Saturday, March 20, 2004

A READER HAS INQUIRED ABOUT LEE PENN'S ARTICLES on United Religions Initiative (URI). You can find many of them at this website. CarrieTomko@aol.com

SEPARATE BUT EQUAL RETIREMENT PLANS ? This is making the rounds through email. I don't know who started it or whether there is any truth to the claim being made. But it's interesting, and so I'm posting it here for your discernment. ------------------------------------- GET A BILL STARTED TO PLACE ALL POLITICIANS ON SOC. SEC. 2004 Election Issue!! This must be an issue in "2004". Please! Keep it going. ---------------------------------- SOCIAL SECURITY: (This is worth reading. It is short and to the point.) Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions during election years. Our Senators and Congresswomen do not pay into Social Security and, of course, they do not collect from it. You see, Social Security benefits were not suitable for persons of their rare elevation in society. They felt they should have a special plan for themselves. So, many years ago they voted in their own benefit plan. In more recent years, no congress person has felt the need to change it. After all, it is a great plan. For all practical purposes their plan works like this: When they retire, they continue to draw the same pay until they die. Except it may increase from time to time for cost of living adjustments. For example, former Senator Byrd and Congressman White and their wives may expect to draw $7,800,000.00 (that's Seven Million, Eight-Hundred Thousand Dollars), with their wives drawing $275,000.00 during the last years of their lives. This is calculated on an average life span for each of those two Dignitaries. Younger Dignitaries who retire at an early age, will receive much more during the rest of their lives. Their cost for this excellent plan is $0.00. NADA....ZILCH.... This little perk they voted for themselves is free to them. You and I pick up the tab for this plan. The funds for this fine retirement plan come directly from the General Funds; "OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK"! From our own Social Security Plan, which you and I pay (or have paid) into, -every payday until we retire (which amount is matched by our employer)- we can expect to get an average of $1,000 per month after retirement. Or, in other words, we would have to collect our average of $1,000 monthly benefits for 68 years and one (1) month to equal Senator Bill Bradley's benefits! Social Security could be very good if only one small change were made. That change would be to jerk the Golden Fleece Retirement Plan from under the Senators and Congressmen. Put them into the Social Security plan with the rest of us ... then sit back and watch how fast they would fix it. If enough people receive this, maybe a seed of awareness will be planted and maybe good changes will evolve. How many people can YOU send this to? CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, March 19, 2004

A CONFERENCE EMPLOYEE NO MORE CRISIS Magazine - e-Letter March 19, 2004 ********************************************** Dear Friend, First, I apologize for not having written you in the last week. I've actually been working on a special e-report that I'll be sending you soon. I'm going to keep the subject a secret for now, but I think you'll enjoy it... In the meantime, there are a few items I need to tell you about. First off, I have an update from an e-letter I sent you a couple weeks back. You probably remember my telling you about Ono Ekeh, an employee at the Bishops' Conference who also happened to be the founder of an Internet forum called "Catholics for Kerry." I pointed out what I thought seemed pretty obvious... that having a paid employee for the USCCB leading a public campaign for presidential-hopeful John Kerry -- a rabidly pro-abortion "Catholic" -- sent a dangerous message to Catholics about their responsibility regarding life issues. Well, it appears that the Bishops' Conference agreed. We've learned from several sources that Ekeh is no longer an employee of the conference. Whether he was fired or allowed to resign is unclear (their comically unhelpful office of human resources refused all comment). Either way, it appears that the bishops were unaware of Ekeh's side project and were none too happy when it came to light. I applaud the bishops for taking this stand -- they've sent a clear message regarding their commitment to life and the responsibility of lay Catholics to do the same. This is a very good start. And now for some infuriating news... You may have seen the recent report of a new novelty item being sold at Urban Outfitters, a hip clothing chain. It's a magnet of Jesus on the cross, complete with other magnetic "outfits" that you can dress him up in. There's a ballet tutu, a devil's costume, a hula skirt... even a sign you can place over his head that reads "Hang in there, baby!" When some of their outraged customers complained, the brain trust over at Urban Outfitters responded that they weren't selling the product to offend anyone but merely to "reflect a diversity of opinion among its customer base." Really? Then I suppose we can expect to see a Mohammed magnet (complete with multiple wives and an explosive suicide-belt) or the cross-dressing Moses magnet... But of course, that will never happen, because the folks at Urban Outfitters wouldn't dream of offending Muslims and Jews with such repugnant items. The plain fact is, Christianity is the only religion that remains a fair target for the mockery and denigration of the secular liberal elite. Which brings us to Augusta, Georgia... Another recent example of liberal anti-Christian bigotry popped up at a St. Patrick's Day parade, of all places. Organizers of the Irish-American Heritage Society's parade in Augusta refused to allow a local youth group to carry crosses in Wednesday's parade, saying the parade "cannot be a platform for anyone's views, standpoints on politics, religion, [or] race." The youth group's minister complained, pointing out the obvious irony -- the holiday is SAINT Patrick's day, the celebration of a saint and bishop in the Catholic Church. It is, by its very nature, a Christian religious holiday. To say that carrying crosses in the parade would be an inappropriate platform for a particular religion would be like banning hymns at Christmas because it would be endorsing a particular religious viewpoint. Unfortunately, the parade organizers were immune to the obvious. In the end, the teens were told they'd only be allowed to carry shamrocks. It's amazing, when you think about it. The vast majority of Americans today openly confess some form of Christianity. We currently have a film about the Passion of Christ that will surely become one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. And yet Christianity is still the target of relentless ridicule by liberal elitists. These people are hopelessly out of touch. One last quick note before I go -- I want to thank Rev. Pat Robertson for having me on the 700 Club earlier this week. I was given the chance to clarify some comments on celibacy made on the show last week by an ex-priest named Richard Sipe. If you're not familiar with Sipe, he's the author of a book titled Celibacy, where he blames the sexual-abuse crisis on (surprise!) priestly celibacy. He even went so far as to say that only 10% of our priests keep their vows. All this was brought to my attention by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, who suggested I call Rev. Robertson to see if I could go on his show to defend our priesthood. Robertson gave me ample time to explain the true Catholic understanding of the gift of celibacy and to point out that other problems -- including lax bishops, dissent, and homosexuality -- were to blame in the current scandal. Rev. Robertson was very gracious in allowing me to correct the record for faithful Catholics, and I truly appreciate the opportunity. That's all for today. I'll talk to you again next week. I hope you have a restful weekend. Deal ------------------------------------------------------- Click below to find out more! http://www.crisismagazine.com/subscribe.htm (copy and paste into your browser if you can't click) CarrieTomko@aol.com

MICHAEL DAVIES' LATEST BOOK ON MEDJUGORE in which he explains why he does not believe that the Virgin Mary is appearing there. CarrieTomko@aol.com

NEWS FROM PLANET ZIRCON Charles Cook, a junior pre-journalism major (Does this mean that "journalism" is a course of study at the master's level at Kent State?) and web columnist for the Daily Kent Stater, has a column in yesterday's issue that has set the tone for my morning. :-) :-) :-) INTELLIGENT DESIGN IS NOT AN EXPLANATION FOR EVOLUTION The Ohio school board has passed a new lesson plan with revolutionary critique and intelligence design theory. Why, God, why? Sure evolution is a theory, and definitely a debatable theory, but intelligent design should not be held as an explanation. Intelligent design isn't even an explanation; it simply resorts to mysticism. There is no need to teach mysticism in classrooms. Children should be given real reasons, even incomplete reasons, so they can expand upon them or find some new theory to negate them. If intelligent design is allowed to be taught in classrooms as an explanation for the existence of humanity, then we also could teach our children that gravity is a myth as well. Why do objects fall downward? Because an intelligent being willed it to do so. This is the same argument that intelligent design makes. The idea that evolution somehow can undermine God is absurd as well. Just because some omnipotent being didn't just create humanity out of nothing does not mean that some nothing can create the universe. It is hard to fathom that existence could occur without something driving it. Not to say something had to drive it. The point is that science is founded on realistic explanations for what seems too random to be explained. And if you're undermining science, then you might as well go live in the wilderness because technology is driven by science. How do you plan on explaining electricity? God willed Thomas Edison to create a light bulb and taught people how to reproduce it so that we all could see in the dark. Technology is dependent on scientific progress. I don't want to live in a cave. If you start putting an end to scientific inquiry, where will it end? I don't mean to imply that people are no better than apes because I don't recommend we all masturbate with our feet. That is not the world I want to live in. We are better than animals because we strive to be. Certainly this moral goal is something even a Christian fundamentalist's God could agree with. If evolution is wrong, that is fine. But it should be replaced with an explanatory theory. Certainly multiple viewpoints and criticism are productive ventures. However, mysticism is counterproductive because it doesn't lead to an understanding of the universe. Children should be given the best education they can be given, and that includes the best explanation for why things are the way they are. If the shamen had everything figured out, then they would have used their conjuring to defeat settlers' rifles. Spirituality and mysticism have a place, even in our modern society, because science can't get to some of the most important questions like the reason for existence. But without inquiry there would be no TV. People like TV. Let people have TV. Amen. That's verbatim. Honest. I kid you not! (Expect nothing of intelligent design to grace this blog before noon! (Recovery is not instantaneous.) CarrieTomko@aol.com

AT A MORE EARTHLY LEVEL I'm babysitting my Grandbirdie, F.R.E.T. for a few days. (It has something to do with analytical chemistry and lazers, but all I can remember is that the R. stands for "resonance".) FRET likes to play hide 'n seek and his mother is indulgent. So as not to be inadequate in my grandparenting, I've been going along with the game. Now the way this game works is that FRET hides and waits until the human finds him. No matter how long it takes. If there is anything handy to chew on while waiting, so much the better. He prefers the insulation on wires when he has a choice. If the human is tardy, little chirps erupt from his hiding place. Once is was behind the wastebasket in the half-bath. Cute. Move the wastebasket and there he sits gazing up at me with adoring birdie eyes. Next time it was on my chair under the tablecloth. A little more of a challenge, but still within reason. Under the livingroom drape was easy. Last night it was behind the fridge. The fridge I can't either move or get behind without benefit of a strong man. He was especially patient in the waiting department. No chirps for at least an hour while he listened to the sounds of the human searching frantically and calling "FRET, cage time." repeatedly. Finally when the lights went out and everything got quiet, he tried a chirp. And then another. Having discovered the location, I attempted to chase him out by running a yardstick under the fridge. No bird. I took the front grate off and lit up the dust kitties with a flashlight. There were a lot of 'em, but no bird. Chirp. Chirp. Yes, he was back there somewhere. There was a rustling of feathers. However, nothing I tried brought an end to the game. Finally I decided my sleep was more important than his night in the cage. My husband, the morning person who leaves for work in the middle of a night person's slumber, found him. The fridge grate was lying on the floor. The spare rack that stands next to the fridge was standing against the cupboard. The kitchen light was on. The bird was in the cage. I discovered this when he woke me up rustling his feathers and banging heaven knows what body part against the cage bars. This game did not end the way he planned. My normally quiet grandbirdie is having a rough morning. He can't seem to get his feathers in order and his usual silence has given way to chirps and skreeches. He looks normal. I got him out of the cage and he acted scared, so I put him back in the cage. Where he is going to stay, with the cage door firmly in place, until I return him to his mother, slightly traumatized. I don't suppose I'll get to babysit my grandbirdie again soon. UPDATE Husband can't sleep. Gets up at 3 a.m. and goes out to the kitchen. Remembers why the light is still on, and searches under the fridge with the flashlight. Sees a flash of blue and hears a ruffle of feathers. Bird is sitting on the electric cable about a foot off the floor, judging by the sound. Bird peeks around the side of the fridge but will not come out. Husband concludes he is stuck and moves the fridge forward. Bird comes out and hops on his finger. Husband puts bird in the cage, looks at the clock--it's now 4:30 a.m.--and turns on the coffee pot since going back to sleep after refrigerator gymnastics is not very likely. Unlike the usual serene bird who sleeps on the top rung in the cage, FRET has been napping on the cage floor off and on all morning. When he's not asleep, he is chirping, screeching, and climbing all over the cage. This is not normal. Husband comes home for lunch and lets bird out of the cage. Bird heads for the stove. Husband heads for the bird, (I didn't know he could still move that fast!) and puts bird back in the cage with the door firmly shut, having recovered from the momentary lapse into his "bird hero" role. THE END (I hope!) CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, March 18, 2004

A WEBSITE CALLED "COMPARISON OF ALTARS" offers pictures of Masonic altars to compare with Catholic altars, both pre- and post-Vatican II. Something similar to a comparison I made several months ago. There is also some material pertaining to the UN, including this statement: The photo below shows John Paul II addressing the UN General Assembly in 1995. He, too, is an ardent supporter of the United Nations, despite its abysmal record of propping up tyrannies (while allegedly championing freedom), trampling upon human rights (while claiming to uphold them), stirring up conflicts (while sending in its "peacekeepers") and the largest and being the world's most visible promoter of the New World Order. Former UN Under Secretary General Robert Muller, a member of the Novus Ordo church who promotes the late Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin's condemned evolutionary theology, is a favorite of John Paul II. Muller, who has been called the UN's "prophet of hope" wrote the "Framework for Planetary and Cosmic Consciousness" and is belongs to ex-Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev's Gorbachev Foundation. He blasphemously has referred to the United Nations as "the body of Christ." As a token of his esteem, John Paul II gave Muller a pectoral cross. In fact, in the early 1990s he stated: "By the end of this decade we will live under the first one world government that has ever existed in the society of nations�a government with absolute authority to decide the basic issues of human survival. One world government is inevitable." (Cited, Malachi Martin, The Keys of This Blood, emphasis added. Although John Paul II supposedly believes in free will, this quote is deterministic in tone, sounding eerily like the Communist Manifesto, where Marx and Engels�who, by virtue of their materialism, were strict determinists�declared that the eventual communism conquest of the world is inevitable.) I wonder if that could be verified? Anyone know whether it's true? Well, the following I believe to be true: Archbishop Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said: "The crisis situation of the U.N., caused by the war in Iraq, does not contradict but reinforces the appeal in 'Pacem in Terris' for a world political authority." (U.N.'s role needed now more than ever, says Archbishop Martino," Zenit, 4/11/03) That one I remember. The website continues: He went on to say that the UN should be a "subsidiary world authority" to guarantee "a manner of world government that favors peace" and that "it is time to undertake a constitutional engineering of humanity so that the United Nations can carry out its irreplaceable role." While world government is a concept embraced by John Paul II and the two Vatican II predecessors whose names he took, this no more resembles the traditional thinking of Popes concerning international relations than does the United Nations' meditation room resemble the interior of a Catholic Church. The notion of a singular global rule was addressed in 1920, by the reigning pontiff, Pope Benedict XV, (photo, right) who declared: The coming of a world state is longed for, and confidently expected, by all the worst and most distorted elements. This state, based on the principles of absolute equality of men and a community of possessions, would banish all national loyalties. In it no acknowledgement would be made of the authority of a father over his children, or of God over human society. If these ideas are put into practice, there will inevitably follow a reign of unheard-of terror. I don't know who takes credit for the website. There are no identifying indications on the home page. CarrieTomko@aol.com

"HARRY POTTER" NO LONGER A TITLE IN DEMAND From Bloomberg.com: Scholastic Falls Scholastic Corp., the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter children's books, fell $2.17 to $29. The company said its fiscal third-quarter loss widened to 15 cents a share from 1 cent a year earlier. It was expected to report net income of 1 cent a share, according to a Thomson poll of eight analysts. From Reuters: NEW YORK, March 16 (Reuters) - Children's book publisher Scholastic Corp. (SCHL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) on Tuesday posted a wider quarterly loss than a year earlier and forecast fiscal 2004 profit well below analysts' targets, citing weakness at its direct-to-home book sales and trade businesses. The New York-based company, the U.S. publisher of the "Harry Potter" series, reported a fiscal third-quarter net loss of $6 million, or 15 cents a diluted share, compared with a loss of $500,000, or 1 cent a share, a year earlier. Donald Sensing blogged on the topic as well, describing the bookstone scene the day the 5th book in the series came out. Scroll down to June 21, 2003 for this comment: Harry Potter book a bust! Sales plummet overnight! According to my sources in the industry, Scholastic Books, publisher of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is gripped this morning in a near panic as the overnight sales figures of the book come in to its offices. Major retailers such as Barnes and Noble also are in a funk. The reason? Sales of the breathlessly-anticipated fifth Potter novel started strong when stores put them out for sale at midnight, but dropped sharply within just a couple of hours. "This is a disaster!" exclaimed Ms. Imelda Czechs, treasurer of Borders Books. "We really expected the book to take off like a rocket, but it only started strong. By 5 a.m. almost no books were being sold anywhere, except to obsessive-neurotic internet surfers who clicked onto Amazon.com." Customers leaving the stores agreed that the book was in trouble, sales-wise. "I got here at 11:30 p.m. last night," said Stan Beyerman, a rising country music star in Nashville, "and the place was packed. But by four this morning, when I had finished my second six-pack of Coors, there weren't nobody left but me. I reckon that word of mouth that the book was no durn good got around right quick." "One of the main problems was the initial marketing strategy, which was not announced until late," said Donatello Nobatti, director of operations for Davis-Kidd, Inc. "All the midnight parties didn't get near the advance coverage we wanted. There were millions and millions of potential customers who stayed away. I guess they wanted to sleep or something." Store managers said they had prepared for a near-killing crush of all-night shoppers, but were surprised at how quickly the crowds dissipated. "We had extreme security measures in place for crowd control and pilferage prevention," said Barnes and Noble's security director, Ewen Whadarmie. "But we didn't need it." "Sales in the British Isles were somewhat brisker," said Isaiah Oldboie, Scholastic's British chief of operations, "possibly because it was daylight here when the book went on sale. We are cautiously forecasting declining sales by 9 p.m. tonight, though." Atlanta, Ga., alone experienced high sales volume until the wee hours of the morning, according to Ingram Book Co.'s Atlanta director, Frank Lee Scarlett. "Sales were strong until 3 a.m., which is encouraging," he said. "But they weren't strong enough for stores to reopen tonight. It looks like the sales wave has crested and it's all downhill from here." by Donald Sensing. Link to this post: 6/21/2003 11:20:35 AM Comment (0) How fleeting fame. How enduring anonymity. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE DO-NOT-CALL LIST IS WORKING for consumers and against commerce: It looks like the National Do Not Call Registry, which has been wildly popular with consumers, is starting to take a toll on companies that rely on telemarketing for a good chunk of sales. Late Tuesday, Scholastic Inc., the children's-book publisher that distributes Harry Potter books in the United States, blamed the registry for part of its bigger-than-expected third-quarter loss. Its stock fell almost 7 percent to $29 per share Wednesday. Starting in October, telemarketers could no longer call consumers who list their residential phone numbers with the national registry. (There are exceptions for nonprofit organizations and companies that have an existing relationship with a consumer.) The registry has grown to 58.2 million telephone numbers, which may include cell phones, the Federal Trade Commission reports. In 2001, there were 112 million residential land lines in the country, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. A Harris Interactive survey commissioned by the FTC indicates that 57 percent of U.S. adults say they have signed up for the registry. Of those who signed up, 92 percent say they are getting fewer telemarketing calls, and 25 percent say they are getting none. Sort of an institutionalized course in better manners, it is no longer an option to force the public's attention to what you have to offer. The consumer won a battle for a change, though it took long enough. In my house, we have our own do-not-call system that was instituted instead of joining the list. If you are calling and you know I want to talk to you, leave a message. I NEVER answer the phone unless I'm expecting a call. If a telemarketer is bold enough to leave a message, (I do monitor messages as they come in) I pick up the receiver and drop it immediately back into the cradle, all the while relishing the imagined frustration of the telemarketer. When it comes to telemarketers, I have no manners. I have no Christian charity. I have no sympathy. I am not a nice person. CarrieTomko@aol.com

MICHAEL ROSE GOES ON THE OFFENSIVE He's taken a lot of heat over Goodbye, Good Men!, the book that exposed the homosexuality in the seminaries. Now it's his turn. Check out the CRUXNEWS DETRACTORS link on the left side of the CruxNews website. WARNING! Do this when you have some extra time! While you're at the website, check out the lead story on Fr. Haley's canonical trial. Certainly looks like a revenge trial to me. Classic case of being damned if you do and damned if you don't. This is the background: Fr. Haley worked as an associate at All Saints, where he discovered that his pastor had stored up homosexual pornography on the rectory computer. He also discovered over three hundred email "love letters" written by Fr. Verrecchia and sent to Nancy Lambert. The emails closed with fancies such as "Feel my hug and know of my kiss." Fr. Haley testified that Fr. Verrecchia had long been involved in a very public romance with Mrs. Lambert, saying it was a source of grave scandal to parishioners at All Saints. Moreover, Fr. Haley presented Bishop Loverde with incontrovertible evidence of Fr. Verrecchia�s misconduct by downloading all the homosexual pornography and emails onto a compact disc. According to the deposition, rather than investigating the matter, the bishop accused Fr. Haley of fabricating the emails and transferred him to St. Lawrence Church in Franconia. No investigation was ever carried out; Fr. Verrecchia received no disciplinary notice by Bishop Loverde, and was allowed to remain pastor of All Saints, where he continued his sexual romance with Nancy Lambert until he impregnated her and left the priesthood to marry her. And that is only the first episode in a long chain of events. Stephen Brady, who is lending moral support to Fr. Haley, comments: "I�ve seen the vile filth that Fr. Haley documented in those three rectories," added Brady, who describes the evidence as hardcore homosexual pornography�both magazines and videos. "I�ve got copies of it all," he added, "and the fact that Bishop Loverde failed to act on any of this evidence speaks volumes. Instead, he decides to persecute this priest while perverts and pedophiles walk free." CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

CROWLEY COMES TO THE BIG SCREEN From market wire: SANTA MONICA, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 03/17/2004 -- Michael Schrager of The Dominion Entertainment Group and Patricia Baker of The Big Picture Agency LLC have teamed to bring "Aleister Crowley: Revolt of the Magicians," the spellbinding screenplay based on the life of Aleister Crowley, to the big screen. The screenplay of the occult world's most controversial figure is written by internationally renown occult author and Crowley expert, Lon DuQuette, and Jim Bratkowsky of Cinemagic.... "Aleister's legacy attracts many new converts to the Occult even today," explains Baker, "and he is said to still command considerable loyalty even from beyond the grave." Some believe Aleister was a spiritual seeker, others argue he was the dark magician. Production is planned for late 2004 in England and the United States. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE DEVIL Satan. Discussing him has been tabu in our culture since Vatican II or thereabouts. But things are a-changing. United Press International has used the words. Both of them. In an opinion piece by Uwe Siemon-Netto. This comes about primarily because of the recent bombings in Madrid. For decades, the Evil One as "an active force, a living, spiritual being that is perverted and perverts others" -- to use the words of the late Pope Paul IV -- was rarely the topic of sermons. "To talk about him was not considered chic," said the Rev. Christian Ruess, pastor of Hamburg's landmark St. Michael's Church in Germany. "In all my years as dean of the chapel in a seminary, I can't remember hearing him mentioned even once," agreed Gabriel Jay C. Rochelle, a former Lutheran theology professor who has since joined an Eastern Orthodox denomination in Pennsylvania. "But the devil showed yesterday in Spain," Rochelle told United Press International in an interview Friday. How else can you explain such random evil? Overnight, practically, Satan is doing his encore on the world stage, and people are taking notice. Of course it will mean a rethinking of the faith: A personal devil does not fit in with the postmodern religion worshiping a cuddly God. This God, one assumes, would be too weak to defeat the personal Satan, who has mutated from The Evil One (he) in the original teachings of the Church to The Evil (it) in contemporary homiletics. "What has happened here is that the Church has adapted itself to a society, which refuses to face up the Satan's existence," according to the Rev. Col. Peter Carsten Thiede, a German theology professor and Anglican priest, who is also a senior British army chaplain. But this phenomenon, which Thiede attributes to the attempts by 19th- and 20th-century theologians to rid the New Testament of its mythology, may be on its way out as a result of the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York and Washington and March 11, 2004, in Madrid. Thiede is somewhat pessimistic that the awareness of the reality of evil will actually translate into a belief in the devil, at least in Europe. "This would require a revolution from above," he said, adding, "of course, I am only speaking humanly. We don't know what the Holy Spirit will do." If the Devil has reappeared, can hell be far behind? And if hell reappears in Western thinking, will it revitalize Christianity? The Rev. Albrecht Immanuel Herzog, who heads a venerable mission society in Bavaria, discerns a shift in attitudes all around him, however. "People are no longer satisfied with secular explanations of evil," he said. "They are demanding elucidation in religious terms." Satan, as the powerful Prince of the World disguising himself as Lucifer, the bearer of light, has become a more probable creature now that unspeakably evil deeds are being committed for some cause or other, a term British Prime Minister Tony Blair used in his condemnation of the Madrid massacre. The article goes on to cite the very obvious Devil in Gibson's "Passion," and concludes: Indeed, we are not contending against flesh and blood. This is the message of Gibson's work -- and evidently of the ever-increasing horrors brought into everybody's living or bedroom via cable television and the Internet. The devil as a person is once again becoming a high probability for the once doubting public. Which requires nothing more than an affirmative "AMEN !" Meanwhile, in Mexico... ST. DEATH In Mexico City there is a cult of "St. Death" as reported by ajc.com. From the website: But devotees like those in Mexico City's notorious El Tepito slum insist she is a motherly angel of mercy, and they make sure to attend to her like a queen. Her larger-than-life statue, kept in a glass box at a street-side sanctuary, is draped in lace-trimmed satin. Her hooded, grinning skull is crowned with a rhinestone tiara, and every bony finger protruding from beneath her cloak boasts a glittering ring. "She's not frightening. She's beautiful," insisted welder Isiel Alvarado, 27, flipping up his T-shirt to expose a tattoo of St. Death on his tummy. Genuflecting and crossing himself repeatedly before the shrine, Alvarado said he believes in St. Death because she delivered his brother safely from prison. Stories like Alvarado's, of prayers answered and miracles performed, are fueling the spread of a Mexican phenomenon: the cult of St. Death, whose worship is said to date back only a generation to rural villages in the mid-1960s. Prisoners, petty thieves, corrupt cops and powerful drug traffickers are said to be devotees of the so-called saint, who is not recognized by the Catholic Church. But the cult is benefiting, too, from the faith of simple working-class Mexicans who try to abide by the law but daily face the hunger, injustice, corruption and crime of Mexico's toughest neighborhoods. The Church's response appears to be rather low key: The Catholic Church hasn't launched a vigorous campaign against St. Death, but it frowns on paying homage to the figure. In its publication From Faith, the church warned last November, "the devil will do anything to win devotees." Followers of St. Death, who affectionately call her "the skinny girl," say they see no contradiction between being good Catholics and praying to the statue. "I have room in my heart for all the saints," said Enriqueta Romero, 57, who grabs visitors' elbows and proudly leads them over to the statue she erected two years ago in front of her home. Romero and her husband do a brisk business with a souvenir stand selling devotees candles, aerosol cans of "holy spray" and statues. The most expensive figure costs $200. The shrine is one of about 20 that now stand in El Tepito alone. Romero's son, a dentist, celebrates a "Mass" once a month, drawing worshippers bearing bouquets of fresh flowers and bottles of tequila to leave for the statue. Sometimes a devotee hires a mariachi band to serenade the statue with love songs. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! CarrieTomko@aol.com

SOME OF TODAY'S TEENAGERS ARE SMARTER THAN THEIR PARENTS when it comes to pre-marital sex. Proof that the pendulum does swing. Source: Spirit Daily CarrieTomko@aol.com

RENT-A-CRUISE-PRIEST at Zenit. And while you're there check out the article underneath which clarifies Lay Communion services. Especially note this: -- Whenever possible, the Mass schedule of nearby parishes should be available to parishioners. If a nearby parish is celebrating Mass on a given weekday, serious consideration should be given to encouraging people to participate in that Mass rather than the parish scheduling a Liturgy of the Word with Distribution of Holy Communion. So much for Sunday morning lay-led Communion services when the neighboring parish still has Mass. Neighboring parishes are close enough that the obligation to attend Mass can hardly be dismissed. Hence, there is no point to lay-led services in any American parish while we still have priests. I trust the nuns who want to be priests will take note. Source: Spirit Daily. CarrieTomko@aol.com

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY and an Irish blessing to you... Lucky stars above you, Sunshine on your way, Many friends to love you, Joy in work and play- Laughter to outweigh each care, In your heart a song- And gladness waiting everywhere All your whole life long! And just to make sure the laughter isn't lacking... As soon as she had finished parochial school, a bright young girl named Lena shook the dust of Ireland off her shoes and made her way to New York where before long, she became a successful performer in show business. Eventually she returned to her home town for a visit and on a Saturday night went to confession in the church which she had always attended as a child. In the confessional Father Sullivan recognized her and began asking her about her work. She explained that she was an acrobatic dancer, and he wanted to know what that meant. She said she would be happy to show him the kind of thing she did on stage. She stepped out of the confessional and within sight of Father Sullivan, she went into a series of cartwheels, leaping splits, handsprings and backflips. Kneeling near the confessional, waiting their turn, were two middle-aged ladies. They witnessed Lena's acrobatics with wide eyes, and one said to the other: "Will you just look at the penance Father Sullivan is givin' out this night, and me without me bloomers on!" You can find more of the same here. CarrieTomko@aol.com

BROOKLYN'S BISHOP NICK DiMARZIO ASKS "If love is the sole basis for marriage, then what gives society the right to deny a marriage license to Fred and Fido? Or, for that matter, to Sam and Sally, a brother-sister couple who � like in the movie 'The Dreamers' � love each other in a way most people find unnatural? Surely it is irrational to forbid incest! After all, we once made it illegal for whites to marry blacks, didn't we? So isn't it the same to deny Fred and Fido; Tom, Dick and Harry; and Sam and Sally? Wouldn't it be intolerant to say no to this happy trio of lovers? Isn't this what makes America great � equal rights for those who commit bestiality, polygamy, sodomy and incest?" William Donohue agrees, adding: "Thank God we have bishops like Nick DiMarzio. It's about time we forced the crazies to defend their logic." To which Les Kinsolving of WorldNetDaily responds: "And I will add: Thank God we have Bill Donohue." To which I would add, if love is the only basis of marriage, why couldn't I marry my daughter? Or for that matter, my Christmas cactus? Thanks to a reader for sending this one! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

LINDISFARNE COMMUNITY On this webpage they talk about Toronto Blessing in conjunction with "Partners in Harvest." Here is the Partners in Harvest website. I assume, considering the Toronto Blessing connection, that this Partners in Harvest is a Pentecostal community. "Spreading the Fire" up in the right top corner of the website seems to indicate this as well. The link for "churches" lists a number of them, Toronto Airport Church among them. On the seminary website in their list of reading materials they include the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They also list Matthew Fox and John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and Julian of Norwich. Dietrich Bonhoffer and Avery Dulles are on their list. Also the Rule of St. Benedict. Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza makes their list, as do C. S. Lewis and Henri Nouwen. This seems to be the Postmodern One World Church in the development stages. It is grounded in the experience of Baptism in the Spirit, with usually an emphasis on speaking-in-tongues as evidence of having received the Baptism. For that reason the denomination of this group might be considered irrelevant. It will be interesting to learn how our new ecclesial communities that have the Pope's backing fit into this new Postmodern universal church, especially considering the Pope's blessing of Pentecostalism. The New Monasticism webpage in their website is ...well...I guess you should take a look for yourself. They have a husband and wife bishops team. The line of Apostolic Succession is interesting. Arch. Carlos Duarte-Costa is listed in the Roman Catholic Church of Brazil line. Here he is. The Antiochan Orthodox Seccession lists Joseph Rene Vilatte, who is also claimed by the O.T.O. Gnostic Catholic Church. You will also find Vilatte here under "Apostolic Succession" under the sub-heading "Historical Note." Under Brazil the Lindisfarne Community lists Card. M. Rampola del Tindero. Is this the same Cardinal Rampolla so often connected with the O.T.O.? I'm not sure. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! CarrieTomko@aol.com

LINDISFARNE COMMUNITY Fr. Bryce Sibley blogged this community the other day. Scroll down to "A New Religious Community." Searching the website brought up this evidence that they are an unconnected autocephalous community: Presently the Lindisfarne Community is an "autocephalous" jurisdiction in the one holy catholic apostolic church. However, the community is not independent or sectarian in spirit and is pleased to join with others in the Body of Christ. Besides our present connections the community is seeking intercommunion agreements with others. As the Ithaca College website indicates, Muller Chapel is used for Catholic Mass, for the services of other religions, and for entertainment. This incorporation of entertainment with religious services is typical of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, where the Lindisfarne Association affiliated with Crestone is located. The non-denominational aspect of the chapel matches the non-denominational aspect of Crestone. Crestone offers a number of "growing domes" which remind me of the Matrimandir at Auroville, named for Sri Aurobindo, I presume. This dome is the center of spirituality for this community dedicated to "The Mother." There is also an Aurobindo Learning Center in Crestone. Crestone has become more commercialized since I last visited their website. Communities like this one are similar in concept to the new ecclesial communities being fostered by John Paul II. Does he see them as the way of life in the future, and thus is he making sure that Catholics have a place to go? These utopian-style communities have not been successful long-term in any of their older incarnations, such as the Shakers. They also have failed in Israel, as the news item from Israel Today that I linked below indicates. There is a Catholic Carmelite monastery in Crestone that appears from their website to be co-ed, called Nada Hermitage. Their Spiritual Life Institute is listed on the Crestone Directory. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Monday, March 15, 2004

END OF THE KIBBUTZ ? From Israel today: Capitalism encroaches on a pillar of Zionism Nearly a century after the first kibbutz�Deganya�was founded in 1909 on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee, the kibbutz movement decided to declare an official end to the communal way of life. �We had to make a decision because the classic kibbutz model has changed drastically over the last 25 years,� Natan Tal, secretary of HaKibbutz HaMeuhad (the United Kibbutz Movement), told israel today. Of the 267 kibbutzim (collective farms) in Israel, 165 already operate according to the new capitalist model. About 120,000 people live in kibbutzim� just 2 percent of the population. When the state was founded in 1948, the kibbutzim made up about half of the settlements in Israel and were home to 8 percent of the Jewish population. Until the mid-1980s, the kibbutz was Israel�s trademark. The kibbutzim were a popular and adventurous destination for thousands of young people from all over the world who came to work as volunteers. For decades, the kibbutz provided an opportunity for Jews and non-Jews alike to get acquainted with the country. Israel didn�t have to market the kibbutz; the kibbutz marketed Israel. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE ANGLICAN MELTDOWN From the Telegraph: Worldwide Anglicanism edged closer to disintegration yesterday after the liberal Canadian Church defied calls for restraint and paved the way for homosexual "marriages". To the dismay of conservatives, it announced that its General Synod would be asked to affirm that there was no bar to Canadian dioceses authorising the blessing of "committed same-sex unions". One Canadian diocese has already unilaterally approved a rite for such blessings, and officials believe there is little doubt that the Synod will validate its decision. Although illicit gay blessings are widespread in the Anglican Church, such a vote would be seen as the first clear endorsement of the practice by an entire province. It would represent a fresh blow to the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. CarrieTomko@aol.com

WAS THE DA VINCI CODE PLAGIARIZED ? Spirit Daily links this New York Post Online Edition article about Dan Brown's alleged sources: DAN Brown, the author of last year's best-selling "The Da Vinci Code," is nothing but a plagiarist, charges the author of two novels that are strikingly similar to Brown's. Author Lewis Perdue is preparing to sue Brown for copyright infringement, claiming "The Da Vinci Code" is in large part stolen from his 1983 novel, "The Da Vinci Legacy" and its 1985 follow-up, "Daughter of God" - which were both recently optioned by "Survivor" creator Mark Burnett. A representative for Brown's publisher, Random House, says, "The charges are without merit." All three books are about a woman who stumbles onto a bizarre plot by the Catholic church to cover up evidence of a female messiah. Within that context, Perdue alleges very specific parallels. The article goes on to list some interesting parallels between the books. Perdue may have a case. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THERE HAS BEEN A SHOOTING IN A MASONIC LODGE The shooting took place during an initiation ceremony for the second degree, Fellow Craft: That ritual went terribly wrong inside Southside Masonic Lodge No. 493, in a basement littered with rat traps, tin cans, a 9-foot-tall guillotine, and a setup designed to mimic walking a plank. The shooter, a 76-year-old Mason, Albert Eid, was carrying two guns, a .22-caliber handgun with blanks in his left pocket, and a .32-caliber gun with live rounds in his right pocket. He reached into his right pants pocket, pulled out the wrong gun and shot William James, a 47-year-old fellow Mason, in the face, killing him, the authorities said. Eid, a World War II veteran who had a license to carry his own pistol and often did, pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon to a charge of manslaughter. He was wearing his blue Masonic jacket during his arraignment. Newsday.com reports that a "panel of lawyers will investigate social clubs that operate in lodges like the one where the shooting took place.... "We are deeply anguished and outraged because a fellow Mason has died in an incident that never should have happened," Fitje said, reading from a letter that will be sent to the state's 67,000 members. William James, 47, of Medford, N.Y., was fatally shot participating in an initiation ceremony into a social club called Fellow Craft in the basement of the Patchogue lodge last Monday night. Seattlepi.com also carries the story, and spins it similarly to the Newsday article: Masonic leaders statewide were quick to disavow the ritual and shooting, saying it was not Masonic custom to shoot guns at other members. Ron Steiner, a spokesman for the New York State Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, which oversees all Masonic lodges in the state, said the social club was not officially tied to the Masonic organization. A "social club called Fellow Craft." Excuse me??! Fellow Craft (or Fellowcraft) is the second degree of Freemasonry in the Blue Lodge. It is the Second Degree of Freemasonry in Scottish Rite Freemasonry. It is the second degree in York Rite. It follows the first degree called "Entered Apprentice" and preceeds the third degree called "Master Mason." But it's nice spin if you can get away with it! You can't get any more Masonic than the first three degrees. If second degree is a "social club" that can be removed from the Masonic lodge as the article seems to imply, then all of Freemasonry can be removed from the Lodge. This is a little like saying that Roman Catholicism is a social club that meets in Catholic Churches. So much for honesty in the Lodge, I guess. Have they been taking Catholic lessons? Meanwhile the Turkish Press Review seems to be reporting a terrorist organization is associated with a Turkish Masonic Lodge in some way: ANKARA - Security Deputy Director General and Spokesman Ramazan Er said on Friday that the investigation of the police into the attack on Masonic lodge continued and that there were good developments about the investigation. Er noted that developments in Kongregel-PKK terrorist organization were also closely monitored.... When a reporter recalled that Al Qaida terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the attack launched on Masonic lodge, Er stated that ''you know it also claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack that took place in Spain. But please pay attention to the fact that they announced the number of persons killed in the attack in Istanbul as three.'' According to Scotsman.com: An Arabic newspaper said it received a claim of responsibility from al Qaida for a botched suicide attack at an Istanbul Masonic lodge. But Turkish officials previously said they did not believe the international terrorist network was involved. It was not immediately possible to confirm the claim received by the Arabic newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi. The statement said the al Qaida squad, Jund al-Quds or Soldiers of Jerusalem, had carried out Tuesday night�s attack on the Masonic lodge in Istanbul that killed one person. �All the Masons would have been killed but there was a technical fault. So because God wished it, only three were killed,� the statement said. CarrieTomko@aol.com

MORE ON RICHARD BAKER-ROSHI (OF THE S.F. ZEN CENTER AND CRESTONE) Richard Baker-Roshi, a man at the center of the scandal related to the San Francisco Zen Center reported below, has his finger in some additional pies. He is (or was?) a member of Lindisfarne Associates. Lindisfarne was founded by James Park Morton, Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, in 1972. Morton was chair of the association for 25 years. Today the association has moved to Crestone, Colorado. This group is a counter-cultural think tank, a community of scholars, students and artists named after an Irish monastery and devoted to the study and realization of a new planetary culture. Member James Lovelock is the originator of "Gaia Theory." Paul Winter, another member, wrote the "Missa Gaia" or Earth Mass. Winter is (or was?) a musician in residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Lindisfarne member Arthus Zajonc is an Anthroposophist. William Irwin Thompson is the current chairman. Another activity of Richard Baker is the Club of Budapest. Lee Penn says of the Club of Budapest: "In response to these challenges, in addition to the work of the UN and its world conferences, a multitude of initiatives of people's movements (the non-governmental organizations in the world represent 250 million people) and thinkers are springing up all around the world, to mention but a few of them: The independent world commissions, the peoples' assemblies parallel to the UN Conferences, the yearly State of the World Forum in San Francisco, the United Religions Initiative, think-tanks like the Club of Rome on the Limits of Growth, the Club of Budapest on Planetary Consciousness and the Club of Tokyo to save the Earth and Humanity. These are all manifestations of the birth of a global brain and consciousness to the human species, probably the most important aspect of the phenomenon of globalization."(8) Here is Lee's footnote for that passage: 8 Robert Muller, "2000 Ideas and Dreams for a Better World," Internet document, http://www.lsw.org/ideas/RMideas.html, idea 548, 9 January 1996 CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE CALIFORNIA ZEN CENTER A curious coincidence. Catholics are well aware of the details of the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. It needs no description. Interestingly, a sexual scandal seems to have been a factor in the California Zen Center according to China Galland. In Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna Galland says: I had been sitting zazen alone for the most part the past three years; the abbot of San Francisco Zen Center had been asked to leave amid a series of both sexual and financial scandals that disrupted and threatened the community. Some left. Others stayed to rebuild the gifted and now fragmented community. I withdrew more and more. The result was that I lost both a teacher and a sangha, the spiritual community. ( p. 67) A few more details are provided by this article. The story and the book are also coveered by Time Asia Magazine, complete with a less than flattering history of the San Francisco Zen Center: Then, in 1983, a full-fledged sex scandal involving the wife of one of Zen Center's supporters plunged Baker and his institution into a long, ugly drama of accusations and recriminations so far-reaching that they ended up sullying the ideals of all of American alternative spirituality. By narrative's end, Baker is in many ways scarcely distinguishable from the long, sad list of other modern con men-cum-spiritual masters who started out well-intentioned but became damagingly seduced by the prestige and power that their legitimate abilities had earned for them. Richard Baker has other connections. Check out this website which indicates: In his teaching, Baker-roshi emphasized Zen's yogic teachings and the relevance of Zen to contemporary philosophical and social issues. He is presently the spiritual head of Dharma Sangha, with locations in Crestone, Colorado, and the Black Forest of Germany. Dharma Sangha in Crestone. That would be the Crestone Zen Center? Yes, apparently so, according to Crooked Cucumber: He'd been at the SFZC and had studied with Baker-roshi in Crestone Zen Center in Southwest Colorado. Ok, I hear you saying "So what?" Well, this is what. What, one wonders, do our bishops plan to learn from dialogue at the San Francisco Zen Center? But wait. I've left out an important part. The Crestone Zen Center is associated with Maurice Strong's activities in Crestone, Colorado: The "Baca" is the shortened name for the Baca Grande subdivision to the south of town. Crestone is an incorporated town. The Baca is a 200,000-acre tract of land where most of the spiritual centers, shrines, ashrams, monasteries, retreats, and people are located. At the entrance to the Baca is the town's sole restaurant - the Desert Sage - located in a complex with townhomes and a couple of businesses adjacent to the Colorado College at Baca. Much of the Baca land was acquired in a business deal more than two decades ago by multimillionaire businessman and United Nations Undersecretary Maurice Strong and his wife, Hanne Marstrand Strong. Through their Manitou Foundation and Manitou Institute, the Strongs have shaped the development of the Baca, holding to a vision of Crestone as a unique spiritual community and haven for those choosing a contemplative lifestyle. The Strongs have invited and assisted many of the spiritual organizations that are now located here, including the Crestone Mountain Zen Center, the Haidakhandi Universal Ashram, the Sri Aurobindo Learning Center, and the Karma Thegsum Tashi Gomang Stupa and Retreat Center. Eastern spiritual traditions - especially Hinduism and Buddhism - dominate the landscape. What Crestone really represents is a small circle of international movers and shakers who are working toward United Religions Initiative as Lee Penn has pointed out: The URI is becoming active worldwide, and has some friends and funding sources in high places - including George Soros, the billionaire currency speculator, and Richard Blum, the wealthy husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein. URI allies include the star-studded State of the World Forum, and the Earth Council - headed by Maurice Strong, a wealthy Canadian advocate of world government. It is not a place I would expect to find the Roman Catholic Church. Yet here are our bishops making nice with the San Francisco Zen Center. So what do I ask this time...Where is their Pope? Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Sunday, March 14, 2004

THE DA VINCI CODE A reader inquired about my report on TDVC. I've only done one, and it appeared at the TCR-News website on May 23, 2003. I've just looked for it, and it's no longer there, apparently, so I'll blog it here, with a link to Stephen Hand's website. I've made a few changes in order to reflect the updated version of websites. Exploring THE DA VINCI CODE HOLY GRAIL, KNIGHTS TEMPLAR, KING ARTHUR, chivalry - none of these are new ideas; they've been with us for generations. The latest version of the Grail Quest, THE DA VINCI CODE, by Dan Brown, is in the No. 2 position on the New York Times best seller list for good reason. Not only does it address a favorite theme of conspiracy theorists, but Brown is also a clever master of suspense, making this book a page turner. But it is written with a twist. This time the Christians--the Catholics--are the bad guys. Brown tells us that it is the Roman Catholic Church which is preventing the Holy Grail from being found. Why would the Catholic Church want to prevent the discovery of the Grail? Brown's Grail is not the cup that held the wine which Christ blessed at the Last Supper. Brown's Grail is the very bloodline of Christ given to the world through His wife, Mary Magdalene; and Mary Magdalene herself is the Grail. It is her bones which are being sought, along with the currently living members of Christ's bloodline. Of course it's contrary to Scripture. Brown explains that inconvenience by claiming Scripture was written by the winners--the knights and popes and saints of the Roman Catholic Church who destroyed every shred of evidence that this marriage ever took place--the members of the Inquisition who had the power to insure that only one story of Christ survived. Others have told similar tales. Philip Jenkins calls books such as Brown's "Bible-forgery fiction," (HIDDEN GOSPELS; HOW THE SEARCH FOR JESUS LOST ITS WAY, p. 50) and says of this genre: Radical ideas about the origins of Christianity were...popularized through avowedly fictional literary works, which proliferated in the early twentieth century. Though such works have received scant attention from either Bible scholars or literary critics, they were a principal vehicle for spreading the scholarship of the intellectual elite to ordinary readers. These fictions did much to raise awareness of the possibility of newly found gospels, and the alternative visions of Jesus these might contain. (p. 48-49) These alternative versions of Jesus are the teachings of the Gnostic Heresy. Fragments of this early Christian heresy have been preserved. A large library of Gnostic scrolls was discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi. Other scrolls and fragments had been discovered prior to the Nag Hammadi find. The Coptic translation of the Gospel of Mary from Nag Hammadi was published in 1955. This Gospel tells the heretical version of Mary Magdalene's story. The Gospel of Philip also speaks of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. In this Gospel the disciples ask, "Why do you love her [Mary Magdalene] more than all of us?", and Jesus answers, "Why do I not love you as (I love) her?" (THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS by Elaine Pagels, p. 64) The book HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL by Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln, published in 1982, gives a nonfictional account based on their own research of the Rosicrucian Priory of Sion, and the Priory's claims to safeguard the bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Dan Brown has taken that research and turned it into a Gospel fiction novel. This Gnostic Christianity is being preserved today in Freemasonry. Michael Baigent is (or was in 2003) a member of the Board of Trustees of the Canonbury Masonic Research Center in London. He is pictured here with Bob Gilbert together with the paper Gilbert delivered to the Canonbury Masonic Research Center in March 2000 on the topic of "Freemasonry and Esoteric Movements." Today Baigent is editior of the Masonic magazine Freemasonry Today.In HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL, Baigent says: Certain Masonic lodges have adopted the grade of "Templar" as well as rituals and appellations supposedly descended from the original order. Toward the end of the nineteenth century a sinister Order of the New Templars was established in Germany and Austria, employing the swastika as one of its emblems. Figures like H. P. Blavatsky, founder of Theosophy, and Rudolf Steiner, founder of Anthroposophy, spoke of an esoteric "wisdom tradition" running back through the Rosicrucians to the Cathars and Templars--who were purportedly repositories of more ancient secrets still. (p. 80) The particular brand of Gnosticism addressed by Brown and by Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln is best known as the Albigensian Heresy of which Hilare Belloc says: In the heart of the Middle Ages, just when they were working up to their most splendid phase, the great thirteenth century, there arose--and was for the moment completely defeated--a singular and powerful attack upon the Catholic Church and all the culture for which it stood. This was an attack, not only on the religion that made our civilization, but on that civilization itself; and its great name in history is "The Albigensian Heresy." (THE GREAT HERESIES, p. 82) Belloc further states: ...the country over which the Albigensians had power was the wealthiest and best organized in the West. It had the highest culture, commanded the trade of the Western Mediterranean...The first Inquisition arose from the necessity of extirpating the remnants of the [heresy]. (ibid. p. 95) The Papacy, the hierarchy and the whole body of Catholic doctrine and established Catholic sacraments, were the target of the Albigensian offensive. (ibid. p. 86) In his book, ENTHUSIASM, Msgr. Ronald A. Knox describes this heresy saying one of the streams of underground "opposition to the medieval hierarchy" was the Catharist heresy which ...achieved its epic in the south of France, where it acquired the alternative title of Albigensian. It was influenced, at least in part, by Manichean doctrines which seem to have been imported from the Near East; by a Dualist account of Creation, and of man's nature, by a Docetic theory of the Incarnation. It derided all the Catholic sacraments, and substituted for them a liturgy and a disciplinary system of its own. (p. 72-73) The Albigensian Crusade was launched at the beginning of the 13th century. It is this heresy that is being revived today in works such as THE DA VINCI CODE as well as HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL. Both books claim that the Gnostic teaching about Christ went underground because of the Crusade, and has been kept alive over the centuries through the use of symbols in various works of art by Mozart, Da Vinci, Boticelli, Victor Hugo, Claude Debussy, and others. The Priory of Sion claims that Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus and pregnant at the time of the crucifixion. Subsequently Joseph of Arimathea helped her to escape to France where she gave birth to a daughter whom she named Sarah. This Sarah is the black virgin venerated even today, according to author Margaret Starbird (THE WOMAN WITH THE ALABASTER JAR: MARY MAGDALEN AND THE HOLY GRAIL, p. 61) According to the members of the Priory of Sion, the descendants of Jesus are the Plantard and Saint-Clair families. Brown has his Catharist facts straight. He is not as accurate with his Catholic facts. The villain of the novel is a prison escapee who is taken in by Opus Dei and becomes a monk. However, there are no Opus Dei monks in real life. Opus Dei Numeraries, the only members who use the celice and discipline as the monk does in the novel, are either priests or non-religious. There are other flaws in the mystery. The Opus Dei monk in the story operated covertly, yet he is conspicuous, being an albino and wearing a monk's habit as he goes about committing murder. Such a man would stand out and would be unable to operate clandestinely. The key to the solution of the mystery is the discovery of a word which unlocks the secret. I'm usually not particularly good at solving mysteries, yet I knew the solution to the puzzle 27 pages before the author revealed it, making the end of the story anticlimactic. I'm sure that experienced readers of mystery novels would be able to solve the mystery sooner than I did. One scene from the story takes place in the Temple Church in London. There are pictures of the church on the web, including the ten effigies. (The Knights Templar at Temple Church, London ) Will this book contribute to anti-Catholic bias in America? I think it stands a good chance of doing so by making a case out of the fact that the Pope has apologized for the Crusades and the Inquisition. Considering its wide appeal, if nothing else it will introduce a great many people to a heresy the Church has never been completely successful in stamping out, a heresy preserved in Rosicrucian Freemasonry. CarrieTomko@aol.com

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