Saturday, August 21, 2004
My computer has been diagnosed with advanced brain fever and is recovering in intensive care. The extent of damage to normal function will not be known until the fever has broken. There is a distinct possibility amnesia will result.
Prognosis is still good for recovering lost capabilities if the damge is severe. Recovery, however, is expected to take as long as two weeks, after which there may be the need for extensive rehabilitation.
Check back for updates on prognosis which will be provided at unspecified intervals depending upon the helpful people at the local computer orphanage.
Monday, August 16, 2004
In Ohio in mid-August the weather is supposed to be hot, humid and miserable. These days are called the "dog days" of summer. But not this year. This evening it was cool enough outside to need a lightweight jacket. But more curious, the trees have started to turn on their fall colors. The maples have red blotches here and there. Some other trees have brown leaves and bare spots. In my own backyard, the leaves have started to fall. Peak changing of the leaves usually comes during the first weekend in October. These red and falling leaves are just plain weird in August. A lot of people have not yet had their first ripe tomato from their backyard gardens.
Global warming. Yeah, right! The whole summer has been unseasonably cool, with lots of rain, and too many gray days.
Oddly enough, there have not been any criss-crossed jet streams in the sky in recent months. There for quite a while, it was a regular feature. But then, chem-trails only turn up in conspiracy websites, mostly, so I suppose I'd better not bring them up here.
JOHN THE BAPTIST'S CAVE
The Drudge Report links a story on the possible finding of the cave of John the Baptist.
DID THE POPE SAY GOODBYE ?
THE Pope may have been making his final farewell at Lourdes, a cardinal said yesterday. Godfried Danneels said the pontiff was 'seriously weakened' during his weekend pilgrimage to the French shrine.
Danneels was in France with John Paul II, who has Parkinson's disease.
The Belgian, seen as a possible future pope, said: 'It was one of the most moving celebrations ever.
'The Pope is seriously weakened.
'When the Pope says, 'I end my pilgrimage here,' then that can be taken two ways ... his farewell to Lourdes and maybe to his life.'
WITCHCRAFT AND CHILD MURDER
is discussed in this article at the AllAfrica.com website. The effort to bring the killers to justice is the main thrust of the article. Parents are also being warned about the care they must take with their children:
And parents and neighbours must accept their responsibilities. Small children should not be allowed to walk by themselves or even in groups without a responsible adult or much older child. Older children should be encouraged to stick with a group when walking to school or to a friend's house. Parents should warn their children that they should not even go next door without telling someone. A parent needs to know where their child is at all times and that their child is safe. Such safety rules are not that difficult to implement and enforce. Ordinary members of the public can help simply by noticing children walking and playing.
Meanwhile, at Gulf Daily News, in speaking of her Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling refers to witchcraft as well: "Why didn't Dumbledore kill, or try to kill, Voldemort?" she added, referring to the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Reading these two stories back to back--the one in Africa focused on protecting children from a very real and urgent threat of ritual murder in the practice of witchcraft, and the other a children's fantasy about witchcraft which is presented as harmless pastime--is creepy. Almost makes me compare Nero's fiddling in Rome to American Parents and their child-raising habits.
Another story on witchcraft, this one from the Mail & Guardian online:
This follows the burial on Sunday of Limpopo schoolboy Sello Chokoe, who was found in the veld with his hand, genitals and ear hacked off.
Kgatla explained that some people believe body parts are useful in achieving certain objectives. The more difficult the medicine is to obtain, the more power it holds.
"People can get animal parts but they believe that a human body part, which is more difficult to obtain, holds more power," he said.
They believe a hand hidden in a newly opened shop can influence people to give money to the shop, a head can make people think about them and genitals -- which represent reproduction -- can cause wealth to increase. ...
Kgatla explained that the beliefs on which ritual activities are based are not the kinds that see people gathering in groups on certain days.
"It's a belief in the sense of 'if you don't believe, you can't do it'. People believe that when they are stretched to the limit, human parts can do wonders. They believe nature has answers.
"The trees have power, there is power in objects like rocks. In Modimolle, in Limpopo, some people believe that if you climb up a big rock that is there, you won't come back, God will meet you. It's animism."
In contrast, Llweellyn Journal presents Witchcraft Light:
As we roll into the last weeks of summer and anticipate the cooler days of autumn, an amazing amount of natural magick and garden witchery supplies become available to us. These materials can easily be found growing in the backyard Witch’s garden, or thriving in pots and containers set around the porch or patio. Magickal plants are much more common than most people realize. Take a closer look at the plants, flowers, and trees in your neighborhood - there is an incredible array of natural supplies that can be incorporated into your own style of garden witchery.
Are we kidding ourselves?
LEE PENN HAS BEEN WARNING US THIS WAS COMING
How long will it take for this to move into mainstream thinking?
Crux News llinks this book review at SFGate.com.
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris.
Sam Harris is tired of being nice to religious people. Why, he wonders, should we be expected to respect individuals who in the year 2004 still believe in virgin birth? And Christians rarely return the favor. Instead, they're down in Washington holding prayer breakfasts and smiting "sinners" through mandatory drug sentences, intrusive sex laws and prohibitions against stem cell research.
If Harris mistrusts Christians, he's openly mocking of Muslims, whose beliefs, he suggests, "belong on the same shelf with Batman." In fact, he doesn't like any religion much at all. As he points out in "The End of Faith," believers of every denomination constantly engage in civil wars. They are also responsible for such historical lows as the Inquisition, witch hunts and the sustained anti-Semitism that eased the way for the Nazis.
What most annoys Harris, however, is that the faithful are averse to development and change. Fixated on ancient scriptures, they ignore the accumulating insights that have transformed the world. Every other field redefines its positions in the light of fresh data. Only religion takes increasing pride in being backward.
OUR "ENLIGHTENED" ACADEMICS
From the Stamford Advocate:
For a student who identifies with another gender, no gender at all, or is in the process of transitioning from one gender to another, living in a traditional dorm arrangement presents some serious questions: Will my roommate accept me? What about the shower? Which bathroom can I use, and will I be harassed?
"For students who identify as transgendered, it can be a very private, kind of personal thing," said Sarah Cardwell, assistant dean for residential life and housing at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.
The campus will offer areas of "all gender" housing in residence halls this fall.
Bathrooms aren't marked with "men" and "women" signs, and roommates can live with whomever they like. Part of the reason was to create an environment so transgendered students could choose housing without having to identify themselves to resident advisers, housing officials or others.
Without that option, transgendered students face uncomfortable situations, Cardwell said.
"In order for their needs to be met in housing, they have to identify themselves," Cardwell said. "They have to come in my office and whether they know me or not, have a conversation that could be uncomfortable."
Gender-neutral housing has been emerging as student activists call attention to transgender issues on college campuses. The past two years have seen an emergence of student activism pushing for everything from gender-neutral housing, gender-neutral bathrooms in student buildings and even eliminating binary gender language like "she" and "he" from campus publications.
Great. Now we have "the it-dorm". Does anyone really think that living in the it-dorm will be an improved alternative to having to tell a counselor? Skip the counselor, tell the entire campus instead.
Thanks to Crux News for the link.
SPONTANEOUS FIRES IN CANNETO DI CARONIA, ITALY
have ceased for the present, though no definite cause has been identified. According to an article at WorldNetDaily:
In fact, as WorldNetDaily previously reported, a Catholic exorcist was consulted about the phenomenon. Gabriele Amorth, told the Italian newspaper Il Messagero, "I've seen things like this before."
"Demons occupy a house and appear in electrical goods," he said. "... Let's not forget that Satan and his followers have immense powers."
In cases of demon behavior, the Vatican expert said, "it is normal for domestic appliances to be involved and for demons [to] make their presence known via electricity."
Now that the fires seem to have simmered down, experts are only left with educated guesses and no solid answers.
One hypothesis is that high pressure from under the land's crust caused underground shifts which released electrical energy near the village. Supercharged ions may then have sparked the fires once meeting up with electronic devices in the homes.
According to MQ7.net in a story linked at Spirit Daily, a Philippine news source:
THE COUNTRY'S top archbishops and bishops will gather in Tarlac City on Sunday to celebrate the Eucharistic and Marian Year as well as pray for peace, national unity and renewal.
This is the first time in the history of the Catholic Church that the bishops are simultaneously celebrating the Eucharistic and Marian Year.
Tarlac Bishop Florentino F. Cinense said the joint celebration was in recognition of the Church's two pillars: the Eucharist and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Those familiar with Catholic prophecy will immediately recognize the *twin pillars* reference.
Anyone familiar with Freemasonry will also connect to twin pillars since the pillars of Jachin and Boaz stand at the entrance to Masonic temples.
If this is an omen, it's certainly a good one.
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Do you believe in the two gods? in an excerpt from Lost Christianities: The Battle for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew by Bart Ehrman, Oxford University Press, 2003
The historical significance of the victory of proto-orthodox Christianity can scarcely be overstated. The form of Christianity that emerged from the conflicts of the second and third centuries was destined to become the religion of the Roman Empire. ...
Throughout this study I have tried to hypothesize what it may have been like if some other side had "won." If the Marcionite Christians had gained ascendancy, would people still ask, "Do you believe in God?" Or would they ask, "Do you believe in the two Gods?" Would anyone except scholars of antiquity have heard of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John? Would we have an "Old" Testament? How would the social and political relations of Jews and Christians over the centuries have been affected? Would Christians who rejected the Jewish God and all things Jewish feel a need to polemicize against and attack Jews? Or would they simply ignore Jews as not presenting any real competition to their own claims of the knowledge of the other God, who saved them from the creator? Would anti-Semitism be worse, or would it be nonexistent?
Dan Brown's question being asked by a scholar, it would seem. The article returns to this theme again with these questions:
But where did this book come from? It came from the victory of the proto-orthodox. What if another group had won? What if the New Testament contained not Jesus' Sermon on the Mount but the Gnostic teachings Jesus delivered to his disciples after his resurrection? What if it contained not the letter Paul and Peter but the letters of Ptolemy and Barnabas? What if it contained not the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John but the Gospels of Thomas, Philip, Mary, and Nicodemus?
One of the answers the article gives is this one...If Christianity had not won the competition:
The history of western civilization as we know it, from late antiquity through the Middle Ages, to the Renaissance, the Reformation, and into modernity, would never have occurred.
THE DIVINE FEMININE
Deseret Morning News, a publication out of Salt Lake City which carries LDS news, offers this story
Riding the coattails of two widely popular and controversial media portrayals, local and national discussion about the historic role of women in the Christian faith tradition has burgeoned in recent months.
Alex Nabaum, Deseret Morning News Dan Brown's best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code" and Mel Gibson's excruciating film "The Passion of the Christ" have put a new spotlight on both Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary who gave birth to Jesus Christ. Add the exploration of the "sacred feminine" embodied in these women now under discussion among female biblical scholars through the lens of ancient extrabiblical texts, and the broad-based societal anger over orchestrated priestly sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
Mix them all together, and you have an expanded discussion that began four decades ago about women's spirituality and how historical depictions of faithful women influence modern religious worship — and how both men and women are exploring the divine in new ways.
Locally, there have been a series of discussions about such issues this summer, including several sessions at the annual Sunstone Symposium devoted to the topic of feminine spirituality. Margaret Starbird, whose early books on Mary Magdalene were cited as providing fodder for "The Da Vinci Code," told scores of Sunstone participants on Thursday that Brown's book brings truth regarding the "myth of the sacred marriage" between Jesus and Mary to light.
The legend that they were married and had a child was "kept alive by an underground stream of art and artifacts in Western Europe" over the centuries, she said. Terming the supposed union "the most important secret of the Middle Ages," Starbird said the marriage represents God in the form of "male and female symbiosis" that goes beyond mere sexuality.
The review admits the material in Brown's and Starbirds books is controversial, yet maintains a favorable slant toward them. Speaking of Starbird, it says:
She remembers praying about 18 months ago, telling God that she was getting too old to effectively spread the message about Mary Magdalene and asking for "another vessel to carry the message out into the mainstream" of public discussion. She said she didn't know Dan Brown, and only found out months later via e-mail from curious friends that he had used her books as a reference in writing the novel.
Following that the article describes veneration of the Blessed Virgin as little short of worship of her as divine, then cites the FutureChurch celebrations of Mary Magdalene and the activities of CTA as evidence that the thinking of Starbird and Brown may be infiltrating the Catholic Church. It even goes so far as to claim that "If women and mothers had been integrated into our church's decision-making structures we would not be facing the cover-up of clergy sex abuse that we face today."
The article implies that all of this worship of the divine feminine is tied up in the Catholic practice of honoring the Blessed Virgin through feast days like the Assumption.
It goes on to recount the situation in the LDS Church:
New Age forms of worship that focus on spiritual rituals practiced independently from organized religion have taken root among many Christians in recent years, as people have expanded their personal search for a relationship with the divine. The use of tarot cards and participation in Indian sweat-lodge ceremonies and yoga are among the avenues explored by four LDS women who shared their search for the divine at Sunstone this week.
Doe Daughtrey, a doctoral student in religious studies at Arizona State University, said she hasn't had any conflict with her LDS leaders over her use of tarot cards, possibly because "they don't know anything about it." Her husband was concerned about the cards early on because he thought she had chosen pagan goddess images. But "over the years, he's become very comfortable seeing all my stuff all over the house."
"Mormonism has a very wide history of divination," she said, noting her faith "seems particularly congruent with several forms of divination because we're all told to seek revelation for ourselves."
Sunstone Symposium is an activity affiliated with the LDS Church.
Here is the PDF version of the 2004 program. A paper by John Shelby Spong is on the program along with Starbird.
The symposium is favorable to homosexuality.
It's interesting to see the beehive as clip art in the program. The same symbol is frequently seen in Masonic literature.
PENTECOSTALISM IN IRAN
The Bam earthquake opened doors which had been closed to religious missionaries to Iran. As a result Pentecostalism is growing there:
Today, the church in Iran is growing -- spurred by a fresh, sweeping move of the Holy Spirit and strengthened through the fellowship of suffering believers. Missions experts estimate 20,000-30,000 indigenous evangelical and Pentecostal believers today, most of them from Muslim backgrounds. Some experts -- citing an unknown number of "secret" believers -- claim the true figure could be much higher.
"In the last 20 years, more Iranians have come to Christ compared to the last 14 centuries," Lazarus Yeghnazar, 55, an Iranian-born evangelist now based in Great Britain, told "Charisma" magazine in the June issue, out now. The full report on Iran's underground church can be found in the magazine. "We've never seen such a phenomenal thirst," he added.
Missiologist Patrick Johnstone, co-author of "Operation World," estimated that Iran has 17,000 evangelicals, 7,000 charismatics and 4,000 Pentecostals. With annual church growth of 7.5 percent, Pentecostalism is the fastest-growing religious movement in Iran.
specifically suicide bombers, are discussed in this opinion piece sent in by a reader.
A View from the Eye of the Storm
Talk delivered by Haim Harari at a meeting of the International Advisory Board of a large multi-national corporation, April, 2004.
Suicide murders also have nothing to do with poverty and despair. The poorest region in the world, by far, is Africa. It never happens there. There are numerous desperate people in the world, in different cultures, countries and continents. Desperation does not provide anyone with explosives, reconnaissance and transportation. There was certainly more despair in Saddam's Iraq then in Paul Bremmer's Iraq, and no one exploded himself. A suicide murder is simply a horrible, vicious weapon of cruel, inhuman, cynical, well-funded terrorists, with no regard to human life, including the life of their fellow countrymen, but with very high regard to their own affluent well-being and their hunger for power.
The only way to fight this new "popular" weapon is identical to the only way in which you fight organized crime or pirates on the high seas: the offensive way. Like in the case of organized crime, it is crucial that the forces on the offensive be united and it is crucial to reach the top of the crime pyramid. You cannot eliminate organized crime by arresting the little drug dealer in the street corner. You must go after the head of the "Family".
If part of the public supports it, others tolerate it, many are afraid of it and some try to explain it away by poverty or by a miserable childhood, organized crime will thrive and so will terrorism. The United States understands this now, after September 11. Russia is beginning to understand it. Turkey understands it well. I am very much afraid that most of Europe still does not understand it. Unfortunately, it seems that Europe will understand it only after suicide murders will arrive in Europe in a big way. In my humble opinion, this will definitely happen. The Spanish trains and the Istanbul bombings are only the beginning. The unity of the Civilized World in fighting this horror is absolutely indispensable. Until Europe wakes up, this unity will not be achieved.
The second ingredient is words, more precisely lies. Words can be lethal. They kill people. It is often said that politicians, diplomats and perhaps also lawyers and business people must sometimes lie, as part of their professional life. But the norms of politics and diplomacy are childish, in comparison with the level of incitement and total absolute deliberate fabrications, which have reached new heights in the region we are talking about. An incredible number of people in the Arab world believe that September 11 never happened, or was an American provocation or, even better, a Jewish plot.
You all remember the Iraqi Minister of Information, Mr. Mouhamad Said al-Sahaf and his press conferences when the US forces were already inside Baghdad. Disinformation at time of war is an accepted tactic. But to stand, day after day, and to make such preposterous statements, known to everybody to be lies, without even being ridiculed in your own milieu, can only happen in this region. Mr. Sahaf eventually became a popular icon as a court jester, but this did not stop some allegedly respectable newspapers from giving him equal time. It also does not prevent the Western press from giving credence, every day, even now, to similar liars. After all, if you want to be an anti-Semite, there are subtle ways of doing it. You do not have to claim that the holocaust never happened and that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem never existed. But millions of Moslems are told by their leaders that this is the case. When these same leaders make other statements, the Western media report them as if they could be true.
Proposals to address world terrorism outlined in the article include the following:
In my humble opinion, the number one danger to the world today is Iran and its regime. It definitely has ambitions to rule vast areas and to expand in all directions. It has an ideology, which claims supremacy over Western culture. It is ruthless. It has proven that it can execute elaborate terrorist acts without leaving too many traces, using Iranian Embassies. It is clearly trying to develop Nuclear Weapons. Its so-called moderates and conservatives play their own virtuoso version of the "good-cop versus bad-cop" game. Iran sponsors Syrian terrorism, it is certainly behind much of the action in Iraq, it is fully funding the Hizbullah and, through it, the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it performed acts of terror at least in Europe and in South America and probably also in Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia and it truly leads a multi-national terror consortium, which includes, as minor players, Syria, Lebanon and certain Shiite elements in Iraq. Nevertheless, most European countries still trade with Iran, try to appease it and refuse to read the clear signals.
In order to win the war it is also necessary to dry the financial resources of the terror conglomerate. It is pointless to try to understand the subtle differences between the Sunni terror of Al Qaida and Hamas and the Shiite terror of Hizbullah, Sadr and other Iranian inspired enterprises. When it serves their business needs, all of them collaborate beautifully.
It is crucial to stop Saudi and other financial support of the outer circle, which is the fertile breeding ground of terror. It is important to monitor all donations from the Western World to Islamic organizations, to monitor the finances of international relief organizations and to react with forceful economic measures to any small sign of financial aid to any of the three circles of terrorism. It is also important to act decisively against the campaign of lies and fabrications and to monitor those Western media who collaborate with it out of naivety, financial interests or ignorance.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Novus Ordo Watch has lilnked this picture without explanation. I did a little digging. Here is another picture in the series. The pictures were taken in Papua New Guinea, and there are more of them here. Click the picture for an enlargement.
The organization that is responsible for these pictures, the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) was founded in 1958 in New Mexico, and does not appear from their website to be liberal in any way. They have missions in Belize, Haiti, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Philippines, England and Rome. The objectives expressed in this history are the correct ones for a mission organization. But then I see that they are involved with a Montessori school. That is a gray area, as Montessori is frequently linked with Waldorf Schools. A lot of their links are broken. They use the phrase "ecclesial team" which must mean lay leadership. One of their programs is the Ark of the Covenant Retreat Center where the Teen Life program is held, as The Florida Catholic Online indicates. Getting back to the feather headdresses, are Mass vestments rigidly proscribed? If so, how can these feather headpieces be appropriate even in New Guinea? Or perhaps this is not a Mass? Yet it appears to be in the sanctuary. There is the crucifix and what appears to be the ambo.
MAN AT THE CENTER
Novus Ordo Watch linked a CNN story about the Pope at Lourdes. The story ends with this quote:
In a welcoming speech, Chirac called the pope "a universal pastor and a man of peace" and said "France and the Holy See are joined in the fight for a world which places Man at the centre of every enterprise."
This is not the first time I've seen a reference to "Man at the center" in the Pope's thinking. But what does he mean? I'm left with questions. Why isn't it God who is at the center? Why man? Man as opposed to animals? Man as opposed to environment? Well, ok, I could see that, but he doesn't say that. He leaves us guessing. And guessing Man instead of God is just as valid as anything else. A clarification would be welcome here!