Speaking peace before a symbol of war

Victory Column

Light posting the last couple of days while we’ve enjoyed the unusually mild weather in mid-Indiana from our wide front porch. But I couldn’t pass up an observation or two on the first overseas speeches by Obama the candidate.

First, he spoke at the Temple of Hercules in Amman. Today, he addressed “a huge crowd” at the Victory Column in Berlin.

Symbolic in more ways than he knows.

Hercules/Heracles is a type of dying god, a myth that was common throughout the Ancient Near East, ultimately tracing back to the Egyptian god Osiris. Researcher and author Peter Goodgame has assembled a pretty good case for identifying Osiris as an historic figure — the biblical Nimrod and the Sumerian king Enmerkar, whom Egyptologist David Rohl contends is the guy who tried to build the Tower of Babel. (Which, Rohl says, was actually at Eridu, not Babylon, and would have been the ancient temple of the Sumerian “lord of the earth” Enki — but I digress.)

Amman, Jordan is built on seven hills, just like Rome. That may be why the Romans constructed a temple to Hercules there — sort of a tribute to the boys back home. Now, if you’ve read the Book of Revelation even once, the symbolism of the seven hills (or mountains) can’t escape you. (And it boggles my mind that so many evangelical Christians are signing on to the dominionist agenda to reclaim the “seven mountains” or “seven spheres” of the culture around us. But again I digress.)

In Berlin, the Victory Column — like the Brandenburg Gate, where Sen. Obama originally wanted to speak — is topped by the goddess Victoria, the Roman counterpart of the Greek goddess Nike. Nike’s origins are murky, but it’s no stretch to see the what the winged figure atop the Siegessaeule symbolized to the Germans of 1871: the avenging angel of sieg — victory — over the French. (Who were still cheesed about it 75 years later and wanted the statue blown up after WWII. We Americans declined.)

Victory was so important to the German concept of nationhood that almost everyone in the Western world is familiar with the Nazi greeting, “Sieg heil” — “Hail victory”.

Say what you want about Sen. Obama and his campaign staff, they’ve got guts.

My point is this: Even if you don’t have a problem with the high creepiness of delivering speeches in front of pagan tributes to blood and iron, you have to wonder how Obama’s supporters would have reacted if he’d chosen the Church of the Holy Sepulchre instead.

Well, we’ll never know. And if you think I’m overreacting to, in my view, the rather significant decisions by the senator and his staff on where to deliver these historic speeches, I refer you to the apostle Paul. He reminds us that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

In other words, I don’t see coincidences here. I see “cosmic powers” and “spiritual forces” at work.

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