Do you remember the movie Gladiator? (My all time favorite, by the way!) In that movie, Maximus (played by Russell Crowe – for which he won an Oscar), has tiny figures that he uses when he prays to his Roman gods for his family.
In many different parts of the world, shrines are common and part of the local religious worship. Some of the shrines are quite large, while others, like those in Gladiator, are quite small. They were meant to be dwelling places for the gods.
During my recent trip to Israel, we want to the museum in Tel Aviv one morning. It was a very interesting place, and they had an amazing collection of small shrines that were used thousands of years ago by the inhabitants of Canaan (what was to become Palestine). If you are biblically literate, the names of Ashera, Ashtoreth, Molech, Baal and others may come to mind. Families might have miniature shrines and idols in their homes that they used to worship these “gods”.
Today’s photo is of one such shrine that is thousands of years old. I thought they were fascinating. Some were very well preserved and decorated (like this one) while others were much more crudely made. Still, I found them fascinating!
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: the year was 1945 when the USS Missouri hosted the formal surrender of the Japanese government to the Allies. Victory over Japan was celebrated back in the States.
As Japanese troops finally surrendered to Americans on the Caroline, Mariana, and Palau islands, representatives of their emperor and prime minister were preparing to formalize their capitulation. In Tokyo Bay, aboard the Navy battleship USS Missouri, the Japanese foreign minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, and the chief of staff of the Japanese army, Yoshijiro Umezu, signed the “instrument of surrender.” Representing the Allied victors was Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commander of the U.S. Army forces in the Pacific, and Adm. Chester Nimitz, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, now promoted to the newest and highest Navy rank, fleet admiral. Among others in attendance was Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, who had taken command of the forces in the Philippines upon MacArthur’s departure and had been recently freed from a Japanese POW camp in Manchuria.
Shigemitsu would be found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to seven years in prison subsequent to the surrender. The grand irony is that he had fought for concessions on the Japanese side in order to secure an early peace. He was paroled in 1950 and went on to become chairman of Japan’s Progressive Party. MacArthur would fight him again when he was named commander in chief of the United Nations forces in Korea in 1950.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In 1994, Warner Brother’s 1957 classic “What’s Opera, Doc?” featuring Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny in a parody of Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle operas, was voted #1 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons. It was also deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.