Perry Stone’s Roman Fantasy

You know, Perry Stone just can’t seem to help himself. If he isn’t stepping in the dog doo-doo concerning ancient Paganism, he is doing so with reference to the history of the Roman Empire. Frankly, Roman history must be a favorite subject of his, as often as he mentions it. Too bad his history is, apparently, mostly made-up in his own mind.

Case in point, on the most recent airing of his program “Mana Fest” (09/06/2020), a program entitled “Why the Government is Afraid of Christianity” – Episode #1039, he almost began with a description of the fall of the Roman Empire in the West – right after mentioning, for whatever reason, that former president Harry S. Truman believed that our laws in America were founded upon the Bible. Why he even made that statement, I was left unsure. But then he asked why Christianity in the US was being “assaulted”. He then went even further by asking how many atheists had ever started an orphanage or had programs to feed the poor or had assisted in feeding the poor.

Directly afterward, he stated that, in order to show what it was all about, he had to go back to the Roman Empire, and he immediately cites Edward Gibbon. He began to enumerate what he said Gibbon’s reasons for the fall of the empire in the West were. First (1), invasions of ten Germanic tribes. Second (2), taxation within the empire, he said, supposedly still citing Gibbon, was so high that people could no longer afford to live there, “and they pulled out and left”. Stone continued; “[i]t came to a point that farmers would not even farm their land; they just left it to go to another country. Third (3), “[t]hey had something called doles”, which Stone said were started with good intentions, but that people “began to realize that they could live off the government and they could make more money with government assistance than they did working a job”. To support this, Stone asked his oh-so attentive audience if they knew that the Romans had eventually passed a law that if someone had a job they were not allowed to quit that job. Further, Stone insinuated that the latter Roman Empire (in the West) was sort of a pattern for, guess what – socialism (we see where this is going, don’t we?). In short, he said, “they ran out of other people’s money”. Sound familiar? He continued; “[p]eople began to move out of the country – they began to move out of Rome, and foreigners from other countries came into Rome, and into Italy, and completely took it over and overran it. And so that’s how the Roman Empire – the Western branch – collapsed.”

Yet, Stone continued that Gibbon said another interesting thing; that when persecution of Christians began to cease, and it was made the official religion under Constantine, so many people converted to Christianity that Christianity “may have been the cause of the fall of” the Western Roman Empire. How? “When people became Christians, they ceased to go to the Pagan temples [he names off a handful of deities here] all the idols that the Romans had worshipped in these massive temples that they built became empty because people no longer served the idol, they served the true God. Now, what began to happen there is the temples began to decline. And when the temples began to decline, guess what? The second aspect was . . . the silver smiths and those that made idols – and you can read about this in the book of Acts – began to lose business. Paul went to a city and so many people got saved that the silver smith got mad and had a riot and had the government – town government – come against Paul and said ‘he’s affecting our business because nobody wants to buy a silver idol anymore’, and so it affected the temple, it affected idolatry; it affected the making of false gods.

Then in the empire [I thought we were still in the empire….] something began to happen. Jews, as you know, and Christians have what’s called Shabbat. That’s the Hebrew word for . . . the seventh day – the day of rest. The Romans literally worked seven days a week, so they wanted you to work on Saturday and Sunday. Then when the Christians refused to – [began to] say, ‘we have to have a day off’ and the Jews began to say, ‘no, we have to have a day off’, the Roman Empire leaders and governors and the magistrates began to say, ‘the Christians are lazy’. And then they wanted Christians not to be hired, of Jews [not] to be hired in market places because they said they’re not gonna work as hard as we work. It wasn’t that they weren’t working hard; its that they wanted a day off”. So, in essence, according to Stone, the Romans saw the Christians as lazy.

He continued; “[o]f course, for the Roman government, the more you worked, the more tax money that they could gain”. We must also understand something else, he continued, as he went into a little diatribe about meat offered to idols – the point, he said, being that “everything around Rome that turned the Romans against Christians was because of money”. Stone had his willing audience repeat this.

Sounds quite plausible, doesn’t it – at least to a novice who does not understand Roman history or society or even how the empire functioned. But, after all, he got all of this from Gibbon, right? Surely using an authority means that Stone is right, doesn’t it? Well, let’s see, shall we?

But, before we begin to take Stone’s analysis apart, let’s first dispense with the initial statement that former president Truman believed that our laws were/are based on biblical laws. The only thing I am going to state in response to that is, “so what?” Lots of people have come to that conclusion, which is, in part, true. So?”

Secondly, Stone’s retort against atheists, although it does not really fit within the greater scheme of his diatribe either, needs to be reckoned with. It’s not that I want to defend atheists, after all. But, facts are still facts and the truth of the matter is that they have set up at least one orphanage – in Uganda. And, in fact, atheists do have an organization set up specifically to help the poor and the homeless. That Christians, by and large, do more than other groups should not be a point of argumentation. Christians are SUPPOSED to do these types of things, as commanded by their Lord. So, again, I would respond with, “so what?”

Now, also before I begin with the main argument, I want to mention that there are those, especially atheists themselves as well as many religions “scholars” who dismiss Gibbon’s analysis as flawed, at best – especially with reference to the idea that Christianity had anything to do with the fall of the empire in the West. They sometimes even go to great lengths to discredit Gibbon. I, for one, accept his analysis almost in total, even though it is, like any other analysis, flawed at certain points (something he himself acknowledged). The fact of the matter is that no analysis can be perfect, after all. But, because I accept his points, for the most part, I really do take exception to someone like Perry Stone even presuming to use them (which he really didn’t, as we will see). I take just about as much exception to this as I do the idea that he also presumes to even know anything about the Roman Empire. The plain fact of the matter is that he doesn’t. And that will be demonstrated here too. He has a smattering of knowledge and “facts”, but no real understanding.

Stone first (1) cites Gibbon, stating that part of the reason for the collapse of the empire in the West was the invasion of Germanic tribes, ten, to be exact. Well, it’s been a while since I consulted Gibbon in detail, so I am not going to quibble about whether he said there were ten tribes or twenty. The fact of the matter is that this was indeed a factor, perhaps the major factor overall, along with invasions of other groups, most notably the Huns, which Stone somehow leaves out. In fact, one could postulate that the main reason the Germanic tribes invaded the Roman Empire was exactly because of the Huns. But, I suggest that Stone simply does not know this, or he might have at least referred to the Huns in his analysis.

But, before we move on to Stone’s second point, let’s read Gibbon’s words directly as stated in Volune III of his great work, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. He stated that there were four (4) principle reasons for the fall of the empire in the West. The following is his statement on the matter. “The rise of a city, which swelled into an Empire, may deserve, as a singular prodigy, the reflection of a philosophic mind. But the decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and, instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long. The victorious legions, who, in distant wars, acquired the vices of strangers and mercenaries, first oppressed the freedom of the republic, and afterwards violated the majesty of the purple. The emperors, anxious for their personal safety and the public peace, were reduced to the base expedient of corrupting the discipline which rendered them alike formidable to their sovereign and to the enemy; the vigour of the military government was relaxed, and finally dissolved, by the partial institutions of Constantine; and the Roman world was overwhelmed by a deluge of Barbarians” (Ch. 38). . . . after a diligent inquiry” he listed “four principal causes of the ruin of Rome, which continued to operate in a period of more than a thousand years. . . . (I) The injuries of time and nature [not mentioned by Stone]. (II) The hostile attacks of the barbarians and Christians [the latter also not alluded to by Stone at all – and, in fact, the two were often one and the same, i.e. – Christianized barbarians]. (III) The use and abuse of materials [sort-of alluded to by Stone]. And, (IV) The domestic quarrels of the Romans [not alluded to by Stone].”

In any case, Stone’s second point (2), also supposedly gleaned from Gibbon, is that taxation was so high within the empire that people chose to quit farming and move elsewhere – to other countries. People simply could not afford to live within the empire because of high taxation, so they left for greener pastures, so to speak, according to Stone. In fact, to hear him tell it, they left in droves, even leaving their farmland behind. “Bye, y’all!”

Stone somehow tied these supposed happenings with the Roman dole, apparently not knowing that this was something started at the very beginning of the empire, not toward the end, as he suggested, and also not knowing that the dole was, in fact, not the same as what is termed the “bread and circuses”. To put it simply, the dole was a structure enacted only for the benefit of Roma itself, not any outlying provinces. So, only the populace of Roma herself benefitted from this. The provinces actually paid for it. That, in fact, was basically the entire structure of the Roman Empire. Wealth was systematically taken from the provinces, especially from the wealthy, and transferred to Roma. The citizens of the city herself paid no taxes, period.

Whether that was a good policy or not can be debated. The fact of the matter, however, is that it worked for a LONG time. The main reasons that such a system began not to work so well had to do with barbarian invasions and barbarian settlement within the empire. See, when the Goths were allowed to settle in Dacia, for example, they displaced Roman subjects who had already been living there. Many of these were, in fact, former soldiers who had obtained their lands due to their military service. They had to give up their lands for these barbarian hordes who suddenly came in, invited by the EASTERN Roman emperors. The plan was simple – settle the Goths in Dacia and, hopefully, they would become good, loyal citizens. That way the Romans would not have to fight yet another war to try to keep them out. Essentially, the plan really didn’t work and, on top of that, there were many disgruntled Roman subjects who had been displaced because of this – forced to settle elsewhere within the empire. Roman soldiers, for their part, as well as others allied with them, treated these barbarians with great disdain, even going so far as bringing them to the brink of starvation, and then feeding dog meat to them!

Anyway, policies such as this one helped to cause a lessening of wealth and produce from coming into Roma from the provinces. Yes, fewer farmers meant less wealth and produce going to Roma. Yes, that was a fundamental part of the taxation process that was failing toward the latter part of the Western Empire’s existence. Yes, in effect, taxes were high – for the provinces. They always had been from the very start, but it got worse over time. Thus, as the empire expanded, more wealth flowed into Roma herself. When she ceased to expand, things began to contract. In later times people essentially resorted to feudalism and, thus, did not contribute to the economy of the empire. And the empire overall reverted to more of a barter system than it had already been. Yes, many farmers quit farming because of impossible taxation. But they did NOT move to “other countries”. Constantine and his successors, by the way, did little to nothing that actually helped the situation.

AGAIN, NO, FARMERS DID NOT JUST PICK UP AND LEAVE THEIR ANCESTRAL LANDS FOR OTHER COUNTRIES! MR. STONE – THERE WERE NO OTHER COUNTRIES FOR ANYONE TO GO TO! THERE WERE BARBARIAN LANDS, OR THERE WAS THE SASSANID EMPIRE. THAT WAS IT! I’m sorry, but what sort of an imbecile pictures the Roman Empire surrounded by other countries?!

In addition, no, people did not decide that they didn’t have to work because the government would take care of them. In fact, that statement is completely contradictory to the explanation you (Stone) gave about how the Romans began to see the Christians (and the Jews) as lazy and not willing to work hard.

But it’s even worse than that. See, it just didn’t happen the way Stone describes it. Stone paints a picture of Christians agitating for a day off, and being called “lazy” by the Romans, and the Jews following suit in this, with the Romans also calling them lazy on that account. The fact of the matter, however, is that the idea that the Jews were lazy because they did not want to work on the Sabbath predated any comparison with the Christians on that point. The earliest known extant reference to this is found in the Fourteenth Satire of the Roman poet Juvenal (c67-c145). And this was not, by any means, the only hateful thing said about the Jews by the Romans and others. As a natural result, the Christians were seen in the same way – because Christianity was not seen as separate from Judaism for some time. When the Christians began to insist that they needed the first day of the week off each week (sorry, Mr. Stone, but “Saturday” and “Sunday” were not actual Roman days of the week), they were seen exactly the way the other Jews had been already.

Mr. Stone simply has all of this confused and mixed up, just as he also does the issues with barbarian invasions and the effects of these. See, Mr. Stone cites Italy and Roma as places people left because of being displaced by others who came into the empire. He indicates that people first moved away, and then foreigners came in and took over. That is false. The fact of the mater is that the only major invasion into Italy itself prior to the massive influx of barbarians after the defeat of the Huns, and onward to Roma, was led by the Visigoth Alaric. And it did not come from outside of the empire, but from within since Alaric commanded his own Roman forces (mainly barbarians, to be sure). He moved from more Eastern provinces into Italy because he was denied a greatly-coveted promotion. That barbarians invaded, and settled in, Italy, as well as other parts of the empire later is a given.

That said, Stone is obviously confusing the situation with the Goths in Dacia with Alaric’s invasion of Italy. In Italy, no one simply moved out, to be replaced by foreigners or invaders. NO ONE! And, again, NO ONE packed up and moved to other countries BECAUSE THERE WERE NO OTHER COUNTRIES TO GO TO!

As for this supposed Roman law that a person could not quit a job, there were so many Roman laws, some repeats or near-repeats of older ones, that I suppose there could have been such a law, or a similar one. Certainly, the economy had become so strained by the third century CE that people were essentially forced to remain in the same position and status as they already had. Was there a socialist tendency in some Roman laws? Absolutely – because they were meant for the good of the populace and the empire as a whole. Stone’s insinuation that they practiced an early form of what we today call “socialism”, however, is unfounded. The insulting statement that “they ran out of other people’s money” is so baseless and ignorant of the way things worked that it really does not deserve to be dignified. In addition, Stone certainly ignores the myriad of other laws that targeted Pagans and Pagan worship, sometimes with cruel punishments attached to them, in favor of Christianity.

So, he wraps everything up in a neat little bow, stating that this is the way the Western Roman Empire collapsed. Trouble is – he really didn’t tell us why or how it collapsed. He simply combined misinformation with things he evidently made up in his own head, all the while claiming to have got his information from Gibbon.

Even so, he continues from there. He makes the baseless, yet often-repeated, claim that so many people converted to Christianity (yes, they just willingly converted in droves because of Christian love!) that Christianity may have contributed to the fall of the empire in the West because they didn’t continue to support the economy by participating in “idol worship”. Frankly, I was astonished that Stone would even admit that Christianity might have had anything to do with the fall of the empire because most vehemently deny this even though the evidence is rather hard to miss. But, naturally, he tied this to a reason – that Christians did not support the temples anymore.

In fact, Stone IS right on that latter point, believe it or not. When Christians ceased to participate in sacrifices and other forms of temple worship, it DID affect the local economies in the provinces, and that had a ripple effect all over the empire. Yes, that happened. However, people simply were NOT converting in droves the way Stone suggests. He is simply following the tired mantra of biased Christian history put forth over the centuries, something that Gibbon did not do.

The fact of the matter is that the temples did not become “empty” because people were converting to Christianity. They became neglected and empty specifically because of laws passed by Christian emperors, beginning with Constantine, which proscribed punishments for those who participated in sacrifices and temple activities. These laws, Stone has obviously ignored, if he even knows about them.

Stone, in his grand diatribe (such as it was) also did the same thing many Christian theologians and others have done down through the centuries. He engaged in hyperbole and insult concerning Pagan religious systems, mainly by referring to our deities as “idols” and stating that we worship them (the physical image of the deity). This is a slur that is as offensive as it is unjustified, but one that they can get away with because they always have. Deep down, the Christian actually hates the Pagan exactly because it took Christianity so much effort to overcome Paganism in the Western world. That is just a fact. They want to ignore the history and even claim, at times, that it never even happened, but their obvious hatred towards Pagans and Paganism demonstrates that they know what they did just the same.

In any case, Stone claims that the temples declined because of the Christians, which is partially correct, as noted. Some counter that they were already in decline, ignoring the fact that there was a resurgence of Pagan worship and practice during the early centuries CE. After all, all religions wax and wane over time.

But Stone gets even more confused when he ties this decline to the silver smiths. I actually wanted to laugh when he began this convoluted piece of idiotic sophistry. Why? Exactly because it became immediately obvious that Stone was solely referencing the book of Acts as his source for this. He even admits as much himself. Did Christianity reduce the demand for “idols”? Naturally. Did this have anything to do with the episode from the book of Acts? Not really. The events were so far distant in time that to posit any real correlation between them would be mindless. In essence, Stone posits that such events continued to take place all over the empire, causing an economic downturn. The fact that Christians did not buy animals for sacrifice is mentioned in historical records as an economic concern. The fact that they did not buy “idols” is not. Couple that with the misbegotten statement that people “got saved” in droves whenever Paul preached, and you simply have a picture that never really happened at all. Even the book of Acts shows that most people rejected Paul’s message. As an aside, I am rather proud of the fact that I have lots of – lots of – “idols” in my house!

In any case, it is also important to note that taxation was really not tied to how hard a person worked. I realize that this is difficult for those of us raised in modern capitalistic or socialistic systems to grasp. Yes, the Romans did engage in a type of capitalistic system in many respects. But, there was no system by which one earned a certain wage (except under Diocletian), and might earn more the harder one worked as in our modern capitalist system, and was taxed directly accordingly. That simply was not how it worked at all. It was, more or less, an advanced form of the barter system. And when one was paid directly, an employer could pay a person basically whatever they saw fit. So, if a person was not paid much, then the Romans could not have obtained much by way of taxes from them – if it had even worked that way. No, they focused mainly on the prosperous until they virtually drained them of wealth. Then they focused more on the poorer classes, and didn’t get much.

Finally, Mr. Stone states that everything that served to turn the Romans against Christianity was because of money. Talk about pulling something out of your own arse! That is clearly (1) NOT true and (2) NOT anything like what Gibbon said.

In the end, Stone closed by stating that the government fears Christians because of their ethics. Yes, he said the government fears Christians because they have ethics that they will act upon. Never mind that this is supposedly a nation founded on Christian ethics. The whole diatribe made about as much sense as a kindergartener’s paper might have.

The Monotheist’s Need to Prove

One of the main problems with monotheism is that at once the monotheist has to prove the existence of his god, both to himself as well as to others. Further than that, he then also has to prove that his god is the only one. And, beyond that, he has to prove his entire religion to others.

The polytheist does not have that issue, for we have no need to prove anything to anyone else since we do not proselytize. We do not even care if others believe our deities are real or not. And the deities themselves have no need to prove their own existence to anyone.

This is, in fact, the inherent weakness of monotheistic systems – the need to prove. It is an inherent fault of monotheism that it has to constantly prove itself.

Again, the polytheist has nothing to prove and we don’t proselytize. The only detriment that I see in this is that it also does not allow Pagans, as a religious entity, to be fully recognized as legitimate by those of other mainstream religions, or by society in general. And this prevents us from advancing toward becoming fully recognized, for example, by the military, so that a need for Pagan chaplains can be seen. I am not suggesting that Pagans should all be able to come together and unite as one; but we lack any sort of cohesion that might make some form of recognition by others possible. As long as this is the case, we will never see Pagan chaplains in the military, Pagan libraries and schools, or Pagan places of worship in various areas as we see with Christianity. There is no way to compete with a religion like Christianity if we cannot, at a minimum, form some sort of cohesiveness that would allow us to be seen as legitimate by the world at large. This is simply a fact, and nothing will change this within the next generation or two other than a determination to make it happen, which we seem to lack overall as a movement.

Racism, Bigotry, and Anti-Semitism

Wow! What a broad topic, right? You know, I was taught in college to narrow the topic. But, it seems to me that sometimes one has to create a topical headline such as this to get the attention of potential readers. So, I will not narrow the topic in this instance, although I will be relatively brief here.

The reason I write today is simple; racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism are all on the rise. Of course, those on the far Right of the political spectrum still blame former president Obama for this, just as they blame either him or Hillary for virtually everything. This while they completely ignore, or explain away, the constant stream of hateful and divisive comments made by their new messiah, Donald Trump. Even when he is wrong, he’s not, as far as they are concerned.

True to form, this case was yet again made yesterday on the SBN program “Frances and Friends” during which more than one email was read in which the writer chided the panel for their determination to continue to talk politics rather than focusing on the gospel. Of course, neither email was received with any sort of objective consideration. The Swaggart team has made up their minds that talking politics IS one and the same as spreading the gospel. They even said as much yesterday.

Their new mantra for explaining why they support Trump, regardless of what he says or does, is because, in their own words, “God chose him” to lead this nation. That’s literally it. They seem to think that the idea that their “God” placed Trump in office, with the help of the evangelical vote, of course, seals the deal and there should, therefore, be no further discussion on the subject. And anyone – anyone – who disagrees with them is literally of the devil! If you don’t believe they say this, watch their program for just a short length of time, if you can bear to do it.

And, after all, Trump supports Israel and has, in their minds, done so on an unprecedented level never before seen from a US president. His moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a prime example – evidence that he is “God’s” guy. But, of course, those evil, demon-inspired Democrats have tried to destroy him at every turn, they also say. Seriously, if you like to hear religious personages call Democrats “evil” and “demon-possessed”, then this program, and their other program, “Insight”, are for you! But, for my own part, as a Democrat, I am rather appalled that any so-called religious “leaders” would stoop to the level of calling ME “demon-possessed”, and it is one of the reasons that I am no longer a Christian, for I never was a Republican. Yes, SBN, it is exactly because of people like YOU that I am no longer a Christian! So much for your so-called “gospel”!

In any case, they will constantly add that they don’t believe Trump is perfect, or even a Christian, but his support of Christians, and of Israel (along with his objection to abortion and gay rights), is all that matters to them. They don’t care that his language is often vile and hateful and divisive. No, that doesn’t matter. None of that matters, and no matter how many times someone points these things out to them, they still remain steadfast in their lock-step support of Trump, period.

Following this, another email chided them for their constant refrain of anti-Catholicism. For those who have never watched the program, any mention of Catholicism, especially criticism of the panel for their position concerning it, sends Jim Nations into an unmitigated tizzy, during which he, if allowed to talk much, launches into every kind of anti-Catholic conspiracy theory known to humankind. For him, they are evil incarnate and there is literally nothing good about the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, some on the panel, such as Dr. Gray, have a more moderate position, but they still hold together as directly inferring that if one is saved, then one will eventually leave this church, as they openly stated on yesterday’s program.

All that said, the real reason I am writing today is not because of any of the above, because these things have become so common on this and other SBN programs. No, it is because of statements made later in the program in response to another email, which expressed concern about John Rosenstern’s statement a few days ago on said program that, according to a single verse in Deuteronomy (Deut. 18:18), the Antichrist would have to be a Jew. Now, I watched that program also and, granted, his statement, while theologically unsound, did not, in my view, rise to the level of “hate”. He was simply explaining why his biblical world-view leads him to believe that the Jewish people will not accept anyone who is not Jewish as their messiah. But, on the other hand, the email writer did have a legitimate concern with this because it did border on anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Now, on yesterday’s program the panel COULD have explained their position in a contrite and reasonable manner and probably satisfied this email writer and been done with it. If they had done this, then it would have been, in my mind, just another errant theological position that they regularly take, which could have been essentially laughed off and forgotten. The point being that I really don’t care what sort of flawed theology they espouse. I think most of it is quite comical. So, if they would simply stick to their flawed theology – their supposed “gospel” – I could not care less what they would have to say, other than for entertainment purposes. BUT THEY SIMPLY CANNOT DO THAT! And yesterday, not only did they step into the cow patty of politics yet again with their total support of Trump, but they also went full-throttle into blatant anti-Semitism!

Now, I am going to state for the record that most people in this nation are not educated to the extent which will allow them to readily recognize anti-Semitism when it crops up. I was one such as that many years ago too. I get it. It is a sad statement on our society, but it is nonetheless true. But, as with just about everything else, most people THINK they would recognize it if they saw it. Sort of like Ed Meese during the 1980s when, during his little war on pornography, he said something to the effect of “I know it when I see it”. But, for those out there who may have watched this particular program, and have accepted their explanation – no, sadly, you DON’T recognize it at all, for you just bought into it hook line and sinker. And now I will explain why, for those who wish to understand.

As is often the case on this program, it was up to Donnie Swaggart to make the most forceful statements in their defense of the presumption of anti-Semitism leveled by the email writer. Again, he did not go into a reasonable, logical, discourse on the subject in an effort to help the writer understand their position. Instead, he went into a tirade, the likes of which, sadly, are not rare for him on this program. In essence, Donnie Swaggart reiterated the very talking points that have been used as “reasons” to hate and harm Jewish people ever since Christianity fully broke away from Judaism.

Now, it is entirely possible that neither he, nor anyone else on the panel with the possible exception of Dr. Gray, have never read any of the anti-Jewish propaganda written by early Christian church fathers and, therefore, have never actually been exposed to it. It’s possible. BUT, that is simply no excuse. AND, if that is true, then it highlights my thesis that theology should remain within the realm of trained theologians, not corn cob eating country hucksters like the Swaggarts. This, because a well-educated theologian of any faith would have known about these writings and, usually, have had sense enough not to repeat the same mantras that have led to the persecution and murder of Jewish people for over two-thousand years! I say “usually”, because there is always that one stray theologian of any stripe who will go off onto a limb and make egregious statements like this out of morbid stupidity, or just plain hatred. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others did exactly this (and the theological training of some is suspect, at best).

What sort of statement am I referring to here? The repetition of the mantra that the Jewish people (as a whole) were/are to blame for the crucifixion of Christ. Not the Romans; the Jews. That’s right; even as they preach “the cross” as the only way to salvation, someone still has to be to BLAME for the fact that it happened, and for the Swaggart team, especially for Donnie himself (apparently), it was the JEWS! Why? Well, because the Bible says so in Matthew 27:25, where “the whole people” are quoted as saying “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children”. And Donnie made it even worse by stating that this is exactly why the Jews have suffered for over two-thousand years and why the Holocaust happened.

So, according to their theology, every single time the Jewish people have faced adversity, persecution, and even murder, they DESERVED it because they killed Christ! Yes, “God” himself cursed his own people for the crucifixion of Christ! This is what is known as the “blood curse”, although I suppose Donnie Swaggart does not really know that. But, frankly, I think I am giving him too much credit here, because he must know it. And yet, he repeats it anyway.

Donnie Swaggart, yesterday, fell directly in line with several ancient early church fathers, most especially with John Chrysostom, who wrote eight homilies against the Jews and also wrote a hideous diatribe entitled “Why I Hate the Jews”. And every thought presented hearkens directly back to that one single passage in Matthew (just as John Rosenstern’s insistence that the Antichrist must be a Jew comes from one single passage in Deuteronomy). But, one would think that someone as well-read as Rosenstern says he is would be aware that, historically, his statement is in error – multiple times. After all, who in the Bible was first (after David) referred to as “messiah”? That would be Cyrus of Persia, who certainly was NOT a Jew. Check it out; it’s in the Bible (Isaiah 45:1)!

Beyond this, the Jewish people have actually had a habit, especially in ancient times, of calling military and political leaders who were not of Jewish heritage “messiah”. Case in point, as difficult as this would be to fathom for those who don’t understand Judaism or even history; the Roman emperor Vespasian was referred to as “messiah” by Jewish rabbis! Yes, the guy who began the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, only to be completed by his son, Titus, was called BY Jewish Rabbis of the time, “messiah”. And that was during the very siege of Jerusalem! And, again, he wasn’t the only one.

But, even here, the Swaggart team went on to compound their “guilt”, so to speak, by stating, basically, that hey cannot be anti-Semitic because they support Israel (probably more than any other ministry, they said), and they support Trump, who has done more for Israel than any previous president. See, these days it ALL always goes back to their real “messiah”, Trump. Yes, for them, and for many others, as long as they “support” Israel, they simply cannot be anti-Semitic, no matter what else they may say. This, while they will label anyone else as anti-Semitic if they do not fully support Israel in every way, no matter what she does. I’ve got news for them and others like them – one does not have to support the corrupt modern-day state of Israel in order to prove they are not anti-Semitic. But, I will leave that argument be for the time being. Suffice it to be said that the modern state of Israel has no real connection to the ancient one other than the facts that (1) SOME of the Jewish people who reside there today may be descended from SOME of the tribes who resided there in ancient times, (2) they practice some form(s) of Judaism as their official religion, and (3) they managed to resurrect the Hebrew language for general use there. There truly is no further connection.

All of this leads back to my statement that I am no longer a Christian exactly because of people like the Swaggarts. But, not only that. It’s because I have actually learned these things. I have actually read, over the years, ALL of the early church fathers and ALL of the protestant reformers. Their works are generally filled with so much hate that I find it difficult to understand why any truly educated person would continue to be a Christian.

But, let me, finally, leave the reader with this. IF it was just about the Jesus of the New Testament, I would probably still be a Christian. For, as he hung on the cross – yes, that cross that the Swaggarts make such a to-do about as necessary for salvation – he said “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”. See, Jesus himself asked that they – all of them – be forgiven, and one has to accept by inference that the Father did indeed answer his prayer. So, there is NO room for the blood curse that Donnie Swaggart so vehemently insisted upon during yesterday’s program. You either love and forgive every single time, or you are NOT a real Christian, period. But how many can really do that?

The Delusion of Absurd Belief

Ever since New Year’s Eve (really, even before that) Jim Bakker has been ranting about the end of the world, the Apocalypse, and all that may (in his mind) come with that. In fairness, he is not the only one who does this. But, he is just about the only one left doing it to the extent that he does since Jack Van Impe died last year.

As many are aware, his latest focus has been on the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. For him, it is not just a pandemic. It is a sign from God, or a message from God, or punishment from God, or of the Devil himself – whichever he chooses on any given day or moment in time. Regardless, he is obviously convinced that it comes from his God (or the Devil), and that it has to do, as he says, with the fourth horseman of the book of “Revelation” (known as “The Apocalypse of John” among the educated).

Today, April 17th, 2020, he had Mikel French on his program. The reason? Mikel French and his wife, ministers of the gospel, contracted COVID-19 and became very sick because of it, and have survived. Somehow, this is supposed, apparently, to be some miracle from God – apparently he sent the virus as a warning, but it is also somehow from the “enemy” (the devil) as an effort to kill all the preachers who still preach what he thinks is the “real gospel”. Yes, apparently it can both be a sign or even punishment from God, and at the same time be something evil, coming from the Devil.

This particular program, by the way, airing on the same date that Trump tweeted that his people should resist Democratic governors who don’t want to open the country yet, even though they are following his and the scientist’s guidelines (these programs are taped days before they are aired) – a day after such a protest took place in Michigan against its Democratic governor. Yes, Trump is telling people to follow his guidelines, and at the same time is telling them to protest against Democrats who maybe don’t want to start their economies up as soon as he would like. Not really a surprise to me since recently Donnie Swaggart said that if the shut down goes past May 1st, it must be a Democratic plot to ruin the economy because they hate Trump.

As Bakker continued to rant, as he has for several days already, that people are trying to take him off the air, insisting that he as done nothing wrong, he continued with his errant theology by going back to the horses of the Apocalypse – that “they” (the enemy) want to take the Bible away.

Then he went into this lunacy that a billion souls will be saved because of this situation, turning back to Jesus (because they are so scared, obviously). But, at least he is not playing down the potential impact of this virus like the Swaggart people are. To be fair, both “ministries” are obeying directives to not hold public services where people actually attend. This, unlike others who are trying to make this into some sort of persecution of Christians just because they can’t attend church services physically. But, take it from me – Christians always cry “persecution” any time they don’t like something. That is a historical fact.

One of the things, as Bakker pointed out again today, was that on New Year’s Eve he said that people would start going after preachers to kill, murder, them, because they didn’t preach what they wanted them to. Yes, the virus is “an enemy… it would like to kill every preacher in the world; would like to kill every Christian”, Bakker said. Somehow, that conflates to what he said earlier around New Year’s Eve.

Clearly, all of this is completely irrational, but also, clearly, people accept and believe it or they would not be sending money to this and other similar “ministries”. That is nothing short of appalling to me! These people could not possibly stay in business if people were not giving them lots of money.

But, what is equally appalling to me is the attitude of some supposed Pagans (not sure they really are), who insist that the ancient deities did these same types of things and it is OK to believe it. These people (and I won’t even say it is my opinion because it comes from enlightenment) simply do not understand that the ancient myths were just stories designed to teach lessons – NOT stories to be accepted literally by anyone. These people are still deluded by the effects of monotheistic belief and have not reached enlightenment. They would prefer to still wallow in the mire that the monotheist does because they are comfortable there.

Don’t get me wrong. I still have tendencies to want to slip into this sometimes too. Nothing is more difficult for me right now than to refrain from saying something like, “No, it’s not your god sending this, it’s my deities, because of Trump and his support by and of evangelicals and of Israel in everything they do. It’s because he moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem. It’s because of all the other things that he has done that the evangelicals applaud – that he was induced to do by his religious minions like Paula White and others like her. Really, if I wasn’t looking at it in a rational, scientific, way, that is exactly where I would go with this.

But, it’s a virus. It isn’t some act of god or gods. It isn’t a sign or anything. And it isn’t trying to kill preachers, as Jim Bakker is ranting. And no one is saying that it is a “good thing” to “kill babies”, as he also says. He is on the very edge of being taken off the air as we speak. If he is, it will be one of the best things that has ever happened in the history of the world! NOT because he has a particular stand on abortion or actually preachers the Bible (he doesn’t). Because he supported Trump with no reservation whatsoever and he should have stayed out of politics, period. If he had done that, I guarantee he would not be in the situation he now finds himself in.

But, he couldn’t do that. And he still just can’t stop. He says he believes God is chastening the world to believe in Jesus, and that is why this is all happening. And the four horsemen are riding. Obeying God is the only remedy. Not science; not reason – complete psychosis is the only answer.

Does anyone wonder why, as Bakker has been such an ardent supporter of Trump, that Trump is not saying anything in support of him? Might Trump bail Bakker out if he is arrested yet again? That is anyone’s guess. But, if one observes the record, Trump will let Bakker twist in the wind and be completely indicted, and then pardon him. What a friend….

Of course, as Mondo pointed out, earthquakes seem to be increasing now (but, according to them, they already have been for some time) and it is all part of the same situation, with the locust plague in Africa (and even Israel) as another part of it – some kind of act of either God or the Devil, take your pick.

In the end, he was begging for money again, trying to get people to buy his survival food and other items. This, even as he ranted, asking why “they” were coming after him, since he was just an old man. And as he pointed out Hulk Hogan, who recently reiterated the same idiotic tripe that “God” had shut down everything because we were worshipping it. If that isn’t errant theology (by a non-theologian, by the way), I don’t know what is. So “God” is so jealous that he would do such a thing? Really? Because we aren’t worshipping him enough, he would visit a deadly virus upon us all. Wow! THAT is truly sick!

I will add this in finality. As some Christians are ranting that they can’t meet together and it must be some government conspiracy (even as they support Trump), not all, thankfully, are following their errant lead. Most, as far as I can tell (even many mega-churches) are temporarily shutting down. Yes, I said “temporarily”, because that is what it is – temporary. It is not some persecution of Christians. In fact, as far as I know, ALL Pagan gatherings have also been cancelled. Why? Not just because we are not delusional like the fanatical monotheist. But, frankly, because it is part of being a Pagan to OBEY THE LAW. It has always been a cornerstone of Paganism that the political and judicial authorities be obeyed. That does not mean that we won’t protest if a law is unjust. We certainly will. But you will never see us out in the streets protesting because we have to observe social distancing guidelines for a couple more weeks! How absolutely pathetic can people get, after all? I served two tours of military duty, overseas in war zones, both of over a year. And they can’t obey reasonable restrictions for two more weeks? Is this really what the America I served for has become?

Let me spell out what persecution really looks like. It looks like what I described in detail in my book “Killing Roma”. It looks like those in power doing everything they can to destroy a religion and all of its observances – for more than just a few weeks! That is what Christians did to us! WE know what persecution really is. THIS is NOT it. So, conservatives and fanatics: please pull your little boy pants up, and shut the h*ll up! After this is all over we can all debate whether it was right, too much, too little, or whatever. Until then, do what you are told for the good of all.

A Word About COVID-19

Since I have seen several Christian churches put out statements concerning the present pandemic of COVID-19, I decided that a response, based on Hyperborean understanding, would be in order. Hyperboreanism, as a religious system, does not suffer from the flawed taint of dualistic belief, any more than it suffers from the myriad of flaws associated from monotheistic belief. Therefore, the Hyperborean will never devolve into accepting the belief that any disease, natural calamity, and so forth is the result of either some war between “good” and “evil”, or the wrath or judgment of some omni-god. Diseases, including pandemics, and natural disasters are just that. They are completely natural and can be explained scientifically, without resorting to fables and delusions to satisfy the frightened mind. It is also unnecessary to resort to prayer as a first course of action. No, I did not say, “do not pray”. In fact, the deities favor those who do pray, especially when about to embark upon something important. That does mean that, whenever possible, one should pray, and sacrifice, prior to any important endeavor, just as the ancients taught us. But, to think that our prayers will have some, somehow, magical effect regardless of anything else that might be done is foolishness. The specter of people all over the country praying, especially on this “National Day of Prayer” is a throwback to medievalism and a pattern that will accomplish nothing other than that people will be seen by others praying, as if they had actually done something. I, for one, did indeed pray to the blessed deities today, privately. I even prayed that Christian prayers be granted, as long as they were prayed with correct understanding and for correct results. But, unlike most Christians, I KNOW that my prayers were heard. What form any answer may take is yet to be seen, for no one can predict that. My prayers were heard because they were not chained to medieval thinking. This pandemic will peak, and eventually decline. The disease, however, will likely never go completely away. That is why a vaccine is still necessary, so that when it resurfaces in the future, we will have something with which to combat it. That will not come through prayer, although it might be helped by it. It will come through science. Science is always to be trusted over supposition, myth (except that we learn from myth), or emotion. That is our way, albeit the fact that we are based on primordial understanding, so that we, as human beings, can continue to make greater progress while still venerating, and taking care of, our mother, the Earth herself. Bless all the deities.

The Bible for Dummies

It is a sad, but clearly observable, truth that practically any time a major tragedy takes place, the news media will interview someone who demonstrates a general lack of proper English grammar usage. This is illustrated by the preponderance of the subject’s use of the incorrect phrase “I seen”. Frankly, this happens so often that one has to wonder if the news media deliberately seek people out who lack a fundamental grasp of English grammar usage, for whatever reason.

I make this point in order to set the stage for relating something that most biblical scholars know quite well, but that the common folk generally do not know. Just taking the New Testament into account here, there exist a wide variety of grammatical styles between each writing contained therein (one might think that this would not be so much the case if the Holy Spirit practically dictated all of this information; but I digress). Even books attributed to the same author often differ significantly, in some respects, in style and usage of the original Greek language in which each letter/book was written (I am not going to get into the, in my view, errant theories that one or more of these tracts were originally written in either Aramaic or Hebrew. For me, such is completely fictitious).

From the very beginning, any prospective ministerial student who studies Greek as part of his/her coursework in college and/or seminary is made aware that the New Testament documents that we have fragments of today were written in what is termed “koiné” Greek – the common form of Greek spoken by most during that time period in the ancient world. It is understood that this was done so that the gospel could more readily be understood by the common folk of that day. The writers wanted the gospel to reach the people (one main reason why none of it would have ever been written in Hebrew, which was a language no longer commonly in use at that time. There was literally no one who would not have understood Greek, so it would have been foolish to have written any of it in Hebrew).

Knowing this, many scholars still go out of their way to work toward a form of homogenization of the language so that it actually makes sense, not only in Greek, but also in English, as well as any other language it is translated into. In so many words, they dress-up the language so that it can be better understood by readers today.

What this really means – what most scholars and theologians will not tell you – is that the authors literally wrote “gospels for dummies”. Some were better than others, but all contained the types of errors and incorrect usages that those who were, perhaps, a little less skilled in proper Greek language usage would have perpetrated. Even, arguably, the “best” of the Gospels (that of John), contains the types of incorrect usages that suggest that (1) he (or his scribe) really did not have a firm grasp of the language. OR, it could be that (2) he/they did have adequate understanding of proper usage, but dumbed-down the language so that the common folk could more readily understand. Frankly, the latter is more likely, although there could have been some combination of the two at work here.

In any event, the intent was that the common folk would be able to understand that which was written easily, regardless of their command of the Greek language. Thus, for example, one finds within the text of the Gospel According to John several examples of the use of an asyndeton, which is a literary device which deliberately omits several conjunctions in a phrase from a series of related clauses. The best known example perhaps being Julius Caesar’s “veni, vidi, vici” (“I came, I saw, I conquered”). A dumbed-down version of this might be “I seen”, although the correlation is not exact here. But, I hope the reader gets the picture. In addition, the style that John’s gospel is written in varies greatly from the style that the Synoptic Gospels are written in, utilizing a smaller (perhaps, more precise) vocabulary.

A further truth is that, although there are errors even in the writings of Paul (those that we can be fairly certain were his), his standard is generally above that of the other New Testament writers. Since the other disciples are referred to as “rough and uneducated” in the book of Acts, this is automatically to be expected. But that does not mean that all of the other disciples/apostles could be classified in this way. No doubt, their education and backgrounds varied, perhaps considerably. We really don’t know very much at all about several of them, and not much more than that about the rest. I, personally, like to think that Thomas and John tended to be the most likely to have been intellectuals, of a sort. The reason for this is that their purported writings (with the exception of the Apocalypse of John) tended toward more intellectual themes, including Gnosticism, the study of which would indeed have required some level of intellect. So, although their writings were still basically “dumbed-down” for the audience, they were at least a little bit above the others, generally.

Thus, when you observe some supposedly “intellectual” theologian or preacher straining over this or that Greek word or phrase, keep in mind that what he/she is doing is probably an unnecessary exercise in futility. Unless he/she wishes to translate the entire New Testament from the Greek into the English (or any other language) all over again completely from scratch, there is little need for this other than, perhaps, to illustrate a minor point. You, the audience, do not need to understand exactly what every word or phrase means. What you need to understand is what the intent of the author may have been for you to understand. And that is more difficult to convey than a simple translation of select words and phrases. Plus, select words and phrases meant different things to the people of that day than they would to you and I, in many cases. One has to get into the mindset of the ancient peoples the New Testament was written for in order to even begin to understand. In short, as hard as this will be for some to accept, the New Testament really was not written for us; it was written for people long past and gone. It was written for THEM to understand, not so much for us to understand. They were NOT thinking two-thousand plus years into the future, no matter what anyone says.

Another thing that your average preacher-type won’t ever tell you is that the Gospel According to John and the Apocalypse of John (Revelation) are both written in very distinctive styles, so that it seems obvious that they must not have been written by the same author. So wedded are Christians to the idea that the author of both works simply must have been the same person that they are determined to remain oblivious to the idea that this might not be the case. After all, they are regularly told by their religious “leaders” that John wrote the Apocalypse in his old age while imprisoned on the island of Patmos, he having written his gospel many years prior to this. Some try to account for the differences by the simple “fact” that there exists a difference in time. Of course, they don’t like to tell people that this is all based on supposition – on myth. They don’t like to tell you that the idea that John was even imprisoned on Patmos comes from much later tales of Christian martyrs, probably containing no first-hand observation of the purported events laid out in said writings. And, as I think I successfully laid out in my initial work, “Apocalypse and Armageddon“, a good case can be made that the Apocalypse, whether written by the apostle or not (but probably not), was actually among the FIRST New Testament books written, not the last.

In the end, I think we should begin to be of a mindset that accepts that these writings were written so that literally anyone could understand them – at a third grade level, one might say. One really should not take offense to this. I know that many literalists will, but, in my mind, that is unnecessary. We really should be able to sort-of laugh about this and move on with our understanding of it. Because, after all, as much as these writings have been dressed-up for us, we still literally have a “Bible for dummies”, no matter how it is read and understood. It simply does not meet the level of reading Plato and Aristotle, period.

The Pattern for Peace

Mid-East peace, as it is termed, has been an issue that American presidents have attempted to resolve, mostly unsuccessfully, ever since the Carter administration. One plan after another has been proposed; some clearly better than others.

The current peace plan certainly has its positive aspects, some of which have never been proposed before. That, in and of itself, is exemplary. Notwithstanding, the plan has serious flaws which have made it a complete non-starter from the very beginning. In so many words, the pattern of the peace plan is such that it was actually designed to fail. Anyone with even limited understanding of the situation would have known that the Palestinians, for example, would never accept that, in return for anything, they would have to recognize Israel’s complete sovereignty over an un-divided Jerusalem.

The funny thing is, not only do the Palestinians reject this plan, but many evangelical Christians do as well. If you listen to the likes of John and Josh Rosenstern of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, for example, you will find that their position is that to divide the land in any way is strictly un-biblical. They resolutely state that God gave the entirety of said land (whatever it is really supposed to look like on a map) to the Jewish people via a promise to Abraham. Thus, they oppose the peace plan (even though they vehemently support Trump in literally everything else) because it proposes to divide the land. This biblical promise is found in Genesis 13. But, they, and others of their persuasion, focus only on the very end of the chapter where the promise is contained.

The entire chapter, however, is instructive. It reads as follows (from the NIV):

13 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.

From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.

Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.

So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring[a] forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.

Reading this chapter in its entirety demonstrates that Abraham did something before the promise was made. One can infer that God made this promise to Abraham specifically because of Abraham’s actions here. And, to what specific actions do I refer? Abraham himself proposed to Lot that they divide the land. Shocking, I know! The very patriarch of the Hebrew faith proposed that the land be divided so that quarreling would cease. Both he and Lot recognized the seriousness of the situation and that they could no longer dwell together.

ONLY THEN did God make the promise to Abraham that these evangelical-types focus on so sternly. The fact of the matter is that, even before the promise was made, Abraham had de facto say over it. How do we know this? Because the promise was already made, although less specifically, in just the previous chapter. God had already told Abram (as he was then called) that he would possess the land that he was to journey to. Never mind that other people already possessed it. Therefore, it was within the purview of Abraham to do with the land as HE chose. It was HIS. And HE chose to divide it. THAT is biblical.

The Bible clearly teaches here that, where there is conflict, compromise must be made. It’s plain and simple. And, there is reward in the future for simply doing the right thing. So, let’s please stop the unnecessary squabbling and come to a compromise that actually works. It IS possible.

Remaining True

As I observe our government and society, so obviously slipping into decline, as a historian, I cannot help but be reminded of the demise of the Roman Empire. Yes, I know; everyone and their mother tends to compare us to the Roman Empire when they are talking about our possible demise. But, for me (again, as a historian), it’s different. You see, I know the details; the things that most people are not even remotely aware of, which makes their comparison superficial at best. They are right to compare, but they don’t understand why they are right, exactly because they don’t know the details. And that is really the danger here – to know just enough history to make the comparison, while not being able to really answer why the comparison is valid.

The real truth is that we have three options at this moment in time as a nation; (1) continue as a republic, which will require that we fully censure the current occupant of the White House; (2) become an empire or dictatorship, which means that we would no longer be a republic because we failed to censure our current president; or (3) decline and fall, because we allowed the various forces and factions that are today present to tear us apart. Those are our options, period.

It is my sad belief that we will choose one of the latter two. Why? Because there are so many in this great nation who are actually advocating and agitating for exactly one or the other. When certain lawmakers, media personnel, and others so slovenly cast what little is left of their integrity before the altar of Trump and religious fanaticism – these are advocating for the second choice. When these same people, especially so-called religious “leaders”, call for a civil war (and what they really mean is a “holy war”) – these are agitating for the third option.

I can confidently state that, in neither case are any of these people remaining true to the ideals, ethics, and morals that they were taught growing up, and which were supposedly instilled within them by their parents, grandparents, teachers, preachers, and others. They have abandoned their principles for temporal gain. And THAT is a tragedy!

I remember when I was in high school, having first been truly introduced to the world by taking a world history class. I emphasize that it opened up the entire world for me. I learned things that I would have never learned anywhere else. And not just world history, but ancient history and just enough ancient philosophy so that the seed was planted and the understanding that an entirely different world than our present one once existed, which is something I was never able to forget. My teacher even wrote in my annual for that year that if I remained true to my ideals (as partly developed from this very class), I would go far. That resonated with me, and is also something that I never forgot.

Don’t get me wrong. Many of my ideals also stemmed from my understanding of the Christian religion, into which I was brought up and carefully nurtured. Yes, ideals such as “love thy neighbor” and “turn the other cheek” and “do not judge, lest ye be judged”, etc. And, perhaps most of all, not to keep company with those who refuse to live moral and ethical lives. For, to do so would only invite their influence upon myself.

The frank fact of the matter is that I still adhere to these principles – both religious and philosophical – even as a Pagan. I dare say that I adhere to them somewhat better than most Christians do, which is an indictment of the fanatical religious in and of itself. Yes, there was also a time when I strayed into religious fanaticism. I am thankful that being reminded of these principles was, in part, what pulled me back out of it. That reminder taking the form of studying once again ancient Roma and the destructive, fanatical, forces that caused her demise. I realized that I was just like them, and I could not condone continuing in that mode.

Today, I watch with great sadness as so many others, who do not have the benefit of my particular education, take themselves and others down a path toward potential national oblivion, as they are led by religious fanatics and political conservatives, who care nothing for this great nation, but only for themselves. Personal gain is their goal, whether one wishes to wake up to this or not.

In my observation, over many years, the side of “good” almost always plays the weakest hand, and it is often somewhat of a miracle when it wins. The forces of evil always have more than enough resources and support – that is just the truth. And the laws always, somehow, allow them to promote their agenda.

We, as a nation, are presently in danger of allowing the religious fanatics, allied with conservative politicians, to take over everything. We are in danger of setting up a dictatorship – establishing an “emperor” or a “king”, to rule over us, supported by his religious minions.

I am also trained in theology, and I know a misuse of religion when I see it. Religion is misused when part of the people are told that they are of the devil when they don’t support the current president. Religion is misused when some people are told that they have to adhere to the ethics and morals of the supposed “majority” religion. Religion is misused when it is utilized in support of war, especially so-called “holy war”. I could go on and on. The point being that this is exactly what our founders sought to keep us from having to endure. They saw how medieval “God-supported” monarchs functioned, and how they treated their subjects. They sought to spare us from this type of tyranny. Yet, here we are, essentially asking for a king!

Do we want a Byzantine king/emperor, with his courts of eunuchs? Do we want to destroy all traces of our past heritage – statues and other art, as well as architecture, so that we can say that there was no history prior to the present religious/political movement. That is where we are literally headed, if we don’t stop the cancer right here, right now.

I do fear that it is already too late – with so-called religious “leaders” fomenting a civil war if Trump is not reelected; with so called “historians” distorting our history, twisting it into the history of Israel; and with conservative politicians spouting ethics that they certainly do not adhere to themselves, in many cases. None of our founders would have acquiesced to any of this.

What that means, for people like me, is that we have to watch our nation crumble or transform itself into something hideous and unlike what the founders intended, while doggedly remaining true to the ideals that were implanted within us all those years ago. Yes, that happened in ancient times too. Oh, people adjusted to the new reality, but they retained themselves, their own souls, regardless.

I remember reading long ago (the source of this has long been forgotten, and I have not been able to find it again) about an ancient Roman aristocrat in Gaul during the time when barbarian invasions were sweeping across the empire. This important Roman citizen received a letter one day from a Germanic chieftain, explaining that he was on his way to take the Roman’s property as his own. There would be no debate or resistance. Either submit, or die. If the Roman submitted, he would be allowed to remain on “his” property there as a serf, and, thus, would be allowed to live. Otherwise, he would be executed. The Roman considered the proposal carefully, as Romans were accustomed to doing. He reasoned, in the end, that it would be best to welcome the chieftain when he arrived and submit to his authority. After all, what would be the point of dying, since he would still be allowed to remain on “his” property, even under servitude. He saw which way the wind was blowing, and chose life. But, he didn’t have to give up his integrity, nor his ethics, in so doing – just some of his dignity. It was a fair trade, he thought.

But, that was in the West. In the East, things took an entirely different turn, with emperors who foisted their will upon everyone, fashioning laws calling for the torture and execution of anyone who followed the old religions – and even worse. Here, practically everything that even hinted at the past was systematically destroyed. And if it could not be destroyed, it was transformed into something useful to the new religion – Christianity. And there could be no real compromise.

THIS – one or the other, or both at the same time – culminating into the stagnation of medievalism, with the whole world potentially splitting up again into petty states, always squabbling with and warring against one another, until the light of knowledge and reason once again comes to the fore, may well be our fate – our future. But, what a price to pay! Not a fair trade; not at all.

Actually,”All Hell” is NOT Breaking Loose

This one is going to be short, and to the point. Fanatics, such as Jim Bakker and, believe this, Franklin Graham, have been saying that “All Hell is breaking loose”. Bakker repeats it on almost every show, while, according to Bakker, Graham first said it when asked what the death of his father, Billy, meant. Bakker quotes Graham as saying “all hell” would break loose following his father’s death. Of course, I cannot corroborate that Graham actually used these very words myself, but, judging from recent statements that he has made, I suspect that he said something fairly close to this.

Aside from the sheer lunacy of thinking that the death of one man would cause “all hell” to break loose (and supposed Christians actually repeating this over and over again), there is a deeper issue at play here. I strongly suspect that most of these televangelist fanatics know that the world is not about to end and the Tribulation period is not about to take place. Their aim is simply to scare people into giving them more money, period. After all, that has been their mantra ever since the beginning. Christians have literally been tricking people into giving them their hard-earned money ever since the first century. So, why would they stop now? And, what better way to do that than to con people into believing the end is near, so they don’t need to leave anything for their families when they die (Bakker has recently even gone so far as to say that people should leave his so-called “ministry” money in their wills – really). “I will to Jim Bakker half of my estate….” Really? Can you imagine being THAT family? Or, better yet, “Grandma, what did you do with all the money you had in the bank? Now you don’t have enough to live on. ‘I sent it to Jim Bakker because he told me God would bless me if I did'”.

Anyway, the truth from history is that the initial spread of Christianity took place during that which is known as the Pax Romana (Roman peace). During that time, fanatical Christians went around all over the empire, stirring things up and ranting about the end of the world. The Romans thought they could ignore Christians, and they would eventually go away – and so they tried that. It didn’t work. Even today, there are those who try to simply ignore the fanatics, thinking that they will just go away. I have a cousin like that. He absolutely refuses to grasp what is happening.

What is happening, you ask? The fanatics are at it again in force, that’s what’s happening. The exact same scenario that took place during the Pax Romana is happening today, only now they have TV, radio, and the internet to help them spread this “superstition”, as the Romans called it. They sometimes used worse terms than that too.

The truth…. Religious fanaticism only spreads during times of relative peace and prosperity. During times of hardship, it simply does not spread the way it does during better times. That is a fact from history that they do not seem to have grasped. It is only during times of peace and prosperity that they can screech that things are going to get so bad that nothing like it has ever happened before in history. Why? Because people tend to forget former times – times when things were so bad they could not recall a time like it. But, trust me, there have been many, many, many instances in history when times were far, far worse than they are today, or are likely to be in the near future. Yet, these fanatics will continue to stir people up, and any little thing that happens will be pointed to as a sign of the end.

Thus, according to Bakker and others, earthquake frequency is increasing (he says he actually has an app on his phone that lets him know when an earthquake takes place anywhere in the world – believe it), and that is a clear sign that the end-times are upon us (so, naturally, you should buy all of the slop buckets he sells that you can). He constantly cites (unnamed) “scientists”, and has had Michio Kaku (or, at least clips of him talking) on his program to prove his point. BUT, as soon as climate change is brought up – well, that’s just a plot to distract us from what is really happening! After all, “God” told him so! Climate change is a hoax, no matter how many scientists say otherwise! After all, the earth won’t be destroyed, somehow, the Bible says so (please, don’t make me get into their lunatic theology on this).

This is all sad, but true. The contradictions are too much for these people to fathom. If you follow them (or give them money), I feel sorry for you. And I don’t mean just the Jim Bakker types, I also mean the Franklin Graham types, because he is just as fanatical. If you listen to what he says, you will see this. 

No, the world is not coming to an end and “all hell” is not breaking loose upon the earth. Every day I return home from my work to a pleasant environment, free of human conflicts and issues. I see events taking place on the news, but, frankly, just in this country things were worse during the late 60s and early 70s, when we actually had home-grown terrorists, constant bank robberies, and even members of the National Guard killing citizens in one case. The economy was lackluster, at best. All kinds of things were wrong then – things that we have generally gotten past now.

There are always going to be good times as well as bad times. That is a fact. No “God” is pulling the strings of history, manipulating things so that the end-times can take place. It is only humanity – the fanatical religious-types – who are doing that. But, if you have been paying attention, you might have noticed that they are already creating an “out” for themselves. While they rant on about the end and the rapture and such, they are also beginning to say things like, “Jesus could not come back until now because everything had to be set just right for his return”, and “if he doesn’t come back, it’s because the forces of evil, inspired by Satan, prevented it”.

Finally, the truth is that it doesn’t matter how many earthquakes, floods, fires, blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, or anything else we see, these are NOT signs of any end-times scenario and they are NOT signs that Christ will soon return. Literally nothing has changed with respect to any of these things, with the exception that fraking has probably caused an increase in earthquakes, as well as the fact (and it is a fact) that human-caused climate change is taking place. THESE are the types of things we need to be addressing, NOT prayer in schools and other issues that the fanatics want us to focus on.

False Prophets Among Us

As disgusting as the thought may be for many of us, it is sadly true that, just like in the monotheistic religions, so also within Paganism – there are false prophets among us. I do not state this lightly. I have been observing this trend almost ever since I came out of solitary worship and got on Facebook. It has become all too obvious that the Pagan community is a fertile field for chicanery of all sorts, perpetrated by those who have no real background in Paganism, or no real education to back up their “theological” positions, or who simply have a personal agenda that they wish to promote at all costs among us. And, in their zeal for promoting themselves and their agenda, they wantonly tear down anyone who disagrees with them in the slightest.

Such are not the actions of a person with a true “calling”, if you will, toward bettering our community. These are not the actions of someone with something solid and useful to contribute to the whole.

In that light, I hope that all who read this will forgive me for being just a bit like Moses here, but it has become clear to me that a framework should be in place so that all can distinguish between the true and the false “prophet”. By using the term, “prophet”, I am not here implying anything specific, such as foretelling the future or anything like that. I use this term in order to demonstrate the connection between the people who are within our community who are false, and those charlatans one can see regularly on any given religious TV station. They are literally all of the same mold.

The very first thing that anyone should look for when attempting to discern between the true and the false is (1) proper academic credentials, or lack thereof. I have stressed this ever since coming out of solitary worship, but few seem to actually get it. But the Pagan community is in serious need of a means by which proper academic credentials directly with reference to Pagan studies can be had. Any religious “leader” really needs to have at least something to back up their claims that they are worthy of whatever position they claim for themselves.

Some within our community, including myself, do have at least something to back up their “theology”. They actually trained, at some level, among others who are at least somewhat reputable. I actually have multiple degrees in theology (but I do not share specifics about my education and experience, because to do so would be ill-advised for me). But others, like the TV charlatans they either directly, or indirectly, emulate, present themselves as having some kind of educational credentials, when they really don’t.

For example, one particular individual among us represents herself as a “priestess of Apollo”, listing her academic credentials as having been acquired from (a) Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, and (b) Gallifrey Academy TimeLords College & University. Now, being unfamiliar with these two, supposed, institutions of higher education, I chose to check them both out. The first touts itself on Facebook in this manner: “Located in upstate New York, Brakebills is North America’s premier, if only (sic.), institution of magical matriculation. . . . This page is purely for fun and fans of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians books.”

Well, that was kind of confusing. After all, I was looking for a real college or university, even if it was only to be found on-line. So, I checked their actual page. Here I found statements such as the following:

“I would like to take a moment to remind everyone that this page cannot provide a physical address or phone number, even though some of you have been enterprising enough to request that information. We exist on no maps and have one very primitive telephone which is magically monitored. We aim to remain undetectable to the regular non-magical world, and even prefer to stay off the radar of other realities. – Fogg”

“With the end of the semester approaching, it is imperative that you remember to keep your mouths shut about where you’ve been. Don’t talk to the hedgewitches, and keep it broad with your family. We must keep a lid on it, for our security and theirs. Also, don’t mention the incident to anyone. -Fogg”

“As our Spring semester comes to a close and you all begin to return home, I want to remind you that discussing or revealing anything about Brakebills to your non-magical friends and family is strictly forbidden. We have ways of finding out, and ways of dealing with those who jeopardize our security. – Fogg”

“Breaking character here for a moment to encourage all of you who are here because of The Magicians on SyFy to watch the show legally. Not just as a matter of ethics, but to keep the show alive. Regardless of how you feel about the show, it is a great vehicle to get people reading the books and we should want to encourage that. Buy your season passes from iTunes, Amazon, etc. or watch online through proper channels. It’s good for the whole community and affects the budget and longevity of the show.”

Well, s**t, I was sufficiently impressed, and scared of their awesome power after reading these posts – not! Sadly, my search for the source of this person’s credentials failed here, because, I think, no one would consider such a “school” to be, um, legitimate. Most televangelists do better than this, after all.

The second, and only other, school of supposed higher-learning that this person presented as a place from which she obtained her credentials was Gallifrey Academy TimeLords College & University. Even without checking this one my reaction was “What?” – or better, “WTF?” Nothing whatsoever is shown on this FB page, period. However, Wikipedia defines it in this way: “Gallifrey (/ˈɡælɪfreɪ/) is a fictional planet in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It is the original home world of the Time Lords, the civilisation to which the main character, the Doctor, belongs. It is located in a binary star system[25] 250 million light years from Earth.”

OoohhhKaaaaayyyyyy. So, it’s about Dr. Who. When people graduate from this school, do they don the long scarf or what? And, how about the expense of traveling to and from this binary star system too for academic studies. Wow! Another link on the internet describing whatever this really is (or isn’t) can be found here.  https://tardis.fandom.com/wiki/Time_Lord_Academy And, a Facebook link is found here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/School/The-Gallifreyan-Academy-for-Timelords-204692942908509/

I have to say that I can’t really wrap my mind around all of this. Ancient Aliens is certainly no competition here. Boy, if someone really did attend and graduate from these two schools, they must really be something! Or, maybe not…..

The second thing that anyone should look for when attempting to discern between the true and the false is (2) the person claims to be a Pagan (of some sort), yet seems to focus on, at most, only one or two specific deities (probably all their minds can handle). This is simply not the way of the ancients, period. While many did tend to gravitate toward specific deities whom they believed personally favored them, the ancients never neglected the rest because they knew better than to do so. Sadly, as I have observed, many of these seem to gravitate to Apollon as their chosen favorite deity. I can’t account for exactly why that seems to be the case, and I am by no means implying that all who favor, or feel favored by, Apollon fall into this category. But, I believe I can safely state that Apollon probably does not really favor those who use his name to spread dissention and propaganda among us. Frankly, this is a sign of still being entrapped by monotheistic influences, and everyone should be wary of anyone who is thus. Nuf said here.

The third thing that anyone should look for when attempting to discern between the true and the false is (3) that they regularly demonstrate ignorance (willful ignorance in some cases) of ancient understanding. This is probably really my favorite of all. I get SOOOO tired of the arguments some make, when just a casual check of ancient understanding would show their arguments to be wrong. Case in point, the new “Xenia Declaration”, as it is called. I am not by any means here to claim that there is not some need for some sort of statement which all can reasonably accept as, shall we say, “inclusive”. But, for the most part, my feeling has always been that emphasizing that discrimination of any type is not acceptable was enough. It really covers everything when such a statement is made.

The fact of the matter was that I myself was considering signing off on it, just like many others had already done. It would have been no big thing, really, for me to do that. But, having read it, I had just a couple of reservations. So, knowing who wrote it, and being “friends” with that person on Facebook, I decided to reach out directly to her via private messenger. Please note that I did not do this publicly, so as not to embarrass the author in any way. Nor did I launch into any sort of diatribe as to why this or that was wrong with it, etc. That much can be seen just from what SHE posted about it herself (it should be noted here that I have pics of what she posted, as well as the entire conversation, which she chose not to post in its entirety).

But, sadly, it seems that no one ever taught her that “reason” is a cornerstone of ancient understanding. She immediately resorted to name-calling, referring to me as a “bigot” just because I pointed out that the statement was really not quite inclusive since it one-sidedly left out those with more “traditionalist” viewpoints. I asked if the intention was to exclude those who somehow think differently, and pointed out that the more they feel shunned, the less likely they will accept the viewpoints espoused in said statement.

Her reaction to me privately was unprecedented. She seemed like an entirely different person than the one I had interacted with on many previous occasions, including via private messenger. But, her recent determination to “out” someone else publicly should have told me something. She didn’t like the fact that I had “friended” him, and found nothing particularly objectionable in his writings.

And, if “traditionalist” viewpoints have somehow become poison to us, like a dirty word or something, then it is no wonder to me that (as far as I have been able to ascertain) none of these people appear to gravitate to deities such as Isis or Hera or even Zeus. Just taking the first into account, one has to see (unless one it totally blind) that the emphasis in her cult was on the sanctity of the marriage union and the family unit. Anyone who would even debate that point has either not studied her cult, or refuses to accept what he/she has studied, period.

So, what is so wrong with some facets of modern Paganism emphasizing these values, while others emphasize other values? Are we really going to be so PC that we think we should police what those in other groups feel is important to emphasize? Well, let’s have an inquisition, then. Burn the traditionalists!!! We simply can’t have that sort of thought in our modern world today, now can we? Seriously!

The fourth thing that anyone should look for when attempting to discern between the true and the false is (4) the person in question constantly promotes PC positions, to the exclusion of other points of view, thereby rejecting others who think differently. Since this has already been basically covered in the above, it seems to me that little need be added here. Everyone knows what a PC position is, and also when it is being shoved down your throat. And any person within our movement claiming to have the authority to even do that should be questioned, at least, and probably shunned altogether.

The fifth thing that anyone should look for when attempting to discern between the true and the false is (5) that the person in question claims to respect inclusiveness, while being openly intolerant of any other point of view. That is not the same as pointing out a fault, and presenting documentation to back up what one is saying. It is being a hypocrite.

The sixth thing that anyone should look for when attempting to discern between the true and the false is (6) that the person in question resorts to name-calling, offensive language directed toward others, as well as libelous and slanderous statements about others. This in and of itself should be enough for the community to shun such a person completely, especially if said person engages in such acts often or constantly. This is not only unethical, it is illegal, and should not be tolerated. We should have true community standards, so that persons who engage in such behavior are simply not tolerated.

This is especially important since Facebook standards are so lax. I can remember a time when Facebook actually had standards, and applied them. There was a time when someone posted something about spiders, and I commented, “Kill them. Kill them all”. My post was yanked from the timeline as not appropriate. Really, this happened, all because the word “kill” was in my post. Now, it’s a fraking free-or-all, with anyone able to say anything they want to about anyone, and no one will do a damn thing about it. Don’t believe me? Try reporting anything to Facebook. If it doesn’t fall into their narrow set of community standards, then there is literally nothing that can be done about it. Believe me, I tried this with the post in question (mentioned above). The response was that it does not violate Facebook’s community standards. So, obviously, libel and slander are both perfectly OK with Facebook! The following are some of the Facebook statements related to this:

“Facebook is not in a position to adjudicate the truth or falsity of statements made by third parties, and consistent with Section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act, is not responsible for those statements. As a result, we are not liable to act on the content you want to report. If you believe content on Facebook violates our Community Standards (e.g., bullying, harassment, hate speech), please visit the Help Center to learn more about how to report it to us.”

“For a comprehensive guide on how to report messages, posts, and other site content features, check out Facebook’s step-by-step instructions here. Should you exhaust all options for reporting users and content online, Facebook encourages users to contact local law enforcement if they have been directly threatened and feel their life is in immediate danger.”

“Also, keep in mind that minimizing your digital footprint is an effective way to reduce personal attacks and malicious posts by others. Deleting Facebook is your best option for protecting your privacy and keeping your name out of the online world. If you are considering deleting your Facebook, you can find out the appropriate steps to take here. Take note that deleting it is permanent, while deactivating your Facebook merely hides your information.”

Pathetic! – especially the last one which instructs users to reduce their digital footprint so people won’t bully them! Wow! If this wasn’t so absurd, it might even be funny. But, people should keep in mind that legal remedies are available, and calling someone, say, a “bigot”, with no foundation for doing so, can get one in a lot of trouble. And all the hocus-pocus pseudo-magic learned from some pseudo-on-line school won’t help you.

The seventh thing that anyone should look for when attempting to discern between the true and the false is (7) that the person in question openly encourages and promotes disunity among us. I don’t really need to elaborate here.

The eighth thing that anyone should look for when attempting to discern between the true and the false is (8) that the person in question has no apparent ethical standard of conduct. Nuf said here too.

The ninth thing that anyone should look for when attempting to discern between the true and the false is (9) that, for this person, everything they post seems to be about their favorite PC subject, whether it be race or sexual orientation, or whatever. Certainly, it is true that we all have our own pet peeves, if you will. But, when one can see an obvious agenda that really has nothing to do with the ancient deities, that should be considered a “clue”. Their entire focus is on themselves or their agenda, not on the deities.

The tenth thing that anyone should look for when attempting to discern between the true and the false is (10) that the person in question is simply a poor example of someone to be followed. Take a look at them. If even an Epicurean or a Cynic wouldn’t follow them, maybe you shouldn’t either. These people generally have nothing of real or lasting value to contribute, as demonstrated by their posts and their actions toward others. See nothing constructive in any of their posts or conversations? Maybe they should be shunned, because, maybe, they aren’t a real Pagan after all.

Hey! That somehow came out to be ten! Read into that whatever you like.

Having said all of this, I have to now state how truly sorry I am to have ever promoted this person as anybody to even be accepted within our community. I myself should have checked her out better. If I had, I would have found much that would have been, shall we say, questionable. That is a fault I will strive never to repeat again. I will learn from this, and you should too.

Finally, bear in mind that nothing posted here called out said person by name (although it would be easy to figure out who the person is for most of us). In addition, everything presented here is factual and accurate, so, legally, I have the high-ground.