One more contribution to the soup from Marshall Vian Summers:
NBC reports (here http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/zika-vi...) that news stories that are calm and accurate are less popular than inaccurate but loud stories, particularly if those stories predict disaster.
So if you want your story to catch some attention, include end-of-the-world predictions and be aggressive and loud.
Probably it helps to blame someone. Who to blame? I would tend to pick dark nefarious groups that can't be found, because hey, they won't defend themselves. But others will do, "the elite", or "the scientists", or "the mass media".
[originally posted at Facebook on October 15, 2015]
I’m only 150 pages into this tome. Not far at all given its 600-plus pages of text. I’m taking it slow and easy, as there is a lot of information to digest. But the research in Richard Carrier’s comprehensive study on the origins of Christianity already has me thinking this may be the most important book I will ever read. Though far less ambitious in their aim, I’ve read many others of its kind over the last fifteen years. From Randel Helms and Robert M. Price to G. A Wells and David Fitzgerald (plus the less serious people in the field, including D. M. Murdock and Timothy Freke). Not one of these comes close to the erudition and wide-ranging expertise that we see in Carrier’s On the Historicity of Jesus. Carrier’s book is footnote-heavy and the end notes section is laden with all manner of sources and citations. To say this is a well-researched, scholarly volume is something of an understatement. On top of that, Dr. Carrier, to my great relief, is an excellent and entertaining writer.
I had put off buying this book so long due to two factors: its hefty price tag ($31.00 at Amazon (and this is a paperback not a hardcover)); and also from many of the reviews I read at Amazon and elsewhere, it sounded as though Carrier’s book was a dry academic exercise certain to put the lay reader to sleep. I got the sense it was impenetrable to all but historians and college professors. Thankfully that’s not the case and I’m quite happy to have been proven wrong. Richard Carrier writes in a very accessible style.
One of my strong suspicions after having read all those works is that Christianity must surely have begun as a mystery cult, not unlike the Dionysian, Eleusinian, and Mithraic mysteries. Curiously, we frequently refer to the salvation religions of antiquity as “cults.” I think part of the reason for that is to cast them in a disparaging light, as though to say “Those religions were fraudulent and entertained the hopes of fools, whereas WE (Christianity) are the true faith and definitely NOT like those charlatans.” That is to say, Christianity as a whole does not wish to be painted with the mystery cult brush and seems overly sensitive to that particular slander because it bears so much in common with the very same cults it denounces. But I rather thought I was among the few to suspect these connections to the salvation religions of old. That’s probably because there was no one to talk to about this subject. Try saying something like this to anyone you know. The groans and eye-rolling are immediate. This pretty much cuts off all further discussion of the matter. I think today had I tried a little harder I would have found many a sympathetic ear.
About two weeks ago I was watching a David Fitzgerald presentation on YouTube. From out of nowhere Fitzgerald said, and I’m paraphrasing here: Christianity is not LIKE a mystery cult. It IS a mystery cult! Needless to say, I was shocked to hear him announce this so unambiguously. Imagine then my further surprise when I discovered two days ago this is one of the arguments Richard Carrier is making in his On the Historicity of Jesus. But unlike Fitzgerald’s brief statement, Carrier has laid out all the evidence and makes a very compelling case.
Although I have a long way yet to go before finishing On the Historicity of Jesus, I have little doubt Richard Carrier has in store far more surprises for the reader
On a related note, something odd occurred at the very beginning of the Christian era. It’s referenced in Paul’s epistles, but Paul is vague on the subject, giving us far too little information to make much sense of it. But it’s also alluded to elsewhere in historical documents (the commentaries of some of the church fathers, for example), and what we see is the following. There were strange groups of people who were apparently Christians preaching, practicing, and believing something far different from Paul's message. These groups are often placed under the umbrella term of “Gnostics.” The perception is they were somehow fringe elements and later offshoots of literalism. At least that’s the refrain we hear so often from many modern day scholars. But it appears more and more that was not the case—the Gnostics appear to have been there from the very beginning. Many of the Gnostics viewed Christ not as a historical person but rather as a cosmic, spiritual entity. And the oddity I mentioned is this: how is it that so soon following the alleged crucifixion of Jesus we see such wildly different interpretations of the kind evident in Gnostic thinking? It seems to have happened immediately. This is a very conspicuous WTF moment in history. I think it suggests—and it is ONLY a suggestion, which should not to be confused for proof—that Christ as a mythical figure was the original belief, and literalism the later development.
Bart Ehrman says in his Lost Christianities that contrary to popular perception these groups of Gnostics were very often NOT separate movements, they were not bands of wandering mystics, or anything of the kind. Rather these people were right there in the churches, sitting in the same pews as the rest of the congregation. They were co-religionists. What is further illustrated by the aforementioned commentaries is—wait for it: there were different levels of initiation within the early church. There were the beginners, the outer levels initiated into the church by baptism and who partook of the Eucharist and understood scripture in the literal sense. And then there were those occupying the elevated ranks, who understood scripture as allegories meant to convey higher spiritual truths. Paul and others allude to this as well. All of this information leads us to conclude Christianity was in all probability a mystery religion or salvation cult. Like the Orphic mysteries or the cult of Isis and Osiris, Christianity had a mythical founding figure (Jesus Christ). One of the big differences between the adherents of the mysteries and Christianity is that the former KNEW their savior deities were not actual people having lived on the Earth. Not so with the later Christians of the 2nd or 3rd centuries and beyond. Somewhere along the way, either intentionally or by accident, the adept levels of initiation were dispensed with. Today there seems only to exist the exoteric or outer understanding of Christian scripture. These are read literally as historical documents, which has led to a great deal of misunderstanding over the last two millennia.
I suspect the doing away with the various levels was deliberate. I just read in Carrier’s book something fascinating about Plutarch (46 CE – 120 CE). Plutarch lays out the problems with the mysteries HE was affiliated with. The short version goes like this: if novices were exposed to the higher meanings of the faith without the spiritual maturity to understand these allegories, they would see them as ridiculous and abandon the group altogether. So to maintain membership the newcomers were kept in the dark and only introduced to the information in dribs and drabs as they attained higher ranks within the system.
Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, and even the Church’s first historian Eusebius echo very similar sentiments.
The following is for your further consideration.
You probably saw the news reports, almost 3 weeks ago, about hurricane Matthew devastating the western peninsula of Haiti. You probably read that 60 to 80 percent of homes were destroyed in many towns and villages, and that, 3 days later, hundreds of thousands of people still had no food, water, or shelter. And several days after that, there was still no aid from NGOs or the government.
It's hard to comprehend this kind of devastation. What's it really like for the poorest people in the Western hemisphere to lose what little they have? Almost a week ago, the NYTimes posted the following story (which I just found yesterday) about the hardest hit place in Haiti, Lacadonie, a little community up in the mountains about half way between the north and south coasts, where all the houses, all the crops, and almost all of the few animals they had were blown away by category 4 winds or washed away by 4 feet of rain. Please read this article, and look at the photos. For those who've used up their 10 free NYT articles this month, and who can't clear their cookies, I've excerpted the gist below.
Haitians, battered by hurricane, huddle in caves: ‘This is the only shelter we have.’
(Posted at NYTimes.com on Oct. 17, 2016)
The village of Lacadonie embodies the very worst of what [hurricane Matthew] has left behind.
Officials in Beaumont say there are at least six caves they know of like this one [at Lacadonie], sheltering a total of 550 people living amid the moss-colored alps of the country’s southwest. It was not until leaders like Mr. Jean gradually made their way down to seek help that officials even realized the people were living in caves.
The mayor of Beaumont, Alexis Faveur, shook his head in disbelief as he described the damage left by the hurricane this month, and the deplorable circumstances it reduced them to.
He dispatches workers every few days to check on the villages, sending them on a climb of several hours, bearing bags of rice, beans, pasta and cooking oil. But there was no space for any more survivors in Beaumont; the shelters are already overcrowded.
“The only place they can seek shelter is the cave,” the mayor of Beaumont, Alexis Faveur, said, seated at a desk in his office, with blown-out windows and no electricity. “There are no more houses there.”
I was far down the list of 44 comments, when I came across this one:
Megan Polyte Vermont October 18, 2016
Thank you for covering this miraculous experience. My Haitian husband is in Lacadonie now. We have supported this community for a long time. If anyone wants to check in on family or friends in this region he will be there until Nov. 1. You can follow the work we are doing and learn more about this region here: https://www.youcaring.com/the-community-...
These are some of the most beautiful, determined, and caring people on the planet.
I took Megan's link, and discovered her crowd-funding page for the community of Lacadonie. Although she and her husband live in Vermont, he is Haitian, and he is there now, fixing their water supply, and buying supplies and food with the donations they are receiving, which Megan sends to her husband every few days.
Perhaps like me, you've often wanted to help in such situations, but wondered if your small donation would ever actually reach the people most in need. There have been stories recently about NGOs' waste and lack of coordination, stories about some Haitians asking us not to send donations to NGOs, and stories about the Haitian government's ineffectiveness and corruption.
Haiti's interim president has said all donations must go through the government and all donated food and supplies must go through customs, and then be distributed by the government. And, with an astounding lack of empathy, Haiti's interior minister, who is overseeing the recovery operation, has refused to distribute tents to the hundreds of thousands whose homes are destroyed:
The government, seizing the reins after the storm, has raised fears that its capacity may not match its ambition.
“We all want to strengthen the government, but the government is fragile,” said Enzo di Taranto, the director of the United Nations office for coordination of humanitarian affairs in Haiti.
“It’s a paradox,” he added. “You really want to reinforce national capacities, but in some cases it goes to the detriment of the victims.”
And sometimes, national priorities are guided more by emotion than reason.
Consider the interior minister’s refusal to distribute tents for hundreds of thousands of people without shelter. It is another scar from 2010, when Haiti became synonymous with tent cities, the images of which were beamed around the world to raise money.
“Maybe we will be a prosperous country one day, and we can use tents to send our children to summer camp,” said an emotional François Anick Joseph, the interior minister, who is overseeing the recovery operation. “But we will never be a nation of tent cities again.”
Right. I wonder if he knows that the school-year was supposed to start a week ago, but in the devastated western peninsula, every school that's still standing is now chock-full of people who have no other shelter or is overflowing with the victims of a still-growing cholera epidemic? One problem (among many) is, people who've lost everything don't have, and can't buy, whole sheets of plastic to wrap the dead in before burying them in the ground, so the corpses of those who died of cholera pollute rivers and streams used for drinking water.
But back to Megan's crowd-funding page: Megan's husband and the men of Lacadonie spent a week clearing trees and debris from the donkey-cart 'road' that takes several hours to walk down to the nearest small town, in hopes that some official aid would be able to reach them eventually. On Thursday, Oct. 20th, Pierrevy's cousin, who is a nurse, spent the day in Lacadonie with him, teaching the local people how to avoid Cholera, what the symptoms are, and what to do at the first sign of infection in the community.
Megan's husband, Pierrevy, bought a few rain parkas for Lacadonie's men so they could continue working on the road and begin repairing or rebuilding the houses when the drenching rains come every afternoon. Check out Megan's Photo Gallery -- good photos that will give you a better idea of what they're dealing with. There's a photo of some of the kids in front of what's left of the school that Megan and Pierrevy built for them several years ago -- now a broken-up slab of concrete. And photos of what used to be their homes. Pierrevy's photos are lighter than those at NYT - probably because he takes them in the mornings before the sky is covered with dark rainy-season clouds.
Pierrevy can only stay in Haiti until Nov. 1st. So if you want your donation to actually get to people who desperately need it, please give now at Megan and Pierrevy's crowd-funding page. Megan will be sending the last of the donations to Pierrevy in a couple of days, so time is of the essence!
Lacadonie's gardens are washed away, the fruit trees are stripped bare, the goats are dead, and the houses are destroyed. No, these people aren't death-camp-skeletal yet, thanks to Pierrevy and the 52 people who've donated so far, but how hungry would you and your kids have to be to eat a dead goat that had been rotting under the tropical sun for a week before your found it? At the very least, these people need food to make it through the winter, and corrugated tin sheeting for roofs. And since no government aid has made it there in 3 weeks, they'll probably have to BUY both. Three weeks ago the only 'money' they had was their now-dead goats, which they usually use to pay school tuition.
If you still have doubts or questions, google Megan's full name along with Vermont, and you'll find a lot of links to her everyday work. Or, since she posted her email address in one of her early Fundraiser Updates, email her your questions -- she's promised to answer them all. And read through Megan's Updates to see what's been done so far to help the people of Lacadonie survive and get back on their feet. If you'd like to help, but can't donate money right now, SHARE her crowd-funding page on Facebook. The page says every Facebook SHARE averages $37 in donations. Or copy this whole blog-post, and email it to your friends and your church, or post a link to it on twitter.
We may not be able to 'fix Haiti', but we can help a few hundred people who desperately need our help the most.
Addendum: Megan gave me permission to include her email address here:
mbro911(the at symbol)gmail.com
[The following text has been excerpted from a private communication between myself and a friend]
"It struck [Winston Smith] as curious that you could create dead men but not living ones. Comrade Ogilvy, who had never existed in the present, now existed in the past, and when once the act of forgery was forgotten, he would exist just as authentically, and upon the same evidence, as Charlemagne or Julius Caesar."
-George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
I’m not sure where to begin this Grail dialogue, but I hardly need point out that everyone who pursues this subject has their favorite answers and approaches to the material. I’m no different in that respect. However, I’m not aware that anyone else has applied mythicism to the problem or came to the same conclusions I have. What we inevitably find in Grail research is that people tend to adopt someone else’s solution or theory or argument. Due to this habit of laziness we see few original answers. And you should bear in mind, too, that I’m not trying to convince you of anything. Rather, I’m laying out my understanding of these things as I’ve come to know them.
In my previous message I mentioned several authors (Bart D. Ehrman, Richard Carrier, David Fitzgerald, and Randel Helms). Not one of them is a Grail researcher. They are all of them either historians or historical writers. And doubtless they would not endorse their work being used in this way or the unconventional conclusions I've arrived at.
So, moving on—
Lost Christianities, Ehrman’s survey of early Christian sects, was quite the treasure trove of information. But as I made my way through his book I began to notice a peculiarity developing: the closer we scrutinize the early Christian era, the more Gnostic groups populate the landscape. As we move forward from the first century to later years these Gnostics begin to dwindle, giving way to the literalist sects. That is, those who believed Jesus literally existed in the first century, underwent a passion, was crucified, and rose after three days. This struck me as astounding, because according to traditional history as received from on high, the Gnostics, we’re told, came later, they were an outgrowth of the literalist movements. Another oddity of Ehrman’s book was that he, the author, made no mention of this curiosity in his own text. It’s as though Erhman was unaware of it. So by book’s end it appears as though the opposite of received academic wisdom is the case. That the Gnostics were the first Christians, and literalism or historicism was the later development, in direct contradiction to Christian tradition and history as we understand it.
As you’re no doubt aware some Gnostic groups did not believe in a literal Christ. That is, a flesh and blood man who walked the dusty earth of first century Palestine. To some of them Christ was a mythical cosmic savior figure occupying a remote realm in the heavens. They further believed the world was created by a self-important Demiurge, and that there existed a supreme God the Demiurge was unaware of. This Demiurge, in their view, was the tyrannical Jewish god of the Old Testament. So in a very real sense some of these sects were in effect the first Jesus mythicists. When we view modern mythicism in this light we can see it’s not the innovation it’s accused of being, but rather a return to the original view of Christ. This view plays into my own notion of what Grail lore is trying to communicate to us.
As time goes on the Gnostics become fewer, the literalist sects more numerous, and eventually it was this strain of Christianity, literalism, that was adopted by the Roman empire. With the might and resources of an empire now readily at hand it’s easy to see how the Gnostics were deemed heretics and largely stamped out, and how we of today owe our view of Christianity to those early historicist forerunners whom Constantine held to his breast. But there is another curiosity to be answered here. For the sake of argument, if Jesus was a historical figure, how is it that some of these Gnostics came to believe otherwise so very soon on the heels of his alleged life, ministry, and crucifixion? I find this development an unlikely, mind-boggling conundrum, and yet there it is.
So it’s at this point I would normally copy and paste some of my Riddle of the Grail commentary. At the end of that piece I alluded to a second pivotal concept undergirding Grail lore. I mean, in addition to the Grail being a mirror intended to force us to recognize divinity in ourselves (see: The Riddle of the Grail). I further suggested this second idea was the reason the Albigensian Crusade was instigated and resulted in the destruction of this particular sect of southern France. So as we can see the Gnostics had not been wiped out altogether. But they had been dramatically reduced in numbers and kept for centuries a low profile up to this point. But they were still with us, clearly, nurturing the tiny flame of their secret traditions. As we’ve seen through this thumbnail sketch of mine, literalism had become the orthodox view, it loomed over all Christendom for centuries. Believing its tenets is what it meant to be a Christian. Which remains true today. Yet the earliest Gnostics, who believed in a mythical Christ, were still fully Christian. All without the necessity for a literal human sacrifice. And that, I've come to believe, is the second purpose of Grail myths. This is to say, the Grail is a clever Gnostic replacement for a literal Christ. Its popular stories are overlaid on traditional Christian narratives, in plain view--and under the very nose of--orthodox Christianity. Grail lore beckons a return to the mythic concept of the early Christian era. They attempt to tell us the literalist fictions of the canonical Gospels--including the existence of an earthly Jesus--are just that: fictions, allegories. All we need do, Grail traditions seem to say, is to recognize this for ourselves. Hence, "gnostic." One in possession of a saving knowledge.
So that’s the gist of it. I’m sure you’ll forgive me if parts of the above text are unclear or hazy. Before today I’ve never attempted to articulate some of these ideas. You are free, of course, to ask for clarification on any point you find nebulous. None of the preceding, by the way, should be taken as my personal beliefs. They’re not. I’m an atheist as you know. The Grail stories are for me mysteries to be solved, puzzles to be worked out as best as I’m able. And this fascinating subject, as one can deduce from above, has provided me over the years with a great deal of exciting thinking.
Observable Universe contains ten times more galaxies than previously thought
says in this place:
So for those who are informed, what does that do to dark matter? Do we sitll need it to balance the books ?
Gillilamd's talk in Australia earlier in the year.
James Gilliland and Enlightened Contact with Extraterrestrial Intelligences
The Trumpster as a Trickster
Donald Trump may be the first paranormal President of the United States. Here’s why: Trump has displayed characteristics simpatico with the “Trickster” and the paranormal.
People who are deeply involved in paranormal activities often display these character traits: The Trickster personality mixes into their daily routines, which means non-normal activities are engrained in their lives. They may hold down normal jobs, but their thinking is not at the center of society's thinking. It settles on the fringes of society where most people choose not to go in thoughts or behavior.
The 1999 thriller Eyes Wide Shut features a Trickster operating secretly in the underbelly of society, hidden from acceptable society. In the TV series, House MD, Dr. House gets away with being devious, obscene, liminal, undiplomatic, adolescent, obnoxious, uncontrollable, and erratic because the doctors and hospital administrators know House successfully uses unconventional thinking to solve medical problems. His behavior revolts them until they discover he has saved yet another patient. In the Showtime series Billions, hedge fund manager, Bobby Axelrod, is a Trickster character.
Trickster and paranormal personalities express an entertainment
value. As a jester or comedian, a Trickster can say things others dare not say, but secretly wish they could. Paranormal people also tend to be obsessed with the concept of conspiracy: Trump and his wall to protect the western world, for example. They think anyone who doesn't agree with their position is aligned with a plan to attack them. Sometimes they may be right: People can be out to get them because of their behavior.
Few of us openly speak our minds. Those wishing to behave in an acceptable manner may think a thought they don’t know how to verbalize politely or their etiquette and defense mechanisms prevents them from saying what's on their minds. Hence, their every thought is edited and evaluated for social acceptability or political correctness before it’s spoken.
In contrast to the norm, paranormal people speak openly and without inhibitions from their subconscious minds. We call them "loose cannons," realizing these types often get into trouble for inappropriate speech, similar to a child blurting out whatever comes to mind. Some of this uninhibited, unedited speech brands them as anti-social or societal rejects. Only a person with extreme charisma can get away with this type of loose communication, but not forever.
Just as psychics draw on their unconscious thoughts leading to their intuitions, Tricksters tend to speak out spontaneously. Despite spontaneity, a Trickster doesn’t solve problems through harmony; on the contrary, they prefer to stir things up.
Critics and admirers discover charismatic Trickster people to be moving targets that they can't predict.
Americans want a president who thinks outside the box. If Trump is elected, they may get that by voting in a president who thinks way out there, in the outer limits.
I had stopped watching this program, because they invariably gave pat answers for everything anomalous and often didn't even mention other explanations, e.g., for the polar ice on Mercury. However, I have noticed that the new season is being promoted with a not so subtle change in editorial direction. The trailers for new episodes end with the following statement:
"If we have eliminated all of the possible scientific answers, then maybe this is something else."
The graphics and overall presentation is also closer in style/genre to the UFO Files and other more open-minded documentaries. Maybe this is just a case of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Now that I've watched a couple of episodes of the new series, there does appear to be a less dogmatic tone. It seems that this change started in the previous season (#3), but I hadn't notice, because I'd written this series off. In Season 3, Episode 6 they even have Nick Pope as a talking heads for one of the segments. There have even been one or two instances where the conclusion was, "we still don't have an adequate explanation." Really?
I'd like to think this is progress, but still have reservations. It probably has more to do with marketing than an actual change in mentality at NASA or mainstream science in general.
An allegory of our current political fiasco complete with the animated corpses of walking-dead politicians, inane scripts mechanically acted, hokey ghouls and dubiously concocted special effects intended to frighten and constrict, and self-styled overlords as plausible as poseable action figures in the toy section.