Category Archives: MINISTRY OF ENLIGHTENMENT
If you have kept up with the flurry of books and papers on the nature of consciousness published in just the past decade alone, then you probably are under the impression that neuroscientists have made an overwhelmingly convincing case for brain activity as the source of consciousness and all else that is associated with this (“We are our brains”). And surely evolutionary psychologists have nailed down the most likely evolutionary influences and players that gave rise to key human mental and psychological traits. If you are tempted to say “Well, yes they have” to both, I want you to buy, beg or borrow a copy of “Aping Mankind” by Dr. Raymond Tallis and give it a thoughtful, careful read. By the time you finish perusing it, you will probably find your confidence badly shaken.
Mind you, Dr. Tallis’s critical literary tour-de-force is informed by his own rich academic and professional background in medicine, clinical neuroscience and philosophy. And, he is an atheist (He thus came to his thesis without religious convictions or sentiments).
And, just in case there is someone reading this who suspects Dr. Tallis is a creationist or is in any way sympathetic to such pseudoscientific nonsense, he is most empathetically not.
“Aping Mankind” ably tackles (what Dr. Tallis terms) “Neuromania” and “Darwinitis” with hard-hitting reasoning and arguments based on secular science and empiricism, logic, and good sense. In addition, Dr. Tallis’s book serves as a powerful reminder that in science nothing is forever settled or final; which is to say, even well-established principles, theories or laws can be overturned by sufficiently compelling contrary evidence.
Summer Cloud gives “Aping Mankind” 5 out of 5 stars.
© 2017 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
Like many of you reading this blog I have been following eschatologists, prophecy teachers and perusing bible-based prophecy books for what seems like an eternity (1960s on in my case). Along the way I have noted and sometimes jotted down prophecies that were precise as opposed to nonspecific, meaning specific timeframes and events such as a major quake in southern California were predicted in “thus says the Lord” fashion. None panned out.
Now, as you might expect my interest in eschatology and prophecy has not escaped the notice of close friends, family and others in my orbit. This leads to my getting emails containing prophetic words in oral or written form penned or spoken by various (mostly) evangelical preachers and self-proclaimed prophets. I typically retain those prophecies that bear a specific timeframe and later compare the predicted catastrophe, upheaval or what-have-you with what actually unfolded (The misses outnumber the hits by an almost astronomical margin).
On occasion, I will have someone pass along an email “imminent warning prophetic word” more often than not given by a well-known evangelist or teacher whose prophetic track record is not just abysmal but a literally train (of accuracy) wreck. Last night (9-4-2017) I got one such email in which great credence was given to a prophecy Jim Bakker reportedly shared concerning the recent flooding in Houston (and this well before Hurricane Harvey hit). Here are a few of the salient sentences from this email concerning Bakker’s prophetic predictions:
That prophecy was right about the flood here. Jim Bakker remarked a prophecy after that was for California. He predicted an earthquake. Since he was correct about the flood in Houston, I hope you take him serious for earthquake preparedness. Those products Bakker cover everything to get one through disaster.
To read the rest of my op-ed article go to http://summerclouds.weebly.com/summer-clouds-blog/and-now-a-word-about-failed-extrabiblical-prophecies
Matika Wilbur’s quest to photograph & document untold stories from citizens of every federally recognized American Indian tribe
Matika Wilbur’s quest to photograph & document untold stories from citizens of every federally recognized American Indian tribe
Dr. Anthony G. Payne *
(American Indian name, “Summer Cloud”)
When I was a boy (back in the Middle Ages – 1960s) we American Indians* were portrayed on TV and the movies as hopeless drunks, savages who spoke broken English at best, rapists, turncoats, and other equally unsavory characters. Newspapers and news shows did little better with most of the stories I read or saw focused on Native crimes or poverty, mostly in a “isn’t that too bad let’s move on now” vein. As though this weren’t enough I was surrounded by plenty of white adults and children who thought nothing of tossing out racist jokes and comments about American Indians (and African Americans and Hispanics as well) without batting an eyelash. Bigotry was acceptable and in some quarters applauded.
Of course, much has changed in the intervening years if only the fact overt racism has been replaced in many quarters by subtler versions. Gone are most of the Hollywood movie stereotypes but not the notion among many that American Indians are all steeped in poverty or stone-faced in the face of suffering, past and present.
Enter photographer Matika Wilbur, a member of both the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes, who decided to use her considerable artistic gifts & perspective to capture the faces of members of all the federally recognized American Indian tribes in an ambitious project she calls “562” (The number of federally recognized tribes when she began her odyssey in 2010, with more having been added since). In-a-word she wants to debunk the many false, hurtful images and stereotypes that surrounded Native American culture and society and to reassert the fact that Native peoples had not only survived centuries of marginalization, wanton cruelty and wholesale extermination but have held on to their own identities, heroes and sense of pride.
A November 23 2013 piece by NBC news had this to say about Wilbur’s mission:
One of those stereotypes is the image of Indians clad in feathers, nearly naked running across the prairie, whooping it up like what’s oft portrayed in western cinema. Also the caricature image of Indians as mascots.
With that in mind, Wilbur said the project is meant to drive conversations about the ubiquitous appropriation of Native American culture and to discuss how U.S. citizens can evolve beyond the co-opting of indigenous images and traditions.
“I hope to educate these audiences that it’s not OK to dress up like an Indian on Halloween,” she said. “I’m not a Halloween costume. I hope to encourage a new conversation of sharing and to help us move beyond the stereotypes.”
Wilbur added that she hopes her photos — her craft — will display the “beauty of (Native) people and to introduce some of our leaders to a massive audience.”
Wilbur is not, of course, the first photographer to focus on American Indians. In 1906, photographer and ethnologist Edward S. Curtis was commissioned by J.P. Morgan to go out and capture the “disappearing” race on film. Given the fact that over a century has passed since Curtis’s undertaking, Matika’s quest is not just welcome but long overdue.
Readers who’d like to invest in Matika Wilbur’s vision can do so by going to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/matika/project-562-changing-the-way-we-see-native-america/description
* I am a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
© 2014 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. This update copyright 2017 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
Intimacy has many forms and expressions, as you know — familial, romantic, sexual, and many others. You’ve got intimacy down pat, right? Now go do a Google search using the word intimacy and read a few of the articles concerning human relational intimacy (But skip the porno sites that may have gotten into your search results). After doing this I suspect you have found yourself questioning whether your mastery of intimacy is as thorough and complete as you thought it to be.
Now take this little self-reflection exercise a step further (provided you are a believer): do a Google search using the phrase (in parentheses) “Intimacy with God”. I did it just now and turned up 524,000 websites, blog entries and what-have-you. Now read through a few of the top ranked articles on this subject.
You probably read a lot about “surrender”, “transparency”, “obedience” and such (All consistent with what the Bible articulates about the God-human relationship).
What intrigues me is that many writers on the subject have a lot of “how to” steps based, in whole or part, on biblical examples and notions of what tends to draw us closer to the Almighty as well as those things that can throw a monkey wrench in the achievement of intimacy with God or complicate its development over time. Some of these writer-pontificators draw on personal experience. All this is fine and good and is generally valid at various levels and in various ways, I’m sure. And, I suspect, few (if any) believers are so instinctively and spiritually adept (gifted) at establishing and maintaining intimacy with God as to obviate the need for biblical and extrabiblical guidance or other input, such as “how to” guides and personal accounts (I invoked “I suspect” because it is hard to know for sure without surveying all believers).
In addition, I also suspect that many believers either think intimacy (at least the deepest, most profound expression of it) with God is something that he unilaterally ordains, decrees and facilitates, or is a matter of individual volition in the sense of approaching God and having faith he will respond to this and then help or enable us to wade into the waters of intimacy with him (starting with “toes first” and then progressing slowly over time as millimeter by millimeter of our being is submerged), or is a mix of both. Read the rest of this entry
FYE (For Your Edification): Brother “Practicing the Presence of God” Lawrence was a lay monk.
In keeping with this:
Ekklesia: Rediscovering God’s Instrument for Global Transformation by Dr. Ed Silvoso
The Real Jesus by Rev. Bert M. Farias
If you happen to be a believer who feels drawn to the faith tradition that was embraced and practiced by followers of Yeshua HaMashiach aka “Jesus the messiah” (before Constantine “paganized” everything, that is), then do I have a book for you! I refer to Dr. Robert Heidler’s “The Messianic Church Arising”.
Rather than reinvent the wheel in terms of writing a review, I will instead steer you to an excellent one at http://www.prophecytoday.uk/study/resources/item/364-review-the-messianic-church-arising.html
What follows below is a slightly truncated & edited email I sent to Rev. Bert M. Farias in response to a 5-4-16 article of his concerning the ever-growing embrace of Donald Trump by many Republicans, evangelical Christians and others.
Good Thursday (May 5, 2016), Rev. Farias!
I perused your 5-4-2016 Flaming Herald entry titled How Cruz’s Dropout Exposes the Corruption of the American Soul and thought you might welcome some feedback on it.
First off, I have no doubt but that some of your readers and even supporters (especially any diehard Trump supporters) will take exception with your article and make an exit, stage far right (of course). As you yourself stated, “I know I may lose followers, readers and even friends over this article, but that’s OK”.
I am not a Trump supporter or fellow traveler — quite the opposite actually (I’ve been a democratic socialist since 1986). But even if I were, I would not head for the door after reading your article. One of the things I discovered early on in my work as a theorist is that truth, not only in science but in most other areas of life, is arrived at haltingly in the form of what famed astronomer Edwin Hubble characterized as “successive approximations”.
For those who feel unqualified, under qualified or disqualified to play a significant role in God’s doings in this world
If you are a believer who feels unqualified, under qualified or disqualified to play any sort of role in the Almighty’s work in this world, do yourself a BIG favor and watch the interview below.
Anthony G. Payne
Reports are beginning to surface indicating that retail sources for emergency preparedness or survival gear, dehydrated foods, seeds and such cannot keep up with demand. It isn’t hard to figure out why with articles and tweets and such appearing almost every few minutes on what is happening or lies ahead in term of climate spawned global upheaval, tectonic activity that is triggering volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and other calamities, fracking induced quakes, super droughts and massive wildfires, epidemics, increasing social conflict & unrest and gun violence, economic instability in nations great and small, the unrestrained barbarity of ISIS, not to mention terrorist acts taking place worldwide by people of every extremist stripe, and a seemingly endless litany of calamities both human-made and natural that are sending millions of refugees streaming into Italy, Hungary, and elsewhere. And this hardly begins to scratch the surface of how many ways life is now making various doomsday movies, books and such that appeared in the 1950s, 1960s and beyond almost prophetic.
100 year old Jim Downing, USN Lt. at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, remembers the trauma & triumph of WWII (CBN Video News Segment)
Centenarian Remembers the Trauma and Triumph of WWII
As the 70th anniversary of World War II’s conclusion is commemorated, one eye witness, veteran Jim Downing recounts what it was like to live through this unparalleled time in history.
Scientists are not immune to bias as this insightful article lays out beautifully: http://nautil.us/issue/24/error/the-trouble-with-scientists [The timing is great too as “yours truly” is tentatively slated to begin doing bench research alongside a molecular biologist (PhD) and a stem cell biologist (PhD) starting during the fall of 2015]
Here is a analytic thought exploriment for you: Sit down and juxtapose current events (especially the darker side of the news) with the prophecies in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. I suspect that if you weren’t concerned about where civilization is headed before this exercise, you likely will be afterwards.
If you happen to be a Baby Boomer you probably have watched a succession of popular books and films on eschatology themes (“End of Era” events and corresponding prophecies) such as those of Hal Lindsey (Author of the bestselling 1970 book, “The Late Great Planet Earth“) come and go. A look back through these makes it very clear that nailing down the “End Times” is an iffy enterprise. However, today events are unfolding that line up with ancient prophecies in ways that are both starling and difficult to dismiss or gloss over.
And it isn’t believers in the mainstream religions that are blogging and tweeting on “End Times” prophecy. The Web abounds with fearful speculation on the part of people who are more secular in their thinking than religious or spiritual.
Let’s talk color. Specifically the color blue. Does this happen to be your favorite color? If so, you share this affinity with about 29% of other people (including “yours truly”) according to a 2012 poll (Click to read how blue ranks in popularity worldwide). But what does blue mean to you anyway?
The mental linkage between the word “blue” and being down or depressed aside, blue is an uplifting color in that it characterizes bodies of water (unless overrun with Styrofoam cups and pollutants or algae or such) and the skies above on a sunny day.
Scientists, of course, have found many interesting properties about blue light. For example, blue light at wavelengths of 670 and 830 nanometers ameliorates multiple sclerosis symptoms. And there is this: recently Nasa’s Curiosity rover on Mars captured images of a blue sunset on the red planet! (Click to access a CNN story on this phenomenon)
How many times during the course of your life have you created a social or personal reality or embraced one created by others? By this I am not referring to an imaginary playmate or fantasy job or such but, rather, to a reality or fact based on mutual agreement or assent.
Sound crazy? It isn’t. The imminent philosopher John Searle actually devoted part of a whole book to the thesis that there are 2 kinds of facts: Those that are facts no matter who observes them, and then there are those that only need people’s agreement or assent to them. A fossil ammonite, for instance, is a physical object that remains a fossil ammonite no matter who looks at it or holds it. A church group’s claim that an archangel hovered over their last meeting is a mental reality to those who perceived it but cannot be demonstrated to those who do not share this perception/belief-based perspective (The same can be said of some treatments and diagnostic techniques in the world of complementary-alternative medicine).
Got 2 minutes to spare? Then sit back and enjoy a mix of fact, fantasy & tongue-n-cheek from “yours truly” (Dr. Anthony G. Payne)
If you stayed awake though your high school or college history of western (or world) civilization courses, you may recall lessons concerning the many instances in which ambitious, sometimes wantonly evil leaders probed for weakness in those they opposed and acted decisively when they found it. In light of these dark chapters in the human experiment, what do you think of our administration’s penchant for striking deals with regimes and groups whose expressed political and territorial ambitions are nothing short of one day obliterating those they consider their nemeses?
I am a political liberal, a democratic socialist since 1985, and am perplexed and distressed to see many of this country’s leaders working frantically to appease evil at almost every turn. No, I am no fan of war but I’d be pretty stupid not to realize that evil men tend to sit tight or retreat when confronted by armed opponents who will not back down. Don’t think this is so? Let’s jump in the Wayback Machine for a moment and set the dial to early 1936:
Nazi Germany’s leader (Fuehrer) Adolf Hitler ordered his army to remilitarize the Rhineland but later remarked that “The forty-eight hours after the march into the Rhineland were the most nerve-racking in my life. If the French had then marched into the Rhineland we would have had to withdraw with our tails between our legs, for the military resources at our disposal would have been wholly inadequate for even a moderate resistance”. No one stood up to Hitler. Afterwards he made territorial demands on one country after another, always threatening war but confident that his enemies would do little or nothing to stop him beyond saber-rattling talk while frantically appeasing him in order to avoid war.
I have a different spin on this which is not peculiar youth or young people: What will you let life do to you?
“What do I mean?”, you ask. It’s really quite simple: Every person, influence, work of art and music, hobby, passion, group, tribe and such is writing paragraphs and chapters in the unique storybook which is your life. Your very being may even form a dynamic circuit with select others.
Picture your life as a huge whiteboard. Now walk along and read the entries on it — “the good, bad and ugly”, if you will. As you look around you see the various people in your life writing on your “lifeboard”. What kind of story has emerged? Are you happy with it? If not, how many “bad content writers” can and should be banned from writing on your lifeboard in 2015?
Dr. Anthony G. Payne
►Which dominates your life: Competition or sharing & harmonization?
►Is what you’ve been doing with your life consistent with your core nature, or not? That is, are you faithful to your true or authentic self or not?
►Do you tend to think your own thoughts or those of Madison Avenue, Wall Street, etc.?
►Are you nurturing what is genuine & true in life or something else entirely?
►Which is better: To be whole or something else?
►Do you resist learning what closed doors have to teach you?
►Have you consciously embraced your limitations?
►Are the “ought’s” & “should have’s” that bedevil you reflect who you really are?
►Do you run from failure and “experiments gone bad” or learn the lessons they offer and revise your life course accordingly?
►Have the roles you play in life, its pleasures, indulgences, escapes, or obligations, or something else eclipsed or undermined the “you beneath & within”?
►Do the conflicts and paradoxes in your life demand resolution, or embrace & integration into all that you are?
►Is your trip through the valley preparing you to fulfill your unique purpose in life?
Who among you has not read an editorial, op-ed piece or commentary that points out alarming parallels between America and the Roman Empire in decline? Do you believe America’s sun is setting? And if so, why? Is it the shift from democratic republic to oligarchy and/or plutocracy? Loss of our moral bearings? Rampant fear and paranoia? Racism? Xenophobia? Religious intolerance? Other evils? I’m sure you have your own pet theory. Is loss of civic virtue on your list? If not, why not? Need convincing that this belongs there? Then drop down, click the mp3 link under Rabbi David Wolpe’s name, and listen to his powerful sermon.
|Mishpatim : Why Rome Fell and We Might, Too|
|keywords: Anton Chekhov, Benjamin Guggenheim, Christianity, civic virtue, Constantinople, Edward Gibbon, Egypt, Herman Cohen, John Jacob Astor, John Lukatz, lead, Mishpatim, physician Roman Empire, Rome Titanic, Tucson|
|January 29, 2011|
|Rabbi David Wolpe|
|drash – Rabbi Nicole Guzik|
From the “sure to throw off your spiritual gyroscope” department: 3 books — 2 free online & 1 cheap through Amazon
Will Islam Be Our Future? A Study of Biblical and Islamic Eschatology (This book is FREE online in its entirety) by Joel Richardson
Jesus’ Words Only (Second Edition 2007) (This book is FREE online in its entirety) by Douglas J. Del Tondo, Esq.
The RAPTURE QUESTION Answered: Plain & Simple by Robert Van Kampen
A lot of people are wrestling with how this country should deal with militant Muslims in our midst. I think most of us have no issue with American Muslims who do not advocate for anything at odds with our US civic virtues and democratic traditions and practices. Concerns naturally arise with US-based Muslims who post, preach and otherwise advocate for the things we hear being said by members of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) and other radical Muslim groups. Many advocate deporting anyone who engages in this sort of thing. Of course, we have homegrown militants in our midst, among them neo-Nazis and Klansmen who preach things that inspire hatred and sometimes violence on the part of their members and sympathizers. One could argue are they are citizens and enjoy certain legal and constitutional protections which renders deportation or “quarantine” a nonissue, but then some extremist Muslims in the US also are citizens (Some born here). Deporting a US citizen to the country their ancestors came from might be emotionally satisfying to some folks but it would open a door that could quickly be abused by the state.
Few reading this, I dare say, have any qualms about seeing religious extremists who believe they please the Almighty by dealing with nonbelievers, sinners, so-called apostates and “infidels” with intolerance and especially cruelty and butchery, contained and even eradicated (Mandated when an armed response is the lesser of 2 evils — kill or else have more innocents killed).
At the moment (October 2014) a coalition of nations including many predominately Muslin ones are involved in rolling back the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) whose atrocities and wanton evil are regularly showcased and discussed on TV and in newspapers, not to mention web, blog and social media outlets galore worldwide.
In the midst of all this most justifiable righteous indignation with extremist violence and monstrous wickedness, there is also a growing hostility towards Muslims in countries throughout the world in which peaceful, law-abiding ones are not only suspected of being sympathetic to Islamic extremists like IS/ISIS/ISIL but are thought to be fellow travelers, even members of planted “sleeper cells” who lurk in the shadows awaiting conditions to favor their popping out and engaging in terrorism.
And, even though Muslims including scholars have come out and denounced the extremist evil of IS including their cherry-picking of the Quran to support their beliefs and actions (Examples: Here & here), this is oftentimes ignored or eclipsed by our all-too-human in-group/out-group sentiments (wiring?) which in many instances has given rise to xenophobia and then paranoia. There is something both ironic and paradoxical in the fact that many who decry the intolerance and acts of cruelty championed by extremists began to treat anyone or anything that “smacks of the enemy” with intolerance and cruelty (ranging from subtle ostracism to physical violence).
It is also tempting to filter out contrary evidence within the Islamic world and conclude that IS/ISIS/ISIL actually reflects the heart and soul of Muslim beliefs and heartfelt convictions. It doesn’t help that stories and accounts come out of how many Muslims actually do believe that certain Islamic extremist groups, often dominated by clerics, are an antidote for deviating from a literal interpretation of the Quran or “creeping liberalism”. This sort of thing is naturally seized upon by those who argue that Muslims who bomb, shoot, crucify, bury alive, behead and otherwise dispatch “infidels” in bestial ways represent the real Islamic McCoy. Here is one of many posted articles on the Web that take this position (This one claims that the Oklahoma Muslim who beheaded an ex-coworker represents the “real Islam”): http://www.wnd.com/2014/09/oklahoma-beheader-represents-real-islam/
If this doesn’t should familiar, you’ve either forgotten your high school history lessons or slept through them. How so? At one time the Christian world, especially many of its leaders both religious and secular, sanctioned draconian measures against “infidels” which included torture, imprisonment, exile and cruel executions. What did these “defenders of the faith” base their actions on? They certainly didn’t need to make up scriptural justification for this sort of thing. The Bible provided them abundant material that when taken literally and narrowly applied, sometimes out-of-context and sometimes not, justified the cruelest imaginable treatment and horrific execution of gays, occultists, nonbelievers, heterodox believers (heretics), infidels (non-Christians) and more. Click to read a rundown of such verses.
Historic examples? Thankfully, a chap by the name of Mark Humphrys saved me having to dig out all the applicable historic incidents and practices and such, as he researched, organized and posted this to http://markhumphrys.com/christianity.killings.html (Readers are also encouraged to peruse what’s posted at http://www.heretication.info/_heretics.html).
Of course, most modern (Western) Christian believers and organizations including churches and denominations would never entertain taking verses such as Leviticus 20:10 as (ahem) gospel and acting on them: If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death (Albeit some especially aggrieved wives or husbands might wish this was the law of the land)
But ask yourself: What stopped the waves of church-sanctioned persecution, torture and cruel execution of heretics and those declared apostates, sinners or such who would not repent or otherwise bend their knee to those who held their lives in-the-balance? History reveals no sudden turnabout. However, over time a number of shifts and changes occurred that gradually undermined and eroded intolerance and forced conformity to orthodoxy: Among these, the church lost secular power and influence while Biblical literalism and militant, extremist Christian policies and actions lost steam as more moderate views won the day (And these because to a great extent religious scholars and others critically examined archaic beliefs and practices and even the scriptures themselves in light of contrary or mitigating factual evidence and reasoning).
This is viewpoint is reflected in comments made by Southern Baptist Theological seminary faculty member Dr. Timothy Paul Jones to the Baptist Press which were incorporated in a July 2014 article titled “Why Christians killed and why Muslim violence continues” by David Roach:
“Christians used to kill with some frequency over matters of doctrine. There was the Spanish Inquisition, Calvin’s Geneva, England’s notorious Bloody Mary, the drowning of Anabaptists, the Crusades and more.”
Dr. Jones, the author of “Christian History Made Easy“, also stated that “it was the intermingling of church authority and civil authority that made it possible for persons who claimed to be Christians to have the state execute others who also professed Christ.”
But,…and this is a big but…..this shift was not without acrimonious debates, calls for a return to “that old time religion” (i.e., a church with secular power that punished heretics and others), fist fights and open warfare, and worse, in various quarters at various times.
Now ask yourself: Does all that’s happening in the Middle East — the theocratic Islamic governments who rely on oppression and cruelty and public executions to hold the pot lid down on dissent, the pitched battles (literal and figurative) between proponents of a Muslim religious worldview that is exclusivist literalist, and radically fundamentalist and those who champion the opposite, etc. — represent the kind of “Future Shock” cultural, social and religious clashes and upheavals that arose from and signaled the transition from a Europe that was ruled by clerics and which burned heretics to one of nations largely democratic and essentially tolerant? (But not without periodic lapses into darkness when conditions favored the eclipse of reason and tolerance by fear, hatred and bigotry). I tend to think so.
The question of whether such a complete transition will occur may not be one of if but when. But at what cost to the Muslim world and Israel, the EU, America, and other countries before the dust settles?
Beyond containing militant/radical Muslim extremists, there are other variables at play that could up the ante and the “dust” that gets kicked up before it settles to the ground. Assume for a moment that those who warn that Iran is dead set on building nuclear weapons — something underscored by alarming developments such as this — are right and they do. What happens if a major offensive is launched by one or more Arab countries against Israel and Iran joins this? If so, it is not inconceivable that Russia, which has longstanding ties to Iran (not to mention Assad’s Syria), might seize the opportunity to support such military adventurism. This would surely result in America rightfully jumping into the fray to help Israel repel this armed assault and intended invasion. Bingo, WWIII or, if not something this dire, surely a major regional conflagration that will come awfully close to unleashing it.
A major war in the Middle East, too, seems less a matter of if but when. Certainly a great many Jewish and Christian believers view this as inevitable based on prophecies in the books of Daniel and Ezekiel (Among others). Read my blog entry on this by clicking this link.
However, whether a great war hits the Middle East in the near future, later on or not at all, we can all expect a lot of craziness and bloodshed not only there but in Europe, the US, Canada, and elsewhere before the Muslim world breaks free of the forces of extremism, oppression and such.
Our challenge here in the US lies not just encouraging and waiting out the hoped for transition among Muslim countries, but also in preventing terrorist acts by Islamic extremists and their sympathizers in our midst, while at the same time avoiding letting their occasional successes drive us into the arms of authoritarian solutions…or worse.
Dr. Anthony G. Payne (Br. Anthony of the Resurrection)
Additional/supplemental reading penned by “yours truly”
I have worked with a coenzyme called pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) for quite a while now and think it is worth a “look see” by physicians and others for its preventative and therapeutic potential. Let’s dive into this now:
First, let’s “do the time warp, now”: During 1994-5 I worked in an Ag lab and large greenhouse complex outside Lincoln, Nebraska (Which was devoted to the testing of various nature-derived growth accelerants on culinary & medicinal mushrooms). One of the principle consulting researchers who rubbed elbows with me was Andy Anderson, PhD, who discovered a radioresistant bacterium back in 1956 while irradiating food at the Oregon Agricultural Experimental Station in Corvallis (As I recall from our chitchat, he was irradiating canned foods to see if this would reliably preserve them against spoilage). The bacterium was subsequently dubbed Deinococcus radiodurans and is indisputably the most radioresistant organism discovered to-date.
How can you help fight back against unjust, immoral-unethical or wrongly applied laws? Let people know about “jury nullification” and, if you are called on to serve on a jury that involves an unjust or wrongly applied law, use it yourself.
This article lays it all out: http://www.exposingthetruth.co/peoples-law-nullification/#axzz2ejSFhFAF
Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Marcia Angell is the author of The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It. But more to the point, she’s also the former Editor-in-Chief at the New England Journal of Medicine, arguably one of the most respected medical journals on earth. But after reading her article in the New York Review of Books called Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption, one wonders if any medical journal on earth is worth anybody’s respect anymore.
“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”
Dr. Angell cites the case of Dr. Joseph L. Biederman, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and chief of pediatric psychopharmacology at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital. She explains:
“Thanks largely to him, children as young as two years old are now being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and treated with a cocktail of powerful drugs, many of which were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for that purpose, and none of which were approved for children below ten years of age.”
Biederman’s own studies of the drugs he advocates to treat childhood bipolar disorder were, as The New York Times summarized the opinions of its expert sources, “so small and loosely designed that they were largely inconclusive.”
In June 2009, an American senate investigation revealed that drug companies, including those that make drugs he advocates for childhood bipolar disorder, had paid Biederman $1.6 million in “consulting” and “speaking” fees between 2000 and 2007.
“Two of Biederman’s colleagues received similar amounts. After the revelation, the president of the Massachusetts General Hospital and the chairman of its physician organization sent a letter to the hospital’s physicians expressing not shock over the enormity of the conflicts of interest, but sympathy for the beneficiaries: “We know this is an incredibly painful time for these doctors and their families, and our hearts go out to them.”
Biederman’s failure to disclose his Big Pharma payments to his employers ar Harvard (as is required for all Harvard employees) has been under investigation* for the past two years by Harvard Medical School, in as journalist Alison Bass describes this: “what must be the longest investigation in that school’s history”).
Dr. Angell’s article contains bombshell after bombshell, all gleaned during her tenure as NEJM editor. For example, on the subject of doctors who are bought and paid for by Big Pharma, she writes:
“No one knows the total amount provided by drug companies to physicians, but I estimate from the annual reports of the top 9 U.S.-based drug companies that it comes to tens of billions of dollars a year in North America alone.By such means, the pharmaceutical industry has gained enormous control over how doctors evaluate and use its own products. Its extensive ties to physicians, particularly senior faculty at prestigious medical schools, affect the results of research, the way medicine is practiced, and even the definition of what constitutes a disease.”
Revelations like this from medical profession insiders cast serious doubt on more than what’s printed on the pages of these medical journals.
Your physician reads these journals, treatment decisions are changed, care is affected, drugs are prescribed – all based on Big Pharma-funded medical ghostwriter-prepared journal articles from physicians who fraudulently claim to be the study authors. Then you walk out of your doctor’s office with a prescription for a drug that may or may not kill you, based on treatment protocols written by doctors like Biederman who are on the take from Big Pharma.
A very recent example of the sad reality over at the once-prestigious New England Journal of Medicine is their decision to publish a drug company-funded review article. This review attempts to discredit emerging research suggesting that many years of using Merck’s Fosamax or Procter & Gamble’s Actonel (both osteoporosis drugs in a class called bisphosphonates) could actually result in more leg bone fractures.
Not surprisingly, drug manufacturers of bisphosphonates are fighting back ferociously against this emerging (independent) research. A Merck-funded review paper published in the NEJM on March 24, 2010 concludes:
“The occurrence of fracture of the subtrochantericor diaphyseal femur was very rare, even among women who had been treated with bisphosphonates for as long as 10 years.”
Sounds promising for Big Pharma. But if you look very, very closely, the article’s fine print confesses:
“The study was underpowered for definitive conclusions.”
You might justifiably ask yourself why a medical journal would stoop to publishing a meaningless scientific paper that the paper’s own authors admit lacks any conclusion. Even more troubling than a journal article that was itself bought and paid for by Merck, is the conflict of interest disclosure list at the bottom of this NEJM article. It reads like a Who’s Who of Big Pharma.
Of the 12 study authors listed in the NEJM article, at least three are full-time employees of Merck or Novartis. Each one of the other nine admit owning equity interests in or receiving cash, travel expenses, or “consulting and lecture fees” from companies including Merck, Novartis, Amgen, Roche Nycomed, Procter & Gamble, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Medtronics, Nastech, Nestle, Fonterra Brands, OnoPharma, Osteologix, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Sanofi-Aventis, Tethys, Unilever,Unipath, Inverness Medical, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, OSIProsidion, or Takeda.
Why is the New England Journal of Medicine or any other credible medical journal accepting for publication articles submitted by paid employees of pharmaceutical companies?
As a cardiac patient, I’m gobsmacked by what appears to be this systemic corruption of not only medical journals who continue to publish what they clearly know is tainted research linked to drug marketing, but of the very doctors whom patients trust to look out for us. Since my heart attack in 2008, I take a fistful of cardiac meds every day, and I have no clue which of them were prescribed for me based on flawed research or tainted medical journal articles funded by the very companies that make my drugs.
And worse, neither do my doctors.
Happily, there are other decent physicians out there who, like Dr. Angell, are just as outraged as she is. Her targets are not just guilty of unethical conflict of interest – they are criminals who should be charged with endangering our health while padding their wallets.
Read Dr. Angell’s article from the New York Review of Books, called Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption.
* NEWS UPDATE: “Massachusetts General Hospital Discloses Sanctions against Three Psychiatrists for Violating Ethics Guidelines”, July 1, 2011: The Boston Business Journal said today that three psychiatrists have been sanctioned for failing to adequately report seven-figure payments they received from drug companies.
Drs. Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens disclosed the disciplinary actions against them in a note to colleagues. According to a copy of the note made public upon request by the hospital, the three doctors:
• must refrain from “all industry-sponsored outside activities” for one year
• for two years after the ban ends, must obtain permission from Mass. General and Harvard Medical School before engaging in any industry-sponsored, paid outside activities and then must report back afterward
• must undergo certain training
• face delays before being considered for “promotion or advancement.”
The three doctors have been under the political microscope since June 2008 when Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, began investigating conflicts of interest involving clinicians. Biederman and Wilens have since admitted to accepting $1.6 million from drug companies whose drugs they were promoting; Spencer took $1 million.
Senator Grassley said, according to an online version of the Congressional record:
“These three Harvard doctors are some of the top psychiatrists in the country, and their research is some of the most important in the field. They have also taken millions of dollars from the drug companies.”
- Does The Medical Profession Need To Wean Itself From The Pervasive Dependence on Big Pharma Money?
- Warning: Clinical Trials Funded by Drug Companies May Appear More Truthful Than They Actually Are
- Bioethical Journal: “How Drug Marketing Corrupts Every Part of the Scientific and Medical Network”
- How the “Shrink’s Bible” Can Make you Sick
- Harvard Cozies Up with Big Pharma
- Harvard’s Ethical Ultimatum to Doc: Give Up Big Pharma Moonlighting Jobs, or Lose Harvard Teaching Post
- Is Your Doctor a “Thought Leader”?
- Bad Doctors Earning Good Money from Big Pharma
- Doctor’s Kiss & Tell Tale: My One-Year Career As a Drug Rep
No doubt you’ve come across more than a few TV segments or Web items or both on the many eye-opening episodes from Paula Deen’s past involving racially insensitive words and deeds (The latest being a just released NY Times story at http://nyti.ms/12mBZaO). What I found troublesome in all this was the argument (rationalization) she offered a while back to the effect that the South she grew up in was in some ways a bastion of antebellum bigotry and thus by extension it is almost expected that folks who grew up in it would harbor such notions. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this is true. In fact, I know this is true because I grew up in the South (Texas and Louisiana) during the very time Deen did. I am Southern born & bred and have ancestors on both sides of my family that go back to before the Revolutionary war in South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi. My great, great grandparents and their offspring lived as citizens of the C.S.A. and some actually fought under the stars & bars as Confederate soldiers. However, my Euro-American father and American Indian (Choctaw) mother never used racist terms or tolerated racist jokes nor even once used the N-word. Not once. And while I heard this pejorative word tossed about by other Southerners as both a put-down of African Americans and as a way to defuse their own fears of (I gather) being upstaged by them, I wanted no part of it. So it follows that a Southerner can grow up around racist words & thinking and yet not wind up perpetuating them in word or deed. This lends me to be wholly unsympathetic to Deen’s attributing what she said and did in the past to exposure to what amounted to “acceptable bigotry”.
If you belong to a faith tradition or religious perspective that views the fusion of sperm and egg as marking the advent of a human life, you are probably very unlikely to modify your stance. As one who grew up in the Bible belt among Protestant fundamentalists and evangelicals (upwards of 90% of my family), I know where you are coming from. There is black & white, with grey being a species of unacceptable compromise that is akin to bedding down with evil incarnate.
If you happen to belong to the “B & W’ contingent, perhaps you buttress your antiabortion convictions like many aspects of your most cherished religious beliefs with borrowings from the world of science and medicine, however tenuous some of these may be. As you may know or at least have heard, many religious beliefs are not testable and thus lie outside the purview of science. For example, the religious concept that every human has a soul or spirit imputed by the Almighty at conception or thereafter is not something that can be tested and verified or refuted using the tools of science. There is no laboratory assay that will disclose or measure something that is held to have no material substance as we know it and which is not physically manifest in cells or tissues or such.
For religionists who hold that ensoulment (i.e., spirit is imputed) occurs at conception, and (who) refuse to consider even slightly modifying this perspective in light of contrary biblical reasoning, there exists an impasse that cannot be readily breeched (If at all). When enough people embrace such a spin on what constitutes viable human life, their collective influence on the direction state and even federal legislation takes is felt (Some would argue disproportionately so). Of course, the courts have weighed in to keep even majority sentiment from what they conclude impinges on or overrides the Constitutional rights of the minority.
Many scientists regard the convictions of those who hold that viable human life begins at conception or during the very early stages of development as both presumptuous and naive. Many religionists and theologians agree. Among those who happen to hold fast to a belief that a fertilized egg is entitled to full status as a viable human, the use of blastocytes or very early stage embryos constitutes a species of murder. Some even go so far as to decry those who take exception to their faith-based beliefs as being immoral or amoral.
Does the truth lie somewhere between the strictly secular and the sacred? Most of us probably harbor a feeling that somewhere in all this – lurking in the facts of biology and the world of polemics and logic, ethics and religion – there is an answer that will win the day. If this is the case, it is quite obviously going to take time for such a truth to fully emerge.
Many have asked me, “What is your spin on what constitutes viable human life?” Being as I have a foot in both worlds – which is to say religious belief and science – it seems logical to suppose that I would be able to offer up a “faith and science-friendly” opinion as to when viable human life begins. Well, yes, I do have something to offer up for consideration though the only thing I can be 100% certain of is that my opinion will be contested by people on both sides of the “great divide”. With this in mind, here is my spin – informed by biology, of course.
The heart begins beating at three weeks of gestation and the first neural reflex is manifest at eight weeks (and consists of hand withdrawal in response to stimulation of the fetal lip region). During weeks 9-13 the first brain waves appear and are discernible using special medical instrumentation.
Given that death is defined (in part) as a cessation of both heart and brain wave activity, one could argue conversely that to be alive in any meaningful sense beyond mere biological existence (A petri dish bearing a cell culture has biological existence, after all) begins when both heart and brain are operational – week 9 onwards.
Interestingly, in my own faith tradition which is informed by lines of moral & ethical reasoning in Rabbinic Judaism, the fetus generally becomes a viable human life after day 40 of gestation. In the ancient Jewish context, the fetus is deemed to be little more than water until “quickening” occurs, about 40 days after insemination. “What Do Orthodox Jews Think About Abortion and Why? By Judith Shulevitz – Orthodox Jews on Abortion. If we take week 9 as our bench mark — the heart and brain being recognizably functional – then the fetus would be deemed viable from about day 63 onward.
Applying this definition of when human life becomes viable, it follows that embryos from conception to week 9 or so are “pre-viable” or “proto-viable.”
Now is this to say that embryos prior to week 9 are “fair game”? Say, that we can create embryos strictly for the purposes of harvesting their tissue and/or stem cells for medical research or other applications? These embryos aren’t viable, so why not? Well this brings us full circle to religious and ethical concerns. Rather than belabor that in this op-ed piece, I would direct readers to an excellent treatment of this subject in this posted article: Jewish Virtual Library – Abortion
OK, so we don’t create embryos to harvest, how about using intentionally aborted fetuses as a source of tissues or embryonic stem cells for research or medical application? As one fellow actually said to me, “Hey, Doc, they are going to die anyway, so why not get some good out of them for sick and ailing people”. To my mind, this comes uncomfortably close to the arguments advanced by physicians and scientists who performed hideous experiments on human subjects in Nazi concentration camps. This very line of reasoning was, in fact, used as a defense by some of the physicians being tried for war crimes in the 1946 “Doctor’s Trail” in Germany). Granted, there is a world of difference between elective abortion and the intentional dispatch of life at the hands of doctors (such as the late Nazi “Angel of Death” Dr. Josef Mengele and his ilk) who abandoned universally acknowledged medical ethics in the service of the state. But even so, harvesting aborted fetuses from any source does strike many folks in America as constituting a form of callous utilitarianism that can’t help but bring to mind some of the most egregious polities and activities in the Nazi bio-state – or perhaps the fear that our country is headed in the direction of making prophecy of the classic sci-fi film “Soylent Green” – or both. And even if the intentional abortion of a fetus before week 9 were universally embraced as morally and ethically acceptable – in no way offensive to humankind or the Almighty – there remains something hauntingly “predatory” about utilizing material from intentionally terminated “pre-viable” human material.
All things considered, it seems unlikely that access to abortion will prove a genie that can be returned to the proverbial bottle (This side of the US becoming an authoritarian or police state run by pro-life factions at all levels, that is – something the majority of Americans would vehemently oppose). And while restrictions on the direction embryonic stem cell research and use takes will likely continue to be a legislative and ethical tug-of-war between various factions, a return to an outright ban on government provided/sanctioned embryonic stem cell lines seems unlikely. This leaves what is being played out now at the political level: That is, the fact many state legislatures such as my own native state of Texas in 2013 are leaning towards placing considerable restrictions on access to abortion services. This gambit may succeed especially in states dominated by a traditionally conservative majority although I predict any such this legislation will be eventually overturned by the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional.
Perhaps my life-at-9-weeks-on criteria should be thrown into the abortion access deliberations mix. Let’s revisit it:
Given that death is defined (in part) as a cessation of both heart and brain wave activity, one could argue conversely that to be alive in any meaningful sense beyond mere biological existence (A petri dish bearing a cell culture has biological existence, after all) begins when both heart and brain are operational – week 9 onwards
Of course, I am not actually advocating that my definition (above) be transformed into new legislation or such that is imposed on all women across the land. But for women who come out of conservative faith traditions what I have laid out might help them in deciding at what point-in-time during a fetuses’ development abortion constitutes an ethical or moral misstep. For those who find my approach reasonable, use of a “morning after” pill constitutions no sin nor does an abortion prior to week ten (10) post-conception.
In the final analysis, the whole matter comes down to personal choice informed by the unique constellation of social and life factors & players that characterize each woman’s life.
© 2013 by Dr. Anthony “Choctaw Doc” Payne. All rights reserved.