Top 10 Truly Badass Saints

We all think of Saints as quiet and holy people – but history is full of some pretty amazing and curious people who came to be canonized. This list looks at ten of the toughest saints to have walked the earth – men and women who not only lived holy lives, but kicked some serious butt at the same time. For those of you who don’t know the specifics of what sainthood is, here is a brief summary before we start on the list. A saint is a person who lived a life of virtue. Many saints from the early Church are saints by general acclamation – in other words, they were so popular that they simply came to be known as saints. But, from very early on in Christianity, a saint was declared as such by the Pope (or in the case of martyrs, by the local Bishop). Literally, the term “saint” refers to any person who is in Heaven – not just those so named by the Church. But enough of the details – here are ten saints you don’t want to meet in a dark alley.

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I bet you weren’t expecting to see St Francis on this list. St Francis is best remembered in popular culture as the animal patron – the saint who could talk to animals and sooth wild beasts. While it is true that there were many reports of miracles regarding animals in St Francis’ life, he is more revered in the Church because of his strict poverty, stigmata and efforts to fix problems in the Church during a time of crisis. But what most people don’t know (including many religious people) is that St Francis was so devout in his beliefs that he raced off to Egypt in 1219 to become a martyr – he hoped that he would convert a bunch of muslims and then be killed. That was a hope that nearly came true!

St Francis was received by Sultan Melek-el-Kamel, whom he wanted to convert, and suggested that his muslim scholars undergo a test of true religion by fire. They all refused, so St Francis offered to enter a fire pit and, if he was able to leave it unharmed, they would have to agree that God had protected him and that his was, therefore, the true religion. The sultan rejected his offer but was so impressed that he gave St Francis permission to preach Christianity unhindered in his lands – an incredible concession considering the nation was in the middle of fighting against crusaders from the west. This saint was definitely a man of steel.

Louis-Innocentiv

Saint Louis was the King of France from 1226 until his death in 1270, and is the only canonized King of France. He was crowned King at only 12 years old, following the death of his father, King Louis VIII. Because of his youth, his mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled France as regent during his minority. He went on two crusades during his lifetime, one in his mid thirties, and the other in his mid 50′s, which is no mean feat when you consider how bloody and violent they could be. The first began with the capture of Port Damietta in 1249, and went on to the Battle of Fariskur, where he lost his army and was captured by the Egyptians. He was only released after a ransom of 400,000 livres tournois was paid (nearly twice France’s annual revenue), and the return of the city of Damietta.

Perhaps most significant for the badassness of King Louis was that the whole time he was battling, he was wearing a cilice (a sharp metal chain worn tightly to cause pain and sometimes bleeding) around the legs or waist. So when everyone else was suffering because of battle scars, the King was suffering twice. His end was to come in his second crusade when he died – as all good kings do – in the midst of a bloody battle.

Stgeorge

St George is undoubtedly amongst the most well known saints on this list. He was a third century Roman soldier and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. He is regarded as the most prominent military saint and is one of the most revered in the Western World. George was raised as a Christian and decided at a young age that he wanted to be a soldier. He joined Diocletian’s army and, before long, was one of the finest soldiers around. Some time later Diocletian decided that all soldiers who were Christians had to renounce their faith and become pagan. George refused (I am sure you all see where this is going). Diocletian tried to convince him to convert because he didn’t want to lose his best soldier but George refused.

Recognizing the futility of his efforts, Diocletian was left with no choice but to have him executed for his refusal. Before the execution George gave his wealth to the poor and prepared himself. After various torture sessions, including laceration on a wheel of swords, in which he was resuscitated three times (pretty damned badass), George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia’s city wall, on April 23, 303.

But most of all he is a badass because he killed a dragon or so the legend goes. Here is the story of St George and the Dragon:

“In the fully developed Western version, which developed as part of the Golden Legend, a dragon or Crocodile makes its nest at the spring that provides water for the city of “Silene” (perhaps modern Cyrene) in Libya or the city of Lydda, depending on the source. Consequently, the citizens have to dislodge the dragon from its nest for a time, to collect water. To do so, each day they offer the dragon at first a sheep, and if no sheep can be found, then a maiden must go instead of the sheep. The victim is chosen by drawing lots. One day, this happens to be the princess. The monarch begs for her life to be spared, but to no avail. She is offered to the dragon, but there appears Saint George on his travels. He faces the dragon, protects himself with the sign of the cross, slays the dragon, and rescues the princess. The grateful citizens abandon their ancestral paganism and convert to Christianity.” [Source]

Saint Ignatius Loyola In Armour

Ignatius of Loyola (Basque: Ignazio Loiolakoa, Spanish: Ignacio de Loyola) (1491 – July 31, 1556) was a Spanish knight from a Basque noble family, hermit, priest since 1537 and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and was its first Superior General. St Ignatius was an incredibly brilliant Knight who fought in many battles without any injuries, until one fateful day. On May 20, 1521, a cannonball wounded one of his legs and broke the other. Unperturbed, he got up and hobbled back to the castle. He needed surgery which was undertaken without anesthesia – a treatment that most modern folk would balk at. Part of his leg bone had to be cut off, and the operation was generally a disaster. But, despite the fact that he ended up with one leg shorter than the other (which led the doctors to put weights on his leg to stretch it back out), he survived and went on to found one of the most famous religious orders in the world (inspired by the religious texts he read while recovering from the cannonball).

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Saint Simeon Stylites lived for 37 years standing on top of a small platform on a tall pillar. That is sufficient to label him badass. Before this he spent 40 days closed in a tiny hut without any food or water. When he walked out it was hailed as a miracle. Pilgrims flocked to see St Simeon and they erected taller pillars for him to stand on – in the end his pillar was 15 meters high. He lived off goat’s milk and flat bread – provided by local children. He refused to let any women come near the pillar (including his mother) and he would let people climb a ladder to talk to him and ask for advice.

St Simeon truly cemented his name in the annals of badass history when he got an ulcer on his thigh which festered and ultimately led to his death – standing up.

Joanofarc

“Forward! They are ours!” That was the battle cry of Saint Joan of Arc, the young virgin who led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years’ War, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII.

In one battle, Saint Joan was hit in the neck by an arrow. Unlike most men in war, she didn’t take it lying down; she got right back up, pulled out the arrow and continued to lead the army. In another battle, whilst scaling a wall to attack the English, she was hit in the head with a canon ball – as is to be expected of a warrior saint, she shook her head and kept climbing. Her leadership (and battle style, which was 100% attack) shattered the English Army wherever it met her.

She was captured by the Burgundians, sold to the English, tried by an ecclesiastical court and burned at the stake when she was nineteen years old. 25 years later the Pope (Pope Callixtus III) investigated the trial at the request of Saint Joan’s mother, Isabelle Romée, and the Inquisitor General overturned it and declared that Joan was a martyr. It took 500 years before she was officially canonized. Oh – and contrary to popular belief, St Joan didn’t dress in men’s clothing – she fought all of her battles in a dress with armor over the top.

St Vladimir

Which saint had hundreds of concubines, multiple wives from around the world, so many children that everyone lost count, and an army of pagans? St Vladimir of Kiev did! Vladimir was the grand prince of Kiev, who converted to Christianity in 988, but before his conversion he was a pretty mean (not to mention profligate) guy. From the start of his reign in 980, he conquered lands, slaughtered people, had children and generally partied hard. On a few occasions he, being a good Pagan, took part in human sacrifices:

“In 983, after another of his military successes, Prince Vladimir and his army thought it necessary to sacrifice human lives to the gods. A lot was cast and it fell on a youth, Ioann by name, the son of a Christian, Fyodor. His father stood firmly against his son being sacrificed to the idols. More than that, he tried to show the pagans the futility of their faith: ‘Your gods are just plain wood: it is here now but it may rot into oblivion tomorrow; your gods neither eat, nor drink, nor talk and are made by human hand from wood; whereas there is only one God — He is worshiped by Greeks and He created heaven and earth; and your gods? They have created nothing, for they have been created themselves; never will I give my son to the devils!’”

Interestingly, it was this speech which caused Vladimir to ponder over the next few years as to whether he ought to convert to Christianity, which he ultimately did. He ruled so kindly after his conversion that he became known as Vladimir the Great – a far cry from his previous life.

Moses The Black

St Moses the Black was a slave of a government official in Egypt who dismissed him for theft and suspected murder. He became the leader of a gang of bandits who roamed the Nile Valley, spreading terror and violence. He was a large, imposing figure. On one occasion a man caught him in a theft, which annoyed St Moses immensely. The next day he swam across the Nile (a not insignificant act) with a knife in his mouth – his intention was the kill the guy. When he got to his home the guy had fled (having obviously heard some of Moses’ previous exploits). St Moses, instead, killed four of his sheep before sticking the knife back in his mouth and swimming back. Shortly after that the law started to catch up with him so he hid in a monastery. The influence of the monks was so great that he converted and became a monk.

But the story doesn’t end there. Some years later a group of thieves wanted to rob the monastery where St Moses was living. He caught them off guard and single handedly beat them all to a pulp. He dragged their bloodied bodies to the chief monk to ask what to do (knowing it wasn’t a monkly thing to kill them). The head of the monastery said to forgive them and send them away, which surprised the robbers so much that they all apologized, converted and became monks too! He eventually died at the hands of a group of warriors who attacked the monastery when he was 75 years old – but not before he managed to help 70 of the monks escape. St Moses chose to stay behind with a few other monks to fight off the warriors.

Longinus St Peters Basillica

St Longinus was a soldier in the Roman army, from Caesarea. He spent his life earning his pension by fighting with his fellow soldiers throughout the Roman lands, and eventually ended up in Jerusalem helping out with various tasks he was capable of (he was nearly blind). One of the tasks was to be life changing. St Longinus was instructed to assist at the crucifixion of Jesus. Being a good Roman soldier he took his work seriously and, ensuring that he get a promotion for doing a good job, stabbed Jesus in the side while he was on the cross. In other words, Longinus stabbed God. It takes a true badass to have the guts to do something like that.

Blood and water flowed out from the stab wound and some of it got in Longinus’ eyes. His blindness vanished and he declared “Indeed, this was the Son of God!” [Mark 15:39]. He immediately left the army, converted and became a monk. Not long after he was arrested for his faith, his teeth ripped out and tongue cut off. However, St. Longinus continued to speak clearly and managed to destroy several idols in the presence of the governor, who consequently had Longinus beheaded. His relics are now in the church of St Augustine, in Rome, and the lance he used to stab Jesus is contained in one of the four pillars over the altar in the Basilica of St Peter’s in Rome.

Saintquiteria

This entry is number one on the list for not just the badassness of St Quiteria, but the downright weird circumstances of her life. St Quiteria was one of nine sisters all born at the same time (nonuplets). The nine girls’ mother was a lady of high rank and she was disgusted that she had given birth to nine children like a common animal and even more so that she had nine daughters and no son (son’s were far more valuable). In a fit of rage, she demanded that her nurse take the babies and drown them in the river. The nurse couldn’t do it so she took them to a remote village where the girls grew up together. Then things get really weird. They formed a nonuplet warrior gang.

The girls were all good Christians and their gang was formed to travel around breaking Christians out of jail. They spent a number of years in this task (and smashing Roman idols) until they were caught and returned to their father, who recognized them. He told them all to marry good Roman pagans but they refused and broke out of jail. Then the real badass began. They waged a guerilla war against the Roman Empire. Eventually, the girls were all killed or died (Quiteria was beheaded) and along with Quiteria, two of her sisters Marina and Liberata are saints.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2011/01/30/top-10-truly-badass-saints/

10 Wacky Biblical Conspiracy Theories

We’re guessing you’ve heard of the Bible. The founding text of a little something known as Christianity, it sets out the guiding principles of Jesus’s teachings, offers advice for life, and gives the craziest people on the internet something else to project their madness onto. And it turns out that for every regular Christian drawing inspiration from the Bible, there are tons of lunatics using it to turn their collective insanity up to 11. Here are 10 Biblical conspiracy theories so flat-out bizarre they’d make Dan Brown weep.

10 God Owns An Awesome Spaceship

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The book of Ezekiel is kind of a big deal in Biblical lore. Not only is it frequently cited by the most badass Christian in history, it’s also home to some breathlessly poetic descriptions of awe-inspiring visions. One in particular, in Ezekiel 1, represents one of the most remarkable moments in the Bible outside of Revelations—a grand passage that overwhelms the reader with the magnificence of God and all his power. That is, unless you happen to believe in conspiracy theories, in which case it overwhelms them with a big flying spaceship.

The scene starts with the narrator in exile, just chilling by the riverside, when suddenly the heavens open and a frightening contraption descends—a monstrous thing of “wheels within wheels” and lots of fire. Since this doesn’t sound exactly Biblical, proponents of the ancient astronaut theory have frequently jumped on this as a description of a spaceship from someone who didn’t have the vocabulary to describe one.

All of which sounds pretty convincing, until you actually read Ezekiel 1 and discover that he’s quite accurately describing a chair. Specifically, the throne of God, which is described in the exact same way elsewhere without any references to flying or fire or anything that’d make you automatically think “spaceship!”

9 The Tower of Babel Was A WMD

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We all know the story of the Tower of Babel—a gigantic structure built by man in an attempt to reach the heavens. But there are some who believe it was actually a rocket-mounted hydrogen bomb designed by Nimrod to destroy any meteorites God threw at them via his city-sized Stargate.

Just to be clear, this isn’t a wacko theory posited by a single nutjob. It appears in various forms on a number of blogs across the Internet, and always involves the same basic mish-mash of ideas. The first is that ancient beings had left behind a pile of super-mega missiles that humanity stumbled across and decided to use; the second is that they planned to use it to attack God (for varying reasons); and the third is that heaven confused their languages to stop them from attacking. In short, it’s simply a reprise of the original story that adds nothing of value except sexing it up to include a massive H-Bomb.

If anything, it probably detracts from the original, because while building an impossible tower is a nice metaphor for humanity’s hubris, accidentally stumbling across a city-vaporizing bomb from the future isn’t a metaphor for, well, anything.

8 Jesus Called Barack Obama ‘Satan’

Barack Obama Continues His Visit To London
It’s no secret that Obama isn’t exactly the most popular president in history. Too warmongering for lefties and too socialist for those on the right, he’s clearly got a few problems. The biggest of these may be that Jesus once openly referred to him as Satan.

It’s true: Luke 10:18 in full reads “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” Now, if you incorrectly translate that sentence into Hebrew, the words “lightning” and “heaven” become Barq and Bamah (or Shamayim if you do it correctly). Say them fast enough and it sounds like “Barak Bamah.” And that in turn sounds like “Barack Obama”—meaning Jesus just heavily implied that the 44th President of the United States is literally Satan.

At least he did if you completely ignore the other words in the sentence, the ones that come between “lightning” and “heaven.” And if you mistranslate “heaven.” And if you ignore the “O” at the start of “Obama,” and ignore the fact that taking any two random words and translating them into Hebrew will probably result in something that sounds a little bit like something else. But hey, don’t let that get in the way of your belief.

7 The Bible Is A Computer Program

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Looking for patterns in the Bible is nothing new. Ancient scholars did it. Isaac Newton did it. Dan Brown made millions doing it (sort of). So what could possibly be crazier than a bunch of guys using computers to analyze random Bible words for clues to the future? Well, how about a bunch of random guys using computers to prove that the Bible is secretly an ancient computer program?

That last link, by the way, will take you to a website so overloaded with insanity there’s a very real chance it’ll crash either your mind or computer (or both). The idea it puts forward is that there is a mathematical code embedded in the original Hebrew of the Bible that was encoded with a “time lock” to stop people from opening it until the late 20th century, and that whoever cracks that code will have the key to unlocking the cryptogram of the universe. In other words: The universe is a giant computer and the Bible is the ancient program that will give us absolute control over it, something that was conspicuously used as a plot point in the ’90s thriller The Omega Code.

So how do we go about using this super-powered program? Well, according to the website above, things are already in motion. They’ve been looking through the Bible for clues, and by their calculations, the code should be cracked sometime around the year . . . 2006.

6 Sodom And Gomorrah Were Destroyed By A Nuclear Bomb

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The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is a contentious one to say the least. Depending on whether you’ve bothered to read Ezekiel 16:49-50, it’s either about God blowing up a city for refusing to help the poor and needy, or (if you haven’t) because he really, really hates gay people. On the other hand, it could just be about a city wiped out in an ancient nuclear attack.

The idea goes that some ancient aliens were in the middle of civil war when one side decided to unleash nuclear death on the other. Lot—the sole survivor of the Bible’s most infamous conflagration—was an alien spy saved when his masters told him to leave the strike zone. His wife was turned to salt by the force of the blast and the resultant fallout explains both the Dead Sea and the general aridity of the region. It’s such a neat little theory that you almost want to believe it—until you realize it makes absolutely no sense.

5 Jesus Invented The Internet

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Ask anyone on the Internet today who was responsible for inventing it and they’ll (rightly) answer “Al Gore.” But it turns out that the former Vice President was stretching the truth a little bit more than we thought when he made that claim. According to a number of theories out there, the first person to actually dream up the Internet was none other than Jesus.

Now, since most of us probably don’t remember from Sunday school the scene where Jesus was forced to invent both computers and telecommunications before tackling the Internet, we’d better back up and explain. The idea isn’t that Jesus literally built the Internet—that would be silly—but that he predicted it with unerring accuracy, sort of like how people give Jules Verne and H.G. Wells credit for “inventing” stuff they dreamed up for their books.

It’s all thanks to the Parable of the Net,a fisherman-based story in Matthew that functions as an allegory for the Final Judgement, but is actually predicting the Internet—because “the net” is 1990s slang for “the Internet.” Honestly, that’s about as much rationale as these people give, although there are some interesting attempts out there to prove how a man from ancient Galilee talking about fishing is really describing modern broadband. We’ll let you have a read and decide for yourselves.

4 The Bible Contains Evidence Of Time Travel

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Time travel is one of those things we all so desperately want to be real that we’ll look for evidence of it anywhere. And you better believe that includes the Bible. A year or so ago, the conspiracy TV show Ancient Aliens even devoted a whole segment of its show to “proving” that the prophet Jeremiah had witnessed an incident of time travel.

But this is a far from the delusions of a lone nut: Across the Internet, endless videos and pages exist claiming the Bible not only describes time travel, it also shows you how to abuse it. That last link in particular will take you to a site that seems to claim God both invented time travel and then gave the power to Hitler, specifically so he could go back to the pioneer days and murder early white settlers (because we all know how much Hitler hated white people). Sure it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s the beauty of conspiracy theories: They don’t have to.

3 Noah Came From Mars

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Thanks to the absolute lack of evidence to support the idea of a globe-destroying super-flood, it’s already pretty niche to believe that the Genesis account of Noah is anything but an awesome myth. But niche doesn’t even begin to describe the guys in this entry. See, not only do they believe that the story of Noah literally happened, they believe it literally happened on Mars.

Although the theory has many variations, the basic idea seems to be that a cataclysm threatened Mars—like, for example, a planet-destroying flood—that forced Martian leader Noah to escape in a spaceship containing a handful of Martian animals and plants, which he later used to colonize the Earth. In some versions this involves genetic manipulation, in others it simply involves landing on another planet and gallivanting about like some sort of bearded Xenu. In other words, it’s an insane hodgepodge of nonsense disguised as some sort of sci-fi fairytale. Kind of like Scientology, when you think about it.

2 The Garden Of Eden Is Hidden Under Kansas City (And Inhabited By Nazis)

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People have wasted a lot of time and energy trying to find the location of the Garden of Eden. Wasted because, A) it probably doesn’t exist in a literal sense, and B) if it does, it’s guarded by an immortal being wielding a sword of fire. Oh, and also because it’s already been discovered—1,200 kilometers (800 mi) below Jackson County, Missouri.

Well, at least according to this theory, which also states that it’s currently inhabited by aliens and members of the Nazi party. The idea is an offshoot of the Hollow Earth theory we’ve covered elsewhere, combined with a load of Christian imagery, UFO lore, and seemingly anything else that occurred to the author during a late-night drinking session.

In essence, it’s like the perfect mix of conspiracy theories: a load of self-contradictory nonsense that flies in the face of both established science and established Bible scholarship. The only thing it lacks is the assertion that a leading Biblical character is some sort of weird space alien.

1 Jesus Was A Space Monster

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The main problem with the ancient astronaut theory is that once you start applying it to the Bible, it leads to only one outcome: that Jesus Christ—historical religious leader, Son of God, and meddlesome End Times prophet—was a human-alien hybrid placed on Earth by intergalactic warlords to freak us out with futuristic technology.

You can probably guess the idea behind this one. The virgin birth was a genetic implant. The “miracles” of Jesus were simply alien tech (we’re intrigued to hear how this explains the miracle of the pigs; feel free to suggest ideas below). The missing 30 years of Jesus’s life were spent on the mothership, learning how to manipulate humans. All so he could . . . what, exactly? Start a religion? Get crucified? Hang out with Mary Magdalene and get up to some hijinks while he was at it?

However you look at it, the “Jesus was an alien hybrid” theory doesn’t even begin to tiptoe around the edges of making sense—all it does is take one unexplainable mystery and replace it with a load of pseudoscience dressed up with inexplicable scenes of sci-fi insanity. Sure, it’s essentially harmless, but that fact that people genuinely believe this is somehow terrifying.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/12/27/10-wacky-biblical-conspiracy-theories/

10 Roadside Attractions Ordained By God

Having spent an eternity in management, God knows that being a good delegator is the cornerstone of success. Anyone who’s read the Bible knows that some of his requests are bizarre (like the time he told Hosea to marry a prostitute and name his kid “Not My People”), but who really wants to question God when he tells you to do something? Some people took their “divine assignments” so seriously and with such devotion that we can’t help but marvel at their resulting splendor as we discover them while along America’s roads.

10 The Minister’s Treehouse

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Maybe because the ark was so 2500 B.C., or maybe because the minister was already living atop fairly high ground, God instructed Horace Burgess to build him a tree house. Begun in 1993, Burgess’s structure is now 30 meters (90 ft) tall and contains 80 rooms, including a bell tower and a basketball court. Burgess claims to have spent only $12,000 on its construction, and God has promised he will never run out of wood.

The Minister’s Treehouse was once open to the public but has been closed by order of the local fire marshal. Apparently, the marshal is unaware that the house’s original certificate of occupancy was issued by a much higher authority.

9 Jesus Is Coming To An Alien Planet Near You

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Following a miraculous recovery in 1917 from what should have been a life-ending accident in the Kentucky coal mines, Harrison Mayes could only think of one way to repay God: He would plant homemade concrete signs and crosses along the roadside in 44 states. Some merely encouraged the passersby to “Get Right With God,” while others offered the disclaimer, “If You Go To Hell, It’s Your Fault.”

Later in life, Mayes must have decided that his message needed a larger audience and began labeling his signs with directions like, “To Be Erected on Planet Jupiter.” He signed them P.A.E., which stood for “Planetary Aviation Evangelist.” If interplanetary concrete missions work doesn’t pull down some serious rewards in heaven, then God only knows what does.

8 Grotto Of The Redemption

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The Virgin Mary is also a fan of large and interesting building projects—or maybe she just steps in when God is busy with his multitude of other bizarre projects. Whatever the case, when Mary was kind enough to spare Father Paul Dobberstein from pneumonia in 1912, he promised to build her the largest grotto in the world. In Iowa. Because as long as you’re going to spend 42 years sculpting an enormous pile of rocks to depict nine scenes in the life of Jesus, why not do it in Iowa?

Father Dobberstein traveled far and wide in search of jewels for his monument, which included a chunk of the North Pole and a few cave formations that he “borrowed” from Carlsbad Caverns when no one was looking. He hired men from the local pool hall to help, paying them in both beer and cash. In 1954, Dobberstein went on to build grottoes in heaven, but work continues on the Grotto of the Redemption to this day. For employment inquiries, please report to the local pool hall and be willing to accept liquid currency and a virgin’s blessing.

7 Paradise Garden

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Created in the ’60s by preacher and bicycle repairman Howard Finster, Paradise Garden once served as a fantastical showroom for the 5,000 paintings Finster had promised God he would create. A true overachiever, not only did Finster paint over 46,000 religious pieces in his lifetime, he turned acres of Georgia swampland into a small village made entirely of recycled objects. His subjects included Christianity, creation, and of course, mechanical objects—because robots were the only thing the Bible was missing.

Finster’s faith was tested when his work became famous through R.E.M. album covers and Johnny Carson appearances. His sudden discovery showed him that his sacredly sanctioned art was folk art and that he could sell it for lots of money.

6 The Triple Cross Challenge

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Ever wondered why roadside crosses often come in threes? The majority of these cross clusters are the work of Reverend Bernard Coffindaffer, a Methodist minister who claimed that the Holy Spirit appeared to him following open-heart surgery in the early ’80s and told him to get to work erecting crosses along our nation’s highways. Coffindaffer convinced landowners to donate over 2,000 sites in the US and abroad to the building of these monuments and spent over $3 million of his own money on materials. He did all of this in just nine years before his death in 1992.

5 Cano’s Beer Can “Jesus” Castle

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Jesus did come back, and he’s living in Colorado, according to a Native American, Vietnam War veteran who goes by the name of Cano. Having spent 30 years creating a gleaming masterpiece made up of over 100,000 beer and soda cans, along with other pieces of scrap metal, Cano credits Jesus himself for the work as well as “Vitamin Mary Jane.”

Jesus has been living here since 1987, when Cano, who lives across the street in a trailer, says they became neighbors. Cano’s plan is to eventually talk Jesus into going to Washington with him so that he can back Cano up while Cano lists his grievances to the president.

4 God’s Ark Of Safety

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According to Pastor Richard Greene of Frostburg, Maryland, Jesus instructed him to build a new ark. He also told the pastor to build this ark next to the interstate to warn people that he was coming back.
Either way, people will definitely take note when this hulking, biblical-scale behemoth casts its shadow across their morning commute.

Although Greene’s vision occurred in 1976, God’s newest ark is currently just a huge steel frame. The pastor claims that it will cost another $20–30 million to complete, but he assures everyone that those steel beams already have healing properties and will eventually contain a gymnasium, theater, and a conference center.

3 Salvation Mountain

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For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to have Jesus as a neighbor or to live near steel beams with magical powers, a trip to the middle of the California desert might still save our souls. Just up the road from the abandoned Salton Sea, a three-story bluff covers the expanse of a football field and proclaims God’s love in Technicolor splendor.

This sinner’s beacon, adorned with colorful Bible verses and psalms, was created by Leonard Knight, who began the project in 1967 after seeing “the light.” At first, he thought God wanted him to stitch a hot air balloon together from scraps of fabric, but after years of failed attempts to inflate it, Leonard decided to make God a little monument instead. Thirty years later, he was still adding to it (using adobe, tires, and more painted scriptures) with a devotion that even an atheist might credit to divine inspiration.

2 Holy Land USA

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Perhaps you’d like your own mission from God, but you’re afraid to start with a mere dirt mound in the desert. If so, this abandoned biblical amusement park may be the calling you’ve been waiting for. Located in Waterbury, Connecticut, Holy Land USA was the brainchild of evangelist John Greco, who built the park in the ’50s after he received a message from God. Much like the other artistic visionaries on this list, Greco fashioned his park out of recycled materials like old plywood, chicken wire, bathtubs, tin siding, and fragments of religious statues.

Leading guests through replicas of a biblical-era Holy Land, which began with the Garden of Eden and included fun places to hang out like “The Catacombs,” the theme park experienced a surge of popularity in the ’60s and ’70s. Following Greco’s death in 1986, Holy Land fell into disrepair, and God was left to take his message elsewhere, abandoning the project altogether when The Flaming Lips filmed a video from their album, “A Priest Driven Ambulance” amid the park’s crumbling ruins in 1991.

1 The Second Coming House

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If all else fails, prophet Isaiah Robertson is dutifully preparing us for the coming Rapture in 2014. Using his house and property as a canvas, he channels God’s message using bright colors and cutout wooden symbols. A 7.6-meter (25 ft) cross stands next to the house, also a kaleidoscope of layers and shapes, which is the exact height Jesus will be when he returns, says Isaiah.

Prophet Isaiah is quite chipper when he warns visitors that they might burn in hell for all of eternity, and everyone who drops by gets the same warm-hearted tour. According to Isaiah, his colorful home is one of the last things we’ll see on the way to becoming either a sheep or a goat during the Rapture. At least if we never make it to any of the other sights mentioned on this list, the good news is that we’ll still catch a glimpse of this one, if only in passing—on our way to becoming flaming goats swimming in lava below Jesus’s prodigious feet.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/10/06/10-roadside-attractions-ordained-by-god/

Top 10 People Who Give Islam a Bad Name

Islam is the second-largest religion in the world (Christianity is the largest), and one of the fastest growing. While there have been very good Muslims, some have been very bad. This list, in a sense, is a response to the earlier lists of Top 10 People Who Give Christianity a Bad Name and Top 10 People who give Atheism a Bad Name. It is not meant as a commentary on Islam itself – merely ten of its adherents.

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Muhammad Hosni Mubarak was the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt for 30 years. He held office from 1981, until he was forced to resign by mass protests on February 11, 2011. Mubarak was trained as a pilot, and rose in the ranks of Egypt’s air force during the 1960s and ’70s. President Anwar Sadat named Mubarak to be his vice president in 1975, and in 1978 Mubarak became the vice chairman of the National Democratic Party (NDP), the governing political party in Egypt. When Anwar Sadat was assassinated on October 14, 1981, Mubarak succeeded him to become Chairman of the NDP, as well.

Mubarak quickly became an old-style strongman, with full control of the government. Running uncontested, Mubarak won the Presidency in national referenda in 1987, 1993 and 1999; and, after a change in laws, he won running against a token opponent in 2005. He focused on economic growth and inched toward political reform, but any economic gains in the 1990s were offset by criticisms that Egypt was a near-dictatorship; indeed, Mubarak never lifted the state of emergency imposed after Sadat’s assassination.

In February 2005, Mubarak announced plans for a September 2005 election, that would be Egypt’s first-ever multi-candidate contest for the presidency. On September 7, 2005, he handily won his fifth consecutive term in those elections, but the victory was clouded by low voter turnout, reports of fraud and the imprisonment of Mubarak’s political rival, Ayman Nour. The next years were dominated by two issues: calls for political reform and Mubarak’s love/hate relationship with the United States, a steady provider of military aid.

Mubarak was rebuked for his lack of commitment to democracy by American leaders, including President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but he remained an important U.S. ally in the region, especially during the U.S. war in Iraq. Egyptians took to the streets in January 2011, to protest his rule; Mubarak at first shuffled his cabinet, then said he would step down in September. He finally was forced to resign on February 11, 2011.

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Crown Prince Abdullah has been the acting leader of Saudi Arabia since his half-brother, King Fahd, suffered a stroke, in 1995. Saudi Arabia is one of the only nations that holds no elections whatsoever. The royal family has promised municipal elections soon, but it has not announced whether women will be allowed to vote. In fact, it is forbidden for unrelated Saudis of the opposite sex to appear in public together, even inside a taxi. Women are not allowed to testify on their own behalf in divorce proceedings. Also, in all court cases, the testimony of a man is equal to that of two women.

According to the U.S. State Department, Saudi Arabia continues to engage in arbitrary arrest and torture. During a human rights conference in 1995, Saudi authorities arrested nonviolent protesters who were calling for freedom of expression. Some were later flogged, the usual punishment for alleged political and religious offenses.

In a very unusual show of power, the religious leaders forbade children from playing with Barbie dolls, which they dubbed “Jewish dolls” that are “symbols of decadence of the perverted West.”

Mehmed Talat Pasha

Talat Pasha was the key architect of the Armenian genocide, one of the largest genocides in modern history. More than 1 million people were massacred over a span of two years. A member of the Young Turks, Talat rose up and became one of three Pashas who ruled the Ottoman government from 1913, until the end of the disastrous First World War. Many Muslim Turks saw the rise in nationalism of the Christian Armenians as a threat to the existence of the Ottoman state. In previous years, programs had been installed against Armenians where possibly hundreds of thousands died. Thirty thousand died in the Adana massacre of 1909. Once they entered World War One, the Ottoman’s endeavor ended in total failure.

Russian and Armenian forces set up an Armenian mini-state in 1915, and thus Talat Pasha sought to punish them. Security forces rounded up 250 Armenian intellectuals and leaders in Istanbul in 1915, and eventually executed them. After passing a deportation law, Pasha ordered deportations and executions to be carried out against all of the Armenian people. During the deportations conditions were deplorable and men were routinely separated from the rest and executed. Many prisoners were tortured or the victims of gruesome medical experiments, more died of hunger and thirst. In some instances, victims would be crucified in imitation of Jesus, as the perpetrators would say “Now let your Christ come help you!” Others would have red-hot irons and pincers applied to their flesh. Out of a population of 2. 5 million, between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians perished during this period. After the Ottoman collapse, Talat Pasha fled to Berlin and was subsequently murdered there, in 1921. His assassin was an Armenian genocide survivor.

Bashar Al Assad

Under his leadership, Syria underwent a degree of relaxation, with hundreds of political prisoners released and a few tentative steps towards easing media restrictions. But the pace of change has slowed — if not reversed — and President Assad has made it clear that his priority is economic rather than political reform. It has been under fire for its continued presence in Lebanon and for its alleged support for Palestinian militants and insurgents in Iraq.

Tensions escalated after the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, in Beirut. Many critics blamed Syria for his death. The uneasy relationship between the United States and Syria has led many to believe that Syria could be the current US presidential administration’s next target. In the 2011 Middle East unrest, 358,548 protesters were killed.

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A dictator known as much for sponsoring international terrorism as he is for his impeccable fashion sense, Libya’s self-proclaimed “Guide of the Revolution” took power in a September 1969 military coup that deposed King Idriss. One of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s first acts as dictator was to rework the calendar and rename all of the months. He also published The Green Book.

President Reagan personally appraised Muammar Qaddafi: “I find he’s not only a barbarian, but he’s flaky. […] I just think that the man is a zealot.” The primary issue was Qaddafi’s longstanding support of international terrorism. He played host to both Abu Nidal and to the infamous assassin Carlos the Jackal. In all likelihood, Qaddafi ordered the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. During the recent Middle East unrest, between 2,500 and 8,000 protesters were killed.

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Osama Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. Bin Laden was also indicted over the 1998 embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. He was wanted by numerous countries for his ties to terrorist activities, and many attempts were made to capture him. On April 29, 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama authorized the CIA to conduct a raid, dubbed “Operation Neptune Spear”. In the late evening of May 1, 2011, (EDT), the president announced that bin Laden had been killed in the operation. The entire raid, including intelligence sweeps of the compound, was completed in less than 40 minutes. His body was taken and biometric facial recognition tests were performed. Subsequent genetic testing supported the preliminary identification. On May 6, 2011, al-Qaeda confirmed that bin Laden was dead. They also vowed that they would continue attacking the U.S. and its allies.

Saddam Hussein

Saddam, which means “he who confronts,” was born in a village called Al-Auja, outside of Tikrit in northern Iraq. At around the time of his birth, his father disappeared from his life. Some accounts say that his father was killed; other sources say that he abandoned his family. Saddam’s mother soon remarried a man who was illiterate, immoral and brutal. Saddam hated living with his stepfather, and as soon as his uncle Khairullah Tulfah (his mother’s brother) was released from prison, in 1947, Saddam insisted that he go and live with him. Saddam didn’t start primary school until he moved in with his uncle at age 10. At age 18, Saddam graduated from primary school and applied to military school. Joining the military had been Saddam’s dream, and when he wasn’t able to pass the entrance exam, he was devastated. Though Saddam was never in the military, later in his life, he frequently wore military-style outfits.

Saddam moved to Baghdad for high school. He found school boring and enjoyed politics more. Saddam’s uncle, an ardent Arab nationalist, introduced him to the world of politics. Iraq, which had been a British colony from the end of World War I until 1932, was bubbling with internal power struggles. One of the groups vying for power was the Baath Party, and Saddam’s uncle was a member. In 1957, at age 20, Saddam joined the Baath Party. He started out as a low-ranking member of the Party, and was responsible for leading his schoolmates during riots. However, in 1959, he was chosen to be a member of an assassination squad. On October 7, 1959, Saddam and others attempted, but failed, to assassinate the prime minister. Wanted by the Iraqi government, Saddam was forced to flee.

He lived in exile in Syria for three months, and then moved to Egypt, where he lived for three years. In 1963, the Baath Party successfully overthrew the government and took power, which allowed Saddam to return to Iraq from exile. While home, he married his cousin, Sajida Tulfah. However, the Baath Party was overthrown after only nine months in power and Saddam was arrested in 1964, after another coup attempt. He spent 18 months in prison, where he was tortured, before he escaped, in July 1966. During the next two years, Saddam became an important leader within the Baath Party.

In July 1968, when the Baath Party again gained power, Saddam became vice-president. Over the next decade, Saddam grew increasingly powerful. On July 16, 1979, the president of Iraq resigned and Saddam officially took his place. Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq with a brutal hand. He used fear and terror to remain in power. From 1980 to 1988, Saddam led Iraq in a war against Iran, which ended in a stalemate. Also during the 1980s, Saddam used chemical weapons against Kurds within Iraq, including gassing the Kurdish town of Halabja. This action killed 5,000 people, in March 1988. In 1990, Saddam ordered Iraqi troops to invade the country of Kuwait. In response, the United States defended Kuwait in the Persian Gulf War, and on March 19, 2003, the United States attacked Iraq. It was during the fighting that Saddam fled Baghdad. On December 13, 2003, U. S. forces found Saddam Hussein hiding in a hole in al-Dwar, near Tikrit. After a trial, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death for his crimes, and on December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging.

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Mohammad Amin al-Husayni (born 1895 or 1897; died July 4, 1974) was a Palestinian Arab nationalist and Muslim leader in the British Mandate of Palestine. As early as 1920, he was active in opposing the British in order to secure the independence of Palestine as an Arab state, and led violent riots opposing the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. From 1921 to 1948, al-Husayni was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, using the position to continue his promotion of Palestinian nationalism. As a passionate antisemite, al-Husayni encouraged his followers to “kill the Jews wherever you find them”. During World War II, he collaborated with the Nazis and, in 1941, met the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in Germany. He asked Hitler to back Arab independence, and requested that Nazi Germany oppose the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish national home as part of the Pan-Arab struggle. According to an American report, al-Husayni energetically recruited Muslims for the Waffen-SS, the Nazi Party’s elite military command. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and subsequent Palestinian exodus, his claims to leadership became discredited and he was eventually sidelined by the Palestine Liberation Organization, losing most of his remaining political influence. He died in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1974.

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Idi Amin Dada Oumee (born in 1924, in Uganda) was the military officer and president (1971-79) of Uganda. Amin also took tribalism, a long-standing problem in Uganda, to its extreme by, allegedly, ordering the persecution of Acholi, Lango and other tribes. Reports indicate the torture and murder of 100,000 to 300,000 Ugandans during Amin’s presidency. In 1972, Amin began to expel Asians from Uganda.

He said God had directed him to do this (actually, he had been angered by the refusal of one of the country’s most prominent Asian families, the Madhvanis, to hand over their prettiest daughter as his fifth wife). Over the years, Ugandans would disappear in the thousands, their mutilated bodies washing up on the shores of Lake Victoria. Amin would boast of being a reluctant cannibal— he said human flesh was too salty. He once ordered the decapitation of political prisoners to be broadcast on TV, specifying that the victims “must wear white to make it easy to see the blood.” One of Amin’s guards, Abraham Sule, said “[Amin] put his bayonet in the pot containing human blood and licked the stuff as it ran down the bayonet. Amin told us ‘When you lick the blood of your victim, you will not see nightmares.’ He then did it.”

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Ayatollah Khomeini was the religious leader of Iran, from 1979 to 1989. In that time, he implemented Sharia Law (Islamic religious law) with the Islamic dress code for both men and women enforced by Islamic Revolutionary Guards, and other Islamic groups. Opposition to the religious rule of the clergy, or Islam in general, was often met with harsh punishments. In a talk at the Fayzieah School in Qom, on August 30, 1979, Khomeini said:

“Those who are trying to bring corruption and destruction to our country in the name of democracy will be oppressed. They are worse than Bani-Ghorizeh Jews, and they must be hanged. We will oppress them by God’s order and God’s call to prayer.”

Following the People’s Mujahedin of Iran operation Forough-e Javidan against the Islamic Republic, Khomeini issued an order to judicial officials to judge every Iranian political prisoner and kill those who would not repent anti-regime activities. Many say that thousands were swiftly put to death inside the prisons. The suppressed memoirs of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri reportedly detail the execution of 30,000 political activists. After 11 days in the hospital for an operation to stop internal bleeding, Khomeini died of cancer on Saturday June 4, 1989, at the age of 86.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2011/05/18/top-10-people-who-give-islam-a-bad-name/

10 Possible Resting Places of the Holy Grail

The Holy Grail is a sacred object figuring into literature and certain Christian traditions, most often identified with the dish, plate, or cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper and said to possess miraculous powers. Conspiracy theories abound on the nature of the grail and the final location. This list looks at ten of the possible resting places of this mysterious object.

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The locals of the Accokeek area claim that a Jesuit priest stowed away on board Captain John Smith’s ship, as he sailed up the Potomac River sometime around 1606-07, and that this priest had ties all the way back to the Knights Templar.

The legend states that he had the Grail for years in England and Europe, possibly taken from #7 when treasure seekers started looking for Arthur’s grave. Somehow the Grail passed down to this nameless priest, who fled for environs where few people would care about the Grail.

Its location in the Accokeek area is not known.

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“The Money Pit” was discovered by three teenage boys playing on the island, in 1795, or so the story goes, and over the centuries, 6 people have died attempting to excavated the mysterious treasure everyone is sure is down there.

The longer it took to excavate, the wilder imaginations ran, until today, the Pit is no longer thought to hold merely chests of gold doubloons, but the Holy Grail itself, hidden there by the Knights Templar in the early to mid-1300s.

This is no idle assumption, since there is, in fact, an arrangement of boulders on the island that forms a perfect cross 250 meters long by 100 meters wide, oriented so that the head points due East. It is on the north side of the island in a clearing only 50 square meters larger the cross. The Pit is due south through a woodlot.

The most compelling evidence seems to be the ingenious design of the Pit, which was fitted with a water channel booby trap leading up and out to the open water.

Whatever is down there lies at exactly 100 feet and has been described as “metal in pieces.” They say the mystery will not be resolved until one more person dies in the pit.

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One of the legends used by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code, this one centers on secret stone chambers and channels under the Collegiate Chapel of St. Matthew, on Roslin Hill, and there are tons of extremely strange carvings in and around the chapel that add ominous weight to this legend.

It was built starting in 1456 at the behest of its founder, William Sinclair, a nobleman and knight. He is rumored to have been a descendant of Knights Templar.

There are carvings of what appear to be Indian corn (maize) around the windows. Maize was unheard of in Europe at the time of the chapel’s construction.

There are carvings of “green men,” which seem to symbolize Celtic traditions regarding spring and summer (pre-Christian).

The Apprentice Pillar is the real stand-out. No one knows why it was carved as it was, and there are no other pillars like it in the chapel, or anywhere in Europe. The chapel’s carvings took 40 years to complete, so they must have been significant to the Sinclair, who died just before they were finished. The legend states that the Grail resides inside the Apprentice Pillar.

Or perhaps in the family crypt under the basement. This crypt is sealed shut. Sealed very well. The Sinclairs still own the chapel and refuse to let anyone go digging up their ancestors (who can blame them?), as this would necessitate tearing down the whole chapel.

Glastonbury-Tor

Tor is Celtic for “conical hill,” and that is what Clastonbury Tor is. It is said to be the legendary Avalon, King Arthur’s current resting place, while he heals from wounds suffered at the hands of his evil son, Mordred, whom he killed in a duel.

It has been called “Ynys yr Afalon,” Old English for “the Isle of Avalon,” since at least 1100 AD, and tradition states that in 1191, Arthur and Guinevere’s coffins were uncovered at the top of the hill. No evidence exists to support this, but the hill did serve as a fort since the 600s AD.

The Arthurian and Templar legends are inseparable, and the legend goes that the Templars returned from the First Crusade with all the famous Biblical relics, and hid them throughout the British Isles. The Grail was buried somewhere on Glastonbury Tor, perhaps between Arthur and Guinevere’s coffins, the most poetic place.

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Legend states that since the Holy Grail was NOT the Holy Chalice, which is correct, it was buried with Jesus somewhere near his Crucifixion site. This site is believed by some to have been a fissure between two rocks, one of which has since eroded away, the other of which is still there to be visited, at the top of the hill on which the Dome of the Rock now sits.

It is sacred to all three monotheistic religions: Judaism holds that Abraham almost slew Isaac on this rock; Christianity holds that Jesus’s cross was planted between this rock and another; Islam holds that Mohammed sprang to Heaven on a horse from this rock.

The Holy Grail is, properly, the cup, bowl, or plate that happened to be near the Cross and catch the blood of Jesus as he died. It was then buried with him, by one of his Disciples, or by his mother, or Joseph of Arimathea, in his tomb. The location of his tomb is not known, but is described in the Bible as nearby, which likely means somewhere on or around the hill.

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The Grail may not be lost, but found, and on display to the public for free at the Cathedral of St. Lawrence, in Genoa. This relic is a bowl made of green glass, which was thought to be emerald, until it was broken in the time of Napoleon.

No one knows where it came from, but William of Tyre, in 1170, writes that it first turned up in a mosque in Caesarea, Israel, in 1101. It has not been carbon dated.

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Another contender is on display at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Valencia, and this is considered the most likely. Skeptics claim that IF the Grail even exists, the Valencia Chalice is the best bet. It was carbon dated in 1960 to a date of somewhere between the 300s BC and the 100s AD, manufactured in the Middle East, so it is possible. Even if it isn’t the Grail, its age makes it extremely valuable.

It is made of dark red agate, and set in a gold stem, with another, upturned bowl of chalcedony as the base. It is the official Chalice of the Roman Catholic Church.

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This legend ties in with the German Grail legend of Munsalvaesche, which is another name for Corbenic, the castle where the Fisher King lived, and where Sir Galahad was born.

“Munsalvaesche” is German for the Latin phrase “mons salvationis,” “the mount of salvation.” “Montserrat,” however, is Catalan for “jagged mountain.” The monastery and abbey are nestled in the mountain, and the Grail is said to be hidden somewhere under the church grounds, or elsewhere on the mountain. If so, it may well never be found, as the terrain is extraordinarily rugged and the mountain is gigantic. The peak, at 4,055 feet, is called
Sant Jeroni, “Saint Jerome,” who features prominently in several Grail legends. He may have traveled to the area in the late 300s AD and hidden the Grail there.

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Not the same legend as that of #6, this legend states that the Knights Templar, of the First Crusade, never found either the Grail or the Ark of the Covenant, because the sewer system provided the finest hiding place on Earth at the time. Jerusalem has been attacked many times, and the Jews living at the time of the Ark’s disappearance from the Bible are sure to have lowered it into the sewers to protect it from Nebuchadnezzar, in 586 BC.

The Disciples may have known the location of the Ark and hidden the Grail with it, deep in the sewers, since the Ark had escaped notice for almost 600 years by then. Digging is expressly forbidden except for those professional archaeologists intent on uncovering sites of antiquity, not relic hunters. Digging may undermine the buildings above.

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Yes, you read that right. This legend is based on the premise that the Bullion Depository is probably the single most secure place on the planet. Some of its security measures are a mystery, but it is known that no one, not even the President, is allowed on the property, except the U. S. Mint Police stationed inside.

The closest anyone can get to it is Highway 31, about 400 yards from the building. The security consists of multiple fences, the innermost electrified, alarms, cameras, armed guards, and the nearby Fort Knox units: 30,000 active troops who train every day with Apache helicopter gunships, M-1 Abrams tanks, armored personnel carriers and heavy demolition.

This doesn’t account for the unknown security measures, which probably include motion-activated minigun turrets, landmines, pressure sensors, snipers, and that’s before you even get inside.

Awful lot of security for some gold bricks, wouldn’t you say? Unless there are other things inside. The combination to the vault is not known by any one person, but is comprised of 10 combinations, each known by only one official working in the building. There are pistol ranges inside, a gym and dojo, and the vault is lined with solid granite. The gold resides in separate, small rooms each fitted with a solid steel door.

The main vault door is 22 tons of steel and can withstand a direct hit from a 2 kiloton nuclear warhead. The Depository has housed a copy of the Magna Carta, the Hungarian crown jewels, the Crown of St. Stephen, the U. S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and various other historical documents from all over the world.

The legend states that there is a special room somewhere in the vault that does not house gold or artifacts such as cited above, but houses, instead, the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant (complete with a “Do Not Touch” sign), satellite pictures proving that the Ararat Anomaly is Noah’s Ark, and the True Cross, complete with dried blood that has been analyzed as consisting of several strains of DNA, one of them encoded not on a double helix, but a triple helix.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2010/02/08/10-possible-resting-places-of-the-holy-grail/

9 Surprisingly Progressive Moments In The Bible

When we think of the Bible, most of us think of hard-line conservatism: like Ron Paul on steroids. So it can come as a surprise to hear its chock full of scenes that can only be described as ‘progressive’. Now, with a 2000 year old text, there’s bound to be some disagreement about the meaning of any given verse. Still, it’s hard to shake the feeling God might not be as extreme-right as we tend to think, especially considering stuff like:

1.3-4 Deborah Women At A Lattice-Covered Window

If there’s one thing extremists of all three Abrahamic religions have in common, it’s that they don’t like women. Whether its child brides, segregating and threatening children or electronically tracking women, the pious prove time and again that they’re far from down with feminism. So it might shock them to hear one of the most badass warriors in the Old Testament managed to both be awesome and have ovaries.

In Judges 4, the Canaanites decide to go Michael Bay on ancient Israel, sending a heck-load of chariots and horsemen out for some slaughtering. So who’s gonna stand in their way? That’s right: Deborah. In the ancient equivalent of a training-montage, Israel’s first female judge plays Obi Wan Kenobi to the army-captain’s Luke Skywalker; giving him the means to go slaughter those asshole Canaanites. While Deborah stays out the battle proper, she more-or-less directs it from the side lines; meaning even the Bible managed at least one strong female character before Hollywood.

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Before anyone gets offended, let me just say that this is simply one interpretation of the Centurion scene. That being said, it’s a pretty convincing one. In the early chapters of the New Testament, a Roman Centurion comes to Jesus, begging him to heal his servant. All well and good, except the translation ‘servant’ doesn’t do it justice. A more accurate one might be ‘boy lover’.

Just to be clear: the Book of Luke was originally written in Greek. In ancient Greek, the word ‘pias’ covers a number of things: such as ‘girl’. It also covers ‘young gay lover’—a definition Kenneth Dover, the world-leading expert on Ancient Greece, favored. Since an erastes-pais relationship involved an older man and a youth, and the Centurion shows way more tenderness for his young ‘pias’ than a rich Roman would for a mere servant, some people think Jesus therefore indirectly gave his blessing to a gay relationship. And if you think that’s heretical wait till you hear about…

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However you look at it, the story of Ruth and Naomi is progressive. In a time when being female put you on a social standing roughly around the level of mildew, Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi still managed to fend for themselves. But the interpretations go deeper than that. According to the vice-dean of Chester Cathedral in the UK, Ruth and Naomi were totally in love.

Look, I promise this article isn’t just going to be me flicking through the Bible, pointing at characters and saying ‘see her? Totally gay’; but the evidence is kinda hard to ignore. Ruth tells the older Naomi she’ll never leave her, even in death, and ‘clings’ to her; a word that in Hebrew is earlier used to describe a husband becoming one with his wife. During their story they declare their love for one another (something they never say to their husbands)—and when Ruth finally gets pregnant, everyone refers to it as Naomi’s baby. And that’s even before we touch on the subtext of Ruth’s speech to Naomi being the most-quoted text at modern (straight) Christian weddings. It’s almost as if God himself sees nothing wrong with being LGBT.

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Another thing we rarely associate with religious extremists is racial tolerance. Whether it’s ‘white knight’ types trying to relive the crusades in their trailer park or the KKK being assholes, extreme Christianity seems to involve more racism than a night out with Mel Gibson. At least, it does if you’ve never actually read the Bible.

See, Greek, Roman and ancient Hebrew societies were almost color-blind. While there are plenty of references to slavery in the Good Book, it refers to people considered the spoils of war, or unable to repay their debts. The idea of enslaving someone just for their color would’ve been absurd to Biblical man, and Galatians 3:28 makes that emphatically clear. In full, this little baby reads:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

In other words: you’re all equal, so stop being dicks to each other. And man is that a sentiment we should all get behind.

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The story of the Ethiopian Eunuch is entirely about the early Church accepting people who were different. In this case, ‘different’ has the dual meaning of ‘African’ and, well, a ‘eunuch’. And, since the ancient temples weren’t hot on letting in anyone who wasn’t physically ‘perfect’ (by their dodgy ancient standards), you can more or less take it to mean the new Church was open to everyone. Eunuchs, the disabled, slaves, people from across the world… even people with unusual sexual preferences. So, to summarize: the message to take from this massive section of the Book of Acts is “it’s cool, we can all worship here”. Now, if only we can get real life to start reflecting this, we’ll be good.

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It’s no secret that Jesus wasn’t exactly down with wealth. Aside from telling a wealthy follower the only way to be saved was to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor, he also famously said it was harder for a rich man to get into heaven than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Oh, and that story about ‘the eye of the needle’ being a narrow gate or passage or some such nonsense? Rubbish. As far as anyone can tell, Jesus meant what he said: rich people won’t get into heaven unless they do some serious wealth distribution first. In other words: socialism, or at least a proto form of it. And it’s not just Jesus…

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For all the New Testament is a Hollywood reboot of the Torah, Jesus’s pro-poor attitude was still building on some extensive groundwork. Briefly: Exodus 23:6 & 23:11; Leviticus 19:10 & 23:22; Psalms 82:3-4; Proverbs 13:7, 18:11, 21:13 & 22:9; Luke 3:10-11, 1 Timothy 6:10 and James 2:2-4 all preach looking after the needy, giving your possessions to the poor and trying not to act like a rich dick. And that’s just the ones I could be bothered to look up—there’s plenty more. If the Bible has one central, social idea to it, it’s ‘defend the poor from rich guys’. In other words, it’s the sort of thing you should be more likely to find Karl Marx flicking through than Glenn Beck—especially given awesome verses like this one.

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The Jubilee is an ancient celebration of extreme awesomeness that we’ve somehow managed to forget all about in the intervening centuries. Simply: it was a time for starting over, a great apocalypse party every fifty years that saw all the crap of the past half-century washed away. Slaves were freed, debts were cancelled, property returned to its original owners and prisoners freed. In other words, it was a God-approved handbrake on enforced inequality, exploitation and extreme wealth accumulation. You know: more or less the exact opposite of what we’ve got now. Man, I’m starting to think God maybe looks less like a kindly old Santa Claus and more like Che Guevara.

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Let’s be blunt: there’s a good chance King David—giant slayer, benevolent ruler and ‘King of Israel’—was gay. At the very least, he was like that girl you knew at college who was ‘kinda into’ other girls but now has a husband and six kids.

In Samuel, young-David gets adopted by King Saul and winds up meeting his son, Jonathan. The first thing these two nominally-straight men do when they meet each other? Get naked. Yeah, that was as unlikely back then as it is now. Anything else? Well, there’s 2 Samuel 1:26, where David says Jonathan’s love is “more wonderful than that of women”; 1 Samuel 18:1-4 where he says he loves him more than his own soul; and that verse where Saul blows his top at learning his son is into dudes. But the kicker may be when the two are forced to say goodbye and fall into each other’s arms, ending in a passionate kiss.

But perhaps the most surprising thing about all of these is how little it all seems to matter. Characters are gay and cool, lesbian and cool, castrated African Jews and cool… It’s almost as if the Bible were saying there’s nothing wrong with being gay or poor or lost or simply different and we’re all the same to God. And you know what: even if I’m wrong, wouldn’t it be nice to think that anyway?

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/05/09/9-surprisingly-progressive-moments-in-the-bible/

5 Arguments For and Against the Existence of God

Religious topics abound on Listverse and they are frequently the most commented upon. It has been some time since the last one so it seems like the time is ripe for another – and this one is a great one for discussion. Here we present five arguments in favor of the existence of God, and the counterargument for it. Feel free to comment on the veracity (or your opinion of) each but remember to keep calm and argue reasonably. After all, it is our ability to be reasonable (rationality) which separates us from the other animals! Note: These all deal with the Judeo-Christian God.

Cima Da Conegliano%2C God The Father

First formulated by St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, then taken up by Alvin Plantinga. “God exists, provided that it is logically possible for him to exist.”

This argument is quite brazen in its simplicity, requiring not only a belief in God, but a belief in the necessity of God. If you believe he is necessary, then you must believe he exists.

The Counterargument:

Criticism typically deals with the Ontological Argument committing a “bare assertion fallacy,” which means it asserts qualities inherent solely to an unproven statement, without any support for those qualities. It is also criticized as a circular argument, revolving from a premise to a conclusion which relies on the premise, which relies on the conclusion.

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This argument is very old, and states that God must exist for the following reason: 1. An aspect of morality is observed. 2. Belief in God is a better explanation for this morality than any alternative. 3. Belief in God is thus preferable to disbelief in God.

The Counterargument:

This argument is technically valid, provided that the three constituents are accepted, and most critics refuse to accept the first. Morality, they argue, is not universal. Murder was perfectly fine for the soldiers of the First Crusade, who slaughtered every man, woman, and child in Jerusalem in 1099. Thomas Hobbes argued that morality is based on the society around it, and is thus not objective.

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This is one of St. Thomas Aquinas’s “Five Proofs of God,” and still causes debate among the two sides. Here is Aquinas’s statement of it, which I have translated from Latin, for a sense of thoroughness:

The fourth proof originates from the degrees discovered in things. For there is discovered greater and lesser degrees of goodness, truth, nobility, and others. But “more” or “less” are terms spoken concerning various things that approach in diverse manners toward something that is the “greatest,” just as in the case of “hotter” approaching nearer the “greatest” heat. There exists, therefore, something “truest,” and “best,” and “noblest,” which, in consequence, is the “greatest” being. For those things which are the greatest truths are the greatest beings, as is stated in Metaphysics Bk. II. 2. Furthermore, that which is the greatest in its way, is, in another way, the cause of all things belonging to it; thus fire, which is the greatest heat, is the cause of all heat, as is said in the same book (cf. Plato and Aristotle). Therefore, there exists something that is the cause of the existence of all things, and of goodness, and of every perfection whatever. We call this “God.”

The Counterargument:

The most prevalent criticism of this argument considers that we do not have to believe in an object of a greater degree in order to believe in an object of a lesser degree. Richard Dawkins, the most famous, or infamous, Atheist around these days, argues that just because we come across a “smelly” object, does not require that we believe that we believe in a “preeminently peerless stinker,” in his words.

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One of my favorites, with very intricate abstraction. C. S. Lewis (who wrote “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”) came up with this. It begins as an argument from design, and then continues into something new. Very basically, it argues that God must exist, because, in Lewis’s words:

“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

The Counterargument:

It sounds powerful, and the final judgment on it is still out there. But its primary weak point is that, in the strictest sense, it is not a proof of God’s existence because it requires the assumption that human minds can assess the truth or falsehood of a claim, and it requires that human minds can be convinced by argumentation.

But in order to reject the assumption that human minds can assess the truth or falsehood of a claim, a human mind must assume that this claim is true or false, which immediately proves that human minds can assess the truth or falsehood of a claim.

But none of this has anything to do with God’s existence. Thus, the argument is better treated as a disproof of naturalistic materialism. However, given that most Atheists use naturalistic materialism as the foundation of Atheism, is is a very viable argument.

God-And-Creation

Thomas Aquinas’s most famous proof of God refuses to go away. You’ve probably already heard of it in some form. It was around before Aquinas, at least as early as Plato and Aristotle, and in basic terms, it goes like this:

1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.
2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.
3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.
4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.

This is especially impressive in that it was theorized by the Ancient Greeks, at a time when the Universe was not known to have had an origin. Today, we call this “the Big Bang,” and the argument has changed to this form:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The Universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the Universe had a cause.

The Counterargument:

Sequentially speaking, these three points are true. But the second point requires the Universe to have had a cause, and we still aren’t sure it did. “The Big Bang” is the most prevalent astrophysical theory today, but it has its detractors, most arguing that because the mathematics that leads back to a big bang do not function at the point immediately prior to the big bang, those mathematics were invalid to begin with.

Better than this, however, is the argument that this proof of God commits the logical fallacy called “infinite regression.” If the Universe had a first cause, what caused that first cause? Criticism declares that it is unfair to argue for every thing’s cause, and then argue for the sole exception of a “First Cause,” which did not have a cause.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2012/04/18/5-arguments-for-and-against-the-existence-of-god/

10 Bizarre Early Christian Sects

In the first two centuries of the Christian era, the New Testament had not yet been finalized and the definitive orthodox statement of belief, the Nicene Creed, was still many years in the future. The Roman world was home to many sects labeled “Christian” that would seem odd and downright weird to us this side of the Council of Nicea. If you think that modern Christian sects are so variegated and confusing, read on—and they will seem staid and tame in comparison to the free-for-all nature of early Christianity.

10Simonians

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The Simonians take their name from Simon Magus (the Magician), who makes an appearance in Acts 8:9–24, where he is rebuked by the apostle Peter for seeking to purchase the apostolic office (hence the term “simony” for the practice). According to Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons, Simon is the father of all heretics.

Simon told a story wherein God’s feminine First Thought, called Ennoia, went to the lower worlds to create angels. Unfortunately, the angels rebelled against her and had her imprisoned in the body of a woman. She inhabited such a body through successive reincarnations, one of which was Helen of Troy. God finally descended to Earth as Simon Magus in order to rescue her. Simon found her latest incarnation, also named Helen, working as a prostitute in the city of Tyre. It was while in human form that God/Simon preached against the rebellious angels who created the world.

There are hints in Simon’s writings that he also identified himself as the Christ who suffered in Judea. He taught that people who turn to him and Helen (who was identified as the Holy Spirit) will be saved by grace, not by works. The apocryphal “Acts of Peter” relates that, in a contest with the apostle Peter to prove who is telling the truth, Simon levitates up above the Forum in Rome. Peter then prays to God to pull Simon down, whereupon the heretic is stopped in mid-air and crashes to the ground. Exposed as a con artist, he is stoned by the people and later dies of his injuries.

9Montanists

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Montanus founded a movement that, in his time, was called the “New Prophecy.” It was an ancient forerunner of modern Pentecostalism, with its emphasis on ecstatic prophesying and speaking in tongues under possession of the Holy Spirit. Montanus was allegedly once a priest in the pagan cult of Attis and Cybele, which had a tradition of dervish-like behavior among its priestesses. While the movement did not differ much from the beliefs held by the proto-orthodox Catholic Church, there were significant departures from doctrine.

For one, Montanus allowed women prominent positions in the sect, such as bishops, presbyters, and deacons. His two chief prophetesses were Maximilla and Priscilla. While at Pepuza, in Phrygia (Asia Minor), Priscilla claimed that Jesus appeared to her in the form of a woman as she slept and, having laid beside her, “put wisdom into me, and revealed to me that this place is holy, and that here Jerusalem above comes down.” Maximilla foretold that, after her death, the end would come. This news of the imminent Second Coming of Christ (or “Parousia”) spread like wildfire throughout the region, and soon Pepuza was drowned in a sea of devotees. In preparation for the Parousia, Montanus urged asceticism, forbade marriage (later relaxed to only one marriage), and encouraged martyrdom.

At first, the Catholic Church regarded the New Prophecy with some approval. Even the staunch defender of the Church and enemy of heresy, Tertullian, was enthusiastic about how the Holy Spirit was moving among the Montanist community. But later, the Church hierarchy began to note with alarm that the prophecies were going above and beyond the words of Jesus, his apostles, and the proto-orthodox traditions. This prompted the Church to brand Montanism a heresy. Centuries of opposition followed, culminating in A.D. 550, when the Catholics confiscated Montanist church buildings in Pepuza and burned the bones of Montanus, Maximilla, and Priscilla.

8Marcionites

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The Marcionites were followers of Marcion of Pontus—a shipowner considered one of the most influential Christians between the time of St. Paul and Origen. He was allegedly expelled from church for “seducing a virgin,” but this accusation may just be part of the demolition job his enemies launched against him. What is known is that he came to Rome and began to teach his doctrines there, attracting a big following and threatening the very existence of the infant Roman Church. Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna called him the “firstborn of Satan.”

Marcion rejected the Jewish God Yahweh as an evil, tyrannical deity, teaching that the God spoken of in the Hebrew Scriptures was not the loving Father of Jesus Christ. Obviously, he rejected the Jewish writings (what would become the Old Testament) as well, and compiled a new canon of holy books, one that is distinctly Christian. For this purpose he produced a “Gospel of the Lord” (an early version of Luke’s Gospel) and collected the epistles of Paul, thus introducing the idea of a “New” Testament.

Marcion considered Paul as the only apostle to truly understand Jesus’s message. The original 12, including Peter, he regarded as dense idiots. Marcion forbade marriage and urged celibacy of his followers (even those married), since bringing more children into the world meant bringing more people into captivity to the despotic Yahweh. Marcion was also a docetist, he believed Jesus never truly was a flesh-and-blood human being, but merely pretended to be one.

7Carpocratians

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While the Marcionites practiced extreme celibacy, the sect led by Carpocrates was accused of the opposite—extreme libertinism. The Carpocratians believed in reincarnation, and Bishop Iranaeus of Lyons said that members of the group were encouraged to experience everything there is in life, so they would not have to reincarnate to experience what they had missed out on, and that includes immorality. Irenaeus may be exaggerating, but Carpocratians did indeed pride themselves on being above any moral laws, having transcended the material realm and human conventions.

The Carpocratians’ notoriety was rekindled in the 20th century with the discovery of the Secret Gospel of Mark, a purported more spiritual version of the canonical Gospel of Mark. It was mentioned by Clement of Alexandria, who accused the Carpocratians of falsifying it to support their libertinism. The Secret Gospel turned out to include a scene in which a naked Jesus gives instructions to another naked man, and this hint of a homosexual encounter was used by the Carpocratians to justify a gay lifestyle to a society far less tolerant than ours.

6Marcosians

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The sect, led by the teacher Marcus, is known for its fascination with numerology and letter theory. This theory of numbers was derived from the Pythagoreans. Marcosians found significance in the numerical equivalents of words (in Greek, every letter has a numerical value). For example, the name “Jesus” in Greek—IESOUS—corresponds to the numerical equivalent of 888, a number considered by ancients as sacred and magical. One reason for this is that the numbers associated with all 24 Greek letters, when added up, equal 888.

The Marcosians also used numerology to explain the account of Jesus’s baptism in Mark 1:11 as the moment when full divinity entered into him. They added up the letters of the Greek word for “dove,” which comes to 801. This happens to be the number of God, the Alpha and Omega, since Alpha equals 1 and Omega is 800. Marcus also taught of 30 divine beings, called Aeons, derived from the fact that 1+2+3+4+5+7+8 = 30, with the “6″ omitted, because it is not a letter of the usual Greek alphabet (“8″ represents the “Ogdoad,” the eight primary Aeons).

5Valentinians

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Valentinus was a very popular and influential teacher, having once narrowly missed being elected Bishop of Rome (the guy we call “Pope” today). After losing (or refusing) the election, he set up his own group. Valentinus believed in an androgynous Primal Being, its male aspect called Depth, and its female aspect Silence, from which pairs of other beings emanated. Fifteen pairs were eventually formed, totaling 30—the Aeons described by Marcus, who was a disciple of Valentinus. The last Aeon, Sophia, fell into ignorance and was separated from her consort, and this resulted in the material creation and all its evils. She was divided into two: Her higher part returned to her consort, while her lower part became trapped in this physical world.

The whole Valentinian concept of salvation lay in the rescue of Sophia by the Son, or Savior, in whom all the Aeons are integrated. Sophia had brought forth spiritual seeds in her image, but they too, were in ignorance. To awaken and mature the seeds, the lower Sophia and the Savior influenced the Demiurge (Craftsman, or Creator), a lower deity, to create the material world and human beings. This Demiurge is no other than the Biblical God of the Jews. Pretty weird stuff coming from someone who nearly became Pope.

4Basilideans

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The followers of Basilides of Alexandria were said by Irenaeus to be dualists and emanationists. That is, they viewed matter and spirit as hostile, opposing forces, and subscribed to the usual Gnostic myth of Aeons emanating in succession from an Unbegotten Father. The five principal Aeons were Nous (Mind), Logos (Word), Phronesis (Intelligence, or Prudence), Sophia (Wisdom), and Dynamis (Power). From Sophia and Dynamis emanated 365 heavens in descending order, collectively called Abrasax. The God of the Hebrews ruled the lowest heaven, and created an illusory world—our own. The True God saw humanity’s suffering in this illusory realm and sent Nous (or Christ) to bring the knowledge (Gnosis) that would free them.

Nous was born as Jesus, whose secret name among the Basilideans was Kavlakav (or Caulacau). Christ, being a totally divine being, had no real physical body. Basilides is perhaps best known for his interpretation of the crucifixion. Christ, being incorporeal, could not die. On the way to the crucifixion site at Golgotha, he performed a switch—he turned Simon of Cyrene, who was helping to carry the cross, into a likeness of himself, and vice versa. The Romans, completely fooled, proceeded to crucify the poor Simon. All the while, Jesus stood aside, laughing at the trick. This notion survives to this day, in the pages of the Muslim Quran: “They said ‘We killed Messiah Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,’ but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Isa was put over another man.” (Quran 4:157).

3Ophites

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The Ophites are named after the word for “snake,” and as you may have guessed, these Christians were snake worshipers. Epiphanius relates that in their Eucharist, they let loose a snake, which slithered among the loaves of bread on the communion table. Their fascination with serpents stemmed from their reading of the account of the Fall in Genesis. To them, the serpent who tempted Eve is not the villain in the story, but the hero.

The Creator God of Genesis they called Ialdabaoth (Son of Chaos), who wanted to tyrannize over Adam and Eve by withholding from them the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the source of wisdom. Ialdabaoth was actually the son of Sophia. He was ignorant of a higher divine realm above him, and so arrogantly proclaimed himself the only God. The serpent was used by his mother Sophia to thwart his illusions of grandeur by inviting Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. Thus, Moses himself exalted the serpent in the desert, and Jesus compared himself to that serpent.

2Sethians

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The Sethians were so called because they revered Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve, as a revealer of knowledge. They considered themselves the “seed of Seth,” that part of humanity which had attained Gnosis (knowledge) and would thus be saved, as opposed to the rest of mankind, the offspring of Cain and Abel. Christ and Seth were one and the same revealer. Sethians are known for their most noted work, the Apocryphon (or “Secret Book”) of John. In it we read the most complete expression of the Gnostic worldview. It begins with the ineffable and unknowable Primal Father, from whom the first power, Thought (also called “Barbelo”) emanated.

This feminine figure played such an important role in Sethian myth that the sect was also known as Barbeloites. A further process of emanation from Barbelo produced Autogenes (Self-Begotten) and angels, including Adamas, the Perfect Man. The youngest emanation, Sophia, desired to bring forth a likeness of herself without the consent of the invisible Spirit. She instead produced a deformed being, Yaldabaoth, who became the Demiurge—the Creator God of the Bible. Yaldabaoth, in turn, produced Archons, who made the first human, Adam. The Archons saw that Adam was superior to them in intelligence, so they contrived to hide from him the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve disobeyed the Archons, they were cast out of Paradise. Yaldabaoth then seduced Eve, and she gave birth to Cain and Abel.

1Phibionites

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The only account we have of the practices of the Phibionites (also called Borborites) comes from the writings of heresy hunter Epiphanius. We should be aware of the possible exaggerations and outright calumny in his biased account. True, partly true, or false, his account is nevertheless intriguing and interesting, not to say scandalous. Epiphanius relates that, as a young man in Egypt, two attractive Phibionite girls once attempted to convert (make that “seduce”) him into joining their sect. He rejected their advances, but went on to familiarize himself with their writings. Epiphanius claims knowledge of their rituals and all is lurid details.

He says that Phibionite feasts begin with the men shaking hands with the women, while secretly tickling their palms underneath. This may be a secret code to alert members to the presence of outsiders, or an erotic gesture. After dining, married couples begin to have sex, each with another member. The man, however, has to withdraw before climax, so that he and his partner can collect the semen and ingest it together, saying, “This is the body of Christ.” Leaders of the sect who have already reached perfection can perform the rite with a member of the same sex. There is also sacred masturbation, where one can take the body of Christ in the privacy of one’s room.

The reason for this sex ritual? The Phibionites believed this world is separated from the divine realm by 365 heavens. So to reach the highest world, a Phibionite redeemed must pass through all 365 heavens—twice. But each heaven is guarded by an Archon, and to be granted safe passage, a Phibionite must call out the secret name of one of the Archons, while doing the sex act. This belief guarantees every Phibionite male sex with a female member at least 730 times. The sex liturgy was also founded on the idea that humans have the divine seed trapped within the physical body, which must be liberated in order to return to the higher realms. This seed is passed on through the male semen and female blood. To allow the seed to develop in the woman’s womb into another human being is to perpetuate the cycle of entrapment. Thus, the ritual collects semen and menses, and their ingestion represents the liberation of the divine seed.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/02/07/10-bizarre-early-christian-sects/

10 Ancient Legends About Dreams

Dreams have always been one of the prevailing enigmas of humanity. As early as 5,000 B.C., Mesopotamians made a habit of recording their dreams on clay tablets, and every culture in the world has their own interpretation of the realm that lies between wakefulness and sleep. In some legends, dreams are sent from the gods; in others, terrifying monsters lurk at the fringes of consciousness, waiting for their chance to creep into the shadows of our minds. These 10 legends encompass the dreams and nightmares of various cultures scattered across 7,000 years of human history.

10 Baku

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In Japanese legend, a Baku is a dream-eater—a spirit animal that visits homes in the middle of the night and devours the nightmares of people who are sleeping. It’s usually described as a tapir, sort of pig-shaped with a long snout. In the realm of dream spirits, the Baku is a benevolent spirit who protects people from the terrors of bad dreams.

The story of the Baku actually began in China, but was taken to Japan in the 14th century. From there, the description of the beast changed over time. By the 17th century, the physical form of the Baku had become a chimera—it had the legs of a tiger, the head of an elephant, and the piercing eyes of a rhinoceros. Its name changed to Mo, and the belief arose that in order for it to protect you, you had to draw a sketch of the beast before you fell asleep.

9 Morpheus

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Few cultures delved as deeply into the world of dreams as the Greeks. As with most facets of life, they had a god that personified the dream world: Morpheus. He was the son of Hypnos, the god of sleep, and had the power to enter the dreams of mortal men to deliver messages from the gods.

Morpheus first appeared in the epic poem Metamorphoses, which was written by the first century poet Ovid. Though he could take the shape of a human when he was delivering dream messages, his true shape was a demon-like figure with massive black wings that allowed him to pass quickly through the dream world. Morpheus was chosen as a messenger because, out of Hypnos’s thousands of children, he was the best at disguising himself as a human.

8 Mara

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In Germanic folklore, a mara is an evil spirit that sits on your chest while you sleep, constricting your air supply and turning your dreams into nightmares. It appears in some form or another in all the Germanic cultures, although the specific name and description change with each language.

Most notably, the English word for the mara is “mare,” which is the origin of the word nightmare. Croatians believe that the mara takes the form of a beautiful woman at night. She visits men in their sleep to torture them and slowly suck away their life force over the course of a decades. In other cultures, a mara is a thick-skinned goblin.

7Dream Catching

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The Ojibwe are a Native American tribe who originally lived near the shores of Lake Superior in the northern United States. According to their own legend, however, their people began on the mythical Turtle Island. There, the Spider Woman, or Asibikaashi, watched over the Ojibwe people. Every morning, she builds a lodge that captures the sun and brings it to her children. Since she’s a spider, the lodge is a spider web, and the morning dew reflects the morning sunlight, “capturing” it.

As the Ojibwe people spread, Asibikaashi was no longer able to watch over every individual, so she allowed the people to build their own lodges—dreamcatchers—through which she would protect them from nightmares. According to the legend, if you hang a dreamcatcher over your bed at night, the good dreams will filter through the holes, but the nightmares will get stuck before they reach your head.

6 Phobetor And The Oneiroi

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The Greeks had many different gods to portray different aspects of dreams. And while Morpheus served as the dream messenger, his brother Phobetor was the bringer of nightmares. His name translates from Greek as “to be feared.” Every night, he emerges from the land of eternal darkness as a winged demon to infest the dreams of the living.

The poem Metamorphoses describes Phobetor as a shapeshifter who “forms the beasts and birds and long sliding snakes.” He is the son of Darkness, and is one of the most important figures of the Oneiroi. The Oneiroi are the pantheon of dream gods who live in Erebos, which was part of the Greek underworld. Phobetor’s children are the shapes of nightmares themselves, allowing him to extend his reach to all the sleeping people of the world.

5 Sleep Paralysis

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This strange phenomenon of sleep paralysis occurs when you wake up suddenly and are completely unable to move or speak. For some reason, most people who experience it also have a feeling of being “watched,” and it’s usually terrifying. People describe demons, alien visitors, and spirits in the dark room with them. Even though it’s really just a trick of the mind, the idea of a stranger watching you in the middle of the night is definitely unsettling.

It makes sense then that nearly every culture in history has had their own personification for sleep paralysis. The mara, which we mentioned earlier, were created to explain the phenomenon. In Kashmir, it’s caused when a pasikdhar—an invisible demon—attacks you in the night. In Turkey, a djinn sits on the sleeper’s arms, covers their mouth, and strangles them. The Pakistani legend is that Shaitan (Satan) himself has possessed the sleeper.

4 Brownies

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In the Scottish Lowlands, there’s a legend about tiny men called brownies who come into your home at night and do chores for you while you sleep. They’re similar to hobs, which traditionally live on farmland and, as long as they’re appeased, will help out around the farm. But God help you if you offend a hob, because their capacity for good is only outmatched by their mischievous appetite for destruction. They’ll knock over pitchforks, spook the sheep, or even, if you’ve really upset them, steal pies from windowsills.

The brownies, on the other hand, are usually good-natured. They don’t like to be seen by humans, so they’ll wait until you’re fast asleep and dreaming before coming inside. They’ll work even harder if you leave them some food, and they’re particularly fond of porridge and milk.

3 The Great Spirit

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The Abenaki are a Native American tribe who lived around the New England area of the United States, with villages that reached up into Southern Quebec. Their greatest dream legend is also their creation story.

According to the myth, the Great Spirit initially lived in a void, a world with neither form nor function. So he summoned the Great Turtle to form the lands of the world, and he piled clay onto the Turtle’s shell to create mountains. But then he came to a moment of indecision: What kinds of creatures would live on this world? As he thought about it, he drifted off to sleep and began to dream. In his dream he saw all the animals and people that fill the world today, and thought he was having a nightmare.

When the Great Spirit woke up, he discovered that his dreaming had created all the animals of the Earth, and the more he looked at it, the more he saw how everything in nature worked together towards a beautiful purpose.

2 Nue

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The nue is a chimera from Japanese folklore that serves as the harbinger of sickness and bad luck. It has the paws of a tiger, the face of a monkey, and the body of a tanuki. Its tail is a long, venomous serpent.

Nue are some of the oldest creatures in Japanese legend, most prominently appearing in The Tale of the Heiki, the story of a 12th century war between two opposing clans. In the story, a nue took on the form of a black cloud and visited the Emperor of Japan. The emperor soon became ill, besieged with nightmares every time he closed his eyes. The emperor grew sicker and sicker, until a samurai fired an arrow into the black cloud and killed the nue. To this day, there is a mound at the shore of the Sea of Japan which is said to be the grave of the nue from the story.

1 Sandman

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Every young child knows the story of the Sandman, a benevolent being who sprinkles sand into the eyes of sleeping boys and girls to make them dream. When you wake up with crusty residue around your eyes, it’s because the Sandman visited you the night before.

The Sandman was first introduced in literature in a Hans Christian Andersen story, Ole Lukoje. But it was the 1816 story Der Sandman that tortured the minds of young children for years to come. In that rendition, the Sandman visited only children who wouldn’t go to sleep. His sand made their eyes fall out, which he gathered up and fed to his demonic children in his iron fortress on the Moon.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/01/21/10-ancient-legends-about-dreams/

10 Awesome Jewish Stories Of Biblical Characters

As the three great monotheistic religions of the world, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism share a lot of similarities. A well-connected world has allowed us to read each other’s religious texts. We’ve covered some amazing Islamic versions of Biblical characters. Not to be outdone, this list contains epic and amazing stories of Biblical characters as told in Jewish literature.

10 Moses The Giant-Killer

Moses

Long before David was born, Moses was already into the whole giant-slaying business. The Israelites had already defeated Sihon, a giant king of the Amorites. Next up on their list was his equally giant brother King Og. Og had long ago served Abraham as his slave Eliezer and secretly desired his wife Sarah; he also taunted his master that he would die childless.

As punishment, God added 500 years to his lifespan and made him king (wait—wasn’t this supposed to be a punishment?) but with the ultimate irony that one of Abraham’s descendants would kill him. Og was so huge that his feet touched the ground when he sat on his city walls. When Og saw the Israelite camp, he tore off the top of a mountain and tried to fling it at the Israelites. However, God had earlier sent ants to chew their way through the mountaintop, which fell off and comically bonked him on the head. Moses saw the now-helpless giant and and took the opportunity. With a 5.5-meter (18 ft) battleaxe in hand, Moses leaped 10 feet into the air, and mortally wounded Og at the ankles, proving once and for all he was a badass in any religion.

9 Adam’s Demonic Ex-Wife

Lilith

Adam already had a woman in his life way before Eve came out of his rib; the only problem was the fact that she was a literal demon. Lilith had been created by God from the same dust as Adam. Unfortunately, they only lived a short time together, as Lilith insisted on being recognized as Adam’s equal and pointed to their identical origins to prove her point. When she was told she would always be considered inferior to Adam, Lilith invoked God’s Holy Name and flew off to the Red Sea where she copulated with other demons and produced lots of demonic offspring.

God sent angels to track her down after He heard Adam’s complaint that his wife left him. They found her and threatened to kill 100 of her demon children daily unless she went back to Adam. Lilith ignored their threat and retaliated that she and her children would harm Adam’s future descendants. Later, when an inconsolable Adam refused to sleep with Eve after Cain killed Abel, Lilith visited him in the night and slept with him without his knowledge. Their unholy union produced countless other demonic offspring, who went on to terrorize the world. However, they later met their match in one of Adam’s descendants.

8 Solomon Made A Deal With The Devil

Solomon

King Solomon possessed a magic ring which allowed him to control demons. He used the ring to subjugate many demons, including the demon-king Asmodeus. One day, Solomon decided to rub it in and taunted Asmodeus, saying that he couldn’t understand why demons regarded themselves as superior beings when a “mere” human imprisoned their very leader. Asmodeus suggested that Solomon lend him his magic ring so he could also prove his greatness. Solomon agreed and gave Asmodeus his ring. The demon took it and instantly flung Solomon off to a faraway land and installed himself as king.

The disgraced Solomon was forced to wander and beg for three years. The people he met thought he was a madman who claimed to be the real king. He managed to become the Ammonite king’s cook and fell in love with his daughter. Both were banished to the desert and to avoid death they traveled until they reached a port-city. At the market, the princess bought a fish and was surprised to see a ring inside it. Solomon recognized it as his magic ring. He put it on and instantly teleported back to the palace, where he deposed the impostor Asmodeus.

7 Abraham Was A One-Man Wrecking Machine

Abraham

Abraham was eating in his tent when the Archangel Michael gave him the bad news: Lot had just been captured by the four kings, who defeated five rebellious city-states. One of these city-states was Sodom, the place where Lot settled after he parted ways with Abraham. Losing no time, Abraham mobilized his men to rescue his nephew. All of them refused to fight except for Eliezer. Together, the duo proceeded to the kings’ encampment where Lot was detained. God gave Abraham supernatural strength, which he used to unleash hell on the four armies. He threw stones and projectiles at the enemy soldiers with such force that they were instantly killed. God also made him invulnerable to arrows and projectiles. In addition to this unfair invincibility cheat code, God made the night sky bright so he could see better and even sent the angel Lailah to fight for him. In the end, Abraham stopped the carnage when his strength diminished at Dan, the infamous place where Jeroboam, the idolatrous future-king of Israel, would institute calf idol worship. It didn’t matter, though, since Abraham had successfully rescued his nephew in one of the most incredible ways possible.

6 Methuselah The Demon-Slayer

Methuselah

Methuselah was more than just the oldest guy in history; he was also a demon-slayer, and was he ever good at it. After Lilith slept with Adam, she produced lots of demonic offspring who spread and terrorized the world. Methuselah was king of the world at the time and saw their evil deeds; for three days he prayed and fasted for divine guidance. On the third day, God instructed him to forge a sword with his Holy Name on it. Methuselah used the sword and killed 94 demons in a single minute. He killed countless more before the first-born demon Agrimus groveled at his feet to stop the slaughter. Methuselah accepted and led off the demon-king in chains; he also banished the rest of the demons into the far corners of the earth.

5 Job The Godfather

job

Job was a very hands-on type of rich guy. He performed his charitable duties very zealously. His home had doors on all four sides so that anyone could enter from any direction. His tables were always filled with free food, and his servants waited constantly on his guests. He dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the poor so much that his richer guests also offered to help him out. He also gave out loans to anyone in need, with only the condition that the borrower should donate his future profits to the poor. If he was unable to pay the loan, Job took the IOU note and tore it up in the man’s presence. His biggest concern, however, was for the widows and orphans. Job regularly visited the dying and pledged to take care of his family in case of his untimely departure. Also, he wasn’t above strong-arming people. Fortunately, Job used his army on behalf of the poor. His men intimidated the unjust into paying their dues and they also provided security for the poor at trials where the defendant was known to be violent.

4 The Miraculous Tomb Of Daniel

Tombs of the Persian Kings

Even in death, Daniel was as miraculous as he was controversial. The city in which his tomb was situated was divided by a river into two sections: the poor one, and the wealthy one, the latter of which had Daniel’s tomb. The poor inhabitants wanted Daniel’s tomb on their side as they believed it would make them rich. They quarreled with their wealthy neighbors so frequently that the issue threatened to turn the city upside-down, until both sides reached a compromise: They just took turns. The practice persisted until their king personally stopped it and came up with a better solution. He suspended the tomb with chains in the middle of the river and erected an ecumenical house of prayer. Furthermore, he prohibited fishing near the prayer house. The tomb displayed its miraculous cursing properties whenever a traveler passed by. Those who were wicked drowned in the river, while those who were righteous emerged unharmed.

3 Jonah Did Not Want To Leave The Fish’s Belly

Jonah

In this undoubtedly more awesome version, the fish that swallowed Jonah neared its allotted lifespan on Earth, after which the Leviathan, an even larger monster would eat it. Jonah liked his new pad so much that he threatened to kill the Leviathan should it even attempt to touch a scale on the fish’s head. The sea monster backed off, and as gratitude the fish toured Jonah around the world and showed him places like Hell and the Underworld. Just like Captain Nemo, Jonah turned the fish into his Nautilus; he saw the outside world through the eyes of the fish and was contented to stay inside the fish’s belly.

After three days, God realized that Jonah wasn’t going to leave anytime soon and sent a bigger, pregnant fish who demanded that the prophet be transferred to its belly. Jonah shared the space with the baby fish and found it so uncomfortable that he prayed to God to save him from his new cramped quarters.

2 Balaam And Phinehas’ Magic Contest

Balaam And Phinehas

Phinehas, the Israelite High Priest, led his people to war against Midian after the Midianites and Moabites had been earlier advised by Balaam to let their women seduce the Israelite men. Naturally, after they wandered around the lonely desert for so long, the Israelite men fell for the hot women and so incurred God’s wrath. Phinehas killed the ringleaders and saved them from further destruction. As the Midianites were close to defeat, Balaam flew away (up in the air). Phinehas saw him and commanded his subordinate Zaliah to go after him, so Zaliah flew and chased Balaam, but the latter eluded him as he went higher and hid in the clouds. Finally, Phinehas invoked a prayer to flush Balaam out of hiding and allow Zaliah to capture him.

Brought before Phinehas, Balaam begged for his life but to no avail. When Phinehas ordered Zaliah to kill him, it was unsuccessful, as Balaam’s magic protected him from any weapon. Phinehas then gave Zaliah a sword graven with serpents on both sides and with the awesome inscription “Kill him with that to which he belongs—through this he will die.” With the sword, Zaliah finally killed Balaam.

1 Joseph Nearly Destroyed Egypt

joseph

The stories start off similarly enough: Joseph (ruling Egypt because of a famine and a misunderstanding) accused Benjamin of stealing his cup and said he must stay behind as collateral. (Joseph really missed his brothers, apparently.) From there, it gets a lot more epic. First, Judah pleaded with Joseph, and when that failed he threatened to kill him and Pharaoh. Joseph commanded his son Manasseh to stomp the ground and produce an earthquake. Judah backed down slightly, but the standoff intensified so much that the angels from heaven watched the spectacle and described it as a fight between a lion and a bull.

Judah cried out so loudly that his voice could be heard 650 kilometers (400 mi) away. After a while, the rest of the brothers joined the fray. They shook the earth and promised to destroy Egypt. Judah chewed some brass rods and spat them out as fine powder in a show of force; he also turned a five-kilogram (11 lb) stone to dust. Not one to back off, Joseph splintered a marble pedestal with a single kick, while Manasseh did the same bit with the stone. Judah ordered Naphtali to make a head count of all the Egyptians so that they could divide them equally for battle. Naphtali ran quickly across the entire breadth of Egypt and reported the entire Egyptian population to Judah.

In the meantime, Manasseh assembled the army to fight the brothers. The brothers were frightened at first, but Judah exhorted them to fight. They let out a battle cry so loud that the army stampeded out of fright, women gave birth prematurely, city walls crumbled, and Pharaoh and Joseph were knocked out of their thrones. Pharaoh begged Joseph to accede to the demands of the brothers. Joseph realized the standoff would really destroy Egypt, so he made himself known to his brothers.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/10/05/10-awesome-jewish-stories-of-biblical-characters/