What about … #26

What intelligent being, what being capable of responding emotionally to a beautiful sight, can look at the jagged, silvery lunar crescent trembling in the azure sky, even through the weakest of telescopes, and not be struck by it in an intensely peasurable way, not feel cut off from everyday life here on Earth and transported toward that first stop on celestial journeys? What thoughtful soul look at brilliant Jupiter with its four attendant satellites, or splendid Saturn encircled by its mysterious ring, or a double star glowing scarlet and sapphire in the infinity of night, and not be filled with a sense of wonder? Yes, indeed, if humankind – from humble farmers in the fields and toilong workers in the cities to teachers, people of independent means, those who have reached th pinnacle of fame or fortune, even the most frivolous of society of women – if they knew what profound inner pleasure awaits those who gaze at the heavens, then France, nay, the whole of europe, would be covered with telescopes instead of bayonets, thereby promoting universal happiness and peace.

Camille Flammarion, 1880

French astromomer

What about … #23

Some of this post is from the National Geographic magazine

Today we’ll travel ten centuries back, at a time when we were anguished to see an oversees  ship approaching our coastlines. It was so long ago, but their traces remained to show us what a powerful and ordinary people they were. They are called the Vikings.

The Vikings were a seafaring people from the late eighth to early 11th century who established a name for themselves as traders, explorers and warriors. From the shores of their Scandinavian homeland, between the Baltic and North Seas, these fortune seekers took to the world stage in the mid-eighth century, exploring much of Europe over the next 300 years and traveling farther than earlier researchers ever suspected. With well built sailing ships and expert knowledge of rivers and seas, they journeyed to what are now 37 or more countries, from Afghanistan to Canada, according to archaeologist Neil Price of Uppsala University in Sweden. En route they discovered more than 50 cultures and traded avidly for luxuries. They donned Eurasian caftans, dressed in silk from China, and pocketed heaps of Islamic silver coins. They built thriving cities at York and Kiev, colonized large swaths of Great Britain, Iceland, and France, and established outposts in Greenland and North America. No other European seafarers of the day ventured so fearlessly and so far from their homeland. They were the only ones able to do what they have done. They discovered the Americas long before Columbus and could be found as far east as the distant reaches of Russia. While these people are often attributed as savages raiding the more civilized nations for treasure and women, the motives and culture of the Viking people are much more diverse.

Many historians associate the term “Viking” to the Scandinavian term vikingr, which means “pirate.” However, the term is meant to reference oversea expeditions, and was used as a verb by the Scandinavian people for when the men traditionally took time out of their summers to go “a Viking.” While many would believe these expeditions entailed the raiding of monasteries and cities along the coast, many expeditions were actually with the goal of trade and enlisting as foreign mercenaries.

The earliest recorded raid were in the 790s until the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. During this time, the reach of the Scandinavian people extended to all corners of northern Europe, and many other nations found Vikings raiding their coasts. The farthest reported records of Vikings were in Baghdad for the trading of goods like fur, tusks and seal fat.

The start of the Viking migration from Scandinavia in 793 was in small island located off the northeast coast of England, in this location was a well-known abbey of learning, famous throughout the continent for the knowledgeable monks and its extensive library. During this raid, monks were killed, thrown into the sea or taken as slaves along with many treasures of the church, and the library itself razed. This single event set the stage for how Vikings would be perceived throughout the Viking Age: savage warriors with no respect for religion or appreciation for learning.

In the years that followed the initial raid, coastal villages, monasteries and even cities found themselves besieged by these sea-based foreign intruders. Due to the frequency of sea attacks, many developments were made in developing fortifications in the forms of walled-in harbors and sea-facing stone walls, defenses that proved to be quite effective at deterring raids. Early raiding parties planned their attacks for the summer months, and they often set out with just a few ships and perhaps a hundred fighters. Bristling with iron weaponry, the raiders struck rapidly and went about the carnage swiftly, setting sail before locals could mount a defense. In France, in the ninth century alone, Viking raiders stormed more than 120 settlements, massacring monks and local inhabitants, stripping churches of their treasures, and enslaving the survivors.

As precious metals flowed back to Scandinavia, young men flocked to the great halls of Viking leaders, eager to swear their loyalty. What began as small raiding forays of two or three ships gradually evolved into fleets of 30 vessels, then many more. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a contemporary annal, hundreds of Viking ships arrived along the east coast of England in 865, carrying a ravenous host that the Chronicle writers called micel here, the great army. Pushing inland along England’s rivers and roads, these invaders began smashing Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and seizing large swaths of land to colonize.

One famous early Irish text records how a woman known as Inghen Ruaidh—or Red Girl, after the color of her hair—led a fleet of Viking ships to Ireland in the 10th century. Bioarchaeologist Anna Kjellström of Stockholm University recently reanalyzed the skeletal remains of a Viking fighter found in the old trading center of Birka, in Sweden. Mourners had furnished the grave with an arsenal of deadly weapons, and for decades archaeologists assumed that the elite fighter was male. But while studying the warrior’s pelvic bones and mandible, Kjellström discovered that the man was in fact a woman. This nameless Viking woman seems to have commanded the respect of many Viking warriors. “On her lap she had gaming pieces,” says archaeologist Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson of Uppsala University. “This suggests that she was the one planning the tactics and that she was a leader.”

It’s not really known the reason behind these attacks, perhaps the Christian persecution and forced baptism of pagans to reduced agricultural outputs in the Scandinavian region. Many more documented reasons might have prompted these people to leave their cold and harsh homes to seek out the means to survive elsewhere. Yet, despite how unforgiving their homeland may have been, most Vikings still returned to their homeland at the end of each season with treasure, slaves and goods to survive yet another winter.

The modern perceptions of Vikings found their origins through Catholic propaganda. Upon the sacking of multiple Christian facilities and the loss of countless relics and treasures, the Catholic ministry sought to dehumanize them. Until Queen Victoria’s rule of Britain, the Vikings were still portrayed as a violent and barbaric people. During the 19th and 20th centuries, perceptions changed to the point where Vikings were glamorized as noble savages with horned helmets, a proud culture and a feared prowess in battle.

How and why did medieval farmers in Scandinavia become the scourge of the European continent?
Around A.D. 750, Scandinavia was wracked by turmoil. More than three dozen petty kingdoms arose during this period, throwing up chains of hill forts and vying for power and territory. In the midst of these troubled times, catastrophe struck. A vast cloud of dust, likely blasted into the atmosphere by a combination of cataclysms, comets or meteorites smashing into Earth, as well as the eruption of at least one large volcano darkened the sun, lowering summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere for the next 14 years. The extended cold and darkness brought death and ruin to Scandinavia, lying as it did along the northern edge of medieval agriculture. In Sweden’s Uppland region, for example, nearly 75 percent of villages were abandoned, as residents succumbed to starvation and fighting.

When summer at last returned to the north and populations rebounded, Scandinavian society assumed a new, more truculent form. Leaders surrounded themselves with heavily armed war bands and began seizing and defending abandoned territory. A militarized society arose in which men and women alike celebrated the virtues of warfare—fearlessness, aggression, cunning, strength under fire. On the Swedish island of Gotland, where archaeologists have found many intact graves from this period, “almost every second man seems to be buried with weapons,” notes John Ljungkvist, an archaeologist at Uppsala University. As this weaponized society was gradually taking shape, a new technology began revolutionizing Scandinavian seafaring in the seventh century—the sail. Skilled carpenters began constructing sleek, wind-powered vessels capable of carrying bands of armed fighters farther and faster than ever before. Aboard these ships, northern lords and their restless followers could voyage across the Baltic and North Seas, exploring new lands, sacking towns and villages, and enslaving inhabitants. And men with few marriage prospects at home could take female captives as wives by persuasion or force.

All of this centuries of kingly ambition, a seeming abundance of wifeless young warriors, and a new type of ship created a perfect storm. The stage was set for the Vikings to pour out of the north, setting much of Europe on fire with their brand of violence. The fleets that carried death and destruction to western Europe also transported slaves and commodities to markets scattered from Turkey to western Russia, and possibly Iran. Medieval Arab and Byzantine officials described convoys of armed Viking slavers and merchants known as the Rus who regularly voyaged along river routes to the Black and Caspian Seas. “I have never seen more perfect physiques than theirs,” observed Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, a 10th-century Arab soldier and diplomat from Baghdad. “Every one of them carries an ax, a sword, and a dagger.”

Many popular myths created through misperceptions, have been shown to be wrong such as the fact that Vikings wore horned helmetst;  they traditionally went bareheaded or wore simple leather and metal-frame helmets with the occasional face guard. Or they were filthy and unkempt; archaeologists find evidence on a regular basis of combs, spoons and other grooming utensils that indicate the Viking people were very keen on maintaining personal hygiene. Or that they spent all their time raiding and warring; while raiding proved an excellent source of income, many of the Vikings held farms back in their homeland that their wives maintained during Viking season. When the men returned home from a raid, they resumed their normal routine of farming. Or maybe that they were a unified army; due to the difficult geographic location, the Scandinavian people were very spread out to conserve limited farmland. In addition, the penetration of Christianity caused many great divisions among the people still worshipping the traditional Nordic pantheon, further emphasizing the divided nature of the people. Or most of all that they were large and heavily muscled;

due to the short summer seasons, growing crops was difficult and resources were always scarce. As a result, many of the Scandinavian people were much smaller than commonly depicted due to limited food sources. While the living conditions in Scandinavian regions were certainly harsh and made a hard people, many Vikings suffered from the scarcity of resources and the people set up their homes over great distances with no real unified leadership. During the Viking Age, the Scandinavian people were able to make a stronger push to the outside worlds and create a reputation for themselves beyond simple barbarism. While some Vikings were driven with the lust for riches, many sought more peaceful economic relationships with the surrounding nations.

But the legend of the Vikings, the romance of these intrepid northerners who built great ships and sailed ice-choked seas to a new world and winding rivers to the bazaars of the East, never grows old, never grows tired. It lives on here and across their northern realm, a message from a long-dead world, an enduring spirit of an age.

Milau

The town dates back nearly 3000 years when it was situated on the hills above the Granède.
By the second century A.D. the trade had collapsed from competition and subsequent invasions during the fourth and fifth centuries by barbarians saw the town relocate and settle to the opposite bank, changing its name to Amiliavum, then to Milhau en Rouergat (in the Millhau language), then to the French Millhau.

By the ninth century the town has grown and is the seat of a viguerie, a mediaeval administrative court, and a centre for the production of lambskin gloves. At this time the town is surrounded by ramparts. The tenth and eleventh centuries saw the creation of the Viscount of Millau and subsequently passed to the Counts of Provence, the Counts of Barcelona and eventually, in 1112, to the father of the future King of Aragon. In 1187, the King of Aragon grants him the seal and communal freedom of Provence by Consular Charter. A consulate was thus created, and was responsible for administering the city to raise taxes and to apply justice. In 1271, Millau passed to the crown of the kings of France.

In 1361, during the Hundred Years War, the city came under English rule. The return to peace in the fifteenth century gave the city a boost.

In the Middle Ages the town had one of the major mediaeval bridges across the river Tarn. It had 17 spans, but after one poorly maintained span fell in the 18th century, the bridge was mostly demolished. Just one span remains, with a mill that is now an art gallery, as testament to this significant trading route from north to south across pre-Renaissance France.
The Millau Viaduct was completed in 2004, eliminating traffic jams in the town centre. The town is now a tourist centre with one of the largest touring campsites in central France, benefiting from the attraction of the landscapes all around, and the architecturally acclaimed Millau viaduct. It is also a major centre for outdoor sporting activity.

It was designed by the English architect Lord Norman Foster and French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux. As of November 2018, it is the tallest bridge in the world, having a structural height of 343 metres (1,125 ft).

The Millau Viaduct is part of the highway from Paris to Béziers and Montpellier. It was built over three years. The bridge has been consistently ranked as one of the great engineering achievements of all time, and received the 2006 Outstanding Structure Award from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering.

The highest pylons in the world: 244.96 metres (803 ft 8 in) and 221.05 metres (725 ft 3 in) in height, broke the world record previously held by the Kochertal Viaduct (Germany), which is 181 metres (594 ft) at its highest

Since opening in 2004, the deck height of Millau has been surpassed by several suspension bridges in China, including Sidu River Bridge, Baling River Bridge, and two spans (Beipan River Guanxing Highway Bridge and Beipan River Hukun Expressway Bridge) over the Beipan River.

Lourdes

The current municipal area of Lourdes was inhabited since the prehistoric times. The oppidum hill where today stands the fortress, as it is testified by the numerous finds came to light in the second half of the nineteenth century, remains of walls, fragments of citadel stood a pagan temple dedicated to the gods of water, whose buildings have come partially to light soon after the demolition of the parish of Saint Pierre. In the fifth century the temple was replaced by an early Christian church destroyed later because of a fire.

Little is known of Lourdes in the period from the barbarian invasions to the Carolingian period, when the town was part of the County of Bigorre. The fortress was at times the seat of counts and, during the Albigensian Crusade, it was the subject of disputes between various local lords. Ultimately it came under domination of the Counts of Champagne. In the fourteenth century Lourdes was first occupied by Philip the Fair, then, during the Hundred Years’ War, the English, who controlled it for nearly half a century, from 1360 to 1407, through some local feudal lords to their faithful, as Pierre Arnaud de Béarn and, later, his brother Jean de Béarn. The English were able to take advantage of the excellent strategic situation and the prosperity of a market that was born in the eleventh century, had been increasingly consolidated thanks to its proximity and good communications with Toulouse and Spain.

For 46 years, up until 778, Lourdes was possessed by Muslims of Al-Andalus. However, during the 8th century, Lourdes and its fortress became the focus of skirmishes between Mirat, the Muslim local leader, and Charlemagne, King of the Franks. Charlemagne had been laying siege to Mirat in the fortress for some time, but he had so far refused to surrender.
According to legend, an eagle unexpectedly appeared and dropped an enormous trout at the feet of Mirat. It was seen as such a bad omen that Mirat was persuaded to surrender to the Queen of the sky by the local bishop. He visited the Black Virgin of Puy to offer gifts, so he could make sure this was the best course of action and, astounded by its exceptional beauty, he decided to surrender the fort and converted to Christianity. On the day of his baptism, Mirat took on the name of Lorus, which was given to the town, now known as Lourdes.

During the late 16th century, France was ravaged by the Wars of Religion between the Roman Catholics and the Huguenots. In 1569, Count Gabriel de Montgomery attacked the nearby town of Tarbes when Queen Jeanne d’Albret of Navarre established Protestantism there. The town was overrun, in 1592, by forces of the Catholic League and the Catholic faith was re-established in the area. In 1607, Lourdes finally became part of the Kingdom of France.

The castle became a jail under Louis XV but, in 1789, the General Estates Assembly ordered the liberation of prisoners. Following the rise of Napoleon in 1803, he again made the Castle an Estate jail. Towards the end of the Peninsular War between France, Spain, Portugal, and Britain in 1814, British and Allied forces, under the Duke of Wellington, entered France and took control of the region and followed Marshall Soult’s army, defeating the French near the adjoining town of Tarbes before the final battle took place outside Toulouse on 10 April 1814 brought the war to an end.

Up until 1858, Lourdes was a quiet, modest, county town with a population of only some 4,000 inhabitants. The castle was occupied by an infantry garrison. The town was a place people passed through on their way to the waters at Barèges, Cauterets, Luz-Saint-Sauveur and Bagnères-de-Bigorre, and for the first mountaineers on their way to Gavarnie, when the events which were to change its history took place.

On 11 February 1858, a 14-year-old local girl, Bernadette Soubirous, claimed a beautiful lady appeared to her in the remote Grotto of Massabielle. This lady later identified herself as “the Immaculate Conception” and the faithful believe her to be the Blessed Virgin Mary. The lady appeared 18 times, and by 1859 thousands of pilgrims were visiting Lourdes. A statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was erected at the site in 1864.

Since the apparitions, Lourdes has become one of the world’s leading Catholic Marian shrines and the number of visitors grows each year. It has such an important place within the Roman Catholic church, that Pope John Paul II visited the shrine twice: on 15 August 1983, and 14–15 August 2004. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI authorized special indulgences to mark the 150th anniversary of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Today Lourdes has a population of around 15,000, but it is able to take in some 5,000,000 pilgrims and tourists every season. With about 270 hotels, Lourdes has the second greatest number of hotels per square kilometre in France after Paris.

Yearly from March to October the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is a place of mass pilgrimage from Europe and other parts of the world. The spring water from the grotto is believed by some to possess healing properties.

An estimated 200 million people have visited the shrine since 1860, and the Roman Catholic Church has officially recognized 69 healings considered miraculous. Cures are examined using Church criteria for authenticity and authentic miracle healing with no physical or psychological basis other than the healing power of the water.

Tours from all over the world are organized to visit the Sanctuary. Connected with this pilgrimage is often the consumption of or bathing in the Lourdes water which wells out of the Grotto.

At the time of the apparitions the grotto was on common land which was used by the villagers variously for pasturing animals, collecting firewood and as a garbage dump, and it possessed a reputation for being an unpleasant place.


I’ve been here many times before (not for religious purposes) but I’ve never seen the town this empty of tourists, sick and disabled people. Usually all the religious shops are open, now it seems to be…desolated. Didn’t have time to make lots of pics so here is a video a little longer than usual 7mn.

What about … #8

We may read a brief description between faith and religion here:

 Ncwritings

<<“There is a difference between religion and faith,” Irma replied. “When you are solely responsible for your beliefs no one can question you faith nor tell you what is right or wrong. That is something only you have the right to decide. We all have an inner guiding system which, when we are synchronized to it, never takes us off the right track. Religion, on the other hand, is on organized set of beliefs and shared values where certain rules and discipline determined by a few need to be obeyed by everyone.

Also, religion and politics go hand in hand. Unfortunately, religion has often been used as an instrument to control and scare people. That is why we don’t have organized religion in Aire. This is how it has been since our foundation. Everyone is free to believe in whatever they please, but it is considered a private matter. We don’t need monumental buildings to protect our faith,” her father added. “In the outer world, religion is still causing more suffering than good, like it always has throughout history. Since gods will never come down on Earth and fight against each other, why should we fight in their name between ourselves?”

“You see, Taya,” Irma continued, “faith requires nothing more than what you are willing to offer. No sacrifices, no pain. Your beliefs are your private religion.”>>

According to me, I would described it as follows: When you are solely responsible for your beliefs no one can question you faith nor tell you what is right or wrong. That is something only you have the right to decide. We all have an inner guiding system which God granted us, we may call it conscience with which, when we are synchronized to it, never takes us off the right track but most of us don’t pay attention to it and do what it seems right for our own ego. Religion, on the other hand, is on organized set of beliefs and shared values where certain rules and discipline needs to be obeyed by everyone to remain on the right track.

Also, some say that religion and politics go hand in hand while others don’t. Unfortunately, religion has often been used as an instrument to control and scare people. Well all depends of who rules. If you look for state religion in wikipedia you’ll find this:

Roman CatholicismEdit

Jurisdictions where Roman Catholicism has been established as a state or official religion:

  •  Costa Rica: article 75 of the constitution of Costa Rica confirms that “The Roman Catholic and Apostolic Religion is the religion of the State, which contributes to its maintenance, without preventing the free exercise in the Republic of other forms of worship that are not opposed to universal morality or good customs.”[5]
  •  Liechtenstein: the constitution of Liechtenstein describes the Catholic Church as the state religion and enjoying“the full protection of the State”. The constitution does however ensure that people of other faiths “shall be entitled to practise their creeds and to hold religious services to the extent consistent with morality and public order.”[6]
  •  Malta: Article 2 of the Constitution of Malta declares that “the religion of Malta is the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion”[7]
  •  Monaco: article 9 of the constitution of Monaco describes “La religion catholique, apostolique et romaine” [the catholic, apostolic and Roman religion]” as the religion of the state.[8]
  •   Vatican City: the Vatican is an ElectiveTheocratic, or sacerdotal Absolute Monarchy[9] ruled by the Pope, who is also the Vicar of the Catholic Church. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (LatinSancta Sedes) and the location of the Pope’s official residence, referred to as the Apostolic Palace.

Jurisdictions that give constitutional privileges to Roman Catholicism without establishing it as the state religion:

Eastern OrthodoxyEdit

  •  GreeceChurch of Greece[16]
  •  GeorgiaGeorgian Orthodox Church is not the state church of Georgia but has a special constitutional agreement with the state, with the constitution recognising “the special role of the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia in the history of Georgia and its independence from the state.”[17] (See also Concordat of 2002)
  •  Bulgaria: in the Bulgarian Constitution, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is recognized as “the traditional religion” of the Bulgarian people, but the state itself remains secular.

ProtestantismEdit

AnglicanismEdit

In the 19th century, there was a campaign by Liberalsdissenters and nonconformists to disestablish the Church of England. The campaign for disestablishment was revived in the 20th century when Parliament rejected the 1928 revision of the Book of Common Prayer, leading to calls for separation of church and state to prevent political interference in matters of worship. Nevertheless, the Church of England remained the state church.

LutheranismEdit

Jurisdictions where a Lutheran church has been established as a state religion include the Nordic countries.

  •  Denmark: section 4 of the Danish constitution confirms the Church of Denmark as the state church.[19]
  •  Iceland: the Icelandic constitution confirms the Church of Iceland as the state church of Iceland.[20] (73.8% of population members at 1 January 2015) [21]
  •  Norway: the Constitution of Norway stipulates that The Church of Norway, an Evangelical-Lutheran church, will remain the Established Church of Norway and will as such be supported by the State.”[22] This was amended in 2012, from“Evangelical-Lutheran religion remains the public religion of the State”. The church is granted autonomy in doctrine and appointment of bishops.[23][24][25]
  •  Finland: the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has a special relationship with the Finnish state, its internal structure being described in a special law, the Church Act.[26] The Church Act can be amended only by a decision of the synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and subsequent ratification by the Parliament of Finland. The Church Act is protected by the Finnish Constitution and the state can not change the Church Act without changing the constitution. The church has a power to tax its members and all corporations unless a majority of shareholders are members of theFinnish Orthodox Church. The state collects these taxes for the church, for a fee. On the other hand, the church is required to give a burial place for everyone in its graveyards.[27] (77.2% of population members at the end of 2011).[28]The President of the Republic of Finland also decides the themes for intercession days. The church does not consider itself a state church, as the Finnish state does not have the power to influence its internal workings or its theology, although it has a veto in those changes of the internal structure which require changing the Church Act. Neither does the Finnish state accord any precedence to Lutherans or the Lutheran faith in its own acts.
  •  Sweden: the Church of Sweden was until year 2000 the official state church of Sweden and Lutheran Christianity was therefore the state religion of Sweden. In spite of the separation between the state and the church in 2000, theChurch of Sweden still has a special status in Sweden. Sweden is therefore often seen as a midway between having a state religion and not. The church has its own legal regulation in the Church of Sweden Act, which regulates the church’s basic structure, creeds and right to tax members of the church (ca 70% of the population). According to the Act, the Church of Sweden must be a democratic, Lutheran people’s church. Only the Swedish Riksdag can change this fact. The connections to the Swedish royal family are complicated. For example, the Swedish constitution stipulates that the Monarch of Sweden must be a true Lutheran, accepting the doctrine of the Church of Sweden. All members of the royal house must accept the same doctrine to be able to inherit the Throne of Sweden. The parishes of the Church of Sweden are still the smallest administrative entities in Sweden and are used as civil registration and taxation units.[citation needed][original research?]
MethodismEdit

In 1928, Queen Salote Tupou III, who was a member of the church, established the Free Wesleyan Church as the state religion of Tonga.[citation needed] The chief pastor of the Free Wesleyan Church serves as the representative of the people of Tonga and of the Church at the coronation of a King or Queen of Tonga where he anoints and crowns the Monarch. In Opposition to the establishment of the Free Wesleyan Church as a state religion, the Church of Tonga separated from the Free Wesleyan Church in 1928.

Calvinism (Reformed Tradition)Edit
  •  Tuvalu: The Church of Tuvalu is the state religion, although in practice this merely entitles it to “the privilege of performing special services on major national events”.[29] The Constitution of Tuvalu guarantees freedom of religion, including the freedom to practice, the freedom to change religion, the right not to receive religious instruction at school or to attend religious ceremonies at school, and the right not to “take an oath or make an affirmation that is contrary to his religion or belief”.[30]
  •  Scotland: The Church of Scotland is recognized as the national church of Scotland, but is not a state church and thus differs from the Church of England. Its constitution, which is recognised by acts of the British Parliament, gives it complete independence from the state.

Islam (non-denominational)Edit

Main article: Non-denominational Muslim

States which define Islam as the state religion, but do not specify either Sunni or Shia.

  •  Bangladesh : The 1972 constitution did not include any religion as the state religion. However, in 1988, general Ershad inserted Islam as the state religion by the Eighth Amendment Act. 1988; section 2A specifies “The state religion of the Republic is Islam, but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in the Republic.”.[33] As part of a series of rulings, on 4 October 2010 the High Court ruled that Bangladesh is a secular state.[34] Section 12 of part II of the constitution identifies Secularism and freedom of religion as fundamental principles of state policy[35]
  •  Djibouti[36]
  •  Iraq : Article 2 of the Constitution of Iraq confirms Islam as the official religion of the State.
  •  Pakistan : article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan confirms Islam as the state religion.[37]
  •  Palestine: the Palestinian Constitution defines Islam as the state religion, but ensures “‘respect and sanctity of all other heavenly religions shall be maintained'”.[38]
  •  Tunisia: Art. 1, Constitution of Tunisia

Sunni IslamEdit

Shiʾa IslamEdit

IbadiEdit

Mixed Shia and SunniEdit

Buddhist countriesEdit

Governments where Buddhism, either a specific form of, or the whole, has been established as an official religion:

Theravada BuddhismEdit

  •  Cambodia[39]
  •  Sri Lanka: the constitution of Sri Lanka accords Buddhism the “foremost place”, although it does not identify it as a state religion.[40]
  •  Thailand: the 2007 Thai constitution, recognises Buddhism as “the religion of Thai tradition with the most adherents”, however, it is not formally identified as a state religion. It requires the government to “patronize and protect Buddhism and other religions”.[41]
  •  Myanmar: Section 361 of the constitution states that “The Union recognizes special position of Buddhism as the faith professed by the great majority of the citizens of the Union.”.[42]

Vajrayana BuddhismEdit

Status of religion in IsraelEdit

See also: Jewish state

Israel is defined in several of its laws as a “Jewish and democratic state” (medina yehudit ve-demokratit). However, the term “Jewish” is a polyseme that can describe the Jewish people as both an ethnic or a religious group. The debate about the meaning of the term “Jewish” and its legal and social applications is one of the most profound issues with which Israeli society deals. The problem of the status of religion in Israel, even though it is relevant to all religions, usually refers to the status of Judaism in Israeli society. Thus, even though from a constitutional point of view Judaism is not the state religion in Israel, its status nevertheless determines relations between religion and state and the extent to which religion influences the political center.[44]

The State of Israel supports religious institutions, particularly Orthodox Jewish ones, and recognizes the “religious communities” as carried over from those recognized under the British Mandate. These are: Jewish and Christian (Eastern Orthodox, Latin [Catholic], Gregorian-Armenian, Armenian-Catholic, Syrian [Catholic], Chaldean [Uniate], Greek Catholic Melkite, Maronite, and Syrian Orthodox).

Everyone is free to believe in whatever they please, but it is considered a private matter. We don’t need monumental buildings to protect our faith. God didn’t ask us to judge people in his place. Who are we to judge and punish in his name? He knows what to do of us when our time comes.

In Secular countries such as France, they’ve associated the word secularism with Atheism, it is the biggest non-believing country in europe.

Among the founders of secularism such as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson or Jules Ferry, none of them has made any religious discrimination as they do now.

But it is also true that “Your beliefs are your private religion”.

Grasse

The town is considered the world’s capital of perfume. It is 350 m (1,148.29 ft) above sea level and 20 km (12 mi) from the Côte d’Azur

Three perfume factories offer daily tours and demonstrations, which draw in many of the region’s visitors. In addition to the perfumeries, Grasse’s other main attraction is the Cathedral, dedicated to Notre Dame du Puy and founded in the 11th century.

Grasse has had a prospering perfume industry since the end of the 18th century and it is the centre of the French perfume industry. It produces over two-thirds of France’s natural aromas (for perfume and for food flavourings). Its particular microclimate encouraged the flower farming industry. It is warm and sufficiently inland to be sheltered from the sea air. There is an abundance of water, thanks to its situation in the hills and the 1860 construction of the Siagne canal for irrigation purposes. Jasmine, a key ingredient of many perfumes, was brought to southern France by the Arabs of North Africa in the 16th century. Twenty-seven tonnes of jasmine are now harvested in Grasse annually. There are numerous old ‘parfumeries’ , such as Galimard, Molinard and Fragonard, each with tours and a museum.

The countryside around the city began to grow fields of flowers, offering new scents from the city. In the middle of the eighteenth century, the perfumery was experiencing a very important development. Leading companies dating from this period includes oldest French perfumerie and third oldest parfumerie in Europe Galimard established in 1747.

In the Middle Ages, Grasse specialized in leather tanning. Once tanned, the hides were often exported to Genoa or Pisa, cities that shared a commercial alliance with Grasse. Several centuries of this intense activity witnessed many technological advances within tanning industries. The hides of the town acquired a reputation for high quality. But the leather smelled badly, something that did not please the glove wearing nobility. This is when Galimard, a tanner came up with the idea of scented leather gloves. He offered a pair of scented gloves to Catherine de Medici who was seduced by the gift. Thereafter, the product spread through the Royal Court and high society, and this made a worldwide reputation for Grasse. The seventeenth century became the heyday of “Glovers Perfumers’. The rare scents from this town’s (lavender, myrtle, jasmine, rose, orange blossom and wild mimosa) did win the title for the Grasse as the perfume capital of the world.

A network of sixty companies employs 3,500 people in the city and surrounding area. Additionally about 10,000 residents are indirectly employed by the perfume industry. The main activity of perfumery is in the production of natural raw materials (essential oils, concretes, absolutes, resinoids and molecular distillation) and the production of concentrate, also called the juice. A concentrate is the main product that when diluted in at least 80% alcohol provides a perfume. Also food flavorings, which developed since the 1970s, account for over half of production output today.

The Fragonard Perfumery was established in 1926 in one of the oldest factories in the city. Its museum Fragonard Musée du Parfum displays rare objects that explain the history of perfumery, covering 5,000 years.
International Perfume Museum. Opened in 1989, the museum traces the evolution of techniques during the 5,000 year history of perfumery and the large contribution of the Grasse area to perfume making.

These are some pics I took of the old town. And there is a 5mn long video through the old streets.

A special Christmas

The wind was howling, the snow was still falling after last night’s blizzard.
A little cottage was almost buried under a pile of snow. Smoke was coming out of its chimney. Inside, an old man was seated in a rocking chair with a little boy on his laps. The child was almost asleep. He was spending his seventh christmas with his beloved uncle. He loved his uncle’s stories, they were adventurous and magical.
– Uncle Sid, tell me one more time the story of you and dad when you were in Paris.
– Ohhhhhh! Shouldn’t you be in bed now?
– Noooooo. Please let me hear it again, then I’ll go to sleep.
– Alright! promise?
– Promised, said the boy with a huge smile.
Uncle Sid gathered his thoughts and started the tale one more time:

It was a long long time ago. We were barley adults back then. We left our home to see the world and have new stories to tell. We’ve crossed deserts and seas, we’ve fought dragons and vicious men. We spent days without seeing any food and days having our pockets full of nuts and cakes. Oh little one…. you don’t know the hardship we’ve been through. Finally in a winter day, we arrived in Paris on a snowy morning. There were lots of carriages, women in long skirts, women in very short dresses selling their bodies for a few coins, stools selling only bread and cakes, drunken men sleeping in taverns till they were kicked out, priests in long dark robes walking up and down the streets…. all kind of stuff that we weren’t used to see during our journey. Your dad was so happy to find himself in a such big town but it was very cold for us, we didn’t have any warm clothes.
– Oh Sid! We’re so lucky to have come this far.
– Let me tell ya, I’m sure that this is the city is going to be called “the city of lights” one day.
We spent the day walking and looking around. We haven’t eaten anything all day as we didn’t have any money left. Our stomach were aching, we’ve seen kids stealing stoles but none of us was expert in stealing. We knew too well the we would have been caught if we tried. So we’ve kept on walking to forget our hunger and to keep warm. At night the temperature dropped a lot, and we were freezing.
-Damn! I wish we were smarter not to come in winter, I said.
The moon shone its pale light on the snowy path, we could only hear the noise of our footsteps and occasionally some laughter in the homes we passed by. It must have been after midnight, we couldn’t keep on walking. We arrived at a bridge. I told your dad that we could as well spend the night under the bridge. He agreed. We lied there back. to back, on the cold stone, without a blanket, without a coat, nothing just the warmth of our back. We were freezing. In the middle of the night I woke up with the tingling of small bells. I opened my eyes to see 6 dears in front of me and a red carriage. A man stepped down of it, he wore a red coat and pants, with black leather boots, a red hat and a white beard. He seemed to come from another time.
– Ho ho ho, hello my dear friends, why are you sleeping under a bridge on this fine Christmas night?
– We came from far, we didn’t find any place to sleep nor any food, your father replied.
– Well…. I’m am your good luck, come with me, He said stepping into the carriage.
We’ve stepped into the carriage with him, and that’s when the really weird thing happened. He said “Ho” and the dears jumped into the air! Yes child, we were flying above Paris in a matter of seconds. Those dears were magical. Your father and I were laughing like crazy. This red clothed man made us see all the city from above. It was beautiful! La Seine… la Tour Eiffel…. we could see the houses so small bellow us. It’s a night we’ll never forget! After a few minutes, the dears landed by a big church where was a decorated fir tree.
– Ok folks, this is the church of Notre Dame, here you’ll find shelter and food. Just knock on that door and it shall be opened. But before we part, take these.
Out of the back of his carriage he took out two packages. One for me and one for your father.
Just after that, he said “Ho” and flew into the sky again. We never saw him again.
We opened the packages, we found for each of us a long warm coat which has kept us warm in those cold winter nights for a very long time.

We knocked at the door the red clothed man showed us. After a while, someone answered behind the door.
– Who is it?
– We’re travelers, we need shelter and food for the night. We don’t want any trouble.
The door opened a little, we saw a short priest in his nightwear. He looked at both of us then opened the door for us to go in.
– Come in, come in. Go heat yourself by the fire, I’ll make you something to eat.
And that’s how we found ourselves in a warm, cozy presbytery were we spent a lovely night in a bed after having filled our bellies. The End”

The little child was already asleep, on his laps. Uncle Sid smiled at him “sweet dreams little one and Merry Christmas”



See Paris and its fight for the latest pics and news.

Beauty in the World #3

I’ve spent most of my childhood in France. I had many opportunities to notice and judge how this population take care of themselves. I must say that the French are NOT make-up addicts.
The young generation is more used to cosmetics and beauty products than the old ones. The renowned pharmaceutical brands such as La Roche Posay, Avene, Bioderma, Uriage…. are easily accessible in every Pharmacy. The price varies between drug stores.
The Cosmetics and Perfumes stores such as Sephora, Nocibé are good places to shop for renowned brands such as Dior, Chanel, Este Lauder, Gucci… and Yves Rocher for its own products.
The hairdressers are for every age and social status. The women are more interested in how their hair looks like rather than which makeup they ought to use. I think that the lipstick is the most common cosmetic women wear.
Skin cleanser & moisturizers are common products on every shelf, while mascaras, skin foundation and eye liners are for special occasions or for working on busy public places, you know what I mean. Yet they take care of their body shape. You can easily find products for weight loss or for cellulite at a high price.
Beauticians are easy to find, but you need to book an appointment most of the time due to the amount of customers they have.
The most commont wanted thing is hair removal and facial treatment.

Here the treatments cost about 70 Euros for a facial one (depending on what you’re going to do) and 400-500 Euros for 10 corporal ones.
I would say that 400-500 Euros is awfully expensive! Unless you’re doing something very serious requiring a special machine, perhaps for celluite.
Here you can find young and old ladies at the beautician, they all take care of their skin. The busiest time of the year is spring, as they prepare for summer.
I’ve asked if there was a tip for my readers: Do more treatments !