Nov 30, 2013

Cardinal Dolan on Losing the Culture Wars

Last night I had the strangest dream. I dreamt that Pope Francis had resigned and been replaced by yet another pope. How many retired popes, I wondered, could Vatican City accommodate? Would this become the new normal in the Catholic Church? And what about the Malachy prophecy? Because it looks very likely that Pope Francis is, in fact, Peter the Roman. Mostly, I was just really disappointed because I like this pope. He's not perfect but his heart is in the right place.

I was somewhat relieved to find this morning that Francis was still the pope and all was, more or less, right with the world. But then I was disheartened to hear that Cardinal Dolan was on Meet the Press spinning like a top. Because it's never about the regressive views of US bishops. It's about how they're being unfairly portrayed in media. Why oh why do they have so much trouble getting their message across?

They're not anti-gay says Cardinal Dolan. That's just how they've been "caricatured" by the media, simply because they're so pro "traditional marriage." But they've been "outmarketed," says Dolan.

"When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion molders that are behind it, it is a tough battle.”

What the round-faced, red-hatted one never seems to understand is that if you're for something to such an extent that you want to prevent everyone else from doing differently, you are by definition, "anti." And Cardinal Dolan is "anti-anybody" who wants to get gay married. But he seems somewhat resigned to the fact that the "stampede" of same sex marriage support is crushing formal Catholic opposition.

Also horribly unfair, says Cardinal Dolan is the misconception that the Catholic Church is opposed to universal healthcare. They were way ahead of the curve, says he, going all the way back to 1819. But they can't support Obamacare because, you know, birth control mandate. It goes against the teachings of the Church. Never mind that 98% of Catholic women in America have used birth control.

This tells us a lot about the priorities of US Bishops. Landmark legislation that the Catholic Church has been wanting for nearly a century and they can't support it because of a handful of wedge issues. This is called letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. There were many things the political left wanted from Obamacare and didn't get -- a public option for instance -- but they didn't let that stop their support for the overall aims of the bill. Because that would have been letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. That US Bishops were willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater over contraception tells you very quickly that they are far more preoccupied with our wombs than our health.

Pope Francis has gone on record regarding the Catholic Church's priorities and found them wanting. The relentless obsession with things like abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, are contrary to the overall aim of spreading the Gospel, says the pontiff.

A few days ago His Holiness made waves again when he released an exhortation addressing the injustices of modern capitalism.

Pope Francis has taken aim at capitalism as "a new tyranny" and is urging world leaders to step up their efforts against poverty and inequality, saying "thou shall not kill" the economy. Francis calls on rich people to share their wealth.

The existing financial system that fuels the unequal distribution of wealth and violence must be changed, the Pope warned.

"How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?" Pope Francis asked an audience at the Vatican.

The Bible contains over 300 verses on social injustice and caring for the poor. It is, in fact, a major theme. Whereas a smattering of verses on homosexuality say nothing about marriage rights and actually call for execution. That traditional marriage Cardinal Dolan waxes on about loses out big time to polygamy. And the tireless obsession with our lady parts is ridiculously counter-biblical in all respects but the misogyny. News flash: Abortion isn't forbidden in the Bible.

I know that Cardinal Dolan is adhering to Catholic doctrine but he's cherry-picking that just as he is the Bible. Pope Francis seems to have his priorities in better order. I hope he remains pope for a good, long time, or until the end of time, whichever comes first.

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Nov 26, 2013

On Watching Piers Morgan Interview James Ray -- UPDATED

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Yes, Ladies! He's keeping the hair. Natch!

*See Update Below*

Well that was about insufferable.

Piers Morgan had an opportunity last night to hold James Ray's feet to the fire in a way that Arizona prosecutors could not. But it was Ray who was in control of that interview. Morgan could have had Ginny Brown on to offer a counterpoint, but Ray would not allow it. He would only deign to appear if he was the only guest. Why James Arthur Ray, convicted felon, is such a hot media property that he gets to set his terms is a mystery to me.

Morgan continued in the long CNN tradition of playing passive apologist for James Arthur Ray. This is, after all, the news organization that lost interest in covering the trial as it became increasingly apparent that Ray was going to be convicted. And that he's a horrible, horrible person.

For 45 minutes, Ray emoted for the camera about the totally unforeseeable events of October 8, 2009 and how painful it's been for himself and his family. Said Ray:

I think the most difficult thing I can ever imagine is investing your entire life in helping people, and then finding them getting hurt. It's just the antithesis of anything that I had ever stood for or wanted. [emphasis added] And so that anguish has continued every single day since that moment.

And much like when Lululemon announced that brutal murder was antithetical to their values, I gotta wonder why anyone would need to spell that out. Is Ray afraid we'll all think he asked his genie to bring him death and destruction? 

The sweat lodge, as Ray tells it now, was just a tiny piece of Spiritual Warrior -- "the sizzle on the steak." I wonder where all those people -- his students year after year -- got the idea that it was the pinnacle event.  No, says Ray to a nodding Piers Morgan, he really wasn't that into it. But you see, people had all these expectations and they had signed contracts. He didn't want to let them down. Some of them were really looking forward to it.

Except that the sweat lodge was only tangentially mentioned in the contract -- which was more of a tissue thin waiver really -- as something that "may" occur. No one was officially told about the sweat lodge until right before it happened. That would ruin the surprise!

Keep in mind that we will be working diligently to make this event memorable. For this reason, it is important that we do not disclose any further information regarding the event schedule or planned activities. However, we will tell you that it is going to be an exciting, unforgettable, and transformational week!

The rest of Ray's performance -- and I do mean that literally -- had about that much relationship to the truth.

He had no forewarning that something like those awful sweat lodge deaths could occur. Nothing remotely like this had ever happened before. Daniel Pfankuch? He just got a little dehydrated. And it's not like anybody -- students of his or a medical doctor, say -- had been telling him for years that he was risking people's lives with those temperatures. Nope. Never happened. That must be why his attorneys worked so hard to keep the evidence from previous years out of the trial -- previous years that looked like this.

Piers Morgan did a good job of looking grave and serious as he lobbed one softball after another and let Ray squirm out of the occasional tough question without scrutiny. But then, this is the hallmark of TV News in America now.

Only near the end did he ask the key question raised by Ray's recent communiques. "What about the families?" Why all the focus on the pain he has suffered? As he did throughout the interview, Ray cranked up the tear machine and talked about how he wished he could trade places with James, Kirby, or Liz. And how he knows he cannot -- which no doubt makes that sentiment a little easier to express, huh.

But I read Ray's self-indulgent twaddle and there is not a single mention of the people who died that day, or of their families, or of the people who were permanently harmed, or of the traumatized witnesses to that hellscape.

There's nothing in his email:

I know it's been quite a while since you heard from me, and I just want to begin by expressing my sincere thanks for staying with me over the last 4 years. For the last 4 months since my re-emergence I've been catching my breath and doing my best to rest, spend time with my family, and integrate the experiences of the last 4 years. Frankly understanding and integration will probably take the rest of my days.

After my birthday yesterday, it seemed the perfect time to begin a new chapter in my life; and continue to find ways in which I can be of service, given all that I've learned and experienced.

I've posted my first blog today and I plan on many more to come. If you'll take a moment and read it when you have a chance, my sincere hope and prayer is that it will be of value to you and your current situation in life.

Again thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued love and support, and I look forward to connecting again soon.

Much love and gratitude,

And there's nothing in his blog post, which is particularly odd because it's all about coming through the adversity of the last four years ("feels like forty"). He actually says that twice. Nowhere is there any mention of what happened that made it so rough. Just that he has been through hell. We're all supposed to be very impressed, I guess, that James Ray suffered the tortures of the damned in some vague, undefined way.

He's born it all stoically, it would seem, and has learned about the transformational power of the darkness. He is, as the title of his post suggests, filled with gratitude.

At the beginning and end of each day, I’m grateful to be alive; to have the gift of life; and to have the opportunity to take all the lessons and experiences and move forward. I believe we should all be grateful for each and every single day of life… regardless of whether we perceive them as positive or negative, up or down.

He's glad to be alive with all the gifts and days of life that we should all be grateful to be living... says the man who was convicted for the deaths of three people.

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Ray is just full of gratitude. He's made it through a "spiritual, mental, and physical tsunami."

In the depth of darkness I made a conscious choice to “utilize” everything to my advantage—to facilitate my own development, advancement, and growth. For isn’t that what you and I both really want? The entirety of life and the whole of the Universe are about fuller expression, experience and expansion. Aren’t they?

Yes, it's all about him -- about what he has gone through and what he has learned. Because James Ray can use anything to his advantage... and anyone I guess. 

Perhaps the biggest lie of all came near the very end of his interview. Asked if he'll go back into the self help industry, he says he just doesn't know. Oh, really. That must be why he's relaunched his blog, sent out emails to his list, and gotten himself booked on Piers Morgan. That he could say that with a straight face should tell you everything you'd ever want to know about his sincerity or the lack of it.

Update: Connie Joy has learned that James Ray and Piers Morgan are related by show biz marriage.

"Piers Morgan is represented (and proudly) by non other than Octagon entertainment. As a matter of fact, John Ferriter - who is now the media contact for James Arthur Ray - is also Piers Morgans' manager. Cozy, isn't it? A softball interview indeed. And the quotes Piers chose to repeat on his twitter account certainly make it look like a well-planned PR campaign."

I was just reflecting on how completely Morgan made himself an instrument of Ray's PR, even going so far as to suggest that Ray would make a better teacher after all he's lived through. That wasn't an interview. It was a dance.

And a scheduled follow up with Ginny Brown? Canceled.

Can we stop calling Piers Morgan a journalist yet? And how should we refer to CNN?

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Nov 21, 2013

Colbert's Alpha Dog of Yoga

Stephen Colbert skewered Lululemon's Chip Wilson the other evening, naming him Alpha Dog of the Week. For more background on the yoga tycoon's misogynistic, fat-shaming, racist blather see here and here.

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Nov 19, 2013

Da Vinci's Music

Slawomir Zubrzyck performs on his viola organista.

Just when you thought you knew how brilliant da Vinci was, you find out he was even smarter. Painter, sacred geometer, scientist, flight engineer, aaaaaaannnd musician.

As if all his other accomplishments were not impressive enough, it should be noted that according to his early biographers, Leonardo da Vinci was also a “brilliant musician,” who was a talented player of the lira da braccio.

According to award-winning biographer and author, Charles Nicholl, Leonardo must “have excelled” since the biographers “the Anonimo” and Vasari insisted Leonardo:
”...went to Milan, probably in early 1482, [where] he was presented to the Milanese court not as a painter or technologist, but as a musician.”
The lira da braccio was not the lyre of ancient antiquity, but rather a forerunner to the violin. Leonardo excelled at playing this instrument, and was, according to Vasari:
”...the most skilled improviser in verse of his time.”

In addition to all those flying machines, he made up plans for crazy musical instruments, including the viola organista. And Polish concert pianist Slawomir Zubrzyck has gone to the great trouble of building one.

Full of steel strings and spinning wheels, Slawomir Zubrzycki’s creation is a musical and mechanical work of art.

‘‘This instrument has the characteristics of three we know: the harpsichord, the organ and the viola da gamba,’’ Zubrzycki said as he debuted the instrument at the Academy of Music in the southern Polish city of Krakow.

. . .

The effect is a sound that da Vinci dreamt of, but never heard; there are no historical records suggesting he or anyone else of his time built the instrument he designed.

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Nov 16, 2013

Lululemon's Law of Attraction Fail

What has Lululemon done to law of attract its shrinking stock price?! Numerous ham-fisted efforts to shrink women down to nothing perhaps?

The yoga-wear retailer is both alienating current customers and "making it tough" to get new ones, an analyst at Sterne Agee, Sam Poser, wrote in a note to clients on Thursday. Poser downgraded the company's stock and sent Lululemon shares downhill 4 percent to $66.24 on Thursday afternoon.

"We believe that the core Lululemon customer has been alienated and will begin to look for yoga and active-wear pants from the likes of Nike, Under Armour, Athleta and numerous other brands," Poser wrote.

Lululemon did not respond to a request for comment.

Poser singled out the "mouth of the chairman," pointing to the recent controversy surrounding Lululemon chairman and co-founder Chip Wilson. In an interview on Bloomberg TV last week, Wilson attempted to address recent reports of issues with the company's yoga pants, which customers said were too sheer and easily pilled.

Wilson blamed the pants' problems on women's bodies, sparking outrage from consumers.

Yes ladies. Even women thin enough to fit Lululemon's yoga pants might be too fat to not rip them apart.

"Frankly some women's bodies just don't actually work for it," Wilson said (at 2:40 in the above video).

He didn't stop there.

"They don't work for some women's bodies," he continued. "It's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it."

Oh, women! With all your nasty, nasty curves. Your bodies just aren't adequate racks for the latest fashions... in yoga.

The poor pants! Will no one think of the pants and what is best for them?! Priorities, people!

It sounds like the problem is that even women in that target size 8 and under market don't have the "thigh gap" necessary to not cause undue stress to Lululemon's lovely, $100 work-out pants.

What is thigh gap? I only learned this recently and I was rather taken aback. This gorgeous, gorgeous, "plus size" model explains.

So it's no longer enough for women to be unnaturally thin. Our thighs aren't even allowed to touch... at all.

What I flashed on immediately was something Callan Pinckney says in the original Callanetics video. She shows an image of the "perfect legs" she'd grown up with. Four coins could be held at the places legs should touch. Note that one of those coins is between the thighs.

While this is also an overly idealized vision of a woman's body, what I can't help noticing is that the fashion industry seems determined to make women thinner and thinner. Ironically, the more public outcry there is against dangerous messaging that contributes to growing rates of anorexia and bulimia, the skinnier the fashion industry standard gets.

Worse still, the burgeoning yoga industry is following suit. Is it me or is there something particularly pernicious about the commingling of spirituality and fat shaming that issues from trendy yoga marketing. As I wrote here, it's just more of the hideous trend toward equating spiritual well-being with our material wealth and beauty. Reminder: Yoga means "union" with the divine.

Chip Wilson responded to the outcry over his odious comments with an equally odious non-apology apology. It's one of those I'm not sorry for what I said, I'm just sorry you got upset apologies.

For what it's worth, Wilson appears to understand that he's bad for his own brand, expressing concern that the cult status of his creepy, cult-like stores may be "chipped away."

So what have we learned? Well, for one thing, that Chip Wilson's apparent attempt to put into practice Rhonda Byrne's stellar advice to not "observe" fat people or think "fat thoughts" may not have proved to be the best business model. And we've learned that controlling your thoughts to attract health, wealth, and success may not be as important as just watching your mouth when you're on camera.

Nov 13, 2013

Who and What is Teal Scott?

Because Teal Scott speaks for God!

Several weeks ago I followed a link to the blog of one Teal Scott, self-described Spiritual Catalyst. I was pulled in for a bit. At first blush it struck me as the very open, honest disclosures of a psychic sensitive in a lot of pain. I can certainly relate to the challenges of being a super-sensitive in a jagged world. Teal was writing about her latest man trouble, about repeating abusive patterns in relationships. Yea verily, sister!

But as I clicked through a few more pages and tried to trace the narrative, things became increasingly convoluted. And was she really disclosing this man's identity? Wait, was he disclosing his identity on her blog? This man she was describing as a psychopath? That seemed most peculiar. And what was she really saying about the workings of spirit? It was something of a jumble, which would be fine, if she weren't relaying it all with such authority and certainty.

My bullshit meter was blinking red. I closed the tab and forgot all about Teal Scott.

A Facebook friend put her back on my radar when he posted one of her video lectures the other day. This led to a very frank discussion about spirituality, sexuality, sexism, and whether or not Teal Scott is a total fraud.

I had never listened to her speak before. I'd only read some of her text. I immediately found the moving, talking Teal more off-putting than the written Teal and stopped the video after only a couple of minutes. But I felt I needed to ask myself some hard questions about why that might be. Could it be that I'm just reacting with the societally programmed threat response to an attractive woman who men just gush over? They do. And they did.

Teal Scott is Very Pretty

The reactions to her appearance were swift and strong. Much of it was along the lines of, I'm way too distracted by her sexiness to listen to what she's saying.

Why does her appearance matter, I asked? Why does it always come down to that with women? At what point are we neither too homely nor too pretty to be taken seriously for what we say? Where is that sweet spot in between beauty and ugliness that allows our words to matter more than what we look like?

The answers I got surprised me a little. It wasn't so much that she was pretty. It was the sense that she was using her sexual allure in a very deliberate, even calculated, way to get their attention. Some felt like they were being manipulated. One found himself thinking very lascivious thoughts about her that rose unbidden and uncharacteristically in his mind, even though he didn't consciously even find her attractive or appealing. Another suggested that it might be a kind of "magical working." 

I will be the first to say that women, throughout history, have been unfairly blamed and punished for daring to be attractive to men. And it would certainly not be new for men to resent female attractiveness for its power over them. Such accusations have resulted in little things like witch trials and the failure to convict rapists. But what I heard from these men was something quite different. These did not seem to me to be the kind of men who ordinarily go around blaming women for making their pants feel tight. They seemed genuinely confused and discomfited by their own reactions.

As our discussion progressed and googling ensued, still more difficult questions about Teal Scott developed. It's not so much that she has a somewhat obscured history as a lingerie model. It's that these and other documented facts don't jibe very well with the rest of her stated narrative. In short, the timelines don't mesh.

Finding a factual history of Teal Scott is muddied quite a bit by the sheer glut of information a search will bring up. As one of a tiny handful of Teal Scott critics observed, "190 thousand pages in two years, wow. If you put Teal Scott in quotation marks in you [sic] google search box, that is how many pages are by her and about her."

It gets a little more interesting when you put her maiden name Teal Bosworth in the search engine. This will bring up some of her surviving modeling pages, such as this one. Other pages seemed to disappear when questions were raised about them in comment threads such as this one. Some can be found with cache searches such as her Model Mayhem profile.

Scott makes passing references to her modeling career but if she's said anything about having marketed herself as a nude model, I've missed it. Granted, I haven't sat through her many, many, YouTube lectures, nor will I. She did, though -- market herself as a nude model. Her website has since been repurposed. If you've looked at in the past few years, you've found it to be very New Agey. The splash screen has all the sacred geometry staples: the flower of life, Metatron's cube, the vesica piscis. But if you put it in the wayback machine you find it looks more like this. I won't post the image here because it could cause my blog to be flagged as unsuitable for children under 18. Sacred geometry of a very different sort is what I'm saying.

None of this is a judgment on Scott's right, legal or otherwise, to market her body and sexuality in a manner of her choosing. But when you combine this with other elements of her life story, as she has presented it in various venues, not only do the psychological elements strain credulity, it's hard to understand how she found the time.

The Cult Years

Scott claims to have spent most of her childhood and teen years in the thrall of a cult leader, a family friend who unbeknownst to her parents was the head of a "blood atonement" Mormon offshoot.

She tells of being drugged and tortured by group members, and she says she has the scars to prove it. She also says her abductor worked tirelessly brainwashing her to do his bidding and remain quiet about it all.

But the macabre tale doesn’t stop there. Scott said the abductor, a man with multiple personality disorder, crossed over into Satanic groups — the rivals of the Blood Covenant in the regional cult underground. She claims he covered her with animal blood to prostitute her to fellow Satanists at a local motel and used her to lure illegal immigrant children to him in Southern Idaho.

Now hold on to your hats. Scott also claims to have witnessed those children being burned to death as human sacrifices.

In comment threads like the one following that column, many people have raised the bullshit flag. If you draw from her various bios, including the since deleted ones on modeling sites, you come up with a CV that looks something like this: From age 6 to 19 she was in a torture cult which her parents somehow never knew despite the fact that she was living with them and a brother in a two room cabin. At age 12 she was spotted in a horse supply store by a modeling scout from a New York agency and began traveling the world as a model. That would make her 16 in these photographs. She was also an accomplished equestrian, archer, Telemark skier, fly fisher, and speed skater, some of which is documented. At age 6 she started her apprenticeship with a shaman/accupuncturist which lasted roughly 13 years. One assumes that's not her crazy cult leader but the timelines do kind of, more or less, rather, exactly coincide. Meanwhile she was being mentored in quantum field theory, which she started apparently at birth, because it was "throughout" the first 19 years of her life. She graduated high school at 16. After that she was off to Beijing to study Qigong and energy healing. And she still found time to become a Wiccan High Priestess.

That's an impressive roster. And even more so when you consider that she was taking in this fine metaphysical education while being tortured by an LDS splinter group who thought her innate psychic abilities were of the Devil -- her being female and all -- and that they needed to be tortured out of her. But this is exactly what she explains in this interview.

And can someone explain to me why, if her family was so lovely and didn't know about the cult, she needed to be rescued by a friend and hide in his basement for five years?

I'd also be curious to know how telling people to focus on the positive and stop noticing the negative so that they can train their thoughts to properly create their reality is the "exact opposite" of being "Pollyanna." But honestly, her insanely convoluted rendition of The Secret is the least of my concerns... for once. But happiness is a very high priority for her and the last thing she wants to do is focus on the negative aspects of being tortured by a network of abusive and murderous cults. That's just not helpful.

This ruthlessly positive outlook may account for her rather lackadaisical attitude towards any criminal prosecution of her abusers. The authorities don't have enough evidence to prosecute but that doesn't really interest her.

“It was never my intention to go on record as desperate to ‘spill the beans’ or ‘expose’ horrendous activities going on in Utah,” she said. “My intention was to use the story of the truth of my life to show people that there is nothing that can be done to them that will render them unable to find health and happiness and success.”

In this transparent puff piece it says she has "no desire to see her abusers prosecuted or to have the iron hammer of justice brought down upon their heads." Her story was brought to the authorities only belatedly and only because of reporting laws her therapist had to comply with. Because, you know, crimes had occurred. Prosecutors ultimately did not have enough evidence to bring a case. But Teal thinks it's really for the best that abusers and murderers should escape the long arm of the law.

When I asked Teal about her views on the status of her case she said “Most women who escape from situations like I did do not ever tell about it. I did tell, but even the physical evidence I had was not enough given the years that had passed since the last incident that occurred. And I am glad for that in retrospect because you could say …I don’t want torture and abusers in this world… so we must punish all of those that torture, and torture the torturers so to speak. Contrastingly, instead of saying…I don’t want torture…one could say …I want compassion… and show those same actors of violence compassion that they perhaps have never been given before. Happy people who feel loved do not hurt other people”. It is Teal’s belief that the de-humanizing environment of jails and prisons do not rehabilitate criminals, they create even worse criminals. She says it is impossible to punish someone into wellness, that punishment for crime is like fighting fire with fire, and so it is time for the justice system and the environment of jails to change.

I have my own criticisms of the criminal justice system but let's consider this. Teal Scott says she was used to lure immigrant children who were then burnt to death before her eyes. She not only witnessed but participated in crimes in which children were murdered. But she's moved beyond that and so should everybody else. Not only should we have compassion for people who tortured, abused, and murdered children, but they should face no consequences at all. Nor, apparently, should society be protected from them.

Children. Murdered. Move along, folks. Nothin' to see here.

Teal Scott, survivor of abuse, torture, forced prostitution, and participant in infanticide, has moved onward and upward, and now she's ready to teach everybody else how to put their past behind them and live happy, fulfilling lives.

When I asked Teal why she wrote her book about happiness and the universe instead of her amazing story she said “While I acknowledge now that this story is out of the ordinary and has the potential to inspire people greatly, not much good comes out of me writing a book where the dominant message is…Look at how amazing I am that I overcame all of this… However, overwhelming good comes of me writing a book where the dominant message is…Look how amazing and powerful and free you are that you can overcome anything like I did, and find happiness no matter what you are experiencing as reality today”.

So a book about how she survived torture and abuse in a cult is too self-aggrandizing to write. But a book that only makes passing reference to the horrors she's overcome and positions her as a dispenser of life wisdom isn't? How about a merchandising machine that includes several websites, multiple Facebook pages, a YouTube lecture series, and live events around the world? Is it self-aggrandizing yet?

Meanwhile all those people who talk and write about their abuse histories -- share their experience, strength, and hope -- and inspire other abuse survivors to break their silence and undertake their own healing journeys, what a bunch of egomaniacs they must be.

This unwillingness to waste time and energy on the past, however, doesn't prevent her from swinging her victim status like a club whenever she faces questions or criticism. The very mixed reaction to her story as it was reported in that Herald Journal column was upsetting enough that she wrote a response in that paper. Skeptical of her story? You're causing her pain -- retraumatizing her even. Do you really want to do that? Do you?!

There is a conflict in victims like myself between the desire to deny trauma and the desire to proclaim it. This conflict is the central dialectic of trauma. Individuals who come out with the truth about the abusive atrocities they have suffered run the risk of being discredited by a waiting society, who does not want to admit such things go on. They also run the risk of inviting upon themselves the stigma that is associated with victims of abuse. The abuse itself devalues us and then, as if to add insult to injury, the abuse often serves as a vehicle of condemnation to a life in which we are exiled from society, because we can no longer fit into the socially validated reality. When a victim suffers from a traumatic event at the hands of another person, the only real way for the victim to truly heal is through connection with other people. Survivors should never be placed in a situation in which they must choose between expression and connection with others.

Unfortunately, this is often the position in which society places victims of abuse. Support from society for a victim of abuse alleviates much of the impact of the abuse whereas opposition in the form of discouragement, judgment, hostility or disbelief can compound the damage of the impact of the abuse catastrophically. It's up to you.

So writing at any length about her abuse would be an exercise in egotism, and yet she wants to "proclaim it" and get the full, unquestioning and unequivocal support of all of society so that she can heal properly. Otherwise she could be "catastrophically" harmed all over again because of the abuse we should all just forgive and move on from rather than prosecute. Confused yet?

Teal's Army

When it comes to criticism from the public, Teal Scott rarely resorts to such blatant displays of emotional blackmail. She has people for that.

They descend like locusts on those seemingly rare occasions that Scott and her story get any serious pushback. It doesn't happen often and it never happens on her own threads which appear to be very well cleaned. For instance, this comment appeared at one time in the comment thread for one of her YouTube videos.

Searches of key words bring up no remnant of that comment in the thread. A cursory reading of that and other comment threads on her own postings is uncharacteristically kind. Read any comment thread of a video that gets a lot of traffic and try to find one as positive and supportive as hers are. Only the mildest criticism survives and only if it's ably shot down by her followers.

Where comment administration is beyond her control her followers are out in force, writing devotionals and slamming any critics who might emerge.

The reviews for her book on are a prime example. It's an outpouring of unreserved praise from readers who mostly have 1 or 2 reviews to their credit. As of now there are 82 5-star reviews, 9 4-star reviews, 1 3-star review, and 1 1-star review. The single, solitary 1-star review is most notable for the fact that it is the only one that received comments and the poor guy was pummeled.

As one commenter on a thread that Teal Scott doesn't own pointed out, she herself refers to her followers as an "army." One such reference can be found on her blog.

My box was full of presents and letters sent by “fans”.  I feel so weird calling people who follow my material fans. It feels more like they are members of my army or like they are extended family members scattered all over the world.

Teal Scott loves having fans and she loves getting presents. I know this only because she's said so. Repeatedly. Here is Teal Scott on the many gifts she gets from her fans.

I can only hope that they (you) know that when I continue to create the things which I hope will add to the richness of their lives, gratitude for their support and love is contained within each creation.  I love presents.  Gifts is my love language.  I live in a terrible country to have that love language.  The influence of Christianity has made it so that gifts are seen as materialistic and therefore shameful.  Not many people in America speak that love language, and many are even repulsed by it.  In fact, I’ve never been in a relationship with a man who speaks my love language.  Gifts are the visual symbol of love.  They are reminders of the fact that people love you.  I admittedly have a hard time believing and remembering that I am loved.

Get it? She's talking to "you." She wants presents. It's not enough to say you love her. Prove it by sending her presents because gifts equal love. Christianity in America has ruined everything by destroying our natural instinct for materialism. (Apparently she's never heard of Christmas shopping.) And she's feeling so unloved. Men have treated her badly. They haven't given her enough presents. But you, gentle reader, fan of Teal Scott, can help her heal by sending her more stuff!

I don't think I've ever seen a "spiritual leader" who so unabashedly reveled in attention.

As my fame increases, I am being recognized more and more now on the street.  I’ll be shopping or exercising and someone off in the distance will stop and give me this look, like my skin has turned blue.  For a moment, it causes me to feel self-conscious, like something is seriously wrong with me.  But then, they come over to me and with caution, they say “Oh my god…you’re Teal Scott aren’t you?”  I have to tell you… To me, there is a kind of heaven inherent in those moments.  Every person that runs up to me on the street has some kind of wonderful story about the effect that my material had or has on their life.  And for a moment, I feel like my life has all been worth it.

. . .

Then, as if out of nowhere, I am asked to sign autographs or take pictures with people on the street.  I show up to my workshops and hundreds of people are there in front of me in one room.  They have flown there from all over the world.  Many of them cry as they greet me. Many of them seem to know more details about my life than I do.  To them, I am already a familiar fixture of their lives.  I’m that person, who made them feel as if it would all be ok.  I’m that person who helped them get through cancer, or survive a divorce, or end up in a wonderful career.  And In those moments, I feel like I could die and go to heaven.  I am dumbfounded in the best way.

Or who so gleefully fostered dependency.

Teal's Credentials

Why should we "Ask Teal?" Because she's an Indigo and because she was "sent as a 'Eucharist' into this physical life by the non physical grouping of energy called 'Adonai'." For all the references to a range of spiritual trainings in her various modeling bios and other random write-ups, none of it appears on her official bio. There is no reference to any training or certification. No teachers are referenced even obliquely, let alone by name. She doesn't even name any person or philosophical tradition that may have informed or inspired her work. She's an Indigo and a Eucharist. That's it, unless escaping that nasty cult has prepared her to teach the eternal truths. Other than that it's a lot of her likes and dislikes. Did I mention that she loves gifts? She really loves gifts.

Why should it matter that she has no teachers, training, wisdom tradition, lineage, or any other source for her ideas? Only because she's teaching a lot of material that clearly comes from somewhere and, to date, the only source I've heard her cite is "source," aka., God.

In the video lecture above, she not only presumes to answer the question, "What does God think about sex?" but she does so without citing a single theological, philosophical, or scriptural source, from or about any religious or spiritual tradition. She only makes very general references to many religions and cultures and how those traditions are "out of alignment" with "the objective truth or source/God perspective." This "objective truth" is something she somehow knows and can lecture on where all these other religious traditions and cultures have failed. The messaging here is that she needs no study, nor does she need to provide a single citation to explain how she arrived at this "objective knowledge." I get very nervous when anyone starts claiming they know "objective truths" because, well, it's impossible. Human experience and knowledge are always subjective. It always comes through the filter of our perceptions. Yet Scott would have us believe that we simply need to come into alignment with our own "positive" thoughts as if any of our ideas of what is positive or negative are free from religious or cultural bias. She also implies that this alignment would put us in such integrity that negative things like STDs just wouldn't happen. This is fairly dangerous advice.

It sounds to me like a lot of warmed over Secret, Abraham-Hicks, law of attraction type, material. I think I've made my opinions on all of that abundantly clear. But what is particularly pernicious here is that she isn't citing any of it. It all apparently comes from God. Did I mention that she's a "Eucharist?"

I can't help wondering why someone who has gone all the way to China to study energy healing and Quigong, was mentored for 19 years in quantum mechanics, apprenticed with a shaman/accupuncturist for 13 years, and became a Wiccan High Priestess, wouldn't cite any of that on the bio she's using to promote her metaphysical knowledge. She saw fit to put that information on modeling bios but not on sites where she's promoting herself as spiritual leader? And I have yet to see a single name, school, or coven associated with any of that.

It is not only in the area of metaphysics where Scott holds forth. She has some rather strong ideas about psychology. Obviously she's not a psychologist but she sees no need to cite any references for some rather forceful claims on the subject. Notably, she thinks many people are psychopaths. She has stated that the cult leader who dominated her life for 13 years was a psychopath but also had multiple personalities. A psychopath with DID? Really? These would appear to be very contradictory diagnoses with which she's labeling this nameless man without a shred of tangible evidence.

Scott has also labeled her ex-boyfriend as a psychopath.

She offers this exegesis on pscychopathy and explains Fallon's pathology.

Sociopaths and psychopaths are not born; they are made.  For some people, when the pain of their life is unbearable, they chose to numb out to the pain.  They teach themselves to feel nothing.  And so, years later, they can only feel the most extreme of emotional states.  They can only feel when they are fighting or having sadomasochistic sex or sky diving or in extreme cases, killing someone.  They shut off from other people because of the pain that other people have caused them until they cannot feel human connection.   The empathy that disables people from hurting other people is not something that belongs to them. [emphasis added]

. . .

For the psychopath, which is the most advanced kind of sociopath, they feel special, they feel worth something and they feel powerful when they know that they are capable of doing something that no one else is capable of doing.

. . .

A member of our communal family, Fallon, is a psychopath (paranoid type) who is trying to recover.

Where to begin... To say that none of this accords with the current theoretical models for  psychopathy would be an understatement. Robert Hare, who is the pre-eminent researcher on the disorder and the developer of the Psychopathy Checklist would disagree. In Without Conscience, which is an excellent and accessible book on the subject, he explains that the terms sociopathy and psychopathy are often used interchangeably, largely he posits, because using the term sociopathy avoids the common confusion between psychopathy and psychosis. (This is almost certainly what Scott has done here by inventing out of thin air the diagnosis of "paranoid" psychopath.) This merging and interchanging of the terms exists not only in popular culture but among psychology professionals.

In this fairly recent interview, Hare goes into a little more depth on the subtle distinctions between the terms, explaining that sociopathy is really a sociological distinction, whereas psychopathy is a psychiatric condition.

The terms psychopathy and sociopathy refer to related but not identical conditions. Psychopaths have a pattern of personality traits and behaviors not readily understood in terms of social or environmental factors. They are described as without conscience and incapable of empathy, guilt, or loyalty to anyone but themselves. Sociopathy is not a formal psychiatric condition. It refers to a pattern of attitudes, values, and behaviors that is considered antisocial and criminal by society at large, but seen as normal or necessary by the subculture or social environment in which it developed. Sociopaths may have a well-developed conscience and a normal capacity for empathy, guilt, and loyalty, but their sense of right and wrong is based on the norms and expectations of their subculture or group.

So, no, psychopathy is not an "advanced" form of sociopathy. Hare is also of the opinion that psychopaths are indeed "born" and that while the genetic propensity towards psychopathy can be offset through early social conditioning, a psychopath cannot be "made" through purely sociological factors.

All personality traits are the result of genetic-environmental interactions. Recent research in behavioral genetics indicates that callous-unemotional traits and antisocial tendencies, likely precursors to the dimensions of psychopathy described earlier, are highly heritable. There is no evidence that psychopathy can result solely from social or environmental influences. This doesn't mean that some people are destined to become psychopaths, only that the process of socialization is much more difficult for those with early indications of the precursors of the disorder.

None of this is to say that Hare or any other researcher into the phenomenon of psychopathy is not unimpeachable or that the definitions of these terms won't continue to evolve. But where Robert Hare has years of research, practice, and a foundation in the work of his predecessor and colleague Harvey Cleckley, Scott has what? That she's an Indigo? Or a "Eucharist?"

Also troubling is Scott's use of language in the statement I've bolded above. Empathy "disables" people from hurting each other. It makes it sound like hurting people is the normal state that is unfortunately short-circuited by that pesky empathy. Language and word choice matter. They reveal things about how we think. That statement just strikes me as bizarre.

So why does it matter that Teal Scott has authored an unsourced, slipshod definition of psychopathy? Only that she's positioned herself as an authority on the matter for her followers, her readers, and most importantly for Fallon Dobson.


There are public break-ups and there are public break-ups. This one is being thoroughly cataloged by Scott in her confessional style blogging, which, as I said above, is where she nearly hooked me. But then there was Fallon. Poor Fallon.

A pattern of sociopathic abuse seemed to me like a bold and possibly libelous allegation to make against a named party. But there was Fallon -- his life laid bare. There was Fallon in photographs. And there was Fallon in his own words, inviting commentary from Teal's followers. And there was Fallon discussing his sociopathy on Teal Tribe because, OH MY GOD, there's a Teal Tribe! You can tell it's Teal's tribe because the background color is, wait for it, teal.

I think it worth noting, at this point, the role of public confession in cult programming. In Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, Lifton marks it as one of eight primary brainwashing techniques.

Here we have a man who was part of Scott's organization and her paramour. The relationship went south. What ensued was a very public excoriation of him and his very public attempts to confess, atone, and gain his spiritual leader's forgiveness. It started within the "communal" living situation he was then sharing with Scott's "family" -- another thing about which I have some real questions... concerns... um... yeah...

Eventually, as a group, we told him that until he is willing to look at the possibility that he does not want me to be happy, but instead wants me to suffer, he would be unwilling to stop deliberately hurting me.

At some point he confessed to Mark (her ex-husband?) that he was part of the Blood Covenant cult that tortured her and that he was there to destroy her. We know very little about how this unfolded but as he later retracted it, it sounds a little like a false confession, of the type people give police under duress. Then he had a total meltdown and determined to move out and get some psychological help.

While sitting in the living room after that, he realized that he did not feel any emotion about the impact that this information would have on me.  The sheer psychopathy inherent in that pathology effected him so badly that he crumpled into a ball on the floor and realized that he can not be around me or anyone in this community, and that he is a danger to me.

None of this sounds remotely like the behavior of a psychopath. It sounds more like he was in shock, really. But Scott seems very committed to that diagnosis with which she had already labeled him.

Fallon's public humiliation later moved to YouTube where he allowed himself to be interviewed by another Teal Scott supporter. I have to say, it's one of the more disturbing things I've seen in a while.

Listening to this is fairly excruciating but we learn a number of very interesting things. Fallon here says he was not part of the cult sent to sabotage her. He doesn't know why he said that. But because of his "spinelessness" and her attempts to cure him of it, he'd gotten into that habit of just agreeing with everything she suggested. He thought they were all doing a "memory exercise" and blood cult is just what came out. (She says no, it was not an exercise, and that he only thought that because he's disordered.) There seemed to be a lot of confusion about where their romantic relationship ended and her role as spiritual leader and diagnoser of his psychological maladies began. For his part, Fallon is quite clear that everything is his fault. The relationship with Teal ended entirely because of his failings. He really thought he was a sociopath but has since realized that actually he's very emotional so probably he isn't. But he's pretty sure that she's just like Jesus. Did I mention that she's a "Eucharist?"

Odds, ends, and WTF?!

Navigating Teal Scott's blog is challenging. To see a comprehensive list of her posts you have to just keep hitting plus until all the large graphical headings open and your browser crashes. It took me a while to discover that there even was a way to access sidebar data. It's tricky. It requires wanding over the area carefully until you hit it just right and a second scroll bar opens up. It just isn't very helpful. There's no tag cloud and her tagging and categories are not consistent or comprehensive anyway.  There's an archive that lists the months but clicking on them doesn't open up the entire month. Hitting plus after that just starts loading it from the most recent post again. I've tried this on three different browsers. It seems like site navigation is deliberately hidden. Under construction, maybe? We shall see. You know what isn't hidden? The donate button. Can't miss it.

Having found my way through a good bit of her blog at this point, though, there's much that gives me pause. Her phrasing is often peculiar and she periodically leaves little thought droppings that seem very telling.

My workshops will no longer be all about me.

Which would seem to imply that to date they are.

Teal Scott quotes herself. She actually puts her own quotes on  graphics and posts them as discreet entries on her blog under the category heading of "quotes." She doesn't quote anybody else, just herself. Many of the quotes are as incoherent as the one her modeling photo here. She quotes herself.

Apparently she's a genius of remarkably high caliber. 

They call me an idiot savant.  When I was younger, I was given the IQ test twice.  Both times the score came in at over 170 points.

Move over Stephen Hawking. Teal Scott has knocked you off the list.

Why is there a sexy, lingerie photo of an obviously young Teal Bosworth in the middle of her exegesis on why she and Fallon were so toxically matched? And why is it right above a reference to herself being forced into taking sado-masochistic photos when she was a small child by still another Satanist?

And why is it also here.

There seems to be a pattern of her using sexy, come hither images of herself when she talks about her dysfunctional love life and how it mingles with her history of abuse. She rips open these emotional wounds as she soul stares into a camera.

"There's something about the black of a camera lens that digests you in a way.. Therefore, understands you. It is? Without  judgment, so you can act as far as possible from yourself, or leak to it, so much of your pure, unfiltered emotion that if it could feel, it and would break." ~ Teal Bosworth on Model Mayhem

See Also:
The Artist Formerly Known as Teal Scott
Breaking the TEAL SPELL
Former Insider: TEAL is "Deluded and Dangerous"
Shadows Before Suicide
Shadows Before Despair
Coraline and the Blue Pearl
Cameron Clark on Not Being a Victim
An Open Letter To Gabriel Kundalini Regarding Teal Swan 
The "Mormon Satanist" Speaks
Fullmetal Plagiarist

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Nov 12, 2013

Massive Heart Integration

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this important message.

Breathe into your Heart

I don't usually do things like this but the system is blinking red. Over the past couple of days this has come up in multiple readings as well as in my own process. There is some sort of mass integration underway. I don't know any other details. It's not anything I've read anywhere. I just keep seeing it. It's playing out in different ways for different people, as naturally it would, but it's in every case some version of a massive influx of new energy, soul parts, previously inaccessible components of our SELVES, that can be and need to be integrated now in a new way. Grounding this energy is important but it's not enough. The important thing is to breathe into the heart center whenever we have a few free moments to focus on it.

There are also feelings of emotional and psychic overwhelm for a lot of us. Taking a few moments to breathe into the heart as well as grounding into the earth is tremendously helpful in navigating this new dynamic.

Blessings to you all.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

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Nov 10, 2013

Once Upon a Time There Was a Voiceless Mermaid

I've told many people through the years that there are two ways to read Women Who Run With the Wolves. The first is bibliomancy, which is to simply let the book fall open to a random page and begin there. The other is to read it in order from the beginning, but to do so on no particular timetable and to take it up only when the spirit moves. To do otherwise is to find the book impenetrable -- nigh well unreadable. This is something many women have told me about their attempts to read it. But trust me, I would say, read it only when you feel it calling to you from the shelf and what had been a thick tangle of far too many words will be magically transformed into the most lucid, meaningful prose you've ever indulged. Read past the point in the book you were meant to read on any particular occasion and it will once again look like something written in a foreign language.

I read the book from front to back. It took me well over a year. But each time I picked it up it was a flawless reflection of that moment in time. Not only was the text the perfect insight into an experience I'd just had or some realization that had only just begun to dawn, it came accompanied by sometimes comical Jungian synchronicities. Like the time a boisterous, eccentric old woman in a restaurant bumped into my table and sent my chicken dinner clattering to the floor just as I was reading about Baba Yaga and her house on its crazy chicken legs. Some were far less humorous. One evening I felt moved to open the book again after I returned from the emergency ward. I had very nearly lost the tip of my finger to a confrontation with a trailer hitch. With my unbandaged hand, I removed the bookmark and found myself staring in disbelief at a story called "The Handless Maiden." A few short months later I was pregnant with my daughter. The day after she was born, the World Trade Center fell down and the realization that her father would almost certainly be heading off to war was inescapable. To anyone who's read that portion of the book, the parallels would be hard to miss.

As I enjoy my new favorite show Once Upon a Time, I find myself once again seeing the line between dreams and reality becoming blurred. After taking in a number of episodes from the first season, it occurred to me that I should grab the book I sometimes refer to as "the oracle" from the shelf and more deeply consider some of the rich themes that emerge between the lines of the show's deceptively pedestrian dialog. Book in hand I sat down to watch the next episode which turned out to be "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter." In it one of the residents of Storybrooke has some very strange encounters with a wolf. It causes him to begin awakening in the dream as the viewer learns that the wolf had been his constant companion during his life as the Woodsman in the Enchanted Forest. I ran my hand across the gold embossed wolf on the cover of my book and just shook my head at the wonder of it all.

Last Sunday night I sat down to watch the latest episode only to find that in a classically Mercury Retrograde occurrence, something had gone very wrong with the audio track. The background music played just fine but the vocal track was gone. Actors moved their lips but no sound came out. The only way I could tell what was going on was to switch on closed captioning and read the lines. It went on like that for over half the show. It must have been a problem with our local affiliate. Annoying but fitting. The episode introduced the character of Ariel, the little mermaid. I'm not a fan of the Disney version of that or pretty much any of the fairy tales I grew up with. My mother was old fashioned. She gave me books. The Hans Christian Anderson book that contained "The Little Mermaid" was an oversized volume with gorgeous full colored plates -- the most marvelous images of a fantastical life under the sea. I could lose myself for hours in those pictures. But here's what I know. In both Anderson's story and the Disney corruption of it, the little mermaid loses her voice. She trades it for the ability to walk on land and seek her prince. In the Once Upon a Time version of events she loses her voice only at the end, a victim of the evil queen's caprice. So once again, and after the vocal track had been restored, Ariel's lips were moving and no sound was coming out.

Awake? Dreaming? Hard to say.

Season 3 has us in Neverland, the domain of a very wicked Peter Pan. But the mermaid from that story is here conflated with the little mermaid. This, of course, is what the show does. It takes fairy tale characters and fleshes them out with backstories that sometimes merge them with other fairy tale characters. As a narrative tool, it works surprisingly well.

Once Upon a Time's Peter Pan is much darker than he is in any of James Barrie's writings. But there is a lot of truth in this version, perhaps more than in Barrie's fantasies. To anyone familiar with even the broad outlines of Barrie's life, it seems pretty clear that the Peter Pan character was born of tragedy. Barrie lost his older brother to a skating accident when the boy was just shy of 14. The much younger James attended to his mother's grief by dressing up and pretending to the be his dead brother David. So his mother was gifted for some years with the dark, maternal fantasy of the child that never grows up. Strangely Barrie never achieved a normal height. He reportedly stopped growing around the age of 14. He was also emotionally stunted, terrified of marrying, and his eventual marriage ended after fifteen years having never been consummated. The divorce was due to his wife's somewhat understandable infidelity.

Barrie's inspiration for the play Peter Pan -- an expansion of a storyline in his book The Little White Bird -- was his friendship with a family whose children he played with constantly as if he also were still a child. None of this seems terribly healthy.

When we first meet Pan, he is having trouble with his shadow. It's come unstuck and has started getting into mischief. He tries to reattach it with soap. That doesn't work, of course, and correcting it requires the practicality of feminine instinct. Wendy puts a needle and thread to the task. Peter, then, with all the arrogance and narcissism of the immature masculine congratulates himself for her work. Here one must appreciate Barrie for being at least a bit more self aware than Shel Silverstein.

As I wrote here, shadow work is strongly implied in Once Upon a Time. Rumpelstiltskin is the very embodiment of the collective shadow, having taken "The Dark One" into his being. Toward the end of season 2, it became apparent that shadow reclamation was emerging as a broader theme. The sweet and gentle Belle, long frustrated in her attempts to break the spell's hold on her beast, becomes Lacey in Storybrooke. She is every bit as as dark as Belle is light. Even Snow White violates her strong moral code and learns that her heart is marked by the darkening of her soul.

Season 3 revolves, so far, around attempts to rescue Henry from Neverland. To do this all the primary characters must work together. Heroes and villains must unite for a common cause. It is speaks to the potential for a total reintegration of shadow and light. Henry is a living embodiment of unity. He is Emma's son and Emma is wholeness itself, born of the alchemical union of Snow and Charming. Henry's father is Baelfire, making him the grandson of Rumpelstiltskin. His adoptive mother is the evil queen. Henry holds the key to the reclamation of the shadow and the redemption of the fallen.

In this most recent episode, for instance, Neal, aka., Baelfire, had to be rescued from a cave of echoes. Hook explains that the key to this cave's magic is that people must tell their darkest, most shameful secrets. Why? I would posit that it's because we are as sick as our secrets.

We still don't know much of Peter Pan's backstory. But we do know that he and Rumpelstiltskin have a connection going back to childhood. Their obviously very complicated relationship will no doubt be revealed in due time. We also know that Pan as reinvisioned here is also the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Easily one of the darkest fairy tales ever told to children, modern allusions include such personages as the at long last defrocked Stephen Kiesle.

Peter Pan's Neverland is the home of the "lost boys." The dark implications of that should not be understated as they often are with the cartoonish reimaginings of Peter Pan. "Lost boys" is a somewhat archaic euphemism not only for dead children -- like James Barrie's brother -- but also for missing and exploited children. Orson Scott Card's gut-wrenching novel Lost Boys revolves around said use of the term. This theme is explored in the movie The Lost Boys in which adolescent boys are stolen away and murdered in the sense that they are made undead. This takes on an even darker significance when we consider that it is also the film that united Corey Feldman and the late Corey Haim -- two horrifically exploited children. Feldman also spent a good deal of time at the famed Neverland ranch.

Dreaming? Awake? Hard to say.

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