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Monday, April 20, 2015

A Horrible And Costly Lesson

 Aqueduct to Nowhere

Weakness is measured not by not having "boots on the ground", as our media and politicians love to say, but by not having a clear purpose, not a clear idea, no clear principles. And that fecklessness sums up the USA in 2015.

A new report by unearthed disturbing figures when it came to the number of police-related deaths that occurred in America in the month of March alone.
Just last month, in the 31 days of March, police in the United States killed more people than the UK did in the entire 20th century. In fact, it was twice as many; police in the UK only killed 52 people during that 100 year period.
When did we lose control of ourselves?
Why did we not care until now? Or, do we care even now?

The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison.

“These findings are appalling and chilling in their indictment of our criminal justice system, not only for potentially innocent defendants who have been wrongly imprisoned and even executed, but for prosecutors who have relied on fabricated and false evidence despite their intentions to faithfully enforce the law,” Blumenthal said.
– From the Washington Post article: FBI Overstated Forensic Hair Matches in Nearly All Trials before 2000

And to this we may now return to "boots on the ground", and why that is not even an idiot's definition of World Leadership:

US primacy seen ebbing at global meet
As world leaders converge here for their semiannual trek to the capital of what is still the world’s most powerful economy, concern is rising in many quarters that the United States is retreating from global economic leadership just when it is needed most.

The spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have filled Washington with motorcades and traffic jams and loaded the schedules of President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jacob J Lew. But they have also highlighted what some in Washington and around the world see as a United States government so bitterly divided that it is on the verge of ceding the global economic stage it built at the end of World War II and has largely directed ever since.

“It’s almost handing over legitimacy to the rising powers,” Arvind Subramanian, the chief economic adviser to the government of India, said of the United States in an interview. “People can’t be too public about these things, but I would argue this is the single most important issue of these spring meetings.”

Other officials attending the meetings this week, speaking on the condition of anonymity, agreed that the role of the United States around the world was at the top of their concerns.

Washington’s retreat is not so much by intent, Mr. Subramanian said, but a result of dysfunction and a lack of resources to project economic power the way it once did. Because of tight budgets and competing financial demands, the United States is less able to maintain its economic power, and because of political infighting, it has been unable to formally share it either.

The most brilliantly abject demonstration of total lack of any sense of leadership was this country's response to 9/11.
The invasion of Iraq demonstrated the fallacy that "boots on the ground" will necessarily accomplish our aims. Yet even now people like Senator Tom Cotton have not learned that horrible and costly lesson.

To be a Hawk today is to be a bloodthirsty scoundrel, who well knows that all the blood spilled will not serve his cause, nor will all the balm in Gilead bind up the wounds.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Alternate Endings

The Supreme Court is scheduled to make a decision on same-sex marriages soon.
It may change the future time-line. On the other hand, it may not, no matter which way they decide. It is hard to tell what will happen.

That is why they have alternate endings for films, in order to reflect the unknowns about what will happen, how people will react to films, to appeal to certain demographics, etc.

My researches have just come up with an alternate ending for Take Shelter, 2011, Jeff Nichols Writer and Director.

The mainstream showing had:

but the alternate for the LGBT audience had:

and things went in a totally different direction.


Memories Of World War II

In the place where dwells my mother, upon exiting from the elevator (or lift, in the UK) I literally stumbled across an old number sitting in her wheelchair in Xtreme proximity to the elevator door.
That is how they seem to gather, in tightly knit groups and ever so close to their objective; so focused upon their getting into the elevator, they quite forget that we riders (or, ascendants in France) must first exit.

Anyway, this day, this time, this old number was wearing a poppy.
I grabbed at my lapel in pseudo-mock horror, and asked where came that bit of flora incarnadine. Sprightly answers she that they were selling 'em at the front ( or front desk, in the parlance of those who like to link long stretches of nouns together).

But it was not the right time, was it? I mean, Memorial Day (USA) is May 25 this year. Poppy Day in the British Commonwealth is in November. The only thing I can think of as being holiday-imminent is Lady Day, or May Day.
And for the Roman Catholics of the neighborhood, the color back in the day was lady-blue, not blood vermillion poppy. However, for the IWW and wobblies, red was the color for May Day celebs; ditto for the USSR.

And to complexify things more, Victory Day is looming, also known as Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day.
In the British Commonwealth, VE Day is May 7. Among the other once allies it is May 8. Russia and many countries liberated in 1945 by the Red Army celebrate it on May 9, and this was due to the surrender papers being left on the train from Istanbul, necessitating an airlift back for the dossiers, and by the time they got to Stalin's door step - along with his morning Pravda and the three bottles moloko, one pasteurized - the world had become wiser and older by a day.

So, Victory Day in Russia is May 9 this year.
And what would a 69 year old holiday commemorating the defeat of Nazism be without some discord?
Thus, the USA won't visit Moscow that day, and it hopes that many Western European countries will send regrets. It is that queasy feeling of déjà-1984-Olympics-thing-vu all over again.
Maybe we'll all get together later for VJ Day in August.

I think I shall observe Victory Day.
Although there may be animosities now, still do not my roots go back to Kievan Rus and Varangian overlords, swarming upon the Black Sea,

... who didst make Constantinople tremble,
and disconcert the children of Justinian...

as the poet said.

It looks like fun.
Some photos of Victory Day holidays past:

Russian veterans sing war songs as they celebrate Victory Day in the centre of Moscow, Russia
Ukrainian girls, dressed in second world war-era uniform pose in front of a line of cadets near the Motherland monument during the Victory Day celebrating in Kiev, Ukraine
 Belarus second world war veterans dance during Victory Day celebration in Minsk
Veterans chat during a Victory Day celebration in Tbilisi, Georgia
Antanina Cvetkova, a 93 -year-old veteran, receives flowers 
from a  girl at the Antakalnis  memorial in Vilnius, Lithuania

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Life Changing Events

When I was 14 years of age, I discovered a copy of Olaf Stapledon's Last And First Men in the Grosse Pointe Woods library next to Parcells School.
It was in one of those library bindings, which was sturdy, all one color, and had absolutely no pictures of images on the cover nor the back. I think it was a teal-green color; plain, no patterns.

It changed my life.
I suppose that there is a connection between the ghastly war which changed his life forever, the novels he wrote thereafter, and how the force of his change effected my own change.

In Last Men In London, he wrote of the protagonist, Paul, based upon his own wartime experiences:
“To fight for one’s nation against other nations in a world insane with nationalism, is an offence against the spirit.”
The spirit.
Never before had the concept of the Spirit seemed so real and full of electricity and life as that moment of plunging into the maelstrom of Stapledon's Last And First Men.

My life had been lived - and would continue to be lived, even up to today - within the proximities of wars and threats of wars, of genocides and apartheids, of racism and hatreds. And a billion years from now, Stapledon's Spirit still inspired the last generations of Man.

Stapledon World War I, Society Of Friends Ambulance Corps

I bought this copy in Montreal in the 60s

Cover showing a man and woman of the 7th Men, the flying race of mankind

Another Edition

I bought this edition somewhere and sometime...
I always liked corals, particularly Hexagonaria

I bought this edition, too, of Last And First Men and Last Men In London

First Pelican edition

The Protagonist of Last Men In London is appropriately named Paul

I must read Starmaker again soon

Like a billion year space opera!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

War WIth Iran Wednesday

Senator Tom Cotton wants war with Iran...
... saying Obama was refusing to admit that airstrikes against Iran's nuclear facilities would only take "several days" and wouldn't require any longer-term military commitment to be effective. Obama, he said, was offering a "false choice" between the deal and war.

All this led to a Country-Western lament on Radio Tehran by Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei:
(who not only looks like Burl Ives, but sounds like him!)

 Khamenei Singing With Hand Gestures

If it hadn't been for Cotton-Eye Tom,
I'd have had that nuclear bomb:
Who was your daddy?  Who was your mom?
Where did you come from, Cotton-Eye Tom?

If it hadn't been for Cotton-Eye Tom,
I'd have had that nuclear bomb:
Who was your daddy?  Who was your mom?
Where did you come from, Cotton-Eye Tom?

Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey...
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey... 


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Never Too Much Of A Good Thing: Orthodox Easter !

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill at the Easter service at Christ the Savior Cathedral, Moscow. 
(RIA Novosti/Sergey Pyatokov)

 Easter service at St. Porphyrius Church in Gaza City.  
(Ezz Al Zanoun)

 Egyptian Coptic Christian pray during the Easter Eve service at St. Sama'ans Church in the Mokattam district of Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, April 11, 2015. 
(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) The Associated Press


War With Iran Tuesday

 Ol' Tom Cotton

A very good piece in VOX:

Here's what would really happen if the US bombed Iran
Updated by Zack Beauchamp on April 14, 2015, 10:30 a.m. ET
Last week, Republican Senator Tom Cotton criticized President Obama's nuclear deal framework with Iran, saying Obama was refusing to admit that airstrikes against Iran's nuclear facilities would only take "several days" and wouldn't require any longer-term military commitment to be effective. Obama, he said, was offering a "false choice" between the deal and war...

You have to love Tom Cotton for having learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Only someone who is a bit out of touch with reality can think that such wars are simple, easy, and effective.

Paul Wolfowitz said that Iraq would be over in less than a year, and that it would cost a billion dollars...... TOPS!

Very, very, very Buck Turgidson:

 General Turgidson


Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Cheneys

pic: CNN

Dick, Liz Cheney releasing new book slamming Obama
By Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Updated 10:50 AM ET, Tue April 7, 2015
(CNN)Former Vice President Dick Cheney is releasing a new book co-authored with his daughter Liz Cheney aimed squarely at President Barack Obama.

The hawkish former vice president's new book, "Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America," is slated for release Sept. 1 and is already available for pre-order on Amazon.

The book is being billed as a blistering criticism of Obama's foreign policy, claiming that Obama has abandoned the tradition of American leadership in the world.

Obama has "significantly diminished" American power just as the threat of terrorism is "rapidly growing," Cheney said in a statement his publisher released Tuesday. Cheney also accused Obama of abandoning U.S. allies and emboldening enemies...

Only in modern day America can a bald-faced liar sling such slurs. Only now may an amoral dimwit seek political gain and be abetted by the ghastly harpy-like offspring that is his daughter. These people still take comfort in their wars of lies, their wars unending, their wars without proper planning that result in thousands of dead.

Vicious immorality is one of the choices for our future.
We ought not to take it.



Isola di Loreto

pix: Teone!

Yemen: O, Zayd! O, Isma'il!

Wadi Dhar Palace

أحفاد النبي
! البكاء في اليمن


grandsons of the Prophet;
weeping in Yemen 


I Expect God

Yesterday someone asked me to clarify what I meant by saying, "I do not believe in God, rather I expect God."

After thinking a bit, I think it is very much a relationship of Conversation: God and I are in a conversation, and when one speaks, that speaker expects the other to listen, attempt to understand, and to respond.

As there is a Worlding process occuring, God and mankind sit in parliament with each other.

Let me refer to a recent post:

The Grey And God And..... דער שׂטן

Towards the end of the film The Grey, Liam Neeson's character yells out to God that if He exist, this time would be a fine time to manifest Himself, since Neeson's character. Ottway, is the last man alive, and is hunted by the wolves.

That is not the expectation of God, that is not a conversation with God.
Just as God cannot compel us, we cannot compel Him.

Of course, in the film the end is an endless metaphor, where Ottway becomes a Power in the World, a totem-wolf animal. The film points to the resolution of our eternal questions, and leaves us to find our way from the wolves den.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Powers In The World 2

H. P. Lovecraft's Ancient God Cthulhu Arises from his Lair

Some people have taken me to task for my post on powers, thinking I believed in spirits, ghosts, and demons and angels and ancient gods, somewhat like Cthulhu as pictured above.

Since I have exhaustively said that I do not "believe in" God, I am amazed.

I expect God. If I go around the corner, God is there. It is not a matter of belief. Beliefs can be mistaken. God's presence is not mistaken.
I really dislike what people call "belief systems".

What Carl Jung called Synchronicity, I call Fate or Bona Fortuna. Or I may ignore it.
One thing I do not do is "believe in" it, nor do I disbelieve in it.

To get me to believe or disbelieve, I have to be engaged in whatever it is that is under discussion.

I do not discuss God's existence, so I am not engage in that trivial pursuit.
It is the first axiom of my worlding: my being-in-the-world is subject to being shot through by the occasional divine, leaving my head spinning. It ain't a belief. It is the real deal.

Powers, too, are the real deal. I can believe... or not, as the mood takes me.
One thing I tell you, I pay close attention to Powers.

Water is a Power. Something like -what? - 80% of our bodies is water, is it not? It is a basis of life as we know it.
A Power, in other words.

In Indian Country Today, we read:
Debra White Plume Fights for Sacred Water—With a Film. Want to See It?
Natalie Hand 4/2/15

For many people on this planet, water is taken for granted. They turn on their faucet and expect clean drinking water every time. But what if you turned on your tap and nothing came out? Or what did come out was discolored or flammable?

Until you’re faced with this reality, you may feel that it’s not your problem. Guess what? It is your problem! And mine, and every Tom, Juan, and Sven’s on this planet.

Debra White Plume (Wioweya Najin Win), Executive Director of Owe Aku, is an Oglala Lakota grandmother and water rights activist who is taking on Cameco, the world’s largest producer of uranium, near her homeland on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, in South Dakota.

White Plume’s call to action has prompted a series of non-violent direct action trainings around North America to prepare people to rise up and stand strong to protect our most precious commodity—sacred water...
So... "sacred". You believe water is sacred?
80% of you screams out that it is so.

Peter Brabek of Nestle Co has been in the news about claiming that water is not a basic human right. That view, he claims, was a distortion.

The matter is summed up in a Huffington article:
... Mr. Brabeck insists that by assigning water a price, we'll become more aware of just how precious it really is. Like him or not, he's right to point out how desperately out of touch we've become.

But I think that this underscores the point at which free markets break down, for we have assigned famously and historically a price in human lives and suffering to Peace and War, and we have found the bulls are for War!


Thursday, April 09, 2015

Powers In The World

Tengo muchos nombres, que sólo le viente y la lluvia pueden pronunciar
I have many names that only the wind and the rain are able to pronounce
El Fauno

It is 5:08 EDT this morning. One minute ago, I heard thunder.

I cannot remember the last time I heard thunder.
Not at all in the winter just past.
I would have remembered thunder in that winter; thunder is a coda that brings the music of one period of time to an end, and then there starts another.
Thus, there was no thunder, for there was no coda to that symphony of suffering, was there? If I was not in pain, my wife was. If not she, then her dying sister or the sister's daughter. Every day was a recapitulation of the preceding day, and to be truthful, did we not weep a capella?
There was no accompaniment.
Until this thunder.

Thunder is not a power upon the earth, but there are such things. The ancient beings, such as Poseidon of the sea, or Yam, the sea god of Ugarit, were they not so? And the gods of the sky and the subnivial underworld, and the mountains and the valleys, the dryads of the trees and their sisters and their brothers, the fauns.

We have been brought up to dismiss such things as demons. If not demons, then myths and mythologies in the least important sense. They are nonsense, and if not nonsense, then they are diabolic.

Yet, they exist still.
We have changed their names to "angels" or "spirits". They are "lwa" or gods of what we consider to be primitive folk religions that still exist beyond the pale of philosophy and science and biblical criticism.
They can also seem ultra-rational. Sometimes the palaver that comes from academe about The Grand Theory Of Everything, or GUT, of physics seemed to be such a creation of a faith that was swept off it feet upon the earth, and there are other obsessions yet haunting science still.

Then there are the demons behind the politics and religions of those who disagree with us.

A Mexican Family Prays at a Shrine of Santa Muerte  (Holy Death) in Mexico City

There are indeed Powers on the Earth. I have seen them at times.

They are not transcendent. God is transcendent. God comes like a sudden blast of a gun across our bow as we sail along our time-line. It gets our attention, but it is gone as soon as we are aware of it.

The Powers do endure.

There are heroes and heroines, demons and angels, powers and tree-spirits, and they all exist within the World-ing we create in our negotiation with Creation.
We read stories in the Bible and often we scratch our heads, wondering how the children of Israel could turn away from such a demonstrably powerful and omni-present deity such as Yahweh, and we ascribe to them not just a stubbornness and stiff-necked-ness of a normal type, but an obduracy bordering on the unimaginable.

Yet even they were not as stiff-necked as Moses said, but they were as immersed into the study of torah of the powers of creation as their later descendants would be into the Torah of God.
They were ever davening in a negotiation with God.
Moses warned them not against defeat by the Canaanites, but of their eventual victory over the Canaanites:

“Don’t say in your heart – ‘because of my righteousness has God brought me to inherit this land and because of the wickedness of these other nations’ – (but) in order to fulfill God’s promise to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – for you are a stiff-necked people,”  Deuteronomy 9:4-6.

for they are focused like religious autistic savants in the parliament with their God, and they will not bow the head once they think they have found the "truthfulness" of their ways.

It takes a long, long struggle to capture the essence of the God who burst upon our lives like a momentary supernova; much easier, is it not, to latch onto those vasty powers who inhabit God's creation, above and below.

However, having said this, we ignore the powers at our own peril.

my mother thinks that the UN weapons inspectors told the world that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction. She listen to FOX, however, and history has been changed in FOX's Mini-Truth. Yet I well remember how shocked I was at the ease with which we were marched in unison over the cliff of the Iraq War in 2003.
I had a sense of a majority of the public being possessed by madness, a feeling I don't think I ever had before.

The invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq began 20 March 2003, and by 12 May 2003 four soldiers from the 320th Military Police Battalion abuse detainees at Camp Bucca, in southern Iraq, kicking and beating them.
Eventually we had Abu Ghraib and the photos of abuse.
Less than 2 months for the devil in the details to jump up.

I particularly found Abu Ghraib interesting because it the photos were filled with nudity and suggestions of sexual dominion.
I remember at the time wondering how long it would take for the culture to begin to "come out" of the S and M closet:
how long before things like Fifty Shades Of Grey would be commonplace?

It did not take very long, did it, suckers?!

Many of us are in the grips of Powers we cannot begin to comprehend with our present intercourse with Creation.

This time, his head was not covered, but the American flag did cover the legality of the events. This was the death of an individual whom the Mass Media called a "very, very, bad man."

I never met him, thank God. But my taxes paid for this.


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Misters Turner, Gallagher, and Shean: The Third Verse; Thomas Gainsborough

Thomas Gainsborough's  The Blue Boy

(The third installment of my Turner, Constable, Gainsborough, Gallagher and Shean trilogy.)

There is a film Mr. Turner about the painter Turner, and I hope I may still get to see it in the theater. She-who-must-be-obeyed saw it with one of her friends on the distaff side, and I was nowhere to be seen.

However, I did manage to compose a ditty about the great English painters, Turner, Constable, and Gainborough,  all based on the vaudeville duo of Gallagher and Shean. This third verse is that of Thomas Gainsborough.

So the third verse goes - and it is sung as if I were a Yiddish stage presence, sort of like Yakum Yakum. (He did vaudeville, then ended up in Detroit doing Burlyque.)

Oh, Mr. Gainsborough! Oh, Mr.Gainsborough!
We know, boy,  how you can beat the "blues"!
just a smile and a winkie,
and drink tea with your Pinkie!

Positively, Mr. Gainsborough?
Absolutely, Mr.T!


Orthodox Palm Sunday In Kalinovo, Russia

While we did Easter, our Orthodox kin observed Palm Sunday.
For the Russian Orthodox in the colder climes where palms aren't available, they substitute willows branches.

That means another Easter is on the way.


The New Theocracy

View of a full moon shining on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem
November 27, 2012  (Louis Fisher/FLASH90)

As the Iran nuclear agreement comes up to be debated, we may clearly see the unmasking of the new Theocracy... not in Iran, for that is the old theocracy established in the days of Jimmy Carter, but rather the New Theocracy to potentially be established in the USA.

We read in The Jerusalem Post:

Christians United for Israel acts to block 'bad' nuclear deal with Iran
Christian News By ARIEL COHEN \ 03/12/2015 15:28
Christians United for Israel [CUFI], the United State’s largest pro-Israel group, is taking matters into its own hands when it comes to  encouraging Senators to support the Corker-Menendez Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (S. 615).

The action alert, “No check left blank to Iran,” sent out to CUFI’s over 2 million members exactly one week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to US congress, generated over 57,000 responses in just 24 hours. CUFI constituents emailed their senators urging them that the deal with Iran is moving quickly and that they must block a bad deal from being passed through and ensure that there is Congressional oversight on an any agreement passed.

“It is unconscionable that the President would consider signing a deal of this import without Congressional approval,” CUFI founder and Chairman Pastor John Hagee said. “Congress is the voice of the people, and the massive response to this action alert makes clear that on Iran, the people want their voice heard.”

The Obama administration is set to reach a deal with Iran by the end of the month. The Corker-Menendez Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act was introduced to the Senate to ensure that Congress reviews any nuclear agreement with Iran.  President Obama has vowed to veto this legislation, so in order to ensure the act's passage, it must receive a veto-proof majority of 67 senators or more...
I have had dealings with Christians who believe that the establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948 was a sign foretold of the end of times, for Israel was thus restored in the space of one day.

That belief conveniently ignores the Zionist program and struggles leading up to May 14, 1948, and so also the wars and struggles thereafter.

Furthermore, when I heard these people state their belief, I quoted Peter 2 3:8:

"But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
They smiled at me in a rather uncomprehending, sociably charming way, and did not get the point, and perhaps never did and never will. Knowing the mind of God, as they do.... as so many of today do, from true believing evangelical types to ISIS and beyond... there is little that can dissuade them.

How long is a day?

It is a blink of some divine eye from World War I to the Balfour Declaration, then on to World War II, then to 1948, and on into the present day, some 67 years later, and there is no resolution to the conflict in Palestine, except that final argument that comes from the barrel of a gun or the explosion of bombs.

And this endless fecklessness is the process that was properly The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, not some mindless hedonism, not some vast brutality, but a spiritual weakness that precluded any initiative to a peaceful community of the inhabited ecumene.

So today: the wars and conflicts are the result of a lack of our own spiritual weakness, our own inability to see the thousand years within a day, or a day within a thousand years... we believe whatever is easiest for us to believe.

When I see a religious group, like CUFI,  taking a political stand, I applaud their backbone and character, for I know that they have given up the hard fight of anchorites in the desert seeking the face of God, and have abandoned their monkish cells, and have crawled back to the streets of Alexandria, where they may mix in with the crowds and yell with one voice and forget that they ever were singular beings connected by a singular knot to the one God!

The Theocracy is an escape from the remote numinous God who breaks like a storm upon us after 40 days of fasting in the wilderness...

It is an embrace of the golden God who seeks the clamor and approbation of the multitude.

Our modern war in Zion has gone on for 67 years.
That is a long war.
The right-wing Likud of Israel has its own desire for land... room for living in, a need which some characters of the past called "Lebensraum".
Since the West Bank, dominated by conquest, is being settled at variance to international law, and since the West Bank is actually East of Israel proper, we see what some in the past called a "Drang nach Osten" - a push to the East.

In fact, we see an endless cycling and recycling of what has gone on over the last hundred years, for we cannot escape our own lack of initiative to leap from the chains which bind us to past sins...
We are in one of those episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where the crew of the Enterprise goes over and over again through a doomed scenario, only finding a key to salvation in the last three minutes.

"Cause and Effect" with Kelsey Grammer

How valid are the credentials of the New Theocrats?

We read further in The Times Of Israel:
Bad Iran deal foretold in ‘blood moon’ celestial signs?
Discoverer of phenomenon ‘linked’ to upheaval in the Jewish world calls for interfaith prayer for Jerusalem during full lunar eclipse this weekend
By Amanda Borschel-Dan April 3, 2015, 4:11 am 104
After observing a total lunar eclipse over Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in 2008, Pastor Mark Biltz pondered the meaning of such a celestial event and began investigating heavenly occurrences in the Bible. He wondered if it was possible to ascribe them meaning.

He found a positive sign almost immediately in Genesis 1:14, the verse in which God creates the sun and the moon. A literal English translation of the Hebrew is: “And God said, and there will be lights in the heaven’s firmament, to separate between day and night, and they will be for signs, and for festivals, and for days, and years.”

... The next challenge was looking for historical connections — which he quickly found in abundance.

In scanning the 5,000 years of lunar eclipses charted on the NASA website, he began seeing a pattern when crossing the dates of past lunar eclipses against historical time periods. Most striking to Biltz were the widespread upheavals he saw linked to the Jewish people and the State of Israel during what NASA labeled “tetrads,” or the phenomena of four full lunar eclipses in two years.

 A "Blood Moon" Lunar Eclipse

Namely, he recognized that the Inquisition, and Israel’s War of Independence and the Six Day War all occurred during these periods of four “blood moons.” (During the fall of the Second Temple, although not a tetrad year, there were a host of heavenly events, he said.)

This week the world will experience the third of a tetrad of “blood moons,” colloquially termed because of Rayleigh scattering (which also causes sunsets to appear red) in filtered moonlight through the Earth’s atmosphere.

Biltz had accidentally stumbled upon the now wildly popular four blood moon phenomena. He wrote a 2008 book about it and had his idea capitalized upon by popular Pastor John Hagee, who also wrote a bestselling book and recently produced a movie screened in theaters around the world last week.

Some Christian believers, however, look at the four blood moons phenomena as a portent for an apocalyptic end of time. An Internet search on Biltz, the spiritual leader of El Shaddai Ministries with a 250,000-strong weekly online congregation, reveal similar doomsday statements attributed to him. And a huge amount of web space is spent on debunking any and all theories attached to blood moons.

Biltz told The Times of Israel he “100% does not think it’s the end of the world.”

He readily admitted, however that he “would be surprised if a major conflict didn’t take place this year.” As there’s never any need to look very far for contemporary Jewish national strife, he noted last summer’s war with Hamas...

Pastor John Hagee again.

This is the future of the New Theocracy.

As far as Mr. Biltz not being surprised if a major conflict did not take place this year, I suppose it all depends upon the definition of "major".

I mean, if I were the beheadee and not the beheader, then I would consider that little incident of mortality to indeed be major. That there will not be a conflict is a sucker bet.



These ponderings provide an excellent time-line for 2017:
scuttle any accord with Iran, continue wars and civil wars in the Middle East according to the 100 year script we have been cycling through, election of an obscurantist Republican, who might even be not just a climate change denier, but - this would be immense! - a fully fledged science denier!!

Then watch where the pieces fall.


Monday, April 06, 2015

More On Mediator

In a previous post I wrote on the concept of Jesus as mediator, or  μεσίτης  as it is in the Greek New Testament.

Today I read this in Christianity Today:
Back From The Dead? Heard It Before.
Ted Olsen     April 2, 2017
... Jesus’ resurrection isn’t just one important resurrection story among several in the Bible. He’s the first of a new kind of resurrection. Which may be why everyone seems to be so confused when they meet the resurrected Christ. Remember: Jesus’ disciples had seen people come back from the dead before... They knew Lazarus personally. But Jesus coming back? That was different. His resurrection was not like the others. Examine, for example, the attention John’s gospel gives to the difference between Lazarus coming out of the tomb bound in his burial clothes and Jesus leaving the tomb with his “linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth . . . folded up in a place by itself.”


What’s important isn’t that Jesus really did raise Lazarus right then and there. It’s that Jesus suddenly changed resurrection from a what-and-when question to a who question. He changed it from a passive verb—someone was raised from the dead—to an active and personal noun. I AM the Resurrection.

We’re still waiting for the resurrection on the last day; that’s our future hope. But he is that resurrection. Right now. Acting. Saving. Redeeming. Setting things right. Remaking creation into something better than ever. In starting a new, spirit-powered creation made from the dust of this first, fallen creation—like a stalk of wheat made from a cracked kernel—Jesus’ body is where it starts. He is the firstborn of all creation, and the first fruits of the new creation, the firstborn from the dead...

The first paragraph quoted makes no sense to me. It strikes me as the urge to believe stumbling over its own tongue.
The second paragraph is some sort of revelation through grammar, which moves me not a bit.

Now comes the third paragraph.
The third paragraph takes Jesus as active mediator between God and Mankind and drains the vitality from both from God and from Mankind; they are estranged from each other, but their opposition is a desultory and vapid thing: not much happens except for an occasional catastrophe inflicted from above or lust and hubris from below.
Once more, a mediator is an active middleman between two active parties.
A Mediator is a referee, an umpire, an arbitrator amidst the furor of opposing sides... not a yentl, not a matchmaker between a shy suitor and a coy bride-to-be.

To emphasize the Mediator and ignore the sides between which he mediates is to distort an ongoing process of negotiation and worlding (making a the world of a compact and agreement). God is occluded into the mists of remote divinity and mankind emerges as a corrupt image from a Cecil B. DeMille biblical epic.

The people of Israel in the desert did not just stand around one day and, having nothing better to do, say why not give a Seven Veils party, drink lots, and generally rip Sinai up! The idolatrous effort that went into the Golden Calf was a strenuous effort to make sense of their sufferings and their hopes in combination with various traditions which had been handed down to them from ancestral religious geniuses... who are nameless to us, but who must have existed.....

... they must have existed and strove to find the Numen of God; they had visions and prophesied; some of them used an icon of a golden calf to portray man-and-god-in-the-world....

An misunderstanding of the Mediator alone makes us stupidly ask the question: why does a good God permit evil?
Evil and Good are part of OUR negotiations. WE are responsible, and WE must change... for is that not the process of mediation?   Both sides "change" something and come together?


Sunday, April 05, 2015

Easter 2015

The Mounted Butterfly Decides To Fly

My last post was about Jesus as the mediator between God and mankind. Too often we think of God as the active party, wondering how to save mankind, while mankind is off on some sinning-free-for-all or stuck in the Slough of Despondency, despairing of any sign of the divine within a world given over to pain and suffering.

I think that is the wrong idea; mankind struggled to reach the light, creating religions, having visions, fasting, opiating, ... doing everything it could to glimpse the Numinous.

And God was the stubborn and obdurate father, set in His own ways, and appearing to have vanished from the life of the world through the opacity of His mystery!

And Jesus came as the "referee" between the two factions who could not quite get it right themselves.

Within the story of Jesus, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his death, earlier on he had raised Lazarus from the dead and the daughter of Jairus, and the least known event was that of the dead who were raised from their tombs during the earthquake that shook Jerusalem at the third hour after noon of the day Jesus died upon the cross.

Resurrection can not be restrained; it cannot be compelled into a cage!

Life and eternal life finds a way...

all prospect of green pastures:
not withdrawn, not hid from view;
verily will we be led,
certainly we shall be fed,
the lilies of the field be
arrayed beautiful as you.

we shall gather at the home
that grows beyond  the unused gate,
beyond the stream of waters still,
our friends at the window sill,
trying to get Christina’s eye,
who lay upon the grass, sedate.

the late summer seed are white caps
of prairie grass’s fetch and waves;
she lay prone like goldfinch child,
lost her way in windy wild;
good shepherd launch his rescue craft,
from world’s corruption he will save.