Saturday, March 13, 2004

SR. MARY BOYS AND ANTI-SEMITISM Check out Brother Solanus's evaluation of a program being presented to address the anti-Semitism "fostered" by The Passion of the Christ. You know, that (non-existent) anti-Semitism that are are all sharing. Here is the way that Paul Likoudis characterizes Sr. Mary Boys in a report on Cardinal Mahony's Religious Education congress 2001, "A Parold of Faith": More Dysfunction Other speakers at the congress include: - Sr. Mary Boys of Union Theological Seminary in New York, Call to Action activist, proponent of women's ordination to the priesthood, and a signer of the April 29, 2000 Madeleva Manifesto "envisioning a church future beyond patriarchal domination." CarrieTomko@aol.com

CHECK OUT PATRICK SWEENEY'S ROUND-UP OF LINKS ON THE CRUSADES in connection with the bombing in Spain and its possible Al Qaeda link. If you have the programs installed, the video looks good. CarrieTomko@aol.com

A GRUESOME STORY IN AOL NEWS There are not many facts presented, but some of the details are curious. Police officers responding to a child custody dispute said they arrived at a home to find nine bodies stacked and intertwined in a pile of clothes, 10 coffins and a 57-year-old man they believe is responsible for the slaughter. The victims were seven children ranging in age from 1 to 8, a 20-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl. All were thought to be the children of Marcus Wesson, who surrendered to police Friday after walking out of the house covered in what appeared to be blood. The story indicates ''There may have been some type of ritual involved,'' and "The grim scene caused even veteran officers to weep." But perhaps the most provacative line in the story is this one: "the scene was so gruesome some of the first officers into the house were placed on administrative leave and were being counseled Friday night." The story also indicates that six police chaplains were on the scene while officers gathered evidence. What happened here? The CNN version of the story offers: Its something that you would hope you would never see in your career, but something that we face here, and we're trying to do the best we can with a horrible situation. Something out of the ordinary murder investigation is going on here. The Sacramento Bee has a long article on the killings. These quotes are from the Modesto Bee: Dyer said police had determined the cause of death for the victims, but were not releasing it. He said officers could not immediately determine the gender of some of the younger victims.... "I've been with the Fresno Police Department for 25 years, and I've never experienced anything of this nature," Dyer said of the scene inside the home. The police chief could be seen wiping tears from his eyes late Friday as officers carried bodies out of the home.... CarrieTomko@aol.com

ANOTHER LAICISED (OR DEFROCKED?) PRIEST has been assaulted in jail. From AP Wire: RIVERHEAD, N.Y. - A Roman Catholic priest who was scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges he sodomized a 6-year-old boy was hospitalized after allegedly being attacked in jail. The Rev. Barry E. Ryan sought medical attention Friday and officials were investigating an "allegation" that another inmate may have assaulted him, said Chief Alan Otto, a spokesman for the Suffolk County sheriff. He did not say who made the allegation. Ryan confessed to the sexual assault which took place in a Long Island home between May and October of 2003. So the incident did not take place when he was an active priest according to this bit of information at the end of the article: He has not been attached to any parish or performed any priestly duties since 1995, the prosecutor said. Yet the headline of the article reads: "N. Y. Authorities Look Into Priest Attack." We say that a priest is a priest "forever." So does the headline. But the headline does it for sensationalism. Any of our priests who have been credibly accused and are removed from active ministry, who then go out into the community and abuse again, will most likely be indicted by the press as "abusing priests." Shouldn't this fact be taken into consideration when deciding what to do with our sinful clergy? This story came from Spirit Daily. CarrieTomko@aol.com

TERM LIMITS FOR THE PAPACY ? From Scotsman.com News: But even for an institution where life at the top often begins when prelates reach their 60s, some have begun to ask whether term limits should be imposed for future popes. One of the Vatican�s most powerful officials, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, gave an indication of the thinking in an interview last month with an Italian religious affairs magazine. Asked whether future popes may be elected to a fixed term, he said: �The pope is selected for life because he is a father and his paternity comes before his role. Perhaps in the future, with life being prolonged, one also would consider new norms but it doesn�t seem to me to be a current issue.� Not only is the pope up in years among top officials. Both the German-born Ratzinger and the Vatican�s secretary of state, the Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, are both 76 and the subject of frequent retirement rumours. Ratzinger said he has submitted his resignation various times �but the decision is up to the Holy Father.� Well, if Ratzinger's statement is the strongest they could come up with, this doesn't sound like something to lose any sleep over. Still, I wonder who is leading a push for term limits? The story was linked at Sirit Daily. CarrieTomko@aol.com

CHECK OUT THE DIOCESE REPORT After weeks of no change on the Diocese Report website, this morning I found a list of articles dealing with the Diocese of Altoona-Johnston, some of which make a case that the diocese promotes homosexuality. There is too much to cover here, so check out the website. When reading through the material, you might also keep in mind CCC 1867, which deals with homosexuality and is separated from the two other instances in which the CCC addresses the topic, CCC 2357 and 2359. These last two are the entries in the CCC under the topic of "Homosexuality". No. 1867 is not listed under this heading in the Subject Index (p. 774). Instead it must be discovered by searching the entire book. CCC 1867: The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are "sins that cry to heaven": the blood of Abel, the sin of the Sodomites, the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan, injustice to the wage earner. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, March 12, 2004

STRAY VOLTAGE ON NEW YORK STREETS KILLING DOGS AND A WOMAN Jodie Lane died on January 16, electrocuted by stepping onto a service box while walking her dogs. The problem develops when workmen make changes without taking the proper precautions to insure that there will be no stray voltage. It also develops when workers digging up the street, who are not electricians, disrupt the electrical devices. After the death, ConEd instituted an inspection of all of its facilities. Problems were found in several places and supposedly corrected. However, according to AOL News, the problem continues: The latest incident caused some to question whether Con Ed's inspections had been effective. "Did they fix this problem or not?" said Gunnar Hellekson, 28, a dog owner in the East Village. "It's a simple question. Why can't we get a solid and trustworthy answer?" Mr. Hellekson has founded a group that runs a Web site, www.firstrunfriends.org/coned/, where citizens can report stray voltage. It is named the Jodie Lane Project for the woman who died on Jan. 16. The Con Ed spokesman, Michael S. Clendenin, said the utility's inspections were "careful and thorough." He said he did not know why the site of the accident on Tuesday had suddenly developed a problem. "We too are looking for answers here," he said. The incident on Tuesday was caused when a frayed underground wire coming from a service box electrified the sidewalk in front of the East Village Tobacco and Grocery store at 136 First Avenue, between Eighth and Ninth Streets. When Con Ed workers arrived, they found that the frayed wire had charged with 88 volts the metal meshing an inch beneath the wet pavement. Mr. Clendenin said the age of the wires at the location, which date back to the 1930's, may have been a factor. This situation has caused the death of several pets. People are less vulnerable because leather or rubber shoes act as insulation, preventing accidents as they walk over problem grates. Dog owners have begun to buy boots made of leather or rubber to place on their dog's feet before going for a walk. CarrieTomko@aol.com

LEGAL CHALLENGES FOR "THE PASSION" may be ahead according to LifeSite: Despite the views of the Pope, films critics are attempting to have film showings shut down under hate-crime statutes. Early this month, the New York Post reported that the 20 officers of the Hate Crime Unit of the New York Police Department were ordered to screen the film. Moreover, a petition is underway demanding that US Attorney General John Ashcroft and the US Department of Justice evaluate the "anti-Semitism clearly presented" in the film asking that "civil, criminal, and Federal hate-crime laws, as appropriate, be utilized . . . against the directors, producers, and screen writers responsible for the work itself." Meanwhile in Brazil, Jewish lawyer Jacob Pinheiro Goldberg has written the Brazilian Department of Justice demanding the department forbid the film to be released in the country. Goldberg admitted to purchasing and viewing a pirated copy of the film. The anti-Catholicism is getting ugly out there. If the movie if anti-Semitic, so is Scripture. Could they actually get Scripture banned? CarrieTomko@aol.com

O'MALLEY ON GAY MARRIAGE reported at LifeSite Speaking for the Catholic Church in Massachusetts, O'Malley wrote, "We support the Marriage Affirmation and Protection Amendment as it has been presented, without the introduction of civil unions language." The Archbishop warned that the proposal represents a threat to the freedom of religious communities. We are concerned with proposals to give same-sex couples identical benefits and protections to those given to husbands and wives that pose a grave threat to religious liberty and the freedom of conscience." Meanwhile LifeSite also reports: NEWARK, March 11, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A homosexual activist at Seton Hall University is attempting a civil suit for force the Catholic university to capitulate on a gay and lesbian student group. Sophomore Anthony Romeo has already rejected the university's offer of a compromise and is filing suit against the university on the grounds of discrimination. Suddenly the Church seems to be on the defensive on several fronts. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! CarrieTomko@aol.com

WHAT'S WRONG WITH CATHOLICNEXUS ? I can't seem to get a report later than March 4. Have they gone to subscription? Have they shut down? What's up? CarrieTomko@aol.com

SOME REPORTS FROM SPIRIT DAILY GAY MARRIAGE IN SAN FRANCISCO has stopped temporarily until the California Supreme Court can make a ruling. CHURCH CONSTRUCTION BLOCKED A group of residents in Buckingham have mobilized in an effort to block the construction of a $25-million Catholic church and school complex in the township. Some residents in nearby New Hope say they've seen it all before and they don't like what they see. The complex, planned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish on a 40-acre parcel at the intersection of Ash Mill and Mechanicsville roads, has seen the vocal opposition form into an organization geared to prevent its completion. The Buckingham Organization for Rural Preservation believes the addition of a facility of its size at that location would create a number of problems for area residents, which would ultimately result in lower property value and diminished living conditions. "I strongly believe that there's substantial evidence that says the site is completely inappropriate," said Rick Hollenbaugh, spokesman for the group. At the last township supervisors meeting, the group presented a petition signed by over 350 people, and Hollenbaugh said township officials have been supportive of their position. The group lists environmental disturbances, added traffic volume and development not in keeping to the rural standards of the surrounding area as reasons for the opposition. Factors, Hollenbaugh said his group feels, would negatively impact property value. Some believe the attempt to stop the construction is anti-Catholic bigotry. Wilson feels that the opposition to Our Lady of Guadalupe's new complex comes from an anti-Catholic motivation, and that if it were some other denomination, there wouldn't be a problem. "They say it isn't," she said of the group's denial of any anti-Catholic sentiment. "But their opposition is just not rational. I mean it's petty stuff." FROM 9/11 TO 3/11 ? Are the tragedies in the U.S. and Spain related? The attack occurred exactly 2� years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. It also was Europe�s worst since the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people. �March 11, 2004, now holds its place in the history of infamy,� Aznar said Thursday. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge spoke on the bombings, saying he could not confirm whether al-Qaida had a hand in the attacks. �There is no specific information� available that would point to the identities of the perpetrators, he told reporters during a visit to Thailand. �There is a lot of speculation.� Spain was a U.S. ally: Aznar was a staunch supporter of U.S.-led war that ousted Saddam Hussein and Spain sent 1,300 troops to Iraq. One of the effects of the bombing: The euro climbed sharply against the dollar after news of the purported claim of responsibility was reported. Analysts said the dollar was weakening even though the bombs went off in Europe because the United States was perceived to be at greater risk from future violence. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, March 11, 2004

BANNED FROM THE BAR FOR CASTING SPELLS in Sydney, Australia according to CruxNews. A bar owner in Sydney, Australia, has banned a group of drinkers after he accused them of casting spells.... Green was referring to PaganPages, a group that met at his pub each month to discuss rituals, mythology and other Pagan-related topics until he asked them to leave. CarrieTomko@aol.com

SIN; A CARDINAL DEPOSED is the title of a new play being staged in Chicago which uses the legal testimony from depositions of Cardinal Law, from letters and public statements by Roman Catholic priests, doctors, victims of abuse and their parents. The article is linked at CruxNews. The format of the play makes the material as accessible as it is emotionally devastating. In convoluted and sometimes opaque answers to lawyers' questions, Cardinal Law repeatedly insists that he had no idea priests in his archdiocese were abusing children. His protests of innocence ring steadily more hollow as actors read letters and other documents showing that he was told many times about the abuse. He brushes them off with phrases like, "That was the responsibility of the delegate"; "I cannot speak with any specificity"; "I read the memo; I presume it must have registered with me"; and "I am not a psychiatrist." The cardinal comes across less as a spiritual leader than as a canny bureaucrat trying to save his job by deflecting blame to others. By his inability to grasp the scope of his self-deception and by his reluctance to express sympathy for victims except on a few occasions when it is dragged out of him, he raises his tragedy to an almost Shakespearean level. The play is a docudrama convincing enough to bring the wrath toward Cardinal Law, of members of the audience down on the head of the actor who plays the part. Laura Breault, a protester against the Boston archdiocese who flew here to see the play on Sunday, said she would work to bring it to a theater in Boston. She warned Mr. Sherman, "You're going to need bodyguards at the stage door." CarrieTomko@aol.com

NEW OXFORD REVIEW March arrived in the mail less than an hour ago, and I sat down to read the center article immediately. I'm about half way through it and must stop to cook, but NOR, via David Palm, "Catholic Confusion at the Very Top" is saying what so desperately needs to be said, and what the conservative Catholic press is so afraid of saying. NOR March is DYNAMITE! Nice going Mr. Vree! CarrieTomko@aol.com

A NEW CHURCH IN ROME suffers from the usual problem: Full, yet at the same time, empty: this is the oxymoron to describe to the city�s new church. It is a place full of transcendence and spirituality, yet empty of Christian meaning. Its lines, surfaces, material and light are all pure and precise elements, yet devoid of significance when one attempts to translate their emotional inspiration in terms of the sacraments, in terms of earthly and heavenly Church materiality. In it we find all the fascination and deception of an unfinished work, considered a masterpiece of contemporary religious art. "Full of transcendence and spirituality, yet empty of Christian meaning." Could that be because it was not intended to be Christian? Theosophy is also full of spirituality, yet empty of Christian meaning. What's more, The church is a building having sharp geometric lines and features, while bathed in pure white color as its forms and shapes sail through waves of light flooding church�s interior. Geometry. Waves of Light. I can't think of a better description of Theosophical Architecture. "Geometry" is a big factor in Anthroposophy. This description is perfect. Present the symbols of Theosophy while eliminating the symbols of Catholicism, and morph the religion. This example seems to be rather blatant. It will certainly be no problem to get the cheap plastic Catholic symbol out of there when the time is right. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! CarrieTomko@aol.com

HOW CAN FR. HALEY GET A FAIR DECISION when the judge of his church tribunal will be another bishop? CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE STUNNING SUCCESS OF "THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST" spelled out in numbers at Hollywoodreporter.com., a story linked at Spirit Daily. Will the worm turn? Meanwhile, Rome speaks...ummm....silently... IN THE CONTINUING CONTROVERSY OVER THE POPE'S OPINION OF "THE PASSION" we are now being told: "The pope has seen the film and has not commented on it," Navarro- Valls said. "The subsequent silence by the [Vatican] hierarchy is eloquent," he added. Sigh. "Silence" is a lot more eloquent when no one speaks. One begins to wonder just how many Popes there are in Rome? CarrieTomko@aol.com

FR. GROESCHEL SPEAKS FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE HIS ACCIDENT You can raead his words here. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL COMMENTS ON CATHOLIC CHARITIES mandate to provide medical coverage for contraception. Since the WSJ is by subscription only, Patrick Sweeney has the article (or part of it?) up on his blog. A few things were noteworthy from the article... 1. Why isn't Catholic Charities more Catholic? Leave aside the irony that of all America's Catholic institutions, Catholic Charities is arguably the most liberal and sympathetic to secular crusades. Even that didn't protect them. Nor did its practice of employing people outside the Catholic faith -- which was used here as reason for denying its religious claims. Don't Catholics who contribute to this organization assume that it upholds Catholic principles? 2. If the state can mandate conformance to the state's determined definition of human rights in the case of an organization, how long will it be until the same demands can be imposed on individuals of religious persuasion? If the state can order a Catholic organization to include contraceptive coverage as part of its health benefits or drop all drug coverage, it's not hard to see where that's leading. This is what passes for civil liberties now. Is this omnious or is it logical judicial decision in light of the reasons presented in item 1? 3. A new phrase emerges from this article that I haven't heard before, "liberal orthodoxy." The lone dissent in this 6-1 decision came from Justice Janice Rogers Brown. Judge Brown, nominated by President Bush for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, has been pilloried for refusing to bow before this increasingly stifling liberal orthodoxy. 4. Now, it seems, there are to be "consequences" for claiming the rights spelled out in the Constitution: Never mind that the Scouts have not discriminated against, or even been accused of discriminating against, anyone who has sought to use the campgrounds they maintain. Their real crime is to have won the Supreme Court case involving their First Amendment right not to admit an openly homosexual Scoutmaster. Ever since, a liberal jihad has been launched to strip them of any public association. As another federal judge put it in that Connecticut case the Supremes have just refused to hear, the Scouts "pay a price" for exercising their First Amendment rights. One wonders what consequences for First Amendment rights Joe Citizen will have to pay, particularly if he claims the right to freedom of religious speech. Is there no limit to what the ACLU will claim in order to overturn religious rights in America? 5. The article closes with this chilling summary: What's going on here is an effort by liberal activists and their judiciary enablers to turn one set of personal mores into a public orthodoxy from which there can be no dissent, even if that means trampling the First Amendment. Any voluntary association that doesn't comply -- the same little platoons once considered the bedrock of American freedom -- will be driven from the public square. Meet the new face of intolerance. 6. And lastly, Patrick's comment: Today, the Koran is protected and the Gospel is offensive in a public school. One assumes that "the Talmud" could be substituted for "the Koran" in that sentence. It isn't religion in general that is being raped of its rights. It is the Christian religion, and the Christian religion only. Very disturbing. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

"REFLECTIONS ON COVENANT AND MISSION" AS SEEN BY A HEBREW CATHOLIC at a website posted in the comments box where an article, "O Jerusalem. Jerusalem.../From the Heart of a Jewish Convert: An open letter to William Cardinal Keeler in response to Reflections on Covenant and Mission" by Rosalind Moss can be found. From the website (on the home page, scroll down on the left to the word "viewpoint" below the other links and click it.) Toward that end, I applaud all efforts to build mutual respect through a dialogue that dispels the ignorance and caricatures that have been the cause of untold persecution through the years and that strives toward the understanding of each others'beliefs. And I am grateful for the documents, many of which are quoted in "Reflections" -- from Nostra Aetate to the Pontifical Biblical Commission's The Jewis h People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible-- that have sought to understand the depth and extent of God's eternal, irrevocable covenant with Israel, not only in light of the new covenant but also in reference to that part of Israel yet outside the Church. But I am at a loss to understand how anyone can conclude, with Cardinal Kasper, that "the Church believes that Judaism, i.e., the faithful response of the Jewish people to God's irrevocable covenant, is salvific for them, because God is faithful to his promises" .... It is this statement above all that has created in me, and in many others, such turmoil. Why then, if Israel is already in a saving covenant with God and if his coming was for the "nations other than Israel" (see comment in Reflections re Matthew 28:19) did Jesus weep over Jerusalem? Why then did the apostle Paul wish himself accursed for the sake of his kinsmen if their covenant was salvific? There are so many confusing statements in the document that, if I took each sentence or even each paragraph at a time, this letter would become a small volume. The above is one instance. Who among us would deny that every individual's freedom of religion and freedom of conscience should be respected? But to deny that it is Christ alone who saves, that the Old Covenant was, as Paul says, "our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ" (Gal. 3:24, NASB), the one mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5), is to deny Christ for ourselves. If he is not the Messiah of Israel-- God come in the flesh (1 John 4:2)-- then he is no one's Messiah. This Hebrew Catholic has a better understanding of what it means to be Catholic than do our bishops, if we are to judge by the words of "Reflection" and this open letter. Perhaps it's time for the Hebrew Catholics to teach our bishops a lessor or two! If we truly believe that the Way the Truth and the Life lie in Jesus Christ, isn't it the worst kind of anti-Semitism to tell the Jews that they don't need Jesus? At a time when the liberal parish I belonged to was driving me out of the Church and the Faith, I gave serious consideration to converting to Judaism. There is so much that is appealing about the Jewish culture when it is permeated with Faith in God the Father, at least as it is portrayed in Chaim Potok's novels. How much more desirable that culture would be if it were also permeated with Faith in Christ. After serious consideration, I realized that no matter how appealing religious Judaism might be, I could never give Him up, and so converting to Judaism was never an option. A Jewish Catholic--or Hebrew Catholic--has the best of both the Old Testament and the New. That was what God intended from the time of Adam and Eve. What's more, we know that one day it will come into being. One day the Jews will be converted. When that happens, Catholics and Jews will share the same faith. But not until that happens. Any effort to say that Jews do not need Christ is an effort to exclude them from what we most value, and in a sense pushes them into a modern day spiritual ghetto where they, and no one else, are said to reside. I should think the bishops would be embarrassed to do that. CarrieTomko@aol.com

POPE CONDEMNS SECTS in this article from Zenit: Code: ZE04030803 Date: 2004-03-08 Challenge of Sects Calls for Strong Evangelization, Says PopeStresses Need for Eucharist to Be at the Heart of Pastoral Plans During the homily, the Pope said that in the Palmarola area, to which the three parish communities belong, "the phenomenon of modern sects" is spreading. The sects try to attract "those who find themselves in difficulties and loneliness," he said. One wonders just which sects he had in mind...the Catholic ones or the Protestant ones or something else entirely? Opus Dei? Critics accuse Opus Dei of being a fundamentalist sect with a conservative political agenda intent on promoting a rigid form of Catholicism. But the most pointed attacks have come from several former members who allege that Opus Dei is a cult that brainwashes its members and conducts its affairs in secret. In 1981, allegations of this kind led the then head of the Catholic church in England, Cardinal Basil Hume, to forbid the group from recruiting members under the age of 18, and in 1986... Or maybe it's all of them as Chiesa proposes? One of its essays is titled, �Catholicism on the way to Sectarianism? An Old Hypothesis for New Problems,� and is written by Luca Diotallevi, who is a professor at the �Roma Tre� University and a consultant for the �cultural project� of the Italian bishops� conference. Diotallevi focuses on the problem created by the �movements�: Opus Dei, the Sant�Egidio community, Communion and Liberation, the Legionaries of Christ, Renewal in the Spirit, the Neocatechumenal Way, Focolare, etc. They see their respective founders, rather than their local bishops, as heads and supreme rulers. They refer directly to the pope as their one connection to the Church. To different degrees they bear the distinctive features of a sect. The risk is that they will transform the Catholic Church into a body of memberships in juxtaposed groups that don�t communicate with each other: each movement with its own liturgy, its own discipline, its own system of authority and beliefs. In the middle of that article is a long list of articles written in Italian, unfortunately, about the ecclesial movements so dear to the papal heart. There are many more articles making the same claim, as do books by authors who have come out of the movements. The stories they tell are shocking. In light of this condemnation of the new ecclesial movements, it would certainly have been much more clear if the Pope had elaborated on what he considers to be a "sect." These mixed messages coming out of Rome are getting tiresome. CarrieTomko@aol.com

LEE PENN SENDS LINKS TO THE FOLLOWING STORIES Follow the five story links given below, read the stories, and pray. Kyrie eleison Lee 19-02-2004: The Goddess Cult� Reflections On The Work Of Australia�s Top Liturgist 11-03-2004: The Goddess Cult� Australian Liturgist Uses Art To Create New Church Also below are links to previous articles in the Wanderer in this series which have been previously circulated. 26-11-2003: Austraian Witchcraft and Catholic Nuns 29-01-2004: The Goddess Cult In Australia: Church in Australia Undergoes Rapid Transformation 12-02-2002: The Goddess Cult In Australia: The Mercy Nuns and The New Religion CarrieTomko@aol.com

DIANE SAWYER'S INTERVIEW WITH MEL GIBSON Did anyone see it? A question has come up...in the interview I've been told that there were some shots of what appears to be Mr. Gibson's Church and Mass and female acolytes. Also, without a doubt, hosts being placed in the hand rather than on the tongue. which would be contrary to the Tridentine liturgy. I didn't see the interview. Did anyone else, and could you confirm or refute this claim? If it really did happen, any thoughts as to why? CarrieTomko@aol.com

GNOSTICISM DISCUSSED AT NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER by FATHER ALFONSO AGUILAR What do Harry Potter, the Star Wars series, The Matrix, Masonry, New Age and the Raelian cult, which claims to have cloned the first baby, have in common? Their ideological soil. Identical esoteric ideas suffuse the novels, the movies, the lodges, the "alternative spirituality" and the cloning "atheistic religion," and this ideological soil has a name - Gnosticism. "Gnosticism" is an eerie word whose meaning eludes our minds. I often meet Catholics who have heard the term but have only a foggy idea of what it means. Perhaps Gnosticism itself is foggy. Yet, whether we understand it or not, Gnosticism may be, at the beginning of the third millennium, the most dangerous enemy to our Christian faith. Notice, I'm not saying Star Wars or Harry Potter is the danger. They provide us with good lessons and fine entertainment. They are just two signs of the power of the real enemy: Gnosticism. CarrieTomko@aol.com

CABALA, KABBALAH, QABALAH AND FREEMASONRY The Masonic Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon has an essay up on its website describing Kabbalah. Here is the opening of the essay: Rooted in the ancient Egyptian Mysteries, three different versions of essentially the same teachings can be identified by three different spellings: Kabbalah, Cabala and Qabalah. The Kabbalah is an essentially Jewish mystical or esoteric school. Although the Christian Church Fathers of the first century were demonstratably Kabbalists, mystical or gnostic elements within the Church largely disappeared within the first three centuries, only to reappear as a Christian Cabala during the Renaissance. A third, often hidden, stream of mystical Western philosophy absorbed many Egyptian, Jewish and Christian mystical elements and termed them the Qabalah.1 The Christian writers such as Agrippa, in his De Occulta Philosophia Libri III (1533), or Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, and also the Catholic Church, spell it "Cabala," the Latin spelling transferred over to English. Contemporary neo-hermetists, following Mathers and Crowley, will use "Qabala" or some other derivitive. The word comes from the Hebrew ���, which means "to receive," according to Ben-Yehudah's Hebrew-English Dictionary, in context it is a received body of knowledge, passed down orally, which serves as an exegesis of the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly the Torah or Pentateuch. A direct experience of God is central to the ideas of Kabbalah. Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry devotes almost three pages to the Kabbalah, noting "It has sometimes been used in an enlarged sense, as comprehending all the explanations, maxims, and ceremonies which have been traditionally handed down to the Jews; but in that more limited acceptation, in which it is intimately connected with the symbolic science of Freemasonry, the Cabala may be defined to be a system of philosophy which embraces certain mystical interpretations of Scripture, and metaphysical and spiritual beings." "Buxtorf (Lexicon of the Talmud) defines the Kabbalah to be a secret science, which treats in a mystical and enigmatical manner of things divine, angelical, theological, celestial, and metaphysical; the subjects being enveloped in striking symbols and secret modes of teaching. Much use is made of it in the advanced degrees, and entire Rites have been constructed on its principles. Hence it demands a place in any general work on Freemasonry."2 These quotes from the 19th century, and others like them, give anti-masons free rein to claim Freemasonry is cabalistic without really understand either Freemasonry or the Kabbalah. The Kabbalah defined The Kabbalah is divided into two kinds, the Practical and the Theoretical. The Practical is occupied with the construction of talismans and amulets and is of no interest to Freemasonry. Practical Kabbalah has its ancient roots in the "Thirteen Enochian Keys" of Enoch son of Qain, along with a highly eclectic admixture of material taken from Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and other non-Hebrew sources. The "Thirteen Enochian Keys" of Enoch son of Qain are reflected in such works as The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, the Greater and Lesser Keys of Solomon, and mediaeval grimoires such as the Armadel, Goetia/Lemegeton, etc. The primary text of the mystical Kabbalah that appears to occupy a central place of importance in the hermetic Kabbalah is the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation). The two most prominent contemporary schools of Practical or Hermetic Kabbalah are the Golden Dawn and the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.). 3 This goes a long way toward explaining why conspiracy theorists often link Jews with Masons. CarrieTomko@aol.com

CARDINAL LUSTIGER COMMENTS ON "THE PASSION" at Catholic World News: With all of the discussions of anti-Semitism surrounding the movie, one would expect Cardinal Lustiger to offer a voice of sanity and reason, since he is a Catholic converted out of Judaism. So what does he say? He has "extreme reservations" about the theatrical performance of the Passion. "The Passion of Christ is not a spectacle to be watched." Ok, he may have a point. But this is his reasoning: "This type of film touches the sensitivities and the imagination," he said, "and can be very ambiguous." He explained that any film involves the director's interpretation of events, and although he said that he had been "very moved" by Pasolini's film on the Passion, he remained suspicious of the genre, because "the camera does not tell the truth." Cardinal Lustiger pointed out that traditional Catholic devotions that focus on the Passion are very different from a film. "The pious practice of the Stations of the Cross is different," he observed, "because the faithful follow the Stations on foot; they are not sitting in an armchair." So the solution is standing room only at the theater???? CarrieTomko@aol.com

A WAKE-UP CALL in the words of former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, is the nature of the California ruling that Catholic Charities must provide birth control perscription coverage for its employees. From Focus on the Family: And Ray Flynn, former mayor of Boston and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, said this is a wake-up call for people of faith everywhere. "You must get involved," he said. "The courts and government are stepping on your rights as people of faith, and you've got to do something about it. You've got to get involved." CarrieTomko@aol.com

MOUNT ATHOS AND THE LADIES From Taipei Times: But now the severe laws of the peninsula enclave now face their greatest challenge: European Union legislation on gender discrimination. Anna Karamanou, a member of the European Parliament and the Chairperson of the Committee of Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities, insists the ban is unfair as women pay taxes towards the upkeep of the monasteries and the preservation of cultural treasures which belong to both men and women. Karamanou said the ban was imposed 1,000 years ago when Europe was in the dark grip of the Middle Ages and reflects the social reality of those times. She said it has no meaning today as it contradicts the modern understanding of human rights and the Christian faith itself. No tradition and no custom can be above the respect of human rights and dignity. In the past few years, many of the monasteries have been lavishly renovated with EU funds, adding plumbing, electricity and new balconies. The involvement by the European Union has raised questions on how the monks can continue to justify such gender discrimination. Well. So there it is. "No tradition and no custom can be above the respect of human rights and dignity." In other words human rights trumps religion. If this is the stance of the EU, can the ICC be far behind? Not likely. Not only does it trump religion, it also would trump private property and with a little stretching violate rights to privacy in one's home if the monks were forced to change, as this report from Russian Orthodox Church News indicates: Analyzing the arguable resolution, he emphasized that on Mount Athos there were no public places at all which could be off-limits to women, as twenty monasteries have the exclusive possession of this self-governing region of Greece. "There are neither state nor public lands on the Athos Peninsula," he stressed. Mr. Venizelos expressed his perplexity at the fact that it was the way of life of the Orthodox monastic communities on Athos that attracted attention of the European parliamentarians. Instead, they could have focused their attention, for instance, on the ban for women to participate in the forming of the cabinet and to exercise their suffrage in the Vatican, which is a member of the Council of Europe. The Vatican is dropped into the discussion in almost the second breath. I didn't find any indication that a decision had been made. CarrieTomko@aol.com

NEWS FROM PLANET ZIRCON via The Globe and Mail: Calgary � Grace Yates figured her 14-year-old son Kevin was just going through a phase when he grabbed some makeup, marked heavy lines under his eyes that appeared to drip black tears down his cheeks and headed off to school. After all, she grew up in an era when musicians including Alice Cooper, KISS and Ozzy Osbourne made it acceptable for men to wear makeup. Besides, teenagers like to experiment with clothes, hair and makeup. The 45-year-old geological technician remembers going through a purple phase in the eighth grade. But when officials from Kevin's junior high school in Calgary called home recently to complain that the Grade 9 student's appearance was bothering other students, and threatened him with suspensions and perhaps even expulsion, Mrs. Yates was enraged. "At first I couldn't believe it," she said. "It's not like he's slashing tires or skipping school." Now, Kevin and his family are locked in a fight with Bob Edwards Junior High School and the Calgary Board of Education over what's an appropriate appearance in the classroom. "I was trying to be more like my heroes," said Kevin, pointing to a poster on his bedroom wall of the punk pop band Good Charlotte, whose male members wear heavy eye makeup. He describes the look as the "devil's tear." His mother thinks it's "cute." Kids have always done odd things and worn odd clothes while trying to develop an identity. That's no surprise. What is a surprise is that "his mother thinks it's "cute." Mothers are not supposed to think it's cute. Mothers are supposed to dog the kid until he develops more respectable habits. Isn't that a mother's role? How is a kid going to rebel if his parents join him in the rebellion? The school is acting in the kid's best interests. The mother is not. What will this kid have to do to get the negative feedback from Mom that most kids who are into rebelliion crave...take a gun to school? CarrieTomko@aol.com

FROM ALEX JONES PRISON PLANET Comes a brief clip on Tony Blair basing his political decisions on new age reading of "The Light." Foster said: "Tony would call and Carole would say, 'I'll ask mum to channel on this and ring you back.' Then she'd call back and say, 'You must not confront him on this. Now isn't the right time'.", The revelation that Blair channelled 'the light' (Lucifer?) and based political decisions on it is unsurprising in light of the past history of world leaders' fascination with the occult. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

HAS THE VATICAN SOLD OUT THE FAITH ? From Seattle Catholic an article titled "Cafeteria Bishops" recounts the selection of Bishop Gourion, a Jewish convert, to serve the Hebrew Catholics in Israel. Bishop Bourion believes that it is not necessary for the Jews to convert to a belief in Christ. According to Seattle Catholic: The new bishop was as blunt as he could be in an interview with Israel Today. "The Catholic Church has no intention of converting Jews to Christianity," he said. "Therefore, the Pope advocated a Jewish bishop in Israel." I've attempted to locate the article online. I can access the website where the story should be found, but all I get is a blank screen. An article at the Daily Catholic website confirms the Seattle Catholic claim: According to "Late Breaking News" John Paul II, in another gesture towards the Jews, has just appointed a Jewish Bishop for Jerusalem, the first since St. James, who died a martyr by being thrown down from the Temple in 62 A.D. Bishop Jean-Baptiste Gourion, a former French Benedictine Abbot, had these words to say, according to Israel Today: "For me, Christianity and Judaism are the same. I didn't have to leave Judaism to come to Christianity. The Jew and the Christian form the same body." Israel Today comments: "As such, he makes it clear that he will not engage in 'missionary' activities." In an interview published by Israel Today on January 20th, the new bishop states: "I think my appointment by the Catholic Church points to a new era between Jews and Catholic Christians. We have to learn to understand each other better. The Catholic Church has no intention of converting Jews to Christianity. Therefore, the Pope advocated a Jewish bishop in Israel." [Editor's note: See Faith Betrayed.] Bishop Gourion makes it clear that he is only following the new policy of the conciliar church: "Forty years ago in the Second Vatican Council, the Church adopted a new theological position toward Israel as God's chosen people. The Catholic Church does not replace the Jewish people with whom God made an eternal covenant." The bishop adds: "I see myself as a Jew." CarrieTomko@aol.com

WHICH STORY IS TRUE ? Is this the story of Pope Victor III? Or is this one correct? CarrieTomko@aol.com

JEWISH-BOOKS.NET offers one of Stephen Hoeller's books, titled The Gnostic Jung & the Seven Sermons to the Dead. Hoeller is a bishop of the Gnostic Catholic Church. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE SECRET OF THE ROSY CROSS is the title of this painting. I can't read the symbolism, but it does appear to be the arch conspirator depicted in the painting. It's part of a website with other strange paintings. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Monday, March 08, 2004

MORE ON THE MT. ATHOS FIRE There are pictures and a longer article here. A small black and white photo here. And a picture apparently taken before the fire here. CarrieTomko@aol.com

FIRE ON MOUNT ATHOS has destroyed a large part of the Serbian Orthodox Chilander Monastery according to a report at Ecumenical News International. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE KABBALAH, THE CATHARS, AND GNOSTIC JUDAISM are covered in Chapter 12 of Herbert Christian Merillat's 1997 book The Gnostic Apostle Thomas online here. Gnostic Jews [from Chapter 12] During the years when Cathars were fighting unsuccessfully for their own survival, a mystical movement highly colored by gnostic ideas was taking place within Judaism across the Pyrenees in Spain . Kabbalah ("Tradition" or "Doctrine") developed from currents that were bubbling within Judaism in the time of Christ and perhaps even earlier. Jewish orthodoxy always discouraged speculation on ultimate questions not dealt with in approved scripture: What is the nature of God? What are the origins of evil? But the questing mind was not to be cut off from such probings, even within Judaism. The development of Kabbalah probably has little to do with the Thomas as such, but much to do with Christian Gnosticism, and deserves to be briefly noted. Some scholars think that the Christian variety grew out of the Jewish; in any event there are striking parallels. For much of its history this mystical current in Judaism took a definitely gnostic form. Its principal chronicler, the late Gershom Scholem, regarded the mystical Kabbalah an essential and persistent, and for a long period predominant, element in the Jewish experience. Kabbalists accepted the authority of the Torah, but speculated on its hidden meanings in ways alarming to orthodoxy, producing a mixture of subtle metaphysics and elaborate mythology. For several centuries in its early development, Jewish mystical symbols were centered on the Merkabah, the chariot-throne of God seen by the prophet Ezekiel in a vision. Yahweh's throne-world was imagined as a series of resplendent palaces. The mystagogue's task was to guide one's soul in its ascent through seven heavenly structures, peopled by hierarchies of angelic powers, to the final throne room. Techniques by which an adept prepared for the ascent included purification through fasting, meditation, chanting, and prayer. In two respects, Jewish mysticism always differed, at least in expression, from other systems: there could not be complete union with God, who remained always the Other, the creator of the human creature; and no Jew who wanted to remain within the community could suggest that Yahweh was not the sole and good God. Committed to strict monotheism, Jewish Kabbalists speculated as to what went on within the godhead. They could speak of emanations "on the other side." They could, rather daringly, think of two aspects of God, a light and a dark, a loving and merciful in contrast with a sternly judgmental. These ideas were developed at length in a thirteenth-century text called the Zohar (Sefer Ha-Zohar , Book of Splendor), the centerpiece of the most influential of several Kabbalist systems to be found in Spain in the thirteenth century. The Zohar spoke of ten attributes or qualities (sefirot , or sefirah in the singular) of the ultimate, infinite Being (Ein-Sof ). Among these interacting elements are Wisdom, Intelligence (in the sense of ability to make rational distinctions -- the differentiating function of mind), Love (or Mercy), and Activity. Each of these has a negative counterpart. One of the negatives is Din , the judgmental quality. Some Kabbalists thought that it was excessive activity of Din, conflicting with and overcoming other qualities, that brought suffering and evil into the world. According to the Zohar, interaction of the sefirot brought about creation. First came the impulse to create (from Wisdom), then the process of dividing or differentiating (Intelligence), through seven stages. The world known to humankind parallels that made by the sefirot on the higher plane. Salvation -- liberation of souls -- comes by a reverse process, restoring harmony within and with the divine power, healing divisions that took place during creation. Suffering and evil arise from the separation of things that, in the divine order, belong together -- of the sefirah of Judgment from that of Mercy, or of Adam (the divine prototype of Man), fallen through his willfulness, from God. Individual souls, which have always existed on the spiritual plane, temporarily inhabit bodies, but will return to the upper realm unless they have committed the worst of sins -- failure to obey the Torah's commandment to be fruitful and multiply. A soul guilty of this offense is doomed to be reborn again. But each rebirth provides a new opportunity to complete the task of reconciliation. Far from prescribing sexual abstinence as a means of freeing spirits from their earthly prison, the Zoharic Kabbalah held that connubial relations are essential to the restoration of harmony, both in the spiritual realm of the sefirot and on earth. Union of husband and wife delights God and the Shekhinah, the feminine aspect necessary for creation. Sexual activity within marriage is not only a God-given pleasure, but a duty and a form of worship. A man without a wife is not fully a man, and the Shekhinah shuns him. Din, the harsh feminine Sefirah of Judgment, is counteracted when united with male attributes. The book is cited as a source of authority on this Jacobite Syrian Church website. It's also cited iin several gnostic websites. CarrieTomko@aol.com

IS THE BLACK MASS VALID ? by Solange Hertz Coexistent with the Church and necessarily developing in her wake, the black Mass feeds on faith, for no unbeliever would think of defying or by-passlag God, let alone adoring His primordial Enemy. Hard core satanists deplore the loss of �faith� among colleagues who regress into worship of mere Nature or other substitutes. Historically, however, it can be noted that occult practices rise and fall with rationalism. This may seem a contradiction, but not when we understand that witchcraft and rationalism are manifestations of the same disease: naturalism, applied in one case to religion and in the other to intellectual life. The devil, although a spiritual being, is so by nature, and he is bound to his purely natural existence. He seeks to destroy the supernatural life of grace in man by deflecting supernatural worship of God first into mere natural worship of God and thence into worship of man, culminating in the worship of his satanic self. Within this progression lie all shades of what we euphemistically label heresy. The whole body of witchcraft is a monument of perverted rubrics. Like Pharaoh's magicians who imitated all Moses� signs and wonders, devils have produced spells and incantations in lieu of blessings and prayers for every occasion, amulets and charms for sacramentals. For true mysticism they propose delusions euphoric and other wise, most evident in our day in pentecostalism and various "eastern" disciplines. Sacraments of initiation aping Baptism abound. Ever Chinese Communists have one. Everywhere natural is substituted for supernatural, and carnal communication of some kind, often in spiritual guise, replacing union with God in spirit and truth. Dismissing the Church's vast literature on witchcraft as superstitious legend piously believed by ingenuous churchmen in medieval times is itself a bewitchment of the devil, who would readily have us think he doesn't exist until we have become sufficiently weakened. Not only profoundly unscientific in the face of today's mounting evidence, skepticism is blasphemous, for God himself attests to the reality of sorcery: �Wizards thou shall not suffer to live� (Ex. 22: l8), �A man or woman, in whoa there is a pythonical or divining spirit, dying, let then die:� and �The soul that shall go aside after magicians and soothsayers, and shall commit fornication with them, I will set my face against that soul� (Lev. 20:27, 6). Charmers, fortunetellers, and those �seeking truth from the dead� are likewise anathematized, as are those indulging in ritual sacrifice of children (Deut. l8: 10-11). Like the Old Testament prophets before then. St. Peter and St. Paul often found themselves pitted against occultists, as the Acts of the Apostles testify. The Church soon translated this into canon law, the first juridical mention of witchcraft now extant being a decision of the Council of Ancyra in 314 recorded in Gratian's Decretum. St. Thomas viewed sorcery seriously, even recognizing that it could set up a valid impediment to the Sacrament of Matrimony by inhibiting the power of sexual Intercourse. No reputable student of occultism could overlook the Malleus Maleficiarum. The ecclesiastical handbook on witchcraft put together in 1486 for the guidance of Inquisitors, together with the wealth of other works which it inspired. The Church soon translated this into canon law, the first juridical mention of witchcraft now extant being a decision of the Council of Ancyra in 314 recorded in Gratian's Decretum. St. Thomas viewed sorcery seriously, even recognizing that it could set up a valid impediment to the Sacrament of Matrimony by inhibiting the power of sexual Intercourse. No reputable student of occultism could overlook the Malleus Maleficiarum. The ecclesiastical handbook on witchcraft put together in 1486 for the guidance of Inquisitors, together with the wealth of other works which it inspired.... Sober study reveals that devils are highly organized. Like the Church it apes, the �mystical body of Satan� has its structures, its specialists, ministers, apostles and theologians, as it has its faithful. At its center there must of course be a supreme liturgical act, as in God's Church. This can only be what we call the black Mass, a rite whereby the Mysterium fidei is formally supplanted by the myaterium iniquitatis, ritual ratification of its devotees' fall into the Great Temptation. It is the supreme fruit of witchcraft, to which all its history and paraphernalia tend. As Holy Mass is ordered to union with Christ, the diabolic Mass is directed to a similar close, personal union with the devil. Its effects far worse than mere possession, which is ordinarily limited to the body, the black Mass engages the human will and all the spiritual faculties �although necessarily only on the natural level, supernatural action being impossible without divine grace. Immolation, however, is essential, for this specifically binds the will.... St. Augustine tells of a priest of Mithra he knew who used to say, �Our capped one is himself a Christian.� On the contrary, like all mystery cults, Mithraism was in no sense of Christian Inspiration, but pure Gnosticism. Derived originally from Jewish kabbala imported from Egypt and Babylonia by heretical Jews, gnostic beliefs of one kind or another had been at work adulterating the true religion from earliest times, the prophets inveighing against them to little avail. Systematized 200 years before Christ in a blend of hebraic and heraetic culture by Hellenistic Jews like Philo of Alexandria, Gnosticism by the time of St. Justin was presuming to replace not only polytheism and Judaism, but also Christianity, by allegedly combing in itself the higher principles of all three. It was, in other words, an early attempt at �world religion.� As its name implies, it proposes salvation by imparting superior knowledge or gnosis, the primordial �ancient wisdom� revealed secretly to a chosen few from generation to generation. Vaguely pantheistic, it is necessarily allied to some for of dualism, for Satan, who Inspired it, considers himself equal to God. In order to present himself as a viable candidate for the Lordship of the Universe, he must establish himself on the same divine level as God. He sought to do this at the very beginning of human history in Eden, where -- as Louis Veuillot so aptly put it � he sought to demote the sovereign God to the rank of simple citizen in paradise according to democratic principles. At the same time, he imparted the basic tenet of the gnosis, a special knowledge not given by God to man: He asks Eve, �Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?� When Eve replies that to eat the fruit of a certain one entails the death penalty, the serpent tells her, �No, you shall not die the death. For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:1-5). CarrieTomko@aol.com

Sunday, March 07, 2004

NEW BLOG FROM CLEVELAND Brother Solanus' The Cleveland Catacombs. Check out Bishop Pilla's letter on his website. Incidentally, the letter was read at Mass today. Apparently it arrived too late to be read last Sunday. It's all the postman's fault. CarrieTomko@aol.com

AN EXHIBIT OF JEWISH MYSTICAL SPECULATION at the Harvard Houghton Library is explained in an article from the Harvard University Gazette. The article attempts to claim that Kabbalah becomes "Christian" through the efforts of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and his contemporaries. It does indicate at the end that this will cause confusion. Read the article, and then go to the 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Consider the above two articles in conjunction with the website of Dr. Karen Rawl linked below and The Da Vinci Code and a larger picture begins to emerge. There is a subtle shift taking place in our culture from Christianity to Gnosticism. Evidence is all around in the form of the symbolic palm tree that I noted yesterday, in books like TDVC and the Harry Potter series, and even in our Church as John Paul II welcomes Hebrew Catholics. Within the Church, this is a major shift away from what the Church has consistently taught throughout the centuries, especially with a rejection of the Cathar/Albigensian Heresy. It is a major shift away from what 8 popes taught about secret societies. It is being presented to us as "ecumenism," but what isn't at all clear is whether this is God's doing or the doings of the father of lies. The fact that it is a revival of old heresies tends to shift the balance toward the latter. The Pope's support of ecumenism shifts the balance back again to the former. The Harvard Divinity School is a divinity school of choice for the Unitarian Universalists. The Unitarians teach that all religions are equal. They even have a pagan organization incorporated in their ranks, as well as a Buddhist contingent. The Unitarian Universalists theology mirrors the Masonic Lodge philosophy. It mirrors as well the philosophy of United Religions Initiative. One could expect, therefore, that the Harvard Divinity School, since it trains UU ministers, would also be neutral on religion. Unitarians were present as at Vatican II, as this website indicates: Donald Harrington's 1960 General Assembly sermon, Unitarian Universalism: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow told us we had a new theology, but didn't really tell us how we got there, except perhaps by de-emphasizing Christianity as past and passe. We did get a new identity, that is, Unitarian Universalism qua sect, and a rather triumphal ("America's fourth religion") and gnostic ("Are you a Unitarian without knowing it?") at that. It would be inconceivable to think that one of our own would be invited as an ecumenical delegate to a hypothetical Vatican III, but James Luther Adams was there for Vatican II. (Of course, Rome has moved too.) We're not in the American consciousness, and it isn't exactly because we were pushed off the map. We jumped. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE DA VINCI CODE AND THE KABBALAH Author Karan Rawls presents seminars on Knights Templar, Rosslyn Chapel, Rosicrucians, Medieval Guilds, Cathars, Black Virgin, Hermeticism, Alchemy, Kabbalah, Arthurian, Freemasonry, Music, Druidism, and Celtic Church, according to her website. She plans to add Holy Grail, Green Man, Gothic Cathedrals, and Chivalry to her Seminar schedule. Here, in part, is what Rawls says of Kabbalah: Kabbalah, also spelled Kabbala (Hebrew: "tradition"), is generally known as the name for esoteric Jewish mysticism as it appeared in the 12th century and later. According to Dr. Gershom Scholem in his seminal work entitled Kabbalah, in its wider sense, it also signifies all the successive esoteric movements in Judaism that evolved from the end of the period of the Second Temple and became active factors in Jewish history. Other scholars, such as Dr. Leonora Leet, believe that Kabbalah is the product of a sophisticated, though largely forgotten, Hebraic sacred science that has its origin with the ancient Hebraic priesthood. But at first the word Kabbalah did not refer to a specific esoteric tradition per se; in the Talmud, it is used for the extra-Pentateuchal parts of the Bible, and in post-talmudic literature the Oral Law is also called "kabbalah". In the beginning of the 13th century, Eleazar of Worms used the term kabbalah to refer to more esoteric subject matter, such as the names of the angels and the magical Names of God, and the actual precise meaning as we think of it today seems to have originated in the circles of Isaac the Blind (1200). There is no question that Kabbalah is very important to study of the esoteric traditions of the west. The earliest roots of Kabbalah are thought to have come from Merkavah mysticism, which flourished from the 1st century in Palestine. Its focus was on ecstatic and mystical contemplation of the divine throne, or chariot (merkava), seen in a vision by Ezekiel. Anyone who has read The Da Vinci Code will recognize Rosslyn Chapel from the final scenes in the book. Ralls offers a lecture on this chapel. CarrieTomko@aol.com

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