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Are we living in an overmedicalized society?

People talk about the water supply, and water shortages in California. How many stop to consider all those “medications” (a bit of a euphemism, in some cases) that are being urinated into the water supply? And why isn’t this kind of drug problem making the headlines?


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A Conflict of the Conservative Vision

Originally posted on Marmalade:

There is one popular framework of politics that I often think about. It is the basis of a book by Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions. I was introduced to it by my conservative father.

Sowell theorizes that the political right and left are defined by two distinct visions. Conservatives and right-wingers are supposedly adherents of a constrained vision. Whereas liberals and left-wingers are supposedly adherents of an unconstrained vision.

For some reason, this popped back into my mind on my walk this morning. Two thoughts occurred to me.

First, I’m not sure how accurate it is. I always feel the need to clarify that conservatism and liberalism are not necessarily the same thing as conservative-mindedness and liberal-mindedness. This is one of those cases where that is an important distinction to keep in mind.

Sowell is most directly talking about psychological predispositions here. But he seems to be assuming…

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Hindus dismayed after 2nd temple vandalism in 2 weeks in Seattle metropolitan area

English: The top of the Space Needle in Seattl...

The top of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to Earthpages.org

Hindus nationwide are highly concerned after reports of various broken windows and scrawling of word “FEAR” at Kent Hindu Temple wall in Washington State late February 26 night.

This was second such incident in recent days in Seattle metropolitan area after scrawling of “GET OUT” on Bothell Hindu Temple was discovered on February 15. In addition, a Hindu grandfather was roughed-up by police in Madison (Alabama) on February six resulting in partial paralysis. These two vandalized temples are about 34 miles apart from each other in Seattle metropolitan area of Washington State.

Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that it was shocking for the hard-working, harmonious and peaceful US Hindu community numbering about three million; who had made lot of contributions to the nation and society; to receive such signals of hatred and anger.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged administration for swift action to regain the falling confidence of the Hindu community.

Zed suggested that basics of major world religions should be taught in high schools of the country and first responders should be imparted cultural competency training so that we understood each other better in view of increasing diversity of the country. Zed urged fellow Hindus to educate Americans about Hinduism, the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents, and try to remove any misconceptions about it.

Zed pointed out that reasons for the success of the US Hindu community in the areas of education, wealth and long-lasting harmonious marriages were because of their continuing with the traditional values of hard work, higher morals, stress on education, sanctity of marriage, etc., in USA amidst so many distractions.

Kent Hindu Temple (Sanatan Dharma Temple and Cultural Center), a non-profit organization formed in 2002, opens daily and besides regular worship services, also organizes festivals; Indian music, dance and language classes; yoga; weekly children’s-parents’ activities; etc. Jugal Thakor is Temple President, while Rishikesh Tiwari is the Priest. Holi, annual festival of color, is scheduled for March eight.


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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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Zed dubs Vatican assembly on women equality without priesthood talk “a joke”

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to Earthpages.org

Vatican assembly on women’s equality in Rome from February 4-7 despite big fanfare seemed like a joke as there was no discussion proposed on women priesthood, Rajan Zed said in Nevada (USA) today.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that the outline document of this “equality” assembly clearly stated that “There is no discussion here of women priests, which according to statistics is not something that women want,” without mentioning the source of such “statistics”. But this document irrelevantly and strongly denounced plastic surgery, quoting it as “burqa made of flesh”.

Zed further said that Holy See being the largest religious organization in the world with about 1.2 billion adherents should show exemplary leadership in women equality to the rest of the planet by ordaining women priests.

When Church of England could consecrate a female bishop (January 26) overturning centuries of tradition, why can’t Roman Catholic Church ordain women? Zed asked.

Zed stressed that women could disseminate God’s message as skillfully as men and deserved equal and full participation and access in religion. What was the relevance of such assemblies on “equality” when the Church’s Cannon Law 1024 clearly said—Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination.

Zed urged His Holiness Pope Francis to introduce some “real equality” by reconsidering favorably the ordination of women priests. As women were equal partners in the society, they should be equal partners in Church also, Zed added. He urged Vatican to be more kind to Roman Catholic women as exclusion of women from some religious services, just because they were female, was very unfair and ungodly.

Quoting Hindu scriptures, Rajan Zed says: Where women are honored, there the gods are pleased. Men and women are equal in the eyes of God and religions should respect that, Zed notes and adds that time has now come for the women priests and bishops.

Zed suggested that theologians and canonists of the Church needed to address women ordination issue urgently; re-evaluate Church doctrine, theology, male hierarchy and history; and give women a chance. Women should be ordained to priesthood and should perform the same functions as male priests. Treating women as not equal to men was clearly a case of discrimination promoting gender inequality.

Even the image illustrating this Vatican “equality” assembly was disturbing, which showed a naked woman without head-arms-legs in bondage bound with rope, which seemed some kind of erotic fantasy. Vatican should display more maturity, seriousness and responsibility towards women, Rajan Zed indicated.


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The YouTube Interview with President Obama

Originally posted on OK, Fine.:

Yesterday, YouTube personalities Bethany Mota, GloZell Green and Hank Green interviewed President Obama about the top issues facing them and their audiences.

Fox News expressed outrage, claiming that President Obama’s interviews with three YouTube stars were “beneath the dignity of the office.”

(Video 46 minutes long)

The White House

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