Aug 26, 2010

Mr. Deity Discovers Bureaucratic Red Tape



Mr. Deity doesn't follow the rules. He makes them up as he goes along. A bit capricious and unpredictable. Overall, a pretty accurate portrayal of the Biblical god... but even more like the Gnostic's Yaldabaoth.

In the Apocryphon of John circa 120-180 AD, the Demiurge arrogantly declares that he has made the world by himself:
Now the archon (ruler) who is weak has three names. The first name is Yaltabaoth, the second is Saklas (“fool”), and the third is Samael. And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, "I am God and there is no other God beside me," for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come.[21]

Hmmm...


Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Aug 22, 2010

The Myth of Traditional Marriage



There's an excellent article in the Huffington Post on the recent Prop 8 decision and the erroneous religious argument against it.

Judge Vaughn Walker's decision to allow resumption of legal same-sex weddings in California has right-wing Christians claiming his ruling against Proposition 8 threatens "Bible believing Christians." I've read the Bible pretty carefully myself (I read it cover to cover when I was in high school) and even taught it as a college professor. It is not a source I'd turn to in order to defend traditional marriage, but I think it does offer ways to think about ethical marriage.

The Bible presents multiple views of marriage, and most actual marriages it depicts are terrible by modern standards. "Traditional marriages" in ancient biblical times were arranged as transfers of the ownership of daughters. The tenth commandment lists wives among properties like houses and slaves: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor" (Exodus 20:17, also found in Deuteronomy 5:21). Marriages occurred via deception, kidnapping, adulterous seductions, theft, rape, and murder, and were often in multiples so that the pater familias could amass land, flocks, and progeny and cement political alliances. Abraham, David, and Solomon had marriages that would be illegal today. The book of Hosea likens the mercy of God to a husband who has the right to beat or kill his adulterous wife, but spares her -- for this, she was supposed to be grateful. When women seek marriages, such as Naomi arranged for Ruth, it was to avoid an even worse fate such as destitution.

I was reminded of just how badly both women and marriage fair in the Bible. I just recently started reading World Without End by Ken Follett, the sequel to Pillars of the Earth. I'm barely into it but I'm already finding that its depiction of male/female relations is raising my blood pressure... even more than Pillars did with all its tolerated, unprosecuted rapes. Follett is nothing if not blunt. It's one of his greater strengths as a writer. He doesn't sugarcoat things. The role of women as property in the Middle Ages comes up early on in the book. Gwenda, the daughter of a poor and abusive thief, is traded by her father for a cow. When her friend Caris, a girl of some wealth and stature, rushes to her defense, she reaches out to her cousin, an Oxford educated monk.

With obvious reluctance, Godwyn said: "The Bible does appear to sanction selling your daughter into slavery. The book of Exodus, chapter twenty-one."

And sadly, the young monk is correct.

And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters. If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money. ~ Exodus 21:7-11

I have a hard time imagining any Christian priest or monk in the modern era tolerating such a thing. Although women are still viewed through that Biblical lens as lesser creatures today by no lesser lights than Pope Benedict XVI. Such cherry-picking of the Bible is typical; choosing to rely only scripture that supports a current cultural norm one is comfortable with and ignoring the rest. But citing the Bible to justify marriage as a holy estate entered into by one man and one woman isn't cherry-picking. It's revisionism. Marriage in much of the Bible is about the transfer and acquisition of property; dowries and the brides themselves. Wives were little more than breeding stock.

Defenders of "traditional marriage" often turn to Adam and Eve, as in, "It's Adam and Even, not Adam and Steve." According Rita Nakashima Brock, in the Huffington Post, so did Jesus point to that as an ideal marital relationship. But she points out that this ideal was before the fall, after which women were cursed for Eve's sin. She also puts Paul's concerns about marriage into some historical context. It may simply have been an act of rebellion against Rome's use of the common folk as breeders (proletarius) for the empire.

The way we think of marriage today, as a union between equal partners is novel, by historical terms, and we are still in the process of evolving it away from system of female oppression. Brides still agree to obey their husbands in traditional wedding vows. Although many churches offer alternative vow text, the change is still slower than one might expect. It was only in 2006 that the Church of England officially reconsidered the use of the word "obey" in the bride's wedding vows. The CofE began then to offer an alternate option out of concern that the original vows foster spousal abuse -- a seemingly valid assumption.

A Church of England report has stated that traditional vows taken in wedding ceremonies, in which the bride promises to "obey" her husband, could be used by some men to justify domestic violence.

. . .

The report said that the Church had, intentionally or unintentionally, reinforced abuse, failing to challenge abusers, and had therefore intensified the suffering of survivors, often through "misguided" or distorted versions of Christian belief.

It said that if people were given a deformed view of their relationship with God as being one of domination and submission, and interpreted the character of God with masculine imagery, it could bring about "overbearing and ultimately violent patterns of behaviour".

As Brock points out, Judge Walker's Prop 8 decision directly addressed the changing societal view of marriage from an institution that subjugates women into one of union between equal partners.

In his carefully written decision, Judge Walker remarked on changes that have eliminated most of the values and reasons for traditional marriage. He noted that marriage had recently been transformed "from a male-dominated institution into an institution recognizing men and women as equals" (p. 112). The changes also reflect cultural ideas that marriage is a union of sex with love. They do not nullify marriage per se:

The evidence shows that the movement of marriage away from a gendered institution and toward an institution free from state-mandated gender roles reflects an evolution in the understanding of gender rather than a change in marriage. The evidence did not show any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, as states have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry. Rather, the exclusion exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. That time has passed. (p. 113)

Amen!


Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Aug 19, 2010

The Secrets of the Queen's Chamber



Without much fanfare, a fresh attempt to discover the secrets of the Queen's Chamber in the main pyramid at Giza was recently announced.

Leeds University in the UK is teaming with the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt and a team of international engineers to construct the bot, which is also known as the Djedi project after the magician consulted by Egypt's King Khufu as he planned the layout of his pyramid. The structure was built over a 20-year period thought to end around 2560 BC.

The Djedi bot is equipped with a mini ultrasonic device that can tap on walls and listen to the response to help determine the thickness and condition of the stone, and a coring drill that can penetrate the rock (if necessary) while removing the minimum amount of material necessary.

It has a precision compass and inclinometer to measure the orientation of the shafts. Importantly, it's also fitted with lights and a "snake camera" that can see around corners--and hopefully yield new information into the curved air shafts, which were discovered in 1872 by a British engineer named Waynman Dixon.

During a mission in 1992, archaeologists sent another robot, named Upuaut 2, up one of the tunnels and found it blocked by a limestone door with two copper handles. Ten years later, researchers drilled through that door, only to find another one about 8 inches away.

This history of the original attempt to survey the shafts of the Queen's Chamber and the discovery of the door, the existence of which is no longer in question, is one of political intrigue, obfuscation, and abrupt cancellation. Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval report the ins and outs of the bizarre drama, in which they were directly involved, in The Message of the Sphinx.

Perhaps the most exotic researcher ever to have pronounced on the mysteries of the Pyramids was Charles Piazzi Smyth, a nineteenth-century Astronomer Royal of Scotland. Like Edgar Cayce, he believed the Great Pyramid to be somehow linked to Biblical prophecies concerning the ‘Second Coming’ of Christ. And like Edgar Cayce, too, his name turns up most unexpectedly in connection with recent remarkable discoveries at Giza.1

We will see why, later in this chapter. Meanwhile, as many readers will recall from the international news coverage it received at the time, high hopes were raised in March 1993 of a possible hidden chamber deep within the Great Pyramid. Rudolf Gantenbrink, a Munich-based German engineer, had used a tiny, hi-tech robot camera to explore the long narrow shafts emanating from the northern and southern walls of the Queen’s Chamber and, at the end of the southern shaft (the one targeted on the star Sirius) had discovered a small portcullis door complete with copper handles. Immediately after the find was made, Dr. Zahi Hawass enthused to a German television team ‘in my opinion this is THE discovery in Egypt’ and expressed the hope that ‘records’ on papyrus scrolls to do with the ‘religion’ of the builders and maybe the ‘stars’, might be stashed away behind the tantalizing door.2 Similar hopes were also raised inThe Times of London which, in addition, noted a curiouslink with Edgar Cayce and the ‘Hall of Records’:
SECRET PASSAGE POSES PYRAMID MYSTERY: In the 1940s Edgar Cayce, the American clairvoyant, prophesied the discovery, in the last quarter of the 20th century and somewhere near the Sphinx, of a hidden chamber containing the historical records of Atlantis. Whether recent discoveries in the Great Pyramid of Cheops [Khufu] have anything to do with that is far from certain, but the discovery of a small door at the end of a long, hitherto unexplored, 8-inch square shaft has set many speculating about what, if anything, might lie behind it ...’3
As we write these words, more than three years after Rudolf Gantenbrink made his amazing discovery, no further exploration has been permitted inside the southern shaft of the Queen’s Chamber and the mysterious portcullis door remains unopened. During this period we note that Dr. Zahi Hawass (rather like his friend Mark Lehner over the issue of 10,500BC) has executed a radical volte-face. Gone are the eulogies and the great expectations and he now asserts: ‘I think this is not a door and nothing is behind it ...’4

The Independent broke the story in 1993.

Archaeologists have discovered the entrance to a previously unknown chamber within the largest of Egypt's pyramids. Some evidence suggests it might contain the royal treasures of the pharaoh Cheops, for whom the Great Pyramid was built 4,500 years ago. The contents of the chamber are almost certainly intact.

The entrance is at the end of a sloping passageway, 65 metres long but only eight inches (20cm) wide and eight inches high. Egyptologists previously thought the passageway was only eight metres long, and that its construction had been abandoned while the pyramid was being built.

. . .

According to the Belgian Egyptologist Robert Bauval, the passage points directly at the dog star Sirius, held by the ancient Egyptians to be the incarnation of the goddess Isis. Other small passages in the pyramid appear to point to other heavenly bodies - the belt of Orion and the star Alpha Draconis, which at the time was in the area now occupied by the Pole Star.

But soon after, the idea of the door or anything else in the "abandoned" Queen's Chamber became the new narrative and the entire project was scuttled. It would be another ten years before Hawass undertook another mission to study the shaft and the mysterious door, only to find another door behind that.

On September 10th, with Hawass and television viewers watching, the robot sent a camera through a small hole drilled in the block only to encounter another stone blocking the way.

Hawass, head of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, was excited nonetheless.

"We can see another sealed door," he said over the shrieks of his team members and television crew crowded into the chamber. "It looks to me like it is sealing something. It seems that something important is hidden there.

"This is one of the first major discoveries in the Great Pyramid in some 130 years, and now what we need is time for further analysis," he said.

Curiouser and curiouser.


Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Aug 15, 2010

Understanding Sacred Geometry... and the Universe



Math is taught all wrong. This has long been my contention. I was a terrible math student and today I can barely balance my own checkbook. Yet, when I first heard the term "sacred geometry" I felt like I was waking from a dream. It was one of the strongest intuitive pulls I've ever felt. It would seem that Michael S. Schneider has a similar take on the problems with math education. Scheider is the author of my favorite and most frequently recommended book on sacred geometry A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe. He has a gift for explaining these concepts in very simple, pragmatic terms. I wish he'd been my math teacher. I'd be better off.




Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Aug 11, 2010

Esoterica



Bulgarian archaeologists claim discovery of John the Baptist's bones?

An ancient alabaster reliquary, a box for relics, was found embedded in an altar at the ruins of a fifth-century monastery on the tiny Black Sea island of Sveti Ivan. On Sunday, the excavation's leader, Kazimir Popkonstantinov, carefully pried open the miniature casket at a ceremony attended by local government figures and an Eastern Orthodox bishop in the nearby coastal town of Sozopol.

Inside, researchers found parts of a cranium, tooth and arm bone, according to Bulgarian news agency Novinite. Further tests are now being carried out on the remains, and the country's culture minister, Vezhdi Rashidov, declared that people should wait for results before making "emotional statements" about the identity of the bones' original owner.

But Popkonstantinov is convinced that the fragments belong to Jesus' baptizer, largely because a Greek inscription on the 8-inch-long, 4-inch-high and 4-inch-wide reliquary mentions June 24, the date Orthodox and Catholic Christians celebrate John the Baptist's birth.

An international collaboration on what has long been thought to be impossible -- nuclear fusion:

It is one of mankind’s most daring experiments – a quest to produce virtually limitless clean energy that, if successful, would revolutionise life on Earth by harnessing the explosive power of the sun.

The energy problems that already beset our species, and look certain to dominate the future, would be wiped out at a stroke. The pollution of fossil fuels would be a thing of the past. The oil beneath the Gulf of Mexico could remain, safely unmolested.

Such is the appeal of the idea that the greatest powers of the world, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, America and the nations of the European Union, have united to pursue the same stellar objective. Their aim is commercially viable nuclear fusion – deriving energy from crushing together the nuclei in atoms rather than splitting them, as is done currently in nuclear fission reactors.

A universe in every black hole?

Using an adaptation of Einstein's general theory of relativity, Nikodem Poplawski, of Indiana University, Bloomington, analysed the theoretical motion of particles entering a black hole.

He concluded that it was possible for a whole new universe to exist inside every black hole, which could mean that our own universe could be inside a black hole as well.

"Maybe the huge black holes at the centre of the Milky Way and other galaxies are bridges to different universes," he told New Scientist.

"Everything tries to be round." (Black Elk) Even in the paleolithic era.

It is cramped, draughty and unlikely to win any design awards. But, according to archaeologists, this wooden hut is one of the most important buildings ever created in Britain.

The newly discovered circular structure – as shown in our artist’s impression – is the country’s oldest known home.

Built more than 6,000 years before Stonehenge, it provided shelter from the icy winds and storms that battered the nomadic hunters roaming Britain at the end of the last ice age.

And even neanderthal's tried to be cozy.

Anthropologists have unearthed the remains of an apparent Neanderthal cave sleeping chamber, complete with a hearth and nearby grass beds that might have once been covered with animal fur.

Neanderthals inhabited the cozy Late Pleistocene room, located within Esquilleu Cave in Cantabria, Spain, anywhere between 53,000 to 39,000 years ago, according to a Journal of Archaeological Science paper concerning the discovery.

Living the ultimate clean and literally green lifestyle, the Neanderthals appear to have constructed new beds out of grass every so often, using the old bedding material to help fuel the hearth.

Intriguing discovery off the coast of Africa:

The network of criss-cross lines is 620 miles off the coast of north west Africa near the Canary Islands on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

. . .

Last night Atlantis experts said that the unexplained grid is located at one of the possible sites of the legendary island, which was described by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

According to his account, the city sank beneath the ocean after its residents made a failed effort to conquer Athens around 9000 BC.

"Let your women keep silence in the church: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law." (1 Corinthians 14:34) All of the time? Some of the time?... Yup. Taking every word of the Bible literally is a little problematic.

The Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) has decided to permit women to serve on local church councils but has maintained its rule that they cannot be ordained as bishops.

. . .

"This has nothing to do with women not being smart enough or good enough or qualified enough," said Britt Peavy, senior pastor of West Ward Church of God in Douglas, Ga. "The issue is, did God know what he was talking about? And whether we like it or don't like it ... if our rules, our standard, is biblical text, then we have to be faithful to biblical text even in a contemporary society that sees it as bigoted or old-fashioned."

The debate mirrors a similar fight within the Church of England, where women have been ordained as priests since 1994, but traditionalists have threatened to leave if women are ordained as bishops, which could happen as early as 2014.

A major legal setback for attempts to make the Vatican accountable.

Three men who sought to hold the Vatican liable in an American court for sexual abuses by Roman Catholic priests in a Kentucky diocese are abandoning the case.

Lawyers looked to question Pope Benedict XVI under oath but had to leap the high legal hurdle of the Vatican's sovereign immunity status in the U.S. But plaintiffs filed a motion on Monday asking a federal judge in Louisville to dismiss their claims.

Their attorney, William McMurry, said he was seeking to end the case because of an earlier court ruling that recognized the Vatican's immunity and failure to turn up new plaintiffs to add to the lawsuit who haven't yet been involved in a Catholic clergy abuse case.

And legal technicalities frustrate critics of an Epsicopal diocese.

Advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse have blasted the Episcopal Church for reinstating the bishop of Philadelphia who had been charged with not investigating sex abuse allegations about his brother.

A church appeals court ruled July 28 that Bishop Charles Bennison committed conduct inappropriate for a member of the clergy, but said charges against him had to be dismissed because the statute of limitations had run out.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which has criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not disciplining bishops, picketed Tuesday (Aug. 10) outside the Philadelphia headquarters of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.


Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Aug 9, 2010

Mayan Grand Elder: Live Address



Don Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj, the Grand Elder of the Maya, for whom Drunvalo Melchizedek has been delivering information in previous addresses, will be doing a live internet event starting August 15th. According to Drunvalo, it is only over roughly the last year that the Maya have been willing to set the record straight on the meaning of the long count calendar, based on their traditions and practices. 

Also, Drunvalo has posted a Q&A from his last lecture and it's very, very interesting.


Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Aug 5, 2010

What is the Light Body?


The discussion between William Henry and Whitley Strieber, posted in the player below, is brief but dense. I also highly recommend following the link to the electronic edition of Blake's book above, after listening to the interview. Also, kind of interesting synchronicity can be found here.




Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Aug 4, 2010

Mr. Deity Has Anger Issues



Pretty hard to miss that if you've read much of the Old Testament.


Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Aug 2, 2010

Esoterica



We might be a few steps closer to having our "molecules scrambled by that contraption."

"Quantum entanglement" may sound like an awful sci-fi romance flick, but it's actually a phenomenon that physicists say may someday lead to the ability to teleport an object all the way across the galaxy instantly.

It's not exactly the Star Trek version of teleportation, where an object disappears then reappears somewhere else. Rather, it "entangles" two different atoms so that one atom inherits the properties of another.

. . .

Quantum entanglement isn't a new idea — Einstein once famously referred to it as "spooky action at a distance" — but it wasn't until the past 30 years that scientists were first able to observe this process. 

Catholic leader disappointed by lack of bigotry in the Holy Land:

The Catholic Church's highest official in the Holy Land sharply criticized Israeli authorities for permitting a gay pride march on Thursday (July 29) through the streets of Jerusalem.

In a statement issued Friday following the city's 8th Annual Gay Pride Parade, which attracted 3,000 marchers, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal said the event seeks to "defy family and marriage."

Twal said the parade, "its organizers and the authorities who allow it, care neither for the feelings of families nor the holiness of this city."

But Orthodox Jews organize in support of fair treatment of gays and lesbians.

More than 100 modern-Orthodox rabbis, educators and mental-health professionals in Israel and the U.S. have signed a document that urges respect for homosexuals but stops short of condoning same-sex relationships.


. . .

The document makes a clear distinction between homosexual behavior, which is prohibited by the Torah, and the respect due to people with a homosexual orientation.

It states that "all human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect," and that "embarrassing, harassing or demeaning homosexuals is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism."

A new theory on the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls:

The recent decoding of a cryptic cup, the excavation of ancient Jerusalem tunnels, and other archaeological detective work may help solve one of the great biblical mysteries: Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The new clues hint that the scrolls, which include some of the oldest known biblical documents, may have been the textual treasures of several groups, hidden away during wartime—and may even be "the great treasure from the Jerusalem Temple," which held the Ark of the Covenant, according to the Bible.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered more than 60 years ago in seaside caves near an ancient settlement called Qumran. The conventional wisdom is that a breakaway Jewish sect called the Essenes—thought to have occupied Qumran during the first centuries B.C. and A.D.—wrote all the parchment and papyrus scrolls.

Anne Rice has announced that she digs Christ far too much to be a Christian:

Vampire novelist Anne Rice says she's leaving Christianity -- again -- because she no longer wants to be identified with such a "quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group."

Born and raised a Catholic, Rice left the church but returned after a 30-year absence in 1998. Best known for "Interview With the Vampire" and other vampire fiction, she later turned to spiritual writing, including a "Christ the Lord" series on Jesus' life and a well-received spiritual memoir, "Called Out of Darkness."

On Thursday (July 29), Rice said she has "quit being a Christian," although she remains "committed to Christ."

"I quit being a Christian. I'm out," she wrote on her Facebook page, in sections that were confirmed by her publisher. "In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat."

Did Jesus swear like a sailor? Vicar thinks Christians should use more blue words.

Reverend Michael Land, 67, said Christians needed to adopt swearing in their everyday language because it is how Jesus would have spoken.

He said too many people put Jesus "on a pedestal" and failed to realise that he was poor, relatively uneducated and preferred not to mix with the elite of his day.

He added that the Church risked becoming out of touch with ordinary people if its clergy did not become "streetwise" and failed to use earthy language.


Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.