According to the much sneered at, and much feared, Mayan Apocalypse, tomorrow marks the end of the world. I’m inclined to believe this is true. I don’t, however, expect the earth to explode into a giant ball of cosmic dust or some plague rivaling the Black Death. What I do see, however, is change on a massive scale, greater even than that which occurred when the Soviet Union collapsed.
The changes we’ll see began four years ago and will now accelerate. They relate directly to Barack Obama and the three defining characteristics of his presidency: fiscal irresponsibility, weak world leadership, and a realignment of American interests in Europe and the Middle East.
On the economic front, what we can expect in the future is continued American decline, with Americans expecting and accepting a constantly lower standard of living. The Progressives have us on the road to regression: little houses; little, unsafe cars; empty store fronts; increased homelessness; product shortages; and, of course, the social unrest the inevitably follows upon economic instability or decline. In other words, the end of the American world as we know it.
Image courtesy shutterstock / TijanaM
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As every Jew will tell you, in the traditional Jewish calendar Hanukkah is not big deal. It reached its present status because it happens to fall at the same time as Christmas. Jewish parents, therefore, turned it into a gift-giving holiday so that their children didn’t feel completely left out from the happy, generous, celebratory Christmas season.
The fact that it’s not a big religious holiday, though, doesn’t mean that Hanukkah doesn’t commemorate an extremely important event, one that has enduring meaning to all freedom seeking individuals. For those who don’t know it, the story of Hanukkah is as follows:
Since time immemorial, nations have fought over that small patch of land we now call Israel. Considering that nature was less than generous in endowing Israel with fresh water or arable land, there must indeed be something special about the Holy Land, some transcendent aura, that has made it such a tantalizing prize to so many nations and people.
In 168 B.C.E., Greek soldiers located in modern-day Syria seized the great Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and defiled it by dedicating it to Zeus. Jews were appalled and offended, but still passively accepted this insult, for fear of incurring even greater wrath from the Greeks. Human nature, though, is human nature, and you cannot appease a tyrant. Heartened by Jewish passivity, the very next year, Antiochus, the Syrian-Greek emperor, mandated that any Jews who observed Jewish rituals would be put to death. Just to make sure he was completely clear, he also ordered that all Jews must affirmatively worship the Greek gods.
image courtesy shutterstock / Wally Stemberger
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VIDEO of 2 and a Half Men Star: ‘You Cannot Be a True God-Fearing Person and Be on a Television Show Like That.’
Actor Angus T. Jones, star of CBS’s raunchy television comedy “Two and a Half Men”, has urged viewers to change the channel, saying his new-found religious beliefs are at odds with his job playing a fun-loving teen on the popular show.
Jones, 19, who has played Jake Harper – the son of Jon Cryer’s character Alan – for nine years, appealed to fans to stop watching the show “and filling your head with filth.”
TMZ is reporting that the executives on “Two and a Half Men” and at Warner Bros. have seen Jones’s video where he calls the show “filth,” but that neither Jones nor his representatives have contacted the higher ups to announce his departure. At the same time, executive producer Chuck Lorre hasn’t responded to Jones’s comments yet either, a Zap2It television blog reported today.
Jones is headed in to a “Two and a Half Men” rehearsal this morning, according to Zap2It.
In a YouTube video made for the California-based Forerunner Christian Church, Jones said his recent Bible studies made him uncomfortable with the risque humor that marks one of the most-watched comedies on U.S. television.
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The Papyrus of Ani was created in Egypt about 1250 B.C. It represents the best preserved, longest, most ornate, and beautifully executed example of the form of mortuary text known as The Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Ani was an important Temple scribe. He and his wife Tutu chose from among some 200 available prayers, hymns, spells, and ritual texts the 80 that most appealed to them. Their completed scroll measured some 78 feet long by 15 inches in height. Their likenesses were painted among the elaborately crafted hieroglyphic vignettes. This individualized papyrus roll would be buried with them, with the intention of opening a gateway in the afterlife. If successful in persevering through the trials they encountered there, they would be free to eventually feast and dally with the gods.
As a magical, polytheistic religion, the Egyptian faith was alive with creativity and energy. It involved a continuous interaction between the individual and the various deities who constituted its elaborate and exalted pantheon. The dignity afforded the observant Egyptian was an invigorating state. One who had led an upright moral life, had shown respect to the gods, and been strong enough to proceed through the dangers and trials of the afterlife, was invited to join the gods—playing board games in beautiful fields, drinking beer, eating, even making love. The successful adherent would reach a stellar glory of his own, at last a member of that hierarchy he had honored throughout his life.
The prayers of The Egyptian Book of the Dead are connected to certain archetypal images. Thus an invocation to Osiris, the Lord of the Underworld, will be written within a painting (or vignette) of that deity. The meaning of the scene is a marriage of word and image, reaching well beyond the merely verbal level of comprehension. One of the best known examples is the Weighing of the Heart scene below. The heart (the moral integrity of the deceased, his conscience) is weighed against the feather of Truth and Justice. If the cumulative effects of a person’s life have allowed his soul to be as light as the feather of Truth, he or she is judged pure and allowed to continue on with the journey. However, if the person’s heart is weighted down with the burden of sin, his soul is flung to the great monster who awaits the recording of the verdict and is no more.
Plate 3: The Weighing of the Heart. (As restored © 1994, 1998 James Wasserman)
In 1888, Ani’s papyrus was acquired by Sir E.A. Wallis-Budge, assistant Keeper of the Egyptian Collection at the British Museum and author of numerous books on ancient Near Eastern civilizations. He described the Papyrus as the largest he had ever seen. “… I was amazed at the beauty and freshness of the colours of the human figures and animals, which in the dim light of the candles and heated air of the tomb, seemed to be alive.” Budge recognized the Papyrus of Ani was the greatest of such scrolls ever found.
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A grand and powerful woman I once knew died after two encounters with cancer and a devastating stroke took her from the realm of normal life into the storm tossed waters that surround us all on every side. She’d never been a religious woman and, growing up in a segregated South where so many churches and churchgoers defended a brutal system of institutionalized injustice and cruelty, she was always a rebel against the conventional piety and ritualized religious life she saw around her.
But late in her life when the winds around her howled and the dark waters were rising, she was driven to face the truth behind the illusions and the pretense, and told the person she loved best in all the world that “I’ve made my peace with God.”
That is something we all need to do. It involves a recognition of our helplessness and insufficiency before the mysteries and limits of life. Like the First Step in the Twelve Step programs, it begins with an acknowledgment of failure and defeat. We each try to build a self-sufficient world, a sturdy little life that is proof against storms and disasters — but none of us can really get that done.
Strangely, that admission of weakness opens the door to a new kind of strength. To acknowledge and accept weakness is to ground our lives more firmly in truth, and it turns out that to be grounded in reality is to become more able and more alive. Denial is hard work; those who try to stifle their awareness of the limits of human life and ambition in the busy rounds of daily life never reach their full potential.
To open your eyes to the fragility of life and to our dependence on that which is infinitely greater than ourselves is to enter more deeply into life. To come to terms with the radical insecurity in which we all live is to find a different and more reliable kind of security. The joys and occupations of ordinary life aren’t all there is to existence, but neither are the great and all-destroying storms. There is a calm beyond the storm, and the same force that sends these storms into our lives offers a peace and security that no storm can destroy. As another one of the psalms puts it, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Accepting your limits and your dependence on things you can’t control is the first step on the road toward finding that joy.
Via Meadia hopes that all our readers survived Hurricane Sandy with their lives intact and their property whole. And more than that, we hope that our readers will take the opportunity that a storm like this offers, step back from their daily lives, and reach out to the Power who plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm. Getting the right connection with the highest power of all not only gives you a place of refuge when the big storm finally comes; it transforms daily life and infuses ordinary occupations with greater meaning and wonder than you ever understood.
Hat tip: A
Image courtesy shutterstock / dundanim
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Are people stilling buying into the whole 2012 Mayan Doomsday thing, you may ask yourself? The answer, we can report from a well of near-infinite sadness, is yes, because many people are stupid. Now, an alliance of Mayans in Guatemala is demanding that the government’s tourism agency halt a planned celebration of the end of days on December 21st, saying that the festival twists and bastardizes the beliefs of a community in a shameless grab for tourism dollars. No word yet on how the tourism agency has responded, though we assume it will be something along the lines of ”Um, yeah — that’s what tourism agencies do.” Which, in all honesty? Pretty fair.
The group said in a statement that popular readings of the end of this cycle of the Mayan calendar as heralding a doomsday scenario or the end of the world twists the meaning of the original Mayan in the interest of putting on a bunch of big stupid parties and producing a number of big stupid films and documentaries. In a statement, the group pointed out that a more accurate reading of the Mayan calendar entering a new time cycle “means there will be big changes on the personal, family and community level, so that there is harmony and balance between mankind and nature.”
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‘If Everyone Could Spend Even Six Months as a Crematory Operator, the World Would Be a Far Better Place.’
Caitlin Doughty, 28, has found success working in the death business.A Los Angeles-based mortician, Doughty grew up in Hawaii and, she says, had “a proclivity towards the macabre.” She got her start as a crematory operator. Currently, she is working on a memoir about her years handling the dead and runs the Order of the Good Death, a group that seeks to inspire others to find the beauty in death.
What’s the difference between being a mortician and being a funeral director?
Mortician, funeral director, and undertaker are basically the same thing. Funeral director is the more fancy, sanitized, modern title. I like mortician best because I’d like to think I’m a practitioner of death, not just a director of funerals.
I get the heebie-jeebies when I think about handling a dead body.
That’s a normal reaction, because we never see them anymore. Like being a crematory operator, handling a corpse is something everyone should do. They remind us that we, too, will die, which is a thought process we’re missing.
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Dr Eben Alexander, a Harvard-educated neurosurgeon, fell into a coma for seven days in 2008 after contracting meningitis.
During his illness Dr Alexander says that the part of his brain which controls human thought and emotion “shut down” and that he then experienced “something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death.” In an essay for American magazine Newsweek, which he wrote to promote his book Proof of Heaven, Dr Alexander says he was met by a beautiful blue-eyed woman in a “place of clouds, big fluffy pink-white ones” and “shimmering beings”.
He continues: “Birds? Angels? These words registered later, when I was writing down my recollections. But neither of these words do justice to the beings themselves, which were quite simply different from anything I have known on this planet. They were more advanced. Higher forms.” The doctor adds that a “huge and booming like a glorious chant, came down from above, and I wondered if the winged beings were producing it. the sound was palpable and almost material, like a rain that you can feel on your skin but doesn’t get you wet.”
Dr Alexander says he had heard stories from patients who spoke of outer body experiences but had disregarded them as “wishful thinking” but has reconsidered his opinion following his own experience.
(CNSNews.com) – A survey by the Pew Research Center discovered that 2.4 percent of Americans say they are atheists and 3.3 percent say they are agnostic.
Among the atheists and agnostics, however, 6 percent said they pray daily.
Another 11 percent of the atheists and agnostics concede that they pray only weekly or monthly.
“About eight-in-ten atheists and agnostics seldom or never pray (82 percent),” said Pew in its analysis of its survey.
Hat Tip: AH
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The rumor is that Harvard Theological Review is now declining to publish Karen King’s paper available here as a draft pdf on the Coptic fragment she calls the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” It’s a rumor that appears to be true, as New Testament scholar Craig Evans writes:
Is the Coptic papyrus, in which Jesus speaks of his “wife,” a fake? Probably. We are far from a “consensus,” but one scholar after another and one Coptologist after another has weighed in pointing out serious problems with the paleography, the syntax, and the very troubling fact that almost all of the text has been extracted from the Gospel of Thomas principally from logia 30, 101, and 114. I suspect the papyrus itself is probably quite old, perhaps fourth or fifth century, but the oddly written or painted letters on the recto side are probably modern and probably reflect recent interest in Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The decision of the editors of Harvard Theological Review not to publish Karen King’s paper is very wise. Perhaps we will eventually learn more about who actually produced this text.
The ultimate source is apparently the great Harvard scholar Helmut Koester.
The academic world is quickly becoming skeptical about the ancient provenance of this fragment. Perhaps more interesting and of more enduring significance than the fragment itself is the role the internet has played in the debate. We have had a draft of King’s paper, photos of the fragment itself, and serious and measured responses from leading scholars all made available to the public, along with the typical professional hysteria in the media and amateur hysteria in the blogosphere.
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On a practical level, we take an apple which is sweet not a green, tart tasting apple and dip it into sweet honey, as a tangible reflection of our trust and prayers that G-d will grant us all a sweet year.Why specifically an apple? There is also symbolism implicit in the apple. Solomon writes, referring to the romance between G-d and the Jewish people, Song of Songs 8:5, “Beneath the apple tree I aroused you[r love].” On Rosh Hashanah we try to, once again, remind G-d of our mutual love.
Yesterday via Days of Reflection and Rededication « Commentary Magazine.
Sundown tonight marks the start of the Jewish New Year that begins with the celebration of Rosh Hashanah. The ten days from the start of this holiday until the end of Yom Kippur next week are known in Judaism as the Days of Awe. During this time, Jews are asked to reflect on their deeds in the past year and seek to account for them to their Creator as well as their fellow human beings. This period of introspection should cause all of us to think about what we have done or not done and to contemplate what can be done to do better. Indeed, as Americans contemplate the final weeks of the presidential campaign it is an apt moment for all of us to look at the issues facing the nation in a sober and honest manner.
And a video via Adam Levick at CIF Watch:
Aussie Dave at Israelly Cool also collects a variety of Rosh Hashanah greetings and videos, here are three of them, make a point to visit him for more:
Seven Steps to Better-Than-Reality Dreams
Dreams: Cool-ass movies you can watch for free with no download times and which often star you and often have porn. They can even tell the future (maybe), help resolve the past and give you insight into the present. What’s not to love about these flickery little bastards? Next time you’re complaining about life, just remember this: your brain, clever fucker that it is, has automatically provided for a good solid few hours every day where you get to be the star of the show, unicorns are real, you can fly, you get to have any kind of sex you want, and also Rodney Dangerfield is trying to kill you with a machete for stealing the plans to the replica of the Empire State Building he’s constructing from light and candy in his garage. Wait, forget that last one. That’s, uh, personal.
A lot of people complain they don’t remember their dreams. That can be fixed. A lot of people claim their dreams are boring. That can be fixed, too. In fact, turns out that dreaming is a skill you can build just like any other with a little persistence and some simple techniques. With a little practice, you can activate Lucid Dream Mode and have conscious control while dreaming.
So if you’re ready to throw out the TV and the YouTubes and get into some real deep inner territory, like balls deep, read on:
1. Write your dreams down every morning. This is the most important thing in this list. If you don’t do anything else, do this. Get a journal, stick it by the bed with a pen, and write down all the crazy shit you remember from your dreams the instant you wake up. Don’t stall; if you switch gears even a bit to check your e-mail or take a shower, you’re going to lose most, if not all, of what you dreamt. The more you do this, the more you’ll remember from your dreams. This is basically the lock and key that opens up your dreamspace. The more detail you record, the more detail you’ll remember the next night, and the more you’ll start to gain control of what you’re dreaming.
2. Set your intention. Tell yourself what you want to dream about before you go to sleep. Visualize the type of dream you want to have. Ask yourself a question. Pick one thing, and stick to it; maybe write it in your dream journal and then see how you net out in the morning. Coupled with the practice of dream journalling, this will help you gain more and more control over the dream state, allowing you access to new capacities for problem solving and satisfaction.
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