Enactment (psychology)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In relational psychoanalysis, the term enactment is used to describe the non-reflecting playing out of a mental scenario, rather than verbally describing the associated thoughts and feelings.

The term enactment was first introduced by Theodore Jacobs (1986) to describe the re-actualization of unsymbolized and unconscious emotional experiences involved in the relationship between the patient and the therapist.[1] More precisely, Jacobs refers to the countertransference enactment, thus highlighting the implications of the personality characteristics, affective frame, representations and analyst’s conflicts for the patient and the interactional behaviour.

In relational psychoanalysis, the concept of enactment is usually used to explain the re–experience of a role assumed during childhood, which is recited on the stage of the analyst‘s consulting room: the analyst is given a specific role to play; both the patient and the analyst lose in this context their sense of distance, interacting with each other verbally and non–verbally, leading to intra-psychic dynamics in the form of interactions within the therapeutic setting. According to relational theorists, though enactments are unconscious patterns of dyadic interactions to which both the analyst and the patient contribute, they are generally considered to be initiated by the latter. In the perspective of relational psychoanalysis, the central aspect of therapeutic change is given by the liberation of the patient and the analyst from the repetitive unconscious patterns due to the reflective awareness’ acquisition of the relational interchange and the contribution of both parties.

Traumatized patients tend to bond with their therapists not so much through words as through enactments, expressing unconsciously—by the action—the dissociated aspects of the self and the object representation.[2]

More at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enactment_(psychology)

COVID-19 recovery rate is between 97% and 99.75%

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on April 09, 2020 (webmd.com)


About 8 in 10 people who get COVID-19, the disease caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, will have only mild illness. But what exactly does that mean?

Mild COVID-19 cases still can make you feel lousy. But you should be able to rest at home and recover fully without a trip to the hospital. Here’s what to expect and how to take care of yourself.

Coronavirus Recovery Rates

Scientists and researchers are constantly tracking infections and recoveries. But they have data only on confirmed cases, so they can’t count people who don’t get COVID-19 tests. Experts also don’t have information about the outcome of every infection. However, early estimates predict that the overall COVID-19 recovery rate is between 97% and 99.75%.

How You Might Feel While Recovering

Not everyone who catches SARS-CoV-2 will notice symptoms. If you do get them, they may show up 2 to 14 days after your infection. And those symptoms can vary from one person to the next.

The most common sign is a fever, which for most adults is 100.4 F or higher. Nearly 9 in 10 people who test positive for the disease have a high temperature. It’s a sign that your body is trying to fight off an invader.CONTINUE READING BELOW

About 70% of people who become ill have a dry cough. That’s the kind that doesn’t bring up any mucus or phlegm. But about a third have a cough with mucus.

You also might feel very tired. Less commonly, your throat may be sore and your head might ache. Your muscles and joints could hurt, and you might get chillsnausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Some people who had COVID-19 said they had trouble taking deep breaths and felt like they had a tight band wrapped around their chest. Others have likened the illness to a bad cold. Still others said it was the sickest they’ve ever felt.

Loss of smell and taste have been reported in some cases. But researchers aren’t yet sure about the link to COVID-19.

You might feel short of breath, as if you’d just run to grab a ringing phone. If so, call your doctor to ask about what you should do.

What’s the Recovery Time for Coronavirus?

It may take 2 weeks for your body to get over the illness. That’s the average recovery time for mild cases, according to the World Health Organization. For those with severe or critical cases, recovery can take up to 6 weeks.

CDC guidelines say that if you’ve been sick, you should isolate yourself at home until all of these things are true:

  • You haven’t had a fever for 72 hours (3 days) without using a fever-reducing medicine
  • Your symptoms are better, though they might not be totally gone
  • It’s been at least 7 days since your symptoms started OR you’ve had two negative COVID-19 tests 24 hours apart

Recovery After Severe Illness With COVID-19

About 14% of people who have the new coronavirus need to stay in the hospital to get help breathing. This might last 2 weeks or more.

Some people who have severe COVID-19 get a complication called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which can damage your lungs and make it very hard to breathe.

If you’re severely ill, you might need treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU). Many patients who spend time in the ICU lose weight and strength. You may also have memory problems afterward.

Your medical team will work with you to treat or manage these symptoms, including exercises to boost your strength.

Recovery Outlook

Scientists are still looking at how a person’s immune system responds to COVID-19 and whether you can catch the virus again after you recover. One early study on monkeys found that they didn’t get infected a second time. But you might have the virus in your body for weeks, so it’s a good idea to keep following official advice on washing your hands, keeping surfaces clean, and staying home when possible.

How to Feel Better

There’s no treatment for COVID-19. Some of the things you can do to speed your healing are similar to how you might take care of the flu or a bad cold.

Eat healthy foods. If you feel like eating, fuel your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to get better. Limit sugary or highly processed foods like cookies and sodas. If you don’t have an appetite, you don’t need to try to force food down.

Drinks lots of fluids. Do this even if you don’t feel like eating. Water is always a good pick.

Lower your fever. Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen if you have a temperature or body aches. Be careful not to take more than a total of 3,000 milligrams every 24 hours. That includes acetaminophen alone as well as in medications like cold and flu pills and syrups.

Rest. Know that you’ll probably feel better eventually. If your symptoms do get worse, call your doctor.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ataraxia (ἀταραξία, alpha privative negation of tarachê — disturbance, trouble;[1] hence, “unperturbedness”, generally translated as “imperturbability”, “equanimity”, or “tranquility”) is a Greek term first used in Ancient Greek philosophy by Pyrrho and subsequently Epicurus and the Stoics for a lucid state of robust equanimity characterized by ongoing freedom from distress and worry. In non-philosophical usage, the term was used to describe the ideal mental state for soldiers entering battle.

Achieving ataraxia is a common goal for PyrrhonismEpicureanism, and Stoicism, but the role and value of ataraxia within each philosophy varies in accordance with their philosophical theories. The mental disturbances that prevent one from achieving ataraxia vary among the philosophies, and each philosophy has a different understanding as to how to achieve ataraxia.


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Ataraxia is the central aim of Pyrrhonist practice. Pyrrhonists view ataraxia as necessary for bringing about eudaimonia (happiness) for a person,[2] representing life’s ultimate purpose.[3] The Pyrrhonist method for achieving ataraxia is through achieving epoché (i.e., suspension of judgment) regarding all matters of dogma (i.e., non-evident belief). The Pyrrhonist philosopher Sextus Empiricus summarized Pyrrhonism as “a disposition to oppose phenomena and noumena to one another in any way whatever, with the result that, owing to the equipollence among the things and statements thus opposed, we are brought first to epoché and then to ataraxia… Epoché is a state of the intellect on account of which we neither deny nor affirm anything. Ataraxia is an untroubled and tranquil condition of the soul.”[4]

Sextus gave this detailed account of ataraxia:

We always say that as regards belief (i.e., dogma) the Pyrrhonist’s goal is ataraxia, and that as regards things that are unavoidable it is having moderate pathè. For when the Pyrrhonist set out to philosophize with the aim of assessing his phantasiai – that is, of determining which are true and which are false so as to achieve ataraxia – he landed in a controversy between positions of equal strength, and, being unable to resolve it, he suspended judgment. But while he was thus suspending judgment there followed by chance the sought-after ataraxia as regards belief. For the person who believes that something is by nature good or bad is constantly upset; when he does not possess the things that seem to be good, he thinks he is being tormented by things that are by nature bad, and he chases after the things he supposes to be good; then, when he gets these, he fails into still more torments because of irrational and immoderate exultation, and, fearing any change, he does absolutely everything in order not to lose the things that seem to him good. But the person who takes no position as to what is by nature good or bad neither avoids nor pursues intensely. As a result, he achieves ataraxia. Indeed, what happened to the Pyrrhonist is just like what is told of Apelles the painter. For it is said that once upon a time, when he was painting a horse and wished to depict the horse’s froth, he failed so completely that he gave up and threw his sponge at the picture – the sponge on which he used to wipe the paints from his brush – and that in striking the picture the sponge produced the desired effect. So, too, the Pyrrhonists were hoping to achieve ataraxia by resolving the anomaly of phenomena and noumena, and, being unable to do this, they suspended judgment. But then, by chance as it were, when they were suspending judgment the ataraxia followed, as a shadow follows the body. We do not suppose, of course, that the Pyrrhonist is wholly untroubled, but we do say that he is troubled only by things unavoidable. For we agree that sometimes he is cold and thirsty and has various feelings like those. But even in such cases, whereas ordinary people are affected by two circumstances – namely by the pathé themselves and not less by its seeming that these conditions are by nature bad – the Pyrrhonist, by eliminating the additional belief that all these things are naturally bad, gets off more moderately here as well. Because of this we say that as regards belief the Pyrrhonist’s goal is ataraxia, but in regard to things unavoidable it is having moderate pathé.[5]


Ataraxia is a key component of the Epicurean conception of the highest good.[6] Epicureans value ataraxia highly because of how they understand pleasure. Epicureans argue that pleasure is the highest good. They break pleasure down into two categories: the physical and the mental.[6] They consider mental, not physical, pleasures to be greatest sort of pleasure because physical pleasures exist only in the present; whereas mental pleasures exist in the past, the present, and the future.[7]

Epicureans further separate pleasure into what they call kinetic and katastematic pleasures.[8] Kinetic pleasures are those pleasures which come about through action or change.[9] Such an action could be satisfying a desire or removing a pain, as that very sort of act is pleasurable in itself.[10] Actions that feel good, even if not done to satisfy a desire or remove a pain, such as eating good-tasting food, also fall under the category of kinetic pleasures.[8] Mental pleasures could also be kinetic in nature. Epicurus is said to have described joy as an example of a kinetic mental pleasure.[8]

Katastematic pleasure is pleasure which comes about from the absence of pain or distress.[10] This sort of pleasure can be physical or mental. Physical katastematic pleasure comes in freedom from physical disturbances, such as simply being in the state of not being thirsty.[9] Comparatively, mental katastematic pleasure comes in freedom from mental disturbance.[8] Those who achieved freedom from physical disturbance were said to be in a state of aponia, while those who achieved freedom from mental disturbances were said to be in a state of ataraxia.[8]

Katastematic pleasures were regarded to be better than kinetic pleasures by Epicurus, believing that one could feel no more pleasure than the removal of all pain.[11] Indeed, he is reported to have said:

The magnitude of pleasure reaches its limit in the removal of all pain. When pleasure is present, so long as it is uninterrupted, there is no pain either of body or of mind or of both together.[12]

Being both a mental and katastematic pleasure, ataraxia has a supreme importance in Epicurean ethics and is key to a person’s happiness.[11] In the Epicurean view, a person experiences the highest form of happiness should they ever be both in a state of aponia and ataraxia at the time.[11]


Unlike in Pyrrhonism and Epicureanism, in Stoicism ataraxia is not the ultimate goal of life. Instead, a life of virtue according to nature is the goal of life.[13] However, according to the Stoics, living virtuously in accordance with nature would lead to ataraxia as a byproduct.[13]

An important distinction to be made is the difference in Stoicism between ataraxia and the Stoic idea of apatheia. While closely related to ataraxia, the state of apatheia was the absence of unhealthy passions; a state attained by the ideal Stoic sage.[14] This is not the same as ataraxiaApatheia describes freedom from the disturbance of emotions, not tranquility of the mind.[15] However, apatheia is integral for a Stoic sage to reach the stage of ataraxia. Since the Stoic sage does not care about matters outside of himself and is not susceptible to emotion because of his state of apatheia, the Stoic sage would be unable to be disturbed by anything at all, meaning that he was in a stage of mental tranquility and thus was in the state of ataraxia.[15]

More at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ataraxia

Bio: Apollonius of Tyana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Apollonius of Tyana
Apollonius of Tyana depicted on a coin.
Bornc.15 AD
Tyana, Cappadocia, Anatolia (Roman Empire)
Diedc. 100 AD
OccupationOrator, philosopher
Known forLetters, miracle-working, speaking truth to power

Apollonius of Tyana (Ancient Greek: Ἀπολλώνιος ὁ Τυανεύς; c. 15 – c. 100 AD),[1] sometimes also called Apollonios of Tyana, was a Greek Neopythagorean philosopher from the town of Tyana in the Roman province of Cappadocia in Anatolia.

Life dates

Apollonius was born into a respected and wealthy Greek family.[2][3] Although the precise dates of his birth and death are uncertain, most scholars agree that he was a contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth. His primary biographer, Philostratus the Elder (circa 170 – c. 247), places him circa 3 BC – c. 97 AD.[1][4]A wandering philosopher, probably representing Apollonius of Tyana, who lived a part of his life in Crete and died there. Found in Gortyn (late 2nd century AD), now in Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Crete.


The earliest and by far the most detailed source is the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, a lengthy, novelistic biography written by the sophist Philostratus at the request of empress Julia Domna. She died in 217 AD.,[5] and he completed it after her death, probably in the 220s or 230s AD. Philostratus’s account shaped the image of Apollonius for posterity. To some extent it is a valuable source because it contains data from older writings which were available to Philostratus, but disappeared later on. Among these works are an excerpt (preserved by Eusebius) from On Sacrifices, and certain alleged letters of Apollonius. The sage may have actually written some of these works, along with the no-longer extant Biography of Pythagoras.[6] At least two biographical sources that Philostratus used are lost: a book by the imperial secretary Maximus describing Apollonius’s activities in Maximus’s home city of Aegaeae in Aeolis, and a biography by a certain Moiragenes. There also survives, separately from the life by Philostratus, a collection of letters of Apollonius, but at least some of these seem to be spurious.[7]

One of the essential sources Philostratus claimed to know are the “memoirs” (or “diary”) of Damis, an acolyte and companion of Apollonius. Some scholars claim that the notebooks of Damis were an invention of Philostratus,[8] while others think it could have been a real book forged by someone else and naively used by Philostratus.[9] Philostratus describes Apollonius as a wandering teacher of philosophy and miracle-worker who was mainly active in Greece and Asia Minor but also traveled to ItalySpain, and North Africa, and even to MesopotamiaIndia, and Ethiopia. In particular, he tells lengthy stories of Apollonius entering the city of Rome in disregard of emperor Nero’s ban on philosophers, and later on being summoned, as a defendant, to the court of Domitian, where he defied the emperor in blunt terms. He had allegedly been accused of conspiring against the emperor, performing human sacrifice, and predicting a plague by means of magic. Philostratus implies that upon his death, Apollonius of Tyana underwent heavenly assumption.[10]

How much of this can be accepted as historical truth depends largely on the extent to which modern scholars trust Philostratus, and in particular on whether they believe in the reality of Damis. Some of these scholars contend that Apollonius never came to Western Europe and was virtually unknown there until the 3rd century AD, when Empress Julia Domna, who was herself from the province of Syria, decided to popularize him and his teachings in Rome.[11] For that purpose, so these same scholars believe, she commissioned Philostratus to write the biography, in which Apollonius is exalted as a fearless sage with supernatural powers, even greater than Pythagoras. This view of Julia Domna’s role in the making of the Apollonius legend gets some support from the fact that her son Caracalla worshipped him,[12] and her grandnephew emperor Severus Alexander may have done so as well.[13]

Apollonius was also a known figure in the Islamic world.[14]


Historical facts

With the exception of the Adana Inscription from 3rd or 4th century CE,[15] little can be derived from sources other than Philostratus.

The Adana Inscription has been translated by C.P. Jones as: ” ‘This man, named after Apollo, and shining forth from Tyana, extinguished the faults of men. The tomb in Tyana (received) his body, but in truth heaven received him so that he might drive out the pains of men (or: drive pains from among men).” It is thought to have been brought from Cilicia, perhaps Aegae (Cilicia). However Miroslav Marcovich translates part of the text as “Sure enough, Apollonius was born in Tyana, but the full truth is that he was a heaven-sent sage and healer, a new Pythagora”[16]

As James Francis put it, “the most that can be said … is that Apollonius appears to have been a wandering ascetic/philosopher/wonderworker of a type common to the eastern part of the early empire.”[17] What we can safely assume is that he was indeed a Pythagorean and as such, in conformity with the Pythagorean tradition, opposed animal sacrifice and lived on a frugal, strictly vegetarian diet.[18] A minimalist view is that he spent his entire life in the cities of his native Asia Minor (Turkey) and of northern Syria, in particular his home town of Tyana, EphesusAegae and Antioch,[19] though the letters suggest wider travels, and there seems no reason to deny that, like many wandering philosophers, he at least visited Rome. As for his philosophical convictions, we have an interesting, probably authentic fragment of one of his writings (On sacrifices), in which he expresses his view that God, who is the most beautiful being, cannot be influenced by prayers or sacrifices and has no wish to be worshipped by humans, but can be reached by a spiritual procedure involving nous (intellect), because he himself is pure nous, and nous is the greatest faculty of humankind.[20]


Philostratus implies on one occasion that Apollonius had extra-sensory perception (Book VIII, Chapter XXVI). When emperor Domitian was murdered on 18 September 96 AD, Apollonius was said to have witnessed the event in Ephesus “about midday” on the day it happened in Rome, and told those present “Take heart, gentlemen, for the tyrant has been slain this day …”. Both Philostratus and renowned historian Cassius Dio report this incident, probably on the basis of an oral tradition.[citation needed] Both state that the philosopher welcomed the deed as a praiseworthy tyrannicide.[21]

Journey to India

Philostratus devoted two and a half of the eight books of his Life of Apollonius (1.19–3.58) to the description of a journey of his hero to India. According to Philostratus’ Life, en route to the Far East, Apollonius reached Hierapolis Bambyce (Manbij) in Syria (not Nineveh, as some scholars believed), where he met Damis, a native of that city who became his lifelong companion. Pythagoras, whom the Neo-Pythagoreans regarded as an exemplary sage, was believed to have travelled to India. Hence such a feat made Apollonius look like a good Pythagorean who spared no pains in his efforts to discover the sources of oriental piety and wisdom. As some details in Philostratus’ account of the Indian adventure seem incompatible with known facts, modern scholars are inclined to dismiss the whole story as a fanciful fabrication, but not all of them rule out the possibility that the Tyanean actually did visit India.[22] Philostratus has him meet Phraotes, the Indo-Parthian king of Taxila, a city located in northern Ancient India in what is now northern Pakistan, around 46 CE. And the description that Philostratus provides of Taxila comports with modern archaeological excavations at the ancient site.[23]

What seemed to be independent evidence showing that Apollonius was known in India has now been proven a forgery. In two Sanskrit texts quoted by Sanskritist Vidhushekhara Bhattacharya in 1943[24] he appears as “Apalūnya”, in one of them together with Damis (called “Damīśa”), it is claimed that Apollonius and Damis were Western yogis, who later on were converted to the correct Advaita philosophy.[25] Some have believed that these Indian sources derived their information from a Sanskrit translation of Philostratus’ work (which would have been a most uncommon and amazing occurrence), or even considered the possibility that it was really an independent confirmation of the historicity of the journey to India.[26] Only in 1995 were the passages in the Sanskrit texts proven to be interpolations by a late 19th-century forger.[27]


Several writings and many letters have been ascribed to Apollonius, but some of them are lost; others have only been preserved in parts or fragments of disputed authenticity. Porphyry and Iamblichus refer to a biography of Pythagoras by Apollonius, which has not survived; it is also mentioned in the Suda.[28] Apollonius wrote a treatise On sacrifices, of which only a short, probably authentic fragment has come down to us.[29]

Philostratus’ Life and the anthology assembled by Joannes Stobaeus contain purported letters of Apollonius. Some of them are cited in full, others only partially. There is also an independently transmitted collection of letters preserved in medieval manuscripts. It is difficult to determine what is authentic and what not. Some of the letters may have been forgeries or literary exercises assembled in collections which were already circulated in the 2nd century AD.[citation needed] It has been asserted that Philostratus himself forged a considerable part of the letters he inserted into his work; others were older forgeries available to him.[30]

Comparisons with Jesus

Biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman relates that in the introduction to his textbook on the New Testament, he describes an important figure from the first century without first revealing he is writing about the stories attached to Apollonius of Tyana:

Even before he was born, it was known that he would be someone special. A supernatural being informed his mother that the child she was to conceive would not be a mere mortal but would be divine. He was born miraculously, and he became an unusually precocious young man. As an adult he left home and went on an itinerant preaching ministry, urging his listeners to live, not for the material things of this world, but for what is spiritual. He gathered a number of disciples around him, who became convinced that his teachings were divinely inspired, in no small part because he himself was divine. He proved it to them by doing many miracles, healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead. But at the end of his life he roused opposition, and his enemies delivered him over to the Roman authorities for judgment. Still, after he left this world, he returned to meet his followers in order to convince them that he was not really dead but lived on in the heavenly realm. Later some of his followers wrote books about him.[31]

Sossianus Hierocles argued in the 3rd century that the doctrines and the life of Apollonius were more valuable than those of Jesus’, a viewpoint reportedly held by both Voltaire and Charles Blount during the Age of Enlightenment.[32] In his 1909 book The ChristJohn Remsburg postulated that the religion of Apollonius disappeared because the proper conditions for its development did not exist. Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam thrived however, because the existing conditions were favorable.[33] In his 1949 book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, comparative mythology scholar Joseph Campbell lists both Apollonius and Jesus as examples of individuals who shared similar hero stories, along with KrishnaBuddha, and others.[34] Similarly, Robert M. Price in his 2011 The Christ-Myth Theory and its Problems, notes that the ancients often compared Jesus with Apollonius and that they both fit the mythic hero archetype.[35] G. K. Chesterton (the writer and Christian apologist), however, noted that the unique trial, suffering and death of Christ stand in stark opposition to the stories about Apollonius which he felt were very likely spurious.[36] While Jesus’ encounter with the provincial Roman authorities in Judea ended fatally, Apollonius was said to have survived unscathed a face-to-face confrontation with Domitian, one of the most harsh of Roman Emperors; therefore, the myth of Apollonius lacked the element of martyrdom, central to that of Jesus.

More at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollonius_of_Tyana

What did Jesus look like?

In the Bible, there’s hints.

Jonathan | sex & theology · Sep 17, 2018 · Medium.com

What did Jesus look like? The New Testament gospels appear to be silent on this question, and if asked, the good Christian answer would be: that we don’t know. Any effort to imagine him would be to sell paintings or stained glass windows . . . or maybe just for fun.

And it doesn’t matter, they’d say . . . but if you had to speculate, then Jesus was probably ugly.

Swole Jesus

There was that prophesy? Isaiah 53:2: “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

To read prophesy for Jesus’ physicality might one as an odd thing to do. But if you do it, then Christians have clearly done it wrong.

The Hebrew word ‘beauty’ in Isaiah 53:2 doesn’t refer to physical appearance.

“This use of hadar is rooted in the ancient concept of a king or of a royal city,” notes Vine’s Expository Dictionary. The reference is to ‘splendor’ or ‘glory’ in reference to office, rank.

The Jewish messiah will not be seen as a political authority, is the idea. As a commoner, Jesus fulfills that.

There are other Old Testament messianic passages, however, that do speak of the messiah’s physicality. There’s Isaiah 33:17 (“Your eyes will see the King in His beauty”), but more to the point, since the surrounding passage is identified as messianic in Hebrews 1:9, there’s Psalm 45:2:

Youthful in beauty you are, beyond the sons of men; grace was poured on your lips; therefore God blessed you forever. Gird your sword on your thigh, O powerful one, in your bloom and beauty . . .

“The king is celebrated as the most beautiful person among human beings,” notes the scholar Hans-Joachim Kraus. “The reference is to his beaming appearance, the extraordinary majestic bearing (Ps. 50:2).”

This may still be an effusion of kingship, a beauty that Zion itself emanates, as in Psalm 50:2. But yaphah is definitely used of human appearance, as in the Song of Songs 7:6, “How beautiful you are” — speaking of the girl.

Or Ezekiel 16:13, “You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen.”

This beauty seems to have feminine reference.

If a Christian is looking to Old Testament prophesy for a physical portrait of Jesus, then that portrait is of a very beautiful, somewhat feminine man.

If you’ve not heard that before, it owes only to an ideological blinder. The text of scripture is very clear.

There are historical suggestions of Jesus’ appearance, but none that, in the end, must clearly trace to people seeing him and describing him.

In the 2nd century, the anti-Christian Celsus says, “Jesus’ body was no different than any other, but, as they say, was little and ugly and undistinguished.”

That was dismissed by Origen, the early Christian writer, as a malicious reading of Isaiah 53:1–3. For him, Psalm 45:2 was the guide. Jesus’ body, he says, “was not only distinguished among human bodies, but was also superior to all others.”

That enemies of Christianity saw Jesus as ugly, and believers saw him as beautiful, is the historical reality we seem to have.

It’s curious that later Christianity tended toward the former?

Physical beauty is theologically important. Throughout the Old Testament, as Athalya Brenner notes in The Intercourse of Knowledge, “physical appearance and physical beauty matter. And so does the lack of beauty.” (p.43)

It does seem strange, then, that New Testament bodies go largely undescribed. Except, we know that in a Christian reading, the Old Testament is understood to suggest the narrative of the gospels.

Clearly in the gospels, Jesus is part Joseph, Moses, David, etc. He might then, as well, a Christian would say, look like them?

And that, too, would Jesus beautiful.

Observe the beauty of Joseph. A description of it, in Genesis 39:6, is nearly word-for-word the same as the beauty of his mother, in 29:17. The translations have her “beautiful” as he’s “handsome.” But the text clearly intends to mirrors them. Joseph is feminine, which must further separate him from his brothers.

Moses was “beautiful before God” since a baby (Exodus 2:2 LXX; Heb. 11:23; Acts 7:20). The beauty of Saul, as well, is noted (1 Sam 9:2), and David is really a sex symbol (1 Sam 17:42; 1 Sam 16:12).

David’s beauty is, importantly, at odds with typical masculine profiles. As he says in Psalm 151, “My brothers were handsome and tall, / but the Lord was not pleased with them.”

That God’s people would be led by a beautiful, somewhat feminine man seems to be the godly ideal. When David’s son Absolom ends up being extremely beautiful (cf. 2 Sam 14:25) this seems to be understood as a sign of his spiritual importance.

Note as well the man in the Song of Songs (1:15, 4:7). The ‘Bridegroom’ figure in the Jewish worldview is a man who is physically beautiful.

The prophet Daniel and his friends are ‘good-looking’ (Daniel 1:4, 10), which seems to provide the basis of their status in the pagan court. As again with Esther (2:7), the physical beauty of God’s chosen figures is a powerful force that changes the world around them.

The Jewish hero is sexy.

That Jewish heroes are never masculine might seem a controversial point. Didn’t Moses look and act like the brawny actors we’ve seen in movies?

Not at all. Moses may be the most feminine, and strange, of them all. As Rhiannon Graybill notes: “From birth onward, Moses’ body is perceived by onlookers as different, special, frightening, other.”

The great prophet asks, in Exodus 3:11, if he’s fit to “bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt.” This is the language of birthing.

He says in Numbers 11:12: “Did I conceive this entire people? Did I give birth to them . . .” Moses is, really, the mother of his people.

If God is manifesting as a male in the form of Jesus, then we’d expect him to be, likewise, a feminine male? This seems indicated as well in Genesis 1:27: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

If humans are male and female, and made in God’s image, then God’s is . . . male and female.

And isn’t that how the Christian culture, despite itself, likes to think of him?—despite itself.

Recall the Head of Christ by Warner Sallman, which for the latter 20th century was the classic depiction of the savior, for Protestants at least.

The painting’s official story, as recounted in Jack R. Lundbom’s Master Painter: Warner E. Sallman, begins in 1914 when the ‘master’ is a young man being challenged to paint a portrait of Christ who is “forceful and masculine, rather than weak and effeminate, as was often the case.”

The image Sallman did, decades later, was of a vaguely Italian guy with rather amazing hair, posing and lit like a Hollywood star.

As wasn’t overlooked at the time.

“In Sallman’s Head of Christ we have a pretty picture of a woman with a curling beard who has just come from the beauty parlor with a Halo Shampoo, but we do not have the Lord who died and rose again!” seethes a contemporary critic.

“The most famous picture of Jesus makes him look weak and effeminate,” fumes another. “You present this famous picture of Jesus on some of our mission fields and the people say, ‘Your God looks weak.’”

But Sallman’s Jesus became the clear inspiration for the male “hippie” look the Baby Boomers favored, which dramatically blurred gender barriers. The male now seemed seemed increasingly colorful, slightly feminine, but dangerous, and free.

Stanislaw Zagorski, “The Jesus Revolution” Time magazine, 1971.

The eroticism of Jesus is certainly an important concern. The idea in the scriptures is that he is a husband, and the believing community is a woman who marries him. ‘She’ is the ‘Bride’.

To find one’s husband attractive wouldn’t seem to be out of place?

Images from 3rd century Roman catacombs might be the earliest surviving effort to imagine Jesus’ usual appearance. They didn’t know either? But he was, for them, not exactly ugly.

In fact they seem to think of him as either nice looking, and at times, a bit girlish.

Which, in the Bible, is very beautiful.

Also check out: Who says the Bible is against pornography?


Jonathan | sex & theology

The teaching is: “Love one another.”

July 2020 forecast – Back to normal?

July 2, 2020 (astrobutterfly.com)

I have good news and good news. July will finally give us some much-deserved cosmic relief.

This is the 1st month of the year that does not feature apocalyptic Saturn-Pluto conjunctions, Capricorn stelliums, eclipses, or Venus and Mercury retrograde at the same time.

Sometimes, no more “bad news” is all we need. And July should not disappoint.

Yes, we have an eclipse on July 5th, yes, Mercury is still retrograde for the first part of the month, but as we move into mid-July, the skies clear up. No more eclipses. No more Venus and Mercury retrograde. And even the Jupiter-Pluto conjunction subsides (we will have a third ‘hit’ in November, but until then, let’s get on with life).

July 1st, 2020 – Saturn In Capricorn

On July 1st, Saturn moves back into Capricorn to take care of some unfinished business.

Saturn in the same sign with Pluto is not the best news of the month, however, Saturn will not conjunct any planet (except for the Moon) while in Capricorn, so there are no more new “Saturn conjunct Pluto” developments, but rather tying up loose ends.

July 5th, 2020 – Lunar Eclipse In Capricorn

On July 5th, 2020 we have a Lunar Eclipse at 13° Capricorn. This is a South Node Eclipse so it is connected to our past.

The Eclipse is opposite Mercury retrograde and trine Uranus. All these aspects are separating. It’s like the Moon has “had enough” and it is now ready to move on.

Sometimes letting go of the past is difficult, but this is NOT one of those occasions. This is the very last eclipse in the Cancer/Capricorn axis. We are now truly ready to let go of what has become so obviously outmoded and out of date. Time to move on to greener pastures!

July 11th, 2020 – Chiron Goes Retrograde

On July 11th, 2020 Chiron stations retrograde at 9° Aries. Chiron is a symbol for healing.

When Chiron is direct, we try to find healing on the outside. We go to the doctor, to the shaman, to the spiritual teacher, to the therapist. We find teachers and mentors.

When Chiron is retrograde, we look for healing inside – we become our own medicine.

July 12th, 2020 – Mercury Goes Direct

Some good news! On July 12th, 2020 Mercury finally goes direct at 5° Cancer, and life goes back to normal.

Although we still have 5 retrograde planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Pluto and Chiron), keep in mind that when slow-moving planets are retrograde, that’s more or less business as usual.

Slow-moving planets are retrograde 40-45% of the time, that’s why they are not so disruptive. However, Mercury, Venus, or Mars retrograde ARE disruptive.

Last month we had both Venus and Mercury retrograde. June has been a very challenging month. July looks much better. Thank you, Mercury!

July 20th, 2020 – New Moon In Cancer

On July 20th, 2020 we have the 2nd New Moon in Cancer of the year, and the first “uneclipsed” New Moon in Cancer since 2017.

Life slowly comes back to normal, at least in the area of your life ruled by Cancer. This is not an easy New Moon because it is opposite Saturn. However, with Saturn, we know where we stand. We know that if we play by the rules, we’re fine.

And sometimes… especially in disruptive, unprecedented times, better the devil you know (Saturn) than the devil you don’t (North Node).

July 22nd, 2020 – Sun In Leo

On July 22nd, the Sun enters Leo, its favorite sign. No matter what your Sun sign is, this is the best time of the year to embody Sun’s qualities.

There’s no coincidence that in the Leo season everyone goes on holiday. The Sun is in Leo, that’s why. Similarly, we get more studious and responsible in September, when we are in the Virgo season. More interested in relationships in October (Libra season). And so on.

There’s another reason why Sun in Leo is such a great transit. We’ve been fire-deprived for a while now. All slow-moving planets are in Earth or Water signs.

When there is a Fire imbalance we feel that we’ve lost our compass. The Leo Fire is the Fire of Spirit, what makes us feel alive. No fire, no drive, no motivation to get things going.

The Sun in Leo will be in a sign-based trine to Mars in Aries and sign-based sextile to Venus in Gemini. The last week of July will be especially social, so you want to get yourself out there.

July 27th, 2020 – Jupiter Sextile Neptune

On July 27th Jupiter is sextile Neptune. This is a beautiful aspect between the two “spiritualists” of the zodiac, Jupiter (religion and spirituality in a social sense, e.g. going to church or to yoga classes) and Neptune (spirituality in a transcendental sense, being one with the Source, art, unconditional love).

It is time to find a higher meaning to what has been going on. Because there IS a higher meaning. Always.

–Astro Butterfly

Racism Is Killing the Planet

The ideology of white supremacy leads the way toward disposable people and a disposable natural world


BY HOP HOPKINS | JUN 8 2020 (sierraclub.org)

Last week, my family and I attended an interfaith rally in Los Angeles in defense of Black life. We performed a group ritual in which we made noise for nine minutes to mark the last moments of George Floyd’s life. My wife, my oldest daughter, and I played African drums to mark those nine minutes with the rhythm of a beating heart. Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, over and over again. 

While we drummed, I realized how difficult it is to keep up any physical activity for nine minutes straight. Most of us can’t even sit completely still on our butts for nine minutes; if you’ve ever meditated, you understand why they refer to sitting as practice

As I struggled to maintain my posture and keep up the rhythm, I thought about the level of commitment it takes to hold someone down for nine minutes straight. The realization horrified me. The cop who has been charged with murdering George Floyd had to have been deeply committed to taking his life. The police officer had so many chances to let up the pressure, to let George live. Yet the officer made the choice not to. 

To spend nine minutes taking the life-breath from another person: That is what white supremacy does to white people. That is what white supremacy does to the rest of us too. White supremacy robs each of us of our humanity. It causes white people to view Black people as less than human. Every one of those cops watching George die was convinced that the man pinned to the ground was less than human, was in some way disposable. 

Otherwise, how could they hold him down for nine whole minutes? How could they bring themselves to do it? You can’t have climate change without sacrifice zones, and you can’t have sacrifice zones without disposable people, and you can’t have disposable people without racism.

During the street protests and marches of the past two weeks, many people carried signs that read “Racism Is Killing Us.” It’s no exaggeration to say that racism and white supremacy harm all of us, because in addition to robbing us of our humanity, racism is also killing the planet we all share.

An idea—a long-overdue realization—is growing in the environmental movement. It goes something like this: “We’ll never stop climate change without ending white supremacy.” This argument has entered the outdoor recreation and conservation space thanks to the leadership of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color in the climate justice movement. The idea has taken on new force as folks in the mainstream environmental movement do our best to show up for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and all the Black people still living and subject to police violence.

I know that a lot of people are struggling with the thought that addressing the environmental crises must involve dismantling white supremacy. At Sierra Club meetings, some people hear me say something like that and think, “Damn, fighting climate change wasn’t hard enough already? Now we have to end racism and white supremacy too? Seriously, man?”

I get that feeling of being overwhelmed. It’s a lot to carry. It’s a lot to hold. We all have enough to do without feeling like we’re taking on even more.

But I want to share another lens from which we can view this moment. I really believe in my heart of hearts—after a lifetime of thinking and talking about these issues—that we will never survive the climate crisis without ending white supremacy. 

Here’s why: You can’t have climate change without sacrifice zones, and you can’t have sacrifice zones without disposable people, and you can’t have disposable people without racism. 

We’re in this global environmental mess because we have declared parts of our planet to be disposable. The watersheds where we frack the earth to extract gas are considered disposable. The neighborhoods near where I live in Los Angeles, surrounded by urban oilfields, are considered disposable. The very atmosphere is considered disposable. When we pollute the hell out of a place, that’s a way of saying that the place—and the people and all the other life that calls that place home—are of no value. 

In order to treat places and resources as disposable, the people who live there have to get treated like rubbish too. Sacrifice zones imply sacrificed people. Just think of Cancer Alley in Louisiana. Most of the towns there are majority Black, and nowadays they call it Death Alley, because so many Black folks have died from the poison that drives our extractive economy. Or think of the situation in the Navajo Nation, where uranium mines poisoned the wells and the groundwater and coal plants for decades poisoned the air. Or consider the South Side of Chicago, where I used to live, which for years was a dumping ground of petroleum coke (a fossil fuel byproduct) and where residents are still struggling against pollution-related diseases. I’ve lived in a lot of places, and just about every place I’ve ever lived has been targeted by big polluters as a dumping ground.

Devaluing Black and Indigenous people’s lives to build wealth for white communities isn’t new. White settlers began that project in the 15th century, when they arrived in North America. Most Native peoples of North America lived in regenerative relationships with the land; they were careful to take no more than the land could sustain. The settlers had another ethic: They sought to dominate and control. They cleared the old-growth forests and plowed the prairies to make room for their wheat and their beef. They nearly drove the bison to extinction in a calculated scorched-earth tactic that was part of a larger ethnic-cleansing agenda. As the Potawatomi author and scientist Robin Wall Kimmerer put it in a recent essay, “the Indigenous idea of land as a commonly held gift [was replaced] with the notion of private property, while the battle between land as sacred home and land as capital stained the ground red.”

How could the white settlers bring themselves to do it?

They did it by telling a certain story about Native peoples, a story that said Native peoples were less “civilized” than white settlers and therefore deserved to be terrorized and pushed from their lands. This Doctrine of Discovery was a religious belief for many European settlers. The doctrine said that any land “discovered” by Christians was theirs because of the inherent inferiority of non-Christian peoples. Eventually, this pernicious idea made its way into US law. In 1823, the US Supreme Court, in the case of Johnson v. M’Intosh, ruled that “the principle of discovery gave European nations an absolute right to New World lands.” 

It’s no secret that our country was built on a foundation of enslavement of Black people, the theft of Native land, and near genocide of Indigenous people. US institutions, from our government to Ivy League colleges, were built on a foundation of stolen labor and stolen bodies. The compound interest on the profits from that enslavement became the basis of intergenerational wealth for white communities—the intergenerational wealth that perpetuates race-based economic inequality to this day.

But the past isn’t past. Structural racism continues 150 years after the abolition of slavery, only in new forms. As Michelle Alexander wrote in her best-selling book, The New Jim Crow, white supremacy has evolved over generations. After slavery came the debt-servitude of sharecropping. After the Jim Crow era was brought down by the civil rights movement, the prison industrial complex and the war on drugs (read: the war on Black people) rose in its place.When a kid in East Oakland gets asthma from car pollution because her neighborhood is surrounded by freeways, that is white supremacy.

How does this all connect to today’s environmental crises? It’s all part of the same story of dehumanization. The pollution-spewing global mega-corporations that created Cancer Alley are just the latest evolution of the extractive white-settler mindset that cleared the forests and plowed the prairies. And just as the settlers had to believe and tell stories to dehumanize the people they killed, plundered, and terrorized, today’s systems of extraction can only work by dehumanizing people. Back then we had the Doctrine of Discovery, and today it’s the doctrine of neoliberalism that say it’s OK to value some lives more than others, that it’s OK for some people to have clean air while others struggle to breathe.

The crimes may be hiding in plain sight, but many white people are socialized to ignore how these systems of violence and inequality show up in our society. When it comes to racism, many white people are like fish swimming in water: White supremacy is so pervasive that it’s hard to even know that it’s there.

The richest people need for white supremacy to remain invisible so they can continue to plunder our planet. They need those sacrifice zones, and the racism that justifies them, or they’ll have nowhere to put their trash and pollution. In this way, white supremacy serves to divide white working people from Black working people. Today’s one-percenters are able to sacrifice whole communities using more or less the same methods the settlers used: By dividing people into racial categories and directing the worst of their abuse at the people at the bottom of a manufactured racial hierarchy. There’s a term for this: It’s called punching down.

This punching down usually comes in the form of blame. Media and popular culture often broadcast a twisted version of Black life and make it seem like communities of color have caused their own problems. Many people (at least half of Republicans, according to one poll) believe that poor people are poor because they are “lazy.” From there, it’s not much of a jump to believe that “some people” deserve to live next to a coal plant, that they deserve to die of cancer, that their children deserve to live with asthma.

Working-class whites are told a story that such a thing could never happen to them. Since the founding of this country, elites have conspired to divide poor and working people by race. Just think about Bacon’s Rebellion, when a wealthy white land-taker led a multiracial group of indentured servants and enslaved people on a mission of violence against local tribes. Afterward, frightened by the cross-racial uprising that had destroyed the state capitol, Virginia leaders began to offer more rights and privileges to white indentured servants to keep them from allying with enslaved African people and rising up against their rulers. They offered slightly better conditions to the white people they exploited, to keep them from seeing what they had in common with enslaved Africans and Indigenous peoples.

That same racist bargain—“You might be poor, but at least you’re not Black”—is alive and well in America today.

Now polluters tell low-income white families, “Only someone who doesn’t deserve anything better for themselves and their family would choose to live in such a polluted place as Cancer Alley.” If they just pull themselves up by their bootstraps, the story goes, white people can work themselves out of the poverty and environmental injustice they experience alongside Black people. Because, after all, at least they’re not Black.

In the Trump era, messages that blame Black folks for our own persecution come even from the White House. The Trump administration tries to explain away the fact that Black communities are dying at elevated rates from COVID-19 by pointing to preexisting health conditions, yet ignores that those health conditions are the result of generations of racism. The administration ignores the fact that the facilities that cause asthma are located in Black neighborhoods. It ignores the fact that living in a society that treats Black people as less than human causes stress on the heart, literally and metaphorically. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “Being a person of color in America is bad for your health.” Put another way, Black folks’ only preexisting condition is being Black.

I’m still left wondering, how can they bring themselves to do it?I think the answer has to do with the stories a lot of white people tell themselves. Stories that often boil down to a notion that Black people are always guilty and the cops (or the corporation) are always right. Stories that take the form of “he shouldn’t have resisted arrest.”

If all of this seems too neat a narrative, I’d ask if you remember Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath of the storm, Black people who were just out looking for essential supplies were described by the news media as “looting” a grocery store. White people who were doing the same thing were described as “finding” bread and water. I’d ask if you remember Eric Garner and Dylan Roof. Eric Garner was choked to death by police for selling “loosies,” or single cigarettes. Dylan Roof murdered nine Black people during a Bible study group at their church; after being arrested, the police bought him a meal at a Burger King on the way to the police station.

Are you with me?

By dividing us up into racial categories and economic classes, the one-percenters keep us from seeing that 99 percent of us share the same problems. By focusing their extraction and pollution on Black communities and working-class families, big polluters have bought the silence and collusion of white Americans.

But let’s be real: White privilege offers no escape from climate chaos. Nobody reading this is going to get a spot on the SpaceX shuttle to Mars (if you think so, that’s white supremacy messing with your head). Earth is the only planet we get. And, thanks to polluters who profit from exploiting Black and brown communities, we’re in the process of making it uninhabitable.Just as the settlers had to believe and tell stories to dehumanize the people they killed, plundered, and terrorized, today’s systems of extraction can only work by dehumanizing people.

When Amy Cooper, a white woman, has an encounter with a Black man birdwatching in Central Park and calls the police—that is white supremacy. She weaponized the police and used them to racially terrorize someone. She knew what she was doing. She knew her threat had power because her target, Christian Cooper, understood the historical relationship between the police and Black people. 

When a petroleum pipeline corporation calls in the police to bash Indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock, that too is white supremacy. It’s like the Amy Cooper–Christian Cooper incident but on a systemic scale in which a fossil fuel company weaponizes the police to racially terrorize Indigenous peoples. 

When a kid in East Oakland gets asthma from car pollution because her neighborhood is surrounded by freeways, that is white supremacy. 

When the Dakota Access Pipeline is built through Native land because the neighboring white communities fought to keep it out of theirs, that is white supremacy. 

When the United States pours carbon pollution into the air, knowing that people in countries that have contributed much less to the climate crisis will face the worst of the consequences, that is white supremacy. 

When big polluters try to buy our democracy so they can keep making money by devaluing the lives of people of color, that is white supremacy. 

When you come to see and understand these intersections between white supremacy and environmental destruction, you’ll find yourself at a crossroads. That crossroads will force you to decide which side you’re on. 

You can choose—we as a society can choose—to live a different way. Indeed, we must. If our society valued all people’s lives equally, there wouldn’t be any sacrifice zones to put the pollution in. If every place was sacred, there wouldn’t be a Cancer Alley. We would find other ways to advance science and create shared wealth without poisoning anyone. We would find a way to share equally both the benefits and the burdens of prosperity. 

If we valued everyone’s lives equally, if we placed the public health and well-being of the many above the profits of a few, there wouldn’t be a climate crisis. There would be nowhere to put a coal plant, because no one would accept the risks of living near such a monster if they had the power to choose. 

Critics of the Black demand for justice and equality like to respond by saying “all lives matter.” It’s true; they do. In fact, that’s the very point of the chants and banners and signs in the streets. After centuries of oppression, the insistence on Black dignity is a cry for universal human rights. If Black lives mattered, then all lives would matter. 

I know that what I’ve laid out here is a lot of dots to connect. I can imagine you thinking, “OK, so how do we end white supremacy then?” 

I wish I had all the answers, but I don’t. The answer is for all of us to figure out together.

All I know is that if climate change and environmental injustice are the result of a society that values some lives and not others, then none of us are safe from pollution until all of us are safe from pollution. Dirty air doesn’t stop at the county line, and carbon pollution doesn’t respect national borders. As long as we keep letting the polluters sacrifice Black and brown communities, we can’t protect our shared global climate.

I also know that as long as police can take Black lives, then none of us are truly safe. I keep coming back to the murder of George Floyd, the nine minutes a cop took to bring the drumbeat of George’s heart to a standstill. I keep asking again and again, How could they bring themselves to do it?

And now I ask you, What will you bring yourself to do?

God Sends Sympathy Card After Killing Man’s Wife

God Almighty

June 30, 2020 (theonion.com)

THE HEAVENS—In a kind gesture intended to address the man’s profound grief after his loss, God, Our Heavenly Father, reportedly sent a sympathy card Tuesday to 56-year-old Arizona resident Greg Harris after killing his wife. “Reaching out in this time of mourning to express My deepest condolences for you and everything I’ve taken from you,” wrote the Lord Almighty in a heartfelt note signed by several archangels that arrived at Harris’ home the evening after his wife lost a lengthy and painful battle with stage four nodular lymphoma. “After all that you have been through last year with Me taking your parents, I’m sure what you’re experiencing feels unbearable. But know that everything you and your remaining family has suffered is part of My divine plan. Thinking of you in this difficult time.” Sources confirmed that God went on to append a postscript assuring Harris that his wife was in a far better place with Him.

Putin declared triumphant in referendum allowing him to rule until 2036 – five hours before polls close

Opposition groups cast doubt on projection of overwhelming support for amendments that would allow Putin to stay in power past 2024 

Oiled by the Kremlin’s election machine, the result of Vladimir Putin’s vote on constitutional reform – one that would allow him to rule until 2036 – was never in doubt.

But the decision by Russia’s election commission to publish “preliminary” live results five hours before polling closed was a novelty that shocked even the most cynical of observers.

The initial projection of 73 per cent in favour of amendments was broadly in line with exit polls published by state pollsters FOM and VTsIOM. They projected 70 per cent and 76 per cent respectively, also before the end of polling.

Opposition groups painted an altogether different picture. At 5.30pm local time (3.30pm GMT), their own exit polls projected a near tie in Moscow (47.76 per cent for, 52.24 against) and a heavy defeat for the president in his home city of St Petersburg (38.2 percent for, 61.8 per cent against).

The constitutional plebiscite was an unusual electoral exercise for Russia, with polling stretched over seven days and in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic. Authorities said the unprecedented measure was necessary to ensure safe voting.

Read more

For critics, it was a trick to boost turnout from a population tired of their longtime leader.

The vote is taking place in a tricky period for Mr Putin, who has lost much of his glow after a torrid few months of largely absent Covid-19 crisis management. According to Levada Centre, Russia’s most independent pollster, Mr Putin is still trusted by 59 per cent of Russians, but that figure is down 30 per cent from a post-Crimea high of three years ago.

In open polling, ie when Russians are asked to name the politicians they most trust themselves, support drops to 29 per cent. The figure is lowest among young voters, with less than one in 10 expressing affiliation.✕

This week’s ballot asked for a “yes” or “no” answer to 206 amendments in entirety, with the proposal to reset term limits buried deep amongst them. It was “technically impossible” to ask voters to go through the changes one by one, authorities claimed.

Invariably, official campaign literature focused on the other 205 amendments, targeting populist pressure points from marriage as a heterosexual union, to indexation guarantees for pensions and other social benefits. In his address to the nation on Tuesday, Mr Putin made no mention of the all-important clause on term limits.

On their part, officials claimed the vote to be Russia’s cleanest yet. Deputy elections chief Nikolai Bulayev talked about a “breakthrough” in the low number of complaints received.

Mr Putin said that election manipulation methods such as forced voting, “rounding errors” in counting and inflating turnout were “inadmissible”. But there was evidence of all methods being rolled out – and more.

On Thursday, the first day of voting, Pavel Lobkov, a journalist for the independent Dozhd television channel, reported he had managed to vote twice. He was later questioned by police for his efforts, with prosecutors now threatening criminal charges for “election fraud”.

A week earlier, a colleague from the same channel was taken in for questioning after he uncovered a corrupt scheme to register elderly voters for electronic voting. Some of the most egregious manipulations during the week were recorded in the northern capital of St Petersburg.

There, election officials were recorded by local journalists stuffing papers into the ballot box. At another polling station, an election observer claimed officials refused to give him access to voting numbers.

When journalist David Frenkel followed up on these claims a day later, he was seriously assaulted by a police officer and another unidentified man. He ended up in hospital with a broken shoulder bone.

The election monitoring group Golos reported a total of 1,500 separate infringements during the seven-day vote. Ella Pamfilova, Mr Bulayev’s boss at the election commission, dismissed the claims, and Golos as a “toxic and degraded” organisation.

Ilya Azar, the journalist who has become an unexpected alternative protest figurehead, has announced a protest for 6pm local time (4pm BST) in Pushkin Square. He was responding to a “coup d’etat”, he said in a Facebook post. But in an open admission of the impossibility of protesting in Russia, he said he would not be openly encouraging others to join him.

“Let every man decide for himself,” he said. “They should know 20,000 rouble [£230] fines and 30-day jail terms are very likely.”