Halloween and Mother Earth

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

Literal Christian Idiocy about Creation

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.

Atheist Determination That Jesus Wasn’t Real Successfully Countered

“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.

The Tired and the Tedious: Correctly Reading the Myths

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.

Jim Bakker’s Holy Directive from “God”

Last Friday, May 3, 2019, Jim Bakker aired a “special” telecast of his “Jim Bakker Show”. It was explained that it was “special” in that Bakker had received a directive straight from the almighty creator of the whole universe that he had to pass on to everyone, especially Christians.

“Oh, my; oh my” – as Rexella Van Impe might say. What sort of communication from “God” could have stirred up Jim Bakker to produce a special telecast on this date? After all, does not Bakker claim that he receives word from “God” on a regular basis? Why would this one be so important?

Bakker almost immediately launched into his diatribe, at times interrupted by brief comments from others or when he strayed onto some other subject, by stating that he is now certain that “we’re in the beginning of the very last days”. Well, if that was all it was about, then it would earn a very big yawn from me, just as Jack Van Impe’s announcement that he was the “final prophet” before the return of Christ had. After all, it’s not like Bakker hasn’t said this exact thing before on multiple occasions.

But no, no, this time it was different, Bakker stressed. He stated that he literally woke up the previous evening and started writing things down as fast as he could. He was “downloading” from “God”. As he related this he started in on some news of the day which he called “unbelievable’, which is only related to Bakker’s rantings here only in that he sees it as a clear sign of persecution. Thus, there is no need to get into all of that except to state that “persecution” is somehow always a sign that things are going to become hard for the Christian.

His main point (again); “The election has already begun”. Of course, Bakker is referring to the upcoming 2020 elections which have, in fact, already produced a decent crop of democratic candidates for president. Bakker went on to delineate a series of five points that he said “God” told him every serious Christian should ask anyone running for office to see where they stand and if they can be supported. As he stated, If one is really “God-fearing”, then “God said give them a test to see if they stand up to the Bible standard”.

Five points that “God”, through Bakker, is instructing all serious Christians to ask every candidate for office before determining whether they can support their candidacy or not.

The first of the five points, predictably, was that politicians must “be not in favor of killing babies” (as he put it). He continued, “You vote for those who believe in the word of God. You’ve got to have that standard”. From here Baker went off onto one of his rants, citing headlines, to which he added (much like Frances Swaggart does) “Christians are the most persecuted people in the world!” to which Mondo De La Vega added, quite incorrectly, that the recent church bombings in Sri Lanka “wasn’t even talked about on the news”.

All of this must have been a segue to his second point, which was that Christians have to vote for politicians who will “stand up for the cross; for freedom of religion. . . . The cross must be respected and never removed from public view!” He went on to make the tirelessly repeated claim that “they want to outlaw the Bible”! That, as he and others ranted about crosses being removed everywhere, in China and even here, and churches failing or being torn down all over Europe and the US. In addition, he ranted about church membership and attendance declining rapidly, never considering that, perhaps, Christian TV may be part of the cause for this trend.

The third point is really something that one can readily see the “God of the whole universe” being intimately concerned with. Bakker stressed that “candidates must be willing and able to fix problems at the border”. Yes, indeed; I see “God” from the farthest reaches of starry heaven looking down on this earth and singling out the USA and its border issues. We’ve just got to keep them out! Of course, at that point Mondo again chimed in, claiming that he understands those who want to come to the US, but that he and his family “did it the right way”. He also claimed that the headlines demonstrated that American Hispanics are turning to Trump to a great degree exactly because of this issue – because they want everyone to come in the “right way”. No doubt, conservative media is spinning things in this exact way.

Then, on to the fourth point: “We must elect leaders who will keep and follow our Constitution”. All well and good on this one, except that, again, I can’t see the “God of the universe” caring who we elect or whether they follow our Constitution or not. Bakker added that the “founders prayed”. As he ranted about this I was forced to ponder how praying and reason might go together, since the Constitution is a document founded on reason, and prayer, well, is never mentioned in said Constitution. Neither is “God”, by the way, contrary to what some posit.

And, interestingly, no one on the program so much as mentioned Trump. This is a clear sign that these televangelist types are quickly seeking to ditch Trump, but still quite intent upon continuing their agenda of taking over American government and society by whatever means possible.

Finally, Bakker’s (I mean, “God’s”) fifth point: “Socialists must not be accepted. It will cause America to die”. Then he quoted 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “If a person won’t work; he shouldn’t eat.” in support of his point here, then adding, “We’re not to take care of lazy people! The falling away is here!” Of course, poor Jim Bakker likely has no idea that 2 Thessalonians was, according to most biblical scholars, probably not written by the apostle Paul and, by acceptable standards, therefore should not be part of the New Testament canon. But, he thinks that the book of 1 Enoch should be included in the Bible, so the reader should take that for what it’s worth.

In any case, among the asinine rantings between each point, and after he was finished making these five points, Bakker interjected “The devil wants America”, stating that others are “about to turn America over to Satan”. To this he added “They want to take Christian television from us”.

Yes, “they” are out to destroy his baby (Christian television), which he practically birthed all by himself when Pat Robertson asked him to do a children’s program, to hear Jim tell it.

Then it was on to abortion again (the one topic that they all rally around): “Don’t kill babies. Adopt them out!” after which he went on about how he and Lori live in this large, virtually empty, house because all of their children have moved away, stating that if things go back they can move back in. “We’ve prepared our house for the last days” by storing food, etc., there.

The point of posting Bakker’s five points in this blog is to demonstrate how far these fanatics have moved toward engineering their own political outcomes. They are determined to move the US toward a Christian theocracy, and they make no secret of it anymore. And, after all, it’s a directive from “God”!

Thus, even though the televangelists and others have been subtly moving away from Trump ever since the release of the Mueller Report (for, apparently, even they are smart enough to understand what it really says), they are by no means moving away from their full endorsement of what they consider to be “conservative American Christian” values. So, they will support any conservative Republican candidate who will keep things moving in the direction they want it to go in. And, if anyone doesn’t vote their way, then they aren’t a real Christian.

It should concern everyone that things have actually moved to the point that lunatics like Bakker can openly try to sway voters, knowing that they have impunity because Trump has dictated that the Johnson Amendment will not be enforced against them. This is truly alarming! And it’s not so much that people like Bakker feel free to spout this nonsense, but that so many Americans will actually heed what he says.

Religion needs to stay the hell out of our politics! Psychotic superstitions have no place in an enlightened society or its government, period.

The Myth of the Rapture

The Christian myth of the Rapture (which, unbeknownst to most Christians, originated with the religion of Zoroastrianism) seems to become more convoluted with ever more nonsense as time goes on. This trend is exemplified by various films and videos which support one version or another of the Rapture as well as the Tribulation period. Most recently, one was reviewed by Dr. David Reagan on his program “Christ in Prophecy: Apokalypsis Video Review” (airdate: 4/28/2019). This video, “Apokalypsis: The Final Warning”, was critiqued by Dr. Reagan as “[a] fantastic new video program [which] has been produced by the Inspiration TV Network that provides a fascinating, exciting, highly-informative and accurate overview of end-time Bible prophecy”.

Well, with an endorsement like that how can there be any objection to it? After all, if it is “fascinating, exciting, highly-informative and accurate”, what could be wrong with it? Especially if the “accurate” part is true. Now, to be fair, I am not going to critique the actual video, per se, because I did not, nor do I plan to, watch the entire video myself. I only watched the clips presented on Dr. Reagan’s program. But that is well past enough for me in any case. I will state, for the record, that if anyone thinks they could win over someone like me with such unmitigated psychobabble, then they don’t understand how truly freeing it is to no longer buy into that sort of idiocy. But these kinds of films and videos are not really designed to win anyone over to the faith. They are designed to frighten those who already profess to be Christians into submission – making them too scared to think for themselves.

After this sterling review, Reagan went on to relate that when he had first been approached to be one of the “expert commentators”, he refused “because I was fed-up with doing video interviews that were then edited to make me look foolish [I doubt that editing is required for that] and were used as part of a video program attacking Bible prophecy”. He went on to state that this had happened to him several times before and he would have none of it. But, the producer talked him into it, assuring him that the video would present biblical prophecy in a positive light. Reagan then went on to name several other “experts” who would also take part, including Rod Rhodes, Teresa Garcia, Don Perkins, and Gary Frazier.

Then, as if his initial review wasn’t quite enough, Reagan called the video “the finest video I have ever seen about end-times Bible prophecy”. He then proceeded to air select clips from said video, beginning with a scene illustrating humanity’s advances in the scientific realm, including space exploration. During this clip the narrator spoke about humanity’s “amazing progress”, but continued that this has made the “inhabitants of the world an over-confident and arrogant race”. Way to be anti-science without coming directly out about it.

But it is perfectly natural for the fanatical types to belittle science and education and academics and real scholarship in any case. It’s actually standard fare and no amount of reasoning will dissuade the fanatic that he/she is right because the Bible (or other holy book) says it.

The narrator continues; “Brewing underneath the haughtiness of mankind, like a sleeping giant, is the approaching fulfillment of gruesome and fearsome [see, be afraid!] prophecies predicted over millennia in the ancient writings of the Bible. . . .” pointing to “a supernatural reckoning; a time when the literal wrath of God will be poured out over all creation, when collective sinful debts of humanity will be reconciled. A time of great tribulation.” He should have the audience quaking in their collective shoes by now.

Dr. Reagan then interjects, stating, “Well, as you can see, this is a first-class presentation”. More clips of the video continue, alluding to the fact that the US is not mentioned anywhere in ancient biblical prophecy (go figure) and briefly attempting to explain why, as well as essentially endorsing the pre-tribulation Rapture. Dr. Ed Hindson, who was shown as attempting to explain these things, then states that Christ will return to claim his bride, a standard Christian doctrine. Frankly, I have no desire to be a bride, but I digress.

The narrator continues; “So, while the body of believers is whisked away to be with Jesus in the clouds, the world below is thrown into total disarray and panic such as the world has never known. The world will be left to wonder if this kind of event will happen again and, if so, when; and even worse, will they ever see their loved ones again (as a young lady is shown cowering in a corner, afraid and alone). With the disappearance of a large percentage of the global workforce, economies around the world will experience depression-era drops as under-staffed companies struggle to meet their production and financial projections. . . . Nations will be plunged into economic collapse”. “Catastrophic” environmental effects will ensue partly because nuclear reactors will leak radiation (another good anti-science whammy!).

Dr. Reagan again interjects “Airplanes will crash! Cars will crash! All kinds of things” will lead to “absolute anarchy! Martial law will have to be put into place.” One truly wonders here why he thinks others make him look foolish as he rants like a maniac.

I have to state that end-times apocalyptic scenarios have never done anything toward making me want to be a Christian. While it is true that, when I was an evangelical Christian, one of my favorite books was “Revelation” (along with “Hebrews”), that was mainly because they gave me a sort of distorted comfort in that I “knew” that I was saved, so I didn’t have to worry about any of it. It never occurred to me one time back then that there was no reason for me to know anything about this scenario if the Rapture was to take place prior to the Tribulation. Today I can confidently state that if this is “God”, then I want nothing to do with him. That any god would rain down wrath upon almost all of the human population, killing over half of them and allowing the rest to suffer (except for those raptured up, who didn’t have to taste death) in such a manner is beyond reasonable comprehension. But, again, they don’t really want you to use your mind to reason anything.

The narrator continues, “The years that follow will be the darkest time for humanity as the wrath of God is poured out over a rebellious and sinful world. Inevitably, those left behind will ask, why did they disappear?” As the narrator is speaking they go to a concocted news clip; an interview of a “professor of world religions” (clearly showing him as a dupe is a means by which they can insert anti-intellectual thoughts. Whether the clip is supposed to be showing “fake media” is, I suppose, up to the viewer). The screen caption reads “Where did they go? Millions disappear worldwide”.

As the female reporter asks the professor a question, the narrator continues, “The groundwork for mainstream deceptive explanations of what actually happened in the time of the Rapture has been in the works for quite some time”. The professor answers the news reporter, “There have been so many explanations that have been presented; and obviously the last twenty-four hours has been unprecedented in human history. And, so, we have to look at these different explanations, whether [get this] they be alien abductions or a collision of dimensions, coming from the scientific community. But my particular background is as a religious scholar [as the viewer sees the reporter’s eyes begin to glaze over], so I want to look at it from that perspective. People who have been followers of the New Age Movement, for example, have been saying for decades now that we are entering a new phase of evolution in human beings and that this evolution would be spiritual rather than physical”. The narrator then continues that because the present generation’s minds have been molded by Hollywood, with its science-fiction genre (even mentioning the transporter beam of Star Trek), these will give the “quickest explanations” for what is happening.

Seriously? This clip and the comments associated with it just made me laugh! Who has been attempting to concoct explanations for why people will suddenly be gone? What is their evidence for this? Do they really believe that people are sitting in dark, smoke-filled rooms just waiting for the Rapture to take place so that they can explain it away? Do these people really believe that anyone else actually believes this crap except for themselves? Nobody is trying to lay groundwork to deceive people when it takes place because nobody else believes it will take place! But, these fanatics accept any sort of conspiracy theory, and I suppose this must be among the newest ones. Beyond that, why would aliens come here and abduct people suddenly by beaming them away? And why on earth would they take only Christians if they did? And the “religious scholarly” perspective presented is weak at best. The New Age Movement, really? If anyone tried to write a novel with this set of scenarios I think it would have pitiful sales indeed as people would find the explanations lacking in credibility.

As they cut away from video clips, Dr. Reagan interjected that during the 1970s he was “mesmerized” by leaders in the New Age Movement as they would state that Christians would be taken away so that those who are left would take over and use reason to solve the world’s problems. He then added that when the Rapture happens they will say they were right all along. Now, I don’t know if that claim was ever made by leaders in this movement or not since I haven’t studied it in depth, but if it was it’s just as ludicrous as Christians believing they will be raptured away to be with Christ.

As the video clips begin to play again the narrator asks, “Is there a larger deception brewing; a pre-indoctrination embedded into the psyche of the science fiction sub-culture [with reference to] fans who may be comforted to believe that Christians were removed by a transporter beam or aliens?” Dr. Reagan immediately asserts, with no evidence to back him up, that “Yes, that will be one of the explanations; no doubt about it!” I was left to wonder how it could be that anyone could be “comforted” by the idea that aliens suddenly beamed away their loved-ones. But I do have to give them credit for one thing. If they are referring to the program “Ancient Aliens”, then there does indeed seem to be some kind of deception taking place, in my humble opinion.

Then the program moved on to clips showing the rise of the Antichrist, who, they emphasized, will ride a white horse and will be a “future political leader”. Dr. Reagan stated emphatically that he will rise to power peacefully and take over the European Union, and this will usher in the seven years of the Great Tribulation as soon as he signs a peace treaty with Israel. The video clips at this point show the Antichrist in various situations with what is obviously the leader of Israel, who is acting completely subservient to the Antichrist. It goes on to show the Antichrist with leaders of other nations too.

Most sickeningly, the leader of Israel, in all of these clips, is shown wearing a Yamaka, so that the viewer can be in no doubt that he represents Israel and Jews and is selling himself out to Satan. Only Orthodox Jews wear this headdress at all times in public, most others only wearing it during religious rites and prayers. Any Jewish person would see this as deliberately provocative and deeply offensive since there was no need to show the Israeli leader wearing this headdress since Israeli flags were also pictured, making it clear who was present.

Teresa Garcia then made what was, to me, the most bizarre statements up to that point as she expounded, with reference to the Antichrist, that “He is going to become Time Magazine’s man of the year . . . win the Nobel prize; he is the Antichrist”, as a clip is shown of Antichrist and the Israeli leader with one arm around each other, waving to the audience with their other arms. Too bad she didn’t cite a biblical reference for that bonkers statement! Oh, wait, there isn’t one. I guess the bar has been lowered for biblical scholarship since I was last in college.

Gary Frazier (incidentally, of Lamb and Lion Ministries) then interjected that the Antichrist will soon thereafter turn on the nations as well as on Israel and all those who are saved during the Tribulation (yes, these nut-cases really believe that people will come to a saving knowledge of Christ during the Tribulation while the Church is absent). How this is supposed to happen with the Church removed from the world is never effectively explained, as far as I can tell, anywhere.

Dr. Reagan then stated that the “Trumpet Judgments”, found in “Revelation” are nuclear wars, as Ron Rhodes sought to explain this. They then showed clips of the Antichrist going to the new Jewish Temple and declaring himself to be “God”, beside him standing this cheesy, overgrown likeness of himself that the false prophet (barefoot, bearded, and dressed in a white robe) causes to move in a halting kind of manner as the Antichrist laughs. It is said at that point that people all over the world will watch this live via TV and the internet.

The Jews reject the Antichrist and he moves to “annihilate” them. They then flee to Jordan, to the one place, according to these fanatics, they can – Petra, where it is stated that they will be protected for three-and-one-half years. It is referred to as a “secure location”. Most of this part of the clip was elucidated by Don Perkins.

The narrator then continued that Petra had been built by the Nabataeans “quickly, for no known reason” just prior to the time of the birth of Jesus (obviously insinuating that it had been built exactly for the purpose of protecting the Jewish remnant during the Tribulation). He continued, “Petra is defendable (sic), and remote. The Jewish remnant can be safe there from any land-based assault. And while modern technology would make it feasible to attack them from the air, biblical scholars believe that God will keep them supernaturally safe from any aggression of the Antichrist”.

Wow! I can’t begin to put into words how profoundly insane this scenario is! But these fanatical types truly believe that after all of these millennia, Christ will just protect the Jewish remnant (who have yet to accept him as Messiah), when he has never done so before, in of all places a place carved from rocks. Anyone with ANY military understanding would know that Petra is NOT defensible and that, even if all of the remnant could fit there and live for such a period of time (how they would get food and water, among other things is anyone’s guess), it could easily be besieged, surrounded by armies so that no escape could possibly be made. And I dare say that most biblical scholars would laugh at this scenario as much as I did.

Dr. Reagan then adds that Christ suddenly returns, and the surviving Jews receive him as their Messiah. Video clips begin again showing people gazing up at the sky as Christ returns to vanquish his enemies on the earth. Dr. Reagan continues that this entire scenario is designed to bring the Jewish people “to repentance”. He all but states that all of the persecution that the Jewish people have had to face, and will face during the Tribulation, is what will bring them to repentance and recognition that Jesus is their Messiah. He phrases it as Christ bringing them “to the end of themselves”. Then dr. Reagan gave his evangelization push speech.

By now, if I am Jewish, I am far beyond insulted and cannot fathom how it is that even greater persecution, along with other trials and tribulations, could possibly induce me to accept a Messiah who would make me go through all of it just so that I would repent! And whatever happened to the mandate given to the ancient Hebrews by God that THEY were to be the ones who would carry the way of salvation to the rest of the earth? THEY were to be the light of the world. These Christian fanatics have all totally forgotten that, demonstrating that their theology is on shaky ground, at best. The Jewish people have understood that they had their own “Great Commission” long before the coming of Jesus and even though, according to biblical writings, they have largely failed in this effort, the Bible does not stipulate that they will be brought back into line because they have been persecuted into it. And, theologically speaking, the Church has been tasked with fulfilling this mandate, according to New Testament writings, anyway.

Paganism is a Religion

Just as in any other movement, Paganism has its issues. And we all also have our own personal pet peeves. One of mine is the, apparently, increasing insistence by some that “Paganism is not a religion”. Not trying to be mean, but apparently the concept of “religion” is just a bit too complicated for some. At the same time, I have become convinced that there are those who are operating as trolls on social media so that each time anyone asks anything about Paganism, someone almost immediately responds with the “Paganism is not a religion” mantra.

Now, as some readers may be aware, I have been trained in, and hold, multiple degrees in religious studies. So I know a thing or two about religion. But, let’s dispense with a long diatribe about religion and what it is or is not here. Let’s keep it simple for those who just might be able to grasp this.

First, some definitions (for it is always good to begin with defining a term properly when one is debating what it is or is not):

  1. the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Synonyms: faith, belief, divinity, worship, creed, teaching, doctrine, theology, sect, cult, religious group, faith community, church, denomination, body, following, persuasion, affiliation “the right to freedom of religion”.
  2. a particular system of faith and worship; plural nounreligions;”the world’s great religions”.
  3. a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.
  4. a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion (Wikipedia).
  5. a set of beliefs that is passionately held by a group of people that is reflected in a world view and in expected beliefs and actions (which are often ritualized) (Simple English Wikipedia).
  6. human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial reverence. It is also commonly regarded as consisting of the way people deal with ultimate concerns about their lives and their fate after death (Britannica.com).

Also, from Patheos.comThe 221 Religions” May 17, 2017 by Gene Veith: “The United States military has nearly doubled its list of recognized religions to 221. The list includes the various forms of neo-paganism, which is as sectarian as any other religion:  Druids, Heathens, Pagans, Shamans, Magick & Spiritualists, Wicca, Seax Wicca, Gardnerian Wicca, etc. But Satanists did not make the list.”

And, as I posted on Facebook on March 25 of this year in response to this very issue: “If you follow some form of Christianity, you are a Christian (no matter if some reject your or not). If you follow some form of Judaism, you are Jewish (no matter if some reject you or not). If you follow some form of Islam, you are Muslim (no matter if some reject you or not). If you follow some form of Hinduism, you are a Hindu (no matter if some reject you or not). If you follow some form of Paganism, YOU ARE A PAGAN (no matter if some reject you or not AND no matter if some think it isn’t a religion). How hard is that for some people to grasp? So tired of the “Paganism isn’t a religion” people. Get a life and quit trying to tell the rest of us what we are and are not.”

Now, I think that most anyone can see that it is rather difficult to actually define “religion”. The definitions utilized above vary widely as to what a religion is. But none say what a religion is not, and for good reason – because that would be even more difficult to define. In fact, it would likely be impossible. Frankly, one simply does not define what a given thing is not (although this method, i.e. apophatic inquiry, is sometimes used in theology to define what “God” is not – an obtuse method of argumentation, for sure). That would be an absurdity! Such is on the same general level as “argument from ignorance” (ad ignorantium), a logical fallacy which is defined as “The assumption of a conclusion or fact based primarily on lack of evidence to the contrary” (logicallyfallacious.com). And, as Wikipedia illustrates on their page “Evidence of Absence” “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.

So, for those who insist that Paganism is not a religion, please check your facts and quit using fallacious arguments. You are actually harming the overall Pagan movement because (1) you are not educating anyone, (2) you are providing an argument which could serve to strengthen those who wish to deny us our Constitutional right to freedom of religion, and (3) you are also providing those who wish to deny those who want to practice some form of Paganism, but who may not know exactly what form they wish to adhere to, their Constitutional right to do so in the US military (do you have any idea how difficult it was to get the US military to recognize “Paganism” and its variants as legitimate, recognized religions so that those who practice them could come out and feel safe in so doing?).

In addition, also in the article on patheos.comThe 221 Religions“, it is further stated: “How this list will be used is unclear. Expect an initiative to provide religious support for all of these groups, and expect Christian chaplains to be pressured accordingly.” Indeed, this is exactly why we need to get recognized “Pagan” chaplains of any flavor in the US military – something I have pushed for over the years to no avail. An accredited educational system is necessary for this to take place and no variant of Paganism is stepping up to the plate even today, leaving Pagan members of the military without religious representation except for the occasional lay minister who cannot serve officially as a chaplain.

Finally, I want to reemphasize my suspicion that there actually are persons out there trolling on social media in a deliberate effort to confuse us so that we can’t develop a way to define ourselves. They do not want us to use the term “Pagan’ as a religion, an umbrella network, or anything of the kind. They want us to recoil any time anyone uses the term “Pagan” or “Paganism” to in any way define ourselves. This is a method of keeping us from uniting in any way and, sadly, it appears to be working. So, please, do not play into this – do not go along with the trolls who seek to keep us splintered and ill-defined at best. Let us, instead, work to unite on the things that actually do define us all as “Pagans”.

A Sudden Fascination with Apollonius of Tyana

A little while back I wrote a blog, entitled “Yes, Jesus Was Real”, refuting the notion that there is less evidence and historical documentation for Jesus than would be expected – a view held by some who are insistent that, because of a lack of historical narrative about Jesus, he simply could not have been a real person. I demonstrated how those who propose this idea are arguing from a position of ignorance and that to argue that someone was not real because one cannot find enough written about said person is non sequitur and, therefore, not logical. This because, as anyone who has studied logic at all will understand, one cannot prove a negative.

Now, I have no real issue with what any of these people personally believe. They can “believe” that Jesus was not a real person, or even that he was an alien, all they want (although such is also not logical in formulation), but to continue to insist that a perceived lack of evidence proves that he never lived is going beyond the limits of good sense. Yet, as late as yesterday I came across yet another attempt (in an article entitled “Where’s the Historical Evidence for Jesus?” by Dr. David E. Lee; published in “The Real Truth about Religion” [http://realtruthaboutreligion.blogspot.com/2015/06/wheres-historical-evidence-for-jesus.html#.XJpmZHtKiM8]) to somehow prove that Jesus never lived as a real person simply because of a lack of documentation for his life. I basically responded that there is actually plenty of documentation, whether one wishes to accept it as valid or not.

But what was even more distressing than reading this tired scenario played out yet again was the fact that, in this case, it was coupled with the now popular assertion that the life of Jesus was modeled after the life of the ancient Pythagorean philosopher who lived at roughly the same time (only a bit longer, it would seem), Apollonius of Tyana. The author brought out the supposed similarities in the two lives, along with scripture references from the New Testament, to bolster his argument and, supposedly, seal the deal.

Now, I am not going to get into all of that because it is not necessary to what I have to say. I could pose a refutation of each point, one by one, and bore the reader to tears. And that would be self-defeating. No, instead, in this case, I am simply going to go straight for the jugular.

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!

I should here reiterate, from my previous blog “Yes, Jesus Was Real”, that the most important source for the life of Jesus, meager as it is, outside of New Testament writings and other similar texts that did not become canonical, is the historian Josephus. That his work has obviously been edited over time is irrelevant here if we accept that he himself did write at least SOMETHING about Jesus – even a mere mention. And I do accept that. Other ancient sources were Tacitus, the philosopher Mara bar Sarapion, the historian Suetonius, The Babylonian Talmud, Pliny the Younger, the emperor Trajan (who indirectly referenced Jesus and Christianity), Thallus, Phlegon of Tralles, Lucian of Samosata, Porphyry, Celsus and the emperor Julian (the Apostate). This is actually quite a few extant sources given the overall, and often wholesale, destruction of ancient documents that took place over the millennia since.

By contrast, 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, articles and books claiming any connection whatsoever between Jesus and Apollonius of Tyana are at best fiction and at worst complete rubbish! One can posit a connection if one so desires, but one cannot base said supposition on anything that can be called evidence or documentation. Many things happened in history that we will never have any documentation for, so anything is POSSIBLE. But to purport to have evidence of any kind for this seriously flawed scenario is nothing more than charlatanry. These are articles and books of complete fiction.

If one wishes to read a book about the life of the man, Jesus, which is based on the evidence as it actually exists, then my book, “Apocalypse and Armageddon. The Secret Origins of Christianity” is one I highly recommend.

Neanderthals and the Nephilim

Bubble-burst before we even get there – this blog post is NOT about attempting to assert that the Neanderthals were the Nephilim of the Bible. I know that will disappoint some people, so I wanted to get it out there from the get go.

No, instead this blog post is about a quirky tendency of religious fanatics, because they read their holy books literally (most of the time), to make absurd statements that they cannot later back away from.

Case in point: Yesterday (3/18/2019) on the SBN Network program “Frances & Friends”, a question was posed by a caller as to how Neanderthals fit into the scheme of creation. My ears immediately perked up because I knew that this would be good, but I had no idea how delicious it would actually become.

Immediately Donnie Swaggart jumped in to answer the query. He explained that there is actually “no proof” that Neanderthals existed and continued to state that they have found no bones that they can prove are Neanderthal and that what has been found, he suggested, were later found to have been from some other animal species. Hey, I know the difficulties of trying to talk off the top of your head, but to trip yourself up THAT much in such a short space in time is a feat unto itself! And I won’t even get into all of it here. I will simply add that, in the end, Donnie Swaggart flatly stated that “Neanderthals never existed”.

That was early on in the program. If it had been left there, then that would have been enough fodder for anyone. But later another caller (sometimes I do think that people call in to try to trip the panel up and if not, then they do a good job of seeming to do so) asked if the Nephilim of the Bible were real. Again, Donnie Swaggart jumped right in without much forethought at all, stating that the Nephilim were definitely real and adding that they were a race of giants, products of cross-breeding between human females and angels (that he actually gets this mainly from the first Book of Enoch, he probably doesn’t even know).

The first irony here, if you will, is that Mr. Swaggart insisted that Neanderthals were not real and there is no evidence for them while on the very same program insisting that the Nephilim were real, providing no proof whatsoever. Of course, for the religious fanatic, if it is in their holy book then it must be real, after all. No further proof needed. Of course, an even greater irony here is that, because of the order in which the questions were posed, Mr. Swaggart missed out on a golden opportunity to claim that the Neanderthals and the Nephilim were one and the same. Whether he might have drawn that conclusion if the questions had been asked differently is anyone’s guess. but the fact is that such a connection was never drawn (and I am sure that others have drawn such a connection already).

For my part, the whole exchange just made me laugh! Mr. Swaggart was in a box of his own making from which he could not extricate himself, whether that had been the intent of the callers or not, and I knew that I would just HAVE to write something about it today.

Now, I don’t really care about the supposed argument here. I could care less whether he believes that Neanderthals existed or not. But, well before I decided to pursue theological studies my life’s focus was science. High school classmates even sometimes referred to me as “the mad scientist”. So, I take science seriously and I really chafe when people purport to know something and then spew babble all over the place for others to just lap up like kittens! In so many words, to put it more nicely, I take exception to what Mr. Swaggart said.

First: two skulls were initially discovered in separate caves in Europe, in 1829 and 1848. but only with the discovery of a third skull, accompanied with other bone fragments, in 1856, did researchers come to realize that they were dealing with a separate species of human. Since that time, more than four-hundred bone fragments of Neanderthals have been uncovered. So, unless one is positing that these bones are actually not Neanderthal, then there have indeed been many Neanderthal bone fragments found. Mr. Swaggart, therefore, is simply wrong.

But, more than this, DNA evidence has shown that all humans, other than sub-Saharan Africans, include SOME Neanderthal DNA. Now, one can hardly dispute DNA and EVEN on this very program one can find Frances Swaggart extolling DNA as “beautiful” and, of course, proof that there is a god. But, of course, if someone were to call into the program and ask her how it is that DNA is “proof of God”, but not proof of Neanderthals, she would refer to the question as “silly” (as she often does).

Of course, to be “fair”, some have claimed that they have found bones of “giants”. Some will also go on to claim that these are the bones of the Nephilim. I have, in the past, looked at the “evidence” for these claims and that, my friend, is what one would have to call “silly”. It is exactly on the same level as the “Ancient Astronaut Theory”; the “Flat Earth Theory”; the idea that gravity does not really exist (how one goes there is a feast for a mind that loves to be tortured by idiocy); the anti-vaxxers and their so-called “evidence”; QAnon (QMorons in my opinion) with their convoluted, incoherent conspiracy theories; people who believe in the planet Nabiru and the associated idiocy that comes along with it, etc., etc., etc. In so many words, the world, with the internet to support it, is full of bizarre “theories” having no basis in fact, just like religious traditions having no basis other than the Bible.

Finally, I want to make this disclaimer for those who still don’t understand as they read my blog posts. I am not here to bash religions, per se. That has never been my intent. A person has the human freedom to worship any way they want and to believe anything they want, as long as it is not harmful to others or to overall society or, dare I say, to the planet itself. I really don’t care if anyone believes some sort of misguided poppycock! Believe in Nephilim all you want. But, to attempt to authoritatively state that a scientific “fact” is not real, when there IS evidence for it, is a misuse of your role. The fanatic has long strayed from his/her, more or less, legitimate authority when it comes to explaining religious issues and has moved on into the political and the scientific. THAT is an absurdity that really should cease.

A Simple Truth

If you watch the TV evangelists, especially of late, you may note a decided tilt toward attempting to explain why capitalism is, somehow, “God” inspired. That’s right, for the televangelists “God” practically endorses capitalism. Well, at least that is the trend among American televangelists as they continue on their crusade to advance their end-times scenarios and paint the USA into the picture in any way possible. That also, by the way, means that Communism and Socialism are of the devil.

But, let’s be perfectly frank here. The real underlying issue with these televangelists is NOT whether “God” endorses a particular economic system or not. It is that people like these televangelists cannot function in non-capitalist societies. As they seek to export American Christianity to the ends of the earth they see well how difficult it is for their gospel to be propagated in countries where the economic system is not at least based on capitalism.

Have you ever wondered why there are so few evangelical Christian types in countries such as Russia and China? This is the reason. Try as they might, evangelical types in these countries have a very difficult time even surviving exactly because they can’t depend on their followers there to give them the massive amounts of money needed to prop up their ministries.

What that ultimately means is that it is us, you (not I, since I do not contribute) in Western nations, mainly the USA, who prop up these wayward ministries in far away lands (where they are allowed) with your hard-earned money.

Actually, there is a certain perverse logic to all of this. After all, if the USA were somehow to cease as a capitalist nation then this system would fall completely apart. So, in a way, it has to be “God” endorsed, doesn’t it? If American Christians were somehow to cease giving to all of these ministries, both here and abroad, then their evangelistic efforts would also have to cease. No money; no efforts.

It has always (and continues even to this day to) fascinated me that people will give to televangelists who regularly spout such nonsense that one would think that most anyone could recognize the absurdities contained therein. Frankly, you don’t have to be a theologian to spot the multiple errors that you will hear from them practically every time you bother to listen to them. But, as we know from psychology, self-delusion is a powerful thing and it will induce a person to do absurd things that he/she would never do otherwise.

Lately, televangelist Jim Bakker has been touting his new “prayer chapel”, which is being constructed (if we can believe him) mainly via the kind hearts and gifts of others who are contributing money, time, effort, and even (in one case) a block of silver, for it. But it doesn’t take a genius to spot trouble here already. Bakker has begun to expound on how he has been told by multiple people that he should not go ahead with construction of this chapel – that, somehow, it isn’t the right time or something. I, personally, think there is more to it than that, but I won’t speculate on that at this time except to state that I can’t see how this ministry isn’t floundering completely by now (and maybe it is). But I will state this; when he mentioned that they would also be building chalets so that people could pay for a place to stay while they were up on the mountain praying at said chapel I got a deep feeling that what was about to happen was very much akin to that which happened with Heritage USA. It sickened me.

The bottom line here is that these charlatans never really learn from the error of their ways. Once a charlatan; always a charlatan. If you send him (or any of the others) money, valuables, or provide any service for this (or any other ministry with its end-times scenario) and it fails, whether because of incompetence or some other reason, you only have yourself and Jim Bakker (or whoever heads said ministry) to blame. Don’t blame “God”. They will blame “God” somehow. Just listen and you will hear it. But don’t be sucked into it yourself.