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.
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.
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. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
3 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 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.
5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 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. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
8 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. 9 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Apparently, Halloween not only brings out little ghosts and goblins, but also cooks and loons. The prime example of the evening – Frances & Friends.
Let me state first that it was strictly odd seeing Frances Swaggart dressed in all black. Over the course of more than two years watching this program, I do not think I have ever seen her don the black, even on Halloween. I’m not saying it wasn’t a nice change, but it did strike me as odd, since she and other members of the Swaggart team are so against Halloween.
Regardless, the program had a lot to do with their disagreement with the celebration of Halloween, as could be expected. In fact, the very first email read by Frances referenced a call from several days ago in which the caller, who stated that he was a Pagan and also worked in law enforcement, was very politely, and not very forcefully, calling the panel out on their insistence that witches sacrifice babies every Halloween and even have “breeders” who produce babies exactly for this purpose. The caller had stated, basically, that in all the years he has worked in law enforcement, he has encountered no evidence of this. Of course, their responses were based on what this or that person had told them, and they were able to cite no empirical evidence of such happenings. Nevertheless, they were entirely certain that these types of things happen.
In any case, the writer of this initial email stated that he/she felt that the law enforcement officer didn’t seem to understand that Pagan and Native American rituals utilized dancing and offerings to conjure up evil spirits for the purpose of blessing the land or for prosperity. “They welcome evil spirits”, the writer apparently stated. “There is always a price”, the writer apparently went on. Frances continued reading, “Getting deeper into witchcraft requires blood offerings”, and evil spirits become attached to the persons conjuring them up.
Well, I was certainly scared after hearing that – not! At best, the email, as read, was chaotic and rambling, seemingly written explicitly in order to scare the “less than intelligent”.
The panel babbled on about the evils of Halloween. Then Frances asked Muzzerall to explain what he offers children as an alternative on Halloween, which Muzzerall referred to as a “Halloween-free celebration”. I was at a loss as to exactly what they might be celebrating, frankly.
After that, Frances diverted into referring to, apparently, several emails she has recently received about the Salem Witch Trials, and the reading she has done about this subject in response (which, apparently, wasn’t much). So, Frances started in talking about how several girls had gotten together and started pointing to one woman after another, calling them witches, and the women wound up being hanged for being witches. Finally, when the girls pointed out the governor’s wife, he put a stop to it. And, at least she got that right.
But it was what Donnie said that really made me laugh. He said, “Your children can imagine a lot of things. And in their little minds, they think it’s real”. Not that he was wrong, because he wasn’t. But, he conveniently left out the fact that adults can imagine things, and believe them too. Donnie continued that adults should have stepped in and done something, like slowing things down so that people could think about what they were about to do, and should have put a stop to it. And those on the panel all agreed that the women had been innocent. Well, at least that was a relief. But, there was absolutely no acknowledgement about the religious nature of what had taken place and the fact that, if not for religious fanaticism and superstitious beliefs, none of that would have even happened.
Donnie then continued that children make unfounded allegations even today, citing the now famous McMartin case (although no one on the panel seemed able to come up with the name or any real specifics, other than basically what happened). He continued that eventually, after one of the girls confessed that it had all been made-up, those who had been sent to prison were found to be innocent. He insisted that the state had not properly investigated. Then Frances said the same thing happened in both instances. Donnie added, with reference to Salem, “It was a bad time in our history”.
By this time, I was wondering where they were trying to go with all of this. Were they going to try to use this as some sort of explanation for how allegations against Trump were a “witch hunt”? I mean, even though the basic subject was Halloween, it seemed as if they had gone a bit off-track, because none of this really had anything to do with Halloween.
Then Frances read another email from someone purporting to have known a former Satan worshipper, explaining how they view Halloween as their high holy day, and are glad that ordinary people celebrate it. Muzzerall added that it is not their highest holy day, but one of the highest, “one of their masses”.
The email continued, referring to a young lady that the writer had known, who, purportedly, had been part of a Satanic ritual in which the leader said that a baby of under one year was needed for a sacrifice, so the young lady had offered hers up. The baby, purportedly, was placed upon the altar and burned up.
Frances then exclaimed, “I can’t believe this is happening in America!” Nations then chimed in, “But it is. . . . It will happen tonight at midnight all across the country!”
Muzzerall then continued the theme, stating that “years ago”, someone had pulled him aside following a service, stating that he had been a part of a satanic witches coven and that he could verify that there are “breeders”, to have children for the purpose of such sacrifice.
At this point I was amazed that even they had not noticed their own contradictions as to how there could be “breeders” in covens across the country, yet one poor young lady wound up sacrificing her own baby, when she had obviously not been a “breeder”. And that, notwithstanding the fact that they “verified” absolutely nothing in anything they said with any concrete evidence, but simply accepted hearsay, sometimes from those who were likely mentally-ill, and others whom they didn’t even know, who might have been trying to pull some hoax on them.
But, an understanding of the human mind clearly shows that hearsay is the greatest tool of the fanatic. And they won’t let go of it no matter what anyone says to the contrary.
Regardless, this just started Nations up again, as he diverted things away from all of this just a bit to insist that the whole reason we celebrate Halloween is because the powers-that-be want everyone to forget the 95 Theses and the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation. The panel agreed with this, and moved on.
After all, the very next email writer emphatically stated that he/she could verify that there certainly are “breeders”, who are forced under captivity to produce one child per year for the purpose of human sacrifice on Halloween. Nations chimed in yet again, “But it don’t just happen on Halloween. Witches do it often. They’re…Satan…Satan (with Frances interrupting him). Frances continued reading, “I supervised a mental health unit and we had in for treatment one of these young ladies. She struggled to get well. But you know psychology (obviously referring to the Swaggart team’s insistence that psychology is of the devil), and I don’t know if she ever did get well….”
Then, Nations came out like a scalded badger, saying, “Satan demands bloodshed, to get his power to work through them, he demands bloodshed, and they love an all-boy baby. That’s their choice.”
Well, at least Nations was able to get that out of his system, finally. Frances and the panel went on to other things. To one email, Donnie responded, referring to “our Puritan forefathers”, and my thought was, “You mean, the ones who hung women because they were accused of being witches? He went on to insist that our forefathers created this nation on the basis of “In God We Trust” (never mind that this phrase wasn’t even a thought back then), and continued, insisting further that “the religion of environmentalism” is against God.
Donnie’s statements did seem to be a bit out of context to the theme of the program, especially as they went from one caller to another, one of whom was asking a question about the rapture (yawn), and another crazy Navaho woman ranting hysterically about how her life had been changed, with the panel just taking it all in.
Sometimes you really get the notion that they somehow know what people will be calling about, and I don’t mean because they are prophets or something. A lady called in from South Carolina, praising them for the service they had just had, and mentioning that, as she listened to Dr. Gray speak, it occurred to her that the Antichrist will use global warming to establish his one-world religion, because that will be the one way he can unite everyone under a new religion. She went on to talk about how China forces people to have abortions because of overpopulation – “That would be like a sacrifice to their god. . . . They talk about Mother Earth; we gotta protect Mother Earth. . . .” She continued by insisting that they are using abortion as a means to protect Mother Earth, and “no matter what religion you are, your god would be Mother Earth”.
Of course, Donnie, who has in the past railed against believing in Mother Earth, responded, “Well it is a religion. . . . It’s not science, it’s a religion. It’s the religion of the atheist. . . . they’re not just atheists, but they hate God and they hate people who love God”. This sad mockery of human intellect was followed by another loon caller, and the program ended.
Because of programs like this one, I am often made to think back to a time when I would also have accepted such hearsay and psychobabble without question, especially if some religious “authority” approved of it. So, in a way, I cannot really fault those uninformed, non-intellectual persons who either come up with this stuff, or accept it because they are told it is true.
That having been said, it seems clear to me that at least some of the callers and email writers do actually have malicious intent, knowing that what they are saying is either false or misleading. On the other hand, they also truly believe they are doing their “God” a service in so doing. The ends justify the means, after all. So, they will find any way to smear Paganism or witchcraft and, in today’s instance, even go so far as to claim that abortion equates to sacrificing babies to Mother Earth. And, in the end, that is clearly what this particular program was all about. Anyone who does good for the planet must be of the Antichrist and of Satan. After all, don’t they all agree with abortion? And, after all, isn’t it young people who are clamoring to save the planet? So, just as young people accused women of being witches, now they want to worship the earth.
It is a sad truth that these fanatical religious types always want to cherry-pick history for the points they like, while ignoring the rest. I heard one person say a while back that even historical facts aren’t true if they don’t line up with the Bible. Yes, there are really people out there with such extreme stupidity to allow them to say something as absurd as this!
No, these people would like for all of us to forget how religious fanaticism led to things like the Salem Witch Trials. And, not only this, but the Inquisition, the witch burnings that took place all over Europe during medieval times, and even the savage murder and burning of the female Egyptian philosopher, Hypatia. And that is just barely scratching the surface. But, they don’t want anyone to remember these events for what they were. They don’t want anyone to remember that it was Christian fanatics that caused every single incident of this nature, period. They have never really owned-up to any of this. I think it is about time they did.
Hekataios Pindaros Amerikos
Last evening (9/22/2019) Dr. Michael Reagan, on his program, “Christ in Prophecy” left his audience in no doubt whatsoever where he stands on creationism and the age of the earth. He stated emphatically that one has to believe that the earth was created in six literal days, and about six-thousand years ago, because, if one cannot believe the opening statement of the Bible, then how can one believe anything else that is in the Bible? Yes, creationism. But not just creationism – creation in six literal days about six thousand years ago, or everything else is subject to scrutiny.
Frankly, his statement here opened up the way for me to delve into this, as I have been toying with doing for some time, but was just not willing to take the time to actually do. His insistence that one simply has to believe the opening verses of the Bible, or bunk, just served to goad me into it. Please keep in mind the fact that, although Reagan holds a doctorate degree, he has no formal theological training whatsoever. That is something that a lot of people don’t know. They assume he has a doctorate in theology. He does not. I, on the other hand, do at least have degrees in theology, although, sadly, a doctorate is not among them. Still, his position is so completely absurd that most biblical scholars and theologians have concluded that literalness need not be employed here. Only fanatics, like Dr. Reagan, today insist that this must be taken literally.
Well, let us take this literal interpretation to its rational and logical conclusion, then, shall we? As the sequence is actually stated in Genesis, in the TWO, somewhat different accounts of creation are put, more or less, together, our world was indeed created in six days. Interestingly, it took God six days to create this world, while it took him only one to create the rest of the universe. Also, in the first account, in chapter one, plants and animals came into being before humans were created. Humans were kind of an afterthought for God in the first account. Humans (that’s both, because there is no differentiation in the first chapter between men and women) were created to have (1) dominion over the earth and every living thing, as well as (2) to multiply. Humans were given every plant – every plant – with its “fruit”, to eat, just like the animals had also been given every plant to eat. And, just like the animals, humankind was expected to populate the earth, and to subdue it.
And that’s it. Nice and concise with a bow on the box all wrapped up in Christmas paper, isn’t it? This account leaves nothing to chance, even if it doesn’t make perfect sense on all points.
But, in chapter two, which gives a second account, things proceed a bit differently. Here, the creation was already completed right at the beginning. Nothing more need be done. God even started out by resting on the seventh day, following his whirlwind six-day spate of creation. Yes, he must have been very, very tried indeed! The change comes when the text begins to talk about the fact that it had never rained (one has to wonder how much time has elapsed. But, if one takes it literally, it has only been seven days, after all). But, astonishingly, the text also states that there was no man to till the ground. Wait? Had not God already created both man AND woman? Had they not already got to the business of subduing the earth and, um, procreating?
But, in this account, instead of rain, we have a mist that waters the ground. Yet, as soon as this is mentioned, God decides to create a man (but no woman) from the “dust of the ground” (I guess the text should have read “mud” since a mist had moistened it). What was the point of creating yet another man? Well, as the text explains, for whatever reason, God decided to create a garden into which he would place his newly created man. Everything grew in this particular garden, including the trees of “life” and of the “knowledge of good and evil” (one has to assume that these two trees grew nowhere else upon the earth).
Then the text goes back to water once again, as it talks of rivers flowing from the garden. All of the extra description of land areas and minerals was quite fascinating to me as a young person as I imagined some place like that, where beautiful trees, flowing waters, and precious stones were in abundance. Once one reads about this, it is almost anticlimactic to read that the man was placed in the garden to “dress and to keep it”. As a young person, it literally never occurred to me that this meant that the man was supposed to WORK! He had been placed in this paradisaical garden in order to see to its upkeep, that’s all.
The man was commanded to keep the garden up and that he may eat of any tree he wished, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And a curse was actually placed upon such an act, in that if the man were to eat of it, he would die. In effect, the man was made to work and to keep everything up, including this tree, but he could not eat of this tree even though his work was to sustain it. That might have been galling to him – IF he had possessed knowledge. I submit that if he did not understand good or evil, he did not understand much at all. In effect, God was keeping him stupid. At least, that’s my interpretation here.
Then, as an afterthought, God somehow realized that it was not good for his man to be alone. God’s solution – to create the animals and have the man name them all. That would keep him busy for a bit. No telling how much time that took. Regardless, somehow the man was still lonely. So, God decided to create a woman for him from his own rib.
Now, keep in mind that they are both now in the garden together – naked, by the way. But, however much time had elapsed, this was clearly more than seven days because the second man, Adam, was not even created until the eighth day. That all by itself blows the myth of a six-day creation out of the water because, according to this, God continued to create after the seventh day. A LITERAL reading of the text makes this conclusion inescapable. I mean, it’s not like God started all over again, destroying the first version of creation and starting again with Adam and Eve, right?
In any case, this is where theology gets hairy. Not only had God given Adam and Eve everything they could have possibly wanted, even if the man was expected to work for his keep (no accounting for the other humans who had, literally, been created before God’s garden tender here), but somehow a rebellion had taken place in heaven, so that Satan and the angels who followed him were thrown out of the heavenly paradise. And where did they just happen to wind up? On earth with humanity. And who did Satan, in the guise of a still walking (literally) serpent who could (literally) talk decide to attempt to persuade to rebel against God too? Eve, of course – the poor dumb (one has to presume this if Adam is also dumb) woman in the garden. And, after all, she was apparently easily deceived. And Adam made no protest when she also gave him the fruit of the forbidden tree. Adam’s reply to God was basically, “Well, you gave her to me”.
Of course, for this act, curses were sent all around – to the serpent (but not Satan himself), to the woman (so she would endure painful childbirths. Frankly, painful sex too, if one reads it correctly), and to the man – the very earth was cursed for his sake so that it would produce thorns, thistles, and things less than desirable to eat, yet the man would have to eat it after hard labor.
Here, the text seeks to make it clear that the woman, Eve, was to be the mother of all of humanity. Are we to assume that all of the other humans had died out? Indeed, if Adam and Eve were the only humans to choose to rebel, why were they not simply made to die, as God had said, rather than cursed? If they had died, then the rest of humanity would, presumably, still be without original sin. All God had to do was to allow them both to die. But, apparently, this is not what happened.
But, don’t take my word for any of this. Here is the text from the good ole’ King James Version – you know, the one the fanatics insist is the only correct version.
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,
5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.
15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Regardless, the text seems to make it clear that Adam and Eve had not worked at all on the procreation angle until they were cast out of their paradise. I won’t get into the questions that arise from this. In any case, this was, supposedly, the beginning of God’s great creation, ruined by the man and the woman he placed in his garden, because of whom the whole of creation is supposedly cursed – or at least, was cursed.
And all of this had to have happened about six thousand years ago, literally. See, the mind of the fanatic simply cannot fathom of millions, or even thousands, of years without at least some mention of God. The story of God literally had to begin as written in Genesis, because there is simply no way that humanity could have roamed the earth for untold millennia in a, supposedly, perfect and sinless state (or even not in such a state), populating the earth as they went. To be fair, some do posit such a possibility in what they call the “pre-Adamite world”, but this theory is quite vague since there is, literally, nothing much on which to base it. I will leave all of that to the reader’s imagination.
In any case, clearly Dr. Reagan does not believe in a pre-Adamite world. He believes that all that supposedly took place within the first three chapters of Genesis happened during, and very quickly after, the literal six days of creation. Satan and his minions had to have rebelled either well before creation took place, or sometime during the process of creation. Certainly, it must have taken place no later than a few days after the creation of the man, Adam.
So, humanity has paid the price for the supposed infraction of Adam and Eve for a mere six-thousand or so years thus far. That brings us to the culmination, which will be a literal destruction of the universe, according to “Revelation”, and a remaking of it. In between, humanity has had to go through untold misery and heartache, with most souls destined for hell because the majority of humans who ever lived were not even told of a Christ, so they had no opportunity to believe and be saved. The curse, supposedly lifted at Calvary, appears to still be in effect in every way. See, Satan still hasn’t figured out that God has won….
What all of this literally means is that the entire universe was created about six-thousand years ago, in one day, literally just for us, but we have messed things up so badly that god, in his foreordained plan, had to send a Christ to save us – but only those who would blindly believe.
It’s a pitiful story, actually. Humanity, with so much promise and ability, destroying his planet in the name of subduing it only so that Christ can return and completely destroy it so it can be created again. The real truth here, for those who wish to see it, is that everything comes back full-circle (and not the way Jonathan Cahn posits in “The Oracle”) because time is actually cyclical, not linear, and all that has been will be again, even if in a slightly altered manner each time. Everything operates in cycles, something that all of the ancient Sacred Mysteries taught, but which the monotheist refuses to recognize as a fact. Nothing ever ends, regardless of what the literalist monotheist fanatic may state.
“In the entire first century, Jesus is not mentioned by a single Greek or Roman historian, religion scholar, politician, philosopher or poet. His name never occurs in a single inscription, and it is never found in a single piece of correspondence. Zero…zip references!”
Dr. Bart Ehrman, Professor of Religious Studies, UNC
So goes one widely-circulated Facebook meme (from: “Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth“; HarperOne 2013), perpetuated mainly by the atheist crowd. Of course, when I pointed out that it was not entirely accurate, I received the following reply from one astute observer: “The professor quoted is a noted bible scholar, a senior professor, and an ex-Christian. He is more believable than you.”
Well, then! I guess that just settles it, right? After all, this man is a noted scholar of the New Testament and, therefore, his authority on the subject simply must not be questioned! And, that’s perfectly fine for those who are willing to lap up the disgusting medieval gruel they are fed without considering that there just might be something a little more healthy, and factual, for them out there.
The actual full quote reads: “To most modern people, it is surprising to learn just how little evidence there is for Jesus outside the Christian sources. He is not mentioned in any Roman source of the entire first century. Never. That strikes people as surprising. He is mentioned a couple of times within about 80 years of his life by two Roman sources (Pliny and Tacitus; I’m not sure Suetonius can be used). And he is almost certainly referred to twice in the Jewish historian Josephus, once in an entire paragraph. But that’s it for the non-Christian sources for the first hundred years after his death. It’s not much. But it’s something, and since these are not sources that based their views on the Gospels (since these authors hadn’t read the Gospels), it shows that Jesus was indeed known to exist in pagan and Jewish circles within a century of his life. The really compelling evidence, though, comes in the Christian sources. Mythicists write these sources off because they are Christian and therefore biased, but that is not a historically solid way to proceed. Christian sources do indeed have to be treated gingerly, but they are sources every bit as much as pagan and Jewish sources are. What I show in Did Jesus Exist? is that there are so many Christian sources that can be used by historians that there is really no doubt at all that Jesus at least existed. Just to give an example (so as not to repeat my entire book here): by any credible dating, the apostle Paul must have converted to believe in Jesus within two or three years of the traditional date of Jesus’ death. And Paul knew some facts about Jesus’ life; he knew some of his teachings; he knew his closest disciple Peter; and he knew his brother James. Personally! If Jesus didn’t exist, you would think that his brother would know about it. The historian can not simply ignore what Paul has to say since he was a Christian. Taking his biases into account, we can use his letters for information about Jesus. And among other things, they show beyond a doubt that Jesus existed as a Jewish teacher in Palestine in the 20s CE. Otherwise we cannot explain Paul or his letters. That’s just one important piece of evidence for the existence of Jesus.”
The fact of the matter is that the quote in the meme is taken out of context, since this can be shown, and Dr. Ehrman is not arguing that Jesus never existed, but is arguing that the writings of the followers of Jesus cannot be fully trusted. In fact, Dr. Ehrman goes out of his way, in another quote, to state that Jesus certainly did exist. To these things, I concur.
The latter quote reads, “He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees, based on clear and certain evidence.” (B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged: writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285).
Now, I don’t care one whit whether someone like the man who questioned my statement finds me to be “believable” or not, based on his own perception of the cosmos. But, I do care about basic facts, and I get bloody tired of those who simply ignore them in order to try to make their absurd points. Time and time again, these atheists have been determined to somehow “prove” that Jesus never really existed at all so that they can comfort themselves in their little fantasy that, if he did not even exist, then there is no reason to consider him as a historical reality, i.e., as a real person, not to mention a person anything like he who is presented by the writers of the New Testament.
What? The New Testament? When was that written? Hate to break it to you, atheists, but the entirety of the accepted New Testament was written during the FIRST century, as were most of the writings that were deemed unacceptable for inclusion therein.
Now, the atheist will immediately counter that none of this was written by “a single Greek or Roman historian, religion scholar, politician, philosopher or poet”. Well, most scholars of the New Testament will accept Luke as a historian, at the very least. And he is supposed to have been a Greek. But, if one does not wish to accept this, then can one at least accept that Paul himself was a scholar of the Hebrew religion, schizophrenic as his writings were? Beyond this, anyone who has done even a meagre study of the New Testament must be aware of the fact that we really don’t know who wrote the majority of the books contained therein. These books are attributed to one person or another, but there is good reason to doubt the authorship of most. So, since we don’t really know who wrote many of the books that make reference to Jesus, it is entirely possible that some were written by, say, some religious scholar, philosopher, politician, or even a poet.
An even greater point must be made by pointing out the wanton destruction of documents and inscriptions from the first century (and later) that has taken place over time. What this means is that, we really don’t know enough about what was written to say that no mention of Jesus was made. There very well could have been works written about Jesus that no one knows about today (and references are made to such works) because they have been entirely lost and are not quoted in any extant document that we do have today. And, that is exactly the point. The above quote should at least read “not mentioned in any extant document….” That is, if one is determined not to accept any New Testament writings as sources.
But, even that would be false because we do have the historian, Josephus. Josephus lived and wrote during the FIRST century. Oh, but someone will argue that he was a Jewish historian, so he cannot be counted! Well, that little nuance could easily be countered by the fact that Josephus did not write his works until after he had been captured by the Romans and had accepted his place, as a slave, among them. He was, in fact, a Roman historian, mainly writing about his own people. Dr. Ehrman and I agree on this point.
Now, I know the arguments about the passages from the works of Josephus that mention or allude to Jesus, and I am not going to reiterate them here since I went over them quite thoroughly in my fist book, “Apocalypse and Armageddon”. Suffice it to say that the majority of reputable scholars accept that Josephus wrote something about Jesus, but that what he wrote has been rewritten, multiple times, by later interpolators. This, in fact, can be all but proven. Thus, we may never know exactly what Josephus actually said about Jesus, but we can be reasonably confident that he, in fact, did write at least something about him.
I state all of this just to demonstrate that no one can make a definitive, blanket statement such as the one in the meme, quoted above, and be seen as entirely credible by those who actually know the history of the time. The FACT of the matter is that Jesus (whether he is simply referred to by “Christ” or in some other way) is mentioned in extant first century writings, period.
But, if one does not wish to accept any of this, there is still the Roman politician and historian, Tacitus. He wrote Annals, which mentions “Christ”, probably just after the close of the first century, in about 116 CE. But are we really petty enough to quibble over a few years? After all, why should anyone have written about a Jewish criminal unless one believed he was the Messiah? Historians only mentioned him when it served the purpose of what they were writing about.
The same goes for the Roman historian, Suetonius, who wrote the Lives of the Twelve Caesars in 121 CE, mentioning “Christ”. Yes, I am also aware of the arguments that the latter may refer to someone with a given name similar to that term, but, again, I have gone over this thoroughly in “Apocalypse and Armageddon”. In addition, Pliny the Younger at least refers to Christians in a letter written to Trajan in 112 CE. Trajan also wrote back to him, referring to them.
But, even better than this is the philosopher, Mara bar Sarapion, who wrote a letter referring to the execution of “the wise king” of the Jews in about 73 CE, during the FIRST century. Yes, some may argue that we really don’t know when this letter was written, but most reputable scholars accept this time frame.
Others, including Thallus, Phlegon of Tralles, Lucian of Samosata, the Babylonian Talmud and Celsus, either mentioned “Jesus”, “Christ”, or “Christians” later in the second century. The fact that these latter works were penned during the second, rather than the first, is mere quibbling. It neither proves, not even suggests, anything. The FACT of the matter is that mention was made, period. And this list leaves out a whole host of church fathers and others who wrote volumes from the second century onward.
To reiterate from an earlier blog post: “the frank fact of the matter is that, outside of Christian sources, including the New Testament and other books not included in the canon, there were at least thirteen ancient sources that can be listed. They are Josephus (although, as I showed in “Apocalypse and Armageddon”, most scholars today believe the reference to him and Pilate are later interpolations, and I concur with this), Tacitus, the philosopher Mara bar Sarapion, Suetonius (always a Christian favorite), The Babylonian Talmud, Pliny the Younger, the emperor Trajan (indirectly), Thallus, Phlegon of Tralles, Lucian of Samosata, and, most important of all in my view, Porphyry, Celsus and the emperor Julian (the Apostate). Conversely, for the sake of emphasis, the number of ancient sources for Pontius Pilate (whom no one argues did not exist) are much fewer – four in all. They are Josephus (again, in an apparent later interpolation), Tacitus, Philo of Alexandria and the Babylonian Talmud (and perhaps others). AND, if this is not enough, it is well known that Pilate corresponded with the philosopher Seneca (whom Paulkovich also thinks should have written something about Jesus) because we have letters from Pilate to Seneca. However, we have no mention of Pilate in anything written by Seneca even though they clearly knew one another. Case closed.”
In addition, from another earlier blog post (because some also try to prove that Jesus was not real because of some perceived comparison to Apollonius of Tyana): “ALL arguments claiming that Jesus was not a real person because of some perceived lack of documentation for his life fall completely apart exactly by tying his life to the life of Apollonius of Tyana. Why? Because of a serious lack of documentation for the life of Apollonius of Tyana!
Those who want to claim that there is not enough historical evidence for the life of Jesus actually use the life of another person to compare him to, who has even less historical evidence for his life! Shocking, isn’t it!”
As I detailed in said earlier blog post, “the sources for the life of Apollonius of Tyana are the following: “The Life of Apollonius of Tyana”, written by the sophist Philostratus at the request of the empress Julia Domna (160-217 CE; wife of the emperor Septimius Severus) and completed after her death (thus, not even a contemporary source since Apollonius died in about 100 CE); a work purportedly by Apollonius himself entitled “On Sacrifices”, parts of which have been preserved by Eusebius of Caesarea; some letters purportedly written by Apollonius (no longer extant); a “Biography of Pythagoras”, purportedly written by Apollonius (no longer extant); a book written by an imperial secretary, Maximus, detailing the supposed works of Apollonius in Aegaea, Aeolis (no longer extant); and a biography of Apollonius by Moiragenes (no longer extant).
All of these latter sources were used by Philostratus for his work. Thus, in reality, we have ONE source for the life of Apollonius of Tyana. And it was written over one-hundred years after his death. In addition, not one of the sources mentioned can be considered to have been penned by a real historian. AND, not one of those mentioned by Michael Paulkovich in his book “No Meek Messiah”, whom he states should have at least mentioned Jesus, mention Apollonius in any way whatsoever. AND, if that wasn’t enough, not one of the sources that mention or allude to Jesus mention Apollonius at all, period.”
Thus, the frank fact of the matter is that there are NO extant sources for the first century Apollonius of Tyana’s life that are earlier than the THIRD century CE. NONE! Yet, those who deny the historicity of Jesus will willingly accept that of Apollonius of Tyana without much thought at all.
The truth is that there is no valid reason to posit that (1) there are no first century references in any form to Jesus, (2) that this, in some way, proves that he was not a historical person, and (3) that his life can in any realistic way be compared to Apollonius of Tyana. Zero…zip!
Facts: There are, in fact, references to Jesus from the first century, while there are none for Apollonius. The writings that are extant about them are not “proof” or anything, but there is still more anecdotal evidence for Jesus than for Apollonius. The comparisons between Jesus and Apollonius are flimsy, at best, and contrived, at worst.
Dr. Ehrman actually rejects all of the above – the idea that there are no first century references to Jesus and the idea that this somehow proves that Jesus may not have even been real. But, he accepts the idea that there is some realistic comparison between Jesus and Apollonius, which I disagree with.
To be clear, I have not here stated that Jesus was who he was claimed to be by most. I do not ascribe to his divinity in any way, shape, or form. As far as my research is concerned, he was a mere man, just like all the rest (including Apollonius, if he really existed), who initiated a revolution and was executed by the Romans for it. But he DID exist, and he WAS mentioned in first century texts, period.
I happen to be a biblical scholar too, and biblical scholars often disagree, sometimes to a great extent. But one should always base one’s agreements or disagreements on actual facts, not perceptions. The atheist tries very hard to somehow “prove” that Jesus never existed. This is an absurdity that only the lazy and those willing to ignore facts will accept. Even the biblical scholar they quote says that Jesus was a real person. Just a little research easily reveals this. Case closed.
Today I ran across yet another post on another website alluding to mythological writings detailing Zeus raping this and that immortal or human. Yes, the Greek myths are replete with these particular myths. Sadly, most have not learned how to properly read such myths. I get rather tired of having to tell people that the myths are meant to be read allegorically and not literally. I guess I have come to the point at which I would expect that most should already know this simple fact. One main reason is that the ancients said as much themselves, so, for me, there is no debate on the subject.
The plain fact of the matter is that, if we take such myths literally, then we can present no argument against the monotheist who may cite such things as some kind of proof that Paganism is degenerate. They have always done this and they have used the myths to support their spurious arguments almost from the very beginning. There really is no excuse if we Pagans letting them have the high-ground in this way.
Instead, along with pointing out that the myths are to be read allegorically for the lessons we can flesh out of them, like the ancients did, we should also realize that when we read them literally we are falling into the same trap that the monotheist is already in. They are literally trapped by their holy books, which they (generally) MUST see as literal and inerrant. Otherwise, their faith is in vain. Because of this, they become dogmatic since their salvation depends on it.
Please, let me explain something that should not need to be explained but, sadly, does. If you have to read ANY of the ancient myths literally, then you become a dogmatist and the parts you believe must be read literally become something necessary to your religion. In such an event, a holy book which contains at least the literally-read myths would need to be created, and a college of priests would have to be ordained who could interpret it (because it still could not be read literally). In such an event, we would have made ourselves into virtual monotheists by default because what we would believe in would not be our multiple deities, but our precious holy book. THIS is why we don’t go there.
So, please, let’s get this straight once and for all. Zeus did not rape anybody because the myths are not literal and he is a spiritual being, like all the other blessed deities. So, it’s not funny, nor does it make you seem intellectual or knowledgeable, to put “cute” memes up about Zeus raping women or to otherwise insinuate that he did.
As to what such myths may be meant to teach, that is for you and I to fathom because the myths were not made for the ancients alone and not for only one person. They were made for us all to interpret in our own best way. The myths are not dead, but alive. They are alive because we are able to interpret them and incorporate them into our own lives. They help us to understand things in ways that we might not otherwise.
So, please, don’t dwell on the details. Don’t read them in a literal fashion. Open your mind up to what they may mean for you and for others and then you will become open to a universe that you would never have experienced otherwise.