Jan 31, 2010

Air Force Greenlights Pagan Temple



A couple of years ago, I was able to report major strides in the acknowledgment of Wiccan service members, when the Veterans Administration finally authorized the use of pentacles on tombstones. It is with no small degree of glee that I am able, now, to report a major development in religious freedom in the armed services. The Air Force is providing a ritual space for Wiccans, and other Pagans, at its Colorado Springs base.

The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado will set aside a worship space for followers of "Earth-centered" religions such as Wicca and Druidism, according to an Air Force news release.

A stone circle atop a hill on the base in Colorado Springs will likely be dedicated in a ceremony March 10, according to the release, and be available to cadets and other service members who live in the area. The base already has worship spaces for Protestants, Catholics, Muslims and Buddhist, the release said.

I visited this base and the surrounding area -- including the legendary Garden of the Gods -- some years ago. It's a beautiful place to put what I hope will be only the first of such temples.




I'm glad to see the Air Force taking such a proactive step, not only in the acknowledgment of its Pagan members, but of religious diversity, in general. The armed services, and the Air Force, in particular, have come under sharp scrutiny for religious intolerance and Christian proselytizing.

The subject of religious bias came to the forefront for the Air Force five years ago when non-Christian cadets at the Air Force Academy reported being harassed by Christian counterparts and feeling ostracized because they were not religious.

Last month, the academy superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, issued a positive progress report — endorsed by one of its most vocal critics — citing the creation of a Cadet Interfaith Council, which helps identify upcoming religious holidays so scheduling conflicts can be avoided and meets with chaplains monthly to discuss the religious climate.

“This is the first time we feel positive about things there,” said Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which battled the academy in court over claims that evangelicals at the school were imposing their views on others.

Weinstein's book With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military provided a wake-up call, about the increasingly religious bent of the what is supposed to be a secular, government institution. It is a particularly serious problem as we wage wars in Muslim countries and major political figures bandy about words like "crusade."

I was somewhat surprised to learn that Wicca is well represented in the Air Force. It is, in fact, the largest non-Christian faith, in that branch of the military.

In the Air Force, Wicca — witchcraft — is the largest non-Christian faith, with 1,434 followers. The breakdown of other religious minorities: 1,271 Buddhists, 1,148 Jews, 678 Muslims and 190 Hindus.

So, I guess it's about time they acknowledged the Pagans in their ranks. I suppose one could argue that they, like so many protective forces, already do,  whether they realize it or not.




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Jan 28, 2010

China Reconsidering Tibet Problem



According to Newsweek, the Chinese government has realized how badly it bungled Tibet. Pouring billions of dollars into urban development has not won over the indigenous population they have mercilessly repressed. Does that ever work?

After the mass riots there in March 2008, Tibet faded once again into relative obscurity—the province of foreign-affairs wonks, adventure tourists, and a few well-organized protest groups who object to China's rule there. But during that time, Beijing has come slowly to two painful realizations. First, the restive plateau it had treated for decades as a colony is central to its national plan: development and stability are "vital to ethnic unity, social stability, and national security," President Hu Jintao recently told his Politburo. And second, a corollary realization: China's government has been mishandling the issue of Tibet all along.

. . .

Suddenly, then, the Dalai Lama is not the problem but rather a pivotal part of the solution. As Tibet expert and author Robert Thurman says, the Dalai Lama is the key to giving China legitimate sovereignty over Tibet as an autonomous region within China because he would inspire his people to stay inside China in case of a referendum on independence. His growing following within mainland China (the number of Chinese Buddhists attending the Dalai Lama's teaching sessions in Dharamsala is growing quickly) can also help calm the simmering discontent among the Chinese who have been left untouched by the benefits of China's impressive economic growth, which has created a hunger for spiritual growth.

The Dalai Lama will be 75 in July. He is revered by the Tibetans and admired around the world. Any deal with him will have the unquestioned legitimacy and support that is so vital to China's aspirations. And his absence will spell uncertainty and a lack of moral authority over Tibetans—which can only hinder China's aim of becoming a global superpower.

Rapprochement between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama? Dare we hope?


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Jan 26, 2010

Mr. Deity's Crazy Logic




Some very biting satire from the folks at Mr. Deity, addressing the violence and total absurdity of the Old Testament God. Watching this episode, I can't help but think of John Lash's correlation of Jehovah with the deluded, psychotic Demiurge Yaldabaoth described by the Gnostics. Look at it through that lens and the whole thing starts make a crazy sort of sense.


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Jan 25, 2010

James Arthur Ray on Sweat Lodge Deaths




James Arthur Ray has broken his silence and granted an exclusive interview to New York magazine. Ray's legal team has conducted its own investigation and exonerated him of all wrong-doing. The white paper testifying to his innocence appears on his web site. The long and the short of it: Move along folks. Nothin' to see here.

Here are some of the more interesting bits from the New York interview:

What first made you realize that this sweat-lodge experience in Sedona was different from the sweat lodges that you’d been in before?
I did not know anything was different until it became apparent that there had been a terrible accident when it was completed. I don’t know what happened.

When did you become aware that there had been an accident?
Someone came up to me and said that there were some individuals that were having problems on the back side of the lodge. I did not know anything before that time. I made sure that 911 was called and we went into action to respond as best we could until the paramedics arrived.

So, his version is a little different from other public statements we've heard.

Did you tell sweat-lodge participants that vomiting was good for them, that the body was purging what it doesn’t want?
I may have mentioned that I had been told by many shamans that the body purges and there’s only certain ways that it can purge. Obviously, you know the bodily functions, so there’s only certain ways that things exit the body.

It is certainly true that the only way for undigested food to leave the body is vomiting. What that has to do with a sweat lodge, though, I can't say. In a sweat lodge, impurities leave the body via the sweat glands, as the name would imply.

And on the principles of The Secret that James Arthur Ray has made a fortune extolling:

A basic principal of your teaching is that the universe is at your command; you speak of the power of intention. I wonder how you perceive the tragedy in Sedona in light of those teachings. Did you in some way cause this to happen?
Well I don’t … First of all, here’s the situation: Three people have died in transitions. What I’m really focused on right now is to have my team find out exactly why that happened and bring it to some type of closure.

I believe the technical term for that is "non-answer."

There is a bit more obfuscation and legalese to be found, along with some very smoothly articulated pathos and apologia.  But, at least in the ongoing trial by media, we have now heard from the prosecution and the defense.


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John Lash on the Gnostic Mysteries



Some really good interviews with Gnostic scholar John Lamb Lash recently popped up on YouTube. Both allow him to explain pretty thoroughly his unique take on the Nag Hammadi Codices. I've posted a few things on Lash and his Metahistory site, previously, although I should caveat that whatever links I've posted are probably dead. The site seems to be constantly undergoing reorganization, and becomes more confusing with every innovation.

Lash's take on the Gnostics is unusual in its rejection of the idea that what is written in the Nag Hammadi texts is associated with Christianity. His book Not in His Image explores a Gnosticism that is entirely pagan, and a Judeo-Christian movement that is adversarial to these ancient teachings and cultures.

In these interviews he explains the Sophianic creation mythology presented in Gnostic texts and how it relates to everything from Lovelock and Margulis's Gaia hypothesis to the origin and nature of the Archons. (As I've previously stated, Archons are most easily analogized to the Smiths in The Matrix.) Some of the material is challenging and Lash can be prickly when confronted with ideas he ascribes to the salvationist world view he vehemently rejects. But, these interviews, like all of his work provide ample food for thought.






Addenda and Supplemental Reading:

I stumbled on a thought provoking review and feminist critique of Not in His Image by Medusa, which includes Lash's rebuttal.

In looking over the most recent changes on the Metahistory site, I noticed a series of articles on Carlos Castaneda. I have been somewhat baffled by Lash's reliance on some of Castaneda's books, which seems to ascribe to Castaneda a credibility I don't think is merited. His study here, though, is one of the most compelling analyses of the fictional nature of Castaneda's work and persona I've read.

Still more interviews with Lash can be found in the playlists on my YouTube channel.


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Jan 23, 2010

Mr. Deity Takes On NBC Fracas



And deals with the devil.


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Jan 19, 2010

Graham Hancock Discovers the Ancient Teachers



Really fun interview with Graham Hancock exploring his body of work. Hancock makes the most of rather surface questions asked and manages to cover significant features of very diverse areas of his research and experience. He retraces his journalistic progression from East Africa correspondent for The Economist to his quest for the Ark of the Covenant in The Sign and the Seal, and how this opened the door to his incredible research into ancient mysteries and the possibilities of a great, lost civilization. He also goes into a fair bit of depth on Supernatural, his exploration of psychotropes in shamanic practice, and discusses the theories surrounding the correlation between UFO experiences and legends of the Fae. The lucidity with which he explains these very challenging concepts, and even distills the information down to soundbites, is quite astonishing. Like all of his work, very worthwhile.

Graham Hancock's books and other media can be found in the bookstore.


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Jan 16, 2010

Ring of Fire: Eclipse 2010



The longest annular solar Eclipse of the millennium was visible to residents of Africa and China. The rest of us can only see pictures, but here is a round-up of some the striking images from around the web, with links to galleries and slideshows.



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Jan 14, 2010

Mr. Deity: More Fun with Gender Roles




Shortly after getting pounded for trafficking in female stereotypes, Mr. Deity is back and exploiting gender role humor to its fullest. I note that Brian Dalton preemptively apologizes for his hatred of women, in the commentary. Very, very funny.


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Of Avatar and Catholics... and Other Christian Arrogance

Avatar


As I said here,  I've been, over the past couple of weeks, noting incidents of jaw-dropping arrogance, in the name of Christianity. Having been raised in the Episcopal Church, with its emphasis on ecumenicism and tolerance, I always find this kind of thing rather jarring. So, as promised, here's a quick round-up. Sadly, I think this could be a regular feature.

The Vatican vs. Avatar:

The Vatican has weighed in on mega-blockbuster "Avatar" and given it the thumbs down. Some of the criticism is fair. The story is a little "simplistic." It is a James Cameron vehicle, after all, so it's somewhat formulaic. Anyone who expected otherwise from "Avatar" would be disappointed. It is still wildly entertaining and cinematically spectacular. (See it in Imax 3D, if you can. You won't regret it.)

Of course the chief criticisms from the Vatican newspaper and radio are ideological, not artistic.

L'Osservatore said the film "gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature." Similarly, Vatican Radio said it "cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium."

"Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship," the radio said.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said that while the movie reviews are just that - film criticism, with no theological weight - they do reflect Pope Benedict XVI's views on the dangers of turning nature into a "new divinity."

. . .

In a recent World Day of Peace message, the pontiff warned against any notions that equate human person and other living things. He said such notions "open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man's salvation in nature alone."

Oh, where to begin... Firstly, how does a movie become 'bogged down" in the screenwriter's choice of spiritual belief system? Getting "bogged down" is a problem of style, not theme; excessive detail, poor plotting, leaden dialogue... These things will bog a story down; not pantheism.

Secondly, both L'Osservatore and His Holiness misunderstand the nature of pantheistic religions. While I will grant you that these belief systems vary, even from person to person, having spent a good deal of my life studying and practicing Pagan and shamanic systems, I feel fairly comfortable dismissing their interpretation, in toto. Pagans and pantheists don't "worship" nature, in the sense that Christians worship God. (Nor, do the natives, or Na'Vi, in "Avatar." Something quite obvious to anyone who actually paid attention to the movie.) They do not put nature spirits above themselves. They honor them as part of the same divinity that expresses itself through all manifest reality. They pay respect to all living things as their relations. They do not look to nature for salvation, because they don't think their souls need saving.

I'm not surprised the Vatican is threatened by the record breaking success of a movie that extols the virtues of a pantheistic lifestyle. After all, early Catholics worked very hard to convert pagans, by successfully coopting their symbols and holidays. They gave them their mother goddess in the form of the blessed virgin. They gave them their Saturnalia, by renaming it Christmas. They adapted to the indigenous beliefs of all the "savage lands" they conquered. But, these pagan beliefs have proven very difficult to stamp out completely. They keep re-emerging. And, according to some conservative critics, Hollywood is having a love affair with them.

Douthat & Goldberg vs. Avatar:

New York Times  columnist Ross Douthat also pounded Avatar for its pantheistic themes:

It’s fitting that James Cameron’s “Avatar” arrived in theaters at Christmastime. Like the holiday season itself, the science fiction epic is a crass embodiment of capitalistic excess wrapped around a deeply felt religious message. It’s at once the blockbuster to end all blockbusters, and the Gospel According to James.

But not the Christian Gospel. Instead, “Avatar” is Cameron’s long apologia for pantheism — a faith that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world.

In Cameron’s sci-fi universe, this communion is embodied by the blue-skinned, enviably slender Na’Vi, an alien race whose idyllic existence on the planet Pandora is threatened by rapacious human invaders. The Na’Vi are saved by the movie’s hero, a turncoat Marine, but they’re also saved by their faith in Eywa, the “All Mother,” described variously as a network of energy and the sum total of every living thing.

If this narrative arc sounds familiar, that’s because pantheism has been Hollywood’s religion of choice for a generation now...

Why pantheism needs defendng by Cameron, or anyone else, I don't know. Ironically, Douthat goes on to write a fairly decent apologia for pantheism, but dismisses his own argument.

Over at the Los Angeles Times, Jonah Goldberg picked up Douthat's ball and ran with it, crafting his own apologia, for the oh so unfairly maligned Catholicism.

What would have been controversial is if -- somehow -- Cameron had made a movie in which the good guys accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts.

Of course, that sounds outlandish and absurd, but that's the point, isn't it? We live in an age in which it's the norm to speak glowingly of spirituality but derisively of traditional religion. If the Na'Vi were Roman Catholics, there would be boycotts and protests. Make the oversized Smurfs Rousseauian noble savages and everyone nods along, save for a few cranky right-wingers.

Goldberg goes on to expound on the theory that human beings are hard-wired to experience some form of spirituality, even as he mocks this particular expression of that spirituality. What Goldberg seems to miss is that the rebellion against imperialism (as in the mercenary enforced take-over of a fictional planet's resources) and what he calls "traditional religion" are of a piece. Hollywood's fascination with pantheism is just so much pandering to a ground-swell of rebellion against the hierarchical systems that have crushed civilizations and individuals, throughout recorded history. People are turning to more pantheistic, pagan, shamanic, and mystical beliefs, because we are taking our spirituality back.

Brit Hume vs. Buddhism:

Meanwhile, Brit Hume used his pulpit at Fox News to lambast Buddhism. In hopes of saving Tiger Woods's beleaguered soul, he offered the following:

The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger would be: Tiger, turn your faith, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.

A good round-up of the responses to Hume's proselytizing, from across the political and religious spectrum, comes from David Gibson at Politics Daily. Gibson also offers the fairly obvious point that Christianity's track record on reforming behavior isn't so hot.

The other problem with Hume's comments is that they are contradicted by so much evidence. Anecdotally, one need look no further than the sanctimonious Christian pols-turned-philanderers, or the many high-profile pastors who turn out to have feet of clay. Statistics also show that Christians are as likely to divorce or abort as everyone else, and Bible Belt states often have much higher rates of marital breakdown and teen pregnancy than other regions.




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Jan 13, 2010

Pat Robertson on Haiti's Pact with the Devil




I've been cataloging a number of recent, arrogant, public pronouncements, offered in the name of Christianity. More to come on that, but Pat Robertson's latest hateful outburst requires a stand alone post.

In the aftermath of this horrific tragedy in Haiti, one which may have caused as many as 100,000 deaths, Pat Robertson is, once again, blaming the victims, and citing their sinful nature. What's the problem in Haiti? A pact with the devil, according to Robertson. Citing no source for the information -- perhaps God has been bending his ear again -- he announces that Haiti turned to Satan, in hopes of ending the tyranny of French Imperialsm. He's not so certain about what French leader was oppressing the Haitians, but he's quite certain about the whole deal with the devil thing.

"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," he said on Christian Broadcasting Network's "The 700 Club." "They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you'll get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal."

In Pat Robertson's world view, it's God's curse that's causing Haiti's poverty, oppression, and what most of us call a natural disaster. Proof? The Dominican Republic: No pact with the devil and today a thriving resort area. Haiti: Pact with the devil and today under a pile of rubble. So there ya go.

This is what we call the just world fallacy. Bad things just don't happen to good people. They only happen to the bad people, so when bad things happen, we should always look to see what they've done wrong, and know that as long as we stay in God's good books, nothing bad will happen to us. Versions can be found in our underlying cultural belief that poverty is a result of moral failure, The Secret (wherein our positive thoughts bring positive experiences and our negative thoughts bring negative experiences), and the belief that causes many women to find for the defendent in rape cases. The just world fallacy allows people an illusion of safety in an uncertain world, but I just call it blame the victim idiocy.





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Jan 12, 2010

Review: Battlestar Galactica -- The Plan



The following review contains spoilers. Previous posts on the new "Battlestar Galactica" can be found here.



The makers of the makers fall before the child.
Accessing defense system.
Handshake. Handshake. Second level clear.
(It's begun.)
Accepting scan.
Love outlasts death.
(Been a long time coming.)
Apotheosis was the beginning before the beginning.
Devices on alert. Observe the procedures of a general alert.
The base and the pinnacle.
The flower inside the fruit that is both its parent and its child.
Jump.


~ The Hybrid



"The center holds. The falcon hears the falconer," intones the hybrid, as she coordinates the attack that would annihilate the 12 colonies of Kobol. But, of course, the center does not hold, and the plan begins to unravel almost immediately.

This is not a prequel. "The Plan" does for "Battlestar Galactica" what Orson Scott Card's Shadow Series did for Ender's Game; tells the same story from the perspective of a different character. Cavil is the architect of the plan to destroy humanity. There are many copies, but this is primarily the story of two Cavils; the one on Galactica and the one on Caprica.

I had rather high hopes for "The Plan," having become very fascinated with Cavil by the end of "Battlestar Galactica,"  and I was not disappointed. The two hour movie explores, in more depth, the central conflict of the series; that between pure rationalism and the non-rational nature of spirituality and intuition. As I wrote in my review of the finale:

In the final season, the division between the spiritual and purely analytical came into sharp relief. The show's lone atheist, Cavil, is revealed to be hostile, not only to humans, but to his own humanoid form. Cavil: The name means "to quibble." But, it derives from the Latin calvi, which means "deception," as in "calumny." I would not be surprised if it is this darker aspect that the writers were alluding to, with the name. Dean Stockwell has done some of the finest work of his career in "Battlestar Galactica." Cavil is a perfectly drawn character; his rage cool, measured, and methodical. Only in flickers do we see the petulant, disappointed child, driven by hatred for the mommy who has doomed him to a life he thinks imperfect and foolish.

"The Plan" expands on this theme. Like the "Battlestar Galactica" series, it could easily be read as an indictment of atheism. Or, at least, of that strain of atheism that has so completely merged with scientism it has become as soul crushing a dogma as the religious authorities it condemns. Not surprisingly a lot of hard SF people don't get it. The Plan has been received with much of the same utter mystification that the spiritual tone of the finale was.

Cavil is a Satanesque figure; rebelling against his creators and turning his rage on humanity. Ultimately, we find him to be both epically tragic and pathetically small. To understand a key element of his backstory, see the previously discussed write-up by Mike Ragogna. Bear in mind that Cavil's given name was John.

Then there was the "angels" plot line from the old series that still needs resolution. Is it possible that when Ellen created "John," her first successful, human-looking cylon, that she named him in tribute to "John," the angel from the first series?

Could explain Cavil's twisted relationship with a displaced child named John, who, curiously, only he ever seems to see, and with whom he shares that classic Satanic symbol, an apple.

As we ultimately learned in the Battlestar Galactica series, there is a plan, but it's not Cavil's. He is merely a pawn in the unfolding scheme of some overarching and incomprehensible intelligence. Like the Architect in The Matrix Trilogy, Cavil learns that a purely rational construct is doomed to fail. Creation itself is irrational. It is dependent, after all, on the irrational mathematics of Phi. 

In "The Plan," however, we learn the backstory of Cavil of Caprica's epiphany, and break from his own plan. This plot arc actually articulates one of my favorite, classic arguments against atheism. A central tenant of atheism says that "God" cannot be proved empirically, and therefore cannot be believed in. This, of course, is scientism; "the view that natural science has authority over all other interpretations of life, such as philosophical, religious, mythical, spiritual, or humanistic explanations." The classic rebuttal is simply this: Can love be proved? Cavil of Caprica learns something which alters his perceptions and moves him to endorse a truce with humanity; that "love outlasts death." Love is inexplicable, powerful, eternal, and undeniable, when experienced, but cannot be proved empirically.

"The Plan," while drawing heavily from old footage and artful splicing, is a very worthwhle addition to the critically acclaimed new "Battlestar Galactica" series. It's smart, literate, and replete with fascinating visual allusions and symbols. (Watch, in particular, for the baby carriages, on Caprica, that look like some bizarre hybrid of ziggurats and mummies.) Highly recommended.



The Second Coming
by William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all around it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?




"The Plan" made its television debut on the SyFy Channel, Sunday, February 10th, and will reair Fri. 1/15, 8:00am, Tue. 1/19, 11:30pm, and Fri. 1/22, 4:30pm. It is also available in the bookstore.


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Jan 10, 2010

Doctor Who and Grandmother Spider

(The following is my attempt to shamelessly ape the stylings of Christopher Knowles. It is my first such attempt. Developing...)





An interesting article on how the forming Earth avoided falling into the sun caught my eye this morning. I read it with avid interest to see if, perhaps, it pointed to a giant arachnid queen organizing the particles of the developing planet, a la Doctor Who's "The Runaway Bride" (Season 3, Episode 0).

I fully admit to having been stuck to my leather couch during the two day Doctor Who marathon on BBC America -- the lead in to David Tennant's swan song.  It kept sending my husband screaming from the living room, so I recorded a few to watch later. I was that engrossed by it. Something to do with the paucity of new Doctor Who content this year, although the specials have been quite special.

So, "The Runaway Bride," which introduced the delightful Catherine Tate to Doctor Who's pantheon of sidekicks, also introduced the Racnoss, an alien species of giant spider-humanoid chimeras.





As the episode moves to its climax, we learn that it was the Racnoss who coalesced, into its current form, this giant rock we sit upon, and, presumably, kept it from falling into the sun.

The Doctor takes the TARDIS back in time to the creation of the Earth to discover the final piece of the puzzle: the planet actually formed around a Racnoss spaceship which is still in its core. The Empress's goal is to use the Huon particles to reawaken those still on board and devour the human race.

Okay, so she's not very nice.

What follows is a sequence very similar to that described in our MSNBC article.

Planets like the Earth are thought to form from condensing clouds of gas and dust surrounding stars. The material in these disks gradually clumps together, eventually forming planetesimals – the asteroid-sized building blocks that eventually collide to form full-fledged planets.




Except that in our Doctor Who episode, sitting smack dab in the middle of the coalescing space junk is a giant Racnoss space ship.





In watching this episode for the third or fourth time, I considered anew the possibility that this was the Doctor's nod to indigenous creation mythology, even though this Grandmother Spider isn't very nice. As I wrote in my exploration of the spider totem, I always have a bit of ambivalence about spider.

Depending on how one feels about the physical world, spider can be a benevolent or a more ambivalent construct. When I was deep in my ponderings about why spider was such a constant reflection, one friend suggested that it might be a warning about not becoming entangled in human dramas. There could be some truth in that. But the drama in which we are all entangled is manifest creation itself; maya. Or, what Morpheus calls, "the world that has been pulled over your eyes."

Consciously or unconsciously the writers of Doctor Who have tapped into one of the most universal creation myths and had a bit of fun with it.


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Zecharia Sitchin: Where Creationism and Evolution Collide




There's a little write-up on Zecharia Sitchin in the New York Times metro section the other day. It definitely treats him like a curiosity, but there's no such thing as bad publicity, I guess.

In Mr. Sitchin’s Upper West Side kitchen, evolution and creationism collide. He is an apparently sane, sharp, University of London-educated 89-year-old who has spent his life arguing that people evolved with a little genetic intervention from ancient astronauts who came to Earth and needed laborers to mine gold to bring back to Nibiru, a planet we have yet to recognize.

Outlandish, yes, but also somehow intriguing from this cute, distinguished old man whom you may have seen shuffling slowly down Broadway with his cane, and thought, “Is Art Carney still alive?”

. . .

“Well, you could start by calling me the most controversial 89-year-old man in New York,” Mr. Sitchin says. “Or you could just say I write books. I understand you’ve got to have an opening sentence, but describing my theories in a sentence, or even something like a newspaper article, is impossible. It will make me look silly.”

Mr. Sitchin has been called silly before — by scientists, historians and archaeologists who dismiss his theories as pseudoscience and fault their underpinnings: his translations of ancient texts and his understanding of physics. And yet, he has a devoted following of readers.

His 13 books, with names like “Genesis Revisited” and “The Earth Chronicles,” have sold millions of copies and been translated into 25 languages. “And Albanian is coming,” he notes, spooning the Taster’s Choice into two mugs.

You get the idea. He's one of the many endearing, eccentric Manhattanites the city takes such pride in displaying.

The complete works of Zecharia Sitchin can be found in the bookstore.


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Jan 7, 2010

Graham Hancock: Underworld



Hat tip to documentaries 2 be seen and to Graham Hancock, who has been busily scouring the web for available content related to his body of work, and posting links on Facebook. Many of them I've found and posted previously. Some not and the following is a new find. It's the documentary of Underworld on google video. The sound quality is not that great, but it's still very worth viewing. (Underworld, the book, is available in the bookstore.)






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