Saturday, January 03, 2004

AMERICAN BEAUTY the movie starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening that won 5 Academy Awards in 1999, including Best Picture, according to its jacket...the movie borrowed from the library that I have just finished watching...is just plain sick. Nudity, adultery, sexual abuse of a minor, homosexuality, abuse of chemical substances, and murder. This is what passes for good filmmaking now? Admittedly I don't see a lot of movies, and so the culture of Hollywood is largely foreign to me. I am not conditioned, and thus don't take a movie such as this one in stride. I see it and wonder how we have sunk into this cultural garbage pit. Thirty years ago there were special theaters for movies such as this one--the X-rated theaters. Those are all gone now. All the theaters are X-rated these days. CarrieTomko@aol.com

KAREN ARMSTRONG'S VIEWS from the Guardian: We can be certain of one thing in 2004. Unless there is some unimaginable breakthrough, we will see more religiously inspired terrorism. It often seems that we might be better off without religion. A cursory consideration of the crusades and persecutions of Christian history shows that religious violence is not confined to the Islamic world. If the different faiths really are committed to peace and goodwill, why do they inspire such hatred, and why are their scriptures so aggressive? In a similar way, the Christian right today has absorbed the endemic violence in American society: they oppose reform of the gun laws, for example, and support the death penalty. They never quote the Sermon on the Mount but base their xenophobic and aggressive theology on Revelation. Osama bin Laden is as just as selective in his use of scripture. Most of the Muslim extremism that troubles us today is the product of societies that have suffered prolonged, hopeless conflict: the Middle East, Palestine, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Kashmir.... We need bishops, rabbis and imams to search for the seeds of aggression in their own scriptures, admit that their own faith has a history of hatred, and revise bigoted, self-serving textbooks. We should also question the efficacy of the current war against religious terror. By increasing violence in troubled regions, we contribute to the conditions that have always mobilised the faithful in their pernicious holy wars. The article indicates Karen Armstrong is "the author of a History of God." Here, from the Los Angeles Times, is a Profile of Karen Armstrong which opens with these paragraphs: For years she was tagged the "runaway nun," the rebellious ex-Catholic with outspoken opinions about religion. Now, with her 12th book, "Islam, a Short History" (Modern Library), Karen Armstrong has changed her image. She can still be sharp-tongued, inclined to draw conclusions that get a rise out of critics. But something closer to reconciliation, rather than anger, is propelling her. Her life in a British convent is 30 years behind her. She spent seven years in the Society of the Holy Child Jesus during the 1960s and later wrote a tell-all book, "Through the Narrow Gate" (St. Martin's Press, 1982) that bemoaned the restrictive life. (The frightened nuns did not know the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 had ended for several weeks; they were not allowed to inquire about the outside world.) Armstrong is still hearing about the book: "Catholics in England hate me. They've sent me excrement in the mail." Readers who have followed her lately are learning her more optimistic ideas about what Islam, Judaism and Christianity have in common. Three of these books--"A History of God" (Ballantine, 1993), "Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths" (Knopf, 1996) and "The Battle for God" (Knopf, 2000)--show what unites the faiths. Each, Armstrong writes, has developed the image of one Supreme Being who was first revealed to the prophet Abraham. All have historic links to Jerusalem. And more recently, each has built up a rigid conservative strain as a reaction against the modern world. The article indicates that Armstrong, at one time, was "an Atheist who was wearied by religion." Her book on God's history is recommended by CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans - Charlottesville Chapter), along with books by Stephen Hoeller (a gnostic Bishop), Eliphas Levi (the father of the modern occult revival), Elaine Pagels (author of The Gnostic Gospels), and the witch, Starhawk. Alice Bailey said something similar in Esoteric Healing: It is the same with religion. Both of these great sciences must eliminate the reactionary and fundamentalist positions, and then proceed with an [281] open mind into the new ways of approach to divinity and of approach to physical well-being. In the minds of those of a liberal persuasion, the whole problem with the human race is this clinging to doctrine and dogma, without which, they believe, mankind would have a peaceful and loving society unencumbered by religious differences which spark wars. Albert Pike offers a similar viewpoint in Morals and Dogma: No city is not tortured by shot and shell; and no people fail to enact the horrid blasphemy of thanking a God of Love for victories and carnage. (p. 297 - Chapter XVIII "Knight Rose Croix") The second paragraph in that chapter reads: In no other way could Masonry possess its character of Universality; that character which has ever been peculiar to it from its origin; and which enables two Kings, worshippers of different Deities, to sit together as Masters, while the walls of the first temple arose; and the men of Gebal, bowing down to the Phoenician Gods, to work by the side of the Hebrews to whom those Gods were abomination; and to sit with them in the same Lodge as brethren. (p. 276, Morals and Dogma) Peace and brotherhood instigated by man, and accomplished by dismissing religious difference, is a message of the 18th degree of Freemasonry, which is represented by the symbols of the cross and the rose, and by the bird--pelican or phoenix?--feeding her young with the flesh of her breast. It also seems to be the message of ecumenism--of John Paul II's "New International Order" urged for the sake of peace. It is the message of the apologies for the Crusades. Is this a Traditional Catholic message or a "development of doctrine"? And how does Dominus Iesus fit into this picture? Are all gods equal so that men are no longer required to come to an understanding of the salvific act of Jesus Christ? Or is Jesus Christ the one and only savior of the world? I don't think it's possible to have it both ways at the same time. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, January 02, 2004

CAN YOU SAY "NEW WORLD ORDER"? Well then, how about "New International Order"? Apparently John Paul II can say it. Someone else could say it, or at least say something meaning essentially the same thing. The United Nations was just being invented when she said it...or I should say "channeled" it. Bailey died in 1949. An International Unit, Made Up Of Intelligent Men Of Good Will, Which Must Inevitably Control World Destiny And Bring About World Peace And Thus Organize The New World Order. She said it here, too: They call the vision by many names: better world conditions, the new world order, world reconstruction, the new civilization, brotherhood, fellowship, world federation, international understanding - it matters not. It is the theme of betterment, of universal welfare, of general security, of widespread opportunity, irrespective of race, color or creed. This is the factor of importance. The underlying purposes of God are working out, and with this note I seek to begin my Wesak communication to you. Interesting how both of them promote the same concept. I don't recall any other Pope promoting this idea. Does anyone else? CarrieTomko@aol.com

TRANSNATIONAL PROGRESSIVISM... that is, an article about it, has been sitting here waiting for the holiday activities to slow down before blogging it, because I know some of you are interested in the topic. The article prints out at 14 pages and is unfortunately a pdf file. It comes from John Fonte at the Hudson Institute. I'll just post a couple of quotes to whet your appetite for more: Indeed, to comply with the NGO interpretation of the CERD treaty, the United States would have to turn its political and economic system, together with their underlying principles, upside down--abandoning the free speech guarantees of the Constitution, bypassing federalism, and ignoring the very concept of majority rule--since practically nothing in the NGO agenda is supported by the American electorate.... Thus, in global progressive ideology, "equity" and "social justice" mean strengthening the position of the victim groups and weakening the position of oppressors--hence preferences for certain groups are justified. Accordingly, equality under law is replaced by legal preferences for traditionally victimized groups. In 1999, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission extended antidiscrimination protection under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to illegal immigrants.... ...transnational progressives have been altering the definition of "democracy," from that of a system of majority rule among equal citizens to one of power sharing among ethnic groups composed of both citizens and non-citizens.... Britain should be formally "recognized as a multi-cultural society" whose history needed to be "revised, rethought, or jettisoned."... ...this core multicultural concept that the United States is not primarily the creation of Western civilization but the result of a "Great Convergence" of "three worlds" has become the dominant paradigm in American public schools.... University of Chicago philosophy professor Martha Nussbaum, who called for reinvigorating the concept of "global citizenship" and denounced patriotism as reinvigorating the concept of "global citizenship" and denounced patriotism as "indistinguishable from jingoism"... ...ultimately the question of whether the U.S. Constitution trumps international law or vice versa..."new international law" has increasingly penetrated the sovereignty of democratic nation-states. It is, therefore, in reality, "transnational law."... CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, January 01, 2004

THEOPHOSTIC HEALING blogged by Fr. Bryce Sibley, was sent to me by a reader. I've never heard of it, but it looks like a further extention of Pentecostalism/charismatic renewal activity. Anyone else know something about it? CarrieTomko@aol.com

PRACTICING... 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2003, oops!, 2004... CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

WHAT'S WITH THE EMBASSY WEBSITE? I've just tried twice to access the "Saudi Arabia terrorist warnings" at the US Embassy. Twice, clicking on different links, it locked my computer down. I haven't made a third attempt. Good thing I was checking the website out of curiosity and not necessity! If anyone else is curious, here's the URL: http://usembassy.state.gov/riyadh/ I've been in that website before and never encountered a problem. Well, since terrorism is the topic of the day, here is some other stuff about it: EnvoyEncore is discussing this article about terrorists in Peoria at PJStar.com. Yeah, I know. Peoria. Meanwhile AOL News claims this will be the most heavily guarded Times Square party in recent memory. So...does their memory reach back as far as 2001 one wonders? In Germany German authorities said Wednesday they had received information that Islamic terrorists were planning suicide car bomb attacks in early 2004 in Hamburg and Frankfurt. "We have firm indications pointing to individuals planning an attack on the hospital with a car bomb," a police spokesman told Reuters, adding that the suspects were believed to come from the "Islamic terrorist scene." Then there are the Hummer bombs: On Dec. 15, mechanics found a cigar-shaped bomb near the fuel tank of a recently purchased Hummer when the owner brought it in for service. The bomb was detonated by agents from the San Mateo County Bomb Squad and sent to the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for analysis. Officials explored the possibility that environmental extremists opposed to the gas-guzzling Hummer planted the bomb. In September, a number of Hummers in Southern California exploded after an environmental group called ELF � or Earth Liberation Front � planted bombs in the vehicles. A Hummer for cripe sake...I mean, really, what does it take to get a little respect! When Bulgaria takes charge, the top priority will be terrorism: Bulgaria, which takes over the leadership of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in January, says it will steer the organization towards greater international cooperation in combating terrorism and safeguarding national borders. Bulgaria Foreign Minister Solomon Passy assumes the chair of the 55-nation OSCE on January 1, taking over from his Dutch counterpart, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who will be the new head of NATO. There is the terrorism-as-conspiracy-theory angle. From Counterpunch: In the week following last year's now largely forgotten holiday season terror alert -- recall five Arab men who supposedly crossed into the country via Canada -- the Bushites were rightfully accused of manufacturing hysteria (resulting in the shut down of New York's harbor) for political gain. But when no al-Qaeda sleeper cells blew up the Statue of Liberty or mowed down Christmas shoppers in Times Square, the Bushites blamed the whole thing on a perfidious informant, Michael Hamdani, an accused forger of passports and traveller's cheques. As if to underscore the fact there's little difference between Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Democratic strategist Russ Barksdale said at the time fake terror alerts make prefect sense. "Of course the White House is going to exploit the terrorism threat to the fullest political advantage. They would be fools not to." There are lots more articles on the subject, but I have to get to the library to rent some DVDs for tonight before they're all checked out. I'm not going out there into terror central where all you revelers are gathering. No way! I've already checked the livingroom for bombs and didn't find any! Keep your eyes open wherever you go. It's a jungle...um, mine field...out there. :) CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

THE DA VINCI CODE STILL IN THE NEWS I went looking for stories in the press about TDVC over the last few days, and sure enough found some. This one from news-press.com quotes authoritative comments about the faulty research presented in the book: Renaissance scholars and church historians, meanwhile, see �The Da Vinci Code� as something between harmless pulp fiction and an embarrassing mess that may lead readers astray. �I think the idea that Leonardo da Vinci had secret information passed down for 40 generations that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had a child is entertaining, but it is not history,� says John Martin, a professor at Trinity University in San Antonio and head of church history for the Renaissance Society of America. Church historian Christopher Bellitto, academic editor at Paulist Press, says he enjoyed �The Da Vinci Code� as a light, summer read. But he says Brown simply took some kernels of historical truth and popped them into fantasy. �Women did play influential roles in the early church,� he says. �Can we say that Catholicism hasn�t been as open to women as some might hope? Sure. But to come up with an Oliver Stone theory on getting rid of women goes way too far.� As for Leonardo�s intention to leave coded messages � the �Code� contends that the person to Jesus� right in �The Last Supper� is not an apostle but Mary Magdalene � art historians say they are used to wild theories about one of history�s most famous artists. Joseph Forte, an art historian at Sarah Lawrence College, says there has long been speculation about sexual messages in Leonardo�s art, about his reputation as a �court master� of riddles and games, about inconsistencies in various gospels, and other factors that Brown may have seized on in �marrying� Jesus and Magdalene. �I know of no serious scholar who has proposed this notion,� Forte says. J.V. Field, an art historian at the University of London and president of the Leonardo da Vinci Society, says the real history requires proof, and the �Code� offers none that scholars would recognize. Apparently, though, this lack of accuracy is also the cause of book sales. Indystar.com tells us: In 20 years as a fiction buyer for Barnes & Noble, Sessalee Hensley says she has seen nothing like it. The only other novel that comes close, she says, is last year's surprise best seller, Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones," which is narrated by a girl raped and murdered at 14."But 'The Da Vinci Code' is outstretching that. Readers say it kept them up all night. It's the first novel in a long time that people want to lose sleep over."The novel's popularity shows that "readers are clamoring for books which combine historic fact with a contemporary story line," says Carol Fitzgerald of Bookreporter.com, a Web site for book discussions. "They say, 'I like being able to learn something as well as read a story.' "It is a novel, but Brown writes in an introductory note that "all descriptions of documents and secret rituals are accurate."Scholars and theologians, both conservative and liberal, dispute that. Some even say Brown is anti-Catholic. But Doubleday publisher Stephen Rubin says "the accuracy questions have added to the celebrity of the book. People want to read it for themselves." This article from Litchfield County Times quotes an art historian who was less than thrilled with the book: "She's brilliant, she's thoughtful and she's very, very sensible," said the Rev. Roger White, rector of St. Andrews, of Ms. Bush's presentation style. The art historian, who said that for "non-serious reading" she turns to "non-fiction about art history," confessed that she actually threw the book, "The Da Vinci Code," across the room after reading it. "The author uses da Vinci in a way that almost entirely falsifies what da Vinci is about," she said. The story, which includes secret religious societies and ancient cover-ups, begins in modern-day Paris with the murder of the Louvre's chief curator. The elderly man's body is found, laid out emblematically, at the foot of the Mona Lisa. While working to solve the puzzle, the lead character of the novel discovers a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci-clues that are visible but cleverly disguised by the painter. Of the author's literary license, Ms. Bush said, "This would be forgivable, except at the beginning of the book, [the author] says [it's] all true." "I have to do something about this," is what the art historian remembers thinking after reading the book. While she has no quarrel with the author, she said, "I just think Leonardo needs to be understood." Ms. Bush said that the author of "The Da Vinci Code" portrays Leonardo Da Vinci as a raging homosexual who did many lucrative commissions for the Vatican. However, in an attempt to set the record straight, the art historian said that while the famous painter may have been gay, "Leonardo was not a raging homosexual ... [and] he did almost no work for the Vatican." Another point to ponder, according to Ms. Bush, is Mr. Brown's contention that the person sitting next to Christ in da Vinci's famous "The Last Supper" painting was Mary Magdalene. "If that's Mary Magdalene ... where's John the Evangelist," asked Ms. Bush. She explained that if the person was indeed the Magdalene, as suggested by Mr. Brown, the apostles would then number 11, not 12. "Just count noses," she advised. Noses? I thought true believers were occupied with wine cups. The Portsmouth Herald reports success not only for Da Vinci but also for Brown previous book, spurred on by the latest one: More than just a No. 1 bestseller from the get-go in the New York Times Book Review list, the sequel novel in which prime character Robert Langdon, a professor of symbology at Harvard University solves a centuries old puzzle involving the Holy Grail. The success prompted Columbia Pictures to purchase the movie rights to produce both "Angels & Demons" and the "The Da Vinci Code," as well as additional sequels to come. Additional sequels? Might we hope he will pick a different faith to dis with the next one? Sherryl Connelly, of the New York Daily News, has a brief analysis of potential sequels: Mrs. Christ is gonna be a hard act to follow. True, but then something blasphemous could probably be made of the Holy Spirit's procreational activities 30 years earlier. (Strike that. Dan Brown can generate his own ideas! Preferably after a nice long dry spell.) CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE SPIRITUAL IN ART Mike King, who received his doctorate in computer graphics from the Royal College of Art, London, in 1986, has an article online titled "Concerning the Spiritual in Cyberspace." In that article he talks about the spiritual in 20th century art and science. Regarding Theosophy, he says: The twentieth century has seen the development and promotion of alternative forms of spirituality, some of which have had a significant impact on modern art. The key movements in Europe at the beginning of the century include Theosophy, founded by H.P.Blavatsky and H.S.Olcott, Anthroposophy, founded by Rudolf Steiner, and the work of G.I.Gurdjieff and P.D.Ouspensky. All three movements had explicit teachings on the arts, though Steiner and Gurdjieff made the arts more central to the lives of their students than Theosophy, which focused on the preparation for the new World Teacher (a conflation of the second coming of Christ and the Buddha). There is not space here to even introduce the teachings of these three movements, other than to say that all three have an occult leaning (as defined earlier); Gurdjieff and Theosophy share some transcendental elements, and Anthroposophy and Gurdjieff include strong Christian themes. In examining the spiritual in 20th century art we are indebted to art historian Roger Lipsey for ground-breaking work in his book _An Art of Our Own The Spiritual in Twentieth-Century Art._ One of the premises of his work is that the arrival of the abstract in modern art allowed a new exploration of the spiritual; he is also clear that Theosophy was amongst the important spiritual influences of the time. However the tension between the spiritual and artistic is immediately present in his choice of title, for it comes from a quote from Brancusi: [Quote] In the art of other times there is a joy, but with it the nightmare that the religions drag with them. There is joy in Negro sculpture, among the nearly archaic Greeks, in some things of the Chinese and the Gothic...oh, we find it everywhere. But even so, not so well as it might be with us in the future, if only we were to free ourselves of all this...It is time we had an art of our own. [Unquote] The 'all this' we need to free ourselves from, and which 20th century Western artists and writers have done so thoroughly is the religious baggage of previous centuries. In Modernism and later art movements the 20th century does have an aret of its own, but Lipsey is interested in where the spiritual lies within it. If the modern artist rejects traditional religion, what is the source of the spiritual? In the first decades of the century the answer, using the terminology of this paper, is in the occult,, though 20th century innovation in art also maintained its ancient function; to act as a religious vehicle. Even in the words of someone who rejects religion, an admission is made that the spiritual is an essential aspect of art. Steiner, of course, would certainly agree. In fact the foundation of Waldorf Schools is the artistic impulse. What spirit, then, can motivate an artist who rejects the Trinitarian God? We know that there are three spirits in the one Trinity, but none of these are acceptable to such an artist. What's left? Man? No, not a viable choice. Angels? I can imagine the Archangels inspiring art as one of their functions. The Pope placed Michael and Gabriel in charge of the Vatican website. But the Archangels would not inspire art that has surgically incised the Trinity. That leaves only one choice. In the 20th century abstract art has gotten the greatest attention. Representational art was forced into a background position. Things created by a Father God were unwelcome on canvass. Rather we have gotten soup cans, and disjointed depictions of war to captivate us. Yet the earth has not been without beauty during the worst of our struggles. Nature still offers us a reflection of its Creator. The choice to ignore was a conscious choice. A deliberate decision to eliminate God. Hamilton Reed Armstrong offers some "Reflections on the letter to all artists by H.H. Pope John Paul II." An edited version of the article appeared in Latin Mass in the summer of 2000. Armstrong says: The Holy Father�s glowing enumeration of the great artistic movements of Eastern and Western Christendom in his letter needs no further elaboration. The Christian Faith was clearly the well spring of art right up to the age of Enlightenment. Even following the strained atmosphere of revolutionary politics of the eighteenth century, it was only such men as Baumgartner and Winkleman in this atmosphere of rationalism that dared to approach art from the perceptual science of pure aesthetics. Although the dialectic of classical and romantic secular themes reigned supreme throughout the nineteenth century, artists such as William Blake and Otto Rung attempted to interject a religious message, albeit heterodox, into their work. Although not widely known, a large percentage of twentieth century art draws its source from a spiritual wellspring albeit much of it antithetical to traditional Christianity. The anthological 1987 catalogue produced by the Los Angeles County Museum titled, The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890 � 1985 lists a who�s who of twentieth century artists including Mark Rothko, (Figure 5) Paul Klee, (Figure 6) Piet Mondrian, (Figure 7) Adolph Gotlieb, (Figure 8) Wassily Kandinsky, (Figure 9) architect Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, and a host of others as having their root inspiration in such alternative spiritualities as gnosticism, spiritism, sacred geometry, and theosophy. Kandinsky a founding father of the influential Blau Reiter school even mentions Helena Blavatsky by name as his guiding light in his seminal work, On the Spiritual in Art. Much of the work produced by these modern pioneers is powerful, disturbing, or hauntingly beautiful. As works of art they must be judged for what they are, the disquieting visions of twentieth century man in an attempt to find meaning in a science driven materialistic society that had lost or ignored its own Christian roots. There is no doubt that most of these figures had genuine talent, and artistic integrity. Their vision, however, as noted in Carl Jung�s seminal work, Man and his Symbols, was alien to and in fact diametrically opposed to the spirit of Christianity. Contrast the works of art from previous centuries when the Church had brought with her to Europe a high point in culture, to contemporary works of art. The "spirit" guiding the hand of the artist certainly appears, as seen in the results, to be motivated by far different ideals. This same artistic impulse can be seen in architecture, including the architecture of Catholic churches. The ones that leave us scratching our heads wondering what it is that we are looking at and how does Christ fit into this new structure? Armstrong includes several color pictures of modern art works in his article. The direction in most of them is toward chaos and decomposition. Toward a breaking into fragments of that which was once whole. Is the motivating spirit a spirit of chaos? He closes his paper with this comment: The Pope ends his letter by commending all artists to the Blessed Virgin, the "tota pulchra," source of inspiration to so many artists in the past and with a curious quote from the Polish nationalist poet, Adam Mickiewicz, "From chaos there rises the world of the spirit." May this spirit be the Spirit of Christ crucified and may we, the artists of the world, partake of this Spirit. Christianity, and only Christianity, will inspire to wholeness and completeness and order. Other spirits take art into different realms. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Monday, December 29, 2003

THE IMPACT OF FAITH ON THE ARTIST We don't write well when we write in a vacuum. Nor does an artist paint well, a musician play well, if he separates himself from THE Creative Impulse. I began thinking about this while reading Steiner's books. Gradually I came to realize that his books are channeled. That "channeling" is the meaning of clairvoyance in the occult territory. And that occultists sometimes think of themselves as Christian. In reading about the impact of theosophy on architecture, the idea was impressed further into my thoughts. Art and spirit must go together. Occultists tend to be prolific. Many of them use a technique called "automatic writing" whereby the books they publish are dictated by a disembodied spirit, often while the writer is in a trance state. Very little of the author is included in the material, and there is usually a great deal of material. So where does that leave the truly Christian--the Catholic--author? Anyone who writes knows about the "muse." We don't write well without it. So what is it? And how is it different from what the occultist does? I think Michael O'Brien may have answered these questions in Part 2 of an interview with Zenit. In response to the question: "How do you write a novel?" He said: The process is similar to how I make paintings. I always increase my prayer before I begin any work. I try to fast also. And I keep praying throughout its creation. First a grace comes -- the grace to see a "form" interiorly. Usually it's not a very specific visual form in my imagination. It's more the core "word" of the work, its "logos." As I paint or write, this word slowly begins to manifest itself in a form that others can see. If it's a written work, characters just seem to arrive in the imagination and sometimes they almost write themselves. A more accurate description of the process is what Catholic theology calls "co-creation," grace building upon nature. It's grace or inspiration working with my human talents, making something together with me, through me. The artist is not an autonomous genius pulling masterpieces out of his supposedly divine self. But neither is he an empty shell that the Holy Spirit just uses like a tool. It's really more an act of love. That is the essence of co-creation in marriage and in any kind of healthy cultural work. There is the key..."co-creation." "Grace building upon nature." "Inspiration working with human talents." Unlike the occultist who is "an empty shell that the spirit just uses like a tool" the Christian creator works in conjunction with God and with full awareness. This is how a beautiful picture is painted, how a wonderful story is told, how a symphony is composed. Listening to the Cleveland Orchestra's Christmas concert, this came home to me forcefully. There I was in a secular concert hall, surrounded by the sound of the songs of my faith. There was no mistaking the beauty of the music, but it was that much more beautiful because of what it told. Secular music has a hard time catching up to what has been composed with and for the faith. To know the God who inspired the music is to truly experience the music in its fullness. The same thing happens when we look at a beautiful church such as Chartres Cathedral. It is the faith behind the art that inspired the architects of the cathedrals of Europe, and can also influence the tourist gazing in awe. The cathedral and the faith cannot be separated. Or consider an icon. Why do they draw us in? They are never beautiful in the sentimental way that we often think of beauty. By contrast they are stark. They reflect a pensive mood. They speak of suffering. Yet even non-Christians can understand the beauty of icons. A writer of icons, to be true to the artform, must do more than put paint on wood. Prayer is essential to an iconographer. When the Christian God is removed, icons such as Robert Lentz's Trinity are created. Pictures that can't be called beautiful in any sense of the word. Icons that don't draw us in. To remove God from art is to remove its heart and its purpose. And too often it devolves into ugliness when its heart is gone. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Sunday, December 28, 2003

FROM PRAVDA "The Iraq War Began, And Ended, on Occult Holidays" BUSH DECLARES CEASE IN IRAQ WAR : THIS WAR BEGAN, AND ENDED, ON OCCULT HOLIDAYS AND WAS FILLED WITH OCCULT CONSIDERATIONS THROUGHOUT! As with any occult undertaking, the Iraq War was conducted strictly according to occult holidays and occult numbers. Once you understand this reality, you will see that this war is likely Act I of a global war. The article goes on to quote Cutting Edge Ministry. CarrieTomko@aol.com

ANOTHER ATTEMPT AT CLARIFICATION OF THE PAPAL POSITION ON GIBSON'S FILM merely adds more confusion to an already muddled situation. This story from "Forward" which is linked at the Envoy blog is up for discussion there. CarrieTomko@aol.com

INTERESTING AUTHOR LIST This comes from the Catholic Church in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, St. Joan of Arc. You have to scroll down to the bottom of the website for the author's list. On the list are the following authors: Thomas Berry - heretical Catholic priest who claims that we should "put the Bible on the shelf for 20 years" Rainne Eisler - occult author Sally McFague and Diamond O'Murchu - Universe Story promoters of the Thomas Berry ilk Peter Russell - Club of Budapest and Findhorn John Dominic Crossan - Jesus Seminar Catholic Michael Moorwood - who says Scripture and our catechism give us an image, an "imagination", and other inanities But considering that SJA also studied John Shelby Spong, this is not terribly surprising. Daniel Quinn - just looking at this reading list which includes Daniel Quinn says enough. This passes for Catholic these days? I could see it if they were reading it to uncover the errors, but somehow I don't get even a hint that this is what they are up to. So where is their bishop? We have schism within our midst, folks. The Bishops permit such nonsense and the Pope turns a blind eye. Why? CarrieTomko@aol.com

WAS THERE A THREAT OR A FALSE ALARM? From St. Petersburg Times online: "A hijacked plane into the Vatican," Berlusconi was quoted as saying. "An attack from the sky, is that clear? The threat of terrorism is very high in this instant. I passed Christmas Eve in Rome to deal with the situation. Now I feel calm. It will pass." But then the article goes on to say: Berlusconi's office issued a statement Saturday, saying the premier's remarks did not amount to official declarations."Premier Silvio Berlusconi gave no interview. One cannot confuse a quick exchange of Christmas greetings with political declarations," it said.The premier later criticized the article. The newspaper said it stood by the story, which also quoted him as saying he received information in November of a planned attack on the subways of Milan and Rome. Confusion reigns. I guess that both sides can play this game. CarrieTomko@aol.com

DR. STANLEY MONTIETH and conspiracy theories. First of all, who is he? Here is Montieth's report about what should have been done to prevent the AIDS epidemic, written for Koinonia House Online. Of course his 7-point program for containing the disease was politically incorrect. He has been a guest of "The Welch Report." Now that you know a little about him, here is his book on BROTHERHOOD OF DARKNESS which I haven't read, but may order because it looks interesting, and because he obviously is no more interested in political correctness than I am; and because, if he told it like it is once, he may have done so again. CarrieTomko@aol.com

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