Saturday, January 08, 2005
Now that I've put up the blog that is the result of Friday morning efforts, it's time to click the "weekend" button and get busy on the Christmas tree. Have a good one...
ANOTHER CROSSOVER - GURDJIEFF
A prominent feature of the post-1909 cultural scene was heightened interest in China, India, and Tibet (partly because of the Russo-Japanese war) and in exoticism generally. Two new occult systems foregrounded Oriental religions and yogic practices. George Gurdjieff (1886-1949) developed a unique system that included Islamic mysticism (Sufism), yoga, his own form of numerology, and a vision of the world and the body as machines. Uspensky began to work with Gurdjieff around 1915. They emigrated (separately) after the Bolshevik Revolution and continued to work together until the mid-1920's, when Uspensky began to develop his own system of a Fourth Way. The painter and poet Nikolai Rerikh (Roerich; 1874-1947) synthesized European and Asian esoteric and spiritual thought in an illustrated book of poems, Tsvety morii (The flowers of Moria, 1921), and in Agni-yoga (there is no such system in India), both written in emigration. Agni-yoga includes discussions of health, education, daily life, and human relationships. There is tremendous interest in his thought, and in Gurdjieff's and Uspensky's as well, in present-day Russia. (_The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture_, Edited by Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, p. 21)
James Webb, acknowledged authority on the occult, describes Gurdjieff:
Of Georgei Ivanovich Gurdjieff (c. 1877-1949) it is easy to say too little or too much. Just before the outbreak of the First World War, this enigmatic figure had appeared in Moscow and St. Petersburg and gathered around him a band of disciples drawn chiefly from the illuminated intelligentsia. It was not known where Gurdjieff had derived the singularly comprehensive system that he taught. He began from the principle that mankind was asleep and that by following a technique of "self-remembering" man could wake up. ...Gurdjieff's system...probably originates in a combination of Western occultism and certain Oriental doctrines. The ideas seem to represent a restatement of traditional doctrine in the language of the 20th century. In this aspect the work of Gurdjieff is comparable to that of Jung. Gurdjieff himself disliked occultists and Theosophists, regarding such groups as breeding grounds of delusion. But he discovered that his ideas met with an encouraging response in such circles. When this remarkable man emerged from the debris of revolutionary Russia, by the way of an astonishing spiritual and physical obstacle course in his native Caucasus, he brought with him a small group of disciples whose way toward him had led through the tortuous mysticism of the illuminated intelligentsia. (_The Occult Establishment_, James Webb, p. 179-180)
From the Enneagram Institute:
The first major figure in the Enneagram's modern development is George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (c. 1872 ?-1949). Gurdjieff was instrumental in bringing the Enneagram symbol to the awareness of modern people. Gurdjieff, and his best-known student, P. D. Ouspensky, taught a great deal about the Enneagram as a system for understanding cosmological processes, but they did not teach anything about the Enneagram of types, or fixations. ...Many of the philosophical ideas underlying the modern Enneagram, including the Centers and the Instincts, Essence and Personality, and the notion of self-observation, among many others, derive from Gurdjieff's teachings. (The Enneagram Institute)
Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar, Ph.D is considered an expert on the Enneagram in Sufism. As her bio indicates, she "has been practicing Islam for over 30 years under her teacher, Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr." Nasr is one of the Guenonian Traditionalists. Dr. Bakhtiar writes:
The Sufi tradition inherited a sacred tradition of psychology which existed in the past but was the first to develop this psychological teaching into a system based on the nine points, particularly in the work of the 13th century Islamic scholar Nasir al-din Tusi. It was this same traditional psychology that G.I. Gurdjieff encountered through the Sufis in Central Asia which led to his use of the Enneagram symbol in his teaching during the 1920's. (The Sufi Enneagram Website - Overview)
The University of Michigan domain provides a Naqshbandia Sufi Meditation website that includes a link to the Enneagram website of Dr. Bakhtiar linked above. It also provides a link to "The Gurdjieff (Fourth Way School) & Sufi Connection" website.
A number of books by Gurdjieff are listed at the Transitions Bookplace webpage dedicated to Gurdjieff and the Work. (Some books on Eastern Orthodoxy are included here. I have not yet researched the relationship with Eastern Orthodoxy.) Interestingly, the first book on the list is titled "Alchemical Sex." Another book is published by "Traditional Studies Press." One is authored by Perry Whitall, a Traditionalist author. One book includes "Astrology" in the title. There is an author, "Sophia Wellbeloved". J. G. Bennett and Jacob Needleman are authors on the list. I thought that _Struggles of the Magicians: Why Uspenski Left Gurdjieff_ was an especially interesting title.
The Enneagram has made inroads into Catholic life. An article by Mary Jo Anderson from the Catholic Life document library spells it out:
Enneagram: Psychic Babble, The
No fad has swept through Catholic seminaries and retreat centers in recent years with as much fervor as has the Enneagram. Teaching the Enneagram, variously billed as "the mirror of the soul" and "a map to the psyche," has become the new profession of former priests, who offer it as a spiritual guide and an aid to pastoral practice. Welcomed in some dioceses, reviled in others, the Enneagram is a growing source of controversy among Catholic professionals in the fields of education, counseling, and priestly formation.
Writer David Eyes is attempting to synthesize the beliefs of Rudolf Steiner (Anthroposophy) and George Gurdjieff at steinergurdjieff.net As he writes at the website Awakenings, he believes that while "in incarnation" the two personalities would have put each other off, but now that they are seventy-years gone, a comparison is needed.
Lee Penn, in an article on the URI, mentions Gurdjieff in a quote from the writings of Betsy Stang:
In Western Europe and North America since 1945, any public figure suspected of anti-Semitism has been made a pariah. This sanction has not been applied to Alice Bailey, her teachings, and her Theosophist followers. On the contrary. Betsy Stang, an "interfaith minister" at the Wittenberg Center and an active participant in the URI, said, "Some of Bailey's writing is really remarkable, very Gothic. You would put her with Blavatsky, Gurdjieff, and Steiner. She is historically very important. In my mind, Bailey has beautiful, poetic evocations in her books." (Beware! The New Age Movement Is More Than Self-Indulgent Silliness)
It seems reasonable to speculate that liturgical dance may owe a debt to Gurdjieff as well. The website for Gurdjieff Studies Ltd. offers this assessment of Gurdjieff:
Of Gurdjieff's many roles - ideologue, man of action, author, 'physician/hypnotist', etc. - he arguably most rejoiced in being a 'rather good teacher of temple dances' . Such dances professedly served two vital functions: the harmonious evolution of the dancers themselves and the transmission of esoteric knowledge to remote generations. Today his 250 or so ensemble dances termed 'Movements' (or 'exercises' pre-1928), represent to many Gurdjieffians the Work's immaculate heart - a spiritual legacy of incalculable significance.
Gurdjieff Movements offers locations for their seminars in sacred dance. Most of them take place in Europe...a Europe that is post-Christian, I might add. There is one location in the U.S. offering these seminars as well.
Another area where there is a crossover between Gurdjieffian methodology and Anthroposophy is The Claymont Agricultural Project. A Biodynamics/Biodiversity Conference held in 1996 documents this crossover:
In its present form, the
Claymont Agricultural Project is emerging as a vital integration of several
movements: Dr. Steiner's Biodynamic Agriculture, Alan Chadwick's French
Intensive Agriculture and G.I. Gurdjieff's "Fourth Way" as transmitted by
J.G. Bennett (the founder of Claymont).
Biodynamics are being used by the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, New Jersey at Genesis Farm:
Founded by Sister Miriam Therese MacGillis and the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, New Jersey, the farm focuses on learning and teaching a new cosmology. They also sponsor a large, community-supported biodynamic garden. Their teaching is build around the works of Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme and a section of Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica. In Part I, Question 47 of his Summa, Aquinas says that God is most fully revealed, not through one species only, but through the whole universe because one creature alone could not adequately represent His goodness.
Genesis Farm uses the structure of a story. The universe is a series of unfolding stories. Humanity needs to listen to the stories and individuals need to see the story of their lives in the context of the universe of which they are a part. MacGillis also uses the image of a punchbowl on a table surrounded by glasses. Each glass is a religious or ethnic tradition that holds some wisdom. When the glasses are emptied into the punchbowl, the wisdom is not lost but enlarged. The families who sponsor the organic garden at Genesis Farm are presently founding a grammar school where their children can progressively learn the stories of the universe.
So God is surrounded by many religious traditions each of which holds some wisdom. That is precisely what Guenonian Sufi Traditionalism claims. A Traditionalism that is at home in Grand Orient Lodges. Have we become the Masons that prior popes warned us about? What the Lodge couldn't accomplish from without, it has apparently accomplished by infiltration.
Not only do the sisters practice Biodynamic farming and gardening, they have a garden named "Sophia" according to the same website:
The Dominican sisters also operate Sophia Garden in Amityville, New York...
It would appear that the plan laid out in the Alta Vendita, to overthrow the Church, has been carried out. From the booklet:
Eventually, a Pope would be elected from these ranks who would lead the Church on the path of "enlightenment" and "renewal." They stated that it was not their aim to place a Freemason on the Chair of Peter. Their goal was to effect an environment that would eventually produce a Pope and a hierarchy won over to the ideas of liberal Catholicism, all the while believing themselves to be faithful Catholics. ("The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita: A Masonic Blueprint for the Subversion of The Catholic Church", John Vennari, p.3)
Soloviev was Russian as were his followers, the Sophiologists.
Gurdjieff was Russian.
Has Russia spread her errors around the world?
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
Friday, January 07, 2005
CROSSROADS AND CROSSOVERS
Mysticism as a spiritual path holds within itself the danger inherent in any exploration of foreign territory done without a map. Mysticism is antinomian. It rejects outright the influence of any established religious system as too restrictive.
Sufism's claimed enthusiasm for traditional religions and the recommendation that a single traditional path be chosen is contradicted repeatedly in the writing of Rene Guenon and of Charles Upton who both use a variety of concepts gleaned from all of the traditions represented, while constantly seeking in one tradition after another what they have great difficulty finding, namely God. It's a cafeteria of beliefs when the Traditionalist writers get through with it, just as spirituality within the Masonic lodge is also an all-inclusive arrangement reduced to specifics by the particular proclivities of any one brotherhood.
Crossovers are inevitable. Exploration of Sophia/Divine Feminine has provided a good example of such a crossover, the best evidence of which is the title of the house organ of both a group of Traditionalists and a group of Anthroposophists, namely "Sophia." At the same time the Traditionalists are quick to point out that they reject such paths as Theosophy, from which Anthroposophy is derived, suggesting that it is a path of dissolution and pseudo-initiation. There is no foundation on which Traditionalists can draw that line between themselves and the Anthroposophists. Both systems rely on occult information, and in so doing arrive at "Sophia" independently. Esotericism is a mine field unless it is firmly grounded in an exoteric belief system that defines the entities contacted.
In my opinion, Catholicism provides the only system that draws boundary lines around the experience. Within the cosmology of Catholicism there is an explanation for everything encountered in the occult world. Within Catholicism there is a roadmap. If this roadmap is followed--if the checks and balances put in place by the Church are welcomed and adhered to--spiritual experiences can be fruitful, as so many of our saints have shown. They can lead to greater holiness and sanctity, which is their only legitimacy. When spiritual practices are engaged outside of Catholicism the potential for moral corruption is overwhelming. This comes as no surprise to anyone who believes in a devil.
The Pope has indicated Catholicism extends not just to Roman or Latin Catholicism, but equally to the Eastern Churches and Orthodoxy in that all believe in the same Truth. Orthodoxy is more familiar with mysticism and the inherent pitfalls and may be able to show Roman Catholics how to go about grappling with it as we recover our legitimate mystical traditions which have been ignored in recent years.
John Paul II issues constant reminders to the Charismatic Movement that it must be subject to the hierarchy if it is to stay on the straight path. This advice is the best hope of the movement to remain constantly within the Catholic fold. There is no phenomena within this movement that is not duplicated in spiritual realms where a Catholic must not tread. If the movement departs from this wisdom, it will one day wake up and find itself no longer Christian. The Charismatics are clearly flirting with danger, particularly in the current climate that prevails in Roman Catholicism where bishop opposes bishop and priest opposes priest. A reliance on the Holy Spirit for guidance is only as reliable as the interpretation of His message, and false interpretations are as common as weeds in the grass, as the Sophiologists demonstrate.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
MISCELLANEOUS WEBSITES ON SUFISM AND SOPHIOLOGY
At his People with a History website, "Chapter 8: Islam", Paul Halsall of Fordham Univ. writes:
Islam was the last of the great world cultures to emerge. With regard to homosexuality there are polar contrasts. On the one hand The Qur'an seems to condemn homosexuality unequivocally, on the other Muslim societies have shown a great deal of tolerance. From the sexually explicit poems of Al-Andulus [Muslim Spain], to the sexual comedy of The Arabian Nights, to the ecstatic loving of Sufi mystics, to modern Morocco and Tunisia - the Islamic world looked benevolently on men who love [usually younger] men. In India, according to Richard Burton, it was among Muslims, not Hindus, that homosexual eros was most accepted.
The first thing to note is that in some respects Islam has been the most sex-positive of the great world religions: the Christ and the Buddha were both sexually abstinent, but Muhammad was sexually active with a number of wives, and had children. Sex itself was not a bad thing, nor was abstinence desirable.
* * * * * * *
Dianne Peck, Sydney, writing for "The Journal" of Corpus Canada, Winter 2003, discusses the books of Eugene Kennedy (_The Unhealed Wound_), and Thomas Moore (_The Soul of Sex_). Despite the fact that "Sophia" is the title of her article, she uses the word "Sophia" only once near the end where she writes:
The word of healing is not allowed. There is no mistaking the reality that the Church has mercilessly blocked the healing words "What is it that ails thee?" and thrust back with its own death-dealing words, "Roma locuta est." Rome has spoken. The matter is finished.
And so, that there is the need to ask, "Why do I stay in this Church?" lacks no evidence. But Kennedy also spends several chapters giving evidence for hope. He reminds us that Parzival's question, the words that would open the floodgates of healing for the Church and the world, has been asked before. Pope John XXIII asked it, and then convened Vatican II for the purpose of answering it. For a brief moment the clouds parted, brilliant golden sunlight shone through, and the healing of the Church's wound began. The blind passion of the current hierarchy to close every open window and eradicate every healing ray is evidence of the profound depth of its wound.
Kennedy believes the Church still has the capacity to heal itself, and will again remember its pastoral/mystical identity. He believes the Church as Mystic can heal the Church as Institution. That hope is also the reason I choose to remain connected to it.
Keep that reference to Parzival and grail questing in mind, because it has implications for a study of Sufism as well, something I will get to soon.
* * * * * * *
Next is the website of Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, and specifically an article titled "Homosexual Bishops: A Theological Oxymoron", where this appears:
In the final sermon at the Convention in August, 2003, when Robinson was voted in, presiding bishop Frank Griswold said: “This Convention has been about love…something has happened that is larger than any one perspective…” Here, in perfectly Postmodern fashion, truth and falsehood have become “perspectives,” and a new kind of church unity is unveiled. Citing not the Bible but the Sufi (pagan) poet Rumi, Griswold declared: “Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Runi is a prominent Sufi poet. I find it interesting that Griswold has to reach into Islam in order to justify this action that is splitting ECUSA.
* * * * * * * *
The Re-imaging conference of the World Council of Churches which took place in November 1993 has come in for lots of criticism. The website of Way of Life outlines some of the events at that conference including this one:
The Nov. 3, 1993, Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that "throughout the conference worship experiences will celebrate Sophia, the biblical goddess of creation." Sue Seid-Martin of the University of St. Thomas School of Divinity in St. Paul, Minn., claimed that this Sophia is "the suppressed part of the biblical tradition, and clearly the female face of the human psyche." Seid-Martin believes Sophia is found in Proverbs 1-9, Matt. 11; Lk. 3:35; 11:49; and 1 Cor. 1-2, and she identifies Jesus Christ with this Sophia. ...
Naked sophia goddess
A painting displayed at the Re-imagining conference supposedly depicted this Sophia. The painting contained the picture of a bald, frowning woman with large naked breasts. The middle of her forehead is adorned with a mark that appears to be a Hindu "tika" or tilaka, the same mark women in Nepal and India receive from their priests when they do "puja" (worship) at pagan shrines. (It is interesting that one of the speakers at this conference encouraged the wearing of the tika. Aruna Gnanadason, South Asian feminist, "lashed out against alleged oppression by Christian missionary teachings in India," and she invited participants to put red dots on their foreheads to "represent the divine" in them.)
* * * * * * * *
At the Women for Faith & Family website, Donna Steichen presents her address to the 1999 WFF Conference which includes this passage:
The most stunningly arrogant feminist campaign is an increasingly overt effort to replace God the Father with God the Mother. Because this enterprise is still under construction, Goddess "theology" is still fluid. Sometimes She is identified as a feminine Holy Spirit, sometime as the fullness of Divinity, spelled GODDE. Feminist leaders including Rosemary Radford Reuther and Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza tried for years to invent a God/ess they could sell to the faithful.
In her 1992 book, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse, Sister Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, makes the fullest argument for a female image of God. Recapitulating what she calls the theological "trajectory" of her feminist predecessors, but using a less abrasive voice, she begins from the premise that God, as pure spirit, has no gender. Reduced to its simplest terms, her claim is that to know one's deepest self is to know God; therefore revelation is the interpretation of one's own experience. Thus, calling God by masculine titles is an arbitrary choice, which has led people to think of Him as literally male, a situation Johnson denounces as inherently unfair.
The patriarchs had their turn at the wheel, she says, and they used it to justify oppression of women. So now, in reparation, "classical Christian theology" must be passed "through the fire of critical feminist principles." Feminists (the only women deserving a voice) must mandate, at least for now, exclusively female names for God, like "Sophia/Wisdom" and "She Who Is." To avoid a risk that Sophia might be seen as an inferior feminine aspect of God, Johnson re-interprets the Blessed Trinity to make Sophia into all three Persons, whom she calls "Abyss, Word and Spirit."
Sophia seems to be a very useful entity who can be called on to suit whatever purpose you have in mind, be it women priests, or homosexuality, or goddess worship. There is a significant stake in making sure that Sophia is never accurately defined as a personification of wisdom in Scripture. Sophia, to be useful, must be a living breathing womyn.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
SINCE THIS IS EPIPHANY OFFICIALLY
I should go take that Christmas tree down. Yes. I really should. (I'm sure if I think long and hard enough, I can find an excuse to put it off till tomorrow, though.)
SOMETIMES THERE'S A STORY WITH A GOOD ENDING IN THE NEWS--LIKE
this one sent in by a reader.
WEATHER IN OHIO
The storm that dumped snow on Chicago has dumped icy rain on Northeast Ohio. It rained nearly all day yesterday. It rained last night. It is raining now.
There are icicles hanging from the tree branches, some nearly 6 inches long. It's heavy and the branches are hanging low. In my backyard a large limb from the neighbor's tree has fallen. There is a tree down in the yard on the other side of me, and large branches down in the yard behind me.
The power was off twice last night for a total of 3-1/2 hours. I found out how hard it is to read by candlelight. During the middle of the night I could hear the loud crack and rumble as branches fell.
It's hard to say how long power will be on here. One tumbling branch can take out the power to a large area.
Meanwhile Spirit Daily links this gloomy prediction (A "once in a generation" can't mean anything good.) for the next few days. It's so dark here right now that I have the lights on.
MORE ON THE SCENE ACCOUNTS OF THE TSUNAMI
The Pilar Fathers who have been working for over four decades in Andaman and Nicobar had harrowing tales to tell about the tsunami that hit the islands on December 26 last. Miraculously all the Fathers were safe.Fr Pritam Toppo is the parish priest of the island of Hutbay, a 12-hour rocky journey by ship from Port Blair. As the earth shook, he walked out and saw the sea in turmoil. He raised the alarm for all, and raced with the sisters and people in the parish toward a hill about an hour and a half away, time enough to escape the tsunami.
Blogger credit to Spirit Daily.
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN
Get your Exterminatrix gear here.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
SEXUAL ABUSE FOLLOWS DISASTER
From Yahoo News Asia:
De Silva gave few details of the case of the gang-raped 17-year-old girl, which occurred in the area of Galle on the southern coast but not in a refugee center. Hours after being washed ashore and left orphaned and homeless, she was raped by six men, he said.
Blogger credit to CruxNews.
TERRI SCHIAVO DESCRIBED AS ALERT BY ATTORNEY
Despite the widely believed claims of her husband, Terri Schiavo is purposefully interactive, curious and expressive with her parents, according to a surprised lawyer who visited for the first time the brain-damaged Florida woman embroiled in a euthanasia dispute.
After a 45-minute visit Christmas Eve, attorney Barbara Weller concluded Schiavo was so alert that she "should have been gathered around the Christmas dinner table enjoying the holiday with her family."
Blogger credit to Spirit Daily.
MICHAEL BROWN ON SIN AND PUNISHMENT IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
From the article:
Certainly, God does punish. The Old Testament is absolutely filled with cases whereby natural disasters were used for Divine chastisement. To think otherwise is heretical. But perhaps we can also view matters not so much as God punishing those victims specifically, as the fact that when sin builds in the world, it puts the world out of order. It causes an actual darkness that can physically (and geologically) manifest. Events come almost as a release of that dark tension.
God allows it. The good suffer with the evil. There are victim souls and always have been. ...
It is peculiar that Indonesia, India, Thailand, and Bangladesh are often specifically cited for the commercial sexual exploitation of children, including the prostitution of children, child pornography and trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Jakarta's Chinatown district is considered to be one of the largest pornographic bazaars in Southeast Asia. There are other areas in the same region, not to mention elsewhere in the world, that do the same.
But the problem is especially acute here, and such evil has repercussions. It is joined by transgression in the way of persecution: Eight of the eleven afflicted countries are among the top fifty that persecute Christians, with Maldives, Myanmar, and Indonesia ranking on certain "top tens." Some years Indonesia will see sixty or more attacks on Christian churches by fanatical Muslims in a single year.
Again, these are the not people you see; these are not the grieving mothers in those oceanside hamlets, those places that have been destroyed. They are not the ones, for the most part, who purvey pornography.
But did evil open the door? And was there less protection because of the rampant idolatry? Was it a problem that in many of these areas dozens of "gods" are worshipped, including idols right out of the Old Testament?
Israel's Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar commented on the catastrophe last week saying "God is angry" and "we must pray more and ask for mercy." In comments to the Ynet website, he said: "The nations of the world are obligated to observe the seven Noahide laws, such as prohibitions against murder and illicit (sexual) relations... The deaths are very painful."
The Catholic Bishop of Port Blair in the Andaman Islands of India, Alex Dias, told the media, "I believe that the tsunami is a warning. A warning from God to reflect deeply on the way we lead our lives."
A WAROK AND HIS GEMBLAK
This story comes from TIME and is copyright 2002. It was sent in by a reader.
Homosexuality is a delicate topic in conservative, Islamic Indonesia. But until recently that wasn't the case in Ponorogo, a small town east of Yogyakarta. One of the more prestigious occupations in the area has traditionally been that of warok, a man believed to have mystical powers who stages ritual dances in order to bring good fortune to the community. His dancers were once attractive boys aged 10 to 16. The warok himself maintained his mystical powers by sleeping with the boys, who had their own title: gemblak.
But the warok of Ponorogo are becoming a thing of the past. As modern times bring a new openness to gays in Indonesia's big cities, they have almost shut down one of the country's longest-running homosexual traditions. Warok still live and work in Ponorogo, but they're not encouraged to live with gemblak anymore. Girls have replaced boys in the ritual dances, which themselves have evolved from meaningful rites into gaudy exhibitions for visiting tourists. Nowadays the warok is any man who has enough money to keep a dance troupe. "First they brought in the bright lamps," mourns Kasni Gunopati, 71, one of the oldest warok in town. "Then the radio, and now the television. Nowadays boys are ashamed to be known as a warok's gemblak."
NEW ZEALAND VOTES IN CIVIL UNIONS
The World Socialist Website Reports:
Two weeks before Christmas, the New Zealand parliament legislated to give legal status to defacto and same sex relationships. After a 12-month passage through the parliamentary process, the Civil Union Bill was passed on December 9 by 65 votes to 55. The so-called “conscience vote”, under which MPs were able to vote undirected by party whips, prevailed with a majority of support from the ranks of Labour and the Greens, and a smattering of votes from the other parties.
There was strong though unsuccessful opposition:
Full-page paid advertisements in the daily press denounced the bill as a “parasitic pantomime” attacking the sanctity of marriage, which the advertisement’s backers claimed was the “bond of all moral order in the world”. According to one advertisement, no legislator had the right to “institutionalise immorality”. MPs were urged to recognise the “Supremacy of God” by voting against the bill. On the eve of the vote, a prominent leader of the Catholic Church enjoined Christians to note which MPs voted in support of the measure so they could respond accordingly at the next elections.
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ON THE CHAMPS ELYSEES
THE EFFECTS OF CONTRACEPTION ON A CULTURE
Robert Michael, of the University of Chicago, believes that sudden widespread use of artificial contraception and the availability of abortion is responsible for "about half of the increase in divorce from 1965 to 1976." Wilcox cites George Akerlof, a Nobel prize-winning economist, who provides an economic explanation for why widespread use of artificial contraception resulted in an increase in illegitimacy rather than a decrease as many predicted.
According to Akerlof, traditional women who wanted to either abstain from sex or at least receive a promise from their boyfriend that he would marry her in the case of pregnancy could no longer compete with "modern" women who embraced contraception. This created an environment in which premarital sex became the norm and women "felt free or obligated to have sex." "Thus, many traditional women ended up having sex and having children out of wedlock, while many of the permissive women ended up having sex and contraception or aborting so as to avoid childbearing. This explains in large part why the contraceptive revolution was associated with an increase in both abortion and illegitimacy."
WISDOM - GODDESS OR PERSONIFICATION
A reader sent in a link to the International Council for Gender Studies which has an article up on its website titled "Who Is Lady Wisdom?" After describing all of the things she is not, this is the explanation given for who (or what) she is:
Not a Person, But a Personification
So, who is Lady Wisdom? If she is not a goddess, nor some aspect of God Himself, who is she?
First, Lady Wisdom is not a person at all. Rather, she is a personification of wisdom. Personification is an ancient and elaborate figure of speech in which an author presents an abstract idea as a person. In Proverbs 1-9, Solomon tells us many things about wisdom by personifying it as a woman, by giving her speeches to deliver, and by calling on his readers to relate to wisdom as they would relate to various kinds of women (see below).
The strongest indication that Lady Wisdom is a personification rather than an actual heavenly being is her evil counterpart, the Woman Folly, with whom she is contrasted in Proverbs 9. No one, of course, ever maintains that Woman Folly is an actual personality. Like Lady Wisdom, she is a personification, a personification of folly.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO'S LATEST ARTICLE
at Front Page describes the political machinations of Michael Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who comes off looking jihad-friendly.
THE CENTRALITY OF THE DIVINE FEMININE IN ISLAM
Some excerpts from the article:
Before the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, brought the religion of Islam to Arabia, the Arabs were a polytheistic people....Ancient Indian Vedic texts refer to Makkah as a place where Alla the Mother Goddess was worshiped. In Sanskrit, Alla means "mother." ...
The ancient Arabs prayed to...lesser gods and goddesses to intercede before Allah and to pass their desires on to Allah. As part of their religious practices, they visited Makkah. In Makkah was a cube-like building known as the Ka'ba. This temple contained three hundred sixty idols. ...
The identity of the Black Stone with the Great Goddess and with the moon is recognized by the Hulama - rationalist school of Islam.
Inside the Ka'ba there were fresco paintings including those of Abraham and the "Virgin Mary" with the baby Jesus. When Muhammad retook Makkah he began a program of removing the pagan influences from the Ka'ba...he specifically left on the walls a fresco of the "Virgin Mary" and her child. ...
Sufism cherishes the esoteric secret of woman, even though Sufism is the esoteric aspect of a seemingly patriarchal religion. ...
Divine Feminine has always been present in Islam. ...
Sufism, or as some would define it "mystical Islam" has always honored the Divine Feminine...to the Sufi, Allah has always been the Beloved and the Sufi has always been the Lover. ...
Ibn al-'Arabi wrote a collection of poems...These are love poems that he composed after meeting the learned and beautiful Persian woman Nizam in Makkah. The poems are filled with images pointing to the Divine Feminine. His book _Fusus al-hikam_, in the last chapter, relates that man's supreme witnessing of Allah is in the form of the woman during the act of sexual union. ...
Fatima is regarded by some Sufis and theologians as the first spiritual head...of the Sufi fellowship. ...
The Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine express two very distinct aspects of Allah. ...
It is stated by some Sufi Sheikhs (Masters) that Sufism originally was named Sophia, which connects Sufism with the Christian Gnostic tradition, in which Wisdom is personified as a woman, the divine Sophia. The physical mother of Jesus was an external image of manifestation of the Virgin Sophia, the word "Sophia" stemming from Sophos (wisdom). The Gnostics, whose language was Greek, identified the Holy Spirit with Sophia, Wisdom; and Wisdom was considered female. The Virgin was closely associated by the early church with Wisdom, the cathedral church at Constantinople, while the ascension of the Virgin Mary refers to the passing of Wisdom into Immortality. The litany of the Blessed Virgin contains the prayer "Seat of Wisdom, pray for us." ...
Sufi, ibn al-Arabi, saw a young girl in Makkah surrounded by light and realized that, for him, she was an incarnation of the divine Sophia. ...
...(Prophet of God - Muhammad) understood that his gnosis was bestowed upon him from the Divine Feminine. ...
Fatima was given the title of "az-Zahraa" which means "the Resplendent One." That was because of her beaming face, which seemed to radiate light. However, others, who must keep their beliefs prudently concealed, know the Prophet Muhammad's daughter as "Fatima Fatir". In Her own sacred words She utters the truth, "There is no God beside me, neither in divinity nor humanity, neither in the Heavens nor on earth, outside of me, who am Fatima - Creator."...
One of the primary goals of the Sufi is to reawaken the body to an awareness of it being an expression of the divine. The body is not basically sinful (as in the Roman Catholic Church's conception of Original Sin) in Islam, rather the body is the seat of the highest reality created by Allah in the whole universe. To understand the Divine Feminine in Sufism, it is helpful to understand a few basics of Tantra Yoga. ...
The basic tenet of Tantrism is that matter, and therefore the body, is also a manifestation of Sakti power, that is, the power emanating from the feminine aspect of Divine Reality. In the domain of the spiritual life, the same term Sakti signifies the celestial energy that allows one to enter into contact with the Divinity. ...
There is a form of Tantra, entitled "Kundalini Tantra". This is the Yoga of sexual intercourse. ...
What ties Tantra to Sufism is contained in the symbolism of Prophet Muhammad's nighttime ascent to Heaven. The Prophet ascended on al-Buraq, a riding beast with the head of a woman, through the seven heavens to the Throne of God. Hadith relates that the Prophet's bed was still warm when he returned...
The Sufic explanation of the fact that the Prophet's bed was still warm, is that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was making this journey while having sexual intercourse with his wife Khadijah. ...
Sometimes when the Divine Feminine is realized in all Her Splendor, She so transforms her devotees that their forms of worship are transformed also. Hence Islamic and Sufi groups arise that are considered heretical to mainstream Islamic and Sufi belief structures through attention and study of the feminine aspects of divinity. The concept that Allah is the feminine form of the Ultimate Reality is the inner secret of the most esoteric mysteries of Islam. Ibn 'al-'Arabi pronounced: "True divinity is female, and Makkah is the womb of the Earth." Because he said the godhead was feminine, they accused Ibn al-'Arabi of blasphemy.
That's just an overview. There's a lot more in the article. According to the author's bio, he was initiated as a Sufi Dervish in 1980 and has been a student of Sufism for more than two decades.
THIS CHILD SPOKE WITH ANGELS
Yes, it seems they were real. She had tea parties with them until she was five, and there were other odd things about this child. It's an interesting story. If you read it to the end, check the links offered on the right side of the article. Here's the News Press link.
ARRESTS IN PRIEST BEATING
Why would a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old boy beat the Chancellor of the Springfield Diocese so severely that he has been on a ventilator?
The police are not talking. I can think of at least one reason...
PATSY DOHERTY IS ANGRY
and is telling the world through the website of the Derry Journal.
It seems some priests in Ireland are refusing to give Communion to couples living in sin, and Patsy doesn't like it. She writes:
What right has any priest to pass judgment on anyone? And if it is the policy of the Catholic Church to back them up on this, then I would have to consider it very wrong for the church to do so. ...
I feel that if a person joins a queue to receive Holy Communion and behaves in a respectful and normal way, then no priest has the right to pass judgment on that person and refuse them the sacrament. To do so is totally going against the laws of God who doesn't pass judgment on anyone and instead shows compassion and forgiveness. Who do these priests think they are anyway? And are their bishops in total agreement with them on this policy?
Ummm, Patsy, ever hear of "particular judgment"? How about "general judgment"?
Besides, you've already implied that the priest may refuse communion if the person does not "behave in a respectful and normal way," so obviously you believe the priest may judge.
Maybe she is just young.
According to BBC News nearly $2,761,000,000 has been donated worldwide to the relief efforts in Southeast Asia to date.
ABUSE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT
Boston: 522 Plaintiffs $85 million
Orange: 90 Plaintiffs $128 million
Lawyers in Orange get 40%
Source: The Age
THE SATANISM CLASS
Professor Carlo Climati, who will be lecturing to the class on Satanism at the Regina Apostolorum University in Rome talks to The Age about the nature of Satanism:
"It is a way of seeing the world as a jungle, where only the strongest survive. A world in which all limits are absent, bad examples are on offer and in which the perfection of television's role models is countered with the search for extremes, for power at all costs."
Though the concept of Satan is probably as old as humanity itself, Professor Climati says the spread of its popularity in the modern world has been in part aided by the emergence of New Age - which a recent Vatican pamphlet describes as "an individualistic, egoistic and ultimately anti-Christian culture".
Moreover, satanism cannot merely be confined to the Christian world.
"It is a global phenomenon, a human problem that transcends all barriers and which can affect anyone, particularly those with a highly sensitive soul who see their strong ideals betrayed in some way or other," Climati says.
The lecturer says the course has already created enormous interest, both among students in Rome and among those attending the university's branches abroad, particularly in Latin America.
FR. SERAPHIM ROSE COMMENTS ON THE ORTHODOXY OF ARCHBISHOP JOHN MAXIMOVICH
at the Saint Mary of Egypt website:
The theological writings of Archbishop John, printed in various church periodicals over four decades, have not yet been collected in one place. Those presently available to the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood would fill a volume of something more than 200 pages. His longer writings belong for the most part to his earlier years as a hieromonk in Yugoslavia, where he was already noted as outstanding among Orthodox theologians. Especially valuable are his two articles on the Sophiology of Bulgakov, one of them revealing convincingly, in a very objective manner, Bulgakov's total incompetence as a Patristic scholar, and the other being of even greater value as a classic exposition of the true Patristic doctrine of the Divine Wisdom.
FROM THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN INFORMATION CENTER
A Book Review of The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware
by Hieromonk Patapios
From the website:
With regard to Father Sergiuss [Bulgakov] speculations on Sophia (Wisdom), Archimandrite Luke of Jordanville recently pointed out that there are some significant similarities between Sophiology and New Age philosophy. The heretical notion that Sophia, the Wisdom of God, is a fourth Hypostasis of the Trinity and a female entity in effect "divides the simple essence of God into two principles—the male and the female" ("New Age Philosophy, Orthodox Thought, and Marriage," Orthodox Life, Vol. XLVII, No. 3 , p. 34). In its 1935 Ukaz condemning Bulgakovs errors, the Moscow Patriarchate notes that it is not a long step from this dualistic conception of God to a "deification of sex" as it was understood by "some of our secular writers such as V.V. Rozanov" (ibid. [emphasis ours]). Father Luke clarifies this intimation when he explains that, "If in God there is male and female and if in His image in man there is also male and female, one may conclude that if male and female unite in carnal relations they are reflecting the Divine" (ibid., p. 35). Rozanov, incidentally, was not only a precursor of Sophiology and the "sexualization" of Orthodox theology, but was also a virulent anti-Semite who hated the Old Testament and who, throughout his life, had a lovehate relationship with the Orthodox Church.
Monday, January 03, 2005
EMAIL FROM LEE PENN
A collection of stories and web sites about the Legionaries and their founder ...
This was printed today:
Connecticut News - State, National and World News from Today's Hartford Courant - FROM TODAY'S COURANT
I have put key parts of the story in bold:
[I have included only the parts Lee put in bold. To read the entire news story, go to the website - ct]
Vatican Revisits Abuse Charges
Accused Priest Is Close To The Pope
January 3, 2005
By GERALD RENNER, Special to The Courant
The Vatican has reopened an investigation into charges first reported nearly eight years ago that a powerful Mexican priest close to the pope sexually abused seminarians.
The allegations surfaced in a Courant report in February 1997. Nine former members of the Legion said Maciel first abused them years ago when they were young boys or teenagers, ages 10 to 16, in seminaries in Spain and Italy.
The accusers, all professional men - two Mexican-Americans, five Mexicans and two Spaniards, one now deceased - tried for years to call their accusations to the attention of Pope John Paul II, who nonetheless has remained effusive in his praise of Maciel. Just five weeks ago, on Nov. 27, the pope praised Maciel in a letter on the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination, citing his "intense, generous and fruitful priestly ministry."
A week later, the complainants against Maciel were told the Vatican was reopening a canon law investigation that had been squelched without explanation in 1999.
Under a 2002 policy adopted by the U.S. hierarchy, an American priest facing allegations such as those made against Maciel would be suspended immediately while an investigation was conducted. The Vatican has no such policy.
Barba said it appears to him that Vatican authorities are heavily divided about how to handle the complaints against Maciel, accounting for praise from the pope one week and a decision to investigate him the next.
There is such a division in the church in Mexico. It was not until 2002 that the charges against Maciel were aired at a meeting of the Mexican hierarchy, when it was acknowledged for the first time publicly that the Mexican church had a problem with priestly sexual abuse, as did the U.S. church.
Two Mexican priests who helped Maciel's accusers advance their complaints say their careers suffered.
Second, here is a link to the just-mentioned book by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner:
Amazon.com: Books: Vows of Silence : The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II
I have read the book, and highly recommend it. It demonstrates the corruption of the Hierarchy by contrasting the lives and careers of Fr. Doyle (who warned the US bishops of the pederasty scandal and cover-up in the mid-1980s, and whose Church career was derailed as a result) and of Fr. Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries and a favorite of the Pope.
I believe the charges against Maciel are true ... in part, because of the evidence in the book, and in part because of assessments of the case that I have heard privately from several orthodox sources.
Third, here is a link to the Legionaries' page of self-defense:
Fourth, here is a link to a page that rebuts the Legionaries' self-defense:
Fifth, here is a link to a group of survivors of the Legion:
ReGAIN Home Page
Sixth, here is a column by Matt Abbott about the Legionaries:
Author's view on Legion of Christ controversy
Matt C. Abbott
December 19, 2004
Archbishop Harry Flynn of St. Paul and Minneapolis recently threw down the gauntlet — at least in one respect. In an Oct. 22, 2004 letter to Father Anthony Bannon, territorial director of the Legionaries of Christ (www.legionariesofchrist.org), Flynn effectively banned the controversial religious order from the archdiocese, citing concerns of a "parallel Church." (To see a copy of the correspondence, visit www.regainnetwork.org.)
I asked journalist Lee Podles, whose upcoming book, A Harsh Light: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, was featured in a previous column, what he thinks of LegionaryFacts.org, a site dedicated to refuting past sex abuse allegations against the founder of the Legion, Father Marcial Maciel. ...
[Go to the website to read Podles comments - ct]
Seventh, and last, is this rebuttal of the preceding column by Jason Berry:
Journalist responds to Legion's "disinformation strategy"
Matt C. Abbott
December 20, 2004
In response to my previous column on the Legionaries of Christ controversy, I received the following e-mail from journalist Jason Berry, co-author of the book 'Vows of Silence':
"I would like to counter an impression your readers may have regarding Father Marcial Maciel in the book that Gerald Renner and I published, 'Vows of Silence.'
"You noted that the Legion website [www.legionaryfacts.org] refers to 'false allegations against Father Maciel, the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi to distort the record of Pope John Paul II and undermine his teachings.'
"The Legion's disinformation strategy suggests that in order to discredit Pope John Paul II (God bless him), two seasoned journalists, both Catholics, would spend years of research to promote false charges. Two hard facts are at the center of the book. ...
[Again you will need to go to the website to read the entire story - ct]
RABBI AMAR MAKES AN UNPOPULAR OBSERVATION
The earthshaking disaster in southeast Asia shows that "G-d is angry" and that "we must pray more and ask for mercy," Rabbi Amar told the Ynet website. "The nations of the world are obligated to observe the seven Noahide laws, such as prohibitions against murder and illicit relations... The deaths are very painful."
CATHOLIC BISHOP ALSO SEES SUNAMI AS A WARNING FROM GOD
Port Blair, Jan 2 : Was the killer tsunami a message from god? A reflection on the way man lives?
Yes, says Bishop Alex Dias of the Stella Morris Cathedral Church, the main Catholic church here.
"I believe that the tsunami is a warning. A warning from god to reflect deeply on the way we lead our lives," said Dais, as he stood among the ragtag tarpaulin tents in the 900-strong relief camp the church is running for tsunami survivors.
STATUE OF VIRGIN MARY SWEPT AWAY BY TSUNAMI, RETURNED UNSCATHED
The Star reports:
Matara - Sri Lankan Catholics in the southern town of Matara have celebrated the return of a statue that disappeared during the Asian tsunami disaster, only to be found days later unscathed. ...
The statue disappeared from its glass casing when the first wave swept across the church grounds as a congregation of around 100 celebrated mass inside on Boxing Day.
The statue was originally found by Sri Lankan fishermen in 1907 but its origin remains unknown.
CATHOLIC RELIEF EFFORTS
The Catholic Church is making large contributions to the rescue efforts:
The Italian bishops' conference has decided to contribute 3 million euros ($4 million) in aid. The Holy Father's humanitarian aid fund, "Cor Unum," has opened a special bank account to receive donations, according to Agence France-Presse.
Meanwhile, the U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services (CRS) announced a commitment of $25 million for emergency relief and long-term rehabilitation programs to assist people across the south and southeast Asia region devastated by the tsunami.
To contribute to CRS tsunami relief efforts, send donations to:
Catholic Relief Services
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, MD 21203-7090
Memo line: Tsunami Emergency
Blogger credit to Spirit Daily.
THE USE OF SOPHIOLOGY IN TRADITIONALIST INTERFAITH DIALOGUE
Traditionalism concentrates on the similarities that can be found in traditional religions of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity. (Is Zoroastrianism also included?) The objective is to locate a primordial or perennial philosophy at the base of each of these "traditional" religions...a reductionist technique.
The "Paths to the Heart Conference: Sufism and the Christian East" intended to find a "unified truth beneath their dogmatic differences" (Paths, p. ix). In doing so, mystical concepts in both traditions were compared with a concentration on what constitutes the "heart" in each faith. The "heart" in this case is directly connected to mystical experiences. The book which is composed of the papers delivered at this conference was edited by James S. Cutsinger
My focus on Sophiology in both Sufism and Orthodoxy has resulted from readings in this book, and supplemental readings on the web, about the places where Sufism and Orthodoxy intersect, since this appears to be on the cutting edge of interreligious dialogue. The proposal of the conference, and thus a gateway to a syncretistic approach to the two faiths, lies in finding common ground in this concept of "heart".
The question then arises, what lies at the heart of Orthodoxy and Sufism? God, obviously; but how is God defined? Sophiology seems to hold a common key. What do the Sufis mean by "Sophia"? What do the Orthodox mean?
As evidence that this terminology is critical, I would point to the name of the official magazine of the Traditionalists-- "Sophia". (At the same time I would raise the caution that this is the name adopted by Anthroposophists for their own journal; and that the Anthroposophists are looking to the same concept of "Sophia" as a unifying factor to meld Rosicrucian--or clairvoyant--Christianity with Roman Catholicism, as evidenced by Valentin Tomberg's book Meditations on the Tarot which has an afterword by Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar.)
Given these parameters of research, Soloviev, Bulgakov, Florensky, et. al. take on a significance that may not be valid within Orthodoxy proper. Yet their stature grows in proportion to the use made of them in the interests of ecumenism.
It would appear that these Sophiologists offer a pathway to dialogue with Islam. The hope of the Traditionalists seems to be that this dialogue can grow. Likewise the hope of John Paul II is that dialogue with Orthodoxy can grow by concentrating on the teachings of the Sophiologists, especially Vladimir Soloviev.
Justin has suggested in a comments box below that I should move away from this claim for Orthodoxy because it is not mainstream. I would suggest that the fact it is not mainstream within Orthodoxy will not inhibit the international ecumenists from using it. The leadership of Kallistos Ware may, in fact, be persuasive enough to morph Orthodoxy in response. At least that does seem to be the hope of the Traditionalists who have the ear of promoters of interreligious dialogue in the name of peace, and who also have the attention of the Grand Orient Lodge, ala Rene Guenon.
Further evidence of the interest in Sophiology in relationship to the goals of Traditinalism can be found in this article, titled "The Virgin", written by James S. Cutsinger, and published in Sophia: The Journal of Traditional Studies, 6:2 (2000), where you will find these passages:
...the Schuonian doctrine often associates the Holy Spirit with the uncreated
Wisdom of the Old Testament texts...seeing in both an expression of the Divine
femininity manifested in Mary on the human plane. In this respect the
teaching is not unlike that of Vladimir Solovyov, Sergei Bulgakov, Paul
Evdokimov, and other Eastern Orthodox writers who are associated with the
Russian school of sophiology. Like the Catholic saint Fr. Kolbe, these
theologians also draw a close connection between the Holy Spirit and the Blessed
Virgin, but they insist as well on an additional link with Sophia. On the one hand, according to Bulgakov, Wisdom is a name for what all three Persons of the Trinity share: she is "the silence and mystery of the Godhead." But at the same time, in her very mystery and elusiveness, Sophia maintains a special intimacy with the Holy Spirit, which "bloweth where it listeth" (John 3:8), and it is through this same Spirit
that the Divine Wisdom becomes embodied in Mary...(p. 20)
...Schuon's teaching about the Divinity of Mary--based in this case on her identification with uncreated Wisdom--does not mean, despite what a superficial reading might lead one to assume, that he wished to deny her humanity, which was obsviously essential in order that she might become a true locus for Christ's Incarnation. ... (p. 11)
...it is in this way precisely that "she is thus identified with Divine Feminity, or with the Wisdom "which was at the beginning." ... (p. 11)
And yet here is the wonder, of course: that it is precisely in not desiring to emulate God that Mary shows herself to be so organically a part of Him, so fully Divine. ... (p. 11)
And so, much to Justin's chagrin, I will not be backing away from this look at Sophiology, since whether or not it is mainstream in either Orthodoxy or Islam, the impetus for peace provided by Sophiology will continue to be a topic of discussion and, I suspect, of the morphing of theology in both Muslim and Christian faiths, if international religious dialogue continues down the path it is currently taking in both Traditionalism and also in United Religions as Bamford's involvement in Anthroposophy would seem to indicate. Thus Soloviev continues to loom large.
MARIAN SHRINE SPARED IN MIDST OF TIDAL WAVE
There seems to be no logical explanation why the flood waters stopped at the gates of the shrine of Our Lady of Good Health. It is being called a miracle.
From Catholic News Service:
"The Holy Mother has worked wonders despite the tragedy here," said Father Lionel.
In a Dec. 29 statement, basilica officials noted that about 2,000 pilgrims attending Mass were "miraculously saved" when the surging waves stopped at the gates of the shrine compound.
The waves -- which rose as high as 40 feet -- hit hotels and houses on the same elevation just 330 feet from the shrine.
Bishop Mariadoss noted that the local bus stop on the same elevation as the basilica was farther from the beach, but it was inundated.
"It was a miracle that the water did not enter the church," reiterated Sebastian Kannappilly, a businessman from neighboring Kerala state, who had come to Vailankanni with his wife and daughter. Although his family was at Mass and was spared, his driver perished in the disaster.
This story is reminiscent of the story of the 8 Jesuits, supposedly unharmed in the midst of the destruction, who were saying the rosary when the Hiroshima bomb was dropped.
BBC News also reports the miraculous escape of the church and has a picture of it on the website.
Meanwhile another strong earthquake struck Sumatra on Saturday afternoon:
An earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck under the sea off Indonesia's Sumatra Islands on Saturday afternoon, the State Seismological Bureau of China said here.