My Top 3 Photos of the Turkish Protest

I’ve seen a lot of news here, and have seen countless photographs.  Pictures from the very start, controversial pictures, ones highlighting what is happening in my city here, and I’ve come across some pictures of my university students getting hosed by the police.

If I may, I would like to share my top three.  I believe they speak for themselves.





2012’s Top Photos

It was a beautiful year last year, and this is an attempt to capture in a short collection of pics, what has happened, what was most significant, what I loved about 2012.

It was difficult, but I combed through the hundreds of photos that we’ve accumulated since we’ve been here in Turkey, and “voille!”, I give you “2012’s Top Photos!!”  To be honest, I could have put up way way more photos of my son, but I restrained myself.

Showering With History; a brief look at Olive Oil Soap

Last year my wife and I visited one of the most charming cities in Turkey.  Antakya, or in ancient biblical times, Antioch.  It was on the streets of that city, which so beautifully has contained the history of the city in its culture and architecture, that we came across a shop.


  It was far away from the hustle bustle of the main streets, and away from the touristy sights.  It was the handmade shawls that first caught my wife’s eye.  Then as we entered, we were greeted by the shop-owner, “Hosh Geldiniz!” I remember also being greeted by the aroma of those earthy soaps with a delight that has yet to dissipate, to this day.  It was such an earthy, crisp and clean, and wholesome smell, that I began to ask what they were.  It was something traditional to Antakya he said.  They were olive oil soaps mixed with “defne” or laurel oil.  ImageThey were nothing fancy that hit those high notes of sweet, or sunk deep to satisfy the exotic.  It was simply something pure, traditional, and right.  He explained locals love them, because the defne helps with the summer heat and sweating.  So we bought some.

It proved to be much more than just helpful, as it truly brightened my showering experience.  I felt like I was partaking in tradition somehow, even though it was just a shower.  I never liked bar soaps mostly for how they left me feeling afterward.  Dry mostly.  This was different, and the aromas in the shower…again not anything surprising, but simply pleasing.  It’s those small things in life that sometimes brings that pip back, or puts that spring back into your step.

As we continued to peruse museums there, and other museums in later months, the theme of laurel surfaced again and again.

Laurel branches were important in Roman mythology.  Daphne caught the eye of Apollo when she was a water nymph, and loved to give him a good chase.  But when she almost got caught by Apollo, she cried out to Mother earth for her to cover her, and hide her, so she turned her into a Laurel tree.  Apollo can be seen in stone reliefs wearing a laurel wreath on his head.

The history of the actual soap being made from olive oil goes way back farther than the Romans, to the Babylonian empire in 2800 BC.  People have been scrubbing down with this stuff for a long time I guess.  As far as Antakya goes, it is very famous for its olive and laurel soap, as laurel trees grow around that area.  Antakya was a big city back in its hay day in the Roman Empire.  In fact, it was in the running to pass Rome in its importance and become the next Roman capital, when a tragic earthquake hit.  Whether the large Roman city was manufacturing this sort of soap in that day, I’m not sure.  A more historically traceable type of soap, perhaps almost identical to Antakyan soap, is Allepo Soap, made in the city or surrounding area of Allepo, Syria.  The traditional ingredients are the same as those in Antakya; olive oil, lye, and laurel berry oil.  We know that soap manufacturing can be traced westward from this city.  Stinky crusaders credited Allepo for giving them soap making know-how, and gradually along the Mediterranean, soap technologies spread. 

Nowadays, wherever you go, you may be able to find a wide variety of artisan soaps being sold in markets or fairs.  From cappuccino caramel scented soaps, to plain mint, one would think they are buying some sort of NASA food, made for astronauts.  As for me, I’m sticking with tried and true simplicity, with a dash of history.


In case your curious, here are some benefits to the soap;


  1. Broad effective uses for daily use, shampooing, face masks, baby-safe and shaving cream.  In my experience, it tends to be the soap of choice for public hamams (Turkish baths, styled after the idea of a Roman bath-house)
  2. Is effective for wound healing, and against bug bites.
  3. Helps relieve the symptoms of skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis and acne.
  4. Compounds in laurel oil have been found to be inhibitors of skin cancer and other tumor growths.
  5. And finally…it floats, unlike other soaps.  The scientific ramifications of this anomaly have yet to be researched though.

The Need to be Known…


Why do you think people are obsessed with fame? What does that say about our culture?
Tony Hale (Buster Bluth): I do think that, honestly it is grounded in the fact that everybody desperately wants to be known, and they think that fame is kind of the ultimate of being known. ‘If that many people know me, if that many people know who I am, then its going to satisfy that.’ The thing is, if you get to that place you are only going to find true satisfaction if you are known in an eternal, spiritual sense by somebody greater than yourself.”

Author Donald Miller interviews Tony Hale, known as Buster Bluth in the fabulous TV show “Arrested Development.  I love that guy, and one of my favorite shows.

A Brief History of “Perversion”, and its Relevancy to the Boston Bombings


Here in Turkey, I went to work one day as I usually do, only to hear from a British co-worker of mine the news of the horrific and disturbing bombings in Boston.  I remember thinking, “Oh not again!” as my stomach began to sour with grief.  Haven’t enough people had their fill of bloody violence and their appetites quenched with innocent lives, I was thinking.  Apparently not.

Many people are searching for answers.  Why did the brothers do this?  What does this mean about the future of security in America?  In the world?  People like FBI agents, Police Officers, psychologists, and the family and victims of the bombings are all searching, to name a few.  I suppose you could say whenever violence like this happens, like a lightning bolt shattering the calm of everyday life, most people who hear about such things, start to struggle for answers.

I’d like to share with you my strugglings, mainly through the historical and semantical exploration of the word, “perversion”, and its relevancy to the issues at hand.

Latin – Pervertere – “to turn the other way, to overturn”, figuratively to “subvert, corrupt, or abuse”

English – Pervert (verb) – 1300 AD “to turn someone aside from a right religious belief to a false or erroneous one”

Online Etymology Dictionary

It wasn’t until later, in the 1300’s that the word “perverse” started to carry mainly a religious tone, used to describe those who had gone astra, or those who had apostatized, or turned away in an erroneous way.  This was noted as late as 1660.  It wasn’t until 1892 that the way you used that word morphed to describe someone who has a “perversion of the sexual instinct.”

Perhaps we’ve lost our sense of the broader use of the word.  Pervert has become simply a noun, and maybe we’ve lost the sense that it can be a verb as well.  To “pervert” something.  The modern definition of being a “pervert”, is the definition most of us would be familiar with.  It’s a sexual term, to describe someone who is sexually deviant, or just twisted.

So why did I chose the word “perversion” to be the center piece of this exploration?  I like the severity of the word in describing how twisted ones actions need to be in order to earn that title.  To simply call the brothers “twisted” or even “radicalized,” just doesn’t do what is happening on a larger scale justice.  The Tsarnaev brothers were perverts, but not in the sexual use of the term.  Using the Latin definition together with the 14th century definition along with the modern adaptation to the word, we can give “perversion” a generalized umbrella definition of “the act of turning someone, something, some idea away, towards corruption, or simply towards the wrong way.”  It is a twisting of what’s true; a misconstruing of what exists.  Perversion doesn’t just happen to terrorists and dictators.  It happens at all levels of life.  Perversion is a parasite, and it can latch onto anything.  It takes sex, something beautiful between a man and a woman, and taints it with notions of selfish unedifying acts of pleasure, diminishing each other to mere objects from which “feel good” moments come.  It takes meal time, something useful to bring people together over, and turns it into a gluttony fest where food is used to quench not the stomach, but the hurting spirit.  It takes the workplace, something where honest bread-money can be won for a family, and turns it into an arena where control hungry men and women dominate others, or where simply crooked men and women use their employees for less than honorable ends.  It takes a simple family man, named Tamerlan Tsarnaev, with a wife and a daughter, which could have been a happy family, and it turns him into a tool of terror, death, and heart-break.  Perversion happened.

The tragedy in all of this, is when the one who “turns away”, becomes convinced it is the right way.  Perhaps it is the mere feeling of something “right”, that confirms this, or they have convincingly been lied to.  In the case of the Tsarnaev brothers, who knows how that slippery slope happened.  All we know is that the tool of perversion was radicalism, which really is a synonym to perversion.  Let me be clear at this point.  I’m not saying anything about a connection between radicalism and religion here.  There are radical Hindus, radical Christians, and radical aetheists.  Somewhere between birth, maybe during adolescence, maybe when he came to America, a lie entered his worldview, and perverted reality for him.  The lie altered the course of his life, it soured the good that was in him.

The state of things is simply not good.  In recent history, Colombine, 9/11, Sandy Hook, to name a few.  In history past, wars of all kinds, genocides for any reason.  Things are not well with us.  Lets be honest.

Will it always be like this?  Does it have to be like this?  Now I’d like to take our exploration into the origin of the word “perversion”.  It takes us back quite far.  My hope in reaching this far, we’ll be able see a glimpse of hope, to this violent state of affairs.

The greatest perversion that happened, is in one of the oldest books we have, the Bible.  You may already know what I’m talking about by now.  Yes, how the serpent lied to Eve, she took of the apple, gave it to Adam, and they both fell from favor in God’s sight.  Why?  Because they believed the Father of Lies, corruptor of everything, the most perverse of perverts.  The one who himself “turned away” from God first, leading all who are willing, in the way of perversion, that is, in sin.  In simplest terms, we could say, sin is living life turned away from the way God intended.

What is the hope I was talking about?  If what I’m describing is true, life seems pretty dismal.  Things are not well with us, but they will not always be this way.  Christ is coming again, and when he comes with the power of a creator that he used when time began, once again, like in Eden, earth will be heaven for those who truly know Christ.  It will be perfect.  We will be free of perverse acts that malign us, harm us, and cause us to despair in this time.  It’s hard to imagine what a world like that would be like, but that’s what I want, and that’s the hope we have in Christ.

Jack London’s Explanation For the Need of Christ Incarnate


“God is out there” said a wise man once.  Out where?  And why out there?  Can’t he be here?  To a lot of people that’s how they think of God.  If you were to ask them directly, they might say, “He is out there somewhere.  I can’t tell you where, I just know he exists and he’s out there.”  Perhaps in explanation of the evil in the world one might say, “He has abandoned us.  He’s out there, but he’s not here anymore.  If he was here, there wouldn’t be this much evil.”


I came across someone who I think struggled with the same questions.  Where is God?  In Jack London’s fascinatingly experienced childhood, he most likely starting asking his first God questions, if not then later, when he wrote “White Fang”, about which is the subject of this writing.  His childhood brought him into oyster piracy, a purchase of his first sailboat, work as a sailor, homelessness, and gang membership in California, not to mention a self-taught education, which in the later years were supported and funded by a local pub.  A rare childhood to say the least, and one can only imagine the kinds of experiences and conversations with people he met.


Jack London never grew to know Christ as his savior that we know of.  From the way he wrote, he seemed to think poorly of those who believed in God, maybe even futile.  One thing surprised me though about this passage of literature.  It shows an unbelieving mans heart-cry for Christ.  Before I say anymore, I’ll give the passage.  The context is, according to these dogs, humans are as gods to them.  Now he’ll compare and contrast the difference between humans’ gods, and the dog’s gods.


To man has been given the grief, often, of seeing his gods overthrown and his altars crumbling; but to the wolf and the wild dog that have come in to crouch at man’s feet, this grief has never come. Unlike man, whose gods are of the unseen and the overguessed, vapours and mists of fancy eluding the garmenture of reality, wandering wraiths of desired goodness and power, intangible out-croppings of self into the realm of spirit – unlike man, the wolf and the wild dog that have come in to the fire find their gods in the living flesh, solid to the touch, occupying earth-space and requiring time for the accomplishment of their ends and their existence. No effort of faith is necessary to believe in such a god; no effort of will can possibly induce disbelief in such a god. There is no getting away from it. There it stands, on its two hind-legs, club in hand, immensely potential, passionate and wrathful and loving, god and mystery and power all wrapped up and around by flesh that bleeds when it is torn and that is good to eat like any flesh.

– Part III, Ch. 2, “The Bondage”, White Fang.


Without knowing it, Jack London has painted for us, the purpose Christ came.  Before Christ came, God was this personally unknown, unmet, untouchable deity, that existed, and revealed His will by way of prophets.  But to show just how much He really loved us, God came down, clothed himself in the flesh of man, humbling himself from divine stature, to meet with us.  Flesh to flesh.  Face to face.  Communicate with us in person.  What Jack London might have been really asking was, “Give me a god I can touch, who I can talk with, who I can reason with.  I don’t want ‘vapors and mists’, I want a real-life relatable being.”


I hope someone had the chance to share with him, that Christ, God, came to earth once upon a time, to come out of the vapor and mist so to speak, to say, “I am God, in the flesh.  I’ve come to tell you, I love you, and that through me, you can have life to the fullest, even eternal life.” (not to say originally, he was merely vapor and mist)


Love is often understood by explanation, but Love is felt by demonstration.  So Christ came to demonstrate His love for us, by being one of us, so he could show how much He loved us by dying on the cross.

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