Mar 30, 2013

TED: So Cowardly, So Cultish -- UPDATED

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Well. It's official. TED will not be putting anyone forward to debate Rupert Sheldrake or Graham Hancock, despite their generous offers. It does not appear that they told either of them directly. They did not respond on the threads where both of the censored TEDx speakers issued their challenge. They have done so through a spokeswoman when asked by a reporter.

A spokeswoman for TED told Positive News: “TED has opted for an open, online discussion, rather than a specific public debate with Sheldrake, Hancock and the science board. While the videos do not meet the stated TEDx guidelines, they will continue to be displayed on TED’s blog, with a lively ongoing debate.”

What the spokeswoman did not mention is that the "lively" debate will only be "ongoing" for a couple more days, because TED set a time limit of two weeks to allow discussion of the quarantined talks. (See above) So "ongoing" is rather a strong word for the discussion forum TED has provided in its back-pages.

It is also not a substitute for an actual debate between the relevant parties, the censored speakers and those who censored them. It would be an opportunity for TED to lay out its reasons for removing the talks, which they have thus far failed to do.

Mar 28, 2013

A West Memphis Courtroom and a Wild Story

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Michael Moore, Stevie Branch, & Christopher Byers

Pam Hicks (formerly Hobbs) would like to see the evidence pertaining to her son Stevie Branch's murder.

Pam Hicks, the mother of Stevie Branch, wants to examine some of the items that belonged to her son and were found at the murder scene.

Hicks previously told us, “I do want to know that it has not been contaminated if they need it, if something [were] to come out of this,” said Hicks. “I definitely don’t want to touch it. I just want to have a peace of mind and ease of knowing that they still have it.”

Police Chief Donald Oakes says they still have it, all of it, and most of it is sealed.

Hicks's attorney Ken Swindle put forward four new possible suspects in the murders for which the West Memphis Three spent their youths in an Arkansas prison. Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were released in August of 2011 on an Alford Plea but are still considered convicted murderers by the state of Arkansas.

Two of the suspects have been discussed previously due to hairs consistent with their DNA being found at the crime scene: Terry Hobbs and his friend David Jacoby. Inconsistencies in Hobbs's story have also raised enough concern that even his former wife, Hicks, has previously raised suspicions.

Mar 26, 2013

Galaxy Quest Through the Wormhole

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

In keeping with my new hobby -- identifying obscure archetypes and esoterica in pop culture -- I noticed a sequence in Galaxy Quest the other day depicting wormhole travel. It's really intriguing. Galaxy Quest is a riot, and an old favorite, but I've never really thought of it as a metaphysical film. The relevance of the scene clicked for me, though, when I was listening to William Henry's most recent edition of Revelations.

At about the 19 minute mark Robert Perala relays a life altering experience he'd had that involved contact with some sort of alien or other-dimensional beings. He describes being pulled through a wormhole and finding himself covered with some sort of sticky, oily substance. He was left shaken and nauseated by the experience.

Henry has been talking and writing about this "oil" for some time and theorizes that it's a kind "cosmic condom" that protects the body during stargate travel. He provides references to Enoch being taken up by the Archangel Michael and Jesus who had his feet anointed by Mary previous to his resurrection.

It occurs to me that this is pretty much exactly what happens in Galaxy Quest when Tim Allen, and later the rest of the cast, are transported by aliens to and from their space dock. It's shown in painful detail when a very hungover Jason Nesmith (Allen) -- a William Shatneresque star of an historic sci-fi series and frequent convention guest -- tries to return home from what he thinks is a guest appearance with hard-core fans. Having slept through his limousine-like spaceship ride, and having no idea he's  in outer space, he's shown to a platform to wait for his limo. Instead, he is covered in an unctuous substance -- which first anoints his feet. A portal opens onto the vastness of space and he is shot through a wormhole, and deposited next to his swimming pool. He stands for several moments trembling with shock.

It's a very funny scene in a very funny, quirky, little movie, but there are nods to something much deeper. It's well-shot and it's the little details that cinch it. Below are some stills, showing the sequence of events.


Around the Web, Around the World

"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

The Return to the Earth's Primordial Wisdom with John-Luke Edwards

The ancient stories of myth and religion speak of a time on earth when the land, the plants, animals, birds, bugs, and humans all communicated together, clearly and simply. Then the humans did something-something that is no longer quite clear-and we lost our ability to communicate directly. We wandered off, distracted by sparkly things, instant gratification, and grew addicted to the stimulus of life disconnected from all that we were originally one with. Humans forgot the paths to return home. What if we could remember the path back to the forest? Join us this week and host and shaman, Christina Pratt, explores the possibility of returning home to the forest with Rev. shaman John-Luke Edwards of the Wolven Path Tradition, a shamanic tradition rebirthed from nomadic shamanic traditions of northern Europe. With our reconnection to "The Forest" we can reconnect with our knowing that all life communicates. And together with all life humans can innovate and successfully navigate a sustainable path forward that reconciles the dynamics of our shared global crisis. Return to the Forest this May at the 5th Residential BC Shamanic Conference Gathering for all who want to create a way to live in Oneness with all living things.

This week's guest:
John-Luke Edwards

Reverend Shaman John-Luke Edwards, MA, PhD is an ordained shaman of The Wolven Path, which is a rebirth of an ancient Celtic/Druidic form of shamanism. Reverend Shaman is a title of, both, self reverence; related to the sacrifice of continuous and selfless journey, of learning and shamanic service to the Sacred Earth and Her Children; and of a focused visible reverence for the Sacred Journey of all our relations no matter how they or their journeys manifest. Shamanic Clergy illuminate the path for others by setting their own hearts and souls aflame; they are light bearers and song carriers. Shamanic Clergy learn in order to share and teach; to proclaim the Shamanic Way of living; to be principal agents of the aims and mission of The Society and it ministerial work and officiate at public ceremony.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 11:00 AM Pacific

Log on to Listen
Why Shamanism Now? on Co-Creator Network
Questions? Comments? Call: 1-512-772-1938

All episodes are now available in the iTunes Podcast Library.

Mar 24, 2013

The Taybor and the Rainbow Body

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.


I've been rewatching Space 1999, mostly as an exercise in nostalgia and to amuse my inner child. My inner child loves her some Space 1999. It's not a terribly deep or esoteric show, particularly by the second season. But every so often it wanders into an intriguing archetype.

The other night I was watching "The Taybor." Taybor is "an inter-galactic merchant [who] arrives from hyperspace on his ship the 'Emporium.'" He is a silly character and the episode is largely quite silly but I was taken with their depiction of the hyperdrive that allowed him to move anywhere in space.

The drive itself is an oculus, aka., circumpunct, aka., stargate:

Mar 22, 2013

Will the DeleTED Debate TED?

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

 photo 575314_100732806788866_65154372_n_zps99f1aaa0.jpg

The offer's on the table. Both Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock have very publicly challenged TED to debates.

Said Sheldrake:

I appreciate the fact that TED published my response to the accusations levelled against me by their Scientific Board, and also crossed out the Board’s statement on the “Open for discussion” blog.

There are no longer any specific points to answer. I am all in favour of debate, but it is not possible to make much progress through short responses to nebulous questions like “Is this an idea worth spreading, or misinformation?”

I would be happy to take part in a public debate with a scientist who disagrees with the issues I raise in my talk. This could take place online, or on Skype. My only condition is that it be conducted fairly, with equal time for both sides to present their arguments, and with an impartial moderator, agreed by both parties.

Therefore I ask Chris Anderson to invite a scientist from TED’s Scientific Board or TED’s Brain Trust to have a real debate with me about my talk, or if none will agree to take part, to do so himself.

Mar 21, 2013

Warren Jeffs's Utah Compound on the Auction Block

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

As I mentioned here, one of the thousand cuts for Warren Jeffs's empire was a 30 million dollar judgment in favor of his former spokesman Willie Jessop. As discussed, collecting that judgment is proving challenging, but Jessop should get at least partial compensation from the auction of Jeffs's Utah compound.

Washington County officials plan to auction a sprawling compound belonging to Warren Jeffs’ family to pay a judgment to a former spokesman for the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The April 25 auction will allow the public to bid on the multibuilding complex in Hildale that property records show sits on 6.1 acres and has a market value of $2.65 million. The sale is designed to raise money for a judgment obtained by Willie Jessop.

Jessop sued FLDS leaders, including Jeffs and his brother Lyle Jeffs alleging they arranged a late-night break-in at his business, R&W Excavating. Jessop argued that during the break-in several people stole computers, hard drives and other property.

Jessop will also have the option of putting a "credit bid" on the property himself, using a portion of the 30 million.

Jessop, for his part, mostly seems pleased to see Jeffs lose possession of compound that was largely designed for the purpose of sexually abusing young girls -- the same reason Texas is moving to seize Jeffs's Yearning For Zion Ranch. In the interview posted above, he describes how disillusioned and demoralized he was when he learned what Jeffs was doing in secret chambers of compounds like this one.

Mar 19, 2013

TED: It Gets So Much Worse

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Just when you thought the folks at TED couldn't sink any lower, they do. Not happy with ghettoizing Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talks, now they're shipping them off to Siberia. If I had to guess, I'd say they're trying to distract from 26 pages of comments that make TED look really bad. The new locations for the video embeds that can't be embedded anywhere else or seen independently doesn't even include the comments section. For that, you have to follow yet another link to a comments page and the comment length is limited. Here's the latest update on this from Graham Hancock:

New and deeply disappointing TED tactic

Just when I thought TED had seen the error of their ways and were trying to fix things (see my post here: ) I receive an email from TED Curator Chris Anderson telling me that yet another of their famous Blog pages has now been set up, this one apparently as a special standalone ghetto for discussion of my “War on Consciousness” presentation. This tactic helps to distance TED from the PR debacle they created for themselves by axing my talk from their Youtube channel in the first place (where it had attracted hundreds of comments and 132,000 views). Now not only is the presentation cut off from the discussion initiated by all those original commentators (and their ability to share it) but it is also cut off from the new discussion that followed exposure of TED’s censorship and shoddy methods – here: and here:

Worse still, the comment section will close after two weeks. 

Graham Hancock's new page is here and Rupert Sheldrake's here.

To recap, here is the TED saga, in order, starting with the lectures, which have been reposted by other people.

Graham Hancock on Mother Ayahuasca
Rupert Sheldrake's Takedown of Scientism
TED's War on Consciousness
Is TED a Cult?
The TED Censtorship Saga Continues

The TED Censorship Saga Continues

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Graham Hancock posted last evening that there has been a small victory in the battle against TED's censorship of his and Rupert Sheldrake's lectures. 

I appreciate and respect the fact that TED have now bitten the bullet -- which cannot have been easy for them -- and fully retracted their original incorrect allegations against the content of my TEDx presentation "The War on Consciousness". They have done so by crossing out the original allegations and publishing my rebuttal here:

They have done the same as regards their original incorrect allegations against the content of the TEDx presentation "The Science Delusion" by my colleague Rupert Sheldrake.

Yes, if you look at the blog post set up to quarantine Hancock and Sheldrake's ideas, their original stated reasons for deleting the videos from YouTube have been crossed out and the rebuttals have been added. But the update at the top of the post doesn't really acknowledge their rebuttals. It refers the reader to their new page.

UPDATE: Please see our new blog post Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake, a fresh take, which replaces the x-ed out text below.

So by all means, read their "fresh take," but if you're looking for an explanation of their reasons for deleting the videos from their standard platform you will be sorely disappointed. This is the extent of it.


Around the Web, Around the World

"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Ayahuasca in the New World with Stephan Beyer

"In indigenous cultures, shamans heal because they are in a personal and mutual relationship with the healing spirits," explains our guest, Stephan Beyer, professor, peacemaker, and author of Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon. "In this view, the sacred plants are autonomous others who are not means to our ends, but rather ends in themselves." Join us this week as we welcome Stephan back and explore the reciprocal obligation inherent in a working relationship with plant spirits, the current tends in medicalization of the sacred plants, the decontextualization of ceremony, the dismissal of the healer's personal relationship with the plants, and the potential for trading a repressive political regime for a repressive medical one. Stephan joins us for the next show in the Society of Shamanic Practitioners sponsored interview series. In this series we explore how contemporary shamans are meeting the challenge of their world where the relations of things are profoundly out of balance. It is the ancient role of the shaman in all cultures to tend the balance of things. How are we to meet this extraordinary need in the New World?

This week's guest:
Stephan Beyer

Steve Beyer is a scholar, adventurer, and expert on both jungle survival and plant hallucinogens. He is also the author of Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon. With doctoral degrees in both religious studies and psychology, he has studied the use of ayahuasca and other sacred plants in the Amazon, peyote in ceremonies of the Native American Church, and huachuma in Peruvian mesa rituals. He studied sacred plant medicine with traditional herbalists in North America and curanderos in the Upper Amazon, where he studied the healing plants with doña María Tuesta Flores and received coronación by banco ayahuasquero don Roberto Acho Jurama.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 11:00 AM Pacific

Log on to Listen
Why Shamanism Now? on Co-Creator Network
Questions? Comments? Call: 1-512-772-1938

All episodes are now available in the iTunes Podcast Library.

Mar 17, 2013

The Beautiful Church is Empty

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Religion is on the decline, and "nones" are on the rise. People with no religious affiliation, here in the United States is now at 20 percent -- double what it was two decades ago.

Even as the election of a new Pope in Rome dominated the day's news, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Duke University reported that Americans are increasingly "parting ways" with religion.

In 2012, one in five people surveyed claimed no religious preference -- that's double the number who said that as recently as 1990. And religious affiliation in the United States is at its lowest point since researchers began tracking it in the 1930s.

Not religious is not the same as atheist, however. Atheists are currently at 3 percent, according to the survey data. People are abandoning organized religion, not spiritual belief. As discussed, the number of those who define as spiritual but not religious is on the rise.

People are separating from religious institutions for a range of reasons, from their misalignment with changing social values, to hypocrisy about their own.

Mar 16, 2013

Is TED a Cult?

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

I never gave a whole lot of thought to TED. I've seen a few lectures because they went viral. Some were good. Some not so much. I never had the time or inclination to research the organization. But over the past few weeks, they've drawn my attention less because of some of the excellent presentations they've posted than because they've censored that excellent content. So, I'm learning about TED just in time to watch it jump the shark.

As I wrote yesterday, they censored two excellent lectures by Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake. Weeks ago I watched a brilliant talk by Nick Hanauer that I saw posted on a thread with a very high recommendation. But as I was watching the video, I noticed other videos in the sidebar about how it had been censored, and began picking through that morass.

In watching the drama unfold between Hancock and TED, so many of the patterns are familiar. I've seen this with a lot of the big sites through the years: the in-group/out-group dynamics, the condescension and derision from site administration, the accusations that people who complain are basically spammers, the exasperated indifference from site administration, the sense from administrators that they are displaying benevolent largesse by even allowing criticism and discussion of their backroom decision, the refusal to answer direct questions, the bald-faced bullshitting...  I could go on but, really, it's so tiresome.

I've long thought that large web communities were ripe for some sort of study into the psychology of influence. They so rapidly devolve into authoritarian hierarchy. I see a lot of it displayed on the web-based arm of TED. But I have to admit that I was brought up short by the Joe Rogan interview I saw posted last night in response to TED's censorship of Graham Hancock. If this is what's going on at the actual conferences, TED is so much worse than I thought.

Mar 15, 2013

TED's War on Consciousness

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Yesterday morning I learned, to my horror, that TED has decided to censor Graham Hancock. I'm not entirely surprised about this as I've been aware for a while now that TED is quite censorious and terrified of controversial ideas. Read: Ideas which might upset their donor base. Still, their move against Hancock came like a sock to the gut, because it's not just about Hancock. It's a giant F you to anyone whose ideas are off the beaten path.

I had previously posted the lecture here. I've updated the embed, as someone was good enough to download it before it was deleted and upload it to their account. We'll see how long that lasts and if TED takes issue with someone else posting it.

As per Hancock's first Facebook post on the problem, TED's Science Board claims Hancock's presentation “strays well beyond the realm of reasonable science” and makes “non-scientific and reckless” statements regarding psychotropic drugs. What constitutes "reasonable science," I wonder?

I'm betting this is primarily about the psychotropes. There is a certain symmetry to the whole thing. Hancock's presentation addresses the ridiculousness of criminalizing plant teachers that indigenous peoples have been using since time immemorial, and that suppressing such shamanic practices is a method for delimiting our consciousness. He has been very outspoken about the right of a free people to explore their own consciousness without legal impediment. And now he's being censored for it. Shocker.

Mar 14, 2013

Proof of God Particle?

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Reviews of the discovery last July, of a "Higgs-like" particle, confirm that it is a Higgs boson.

Scientists have now finished going through the entire set of data year and announced the results in a statement and at a physics conference in the Italian Alps.

"To me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson, though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is," said Joe Incandela, a physicist who heads one of the two main teams at CERN that each involve about 3,000 scientists.

Its existence helps confirm the theory that objects gain their size and shape when particles interact in an energy field with a key particle, the Higgs boson. The more they attract, the theory goes, the bigger their mass will be.

But, it remains an "open question," CERN said in a statement, whether this is the Higgs boson that was expected in the original formulation, or possibly the lightest of several predicted in some theories that go beyond that model.

Mar 13, 2013

Anti-Mafia Raid on Papal Frontrunner

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Just when you thought the papal drama couldn't get any stranger, the first day of the conclave includes a police raid on the offices of one of the strongest candidates.

But even as preparations for the mass were being made, Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan – and reportedly the hot favourite to be the next pope – suffered a blow.

Anti-mafia detectives swooped on homes, offices, clinics and hospitals in Lombardy, the region around Milan, and elsewhere. A statement said the dawn raids were part of an investigation into "corruption linked to tenders by, and supplies to, hospitals".

Healthcare in Lombardy is the principal responsibility of the regional administration, which for the past 18 years has been run by Roberto Formigoni, a childhood friend of Scola and the leading political representative of the Communion and Liberation fellowship. Until recently, Scola was seen as the conservative group's most distinguished ecclesiastical spokesman.

Now there's two words you don't want to see linked together at the commencement of a papal election: Cardinal and Mafia. The Vatican has enough skeletons in that particular closet... not to mention its crypt.

Mar 12, 2013


Around the Web, Around the World

"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

The Source of True Power

How do we cultivate the internal richness needed to sustain the true power of action? Where do we find the integrity to face our darkest fears and the impeccability to see them for the illusions they are, binding our hearts in mental unwellness, anxiety, and depression? When will we be accountable to the vulnerable steps required for the consistent self-care at the root of right action? “We are here now at the beginning of a new world,” explains host and shaman, Christina Pratt, “and we are charged with the responsibility to make the new world better than before.” Join us this week as we explore how we can change the old ways that drive us to false expressions of our true nature. It is not necessary that we live in perpetual exhaustion and deep dissatisfaction with life. With shamanic skills we can transform anxiety into alignment with purpose, inadequacy into interconnection with all things, and depression into the resources to restore and rejuvenate our sense of self.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 11:00 AM Pacific

Log on to Listen
Why Shamanism Now? on Co-Creator Network
Questions? Comments? Call: 1-512-772-1938

All episodes are now available in the iTunes Podcast Library.

Mar 11, 2013

Viking Sunstone Discovered?

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Add another reason to love crystals. Scientists now believe that simple calcite is the Viking Sunstone of legend.

Ancient lore has suggested that the Vikings used special crystals to find their way under less-than-sunny skies. Though none of these so-called "sunstones" have ever been found at Viking archaeological sites, a crystal uncovered in a British shipwreck could help prove they did indeed exist.

The crystal was found amongst the wreckage of the Alderney, an Elizabethan warship that sank near the Channel Islands in 1592. The stone was discovered less than 3 feet from a pair of navigation dividers, suggesting it may have been kept with the ship's other navigational tools, according to the research team headed by scientists at the University of Rennes in France.

. . .

Because of the rhombohedral shape of calcite crystals, "they refract or polarize light in such a way to create a double image," Mike Harrison, coordinator of the Alderney Maritime Trust, told LiveScience. This means that if you were to look at someone's face through a clear chunk of Icelandic spar, you would see two faces. But if the crystal is held in just the right position, the double image becomes a single image and you know the crystal is pointing east-west, Harrison said.

These refractive powers remain even in low light when it's foggy or cloudy or when twilight has come. In a previous study, the researchers proved they could use Icelandic spar to orient themselves within a few degrees of the sun, even after the sun had dipped below the horizon.

Mar 10, 2013

Dethroning the Hierophant

Article first published as Dethroning the Hierophant on Blogcritics.

A few years ago, I observed that the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church was hitting a critical point, as a glut of news reports was beginning to directly implicate the Vatican. I suggested then that what was happening in the Catholic Church was an indicator of the dismantling of hierarchical systems more broadly and that in the Motherpeace Tarot, such patriarchal, spiritual authority is represented by the Hierophant.

At its root, the word "hierophant" means bringer to light of sacred things. In the traditional Tarot, the Hierophant represents a priest or Pope, the paternal religious authority.... Representing a hierarchical view of religion, the Hierophant stands on a pedestal, raised up from the earth, above the common person. In the Motherpeace image, he has taken over the robes and skirt of the High Priestess, along with her breasts which symbolize her sacred power, but he has forsaken her "Sophia" or wisdom.... The authority of the Hierophant is based, in large part, on repression of women and the natural instincts that women symbolize.

The The Motherpeace Tarot Playbook explains how to read the card when it comes up in a spread.

The Hierophant represents spiritual authority. He represents ritual and ceremonial magic which manifests as organized religion in this culture. Or he represents the psychic control exercised by mostly male, authority figures in our culture, such as psychiatrists, gurus, doctors and courtroom judges. Since he is also the internalized parent or superego authority, he represents conventional morality.

The text goes on to explain how to read this card when it presents as reversed, or ill-dignified.

The reversal shows a full-scale rebellion. You can no longer tolerate external roles and conventional morality; you have begun to call on your deeper conscience for advice You are able to stop kneeling to the priest or the doctor or the father, choosing instead to take your own advice, heed your own counsel.

Mar 9, 2013

Five Bishops Agree: Violence Against Lesbians OK

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Judgy Jesus photo JudgyJesus_zpsb0679a1a.jpg

Read it and weep.

Five key Catholic bishops are opposing the newly authorized Violence Against Women Act for fear it will subvert traditional views of marriage and gender, and compromise the religious freedom of groups that aid victims of human trafficking.

But for the first time since the original act became law in 1994, it spells out that no person may be excluded from the law’s protections because of  “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” — specifically covering lesbian, transgender and bisexual women.

Yes. According to five signing bishops, compassion is conditional. Catholics can't risk their "conscience" by serving the needy if that in any way interferes with their right to discriminate against entire groups of people.

“Conscience protections are needed in this legislation to ensure that these service providers are not required to violate their bona fide religious beliefs as a condition for serving the needy,” reads the statement of the bishops, who have supported previous versions of the act.

Five bishops -- Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Archbishop William E. Lori, and Archbishop Jose H. Gomez -- have a very strange idea of what it means to have a conscience.

Mar 6, 2013


Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

"Fight the real enemy." ~ Sinead O'Connor

Remember when Sinead O'Connor ripped up a picture of the pope on Saturday Night Live? Good times, good times.

A priest in Italy has stolen her act... and may have even topped it.

An Italian priest set fire to a photo of Pope Benedict during Sunday Mass in protest against his abdication, telling a shocked congregation that the former pontiff had abandoned his flock.

“It was wonderful,” the Rev. Andrea Maggi from Santo Stefano Protomartire church in the small northern village of Castel Vittorio, told La Repubblica daily, defending his act.

He played to mixed reviews. Half of the congregation walked out before the service was over. The best performance art is always controversial.

The local mayor was quick to point out that it was a "fragile" time for the priest, psychologically speaking. One could argue that it is a fragile time for the Catholic Church as well.

Mar 5, 2013

Cardinal Mahony Goes to Rome

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Cardinal Mahony doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. And neither does the Vatican.

Cardinal Roger Mahony expressed "amazement" at calls that he withdraw from the upcoming papal conclave because of his record on clergy sex abuse and said the Vatican, acting through its ambassador to the United States, had instructed him to take part in the election of the next pope.

. . .

"Without my even having to inquire, the nuncio in Washington phoned me a week or so ago and said, 'I have had word from the highest folks in the Vatican: You are to come to Rome and you are to participate in the conclave,' " the cardinal said.

Mahony has been mystified since his successor Archbishop Jose Gomez benched him a month ago. He doesn't think anything in the recently released files is so damning.

Mahony said he was "amazed" at the controversy over the Los Angeles files, claiming that the salient information about sex abuse in them could be found in a 22-page report available on the archdiocese's website since 2004.

"There are some new things in the files that came out, but as far as I know I don't find anything in there disqualifying," he said.

One wonders, then, why Cardinal Mahony moved heaven and earth and retained an army of lawyers to keep those files from being released.


Around the Web, Around the World

"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

The True Power of Action

We have lost the true power of action in the habits, expectations, and excess fire of the Old World and its story. The Warrior warns that the spiritual ambition, economic aggression, and arrogance of the full range of positional people have stripped us of the understanding of what an expression of true yang energy looks and feels like. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she explores the true power of action and how we can transform the aggression and control of our false self into the precision with which we chart the course to live our soul's true purpose. We can transform our ambition to be good girls and boys and get it right into devotion to the ever-unfolding process of living honestly and authentically. And we must transform the arrogance that arises from our identification has the healers, light workers, and good-guys into the excellence that flows with ease and joy and laughter from giving our gifts to the world.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 11:00 AM Pacific

Log on to Listen
Why Shamanism Now? on Co-Creator Network
Questions? Comments? Call: 1-512-772-1938

All episodes are now available in the iTunes Podcast Library.

Mar 4, 2013

Cardinal O'Brien Comes Clean... ish

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

I thought it was fairly safe to assume that Cardinal Keith O'Brien was guilty of something when he abruptly resigned and withdrew from the conclave. Accusations by several priests and one former priest of his making sexual advances stood in sharp relief against the backdrop of his notorious anti-gay views. A report last Friday in The Scotsman claimed the Vatican had received a report months ago of yet another incident dating back to 2001.

Yesterday the cardinal publicly announced that he was guilty... of something. We're still not sure exactly what.

"In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them," O'Brien said.

"However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal," he said. "To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness.

So here's my question: What constitutes the "standards" expected of a Catholic priest? Wouldn't that be any sexual conduct at all? It just strikes me as a bizarre and excessively couched statement by a man who is still just refusing to name the love that dare not speak it.

Retired Pope Rattled

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

If I were Pope Emeritus Benedict, I might be feeling a little paranoid right about now.

Various Italian news sources reported Sunday that a mild earthquake had struck Rome and surrounding areas, including Castel Gandolfo, the former pope's temporary home.

According to the Agence France-Presse, the earthquake had a local magnitude of 2.5 and was felt in Rome, Ciapino, Marino and Castel Gandolfo. So far, no reports of injury or serious damage have been relayed to the Italian Department of Civil Protection.

. . .

This latest event comes on the heels of a photo that appeared to show a bolt of lightning striking St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City just hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on Feb. 11.

Granted, this isn't the first time Castel Gandolfo has been rattled by a quake and there is a lightning rod in the Basilica, but still, it's a little weird.

Mar 3, 2013

FLDS Splinter Group Takes Root in the Desert

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

A very long, convoluted, lede-burying set of articles and blog posts in the Salt Lake City Tribune profiles William E. Jessop, the leader of a growing group of FLDS apostates. Not to be confused with Willie Jessop, William E. Jessop was born William E. Timpson but an earlier splintering of FLDS caused him to become a Jessop. I suspect this story would be easier to sort out if FLDS weren't so inbred and didn't keep playing musical chairs with the wives and children.

Apparently William E. Jessop was ordained by Rulon Jeffs, father of the currently incarcerated Warren Jeffs. The ordination is dubious, however, because the elder Jeffs had had a number of strokes which by his own rules disqualified him from ordaining anyone. Even so, Jessop was one of Warren Jeffs's top lieutenants and the bishop of Short Creek. He was often called upon by Jeffs to do his dirty work, like delivering his capricious excommunications. Jessop also acquired the wives of a number of excommunicates.

Jessop acknowledged taking some of those women as his own wives. Records seized by Texas authorities in the 2008 raid of the YFZ Ranch show Jessop had 11 wives as of 2006. Jessop says he has many fewer wives now.

Within his new group, polygamy is still practiced, but Jessop has condemned the practice of compelling young girls to marry. Teenage girls are to be provided with options and if they choose to marry, are to be warned of the implications.

Mar 2, 2013

Bugging the Vatican

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

In the wake of an historic, papal resignation, much of the world's gaze is fixed on the Vatican these days. And the picture ain't pretty. The shroud of secrecy is slipping and exposing rifts, power-plays, mistrust, and even the possibility of wanton, homoerotic debauchery. But what is most surprising in all of it isn't the scandalous intrigue or distinct whiff of criminality. That much is hardly news. It's that they look like the bloody Keystone Cops! When it comes to  managing their internal crises and dealing with the media, they're just incompetent.

There were indications of that in all their buffoonish attempts to tamp down the furor surrounding the sex abuse crisis. As I wrote here, being a former publicist, I have found myself astonished at their ham-fisted ineptitude. They seem to spend a lot of time rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and castigating the media for noting that they're taking on water.

As I wrote here, Pope Benedict is being subjected to scrutiny and criticism that most outgoing popes aren't... because they usually go out in a body bag and defaming the recently deceased is just bad form. But it's not just his liberal -- and moderate -- critics who are questioning his record. The knives are out in the very fractious Vatican and we're hearing the rumblings about what a poor administrator and ineffectual leader he was.

In the Vatican itself, there was always a subtle current that held that Benedict may be a world-class intellectual but he was out of his depth as a CEO, sometimes leaving the church rudderless. Even his resignation stirred sotto voce resentment, with Vatican insiders grumbling that plans for the timing of the conclave to elect his successor should have been worked out in advance rather than left hanging.

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