Richard Dawkins and the Saducees

Recently, a video of an old debate between Cardinal George Pell and Richard Dawkins appeared in my YouTube news feed. (Please see the video below.) I had to watch it twice to be sure I understood what I was seeing, but you can guess my impression of the debate from the title of this post.

The Saducees denied the resurrection of the dead, the existence of spirits, and the obligation of oral tradition, and emphasized acceptance of the written Law alone. I call Dawkins a Saducee because he denied the validity of metaphysical propositions, claiming that ‘life’ is sufficiently explained by Charles Darwin. In my opinion, this is very similar to the stance of the Saducees. However, what I learned from this debate is that the Church addresses this line of thought with sympathy and compassion.

The statement that started me thinking about the Saducees did not come from Richard Dawkins. It came from the moderator who asked Cardinal Pell whether atheists can go to heaven (Part 4). The context was a caller who stated that he was an atheist and wanted to know what the Cardinal thought would happen to him when he died. Cardinal Pell answered that of course Atheists can go to Heaven.

The more I thought about it, the more I saw the question as a trick question. As I understand it, the whole point of being an atheist is that you are not worried about whether you will go to Heaven. I concluded that the moderator must really be questioning the extent of Pell’s, and therefore the Church’s, good will and compassion. Until I watched this exchange a second time I had the impression that Pell felt pressured to answer the way he did. I no longer think so.

Jesus was asked trick questions during his ministry. According to an article entitled Four Questions: Four Questions: Matthew 22:15-46, they came from three distinct groups of people: Herodians, Saducees and Pharisees. The Herodians asked a political question; the Sadducees asked a doctrinal question; and the Pharisees asked an ethical question.

The Sadducees were a wealthy, aristocratic party. They said when you’re dead, you’re dead, so don’t worry about it. They were very logical, and said since there’s no proof, they won’t believe it, and if the Bible isn’t logical in some point, they will always choose logic over the Bible. And many today say that where science disagrees with the Bible in some point they will choose science over it…

At least I was right about one thing. When the moderator asked Mr. Dawkins’ opinion on this matter, Dawkins said it all depends on whether you are cremated, buried, etc. When asked whether he thought there might be some part of his mind that would wonder if there wasn’t something more, Dawkins answered that since it’s the brain that wonders such things, that would be impossible. The brain rots after you die.

I will admit that I sort of expected the Cardinal to respond to Dawkins with more force. I partly blame the debate format and the audience responses but I see now that I wasn’t thinking like a pastor. It gradually became clear to me that Pell wasn’t trying to win a contest. He was a pastor and more than a pastor–he was a fisherman. He was inviting Richard Dawkins and everyone who was listening to think about other possibilities.

It may be true that the logic of atheism indicates indifference, or at least the claim of indifference, as to what happens to you after you die, but Pell was probably thinking of people he actually knows, including Richard Dawkins. He may also have been thinking about the family members of atheists who have already passed away. Cardinal Pell believes and hopes they will go to Heaven. And this is not just his personal belief.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)…

…we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Peter 3:13).

Cardinal Pell, who was in the process of cleaning up corruption at the Vatican Bank, has been convicted by a court in Australia of molesting two boys. He was recently sentenced to 6 years in prison.

Catholic Conservatives and Their Prodigal Brothers

A recent interview on YouTube reminds me that the main concern of Catholic Conservatives is not so much the sex abuse scandal but the Church’s teachings about marriage. I don’t have a stake in the marriage debate but this interview reminded me of certain realities that I have come across in my studies. And I have to say, the struggle between Catholic Conservatives and the Church’s leadership is getting old.

The interviewee is concerned that changes in the Church’s teachings make God look like a trickster who handed down a set of difficult rules only to change his mind two thousand years later. He is concerned that it might begin to look like the rules never really mattered. He is also concerned that a changing church makes it difficult to know how to behave.

I wonder about his reasons. Lately I get the impression that conservatives know better than the Pope how to behave. Perhaps the real problem is that they feel their own rewards are diminished if other people who don’t follow the rules are allowed to be members in good standing. That’s how the brother of the prodigal son felt (Luke 15:11-32). The moral of the story: the brother got it wrong.

Penitents and Cynics: Are We Seeing a Civilization in its Death Throes?

I’ve found more English language videos on the proceedings of the conference on the protection of minors, and I think I had the wrong impression. I was working off of a liturgy that was not in English.

So…You Wore a MAGA Hat at an Indigenous People’s Rally?

And then you were surprised that you got into trouble? I honestly believe you have an excuse–you are students after all. Ask your teachers and chaperones why they were surprised. Ask them why they didn’t warn you. Ask them why you didn’t recognize Nathan Phillips as a friend. This should have been a teaching moment, but instead of correcting you they defended your actions. Do they perhaps have a guilty conscience?

Religion in the Age of Pisces

Do the planets exert an infuence on human affairs? Considering the the way religion has developed in the Age of Pisces I think the answer would have to be yes. I would like to share the observations that lead me to this conclusion. If any of them contradict theological foundations that is not my intention and I would appreciate corrections and/or criticism.

Before I begin, I want to distinguish between two approaches that I have observed in discussions of religion. One is impartial and informational; the other is from the point of view of a believer. The word ‘impartial’ does not imply indifference or lack of belief; believers might use either approach.

According to T.R. Glover’s book, The Conflict of Religions in the Early Roman Empire, none of the religions that we now believe to be ancient are older than 700 BC. (Glover writes from the point of view of an atheist, arguing that the whole point of religion is to organize a society. I disagree with him on that point.) These religions include the worship of Orpheus, Dionysos, and Osiris–all figures with Hermetic attributes. I have come to believe that the Age of Pisces, ruled by the planets Jupiter and Neptune, was bound to have Hermetic characteristics.

Since reading Walter Friedlander’s book, The Golden Wand of Medicine, which attributes a malevolent influence to the symbol of the Caduceus of Mercury (or Hermes), I’ve been terrified of its influence in the United States. At one time I thought I might find a guarantee of safety in Catholic theology, because I have seen theological debates that seem aware of this threat. For example, part of the problem that arose between Père Jérôme and Albert Gleizes was Gleizes’ opinion that Church theology since the thirteenth century had to be thrown out. Gleizes thought Thomas Aquinas had taken everything in the wrong direction and that he could see its effects in sacred art. In other words, all theology since Aquinas had to be redone. But apparently the Church had already decided a debate between these two theologians in favor of Aquinas. As I understand it, part of the reason Aquinas prevailed was the greater degree of St Augustine’s Hermeticism.

Gleizes believed that Christianity was based on an older tradition and that it had lost its knowledge of the sacred. The idea of a basis in an older tradition by itself is not controversial, since it could refer to Judaism, but it was based on Guénon’s idea of a great world tradition of which Christianity is simply a part. The most obvious danger of this stance from a Catholic point of view would be the idea that Christianity had ceased to radiate spirituality, and so it is not exactly surprising that this began to create problems between Gleizes and Père Jérôme. (Albert Gleizes: For and Against the Twentieth Century, Peter Brooke, Yale University Press, 2001. page 221-223)

But to return to the problem of Hermeticism, I think I’ve seen similar considerations taking place in American Indian religion regarding Kokopelli. However, I realize now that it is unrealistic to expect a guarantee of safety. I don’t think human existence works that way, especially under the Age of Pisces.

Jupiter and Neptune rule the Age of Pisces. They are both associated with the Hindu deity Siva, and Siva has associations with Hermes. According to Edward Moor’s book, Hindu Pantheon (J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church-Yard, London, 1810), “most of the principal Hindu deities might be identified with Jove or Jupiter”(page 47). And, “The Jupiter Marinus, or Neptune of the Romans, resembles Mahadeva (Siva) in his generative character; especially as the Hindu god is the husband of Bhavani, whose relation to the waters is evidently marked by her image being restored to them at the conclusion of the great festival of Durgotsava”(page 48). “In the character of destroyer also, we may look upon this Indian deity as corresponding with the Stygian Jove or Pluto, especially since Cali, or Time in the feminine gender, is a name of his consort, who will be found to be Proserpine” (page 46). 

I’m not arguing that Christianity is just another version of this older religion. I’m arguing that these planets have influenced our age.  Robert Eisler argues for the Jewish origin of Christianity in his book Orpheus the Fisher. In the preface, page v, he says,

Christianity, considering its Greek influences, seems remarkable for its loyalty to the Jewish religion, and at the same time its rejection of the pagan gods of Greece and Rome. Is it possible that both characteristics of the Christian religion are responses to the potential harm caused by Hermeticism under a Pagan system?

The believer in me would put it another way. If there was ever a time that God would find it necessary to make himself known to humanity, it would be at the beginning of the Age of Pisces.

I think it is also reasonable to argue that the Protestant Reformation unwittingly opened the floodgates to aspects of the Age of Pisces that had previously been suppressed by the Roman Church.


Sex Abuse Scandal or Free-Market Coup?

When Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò decided to publish his letter, he went to the conservative Catholic network, with sites such as and National Catholic Register (owned by EWTN). In Italy he went to conservative bloggers like Aldo Maria Valli and Marco Tosatti. It was Valli and Viganò who timed the letter’s release during Francis’s trip to Ireland.

Timothy Busch, a ‘Koch Brothers-like’ conservative Catholic sits on the board of EWTN. Viganò also discussed his plan with Busch. Busch claims the Register personally assured him that Pope Benedict had confirmed Viganò’s account. (This has been denied by Benedict’s secretary.) Busch is not only on the board of EWTN and many other Catholic organizations, he’s the namesake for the business school at Catholic University, a graduate school known for working to reconcile free markets and capitalism with Catholic teaching. This brings us to the Koch brothers, who have been making large contributions to this business school.

The Koch’s have made good use of the pro-life movement, even though they are pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. The Tea-Party, the Chamber of Commerce, and the pro-life movement have been important tools for the destruction of democracy in Kansas.

And then of course we have liberal corporate Democrat Josh Shapiro and his Pennsylvania grand jury. Shapiro would seem to be disconnected from the conservative Catholic media, but what they all have in common is support for free market capitalism, which would probably explain the efforts to implicate Francis in the scandal.

By the way, it can be argued that it’s not the investigation itself that’s a problem. It’s the United States’ use of grand juries, and Pennsylvania’s grand jury in particular.

Priests Are Being Attacked in the United States: Now I’ve Seen Everything

Someone has been attacking priests. It’s supposedly a response to the Pennsylvania investigation. We don’t know if these are organized attacks, or if several people just happened to have the same idea at the same time. It seems more likely it was organized, but either way it is insane behavior. Of all the things that have happened since this conversation began, this is the most shocking and disturbing. These priests have done nothing wrong. They were doing the best they could to serve their communities.

One of the attackers is quoted as saying, “This is for the little kids,” but he obviously knows nothing about kids. The kids I have known would have sympathy for the victim. This attacker’s decision to go out and find someone to beat up is entirely his responsibility.

Maybe for the time being, church members could make sure their priests are not left alone. As for the men who carried out the attacks, they should be very worried. These priests belong to the Creator. He will watch over them and bring their attackers to justice.

Undoing Partitions in the Middle East

Here in the United States we call it divide-and-rule.  In the Middle East they call it partitioning. The Council for Interreligious dialogue is working in Iraq to eradicate finatical discourse in the name of religion.  You could say they are working to rebuild the cooperation that has been torn down by the global bullies.  And it’s working.  Below is the text of an April 25  article on La Croix International:

The local Mandean community will host the next meeting of the Iraqi Council for Interreligious Dialogue on April 26. These meetings between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and Mandeans are a genuine achievement in a country where inter-communal mistrust is the general rule.

Forty people joined the last meeting of the Iraqi Council for Interreligious Dialogue hosted by the Chaldean Patriarchate of Baghdad on March 1. They included Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Yazidis, Orthodox and Catholic Christians as well as Mandeans and even an audacious few of no religion.

“Together before God to eradicate fanatical discourse in the name of religion” provided the day’s theme of discussion.

Although it is now rare for members of different ethnic and religious communities to meet together, the discussions were “very frank and very free,” several participants reported.

With his usual frankness, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako of Babylon, who hosted the meeting, raised several challenging questions.

“On Judgment Day, will God ask us whether we are Shiite or Sunni Muslim, Catholic or Orthodox Christians, Mandeans or Yazidis? The question God is likely to ask us will rather be ‘What did you do for your brother? What did you offer your people?’” he said.

The next meeting of the Council, which is scheduled  for  April 26, will be hosted by the Mandean (or Sabean) community.

The Sunni community will host the May meeting, which will fall during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and participants will break their fast together.

Then it will be the turn of the Yazidis to host a meeting, a highly symbolic occasion for this multi-millennial religion, which was undoubtedly the most persecuted by ISIS.

“Five years ago, it was far from certain that people would accept to be seated at the same table,” said Sayyed Jawad Al-Khoei, who founded the Council with Dominican Father Amir Jaje.

“Progressively, confidence began to develop and we have even become friends,” he said. “Now many people want to join us.”

A Shiite, Jawad Al-Khoei, who is secretary-general of an institute for training in Islamic sciences at Najaf, particularly recalled a significant meeting in which ten women from various communities were invited to share a meal.

“One of them cried. She told us ‘I am here with you seated at the same table but my child has been rejected by his classmates who called him a kafir (unbeliever),” he said.

In Jawad Al-Khoei’s view, the creation of the Interreligious Council has had a direct impact on the Iraqi crisis.

“It became a necessity when ISIS forced people to come together,” he said during a visit to France for a Senate conference on “Citizenship and Justice in the Middle East” and another at the Catholic Institute of Paris on “Dialogue between Shiites and Christians.”

“We did not have any major ambitions except to break down the barriers between us or to agree to share a meal together when many regard this as impure,” he said.

“Once we are able to identify the main problems, we will contact the NGOs to work with them,” he said.

In an effort to build confidence, the Council meets behind closed doors and declines aid from government or from political parties.

In another oddity in a country where honors are often sought, the group has no president, treasurer or secretary.

How do the highest Iraqi Shiite authorities look on the initiative?

“As soon as you do something in Iraq, you are criticized,” said Jawad Al-Khoei.

“There are certainly many conservatives who disapprove,” said the young cleric. “However, the general atmosphere is positive and we could not have begun without protection from the most significant ayatollahs.”

Ignoring the opponents of interreligious dialogue, the Council seeks to rely on the “silent majority” of the Iraqi community.

“If, at worst, jihadists represent 2 to 3 percent of the population, those who are opposed to violence represent a far greater number,” Jawad Al-Khoei said.

“Most Muslims have no problem with Christians or Yazidis but they simply do not know them,” he said.

“We need to show them that dialogue is possible and that religious leaders guide them in this direction,” Jawad Al-Khoei said.

During the last meeting, several possible actions were discussed, including requesting the Iraqi Parliament to ban extremist religious discourse, to review school programs and to end each celebration with a prayer “for all the Iraqi people and not just for one ethnic group.”


Is April 17, 2018 Important to the War Hawks?

Previously I wrote about the occult speech that Christine Lagarde gave in 2014, and about how she provided misleading instructions for the calculation of the dates in her speech.  I was thinking about how the starting dates for World Wars I and II happen to add up to the number 7, a number highlighted by Lagarde in her speech, and I decided to calculate the date of April 17, 2018. I used 17 as the day because in occult circles the number 17 is a significant number. The result was disturbing.

According to Eisler the Greek alphabet is the basis for the calculation. The letters of the Greek alphabet are numbered from 1 to 24 and then the numbers are assigned to the letters in a given word. The numbers are then added together in a specific way. The number 17 adds up to 8 (1+7=8).

April is Απρίλιος in Greek. The letters in the word ‘April’ add up to 96. This can be reduced to 15 (9+6) and then to 6 (1+5) but it’s not necessary to reduce it.  You can use 96, 15 or 6. When you add the month, April, the day, 17, and the year 2018 it always comes out to 7. Use the number 96: (9+6+1+7+2+1+8= 34 and 3+4=7); or the number 15: (1+5+1+7+2+1+8=25 and 2+5=7); or number 6: (6+1+7+2+1+8=25 and 2+5=7).

A word of warning–it’s too easy to ascribe real meaning to these interpretations.  I have no idea if I’m calculating the numbers correctly.  Furthermore, according to some YouTubers, September 23, 2017 was supposed to bring the apocalypse but it passed like any other day. And when Condoleeza Rice likened the destruction of the Middle East to‘painful birth’ she was referring to chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation.  It’s likely she was only trying to reassure her fundamentalist base–we don’t know if she associated her administration’s policies with the Book of Revelation.  The question is, should we take Trump’s threats of immediate war more seriously?

The following is Robert Eisler’s discussion of the number 17.  I’m aware that some of his theories are controversial.   His theory that Jesus was a zealot has been refuted by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) and I accept Ratzinger’s correction of Eisler’s theory.  However I trust Eisler’s knowledge of numerology.  I’ll also mention another possible controversy: in this chapter he talks about the similarity of Christian beliefs to pagan beliefs, but I don’t think that’s his view. In the next chapter he agrues that ancient Judaism is the source of the Christian stories, not paganism.  However I welcome corrections to the way I’m using this material.

Page 118 of Orpheus the Fisher Eisler includes a discussion of John 21:7-11:

Again, part of the secret hidden behind the number 153 of the fish is explained by S. Augustine (Tract. 123 in Joann. Ev.) on Pythagorean principles. Indeed, again according to Philo (vol. i., p. 10, Mangey), the ‘fulfilment’ of any potentiality, say 3, is 1+2+3=6; the ‘fulfilment’ of 4, the famous tetraktys, is 1+2+3+4=10, etc. Consequently the ‘fulfilment’ of 17 is 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10+11+12+13+14+15+16+17=153; now, as Augustine has well pointed out, ‘ten’ is with Philo the number of the decalogue, while ‘seven’ represents, according to Rev. 1:4, 3:1, the Holy Spirit. Thus ‘seventeen’ symbolises the ‘fulfilment’ of the ‘law’ by the superaddition of ‘grace,’ the charismatic gift of the Spirit, which descends upon man in the Christian baptism, and ‘one hundred and fifty-three’ is again the ‘fulfilment’ of this most holy and most significant number ‘seventeen. 

The following is a link to an audio program discussing this problem:

September 2015 Heresy & the Cult of Christian Numerology & Kabbalah Practice

Adam and Eve’s Bargain Wedding

Before I go on I want to discuss a statement I made previously in which I said the story of Adam and Eve is used to justify marriage without compensation for women. If you consider the theological implications of the Fall you might see a possible problem with my theory. On the other hand, saying that a story has been used in a certain way is not the same thing as saying it was written for that purpose. And the story of Adam and Eve has been used in a certain way. The deist John Locke denied rights to women based on the story of Adam and Eve. Apparently this can be done regardless of a culture’s religious beliefs, or lack thereof. My point in the previous article was that if bridewealth was practiced in the Old Testament after the Fall, compensation for women never officially ended. Therefore when Paul Ryan withholds benefits and entitlements and then tells women to have more children, it is an unprincipled act.

Mega-Church and New World Order

This is the beginning of my effort to provide additional links pertaining to my articles.  I haven’t done this previously because I’ve assumed they would already be available to my readers.  Relevant articles and videos seem to appear in my news feed  and I sort of figured they would be available to my readers as well.  Now that I’ve said this I realize how ridiculous it sounds, but there it is.   The following videos support the previous article concerning religious confusion.

This next one is extremely long, so you might want to watch it in smaller pieces.   I’ll  have more to say about the general situation in the next post.