“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.” – Isaiah 51:1
The Temple of Jupiter (Zeus) in Rome was the largest and most culturally significant temple during the Roman era. It was built in 509 B.C. and was burned down, destroyed and rebuilt four times. Temples were culturally significant and during times of social upheaval they became frequent targets during wars, invasions and conquests. To prevent destruction and to retain cultural significance engineers intentionally chose megalithic stones as foundations so that the memory and original dedication of the temples could survive into perpetuity.
By the 1st century A.D. the Roman Empire encompassed all of Western Europe, North Africa, Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria, which is essentially all of the coastal lands in the Mediterranean. At the eastern edge of the Roman Empire in Baalbek, Lebanon, the largest Temple dedicated to the Roman god Jupiter (Zeus) was constructed in 60 A.D. Importantly it contained 3 famous foundation stones known collectively as the Trilithon stones, each weighing approximately 800 tons (1.6 million pounds). Although the Roman Empire has fallen, the foundation and Trilithon stones still sit perfectly in place from the time in which they were laid nearly 2,000 years later.
King Solomons temple constructed in 957 B.C. also known as the Dome of the Rock, or the Temple of Jerusalem possesses the most famous foundation stone, the Foundation Stone, which is seated on the floor of the Temple of Jerusalem and below contains a water well known as the Well of Souls. The original temple was completely destroyed in 586 B.C. was reconstructed in 515 B.C. and still includes the original foundation stone.
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana
On Thursday November 19th, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln gave one of the most important speeches in American history just 4 months after the Union Army defeated the Confederates, reuniting a broken nation in just 271 words. He starts off the Gettysburg Address by calling back to the nations foundation.
“Four score and 7 years ago…” (referring to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776). “Our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
There is irony in these words amidst the backdrop of the Civil War that Abraham Lincoln wisely acknowledges the shortcomings of the nation to create a perfect and idealized nation state where all men were truly equal. However, like the great temples of history burned to ground with only their great foundation stones left to bare, by 1863, Abraham Lincoln had to call forth from the past to put into perspective the nations imperfections, pain, and envision a new future on which the nation could build an even better temple.
“It is for us the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
In 2001 Space Odyssey, the movie ends with the main character traveling beyond the reaches of Saturn where he experiences what can only be easily described as a cosmic psychedelic trip where his consciousness is pulled between two planes as he travels through spacetime, seeing his own death and ultimately rebirth as universal consciousness looking down upon earth from above. This scene is overlaid with the famous Johan Strauss 1896 composition Sprach Zarathustra, which creates a powerful and moving experience of the upward ascension of human consciousness. Despite the darkness and fear of the moment of transition, the moment is resolved with a final presentation of a grande and timeless hope in human progress.
“I realized up there that our planet is not infinite. It’s fragile. That may not be obvious to a lot of folks, and it’s tough that people are fighting each other here on earth instead of trying to get together and live on this planet. We look pretty vulnerable in the darkness of space.”
– Alan Shepard, Apollo 14 Astronaut
“The biggest joy was on the way home. in my cockpit window every two minutes — the Earth, the Moon, the Sun, and a whole 360-degree panorama of the heavens. And that was a powerful, overwhelming experience. And suddenly I realized that the molecules of my body, and the molecules of the spacecraft, the molecules in the body of my partners, were prototyped and manufactured in some ancient generation of stars. And that was an overwhelming sense of oneness, of connectedness. It wasn’t them and us, it was — that’s me, that’s all of it, it’s one thing. And it was accompanied by an ecstasy, a sense of ‘oh my god, wow, yes,’ an insight, an epiphany.”
– Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.”
“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
-David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas