Dec 22, 2012

Putting the Hate Back in Christmas



Pope Benedict has a heartwarming message this holiday season. Let's put a stop to the gay... or words to that effect. In his annual State of the Church speech before the Curia yesterday, his holiness made clear that the top priority of the Vatican is to stop the march toward modernity that has already displayed itself in numerous countries and a growing number of states in the US.

Gay marriage is a threat to "traditional marriage" says the Celibate in Chief.

Benedict XVI made the comments in his annual Christmas address to the Vatican bureaucracy, one of his most important speeches of the year. He dedicated it this year to promoting traditional family values in the face of gains by same-sex marriage proponents in the U.S. and Europe and efforts to legalize gay marriage in places like France and Britain.

In his remarks, Benedict quoted the chief rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, in saying the campaign for granting gays the right to marry and adopt children was an "attack" on the traditional family made up of a father, mother and children.

Well. At least it was ecumenical. But I can't help wondering what these Jewish-Christian allies in leadership are basing their ideas of "tradition" upon. Not their holy books, certainly, wherein those "mothers" are little more than transferred property and often consigned to large harems.

Mostly, His Holiness seems to be distressed by the all the gender-bending that goes on.

In his speech, the pope cited Bernheim as lamenting how a new philosophy of sexuality has taken hold, whereby sex and gender are "no longer a given element of nature that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society."

He said God had created man and woman as a specific "duality" – "an essential aspect of what being human is all about."

This follows his "peace message" of a week ago, in which he cited gay marriage as a key threat to world peace. Nothing like a demonstration of love and compassion as the Church prepares to celebrate the birth of Christ.

The pontiff did, however, grant an act of kindness to his former butler, whose Christmas-time pardon was widely anticipated. He will also secure housing and employment for this fallen angel somewhere safely away from Vatican property.


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Dec 20, 2012

Drunvalo 2012 Webcast: I Will Be Doing This




Just got a little tap from universe reminding me that Drunvalo Melchizedek posted a video recently. I hadn't watched it yet, but I saw it float by on Facebook. So I just watched it. It's an introduction to a webcast he'll be leading over the next three days. You can go here to get the particulars and sign up. This one's free. I don't know what he's on about but, as ever, I feel strongly led to participate in whatever Drunvalo is doing. I do just love that man. And his work has seen me through some of the most transformative experiences of my life. So check it out if you want. Cheers.


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Dec 17, 2012

Sandy Hook and the Healing Power of Compassion



"Compassion, or the sense of shared humanity, of our kinship with each other: This is what heals." ~ Pema Chodron


The pain, at first, felt strangely personal. Strange because these were not my children. And, yet, any one of them could have been. As a mother, I feel the loss of any child as a momentary, primal terror. It's every parent's greatest fear, lingering always at the periphery of conscious awareness.

Then it expanded outward as I thought of all those parents spending their first night in the cold grip of unutterable grief. And I sobbed. And I sobbed. And I sobbed.

As I surfed the web that afternoon, checked in with friends on Facebook, and read the unfolding coverage, I gradually became aware again that this was a shared experience. Everyone I knew was in shock... naturally. It's always something of a relief -- those moments when you realize you are not alone in your sorrow.

So I thought of Pema Chodron and of her lectures on the constructive use of suffering for personal and global healing. Some time ago, I posted her explanation of the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Tonglen. As we breathe in the sorrows of the world and exhale our love and compassion, we participate in the conscious transformation of the planet.




Through our own personal experience of pain and struggle, we find compassion for the suffering of others. And when these news-making tragedies fix our collective attention, we are reminded that we are part of the shared heart of the world. Our heart chakras are ripped open as the consciousness of our interconnectedness expands.

As news of the tragic shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, rippled across the globe, Mari Lolarga found a candle in his home in the Philippines and lit it in honor of those who died.

. . .

"May Allah give courage to all families to face it bravely, may the souls of those angels rest in peace," said Ghulam Murtaza, an elementary school teacher from Pakistan.
Danbury mayor: 'A horrific day'

In Lithuania, a teacher identifying herself as Veronika commented: "I send all my love and prayers to the families. It is all I can do from so far away, but my heart is now in Newtown with all the affected people. God bless them all."

. . .

Lisa Garnier from Canada said she and her husband were so devastated by the news they both sat down and cried.




I read something recently about the Maya trying to end the fear-mongering about their ancient calendar and the panic about the pending 2012 end date.

[Felipe]Gomez's group issued a statement saying that the new Maya time cycle simply "means there will be big changes on the personal, family and community level, so that there is harmony and balance between mankind and nature."

It was but another reminder that the "shift of ages" holds the promise of bringing humanity into "right relationship" with the world we inhabit. So here we stand, on the eve of "the end of the world" remembering that we are all mothers... and fathers... and sisters... and brothers... and children.


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Dec 12, 2012

Rest in Peace, Ravi Shankar... And Thank-you



“It is utter joy, uninhibited, that an artist experiences. The raga, the musician, the listeners, all become one.” ~ Ravi Shankar


I awoke this morning to the very sad news of Ravi Shankar's passing. I grew up listening to Shankar. And to the Beatles whose interest in his music introduced him to a much larger audience than he might otherwise have known. In my mother's massive record collection was the album Live at Monterey. Over the years, I practically wore the grooves off of it. Shankar taught me an entirely new way to experience music -- as deep meditation. I would come home from school, some days, and drift through time and space as I listened to Bhimpalasi, "one of the most beautiful raga of the late afternoon."

This was Shankar's incredible gift. He was able to school the West on the consciousness shifting capacity of music.

With an instrument perplexing to most Westerners, Ravi Shankar helped connect the world through music. The sitar virtuoso hobnobbed with the Beatles, became a hippie musical icon and spearheaded the first rock benefit concert as he introduced traditional Indian ragas to Western audiences over nearly a century.

. . .

Labeled "the godfather of world music" by [George] Harrison, Shankar helped millions of classical, jazz and rock lovers discover the centuries-old traditions of Indian music.

"He was legend of legends," Shivkumar Sharma, a noted santoor player who performed with Shankar, told Indian media. "Indian classical was not at all known in the Western world. He was the musician who had that training … the ability to communicate with the Western audience."

I could probably go on at some length about the man, his genius, and the incredible gift to the world that is his body of work, but compared to the incredible tapestry of sound he created, words fail.










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Dec 9, 2012

O Christmas Tower



The Eiffel Tower seems to be trending. Decorative accent sculptures, lamps, candle holders, 3D puzzles and, of course, the traditional art prints -- I've been seeing them in increasing numbers in stores over the past couple of years. But I knew something had really hit critical mass when I noticed a Christmas lawn ornament in front of a neighbor's house.

I've been acutely aware of this particular trend not because I'm so besotted with the idea of Parisian glamor. I don't really have a burning desire to see gay Paris. As with so many things that seize my attention, at this point, my interest is more esoteric.

Many years ago, I went to a shamanic journey workshop. It consisted of live drumming as we all attempted to journey questions suggested by the organizers. One of the questions had to do with finding community. I was a tad disappointed to learn, in my journey, that I have no community and would not have until I accomplished certain spiritual initiations. None of this surprised me, exactly, but it was still a little frustrating. Central in this journey was a kind of mountain... tower... thing. My sense was that I would have to reach the pinnacle of it before I could connect with my community. And my sense was that it would take years. It was a very sharp, elongated triangle, with concave sides. I drew my impression of it when I completed the journey. And I thought, but that's the Eiffel Tower. What on earth could that form have to do with anything? It's not a pyramid. It's not a tetrahedron. It's not any of those cardinal, sacred geometry forms, that I would expect. But there it was. A very rudimentary Eiffel Tower form. For some time, I refused to believe that the shape I'd been shown had anything to do with something that had become, in my mind, a cliche of American Francophilia. But it came up, over the years, in other journeys and meditations. The shape was unmistakable. Nearly ten years later, I gave up on denying that there was some connection to the iconic architecture.

Recently I read Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval's The Master Game and the whole thing came a little clearer. The Eiffel Tower has very esoteric origins -- as do the American and French revolutions.

Eiffel, too was a Freemason -- so let us note in passing that the first two levels of his famous steel tower, according to French engineer Jean Kerisel, are shaped like a pyramid. Eiffel would certainly have been aware that about a century before, in 1792, a pyramid had been erected on the very same spot on the Champs de Mars in Paris to commemorate the French Revolution. (p. 500)

This architectural predecessor of the Eiffel Tower had been ascended by Robespierre, along with a large delegation of Parisian officials, in a dramatic celebration of a Supreme Being in 1794. At its summit Robespierre was raised, next to a symbolic "Tree of Liberty."

Let us note that in the iconography of the Revolution the all-seeing-eye (or 'Eye of Providence') was often shown above the 'Tree of Liberty' while at other times it was also seen within a glowing triangle or pyramid hovering above the scene, much like the symbol seen today on the US one-dollar bill. This symbol, in fact, was originally designed for the so-called Great Seal of the United States in 1776 by a committee that included Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. (p. 30)

So we're back to our benben on the tree/pyramid. And this is what makes the idea of an Eiffel Tower Christmas lawn ornament so very, very perfect. The symbolism of the Christmas tree that I discussed here at some length is of a piece with that of the Eiffel Tower. This is something that snapped into focus for me a week or so ago when I was walking by the home decor section at Target. I noted, as I inescapably do now, some new Eiffel Tower art. A moment later I saw Christmas tree sculptures that were not round, but squared off into elongated, tapered pyramids. The similarity in form was quite striking.

All of this speaks to my long-held theory that the icons and architecture of both the French and American revolutions are about freedom and liberty in a sense far deeper than that of political tyranny. These are symbols -- and psychic triggers -- of ascension.

I was recently struck about dumb by the depth of a perfume ad starring Julia Roberts. Yes, you read me right: A perfume ad starring Julia Roberts.




"Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains." ~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau


You can just make out the Eiffel Tower in the background. And the snapping of, albeit very pretty, Rousseauian chains is unmistakable. There is a little back story to that ad that I think is relevant. It was directed by Tarsem Singh, whose films like The Fall, The Immortals, and Mirror, Mirror, explore myths, archetypes... and, total surreality. The Cell was deeply weird. Pretty. But deeply weird. That said, Singh is really quite brilliant.

The music is from Belgian band Venus and "Beautiful Days" was a huge, international hit. Of possible interest, it was used in a completely bizarre film called Immortel. This Egyptian-themed, dystopian film culminates in a scene at, you guessed it, the Eiffel Tower. This video splices it together with other movie footage and gives some idea of the feel and subject matter of the film.




In late summer I went to see Dead Can Dance whose new album Anastasis and world reunion tour came as the most wonderful, wonderful surprise. I had never seen them live and hadn't expected I ever would. What this opportunity meant to me, at this stage in my spiritual odyssey, would be hard to put into words. I know this because I've tried. So I was also quite stunned when they released their Opium & Paris video.

The Eiffel Tower is definitely trending.




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Dec 5, 2012

Putting the Ass Back in Christmas





Speaking of the War on Christmas, here is Jon Stewart's hilarious take. This is not the first time Stewart has gone head to head with Bill O'Reilly on this issue. Notably in his recent debate with the Fox pundit, he delivered this pithy assessment:

If you think Christmas isn’t celebrated in this country, walk a mile in Hanukkah’s shoes.

But nothing ever seems to pierce O'Reilly's bubble of narcissistic myopia.

Even Fox's Catholic priest on call, Father Jonathan Morris, thinks their obsession with this imaginary war is over the top. His reasoning still manages to drip with the requisite victimhood.

The reason I’m not angry is that, yes, I think it’s silly, it’s out of place for people to dedicate so much energy to try to get rid of Christmas scenes like this. The good news is when Christianity has been persecuted, when it has been outlawed, when people have died for their faith, it hasn’t gone away. Everybody has an opportunity to make sure their faith does not go away in this Christmas season to live that faith as a family, as a community. What should we do about these, I think very small percentage of people who are working to try to get rid of these public expressions of faith? I think we should speak up. That’s why I am doing it. That’s why I think it’s important we have these stories to show what they are trying to do — without losing the peace. If our Christmas is going to be all about getting a upset at people trying to take away Christmas, isn’t that silly too?

So that's about as clear as mud. Christians have always been persecuted, outlawed, and killed, but we don't need to get all het up about it.

O'Reilly, though, is taking a very different tack. This has nothing to do with religious persecution because Christianity isn't a religion. It's a philosophy. And Christmas trees are secular symbols. Yes. You heard me. They're secular. And somehow the fact that they are secular is the reason you have to call them Christmas trees -- not holiday trees. Get it? Because they're secular symbols they can't have a secular name.

Oh, and we can all go to work, if we want, on the secular, federal holiday that is Christmas, even though our offices are closed.


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Dec 4, 2012

No Tree for You!



Remember the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld? This capricious vendor of very delicious soup would refuse service to anyone he didn't like, telling them, "No soup for you!" Well, it seems we have ourselves a Tree Nazi, except that this one discriminates based on religion -- including Jews... So that's a little creepy.

There seems to be some debate as to whether or not the photo could possibly be real. I for one don't doubt that it could be a genuine article. It looks like another battle line has been drawn in the culture wars. Now they're being fought on the commerce front -- like the gun dealer who's refused to sell to Obama voters.

It's hard for me to get worked up about the possible civil rights violation because the whole scenario is just too hilarious. But then, I'm not a Jew in desperate need of a Hanukkah bush in whatever provincial backwater this sign was photographed in.

Why do I find this amusing? For starters, and I'm not alone in noting this, Christmas trees are Pagan -- not Christian. And the Bible specifically condemns the "heathen" custom. Some of your more serious Christians recognize the Pagan nature of Christmas customs and have taken to waging their own version of the "War on Christmas." But I digress.

On a less prosaic note, I can't help noticing that the Christmas tree graphics used in that sign have a very noticeable benben. For a detailed explanation of the sacred geometry represented by the Christmas tree, see here. But here's the shorthand:




For so many reasons, that discriminatory sign is as risible as the yearly tempest in a teapot that is the "War on Christmas." But at least this bold move to defend the tragically beleaguered, nay endangered, Christendom, puts the focus back on the real meaning of Christmas: Retail.


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Nov 30, 2012

Stargate Skyfall



I caught Skyfall over the holiday weekend and I loved it. Daniel Craig continues to bring a gravitas to the role that transitions Bond from outrageous camp to something with surprising depth. And this was probably the darkest yet -- a journey through death and resurrection, as the series reboots itself yet again. This is a bold re-envisioning, exchanging the high tech gadgetry, that has become too ubiquitous to be entertaining, for low tech cleverness. Javier Bardem is just flamboyant enough to be a Bond villain, yet tragic and human enough to be a believable character. He's also consistently brilliant.

The movie is excellent. But the opening credit sequence is a masterpiece.

Leaving aside for a moment the sheer awesomeness of the cinematography and the buttery richness of Adele's voice, what captivated me was the layering of esoteric imagery. It was the genius of the opening credits (posted above) that convinced me to brave the crowds and see this movie in the theater.

As with the recent Olympics, and so much in popular art and entertainment, it's hard to say how much of the symbolism is deliberate and how much is subconscious. But it's hard to believe that a film about a journey through death and rebirth just happens to have one portal image after another by accident. 

This is the end...

The sequence opens with a wormhole as Bond is pulled through a swirling vortex on the ocean floor. From there, the viewer moves through one circular gate after another, from bullet holes, to the circumpunct like barrel of a gun, to James Bond's eye. We slide through these apertures, moving from one dark, surreal landscape to another.

Skyfall is where we start...

There are also numerous images of the Celtic Cross, aka the Medicine Wheel, aka the four directions. We see it in classic form on tombstones, but also made up from guns and the great stag. In one remarkable turn, Bond finds himself at the center of four, intersecting, shadow selves.

Where worlds collide and days are dark...

In one particularly stunning sequence, we move from trails of blood in the water and into the realm of the Chinese lung, or dragons -- the great, fire-breathing wyrms themselves.

Where you go I go. What you see I see...

There is also a lot of mirroring imagery, as one divides into two, in perfect reflection. And in the penultimate sequence, Bond finds himself in a hall of mirrors. He shoots holes in one mirror after another, finally shattering the illusory world around him.

Let the sky fall. When it crumbles...

The title itself, Skyfall, suggests the death of the illusory world. The sky, the boundary of our perceptual world, crumbles. It's the apocalypse -- the revelation of secrets hidden behind the veil.


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Nov 29, 2012

Warren Jeffs: The Final Chapter?



This could be the end of the infamous Yearning For Zion ranch as Texas moves to seize the large property holding from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS. The State contends that the ranch was used to further a criminal enterprise, one aspect of which was the crime for which FLDS leader Warren Jeffs was convicted last year -- molesting underage girls.

Investigators filed a warrant to seize the 1,600-acre ranch in West Texas under state law that allows seizure of property used to commit or facilitate criminal conduct.

According to a 91-page page affidavit in support of the search and seizure warrant served on the ranch in Eldorado, about 300 miles west of Dallas, church members purchased the property for about $1.3 million in 2003 with laundered money and used the property to sexually assault children and hide Jeffs in 2006 while he was a fugitive on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List.

According to the attorney general’s office, the ranch was purchased by church members at the order of Jeffs, who was based in Utah at the time but, “sought a rural location where the FLDS could operate a polygamist compound where the systemic sexual assault of children would be tolerated without interference from law enforcement authorities.”

Jeffs's own records make clear that the ranch, originally referred to under the code name R17, was designed for criminal use. It's far enough from main roads and infrastructure to allow him to skirt everything from building codes to other "wicked laws, un-righteous laws passed by the government that could put us in jail..." I'm guessing those would be those pesky laws against polygamy and sexual abuse of minors.

As discussed, there have been indications that FLDS was removing itself from the extensive property -- such as constructing and then dismantling a sizable watchtower. Perhaps they saw the writing on the wall and decided against defending the stronghold against an impending State takeover.

Where have they all gone, is the bigger question.

The church's numbers are dwindling due to excommunications, arrests, and deliberate fleeing. But there are also indications of organized relocation due to Jeffs's cryptic warnings and proclamations.

The State seems to determined to shut down Jeffs's Texas footprint completely and keep him incarcerated for the duration.

Officials call their attempt to seize the group's compound "the final chapter" in a multimillion-dollar battle against the polygamist sect, which authorities believe was centered around sexual abuse and funded through money laundering.

Authorities say Jeffs used the compound's temple to commit his crimes, saying it "was constructed in a special manner so that Warren Steed Jeffs could perpetuate sexual assaults in the Temple building."

And they quote from Jeffs' own designs and the group's "Priesthood Records": "There is a table, but it will be made so it can be a table or it can be a bed. It should be made so the tabletop can come off. It will be on wheels… This will be made so that it can be taken apart and stored in a closet where no one can see it. When I need it, I will pull it out and set it up… It will be covered with a sheet, but it will have a plastic cover to protect the mattress from what will happen on it."

So at least the mattress was safe. Young girls may have been raped and defiled on it. But the mattress was definitely safe.

And I definitely feel a little sick. The thing about FLDS and its creepy leader is that as bad as you think it is, it's so much worse.

A recent "20/20" report went behind the scenes and interviewed excommunicated members, shedding light on the increasingly restrictive control the imprisoned leader exerts. Many lives have been shattered by Jeffs's recent proclamations and paranoid weirdness. Not even his own brother has escaped banishment and the reallocation of his family. I guess he wasn't one of the lucky fifteen men still allowed to procreate. He and other "sons of perdition" have been removed from the dwindling gene pool. Meanwhile, numerous women have been excommunicated for the vile sin of having miscarriages. If that isn't a perfect storm of inbreeding disaster, I don't know what is.

While some long for the life they knew and worry for their immortal souls, others are enjoying their new-found liberation. A nineteen year old boy, freed from the 7-9 hours a day of forced labor he enjoyed in his childhood, can finally learn to read. They are all learning surprising things about history and government like that Warren Jeffs is not, in fact, the president of the United States. A sweet, little girl is finally able to wear a tiara and play with dolls. She says matter-of-factly, "We're considered apostates and wicked."

There is a little more insight into Jeffs's increasingly bizarre demands as he blames his followers for his incarceration and forces them to share in his suffering. Dietary restrictions like giving up corn and dairy products are part of their collective penance. The labor-intensive building of a million dollar home for Jeffs was supposed to cause his prison bars to melt and free him. It didn't.

I highly recommend viewing the episode, which can be found here. The commercials make it a little glitchy and you may need to reload it once or twice but it's well worth the effort.




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Nov 20, 2012

White Noise: The Fragrance



There are a few fun facts that I learned in aromatherapy school. Our sense of smell, or olfaction, is one nerve synapse away from the limbic brain and clicks rapidly through the amygdala and hippocampus. So smells trigger memories and powerful emotional responses. Olfaction does not go through the neocortex, so there are no words that exclusively describe smells. We borrow adjectives from other sensory stimuli to describe them, like colors, sounds, and tastes. For instance, scents can be green, or loud, or fruity. Now comes a newly created scent profile called "white noise."

Another thing I learned in aromatherapy school is that, while this is a fascinating discovery about our sense of smell, the study described here does not constitute aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the use of pure plant essences and offers numerous therapeutic properties above and beyond the psychoactive effects of scent. The fragrance industry relies heavily on chemically replicated scents and other derivatives of natural essences and I suspect that is the case here as well. Still. Fascinating.

Mixing multiple wavelegths that span the human visual range equally makes white light; mixing multiple frequencies that span the range of human hearing equally makes the whooshing hum of white noise. Neurobiologist Noam Sobel from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and his colleagues wanted to find out whether a similar phenomenon happens with smelling. [7 New Flavors Your Tongue May Taste]

In a series of experiments, they exposed participants to hundreds of equally mixed smells, some containing as few as one compound and others containing up to 43 components. They first had 56 participants compare mixtures of the same number of compounds with one another. For example, a person might compare a 40-compound mixture with a 40-compound mixture, neither of which had any components in common.

This experiment revealed that the more components in a mixture, the worse participants were at telling them apart. A four-component mixture smells less similar to other four-component mixtures than a 43-component mixture smells to other 43-component mixtures.

. . .

In other words, our brains treat smells as a single unit, not as a mixture of compounds to break down, analyze and put back together again. If they didn't, they'd never see mixtures of completely different compounds as smelling the same.


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Nov 14, 2012

Total Eclipse: Views from the Land Down Under




Yesterday was the last total solar eclipse we'll see until 2015. Aussies had a great view. The rest of us, not so much. But thanks to the wonders of technology, we can look at some pretty pictures. Is it as good as being there? No. But it's a little reminder of just how small this planet has become.

A total solar eclipse will occur on Tuesday afternoon, when the moon passes briefly between the Earth and the Sun, obscuring the solar rays and creating a 95-mile-wide shadow over parts of the Southern Hemisphere.

Only people who are lucky enough to be in northern Australia or somehow find themselves in the Indian or Pacific Oceans along the path of the eclipse -- where it will actually be early Wednesday morning -- will be able to see the celestial event.

But don't worry if you're not there in the flesh -- broadcasts of the eclipse will be available on several live streams and The Huffington Post is live blogging the event, bringing updates from astronomers and other experts, some of whom are on the ground in Australia.



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Nov 13, 2012

Adultery, Pat




Remember that great scene in The Crucible when John Proctor is pressed to recall the ten commandments and prove his devotion to God? He can remember them all, save one. He stammers, repeating some, but can't seem to come up with ten. His wife, Elizabeth, quietly chides him, "Adultery, John."

Such was playwright Arthur Miller's brilliant, psychological insight. The husband, whose affair with the young Abigail Williams has set a catastrophic sequence of events in motion, can't remember the commandment that names his sin.

Well, Pat Robertson seems to be revealing more and more of the strange, inner workings of his mind, lately. Last week it was a cringe inducing discussion about Shades of Grey. (Women like pornography? Since when?) And now comes this shameless apologia for the career ending indiscretions of General David Petraeus.

Robertson's reasoning goes like this: David Petraeus "is a man." Paula Broadwell is an "extremely good looking woman" and she was "throwing herself at him."

Such boys will be boys defenses of Petraeus's actions are to be expected... just not so much from an evangelical Christian minister on live television. I mean... has Pat Robertson actually read the Bible? It's only the seventh commandment. You know, that list of moral precepts that Robertson and his ilk have been demanding we all need to get back to?

This is varsity level cherry-picking of the Bible. I have been very critical of fundamentalist dissonance on issues like homosexuality -- which is only condemned in obscure passages and not entirely clearly -- and abortion -- which not only isn't forbidden in the Bible, but actually seems to be endorsed. I have yet to see Christian hardliners get as het up about pork, shellfish, polyester blends, and the numerous other things that are forbidden in the holy scripture they claim is the infallible word of God. But most of them at least have the good grace to condemn adultery.

Bear in mind that this is the same Pat Robertson who has said things like this:

“When you see the rise of blatant open homosexuality and lesbianism, what you also know is God has given a society up...and we’re at the mercy of the elements, the mercy of war, the mercy of economic disaster.” - 700 Club, 4-26-93 (source: People for the American Way Foundation)

And this:

“The concept, the word for homosexual behavior is sodomy. That is what is used in the official documents. It is sodomy. It is repugnant. It has been prohibited and proscribed by sane society throughout countless millennia, centuries. People have understood that it is wrong. Now in America, not only is it happening, it is getting civil rights protection in the law, and these people are invading churches.” - 700 Club, 1-18-94 (source: People for the American Way Foundation)

And my all-time favorite:

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." - 1992 Iowa fundraising letter opposing a state equal-rights amendment ("Equal Rights Initiative in Iowa Attacked", Washington Post, 23 August 1992)

Cheating on your wife, though. That's cool. You know. If a chick is hot, sometimes you just have to hit that. I'm sure God will understand.

It would be tempting to write this off to senility, but Robertson has too long a history of spouting insane, sexist, patriarchal, nonsense, not to consider this of a piece with his ramblings. The creepy lasciviousness, though, seems new, and less than morally upright. So now we know, Pat Robertson isn't just a hypocrite. He's really just a dirty, old man.




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Oct 21, 2012

Missouri Preacher's Speech Against Gay Rights



Wow.

At first, this Missouri pastor's anti-gay speech seems akin to those delivered by a number of conservative preachers and other right-wing pundits nationwide over the past year.

. . .

But, as video of his speech reveals, the pastor has a few surprises up his sleeve.

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Oct 17, 2012

The Wizard of Wormholes



I've had The Wizard of Oz on my mind a lot lately, for some reason. When my daughter was little, she watched my video of the movie until I really got sick of it -- something I'd never thought possible. But lately I've been yearning to watch it. I'll need to get it on DVD... Anyway. I've been contemplating some of the metaphysical imagery that hadn't occurred to me previously. I should caveat that I've long been taken with some of the mythical themes.

That Dorothy is taking a shamanic journey into non-ordinary reality where she interacts with strange creatures and is assisted by guides seems obvious on its face. But there are some elements to that journey that deserve some analysis. This won't be a deep study. I may do that at some point. It's just some things that have been popping into my head of late.

Years ago, when I first read Clarissa Pinkola Estes's Women Who Run With the Wolves, it occurred to me that, in the movie, Dorothy also wore red shoes. In Estes's analysis of "The Red Shoes," our heroine who dances to her death under the spell of her magic shoes, is an orphan, like our Dorothy Gale. And the girl is raised by a somewhat overbearing and opinionated matriarch, who makes all the decisions for her orphan charge. While she acts out of love and compassion, she crushes the girl's soul, symbolized by the burning of the girl's own handmade, red shoes. The red, magical shoes she obtains later are a poor substitute for her now languishing, authentic wildness. Auntie Em is also loving, but overbearing. She is not terribly patient with Dorothy's emotional needs and drives. And she turns her beloved pet over to the local harridan. Dorothy's authentic self is being crushed, so like Estes's red shod heroine, she becomes reckless and impetuous, risking her own safety. These are interesting parallels that I've pondered when it comes to the underlying mythos of the film version of the story.

There are other mythical themes that have really just occurred to me over the past few days as this movie started ping-ponging around my head, despite the fact that I haven't watched or thought about it in some time.

Earlier today, a Facebook friend posted the above image. My first thought was that I can't seem to get away from this movie. My second thought was, is that a butterfly? I'd simply never noticed before that Glinda is wearing that classic symbol of transformation as a pendent.

I also hadn't noticed that the film contains some greater transformational themes. As discussed with regards to this year's Olympics, the rainbow is a symbol of alchemical transformation. And like the leprechaun whose mysterious gold waits at the end of rainbow, Dorothy finds a yellow brick road.

But the realization that has really captured my imagination of late, is that the Wizard of Oz is full of stargate imagery. Dorothy wishes upon a star and is transported by a vortex (wormhole) to a magical land over the rainbow.




There she traverses another great, spiraling vortex.




And having recovered her sense of personal power, she opens the stargate herself.




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Oct 12, 2012

If Thine Eye Be Single



Some synchronicities are ickier than others.

This is the first news story I read this morning.

South Florida beaches are usually places where people find sea shells, tiny crawling creatures and a shark tooth here and there, but a man walking on Pompano Beach Wednesday came across something out of the ordinary.

A giant eyeball.

Later today, a sneaky neighbor left a bucket of these on our doorstep.




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Oct 11, 2012

Is Mormonism Racist?




I was reminded again recently of how much insane, socially unacceptable, and terribly, terribly cruel, stuff is in the Bible. The writings that were compiled into that text were products of their time... and it was a fairly brutal chapter in human history. Today most but, rather stunningly, not all Christians would not support the idea of killing rebellious children, as that most recent example makes clear. The rejection of violent, homicidal, and genocidal, Biblical passages only really presents a problem for fundamentalists who still insist that every word in the book is the true and irrefutable word of God. Having been raised Episcopalian, leave say, I learned to look at the Bible through a somewhat different lens.

As Brian Keith Dalton, aka. Mister Deity, points out, this is much trickier for Mormons. Dalton, who apparently was a Mormon, explains that the Book of Mormon is literally true and "the most correct book on Earth" under Mormon doctrine. That makes it much harder to gaffe off the wackiest bits.

The racism that was so acceptable in the time of Joseph Smith is forever enshrined as unassailable truth in Mormonism. That would seem to leave non-racist Mormons -- let alone black Mormons -- with little to fall back on other than cognitive dissonance.


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Oct 9, 2012

How To Kill Your Rebellious Child



It's become quite fashionable to compare the "clobber verses" in the Bible condemning homosexuality to scripture no one in the modern world would endorse. I, myself, have written extensively on the hypocrisy of shrimp munching, polyester blend wearing, homophobes. An increasing number of gay-positive, evangelical Christians have likewise taken to pointing out the socially unacceptable passages that are avoided by the vast majority of fundamentalists. But every so often some Biblical purist calls our bluff.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 is one of those scriptural passages no modern Christian could love.


18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.


~ Deuteronomy 21:18-21


Yup. If your son is worthless lay-about, have him put to death.

Openly gay megachurch pastor Jim Swilley likes to point that one out as an example of the outrageous scriptural obscurities that no one would endorse today. But the Pastor Swilleys of the world are just not prepared for Charlie Fuqua, GOP candidate for the Arkansas legislature. Fuqua thinks a death penalty for rebellious youth is an idea whose time has come.

Via the Arkansas Times, here is passage from Fuqua's book God's Law.

The maintenance of civil order in society rests on the foundation of family discipline. Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents. The death penalty for rebellioius children is not something to be taken lightly. The guidelines for administering the death penalty to rebellious children are given in Deut 21:18-21:



This passage does not give parents blanket authority to kill their children. They must follow the proper procedure in order to have the death penalty executed against their children. I cannot think of one instance in the Scripture where parents had their child put to death. Why is this so? Other than the love Christ has for us, there is no greater love then [sic] that of a parent for their child. The last people who would want to see a child put to death would be the parents of the child. Even so, the Scrpture provides a safe guard to protect children from parents who would wrongly exercise the death penalty against them. Parents are required to bring their children to the gate of the city. The gate of the city was the place where the elders of the city met and made judicial pronouncements. In other words, the parents were required to take their children to a court of law and lay out their case before the proper judicial authority, and let the judicial authority determine if the child should be put to death. I know of many cases of rebellious children, however, I cannot think of one case where I believe that a parent had given up on their child to the point that they would have taken their child to a court of law and asked the court to rule that the child be put to death. Even though this procedure would rarely be used, if it were the law of land, it would give parents authority. Children would know that their parents had authority and it would be a tremendous incentive for children to give proper respect to their parents.

Fuqua has also advocated expelling Muslims from the United States, as a way to cure the "Muslim problem." But I'd be willing to bet that it's not because of extremist Muslim practices like honor killings of adulteresses and rape victims. He seems mystified at the idea that this view might place him outside the mainstream.

Fuqua said Saturday that he hadn't realized he'd become a target within his own party, which he said surprised him.

"I think my views are fairly well-accepted by most people," Fuqua said before hanging up, saying he was busy knocking on voters' doors. The attorney is running against incumbent Democratic Rep. James McLean in House District 63.

I don't know. Maybe there's something in the water in Arkansas. Two Republican pols in that great state have come out swinging for slavery. And at least one of them has turned to the holy scriptures to defend it.

In two letters, [State Rep. Loy] Mauch wrote about the Bible and slavery. The Arkansas Times quotes from a letter Mauch wrote in 2009:
If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution and why wasn’t there a war before 1861?

Goodness knows he could have dug deeper. You just have to flip around the Old Testament a little. The book of Exodus is a particularly rich source of wisdom on how to properly keep, beat (21:20-21), and breed (21:2-6) your slaves. I've long said that I could make a better Biblical argument for slavery than against homosexuality. But maybe I shouldn't risk giving lawmakers like Mauch and Fuqua any more ideas.


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Oct 8, 2012

Three Years Ago Today...


In Memory of James Shore, Kirby Brown, and Liz Neuman


Today I find myself contemplating where I was and what I was doing when I first learned of the sweat lodge tragedy that took the lives of James Shore, Kirby Brown, and, ultimately, Liz Neuman. I was enjoying the long weekend with my husband's family when I read about the shocking deaths in the news. I thought, what a horrible, horrible accident. I was only barely aware of James Arthur Ray and thought his crime to be one of the kind of ignorance so typical of The Secret, with its stripped down versions of complex myths and traditions.

I was wrong. Ray's actions and inactions were so much worse than I could have ever imagined. The James Ray I came to know through watching every broadcast moment of a very long trial was a power thief who exploited the vulnerabilities of wonderful, beautiful people -- those who died and those who courageously testified about what they had experienced under his tutelage. Ray's was a very long trail of wreckage leading up to that stunning tragedy in the Arizona desert.

A year ago, I found myself waiting seemingly endlessly for the sentencing of James Arthur Ray, found guilty by a jury of his peers for causing these three deaths. Then as now my heart goes out to the family and friends of three very bright lights, snuffed out because of James Ray's recklessness. It goes out the family and friends of Colleen Conaway who also came to a tragic end at a James Ray seminar. And it goes out to the many people who were injured physically or emotionally by Ray's myriad abuses. Blessings and peace to you all.


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Oct 7, 2012

Gabriele Convicted for Blowing the Whistle



Am I alone in seeing something almost poetic in the fact that the first whistleblower convicted in the Vatileaks scandal, Paolo Gabriele, bears the name of the Archangel Gabriel? Gabriel, the messenger of God who announced the pending births of Jesus and John the Baptist? Gabriel, depicted in art and literature as the angel who will blow his horn come judgment day? If I were Pope Benedict, I'd be more concerned than ever about that Fatima prophecy.

Be that as it may, the verdict is in and the Vatican court is satisfied that the butler did it. Gabriele, manservant to the pontiff, was sentenced to eighteen months for hanging the Church's dirty laundry out to dry. It seems he believed sunlight to be the best disinfectant.

Gabriele slipped internal documents, including some of Pope Benedict's private papers, to journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi.

Nuzzi's book, "His Holiness: Pope Benedict XVI's Secret Papers" convulsed the Vatican for months and prompted an unprecedented response, with the pope naming a commission of cardinals to investigate the origin of the leaks alongside Vatican magistrates.

Gabriele insists he was only trying to save the Church from itself.

Gabriele has said he leaked the documents because he felt the pope wasn't being informed of the "evil and corruption" in the Vatican, and that exposing the problems publicly would put the church back on the right track.

. . .

"The thing I feel strongly in me is the conviction that I acted out of exclusive love, I would say visceral love, for the church of Christ and its visible head," Gabriele told the court in a steady voice. "I do not feel like a thief."

During the trial Gabriele claimed to have acted alone. But on other occasions he claimed that he was anything but. He alleged that there were at least twenty whistleblowers who, like himself, "want to help bring some transparency."

There's a fierce irony in the Vatican's aggressive investigation into Vatileakers like Gabriele. After decades of equivocating over whether or not child molesting priests should be turned over to the authorities, they brought the hammer down over some letters. The Church takes its secrecy very seriously.

Gabriele will serve out his sentence in his apartment, under house arrest. That is, unless the Pope decides to pardon him. Sources say this is likely and it might make His Holiness look like something other than a complete hypocrite. A wise leader, might also want to heed the message, rather than kill the messenger.


Well, it's Gabriel, Gabriel playin'!
Gabriel, Gabriel sayin'
"Will you be ready to go
When I blow my horn?"

Oh, blow, Gabriel, blow,
Go on and blow, Gabriel, blow!
I've been a sinner, I've been a scamp,
But now I'm willin' to trim my lamp,
So blow, Gabriel, blow!

Oh, I was low, Gabriel, low,
Mighty low, Gabriel, low.
But now since I have seen the light,
I'm good by day and I'm good by night,
So blow, Gabriel, blow!

~ From "Blow, Gabriel Blow" in Anything Goes



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Sep 28, 2012

William Henry on Capitol Symbolism




I love William Henry's take on the Capitol Building in DC and have posted on it several times. I just found this older Coast to Coast interview on the topic. It's excellent. In it, he diplomatically dispenses with the more paranoid readings of all the occult and Masonic symbolism and draws parallels to ancient Egypt. The more research on this I do, the more convinced I am that the philosophical underpinnings of the American revolution are about freedom in a much more esoteric sense than we've been taught in history class. It's about freeing our consciousness. It's evident in the richly layered symbolism of our America's iconic structures.


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Sep 23, 2012

Colbert on Dough-Faced Homunculus



Stephen Colbert names Cecilia Giménez, the self-appointed art restorer discussed here, "Alpha Dog of the Week." Hilarious... and tragic.


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Sep 21, 2012

Volunteer Art Destroyer Seeks Payment



The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Surely the eighty year old Cecilia Giménez meant well when she took it upon herself to restore a church fresco that had fallen into disrepair. But after being lambasted by local officials and family members of the late artist, and threatened with legal action, I guess she's feeling a little unappreciated. So now she'd like to be paid for her trouble. She'll settle for a cut of the church's proceeds now that her masterpiece has put the little town of Borja on the map.

The before and after pictures went viral across the globe and tourists began arriving in droves -- but very few were leaving donations according to Ars Technica. The sanctuary's owners, the Santi Spiritus Hospital Foundation, reportedly made $2,600 in four days from visitors wanting to see "Ecce Mono," or "Behold the Monkey" as it's now called, Ars Technica reported.

Both sides have retained counsel, with the Santuario de Misericordia church scrambling to protect its assets. They will need whatever they've been able to take in to pay a real art restorer. That is, if they can find one capable of undoing the damage from Giménez's act of artistic largesse. The jury is still out as to whether or not it can be restored to its original state.

That said, 18,000 people have signed a petition to leave the Giménez version as it is. Said one woman, "The previous painting was also very pretty, but I really like this one."

Perhaps they see something in Giménez's work that others don't. Art-Eater.com posits that the octogenarian's work is a rich commentary on the inner conflicts of faith in a modern world.

By creating the work as what some might call an act of vandalism, Gimenez combines the subversive spirit of graffiti street-culture with the reverence of religious tradition, reminding us of the revolutionary nature of Christianity, a faith that was outlawed in its early days.

The unconventional nature of the restored painting tells a story. The fringes of the painting are very faithful to the original, particularly in the cloth.  However, the painting becomes looser, more expressionistic as we move to the center.  This is reflective of how modern people have grown comfortable with the superficial window dressings of Christianity, yet tensions secretly boil at the core.  The original painting depicts Christ’s moment of doubt on the cross, as described in PSalm 22, where he wonders “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

. . .

By depicting Christ with simian features, the piece smolders with the passion and agony of contemporary man, struggling to reconcile religion and science. Are we the divine children of god or the discordant descendants of apes? The lingering power of this question has lead contemporary worshipers to redub the fresco “Ecce Mono” or “Behold The Monkey.”

The painting daringly trails off at the mouth of Christ, left unfinished, imploring us to come to our own conclusion. Though the words of the bible are to be venerated as the word of God, the final sermon has yet to be delivered. Though icons are beautiful expressions of faith, the real substance of Christianity is found in a personal communion with God, a cornerstone of Catholicism.

They've also posted some pretty pictures of her future restorations.

Other critics have not been as kind.

Giménez's efforts have been variously been dubbed "the worst restoration in history", "a botched job", and "a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic".

What no critic seems to have noticed is the elements of self portraiture.



Ecce Homo
Elías García Martínez


Ecce Mono
Cecilia Giménez


Ecce Giméno
God


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Sep 20, 2012

Amish Hair-Cutters Found Guilty



I can't say I'm terribly surprised to see Sam Mullet and his band of hair-cutters go down. As stated, I thought federal prosecutors put on a strong case. I'll be the first to admit, I thought they might have been reaching by making this a test case of a newly expanded federal hate crimes statute, but they laid it out well. From the New York Times:

Samuel Mullet Sr., the domineering leader of a renegade Amish sect, and 15 followers were convicted of federal conspiracy and hate crimes Thursday for orchestrating a series of bizarre beard- and hair-cutting attacks last fall that spread fear through the Amish of eastern Ohio.

The convictions of Mr. Mullet and his followers and family members who carried out the assaults could bring lengthy prison terms. The jury’s verdict vindicated federal prosecutors, who made a risky decision to apply a 2009 federal hate-crimes law to the sect’s violent efforts to humiliate Amish rivals.

The Times story paints a vivid picture of the bizarreness of this case -- one which actually caused several Amish communities to break with tradition and bring their concerns to the authorities. Many of them came to court allowing themselves to be snapped at fairly close range by news photographers. It speaks to the extremity of the circumstances that such private people allowed this intrusion. Sam Mullet was a bigger threat to their way of life than the modernity of the English world.

During the testimony, the 16 defendants, in traditional attire, and their lawyers had sat around four tables that filled half the courtroom. In the gallery sat dozens of Amish supporters of the victims, including several of Mr. Mullet’s elderly siblings, who shook their heads as witnesses described Mr. Mullet’s unorthodox methods. Also in the gallery was Mr. Mullet’s wife, who had sat impassively as a woman who used to live in Bergholz spoke of how Mr. Mullet pressured her to come to his bed repeatedly.

I, for one, am just glad to see the criminal justice system found a way to stop this guy before more people got hurt -- and that includes his own followers. As I've said previously, Sam Mullet is one sick twist, and I don't think concerns that this could have escalated into a Jim Jones scenario are unfounded. As one prosecution witness put it in an interview last November:

Sociologist Donald Kraybill told Barbara that Mullet acted much like a cult leader. "He's not accountable to anyone. He's not in fellowship with other Amish groups. He thinks he is invincible," Kraybill said. "So under the guise of religion he is trying to protect himself, so he can do whatever he wants to do."

But Sam Mullet was also a victim of his own arrogance. He seemed to believe that he would not be accountable to other Amish communities, or the law, for really outrageous behavior. Slapped down by hundreds of Amish bishops for improper excommunications, Mullet has now been slapped down by a federal court for retaliating against those bishops.

Mullet and his followers face sentences of ten years or more. I hope the senior Mullet, at least, goes away for a good, long time.

Addendum: Federal officials have made statements regarding the verdict. From the Los Angeles Times:

At a televised news conference after the verdict was returned, officials said the case was an important application of anti-hate laws and rejected claims that Mullet and his followers had been singled out for their religious beliefs.

“From day one, this case has been about the rule of law and defending the right of people to worship in peace,” said Steven Dettelbach, U.S. attorney for the northern district of Ohio. “Our nation was founded on the bedrock principle that everyone is free to worship how they see fit. Violent attempts to attack this most basic freedom have no place in our country.”

Officials took a similar tack in a statement released by the Department of Justice in Washington.

“The violent and offensive actions of these defendants, which were aimed at beliefs and symbols held sacred by this country's Amish citizens, are an affront to religious freedom and tolerance, which are core values protected by our Constitution and our civil rights laws,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. “Those laws prohibit the use of violence to settle religious differences and the Department of Justice and the Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce those laws.”

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Sep 19, 2012

Verdict Watch: Amish Hair-Cutting Trial


Sam Mullet


In its fourth day of deliberations, the jury in the Amish hair-cutting trial has now twice sought clarity on the fine points. It isn't surprising that they would need both time and clarification with this case. Bear in mind that they have to determine the guilt or innocence of sixteen defendants, dressed in matching styles, and variously named Mullet and Miller. They are facing different sets of charges and have multiple defense attorneys with differing arguments.

Today the jury attempted to parse the fine points of their individual culpability in a conspiracy that may not involve all the parties.

The U.S. District Court jury in the trial of 16 Amish reconvened and promptly asked the judge if a conspiracy could involve just some of the defendants.

Judge Dan Aaron Polster told the jury that a conspiracy wouldn't necessarily need to involve all nine victims in the five attacks or all 16 defendants. Defense attorneys argued that the indictment specified a plot against nine victims, but Polster overruled them.

The indictment charges the defendants with conspiring to cause bodily harm to the victims. The judge said that if all 12 jurors agree that the government proved a conspiracy, the jury then must separately decide who plotted.

Last week, only three hours into deliberations, jurors called for more explanation of the hate crimes statute.

They asked for the definitions of "disfigurement" and "mental faculty."

Once all the attorneys and defendants assembled in the courtroom by 11:45 a.m., Polster said his reply would be "As for disfigurement, Congress did not define disfigurement so I am not either...so use your own common sense and your everyday experiences....look at how bodily injury is defined in the instructions as any injury to the body..."

".....as for mental faculty, (prosecutors) have not argued that any victim suffered an injury of a mental capacity...."

Prosecutors did not object to his language and only two defense attorneys asked for a minor modification but Polster denied the modifications.


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Mrs. Jesus?

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A tiny fragment of papyrus may upend centuries of Christian dogma. Dr. Karen L. King, a professor at Harvard's Divinity School has in her possession the first documentary proof that Jesus may have had a wife -- or at least, that an early Christian sect believed he did. Thus far, the scrap has withstood multiple authentication tests and appears to be genuine.

The discovery reopens ancient debates about marriage and sexuality in a Christian context. It also calls into question much about the role and rights of women in the church.

Dr. King is a fairly impressive woman, herself. She's the first woman to hold the oldest endowed chair in the United States. She is an expert on early Coptic texts and Gnosticism and has written a number of books on newly discovered Gnostic texts such as The Gospel of Mary Magdala and Reading Judas.

A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …'”

The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”

. . .

But the discovery is exciting, Dr. King said, because it is the first known statement from antiquity that refers to Jesus speaking of a wife. It provides further evidence that there was an active discussion among early Christians about whether Jesus was celibate or married, and which path his followers should choose.

“This fragment suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married,” Dr. King said. “There was, we already know, a controversy in the second century over whether Jesus was married, caught up with a debate about whether Christians should marry and have sex.”



Dr. King argues that none of this should be taken as evidence that the historical Jesus was married pointing to the total absence of any discussion of the topic in first century texts. There is no known documentary proof of either his being married or unmarried from his own era. Rather, discussion and speculation about his marital status began to emerge during the second century as early Christians struggled to reconcile their spiritual calling and their sexuality. So the only valid discussion is over whether or not there was a religious tradition in which he was seen as married and this scrap, if authentic, is the first piece of empirical evidence of such a tradition.

Dr. King speculates that the text from which the fragment was taken was likely translated from a  Greek original, like many Coptic texts. She also sees a strong basis of comparison with The Gospels of Mary, Thomas, and the Egyptians and posits that the original from which this was copied also dates to the latter second century. This, historically, was when there was a great deal of speculation about Jesus's marital status.

In her paper, which can be downloaded here, Dr. King places the remnant in context with other writings of early Christianity. She categorizes this fragment as a piece of a gospel because it shows a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples. It is also reminiscent of a number of gospels, both Biblical and Gnostic, in its discussion of discipleship. She assigns it the working title of The Gospel of Jesus's Wife.

While Dr. King disavows any connection to the theories put forth in The Da Vinci Code, saying, “At least, don’t say this proves Dan Brown was right,” she also comes to the conclusion that the wife referred to is most likely Mary Magdalene. To do so, she attempts to discern whether the Mary named in the fragmentary text is his mother or the mysterious wife. She also dispenses, once again, with the canard that Magdalene was a prostitute.

The second issue is to identify Mary: Is she Jesus’s mother (→1) or his wife (→3)? Scholars have long noted “the confusion of Marys” in early Christianity, due not least to the ubiquity of this name (Maria, Mariam, Mariamme59) for Jewish women in the period.60    One of the most influential confusions has been the identification of Mary of Magdala with three other figures: Mary of Bethany (John 11:1-2; 12:1-3), the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11), and the sinner woman (Luke 7:37-38), resulting in the erroneous portrait of Mary Magdalene as a repentant prostitute.61    Another is the confusion of Jesus’s mother with Mary of Magdala, and even the substitution of the mother for her, for example as the first witness to the resurrected Jesus in John 20:11- 17.62    These confusions make one cautious in identifying to whom “Mary” refers here.

. . .


The tradition of Mary of Magdala as an honored disciple of Jesus is well attested from the first century gospels, and is emphasized even more strongly in a variety of literature from the second and third centuries, notably The Gospel of Mary, The Dialogue of the Savior, The Gospel of Philip, and Pistis Sophia.64    It was not until relatively late that Mary of Magdala was misidentified as a (repentant) prostitute, most clearly by Pope Gregory in the late sixth century.65    Prior to the fourth century, she appears as a follower of Jesus during his ministry, was present at his crucifixion and burial, and, in the Gospel of John, is the first witness to the resurrection.66    Yet in a number of these texts Mary’s status as a leader or disciple is directly challenged, notably by Peter.67    GosThom 114, for example,states:...  (“Simon Peter said to them, ‘Let Mary leave us for women are not worthy of life’.”)68    Here Peter’s rejection of Mary provides the opportunity for Jesus to refute the radical exclusion of all women from salvation (a position otherwise completely unattested in Christian literature).

. . .


These two cases from the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary identify Mary as the disciple whose status was being challenged, and in both cases her worthiness is defended by appeal to Jesus, the Savior. So, too, in GosJesWife →5, Jesus declares that “she is able to be/come my disciple”. This statement immediately follows Jesus’s reference to “my wife” in →4, indicating his affirmation that the ability to become his disciple concerns his wife, not his mother. This line of interpretation, then, suggests that it is the worthiness of Jesus’s wife, not his mother, which is being discussed. If so, then Jesus’s wife is named “Mary” here and can presumably be identified with Mary Magdalene. It is she who he declares is able to be his disciple.

Almost more interesting than the tantalizing notion that Jesus was married, or thought to be married, is Dr. King's discussion of marriage as an expression of a mystery tradition. Here she turns to The Gospel of Philip.

“The Lord did everything in a mysterious mode: a baptism and a chrism and a eucharist and a redemption and a bridal chamber” 67:27-30

She considers it likely that this was all part of a single ritual of unification.

According to the Gospel of Philip, death came into existence because Eve separated from Adam (GosPhil 68:22-26; 70:9-17101). The ritual of the bridal chamber effects the spiritual transformation of the initiand [sic] by uniting male and female (GosPhil 70:17-20), represented as the (present attainment of the) eschatological union of the redeemed person’s true light-self with his or her heavenly twin (σύζυγος) or angel (GosPhil 58:10- 14; 67:26-27). The ritual of the bridal chamber is thus necessary for salvation (GosPhil 86:4-8).102

So Philip's gospel would seem to equate separation from God with the division into polarity and implies that this was the fall that cast us out of the Garden of Eden. What remains somewhat unclear is whether this marriage ritual is entirely metaphorical or if it depicts marriage in the earthly realm as a symbolic expression of reunification with God.

What comes to mind is The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, as discussed here. This is especially interesting if we consider Hancock and Bauval's proposition that the ideas in Western Alchemy can be traced to early Gnostic teachings.

Dr. King concludes, though, that what is suggested by this piece of text is a literal marriage between  Jesus and, most likely, Mary Magdalene. This marriage may or may not have been actual and historical, and there is no evidence either way. But it was a very real part of a larger Gnostic narrative that has been hinted at in other extant writings of the time. It also speaks to Jesus's revolutionary teachings about women as, at least, near equals in the early church. It is unlikely that the Vatican will take this any more seriously than it has other Gnostic texts which stand so completely at odds with its rigidly patriarchal doctrines. Michael D'Antonio in the Huffington Post explains:

The implications of professor King's discovery are profound. If Jesus was married, the main spiritual argument for male-only clergy and the celibacy of Roman Catholic priests falls into question. (Priests wouldn't need to abandon sex in order to imitate him.) But more importantly, if Jesus was a family man, then the claim to special status made by Catholic clergy, who regard themselves as supernaturally closer to God, loses much of its power.

Beyond internal Catholic Church politics, a married Jesus invites a reconsideration of orthodox teachings about gender and sex. If Jesus had a wife, then there is nothing extra Christian about male privilege, nothing spiritually dangerous about the sexuality of women, and no reason for anyone to deny himself or herself a sexual identity. In fact, one could argue that in their obsessive self denial -- of sexual pleasure, intimate relationships, and family - celibates reject the fullness of Jesus' example.

What this discovery could prove is that there was, in antiquity, a Christian tradition that didn't vilify women or their sexuality, or consider it a mark of piety to eschew them as ungodly temptresses. It might even make us get honest about the thinly veiled preoccupation with Jesus as a sex symbol. Because, you know, he was hot.


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