Christian Graffiti – “ΙΧΘΥΣ” (Ichthus)

ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthus) is an backronym/acrostic for “Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ“, (Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr), which translates into English as “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior”.

  • Iota (i) is the first letter of Iēsous (Ἰησοῦς), Greek for “Jesus“.
  • Chi (ch) is the first letter of Christos (Χριστός), Greek for “anointed”.
  • Theta (th) is the first letter of Theou (Θεοῦ), Greek for “God’s”, the genitive case of ΘεóςTheos, Greek for “God”.
  • Upsilon (y) is the first letter of (h)uios (Υἱός), Greek for “Son”.
  • Sigma (s) is the first letter of sōtēr (Σωτήρ), Greek for “Savior”.

Legend and history surrounding the use of Ichthus and the fish symbol in early christianity abounds; however we know that there is definite historical usage, since Augustine explains it’s meaning in his “City of God”, and because it is found in ancient sites like Ephesus, in modern day Izmir Province, Turkey.

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My favorite artifacts housed in Şanliurfa’s Archeology Museum

“The history of civilization began here!” Quite a claim, which makes visiting Sanliurfa’s Archeological Museum in Sanliurfa, Turkey all the more exciting.

Here are my favorite artifacts founds in this massive museum.

"The Urfa/Balıklıgöl Statue" is the oldest human-sized statue yet discovered. Dating from the 11th century BCE this statue of a man dropping his genitals is from the Neolithic period and seems to have been a part of a temple dedicated to a god of reproduction or eroticism. It is housed in Şanliurfa’s Archeology Museum in Şanliurfa, Turkey.
“The Urfa/Balıklıgöl Statue” is the oldest human-sized statue yet discovered. Dating from the 11th century BCE this statue of a man dropping his genitals is from the Neolithic period and seems to have been a part of a temple dedicated to a god of reproduction or eroticism. It is housed in Şanliurfa’s Archeology Museum in Şanliurfa, Turkey.

 

Statue of a military commander from the Roman Period. t is housed in Şanliurfa’s Archeology Museum in Şanliurfa, Turkey.
Statue of a military commander from the Roman Period. t is housed in Şanliurfa’s Archeology Museum in Şanliurfa, Turkey.

 

These large tablets comes from the 6th-5th century BCE. They contain the inscriptions from King Nabonidus, who was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556–539 BC. These tablets were found in Harran -- near Sanliurfa, Turkey -- which was an Assyrian stronghold and also contained the temple of the moon-goddess, of whom Nabonidus' mother was a priestess. It is housed at the Sanliurfa Archeological Museum in Sanliurfa, Turkey.
These large tablets comes from the 6th-5th century BCE. They contain the inscriptions from King Nabonidus, who was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556–539 BC. These tablets were found in Harran — near Sanliurfa, Turkey — which was an Assyrian stronghold and also contained the temple of the moon-goddess, of whom Nabonidus’ mother was a priestess. It is housed at the Sanliurfa Archeological Museum in Sanliurfa, Turkey.

 

This totem statue was found at the Gobekli Tepe site near Sanliurfa, Turkey. The Gobekli Tepe site is the oldest man-made place of worship yet discovered, dating back to 10,000 BCE. Found in the cradle of civilization, Gobekli Tepe has reshaped archeologist's understanding of religion and culture in the neolithic and pre-historic ages.
This totem statue was found at the Gobekli Tepe site near Sanliurfa, Turkey. The Gobekli Tepe site is the oldest man-made place of worship yet discovered, dating back to 10,000 BCE. Found in the cradle of civilization, Gobekli Tepe has reshaped archeologist’s understanding of religion and culture in the neolithic and pre-historic ages.

Smyrna: An Introduction

1. There are actually two Smyrnas, named Old Smyrna (founded in 11th century BC) and New Smyrna (reestablished by Alexander — at least, it was his idea, of course — in 4th century BC), respectively (they worked hard on the names).

2. Homer (author of The Iliad and The Odyssey) was born in Smyrna! (well, maybe. 6 other cities lay claim to the ancient poet, but many think Smyrna is his likely hometown)

3. “New Smyrna” became part of the Roman Empire around 195 BC, and more than likely had a significant Jewish population. Setting the cultural groundwork for the Gospel to spread through the activity of the Apostle Paul

4. Smyrna is one of the seven churches addressed in the beginning chapters of the book of Revelation. The church more than likely was planted through the ministry based in Ephesus. It seems that when John wrote to them the church was experiencing persecution, but the Apostle John reminds them of the promise of the resurrection and that they will not be affected by the second death

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.”

5. Polycarp (AD 69-155) was the Bishop of Smyrna until he was burned at the stake and stabbed when the fire didn’t finish the job. Multiple church fathers (Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Jerome) all make reference to Polykarp being a disciple of the Apostle John, and even being ordained by John as Bishop of Smyrna.

6. Polycarp seemed to have read the letter from John and taken heed of it throughout his life. He was “faithful unto death.” This is evidenced by the reply he gave those who were to burn him at the stake:

“For eighty and six years I have served him, and he has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me? You threaten with the fire that burns for a hour and then is quenched; for you do not know of the fire of the judgment to come, and the fire of the eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why are you delaying? Bring what you will!”

7. Because Polycarp had a direct relationship with an Apostle (John), his understanding and teaching of scripture and doctrine was highly regarded throughout the Christian church and he is credited with helping the church on a path of orthodoxy when heretics like Marcion and the Gnostic Valentinus were running rappant.

8. Polycarp wrote his “Letter to the Philippians” while Bishop of Smyrna. This letter is of utmost importance, not just for the sound doctrine and encouragement found within, but because Polycarp makes many references to New Testament books which helps in the field of textual criticism and in understanding canonization of the New Testament.

“Stand fast, therefore, in this conduct and follow the example of the Lord, ‘firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth,’ helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man” (Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians).

9. Smyrna is thought to be the hometown of the church father Irenaeus. Tradition states that Irenaeus heard Polycarp speak when he was a young man. Irenaeus is also thought to have grown up in a Christian home, perhaps the first church father to have come to faith as a child.

10. Smyrna got rocked by a massive earthquake in 178 AD and was rebuilt by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (who was likely partly responsible for the martyrdoms of Polycarp and Irenaeus).

|| Old Smyrna ||

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Ancient walls and foundations with modern Izmir, Turkey in the background
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“Block out the sun”
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“Drainage system no more”
"History in the distance"
“History in the distance”
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“Through the pillars”
Broken pieces remind us that no city lasts forever
Broken pieces remind us that no city lasts forever

|| New Smyrna ||

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That time I took a Coffee Workshop…Finally

My wife, sister, and I went to a coffee workshop in Costa Mesa, CA hosted by Wayfare and taught by Jeff Clinard of Bear Coast Coffee. Jeff is a co-founder of Bear Coast Coffee and was one of the founders of Portola Coffee Lab. I’ve been a coffee enthusiast for the parts of my life that haven’t included climbing trees and giving wet willies (just to be clear, since I’m about 12 years old), but this was my first official coffee workshop. Whenever I visit a coffee shop with baristas and raosters who are legitimate and know what they are doing I make it a priority to glean from them whatever nugget I can to make my home brewing experience that much more enjoyable and tasty. But this workshop was the first for me, and they succeeded at setting the bar high for any future courses I may take.
What I learned:
Jeff did a great job of answering the questions “What is coffee?”, “What is the history of coffee?”, and “How do you make coffee?” At least, as good as one can do in an hour and half workshop. I won’t cover everything he taught us here, but you can read these articles (here, here, and here) over at National Coffee Association, USA to educate yourself. Or you can check out these past posts. Jeff’s love for coffee is evident, but his love for what coffee does is even greater. His love of coffee stems from the communal aspects of coffee. Coffee, starting from the earliest days in the Ottoman Empire, has been enjoyed amidst conversation and collaboration. This is what makes Jeff love coffee and it showed in his presentation. Even to a small group he was able to convey this.
How to Make a Cup of Coffee with an Aeropress:
This is the part of the workshop that has changed my day-to-day brewing experience the most. For the last thirty minutes of the workshop we dove into the world of Aeropressing. The Aeropress is a fairly new item to hit the coffee world but for those who love a combination of control over the brewing process, a timely cup, and smooth, rich flavor it is a must have tool in the repository. The aeropress is a plunging device that mixes the best of press pot and espresso worlds to create a unique cup of coffee. I’ve found the system to be very forgiving as long as one follows some basic rules that are required to be followed for any home brewing to be successful (grind level, water filtration and temperature, and grounds-to-water ratio). A quick search online proves that there are many recipes for aeropress, but I thought I would share what I use (The Coffee Compass, a regularly trusted source for coffee knowledge and happenings, recommends these five recipes).
I’ve learned to love the Intelligentsia App and part of the reason is for their Aeropress recipe:
Fill your kettle and set to boil. Be sure to add additional water for preheating your Aeropress.
Pull plunger halfway out of the Aeropress and stand upright
Weigh out your coffee, and grind coffee on a sand like setting
Once the kettle boils, preheat Aeropress and decanting vessel with water
Place an Aeropress paper filter (I bought a metal filter here) in the plastic filter top and pre-wet both.
Add ground coffee to Aeropress. Check to see that the coffee weight hasn’t changed, then tare to zero again
Start your timer as you begin to pour your water.
After a minute, stir the Aeropress four times in a clockwise motion.
Screw the plastic Aeropress filter top onto the Aeropress. Wait an additional 3 minutes.
After a total of 4 minutes, invert the Aeropress onto your decanting vessel and begin plunging.
Plunging should take 15-20 seconds. When the coffee has been plunged and the Aeropress makes a slight hissing noise, stop plunging—the brew is finished!
Happy Pressing!

Coffee Tour: Prague and Budapest

I knew heading on this trip that Prague and Budapest were hipster-hangouts (Bohemia, after all, is in Prague). But little did I know that the third-wave of coffee had hit these cities hard, and the world is better for it.

The third wave is, in many ways, a reaction. It is just as much a reply to bad coffee as it is a movement toward good coffee. – Trish R. Skeie, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters

Some observations:

  • English, it seems, is the language of third-wave coffee (obviously while also being the language of the world economy). Menus, items for sale, brewing methods etc. were all in English. It made my life easy.
  • The coffee shops (espresso bars, roasting labs, cafes etc.) are concentrated in the same areas, mostly.
  • The third-wave is fairly new in Prague and Budapest, but has a firm grasp. Most shops have started within the last 4 years.

Now, for the good part…pictures.

Prague

Our first stop…EMA Espresso Bar

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Second…Original Coffee

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Third stop…La Boheme Cafe

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Budapest

While we loved the coffee in Prague, Budapest had a lot more options. It seems like specialty coffee has deeper roots, or at least is spreading quicker, in Budapest.

Stop #1…Sock’s Coffee

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Stop #2…My Little Melbourne

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Stop #3…Tamp & Pull

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Stop #4…Kontakt

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Stop #5…Espresso Embassy

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Stop #6…Blue Bird Cafe

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We didn’t get to visit all the shops on our list…but that just gives us reason to go back! Until next time Prague, and Budapest…

Oh…and this sums up our coffee tour…

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Istanbul Coffee Festival: Recap

A couple weeks ago I shared how excited I was for the Istanbul Coffee Festival. Well, it has come and gone, and I must say, I was very impressed. As my wife and I walked up to Haydrapasa Station in Istanbul we were greeted with the sweet aroma of dozens of roasters and baristas working fervently to brew a cup that appeals to all senses.

Appealing to All Senses: There is something more to coffee than its caffeine stimulus and its action on the taste buds of the tongue and mouth. The sense of smell and the sense of sight play important roles. To get all the joy there is in a cup of coffee, it must look good and smell good, before one can pronounce its taste good. It must woo us through the nostrils with the wonderful aroma that constitutes much of the lure of coffee. – William H. Ukers (All About Coffee)

Unfortunately, I can’t share the aroma through this medium, but I can share the sights.

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