Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Putting The X Back In Xmas


Fundamentalists and traditionalists are always whining about how Christmas has lost its "true meaning" in our culture. Even more galling, from their perspective, is the trend of secularization that allows for public display of colored lights and the general Santa theme, but not nativity scenes. The popular use of the abbreviation "Xmas", beginning in the '60s, prompted their cry to "put Christ back in Christmas".

Of course, anyone who has studied the roots of Christmas tradition realizes that the Christ never had anything to do with it. Decorating evergreen boughs and burning Yule logs hearken back to ancient traditions that preceded the purported Advent of Christ. Because the early Catholic church, as part of their fabrication of the religion known as Christianity, co-opted certain pagan rituals, it is claimed that this holiday and its trappings is primarily about the birth of Christ.

So sorry if this offends you, but the charming story about the baby born in the manger is pure myth. The swaddling clothes, the wise men bearing gifts, guided by a strange star - sorry, never happened! If your sense of faith is offended by this revelation, then perhaps you will at least allow me to explain the concept of "metaphorical liturgy".

An objective overview of the Gospel accounts of Jesus suggests that they are meant to be read as liturgy, not history. That much is obvious when one considers the context - authored decades after the purported events, by those who no longer lived in Palestine or even spoke the common language of Palestine. Another clue is found in the tendency to mirror Old Testament prophecy foretelling the coming of a Messiah who was to reclaim the title of King. The Gospel authors make it clear that the details of their story are drawn from the Old Testament prophecies, not from historical record - thus the Christian Advent story is based on romanticized projection rather than fact.

There is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying liturgy, as long as we understand it for what it is. Most of us find ourselves resonating with some aspect of the Holidays. This is probably due to our latent ancestral memory  of the ancient customs that Christmas draws from. One can even find sacred meaning in these rituals without believing in the literal advent story.  These customs predated Christianity by centuries or millennia in any case, so they must celebrate something that transcends Christian dogma. For those who get a  warm feeling to going to church and lighting candles and watching the nativity scene reenacted, that's ok. Just keep in mind the ancient roots of the celebration, and remember that religion is purely a human creation.

Much of Christmas tradition is rooted in Sol Invictus and Saturnalia, with Mithras featured as the God-Man whose birthday was celebrated on December 25. This coincided with even more ancient celebrations of the "rebirth" of the sun following the solstice. From the Druids and Germanic tribes came the tradition of the Yule fire, decorating evergreen trees, and mistletoe.

The Roman observances of Saturnalia became debauched and violent during the declining years of the Empire, but the original premise of celebrating the solstice is rooted in an authentic appreciation of nature.

For me, the authentic aspect of this holiday season is to observe the solstice as a day when the darkness of winter halts its progression and begins to recede. The sun begins to climb higher and heralds the promise of spring eventually returning.

As for the custom of cutting down live trees, so that they may be dragged into homes, decorated and observed as they die, I have this story to tell:

While on business in Billings, Montana several years ago, I read an article in the local newspaper that featured an interview with an elderly Native American. He recalled life as a young boy, living on the reservation. Then came the time when his parents sent him and his siblings to the "white man's" boarding school so they could learn to function in American society. They had to deal with culture shock on many occasions, but most memorable was their first exposure to the rituals of Christmas. 

An evergreen tree had been cut down, brought into the school and decorated for the holidays. He and his siblings were quite mystified as to the purpose of this ritual. They had been raised to be very sensitive to the nature of all living things, and could see auras around plants and animals. They could see whether something was healthy or ailing based on the aura surrounding it. Here they saw a tree that had been vitally alive, but then cut down and placed in front of them so they could literally see the life force slipping away from it. This made them very sad, but they tried to make sense of the beautiful decorations that had been placed on it. They finally concluded that the decorations were intended to make the tree feel less sad about dying, so they tried using this rationalization to join in the festive mood of the white children.

For me, I'd rather enjoy trees in their natural and living state. I can see no reason to cut them down and watch them die. Like the Native Americans, this only makes me sad.

Fortunately, we have artificial trees to decorate without destroying any living thing. And something inside of me resonates with bright displays of colored lights. It provides an uplifting spark in an otherwise cold and dreary month.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Paradox of Evil

At the heart of Christian dogma lurks a paradox that defies resolution: The Paradox of the origin of Evil.

The dualistic doctrine of Good and Evil is a core plank in Christian theology. From it is derived the teaching that Mankind fell from perfection into a hopeless state of sin, and that redemption through salvation is necessary in order to avoid eternal punishment in Hell.

However, the belief in dualism faces an insurmountable logical hurdle, for it clashes with the presuppositions of God’s absolute sovereignty and the principle of free will.

Much of the theology regarding Evil is drawn from the Old Testament. First we have the story of Adam and Eve being seduced by Satan and eating the forbidden fruit, thereby falling into sin. Buried in several other passages are references to Satan’s true identity and background as Lucifer.

The purported origin of Evil is touched on in Ezekiel 28, ostensibly targeting judgement against the King of Tyre, but clearly a thinly disguised commentary on Lucifer’s fall:

“You were the signet of perfection,
    full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
    every precious stone was your covering,
sardius, topaz, and diamond,
    beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;
    and crafted in gold were your settings
    and your engravings.
On the day that you were created
    they were prepared.
14 You were an anointed guardian cherub.
    I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
    in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
15 You were blameless in your ways
    from the day you were created,
    till unrighteousness was found in you.
16 In the abundance of your trade
    you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
    and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
    from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
    you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
    I exposed you before kings,
    to feast their eyes on you.
18 By the multitude of your iniquities,
    in the unrighteousness of your trade
    you profaned your sanctuaries;
so I brought fire out from your midst;
    it consumed you,
and I turned you to ashes on the earth
    in the sight of all who saw you.
19 All who know you among the peoples
    are appalled at you;
you have come to a dreadful end
    and shall be no more forever.”

Amazingly, Lucifer is described in splendid terms at first, as in “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty…You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created…until unrighteousness was found in you”.

So whence did Evil originate? As the above passage mentions, and much extra-Biblical mythology supports, Lucifer was once a beautiful creature, filled with goodness and light.

How could a thoroughly good creature turn evil? Isaiah 14 further describes Lucifer’s fall:

12 “How you are fallen from heaven,
     O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
    you who laid the nations low!
13 You said in your heart,
    ‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
    I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
    in the far reaches of the north,
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
    to the far reaches of the pit.
16 Those who see you will stare at you
    and ponder over you:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
    who shook kingdoms,
17 who made the world like a desert
    and overthrew its cities,
    who did not let his prisoners go home?’
18 All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
    each in his own tomb;
19 but you are cast out, away from your grave,
    like a loathed branch,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
    who go down to the stones of the pit,
    like a dead body trampled underfoot.
20 You will not be joined with them in burial,
    because you have destroyed your land,
    you have slain your people.

The paradox is simply stated thus:

One core presupposition is that God is completely good.

Another core presupposition is that God is totally sovereign, such that nothing in the universe can occur without God causing it to happen.

Thus, in order for Lucifer to rebel and become Evil, God would have had to cause it. In order for Lucifer to have anything else but goodness to choose from, God would have had to create it.

So this logic leaves no choice but to conclude that God created Evil. If we manage to accept that, then tremendous repercussions follow regarding the nature of God: God must be part Good and part Evil, or dualistic!

The alternative is to believe that Evil somehow popped into existence without God’s cause or consent. That takes God off the hook for being Evil, but then totally undermines God’s sovereignty. If God was not sufficiently in control to prevent a major rebellion that supposedly involved a third of his kingdom, then how much else is uncertain?

Neither of these two conclusions are satisfactory, for they completely undermine key Christian doctrine regarding salvation.

If God created Evil, then the whole thing is a farce! We are exhorted to oppose Evil and refrain from doing Evil, and threatened with eternal punishment for being Evil.

Then the entire Free Will doctrine is a joke as well. Choose between two paths? Both paths created and sanctioned by God, yet one will get you eternally punished? (Some Christians still debate among themselves whether Free Will even exists because having ability to choose supposedly negates God’s sovereignty).

If God is not sovereign, then who is really calling the shots? How can we count on anything else that Christianity asserts?

As I said, there is no resolution to this paradox. I struggled with it during my Christian years, and eventually this opened the door for me to question much more. Eventually I arrived at my present understanding of Spirituality.

The Hermetic view of God has no such contradictions or paradoxes. A single consciousness pervades the universe. Separateness is but an illusion, as is duality. Light and darkness are balanced, such that light casts shadows, and the absence of light is necessary for defining light.

There is no paramount struggle between Good vs. Evil. All that is, simply is.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Shame On Them All !!!

It's difficult to be objective as I write this. I am both very angry and concerned about the budget standoff. In my opinion, there is absolutely NO good reason for this to happen.

Of course ObamaCare has it's problems, but that is NOT a good reason to shut down the government. That legislation passed both houses of congress and was signed by the president. The time for Republicans to take a "heroic" stand against that legislation was before it passed - not now.

So what is going on? The current budget drama has to be looked at in context of a bigger picture. The Uranus-Pluto square cycle seems to be influencing events. The past year has seen division and polarization increase markedly in this country. The extremist "Tea Party" wing of the Republican party has dragged things so far toward the right that negotiation has become nearly impossible. And now some are openly boasting that they will drag the nation into default and ruin if Democrats don't cave to their demands.

Underneath it all, there must be unseen forces at work. A few hothead extremists would not be able to hold the government hostage without some help. In that case, the extremists are being played like a song. To what end?

It seems possible that the PTB are encouraging or engineering this confrontation. Perhaps their intention is to create a crisis that would justify martial law or push the nation to the brink of civil war. The divisions and fissures certainly seem deep enough to make the latter plausible.

The martial law option seems plausible as well. If Republicans stonewall until the brink of default, Obama could invoke one or more of the many executive orders on the books and take extra-constitutional action. Chances are, a majority of citizens would probably approve, although the chaotic situation would lend itself to rebellion in conservative states. In any case, the nation would be on a reckless path of drastic changes, even as Obama "saves the day" with strongarm actions.

Regardless of the outcome, the widening gap between mainstream and far-right politics is reason for concern. The extremist faction in the House is trying to repeal - not just scale back, but repeal food stamps and many other safety net programs. The form of class warfare is actually being funded by right-wing gazillionaires and corporate interests. The recent change has been that they no longer feel it necessary to even pretend that they are acting in the public interest. Willard Romney's infamous 47 percent quote seems to have unleashed a meme that says "To Hell with the underclass".

During the Great Depression, the hoards of hungry unemployed provided fertile ground for Marxist agitation. If not for the New Deal and the rise of labor unions, the US could have definitely faced a serious communist insurgency. Wealthy capitalists understood this, so they provided tacit support for the concept of a safety net for the poor. They understood that domestic tranquility was the best bet for expanding the economy and further enriching themselves

Now it appears that tacit support for safety net programs by the upper class is eroding. The infamous Koch Brothers and their colleagues are funding extreme-right political causes and working to undermine union organizing with so-called "right to work" laws. If they have their way, we could end up with a social and economic situation that resembles the 1930s. That sure doesn't sound good to this blogger.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

On the Brink with Syria

The end of the world has been predicted so many times in recent years, that it's easy to tune the doomsayers out.

We certainly have the ingredients in place right now for a huge blowup. American warships are steaming around the area, and Russian missiles are installed in Syria. Iran says an attack on Syria will trigger their involvement, and Israel seems anxious to join the scrum if it breaks out.

Of course, any military action launched by the US would be yet another war crime, on top of the many transgressions already inflicted on the region. Even if the Assad regime was responsible for the recent chemical attack on civilians, there is no justification for launching an attack on the sovereign nation of Syria.

Make no mistake, the Assad regime has been brutal. However, there is such a thing as a "false flag" tactic. 9/11 was one notable example, and it worked out so well for the warmongers to get their way on attacking Iraq and Afghanistan, it's only a matter of time before they use it again.

The evidence appears fairly strong that Assad was not responsible for the chemical weapons attack that is being blamed on him. It makes no sense for him to employ a suicidal tactic at this point in the civil war. Syrian forces have turned the tide against the rebels in recent months, and the last thing Assad would want is to draw in more intervention by the US. The CIA has already intervened by shipping arms to the rebels, despite the absurdity  of helping the thugs, mercenaries and Al-Qaeda terrorists who are our ostensible enemies.

The Syrian rebels would stand to benefit enormously from a staged chemical attack, and one could expect that the CIA and Israeli Mossad had their hands in it as well.

So, of course, the entire thing is a gigantic farce: Stage a heinous attack on hapless civilians, blame Assad, and then crank up the warmonger machine.

Obama initially seemed ready to pull the trigger and unleash a bombing campaign. But then he did something quite unexpected: He called on Congress to vote on authorizing military action against Syria. It appeared going in that this would be a tough vote to win, and opposition quickly grew and solidified, so the question begs as to Obama's motive in asking for a vote.

Next, Kerry made what appeared to be a major gaffe, when he rambled into a off-the-cuff discussion of how Syria could avoid a military attack by agreeing to give up all chemical weapons. Putin quickly pounced on the remarks, and proposed  just such a deal with Syria, which Assad quickly agreed to. Now military plans are on hold while these surprising diplomatic developments play out.

I tend to think that very few acts in global brinkmanship are accidental. Kerry is a loathsome character, but he did not get installed in that position to ramble randomly on policy toward Syria.

I continue to entertain the rather fanciful notion that Barack Obama has a private agenda of actually doing some good things as president. Of course, he is a puppet, and is expected to follow the script written by his masters. He knows the lease is taught, and his autonomy is limited; JFK provides daily reminder to any sitting president of what happens when the script is strayed from.

So what if the corporate masters had decreed war, but Obama wanted to resist, but also avoid a premature end to his presidency? What sorts of clever twists in policy could be imagined? Maneuvering the Teapublicans in Congress to lead the antiwar charge would be one possibility, leaving the president looking strong and decisive, but defusing the rush to war all the same.

Cynics point out the many barriers to a deal with Syria: Assad wants a guarantee he will not be attacked by the US or NATO, and may choose to bluster about including in any deal Israel's illegal arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Plus, if the corporate warmongers really want a war, they are likely to get it. Other nations in the region also want Assad removed, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. Rumor has it that American troops have already been ordered to get ready for immediate deployment in Syria. If the diplomatic efforts stall, military action could be ordered very quickly, and would be fait accompli even while negotiations are still underway.

Any attack on Syria runs the risk of a much wider conflict erupting quickly, with World War III and nuclear exchanges a distinct possibility. One would hope that cooler heads would prevail, but the corporate warmongers appear to really want a wider war.

On the brighter side, however, there is hope that higher dimensional forces of Light are intervening. Global consciousness is shifting to a higher level. The dark forces that have been ruling this planet are not the only players on the board. We may be in for some surprising turns of events.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Voice of God

Christians believe that God spoke to Abraham and commanded him to slaughter his son on an altar. Somehow, this is accepted as a normal aspect of doing business with God in the Old Testament. Children are told the story in Sunday School and no one questions it.

Yet how would they react if a fellow church member confided a similar thing? The next question would likely be “when did you go off your meds?” followed by a discrete call to the men in white coats.

So why can’t we speculate that perhaps Abraham was delusional? How was that incident so different from modern insanity? But then that opens the door to questioning a whole lot more.

The same voice of God in his head told Abraham that his seed would spawn a vast race of “special” people. When it turned out that the promised “land flowing with milk and honey” was already occupied, the Voice of God told Abraham’s decedents to clear the inhabitants through brutal acts of genocide. The voice in Joshua’s head commanded them to kill all the Amalekites – not just soldiers, but every man, woman, child and animal. A war crime of this magnitude makes Nazi Germany seem positively benevolent in comparison! And on occasion when the Israelites exercised mercy toward enemy civilians, God was very angry at their disobedience!

So when did God supposedly stop speaking like that to people? The Bible asserts elsewhere that God never changes! Modern Christians claim to hear God’s voice too. Pat Robertson claims Gob speaks to him frequently, with nuggets of wisdom such as how God will soon send fiery judgment to America due to rampant homosexuality. James Dobson recently said that marriage equality will cause the collapse of society because we are rebelling against God’s will. Some unstable Christians talk about assassinating abortion doctors, and this has actually occurred.

This is not to confuse delusional inner voices with authentic intuitive guidance. Those on the spiritual path know that authentic inner guidance comes in gentle manner and never contradicts the Law of Love.

It’s a fine line that separates insanity from inspiration. The real problem, once again, is the attempt to harmonize the entire Bible through circular reasoning. There are so many things in the Bible that stand out as totally inconsistent and incongruent, and trying to make sense of it comes with a high cost. To accomplish this, any remaining shred of critical thinking must be abandoned.

Unless born with sociopathic tendencies, most people intuitively discern good from evil. However, with critical reasoning suspended, brutality and genocide can be somehow construed as acts of a loving and just God. What would otherwise stand out as dark and evil by any definition is seen as a good thing!

Given this mindset, it’s no wonder that so many heinous acts are committed in the name of God. In my mind, anything that can so desensitize an otherwise good person, that they can read some of the brutal insanity in the Bible and think IT WAS GOD DOING IT, has real problems! These Christians should at least be able to relate to Islamic extremists. Christians and Muslims have very common roots!

Next time you hear a Christian condemning homosexuality or women’s reproductive rights because God supposedly said so, consider the source! And realize that what you are hearing is not the voice of Love. Perhaps you might say a prayer for them, that their sense of moral discernment might be restored!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Big Mixup: Good, Evil & Christianity

I am an Ex-Christian.

Although the faithful undoubtedly insist that I must have never been a sincere follower of Christ, I know in my heart that this is not true.

I embraced the Faith early in childhood, and continued well into middle-aged adulthood. I felt intuitively that there was something more to life, and assumed that religion had the answers that I sought.

I don’t feel that Christianity failed me. Within its tenets, one can find a great deal of cohesiveness and belonging. Unlike the proponents of hard-core atheism (which is actually materialism), I never experienced a lack of supernatural presence. Prayer actually works quite powerfully, and there is much more to life then the temporal senses can discern.

My problem with Christianity developed because I continued to ponder several deep philosophical questions, and it eventually became apparent that religion could not provide the answers. Like a character in the Star Trek Next Generation series who breaks through the wall of the Holodeck simulation and discovers a different level of reality, I began to break through layers of circular theological reasoning. Reality suddenly shifted and the landscape looked much different.

Perhaps my biggest shock was the discovery that Christianity is a fabricated, cobbled-together religion, based on a composite mixture of preexisting mystery schools and questionable historical events in 1st century Palestine.

How could we have missed this obvious fact? How could millions of followers live and die for this faith based on falsehoods and myths? The closer one looks at the evidence, the more compelling it becomes. We have been sold a bill of goods.

The answer to how we were misled lies in the pervasiveness of circular reasoning and the sheer weight of centuries of reinforcement. Humans are born with an intuitive sense that reality stretches beyond the physical, and religion appears to fill the gaps in understanding. Many want their answers delivered as a complete package, which they never question.

As stated earlier, I am far from a materialist. Leaving Christianity has only strengthened my embrace of spirituality. And so, another shocking realization eventually dawned on me: Christianity is not particularly spiritual. Not only that, but insofar as we experience the duality of “good” versus “evil” on the physical plane, Christianity often appears to show up on the “dark” side of things. Despite claiming to oppose evil, Christian teaching and practice often embraces violence, fear and many things that spiritual individuals intuitively shun. At the core is the teaching that humans are born sinful, and must depend on a bloody human sacrifice to avoid the angry eternal punishment of a vengeful God.

Satanists are said to practice animal or even human sacrifice. Christians rightly condemn such practice as hideously evil, but such is the delusional power of religion to blind them to the fact that such practice is at the core of their biblical teaching. What kind of a God would be driven by anger and vengeance to instruct his followers to slaughter innocent animals on an altar? What kind of reasoning is behind the mythos of this God finding it necessary to sacrifice his “only begotten son” in order to pardon his children from fiery destruction?

The Old Testament is filled with brutal accounts of genocide and butchery that were supposedly commanded by God. Modern theology contorts into knots trying to reconcile the disparate portions of scripture into a harmonious and consistent belief system. Despite the intense circular reasoning, our innate intuition eventually begins to question the violent nonsense. An archetypal knowing tells us that God is love and light, so how to reconcile the dark, violent brutality ascribed to God in the Bible?

With the violent history behind it, it is not surprising that Christianity has spawned violence on many occasions. Burning heretics and “witches” at the stake are natural outcomes of a belief in an angry, vengeful God. This God not only condones it, but expects and requires it! Modern Islamic extremism only follows along the same logical path due to its common roots with Judeo-Christianity.

So how did God ever get cast as the angry deity that enjoys casting lightning bolts down on hapless people? We must take into account that modern civilization developed in the midst of a spiritually dark and primitive age. Earth has seen many civilizations rise and fall, and some ages in the distant past experienced a much higher level of spiritual awareness. During the present dark age, mankind has forgotten not only our glorious past, but our vast potential as souls encased in human flesh. Our present western culture has developed almost exclusively around the concept of materialism, which has its own problems.

Earlier on, religion filled a human need by promulgating teaching about a powerful deity that explained life in a general way. This deity had both good and evil attributes, to reflect the many contrasts experienced in life. Rain might fall on the crops one year, and a burning sun might scorch crops the next. If God were thought of as all love and light, how does one explain the tragedies and dramas of life?

Political leaders have long seen the value of religion to control the populace. By offering a system of appeasement to the powerful deity in the sky, people can be conditioned to follow whatever rules are put in place. But stray from the straight and narrow, then look out! Then it follows that sinners deserve their punishment, and thus developed the concept of sin and redemption. Follow the rules and abide by the ecclesiastical establishment, and the believer is assured of salvation.

But what if that’s not how it really works…

Monday, January 21, 2013

Stage-Managed Reality?

The images from Sandy Hook are gripping and deeply disturbing. Anyone whose emotions have not been totally desensitized by this violent culture can't help but react with a combination of compassion for the victims and disgust for the perpetrator. We can't help but ponder again the essential question of what kind of depraved mind would want to take down innocent children.

As rational humans, we also need to detach from our emotions long enough to analyze the larger scale picture. There have been too many other events...Columbine, Aurora, Tuscon, and many smaller scale tragedies that don't rate media sensationalizing. Are these all simply random, disconnected examples of human depravity?

There are allegations that Sandy Hook was staged by actors, but that's too far out there for even this seasoned conspiracy theorist. However, as typically seems the case with large-scale tragic events, there are a number of anomalies that are difficult to explain.

I won't focus here on conspiracy details; there are plenty of sites on the Internet for exploring that. I am more interested in the big picture, and trying to connect some dots.

Many conspiracy theorists have long suspected that tragic shootings could be somehow promoted or at least manipulated by the PTB to build public support for more restrictive gun control. As it so happens, that would be a likely outcome. But are the shootings totally random and isolated?

One common factor in most, if not all shootings appears to be an unstable personality being treated with psychoactive medication. Dr. Ann Blake Tracy has done considerable research on this.

The next question would be, are the shootings the random result of drug-crazed minds? Dr. Tracy points out that many homicides and suicides resulting from prescription drugs don't make the headlines, because Big Pharma tends to keep a tight muzzle on this sort of disclosure. They often pay out large monetary settlements to the families with the stipulation of not publicly discussing the case.

It seems to me that some mass shootings could be genuinely random, as a result of the destabilizing effects of psychoactive drugs. However, it's not implausible to suggest possible involvement by agents provacateur in deliberately setting up these tragedies in order to manipulate public opinion.

There is a long, sordid history of involvement by the CIA and other agencies in mind control experiments. Despite the secrecy, an amazing amount of documentation is available on mind control programs. MKULTRA and Project Monarch were actually investigated by Congress in 1995, although Richard Helms destroyed most of the documentation. Many details have been provided by mind control victims, such as Cathy O'Brien and the Hersha sisters. One notorious figure that emerges is Dr. Ewen Cameron, a psychiatrist funded by the CIA for developing mental dissociation techniques for mind control.

A primary objective of the CIA was development of the perfect assassin, as verified by Cheryl Hersha. The movie "The Manchurian Candidate" depicted this with chilling plausibility, starring Frank Sinatra in 1962, later remade in 2004 with Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep.

It's a fair assumption that if the CIA were successful with the crude techniques of the 50's and 60's, a much more sophisticated technology must be available to day. Assassins such as John Hinkley Jr. and Sirhan Sirhan would be prime candidates to consider for mind control possibilities.

The point is, the technology exists, and is probably being applied in cases no one suspects. It's quite plausible that "lone nut" assassins such as Jared Lee Loughner and Adam Lanza were manipulated by some shadowy federal agency. It's a known fact that the CIA still has psychiatrists under their employ, like in the days of Ewen Cameron. It's also known that the CIA and other agencies covertly fund journalists and professionals in many other fields to help shape events and public opinion. To what end, you might ask? To answer this, you must accept the plausibility of a "shadow government" that is the ultimate authority in control. In this regard it helps to be a conspiracy theorist.

My contention is that reality is staged for public consumption on many levels. The recent spate of mass shootings could be one such example.

As for the increasing tendency for violence between humans, this is a topic in itself. I will explore this further in future blogs.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Obama's Executive Orders on Gun Violence

President Obama's recent executive orders addressing gun violence have kicked up a lot of dust. Those hopeful for more meaningful measures to restrict guns will likely be disappointed, while those who are convinced that Obama is after their guns are no doubt feeling their fears confirmed.

Let's have a look at exactly what the executive orders spell out:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background-check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background-check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background- check system.

4. Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a Department of Justice report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun-safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to healthcare providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency-response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within Affordable Care Act exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental-health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

So what do these 23 orders entail?

They all appear to be directives to various federal agencies, which is the proper and legitimate use of presidential executive authority. Just as in corporations, the CEO often directs subordinates via memos.

There is nothing hinting at unconstitutional usurpation of power, such as would be the case if the president were to bypass congress and attempt to enact new laws on his own. Many of the orders involve tweaking procedures for gun purchase background checks. Others seek to clarify standards on safety, or emergency procedures. Some appear to be silly and of little use other than to say "we are doing something about gun violence. Doctors are "not prohibited" from asking patients about guns at home? Please. If that's the biggest threat to the gun lobby, they can all take a collective sigh of relief. "Yeah, Doc, I got an AR-15 in the closet and a Glock under the bed. Any pills for that?"

#22 sounds cryptic - what the hell are "mental health parity regulations", and what type of "dialog" on mental health is being proposed in #23? I suppose it would be naive for me to think they might be reviewing the tragic role that psychoactive prescription drugs play in gun violence. No, that would make too much sense, and threaten billions in Big Pharma profits.

#14 is really ludicrous - ask the CDC to investigate the causes of gun violence? If any lab coat-wearing professional ever unravels the age-old question of what causes violent behavior between humans, it would mean Nobel Prize big time. Not likely to result from presidential executive order, however. He can direct them to find a cure for cancer while he's at it.

So, the gun lobby fanatics can rest easy. Obama isn't coming for your guns, and couldn't do it through executive order even if he wanted. Passing even a modest assault weapons ban through congress looks doubtful at the moment, and soon the headlines will turn back to the critical budget negotiations. Although the haters still think Obama is planning a Communist takeover, he certainly would need to muster something more convincing than these 23 executive orders.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Gun Culture: A Nation Divided

Disgruntled and discouraged after losing the election, conservatives have found a target to vent their anger and angst at. In the wake of several mass shootings, public opinion is firmly in favor of increasing some common-sense restrictions on firearm possession. For the NRA and the extreme right-wing, this is tantamount to an attack on something they hold sacred.

The extreme Right has hated Obama from the very beginning. Start with racial animosity, add a twisted worldview that portrays Obama as a Socialist, bent on destroying America, and now he also wants to take their guns away...what's not to hate for these folks?

Of course, any rational analysis quickly demolishes the hater's arguments. Obama has been liberal on some issues, but overall has maintained a fairly moderate record. (Just ask progressives about their disappointments). The accusations of radically boosting the national debt must be tempered with realization that Republicans didn't complain when Bush pushed up the debt and started two wars while pushing tax cuts that favored the rich. Besides, with a serious economic collapse underway as he took office, Obama only continued with stimulus policies that Bush started and would have most certainly continued with.

While many folks in red states seem too math-challenged to understand this analysis, an emotional issue such as gun ownership is easy to embrace. But once the testosterone settles, what issues are really at stake?

Fact number one, there is no realistic chance that responsible gun ownership will ever be banned in this country. Zero, nada, zilch. All that I have seen proposed are common-sense restrictions on assault weapons, and an improved background check system. Whether or not one interprets the 2nd amendment language regarding a "well regulated militia" as a constitutional guarantee of gun owner's rights, guns are far too deeply embedded in our culture to imagine any serious attempt to remove them.

Still, social media forums are buzzing with angry emotional hysteria. Comparisons are drawn to Stalin and Hitler disarming the populace. Come on, do these bozos really think hand guns and hunting rifles are the only thing stopping the next tyrant? One right-wing TV talking head suggested that if German Jews had only been armed, the holocaust could have been prevented. Sure, like that would have stopped the Nazi blitzkrieg? It took the combined firepower of the Allies several years to stop Hitler. Modern armies have high-tech weaponry beyond our imagination in their arsenal. Get real.

We must conclude that the extreme Right simply enjoys venting on an emotional issue such as guns. It takes their minds off the fact that the economy seems to be actually improving, despite the best efforts of extreme Republicans in Congress to derail the recovery.

The real danger to the nation is the deepening sense of division. The gun issue is just one more major fault line to be concerned with. A powerful meme is circulating about, which presages the possibility of divisions turning violent, or even revolutionary. Any rebellion would hardly have lofty ideals behind it, and would threaten what progress we have made toward a free and just society.

Astrological alignments favor an increasing tendency toward social upheaval. Uranus will square Pluto 3 times this year, and 2 times next year. Saturn moved into Scorpio last October, and will remain there until the end of 2014. The American and French revolutions took place under similar auspices.

For those of spiritual persuasion, the hope is that the chaotic forces of change can be channeled into peaceful evolution toward a higher state of vibration. Old institutions must crumble and fall in order to make way for the new. Hopefully it can be done without setting everything back to the stone age.

The inexorable trend is for centers of power to lose relevance, as society rebuilds along the lines of local cooperatives. Regardless of the fears of conservatives, the future does not portend increased power for the federal government, but rather the opposite. The divisions forming among us must be looked at in that light. However, anger and hatred will not help build a better society, and could cause a mess that no one gains from.