Saturday, May 31, 2003

HERE ARE THE MEDIUMS of Lily Dale, New York All 38 of them. This seems to be the official home page of Lily Dale's spiritualists. They teach Reiki and have a program called "Pathways to Peace" which is familiar to others in the peace movement. I wonder if any of our nuns who practice Reiki learned it from them? The fire department has a link in the website. No link for the police, however. Do they have a lot of fires there? Hmmm. CarrieTomko@aol.com

AN INTERVIEW with author Christine Wicker by Elizabeth Sams for Beliefnet. Wicker and Sams discuss Wicker's book, Lily Dale the story of a community of spiritualists in up state New York. CarrieTomko@aol.com

GERMAN INNOVATIONS IN ECUMENISM as reported in this article from Breaking News, are one of the reasons I distrust most of the theology and the theologians coming out of that part of the world. From the article: A Roman Catholic priest led an open communion service at a packed Lutheran church in Berlin, defying a papal admonition against receiving communion in non-Catholic churches. About 2,000 people attended the high-profile event on the sidelines of a German ecumenical conference. It was held in the red-brick Gethsemane Church, once a focal point for East German pro-democracy activists yesterday. The priest, Gotthold Hasenhuettl, distributed communion wafers among the worshippers � including hundreds who followed the evening service in the sunshine outside. Somehow there seems to be cognitive dissonance in these two statements from Fr. Hasenhuettl: Although he said he could face suspension from celebrating Mass � or even excommunication � by the church, he was unapologetic. �What consequences should there be? I didn�t break any rules,� he said, adding that he had not hesitated when approached by the organisers � the Catholic-based We Are Church movement and an ecumenical group, the Church from Beneath Initiative. Another example of ecumenism run amok. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, May 30, 2003

ECUMENISM WITH THE ANGLICANS was on Cardinal Kasper's mind during a conference at St. Albans. A reader sent the article from an Anglican newsletter. When it comes to the Orthodox, I'm an ecumenist, though I suspect they don't want us for the same reason I'm not an ecumenist with the Anglicans/Episcopalians. There are some very orthodox Anglicans. And there are Bishops Swing and Spong who are barely Christian. They all come as one package if we cement ecumenical ties with this church. I read an old book recently (c. 1970) titled THE PSYCHIC WORLD OF BISHOP PIKE by Hans Holzer, which described Pike's efforts to contact his dead son via seance. He was a believer. He was also Episcopal Bishop of California. And we know what sort of strange activity is coming from Bishop Swing/Matthew Fox right now. And there was Archbishop Rowan Williams recent induction into the Gorsedd, a Druid group. IMHO we should drop ecumenism with the Anglicans/Episcopalians like the proverbial hot potato. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, May 29, 2003

ECUMENICAL MARY Mother of Religious Dialogue (click the last link under "latest news") Joseph sends this article from Zenit calling Mary the Mother of interreligious dialogue according to Archbishop Gioia, who cites reverence for Mary in Islam, her status as exalted daughter of Zion among the Jews, and her Christian identity. He doesn't, but I could add that she is also seen as a goddess figure to some. But there is one nagging question...would Mary lead anyone to any religion except that founded by her Son? Would she lead us to Islam which calls Jesus a prophet? Would she lead us to the Jewish religion which rejected her Son? Would she lead us to the goddess worshippers who consider Jesus to be nothing more than a human being who has reached the status of Ascended Master? No. There is only one place where the Mother of Christ would lead us, and that is to the Church which her son founded and which is called His bride, the Catholic Church. So Mary is the last person who would be a mother to interreligious dialogue. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE DEVIL IS REAL according to Rev. Lloyd Prator an Episcopal priest who tells the story of being skeptical about exorcisms until his bishop asked him to perform one which made him a believer. Rev. Prator says: This experience made a believer out of me. I found out that there is a realm of evil beyond this world, that it becomes personified and attacks men and women of faith. I had an experience of hypostatic evil that convinced me there was definitely something real out there. But before that critical moment came, it took about two years of performing exorcisms for this troubled family as often as weekly, sometimes as infrequently as every three months. He describes the incident that converted him: So it was late in the evening when I was praying the prayers of the exorcism ritual. Kneeling before the young woman, I was about to make the sign of the cross over her. This sign is usually made with two hand gestures--a vertical, then a horizontal. I raised my hand and completed the vertical gesture. Then I moved my hand to begin the horizontal gesture. It grabbed my hand. There is no other way to put it. I felt a strong pressure against my hand, as if something or someone were trying to prevent my completing the cross. I pushed against it, it yielded, and I completed the prayer. At that moment the temperature in the room became overwhelmingly high and immediately there was a series of cracking, snapping sounds moving down the wall behind the sofa where the young woman was sitting and before which I was kneeling. The room fell silent. We looked at each other and agreed that what we had heard and felt was a decisive moment in the long journey of this exorcism. It was the beginning of the end. CarrieTomko@aol.com

COLIN POWELL TO MEET POPE According to Reuters: Secretary of State Colin Powell will make a lightning trip next Monday to talk to Pope John Paul following deep divisions between the Vatican and Washington over the war in Iraq, sources said Thursday. The visit is apparently aimed at trying to mend relations between Washington and the Vatican after the war. CarrieTomko@aol.com

TALKING ABOUT TOUCHING Serge, a friend from a message board and a conservative Orthodox, has linked a story in his blog from the Focus on the Family website about the new Catholic sex ed program in Boston which comes to the diocese via an organization that once lobbied to legalize prostitution. It has the approval of Planned Parenthood and SIECUS. I thought the perverts had been rounded up in Boston. Apparently not. Parents, get your kids out of the program. God gave you the right and the responsibility to educate your children in sexual matters. Don't let others take it away from you. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

TWO THUMBS UP, DAVID MILLS For your comments about movie ratings in the Touchstone blog. It's not easy being the bad parent who says no. Still has to be done, though, as you have pointed out. Neither a 14-year-old nor a 17-year-old would have my permission to see "Matrix Reloaded." CarrieTomko@aol.com

HARRY POTTER MATERIALIZES AGAIN In Mark Shea's blog There is a lively discussion of Harry Potter taking place in Mark Shea's blog sparked by an NCR article by Fr. Alfonso Aguilar which is up on the Catholic Exchange website. For anyone interested in Gnosticism--its definition and its contemporary manifestation--the article is a good read. CarrieTomko@aol.com

MADONNA LIKES KABBALAH From the UK Independent - She credited Kabbalah, the ancient tradition of Jewish mysticism, for the "creative inspiration" behind her best-selling album Ray of Light. And now Madonna is repaying the debt. The pop superstar and her husband, the film director Guy Ritchie, are said to have donated some of the �3.65m cost of a new building for the Kabbalah Centre in central London. The Estates Gazette, the trade paper of the property world, reported yesterday that the London Kabbalah Centre is moving into a Grade II-listed, 10,000sqft office building just north of Oxford Street - thanks to financial help from Madonna. She is one of a number of celebrities whose interest has helped the Kabbalah Centre to outgrow its small offices above a Vidal Sassoon hairdressing school in Grosvenor Street, four years after it first came to the capital. Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall and Naomi Campbell also follow the Jewish mysticism. This includes wearing a red thread - a charmed wrist bracelet that keeps evil spirits away. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Corporate Chaplains???? Little Rock, Ark., May 27--(AP) Lisa Ganz, an accountant at a Fort Smith steel mill, struggled with personal problems including two divorces and a growing sense of depression. She tried to talk about them to co-workers, but often wound up in tears. The counseling offered by MACSTEEL'S employee assistance program, or EAP, didn't seem to help. But then, in 1995, a new alternative caught her attention. She started talking to Carol Hall, a minister whose Corporate Chaplaincy Services had been hired as a spiritual alternative to the secular EAP. CarrieTomko@aol.com

From Beliefnet comes this story of intercommunion in Germany: Berlin, May27--(AP) Defying a papal admonition against receiving communion in non-Catholic churches, a Catholic lay organization said Tuesday it plans to share communion with Lutherans on the sidelines of a major German ecumenical conference. "It is neither unique nor new for Christians to issue invitations to each other," Eva Maria Kiklas, a leading member in Germany of the Catholic-based We Are Church movement, told reporters. Her group, along with an ecumenical organization, the Church from Beneath Initiative, plan to hold a Roman Catholic Eucharist at a Lutheran church in the capital, followed by an open communion. They plan a joint Lutheran communion Saturday. CarrieTomko@aol.com

The utter madness of what may be in store for the Catholic Church is spelled out in this article from NCR which took a worldwide poll of what Catholics would like to see be a part of Vatican 3. This is chaos magick at its best. Is this our future? CarrieTomko@aol.com

I can think of few ideas less likely to be found in print than this one from National Catholic Reporter... It seems that Sr. Joan Chittister has found a reason to praise the Pope. From the article: There is no crusader spirit in this pope. No desire to decry the "infidels." Nor does he simply give homilies about compassion. He is a witness of full-throated and clearly worded opposition. He sent peace envoys to Washington and Baghdad. He set up meetings with prime ministers and presidents. He begged the public and governments to refuse to be part of a travesty on the innocent in the name of the innocent. And as more and more stories leak out of the effects of war on people we say we have "liberated," it becomes clearer how true that is. Thanks to the pope, analysts around the world say, Arabs do not see this war as a Christian, a Catholic, plot against their religious tradition or culture. They may see it as a capitalist plot, an economic ploy, an exercise in paranoia, a grasp at "unipolarism" in the name of God, but they cannot see it as having the blessing of one whose obligation is to do the will of God for all humankind. It was a glorious moment in papal history. In these two acts -- a Japanese peace prize and a pope struggling to protect an Islamic state from Christian military force -- may lie the two most significant signs of the times our present world has seen. Be sure you get her message..."struggling to protect an Islamic state from Christian military force." Think about it. Is that what JPII was doing? Consider that statement in the light of the article about the Hussein sons which I posted yesterday! Sr. Joan also talks about a Buddhist peace prize that will, in the future, be awarded by a committee made up of a syncretistic mix of religions, and asks the question "I couldn't help but wonder whether any of our own institutions or projects that claim to be devoted to ecumenism and global perspective would demonstrate their globalism by making their own operational committees inclusive, let alone non-sexist at the same time? Think carefully before you answer. " Yes, indeed, think about it! Because what she proposes is the start of a one world religion which will not recognize Jesus Christ as the one and only pathway to salvation. And what she hints at by linking the two stories is that this is being fostered by John Paul II. CarrieTomko@aol.com

There is an excellent article from New Oxford Review by Anne Barbeau Gardiner linked at the TCRNews website about the revival of Gnostic scripture being used to reinvent Mary Magdalene. A couple of excerpts: Quote: There is currently an explosion of Mary Magdalen studies, with a load of books either just published or about to be published on the topic. Why this vogue? I attended a recent feminist conference June 7-9, at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Manhattan to find out. It was entitled "Mary Magdalen, Prophet and Apostle in the Miriamic Tradition," the first offering of the new interreligious Center for Religious Inquiry. About 80 persons came, some of them biblical scholars fluent in ancient tongues, others ordinary people interested in Scripture. This second group was in for a shock. The speakers drew mostly on what they called "non-canonical" or "extra-canonical" texts. No mention was made till later that these works were by Gnostics, who were denounced by ancient Jews and Christians. Quote: So here we are, completely out of step, those of us who have heard only that Mary Magdalen was called the "apostle to the apostles" because she was the first one to see Christ after the Resurrection (Jn. 20) and was sent to tell the Apostles this news. A new, unheard-of Mary Magdalen emerges from the detritus of antiquity � unheard of by you and me because she comes straight out of the ancient Gnostics � a prophet possessed of secret knowledge, and the word possessed is not to be taken lightly in this tradition. This Mary Magdalen figure is well suited to the feminist project of re-awakening voices that were "suppressed" or "marginalized" by the Church Fathers � i.e., patriarchal Christian authority. Feminists love the Gnostic scriptures since they can be used to overrule "Patriarchy" in the Church which so annoys them. Those words from Jesus, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father" are so difficult to cope with if you want to assert feminine dominance. Quote: King called the Gospel of Mary a "radical" work that makes us see apostolic witness as an insufficient basis for church authority. She noted that in this text the Apostle Andrew objects to Mary Magdalen's teaching as new and "strange," but Peter goes further � he questions her truthfulness and denies that Jesus could have ever given a woman such a teaching "hidden" from the Twelve. In this controversy King saw traces of an early debate about female authority in "nascent Christianity," one that was suppressed by "patriarchal hierarchical authority." This earlier female authority was based, she repeated several times, on "spiritual maturity" and "visions." But who is to be the judge of someone's spiritual maturity? Who is to test the truth of visions? One of the other speakers assured me later that, for Gnostics, the self is the judge. But this is one reason Gnosticism could not survive: It had no organization or central authority and consisted of a bunch of sects. When King showed the Apostles as dull-witted and immature as compared to Mary Magdalen, she failed to mention Pentecost and the Holy Spirit illuminating them as Church guides. Gnostics are very big on visions and illumination. If they followed any leadership at all, it was the leadership of a visionary. But often as not they took as truth that knowledge which they gained in their own personal vision. "Deceiving spirits" seems not to have entered the thinking of Gnostics. Since the Blessed Virgin and Mary Magdalene both share the same first name, those who would insinuate Mary Magdalene into the Blessed Virgin's primary place of veneration are eager to first create confusion. Quote: A paper by Kevin Coyle of St. Paul University in Ottawa showed that by the third century the Manichees firmly identified the prophet Mary in the Gospel of Mary with Mary Magdalen. In fact, they had no use at all for Mary of Nazareth (this is what the Blessed Virgin was called throughout this conference). Like the Gnostics, they believed that the "true Jesus" was only an appearance without a body. Thus Jesus could not have had a mother at all. He said the writings of the Manichees include hundreds of their psalms where Mary Magdalen is called Marihamma and associated with divine Wisdom. I found something to cheer about after attending this conference. These Gnostic or non-canonical texts have very little to offer, except tall tales about secret revelations and magical formulas that help one escape the material world after death. All this reminds me of Christopher Marlowe's brilliant play Dr. Faustus, in which a learned theologian sells his soul for the sake of secret, magical knowledge and power. All he gets is silly, trivial stuff which leads him to waste his precious time for 20 years. But such is the spiritual blindness that comes upon him after renouncing Christ, that he is unable to see that he is being cheated with infantile substitutes for serious knowledge. He wakes up only as he is being dragged off to Hell. The Early Fathers of the Church fought their battle against Gnosticism and thought they had won. But the ideas survived to surface again and again throughout the history of the Church. The Albigensian Heresy embodied it and sparked a crusade forcing it underground once again. The Gnostic Nag Hammadi scrolls found in 1945 have sparked a revival of Gnosticism which is growing by leaps and bounds. It forms the basis of The Da Vinci Code, and the tenets of Esoteric Freemasonry which Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln write about. Their arguments for the authenticity of Gnostic scrolls are convincing for those who are not educated in the history of our Scripture. It promises to present the Church with enormous challenges before it is once again put to rest. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Monday, May 26, 2003

No government ruled by man will be without flaws; sinfulness being a part of man's nature. Having said that, I still see greater good coming from Christianity than I see coming from other religions. Eastern religions are content to allow some to die in misery before their very eyes. Islam leaves a trail of blood where it cannot rule. Judaism is largely secular. What does that leave? Our nation is founded on enlightenment philosophy which cherishes religious liberty. Even our faith has moved in that direction by considerable degrees since the Inquisition. Yet the best exposition of this religious freedom/enlightenment philosophy can be found in Freemasonry, particularly as taught by Albert Pike in MORALS AND DOGMA. And it's no secret that Freemasonry opposes the Church. That is problematic. The founders of our nation came from Judeo-Christian Europe. They brought with them their Christian foundation, and to a large extent incorporated it into our culture, which is now in the process of change. That open door to all faiths now welcomes opposing faiths such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, New Age Theosophy and more. How then to accommodate opposing beliefs in a culture that encompasses all of them? Islam desires to see all men become Muslims. It does not rest comfortably in the midst of Christians. Christians, too, have opposed Islam in days gone by, though today we would live peacefully with Islam if Islam would permit it. Have we come to a point as our world shrinks when only a world faith will give us peace? Since that world faith cannot be Christian, what are Christians to do if the answer is "yes"? Was Cardinal Law's bow to Allah an example of the only leadership that will be tenable in the future? Post-modernism says it is. What's more, post-modernism presents us with an earth-centered faith that it promises will unite all of mankind. Many Catholic leaders have embraced it, following the Pied Piper Fr. Thomas Berry. But who, really, is its god? What does it worship, since it worships "spirit" in its ceremonies? Who or what is this "spirit" that beckons us in the name of peace? Whatever it is, it seduced Cardinal Law. It seduces the Pope to kiss the Koran and hold interfaith meetings which require the removal of crucifixes. It convinces the Pope to permit those of other faiths to "annoint" him in their ceremonies while he smiles benignly. It apparently whispers in his ear that crimes against minors should be permitted in American seminaries. It makes him indifferent to Catholic nuns practicing totemism. How did such a spirit obtain access to the moral leader of the Catholic world? Why is it not evicted from his hearing? Our Pope writes the words of Tradition. He speaks those words to huge crowds around the world who cheer him when he does. But his actions, or lack of them, tell a different story. At times it seems that he is really two people--one the faithful shepherd of Jesus Christ, and the other a man of this world who just wants to go along to get along. As each day passes...as I read, day by day, the Catholic news coming from Rome..I become ever more confused about what it means to be Catholic, and I have to pray increasingly harder "Lord I believe. Help Thou my unbelief." CarrieTomko@aol.com

There is a ChristoPagan Rosary. Siiiiiiiigh. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Stories are beginning to emerge about the activities of Saddam Hussein's two sons. The following is an excerpt from a report in the Time website: A chef at Baghdad's exclusive Hunting Club recalls a wedding party that Uday crashed in the late 1990s. After Uday left the hall, the bride, a beautiful woman from a prominent family, went missing. "The bodyguards closed all the doors, didn't let anybody out," the chef remembers. "Women were yelling and crying, 'What happened to her?'" The groom knew. "He took a pistol and shot himself," says the chef, placing his forefinger under his chin. Last October another bride, 18, was dragged, resisting, into a guardhouse on one of Uday's properties, according to a maid who worked there. The maid says she saw a guard rip off the woman's white wedding dress and lock her, crying, in a bathroom. After Uday arrived, the maid heard screaming. Later she was called to clean up. The body of the woman was carried out in a military blanket, she said. There were acid burns on her left shoulder and the left side of her face. The maid found bloodstains on Uday's mattress and clumps of black hair and peeled flesh in the bedroom. A guard told her, "Don't say anything about what you see, or you and your family will be finished." CarrieTomko@aol.com

It would seem that Archbishop Pell has a different take on separation of Church and state from that which the Pope entertains according to the interpretation which Stephen Hand has presented at TCRNews. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Technically today is Memorial Day, though it seems more like a Memorial Weekend than just a single day. The cemetaries look their best. Grounds crews have been working hard to have them ready. Where plantings are permitted, the rows of gravestones are a blaze of geranium red, petunia white, and flower colors of every other hue. The grave flags blow in the breeze. So many of them. Evidence of so many lives interrupted in the causes of America. Those flags speak of bravery and of fear, of loneliness and courage, and too often of pain and suffering and sacrifice so we could have the freedom to eat our hot dogs and drink our beer in the company of our friends in a land of plenty. It's too easy to forget the price paid for us. It's too easy to seek after safety and forget that we buy it with the currency of our self-determination. It's too easy to ignore the evidence of those flags telling us to treasure the independence which was won for us at such a high cost. May we take a moment to remember what those flags represent, what those who defended our country bought for us; and then make a promise to ourselves and to our children that we will not abandon their sacrifice in seeking a life of safety and complacency. Thank you freedom fighters, one and all. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Sunday, May 25, 2003

TCR News/Stephen Hand has picked up some comments from my May 19 blog and from email and posted them in the Letters and Musings section of his website under the topic "On the Humanism of JPII," and then given his perspective. I think it requires a response. You can read Stephen's comments here. You say that you don't want to debate me, Stephen, while you've challenged something I've written; but you have to know that I'm going to defend it. The passage from my blog to which you seem to be referring is a quotation from John Allen's May 16, 2003 column which says in part: Most agreed that a defining aspect of John Paul's thought is the "anthropological turn," i.e., taking the human person as the starting point. The pope himself stressed this idea in May 9 remarks. "The person must be at the center of every philosophical or theological reflection," he said. "The church is at the service of the human person." That passage was part of a report on a tribute to JPII at Lateran University on May 8-10, at which, according to John Allen "all of the speakers were admiring." My comment made below in this blog is that "I would have said that God is the starting point, and that the Church is at His service. When did Catholicism decide that all of the philosophical and theological questions revolve around man?" Allen didn't indicate who had made the remark. It was a criticism of the Pope only insofar as the person making the comment accurately reflected JPII's philosophy. You believe it does not, and that's fine. I, also, would hope that the comment was inaccurate; but it is clear that some of our Churchmen believe that it reflects the Holy Father's thinking. I find that disturbing, to say the least. To say as you have that "Man is the object of God's love and salvific intent and thus should be the subject of all political defence in a world of totalitarian leaning thought and encroaching nihilism" is good, but it does not reflect the leaning of the quoted statement. John Paul II is the supreme worldly judge of the morality of war for a Catholic. He is not, however, the supreme worldly judge of specific political situations. See CCC 2309 which says, "The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good." A pope is not infallible in matters political. Neutrality would have been welcome. Choosing sides has consequences. St. Thomas may, in fact, be difficult. I find the Pope to be equally difficult to read, and usually seek out a summary of his writings. At the same time he can be quite brief and conceise as Dominus Iesus shows. If excommunicating the perfidious bishops and theologians is not a workable solution as evidenced by history, certainly direct statements indicating that there is a problem in their teaching are in order. He does not hesitate to speak out when he wishes to make his point known, as recent statements about America indicate. Pope Pius XII believed public statements about Hitler would provoke repercussions on German Jews and so chose to remain silent. He acted, however, behind the scenes to effect what relief he could. There has been evidence presented that John Paul II has known for some time what the condition of American seminaries has been, what the activities of American priests have included, what the content of sex education programs in parochial schools has been. He claims to love young people particularly and delights in their adulation at World Youth Day events. Yet he did not defend young people from the harm caused to them by priests and by bishops he had chosen himself. And there are the ecumenical activities which disturb so very many. When I read what the Pope has written in Dominus Iesus and in his recent encyclical on the Eucharist, I want to stand up and cheer. But the real truth is not in the words, it's in the implementation. How does DI stack up against Cardinal Law's prayers to Allah in the mosque? I agree with your understanding of Americanism and why the Pope would be leary of it. However, it must also be remembered that while America is only nominally Christian at this particular time in history, Iraq is even less so. To discover that the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church has sided with an Islamic country and against a country with a large proportion of Catholic population is mind-boggling to say the least. Once the war began, neutrality I could understand. Anti-Americanism left me incredulous, particularly as the atrocities of the Hussein regime came to light. I felt personally abandoned and rejected by the Pope of the Church I try to serve. If Iraq were a nation which embodies the principles the Church advances, there would have been no problem in my mind with this anti-American stance. As we all know, it does not. CarrieTomko@aol.com

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