Saturday, September 20, 2003

MORE FROM THE TEMPLE LEGEND by Rudolf Steiner. The following quotes come from Lesson 15, "Atoms and the Logos in the Light of Occultism, Berlin, 21 October 1905. Portions in square brackets and parentheses appear in the original. The great purpose is often discussed, of leading humanity, through the theosophical movement, towards that point when, in the future, a new race of human beings will arise, when our intellectuality, as it now is, will no longer play the leading role in the world, but will be made fertile by Buddhi. We have to work together with this great world current... p. 197 What is this work? It is cooperation with the spiritual world, the use of "spiritual science" to effect changes in mankind so that man can evolve into a higher order. In these kingdoms, [continual] change is taking place. An outer expression of these changes is the progress of the sun across the vault of heaven. We have twelve signs of the zodiac, and the sun continually moves on from one to another at the vernal equinox....The time during which the sun traverses a constellation, this time that then elapses, lasts some two thousand six hundred years. That is also the time between two human incrnations. p. 199 Not only is reincarnation essential to understanding Theosophy, evolution is a second central doctrine. Theosophists believe the planets evolve, and man evolves in conjunction with planet evolution. Before our earth cycle, there was a Saturn, Sun, and Moon cycle. The Jupiter cycle will come after the earth cycle. Steiner goes on to talk about the animals that were worshipped in relationships to the constellations: ...before the sun entered the constellation of the Ram, the cult of the Bull (Mithras, Apis) prevailed in Asia. Then began the worship of the Ram, which began when the legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece originated. Christ is called the 'Lamb of God'. Still earlier one finds the Persian symbol of the Twins. That is connected with the [Persian] culture of that time [and its view] of Good and Evil. p. 199 He moves on from a discussion of the constellations to a discussion of the atom. If we meditate on the atom, what strikes us is that it is a very tiny thing. Everyone knows that this small thing called the atom has never been seen through any kind of microscope, no matter how sophisticated. Yet occult books give descriptions and pictures of the atom. Where were these pictures obtained? How can one, as an occultist, now know anything about the atom? Now just imagine it to be possible to make an atom grow continually bigger until it was as big as the earth; one would then discover a very complicated world. One would perceive many movements, different kinds of phenomena, within this small thing....If it were actually possible to enlarge the atom to that extent, we would be able to observe every single process in it. Only the occultist is in a position to enlarge the atom so much and to contemplate its interior. p. 201-202 What if it were possible? What if the Theosophists, by making contact with the Akashic Record or a spirit being were able to gather knowledge that is not available by conventional human inquiry? Remember, the Theosophists revere Lucifer, the angel of light. In Lecture 10 delivered in Berlin, 23rd December 1904, titled "Evolution and Involution As They Are Interpreted by Occult Societies [The Atom As Concealed Electricity]," Steiner says: A man standing here, let us say, will be able, by pressing a button concealed in his pocket, to [explode] some object at a great distance, let us say in Hamburg, just as wireless telegraphy is possible, by setting up a wave movement and causing it to take a particular form at some other place. This will be within man's power when the occult truth, that thought and atom consist of the same substance, is applied to practical life. It is impossible to conceive what might happen in such circumstances if mankind has not by then reached selflessness. Only through the attainment of selflessness will it be possible to preserve mankind from the brink of destruction. The downfall of post-Atlantean culture will be caused by the lack of morality. The Lemurian race was destroyed by fire, the Atlantean by water; ours will be destroyed by the War of All against All, [by?] evil, through the struggle of men with one another. Humanity will destroy itself in mutual strife. And the despairing thing--more desperately tragic than other catastrophes--will be that the blame will lie with human beings themselves. A tiny handful of men will save themselves and pass over into the sixth epoch. This tiny handful will have developed complete selflessness. The others will make use of every [imaginable] skill and subtlety in the penetration and conquest of the physical forces of Nature, but without attaining the essential degree of selflessness. They will start the War of All against All, and that will be the cause of the destruction of our civilisation. ...this War of All against All will break out, in the most terrible way. Great and mighty forces will ensue from discoveries that will turn the entire globe into a kind of self-functioning electrical apparatus. p. 124 Remember, he said this in 1904, yet it sounds prophetic. What did we know about electricity in 1904, let alone the atom? Could anyone back then have predicted with normal human knowledge that we would discover the nuclear bomb sufficient to destroy our world? Where did he get this information. From spirit contact? Would you believe that Thomas Edison was a spiritualist? I know, I know...I don't want to believe it either. Take a look at the following and tell me what you think. From Lightworks - New Light on Helena Blavatsky: Nevertheless, HPB was able to attract people of the stature of Thomas Edison to the Theosophical movement while she was in the U.S., and in India, her work reintroduced figures like Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru to their traditional teachings. At a time when the Indian elite studied at English universities, often denying the value of their own centuries-old traditions, it was contact with HPB that inspired them to study works such as the Bhagavad Gita for the first time. From Paranormal Voices: These voices should not be confused with taperecorder-, or Raudive type registrations on tape. These so-called EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) voices are part of man's endaevour to establish contact with the other world by means of instruments. The first attempt seems to be of Jonathan Koons in 1852, mentioned above. Blueprints of his "machine" have never been found. Thomas Edison (photo), a Theosophist, predicted the invention of such machine in the twenties. Tesla and Marconi reported having received mysterious signals. The Italian Prof. Cazzamali conducted experiments from the twenties onward until WW2. From New Dawn Magazine: What may be happening, is that some deceased personality decides to invest some of his or her characteristics and abilities in a new human being existing in a different time period. This would be similar to a parent passing an interest in art or country music along to a child. This is of course markedly different to the phenomena of possession where a dead personality tries to totally dominate a living being and exist through them. One of the most fascinating sections concerns recent attempts to establish electronic communication with dead through tape recordings, and even television. It is well know among paranormal researchers, that the inventor Thomas Edison was intensely interested in the possibility of building a machine to establish such communication, although there is no evidence that he actually succeeded in his lifetime. In fact I have a book just recently purchased from Borders titled Contact the Other Side: Seven Methods for Afterlife Communication by Konstantinos, St. Paul, Llewellyn Publications, 2001, ISBN 1-56718-377-8, which I've only started to read. A note on the fly-leaf of the book is titled "Technology Opens the Door to the Spirit World". The author speaks of making contact with the other side by use of tape recorders. On p. 53 he says: As "quacky" as the idea of electronically communicting with the dead may seem to many, one of the world's greatest inventors believed in it and labored to make it a reality. He brought us the phonograph, he gave us electric light, and, yes, Thomas Edison declared to the public that he was working on a machine to communicate with the dead. Parapsychic Journal speaks of Edison: THOMAS ALVA EDISON SOUGHT AFTERLIFE INSTRUMENT -- When Life Magazine chose the top 100 people of the millennium, they named Thomas Edison (1847 - 1931) as Number One. The said that because of him �In 1879, Thomas Edison gave humans the power to create light without fire, by inventing a long-lasting, affordable incandescent lamp. Among life's many conveniences we can take for granted, thanks in part to him: copiers, radio, movies, TV, phones (he improved Bell's). On the night after his funeral, Americans dimmed their lights for the man who lit up the world.� However, there was one invention Edison wanted to create but the time was not right -- an instrument to communicate with loved ones in the Spirit World. The Revs. Tom and Lisa Butler refers to it in their forthcoming book �There is No Death and There are No Dead� subtitled: �Evidence of Survival through EVP and ITC.� (Electronic Voice Phenomena and Instrumental TransCommunication) The Butlers write: Thomas Edison believed that there could be a radio frequency between the long and short waves, which would make possible some form of telepathic contact with the other world. In the October 1920 issue of Scientific American(47), Edison was quoted as saying; "If our personality survives, then it is strictly logical or scientific to assume that it retains memory, intellect, other faculties and knowledge that we acquire on this Earth. Therefore, if personality exists after what we call death, it is reasonable to conclude that those who leave the Earth would like to communicate with those they have left here. I am inclined to believe that our personality hereafter will be able to affect matter. If this reasoning be correct, then, if we can evolve an instrument so delicate as to be affected by our personality as it survives in the next life, such an instrument, when made available, ought to record something." And gettingit.com speaks of Edison: Totally legit scientists like Thomas Edison, the radiographer Sir Oliver Lodge, and Sir William Crookes (inventor of the cathode-ray tube you are probably reading this on) suspected that spirits were real and that the afterlife was electromagnetic in nature. Edison even built a device he hoped would allow him to communicate directly with the dead. Now, you may think that this ghoulish dial-tweaking has gone the way of the dousing rod, but electromagnetic spiritualism is alive and well (so is the dousing rod, but that's another story). Today aficionados call it Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) and Ash International has just released the first CD devoted to EVP, an import-only disc called The Ghost Orchid. So it does seem that Edison was a Theosophist interested in the occult. It's so easy to write off esotericism/occultism as the pursuit of people who are a little loose. But when you dig into this stuff, you find people who were highly respected. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD Oengus mentioned this conference scheduled at Dayton University in one of the comments below. Here is the website for the conference. I don't recognize the names of any of the speakers. Does anyone else? CarrieTomko@aol.com

JOHN PAUL II'S ADDRESS TO PRELATES IN ENGLISH-SPEAKING MISSION LANDS is centered around a call for holiness. "No activity, no matter how important, should distract you from this spiritual priority that sets the tone for the apostolic mandate received with episcopal ordination," he insisted. One of the bigger shocks that has come to my attention in recent years is that apparently our bishops don't say Mass daily. I had assumed that since they are priests, and since Latin Catholic priests say Mass every day, the bishops did as well. Apparently not, at least according to one commentator on a message board who was not corrected by the priests who also posted there. How can this be? How can a bishop, who is the shepherd of priests as well as laity, be exempt from the daily use of the greatest prayer the Church has while expecting his priests to pray this prayer? How can this be good for the Church? If there is one thing I would change about our bishops, it would be that. I would ask them to be daily celebrants of the Eucharist. I would ask that for a year they offer their daily Mass in reparation for the harm that has been done during their watch, both to victims and to the laity. I would ask that it be offered for a return to holiness in our laity and in our clergy. Only Christ can get us out of our mess. An apostolic exhortation to bishops was mentioned in another Zenit article recently. John Paul II announced that on Oct. 16, the 25th anniversary of his pontificate, he will publish a postsynodal apostolic exhortation on the figure of the bishop. The document will gather the conclusions of the synod of bishops, held in the Vatican from Sept. 30 to Oct. 27, 2001, on "The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World." We have just been given a demonstration of the Pope's physical health in his Slovakia trip where he could barely utter a few words. Now he has announced that he plans to give this exhortation. Are we to assume that he has compiled the information on the synod of bishops himself? Recent evidence would indicate that he is not well enough to do so. Given the condition of doubt of the hierarchy that exists in the Church in America, can we trust that the person compiling this information for the Pope has the best interests of the Church at heart? Something else is troubling. The article announcing this exhortation says: During the meeting, which took place in the Center of Higher Studies of the Legionaries of Christ in Rome, the new bishops spent time with the 450 religious of 37 nationalities who reside there. and The founder of the Legionaries, Father Marcial Maciel, was present at the Holy Father's audience with the bishops. The Legionaries have come under fire in recent months. This article documents some concerns. It presents the Legionaries as something similar to a cult which is called in to take over parishes when there is no diocesan clergy to fill gaps. This might be a good thing. Even the tactics outlined in the article might be a good thing given the sorts of abuse we have seen in recent years. But the fruit will be our criteria to judge this change. And that fruit is not yet ripe. In the meantime, I tend to be skeptical of any strong-armed changes. The pope has told us that he believes there is no room in the Church for a priest who would abuse a child. How then is it that Fr. Marcel Maciel, the Legionaries superior, was in the room. Charges have been made against Fr. Maciel that are most serious. I haven't been following this closely, but this "ExLegionaries" message board has made it a hot topic. Perhaps Fr. Maciel has enemies. Certainly the story about Legionaries in the parishes gives ample reason why he would have enemies. But what if the charges are true? Does anyone know where litigation stands with regard to Fr. Maciel? CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, September 19, 2003

WHY PIUS IX, PARTICULARLY? Joseph comments to a post below: Carrie, JPII has disgracefully abused his authority in more important ways: His failure to hold accountable bishops who enable clerical sex offenders -- or a well-known American prelate who committed public apostacy in a mosque, his desire to ram one interpreation (his) of "just war" theory down the throats of those who supported American intervention in Iraq, his failure to condemn the Palestine Authority and Saddam's Iraq as "cultures of death," etc. Why should affirming Pius IX in this way be any different? Pius IX is interesting to me because he turned up in H. P. Blavatsky's book which I quoted yesterday. He turns up in this article taken from the Theosophical magazine Luzifer January 1988. The pastoral made a certain noise in France and in the Catholic world, but was soon forgotten. And as two centuries have rolled away since an expos� of the infamous principles of the Jesuits was made (of which we will speak presently), the "Black Militia" of Loyola has had ample time to lie so successfully in denying the just charges, that even now, when the present Pope has brilliantly sanctioned the utterance of the Bishop of Cambrai, the Roman Catholics will hardly confess to such a thing. Strange exhibition of infallibility in the Popes! The "infallible" Pope, Clement XIV (Ganganelli), suppressed the Jesuits on the 23rd of July, 1773, and yet they came to life again; the "infallible" Pope, Pius VII, re-established them on the 7th of August, 1814. The "infallible" Pope, Pius IX, travelled, during the whole of his long Pontificate, between the Scylla and Charybdis of the Jesuit question; his infallibility helping him very little. And now the "infallible" Leo XIII (fatal figures!) raises the Jesuits again to the highest pinnacle of their sinister and graceless glory. Can there be any doubt that the Theosophists and the Catholic Church have been enemies from the beginning? There is no doubt that the Theosophists are behind URI as Lee Penn points out, and there is little doubt that the Theosophists (or specifically the Anthroposophists, aka Rudolf Steiner) are associated with occult (Egyptian Rite or Memphis-Mizraim) Freemasonry. Several Popes have indicated that Grand Orient Freemasonry plotted against the Church, which is not a big deal if they belonged to the 1800s and early 1900s. It becomes a much bigger deal when we discover that they are behind the movement to bring about a one world religion called United Religions. And it becomes an even bigger deal still when we discover they have an Archbishop backing them and the leader of URI is getting a cordial reception in the Vatican. The question, "Anthroposophy or Jesuitism?" is still being asked. CarrieTomko@aol.com

ISRAELI POLITICS I'll be the first to admit I don't understand them. Lee Penn sends a link to this Article from the Tablet which is also linked by Patrick Reardon today in the Touchstone blog. So, I await your comments. Enlighten me! CarrieTomko@aol.com

WHAT IS AOL'S PROBLEM? I made 15 attempts to post the "Analysis of JPII" entry to this blog in the AOL browser. All of them failed. The first attempt in SBC Yahoo got the post up. CarrieTomko@aol.com

AN ANALYSIS OF JPII BY RUPERT SHORTT in The Guardian, March 13, 2000. Warning, it's not complimentary. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, September 18, 2003

BACK TO STEINER'S BOOK FOR A MOMENT... Steiner indicates, in the quote below, that Pius IX attempted to reconcile Freemasonry with Catholicism via the Chapter of Clermont. Looking for the Chapter of Clermont on the web brought up this Theosophical website...chapter VIII from H. P. Blavatsky's book Isis Unveiled. From the website: As to the modern Knights Templar and those Masonic Lodges which now claim a direct descent from the ancient Templars, their persecution by the Church was a farce from the beginning. They have not, nor have they ever had any secrets, dangerous to the Church. Quite the contrary; for we find J. G. Findel saying that the Scottish degrees, or the Templar system, only dates from 1735-1740, and "following its Catholic tendency, took up its chief residence in the Jesuit College of Clermont, in Paris, and hence was called the Clermont system." The present Swedish system has also something of the Templar element in it, but free from Jesuits and interference with politics; however, it asserts that it has Molay's Testament in the original, for a Count Beaujeu, a nephew of Molay, never heard of elsewhere--says Findel--transplanted Templarism into Freemasonry, and thus procured for his uncle's ashes a mysterious sepulchre. It is sufficient to prove this a Masonic fable that on this pretended monument the day of Molay's funeral is represented as March 11, 1313, while the day of his death was March 19, 1313. This spurious production, which is neither genuine Templarism, nor genuine Freemasonry, has never taken firm root in Germany. But the case is otherwise in France. Writing upon this subject, we must hear what Wilcke has to say of these pretensions: "The present Knight Templars of Paris will have it, that they are direct descendants from the ancient Knights, and endeavor to prove this by documents, interior regulations, and secret doctrines. Foraisse says the Fraternity of Freemasons was founded in Egypt, Moses communicating the secret teaching to the Israelites, Jesus to the Apostles, and thence it found its way to the Knight Templars. Such inventions are necessary . . . to the assertion that the Parisian Templars are the offspring of the ancient order. All these asseverations, unsupported by history, were fabricated in the High Chapter of Clermont (Jesuits), and preserved by the Parisian Templars as a legacy left them by those political revolutionists, the Stuarts and the Jesuits." Hence we find the Bishops Gregoire * and Munter ** supporting them. Connecting the modern with the ancient Templars, we can at best, therefore, allow them an adoption of certain rites and ceremonies of purely ecclesiastical character after they had been cunningly inoculated into that grand and antique Order by the clergy. Since this desecration, it gradually lost its primitive and simple character, and went fast to its final ruin. Founded in 1118 by the Knights Hugh de Payens and Geoffrey de St. Omer, nominally for the protection of the pilgrims, its true aim was the restoration of the primitive secret worship. CarrieTomko@aol.com

WOW! For anyone interested in Eastern Christian spirituality, this looks like a goldmine. Wish I had a few extra hours in the day to devote to it. Alas... CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE CHURCH MILITANT RISES IN LEXINGTON and the liberals down there are not happy about it. It is just possible that we will eventually see a "New Springtime" after all. Hope is springing at my keyboard tonight anyway. CarrieTomko@aol.com

UPI LABELS CATHOLIC SCANDAL "CROWLEYISM" citing Crowley's motto "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." The article, titled "Aleister Crowley's Legacy" was linked in Michael Rose's website and mentions his books. Thanks to a reader for sending it. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE TEMPLE LEGEND: FREEMASONRY & RELATED OCCULT MOVEMENTS I've promised quotes from this Rudolf Steiner book which I found in the Ohio State U. library, a promise I wasn't going to deliver on until I'd finished reading it, which I have not yet done. However, further down in this blog is one of Lee Penn's articles from Christian Challenge which details the trip Episcopal Bishop William Swing, Archbishop William Levada, and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Anthony took last April that included a visit to the Vatican, where they were apparently welcome. As Lee has pointed out time and time again, the metaphysics behind URI is Theosophy. For anyone reading this who might not be familiar with Steiner, he was a Rosicrucian Mason and Theosophist who founded the German branch of the Theosophical Society, split with the Society over terminology, and founded Anthroposophy, which uses theosophical concepts but explains them in a Christian vocabulary. Anthroposophy is most visible today in Waldorf Schools which are an outreach of the belief, but Anthroposophists are active in many other areas of life. This particular book consists of several of his lectures delivered in Berlin in 1904-06, as they appear in his notes, translated into English in 1985 and published by the Rudolf Steiner Press, London. The following quote comes from Lecture 11, CONCERNING THE LOST TEMPLE AND HOW IT IS TO BE RESTORED (In connection with the Legend of the True Cross, or Golden Legend) delivered Berlin, 15th May 1905. He is speaking about the need to reform society. Portions in square brackets appear in the original. Quote: The real problem of our day consists in this ignorance [of the fact] that there are great laws for the building of the state and of the social organism, just as there are for building a tunnel, and that one must know these laws in order to carry out the most necessary and everyday tasks in the social organism. Just as in building a tunnel, one has to know about the interaction of all the forces of nature, so must anyone wishing to start reforming society know the laws [which interweave between one person and the next]. One must study the effect of one soul on another, and draw near to the spirit. This is why theosophy must lie at the basis of every practical activity in life. Theosophy is the real practical principle of life; and only he who starts from theosophical principles and carries them over into practical life can feel himself called as able to be active in social life. That is why theosophy should penetrate all spheres of life. Statesmen, social reformers and the like are nothing without a theosophical basis, without theosophical principles. That is why, for those who study these things, all work in this field, everything done today to build up the social structure, is external patchwork and complete chaos. For one who understands the matter, what the social reformer is doing today is like somebody cutting stones and piling them one on top of another in the belief that a house will thereby come into being of its own accord. First of all a plan of the house must be drawn up. It is just the same if one asserts that, in social life, things will take shape of their own accord. One cannot reform society without knowing the laws of theosophy. This way of thinking, which works according to a plan, is called Freemasonry. p.132-133 Steiner gathered his material from a clairvoyant access to the Akashic Record, a mystical record book of everything that has ever happened and ever will happen in the world. Catholics are forbidden by CCC 2116 to have anything to do with clairvoyance. Even if Theosophy were compatible in places with Catholic doctrine--and in a few places it is--we still violate our faith by picking up its principles. If the Theosophists have their way, Catholics will find themselves living in a hostile religious environment which intends that we shall embrace it. In fact this essential incompatibility between Catholicism and Theosophy is made clear by a question and answer passage at the end Steiner's Lecture 9: Quote: Question: Why is the Catholic Church so antagonistic towards Freemasonry? Answer: The Catholic Church does not want what is coming in the future. Pius IX was initiated into Freemasonry. He tried, through the Chapter of Clermont, to bring about a connection between the Jesuits and the Freemasons. That did not succeed, and therefore the old enmity between these two remained. Our Jesuits know little about these things, and the clergy are also unaware of what is involved. The actual clergy...[Large gap] The Trappists have to keep silent, for it is known that by doing so an important faculty of inspired speech in the next life is implanted. That is indeed only to be understood through a knowledge of reincarnation. p. 115 A Theosophist believes in reincarnation. It is essential to the doctrine. A Catholic knows that Scripture indicates man lives once and then comes the judgment. Yet Bishop Levada finds common ground with Bishop Swing in promoting a theosophical one world religion called United Religions, and Pope John Paul II meets cordially with both of them. A last passage from Lecture 11: Quote: ...there must be a plan underlying the building of the state, just as for any other building in the world. That the world is a temple, that social life must be structured and organised, and must have pillars like a temple, and that the great sages must be these pillars -- it is this intention which is permeated with the ancient wisdom. That is not a kind of wisdom which is merely learned, but one which has to be built into human society....The only person able to work towards the building up of society is he who has absorbed all this knowledge, all this wisdom, into himself. We would not achieve much as theosophists if we were to restrict ourselves to contemplating how the human being is built up from its different members. No, we are only able to fulfill our task if we carry the principles of theosophy into everyday life. We must learn to put them to use in such a way that every turn of the hand, every movement of a finger, every step we take, bears the impress, is an expression of the spirit. In that case we shall be engaged in building the lost temple. So much for separation of church and state! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

THE PLIGHT OF ASSYRIAN CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ was not good before the war. Under US occupation their situation has deteriorated significantly according to this post in The Byzantine Forum from which the following is an excerpt: But even if the U.S. forces could protect the Assyrians from their Muslim neighbors, there is no guarantee that they would even want to. The Wall Street Journal has reported that U.S. policy makers in Iraq consider the Christians to be a "most inconvenient minority." Evidencing too much concern for Iraqi Christians, it is feared, would reinforce the idea that the U.S. is fighting a "war on Islam," thereby strengthening the resistance to U.S. forces. It is obvious to observers on the ground that Washington would prefer if the whole messy problem of Iraqi Christians would just go away. Occupied Iraq is an unstable and dangerous place. Only now that the true bill seems to be coming due, are members of Congress and concerned citizens asking questions they should have posed months ago. In the cauldron of violence that is Iraq, the U.S. stands ready to lose men, money, and equipment seemingly indefinitely. They are losses that will be grievous, but as a nation, the U.S. will survive. The Assyrians, in contrast, stand to lose everything, and no one seems particularly concerned. Conservatives Don�t Care About Foreign Christians No one expects liberals to care much for the fate of Christian communities in the Third World. On the other hand, almost anyone would expect conservatives to care about the persecution and suffering endured by Christians throughout the world. After all, aren�t conservatives pro-life, pro-Bible, and pro-prayer? Isn�t the Republican Party the party of the God-fearing? Given the rhetoric of many Republican politicians and pundits, one would definitely expect a great deal of concern. Sadly, this just isn�t the case. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, no conservative politicians or pundits of note expressed concern over what an invasion would mean for the Christian community there. Now that the U.S. has occupied Iraq, and is failing miserably in its obligation to protect the Christian minority, the topic goes unmentioned. Why Don�t Conservatives Care About Christians? The answer to this question is surprisingly simple. Conservative politicians and pundits care little for the welfare of Christians outside the United States for one primary reason. The Evangelical Christian base of the Republican Party doesn�t care. There have been no demonstrations protesting the inability/unwillingness of U.S. forces to protect Iraqi Christians. Their cause has not been championed by any of the televangelists. Christian persecution in post-Saddam Iraq has not been a centerpiece article in any of the Evangelical magazines. At the same time, there have been large protests against the Bush Administration�s �Roadmap for Peace,� a plan many Evangelicals opposed as being too tough on the Israelis. The message is clear to Christians outside the U.S. � Israel matters and you don�t. Worse still, even when Evangelicals do pay attention to Christians outside American borders, it is often tinged with hostility. Ask the Serbs or the Israeli Christians about that. Of course, the Evangelicals do not consider Catholic or Orthodox Christians to be Christians. Somehow, though, one has to doubt that Jesus feels that way, especially when so many of those suffering persecution for His name are from those communions. If strength in the faith under adverse conditions is the measure of a Christian, then surely many Catholic and Orthodox believers are among the greatest living. Would that the Evangelicals only recognized that fact, while there is still time to prevent any more suffering. We are not aquitting ourselves very well over there. In fact, this is downright shameful and makes me consider admitting that perhaps the Pope was right in his objections to the war and America all along. If an Assyrian Christian who gave up everything in order to adhere to the faith stands before the Judgment Seat next to an American Catholic, how would Christ react? I don't think I want to know the answer, but it is said that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. CarrieTomko@aol.com

SISTER CHRISTINE VLADIMIROFF has been elected to a leadership role in the organization of American women religious according to the Erie Times News: The prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie recently was elected vice president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Sister Christine Vladimiroff, Ph.D., will serve through summer 2004 as vice president of the organization, which represents more than 76,000 Roman Catholic sisters in the United States. She will serve as president the following year. Vladimiroff told more than 900 sisters at the August conference of LCWR in Detroit that the organization should be not only a voice within the church, but also a voice for shaping policy in the country at large. "In collaboration we can unite our voices to ask for a more just arrangement of political, social, religious and economic structures, and an end to war," she said. Vladimiroff has served as prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, a community of 121 sisters, since 1998. It's interesting to discover what American nuns admire. A controversial figure, Sr. Christine accepted Call to Action's 2002 Commendation Award on behalf of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie at the CTA annual conference held in Milwaukee, where she presented workshops entitled "An Obedient Church is a Listening Church" from which the following quote is taken: John Paul II told Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregations for the Defense of the Faith that they must learn to "collaborate" with the world�s bishops and get used to listening. The pope used the word "collaborate" five times in his address to the plenary assembly of the congregation. He affirmed that the church needs "reciprocal listening" and a "continuous fraternal encounter between the entire Roman Curia on the one hand and the conferences of bishops and heads of religious orders on the other." The motive expressed in John Paul�s talk was that he was concerned that the documents of the Vatican congregations have serious problems of "reception and assimilation" by the faithful in the pews. He is quoted as saying: There is "a problem of transmission of church teaching" to the faithful, "to all people and in particular to theologians and people of learning." We need to change our mindset about what has come to us through Jesus Christ and what we have built. One observer of the Church has called for a time of molting � shedding the forms of its older answers. And I would inject, to ask new questions, so as to emerge from a situation of fixity of forms, and of constraint and narrow vision. She defied the Vatican over the issue of Sr. Joan Chittister's appearance at the Women's Ordination Worldwide Conference. Here is her statement from which this quote is taken: For the past three months I have been in deliberations with Vatican officials regarding Sister Joan Chittister�s participation in the Women�s Ordination Worldwide Conference, June 29 to 31, Dublin, Ireland. The Vatican believed her participation to be in opposition to its decree (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis) that priestly ordination will never be conferred on women in the Roman Catholic Church and must therefore not be discussed. The Vatican ordered me to prohibit Sister Joan from attending the conference where she is a main speaker. I spent many hours discussing the issue with Sister Joan and traveled to Rome to dialogue about it with Vatican officials. I sought the advice of bishops, religious leaders, canonists, other prioresses, and most importantly with my religious community, the Benedictine Sisters of Erie. I spent many hours in communal and personal prayer on this matter. After much deliberation and prayer, I concluded that I would decline the request of the Vatican. Sr. Christine's statement is also carried on the website for the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church, Leonard Swidler's organization. IMdiversity.com carries an article about Sr. Christine which indicates: Vladimiroff joined the convent at age 17 in her hometown of Erie. Penn., because the nuns in her high school "were the most happy and competent women I had ever seen." She pursued college degrees with the order's support and earned a doctorate at the Universidad International in Mexico City. She has been a secretary of education for the Diocese of Cleveland, the second-largest Catholic school system in the country, a college professor and the executive director for 10 years of Second Harvest, the national network of food banks. That's my diocese. The article goes on to say of the Vatican-defying event over Sr. Joan Chittister: When Vladimiroff returned from Rome, she gathered all 135 members together and read them her response to the Vatican, in which she wrote that she could not, in good conscience, deliver the papal order to Chittister. She was saying no to the Vatican. All but one of the members of her order added their signatures to the letter, which then made all of them subject to the same "just penalties." Chittister spoke and the Vatican took no action. After the conference ended and hundreds of participants from four continents had departed, the Vatican's spokesman said that church authorities had "not taken--in this case--disciplinary measures into consideration." Where was Bishop Pilla when this was taking place? Why did the Vatican fail to follow through? As any parent knows, empty threats of discipline encourage defiant behavior. Bishop and Pope had responsibility here. Was their intent to encourage Sr. Christine? If not, perhaps they should reflect on this recent election and what it means for the Church. Apparently the road to promotion in the American Catholic religious establishment is a road of defiance, and defying the Pope is the trump card. Sr. Christine played it and won. CarrieTomko@aol.com

MUSLIM APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE makes some predictions outlined in this Spirit Daily article. None of it good news for America, of course. CarrieTomko@aol.com

CAN THE 1929 CRASH HAPPEN AGAIN? This article titled "The Coming First World Debt Crisis" takes the position that it can, and that it is about to. The reckless financial policies of leading western powers in the last two decades make it likely that the next seismic debt crisis will be in America, not Argentina. It can be avoided, says Ann Pettifor of the Real World Economic Outlook, only by serious efforts to bring regulation and balance to the international economy. She blames it on globilization. Which means that the financial movers and shakers of the world are behind it. Are orchestrating it? Some of you are likely much more savvy about economics than I am, so what do you think? One thing that has bothered me for some time about our economy is what might be the outcome of the unbelievably low interest rates on savings accounts. It almost seems that Greenspan, or whoever is in charge of these rates, wants Americans to get their money out of banks. That might be an effort to stimulate the economy. But one thing is sure...when and if the economy collapses, government backed deposits will amount to far less if the American public can be persuaded to take their money out of the bank. Falling interest rates are very persuasive. The renewal rate for large CDs recently has been as low as .6%. One lady commented, "Soon the banks will be charging me to keep my money in them." One of the triggers that precipitated the rise of Hitler in Germany was economic chaos. In fact, the occultists that I've been chasing around the web practice something called "chaos magick." Upset the social order so drastically in some way or other that the plebes will welcome any politics that appear to offer a return to sanity. If Ann Pettifor's speculation is close to the mark, we are in serious trouble here in America. CarrieTomko@aol.com

OKAPI I'd never heard of one until visiting the Columbus Zoo where they have a couple of them. It got my vote for best animal in the zoo. They really do look just like the animals in the pictures at that linked website. Very odd and very interesting. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

BISHOP SWING'S MOST EXCELLENT EUROPEAN ADVENTURE Or, Great Moments in Ecumenical Understanding, ECUSA-Style Commentary Report By Lee Penn The Christian Challenge (Washington, DC) September 16, 2003 LIBERAL CALIFORNIA Episcopal Bishop William Swing hatched a plan in late 2002 to make a ten-day ecumenical pilgrimage to Canterbury, Rome, and Istanbul, in which he would be joined by (among others) San Francisco Roman Catholic Archbishop William Levada and Metropolitan Anthony, the city's Greek Orthodox Metropolitan. Swing described this pilgrimage, which took place in April 2003, as having several lofty-sounding ecumenical objectives. Yet it appears that he and some within his entourage did not let ecumenical sensitivity stand in the way of their efforts to promote women's ordination during visits to the top officials of two major Churches which definitively reject the innovation. In a rather eye-glazing explanation, Swing said he and the two other San Francisco church leaders set out on their journey "to...witness to the close bond of friendship that has developed over the past decades between the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican bishops in San Francisco; to build on a growing sense of unity whereby social issues have been addressed in common, ministries have been approached jointly, mutual hospitalities have been shared, and worship services have been held that included all constituencies; to demonstrate an earnest desire to become more knowledgeable and appreciative of each other's traditions; ...to show plainly that some religious communities are reaching out to each other; and to make our prayers at each one's spiritual home as we yearn for the day when we will share together Holy Communion and all the blessings that accompany the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ." The trip was to be a witness for ecumenical unity among Christians--a laudable goal, indeed. Despite the war in Iraq, the trip occurred as planned this last April, complete with audiences for the prelates and their retinue with the Pope and with the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Holy Father gave a warm and welcoming message to the pilgrims, who in turn gave him two $50,000 checks for use in ministry to the poor. Swing wrote that the trip included a "grand reception" on the evening after the Papal audience, attended by "Cardinals and all sorts of other impressive people, [all] wanting to greet us. (Obviously Levada has a good name in this town.)" Swing also met with British supporters of the United Religions Initiative (URI), the syncretic interfaith movement that he founded in San Francisco in 1995, and which now has 200 chapters and 15,000 members worldwide. The bishop had posted a chatty diary of the pilgrimage on the Diocese of California web site. His meeting with the Pope and the Patriarch got equal time with his head cold, his excursions through Europe's hotels and restaurants, and his references to "young gypsy pickpockets," Oscar Wilde's arrest in a British hotel room for a "homosexual liaison," and a Turkish tour guide who called himself "Attila the honey." And Swing's diary made clear that, throughout their journey, the bishop and other Episcopalians with him made repeated attempts to promote women priests: --- Archbishop Levada led a Catholic Mass at the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi, where the lesson was read by Beth Hansen, "[maybe] the first woman priest ever to participate in a mass at the Basilica," Swing wrote. --- When the pilgrims met Patriarch Bartholomew, Swing said that "we covered a wide range of subjects. When we hit on women's ordination, he had a deacon bring books on that subject to the three women in our group--Mary, Beth, and Lou. I mentioned that I have ordained more women than any other bishop in the history of the Church and would be glad to talk about my experience. He said, 'I don't want to know your experience.' That was that." Swing also furnished 30 "footnotes and afterthoughts" at the end of his on-line diary. He regretted that church leaders have been "telling our flocks about other churches and doing so in prejudicial and unfair ways. Education founded on respectful education is needed." Swing then offered these profound contributions to mutual respect among Christians: --- "Cardinal Kasper said wistfully, 'Women's ordination is a hard issue for us.' My reptile brain wanted to say, 'Our women are a problem for you. And you should know that your men are a problem for us.' Restraint prevailed." (But not for long: if Cardinal Kasper had gone onto the Internet, he could have read this statement from Swing's "reptile brain" on Swing's diocesan web site.) --- "The statement that the Pope made on women's ordination was just one degree less than a Papal Bull. Were it a Papal Bull and thus infallible it would have closed the question of women's ordination for 300 years into the future. At the last second, that Pope insisted on a slight bit of restraint. Therefore, it is a minor issue," Swing concluded. --- "Beth Hansen was brave to wear her clerical collar in an audience with the Pope and an audience with the Ecumenical Patriarch. The Pope didn't react. The Patriarch seemed slightly perturbed." (Another great moment in Episcopalian diplomacy and tact!) --- "Rome and Orthodoxy are very, very, very male. Also they both have high doctrines and devotion about the Blessed Virgin Mary. I find it difficult to utter the word 'Theotokos' in referring to Mary. Although I honor the devotion that Levada and Anthony have for Mary, I think that calling Mary the Mother of God moves close to idolatry. Jesus said, 'Who is my mother... ? Those who do the will of my Father in heaven are my mother, brothers ....' And if she is the Mother of God, what relationship does she have with the one whom Jesus calls Abba, Father? Popular Islamic thinking is that Christians are polytheists: God, Jesus, His Mother. I can see where their impression comes from." (When push comes to shove, this Anglican prelate is more at ease with Islamic views than with the Christian dogma about one woman--Mary as the Mother of God--proclaimed at the Council of Ephesus in 431 and again at the Council of Constantinople in 551.) --- Swing said it is "obvious" that the Vatican and the Patriarchate "are structured so that the 'house' wins. I serve in the Church where the main concerns are social ministries and getting a new rector or vitalizing the youth group...In dealing with the Vatican and Orthodoxy, it is clear that time is on a different scale. They deal with centuries, mostly past centuries." --- "There is no way that the Church in England could have broken away from Rome without the power of the King," Swing wrote. "The Roman Catholic Church is power bequeathed by Roman Emperors, inherited in lands and treasures, and endlessly propagating itself. It is a big Church with big Muscle. Going through St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museum gives that message. Anglicanism could only start with the big Muscle of a King." (Thus, Swing credited earthly kings for the establishment and maintenance of both Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism.) SWING SAID THAT the "most scintillating meeting" he had at the reception on the evening after the papal audience was with Francis Cardinal Arinze. "In the past we haven't always seen eye-to-eye on interfaith matters. Now he has moved on from Interreligious to Divine Worship so our paths no longer cross," the bishop wrote. He was referring to the fact that Cardinal Arinze, when he was the head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, clearly rejected the URI. He told Swing in 1996 that the United Religions Initiative "would give the appearance of syncretism and...would water down our need to evangelize. It would force authentic religions to be on equal footing with spurious religions." Sources: --- The Rt. Rev. William E. Swing, "2003 Ecumenical Pilgrimage to London, Canterbury, Rome, Istanbul," accessible through http://diocal.org as of 07/19/03. (The article had been on-line from April 2003 through July 2003, but was no longer on-line as of September 11, 2003) -- Bishop William Swing, "The United Religions Initiative," a document issued in April 1996 (at the end of Swing's global pilgrimage), p. 7 --- Permission to circulate the foregoing electronically is granted, provided that there are no changes in the headings or text, and this notice is included. To receive a sample issue of THE CHRISTIAN CHALLENGE magazine, please write to CHRISTIAN.CHALLENGE@ecunet.org. CarrieTomko@aol.com

A DISCUSSION OF 9/11 IN THE ENVOY BLOG prompted me to mention some articles about Scripture that appeared on the morning of 9/11. Since Envoy doesn't allow links in the blog, I thought I'd post them here. The DAWN article The article from The Times, UK, is no longer available at their website. I have a print-out of it. This website has the article up and it matches my print-out. Notice that the article mentions Baigent and Leigh. The article from The Guardian is here. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE takes on the Democratic Party and Francis Kissling. CarrieTomko@aol.com

SIGH CarrieTomko@aol.com

PEGGY NOONAN'S COMMENTS ON THE BISHOP'S MEETING She reports what she said and what she thought. These are her opening remarks: First, I think in some small way the meeting was historic. The non-Catholic public would probably assume that bishops and cardinals frequently talk with conservatives in the church. The non-Catholic American public would probably assume bishops and cardinals are the conservatives in the church. But this is not so. Conservatives in the church often feel that they are regarded, and not completely unkindly, as sort of odd folk, who perhaps tend to have a third hand growing out of their foreheads and tinfoil hats on their heads. We say, "Please, we must speak more as a church about abortion," and church leaders say, "We may possibly do that after issuing the report on domestic employment policy." We ask the church to teach Catholic doctrine, and they point out that the press doesn't really like the church. We ask them to discuss the pressing issues of the moment, such as cloning--we're entering a world in which industrial fetal farms may grow replacement people for replacement parts--and instead they issue new directives on how it would be better if people sang songs during the mass after communion, and hugged each other instead of shaking hands during the moment of peace. Good comments. Heartfelt comments. Important comments. She goes on to express what so many of us believe, that the scandal is tearing the Church apart. That it needs to come to an end. That two, or four, or six more years of this will be unbearable. That parents are starting to wonder what to pass on to their children regarding their faith. She explains why the reporting of this meeting looks so different from the usual reporting of meetings of the hierarchy, and she ends with a plea to the bishops to become available to the man in the street. In every sentence of her article she takes for granted that the bishops have the best interests of the Church at heart. That the traditional teachings of the Church are paramount to all of them. That they want the Church to heal. But as I read it, I started to wonder what the situation would look like if she were wrong. What would the bishops say and do if they didn't want the traditional teachings of the Church to be paramount? How would they respond to the scandal if they liked what the scandal was accomplishing? And I started to wonder what they talked about in that secret meeting with dissenters that no one leaks. Did they say in that meeting that yes, the chaos in the Church is serving the purpose they all hold in their hearts, to turn the Church into an instrument of ___ ? Did they discuss statistics that they perhaps have gathered that none of us know about, which document the falloff in Mass attendance? The reduction in number of baptisms and confirmations? Did they discuss the loss of Church property to settle lawsuits? Did they discuss the broken moral compass? And did they discuss these things with satisfaction? Because it seems that they were not encouraging to the conservative Catholics who met with them last week. So maybe they are not in sympathy with the urgent desire of these conservative Catholics to repair the damage. Maybe they want the damage to continue. Maybe they want the damage to get worse so that the Church in America will self-destruct and a new church can be built up in its place. Worshipping who...or what? These are unsettling thoughts, and this is not the first time I've had them; but it is the first time I've expressed them this bluntly. What if...just what if the bishops are not in favor of following Christ and the teachings of His Church? Would they then simply give lip service to a meeting of conservatives who express the sorts of thoughts that Peggy Noonan has expressed? Would they allow such a meeting in order to avoid over-exposure of their real intentions because the time is not ripe? Was the meeting simply a pressure valve they opened in order to silence the conservative backlash? Was the meeting merely damage control? Are we supposed to go away thinking that now everything will be well and we only have to await the implementation? While a completely different agenda is being implemented in the chanceries? After all, the scandal that has erupted was hardly a closely guarded secret among the bishops. The bishops were aware of it all through the 90s. They were aware of the cesspool the seminaries had become. They were aware of the children and adolescents who had been abused. They had the power to end it immediately but didn't use that power. They didn't care about the laity, but rather sought to use the laity for some purpose of their own. What purpose? The Mark Shea's of cyberspace hate thoughts such as these. They do not entertain such questions. They brand as schismatic those who do entertain such questions. So be it. I will ask them anyway, and I will keep searching for answers and hope to find answers that support the Church. If there are any. CarrieTomko@aol.com

CHIESA Anyone know what happened to them? Their website seems to be down. CarrieTomko@aol.com

RUDOLF STEINER Several days ago I promised some quotes from Steiner's book on Fremasonry. I haven't forgotten, and I also haven't been able to make as much progress in reading the book as I'd hoped to make. Why does everything have the nerve to pile up at home when you're away having fun? CarrieTomko@aol.com

COMMENTS MAY GO DOWN for a while during the next day or two. BlogSpot is changing to a different server, and this change could disrupt service. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Monday, September 15, 2003

THIS BLOG PASSED IT'S 1-YEAR ANNIVERSARY YESTERDAY and I didn't even realize it until a moment ago. Looks like a year of treatment for running off at the keyboard hasn't yet accomplished a cure. CarrieTomko@aol.com

AHA! NOVUS ORDO WATCH is the "NOW" in Mark Shea's blog. Thanks to an anonymous poster in the comments to my rant below, I finally know that. And since each group appears to be getting and giving equal billing, it seems I've over reacted. Here's the link to "NOW". And even I am seeing the humor in it at last. Excuse me while I wipe the egg off... CarrieTomko@aol.com

MICROMANAGING PAGAN MESSAGE BOARDS so that the AOL forum looks larger than it really is was a specialty of John Gibson, who managed some of the AOL pagan forums prior to his conversion to Catholicism. John tells his conversion story at Expagan.Info. and has a new blog as well. His story is a good one for anyone interested in the growth of Paganism. There are so many questions I'd like to ask John, but I refrain from emailing him because he is new to Catholicism, and I wouldn't want to be the one to discourage him. I'd especially like to know what he thinks of Wisdom Ways! CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE PAGANS ARE MEETING AT THE COLLEGE OF ST. CATHERINE along with others interested in the Earth Charter. The college is located in Minnesota. I presume it would be this College of St. Catherine where one finds the nuns involved in Wisdom Ways which I see is planning a "Midwest Labyrinth Festival" in collaboration with The Minnesota Labyrinth Network, whatever that is. Will the Pagans be participating in the Labyrinth event as well, one wonders? I see that the nuns admire the "wisdom of many ancient spiritual traditions." The Pagans would be right at home. Catholics might find it a little unnerving, but what the heck... We are nothing if we are not ecumenical these days. Here are more workshops from Wisdom Ways. Click the "Events and Programs" link. CarrieTomko@aol.com

RAD TRADS a new website started Sept. 13 which Mark Shea has linked in his blog has provided fodder for the latest round of Catholic jokes about other Catholics who disagree with the political position of the one doing the laughing. Am I the only one who is saddened by such reaction? Are these trads promoting heresy or are they promoting what once passed for authentic Catholic doctrine in times gone by? If their positions are probed, much more of the latter than the former will be found. Personally I am offended by the evidence of lack of charity displayed toward fellow Catholics in comments about this website. It is one thing to disagree intellectually. It is entirely another thing to use ad hominem in order to make oneself feel good at the expense of other members of the Church. I would be willing to bet that these same people poking fun at traditional Catholics are quite reverent toward the beliefs of other faiths. The political landscape of the Roman Catholic Church gets uglier every day. CarrieTomko@aol.com

REVOLVE is the title of a magazine written for teens with the objective of making the Bible relevant for them. It's been a hot topic in Amy Welborn's blog on a couple of different days. Fr. Bryce Sibley indicates in his blog that he can't find a website for it. I can't either. But I did find a REVOLVE magazine online. Here. It's the magazine of Chaos Unlimited Records. Isn't that a Buddha on the cover? And are these records also targeted to teens? CarrieTomko@aol.com

Sunday, September 14, 2003

LET'S CHANGE THE TOPIC from what's wrong with the Church to what's right with the world. If you get within driving distance of one of these, take the time for a visit, preferably before the 25th anniversary ends, taking the limited edition Godiva chocolate cheesecake with it. My daughter took me to the one in Columbus last week. Talk about dessert to die for... The Godiva is good. The chocolate raspberry truffel is what I plan to eat at the Heavenly banquet table that exists in the eternal now. This stuff is definitely too good to waste on earthlings who are left with just the memory of it! They even have flavors that anyone foolish enough to dislike chocolate can love. (A word to the wise...take the spare $20 when going for a visit. You will probably be surprised how much "death by chocolate" can cost!) P.S. They do serve other food too. For eating after you've eaten dessert first. CarrieTomko@aol.com

A "TEMPLATE FOR REFORM" from Christian Order magazine. CarrieTomko@aol.com

MAKING CONTACT WITH THE DEAD IS CATCHING ON according to the Toronto Star's interview with James Van Praagh. Being in touch with the dead has been coming alive. Conversations with people in the hereafter is so very now � in movies, on television, in best-selling books and in personal appearances before live audiences across the continent. The widespread urge to get in touch with the dearly departed is making the afterlife mainstream. That's no surprise to James Van Praagh. He's the medium whose show Beyond With James Van Praagh is one of two about communicating with the dead that airs on TV multiple times each day. He says he predicted the popularity of tapping into eternity during his first appearance on Larry King Live in the mid-'90s.... Van Praagh certainly has his share of celebrities convinced he's the real McCoy � Cheers star Ted Danson played Van Praagh in a television movie last year after getting a reading that, the actor says, blew him away.In fact, the mediums have become celebrities themselves, with some fans travelling great distances for their appearances. Van Praagh's books have been published in 35 countries and in 25 languages.Gone are the days when the odd believer quietly � sometimes even sheepishly � went to a local psychic for a reading on his or her past lives and future. These days the subject has even gone to the dogs � The Pet Psychic runs weekly on the Animal Planet channel. BTW, the link in the article to "The Learning Annex" is broken. CarrieTomko@aol.com

APPARENTLY BABIES SMILE IN THE WOMB according to this story from Sky News which is also carried in The Guardian, minus the picture, which is linked at Fr. Bryce Sibley's blog. CarrieTomko@aol.com

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