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Canon Muratori

The Muratorian fragment also called Canon Muratori, is the oldest known cast or index of the New Testament books. It was discovered by Ludovico Antonio Muratori (1672–1750), father of Italian historiography, in Latin from the 8th century, originating from Bobbio Abbey and discovered in the Ambrosian Library in Milan.

The fragment contains 85 lines, written in a Latin full of Sermo Vulgaris expressions (common latin), which is at times difficult to fully understand. It is partially destroyed at the beginning, missing the first – or at least the first few lines, which probably refer to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.

The era of writing must be fixed in the second half of the 2nd century (ca. 170), an extreme in which most scholars agree. The author is no doubt, to the author of the Pius I, bishop of Rome (140—155), in the lines. 74-76: "Pastorem uero nuperrime temporibus nostris in Urbe Roma Hermas conscripsit, sedente cathedra Urbis Romae ecclesiae Pio Episcopo fratre eius;" (Very recently, in our times, in the city of Rome, Hermas wrote – the Pastor-, sitting as bishop in the Chair of the Church of Rome his brother Pio). Pius I ruled the Church from 140 to 150.

Translation of the fragment:

… in these, however, he was present, and so he wrote them down.

The third book of the gospel: according to Luke.

After Christ's ascension, Luke the physician, whom Paul had taken with him as a legal expert, wrote in his own name agreeing with [Paul's] opinion. However, he himself never saw the Lord in the flesh, and therefore, as he could continue… he began to tell it from the birth of John.

The fourth gospel is of John, one of the disciples.

When his co-disciples and bishops encouraged him, John said, "Fast with me for three days from today, and whatever was revealed to us, let us tell each other." Tonight it was revealed to Andrew, one of the apostles, that John should write everything in his own name, and that they should review it. Therefore, although different beginnings are taught for the various books of the gospel, it makes no difference to the faith of believers, for in each of them everything has been declared by a single Spirit, concerning their nativity, passion, and resurrection, their association with his disciples, his double advent — his first in humility, when he was despised, which has already passed; his second in real power, his return. No wonder, therefore, that John presented the details so constantly separately in his letters as well, saying of himself: "What we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears and touched with our hands, these things have written." Because in this way he pretends to be not only a spectator but one who listened, and also one who wrote in an orderly manner the wonderful facts about our Lord.

The Acts of all the Apostles have been written in a book. Addressing the excellent Theophilus, Lucas includes one by one the things that were done before his own eyes, which he clearly shows by omitting Peter's passion, and also Paul's departure from the City to Spain.

As for Paul's letters, they themselves show those who want to understand from where and for what purpose they were written. First he [wrote] to the Corinthians forbidding divisions and heresies; then to the Galatians [prohibiting] circumcision; to the Romans he wrote extensively about the order of the scriptures and also insisting that Christ be the central theme of the scriptures. It is necessary for us to give a well-argued report of all of these since the blessed Apostle Paul himself, following the order of his predecessor John, but without naming him, writes to seven churches in the following order: first to the Corinthians, second to the Ephesians, thirdly to the Philippians, in fourth place to the Colossians, fifth to the Galatians, in sixth place to the Thessalonians, and in seventh place to the Romans. However, even if [the message] is repeated to the Corinthians and Thessalonians for their reproof, a church is recognized as spread throughout the world. For John also, though he writes to seven churches in the Revelation, yet he writes to all. In addition, [Paul writes] a [letter] to Philemon, one to Titus, two to Timothy, in love and affection; but have been sanctified for the honor of the Catholic Church in regulating ecclesiastical discipline.

It is said that there is another letter on Paul's behalf to the Laodiceans, and another to the Alexandrians, [both] falsified according to the heresy of Martion, and many other things that cannot be received in the Catholic Church, since it is not appropriate for the poison to mix with honey.

But the letter of Judas and the two superscribed by the name of John have been accepted in the Catholic [church]; Wisdom also, written by Solomon's friends in his honor. John's Revelation we also receive, and Peter's, which some of ours do not allow to be read in the church. But the Pastor was written by Hermas in the city of Rome quite recently, in our own day, when his brother Pius occupied the bishop's chair in the church of the city of Rome; therefore it can be read, but it cannot be given to the people in the church, nor among the prophets, for their number is complete, nor among the apostles at the end of time.

But we don't receive any of the writings of Arsinoes, or Valentinus or Metiades at all. They have also composed a psalm book for Marcion [these we reject] along with Basilides [and] the Asian founder of the Catafrigios.

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Ways to Help Preserve Nature

Sometimes I am given pause to ask; "What can I do to contribute to nature conservation?"

Here are some of the things that I have on my list to answer that question:

  1. Recycling
  2. Use less water
  3. Lower heating consumption
  4. Get around on the road, by bike or by bus, better than by car
  5. Turn off unused devices
  6. Eating less meat and few industrial products
  7. Eating natural things that occur near my home and without pesticides
  8. Buy fair trade
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Cultural Pluralism, Minorities and Solidarity

When a small group lives within a larger society, maintaining their unique cultural identities, and lifestyles we refer to this as cultural pluralism.

This is an idea that is not uncommon in our modern society. The idea of cultural pluralism in America has its roots in the transcendentalist movement. A movement developed by pragmatist philosophers such as William James and John Dewey, and later thinkers such as Horace Kallen and Randolph Bourne. One of the most famous articulations of cultural pluralistic ideas can be found in Bourne's 1916 essay "Trans-National America" .

The object of sociology is the collection of social facts to enable us to study the behavior of people over the years and in the face of certain events, it becomes necessary to understand the current social situation.

In addition, by studying the evolution of society historically, we can analyze the conditions we currently live in and identify areas that require special attention to improve human coexistence.

Today, there are oppressed minorities in different countries of the world and systematic discrimination against certain social groups, largely due to the persistence of prejudice. There is discrimination, first and foremost, when the rights and opportunities that a group of people can access are denied to them and given to another because of the conduct attributed to them. Stereotypes exist in every culture, and every culture has had stereotypes placed upon it at one time in history or another.

The search for identity has been a constant struggle among cultures throughout time, hence it is important to analyze how humans have socially integrated into different societies and the problems generated with this assimilation.

Attempts have been made to classify the peoples of the world into races, identifying five large groups; however, the groups of the human population are a continuum because one man cannot be distinguished from another by his physical characteristics, blood or genetics. The race theory has been disproven long ago, yet it is is still a basis for many stereotypes.

The set of physical variations that ethnically significant societies (often the majority) define or apply to other groups is now no-longer a scale at which we measure people. It is a cultural category rather than a biological or physical reality because it is defined with respect to a dominant group. This definition is often used for racial discrimination.

Racism is a false and inherited attribution about the personality or behavior of people who possess certain physical characteristics. A racist person is one who assigns both superiority and inferiority to people who have a certain physique and who typecast their behavior. Again, racism is based on a dominant group's ideal, their misconceptions, and biases against another group or groups. The dominant group does not need to be in the majority. There are many examples throughout history where the dominant group was in the minority.

To me, racism towards indigenous cultures because of the attribution of inferiority and the racism against foreigners (those from regions excluding: European and North America) for the attribution of superiority of conduct is an argument which has been brought into the modern discourse. For many of us we could not define the "race" in which we belong as a single set of physical characteristics by the diversity of people who make it up. Even in groups that share a common cultural identity the amount of diversity disproves this argument. Why? Because for every example of the perfect specimen found you will find 100 more that do not match the ideal standard in the same group. It would be easier to, for example, define a dominant group like the European immigrants to the US as people of Catholic faith, who wore hats, drank wine, they worked hard, and yet many Americans do not enter that classification.

Racial identity is acquired from birth as nationality marks many of the cultural characteristics that will develop, although there are many exceptions that depend on personal choices. Evolution of cultural identity is a normal transition and cultural pluralism is a bi-directional share of information that helps a society reach an equilibrium based on ideals that are not genetically acquired.

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What is Emergence

First defined by George Henry Lewes in "The Problems of Life and Mind". According to Lewes: "Although each effect is resulting from its components, the product of its factors, we cannot always plot the process steps, to the point of seeing in the product the mode of operation of each factor. In this case I propose to call this emerging effect. It arises from combined agents but in a way that does not expose the agents in action."

The mind, for example, is considered by many to be an emerging phenomenon as it arises from the interaction distributed between various neural processes (including also some of the body and environment) without being able to reduce itself to any of the components that participate in the process (none of the neurons separately are conscious).

The concept of emergency is hotly debated in science and philosophy because of its importance for the foundation of the sciences and the possibilities of reduction among them. It is equally crucial given the consequences and implications for the very perception of the human being and its place in nature (the concepts of free will, responsibility or consciousness depend, to a large extent, on the possibility of the emergency) . The concept of emergency has gained renewed strength in the wake of the rise of the sciences of complexity and plays a fundamental role in the philosophy of the mind and the philosophy of biology.

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The Gorilla

Gorillas (genus Gorilla) are herbivorous primates that inhabit the forests of Central Africa. It is the greatest of the living primates. Its DNA is 97%–98% equal to humans, the closest after two species of chimpanzee.

American physicist and missionary Thomas Staughton Savage was the first to study the Western gorilla, which he named Troglodytes gorilla, in 1847 from specimens obtained in Liberia. The name is derived from the Carthaginian navigator Hanno († 440 BC) who returned with the skins of three "wild women," he acquired them on his trip to Africa, which the African interpreters called "gorillaiz". But it is unclear exactly where Hanno killed the poor creatures and it is open to debate if they were in fact gorillas, regardless whether they were gorillas, chimpanzees or even members of a pygmy people (which is not entirely unlikely) they were passed down as such through ancient historians. All of the options are feasable as his course likely took him as far as the Gulf of Guinea where he opened up new trade routes. We know this because his travelogue (Periplus) has been handed down in a Greek translation.

Gorillas usually move on all fours as the forelimbs are more elongated than the hind limbs and resemble arms, although they are also used as a foothold. Males are between 4 ft 7 in to 5 ft 11 in tall, and weigh between 300 to 430 lbs. Females weigh about half as much as males (150–250 lbs). The gorilla's facial structure is known as a bulging jaw, as the jaw is much larger than the jaw.

Pregnancy lasts 8 and a half months and usually females will not have another for three to four years as the young live with their mothers during this time. Females mature when they are between 10 and 12 years old (in captivity, usually before); males mature between the ages of 11 and 13. Life expectancy is 30 to 50 years. Massa, of the Philadelphia Zoo, holds the record for longevity: he died at 54.

Gorillas are mostly vegetarian, and eat mainly fruits, leaves, shoots, etc., although they may consume some insects, which represents only one to two percent of their diet.

In addition, all gorillas share the same blood type (B) and, like humans, each gorilla has unique fingerprints that identify it.

The gorilla species are endangered, albeit to varying degrees. One reason for the danger is the destruction of their habitat by deforestation. In addition, there are civil war-like conditions in parts of their range, which make the necessary protection measures difficult and make effective surveillance of protected areas almost impossible. Another reason is the hunting for their meat ("bushmeat") which is still carried out in much of their habitat. Diseases also continue to affect the already endangered populations, especially Ebola. The total population of gorillas is estimated at around 100,000 animals, but they vary widely between populations.

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A Word on Humanism

What is humanism? It is a perspective from which you see the world, rather than a school of thought or a collection of beliefs.

Humanism gives man unique capacities with respect to other living beings who are cultivated and celebrated for their own good. It is established between the vision that subjects man to the divine and the one that treats him like any other animal. The form of humanist thought developed (although it comes from the classical era) and extended during the eighteenth century with thinkers such as Voltaire, Rosseau, Deiderot, Bentham, Hume, Lessing, Kant, Franklin or Jefferson. This set of thinkers had in common support for values such as freedom, equality, secularism and cosmopolitanism, and the exaltation of creative active life versus contemplative life. They also believed in the capacity for perfection of human nature, moral sense, responsibility and the possibility of progress.

In the twentieth century, in the face of totalitarianism and wars humanists oppose values of nobility, resistance, intelligence, moderation, flexibility, sympathy, love and seek the beauty of mankind and the landscape.

Humanists attach crucial importance to education by enceiving it as the full development of the creative personality, linking science with politics and culture with democracy. Humanists attach paramount importance to freedom of thought and opinion, the use of intelligence and pragmatic research in science and technology, political systems governed by representative institutions. Believing that one can live without metaphysical or religious certainties and that all opinions are open to review and correction, they see the human flourish through open communication, discussion, criticism, and unforced consensus.

Humanism is, in short, a component of a wide variety of more specific philosophical systems and various schools of religious thought. Long before being widely employed in political terms, humanism is a concept of the history of philosophy, renewed with the Renaissance, associated in particular with the movement represented by Erasmo, Michel de Montaigne or even Guillaume Budé, to whom it is the honor of having been interested in both Greek-Latin literature and personal reflection.

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Saying Happy Birthday

Rome wasn't built in a day. It took a long time for the seven Lazio villages to form a greater whole that we recognize as Rome. As people we are never complete, there isn't a moment when you stop and realize things have reached the finishing line. For me birthdays are those milestones that make up the path that leads into the road of my life.

So you can say that I enjoy my husband's birthday, my kids' birthdays, and yes even my birthday. All of these are little reminders that we are alive, developing, maturing, and learning. I look forward to these moments. Each year we choose different themes for our birthday party. Usually it is something that means something to the one celebrating. For example my youngest decided that over the course of the last year she loves horses. So of course the theme was easy to guess. While this isn't always a given, that party was easy to decorate. We've used the same site for a couple of parties, if you notice they specialize in just about any type of party you can imagine. This brought up the question for us; "Do people actually need all of these options?"

Even though we have a theme for the parties they are more akin to the celebrations that my husband and I had growing up. They are traditional small celebrations with either friends and/or family.

There was an interesting article on psychologytoday.com that highlighted the current trend towards bigger is better.

I think that it is interesting on a number of levels. To quote the article:

Rarely do we stop to consider why we have birthday parties in the first place. Or perhaps more importantly, what do our children think about all this? Do they even understand what is being celebrated? What do young children understand about birthdays and birthday parties?

When our children were able to cognitively understand what, well, the big deal was about they looked forward to the idea, but never expected more than what was being planned. In the same article the author gave an example of a boy who was turning six year olds, he and his family flew on "the day of his birthday, he and his family were out of the country, so instead of a full-fledged party they simply had a cake, he blew out the candles, and they promised him a party when they returned home." This in and of itself is enough to confuse most children that are in the position to understand the basic concept of what the day represents. For the child, it was an abstract thought, that was not based on a standardized concept, rather abstract and arbitrarily assigned. As he was preparing for the promised party he was insistent that he was now turning seven, "this child clearly seemed to believe that birthday parties play a causal role in the aging process. Two cognitive developmental studies support this possibility."

How is it that we have taken one of the most exciting days in a child's life, one filled with laughter, silly games, and lots of cake and ice cream and shifted it into the realm of international travel and unsustainable consumerism?

As parent's we want to give our children as many possibilities of happiness as we are in a position to give. We want to make them happy, thus it is an understandable jump for some to make it a day they will never forget (until next year rolls around) and while is is admirable it places both the parents and child in a position that quickly allows things to get out of focus.

My husband told me a story once when we were dating. He related the happiest birthday he could recall. His grandmother made him a cake that had Superman on it. She didn't buy the cake, she made it from scratch. This was long before the day of super heró themed parties (my son just attended one last month, he was Ironman). He showed me a picture taken of him that day and there are only a few instances when I have seen him beam more (notably on the day our children were born).

I will close with four words. Bigger isn't always better.