Category Archives: Uncategorized
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”.
As such, I accept that none of us has truth all wrapped up in any realm, secular or sacred, but instead possess a mix of beliefs, facts and insights that vary in terms of the degree they approach what is “indisputably true” (in the absolute or final sense).
This way of approaching reality tends to put brakes on becoming so polarized (politically or otherwise) as to stop listening to worthy contrary opinions. And even when a particular belief, conviction, prophecy or what-have-you turns out to have little or no merit, I do not turn my back on the speaker, writer or such and head for the proverbial exit (Unless the speaker, writer or such consistently doles out material that is so intellectually and/or morally bankrupt as to lead only to error or harmful deception).
Sadly, I think many in the community of believers cling to an Americanized Gospel which equates what is biblically true and reliable with being part and parcel of various right wing political agendas. Actually, Christianity itself in the US and many other nations has been interpreted (and by virtue of this) rewritten to gel with sentiments and ideas that actually run contrary to what Messiah taught and advocated (Torah based Judaism), e.g., unbridled capitalism and the greed it is predicated on and the corruption it engenders and promotes.
I dare say if Yeshua HaMashiach physically visited most American churches he would not recognize what was being taught and advocated as being remotely like what he articulated and lived.
Now, off my soapbox and back to your article:
In your article you mentioned that “Benny Hinn prophesied on New Year’s Eve 1989 that a woman would one day be president of America and would destroy this nation. It seemed like a far-fetched prophecy then, but not so much anymore.”
Whether this is a genuine word of prophecy or not, I can’t help but think Hinn’s pronouncement was in some way influenced by the fact Geraldine Ferraro was the Democratic Party VP candidate in 1984. Many of us back in 1984 speculated that her nomination presaged a woman becoming President at some point in the near or far future.
Of even greater concern is Hinn’s very disturbing track record: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/bhinn.html
Be this as it may, the Almighty has (at various times) used very imperfect vessels to transmit prophetic words. Maybe he spoke to Hinn — or maybe Hinn is like the proverbial broken clock stuck on a single time reading — right twice each day no matter what.
Whether Hinn and others who have said similar things about a future woman President heard from God or their own mental processes (i.e., subconscious thought streams bubbling to the surface which may or may not be a divine mechanism for weaving prophecies), I actually am fearful of having Hillary Clinton become this country’s chief executive. I base this on her track record which simply does not encourage confidence she is honest or a person possessing the kind of integrity one associates the leader of the free world. On the other hand, Senator Bernie Sanders is her almost polar opposite in terms of being consistently honest and an individual of unwavering integrity [His actions are IMO closer to the “care and share” core of Torah and (later) Rabbinic Jewish teachings, which the Messiah wholeheartedly embraced and exemplified in word and deed].
Of course, the alternative (now) to Hillary appears to be Trump (I am still holding out hope Bernie Sanders will get the Democratic nomination as this would shake things up in the best possible way and change what follows so as to avert the road Hillary or Trump would likely take America down). To be honest, his “fruit” has to be the most nauseatingly rotten to pop out on the political tree in many moons (The closest American equivalent I can find is Huey Long, who was not exactly unsympathetic to fascism). As you noted:
The crowds clamored for Trump no matter how arrogant he got, or how much he lied, or cussed, or was exposed for his filth and fraud. He told you what you wanted to hear and you believed him. Now you will pay and be held accountable for your most unwise choice. Standing up against one of the most electable and upright candidates of our lifetime, you have continued to use your mouth as a weapon to defend your idol against the opportunity gave you.
Naturally many people have found parallels between Trump and the patron saint of mass manipulation, Adolf Hitler. Some of their analyses are deeply flawed, but there are elements and parallels that hold up and are very troubling. Trump’s pitches to evangelical (and other) Christians is very reminiscent of Hitler’s to the Church in Germany in his day, something very cogently laid out in the CBN segment “God & Hitler”: http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/churchhistory/godandhitler/
And when people talk of Mr. Trump’s charisma, I am reminded of Hitler whose own charisma emanated from his ability to discern what people wanted to hear and then feed them this in ways that mesmerized them. The BBC laid this out quite well in a documentary titled “The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler” which is available online:
The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler – BBC – links to parts 1, 2, 3
Along this line, I ruminated on Hitler and his dark ways in “How do you kill 12 million people? Evil then and now: Recognizing & containing it” at https://biotheorist.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/how-do-you-kill-12-million-people-evil-then-and-now-recognizing-containing-it/
I would be remiss if I did not add this personal note:
My maternal great aunt-by-marriage, Val, was born and grew up in Germany under Hitler. She like most virtually all young ladies in Nazi Germany was a member of the Bund Deutscher Mädel and, as I recall, attended some of those massive Nazi rallies back in the 1930s. After her father surreptitiously witnessed the SS wipe out a Jewish community including women and children, he returned home and told his family that, “Our country is finished. The SS is murdering Jews, which means our Fuhrer is mad.” [I would say evil, but not mad — not until near the end of his days maybe.] Anyway, Val’s father smuggled Jews out of the evil empire from 1942 to 1945 — often with the Gestapo chasing him all the way. He was a cobbler, BTW — owned his own shop and made and lost a fortune many times over. Val inherited his wealth.
Val married my maternal great uncle, Horace, in August 1952. Horace was a US soldier during WWII –a Military Policeman — later a high official in the Lubbock, Texas fire department (I was born in Lubbock).
What my great aunt Val and so many other Germans experienced and got caught up in the 1930s and 1940s carries all kinds of warnings about what is prophesied for the “end times”. The fact the core of Hitler’s evil and the Holocaust especially took place over a 7 year period with the last 3.5 years being devoted to the industrial scale murder of the Jews in Europe has convinced many Rabbis that this was the great tribulation period predicted in the book of Daniel. I consider the Nazi period an experiment in which HaSatan essentially tested and refined many of the methods & instruments for achieving total domination over people (I also contend that God is an experimentalist of sorts in this essay). Armed with insights gained during the Nazi period, he will recreate this wheel but without the obvious and largely rejected elements that characterized Nazi Germany. I personally tend to believe the anti-Messiah will have a neurotronic implant in his brain that will connect him to one or more supercomputers (Such an expanded intellect will make him appear all knowing). Hitler on biochips magnified many-fold. His “magic” will be largely technologically facilitated & enacted but will be more persuasive than anything Hitler pulled off or could have conjured up in his wildest imagination.
With this background and bit of commentary in mind, let me now return to Mr. Trump: I have heard many former members of the Hitler Youth — and understand my great aunt Val, who is now 89 or so years of, has said something to this effect too — that America is on a path that is very reminiscent of the one Germany was on just prior to the rise of Hitler. In December 2015, New York Times op-ed columnist Roger Cohen captured this eerie “reinvented (evil) wheel” (–> history repeating itself) in an article he wrote titled “Trump’s Weimar America” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/15/opinion/weimar-america.html?_r=0
And with this, I will draw this lengthy missive to a close. Perhaps there is something in my verbiage (or in the articles and videos I provided links to) that will prove helpful in terms of your own ruminations and future writings.
Dr. Anthony G. Payne
Below: links to articles of mine on various eschatological topics which may contain insights & ideas you can adopt & adapt to spin future articles & teachings on prophetic especially “end times” topics:
Biblical prophecy is primarily about Israel & the Jewish people, not the US!
Book recommendation for Rev. Farias’s “Purity of Heart”: “You shall be holy, for I am holy”
Buy Rev. Farias’s book “Purity of Heart” on Amazon.com by going to http://www.amazon.com/Purity-Heart-Rev-Bert-Farias/dp/0615722148?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00 or on his ministry website at http://holy-fire.org/books.html
© 2016 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
Judging from articles such as this, this and this, there is now almost a mania sweeping the land to remove every vestige of the Confederacy (Even TV Land got swept up in this by cancelling airing of old “Dukes of Hazzard” episodes) . Don’t get me wrong, I understand why so many people are incensed by Confederate flags and monuments on public lands. And although my ancestors on both the European (paternal) and American Indian (maternal) sides of my family tree lived in the CSA and in some instances served in its armed forces, I have never displayed a Confederate flag in any form anywhere at any time. Nor was the N-word ever uttered by my parents or any expression of religious, ethnic or racial bigotry or elitism. And as for my Civil War era forbearers, most were simple farmers and none owned slaves. As a boy I was told by various relatives that those who donned the grey in our family did so to repel Northern aggression and preserve the rights of individual states to chart their own destiny.
With this said many of my fellow Southerners — and some African-Americans as well — do have the Southern Cross (aka “Stars and Bars”) on display in various guises. And although various incarnations of the neo-Nazis and KKK and other white supremacist groups have waved the Confederate battle flag about for decades, I dare say most Southerners, especially those who had ancestors who served in the Confederate army or navy, are angered by this (At least those I grew up around in Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana felt this way).
But ask Southerners with Confederate ancestors whether slavery was one of the main reasons for Southern secession and many will say “no”. I’ve studied the writings they cite to support this point-of-view but do not find them convincing. History clearly shows that preserving slavery was part and parcel of the Confederate cause, although state’s rights and other issues also figured prominently as well. This is reflected in the lyrics of one of the CSA’s earliest marching songs, “The Bonnie Blue Flag” (1861), which opens with these lines:
Fighting for the property we gained by honest toil
And when our rights were threatened, the cry rose near and far
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star!
For Southern rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.
And just to drive home the fact slavery and “white privilege” figured in the new Confederate government, consider this except from a speech by CSA Vice President Alexander H. Stephens that was reported in the Savannah Republican on March 21, 1861:
But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other — though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution — African slavery as it exists amongst us — the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind — from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics; their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just — but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle, a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of men. The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds, we should, ultimately, succeed, and that he and his associates, in this crusade against our institutions, would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as it was in physics and mechanics, I admitted; but told him that it was he, and those acting with him, who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.
In the conflict thus far, success has been on our side, complete throughout the length and breadth of the Confederate States. It is upon this, as I have stated, our social fabric is firmly planted; and I cannot permit myself to doubt the ultimate success of a full recognition of this principle throughout the civilized and enlightened world.
I realize, of course, that some Southerners and others will continue to downplay or even deny that slavery was an integral part of the government of the Confederacy and its policies and vision. I have read more than a few lengthy articles and books by writers and authors who managed to weave incredibly elaborate arguments that pretty much shove slavery to the backmost burner on the proverbial historical stove. How is this possible? Are these men and women evil, delusional, bigoted, ignorant or just plain stupid? Most are none of these in my opinion. Consider how murder case plays out in court: Both the prosecutor and defense attorney or attorneys posses the same facts and information, but basically filter, weave and pitch them differently (One to leave no doubt of guilt in the minds of jurors, and the other to create doubts about this). When this all too human approach to analyzing and presenting historic chapters and events plays out in books, articles, movies, plays and such, the end result is invariably skewed one way or the other (Some come closer to capturing what transpired while others deviate to varying degrees from this).
There is also the all too human propensity to spin tales and myths that cast darker chapters in history and current events as well in a favorable light. So long as this sort of thing does not marginalize, ostracize, condemn or otherwise inflict harm on people or incite others to do such reprehensible things to others, it can and often does serve as a sort of collective coping mechanism and a means of preserving a shared conviction and some sense of the honor or dignity attached to it and its proponents or champions.
Think we Americans do not have our own sacred myths or make objects of honor (heroes) out of people unworthy of this? If so, you do not know American history.
To my way of thinking there is little doubt but that Confederate ancestors should be honored by their descendants for having the courage of their convictions. This doesn’t mean endorsing all they stood for or believed, only those aspects of them that were honorable and decent. For some this includes hanging a Confederate flag outside their homes or in their cars or trucks, or wearing clothing articles emblazoned with the “stars and bars” or tattoos bearing this or the like.
Now the argument has been raised in some quarters that the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Waffen SS who fought for Hitler had the courage of their convictions and if “sons and daughters of the Confederacy” can honor their ancestor’s for this, so descendants of those who served under the crooked cross should. Before I touch on this, I simply must point out that when it comes to honoring ancestors who fought for a losing and even vile cause, the waters get very muddy indeed. For instance, in Japan, where I lived and worked for more than four years, honoring ones ancestors includes an annual visit to the Yasukuni Shrine by the Prime Minister where the cremains of 1,068 war criminals including 14 Class-A war criminals are interred. The same rising sun flag that flew over Imperial troops sailors and pilots in WWII flies in various guises today over Japanese defense forces.
After WWII the German government, of course, outlawed displays of the swastika as well as use of the straight-armed Nazi salute and for good cause. The sheer magnitude of intentional, calculated evil committed in Hitler’s Third Reich and by its many puppets and willing supporters made permitting public displays of the swastika (outside of museums, documentaries, movies and special exhibits) or the giving of the Nazi salute anathema.
But does this mean that, say, a German today whose grandfather, great grandfather or other relative served honorably in the Wehrmacht (Army), Luftwaffe (Air Force), Kriegsmarine (Navy) or Volkssturm is amiss in honoring their individual courage or valor? Is not the courage and valor shown by those German servicemen who had no part in any atrocities or other evils and were not members of organization that did such as the SS and Waffen SS, any different than that of allied servicemen who fought bravely and brought down their malignant empire?
You may be tempted to say that even honorable souls who served a failed, dishonorable and especially evil cause must be utterly renounced or at least never mentioned. In-a-sense, bury the past except in museum displays and politically correct books, movies, plays and such. “Tear down those flags and statues and erase every trace of these people and their cause”.
If you are inclined to say “amen” to this, I am now going to show you how its application to flags and heroes many, many Americans admire would require their purging from American culture.
Consider this: If we are going to remove all CSA symbols, flags and statues and such from public lands, then why not go one step forward and tear down Custer tributes (such as Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument) and others associated with the genocidal treatment of my American Indian ancestors and their brothers and sisters by the US government, the US military and many of its Presidents, especially Andrew Jackson?
After all, many of these so-called sacred icons and symbols are a painful reminder to we American Indians of the forced marches, reservations, massacres and others forms of calculated murder including attrition by intentional introduction of diseases such as smallpox, that were visited upon American Indian peoples by “fine American patriots” who felt God (“manifest destiny”) and being “racially superior” entitled them to do whatever it took to make America a white dominated empire that stretched from “sea to shining sea”. And just to underscore how profoundly evil all this was, no less than the patron saint of evil, Adolf Hitler, drew inspiration from abominable racist US genocidal policies and the reservation system it spawned in crafting his own version of hell on earth (Click to read more).
Should not the flags, statues, historic markers and such associated with these evils be tossed into the fire?
My question to you then is this: If we should elect to cleanse our land of the reminders of its darker chapters and failed experiments, what will be left? And isn’t forgetting the lessons of history not one of the surer ways to insure we repeat them?
Anthony G. Payne, whose American Indian name is “Summer Cloud”, is a native born Texan and an American Indian (Bureau of Indian Affairs CDIB card holder) and member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Despite having grown up in the “reddest parts” of North Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana, he is a political liberal who embraced democratic socialism in the 1980s. He is also a religious and moral conservative but no friend of fundamentalism/creationism or those pet beliefs of evangelical Christians that run contrary to what the Rabbi from Nazareth advocated and lived (Click to access Summer Cloud’s spiritual watering hole website).
In addition to having ancestors who fought in the armed forces of the Confederacy, one of Dr. Payne’s maternal line was an army officer (Lieutenant) in the Revolutionary War who fought British forces in South Carolina.
Additional Reading on various subjects touched on in this op-ed piece
Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto by Vine Deloria, Jr.
©2015 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
If you grew up embracing the Americanized Jesus I’d like you to take a moment and read Jesus and Yeshua: An Examination of Cultural Icons. This insightful article was written by a perceptive young man named Jeriah Bowser who is the Ecology & Sustainability Department chair at the Hampton Institute.
Naturally, we all tend to endorse views that parallel or even mirror our own, and I am no exception. However, while we all cherry-pick reality to varying degrees, the thrust of critical biblical scholarship does IMO tend to favor Bowser’s perspective (Which is one I pretty much arrived at many moons ago).
Do you believe the Almighty ever spoke directly to an American Indian tribe? I do not mean face-to-face but through an emissary. I do and will now share with you the particulars behind my conviction that God/HaShem/The Great Spirit did reach out to the Cahokian peoples (American Indians, yes, but their exact ethnicity much less language is unknown):
Long before Columbus and other 15th century European explorers & adventurers landed in North America, there was the Cahokia, a Mississippian American Indian “mound building” people who thrived from about 750 CE to 1300 CE with their biggest city being about 6 miles from present day St. Louis. My own tribe, the Choctaw Nation, has its roots in the Mississippian culture which naturally makes Cahokia of great interest to me.
To read the rest CLICK THIS LINK
Nota bene, my fellow American Indians: Prophetic Word: Restoration Promised to the First Nations of America
At the tail end of Stanley Kubrick’s satirical and brilliant 1964 anti-Cold War movie “Dr. Strangelove” the wheelchair bound German scientist (played by Peter Sellers) manages to stand up and take a step or two forward and then excitedly proclaim, “Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!” (This was reportedly an unscripted improvisation on the part of actor Peter Sellers) People in the throes of extreme excitement, passion or even religious ecstasy sometimes yell out to God, their mate or, in the case of Dr. Strangelove, to his leader (The American President whom he not infrequently calls “Mein Fuhrer” during the course of Kubrick’s cinematic masterpiece).
I suspect Sellers added the dramatic final touch not as an expression of the neurologic malady which landed his character in a wheelchair but, rather, as an upwelling of Dr. Strangelove’s impossible to suppress fascist sentiments and loyalty to Hitler.
In addition, I would offer a slightly different take on Dr. Strangelove’s outburst: I believe it was meant to represent the transcendent march of evil across time. That is, Seller’s was acting out the fact that evil, like death, haunts humankind and is impossible to totally suppress, manage or banish. Of course, we all know that those who do not resist and oppose evil not infrequently find their lives overshadowed by it.
The late writer-director-producer Rod Serling actually captured this theme very adroitly in a 1963 episode of the Twilight Zone titled “He’s Alive” (“He” being Hitler) that focuses on a “bush league Fuhrer” named Peter Vollmer.
Of course, we all are cognizant of the fact that evil permeates the human experience and has countless modern day incarnations. It is certainly one wheel that gets reinvented without ever showing much wear or loss of perpetrators and victims. Sometimes, though, the expressions are so continuous across time they appear to come out of some kind of historical-cosmic Xerox® machine. Click these links and reflect for a moment:
OK, so evil is perennial. What we can do about it? Laugh at and ponder comic portrayals such as Seller’s, yes, but never make the mistake of viewing evil people as clowns or easy to control (A mistake many German pre-Nazi leaders made with respect to Hitler and his cronies). But above all learn everything we can about the nature of evil and its subtlest expressions and then work to expose and oppose them.
The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen
Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
This Broadway hit gets a solid film treatment by director Norman Jewison, but that can’t make up for the weaknesses of the script (which were as true onstage as they are here). Jane Fonda plays a chain-smoking shrink sent to a convent to do a psychological evaluation of a novice (Meg Tilly) who gave birth to a baby and then killed it in her little room. Was it a virgin birth? A miracle? And what of the bloody stigmata that seem to spontaneously appear on her hands? Fonda also finds herself clashing with the Mother Superior (Anne Bancroft) over the line between faith and science. But writer John Pielmeier can’t flesh this out beyond an idea; in the end, the solution is a disappointingly earthbound one that even the strong acting in this film can’t elevate.
OK, so the film isn’t flawless and has garnered more than its fair share of “1 or 2 thumbs down”. With this said, I like this flick. Why so? In-a-word it lays in the fact Agnes the novice nun somehow manages to interact with the world thorough a lens of innocence. That is, the unjaded aspects of her being for the most part dominate her day-to-day existence and how she perceives life and those around her.
Hollywood nonsense, you say? I might have agreed with you if this were early 1999. But not afterwards. What changed for me? I spent more than four years in Japan living and teaching classes of Japanese young people from pre-school through doctoral level plus many corporate classes filled with adult working professionals. What I discovered was that virtually all the young folks were, well, in some ways “Agnes of God” like. Mind you, I was aware that there were exceptions and many expats I shared sake and chat with were quick to point out their bad experiences with pretty jaded Japanese characters. But on-the-whole even they agreed most Japanese people they had encountered while teaching and in society at-large exhibited less of the cynicism and sheer nastiness that appeared commonplace back in the US and the West in general (Some of these expats came from the UK, New Zealand and Australia).
My then girlfriend and later (2001) wife thought I was seeing her people through rose colored glasses. This changed once we moved from Japan to southern California in early 2003. Having left being the corporate world in Japan (18 years work for a major multinational corporation in Tokyo), she pursued her long held dream of becoming a marriage and family therapist. This journey took her through the MS in Counseling program at Cal State Fullerton (she graduated with honors) and internships at a number of places including the Salvation Army residential program in Anaheim. While doing an internship at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, she happened to counsel a number of Japanese students who had come to the US in order to obtain specific educational credentials in an English language environment. What she discovered — and made a point of mentioning to me — is that her Japanese charges were very “unjaded” compared to the American students she counseled. Maybe my glasses were not so rose-colored after all.
At the very least, there seems to be at least a modicum of real world evidence that my original observation was spot on: The Japanese were and are on-a-whole less jaded (“more innocent”) than Americans.
Were Americans less jaded in the past? It seemed that way to me when I was a youngster. TV and movies in the late 1950s into the 1960s tended to reflect a certain un-worldliness (Less cynical, less nasty). This began to go out the window with the advance of the sexual revolution, Vietnam and all that entailed, and the general rejection of authority and conventional ways among many young folks of that era (including moi).
Can we ever recapture what we lost short of embarking on a 2nd childhood (individually and collectively)? Is the genie out of the bottle for good? Is there any way to truly be “as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves” (Rabbi Yehoshua’s admonition). Good questions, I think. We American Indians (Choctaws) have a saying that goes like this: “The dog you feed the most becomes biggest”. By this token if we as Americans feed ourselves on jaded & cynical things such as pornography, greed, pride, and other vices then the dogs that will steer our sled (lives) will be these vices. On the other hand, if we feed virtues and starve vices, well, we just might find ourselves less jaded and “wicked”. And while we may not become a nation of “Agnes of God” characters or even Japanese-like, we could inch a little closer to it.
Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
CHOCTAW DOC ON ABOUT.ME: http://about.me/ChoctawDoc
ALTERNATIVES & OPTIONS (SHORT VIDEO BY CHOCTAW DOC): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tR6iAHCcrc
“THE CHOCTAW DOC SHOW” (7M:15S YOUTUBE VIDEO): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VVBKk-venc&feature=youtu.be
CHOCTAW DOC’S CEREBRATORIUM: https://biotheorist.wordpress.com/
Let’s step into a time machine of sorts or a “Wayback Machine” (to borrow from one of my favorite boyhood TV series “The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show“) and take a trip back to 2003. During May of that year a paper appeared in the journal Chaos, Solitons and Fractals titled “Minimal-cell system created in laboratory by self-organization” [October 2003, vol. 18, iss. 2, pp. 335-343(9) Elsevier Science)]. This quote is from the introduction…. Click to access full article by Choctaw Doc on Examiner.com
The reasons people seek answers to health challenges in the world of CAM (Complementary & Alternative Medicine) or integrative medicine are as varied as people themselves, though in my experience a great many do so owed to real or perceived failures on the part of their mainstream doctors to diagnose or treat or otherwise address their ills (Again, real or perceived). My interaction with patients and “natural medicine” (Is there an unnatural medicine?) practitioners from chiropractors to naturopathic physicians to just about everything else under the “alt med sun” is extensive – stretching from my childhood in the 1960s to the present – and has taught me a great deal firsthand about how disappointment with conventional or mainstream medicine plus hope, wishful thinking, the placebo effect, lack of critical thinking, and sometimes desperation have sent my folks into the arms of those who offer seemingly definitive diagnoses and/or solutions (Or at least less personally intimidating non-invasive diagnostic methods plus gentler therapies often dispensed or administered with a great deal more TLC than some overworked MDs can understandably muster).
Do these people get positive results? By all means. But as to why, this isn’t always a clear cut case of “I took or did this and it worked”. Many of the diagnostic methods used on these patients have been disproved and utterly discredited, as are some of the treatments prescribed. For more than a few I’ve followed – some for years—their illness is psychosomatic and their improvement the end result of their vested faith in their practitioner and expectancy that his or her therapy will prove efficacious. Others attribute improvement to a non-standard treatment when it was more likely a prior mainstream treatment or just the disease or condition having run its course.
Back when I first began exploring nonstandard medical and paramedical modalities (1960s as a boy of 8 or so) many specific herbal, nutritional and other forms of intervention had not been formally evaluated in well-designed and executed clinical trials. As a result there was the very real possibility some of these would pan out once put to the test. And if some of these gentler remedies could bring about remediation of disease with few if any of the side effects associated with their pharmacological counterparts, their promotion and use seemed a reasonable course of action or recourse for both practitioners and patients. This line of reasoning apparently informed and motivated many to offer them at the retail and professional level and scores of ailing folks to seek them out in health food stores and in the offices of clinicians of various stripes.
The years and subsequent rigorous evaluation has not been kind to many cherished non-standard diagnostic tests and remedies (Nor to many accepted mainstream techniques and treatments either). What should have happened is that treatments and diagnostic methods that didn’t pan out following rigorous evaluation should have gone the way of the dinosaurs. But they didn’t. Why? The reasons are varied but among the recurring ones I have run across down through the years among medical consumers and many integrative practitioners are: (1) A refusal to accept scientific valid consensus findings from multiple studies (Many I’ve confronted with this have said something to the effect that “I know this, but I also know it works no matter what and I won’t set it aside”. True believers whose reasons have more in common with the kind of faith articulated in revival meetings than anything else); (2) A vested interest in the therapy or therapeutic agent that makes it difficult to relinquish it; and (3) A lack of exposure to the methods of science and critical thinking and how to apply them when it comes to evaluating a given therapy, diagnostic method or treating compound, drug, herb or such.
In my own case, I took my childhood interest in the promise of natural medicine and eventually ran with it over time. Mine was a wide-ranging course whose first stop was another childhood passion, physical anthropology (and especially dietary patterns throughout human evolution). To my way of thinking, the best way to approach diet, human disease and even psychology was through an evolutionary lens, something given increasing credence by subsequent developments and discoveries. Following this I studied and did hands-on work with various mainstays of what is now known as integrative medicine such as homeopathy (German school), orthomolecular nutrition and psychiatry, therapeutic nutrition, botanic medicine or phytotherapy, and much more. Along the way I came up with and shared various ideas with such notables in science such as Stephen Jay Gould (Nonstandard but seemingly promising approaches to the mesothelioma that had him in its grip plus my thoughts on the possible effects of ultra low levels of iridium during the Cretaceous-Tertiary asteroid impact on bacteria that populated the guts of prehistoric animals, insects and such), Karl Folkers (CoQ10 for treating various avian diseases) and Carl Sagan (Feasibility of going a Cosmos type program focused on human evolution as well as one that focused on medicine including the impact of the CAM movement)……many whose work was quite controversial such as Michael Persinger (Application of his extremely low frequency electromagnetic technology to induce hallucinatory states aimed at pain attenuation or rallying immune response in terminally ill cancer patients)….…and still others who were regarded as being solidly on the fringe such as Roy Kupsinel, MD (Shared with him information and thoughts on a botanic drug called PADMA 28 which had shown efficacy for Peripheral Artery Disease in 5 randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trials done in Europe). I was, in short, “all over the map” in the sense I was working with and acting on knowledge, ideas, therapies and forms of therapeutic intervention that spanned the gamut from the realistically possible or promising to tentatively proved on one end, to the far-fetched and virtually impossible on the other. This was not a pattern peculiar to me though, but one that seemingly characterizes if not defines a large segment of the CAM movement (Both practitioners and proponents).
Thankfully though, I listened to the skeptics and critics of many of things I had studied or was otherwise involved with. As a result of their well reasoned writings I decided I needed to master aspects of the scientific method that was not part of my education and hands-on work or which was but which I’d sometimes glossed over in my erstwhile rush to help suffering people. I thus went on to teach myself such things as the principles of medical statistics and clinical studies design and then applied this body of knowledge and methods to help evaluate many of the ideas, therapies and treatments in my repertoire. The outcome was predictable: I found many which failed to hold water and thus had to be ditched, while others garnered evidence that suggested a more circumspect use or dose than proponents had originally declared effective. Among those I tossed was homeopathy (though Jacque Benveniste’s published paper in the Nature in 1988 made me take a second look – until the methodological flaws which invalidated his work became apparent) plus many botanic medicines and individual herbs.
I also tested things for myself using the tools of science; the methods that as Carl Sagan rightly contended reliably “delivers the goods” (Truth in the tentative scientific sense of “successive approximations” as pioneering astronomer Edwin Hubble put it; that is, findings that might be overturned or subject to modification as new evidence turns up). One prime example was EAV testing, the use of what amounts to a computerized galvanometer to diagnose or otherwise detect allergies, organ deficiencies and bodily needs for various nutrients and such.
During the late 1980s I was introduced to EAV (Electroacupuncture according to Voll) or electrodermal testing using a Vegatest device and trained in it as part of my staff duties for a prominent CAM physician (Later this unit was replaced with a computerized Interro device). As a baby boomer I’d grown up watching such venerable sci-fi classics as the Outer Limits, Twilight Zone and Star Trek, and as such had a special fondness for high tech medical, scientific and robotic devices. Anything along this line that might make medical diagnostics as easy and forthright as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy’s medical tricorder was especially appealing to me– which the EAV machine in some ways was purported to be.
To understand what EAV or electrodermal testing is all about you have to first understand the principle behind it. In-a-word, these machines are purported to measure changes in the body’s flow of “energy” along “acupuncture meridians”. According to proponents there are specific points on people’s hands and feet that can be used to gage health in various organs and also test drugs, hormones, nutrients and such to see what will remedy any detected abnormalities. This is how it works: The patient holds a moist gauze covered conductive metal cylinder in one hand which is connected to the device (A tiny electric current is sent through this wire by the machine). A second wire runs from the device to a probe held by the technician or doctor who does the testing. When the probe is touched to specific “acupuncture points” a low voltage circuit is completed and the flow of current is measured by the EAV machine and a reading is displayed that indicates organ status (Healthy or unhealthy and, if unhealthy, to what degree). The operator can supposedly determine what will bring the meridian flow back up or down to normal by testing various substances housed in small vials (These vials are introduced one-by-one or in combinations into receptacles into the machine or a plate that connects probe and/or cylinder to the machine). In addition, allergy testing is can supposedly be done by placing vials of known/suspected allergens in the receptacles or on the plate and watching for responses (A jump in the readings).
Even if the principle behind the machine were true – that meridians exist and can be tapped into in a meaningful way to diagnose – it is obvious that if the skin stays at the same level of moisture the readings can be influenced subtly or grossly by the pressure the operator using when he or she applies the probe. This alone would tend to throw off readings. And in practice I saw this for myself. In fact, I quickly realized that what I was doing with the machine was essentially a variation on psychic parlor cold readings – that is, by combining my own perceptive reading of body language and asking leading questions I would come up with “findings” that agreed with the patient’s known medical history and expectations.
This said, what intrigued was the use of the machine to determining drugs, hormones and such that “balanced” a patient’s readings. The readings would supposedly indicate what single or combination of drugs and such would benefit the patient, as well as the dose. This was something I could actually put to the test in a strictly scientific way.
With the assistance of a research engineer friend of mine named Jim this is what we did:
First we filled glass vials (identical to the others in the EAV testing kit) with arsenic, mercury, cadmium and other toxic substances plus samples of deadly herbs and toxic weeds and labeled each one. I then had my buddy go to a separate room and cover the labels on all the vials in the kit – the original ones plus those we created — with other labels bearing an alphanumeric code which he recorded on paper and locked away. Jim then mixed up all the vials and brought them to me. I proceeded to perform tests on a succession of about 40 people, both healthy and ill over a five (5) day period. The end result? Eighty-three percent tested out as “needing” arsenic, mercury, cadmium, etc. (That is, the EAV device clearly indicated 83% of those tested would especially benefit from pure, toxic doses of various heavy metals, toxic herbs, poisons, etc.)
I shared my findings with the clinic director, of course. The EAV machine found its way to a storage closet not too long afterwards.
In the ensuing years I watched many more CAM diagnostic devices and treatments fail to hold up to testing, both those I carried out as well as more formal and rigorous ones conducted by others. Conversely, some herbal medicines, individual herbs, therapeutic dietary measures and such were shown to be effective for various health conditions in formal clinical studies. This said, a great many of these studies were not so rigorous in design or poorly designed and/or executed. And the number proved effective in well designed and executed randomized controlled trials (RTC) appeared to be quite small. Naturally, until these remedies and such pan out in RTCs their effectiveness remains an open question.
Given the paucity of hard scientific evidence underlying many cherished CAM diagnostic methods and treatments, one is compelled to ask if it is it ethical or wise to run a clinical practice based largely on such unproved testing and/or remedies? Certainly not if the practitioner admits patients who have foregone undergoing proper diagnostic work-ups and scientifically validated medical care for his or her clinical offerings (Unless the practitioner is qualified to do this sort of testing and treatment and competently does so). But what if the practitioner and his methods or treatments are not substituted for standard medical care by the patient, do no harm and largely inspire hope? It could be argued that even if the CAM practitioner’s fare is medically ineffective or even worthless, the positive aspects such as the placebo effect and corresponding reductions in anxiety or fear make it worthwhile provided the cost is not outrageous. Perhaps so. As for squaring the ethical issues involved, at the very least CAM practitioners should clearly label unproved diagnostic methods and treatments as such and disclose any known hazards or potential side effects, making them de facto experimental. Many in fact do.
Of course, the fact that unproved treatments are being used at all by CAM practitioners of various stripes and also by legions of people doing dietary and supplement self-experimentation is galling to many mainstream physicians, medical consumer advocates, journalists and others. More than a few of these would tightly regulate these remedies and severely reduce access to them, something the vast majority of Americans appear to oppose. In an ideal world unproved diagnostic methods and disease-specific treatments would be speedily and thoroughly evaluated, and those that indisputably bomb would be swiftly abandoned by CAM practitioners. But testing has often moved at a snail’s pace and even when specific remedies have been repeatedly shown to have no efficacy, many proponent CAM practitioners and medical consumers refuse to relinquish them. Some of this is likely a reflection of human ignorance or stubbornness (as in “it’ll be vindicated somehow”) or both. Some people just flat out prefer to live on the other side of looking glass even when so doing lands them squarely in a land of illusions and delusions. But since illusions and delusions help many folks cope with the vicissitudes of life including illness, these discredited CAM tests and treatments is unlikely to vanish anytime soon – if ever.
Want to learn more about how many CAM modalities and treatments hold up to scientific scrutiny? How to think critically about CAM as well as other heterodox beliefs and practices?
PIER (American College of Physicians) – Provides information on specific diseases and includes interpretations of the extant evidence
Snake Oil Science by R. Barker Bausell, Ph.D.
The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan, Ph.D.
The Undercover Philosopher by Michael Philips
© 2009 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
YOU MAY NOT COPY, REPRODUCE, DISTRIBUTE, PUBLISH, DISPLAY, PERFORM, MODIFY, CREATE DERIVATIVE WORKS, TRANSMIT, OR IN ANY WAY EXPLOIT ANY PART OF THIS DOCUMENT WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR (DR. ANTHONY G. PAYNE E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). WITHOUT LIMITING THE GENERALITY OF THE FOREGOING, YOU MAY NOT DISTRIBUTE ANY PART OF THIS DOCUMENT OVER ANY NETWORK, INCLUDING A LOCAL AREA NETWORK, NOR SELL NOR OFFER IT FOR SALE. IN ADDITION, THIS DOCUMENT MAY NOT BE USED TO CONSTRUCT ANY KIND OF DATABASE