Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Prophet Hen of Leeds

I haven’t been focusing too much on the old blog lately, but I do have a list of fun things to draw from just for weeks like this. For those who are worried about when the end will come, it is good to occasionally look back at the many times that has been predicted and not come to pass. My absolute favorite has to be the hen that laid eggs with a message from God.

Unfortunately, this was in 1806, so there is no YouTube for this one.

The Hen, and a few others

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Lamed-Vov means 36 in Yiddish. It refers to the 36 just men that are needed to support the world from the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 97b, Sukkot 45b. These men receive the Divine Presence. It is an ancient oral tradition so, as you might guess, there are many interpretations of it. These are mortal men, living regular lives and dying normally, so what if the number dips below 36? Are the difficult times we are experiencing indicators that we have indeed dipped? These men walk among us, but they are hidden, so how do we know?

So, lots of great stories get told about the Lamed-Vov. Some think that the one Messiah will come from the 36. So, you better be nice to anyone you meet, they could be the Messiah. The world somehow depends on these men for continued existence, although I’m not sure if it is ever explained how that works, or how the world will come to an end.

The story where I first found out about the Lamed-Vov was in the book, “If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him.”

The story goes that a boy is informed by his grandfather that he, the boy, is to be a Lamed-Vov. This distresses the boy, and he tries to figure out what he needs to do. He holds his hand over a candle flame to learn about suffering. His grandfather hears about this and gets distressed too. He explains that it is not necessary to do anything, just be yourself. The Lamed-Vov are not able to change anything, they can’t stop suffering or prevent people from dying. Their job is to be open to the suffering of others, so no one suffers alone.

He eventually gets it. He learns that love is more than simply being open to experiencing the anguish of another person’s suffering. It is the willingness to live with the helpless knowing that we can do nothing to save the other from their pain.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Spacey Odyssey

If you are looking for something that seems sorta spiritual, but you want some scientific backing, this guy is for you. He’s a physicist. He draws on Star Trek and Buck Rogers for his analogies. He claims to have worked with Stanley Kubrick on the development of the “2001: A Space Odyssey” story. I have seen some comments that this is an exaggeration.

It is an interesting idea though. Given the speed limit of the universe, getting to other worlds is unlikely any time soon. However, we could send ships out and plant big black monoliths. Even if whomever or whatever found them couldn’t understand whatever we wrote on the monolith, it would at least give them evidence that there is something else out there. Imagine that something like that had been found 10,000 years ago.

This video discusses some of the science involved in vastly different species interacting.

This next one shows him as a bit more cuckoo. He talks about his role in the 2001 movie at the end. He starts out explaining his type 0,1,2,3 civilizations theory, something he talks about a lot. Note that he uses some language that I see as designed to tug at your emotions and then consider his ideas. Language such as, “privileged to be alive” at this time and how he sees “evidence in the news” that we are about to transform to the next level of civilization. He really sucks up to America and American culture as having signs of leading the world into this next level.

Good for a laugh if nothing else.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Should Americans Fear Islam?

Link to the television debate on ABC

I happened to be visiting some people this weekend who watch a lot of television, otherwise I would have never seen this ridiculous display of journalism. I did not watch the entire broadcast, and parts of it were drown out by those in the room yelling at the TV or saying, “maybe we should go do something outside, it’s a beautiful day.” If I was a television executive and the idea had been pitched to me, I would have said, okay, but change the name to “Should some people whose parents had sex in a certain country be afraid of other people who claimed a certain religion, then had sex.” Hopefully those pitching the idea would realize how inane their idea was and walk out of the room in shame.

That didn’t happen. Fortunately, they did include at least one normal person, Donna Marsh O’Connor a woman who had lost a daughter who was pregnant on 9/11. When asked, “Do you think you, America, should be afraid of Islam?” She was sharp enough to not respond to the intimation that she somehow represented the entire country. She said,

“I think Americans should fear criminal behavior. I think we should do the best we can to control criminal behavior. But I can't raise my two remaining sons to fear the people who live next door to them. That is not what my grandparents came to America to escape you know, we are a group of 9/11 family members. I know a lot of family members are here. We share that pain and, you know, I think the unfortunate piece of this is that we don't agree on this.”

Seeing nothing controversial there, nothing that would lead to some yelling, Chrisitiane Amanpour turned to Billy Graham’s son who said something ignorant that I won’t repeat.

Most of the rest of the show went something like this:
AMANPOUR: Why do you call it a wicked religion, an evil religion?
GRAHAM: I think to -- to take your daughter, because you think that -- and the religion gives you the authority -- Sharia gives you the authority for honor killing. And we saw the young girl in Ohio just a few--
IMAM: It does not.
AMANPOUR: But does it?
IMAM: It does not.
GRAHAM: It does.
IMAM: It does not.
GRAHAM: It does.
IMAM: No it does not.
IMAM: -- justify those honor killings.
GADIEL: -- justify it. You can't deny that--
GRAHAM: It's true.
GRAHAM: But that's true.
Such is the state of the debate in America and the state of leadership and of journalism. What we should fear is ignorance. We should fear our inability to listen to each other. This program could have benefited from techniques for working in groups that have been available in self-help books since the 1970’s. Instead we get this,
GADIEL: …. And you can't deny it. And you may, for all I know, not be a moderate you pretend to be, because you may be engaging in takia and be engaging in lying for the purpose of furthering your religion.
GADIEL: Why should I believe you?
KHAN: I'm shocked at the inference that I am not -- my intention is not good. Have you looked in my heart? Have you --
GADIEL: No. No, I don't. You're right. You're right.
KHAN: Have you cut my chest and looked in my heart to see what my intention is? I think it's wrong for you to say that somebody's engaged in takia. You don't even know what the word takia is.
GADIEL: It means lying for the purpose of furthering your religion.
KHAN: Why would I do that?
GADEIL: Lying to people who are non-believers. .
KHAN: Why would I do that?
GADIEL: Why? Be it said -- are you not instructed to do that?
KHAN: No! Absolutely not!
I have a little bit of hope though because this statement got applause:
O'CONNOR: No, no, no. You let me finish now, please. With all due respect, I listened for a long time. You know, I don't know why on earth you would think that there is an address in America where, you know, Muslim people can't practice their religion. Number one, this is not a mosque; it's an Islamic cultural center. Number two -- and this is really important -- it is not at Ground Zero, it's two blocks and a half away. It's two blocks and a half away. I am not a religious expert. I only know when I was promised when I was born here and that this is a land where all people -- regardless of how difficult it is to have this democracy -- all people are allowed to practice their faith. I don't know Daisy Khan. I don't know Imam. I am not going to read his book to see if he's a good enough Muslim. I believe that in this nation we hold people accountable for crimes after they commit and never, never before.