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Shawn Weed's NDE

Shawn Weed's NDE

NDE's are not all sweetness and light. I have studied them for years and think they have something important to tell us all. This article is interesting, but to tell you the truth don't know what to make of it. They happen, people experience different things, some experiences can make us uncomfortable. Perhaps we tend to think that our world is the only one, or that if there is a spiritual world it is something less, or otherworldly and in a way unreal, not like our world at all. Though in fact, what if our universe, is just a small pond in a very large reality that we are just a small part of, or at the beginning of a very long journey. We have angels and demons, people believe in them from all over the word, are they then just myths, or based on some reality like our modern NDE's may point. What if angels and demons are 'life forms' sharing the same space with us, but they are just like I said above in a bigger world, in which ours is just a pond? In any case this is interesting if in fact you find these experiences have something to tell us. His testimony is also on YouTube, just type in his name "Shawn Weed".



I Hated the Idea of Becoming Catholic

I Hated the Idea of Becoming Catholic

It was the day after Ash Wednesday in 2012 when I called my mom from my dorm room at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and told her I thought I was going to become Catholic.

“You’re not going to become Catholic, you just know you’re not Southern Baptist,” she said.

“No, I don’t think so.”

A pause. “Oh boy,” she sighed.

I started crying.

Continue: http://www.aleteia.o...885747701743616


I don't know why we think the modern scientific world view about demons is true. Our ancestors were not dumb, in fact they may have been in touch with reality on a deeper level than we in the modern world are. We now know of the micro world, where there is an almost infinite amount of life, much of it dangerous to humans. So why not beings who are 'higher' than us. More intelligent, some evil others good. Because of their intelligence, when they made their choice for self centered existence, it was total, so they are only concerned with themselves, and those who have given themselves over to evil we call demons. When in reality, like bacteria and virus they are another form of life. There is a vast amount of literature that deals with this reality and I don't like it much. So perhaps we are hunted, sought after to be overtaken and to become their prisoners for eternity if we allow ourselves to become evil like them.

The catholic church is mocked a lot here, and on some grounds it deserves it. However there is a lot of experience with the demonic within the church, and even though for the last 50 years the church has on many levels sought to distance themselves from this so called 'outmoded idea', yet it is coming back....why.....because the demonic is real, terrifying and exorcism can work, though not in the way Hollywood likes to depict it. Though I have met intelligent priest who have experienced many strange things from those possessed.

We are a shallow people, we think we know more than we actually do when it comes to the so called paranormal world.....when it fact it is just normal, a very real part of our world. Today studies are being done to show that reality is wider and deeper than we can know. I don't expect anyone to change their minds on what I write here, and I hope, no one who mocks such things will ever have to fact such a reality. For it is vicious, cold, unloving and wishes only to devour.....that is what evil does.

All cultures have stories about intelligent evil, and ways to deal with it. Like I said, we are very naive, at least in my opinion in our cavalier attitude about what is actually our there. Also, the world is not much better now than it was in the middle ages.....at least on how we treat each other. We may have an idea about human values, and human rights, but they seldom reach a level in how we actually treat each other. The 20th century, which was very secular was the bloodiest we have ever seen, I doubt the 21st will be much different. Sin is another outmoded idea, as well as the need of grace and mercy.....outmoded means nothing, just a passing long lasting fad of any one culture at any one time.


Source: Vatican recognizes exorcists' organization.


The Immaculate Heart of Mary

(This is a piece written by Fr. James, a member of my community.http://www.amazon.co...NR27F85YV9QC15AT

he Immaculate Heart of Mary

Helma was very old. I used to bring her communion on the first Friday of every month. She held her rosary in her hand, fingering the beads as she told me about the only love she had and lost, a man to whom she was engaged and who died before the wedding. She told me that story every time I went to see her. And she always ended it by telling me that the Blessed Mother had given her comfort all through the years.Anne went to daily Mass. She called me one morning during a torrential downpour. In a panicky voice, she said she was right then looking out her window and the walls of her swimming pool were caving in. She was praying to Mary, she said, but the walls still gave way. Later, much later, I told her that perhaps Mary had other plans for the gaping hole in the backyard. Anne agreed. There is now a shrine to Mary where the pool once was.There was a Greek man. I used to see him walking along the streets, arm in arm with a very pretty young woman. He was much older. He used a fancy looking walking cane. I visited him once. He lived in an apartment. He had built a shrine in one of the rooms, a shrine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was made of many little lights, the kind you see on Christmas trees, and there were plastic flowers, ribbons of many colors and votive candles, all carefully arranged around a statue of Mary. He told me that the young woman was a distant cousin who lived with him and I wondered about that.And there was Agnes who walked to the noon Mass every day, carrying in her arms a small and beautifully carved statue of Mary. She had no children. I had dinner at her home and met her husband and noticed the exquisitely carved woodwork that seemed to be everywhere I looked – the cabinets, the table and chairs, picture frames. Agnes saw me looking and told me that her husband was a skilled carpenter who created custom made furniture for the Rockefeller and Kennedy families. Her husband, who spoke very little English, smiled and bowed his head. Then I knew that he had carved the statue carried by Agnes.I was tempted to consult a commentary for the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary since I realize I am kind of rusty when it comes to knowing much of a scholarly or theological nature about Mary. There are thousands of books and I know they must offer a lot to ponder.But I tend to fall back on the commentary that is human life, things and people I remember, people who found warmth and comfort in the Mother of God and prayed to her, carried her, enshrined her, offered their sorrows to her. I suppose in that way, through these people, life has been for me a steady text. It is a very rich text, filled with all kinds of people who love Mary and have taken her into their lives.It is a text of flesh and blood, of human need, human hopes and sorrows. People asking Mary to be with them as they struggle with the loss of innocence, the loss of purity that burdens any human life.And that is what we celebrate on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A woman who was among us and still lives and loves in our midst.And I think that the scholars who write the commentaries would agree. I just like to add some telling footnotes from the vignettes of life. -- James Stephen Behrens, O.C.S.O.Monastery of the Holy Spirit


In 1999 when I just tuned 50 (in Dec of 98) I discovered the internet. While learning how vast the internet was I was excited to find that they had discussion groups on Yahoo and joined some. Since I am interested in comparative religion, as well as the newer expressions of it in our culture today, I found a lot to study and learn. So I decided to join a number of Yahoo groups and found myself in some forums that dealt with Satanism. The first groups I joined were Laveyan Satanist. Right off I found that the ‘Satan’ they were talking about was not the one the Christian believed existed.

For the followers of Anton Lavey, Satan was a symbol of freedom, ego, and self worship that lead to social and personal responsibility. They did not use the archetype of Satan as an excuse to simply cause havoc, but as a symbol of human growth. I enjoyed reading many of them, and for the most part they actually sounded like followers of Ayn Rand, with a religious twist to it. Given the fact the followers of Lavey are athirst this made since.


LaVeyan Satanism (also known as Atheistic Satanism or Modern Satanism), often referred to simply as Satanism among most adherents, was founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey. Its core beliefs and philosophies are based on individualism, free thought, skepticism, epicureanism, secularism, self-deification and "eye for an eye" morality.[1][2][3]

Contrary to popular belief, LaVeyan Satanism does not involve "devil worship" or worship of any deities, but viewing them instead as an archetype; it is an atheistic[4] philosophy that uses the character of "Satan" as a symbol of pride, carnality, liberty, enlightenment, undefiled wisdom, and of a cosmos which Satanists perceive to be permeated and motivated by a force that has been given many names by humans over the course of time. Also the "Satan" character was chosen for representing defiance to the conservatism of mainstream philosophical and religious currents, mainly Abrahamic religions, that see this character as their antithesis.[4][5][6][7][8]

Anton LaVey established Satanism's first and largest religious organization, the Church of Satan, in 1966, and codified Satanic beliefs and practices in The Satanic Bible in 1969. The Church of Satan states that there are a number of Satanists around the world, including both members and non-members. It often rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations of Satanists, dubbing them reverse-Christians, pseudo-Satanists or Devil worshipers.[9


I also found the Setians interesting as well. Like many Laveyans they were highly intelligent but somewhat theistic in their leanings,( though some would say they are deist), at least from what I read of them.


The Temple teaches that the true self, or essence, is immortal, and Xeper is the ability to align consciousness with this essence.[6] Self-initiation is knowledge understood as a conjunction of intellect and intuition.[9] The Temple operates in the context of objective and subjective universes.[10] The objective universe is the natural world and collective meaning systems, while the subjective universe is understood as the individually experienced world and meaning system.[10] Black magic is used by the magician to "become" by causing alterations in the psyche and the world.[9] Lesser black magic is used to manipulate the objective, greater black magic the subjective universes.[10] Initiated members consider themselves beings on a path to self-deification.[11]

The figure of Set, also called the Prince of Darkness, is understood as a principle, but is not worshipped as a god.[12] He is a "role model" for initiates: a being totally apart from the objective universe.[9] Set is considered ageless and the only god with independent existence.[13] Set is described as having given humanity, through the means of non-natural evolution, the "Black Flame" or the "Gift of Set": a questioning intellect which sets humans apart from nature and gives us "isolate self-consciousness" and the possibility to attain divinity.[9][13]



None of them believed in the Devil or Satan as Christians do, quite the opposite in fact. Satan for them was life affirming, the light bearer, who is impulse in mankind to evolve. They do not in anyway believe in Christian morality, but they to believe in justice and treating others with fairness and honest if they deserve. If they are hurt they will strike back, the golden rule may apply, but not the Sermon on the Mount.

Satan for Christians is not life affirming, nor is he a positive force for mankind. Not all Christians believe in an actual Devil, but as an impersonal force of nihilistic evil that only consumes and destroys. A force of self destruction, one that is turned away from any good, light, love or hope.

Satan as a living force is something that I believe in. It is not a pleasant belief to think of some intelligent life form that is out to consume and destroys us. In all religions there are forces of evil that have to be reckoned with. The forces of evil are not a way against God, but against man. We often chose to take the easiest route, though one that leads to further fragmentation and death of persons as well as societies.

So when people talk about Satan, and use positive terms, they are talking about something different than what Christians believe or for that matter the beliefs of religions that have been around a long time.

So is Satan good, or is he really that bad? If from the Laveyan point of view as an archetypal figure, no, from the Christian standpoint, he is worse than bad, a force that wishes to consume us and drag us into a self chosen prison of isolation for eternity.

One last thing. I did not think much of Anton, but his followers, many of them are a very intelligent and articulate lot. I did try to go to some traditionalist Satanist sites, but found them very distasteful and mostly adolescent in content. If there are real Satanist in the Christian understanding of the word, I doubt they would have public web sites for anyone to look at.

Just my thoughts, not trying to change how anyone thinks, since that would irrational and impossible. However this talk about Satan needs some clarification I believe.

Source: There is Satan, and then there is Satan


From: The Virgin Mary

I have no problem whatsoever with veneration and adoration of the Blessed Virgin. I have several Icons of her, actually. She is referred to as the Queen of Heaven often by Catholics. I would tend to agree. It is my opinion that she is what is often referred to as the archetype (Jung) of the Divine Feminine. God is spirit, what is reflected in matter is reflection of that spirit. Just as Christ is the fullfillment of the One God in the sense of God indwelling matter, completing all pagan forms of worship in that indwelling, I feel that Mary, in much the same way, is the fullfillment and completion of Goddess worship, which is the feminine aspect of the personality of God. For example, when brother Omnaka refers to 'mother' God, I take this to be, speaking for myself, Mary. I am not saying thatr she is God, but that she is spirit, that she is, again, the completion of the Divine Feminine aspect of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which is limitless.

"O Mother of Perpetual Help,

Grant that I may ever invoke your most powerful name,

Which is the Safeguard of the living,

And the Salvation of the dying"

-From a prayer on one of my icons of the Blessed Virgin.

Yes, I pray to Mary on occasion, she is to me a comforting extension of God, as Christ is an extension of God, with the fall you have a descended Adam, male, and Eve, female....fallen, corrupted.......Christ and Mary, then male, female, represent Ascencion in that same matter, perfection, the very counter of the fallen nature. She interceeds on our behalf. Just as one needs a father, one needs a mother. Should this be any different with God? At least as we see it here in the physical. In Heaven there is no duality, IMO, only spirit.

Lastly, I have no cause to doubt the Marian apparitions. I believe categorically that the ones the catholic church has approved of are indeed real, and are of God, not the devil, for much good has stemmed from them, even saving the life of the Pope. Further, when one looks at the records of these appearances, she points towards her Son, towards Christ...not herself. Just as Christ continues to act, so does the Mother.

Indeed, Hail the Holy Queen.

Source: The Virgin Mary


Children and near-death experiences

Charlottesville, VA: The movie "Heaven is for Real" is about the near-death experience Colton Burpo had when he was four. No, he did not die, at least not technically, yet he came very close - close enough that he left this world and entered another - where he met Jesus, saw angels, and spoke with Pops, his paternal grandfather, who had died years before. When shown a picture of Pops, he shook his head no, that wasn't the man. Not until his dad found a much younger photo of the grandfather did Colton say yes, that was Pops, adding that "People are younger in heaven."

Continue: http://pmhatwater.hy...447797453148630


Produce the Body! How Jesus died

According to the Gospels, Jesus died after only six hours on the cross. Crucifixion was designed as a slow, painful death which oftentimes lasted for days. Even Pilate was surprised and suspicious at Jesus' quick death.

I think we don't really know enough about how one dies from being crucified, especially one singe individual, to say conclusively how, when and if Jesus died by being crucified.


The way you die on a cross can be counted in minutes or hours depending on how it is done.

If you give the body support, you can be there for days on end, if you are not given support you will die within minutes.... how?

Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic mixture which he refused to drink. Jesus was thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood patibulum (the cross section of the cross).


The legionnaire felt for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drove a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moved to the other side and repeated the action, being careful not to pull the arms to tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement.


The patibulum is then lifted in place at the top of the stipes (the vertical section of the cross) and the titulus reading, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,” is nailed in place.

The left foot is now pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The Victim is now crucified.


As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain — the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves.

As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet. At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen.


Jesus experienced hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain where tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins -- a terrible crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.

It is now almost over. The loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level; the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissue; the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain.

A sponge soaked in posca, the cheap, sour wine which is the staple drink of the Roman legionaries, is lifted to His lips. He apparently doesn’t take any of the liquid. Some translations say vinegar but that is basically the same thing. Wine is fermented grapejuice and so is vinegar. Vinegar is actually derived from the french word vin aigre which simply put is "sour wine" which in turn is derived from the Latin vinum aegrum meaning "feeble wine".

The rest you know. In order that the Sabbath not be profaned, the Jews asked that the condemned men be dispatched and removed from the crosses. The common method of ending a crucifixion was by crurifracture, the breaking of the bones of the legs. This prevented the victim from pushing himself upward; thus the tension could not be relieved from the muscles of the chest and rapid suffocation occurred. The legs of the two thieves were broken, but when the soldiers came to Jesus they saw that this was unnecessary.

Apparently, to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. The 34th verse of the 19th chapter of the Gospel according to St. John reports: “And immediately there came out blood and water.” That is, there was an escape of water fluid from the sac surrounding the heart, giving postmortem evidence that Jesus died not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure (a broken heart) due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.


In short, how you are placed on the cross determines the length of your stay on the cross.

Source: Produce the Body!


Near death, explained

In 1991, Atlanta-based singer and songwriter Pam Reynolds felt extremely dizzy, lost her ability to speak, and had difficulty moving her body. A CAT scan showed that she had a giant artery aneurysm—a grossly swollen blood vessel in the wall of her basilar artery, close to the brain stem. If it burst, which could happen at any moment, it would kill her. But the standard surgery to drain and repair it might kill her too.

To continue: {http://www.salon.com...ath_explained/}


Does Consciousness Depend on the Brain?

In this materialistic age, dualists are often accused of smuggling outmoded religious beliefs back into science, of introducing superfluous spiritual forces into biology, and of venerating an invisible "ghost in the machine." However, our utter ignorance concerning the real origins of human consciousness marks such criticism more a matter of taste than of logical thinking. At this stage of mind science, dualism is not irrational, merely somewhat unfashionable. --Physicist Nick Herbert, Elemental Mind.

In March 1987 Dawn Gillott was admitted to Northampton General Hospital, seriously ill with pneumonia. After being placed in intensive care, the physicians decided to perform a tracheotomy because she could not breathe.

Continue: (http://realitysandwi...s_depend_brain/)


Good evening everyone, I hope you are all having a nice weekend. I realize that several of the recent posts were in response to what I had written previously, so I am going to try to address some of those concerns here, and also to elaborate on and clarify some of my own positions. I apologize in advance if this post will be longer and more rambling in nature as there is a lot of ground to cover from the valid points you have all raised.

First, I must state for the record that I am in no way trying to criticize or attack either the spiritual seeking of others or the individual spiritual journeys of others; nor am I here to question their validity. I'm also not saying that people should sit in a church pew and blindly accept everything that they are told. I am frankly surprised that people seem to think I am advocating doing that based upon what I had written previously. I wholeheartedly ENCOURAGE people to embark upon spiritual journeys and quests of self-discovery. This can ONLY be a good thing. My concern, which I shall talk about in more detail later on is when that seeking is seen as an end unto itself.

But because this line of criticism has been (perhaps rightly?) leveled at me I feel it is necessary to provide a short biographical sketch. For many, many years I was a philosophical atheist. I did have a personal experience that led me to belief in God, specifically the Christian God. I have written about that experience elsewhere on the forum. Having been an atheist, however, faith for me was a bit of a struggle. I had to reconcile my conflicting beliefs. So I delved into the study of Christian theology; in short...I investigated the claims myself; which is what many of you are talking about. After being a Christian for several years, I began to feel the religion was too 'confining.' I had trouble accepting that Jesus was the only way. So I spent the next decade studying comparative religion heavily. I've read the sacred literature from the 5 great world religions, I've read countless books about those religions. I've also experienced them in real life and in my travels. I've meditated with Buddhist monks. I've prayed with Hindu Brahmans. I have Muslim and Jewish friends. I'm actually an active member in a large interfaith organization in my city. I have the utmost respect for people of other faiths; and you can see that on here. In my back catalog of posts you will find essays where I've defended Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and others against their various detractors. I see that Beany's avatar is Lord Ganesha; I have statues and figurines of him among my other religious icons and artwork. In short, you could say that I am a lover of and am a student of religion IN GENERAL. That said, taking nothing away from these beautiful and wonderful systems; I was led right back to Christianity. As much as I love and respect other religions, and as much as I respect the validity of their paths; I am and will always be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you hold that against me, then that is your prerogative. I hope however, that this speaks into the criticism that has been leveled against me. In no way am I deterring anyone from spiritual seeking and going down their own path; as you can see, I have done it myself. This is why, libstaK, I agreed with the vast majority of your post. Our views may not be as different as they perhaps seem.

But there ARE points where I differ, and that is what I mean to highlight. There was a Sufi mystic who once said "for thirty years I sought God. But when I looked carefully I found that in reality God was the seeker and I the sought". That profound statement sums up my view. My question is not so much with someone choosing to undertake a personal spiritual odyssey; but how do we arrive at truth on that journey? Many who are in the SBNR crowd tend to think that religion is man made, and that therefore we can make any sort of 'spirituality' we like. We don't need religion because we are somehow more 'enlightened' now. I, as a Christian and a theist happen to take issue with that. Most Jews, Muslims and even Hindus and Buddhists would too. I mean no offense to anyone here; but nor can I mince words either. I believe there are objective truths that come from outside of man that are revealed by God and the essence of these truths are what we find in religion. It has been a modern fad among Christians to say 'relationship' over 'religion' but while that is true to a point; it is only half correct. Religion is about revelation; realizing that truth comes to us from God, not man. I do not find the truth, the truth finds me. Why do we worship at an altar of wood and stone? Because worshiping at that altar of wood or stone is but a shadow, a glimpse of an unseen reality that is far greater than myself. It is a glimpse behind the curtain of ultimate truth. People follow the religious systems that they do not because they are programmed to do so, but because from within that system it draws them closer to the divine reality; because this revelation comes from God and then the religious system is built AROUND that revelation; it is from within that system that heaven and earth are the closest. It is the true bridge between the material and the spiritual.

So my concern is when we divorce the two, as I said in my OP. My concern specifically with New Age spirituality (not necessarily spiritual seekers or those who would identify themselves as SBNR) is that I can arrive at this conclusion that somehow my own journey stands as truth and that truth comes wholly from within. I am criticizing how we ARRIVE at truth; because as I said I feel that truth does not come from WITHIN, it comes from WITHOUT. God and God alone is the source of truth. I do not find the truth, the truth finds me. There is a strong sense of subjectivism within the New Age, and THAT is what I take issue with; as Mark also pointed out, so many come to the conclusion "whatever I feel must be true." Many in the New Age would accuse Christians or other theists of 'blindly' following dogma; but I would counter that and say many in the New Age blindly follow their own emotional compass. They accept a kind of spirituality that is so self-affirming and comfortable, how can it BE anything other than egoistic?

For example, I watched a 3 hour long special with Dr. Wayne Dyer, a leading New Age writer. Don't get me wrong, I actually like the guy. I think he's a good dude and I like how he helps people. That said the whole crux of his lecture was about MANIFESTING...that I can tap into the universe and I can create a mental reality in which the universe will in turn provide for me materially what I will in 'spirit.' I can will the universe to give me what I want. How is this NOT egoistic??? I also read the book the Secret many years ago; a book that just FLEW off the shelves...and what did it teach? It taught that the secret is realizing that 'we are the center of the universe'; the universe was made...for me. Not egoistic??? I beg to differ.

I stand by what I said previously (however to clarify my problem is more with the New Age than it is with seekers or the SBNR) because the whole crux of the New Age movement is about self-affirmation using vague mixes of various spiritual traditions and putting them into a pot, stirring them together, and creating one odd mix of 'spiritual' soup. You'll do a little bit of a Buddhist meditation or a bit of Hindu yoga (although it may be repackaged to call it something else to sound 'new' and 'unique') then you will spend some time in prayer to an unknown, impersonal deity; or perhaps the universe itself (as though non-living matter will somehow HEAR your prayers) and then you will spend some more time 'manifesting' your spiritual will into physical reality. Thus my spirituality will, as Dr. Wayne Dyer says, help me to "master the art of realizing all my desires." Is THIS what we should call true spirituality????

And what happens when things go wrong? What happens when the universe doesn't give me what I want? What happens if the universe chooses to give me cancer instead of a new car? What then? THIS is where New Age spirituality ULTIMATELY (at least in my view) fails and collapses. The New Age does not or cannot explain life's ultimate questions. If you browse the New Age books in any store; they are all about "being a better you" or "unlocking your true potential" but these aims are overly simplistic, and thus, I would argue that they are MATERIAL rather than spiritual. They try to make you feel better in the present moment, and perhaps they CAN do that. But they can't answer questions like "why are we here?" or "why is there suffering in the world" or "why does evil exist?" Only RELIGION does that. It is ironic that my critics say religion is somehow an escape from reality or an evasion of thinking or seeking for oneself, when I say the reverse is true. Religion sees the world for what it is. The New Age, by contrast, seeks to see everything through rose tinted glasses, through yoga mats and empty meditation. A New Ager will meditate to manifest their desires; a Buddhist will meditate on non-being and their own impermanence. Do you see what I mean with this? Someone who practices the New Age or pop culture spirituality talks endlessly about somehow "getting in tune" with the universe whereas those who practice religion see the world for what it actually is. I see the New Age, NOT spiritual seekers, as being on a flight from reason.

I do not want a 'spirituality' that makes me feel 'comfortable.' I don't want a 'spirituality' that just makes me feel good about myself. I want a belief that challenges me, that confronts me; I want a belief that helps me to understand the world around me; to see things as they actually are, not as I wish them to be. I want a belief that helps me to realize my flaws and makes me strive to be a better human being. I don't want a belief that says I am a "whole" and "perfect spiritual being", I want a belief that calls me a "sinner" because it helps me to realize the fact that I am not perfect and that I screw up more times than I care to admit. I want a belief that tells me that the truth does not come from within me, is not something I discover by myself, but comes from the God who made me and in His kindness and in His mercy REVEALED that truth to me through His Holy Spirit. I don't want a belief that says "I am the center of the universe"; I want a belief that says we are ALL made in God's image, and how I treat my fellow man is thus how I treat my God. I don't want a belief that masks my suffering; I want a belief that makes me mindful of suffering, because it is in that mindfulness that I am driven to compassion. What New Age book teaches such things? Only religion teaches this. The Secret and all these faddish 'spiritual' books will be forgotten in time, as is every fad. But centuries from now, people will still be reading the Holy Bible, the Quran, the Talmud, The Dhammapada, The Pali Canon, the Mahabharata, The Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads because they reflect that which is eternal, not what is transitory.

Can one attain this path without following organized religion? Perhaps. It was never my intent to be cruel to seekers or those who profess to be spiritual but not religious; but rather to point out the flaws of those who fall into the trap of the new age which I do see as egotism. From within my own tradition, Saint Paul has said that the Law is written on the human heart and that those who follow the law without even knowing it are a law unto themselves. Thus, if those who claim to be spiritual but not religious are in some manner following the truth as God has revealed it to us; I would argue that you are a lot more religious than you think. Your very possession of truth, of revelation, MAKES you religious even though you may not recognize it as such. If one possesses revelation, then they possess religion. You are religious even if you never set foot in a church; because that's the whole point: religion is BIGGER and greater than all of us. Religion, simply put, is responding to the reality of God.

There is one final thing I wanted to address:

But this dividing humanity, separating into groups based on religious beliefs or non-beliefs, has got to stop. It's judgmental, critical, and allows for no variations or uniqueness of the human spirit or manifestation of the divine. The very act of judging implies a manifest superiority or hierarchy on the part of the one doing the judging, a feeling of superiority that one is in the position to pass judgment, or that position has been conferred upon them by some unknown source.

Is this not a judgment itself?? Rather, I would argue that it is PRECISELY BECAUSE we ARE judgmental and critical that it ALLOWS FOR the variations and the uniqueness of the human spirit and the manifestations of the divine. Every religious system has its absolute truth claims, and it is because of those truth claims that they MAINTAIN their uniqueness. The same VALUES permeate every religion; but these truth claims are what give each of them a unique identity and expression. This is WHY I love studying comparative religion; because I see that uniqueness and I see the beauty IN that uniqueness.

God could have made us all alike, He could have made us all one religion. But He didn't. And when we tried to do that, building our Tower of Babel; He came down and He confounded us, separated us. I believe that the variations in religious experience exist because God wanted there to be a variety of religious experience. The very act of judging is what makes us human. If you take away this, you take away reason itself.

I hope this has clarified my position; blessings to you all,


Source: Babel


This is a response by 'Marcus Aurelius ' to my entry on Babel, I think it is well written and profound so I am sharing it here with all of you.

"I very much enjoyed reading your blog Mark, and you can count me as a fan of your writing!

I see religion as a kind of metaphysical GPS that sets us down a path and guides us to a destination; its outward forms, signs and observances are waypoints along the route. They remind us of where we are going and how to get there. One of the problems I have with those who identify themselves as "spiritual but not religious" is that they have no such GPS. Those who are "spiritual but not religious" focus on the supposed inner experience as opposed to the outward forms of religion. Simply put, in our postmodern age people find religion to be "dull" because they ONLY see the outward forms and observances, and thus they want something "more." Why sit in a "church" when you can "experience" God or some supernatural reality?

Is it any wonder that this "spiritual but not religious" idea is almost entirely a western phenomena? Because our society prizes radical individualism above all else; is it any wonder that a spirituality would be crafted to match that ideal? This is basically what you were rightly pointing out in your post, PA. Western society thrives on individuality and our pop culture spirituality mirrors that. What we have done is to foolishly attempt to divorce spirituality from religion; for if you go to a country that has strong religious views; the two are not divorced as religion AND spirituality play an integral part in daily life. For example, when I visited my wife's home country of the Philippines that is strongly Roman Catholic; the entire town where her family lives would gather to pray a dawn Rosary and then go to Mass as an entire community at sunrise. There should be a fusion between religion and spirituality; not a division.

But this is part and parcel of the new age movement. The idea of a "spiritual but not religious" is little more than a glorification of the human ego; suggesting that truth somehow comes from within rather than without. The "self" becomes the 'absolute' standard for defining what is true and what isn't; thus I make God in MY OWN image, and I can make that God look however I want Him/Her/It to because I go to the spiritual buffet table of self; pick out what I like and ignore what I don't. I don't like hell, I don't believe in it. I don't like green beans, I don't want that on my plate. I cannot help but see this new age spirituality as nothing more than ego glorification; this foolish idea that "I am the center of the universe" and all I have to do is "ask the universe" to give me what I want and I will get it. But without religion there is no structure, there is no accountability. All I have is my own arbitrary and subjective standard for determining what is true and what isn't. By following this model I would argue that we are not worshiping God at all; we are worshiping OURSELVES and calling it God. The individual, the ego, the "I" has become IT'S OWN Tower of Babel. I will make my own way and my own path to the heavens, thank you very much!!

To those who crave something "more" than what they think organised religion offers; it is in part our fault because we do not properly explain the spiritual aspects of our religions. They simply do not understand the profundity of the outward signs operating within the religious system. Take for example, the Eucharist or Communion. Communion is an outward sign of an inward grace in which Christ becomes SPIRITUALLY present in the bread and wine; the act is a supernatural one; it is God Himself breaking into space and time, into the material world. But do we EXPLAIN that? We just DO it. Some churches have gone so far as to call it simply a "memorial." In short, we have been a part of the problem; divorcing our spirituality from our religion. The "spiritual but not religious" divorce spirituality from religion, and WE divorce spirituality from religion.

My favorite Christian writers are not the pastors of today; my favorite Christian writers are the mystics of old. You will find me reading people like Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Catherine of Genoa and others before you would find me reading someone like Joel Osteen. There is such a rich mystical and contemplative spirituality within our own system of Christianity and yet we have all but buried it underneath dogma, outward observances without explanation and preaching that looks more like a self-help book than one of spiritual depth. We could easily 'court' the spiritual but not religious crowd if we would but stand on our own Sacred Tradition and bring it into the 21st century.

The two should never be divorced from one another; one should not be spiritual but not religious or religious but not spiritual. One should be both religious AND spiritual.

We have to help people get out of this narcissistic self-absorption that has been branded as 'spirituality' because what good is an inward grace, an inner experience if it bears no outward fruit? As Saint Teresa of Avila rightly pointed out; one becomes wholly dependent upon these supposed experiences. Without 'consolations' as she called them, they can no longer function properly. They are like ships being tossed about in a storm at sea. This is the difference of the mystical experience from WITHIN a religious system; the experience always causes the visionary to produce outward fruit. St. John of the Cross was a teacher who founded a religious order, as did Saint Teresa of Avila. Mother Teresa had one mystical experience and from that, dedicated the rest of her life to helping the sick and the poor. Gandhi had a mystical experience and brought about a non-violent REVOLUTION."t. The Buddha, after reaching enlightenment traveled extensively and taught his path to enlightenment to all who would listen.

The inner mystical experience should cause us to want to change the world; not to retreat within the


Source: Babel


Fox News' Highly Reluctant Jesus Follower

Fox News' Highly Reluctant Jesus Follower

Just seven years ago, if someone had told me that I'd be writing for Christianity Today magazine about how I came to believe in God, I would have laughed out loud. If there was one thing in which I was completely secure, it was that I would never adhere to any religion—especially to evangelical Christianity, which I held in particular contempt.

Continue: http://www.christian...gn=2013&start=1


Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been the subject of numerous technical studies since 1751 and extensive scientific investigations in recent years, and none of the result offered any sound scientific explanation which, up to this very day, defies science and all human reasoning as it continuous to baffle scientists and even skeptics.

Below are only some of the findings that were drawn from the scientific investigations conducted on the image and the fabric itself which were commissioned by the authorized custodians of the Tilma in the Basilica, and in every case the investigators had direct and unobstructed access to it:



Any Rand, Altruism, the collective and Pope Francis

When I was young I read perhaps all the works of Ayn Rand. My favorite by her is the book titled “The virtue of selfishness”. I was never a follower, but I feel that she does have something to say about ‘Altruism’. In her book “We the living”, which I think is her best, deals with a time in her own life that gives some insight into her understanding of the collective and altruism.

For her altruism is evil because people are asked, or forced, to sacrificed themselves for the so called collective. That is perhaps why socialism seems to work in smaller countries, or communities, but falls apart when it involves a larger country, when one is lost in the teeming masses. It is not about persons, but simply the collective. In the end, more and more people need taken care than those that actually produce, causing problems. Even in Sweden, people that I know from there tell me that things are changing because many of those that immigrate have so much taken care of that many don’t want to get a job.

Language is important; Pope Francis uses Christian concepts when talking about helping one another, He is not talking about socialism, but about Christians seeking a deeper understanding of their faith, and how that affects their relationship with those around them. In other words, he is asking Christians not to be cultural Christians, but to really know what it means to be a follower of Jesus. What it means is this I believe, and Pope Francis is seeking to instill this on those who are Catholic, Christian and others who want to perhaps ponder on what he is saying.

“Whatever you do to the least, you do to me” says Jesus (Matt 24:45) is a verse that could bring forth some deep insights into who those are that we know, pass by, or bump into. There is a dignity to the individual that the Christian faith holds up for contemplation. It is something that is easy to be unsuccessful in, because to think along those terms, does in actuality lead to the death of an old way of life.

The Pope is not talking about governments as such, but to the citizens and to point to the fact that there is more to life than profit, big houses and fancy cars. There are other people, who do in fact need help from time to time, and while many do help, more could be done. Are we our brother’s keepers….well yes we are. How that is lived out will vary from person to person.

Ayn Rand was asked this question in an interview that I read many years ago, perhaps 30 or 35 year. She was asked by the interviewer this question:

“Ayn, lets say you in your apartment building, you found out that a family below you was in dire straights and hungry and cold. At the same time, you were planning on buy something that you really wanted and if you helped the family in you building, you would have to forgo acquiring what you desire so much. What would you do”

Her response was interesting, but really not surprising, coming from such a profound thinker.

Ayn responded:

For me the greatest value is life, because of that I would help the family, it would be more important than for me to buy something that I desired. However, I am doing it as a logical outcome of my own philosophical outlook on life. I would not feel compelled, it would not be a sacrifice, and it would be according to my values and not forced on me by some larger collective.”

I believe the Pope is talking about ways of thinking that actually hurt not only individuals but the culture as well. Many rich do give many poor to take advantage, so I am not being simplistic here. Perhaps there is another way that societies can be ran that have more of a humane overtone to it.


Tools for inner growth for everyone

I find systems like the I Ching and tarot interesting tools. I did use the Tarot for about 25 years but it has been years since I have used it. When I started to use the Tarot, I found the cards gave me a way to give names to aspects of my inner self, as well as the relationship they had with each other, and how I could stand outside and learn from each of them. Perhaps it gave a way for my fragmented self to speak to me and not just have vague irrational images.

The healthy thing about such system is that they give a way to take responsibility for ones life and choices, and can give alternate ways of thinking through a difficulty, or giving insight into some sort of spiritual problem. It is a tool, an extension of the unconscious, a mirror that can reflect back, and I believe that any spread will respond to a question that deals with the inner life. The future is always uncertain, changing with each small choice or large decision. To think the Tarot can direct ones life, is a mistake, for I believe some inferior aspect of ones unconscious, or fragmented personality can take over and lead one down a path of dependency that can be harmful.

The I Ching I believe is the same, though it is geared from my limited experience, to make one think...to go forward, stay put, or withdraw in any given situation. I used the I Ching a few times in my life, and the hexagrams were helpful.....though again any hexagram would be helpful because I let go of control for a short time and allowed the hexagram, or again the tarot symbols to work on me, to give me an angle to pursue in my deliberation.

Now I write, I believe the Tarot was a good instrument in allowing me to learn to name the many components parts of my inner life, which gave me a way to inscribe. Though even now, when I write it is more like allowing a flowing river of thoughts to come up, I seldom actually think about what I am writing, just let it flow. The sending for me is an important part of the process, and if not sent, then it seems that what I wrote is stillborn. Crazy I know.

In fact books do the same thing. As a Christian the Scripture speak to me in a certain way because of the relationship I have with it. Some people when they read scripture only clean negatives, or things to prove wrong, or to show some point that goes against faith or whatever Christianity may represent to them in a negative way. Again, it is relationship that will bring forth a certain kind of fruit, or not. Novels and other books, of philosophy, or psychology do the same thing I believe.

Of course I did not let many of my Christian friends know of my tarot or I Ching interest, they could not understand that divination is not the only way t use such tools. To me the tarot is like opening a book at a random page and reading, allowing whatever comes to up teach and lead towards some sort of inner integration.

I made the mistake of doing a few readings for people. For the most part, they just wanted me to tell them what to do, or to give them some sort of definite future, which I believe is counterproductive and even at times destructive on many levels. The seeking after wisdom, is one thing, to try to control the future is something else altogether.


Fr. Stanley Jaki on the Fátima Miracle

Fr. Stanley Jaki on the Fátima Miracle

It could have been a sun spot, an air lens, some turbulent clouds, or maybe even eye tricks. The skeptic Benjamin Radford, deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and a Research Fellow with the non-profit educational organization the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry – without investigation or research to support his opinion — suggests that it was likely an illusion that “appeared in the minds and perceptions of those pilgrims present,” or psychological delusion with “an element of mild mass hysteria involved.”

Continue: http://stacytrasanco...fatima-miracle/