Day: July 2, 2013

The Mystery of the Terebinthus Neronis

Terebinth TreeOne of the central parts of In the MIssion deals with the overlapping tradition of betrayal that started the Christian Church. On one side, Judas gave away Jesus to the Temple; this tradition, while historically accurate, has created the false impression that Judas actually betrayed Jesus, where he simply seems to have fulfilled the instructions given to him.

On the other hand, we have absolutely no knowledge of the details of Peter and Paul’s death in Rome. We do not even know for sure when Peter made it to Rome, and we are pretty certain that he was not involved in the creation of the Church there. The sources refute that he was the first bishop there (a position that was filled by Linus, on creation by Paul). The legends are multiple and manifold. But they form no coherent story.

The place of martyrdom of both Peter and Paul is also not known with certainty. As In the MIssion explains, that’s mostly because pretty much everybody that would have cared about those places died in Nero’s persecution. Apparently, knowledge of the burial was more widespread, which indicates that surviving Christians must have fled the city during the persecution and come back soon after, allowing for a burial.

Peter, tradition states, was crucified upside down and buried near his place of martyrdom. Paul, on the other hand, was beheaded and buried on the way to Ostia. Both locations are easy to spot, for they are under the altar of two of the most prestigious churches in Christendom: the Basilica of Saint Peter in Vatican, and Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

We’ll leave Saint Paul for another article. His beheading must have been quite the spectacle, considering that the three places where his head hit the ground are now reputed to be three springs (tre fontane) some distance apart.

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L’America: Why I Love America

libertyOver the years, my European friends and family have repeatedly asked, “Marco, why do you like living in America so much?” When I hear that question, I just smile, because the answer is long and complex. Even when they pointed out all the strangeness of the Bush years, I continued smiling: what I love about America is not a particular administration, but the people and the culture.

Surely, I am no bumbling fanboy that buys into anything whole cloth. I can distinguish what I like from what I don’t, and I can see instances where Europe does better than America. There is no need to point those out to me.

But I absolutely love living in America. And this is my story of why that’s the case.

Freedom

First of all, in America I have a sense of freedom that I never had in Europe, especially not in Germany. This freedom comes in two ways: I have freedom from government intrusion, and I have freedom from other people.

Since founding, America has been strong on curbing the power of government entities. That sentiment makes a lot of sense in a country founded on rejecting the oppressive regime of a far and foreign king, and it has continued on. In America, police cannot stop me unless they have a reason to do so. In America, police has to tell me my rights when I get arrested. In Germany, I cannot tell you how often my car got stopped for a “routine check” after a passing police officer detected my non-blondness.

This freedom from government is a precious victory, and Americans cherish it rightly. If your city or county comes in with excessive regulation, Americans cry foul. Eventually, those supporting regulation that is too tight fall from grace – which in America means they are thrown out of office at the next election.

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