoted Christians to high-ranking offices, returned property confiscated during the Great Persecution of Diocletian, and endowed the church with land and other wealth.” And of course it was the 325 Nicene Council – decreed and wholly financed by Constantine – that marked the birth of the canon we today call the Bible. If Christianity is today a leading cultural force, it is because Constantine put it on a pedestal at the expense all other religions which at the time were vying for preeminence.    
 

IF CONSTANTINE WAS SUCH A GREAT CHAMPION OF CHRISTIANITY, WHY DIDN’T HE OUTRIGHTLY DECLARE IT AS THE SOLE STATE RELIGION? WHY DID HE EQUIVOCATE? ISN’T HE OVERATED IN THAT REGARD?

True, it was not Constantine who designated Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire. The person who did that was Theodosius I, the 67th  Emperor of the Roman Empire, when on February 27 380 AD he issued the Edict of Thessalonica, which ordered all subjects of the empire to “profess the faith of the Nicene Council”.  As much as Constantine valued Christianity, he was not prepared to exalt it above every other faith.

This was because Catholicism, its main expression, was a hybrid religion that drew from  Western, Egyptian, and Middle Eastern faiths. Even more important, Constantine as an individual never fully embraced Christianity: he worshipped the Sun God Apollo.

Throughout his rein, he continued to mint coins bearing symbols of Apollo with the inscription “Sol Invictus”, meaning the “Unconquerable Sun”, that is, his Sun God Apollo. Even if he did perchance profess to be a Christian, he was far from exemplary virtue-wise. He had his own firstborn son executed; a nephew strangled; and his wife cooked alive in boiling water. Goodness knows how many other ancillary family members and friends he secretly sacrificed to his god.   

YOU SAID CONSTANTINE KILLED HIS WIFE AND HIS OWN SON. WHAT SIN DID THEY COMMIT?

The son was Julius Valerius Crispus, his firstborn. Constantine had Crispus by his first marriage with Minervina.  Crispus was an illustrious general and was described by all and sundry as “a prince of the highest merit” and therefore a worthy successor to the throne.

His rock-star popularity had his step mother and empress Fausta green with jealousy.  Constantine had divorced Minervina in 307 to tie the knot with Fausta in a politically expedient union: Fausta was the daughter of former emperor Maximian who was still politically influential (Maximian had ruled jointly with Dioclesian). 

Fausta had three sons with Constantine. They were Constantine Jr, Constantius, and Constans, none of whom were in their teens yet.  Fausta thought Crispus stood in the way of his sons, particularly her eldest Constantine Jr. 

According to the Byzantine historian Zosimus, who lived at the time of Emperor Constantine, Fausta first tried to endear herself to Constantine Jr by making sexual overtures to the handsome heir 27 years her junior. When Crispus politely rejected her, she set about poisoning him to his father – that he had designs on the throne and so posed a threat to the emperor’s continued occupancy of it.  Although there was no evidence of any disloyalty on the part of Crispus to his father, the emperor was swayed by his scheming wife.

First, he stripped Crispus of rulership of Gaul in 323 AD and summoned him back to Rome, where he could keep close watch on him, and Constantius at only 9 years old was declared the new Caesar, that is, deputy to his father, whose title was Augustus.  Then in August 326, Crispus was arrested, banished to Pola in Istria (today part of Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy), and executed after a sham trial. That Crispus’s death was the result of sheer spite on the part of Fausta is evidenced by the fact that his cousin Licinianus, the son of the emperor’s sister Constantia and who was only 12 years old, was also killed in cold blood.

Clearly, Fausta instigated the murders to ensure that there was no viable potential contender to the throne other than her own sons. The emperor was to rue his act.  His 80-year-old mother Helena confronted him and bitterly reproached him for killing an innocent child. Constantine indeed confirmed this, as a result of which he had Fausta murdered by suffocation in an over-heated bath later the same year.  As for the death of his son, the emperor was genuinely contrite.

According to another Byzantine historian Codinus, Constantine “raised to the memory of Crispus a golden statue, which bore the inscription, ‘To the son whom I unjustly condemned’, and fasted and refused the comforts of life for forty days.” This obviously sincerely remorseful gesture did not placate the bishops a jot, who stoutly refused to “purify” him from his crime. The philosopher Sopater, to whom he desperately turned for comfort, also told him to his face that he would have nothing to do with a “heinous sinner”. That was who Constantine was to his subjects and not the god-fearing icon Christendom misrepresents him as.

NEXT WEEK: QUESTIONS ON THE SECT THAT PRODUCED JESUS

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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