Are You Living in a State of Delusion?

George Gurdjieff, among others, pointed out that the vast majority of humans live in a state of delusion, being ignorant of their own nature, of the nature of consciousness, and of the nature of physical reality. Are you one of the deluded? The deluded, of course, never know that they are deluded. The existence of the state of delusion is obvious if one is Awakened. “Awakening” is the term the Gnostics used for their experience, and what they “knew” was… Read more

Agnostic Jewish Paganism—and Other New Religions

Yes, I am all three of those; how I define them makes them compatible. That is no stranger than Alan Watts’ being both an Anglican mystic and a Buddhist. I will discuss them one at a time. Agnosticism is philosophical. It consists of having to admit that there are important questions to which one can never know the answer, here defining knowledge as what can be learned by applying the scientific method. Science is not the accumulated products of that… Read more

On Metamethodology in Religious Studies: For John Morehead

John, I very much appreciate your calm and well-informed response to my earlier blog entitled “The Gospels Are Inherently Anti-Semitic: Deal with It.”  That title is inflammatory, but accurate. The underlying social issue is what should be done, and by whom, about the problem. You and I know and agree that the Greek hoi Iudaioi means and should be translated as “the Judeans.” Then it would refer merely to the citizens of a particular kingdom a long time ago. Who… Read more

The Jewish Cemetery in Paris, Texas

Two blocks from our house on Pine Bluff. Found by accident. Gravestones dated in the eighteen hundreds, not overgrown with weeds, protected by city law, maintained like a park as if to assuage a conscience.   There are no Jews in Paris now. Surrounded by Stars of David, I wondered if I’m Jewish enough to help create a minyan.   We moved to Paris, where Frank James retired after Jesse was shot— Melinda’s mother was Lois James— thinking we had… Read more

Some Instructions to Follow

When my Ethics class was about to get to the unit on Virtue Ethics, I began wondering what the interface or overlap with “Divine Commandment” theory might be. After all, both present a set of statements about what one should or should not do. The Jewish concept of “commandments” is that they are a gift to humankind, in being a set of instructions that enable one to live the best possible life, despite its usual difficulties. The commandments are thus… Read more

On the Moral Implications of the Bell Curve

I spend about as much time as any other well-informed person being concerned about the problems America is facing and, like everyone else, not having a clue about what I can do to help ameliorate the situation. I feel that I should be doing whatever I can. I certainly agree with Edmund Burke’s observation that evil can triumph only if good people do nothing. But evil has no objective, ontological existence. It consists entirely of the absence of the good,… Read more

Why I Am Thoroughly Pissed Off at Jill Stein

It’s really because of my mother. I have told parts of her story before; I will tell them again. Her father, William Henry Kelly, was Jewish, because his mother, Kathryn Scheer, was Jewish. She was disowned by her family for marrying an Irish cop; so she raised her 18 children as Catholics, but she told them they were nevertheless still Jewish and taught them the traditions, which Willy passed on to his three daughters as best he could. He took… Read more

Jill Stein, you are betraying the Jewish people—and the rest of humanity—because Trump is a Nazi.

Everything you are doing and saying makes it a little more possible that this pathological narcissist might be elected. After your enviable career as a doctor and college professor, where is your conscience? (Am I the first to say this? Why do I even have to?) Have you read what Stephanie Cegielski wrote about him? After working directly with him on his early campaign, she began to observe him objectively, as a voter would, and this is what she saw…. Read more

Diana, Bathing

Soon after my abrupt and spectacular expulsion from being a Catholic at age 14, I found Leland’s Aradia. I was fascinated by the concept that the ultimate deity was a Goddess, specifically, Diana. Later I wondered why Apollo’s sister, the Virgin Huntress, came to be considered the Queen of the Witches. A clue lies in the myth of Actaeon, killed by his own hounds as punishment for spying on Artemis; the clue is that Artemis was bathing to renew her… Read more

The Gospels Are Inherently Anti-Semitic. Deal With It.

Mark was a literary genius. He invented the “gospel” as a new literary genre. That is comparable to Aeschylus’ invention of drama. But, like Wagner, Mark was anti-Semitic. He despised “the Jews.” Please be aware that I am here boiling down almost 250 years of scholarship focused on the gospels. The history of that scholarship is one of liberals beating the literalists back step by step with a wand of reason, showing that the gospels are works of theology, not… Read more

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