According to Boxofficemojo.com, Marvel’s The Avengers ranks as the third most successful film of all time with a global haul of $1.5 billion. Rotten Tomatoes notes the alignment of critics (92% approval) and audiences (96%.) Like other epic fantasy franchises at the top of the list — from Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter and The Matrix — The Avengers resonates universally with audiences and critics across the globe because of its exciting reinventions of classical mythology, religious metaphor, and esoteric symbols.
What follows is my attempt to unpack some of these references and describe what I believe to be their cumulative effect: The Avengers is the best superhero film yet made, both in its entertainment level and moral values. Over at the Weekly Standard, Jonathan V. Last and Travis D. Smith can have their debate of Batman vs Spider-Man. The Avengers rise over them both, providing a much richer fantasy for young people to embrace as they begin the journey toward adulthood.
1. The Invigorating “Live to Rise” Theme Song Explicitly Reveals the Film’s Hidden Hermetic Goal: Directing the Viewer to Understand Their Life as an Expression of the Rise, Fall, Death, and Resurrection of the Sun.
The lyrics to the new Soundgarden song — embedded above — used prominently in the film’s advertising and closing credits:
What if all you understand,
Could fit into the center of our hand,
Then you found it wasn’t you,
Who held the sum of everything you knew,
Like the sun we will live to rise,
Like the sun we will live and die,
And then ignite again,
Like the sun we will live to rise again,
Dr. Israel Regardie’s The One Year Manual: Twelve Steps to Spiritual Enlightenment offers a series of short chapters with practical exercises for improving one’s life. The book distills a lifetime’s worth of engagement with Hermeticism to transform a spiritual practice cloaked in mystery and confusion into an accessible tool for those of all faith traditions.
The book’s exercises involve instruction in prayer, relaxation, rhythmic breathing, meditative ritual, and the development of concentration. Throughout the text Regardie draws from ancient Egyptian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and scientific traditions to show how one can plug in any deity and use the book’s rituals to help grow closer to one’s conception of the Higher Power.
My friend Rob Taylor suggested The One Year Manual to me last December and I experimented with its techniques throughout 2012. I agree with the author that the book’s first exercise — the Four Adorations — is the most essential and the only one to practice daily, which I do:
In former great ages, man realized intuitively his relationship to nature and to the living universe in which he lived and was a part. He felt his unity with all the elements. In the fullness of his life he worshipped the Sun as a visible symbol of the unknown God in whom we live and move and have our being. It is axiomatic that light is life and both are dependent upon the Sun — which thus becomes a vital symbol of God.
In our modern scientific age of gadgets and things, with our unnatural way of life divorced from contact with the dynamic root of things, we may once more progress towards the full awareness of the source of life and love and liberty, we make ritual gestures of affirming a link between the Sun and ourselves. Upon the basis of these gestures of adoration, every act in life may be dedicated in such a way that living itself becomes sanctified and transformed.
Though God is a unity, the Sun, as a symbol of God, appears differently at each of its four daily stations — dawn, noon, sunset and midnight. Therefore an adoration is directed towards the Sun at each of these four stations.
At dawn, or upon arising, he should perform whatever abulations are customary and then turning towards the East, say audibly:
Hail unto Thee who art Ra in thy rising,
Even unto Thee who art Ra in thy strength,
Who travellest over the Heavens in Thy bark
At the Uprising of the Sun.
Tahuti standeth in His splendour at the prow
And Ra-Hoor abideth at the helm.
Hail unto Thee from the Abodes of the Night!
Much of the symbolism inherent in this simple adoration may be missed by the student for some considerable time. It does not matter just yet. But this should not be permitted to serve as an obstacle to daily practice, nor to deter him from adoring God in the form of the rising Sun every day of his life.
Regardie then explains how the prayer changes at each time of day with different Egyptian gods representing the sun later at noon, sunrise, and night. Here’s a hieroglyph depicting the image of the prayer and the deities referenced: Tahuti (Thoth, the ankh,) Ra-Hoor (Horus the Hawk-headed), and the sun deity Ra (the solar disk):
The great value of the “Four Adorations” comes not in the words of the prayer or the Egyptian gods Regardie suggests. Evangelical Christians could just as easily substitute God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. What matters is how the prayer — adapted from the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead — breaks up the idea of God into multiple parts, asserting that individual deities can only express aspects of a Transcendent God existing beyond human comprehension. We can only hold pieces of God in our head at a time.
What if all you understand,
Could fit into the center of our hand,
Then you found it wasn’t you,
Who held the sum of everything you knew,
Here we see the mechanism for the gradual transition from polytheism to monotheism. It’s not just a matter of belief in one god versus the worship of many. The revolution came not in the idea of a single deity, but an abstract deity defined not in a single symbol — like a Golden Calf — but in the ongoing transformation of one symbol into another. In the Judeo-Christian monotheism that arose out of the polytheism of the Mediterranean world, God was not a Thing. God was the invisible process through which nothing transforms into something. God isn’t a man sitting up in the clouds or an animal-headed supernatural being sailing across the sky in a boat. God is the four-fold process we see manifest in the rise of the sun and the turn of the seasons. And the more we worship this process — Regardie recommends stopping at the same time every day for a moment of reflection and devotion — the more we can apply it to transform ourselves and our world.
Its with this Hermetic understanding — God as a process of continual death and resurrection, “Like the sun we will live to rise again,” — that I approach the heroes and villains of The Avengers with the Tarot deck in hand. The cards each represent aspects of this process of transformation. They are not a fortune-telling or future-predicting device any more than the future changes when the individual seeing the cards chooses to respond to the reminder of the values they represent.
The next 8 pages will each focus on the mythological significance of each hero and villain in The Avengers. The conclusion will explore what story pours out after all these elements liquify in the blender of cinema. My apologies for the length — this is really more of a short ebook rather than a long article. Caveat emptor.
We begin first with the film that carved a space for Marvel at the box office, 2008′s Iron Man and its brilliant, capitalist-hero Tony Stark, an exciting reinvention of the suit of Swords (spades in the playing card deck) fueled by a $140 million budget.
So last week, in what was perhaps a moment of madness, I posted a request on my Facebook page: Tell me your political predictions for the year. Among the more restrained answers: “Hyperinflation,” “Civil War,” “financial collapse,” “terribly awful things.”
Optimist though I am, I can’t help feeling there’s something to this downhearted consensus. After living through the most peaceful and prosperous half century that any nation has ever experienced in the history of humankind, it seems impossible to believe we would re-elect a mediocre reactionary out to “fundamentally transform” our success into failure. But we did, and that’s — well, let’s call it “less than cheering.”
On the other hand…
One of the central weaknesses of radicalism is that radicals seem to lose track of the causes and foundations of the things even they value. They don’t understand that peace is always and everywhere the end result of superior firepower, improved health the result of greater wealth, wealth the result of hard-headed and often greedy business dealing, and liberty deeply linked to a specific concept of man’s relationship to God. They never consider that it may at least be questionable whether the cornerstone can be removed without the structure toppling over.
Conversely, one of the central weaknesses of conservatism is that conservatives see all too clearly how every good thing we have is linked to everything else. They can trace in a moment how any change in the system might lead to disaster. Expand the definition of marriage and civilization falls. Raise taxes and end up in chains. Allow women to vote and government will become an all-embracing, over-protective mother state infantilizing the population. Okay, maybe that last one’s true, but you see what I’m getting at.
In 1967 the Beatles song “When I’m Sixty-Four” appeared on the now iconic Sgt. Pepper album, and many, including this writer, considered age 64 “old.” (Of course, I was only 12, but 64 was old at that time.)
But when General Norman Schwarzkopf recently died at age 78, I did not consider him old.
So what happened to change my view of when old age begins?
Well for starters, I got old along with the 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 who are affectionately known as “baby boomers.” Boomers transformed America at every stage of life. Unfortunately, our nation was totally unprepared for all the change we brought every step of the way and now is no different.
Last year at an Aging in America conference, Ken Dychtwald, CEO of the consulting firm AgeWave, summed it up like this:
“We weren’t prepared for the boomers,” he said. “There weren’t enough hospitals or pediatricians. There weren’t enough bedrooms in our homes. There weren’t enough schoolteachers or textbooks or playgrounds. The huge size of this generation has strained institutions every step of the way.”
Then Dychtwald compared his New Jersey high school, with such overcrowding that students had to go to classes in shifts, to what’s in store for aging baby boomers in the coming decades.
“The boards of education had 13 years to see this coming. What was the surprise there?” said Dychtwald. “But it’s the same today with senior care and geriatric medicine and continuum of care. It’s staggering how unprepared we are.”
Yes, it is staggering indeed — and, as the saying goes, “we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
For 2013 at PJ Lifestyle we’re going to try to organize the seemingly endless abyss of “Lifestyle” topics with a general theme each day. These appear on the About Us page and include links to some of the articles we’ve published this past year:
We try to blog on seven general subjects each week from a variety of perspectives that do not always agree. The topics include:
Every Tuesday, we post career advice, self-improvement tips, product reviews, and how-to guides as well as blogs on entrepreneurship, disaster preparation, gardening, and self-sufficiency.
The middle of the week requires some laughter. That’s why every Wednesday we’ll have humorous pieces featuring satire, viral videos, goofy images and amusing photoshops, cute animals, slideshow galleries and other memes from across the Web.
On Thursday, PJ Lifestyle is your go-to place for the latest info on pop culture – ranging from movies, TV, novels, music and celebrities – as well as posts about other cultures – like military culture, counterculture, California culture, traditional culture, international culture, odd subcultures, geek culture – and more.
Spend Saturdays finding new recipes and cooking tips, learning about new ways to exercise and stay healthy, reading medical stories, and keeping up with sports and outdoor life.
And on Sundays, you’ll find content featuring interfaith dialogue, religion-based commentary, and posts on spirituality, ethics and morality.
One of the most important contributors to PJ Lifestyle this year has been Charlie Martin. His Thirteen Weeks diet and and exercise regimen has been an inspiration. This past fall Charlie has updated us every week on his progress to improve his health and live a long, long life. We’re going to try to provide more content like this — but on all seven subjects. Not just blog posts pontificating on what should be, but articles documenting what we do. Too often as writers and bloggers we forget that these New Media tools aren’t the end. They’re merely the means to whatever end we want to pursue and achieve. And at PJ Lifestyle that end is a happier, more fulfilling, richer life appreciating all the possibilities of what it means to be free.
I’ve decided on 7 New Year’s Resolutions this year, each corresponding with one of these themes and inspiring my daily blogging. I invite others to join me and offer their suggestions.
On Christmas Eve, gather up your loved ones and to listen to Amy Grant sing Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song).
This is my favorite modern Christmas song and one I cannot listen to without tearing up.
The song takes you inside the mind and heart of the person who would become the world’s most revered Jewish teenage mother as she is about to give birth, in the most difficult of circumstances, to a baby she was chosen to bear — the One who will impact the world like no other.
Merry Christmas to all and especially those who truly love this mother and Baby.
With over 40 million views, this video captures the essence of the article you are about to read.
A funny thing happened “on the way” as I was contemplating writing this piece. While listening to a Christian radio station the announcer said, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
At that moment this very familiar phrase hit me like a thunderbolt. For not only is “Jesus the reason for the season,” but Jesus is the reason our world, nation, history, culture and society are the way they are.
So regardless of whether you believe in Jesus, practice another faith, or are devoid of faith, Jesus has impacted you by virtue of the fact that you are alive.
For no person has affected mankind – past, present and future –more than this Jewish teacher who lived over 2000 years ago, whose birth we will celebrate with great fanfare.
Although Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were the impetus behind His followers’ establishing Christianity, the world’s largest religion itself is only the starting point for the influence Jesus spawned in countless non-religious venues as people over the centuries were moved and motivated by Him to express themselves in a multitude of ways that we continue to see played out everyday across the planet.
With so many examples of Jesus Christ’s effect on mankind it is impossible to even mention them all in this short piece — the purpose of which is to not only enhance your celebration of “the reason for the season” but to also increase your awareness of just how much Jesus impacts the world around you every day of the year.
If after reading this piece you are moved to delve deeper into this topic, I recommend a book published in 1994 that has since become a “modern classic,” What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, co-authored by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy and the still very much alive Jerry Newcombe.
This book had a profound influence on me as it oriented my thinking about Jesus in ways that I had never contemplated.
So here in alphabetical order is only a short, incomplete list of the most obvious “non-religious” aspects of how Jesus Christ has impacted the world.
Victoria Soto, the Sandy Hook Elementary teacher slain in the Newtown massacre is being praised the world over as a hero – and rightly so. But is America being taught the true lesson of Soto’s sacrifice?
The reactions to the massacre in Newtown do not illustrate our culture’s value of human life so much as our desire to engineer the society in which we live. Whether the call for more gun control or less, the root of the argument is the same: human beings can create a perfect society through government, despite the fact that history has repetitively shown the exact opposite to be true.
Social engineering, an outgrowth of the industrial revolution, values human beings as assembly-line manufactured cogs in a wheel. Designed for a specific task, these human cogs are trained through government programming to follow bureaucratic blueprints for the creation and maintenance of a perfect society. This Marx-meets-manufacturing perspective may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but it continues to emerge over the course of human history. Ideas that sound innocent in theory are enacted with deadly results. Take, for example, one of the most grossly influential theories of social engineers in the late 1800s: Eugenics. This mad “science” that sprouted from Darwin’s Theory of Evolution posited that human beings could be determined “inferior” or “superior” based on their genetic makeup. This racial theory had as much influence on Margaret Sanger as it did Adolf Hitler. Both sought to engineer a “perfect” society and whether abortion or Holocaust, the result has been the same: A deadly lack of respect for the sanctity of human life.
It took less than an hour after we first learned about the events in Newtown for commentators to begin pontificating about gun control laws. We were never given an opportunity to mourn the dead. Those murdered were not valued as human beings, but as cogs to be used in the mechanical argument over the definition of a government-created perfect society. Even later arguments regarding mental health services were voiced under the auspices of government-funded programming more so than removing the stigma from, and promoting treatment for mental disease. Little to nothing has been said about the violent video games the shooter played, or the fact that his mother was a “Doomsday Prepper” like those seen and mocked on reality television. I wonder, when those comments finally make their way around the round tables, will that conversation also be guided by the advocacy of greater government regulation on media as well?
In the meantime, a nation mourns in silence, taught by example to channel their emotions into angry demands for government action, leaving little room for the comprehension — let alone teaching — of personal responsibility for the life of another human being. The real lesson of Newtown is the one that is being missed: Individuals are responsible to make the choice to value the sanctity of human life.
The Occupy Cleveland movement ground to an anticlimactic halt last year as four of the five men accused of plotting to blow up an area bridge received prison sentences ranging from 6-11 years.
After an undercover operation, the FBI arrested the men April 30 in what the agency termed an act of domestic terrorism. The men later admitted their roles in a plan to remotely detonate improvised devices containing C-4 explosives. … The men pleaded guilty in September to charges of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and use of an explosive device to destroy property used in interstate commerce.
Joshua Stafford, the fifth member of the group, awaits sentencing pending the outcome of a psychological evaluation.
The men all participated regularly in the Occupy Cleveland movement. A website dedicated to supporting the confessed bombers clearly links them to the group, and Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummings, himself a founding member, even admitted he knew about the anarchist views of the “Cleveland Five.”
Nevertheless, on the day of the arrests, Occupy Cleveland denounced the actions of the men, emphasizing their commitment to non-violence:
While the persons arrested Monday evening by the FBI have participated in Occupy Cleveland events, they were in no way representing or acting on behalf of Occupy Cleveland. Occupy Cleveland has affirmed the principles of non-violence since its inception on October 6, 2011.
Whenever someone in their camp commits an act of violence, someone in the group exchanges his Guy Fawkes mask for a “surprised face” and issues a statement like this, wondering aloud how this could have happened to their peaceful little commune. Verum Serum compiled a list of violent crimes associated with the movement, including rapes, assaults, knife fights, and Molotov cocktails — all behaviors we’ve come to expect from the left.
The reality: while the public faces of the Occupy movement spout the mantras of peace and non-violence, these groups act as tolerant breeding grounds for violence. While citing Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as their role models, the movement creates a safe ideological space for those who would choose violence as the means for revolution. While the U.S. Constitution and the Judeo-Christian legal traditions rely upon the concepts of natural law, absolute truth, and, quite simply, a general agreement that some actions are right and others are wrong, the Occupy movement deconstructs those virtues as it embraces postmodernism and adheres to policies designed to turn a blind eye to violence.
Peter Jackson’s first of three “Hobbit” films took a thrashing from the critics, who disliked the effect produced by the new 48-frames-per-second projection system. This makes everything a bit too clear, a bit too smooth, such that sets and costumes seemed artificial to some. It is off-putting at first. Halfway through the film, though, I suddenly thought, “This is the way I saw the world when I was a child!” There are many wonderful things about Jackson’s film, of which the choice of Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins stands at the top of my list; unlike the listless Elijah Wood, a boy playing the role of the middle-aged Frodo in the “Rings” trilogy, Freeman is a grown-up. He is a master of English understatement but also an actor of great range, and he carries the film brilliantly. As in the “Rings” trilogy, the sets and settings are marvelous. Especially gratifying was the inclusion of many of Tolkien’s poems with affecting settings by Howard Shore.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s enduring popularity is cause for hope in popular culture. He did not write fantasy so much as roman à clef about the past and future of the West. His Hobbits are the English standing against totalitarian aggression — the two towers of Berlin and Moscow — with decency and courage. “Alone among 20th century novelists, J.R.R. Tolkien concerned himself with the mortality not of individuals but of peoples. The young soldier-scholar of World War I viewed the uncertain fate of European nations through the mirror of the Dark Ages, when the life of small peoples hung by a thread. In the midst of today’s Great Extinction of cultures, and at the onset of civilizational war, Tolkien evokes an uncanny resonance among today’s readers,” I wrote when the first of the Rings films appeared. I am no maven where Christian literature is concerned, but Tolkien’s theological depth impressed me:
Tolkien is a writer of greater theological depth than his Oxford colleague C S Lewis, in my judgment. Lewis is a felicitous writer and a diligent apologist, but mere allegory along the lines of the Narnia series can do no more than restate Christian doctrine; it cannot really expand our experience of it. Tolkien takes us to the dark frontier of a world that is not yet Christian, and therefore is tragic, but has the capacity to become Christian. It is the world of the Dark Ages, in which barbarians first encounter the light. It is not fantasy, but rather a distillation of the spiritual history of the West. Whereas C S Lewis tries to make us comfortable in what we already believe by dressing up the story as a children’s masquerade, Tolkien makes us profoundly uncomfortable. Our people, our culture, our language, our toehold upon this shifting and uncertain Earth are no more secure than those of a thousand extinct tribes of the Dark Ages; and a greater hope than that of the work of our hands and the hone of our swords must avail us.
Few people in the last 200 years understood human nature and mankind’s fallen state quite like Dostoevsky. His uncanny abilities to dissect the pathology of a killer or the spiritual joy of a contented Russian peasant have inspired generations of writers, thinkers, and even psychologists for a century and a half.
But more than simply being an insightful novelist on the human condition, Dostoevsky turned out to be a truly prophetic voice in his predictions of the dangerous and deadly places where certain ideologies and philosophies popular at the time would lead his beloved Russia in particular, and the modern Western world in general.
In the course of a number of his books – The Devils (aka The Possessed) and The Brothers Karamazov, for example – he foretold of the coming socioeconomic and geopolitical nightmares that awaited 20th century societies that would adopt progressivism, nihilism, and socialism as their guiding principles. His words carry with them a deeper weight since Dostoevsky lived during his youth as a progressive ideologue eventually sentenced first to death and then, after a mock execution meant to “get his attention,” to four years of hard labor in Siberia.
He returned a deeply religious man and, after spending a few years in Europe investigating the teachings of leading Western intellectuals, a vehement anti-socialist.
In describing the underlying motivations of the young, radical, rabble-rousing character Peter Verkhovensky in The Devils, Dostoevsky said:
He’s a kind, well-meaning boy, and awfully sensitive…But let me tell you, the whole trouble stems from immaturity and sentimentality! It’s not the practical aspects of socialism that fascinate him, but its emotional appeal – its idealism –what we may call its mystical, religious aspect – its romanticism…and on top of that, he just parrots other people.
Only someone who has known the “other side” of the psychological lines, commiserating among those who wish to tear civilizations and their institutions down from within, can write with such creative specificity.
But again, Dostoevsky’s strength remains the predictive quality of his novels. He identified the strategies the Left would use in the 20th century and their final destinations. Three of these nightmare prophecies stand out: the war on the family, the replacement of old theistic religions for a new (thoroughly secular) one, and the extermination of millions of citizens on behalf of “the cause.”
It’s one of my biggest disappointments that I’ve only begun to accept in the past few years: the average level of maturity that we experience in high school is as good as it gets. That’s where most people stop their emotional and intellectual development. Once one realizes and accepts that overgrown teenagers dominate the planet, then literally everything starts to make much more sense.
First in my post-college years in the workplace and second as I began a career of full-time new media editing the same questions continually emerged. What happened to America’s grown-ups? How come so many “adults” still act like adolescents spreading gossip, stabbing each other in the back, lying, nursing petty rivalries, and obsessing over how much fun sex is? Isn’t college supposed to be the last hurrah where you get all the stupid things you need to do out of your system before your idiocy can hurt others too much?
As the Obama campaign dragged the national dialogue down to the locker room level thanks to Lena Dunham and Sandra Fluke, baby boomer conservatives uniformly predicted victory for their white knight Mitt Romney. This Ward Cleaver epitome of adult respectability would inspire the legions of “Silent Majority” American grown-ups (who somehow the pollsters kept missing) to awaken to the truth of Obama’s fantasy of raising taxes on “the rich” for fairness’s sake regardless of the disastrous economic consequences and the pitiful extra 8 days’ worth of revenue to gain.
But those voters didn’t show up. They don’t exist anymore. Decades of cultural Marxist infiltration have finally started to bear fruit. Two rising cohorts that played key roles in Obama’s victory include the never-married and the irreligious (two interrelated subjects, as readers of David P. Goldman’s How Civilizations Die know).
Where did these voters come from to assist the president in his fundamental transformation of America?
Certainly all you aging baby boomers out there remember this song.
It was 1969 when Spirit in the Sky first hit the airwaves and we used to all sing the chorus:
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best
As I sang along, the lyrics invoking the name of Jesus confused me since Spirit in the Sky was performed by Norman Greenbaum who had an obvious Jewish sounding last name.
Noticing that, I distinctly remember thinking, “why would someone who was Jewish sing about Jesus?”
Important to note here: I too was Jewish. However, since my parents were totally non-religious, so was I. But there was one aspect of my heritage about which I was totally versed and that was Jews did not believe in Jesus.
My questioning this belief began around the age of 11 as I was singing a Christmas carol in school.
(During the 1960s in my public school everyone sang Christmas carols, regardless of your faith.)
The song which sparked my question was The First Noel, with its chorus, “born is the King of Israel.”
Since my Jewish family did not celebrate Christmas (a real bone of contention with me from a very early age) I began wondering why we ignored this Jewish Jesus who I just learned from a song was “born the King of Israel.”
Prompted by this phrase, I asked my mother, “Why don’t we believe in Jesus if He was born the King of Israel?”
Her scholarly reply was “because we are Jewish.”
Now fast forward a few years, as I am listening to Norman Greenbaum sing:
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that when I die
He’s gonna set me up with the spirit in the sky
These lyrics, combined with the Christmas carol incident just left me more confused about this “forbidden Jesus,” who was “born the King of Israel” and now I hear is “gonna set me up with the spirit in the sky.”
Throughout my teenage years more seeds of religious curiosity were planted, eventually sprouting into a glorious garden leading me to be baptized, “in the name of Jesus” at the age of 21.
So how many of you practice a faith that is different from the one in which you were born and raised?
Many of you is my guess.
For the record, baby boomers are a relatively religious bunch. According to Pew Research:
Among Baby Boomers, 43% say they are a “strong” member of their religion, a higher share than among younger adults and a lower share than among older ones. Four-in-ten say they attend religious services at least once a week.
Then, a new Gallup study on religion just released this week states:
Although it is always difficult to predict the future, certain trends in the age composition of the American public suggest that religion may become increasingly important in the years to come. This is mostly the result of the fact that the number of Americans who are 65 and older will essentially double over the next 20 years, dramatically increasing the number of older Americans. As long as these aging baby boomers become more religious as they age — following the path of their elders — the average religiousness in the population will go up.
So from Pew and Gallup we learn that Christianity, and this message, as reflected in the Spirit in the Sky lyrics is increasingly striking a chord with aging baby boomers:
Prepare yourself, you know it’s a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that when you die
He’s gonna recommend you to the spirit in the sky
While researching this piece I discovered some interesting facts.
Mr. “Spirit in the Sky,” Norman Greenbaum was born in 1942 (which means he is NOT a baby boomer) and is from my hometown of Boston.
Since my maternal Grandmother’s maiden name was also Greenbaum and she settled in Boston after arriving from Russia around 1910, is it safe to assume that Norman and I are somehow related?
Furthermore, Wiki has this to say about my newly discovered long lost relative:
Although “Spirit in the Sky” has a clear Christian theme, Greenbaum was, and still is, a practicing Jew. Greenbaum says he was inspired to write the song after watching country singers Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner singing a religious song on television.
Regardless of Norman’s motives in writing his only hit, the song played a role in bringing me to believe that Jesus was and is the Jewish Messiah, “born the King of Israel.”
(And as you can imagine, Dora Greenbaum Cohen’s daughter, my non-religious Jewish mother Gloria Cohen Kahn, was not at all happy about my embracing that Jewish King.)
So please do comment about any family trauma your faith change may have caused and we can all compare notes.
Ever heard someone say, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me?” I get that on a very personal level, except in reverse, because I didn’t become a social conservative, social conservatism came toward me. Granted, many social conservatives who would be reluctant to count me amongst their ranks, and as someone who has been saying for years that I’m more socially conservative than the average person, but not an actual social conservative, I wouldn’t blame them.
After feeling guilty about stealing, I deleted my downloaded MP3 collection and bought it all from scratch legally, but it still contains everything from gangster rap to raunchy pop.
I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or gamble and I rarely curse, but it has nothing to do with moral concerns.
I try to be a good guy, but politics is a knife fight in a phone booth where nice guys finish last, so if need be, I can be as vicious as just about anyone you’ll run across on the Right.
To read some of the reactions to Senator Marco Rubio’s comments on the age of the earth, you’d think that he’d proposed rounding up scientists and imprisoning them in gulags. Liberals apparently think this is a plank in the vast right-wing “anti-science” conspiracy. At the very least, a man who refuses to swear a blood oath to the current orthodoxy that the earth is 4.5 billion years old is not fit to hold any job that requires any more intellectual heft beyond knowing the proper temperature for grilling burgers.
In case you missed it, Rubio was interviewed by the
great intellectual journal men’s fashion magazine GQ. No doubt interviewer Michael Hainey is congratulating himself for asking the first “gotcha” question of the 2016 presidential campaign and is contemplating where he’ll display his Pulitzer Prize. In the middle of the interview, Hainey asked the random, drive-by question, “How old do you think the Earth is?” Rubio’s response:
I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.
Rubio, widely regarded as the GOP’s rhetorical Wunderkind, tried to walk the politi-religious tightrope by giving a non-answer answer because he could smell his own blood in the water. Blowing up the campaigns of conservatives with controversial questions has become the favorite sport for left-wing (so-called) journalists, a contest that conservatives have sadly begun to participate in.
Aside from the goal of derailing any future political ambitions of Rubio, the basic premise behind Hainey’s question is “Do you believe in God or science?” — as if they are mutually exclusive. It’s actually an insidious question, rooted in the Progressive philosophy which demands that “progress” and the evolution of history be seen as superior to Natural Law, our Judeo-Christian heritage, and antiquated notions of God.
Hillsdale College professor Ronald Pestritto describes the competing visions of Progressives and the Founders:
The founders had posited what they had held to be a permanent understanding of just government, and they had derived this understanding of government from the “laws of nature and nature’s God,” as asserted in the Declaration of Independence. The progressives countered that the ends and scope of government were to be defined anew in each historical epoch. They coupled this perspective of historical contingency with a deep faith in historical progress, suggesting that, due to historical evolution, government was becoming less of a danger to the governed and more capable of solving the great array of problems besetting the human race.
You don’t just wake up miserable one day and stay that way. To the contrary, producing a nice, consistent level of misery takes a lot of work. Do you ever hear anyone say, “Wow, that guy does whatever it takes to be miserable!” Of course not. Everyone is too busy patting the happy people on the back. “Wow, I wish I could be as happy as she is!” “They’re just such a happy couple!” “Wow, what a happy child!” How about a little appreciation for all the work people put into being utterly miserable? After all, as you’re about to see, depression takes effort!
1) Don’t pursue your ideal self.
Abraham Maslow once said, “If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” So, take his advice to heart. Make comfort your highest priority. Surf the web as much as possible at work and do the same things, day after day, year after year without making any effort to improve. Veg out in front of the TV every night and channel surf. Don’t read, don’t take classes, do the same old, same old. Get yourself into a nice deep rut and then, as an extra added bonus, blame your spouse or kids for “holding you back” and keeping you from achieving the dreams you haven’t made any effort to pursue for years. That’s just the sort of stagnant life that will help keep you down in the dumps.
In a recent interview in Sweden, Brandon Flowers, frontman for the band The Killers was ambushed about his faith. Flowers has been dragged into religious or political discussions in the past because he is a Mormon. Now, with fellow Mormon Mitt Romney running for President, interviews with The Killers often focus on religion and politics and occasionally discuss the music.
This time, Flowers was on Skavlan to promote The Killer’s recent album Battle Born. After a few cursory questions about the album, the lead interviewer (it looks like a panel discussion show) started asking Flowers about religion and politics. As one of the panelists put it, people don’t expect to find a religious person fronting a popular rock band and “wearing a leather jacket.” That this might be the result of narrow-minded stereotyping of Christians on her part does not seem to occur to the woman. Flowers dealt with the questions well, explaining that he understands the interest. This is all rather typical for a Brandon Flowers or The Killers interview, but this time, it was just the setup.
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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I guess it’s to be expected – that the cool grew up to be square. Hell, even evangelicals are hipper than liberals now. (I used the word Hell deliberately, even though it isn’t cool.)
Now here’s the thing: Liberals are beginning to realize they’re not hip anymore. They won’t admit it, but they do. Witness Obama’s behavior with the press. He’s sweating like Nixon – and that’s definitely not hip. (On second thought, Nixon was finally hipper than Obama.)
And Jay Carney? Would you call him hip? And what about Biden? Has there ever been a soul so square?
What makes modern liberalism the mess that it is today is that it is mainly composed of people who desperately wanted to be cool in high school – wanted to be Abbie Hoffman or Eldridge Cleaver – but never were. Their longing – this need to be Abbie – has clouded their thinking and their ability to perceive reality, placing us all in a mess along with them.
Meanwhile, Bob Dylan became a conservative.
– PJ Media CEO Roger L. Simon, June 19, 2012
“He’s forgetting what his own positions are, and he’s betting that you will, too. I mean, he’s changing up so much and backtracking and sidestepping, we’ve gotta … name this condition that he’s going through… I think it’s called Romnesia,”
– President Barack Obama, October 19, 2012
Of course we’re down to the final months of the president’s term, as presidents…
…as President Obama surveys the Waldorf banquet room with everyone in white tie and refinery, you have to wonder what he’s thinking. So little time, so much to redistribute.
And by the way in — in the spirit of Sesame Street, the president’s remarks tonight are brought to you but the letter ‘O’ and the number $16 trillion.
– GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, October 18, 2012
Previously at PJ Lifestyle we’ve discussed the phenomenon of the “crunchy conservative,” the individual who embraces politics and values commonly associated with “the Right” while living a more natural, “hippie” lifestyle stereotyped as a monopoly of those on “the Left.”
But libertarians who prefer raw milk and organic food aren’t the only oddballs smashing the stereotype of what a “Bitter Clinger” actually looks like. Here are three more political-cultural hybrids:
Someone with classical liberal politics and outside-the-mainstream art tastes, lifestyle choices, diet, fashion sensibilities, sexual preferences, or religious beliefs. Often times this mindset comes as a result of a political shift to the Right later in life.
Archetypal example: New Media troublemaker and publisher, the late Andrew Breitbart (whose memoir appears second on the list.)
Tea Party Occultist
One who identifies with both the founding fathers’ Enlightenment politics and Masonic spiritual values — and perceives the relationship between the two. Religious Liberty requires a government based in Political Liberty and a military to defend it from barbarian idolaters who would take away both. Alternative definition: one who identifies with both the “Right-Wing” Tea Party movement and the Right-Hand path of the Western Mystery Tradition, adequately defined here by Wikipedia:
The Right-Hand Path is commonly thought to refer to magical or religious groups which adhere to a certain set of characteristics:
(See the rest of the Wikipedia entry for a list of various religions and mystical groups characterized as Right-Hand.) Even within the magical world those on “the Right” cherish the Rule of Law, while those on “the Left” embrace anarchy.
Archetypal example: James Wasserman, author, book designer, and a “founding father” of the modern revivals of the mystical secret society the Ordo Templi Orientis and its religion Thelema. (Wasserman’s new memoir begins the list and four more of his books also appear.)
One who understands the magical abilities of the free market to create value, wealth, and prosperity out of nothing but hard work, great ideas, and good luck. In free societies you really can wave your wand and turn lead into gold. All wealth begins when the entrepreneurs who will someday create it first dream and then put pen to paper to lay out their plan. Writing creates wealth. The ridiculous level of comfort in our society today — our government can afford to pay for the luxury of a cell phone for “poor” people — could happen because hundreds of years ago men wrote that the pursuit of happiness was an innate right.
Archetypal Example: Walt Disney. What began as imaginations in his head and sketches of a mouse would one day become a billion dollar multimedia empire with DisneyLand — our Mecca — as the permanent celebratory reminder of how the imagination can manifest mental and spiritual wealth into the material world.
One can note that these categories each correlate with one of the three values of the American Trinity identified and defined by Dennis Prager in his book Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. Counterculture conservatives embody Liberty, Tea Party Occultists emphasize In God We Trust, and the Capitalist Wizards live E. Pluribus Unum in both theory and practice.
These three categories also have their natural opponents, of whom more will be said later in the list when appropriate:
- Counterculture Conservatives Vs Cultural Marxists.
- Tea Party Occultists Vs Nazi Mystics.
- Capitalist Wizards Vs Corporatist Sorcerers.
My intent with this list is to compile an annotated bibliography of sorts — a collection of books on a variety of subjects and genres that when put side by side can manifest fresh connections and new ways of looking at the world so we as individuals can solve our problems and live happier, more fulfilling lives.
Future editions will include additional categories and authors, as well as expanded entries for the books and authors already included. (Please leave suggestions of who should appear in future updates. And if you leave an especially strong comment then I might include it in the next edition.) This first list comprises only a bare bones beginning for defining these three emerging traditions. Perhaps 100 more titles await in my mind for potential inclusion and with input from PJ Lifestyle’s readers that number can grow.
Here are the various sections of the list for your browsing convenience so you can jump to the subjects or authors who are of most interest. However, I’ve still written this extended article (really more of a free e-book before the election) with the traditional intent that it should make the most sense read beginning to end… that is, if it ends up making any sense at all — which is not something I can guarantee… Caveat Emptor…
Part I, Autobiographies: Forging Counterculture Conservatism In The Center of the Fire
- Occult author James Wasserman in the context of New Media publishers Roger L. Simon and the late Andrew Breitbart.
Part II, History: The Temple of Solomon and the Foundations of Western Civilization
- Abraham, The Patriarch as Original Counterculturalist.
- Also: the truth about the Muslim occultists who tried to separate Islam from Shariah and their hidden role in shaping Western Freedom.
Part III, Polemics: A Moonchild of Aleister Crowley and Ann Coulter
- “Freedom is a two-edged sword of which one edge is liberty and the other, responsibility. Both edges are exceedingly sharp and the weapon is not suited to casual, cowardly or treacherous hands.” — Jack Parsons…
Part IV, American Exceptionalism: The Secrets Embedded Within The Fourth Great Western Religion
- The Tarot cards hidden in Washington D.C.’s architecture.
- Why America really is a nation of crazy people.
- Also: meet Ronald Reagan’s favorite occultist.
Part V, Media: Douglas Rushkoff and Programming Internet Magic
- The Bible as R-rated Counterculture Comic Book For Adults.
- What’s the difference between capitalism and corporatism?
Part VI, Science: Howard Bloom and the Modern Alchemical Marriage of Secularism and Spirituality
- What does it mean to understand Mother Nature as “a bloody bitch?”
- And what does it look like when an atheist proves that God exists not as a noun, but as the Kabbalists always said, a Verb?
While chatting with a close friend who is currently on location filming a mega-budget Hollywood movie, he mentioned, as a “good Jew,” he was planning on attending a Yom Kippur service today in a beautiful historic temple.
Yom Kippur, for those who are unfamiliar, is the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
Playfully, I asked him if the rabbi would let loose a scapegoat in the temple but my friend did not understand why I had even asked such a question.
That is when I told him about the Yom Kippur scapegoat, an integral part of the Old Testament account of The Day of Atonement.
Since my friend was unfamiliar with the Yom Kippur scapegoat I thought perhaps others might be as well. So if you are attending temple today and familiar this Jewish Bible story, you are dismissed.
If not, keep reading because this ancient tale is not only interesting, but the word “scapegoat” is derived from it.
Now class, please open your Bibles to Leviticus, the third book of the Old Testament, after Genesis and Exodus. Those first three books, along with the next two, Numbers and Deuteronomy comprise what is known as The Torah.
Leviticus chapter 16 is aptly named The Day of Atonement. It is a short chapter comprised of only 34 verses which I recommend reading if this piece piques your interest.
Here is the basic story.
While the Children of Israel were wandering in the desert during their 40 year odyssey between leaving Egypt and entering the Holy Land of Israel, God commanded Moses to make an annual atonement for their “uncleanness and rebellion” and “whatever their sins had been.” God then directed Moses to have his brother Aaron, the High Priest, obtain two goats for an atonement ceremony.
The first goat was designated as a “sin offering” and slaughtered for his blood. Then, the goat’s blood was to be sprinkled around the “Most Holy Place” which was inside the “Tent of Meeting” that housed the Ark of the Covenant.
Now, the second goat fared slightly better for it was to be the “goat of removal.” In Hebrew, it was known as the Azazel goat, and later translated to mean scapegoat in the English Bible’s King James Version.
Rather than me paraphrase the fate of the second goat, I will defer to GOD as HE gives Moses specific instructions for brother Aaron to carry out in Leviticus 16: 21- 22. The Bible translation is from the popular New International Version.
He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites –all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert.
There you have it, the scapegoat as the central figure of Yom Kippur.
The scapegoat’s original meaning was escape goat because unlike the first goat, the second was allowed to escape with its life, though heavily laden with the collective sin of the Israelites.
As you know, the modern meaning of scapegoat is some entity or person who is unfairly blamed or punished for the actions of others, but I would wager that most people are unaware this term is from the Old Testament.
So for those of the Jewish faith attending temple today, you might pause to remember that little goat, released into the desert bearing the sin burden of all your ancient relatives.
Furthermore, click here if you are interested in knowing the Biblical origin of other common phrases like Good Samaritan, a drop in the bucket, a broken heart, a peace offering, or a sign of the times, to only name a few.
The Bible is still the best selling book of all time and continues to be an amazing resource for faith, history, morality and language.
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Remember the final refrain of the classic Queen song “Who Wants To Live Forever?”
Who wants to live forever?
Who wants to live forever?
Forever is our today
Who has forever anyway…
If you’re like most people, you probably answered that in your head with “ME! I want to live forever!” It does sound appealing, doesn’t it? The idea that you would never die as long as you kept your head was what really captured people’s imagination about Highlander. The same goes for vampires. The big difference between vampires and other much more boring supernatural creatures like goblins, ghouls, ogres, and pixies is that they can live for thousands of years…. like God. Just imagine what you could do, learn, and become if you had thousands of years to do it! Unfortunately, there may be a few downsides people haven’t considered…
1) Sometimes, death is a mercy.
We get this when it comes to animals. When a pet’s whole life becomes misery, we put it down. Even though we don’t do the same with other humans because of political and cultural reasons, we understand it. But, if you were immortal and healthy, why would you ever WANT to die?
In Greek mythology, the immortal Prometheus was chained on a mountain, and each night a vulture came to rip out his liver and eat it.
In Ninja Scroll, the immortal Lord Himuro Gemma is washed into the sea by a wave of boiling gold, which hardens, traps him, and takes him to the bottom.
In the TV show Angel, the main character, who is a vampire, is sealed in a metal box and dropped to the bottom of the ocean.
In the TV show Supernatural, the unkillable Doc Benton is chained in a refrigerator and buried alive.
Imagine being caught in a landslide, being trapped in a plane that goes down over the ocean, or even being captured and experimented on by a government trying to learn the secrets of your immortality. There are times when dying beats all the other options.
Two days after September 11, 2001, a construction worker discovered amidst the rubble of one of the collapsed World Trade Center towers two intersecting steel beams that became known as the World Trade Center cross.
The cross immediately became a symbol of faith, comfort, and hope to the rescuers who presided over the massive recovery and to the nation at large.
The WTC cross is now considered an icon and currently stands as the emotional centerpiece of the National September 11 Memorial.
Until I started researching this piece, I was unaware that there was a movie produced in 2007 about the miraculous WTC cross. Here is the trailer of The Cross and the Towers by John Schneider.
Apparently those two offensive steel beams — which happened to collapse in the shape of a cross — are, according to Edwin Kagin, the group’s legal director, “a violation of both federal and New York law in that public funds will be used to establish the Christian religion on public land.”
Adding to that argument is the organization’s president, David Silverman, who describes the cross as “a clear instance of a violation of the separation of church and state in its extreme.”
If you visit the American Atheists web site, be sure to read their account of the legal fight. What I found especially exasperating is that the WTC cross is repeatedly referred to as “the girder set.”
Fortunately, this past August, officials at the 9/11 memorial museum started to fight back by taking the necessary legal steps to have the lawsuit thrown out of court. The museum’s argument is that it is an independent non-profit organization and not a government agency. But more importantly, “the cross is an artifact and not a religious symbol.”
Actually, one could argue that is it both and that that is precisely what makes the WTC cross so significant.
Jason Beghe is an actor, a Brooklyn tough-guy known for his starring role in the gritty G.I. Jane. In 2008, after fifteen years as a Scientology poster boy, Beghe left the cult and released an interview (embedded below) chronicling his descent into and exodus from L. Ron Hubbard’s bizarre universe.
Beghe’s recruitment, life as a celebrity spokesman, and ultimate rejection of the cult are riveting, particularly for someone like myself who spent nearly thirty years in a cultic religious organization. I was stunned because, even though the doctrines and practices of our respective organizations are so different, I identified perfectly with the mental processes Beghe described. I also believed in a completely irrational worldview and ignored blatant contradictions.
Experts believe people join and remain in cults for similar motives regardless of variations in cult lifestyles and teaching. Harder to find in scholarly research is an explanation of how or why people in wildly differing cults exhibit such similar mental and emotional symptoms.
A potential answer is found in “Confessions of a Coward,” a brilliant article by PJ Media columnist David P. Goldman. Published by First Things, the piece reveals that the scathing political and economic commentaries by “Spengler” actually flowed from Goldman’s eloquent pen. Confiding the story of his return to the practice of Judaism, Goldman admits that from 1976-1986 a compulsion to escape his Jewish identity and find post-1960s structure left him vulnerable to the overtures of the cult leader Lyndon LaRouche.
The Vietnam War, the crisis in race relations, and the cracks in the economic structure of the 1970s persuaded us that we had to do something and that indifference was morally inexcusable. And that is where LaRouche had us. His intellectual method resembled the old tale about stone soup: Having announced that he had the inside track on the hidden knowledge that underlay Western civilization (one of his essays was titled The Secrets Known Only to the Inner Elites,) he attracted a small parade of intellectual orphans, whom he then put to elaborating the details.
The first time I read Goldman’s description of LaRouches’s “soup,” my blood froze:
LaRouche claimed to trace a tradition of secret knowledge across the ages…in LaRouche’s Manichean view of the world, a conspiracy had suppressed the truth in the service of evil oligarchs…the Rockefellers, and the Trilateral Commission all figured variously in this grand conspiracy against LaRouche’s supposed intellectual antecedents. Jewish banking families kept popping up in LaRouche’s accounts of the evil forces.
The worldview promoted by the organization in which I spent my youth mirrors LaRouche’s, but it was not the content that gripped me. What truly leaped off the screen of Goldman’s Confessions was a clue about how cults produce this profound psychological effect that can grab even the brightest of minds into a “cult syndrome.” Goldman exposes what happens when when the “Gnostic Mind” meets reality:
You might think—you should think—that this (LaRouche’s Antisemitism) would have sent us running for the exits. But, Godless and faithless, we were all possessed by a fear of being Jewish, and LaRouche offered us a rock to hide under. In a Carto-influenced article LaRouche later tried to suppress, he put the number of Jewish dead at around 1.5 million. I knew about all this, and I looked the other way. LaRouche took my quantitative study and combined it with the paranoid musings of other researchers into a book, Dope, Inc., that had unmistakable anti-Semitic overtones. I knew about this, too, and again I looked the other way.