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Phoenix conference on UFOs reveals new insights

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By Steve Hammons

Originally published 2/24/15 at Joint Recon Study Group

The audience at the 24th annual International UFO Congress Convention & Film Festival last week near Scottsdale, Arizona, heard some fascinating presentations that were at times both hopeful and frightening.

From ancient accounts in Native American lore to ongoing scientific developments, speakers explored many aspects of research about UFOs.

Sensitive U.S. military bases like Wright-Patterson Air Force base in southwestern Ohio and Area 51 in southern Nevada have played key roles associated with this challenging situation, according to presentations at the conference.

The Rendlesham Forest incident at a U.S. air base in the UK and UFO crashes around the U.S.-Mexican border were also discussed. Cattle mutilations and human abductions, including group abductions, were examined as well.

While some speakers perceived alleged visitors as hostile and dangerous, others put forth accounts of advanced and benevolent beings who want to help the human race survive and develop.

In fact, we may be facing several kinds of visitors that will require intelligence on our part to understand and deal with, the audience was told.

The conference was sponsored by Open Minds Production of Tempe, Arizona. Open Minds covers the UFO topic through its investigators and journalists, website, and online radio and TV programs. Additional Open Minds activities include networking with other U.S. and international researchers and sponsoring the annual UFO conference.

The five-day conference, film festival and related activities took place Feb. 18 – 22 at the Wa-Ko-Pa resort, east of Fountain Hills and Scottsdale, in the northeast metro Phoenix region.

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INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

Several speakers addressed the national security and global security issues involved in this alleged situation. Due to the nature of what has been discovered about UFOs and visitors, operational security and secrecy of U.S. and international activities have been very robust, according to some of the speakers.

No one knows this better than conference guest Bob Lazar. The live, in-person interview of Lazar by award-winning investigative TV journalist George Knapp of KLAS-TV in Las Vegas was one of the many highlights of the conference.

Back in November 1989, after a number of unique circumstances, Knapp interviewed Lazar for a news segment on KLAS-TV. That is when the nation and the world began to learn about secret facilities in a remote desert location known as Area 51.

Lazar stated in that interview that he had been working on a project involving saucer-shaped craft that did not originate in the U.S. or any other nation on Earth.

At last week’s conference, Knapp again questioned Lazar about his claims of working at a compartmented secure site in 1988-89 that was within Area 51 but separate from the main air base at Groom Lake.

Called S4, this facility included multiple hangars carved into the side of a rocky desert hill and expertly camouflaged, Lazar said. Inside the hangar bays were several craft, some disc-shaped. Lazar was assigned to help analyze and back-engineer components and systems of one of the saucers, he stated.

Lazar said he first thought these were U.S.-made craft that explained the many UFO sightings over past decades. However, upon examination of the craft and other information that came to his attention, it became clear that the craft was not ours and was tremendously far in advance of our technology at that time.

From the background information provided by both Knapp and Lazar, and the straightforward way they presented their stories to the audience, many in attendance seemed increasingly convinced that Lazar’s accounts were true.

DEFENSE AND SECURITY

Former U.S. Air Force military police officer John Burroughs spoke about the December 1980 incident in Rendlesham Forest, UK. While on-duty at a U.S. air base nearby, he and other USAF personnel (including the deputy base commander) encountered very unusual unknown objects in the sky and on the ground.

Historian Richard Dolan told conference attendees that advanced technologies and knowledge related to UFOs have been obtained, but are closely held by a relatively small number of people.

Dolan advocated for the release of more information about this situation. Though recognizing the need for security and safety, he said he feels it is potentially dangerous for our society and our democracy to keep such important information and technology secret.

He said he feels it is just a matter of time until more information is put forward about the reality of visitors from elsewhere and the situation is acknowledged and accepted more widely.

James Clarkson explored the story of June Crain, who reportedly worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the 1940s and was exposed to information about UFO research being done at the base.

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Wright-Patterson in Dayton, Ohio, has long been a center for aircraft research over the decades, particularly the engineering and capabilities of the aircraft of our adversaries.

Mark Pilkington’s research has included a close look at how elements of our defense and intelligence community have dealt with the UFO phenomena, and how they may have leveraged it for certain purposes. He told the audience there is much more than meets the eye regarding the UFO situation. It may be much more complex than many of us realize, he said.

Speaker Ruben Uriarte talked about UFO incidents in regions along the U.S.-Mexico border. Both U.S. and Mexican militaries have been involved, he said. Though less well-known than the Roswell case, he reviewed other incidents that are similarly compelling.

FRIEND OR FOE

In separate presentations about their different cases, Thomas Reed and Charles Foltz recounted the strange circumstances of their abductions by non-humans decades ago.

Reed and family members were allegedly taken aboard a craft and examined by very strange-looking beings.

Foltz was one of four young men on a canoe and fishing trip in a remote wilderness area in Maine when they, too, were taken aboard a craft and examined. This case is known as the Allagash incident, named after the Maine wilderness area.

Both men, and their families and friends, learned more details only later with the help of researchers and investigators, and other methods to help them recall the traumatic events, they said.

Cattle mutilations remain a mystery, said speaker Christopher O’Brien. Some may be conducted by U.S. personnel monitoring the beef supply for various kinds of contamination, such as mad cow disease or other threats to human health, he stated. Yet, that scenario may not seem to fit each and every case of cattle mutilation, he indicated.

Investigator Derrel Sims expressed serious concerns about the intentions of at least some of these visitors from elsewhere. He views them (at least the type he has encountered) as adversaries to be exposed and resisted. Abductions of humans are real, he said, and implants are often placed in abductees bodies.

Mexico TV host Jaime Maussan showed video of many UFOs over Mexico City and other areas of his country and the U.S. Maussan seemed hopeful that these visitors are here to help us, and may even be signs of an upcoming positive spiritual development for humankind.

James Gilliland appeared to be on the same page with Maussan in some ways. He told the audience about frequent UFO sightings above his ranch near Mt. Adams in Trout Lake, Washington. Gilliland indicated there are both enlightened and unsavory beings of several kinds and we need to be able to deal with several aspects and scenarios.

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TIME AND PLACE

Linda Zimmerman spoke about the UFO sightings in the Hudson Valley area of New York state. She said the wave of sightings in the Hudson Valley in the 1980s dovetails with other reports of UFOs there in the early 1900s.

Cheryl Costa also shared stories of close encounters in New York state. She noted that the state has been the site of odd UFO incidents possibly going back centuries.

That matches the information from Clifford Mahooty, an elder of the Zuni tribe of Native Americans in New Mexico. Mahooty said ancient oral histories of his tribe and other Native peoples make repeated mention of non-human visitors from elsewhere.

Extraterrestrial artifacts on Earth were a focus of the presentation by Frank Kimbler. The study of such artifacts as known as xenoarcheology, he said. As an assistant professor of earth sciences at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico, he has had the opportunity to extensively research the alleged 1947 crash in the Roswell region, Kimbler explained.

Montana was the focus of Joan Bird’s presentation. Leveraging her background in zoology and psychology, she examined several aspects of the UFO phenomena and how society is moving forward to acknowledge the situation at hand.

The Asheville, North Carolina, region was the subject of Joshua P. Warren’s talk. The “Brown Mountain lights” have been seen for more than 100 years he said. Odd, large glowing balls of light periodically appear and dance around that area in the Appalachian Mountain region.

Warren’s extensive scientific research leads him to suspect they are balls of plasma energy that are generated by unusual but natural factors in the environment there. However, some of those factors may also be involved in creating electromagnetic effects that could alter gravity. This, in turn, can result in strange changes in the environment, he indicated.

FILMMAKING, TV, AWARDS

Documentary filmmaker Jeremy Corbell shared his research into the mysteries of the UFO situation and his contacts with people who helped him understand and document via film various elements of the topic. He said he plans to continue to make films on the UFO subject and get them distributed for larger audiences.

Video crews from the Discovery Science channel were on hand to cover parts of the conference. Exclusive previews of upcoming Sci Channel UFO-related shows were shown, promoting “Are We Alone?” week starting March 2. Sci Channel will present a week of UFO and alien programs including the shows “NASA’s Unexplained Files,” “Close Encounters,” “What on Earth” and “UFO Conspiracies.”

Reality Films – DVD with footage of late Dr. Roger K. Leir

Several excellent independent films related to UFOs were screened at the film festival. When the winner was announced, makers of the documentary “Travis” were overjoyed with their win of the EBE Award, and then with the People’s Choice Award based on the votes of the audience.

The title refers to Travis Walton who was present during the conference. He joined the filmmakers and other researchers featured in the film on stage for the award.

The film chronicles the case of Walton and his logging crew from the Snowflake, Arizona, area. After a day of work in a nearby national forest, the young men saw a saucer-shaped craft. Walton got close … too close, and was reportedly abducted and taken on board the craft, only to reappear several days later.

The case was the subject of the sensationalized and not entirely accurate 1993 Hollywood movie “Fire in the Sky.”

The late Roger Leir, MD, was posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from Open Minds Production. Leir is well-known for surgically removing highly-unusual implants embedded in the bodies of suspected abductees. He passed on just last year, March 14, 2014.

For those who were unable to attend the conference, DVDs of the speakers’ presentations are available from Open Minds Production. DVDs of presentation from past conferences are also available.

For more on the conference: http://ufocongress.com/

For more on Open Minds Production: http://www.openminds.tv/

About the Author

Steve Hammons is the author of two novels about a U.S. Government and military joint-service research team investigating unusual phenomena. MISSION INTO LIGHT and the sequel LIGHT’S HAND introduce readers to the ten women and men of the “Joint Reconnaissance Study Group” and their exciting adventures exploring the unknown.


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Occult and psychic powers – the curse of meditation

Saint Padre Pio stated: "Through the stud...

Saint Padre Pio stated: “Through the study of books one seeks God; by meditation one finds him”. The Rosary: A Path Into Prayer by Liz Kelly 2004 ISBN 082942024X pages 79 and 86 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Thomas Wright

A staggering amount of information can be found on the internet regarding meditation – a subject that is as vast and deep as the space itself. Most of the information caters to the requirement of glorifying the subject and sheds little light on some ‘not so bright’ aspects.

From time immemorial, meditation has been associated with spiritual development of human beings. Those who are not interested in spirituality also practice meditation for improving their mental and physical well-being. In fact, experiments have proved that meditation can greatly improve the ability to concentrate for long periods of time. Yoga, the oriental way of synchronizing body, mind and nature, also emphasizes on the importance of meditation.

Due to the sheer impact that it can create on the human psyche, meditation rightly deserves all the praise that has been bestowed on it for ages. But as with everything in this universe and beyond, meditation is not devoid of negative fall outs. Although inconsequential for ordinary mortals, these aspects can create a havoc in the mental landscape of serious practitioners and seekers of higher truth.

In essence, meditation soothes the nervous system and helps the meditator to increase his power of concentration. According to oriental philosophy and scriptures, greater the ability to concentrate more is the intensity of thoughts. For a concentrated mind, mental energies are channelized and focused at a particular point of thought.

It is this ability to focus that determines the quality of work for any person, simply because of the fact that every possible action in this universe is a gross manifestation of the subtle thoughts originated from a focused mind. Ripples of strong brain waves pervade the fabric of the cosmos and are converted into forms that are more tangible.

English: Meditation

Meditation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, when a person reaches advanced stages of meditation, his mind becomes extremely powerful and he gains occult and psychic abilities to the extent of influencing thoughts and actions of other individuals by merely concentrating on the subject. This is the most critical stage of one’s spiritual journey that determines whether the practitioner will be able to reach the zenith of spirituality.

Ancient scriptures have repeatedly warned spiritual seekers to ignore these special powers and move forward towards the ultimate goal of realizing one’s true self. It is permissible to exhibit some of these gifts on a few occasions, so that ordinary people can realize the significance of meditation and put their faith on it.

If anyone wishes to serve people for free through his psychic powers, then there are chances that he may get away with it without being trapped by earthly pleasures. However, these powers must not be used to earn money and fame, as these are nothing but distractions that deviates a seeker of truth from his goal. Also, the scriptures strongly advise the aspirants against indulging in shadowy activities for narrow and selfish motives. So, the next time you feel empowered while meditating, be very cautious of the slippery path that lies ahead.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/astrology-articles/occult-and-psychic-powers-the-curse-of-meditation-7207722.html

About the Author

Thomas he has drawn heavily from the experiences he has gained by interviewing Jeanette Jones – a meditation teacher and psychic in Brisbane.


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Living in the shadow of Judas

Español: Beso de Judas.

Español: Beso de Judas (Judas Kiss) Image: Wikipedia

By Gerry Legister

When a person like Judas dies his character lives on in other individuals, who are portraying symptoms of those same characteristic traits, they are reborn all over again with similar deep rooted guile.

Jesus answered them, “I chose you, the Twelve, didn’t I? Yet one of you is a devil.” John 6:70

Don’t hesitate to flee when you see the evil shadow of someone sinister trying to cover you, when a tree cast its shadow over a tiny part of the ground, nothing good grows there. Shadow is a dark place cause by the absent of light, and if you live in the shadow of someone, you may follow their bad examples and hardly get notice for the good that you are doing.

Don’t live in the shadow of a brother or a sister, there achievements and their abilities belongs to them, but you are unique and no one can take your place. God has placed you on this earth for a reason, try to find out what are the cause and reason that you are here.

We properly know the story well enough to repeat it over and over to our children. It is a sad story, and one that we are all familiar with, and the expression is that a person who is called a Judas is not a nice person to know, for he sold his soul to the Devil.

Some people may have strong disagreement about the final eternal state of the person who was called Judas, one of the twelve apostle of Jesus, who notoriously betrayed his master with a sentimental kiss, his reward for doing so was a mere thirty pieces of silver, hardly enough to make deposit on a new house.

The reason sinners don’t come to Christ easily, it is because somewhere in the back of their minds there are nagging doubts about certain things that they see Christians are doing, which just doesn’t seemed right, some do their wrongs in clandestine corners.

Others are bolder with their notorious behaviour, and they will climb the professional stage, and make their act believable, by reinforcing it with pride of ethics and the legality of their position.

Many who ply their craft this way, see the church as a business for profiting off the world, and whoever gets in their way will get tread upon. This could be the person who has help trained and nurtured them, until they were able to stand in the assembly of those they could only have admired before, but sooner or later when an investigation is on the table, the fame makes them unable to resist the bait, and like the ruthless practices of some business operations, they are persuaded to crush anyone who gets in their way.

They have all accounts prepare for scrutiny, for the love of money is the root of all evil 1 timothy 6:10

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, are thirsty for position in society and in their career prospect, have wandered from the faith and betrayed their integrity, sold their family and friends for what they can get out of it.

Sometimes it’s not so much the money that they are looking for, but the sheer satisfaction of seeing an individual being destroyed and humiliated, this makes them feel important, and make others look on them as someone who has an interest in seeing things improve.

As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” John 13:27

But the backlash is that they will pierced themselves with many grief’s later on down the road in life when they have been found out. Craving for the position of others that they were not called to serve in, but they will use extortion and start hiding behind money, and this makes the greedy bring ruin to their home.

The deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Mark 4:19

The Judases of this century do not operate by careless leverage, they use indirect diversion, career demolition experts, financial backing of those whom they are serving, with carefully planned surprises. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

For example none of the other disciples of Jesus knew what Judas had in his heart to do, they were not aware of the dark gutter into which he wanted to plunge Jesus, his mild tempter gave no clue, but his soul was in utter darkness. In comparison to Peter; who was walking in the light, being loud and brassy, but meant no harm to anyone, Judas was quiet and unassuming, nevertheless, he had found himself in a privilege position, and he was going to make use of his good fortune.

Most of the time the person you least suspected is the one with the jealous agenda.

False friends can show signs to make them appear genuine, they make every effort to be perfect in everything that they do, hardly putting a foot wrong, and you would only know that they are false, when you scrutinise their attitude towards certain things, they are armed with great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the very elect, they are trust worthy, reliable, would never knowingly let you down.

But beware of the wolf in sheep clothing, they will sell you out for position, prestige and money. Friends selling out friends for a handful of barley, what sorrow awaits them? For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother Able? And like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, Dathan and Abiram, they will perish in their rebellion. Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.

Some people will have ask the question, did Judas had a choice or was he predestined to do this evil deed? It’s not such a bad question when you think that there are people living today, who harbour those same type of behaviour as Judas did, we cannot say for certainty that we have seen the last of Judas, for he may yet rise again in the resurrection, but what we can agree upon, is that Judas was one of the chosen disciple of Jesus.

For many are invited, but few are chosen. Matthew 22:14

Many people are called to be disciples of Christ, but not all are chosen, and whiles they are called, they may not venture to believe in the deity of the Lord, they may just be kingdom admirers, with no real relationship with the Holy Ghost, for if you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you would want to behave in a way which demonstrate loyalty to the cause in which you are involved with.

The scripture points to the evidence that Judas never believe in Jesus and he may not have been convinced that Jesus was the messiah, But there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.

The nature of Judas was easily read by Jesus, this foreknowledge of issues is no accident, and Jesus was conscious about what was going to happen to him, he was well informed about his betrayal by one of his own, his death and resurrection. And failing the sympathy for Judas, for many of us having this knowledge would only have led many into enmity.

The lack of faith by Judas speaks volumes, and the same holds true for many today who are living in the shadow of Judas. When you read the synoptic gospels, there is clear indication that Judas not only lacked faith in Christ, but he also had little or no personal relationship with Jesus. But those consistent with a good relationship with Jesus were always listed first.

The pairing of Mary and Judas creates a rhetoric of contrast, for they are both so very different.

The only brief dialogue documented between Jesus and Judas, involves Judas being rebuked by Jesus after his greedy remarks to Mary. When Judas accost Mary for wasting an expensive perfume on Jesus, it was out of his greed to steal he exposed his true feelings about his spiritual commitment. But Mays humble devotion is contrasted by Judas critical stinginess of insincere ambition.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

We will be just like Judas if we fail to recognize that Jesus came into this world, to die for our sins and destroy the works of the devil, and only he alone can provide forgiveness for our sins.

So in the final summary, let us hear the conclusion about Judas, and be warned about close alliance with those characters. The Old Testament prophecy said.

Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” psalms 41:9

Judas was consumed with envy and greed to the point of betraying the trust and loyalty of Jesus, and his fellow disciples, as we have seen in John 12:5 Judas may have desired to follow Jesus simply because he saw the great crowds of people following him, and perhaps believed he could profit from the collections that are taken for the group. In addition to that, Judas he had entertained political ambitions.

He may have followed Jesus hoping to benefit from assumption that most people had at the time, believing the coming Messiah was going to overthrow Roman occupation and take on a position of ruling over the nation of Israel. But Judas betrayal was known to God, and it was planned before hand as the means by which Jesus would be killed.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/christianity-articles/living-in-the-shadow-of-judas-7206687.html

About the Author

I love creative writing, it is just a wonderful way of expressing myself. I have been writing from a tender age, and therefore it gives me a deep sense of satisfaction. To share my articles with others. Writing is a treasured passion inside of me that will never die. I hope one day I can say something that will help others to appreciate the gift of life. In a career spanning over 20 years in Pastoral work. Gerry has decided it is time to enhance his spiritual outlook on broader subjects, and has recently collaborated on a new spiritual manuscript with a friend, compiling and presenting a thorough research work on the book of Revelation.


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Random Mutations?

An example of simulated data modelled for the ...

CMS particle detector on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. Two protons collide, producing two jets of hadrons and two electrons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Ernie Fitzpatrick

I subscribe to the theory that one can now where they are going if they don’t know from whence they have come. I do not accept the theory that the earth was created in seven literal days one October day in 4011 BCE. Not do I embrace the theory that we are the result of some random mutation and therefore going nowhere or having no control over where we might be headed.

As the sage had warned us, “If if don’t stop going where we are headed we will wind up at that place”.

Newtonian and or conventional science tells us that how we got here was from some mysterious BIG BANG that happened 14 billion years ago. The Large Hadron Collider will supply us with the more detailed answers if we can ever keep that project on line and not blow up CERN and the rest of the world before then. But until then, the best that the scientific community can tell us is that through billions of years of gradual evolution driven by random mutations and genetic accidents, we have thus arrived at where we are today.

And people believe this Darwinian dribble?

If evolution of you and I is driven by random events what hope do we have about the future? Can anyone predict the future? But, if Consciousness is more of the answer to life than matter, we have a totally different ball game to be played here on earth and within the universe. We are consciousness and as we become aware and awakened to what that means we increase our ability to change the direction that we are going. We can be far more than we are because in reality we ARE more than we ARE!.

I am not an accident!

We are not here by accident and if there is a message in the Mayan calendar, the Mayans, and other indigenous cultures, it is that they KNEW, that they were CONSCIOUS, and they were privy to more of who they WERE than we today comprehend. It’s not just about technology and intelligence but about the “opening of the head” to the reality of our being. And as more and more come to that awakening, the future now becomes what it is that WE SAY.

The question is will be AWAKEN before we kill ourselves?

About the Author:

As a spiritual-futurist, I have a BA degree majoring in history. One cannot know the future without knowing the past which holds clues to what is on the horizon. The world is in such a rapid expansion of knowledge that we are close to entering a tipping point that will forever change earth as we know it.

Article Source: Random Mutations?

 


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Review – Angels, Demons and Freemasons (DVD)

Reality Films

Are we ruled by a secret society of powerful mystics? Do the Freemasons represent more than just a charitable organization?

Philip Gardiner’s new DVD, Angels, Demons and Freemasons explores these and other intriguing issues, leaving us with just as many questions as answers.

At the heart of Gardiner’s argument is the idea that Freemasonry, along with its hidden rituals and archaic symbolism, embodies centuries of esoteric knowledge once shared among priests, scribes, military elites and the nobility.

Gardiner’s analysis probes deep into the gnostic world of the Egyptian pharaohs, Kabbalistic Judaism, Islamic Sufism, and many types of ancient and medieval alchemy.

All these mystery cults and Freemasonry apparently share one key element—the underground transmission of a stream of covert, illuminated knowledge. And since knowledge is power, those in possession of that knowledge are best positioned to shape the course of history, be it peacefully or through acts of violence.

History demonstrates that individuals have always formed relatively small, hierarchically arranged groups to maximize their power over the masses.

This has been the social dynamic for centuries within Churches and other ruling bodies enjoying both knowledge and power. And so it is today, Gardiner believes, with Freemasonry and some of its allegedly related offshoots.

The contemporary power brokers differ, however, in that neither religion nor nationality figure in their domination. According to Gardiner, the real kingpins of the so-called New World Order are mostly hidden from view and, perhaps equally important, interdenominational and internationally connected.

However, an unanswered question runs throughout this video: Are unique social symbols of the 21st century society, while similar to their ancient roots, consciously (or unconsciously) influencing mankind?

Angels, Demons and Freemasons seems to suggest that the mere presence of these symbols in contemporary artifacts is evidence of secret societies flourishing in the 21st century, replete with esoteric knowledge and power.

English: Jean Baudrillard in 2005

Jean Baudrillard in 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But a postmodern semiotic analysis could interpret things another way.

Jean Baudrillard, for instance, argued that the meaning of signs becomes imploded over time. Although ancient symbols carry on, they take on entirely new meanings (or lack of) in contemporary culture. For Baudrillard we live in the hyperreal consisting of so many distorted or entirely reinvented simulacra. Simulacra are signs once having clear meaning, of all which has changed or vanished in the 21st century.

Not to say that Baudrillard is necessarily correct. One could argue that reinvented signs continue to carry some kind of numinous allure and deeply entrenched significance.¹ For instance, the U.S. dollar bill has the image of a pyramid with an eye in the capstone. And this might make the US bill more appealing on some unconscious level. But is this clear-cut evidence for a secret society operating deep within the US government? Some have argued that, if these societies are so secret, why would they blatantly display their esoteric symbol?¹

Now, to switch gears a little, another point to consider is the New Testament portrayal of Jesus Christ as the King of Heaven, while Satan is deemed the Ruler of This World. Here Gardiner makes the astute observation that practical leaders (and we do need them) ideally possess a healthy balance between mankind’s dual nature of vice and virtue, greed and goodwill.

Organizational leaders are often called upon to make personal sacrifices and difficult compromises in order to render legal decisions among competing interest groups. For Gardiner, this shouldn’t be a free-for-all or raw and brutish survival of the fittest scenario. The wise leader, he says, ideally leans toward the compassionate rather than Machiavellian end of the spectrum.

Concerning personal freedom, theologians might not agree with Gardiner’s view that individual choice is merely the outcome of all preceding influences, a view which seems to omit the possibility of grace and divine intervention while decision making. But these apparent theological differences may be more a matter of semantics than actual difference. For the film closes with an undeniable ray of hope.

Angels, Demons and Freemasons is a thought-provoking film that poses seminal questions about the complexities of power in contemporary society. It should appeal to specialists and intelligent laypersons and serve as a consciousness-raiser for those who, perhaps, put a bit too much stock in what the evening news says.

MC (With minor edits to original of 12/23/09)

¹ (a) See: Is the dollar bill’s eye-on-a-pyramid the symbol of a secret society? http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1064/is-the-dollar-bills-eye-on-a-pyramid-the-symbol-of-a-secret-society .

(b) We can’t assume that ancient simulacra had just one fixed meaning. In ancient Rome, for instance, a huge iron meteorite was a simulacrum (religious representation) of Cybele. But the meaning of Cybele cults was debated and contested, even then.


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The Pope, relationships and the 21st century

Blesed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926)

Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926) – At the suggestion of Pope Leo XIII, Bartolo Longo and the Countess Mariana di Fusco were married on April 7, 1885. The couple remained continent (abstained from intercourse), and continued to do many charitable works and provided for orphaned children and the children of prisoners which for its time was revolutionary. (Text and photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Michael Clark (transcript, with a few edits, from dictation with the Dragon app)

I converted to Catholicism in 2001. I did so for spiritual not political or social reasons. I felt tremendous power and graces within the church, like I’d never felt before. Maybe once or twice I experienced something similar in Protestant churches but never had I encountered anything as powerful and complete as within the Catholic setting. There’s more to the story than that but it’s not really worth going into.

What I would like to talk about it is Pope Francis’ most recent statement that married people who do not have children are selfish. I think that is a ludicrous statement. I also think it will turn off my married friends – without children – who might have otherwise considered going to Mass to see what it’s like. When non-Catholics read statements like that, it’s not going to attract them to the Catholic faith.

Not that my raison d’être is to bring people to the Catholic faith. It’s not. Anyone who knows me knows that I accept and respect people where they’re at. I don’t think Catholicism is appropriate for everyone. And I only encourage people to come with me or check out Mass for themselves if I think they might gain some benefit from it.

Now, to return to the Popes’s latest statement… Several objections came to mind, actually so many that I felt almost overwhelmed. I realized I could spend hours critiquing the Pope’s statement. Luckily, however, I found this blog.

Etheldredasplace – Traditional Catholic Blog

I think the above post (and its comments) provide an excellent discussion on the issue. But there is one facet of the conversation that is not really included. And that is the element of money. Of making a living. Something, by the way, that functional priests and popes don’t really have to worry about.

As discussed at the above link, I agree that a couple could join in a holy relationship primarily for spiritual support, for companionship, to do good works, and to spread spirituality throughout the globe or in their neighborhoods. It is also far easier for two people to make a living and pay the bills than it is for a single person. The Catholic Church, the priests, the clergy—they only have a vicarious grasp of this. Sure, they must perform within a busy schedule (some might say a partially self-legitimizing one). But they also get what could be called “free money.” If the roof starts to leak, the furnace blows, the pipes burst or the walls start to crumble, they don’t really have to fret. The “free money” always seems to magically appear from somewhere. And the very best tradespersons always arrive, pronto.

Most of us don’t have that kind of luxurious financial backup. And anyone who gets “free money” like that and harshly judges others who don’t, well I really think they should ask themselves if they’re in touch with the reality of living, and of making a living, in the 21st century.


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RELIGION/ADAPTATION: God and the Survival of the Human Species

Creation of the Sun and Moon by Michelangelo, ...

Creation of the Sun and Moon by Michelangelo, face detail of God. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Robert DePaolo

A Deistic Conflict

Answering the question of whether God actually exists has always been fraught with complications. Part of the problem lies in the fact that ostensible interactions of God – regardless of the particular faith – have been few and far between. Indeed it is hard to argue with the fact that most of the body of religious doctrine has been purveyed by man. On Sinai only The Ten Commandments were issued in person while the various laws in Deuteronomy seem to have been written by various authors, including  Moses, Joshua and a mysterious set of writers often referred to by biblical scholars as The Yahwist, The Elohist, the Deuteronomist and the Priestly Source.  Thus while a large part of religion is based on conversations of one sort or another between a god and a chosen human being it is the latter’s account that is ultimately used as final purveyor of doctrine.

None of this is necessarily denied by even ardent believers. All Christian scholars know that many of the main tenets of the old and New Testaments  considered divinely conveyed in modern times were in fact decided by various councils during the Middle Ages – including the decision to consider Jesus a God rather than a higher-order profit in the mold of Moses, Isiah or Elijah. The premise behind such decisions was at least derived in part from the teachings of Christ so one could infer the councils were simply relying on an original source. After all he said ‘I am the Way’ in John 14:6. On the other hand, in Luke 18:19 he also said, ‘Why do you call me good when that word applies only to God?’ In that instance Jesus was clearly separating himself from the one true God of the Jews, who after all, viewed themselves as monotheists.

Atheists feed off such inconsistencies, arguing, as Draper (1998) did that since much of religious doctrine is man-made, the idea of a God has little to do with the actual existence of a deity. Some, such as Christopher Hitchens (2007) have argued that the world would be a better place if not for a belief in God, this opinion apparently based on a history of religiously-influenced wars and political tyrannies.

In this opinion that is a rather vacuous argument, not only because it ignores the vast number of altruistic acts that have been conducted in the name of religion but also because most moral concepts regarding peace, adhere to law, fairness, and humaneness adopted by the western world have been heavily influenced by religious mores, particularly those inherent in Judao-Christianity.  Echos of old and new testament laws run throughout the English and American Constitutions…for example the reference in Leviticus 24:19 to an eye for an eye runs parallel to the 8th Amendment in the American Constitution on cruel and unusual punishment. Obviously the same parallels exist between modern law and biblical tenets regarding prohibitions against theft, murder and slander.

But an even stronger argument against atheistic thought can be presented by simply considering the history of religion and its historically adaptive value to our species.

In the Beginning

The first modern humans were nomads (Marlowe 2005). Until roughly 8,000 years ago climatic conditions, lack of knowledge, the lack of availability of certain grains (which had to evolve into more resilient form themselves before being arable) ruled out the possibility of agricultural settlements. During that time man wandered the earth, settling into temporary make-shift homes, periodically following herds. Permanence, and all the cognitive and emotional by-products and potentials of that were yet impossible. The nomadic human tribes had limited capacity to carry objects in their travels, thus left most of their tools behind. In effect they were forced to re-make them, which led to a great deal of behavioral redundancy. That left little time to contemplate possibilities, anxieties, and meaning in general despite their having enough cortical brain mass to do so.  As Bronowski (1973) has pointed out, nomadic life allowed little in the way of existential concerns.

Since value is based on necessity, material possessions were not cherished in the nomadic world. Since travel was essential to survival those who, for one reason or other could not press on were left to die – and likely did so without protest. Life for these groups was moment to moment and confined to the immediacy of their circumstances and needs.

Still, the early humans worshipped gods (Narr 2008). The reasons why were probably myriad. First and foremost was probably the size and construction of their brains – which had reached 1500 centimeters. A brain like that, with delineated speech centers, and a capacity to categorize, memorize and communicate socially, would have attributed events to causes and sources (King, 2007), (Gould, 2007) Since large brains tend to correlate with intense social concerns, these attributors would have caste the causes and sources in at least quasi-personal forms – thus the personification of God.

At the root of what might be called a cognitive-God function are the needs to control, reduce uncertainty and press onward.  While many social scientists have discussed the advantage of evolutionary human brain expansion with respect to increased language capacities, cognitive abilities, tool making, art and creativity in general they miss one very salient disadvantage of having a large brain. While a brain with billions of inter-neuronal connections provides a capacity to think and communicate it also creates a greater potential for ‘noise,’ existential uncertainty and consequently a greater need for ongoing resolution. The large brains bestowed on mankind by nature (and God, if you will) thus set in motion the very need for a God-concept. This process likely began with climatic change during the tail end of the Pleistocene (glaciation) era when resources dried up, travel became both more possible but also more treacherous during migrations across frozen tundra.

A small-brained creature would not contemplate such duress, merely experience it in the moment. Its fate would be either to adapt or die. There would be neither any possibility nor any point in hoping, fretting, worrying about ‘what if.’ Conversely, an animal with a brain of 1500 or so centimeters would. Since uncertainty-fostered duress can lead to avoidance behaviors, some sort of endurance-enhancing cognitive capacity would have had to kick in to rein in all that angst. In that time period the adaptive value of God might have been to sustain human motivation through supra-environmental (i.e. spiritual) cognitions and emotions, so that persistence would increase the likelihood of finding food, water and climatic support. In the aftermath of such discovery, the need of a large brain for closure might lead the nomads to thank/appease an overseer to reinforce his investment in the tribe and express gratitude for his or her concern for their well-being.

The combination of attributional and personifying tendencies probably forced a belief in God for the first humans. In that instance religion was not a symbolic, spiritual mindset but a necessary, adaptive form of cognition facilitating persistence and thus aiding in survival. It was conceivably both necessary and inevitable.

Genesis II.

A second God-adaptation possibly arose with the advent of agricultural societies. When people are able to renew a supply of plant foods without necessarily understanding the biology behind the process, they will perhaps view their good fortune as a function of some sort of outside control. That in turn will lead to gratitude and a need to pay homage to the purveyor of this good fortune. Thus the transition from a nomadic to agricultural/urban life style did not require a cognitive/religious transformation. The settlers hoped for crops to grow, had to wait for seasonal and climatically favorable circumstances and when things turned out well they acknowledged the agent responsible and continued to express their gratitude in the hope that the bounty would continue. (Wilkins 2000). Both nomadic and early agricultural religious practices were adaptive because they facilitated persistence and provided uncertainty reduction.

The continued development and expansion of agriculture societies obviously led to profound social changes, including a more sedentary life style and greater social permanence.  Family members could live together for longer periods of time and all inhabitants had more down time to ponder existential questions. A brain previously driven by movement, faced with moment to moment concerns about geography. resources and destinations was now able to look beyond immediate experience. A distinction between concrete experience and ‘meaning’ was drawn. Ideas on the value and importance of life and the trauma of death became more common and more vivid (Erlich 2000), (Gould, McGarr et. al 2007). A greater capacity for suffering was a consequence of that as the inherent tough-mindedness of the nomad morphed into the more tender and sensitive mindset of the permanent settlers.  To cope with internally-driven angst, to persist despite the specter of death, failure, and the potential loss of new-found prosperity required a continued reliance on the cognition/religion paradigm.

So, once again, God came to the rescue, insulating humans against the existential suffering and enabling mankind to adapt to still newer social and environmental circumstances.

Genesis III

Religious evolution did not end there, for another profound change occurred in human society. While agriculture provided stability and control, not all habitable places on earth were equally arable. Some places lacked water resources, others were too cold or mountainous, still others had agricultural potential but residents lacked knowledge of farming techniques. Yet tribal outsiders traveled about – after all, many were still entrenched in the nomadic life style. They were aware of the existence of milk and honey settlements and wanted in on that. As a result another ironic byproduct of societal advancement occurred in the form of tribal invasion. War became all the rage.

The genes of a primate are very parochial. Somehow, in some way these microscopic bio-conglomerates influence behavior in such a way as to serve the local gene pool. Family ties tend to promote loyalty while the presence of strangers tends to invoke hostility. Up the point of tribal invasions, family ties were not only strong but historically crucial. As evidenced in the Old Testament people in the Middle East/North African settlements were well aware of and arguably obsessed with lineage. One reason for this concern with lineage was to prevent contamination of the local gene pool by outsiders. Religious thought favored that mindset, as seen in the long reference list of progenitors and offspring in Genesis. That cognitive-religious mindset was adaptive because it reinforced altruism within the ranks and consequently the survival of all members of the tribal family. That model persisted down through the epochs depicted in the Bible. Indeed without that, Jesus of Nazareth (being ostensibly from the line of David and born by mandate in David’s town of Bethlehem) could not have risen in the ranks.

Yet even extended families are small in number and insufficient to ward off hordes of invaders. A conflict arose. Consanguine groups had to decide between keeping the family intact at the risk of being overrun by vast armies or increasing their numbers and territorial defensive capabilities by assimilating para-familial members into their community. The solution was discovered at some cost. It was that strangers somehow had to be incorporated and welcomed into an extra-familial socio-political structure

In order to achieve these first forays into social integration required nothing less than a socio-political miracle. For this to occur, the behavioral impetus arising from the most basic elements of life  – the genes – had to be overridden. In effect, nurture had to over-take nature. It was not an easy task, which is why a new religious adaptation was needed and why it did occur.

The newest cognitive/religious adaptation was found in the idea of integration and it was exemplified by Judao-Christian, Buddhist and other religious models.  The God of Abraham accepted Ishmael as future leader of a great nation, despite his biological mother (Hagar) being an Egyptian maid. Moses began as an Egyptian prince before ultimately leading the Hebrews. David united the conflicted twelve tribes to form the state of Israel. The story of the Good Samaritan rose above parochial protest. Jesus reached out to the Roman centurion to heal his servant, and included tax collectors and other outsiders into a more compassionate world view, while Buddha traveled about, espousing not just tribal integration but unity among all life forms. All these integrative ideas heralded at different times, in different places the advent of a new model. It was a credo that met with considerable resistance – and still does, but, just as the industrial growth of the western nations (most notably the U.S.A.) occurred through assimilation of immigrant foreigners, so were the urban settlements in the Middle East ultimately sustained in ancient times. In fact the human race was able to adapt as a result of a religiously-driven idea of overriding both genetic and tribal differences.

Protection from invasion was not the only reason for integrative thought but it conceivably originated in the need to survive against enemy attack and it worked.  In that context, God evolved from a parochial figure to one more concerned with the family of man. He taught us, through the prism of human cognition how to get along when it was absolutely necessary to do so.

Throughout history the cognitive and behavioral byproducts of belief in God have enabled us to adapt, persist and deal with changing pressures, threats and trends. In one sense that would seem to render God flexible, adaptable and perhaps even anthropocentrically utilitarian. And of course a belief in God has led to violent, destructive behavior in the course of time. Still, the overall effect of religion has kept Homo sapiens alive and well through thick and thin, in times when the genes, habits and instincts of mankind would not have been nearly enough – and indeed could have led to our downfall. As to the question of God’s existence: it is hard to resolve such a question in our post-Cartesian, empirically-tinged world. Perhaps a better question has to do with God’s legitimacy. In that context, even if religious belief is not genetically hardwired into the human brain as Hamer (2005) suggested, one could argue that since religion has been an inevitable byproduct of human neurology and human need and since it has enabled our species to persist, adapt and survive, it is virtually built into human experience and perhaps into mind as well. Like our penchant for analyzing nature through the medium of mathematics it seems very much within us – just as the prophets insisted.

REFERENCES

Cauvin, C. Watkins T. The Birth of the Gods and the Origin of Agriculture. Cambridge University Press

Draper, P. (1998) Evolution and the Problem of Evil. In Philosophy of Religion. Ed. Louis Pojman. Wadsworth Publishing. P. 200

Erlich, P. (2000) Human Nature,Genes, Culture and the Human Prospect. Washington, DC Island Press

Gould, S.J. McGarr, P. Steven, P, Russell, R (2007) Challenges to Neo-Darwinism and its Meaning for a Revised View of Human Consciousness. W.W.Norton & Co.

Hamer, D. (2005) The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes. Anchor Books

Hitchens, C. (2007) God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Twelve/Hachette Book Group, USA Warner Books

Jesus reference re; I am the Way. In John 14:6

Jesus reference re:  Why do you call me good? In Luke 18:19

King, B (2007) Evolving God; A Provocative View on the Origin of Religion. Doubleday Publishing

Lieberman, P. (1984) The Biology and Evolution of Language. Cambridge, Harvard University Press.

Marlowe, F.W. (2005) Hunter-Gatherers and Human Evolution. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News and Reviews. 14 (2) 54-67

Narr, K.J. (2008) Prehistoric Religion. Britannica On-Line Encyclopedia

Wilkins, j. (Aug 2000) Agriculture and the Rise of Religion. Evolving Thought. Science Blog.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/religion-articles/religionadaptation-god-and-the-survival-of-the-human-species-7193824.html

About the Author

Robert DePaolo, MS Clinical Psychology, former Professor of Psychology NH University System, author of five books and many articles on science, religion, politics, psychology and music.

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