Army Boot Camp Graduation (Cartoon)

16 Jan


Dragon (Cartoon)

15 Jan

Martin Luther: The Life and Lessons

13 Jan

Luther defiantly proclaimed in his response that “…whoever wrote this bull, he is Antichrist. I protest before God, our Lord Jesus, his sacred angels and the whole world that with my whole heart I dissent from the damnation of this bull, that I curse and execrate it as sacrilege and blasphemy of Christ, God’s Son and our Lord. This be my recantation, O bull, thou daughter of bulls.”





School Crossing Guard (Cartoon)

13 Jan

Delaney To Head Ministerial Group

12 Jan

The Healing Hand: From Tree Wounds to Human Wounds

12 Jan

The Healing Hand: From Tree Wounds to Human Wounds


The Perfumes of Arabia

There is a lost fragrance about ancient drugs.  A disconcerting fragrance of incense, roses and cinnamon, which keeps luring the mind out of medicine into the church, the kitchen, and the beauty parlor.  But these contrasts are entirely a matter of custom.  Our ancestors, who liked to smear themselves with cinnamon oil, might have marveled at cinnamon bread as we would at incense pie*  besides, perfume for them was a far broader concern, with broader implications than it has today.  What was good to breathe, or eat, or drink was also good for the gods, for disease, and for wounds.  So the Greeks had one lovely word arómata, to cover much of what we would now break down into incense, perfumes, spices, and drugs.** Aromata were the zest of life.  That is what the Romans meant when they said “my myrrh, my cinnamon” as we would say “my darling.”

* The cosmetic use of cinnamon is well documented in the Bible and in Pliny. See also FH p.519; Burkhill 1935 p. 543; Moldenke 1952 p. 75; Rosengarten 1969 p. 188.

** Dictionaries translate arómata as “herbs” or “spices,” but the word has a broader meaning. E.g. Theophrastus, Concerning Odours, lists myrrh under aromata (#34/LB II 357).

*** The use of spices for endearment was no more bizarre than today’s use of honey for the same purpose (see Lewis and Short under cinnamomum)



From Tree Wounds to Human Wounds



Someone spread the rumor that burning incense, the prototype of all aromata, gives off carbolic acid, the magic odorous drug with which Lister opened the era of antisepsis.* Startled by thisoverlap of bodily and spiritual health, Ihad the statement verified.  it turned out to be chemically true, but medically irrevelant.  In the words of the chemsit,’The amount of phenols set free in the atmosphere of a church should be far from having a purifying effect, at least on a material level.”**  It is nevertheless perfectly true that the chemical formula of many scents given off by balsams and spices are variations on a theme: the skeleton of carbolic acid.

* Thorwald 1963 p. 65

** Professor P. Favager, Head of the Dept. of Biochemistry, University of Geneva, was kind enough to test the smoke of frankinscence (gum olibanum) and myrrh, both obtained from Fritche, Dodge & Olcott, Inc., new York  The smoke was bubbled through an alkaline solution, so as to trap the phenol, and then tested by several reactions (ferric chloride, diazotation, uranyl nitrate)  Phenol was detectable but in very small amounts, a rough estimate from ferric chloride reaction showed that 10.5mg of frankincense yielded about 15mg of total phenols.


Guido Majno: The Healing Hand Man and Wound in the Ancient World (Harvard press University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, © 1975) pp. 207, 219-220, 501, 503

The Healing Hand: The Laws of Hammurabi

11 Jan


Engraved around this great black stone, nearly eight foot tall, are the laws of Hammurabi, c. 1700 B.C. At the top is the king himself, receiving the word from Shamash, the Sun-god.



2.16 Hammurabi’s law 215 which refers to the surgeon’s knife. The pencil, shown for scale, points to the leter A of asu, ‘physician.” 2.17 Locating the wound and the lancet in the text of Fig. 2.16, tipped to the left so that the lines read horizontally.



Guido Majno: The Healing Hand Man and Wound in the Ancient World (Harvard press University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, © 1975) pp. 44-45.