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Category Archives: Pantheism

Cdl. Burke: Revolution Is the Goal – Church Militant

Posted: October 2, 2019 at 8:50 am

ROME ( - Cardinal Raymond Burke is warning that the Amazon Synod isn't about local evangelization in the Amazonbut aboutrevolution inthe wholeChurch.

During an interview with Italian media published Monday, the former head of the Vatican's highest court is decrying the"dishonest attitude" in masking the true nature ofthe synod.

"The Synod is presented as being for the pastoral care of the people to be evangelized in the Amazon, but the German bishops state clearly that the goal is to revolutionize the whole Church," relates Burke. "Even the bishop of Essen, Monsignor Franz-Josef Overbeck,said very recently that after the Amazon Synod 'nothing will ever be the same again'in the Church."

Burke's words are supported by similar remarks from the Vatican's head liturgist, Cdl. Robert Sarah. In an interview also published on Monday, Sarah remarkedthatusingthe synod as a "laboratory for the universal Church" would be "dishonest and misleading."

"To take advantage of a particular synod to introduce these ideological projects would be an unworthy manipulation, a dishonest deception, an insult to God, who leads his Church and entrusts him with his plan of salvation," assertedSarah.

He exclaimed, "I am shocked and outraged that the spiritual distress of the poor in the Amazon is being used as a pretext" to support such projects as ordaining married men, creating women's ministries and giving jurisdiction to laypeople.

Asked duringMonday's interview about the synod's emphasis on "appreciating different cultures and religions," Burke warned that thisapproach is alwaysineffective and maycause a missionary to lose his faith.

"If a missionary starts with the sole intention of appreciating whatever culture he finds,then we can be sure there will be no evangelization, it's more likely that these missionaries will end up losing their faith," cautioned Burke.

"We are in a profound crisis," related Burke, when asked why he andBp. Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, on Tuesdayissuedan appeal for prayer and fasting. They did sowith the intention that the heresies in the synod's preparatory document called the Instrumentum Laboris would be rejected.

"According to the profoundly mistaken view of the Instrumentum Laboris, Christ and the cosmos are one and God also reveals himself in other circumstances. This view is closely connected to pantheism. Therefore it is a cult of the natural world," Burke clarified.

When asked about the apparent"decline in vocations," Burke revealed thatthose pushing the so-called "new Church" are turning away vocations in order to justify the ordination ofmarried men.

"Those who are promoting a 'new Church'do not want vocations, they discourage them in order to justify their own position which attacks celibacy," asserted Burke. "It is no coincidence that the religious institutes, perhaps with young congregations and many vocations, are the ones being particularly targeted at the moment."

Vocations still exist, said Burke, but what is lacking in many places is "an apostolate for vocations and prayer for vocations."

Celibacy that's being attacked by the synod, explained Burke, actually freesapriest to give himself completely to God and to fully live out hispriesthood. At the same time, he discounted the falsehood that evangelization is best done by simply "doing good and being good."

The priest is called to celebrate the Eucharist, to offer himself as victim for the salvation of souls, to give himself totally to Christ. This is what is essential, all the other priestly activities teaching, assisting the faithful in difficulty, charitable work, even the defence of the Indians are a consequence and even if they were unsuccessful, this would not take anything away from the ministry.

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Lay Faithful to Gather in Rome to Pray for the Church on Eve of Amazon Synod – National Catholic Register

Posted: at 8:50 am

Pope Francis celebrates Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Holy Saturday, April 15, 2017. (Daniel Ibanez/CNA)

The group, concerned about evils and the current situation within the Church, will meet for a prayer vigil near the tomb of St. Peter on Oct. 5

Lay faithful from across Italy are expected to gather in a piazza near St. Peters basilica next week to pray for the Church as she faces a catalogue of challenges, oneswhich the event organizers have included in a prayer list.

Recalling Cardinal Joseph Ratzingers words in 2005 excoriating the filth in the Church, and his later words on the terrifying sin and persecution from enemies within the Church, the organizers wish to draw attention to the extent of the current evils ranged within the body of the Church and to urge the faithful to pray for her.

The Church is living through her Passion, one of the vigils organizers calledFather Giuseppewrote in a letter to Vaticanist Marco Tosatti that was later reported in the Italian dailyIl Tempo.

Titled Lets Pray for the Church!, the prayer vigil is scheduled to take place at 2.30pm on Oct. 5, in Largo Giovanni XXIII an open space, usually the location for media on special occasions, at the far end of Via della Conciliazione, the central boulevard leading to St. Peters Square(the event has aFacebook pagehere). The Pan-AmazonSynod runs Oct. 6-27 at the Vatican.

The organizers point out that Benedict wished to remind the faithful that there are men in the Church who are not of the Church, do not belong to her, and who indeed work more than anyone else for her destruction. And they warn that such people will one day become the majority, according to St. Pauls prophecy in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians.

We, a group of Catholic friends, both lay and consecrated, therefore want to pray together with all those who wish to join us as close as possible to the tomb of St. Peter, where the popes, with few exceptions, have always desired to reside, they explain in their publicity.

Referring to Benedicts comments above, they also stress the initiative is not an anti-Pope Francis event because the origins of the current challenges long pre-date his election. Even the last two years of [Benedicts] pontificate were, for believers, ones of intense suffering, wrote Father Giuseppe, and the obstacles placed in his path by declared or hidden enemies were evident to all.

The organizers and participants will be asking for 10 graces during the prayer vigil. These include praying that those involved clerical abuse scandals not be promoted but removed from leadership positions; that the deposit of faith not be adulterated; that the Church be courageous in preaching the Gospel; and that she avoid acting like sociologists, political scientists, climatologists and logists of every kind.

They will also call on the Lord for the grace so that the non-negotiable principles are taught and the inviolability of life upheld, that love for Creation not be confused with paganism or pantheism, and that people are reminded that ones country is a mother for each person but defense of identity has nothing to do with nationalism or other aberrations.

The organizers will also pray to listen to the cry from the church in Africa and Eastern Europe, for Chinese Catholics, and the persecuted throughout the world.

The public prayer vigilis meant as a sign of hope, says Francesco Agnoli, one of the events participants. In the midst of so much confusion, there is a small flock in addition to some cardinals that is calling for an end to the storm.

October 5, 2019 in Rome, largo Giovanni XXIII, 2:30pm

Lets Pray for the Church!

It was Good Friday 2005, and then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would soon become Pope, declared these unmistakable words: How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him!... (Stations of the Cross, IX station).

Once he became Pope, Benedict XVI travelled to Fatima. During an inflight press conference, on May 11, 2010, he told journalists who had asked about the Virgins message: The sufferings of the Church come precisely from within the Church, from the sin that exists in the Church today we are seeing it in a truly terrifying way: that the greatest persecution of the Church comes not from her enemies outside, but arises from sin within the Church.

As cardinal and as Pope, Benedict wanted to remind us that there are men in the Church who are not of the Church, who do not really belong to her, and who indeed work more than anyone else for her destruction; the villains and hypocrites who are in the Church, St. Augustine said in De Civitate Dei [The City of God], will one day become the majority, according to the prophecy of St. Paul in the Second Letter to the Thessalonians.

We, a group of Catholic friends, both lay and consecrated, therefore want to pray together with all those who wish to join us as close as possible to the tomb of St. Peter, where the popes, with few exceptions, have always desired to reside. We are asking God for these graces:


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Dennis Andrew from Poole says ‘I am Druid’ – Somerset Live

Posted: August 25, 2017 at 3:52 am

Dennis Andrew doesnt participate in human or animal sacrifices - in fact the retired engineer is really normal.

To put the lie to myths perpetuated by some TV series and films, the retired engineer, cheesemaker and author has written a book entitled I am Druid.

We have fire festivals but not sacrifices, he said.

Knowlton Church and earthworks - a ruined Norman church between Wimborne and Cranborne which stands inside a late Neolithic Henge constructed in 2,500 BC - was the ideal place to meet so that he could explain his beliefs.

Knowlton is one of my favourite places; I sense things here. You can feel ancestry calling, its a spiritual place, said Dennis, who said he has been a Druid for most of his life.

My mother was a Christian and my father a pagan.

So what does it mean to be a Druid?

We dont have a corporate authority - there is no book of Common Prayer. It is a faith not a religion. We worship the divine in nature. Everything in nature is a temple. There is a god in a bird or a tree.

He added that Druids dont tell people what to believe and that they celebrate diversity.

Im as happy in a Christian church as in a Hindu temple, Dennis said. I feel thankful that in this country people are free to explore their faith.

He is a member of Dorset Grove, which numbers between 40 and 60 Druids. They meet at Knowlton Church eight times a year to celebrate - twice at the solstices, twice at the equinox and four times on cross quarter days.

Anyone can come to these rituals, he said. We dont preach or evangelise.

In addition they meet every fortnight in woodland areas.

We are modern druids, which means that our culture goes back no more than 250 years. In fact up to 50 years ago, there were Christian Druids such as Sir Winston Churchill.

Druidic membership extends to a cross section of society.

We have bankers, nurses, ex police officers and shop workers, he said.

If you want to know the definition of the five isms of Druidry - Animism, Pantheism, Polytheism, Monotheism and Dualism, just read Denniss book, I am Druid, which is available from Gullivers Bookshop in Wimborne as well as from

Report and photos by Marilyn Barber

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Unitarian Universalism and Pantheism World Pantheism

Posted: August 13, 2017 at 1:59 am

Pantheism and Unitarian Universalism: A harmonious match

Unitarian Universalism is based on the shared values of the Seven Principles, such as peace, democracy, tolerance and justice. However, it does not promote any particular answers to the ultimate questions about human existence is there a God or gods? Are our souls separate from our bodies? Do we have personal afterlives? Is the Universe a projection of a collective consciousness?

Most people need answers to ultimate questions, and most UUs add in these answers from some other source, such as Humanism, Buddhism, Paganism, Christianity and so on.

Scientific Pantheism is extremely compatible with the Seven Principles of UUism. If you love nature and are science-minded in your outlook, you may find that it provides a nice complement to UUism.

Many World Pantheist Movement members belong to Unitarian Universalist congregations and some are UU ministers. They tell us that perhaps a third or a half of Unitarian Universalists are probably strongly sympathetic to Pantheism.

The essence of Pantheism is a profound reverence for Nature and the wider Universe and awed recognition of their power, beauty and mystery. Some Pantheists use the word God to describe these feelings, but the majority prefer not to, so as to avoid ambiguity.

From this feeling flows the desire to make the most of our present life in our bodies on this earth, to care for nature, and to respect the rights of humans and animals in general. We choose to focus on the vibrant and urgent here and now, rather than on invisible realms, spirits, deities or afterlives.

We feel that Nature and the wider Universe are the most appropriate focus for our deepest reverence, rather than supernatural beings or afterlives. We believe that everything that exists is a part of Nature and tend to be skeptical of supernatural phenomena.

We believe that mind and body are an inseparable unity, and so we do not expect personal survival after death. Instead we look forward to a natural persistence of our time on earth, in the actions and creations we leave behind, memories people hold of us, and recycling of our elements in Nature.

Many people who have these feelings dont call it Pantheism they may call it atheism plus wonder and awe, they may call it religious humanism, spiritual humanism, religious naturalism or some other variant, or they may not have a name for it.

A related tendency often found in Unitarian Universalist congregations is Panentheism. Panentheists hold that God is present in and throughout nature and humans, but also transcends them and is much greater than them. By contrast Pantheists consider that God is identical with Nature and the wider Universe, and use the term (if at all) primarily to express their own feelings towards Nature.

Basically Panentheism is a form of belief in a creator God, while Pantheism is not. Panentheism is fully compatible with traditional Christianity, Islam and Judaism, but Pantheism is not.

The two organizations complement each other neatly. World Pantheism shares the values of the UU Seven Principles. We are strongly committed to religious freedom, separation of church and state, religious tolerance and the teaching of science free from religious interference. We filed afriend-of-court brief in the US Supreme Court case, opposing the under God wording in the Pledge.

We have collected more signatures for UNESCOs Manifesto for Peace and Non-Violence than any other US voluntary organization.

We are signatories of the Earth Charter. We endorse and greatly expand on the Unitarian Universalist seventh principle Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Active care for the environment is a central part of our ethic, along with human and animal rights. We aresaving rainforest via EcologyFund faster than any other religious or environmental group.

Many Unitarian Universalists, including ministers, are members and friends of the World Pantheist Movement. WPM members who belong to UU churches in some cases run courses on pantheism or pantheist services or regular small group meetings of pantheists. The WPM offers manyresources for Unitarian Universalists interested in pantheist services or groups.

Unitarian Universalism is a context where you meet sensible sociable tolerant people with varying religious philosophies for shared spiritual exploration and social action. But Unitarian Universalist congregations are focused more on broad spiritual exploration and social justice, and UUism in itself does not offer answers to lifes ultimate questions. Many people need both a social context AND a belief context in order to feel comfortable with their place in the universe.

With its special focus on Nature and Naturalism, World Pantheism can be considered as one of the main flavors of Unitarian Universalism, such as UU Buddhism, Religious Humanism, Unitarian Universalist Paganism and so on. If you consider yourself an atheist or humanist with spiritual feelings and a deep love of nature or if you are a pagan who enjoys nature-oriented celebration but does not believe in the literal reality of gods, spirits and magick then World Pantheism may be the spiritual context you are looking for.

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Gratitude So Burdensome? – First Things

Posted: August 11, 2017 at 5:59 pm

Anthony Kronman thinks that Christianity contains the seeds of its own undoing. A born-again pagan and former dean of Yale Law, Kronman argues that the Incarnation, which seems to link God with the world in unimaginable intimacy, ends up separating us from God.

Kronmans critique, presented in the opening chapters of his mammoth Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan, turns on the Christian understanding of gift and gratitude. God saves by giving the infinite gift of his Son, and that infinite gift demands a return of perfect thanks, as limitless as the gifts of love he bestows upon us.

At the same time, Christianity insists that we are wholly incapable of offering a fitting return gift. In fact, the very thought that we might be able to make an adequate return is an act of pride, humanitys original sin. To imagine that we can smooth over the asymmetry between divine Giver and human recipient only adds to our misery. Christianity evokes the desire forand demandsinfinite gratitude, only to frustrate that desire.

In this respect, Christian gratitude functions differently than does gratitude in social life. I cant make a gift of equal magnitude to repay my parents for what they have given me, since they have given me life itself. But I can make a return of equal value with a gift of comparable value to those who follow me. I can pay it forward, partly by having children of my own, and so balance the books with Mom and Pop.

Christian gratitude also differs from gratitude in the other Abrahamic religions. Ancient Israelites knew they were infinitely less powerful than Yahweh, yet he had bound himself by covenant, which put the Israelites in the position of being able to complainas they often didthat their partner had forgotten them or was neglecting his duties. The Incarnation raises the stakes, rousing intense feelings of dependence on Gods undeserved love while eliminating the possibility of a satisfying response.

Unrequited gratitude stirs us to rage, envy, and rebellion. To preserve the primacy of Gods gift, theologians make God vanish into a faceless Kantian transcendental. As God retreats from the world, we take over his earlier role as creator and savior. Christianity gives birth to humanism, then to nihilism, a contempt for this world that arises from wistfulness for an other world that, we eventually learn, never existed. Beyond Christianity and nihilism lies paganism, Kronmans Spinozist pantheism.

Theres an internal contradiction in Kronmans account of gratitude. He distinguishes sharply between entitlement and gift, linking the former with rights and the latter with undeserved love that reveals our abysmal dependence. Armed with rights, I can argue for fair treatment. Love, however, has no arguments at all. I have no claim on anyones love and no right to complain that Ive been deprived of what is mine if I dont get it. Its a peculiar idea of love: Does my wife have no grounds for complaint if I have an affair? And it contradicts what he says about gratitude: If a gift is an expression of love, how can it impose any obligation of gratitude? Where does the giver get his arguments?

Beyond that, the Christianity Kronman describes isnt the Christianity taught by generations and practiced by millions. According to Kronman, God cannot have a body or a face. Orthodox Christians confess that God has shown himself in the human face of Jesus. In Kronmans Christianity, the idea of analogy between God and creation is a brief Augustinian aberration; in fact, however, analogy is a central theme of theology from the patristic age to the present. Kronman writes of the psychologically unbearable demand that we acknowledge our complete dependence on God, but for Christians its so easy a yoke that its not a burden at all.

Kronman stresses again and again that the central meaning of the cross is that I can never measure up to [the gifts] he has given me. He cites no theologians to support this characterization, and no wonder. Its flat wrong. Jesus bears burdens. The cross is, in David Bentley Harts lovely phrase, a gift exceeding every debt. Its the Sons perfect human return of thanks.

To assume that we have to respond to God with an equal gift is already to resent that God is the source of being. Kronman claims to show that the unbearable burden of Christian gratitude produces envy toward God. In reality, Kronmans account begins from envy, from the Nietzschean dictum, There cannot be a God because if there were one, I could not believe that I was not He. And, as a born-again pantheist, Kronman can say what Nietzsche couldnt: I am He.

Peter J. Leithart is President ofTheopolis Institute.

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Staying power: a poet’s place in God’s agenda – National Catholic Reporter

Posted: August 10, 2017 at 5:55 am

Milosz's poems suggest that he leaned towards Lithuania's mix of magic, pantheism and Christian mysticism. He was especially close to his maternal grandmother,Jozefa, who spent hours in prayer. Milosz later learned that her piety was blended with superstition.

Writing his first poem at 13, he published approximately 25 books, ending withAbout Journeys Through Time, a book of essays. Three other books were issued posthumously, includingNew and Collected Poems: 1931-2001, which was reprinted in April 2017.

Milosz was highly regarded for his many prose works, such as his autobiographical novel,TheIssaValley, his spiritual biography,The Land ofUlro, his reflections on literature,The Witness of Poetry, and his collection of essays refuting totalitarianism, The Captive Mind, which, he said, originated in a prayer.

Milosz wrote prose and poems about the devastation he experienced during invasions by Czarist and Soviet Russia as well as by Poland and Germany. He lived through both world wars, and afterward, his homeland was carved up and given over to the Soviets. Then, in the1990s, he witnessed the rise of the Solidarity Movement and the fall of the Soviet Union.

Through it all, he was sustained by his wife, brother, friends and faith. AsFranaszekquotes from one of Milosz's essays: "Had it not been for the Catholic faith and [being] able to pray in adulthood, I would have perished. I believed that I have a place in God's agenda, and I asked for the ability to fulfill the tasks awaiting me."

Milosz was friends with luminaries like Thomas Merton and Pope John Paul II, the latter of whom corresponded with him. Another friend, Lech Walesa, said that Milosz's poems inspired the Solidarity Movement. Ultimately, Milosz won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980 for clearly expressing "man's exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts."

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This World as Philosophically Necessary – Patheos (blog)

Posted: at 5:55 am

In this post, I am going to consider the necessary property of God. God is often claimed to be philosophically necessary, with all other created things deemed to be contingent. I am going to challenge this prevailing idea.

First, let us consider what both terms (necessary and contingent) mean.

As mentioned, God is deemed to be necessary the fundamental foundation to reality. What might we understand by a logically necessary entity? As wiki explains:

The concept of a metaphysically necessary being plays an important role in certain arguments for the existence of God, especially theontological argument, but metaphysical necessity is also one of the central concepts in late 20th centuryanalytic philosophy. Metaphysical necessity has proved a controversial concept, and criticized byDavid Hume,Immanuel Kant,J. L. Mackie, andRichard Swinburne, among others.

Metaphysical necessity is contrasted with other types of necessity. For example, the philosophers of religionJohn Hick[2]andWilliam L. Rowe[3]distinguished the following three:

While many theologians (e.g.Anselm of Canterbury,Ren Descartes, andGottfried Leibniz) considered God as logically or metaphysically necessary being, Richard Swinburne argued for factual necessity, andAlvin Plantingaargues that God is a causally necessary being. Because a factually or causally necessary being does not exist by logical necessity, it does not exist in all logically possible worlds.[4]Therefore, Swinburne used the term ultimate brute fact for the existence of God.[5]

To me, there is a distinct potential, here, of confusingthe map with the terrain. We love to use logic and words as means to describe reality, but this does not mean they necessarily (no pun intended)arereality. After all, Christian philosophers have tried to use this technique to logic God into reality and existence, to much controversy.

Lets grant God as necessary, for the sake of argument. He is a necessary entity, existent in all possible worlds (itself a controversial idea).

Okay, so we have a necessary God with necessary properties. One must really assume that his properties are also necessary otherwise the term God as being necessary is really meaningless. We then get to some form of classical theism (the properties of which I roundly criticise in my ebookThe Problem with God: Classical Theism under the Spotlight) whereby God has the necessary ideals of perfect, or maximal, power, knowledge and love.

If God, then, as a necessary being, has necessary properties, and these properties necessarily cause a decision to create in a particular way the most perfect (since all of Gods decisions must be perfect) way then Gods decision to produce this world must also be necessary. It was the perfect choice (I cant, given the constraints on God in this way, see him being able to produce all or multiple versions of creation unless these be seen as perfect in some way) to create this world.

God, in his necessary perfection, chose to create this world. And remember, without time (before the creation of spacetime) any decision to create would not be temporal or deliberative (since deliberation takes time) and would thus be instantaneous (for want of a non-temporal term). Therefore, it really does look like creation springs necessarily from a necessary god.

Ergo, this universe is also necessary.

I cannot think of a way that the universe is contingent upon God since it would exist simultaneously with God. There would be no spacetime, so God would exist in not even a temporal sense, and the universe would coexist as a necessary extension of Gods properties.

This universeisevery possible world. Or, if there are multiple worlds within the perfect creation scenario, thentheyexist in every possible world.

In a sense, arguably, if you have a necessary God, you have some form of pantheism or panentheism where the created is merely a sort of necessary extension of God.

I will formalise this into a syllogism in my next post.

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Posted: August 6, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Etymology: pan[Greek ] + theos[Greek] = ALL is GOD

Pantheism: Everything is Connected, Everything is Divine

Pantheism essentially involves two assertions: that everything that exists constitutes a unity and that this all-inclusive unity is divine. Alasdair MacIntyre, Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Pantheism 1971

The belief in or perception of Divine Unity Michael Levine,Pantheism: A non-theistic concept of deity

Pantheism the belief in the divine unity of all things is consistent with some of the earliest recorded human thought. But modern day pantheism goes well beyond the wonder of our pre-historic ancestors. Today, it is much more a tangible resultant of the action and reaction between Science and Religion than the ghost of speculations past. Discover the history of Pantheism, from 3500 year old Vedic poetry to our current scientific quest for a Theory of Everything, here. is a place for freethinkers worldwide, providing information, news, groups, and connections to those who in any way relate to a philosophy of oneness. Celebrate your views, discuss the nature of Nature, learn about the history and flavors of Pantheism (there are many!), find or start a local event, and in general, hang out with fellow travelers. Click to learn more about the people who keep the lights on around here.


Universal Pantheist Society, est. 1975 by Harold Wood

World Pantheist Movement, est. 1998 by Paul Harrison

Ayahuasca Pantheist Society, est. 2003 byRegis A. Barbier

The Paradise Project, est. 2004 byPerry Rod

Spiritual Naturalist Society, est. 2012 by DT Strain

Writers and Doctrines:

Biopantheism, by Poffo Ortiz

Panmeism, by Guyus Seralius

Not Two, by Waldo Noesta

Fays of Life, by Fay Campbell

Evolution of Consent, by William Schnack

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Star Wars’ religious imagery is more than just coincidence – Catholic Herald Online (blog)

Posted: August 5, 2017 at 6:06 am

Darth Vader and Stormtroopers at a Star Wars display during the Disney D23 EXPO 2015 held at the Anaheim Convention Center (Getty Images)

The franchise is a tale of love, sacrifice and fatherhood against hate, domination and tyranny

In our look at prominent anniversaries in 2017, the 40th anniversary of Star Wars bears noting as a significant cultural moment. The series is the most commercially successful movie franchise ever. Later this year, four decades after the first film was released in May 1977, the ninth major motion picture will be released. Its called Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. In any case, it wont be the last film, not by a long shot.

Why has it lasted so long, this series which for generations of children has provided the fantastical architecture of their imaginary play? Despite mediocre writing, it has hosted enduring stars James Earl Jones, Sir Alec Guinness and launched others, such as Harrison Ford.

From the beginning, many fans noted the religious imagery in Star Wars, far too abundant to be accidental. Sir Alec Guinness wore the garb of a monk in his turn as the elderly Obi-Wan Kenobi; Luke Skywalker, when he finally makes it as a Jedi, dresses like a young priest. Darth Vaders helmet is a stylised mitre, all the better to evoke the corrupt bishop he has become. The wicked emperor carries a staff and is attended by a court that includes attendants decked head-to-toe in cardinalatial red. The Jedi temple is a mosque-and-minaret construction. The Force itself is pantheism made palatable for a secular generation that likes to pretend that it is spiritual but not religious. Now, as the saga nears its (supposed) end, the physical setting is actually Skellig Michael, the redoubt of the Irish monks who saved civilisation.

Star Wars endures because it is an ancient story about the deepest human dramas a tale of love, sacrifice and fatherhood on the one hand, and the tragedy of hate, domination and tyranny on the other. It tests which account is a more authentic description of the path to human flourishing.

The central character is Anakin Skywalker, a young boy of preternatural abilities who has no father. The mystery of fatherhood, natural and spiritual, therefore marks the entire saga. The Jedi present the boy with the ideals of honour and duty and sacrifice in which those who have been given much are required to serve the good of all.

As a young man, Anakin rejects his Jedi masters, and the evil Emperor Palpatine offers a different vision to Anakin: those who have been given much have the power to seize more even the ultimate power to create life and cheat death. It is the way of domination, not sacrifice.

Star Wars thus poses a Hegelian question: is the primordial reality the one of the master and the slave? Does man have to choose between being dominant or dominated, in which case the purpose of life and the engine of history is the struggle between those who would be masters and those who would be slaves?

That is the way of the Dark Side, in which the desire to avenge ones own pain fuels the lust for power. Power is the only remedy for pain to hurt others before they can hurt you. In Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, the Emperor attempts to seduce Luke Skywalker, Anakins secret son, to the Dark Side. Luke is invited to kill Vader and take his place at the side of the all-powerful Emperor. It is the Hegelian dynamic of master and slave again. The slave either remains a slave to be destroyed at the masters command, or he kills the master and takes his place. It is the way of the gun or, if you will, the lightsaber.

Show no mercy is the first lesson the Emperor teaches Anakin-cum-Vader in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. There is no room for mercy in the Hegelian master-slave telling of the human story. Kill or be killed it is: the new Lord Vader massacres the innocent younglings in a slaughter that echoes the biblical figures of the Pharaoh and King Herod. Eventually the Emperor makes the same offer to Luke: kill Vader and take his place or be killed. But Vader is Lukes father, so the master-slave dynamic meets the father-son relationship.

It is striking that for a saga saturated with violence, Luke Skywalker survives into this third trilogy because of mercy and the witness of suffering. It is the suffering of the son that inspires the conversion of the father, and Vader turns against the Emperor and destroys him, at the cost of his own life. The show no mercy domination of the tyrant is finally defeated only by the medicine of mercy and the power of filial suffering to move the paternal heart.

St John Paul II observed in Crossing the Threshold of Hope that the only alternative in human relations to the Hegelian master-slave dynamic is the father-son relationship. Either the powerful oppress the weak, as tyrants oppress slaves, or the powerful one sacrifices himself for the weaker, as a father will give his life for his son. This clash of archetypes is at the heart of the Star Wars mythology.

The revelation of the Trinity teaches us that the father-son relationship is more powerful for it lies at the heart of reality. Thus the radiation of fatherhood in St John Pauls words touches all creation, even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Fr Raymond J de Souza is a priest of the Archdiocese of Kingston, Ontario, and editor-in-chief of

This article first appeared in the August 4 2017 issue of the Catholic Herald. To read the magazine in full, from anywhere in the world, go here

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Senryu pries open ‘The Jaws of Life’ to explore death on latest … – Maryville Daily Times

Posted: August 3, 2017 at 10:01 am

It took six years and approximating death for Wil Wright to make another full-length Senryu record.

The band, which celebrates the release of The Jaws of Life Saturday night at The Pilot Light, has been a part of the East Tennessee music scene for nearly 17 years more than half of Wrights life, ever since he started it in 2000 with percussionist Steven Rodgers, the only remaining original member of the bands lineup. In that period, Wright and Rodgers have grown up, fallen in and out and back in love, entered into marriage (Rodgers earlier this year, Wright later this month) and cobbled together a band thats been solid for nearly seven years now: brothers Andres (a multi-instrumentalist) and guitarist Dan McCormack, and bassist Zac Fallon.

I dont remember a time before Senryu, Wright told The Daily Times recently over brunch at Petes Coffee Shop in downtown Knoxville. I ring at rock n roll records. For me, its just about keeping my brain hungry, about feeding it to help make records I can stand behind and be proud of. And weve made so many Senryu records that doing it a song at a time doesnt really work. The only reason to keep making records is to explore concepts that are interesting to me.

Which brings us to death. Hes spent the past several years thinking about it, ruminations brought on by the natural rate of attrition to the circle of family and friends of a man whos racing toward the apex of life expectancys bell curve. At the outset, Wright said, he felt certain he had it figured out, which in the beginning dictated a different sort of concept. The album was going to be called Perfect Nothing, he added.

I thought I was going to make a real upbeat record about how nothing happens after you die, because thats so much more uplifting, he said. But then I started reading about pantheism and the science behind seeing the tunnel, and what I found was that writing a record about death and finding inspiration is tough. If youre here to talk about it, then you didnt die, so its difficult to do the research. So I started digging into preexisting theories, and I started to imagine a record about the last moments before you die, and the first moments after.

His research eventually led him to a sensory depravation experience in Asheville, N.C., where he was enclosed in a vault containing roughly 1,500 pounds of salt in, at most, 2 feet of water. Completely dark and soundproof, is was the closest to approaching death and the absence of the body as he could find.

Thats as close to nothing as you can get, because once you get settled in, your body vanishes, he said. Your eyes stop working, and everything physical goes. You stop feeling, you stop being aware of your breathing, your eyes stop working, your ears go. Its quiet for a minute, and then it gets really, really loud, because you just become your mind. Reducing it to the ghost in the machine, to the spark to me, thats what I believe death is.

And it left me completely baffled and more clueless than ever. What I figured out is that I dont know s---, but its so much better to admit you dont know and to just be alive.

And so the context of the record began to change. Its meditative and contemplative, which is most certainly the bands wheelhouse; with the McCormacks, Rodgers and Fallon, Wright is given a canvas on which to explore grand ideas through intricate, delicate instrumentation, and if lovely is an acceptable descriptor for Senryu, then it applies to Night of the Twisters, the albums lead-off track. But the band sheds whatever emo tendencies it may occasionally flirt with on songs like Heaven Can Wait, Dream of Nothing and the howling maelstrom that is Summer Death March, a too-painful-to-look-away tale of madness and breakdown. Wright has never flinched away from documenting his emotional turmoil through song, and while his other projects LiL iFFy and Skeleton Coast, to name a few have been personal ones, none have allowed him to document the journey of his own existence like Senryu.

This was a three-year album making process, and when the title changed, the record stopped being about the stopping and became more about the continuation, he said. The body is the wrecked car, and the end pulls whatevers left out and keeps it going. Over the course of this record, I experienced a personality death six or seven times; I was getting my perspective rocked about the death of self and rebirth, and the constant through it all was, Im making this record.

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