Dec 26, 2014

Alchemical Perfume

I love Christmas ads. I know. Commercialism is ruining Christmas and making us forget about the baby Mithras Jesus. But they're festive, nostalgic, and sometimes quite beautiful. Yes, I worked in marketing for long enough that I actually appreciate the artistry of advertising. And the industry rolls out some of its best work at the holidays.

A couple of years ago I noted a perfume ad featuring Julia Roberts that resurfaces every year at this time. It is full of elegant, if not terribly subtle, allusions to Rousseau and the French Enlightenment.

Much of popular entertainment, of late, from movies and television to the Olympics, has me marveling at the imagery. Is the symbolism subconscious or deliberate? I don't know, but it's getting really hard to miss it. 

This new ad from Dior, featuring Charlize Theron, is nothing short of stunning. The past is nothing but a "dream," an illusion. "The future is gold" she says, ascending through an oculus into a "new world."

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

Dec 12, 2014

News for the Soul Cancels James Ray

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I got this in my email earlier today. News for the Soul's Nicole Marie Whitney has canceled an interview with James Arthur Ray which had been scheduled for Sunday. Here is her statement:

Wow. Ok. We started our day with quite the barrage of emails regarding my announcement yesterday.

The emails were regarding my announcement of the scheduled James Ray interview on Sunday which has since been cancelled.

I had planned to do this interview (not as a promotional fluff piece) from day one because I have questions and I felt our conscious community needed some closure and maybe even healing on this matter. And learning. Many teachers out there – some of them reading this right now – conduct very similar events and ceremonies. And some of them have almost had very similar things occur.

I am speaking from first hand knowledge and experience.

We all have questions and need some sort of closure on that event – none of which OUR community has had the hutspa to do as yet. A Pierce Morgan interview is no substitute for a conscious and real perspective on the situation. There is more to say but clearly our community (or at least a vocal section of it) is not ready for this to happen. Thus I have chosen to cancel the James Ray interview that I had announced for Sunday.

Nov 12, 2014

Sturgeon's Law of Spiritual Practice

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A friend asked me recently if the whole new age arena was just a lot of escapism for wounded people and ultimately another trap. It's become a recurring theme. A lot of what I'm hearing lately from people is frustration, fatigue, and even disgust with all things "spiritual." Many are feeling disillusioned and even betrayed. Some of them have actually been betrayed by spiritual practitioners, so that's quite understandable.

What I said to my friend, though, is that I feel I have learned and grown a lot through my experiences and study in things that fall under the very large umbrella of "new age." I have had some excellent teachers, but Sturgeon's Law applies.

Sturgeon's revelation, commonly referred to as Sturgeon's law, is an adage commonly cited as "ninety percent of everything is crap." It is derived from quotations by Theodore Sturgeon, an American science fiction author and critic: while Sturgeon coined another adage that he termed "Sturgeon's law", it is his "revelation" that is usually referred to by that term.

The phrase was derived from Sturgeon's observation that while science fiction was often derided for its low quality by critics, it could be noted that the majority of examples of works in other fields could equally be seen to be of low quality and that science fiction was thus no different in that regard from other art forms.

Given my own fairly extensive experience in what I shall broadly call new agedom, I feel very comfortable calling roughly ninety percent of it crap. Much of that crap, I ignore. I know my assessment is subjective and that one man's trash is another man's treasure. In other cases, where I think it's destructive, or even dangerous, I am not able to ignore it in good conscience. In particular, I have criticized The Secret and related law of attraction material. I have also included new age teachers such as James Arthur Ray and Teal Bosworth Scott Swan in discussions of religious abuse.

Nov 9, 2014

The Cardinal's Demotion

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It's official. Cardinal Burke is being demoted from a high court justice to a figurehead role. As discussed here, Burke himself had confirmed the rumored change. It is assumed that this is due to open criticism of the pope's more tolerant stance on social issues... and for being a firebrand.

Burke, who made waves in 2004 for saying that voting for a pro-choice candidate is “a serious sin,” has been an unusually outspoken detractor of Pope Francis since he ascended to the papacy in 2013. When the pontiff declared last year that the Catholic church was too “obsessed” with culture war issues such as abortion, for instance, Burke responded by saying that the church “can never talk enough” about the “massacre of the unborn.” And while Francis answered a question about gay priests by saying “who am I to judge?” last July, Burke told LifeSiteNews in October that homosexual acts are “always and everywhere wrong, evil.”

But on Saturday, the Vatican announced that Burke, who was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, has been removed from his influential position as head of the Apostolic Signatura — the Vatican’s highest court — and reassigned to a largely ceremonial role as the Patron of the Order of the Knights of Malta.

“The position of Patron of the the Order of Malta is usually given to a retired cardinal, or as a second task to an active cardinal,” Michael Sean Winters, a prominent Catholic journalist, wrote in the National Catholic Reporter. “It has almost no responsibilities. The demotion is unprecedented, and completely warranted: Cardinal Burke’s influence at the Vatican has been crushingly backward looking, and that influence has resulted in some unhappy appointments.”

Oct 28, 2014

The Evolution of the Catholic Church

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There's a lot about Pope Francis I like. I like that he's shifting the emphasis of the Church toward love, charity, and compassion and away from hate and judgment. I like that he's so outspoken on the issue of economic inequality. I like that he's at least flexible enough on GLBT issues that he apparently supported civil unions in Argentina. I like that he's driving Catholic hardliners crazy by giving tacit approval to a more gay, and divorce tolerant, direction. I don't like that he opposed same sex marriage in Argentina and equated gay adoptions with child abuse, only to make really lackluster efforts on the real child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

All in all, kind of a mixed bag, but when all's said and done, there's something about his face that makes me feel warm inside. There's an openness and a joy that emanates from Pope Francis that just makes me like him even when I'm disappointed in the lack of substantive progress. I get why the media loves him. He's loveable. I think, however, he's getting credit for radical changes in the Church that just aren't happening.

All day I've been watching stories pour in about how exciting it is that Pope Francis believes in evolution and the big bang. Such breathless headlines ignore the fact that there is nothing radical, revolutionary, or even new in his position. It's squarely in line with Church doctrine.

Oct 19, 2014

Homophobic Cardinal Ousted By Pope Francis

It has been confirmed, by Cardinal Raymond Burke, that Pope Francis intends to demote him from the Vatican's high court.

American Cardinal Raymond Burke, a darling of conservative Catholics who is virulently anti-gay, has confirmed to BuzzFeed what rumors from Rome have said for weeks. He will be demoted by Pope Francis from the head of the Roman Catholic Church's version of the Supreme Court to a figurehead role as the Patron of the Knights of Malta, a chivalrous order known for its work among the sick.

Maybe he can do that job without spewing hate at ninety miles an hour. Let's hope none of those sick people are gay. He recommends shunning them.

Burke recently told an interviewer that legally-married gay and lesbian family members should be shunned from family celebrations during the upcoming holidays, asking “what would it mean to grandchildren to have present at a family gathering a family member who is living [in] a disordered relationship with another person?”

Oct 13, 2014

The Ghosts of Clear Mountain

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An old college friend of mine tagged me into a comment thread on Facebook the other day. Had I ever encountered any of these supposed ghosts when we were at Montclair State?

Montclair State is said to be one of the most haunted colleges in America.

For years there have been reports of doors and windows slamming, lights flickering on and off, constant cold, and even a ghost who hovers over the beds of the tenants.

It is believed that Montclair is built on top of Indian burial grounds and alumni say it’s a very scary school. So scary, that many refuse to go in the woods after sundown. There have been many reports of figures believed to be Native Americans spotted in the forests.

According to Classes and Careers, the worst stories come from the Clove Road Apartments. Tenants have reported electrical appliances turning on and off on their own, lights on the second floor flashing on and off by themselves, disembodied knocks on bedroom and bathroom doors, “unearthly” noises emanating from the woods behind the apartments.

Oct 10, 2014

Former Insider: TEAL is "Deluded and Dangerous" – UPDATED

Update: In Which Jess Calls Me Names (See Below)

First, a note on TEAL's moniker: I can't keep up. Teal Bosworth Scott Swan has simply changed her name too many times for me to keep updating and adapting. She now seems to be identifying as Teal Swan, but when she first married Sarbdeep Singh Swan, she announced that her professional name would be TEAL, in all caps. For a while she signed all her obnoxious self-quoting info-graphics that way. At some point, she changed that to Teal Swan, but I am past caring. Because I have no idea how many times her last name will change, I am sticking with her suggestion of a stand-alone first name. However, I refuse to do the all-caps thing all the time. It's annoying to keep cap-locking as I type a body of text, so what I have adopted instead is the use of her first name and in all one case. In titles and at the beginnings of sentences, that is all caps, and in other text, all lowercase. This also solves the problem of having her name constantly SHOUTED, as that is what all caps means in internet-speak. So, for the most part, she is now identified in most of my text as teal.

After I posted my first blog on then Teal Scott, which focused largely on her mistreatment of her ex-boyfriend Fallon, I learned of another member of her inner circle who was similarly targeted, scapegoated, and vilified. The name Cameron Clark came up repeatedly in comments. The Shadow House episode in which teal had subjected her to a range of verbal assaults had gone down the memory hole, but it was the stuff of legend. As she had done with Fallon, teal instigated a shaming and shunning among her followers that was gruesome. Anyone who defended Cameron also got scorched, in some cases directly by teal.

Some time later Cameron reached out to me and we discussed some of her teal related concerns privately. When she felt ready to break her public silence, she also made some comments on my blog, to the great relief of many people who had been very concerned for her well-being. I am thrilled that Cameron now feels ready to tell her whole story publicly. In the player above, she is interviewed at length by Jessica Schab.

It's a long conversation, over five hours, but for anyone who wants to know what life in teal's orbit is really about, it's worth taking the time to weed through it. For reasons that should be obvious, I do not agree with Jessica's framing. I don't think teal is emblematic of the new age, of non-traditional spirituality, or of any kind of religion. I think she falls firmly into the category of religious abusers.

That she abuses her authority was apparent to me when I read in her blog posts that she had erroneously diagnosed her own boyfriend as a psychopath, blurring the lines between lover and client, between uncredentialed healer and therapist, between reality and something else entirely.

Oct 8, 2014

Study Finds Consciousness Survives Clinical Death

Results from the AWARE Study were released yesterday and the evidence of continuing consciousness is compelling.

The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely.

It is a controversial subject which has, until recently, been treated with widespread scepticism.

But scientists at the University of Southampton have spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria.

And they found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted.

Oct 5, 2014

That Time Reza Aslan Smacked Down Bill Maher

I've never much cared for Bill Maher's commentary on religion. I think his views on the issue are shallow and reasoned backwards from the most extreme examples. So I very much enjoyed Reza Aslan's recent take-down of Maher's thoroughly ignorant, Islamaphobic rant. In the process he schooled the equally simplistic Don Lemon and Alisyn Camerota.

Comedian Bill Maher recently made some comments about Islamic countries that characterized them as more prone to violence, misogyny and bigotry, and now religious scholar Reza Aslan has called Maher out on his own “bigotry.” Aslan, who became famous when he skewered Fox News, appeared on CNN to pick apart Maher’s “not very sophisticated” and “facile arguments” that characterize Muslim nations as all the same. As is evident from the CNN bit, these arguments are not unique to Maher, making Aslan’s nuanced argument an essential one to keep in mind as we increase military action in the Middle East.

Here’s Aslan’s point: “To say Muslim countries, as though Pakistan and Turkey are the same… it’s frankly, and I use this word seriously, stupid!”

“The problem is that you’re talking about a religion of one and a half billion people,” he explained, “and certainly it becomes very easy to just simply paint them all with a single brush by saying, ‘Well in Saudi Arabia [women] can’t drive,’ and saying that’s representative of Islam. That’s representative of Saudi Arabia.”

Sep 30, 2014

Pagans and Satanists Explore Religious Freedoms

As predicted, the recent Supreme Court decision to allow religious invocations in public meetings is already exposing the hypocrisy and discriminatory practices of conservative Christian defenders of "religious freedom." Turns out some religions are more equal than others. Shocker.

In Florida's Escambia County, a potential legal battle is heating up between Agnostic Pagan Pantheist David Suhor and the county school board over his right to perform the invocation. Other local institutions have hosted him and his absolutely beautiful invocation can be heard in the video posted above. But he has locked horns with school board member Jeff Bergosh over his proposed appearance.

David Suhor, 46, a Pensacola resident and musician, said he is ready to bring litigation against the school board after he made requests to several board members to lead an invocation but was turned down by all but one. Suhor describes himself as an agnostic pagan pantheist and wanted to lead a pagan prayer.

“If you’re censoring Muslims, pagans or even satanists, then you’re practicing discrimination,” Suhor told the board.

After Suhor and school board member Jeffery Bergosh engaged in a heated debate through their blogs — Bergosh on and Suhor on — Bergosh asked the district’s attorney, Donna Waters, to look into the matter.

Sep 9, 2014

Graham Hancock Graces Cover of Om Times

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Readers of this blog know that I have something of a love affair with the work of Graham Hancock. As I wrote here, it began rather magically as I was preparing for what would be a life-altering trip to Mexico. That trip was made possible by my friend Jill Mangino, who connected me with the organizers of the Flower of Life teacher training, and otherwise helped me get my ducks in a row.

My trip to Mexico, and particularly my visit to Teotihuacan, catalyzed a process in me and not an entirely comfortable one. Through it all, the works of Graham Hancock have served as guideposts. They provided me with a kind of map through a netherworld of myth and mystery.

I am filled with gratitude for Graham Hancock, for his wonderful books, but also for the incredible generosity with which he shares his ideas in interview after interview, seamlessly weaving together the strands of a massive and challenging body of work.

I noticed last night that Hancock had posted a new interview with Om Times on his Facebook page. Imagine my delight when I discovered that the interviewer was Jill Mangino. It's a great interview. Hancock again shows his tremendous knowledge, his analytical mind, and his willingness to ask hard questions rather than provide pat answers. He and Jill discuss many of the hot button issues that Hancock has been unafraid to press through the years: the possibility of very ancient, forgotten civilizations; Ayahuasca and shamanism; the hard problem of consciousness and the dogma of reductionist materialism; and, of course, the TED fiasco.

How wonderful that Om Magazine has brought together two of my favorite people, both so instrumental in my spiritual development.

And so the circle neatly closes.

Aug 31, 2014

We Are Legion and We Are Tactless

One of the most consistently baffling things to me about the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is their tone-deafness. Do these Church officials really not know how out of touch they seem when they answer outrage over vile abuses with platitudes about forgiveness for perpetrators? The rush to forgive their own brethren left countless children vulnerable to non-rehabilitatable criminals. This was nowhere more true than with one of the Church's most notorious offenders: Marcial Maciel Degollado.

And they're still doing it.

Even as they are wrestling with lawsuits from his victims, his children, and the descendents of elderly people his organization bilked out of their fortunes, the Legionaries of Christ scramble to protect his legacy and his name. And of course they do it in an attempt to do what Maciel did best: raise money.

They have already raised $40 million of a needed $100 million to support an outrageous land-grab in the Holy Land. On the ruins of an ancient temple, they intend to build a new complex including a luxury hotel -- how very Maciel of them.

At issue is a women's institute promoted with a brochure entitled Magdala: God Really Loves Women. Yes, it's so nice the way God keeps forgiving women for being sexual creatures. Worse, it equates the Magdalene with Maciel. (I actually got a little queasy just typing that sentence.) The brochure text is truly unbelievable.

Aug 28, 2014

Bergholz Amish Win Appeal

It brings me no joy to report that Sam Mullet and his Bergolz Amish followers have won a victory in an appeals court and may "become loose" against the express wishes of many local Amish.

A deeply divided ruling from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals went against the jury's determination that the hair-cutting attacks, with which Mullet's minions terrorized the greater Amish community, constituted a religious hate crime.

The majority of those convicted had already completed, or nearly completed their sentences. The real issue, as ever, is with Bishop Mullet, whose fifteen year sentence offered his community a life free of his sexual demands on the women, physical abuse of their husbands, and the psychological control he exerts over all of his Bergholz Amish.

It is not illegal to run a cult. It is not illegal to extort sexual favors from adult women, in most cases. It is not even illegal to consign grown men to incarceration in chicken coops. It is illegal to terrorize neighboring communities with physical abuse and assaults on their dignity, and it is for this that Mullet and his co-conspirators were convicted.

The larger question from the beginning has been whether cutting off the hair and beards of other Amish constituted a hate crime, in other words, were the crimes motivated by religion.

Aug 22, 2014

Negative Thinking Associated with Longer Life

"The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." ~ George F. Will

The data in support of "negative thinking" keeps piling up. I have posted a number of things about studies and assessments showing that staying positive doesn't necessarily bring positive results for either our physical or mental health, and can even be detrimental. See here, here, here, here, here, and here, for a start.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal addresses some of the newer findings that show pessimism and negativity can be better for you, depending on the circumstances and your natural disposition.

Experts say pessimism can at times be beneficial to a person's physical and mental well-being. Some studies have found that having a more negative outlook of the future may result in a longer and healthier life. Pessimism and optimism are opposite ends of a spectrum of personality traits, and people generally fall somewhere in between. 

One study found that older people who were pessimistic about aging had better health outcomes and greater longevity.

A study published last year in the journal Psychology and Aging found that older people with pessimistic views of the future were more likely to live longer and healthier lives than those with a rosier outlook. The researchers used data from a nationally representative survey in Germany of about 11,000 people. Among other questions, people were asked how satisfied they were with their lives and how satisfied they thought they would be in five years.

Aug 9, 2014

Dawkins Keeps Digging

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Does someone maybe want to take the shovel away from Richard Dawkins? 

His recent Twitter battle, discussed here, is having a ripple effect I don't think he expected or intended. It's rather interesting to see Richard Dawkins so completely on the defensive. He did, after all, set out to do what he does best -- use logic and reason to make sure everyone who disagrees with his world view knows how stupid they are. But it backfired and brought him a lot of negative feedback, even from some atheists. I think he may be learning the hard way that it's not as easy to get away with belittling women as it used to be.

His latest post on the issue shows him to be in full damage control mode and you know what they say: If you're explaining, you're losing.

I have briefly explained (it’s in An Appetite for Wonder) that, as a small boy, I was the victim of a pedophile teacher in the school squash court. He pulled me on his knee, put his hand inside my shorts and fiddled for about half a minute. It was very unpleasant, but it didn’t ruin my life and I had the temerity to say so in my memoir and elsewhere. I had the effrontery to downplay my experience and imply that it could have been worse. The teacher could, for example, have . . . well, I didn’t specify details, but anyone can fill in some of the appalling things that have happened to other children of both sexes.

Pandemonium in the Pigeon-lofts. Freethought Feeding Frenzy. “Dawkins actually said – I kid you not – that his experience in the squash court wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened. Wow, just wow. Where has he been these past few years? Doesn’t everyone nowadays know there are NO gradations? All cases are exactly equally bad. How dare Dawkins BELITTLE the horrors of pedophiliac assault?”

Aug 1, 2014

The Richard Dawkins Problem

Richard Dawkins has stepped on his crank. Again.

Another day, another tweet from Richard Dawkins proving that if non-conscious material is given enough time, it is capable of evolving into an obstreperous crackpot who should have retired from public speech when he had the chance to bow out before embarrassing himself.

“Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse,” huffs Dawkins. Seeming to have anticipated, although not understood, the feminist reaction this kind of sentiment generally evokes, he finishes the tweet: “If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.”

I've really written very little about Dawkins, the man, and restricted my criticism to his dogmatic atheism and his disingenuousness in that arena. He has a long history of intemperate, ignorant, and insensitive remarks, particularly in the areas of gender politics and sexual violence. I've never thought it deserved a free-standing post because it's not really relevant to discussions of his atheist views. This is, I think, for reasons articulated in that same article.

Jul 30, 2014

Are the Poles Shifting?

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I've been talking about pole shift for a while now. Several years ago, I started getting intimations that it was imminent. There's a little more on these messages here. I just didn't really know what to make of it. The gist was that things were going to shift in some very surprising ways, that the systemic injustice that I find so excruciating had reached the end of the line, and that this was somehow connected to or simply concurrent with pole shift.

I first learned about the idea of pole shift many years ago when I was reading a book on Edgar Cayce. I had no frame of reference for the idea so it rolled off my brain like beads of water from an oily surface. Years later, when I first became acquainted with the work of Drunvalo Melchizedek, I heard it again and thought, so is that what Cayce was talking about? I liked Drunvalo's take on this. It was fairly optimistic and tied the idea of pole shift with an expansion in human consciousness.

Drunvalo says all kinds of things and some I really do take with a grain of salt. But he always struck me as a sincere fellow and so much of what I learned from him has proved itself to me that I keep a lot of his more outrageous material on the maybe pile. His ideas on pole shift fall into that category.

Pole shift has been a subject of debate. It's an accepted fact that Earth's magnetic poles have shifted more than once, in the distant past. That this has caused crustal displacement is disputed by most experts. Charles Hapgood theorized that they did and that it was associated with changes in land masses. His theories have not gained wide acceptance.

Mainstream science has been as strident and dismissive of concern as it has been vague on the particulars. The simple truth is that there's a lot they don't know about how this works and the potential effects. As discussed here, some theories have us already in the beginning stages of shift. The message from officialdom has been that while the magnetic field of the planet has been weakening for over a hundred years, and while we are probably overdue for a pole reversal, the last known one having occurred about 750,000 years ago, the next is probably at least hundreds of years off and will occur gradually, probably over thousands of years. In other words, calm down, people.

Jul 28, 2014

Satanists Seek to Exploit Hobby Lobby Ruling

The Satanic Temple has carved out quite a niche for itself in the fight for First Amendment protections, capitalizing on Satan's pariah status as it exploits legal loopholes and bad rulings that cater to Christian extremists. Last I heard they were riling up some Oklahomans by attempting to slip a giant statue of Baphomet onto State Capitol grounds, using the same "private funding" excuse used by the ten commandment enthusiasts who placed their own monstrosity.

Now, in light of the stunningly horrible Hobby Lobby ruling, the Satanic Temple is taking the opportunity they believe the Supreme Court has opened up to defy laws on the basis of religious belief. Has your state passed laws restricting abortion access and requiring doctors to regale women with unscientific claims about the dangers of abortion? These Satanists claim that junk science and restrictions on personal liberty are against their religion... and probably most people's. Therefore, they are making printable letters available to women everywhere whose religious belief in bodily autonomy precludes their being lectured about how abortion may land them in the mental ward.

Informed consent or “right to know” laws state that women seeking elective abortions be provided with information about alternatives to the procedure, often couched in language that attempts to personify the fetus. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 35 states currently have informed consent laws, and of those, 33 require that the woman be told the gestational age of the fetus.

In some states, that information consists of pro-life propaganda that links abortion to a higher incidence of breast and ovarian cancers, or discusses “post-abortion syndrome,” a mental condition not recognized by any major medical or psychiatric organization.

Because the Satanic Temple bases its belief “regarding personal health…on the best scientific understanding of the world, regardless of the religious or political beliefs of others,” it claims that state-mandated information with no basis in scientific fact violates its “religious” beliefs.

Jul 25, 2014

William Henry on Cave Paintings in India

A few years ago, I asked if religion could survive first contact. Answer: It probably already has done, if we include indigenous medicine practices reaching all the way back into prehistory. The recent discovery of alien looking beings depicted in ancient stone art in India has rekindled debate over just what indigenous peoples have been painting on stone walls. According to archaeologist JR Bhagat, these ancient paintings accord with local legends about something that sounds an awful lot alien contact and abduction.

There are several beliefs among locals in these villages. While few worship the paintings, others narrate stories they have heard from ancestors about "rohela people" — the small sized ones — who used to land from sky in a round shaped flying object and take away one or two persons of village who never returned.

Many not human-looking beings and things that look like flying saucers have been discovered in cave paintings and these have given rise to questions about alien contact. But are these beings from other planets or other dimensions or, perhaps, both? Graham Hancock addressed this most recent discovery on his Facebook page the other day:

Aliens from other planets coming here in high-tech space ships? Or visitors from other dimensions? A few years ago when I asked Amazonian shaman Pablo Amaringo what the flying saucers were that he saw in his Ayahuasca visions, and painted in his extraordinary art (, he told me they were vehicles for entering and leaving the spirit world. When a shaman speaks of the spirit world he's not far from the quantum idea of a parallel universe. I think the UFO and "aliens" mystery documented in rock and cave art all over the world may be MUCH more mysterious and intriguing than many believe. In my opinion these phenomena are real, but precisely WHAT they are remains to be established.

Jul 3, 2014

Graham Hancock Sums It Up

This interview is brief but, as ever, Graham Hancock shows the elegant fluency with his material that make all his talks and interviews compelling. This is a very worthwhile summary of his research into a possible lost civilization, sometimes referred to as Atlantis. They also discuss TED's war on consciousness, the whole sad, sorry saga of which can be found here.

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

Jun 27, 2014

The Marion Zimmer Bradley Problem

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Hat tip to The Wild Hunt for this morning's disillusionment. I had been blissfully unaware of this controversy. Even though I have never been Marion Zimmer Bradley fan, I am well aware of her influence in both the fantasy genre and the pagan community. So learning that she was both an enabler and perpetrator of child sexual abuse is a little rough.

This is all the more painful because Bradley is, in many ways, a feminist icon. She introduced the divine feminine to a generation of readers and she paved the way for other female authors. The irony for me was all the more unsettling as moments before seeing this post, I had been reading yet another story on the never-ending sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and puzzling over whether there is more of a problem there than elsewhere. The Church, of course, says no and they're probably right. The larger problem is the ability and determination they've had to conceal it, creating an overarching abuse of power for which the entire institutional framework is responsible. But, there's also a kind of metaphorical power to the idea of such an incredibly patriarchal institution being responsible for the prolific theft of sexual power. We almost expect them to rape women and children. Representatives of goddess energy far less so, but there we are.

Many years ago a friend lent me her copy of The Mists of Avalon specifically because she knew I was deeply invested in goddess mythology. I didn't get far and promptly gave the book back. In retrospect, I can't honestly say why it didn't connect for me. It just didn't. But I've always respected the book's reach and power to touch lives.

I can still vividly remember how I felt when I learned that there was a Mother Goddess in ancient mythology. The one woman play presented at my college was terrible. The theater was nearly empty. The handful of women's studies majors around me, who were seeing it for credit, were falling asleep in their seats. I was transfixed by the power of realization. Suddenly the world -- things I felt and even things I had written -- made more sense. It was an organizing principle for me in a way that no other religion had been, neither my Christian background nor my Buddhist practice. In time my first goddess altar replaced the Buddhist one. I read and I read and I read. So, although I found Bradley unreadable, I well understand what a cool drink of water her writing must have been for people everywhere who were rekindling, as I was,  a memory of the divine feminine.

Jun 23, 2014

TED and the Diploma Mill Yoda

How did this squeak by TED's rigorous screening process?

By this I mean a TEDx talk written up in this feel-good piece in Mother Jones, a publication I thought had fact-checkers.

Ironwood State Prison resident Steven Duby served as MC for a bill that kicked off with Budnick interviewing Sir Richard Branson about the importance of, yes, second chances. (Branson once spent a day in "prison," he said, for failing to pay taxes. His mother was able to bail him out by mortgaging her house, Branson added, but not everyone has it so easy.) Among the acts was Illinois therapist and motivational speaker Sean Stephenson (above), who held the prisoners rapt with his tale of overcoming adversity. "When I was born, the doctors told my parents I would be dead within the first 24 hours of my life," he began. "Thirty-five years later, all those doctors are dead, and I am the only doctor that remains!"

Obviously, I agree that it's lovely that TEDx put together an event for prison inmates. I even agree that Sean Stephenson is a good speaker with an inspiring life story. But he is not a doctor. He admitted as much when he agreed to remove such verbiage from his website. My original post and our exchange in the comment section can be found here. Yet here he is, in the spring of 2014 still calling himself a doctor.

Jun 18, 2014

Chopra and Sheldrake

Try saying that three times fast.

This is a really compelling discussion, the kind you'll want to listen to more than once just to catch all the nuances. The first focuses primarily on Sheldrake's explanation of morphic fields. The second gets more into the unproven assumptions of scientific materialism as set forth in his book Science Set Free, aka. The Science Delusion.

Deepak Chopra and Rupert Sheldrake have both been major targets of the New Atheist protectors of all things scientistic. The details of their disenfranchisement by TED and its super secret science board can be found here. So of course I find particularly delightful Chopra's recounting of a debate with Richard Dawkins at about minute 9:00 in the second video. Add that to the growing list of Dawkins's strident assertions that fall well short of the mark.

Also in the player is an interview with Sheldrake's wife Jill Purce on the power of chanting. Enchanting! More information can be found here.

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Jun 15, 2014

Whale Talk

When my daughter was a wee toddler, she used to pretend to talk on the phone. She'd grab any random object, rarely the toy phone for some reason, and begin to chatter. She'd pace around the room with, say, the remote control glued to her ear and she'd go on and on. They weren't words, really. She didn't even employ her limited vocabulary. What it unmistakably was was mimicry. She was a little me. Every gesture. Every inflection. It was unmistakably me talking on the phone to some friend. It was hilarious. And it sounded an awful lot like this beluga whale named Noc.

This article in Smithsonian Magazine makes for compelling reading. I am endlessly fascinated by cetaceans and have been since I was a child, particularly whales. In the fifth grade, I wrote a play about whaling for my social studies project. The whale won. It dragged the harpooners overboard. This was long before I'd read Moby Dick. That would not happen until I was in high school. I think I just liked the idea of the whale as protagonist -- that and the woman pretending to be a man (me) so as to seek a life of adventure. I've also been a feminist for as long as I can remember.

As an adult I've been whale watching many times and invariably see things you almost never see, like humpbacks opening their giant mouths right next to the boat to swallow the plankton they've trapped with their giant air bubbles. And mothers and babies breaching and playing. I've seen a lot of whales. And dolphins. They like to swim along with the boats. They wave. They chatter. They're adorable.

I've always felt a sense of communion with cetaceans. Sometimes I hear them in my head. It's not unusual to hear messages from whale consciousness or dolphin consciousness for my clients when I'm doing readings. I believe them to be highly intelligent. In fact, I think the whole conversation about whether they're as intelligent as humans misses the point. I believe they're probably much smarter. Definitely wiser. And yet they deign to interact with us. In fact they're very social.

Jun 6, 2014

James Ray's Crisis of Character

So what's on sale? The jacket???

I had hoped to never write about James Arthur Ray again. But then they let him out of prison. Try as I might I can't ignore the madness.

Connie Joy has really been keeping pace with his disturbing attempts to reboot his career. And well, he's on tour!

What will he be teaching in small, sad rooms in three whole cities? As near as I can tell, Murphy's Law. Yes, according to the new, less law of attractiony James Ray, no matter what you do, shit happens.

This is honestly the strangest pitch for one of these things I've ever seen. It starts out in a predictable manner, with a series of questions specifically engineered to make you feel like something is wrong with your life that you need this seminar to fix:

Does it ever seem that just when you feel like you’re
getting everything together… something else goes wrong?

Do you ever feel like you just get through one set of challenges,
And then the next shoe (or possibly bomb) drops?

Do you ever find yourself accomplishing what you desired
but there’s still something missing?

Are you possibly right in the dead center of
a difficult challenge or crisis in your Life,
Business, or Career right now?

Jun 5, 2014

Sea Change for Snakes in Ireland

What would St. Patrick say? Snakes, aka., Pagans, are becoming a visible force in Ireland. The Wild Hunt reports that openly Pagan Deirdre Wadding has claimed a Council seat.

On May 23rd, the 2014 Irish local elections were held, the first set of local elections since a major restructuring of local government was put into place earlier this year. In what seems to be a tumultuous outing, with small left-leaning parties and Sinn Féin largely benefitting, the People Before Profit Alliance gained 15 council seats across Ireland. One of those seats was won by Deirdre Wadding, on the Wexford County Council. Oh, and she just so happens to be openly Pagan, the first such candidate to be elected to office in Ireland.

“Cllr. Wadding, a long-term socialist activist, took the final seat in the Wexford district on Sunday night after a long, two-day count. A vocal campaigner, she has made her mark through her work with the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes and was approached by PBPA on the back of that. She polled an impressive 599 votes on the first count and picked up a number of large chunks of transfers later in the day. Laughing off the description of ‘white witch’, Cllr. Wadding said that she was one of 20,000 pagans across the country but, as far as she knew, was the only one now serving as a councillor. ‘I did ask the Irish Battle Goddess Morrigan for victory today and I have a crow’s feather in my hair as a reminder of her.’”

Wadding has been a visible part of a growing movement in a changing Ireland. Pagans of various stripes are becoming a real force in what has been for centuries a very Catholic country.

May 30, 2014

Pope Francis on the "Black Mass" of Sex Abuse

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It would appear that Pope Francis has taken to heart criticism for his lackadaisical attitude on sex abuse, as well as a scorching report from the UN. With bold rhetorical flourishes like comparing sex abuse by priests to a "black mass," he suddenly seems more proactive on the issue. Whether it's a lot of political theater or a genuine effort to address the biggest issue facing the Catholic Church remains to be seen.

Pope Francis announced Monday he would meet soon with a group of sex abuse victims at the Vatican and declared "zero tolerance" for any member of the clergy who would violate a child.

Francis also revealed that three bishops are currently under investigation by the Vatican for abuse-related reasons, though it wasn't clear if they were accused of committing abuse itself or of having covered it up.

"There are no privileges," he told reporters en route back to Rome from Jerusalem.

The meeting with a half-dozen victims will mark the first such encounter for the pope, who has been criticized by victims for not expressing personal solidarity with them when he has reached out to other people who suffer.

May 27, 2014

James Ray's New Tune

I saw this on Connie Joy's Tragdedy in Sedona page and, well, yuck. As we know James Arthur Ray was unfortunately turned loose on the public a while ago and he's plying his craft once again. He's posted some clips of his new spiel. I hate to give him the traffic but ya gotta see it to believe it. As with his recent, hideous appearance on the since canceled Piers Morgan, he's a font of crocodile tears and self-pity. It's so sad that a "terrible accident" claimed his "3 great friends." No mention of how he was convicted for causing said "accident" with his own gross negligence.

Note the comment from Liz Neuman's son Bryan in the comment thread on Connie's page. No, he did not even deign to visit his "great friend" as she lay in hospital, for nine days, dying from hyperthermia. I would add that friends don't let friends remain listed as Jane Doe in the hospital registry when they have all their paperwork on file, but are too busy hiding said paperwork from law enforcement to consider their medical needs.

I'm still waiting for this man to have a single, genuine moment.

Oh, and he's an alchemist now. Sure. Why not? Alchemists, you see, turn bad things into good things, which seems to be how he's interpreting the whole lead into gold thing. Mmmkay... He's an alchemist who quotes mysterious high level Zen masters -- the kind that don't have names, apparently. This one, though, is "the highest ranking outside of Japan." Seriously, I've searched his site and found a few references to various Zen masters. None of them have names. Well, sure. Because we all know what happened the last time Ray gave the name of one of his super, high level teachers. He turned out to be a tour guide. So best to keep those identifiers on the DL.

May 7, 2014

Satanists Fight for First Amendment as SCOTUS Shreds It

An excellent column in the Chicago Tribune underscores the pernicious effect of this week's Supreme Court decision allowing prayer in town council meetings. Eric Zorn asks readers to try a thought experiment. Imagine moving into a new town and finding that getting the required variance for a small home construction project means sitting through a homily by an LDS Bishop on the wonders of Joseph Smith and the supremacy of Mormonism. You'd probably get your variance, but if you're anything but Mormon, you'd also feel a lot less comfortable in your new home.

Switch around the variables in my hypothetical if you want. Make the community leaders predominantly Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or adherents of Scientology. Put yourself in the role of The Other.

Such basic empathy is notably lacking in a spate of legal fights over First Amendment protections. Freedom of religion is being redefined as the right of some groups to impose their religious beliefs on "the other" and with state sanction.

This recent SCOTUS decision bodes ill as we await a decision on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Inc.

Not only do such decisions entitle some religious groups to disenfranchise people who don't want to be bound by religious authority, and don't want their life choices to be dictated by religion-based decisions of any public or private entity, they disenfranchise people of different religious conviction. They actually restrict the religious freedom.

The assumption always seems to be that the religious argument will be the most regressive as it relates to social issues. This is simply not the case. For instance, as discussed here, any restriction on birth control and abortion violates the religious tenets of Judaism.

Similarly, as I've argued many times, laws against same-sex marriage don't just impose a less than sound Biblical viewpoint on the non-religious, they restrict the chosen practice of religious organizations that wish to conduct same-sex weddings.

The Wild Hunt gives a good overview of the legal issues in something of a test case in North Carolina.

Eight North Carolina clergy, an entire Protestant denomination and several same sex couples seeking to be married filed the country’s first faith-based challenge to same-sex marriage bans claiming North Carolina’s laws blocks them from practicing their religion. In 2012 North Carolina voters approved an amendment to their constitution defining marriage and civil unions as limited to one man and one woman. The lawsuit alleges previous state marriage statutes, when combined with the amendment, impose fines on clergy who bless the wedding of any couple who doesn’t have a valid marriage license issued by state. They further claim this unconstitutionally restricts religious freedom by barring clergy from free exercise of their religion.

The preferential treatment of one or some religions over others is one of the key reasons the Jeffersonian Wall is so important. It doesn't restrict the free exercise of religion. It protects it. It just doesn't allow state sanction to impose it. Says Zorn:

But the majority blew a new hole in that wall instead, specifically saying that even to require such government-sponsored prayers to be nondenominational would impermissibly allow lawmakers and the courts "to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech."

Yet the same justices said such prayers must not "denigrate nonbelievers or religious minorities, threaten damnation, or preach conversion," which, of course, will require lawmakers and the courts to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech.

The Satanic Temple has decided to test the government's ability to protect minority religions and their ability to express themselves in the public sphere.

Back in January, The Satanic Temple, a New York-based religious organization, used Indiegogo to successfully fund the creation of their proposed Satanic monument, which they hope will be erected at the statehouse to “complement and contrast the 10 Commandments monument that resides there now.”

. . .

The Satanic Temple had the idea to have a statue of their own design erected at the Oklahoma Capitol after a religious Ten Commandants monument was installed there in 2012, sparking protests from the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. While The Satanic Temple submitted an application with their a design proposal for a Baphomet statue and has far-surpassed their funding goal, the Preservation Commission, the decision-makers in this case, recently voted to place a moratorium on considering further new statue requests until the aforementioned ACLU lawsuit is decided upon. That means, the Satanists on still on hold at this point.

It will come as a shocker to no one that Oklahoma lawmakers don’t like the idea of having a monument donated by a Satanic group adorning the lawn of their Capitol building, even if it will provide more public seating (Baphomet’s lap is meant to serve as a seat for visitors). Oklahoma Rep. Earl Sears called The Satanic Temple’s request to erect their monument in his state “an insult to the good people of the state,” according to the AP. “I do not see Satanism as a religion, and they have no place at the state Capitol,” said the Republican House member.

So who made Rep. Earl Sears, or any other legislator, the arbiter of what is and isn't a religion? Therein lies the problem of state sponsored religion.

Much like LaVey's Church of Satan, The Satanic Temple seems to exist to challenge authority and rattle the cages. And similarly, their stated goals belie the popular conception Satanists as ritual abusers and servants of evil.

The truth regarding Satanism has been unfortunately obscured by a history of delirious, paranoid conspiracy theories, blood libel, and imaginative inaccuracies. Just as ancient Pagans demonized early Christians, and Christians in turn demonized Pagans and Jews, so too are Satanists popularly demonized as a result of misunderstandings, intolerance, and fear-mongering opportunism.

While underlying causes of witch-hunts — ancient and modern — are generally recognized to have their sociological origins in factors independent of the actual existence of witches or Satanists, evidence nonetheless suggests the regular appearance of Satanic devotees extending far back into Western civilized history. Historical reports of early Satanism are often colored by fears of an anti-human “other”, however, the literary history of Satan — from Milton to Anatole France — suggests that biblical interpretations of a humanistic, benevolent Satan, driving our highest aspirations and encouraging human compassion have resonated for centuries. Though not professed Satanists themselves, we nonetheless consider Milton and France’s works inspired texts that best capture the Satanic archetype as a symbol of revolt against the tyranny of autocracy as well as the tyranny of archaic dogmas… a literary Satan that holds primacy in the corporeal world from which God is permanently detached.

The Satanic cults of conspiracy theory folklore have no basis in historical fact, nor is there any evidence of a single line of Satanic tradition that has persisted, unbroken, parallel, and in opposition to, the openly practiced religions of our Civilization’s history.

Plus the statue's kind of cool.

Should the ACLU prevail in its battle against Oklahoma's ten commandments monument -- something I'm less confident in every day -- it's off to other church/state battles.

Greaves has made it clear that the group would no longer petition to have the statue installed should the ten commandments monument be removed, but he isn't concerned about finding somewhere else to place the statue should they fail to get permission in Oklahoma. "There are no shortage of public locations across the US where religious monuments await a contrasting voice," he tells Vice, which first published photos of the statue. And they're prepared should demonstrators destroy the statue: they're holding onto the cast and plan to take out an insurance policy on the statue.

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Apr 14, 2014

Into the Darkness

Late tonight we will be treated to a total lunar eclipse. Slate has a detailed writeup on where and how to view it.

Do you live in North America, South America, Australia, or eastern Asia? Then you get to see a lunar eclipse on the night of April 14/15! And while North America is the best place to watch—we’ll get to see the whole event—the real action doesn’t begin until 05:58 UTC on the 15th, which is just before 02:00 EDT, so it’s a bit late. You might just want to stay up for it, though.

It will also be broadcast live by the Griffith Observatory.

But this is just the attention getter for a series of celestial alignments that astrologers are claiming is one for the books. This Easter will bring with it a collective crucifixion as a Grand Cross in the Cardinal signs.

Apr 13, 2014

"Gospel of Jesus's Wife" Papyrus Authenticated

The papyrus fragment that touched off a firestorm because it refers to Jesus's wife appears to be authentic. Tests of the papyrus fibers and ink confirm that both are of ancient origin.

For two years, researchers carried out a number of tests, including two radiocarbon tests, microscopic imaging, and micro-Raman spectroscopy, to examine the fragment.

One of the radiocarbon tests indicated that the piece of papyrus must have originated from some time between 659 and 859 CE. Using micro-Raman spectroscopy, researchers confirmed that the ink's carbon character matched with similar samples of other old papyri fragments. The handwriting was examined, and imaging scientists assessed the damage caused to the document to examine if there was a possibility of the document being forged or doctored.

After weighing the evidence, the scholars and scientists agree that the GJW fragment is old and definitely "a product of early Christians, not a modern forger," according to a press release from Harvard Divinity School.

Homeless Jesus

A public art installation in an affluent North Carolina suburb is causing some consternation amongst the locals. One woman even called the police when she noticed what appeared to be a homeless person sleeping on a bench outside St. Alban's Episcopal Church. Another complained in a letter to the editor of the local paper. But the vagrant cast in bronze is artist Timothy Schmalz's conception of Jesus.

Some neighbors felt it was an insulting depiction of the Son of God, and what appears to be a hobo curled up on a bench demeans the neighborhood.

The bronze statue was purchased for $22,000 as a memorial for a parishioner, Kate McIntyre, who had loved public art. The rector of this liberal, inclusive church is Rev. David Buck, a 65-year-old Baptist-turned-Episcopalian who seems not at all averse to the controversy, the double-takes and the discussion the statue has provoked.

"It gives authenticity to our church," he says. "This is a relatively affluent church, to be honest, and we need to be reminded ourselves that our faith expresses itself in active concern for the marginalized of society."

. . .

"We believe that that's the kind of life Jesus had," Buck says. "He was, in essence, a homeless person."

Mar 16, 2014

Bill Maher on Noah and his Genocidal God

I like Bill Maher. His New Atheist views less so. I think his views on religion are often under-informed and facile. That said, I find little to disagree with in his latest anti-religious rant. It is a little frightening that so many in the US take Biblical myths literally. Maher claims that 60% of Americans believe Noah's Ark is a true story. I assume this isn't in the sense that it is reflective of similar catastrophe myths found around the globe or that it probably derives very directly from the Sumerian legend of Utnapishtim.

The statistic Maher cites most likely comes from a 2004 ABC poll. That same study found that literal belief is strongest among evangelical Christians, much as one would expect. But this is always the problem with New Atheist arguments. They focus on their direct nemeses, those as dogmatic in their views as they themselves are. And, in fairness, there really is no arguing that literal belief in this story poisons our thinking for the central reason Maher states. This Old Testament god they worship is a genocidal maniac. Belief in such a god sets the stage for all manner of cruelty and consciously or unconsciously justifies atrocities.

Joseph Campbell has said much the same and I have cited the following more than once. Maher just says it funnier.

[The Bible is] the most over-advertised book in the world. It's very pretentious to claim it to be the word of God, or accept it as such and perpetuate this tribal mythology, justifying all kinds of violence to people who are not members of the tribe.

The thing I see about the Bible that's unfortunate is that it's a tribally circumscribed mythology. It deals with a certain people at a certain time. The Christians magnified it to include them. It then turns this society against all others, whereas the condition of the world today is that this particular society that's presented in the Bible isn't even the most important. This thing is like a dead weight. It's pulling us back because it belongs to an earlier period. We can't break loose and move into a modern theology.

One of the great promises of mythology is, with what social group do you identify? How about the planet? To say that the members of this particular social group are the elite of God's world is a good way to keep that group together, but look at the consequences! I think that what might be called the sanctified chauvinism of the Bible is one of the curses of the planet today.

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Mar 10, 2014

Anthony Peake on Philip K. Dick and the Nature of Reality

Note to self: Read more Anthony Peake and Philip K. Dick.

Sometimes I think the only way to tell the truth is to write SF and Fantasy. This is a fascinating interview... more of an Anthony Peake monologue with a few interruptions, really, and all the more excellent for it. Recommended.

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Mar 9, 2014

Pope Francis Sex Abuse FAIL

Pope Francis has delighted many, myself included, as the kinder, gentler pontiff. But I've said from the outset that when it comes to Catholic leadership the sex abuse crisis is where the rubber meets the road. So when His Holiness addressed the crisis with the same tired rap we've been hearing from Church apologists for years, he brought predictable disappointment and outrage.

When challenged in an interview about his less than proactive response to the crisis, his reaction was to rest on the laurels of all the progress the Church has made. And in a second thoroughly typical reply he deflected criticism of the Catholic Church by making vague statements about how badly everybody else has handled the issue.

“The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that moved with transparency and responsibility,” the pope continued, arguing that most abuse occurs in the home or other community environments. “No one else did as much. And yet, the church is the only one being attacked.”

Does the Catholic Church train its clerics in self-righteous blame throwing?

Mar 7, 2014

Rhode Island Legionaries to Face Lawsuit

A lawsuit against the Rhode Island chapter of the Legion of Christ will proceed. A previous lawsuit, discussed here, here, and here, was dismissed on the basis that the plaintiff lacked legal standing to bring the suit. That case is on appeal. As discussed Mary Lou Dauray's lawsuit inspired reporters to seek and win a treasure trove of documents pertaining to the Legion of Christ. They revealed the organization's long history of concealing its founder's many abuses and its pattern of extracting large sums of money from its devotees.

Enter Paul Chu whose father also willed a sizable donation to the Rhode Island Legion.

A federal judge in Rhode Island has agreed to let a lawsuit move forward against the Roman Catholic religious order the Legion of Christ, turning down an attempt by the disgraced order to end the lawsuit brought over a late Yale University professor's $1 million bequest.

. . .

It's the second lawsuit making its way through the courts in Rhode Island that raises questions about how the Legion secured large donations from elderly supporters. The other is in state court and involves around $60 million left by a wealthy widow. It was dismissed because the judge found the woman's niece did not have standing to sue, but a state Supreme Court appeal is pending.

In the federal lawsuit, Chu, the son of retired mechanical engineering professor James Boa-Teh Chu, says his father was wrongly coerced, defrauded and deceived into signing over $1 million to $2 million to the Legion before he died in 2009. He says his father, who lived in East Providence, R.I., was led to believe the Legion's founder, the late Rev. Marcial Maciel, was a saint, even as the Vatican was investigating serious sexual abuse allegations about him.

Mar 3, 2014

Sexy Jesus, Pt. II: The Gallery

Well, it took years, a Portuguese sex symbol, and a trending hashtag, but they finally got there. The major media has noticed the strange tendency to portray Jesus as the sexy white guy he almost definitely wasn't. Well, he might have been sexy. We don't really know. But white, not so much.

Son of God has been doing big box office as the striking Diogo Morgado reprises his role from The Bible. But strangely it seems the first time the press has seriously entertained the question: Why is Jesus so sexy?

It's something I've been asking for quite some time. Why is Jesus always hot? He was kind to prostitutes and adultresses, so the story goes, but never had sex with any of them. He never had sex at all. Any suggestion that he may have sends the Vatican into a full-blown tizz.

There is something deeply disturbing about these endless portrayals of Jesus as a very handsome -- and emotionally available -- but asexual man. Yet, Jesus has been dead sexy down through the ages.

Feb 28, 2014

Rewriting Jesus

This was my comment to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer when I signed the petition asking her to veto SB1062:

Whom would Jesus refuse to serve? This bill isn't just un-Constitutional. It's un-Christian.

I'd love to think that her decision to veto the bill was because of people like myself who petitioned and protested this legislative abomination. I'm not naive. I'm quite sure it had much more to do with the business leaders who brought their cumulative corporate weight to bear. Arizona doesn't want the opinions of the little people so much as it wants their tourism dollars.

Either way, that particular crisis was averted. But hate is a hydra. A similar bill is gathering momentum in Georgia.

Feb 19, 2014

Graham Hancock: Exploring Consciousness

Graham Hancock here offers an excellent synthesis of some of his more recent work. The "hard problem of consciousness" is turning out to be one of the most divisive issues in the sciences, as the TED fiasco made abundantly clear. Here Hancock discusses why TED was so challenged by his short talk and goes into a lot of depth on his own personal and professional processing of that question. The talk primarily focuses on three of his recent books. I've read them all and I've loved them all. Supernatural, in particular is on the short list of my very favorite books of all time. Enjoy!

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