Saturday, March 10, 2007
CANCER CRISIS NO. ONE
The biopsy site is draining. All last week it bled. Now that the stitches have been removed it is draining a yellowish fluid. Not a big deal if I'm at home, but I have a date with friends to see Cirque at E.J. this afternoon, and I've just discovered that the sweatshirt I have on now has a large wet patch in a place that is totally embarrassing. The sweater I had planned to wear is close fitting, and it's the only thing in the closet that will go with the skirt I bought for this event.
Add to this the fact that I got my hair cut very short yesterday in preparation for the coming fall-out, so I already look less than feminine, and the skirt was going to balance the short haircut.
Still not a big deal, right? But a lot of little deals are starting to add up to be annoying.
I can stuff the bra with gauze pads that may be sufficient to contain it, but that one is already larger than its normal-size mate, so only so much stuffing is reasonable. This is ridiculous!
Ok, I realize you didn't want to know those little details....
It was a good show, but not as good at Cirque de Soleil in Vegas.
Oh, and God bless the person who invented Saran wrap!
FROM THE MAILBOX
|Spirit & Life|
|“The words I spoke to you are spirit and life.” (Jn 6:63)|
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 01, Number 58 | Friday, March 9, 2007
Sean Hannity's GospelIn an age of sophisticated dissent against Christ and His Church, the purity of the Ancient Faith needs defense so that people do not put their faith in "another gospel," says St. Paul (Gal 1:7). In the face of modern challenges to the Faith, Catholics who have a high profile in media, culture and government have a very grave responsibility to witness it correctly; otherwise, they will be held accountable in heaven for their anti-witness which affects the faith of millions.
For example, last Friday Sean Hannity took a few moments out of his afternoon radio show to make an apology. When I heard that the rather brash Hannity was actually going to apologize for something I was interested to find out what that would be. At first he sounded very
sincere in saying we have to take responsibility for our mistakes. Fine so far. Then he went on to tell his hearers that he had taken two bites of a chicken sandwich that day because he had been traveling and literally forgot it was a Friday of Lent. He stopped eating it when he
realized it was a Friday, but he used the opportunity on the show to make a fairly big deal about the "eat meat on Friday and you can go to hell" issue.
Well, even though he claims to be a "good Catholic," Hannity is hardly a credible commentator on Catholic matters. The chicken sandwich scandal was fairly trivial in the overall scheme of his show, but it said much more about the depth of his faith than anything else. I suspect that a great number of Catholics live their faith in the same
way—rule-bound and juvenile—but we need something better from a public "Catholic" like Hannity. We need a vibrant witness of someone who knows and embraces his Faith as deeply as he articulates his political passions.
Just for the record, he did not commit a sin when he ate the chicken sandwich—he had no intention to violate the Church precept, and he corrected himself immediately when he realized what he did. That's not a sin, and issuing a dramatic "apology" for doing that is, well, entertainment, not witness. This, unfortunately, is what passes for a deep discussion of the Catholic Faith in the public forum nowadays.
If apologies are the order of the day, then the repentance I would like to hear out of Sean Hannity's mouth is for his shameless—even scandalous—promotion of birth control. Yes, I have heard him personally say, "I have no problem with birth control. It's a good thing." (Another bit of profound theological reasoning.) Given the size of his audience and the importance of his status in pop culture,
Hannity's anti-witness to a fundamental tenet of Catholic moral doctrine is just devastating for the faith of others who may be weak or vacillating in this area. His impact is greater, and so his judgment will be stricter. "To those who have been given more, more will be required…"
The moral of the story is that Catholic men and women in the media need to be truly Catholic or at least stop being hypocrites. We have enough pretenders to the title of Catholic in public life without being treated to superficial assessments of profound moral issues. Rules are important, but Lent is not about rule-breaking, it's about conversion of heart; and on the most important moral issues of our day, public Catholics like Hannity have no right to profess "another gospel," or the faith of millions—and indeed their own souls—are in serious jeopardy.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
President, Human Life International
------------------------------------------------------Catherine of Sienna has gathered together several websites discussing Sean Hannity and his debate with Fr. Euteneuer. For the links, go over there and check it out.
THANK YOU ALL
for the prayers and the good wishes. You probably don't know how much it means. I have been drawing strength from your comments, and I'm grateful for each one of them.
In looking at the Cabala entry in the Jewish Encyclopedia, the close association between Kabbalah and Hasidism became obvious. Further searching brought up The Hasidic Stories Home Page and an article by Gedalyah Nigal on "Magic, Mysticism, and Hasidism: Introduction".
According to Nigal, Hasidic literature is centered in storytelling. The earliest hasidic literature are the books of Rabbi Jacob Joseph of Polonoye, a colleague of the founder of Hasidism, Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov. The telling of a story is a religious act for Hasidic thinkers on the same level as observance of the commandments, the study of Torah, or prayer. The baal shem or tzaddik is a wonder-worker known for magical and mystical miracles. The stories recount these accomplishments.
Among the miracles sought are blessings for matters of health, offspring, and livlihood.
These blessings were generally connected with the giving of an amulet written by a special scribe employed by the Baal Shem Tov for this purpose.
These wonder-workers "have a long history among the Jewish people" according to Nigal. The profession of baal shem has been found in southern Italy, central Europe among the Ashkenaz, and in Eastern Europe. There is also a tradition of the "shortening of the way" making it possible for someone to travel great distances in a short period of time. In modern society the need for such a miracle has been replaced by our rapid means of transportation, and so the miracle is no longer sought.
According to the article:
The baalei shem dealt with the magical. Magic, or "sorcery," as it appears in the sources, was forbidden by Jewish law, and presumably, there was no such thing as Jewish magic. The Torah states this clearly: "You shall not suffer a sorceress to live" (Exodus 22:17). Sorcery was, however, prevalent in different periods, and it could not be fought frontally. It is possible that the opposition to sorcery, on one hand, and the realization that the masses "needed" it, on the other hand, led to its restriction and to its attribution to a certain type of people. The Jew was no different from the non-Jew in the "need" for people possessing supernatural powers and for their activity. In the non-Jewish world, however, these individuals were called "sorcerers," while among the Jewish people they were known as "baalei shem." The Jews evaded the prohibition against sorcery by determining that there were powers of sanctity - the use of which was permitted - and powers of impurity, and only these constituted sorcery and therefore were prohibited.
The article discusses briefly the material contained in the author's longer work by the same name. In the book he deals "with transmigration (reincarnation) and exorcism". In the article he tells us that "the belief in transmigration is deeply rooted among hasidim and kabbalists." That would place Hasidim at odds with Christianity which rejects reincarnation. It would, however, demonstrate a common ground with New Age and Theosophy, both of which incorporate reincarnation as a central doctrine.
Friday, March 09, 2007
" THE HEKHALOT LITERATURE AND SHAMANISM"
That is the title of a paper by James R. Davila, St. Mary's College, University of St. Andrews, Scotland. The paper was first published in the Society of Biblical Literature 1994 Seminar Papers. The "Introduction" describes the material being discussed:
The Hekhalot literature is a bizarre conglomeration of Jewish esoteric and revelatory texts produced sometime between late antiquity and the early Middle Ages. The documents have strong connections with earlier apocalyptic and gnostic literature and claim to describe the self-induced spiritual experiences of the "descenders to the chariot" that permitted these men to view Ezekiel's chariot vision (the Merkavah) for themselves, as well as to gain control of angels and a perfect mastery of Torah through theurgy. This material is of particular interest for the study of divine mediation and mystical/revelatory experiences, because the Hekhalot documents claim to detail actual practices used to reach trance states, gain revelations, and interact with divine mediators. ...
Philip Alexander has drawn on anthropological works on shamanism to illuminate some material in the Hekhalot literature. This paper follows up his observation in depth by analyzing the Hekhalot literature from the perspective of the anthropological study of shamanism. The study of the Hekhalot literature raises the obvious question of whether and to what degree the texts reflect actual mystical experiences. Two approaches have developed on this issue. Some scholars, such as Gershom Scholem, Philip Alexander, and Christopher R. A. Morray-Jones, understand the Hekhalot texts to describe actual theurgical practices and typical visionary experiences of the group that produced the documents. Others, such as David Halperin, see the Hekhalot traditions as primarily exegetical. Halperin reconstructs a tradition of synagogue exegesis associated with Shavuot sermons that he believes generated the traditions found in the Hekhalot literature. He allows for the possibility that the writers sometimes had visionary experiences or "hallucinations," but he sees the major developments as literary.
The paper talks about the "mystic union" said to be the goal of mysticism:
The goal of mysticism, then, is union of the soul with the Absolute. Although this union is an absorption of an individual into the divine, the unitive life of the highest mystics is generally intensely social: they seek to bring the benefits of their experience into their community.
It indicates "The acts typically comprise behavior such as manipulation of objects and recitation of verbal formulas or spells."
Davila claims that the material in the Hekhalot is closer to shamanism than it is to mysticism:
The experiences described in the Hekhalot literature do not seem much like mysticism. There is no thought of mystical union. God is nearly as remote in the heavenly throne room as he is on earth. Nor is Hekhalot esotericism merely magic: it includes visionary experiences atypical of magic and often seems to be functioning in the context of a community. I propose therefore that the most illuminating framework for these experiences is shamanism. Using Hultkrantz's definition as a basis, the rest of this paper will test this approach by organizing the Hekhalot literature according to the component elements of shamanism as generally accepted by anthropologists.This passage would seem to describe channeling:
There is no one way that a person becomes convinced of his or her call to shamanhood. We can, however, make some significant generalizations about the range of experiences that lead to this conviction. First, the call may be either imposed from an external source (usually the spirits) or a voluntary decision of the future shaman. If the call is imposed, it may come from compelling dreams or revelations from the spirits, who may bring an illness upon an initiate until the initiate agrees to accept the call. Or the call may be hereditary, or determined from childhood by the presence of a "shaman's mark," a special physical characteristic on the initiate's body. Hereditary or "marked" shamans usually do not resist the call. If the decision is voluntary, the prospective shaman seeks out contacts with the spirits.
For example, the Gol'd shaman of Siberia, who was smitten with an illness until he entered into a shamanic marriage with his assisting spirit (Joan Halifax, _Shamanic Voices: A Survey of Visionary Narratives_ [New York/London: Arkana/Penguin, 1979] 121)
The control of spirits (almost always angels) is also central to the practices attributed to the descenders to the chariot. Indeed, it is not too much to say that this power is the linchpin that holds together the disparate praxes and concepts in the Hekhalot literature. Nearly every passage cited in the previous section associates the methods described with the imposition of human will on angels. In para. 204, the chanting of the divine names summoned the angel Suriah as a guide for the descent to the chariot. In paras. 299-303 the Sar Torah initiate was instructed to call on the angels in order to obtain, immediately and without effort, the knowledge of Torah that is normally acquired only after years of arduous study. In paras. 560-65 R. Ishmael compelled the angelic prince of Torah, with a good deal of difficulty, to give him wisdom (apparently, again, knowledge of Torah without study). Many other passages deal with the control of angels, but these are representative.Davila makes the connection between Hekhalot and Jewish magic:
THE OTHERWORLDLY JOURNEY
Perhaps the best-known element of shamanic experience is the alleged ability, either as a free soul or in bodily form, to journey to other realms of existence not materially connected to our world. Eliade summarizes the cosmology of shamanism in terms that are nearly universally cross-culturally valid: "the universe in general is conceived as having three levels -- sky, earth, underworld -- connected by a central axis." The latter is usually pictured as a tree growing through the three layers (the "world-tree") or as a mountain (the "cosmic mountain"). The shaman, who originates in the middle realm, our earth, travels to either or both of the other levels. Often the upper and lower realms are subdivided into (frequently seven or nine) layers.
THE HEKHALOT LITERATURE AND JEWISH MAGICIt is not unreasonable to conclude, after reading this paper, that organizations such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn are really practicing a form of Jewish magic that channels angelic spirits. Given that some of these spirits are fallen, red flags should be going up about now. A Roman Catholic is forbidden to engage in any practice such as this for any reason at all, including accomplishing good works. It is contrary to the First Commandment.
The question of the relation between the Hekhalot literature and Jewish magic is an important one that has not yet received much attention. Space permits only a few preliminary observations. First, the medieval manuscripts mingle Hekhalot and magical texts indiscriminately. Sch<"a>fer's Synopse includes magical works such as the <.H>arba de Moshe (Sword of Moses), the Seder Rabba de Bereshit, and the unnamed Magic Book (see n. 1 above), simply because they appear in the manuscripts he used. Indeed, it is difficult to be certain whether to define the Sar Panim as a Hekhalot or a magical document. Second, the magical literature frequently makes use of themes and ideas typical of the Hekhalot literature. For example, the Cairo Geniza amulet T.-S. K1.168 mentions the 390 firmaments, contains speculations about the throne of God and the living creatures, and mentions an angelic high priest of heaven. T.-S. K 1.19, a book of miscellaneous magical recipes from the Geniza, includes a Sar Torah passage. Sepher Ha-Razim (the Book of the Mysteries), a magical book reconstructed by Mordecai Margalioth and dated by him to the Talmudic period, is structured around the seven firmaments and the angels in each who can be controlled theurgically. Both types of text make frequent use of _nomina barbara_, and both have some tendency to write the Tetragrammaton instead of a substitution or abbreviation. The rhetorical elements that are standard for Geniza incantations also appear in the Hekhalot literature. Overall there are strong indications that closely related and perhaps overlapping groups were using each kind of texts.
JEWISH MAGIC FOR COLLEGE CREDIT
Surprisingly, several colleges teach courses in Jewish magic and mysticism.
Kenyon College offers Religion 313 - "Mysticism, Magic, and Kabbalah in Judaism"
Ithaca College offers Jewish Studies 340-353 - "Jewish Magic and Ritual Power"
At Dartmouth, Hebrew 61 - "Narratives of the Hasidic Mystics"
Queens College of New York, Center for Jewish Studies, History 2000 - "Jewish Magical Traditions"
Ohio State University faculty member Michael Swartz has two publications dealing with Jewish magic: "The Dead Sea Scrolls and Leter Jewish Magic and Mysticism" and "Cultic Motifs in the Literature of Jewish Magic"
University of North Texas, Course No. 4960 - "Kabbalah: Jewish Mysticism, Myth, and Magic"
Those are just a few examples.
At the Jewish Heritage Online Magazine website there is an article on "Angels" that presents an understanding of these beings which is much closer to the Catholic concept than what I found in the Cabala.
Here the angels praise God and minister to man. Here are guardian angels. Here Rabbis reject worship of angels. Here are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and a fallen angel who is not named Satan, but who sounds very similar. There is some divergence. Man is said to be superior to the angels, unlike the case in Catholic cosmology. Here there is a reference to an "elaborate demonology." On the whole, however, these angels sound familiar.
Another article in the magazine website describes the amulets and invocations dedicated to the angels for protection in pregnancy. The word "magic" is applied in several places here, and names of angels are extended to Shamriel, Starbiel, Gastrakhiel, Sandalphon.
One could almost read in this section a description of the Catholic practice of wearing medals.
THE JEWISH CABALA
The Fall of Man
The greatest sinner, they hold, may attract the higher heavenly power by penitence, thus counteracting the poison of the serpent working in him. The warfare between man and the satanic power will only cease when man is again elevated into the center of divine light, and once more is in actual contact with it. This original glory and spirituality of man and of the world will be restored in the Messianic age, when heaven and earth will be renewed, and even Satan will renounce his wickedness....although the Cabala accepted various foreign elements, actual Christian elements cannot be definitely pointed out. Much that appears Christian is in fact nothing but the logical development of certain ancient esoteric doctrines, which were incorporated into Christianity and contributed much to its development, and which are also found in Talmudic works and in Talmudic Judaism.
The Cabala and the Talmud
As these men [Nahmanides, Solomon ibn Adret, Joseph Caro, Moses Isserles, and Elijah b. Solomon of Wilna] were the actual representatives of true Talmudic Judaism, there must have been something in the Cabala that attracted them. It cannot have been its metaphysics; for Talmudis Judaism was not greatly interested in such speculations. It must be, then, that the psychology of the Cabala, in which a very high position is assigned to man, appealed to the Jewish mind.
The Cabala and Philosophy
Like the school of Maimonides, the cabalists also interpreted Scripture allegorically; yet there is an essential difference between the two. Abraham and most of the Patriarchs are, for both, the symbols of certain virtues, but with this difference; namely, that the Cabala regarded the lives of the Patriarchs, filled with good and pious actions, as incarnations of certain virtues...while allegorical philosophy sought for exclusively abstract ideas in the narratives of Scripture. ...
(T)he great importance of the Cabala for rabbinical Judaism lies in the fact that it prevented the latter from becoming fossilized. It was the Cabala that raised prayer to the position it occupied for centuries among the Jews, as a means of transcending earthly affairs for a time and of feeling oneself in union with God.
Demonology...occupies an important position in the works of many cabalists; for the imps are related to those beings that are generally designated as demons, being endowed with various supernatural powers and with insight into the hidden realms of lower nature, and even occasionally into the future and the higher spiritual world. Magic may be practiced with the help of these beings, the cabalists meaning white magic in contrast to ("the black art").
Natural magic depends largely on man himself; for, according to the Cabala, all men are endowed with insight and magical powers which they may develop. The means especially mentioned are: "Kawwanah" = intense meditation, in order to attract the higher spiritual influence; a strong will exclusively directed toward its object; and a vivid imagination, in order that the impressions from the spiritual world may enter profoundly into the soul and be retained there. From these principles many cabalists developed their theories on casting of lots, Necromancy, Exorcism, and many other superstitions, Bibliomancy and the mysticism of numbers and letters were developed into complete systems.
Astrology was legitimized...
In a word, its works (of the Cabala) represent that movement in Judaism which attempted to Judaize all the foreign elements in it, a process through which healthy and abnormal views were introduced together.
That concludes the high points from the article on Cabala in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
BREAST CANCER GETS COMPLICATED
Gone are the days of just going to the doctor. Now I have a team of doctors--oncologist, surgeon, plastic surgeon, and who knows how many others before this is finished. Stitches from the biopsy came out today. Next surgical procedure is installing the port. Gotta get the chemo therapy into my veins somehow. Inserting a nifty little device is supposed to facilitate that process. Sort of like a doggy door, I guess. I wonder how this is going to work out with the car seatbelt?
I'm also going to need a wig specialist after the first dose of chemo. That's when all of my hair is supposed to fall out if the chemo is working. If it doesn't, I'm supposed to be unhappy about that. Yeah right! They say it comes back again but the texture and color might be different. Let's see what color shall I wish for? Blonde? Maybe white like my grandmother's? Knowing my luck, it's gonna be gray--just mousey gray and probably curly. I hate my hair curly. My hair was kinky curly when I was a teenager in the 60's (Remember what Cher's hair looked like? That was the good hair in the 60's. Mine was a total embarrassment.)
Did you know that if you have cancer, they have to take your blood pressure on the opposite side of your body because the cancer causes false readings? I asked why but didn't get an explanation.
I'm off the hook until Tuesday. Then the scans begin. Cat Scan. Muga Scan. Bone Scan. Pet Scan. When they're done with the scans they will know every inch of my body. Who knew I was this important? I might even glow in the dark since one of them requires a radioactive dye. (I'm kidding about the glowing. I don't think I'm going to glow. Sigh. I'll just have to be happy with the glow from the Laphrohaig. Yeah. It's a nice glow.)
My husband is not going to find this blog funny! Poor guy. He doesn't know how to cook and looks pretty worried. LOL
Click the links below the pictures at this website to hear two Orthodox services. Neither are in English, even though one is taking place in Jordanville and the other in the San Francisco Cathedral. Thanks for the link, Justin.
THE JEWISH CABALA
Natural philosophy in combination with the Christian Cabala is found in the works of the German Theophrastus Paracelsus (1493-1541), of the Italian Hieronymus Cardanus (1501-76), of the Hollander Johann Baptist von Helmont (1577-1644), and of the Englishman Robert Fludd (1574-1637).
Paracelsus and Fludd would both be essential entries on any who's who list of occultists. Re Fludd, the encyclopedia says:
the Englishman Fludd is especially noteworthy on account of his knowledge of the Cabala. Almost all of his metaphysical ideas are found in the Lurianic Cabala, which may be explained by the fact that he formed connections with Jewish cabalists during his many travels in Germany, France, and Italy.
T. Apiryon, of the Ordo Templi Orientis, has this to say of Fludd:
Robert Fludd was a Kentish Anglican alchemist, Paracelsist physician, mathematician, astronomer, cosmologist, Qabalist, Rosicrucian apologist, and alleged 16th Grand Master of the Prieuré de Sion. Fludd was considered by Crowley to be an Adeptus Exemptus. Fludd was a prolific writer, and many of his works on alchemy, Rosicrucianism, occult medicine, the "magnetic" philosophy and various scientific theories survive....Fludd was allegedly a member of the committee which drafted the "King James" translation of the bible in 1611.
Jacob Bohme, too, gets a mention in the Jewish Encyclopedia:
Cabalistic ideas continued to exert their influence even after a large section of Christianity broke with the traditions of the Church. Many conceptions derived from the Cabala may be found in the dogmatics of Protestantism as taught by its first representatives, Luther and Melanchthon. This is still more the case with the German mystics Valentin Weigel (1533-88) and Jacob Bohme (1575-1624)....In addition to these Christian thinkers, who took up the doctrines of the Cabala and essayed to work them over in their own way, Joseph de Voisin (1610-85), Athanasius Kircher (1602-84), and Knorr Baron vonRosenroth endeavored to spread the Cabala among the Christians by translating cabalistic works, which they regarded as most ancient wisdom. Most of them also held the absurd idea that the Cabala contained proofs of the truth of Christianity."Absurd idea that the Cabala contained proofs of the truth of Christianity." That is the same absurd idea that is contained in the book MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT. A book which Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar promoted through use of material contained in the visionary experiences of medium Adrienne von Speyr, who von Balthasar claimed was essential to his theology. Pope Benedict is a follower of the theology of Balthasar.
In connection with this idea of God there arises the difficult question of the creation, the principal problem of the Cabala and a much-discussed point in Jewish religious philosophy. If God be the En-Sof--that is, if nothing exists outside of God--then the question arises, How may the universe be explained? (bolding mine)
"Nothing exists outside of God." That is the claim of the pantheists, of the promoters of the worship of Gaia, of the occultists. It is the heart and soul of the heresy of monism. It is alien to Catholic cosmology.
The First Three Sefirot
Thus the identity of thinking and being, or of the real and ideal, is taught in the Cabala in the same way as in Hegel.
...the body is only the garment, the covering in which the true inner man appears.
This is central to Reincarnation which says that we incarnate in many different bodies. Consistent with this is the following entry:
In order that the soul may return to its source, it must previously have reached full development of all its perfections in terrestrial life. If it has not fulfilled this condition in the course of one life, it must begin all over again in another body, continuing until it has completed its task. The Lurianic Cabala added to metempsychosis proper the theory of the impregnation of souls; that is, if two souls do not feel equal to their tasks God unites both in one body, so that they may support and complete each other, as, for instance, a lame man and a blind one may conjointly do...If one of the two souls needs aid, the other becomes, as it were, its mother, bearing it in its lap and nourishing it with its own substance.
That is not even remotely compatible with Catholic theology.
Love, the Highest Relation to God
Here there is material that comes close to Benedict's "Deus Caritas Est".
...we may fear God and also love Him. Fear is justified as it leads to love. "In love is found the secret of divine unity; it is love that unites the higher and lower stages, and that lifts everything to that stage where all must be one. (Zohar, wa-Yakhel, ii. 216a).
"All must be one" is the monism of Theosophy, not Christian cosmology which posits that God is always "other".
The soul...comes into the world through the union of the king with the matrona--'king' meaning the Sefirah Tiferet and 'matrona' the Malkut--and the return of the soul to God is symbolized by the union of the matrona with the king.
The alchemical wedding?
SPRING-SUMMER LECTURES 2007
at Canonbury Masonic Research Center include
"Enoch & the Book of Genesis" - Philip Davies
"The Death & Resurrection of Christian Rosencreutz" - Robert Gilbert
"Chiswick House - A Masonic Temple in West London? - Ricky Pound & Matthew Scanlan
"Cosmic Consciousness" - Colin Wilson
"The Development of Modern Martinism" - Michael Buckley
The 2007 conference at Canonbury is themed "Vision of Utopia". Also offered at the conference website is a collection of papers titled "Freemasonry and Religion: Many Faiths, One Brotherhood."
The Book of Enoch has been a source cited in the Jewish Encyclopedia entry for "Cabala" numerous times. Now it is the source of the February 21, 2007 lecture at Canonbury. The description of the lecture indicates the Dead Sea Scrolls are a source of information used.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
SOME CHANGES THAT WILL AFFECT THIS BLOG
I've gotten some news recently that will affect the time I have to spend blogging.
In short, I have inflammatory breast cancer, and will be taking chemotherapy after which I will have surgery, and then possibly more chemo or radiation.
IBC is a rare but agressive form of breast cancer. It can't be ignored. Neither can treatment be delayed. Survival rate is 40% to 50% after five years, depending upon which statistic one is reading.
So for however many weeks I have to deal with this, I will be in and out of the blog as time permits. Right now on my calendar are four different scans, and two doctor's appointments just in the next week. When chemo begins, there is the nausea to deal with and the exhaustion, which might mean that I will have to spend my energy doing the necessary stuff like laundry and cooking and have no time for research. But that's just my best guess. We shall see what we shall see.
I'd appreciate a prayer if you're so inclined. In any case, it's in God's hands, and God is good.
CABALA IN THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA
In Germany and Poland
There is no cabalistic literature proper among the German Jews, aside from the school of Eleazar of Worms...there were no real cabalists in Germany until the eighteenth century, when Plish scholars invaded the country. In Poland the Cabala was first studied about the beginning of the sixteenth century, but not without opposition from the Talmudic authorities, as, for instance, Solomon b. Jehiel Luria, who, himself a devout disciple of the Cabala, wished to have its study confined to a small circle of the elect....
In the seventeenth century, however, the Cabala spread all over Poland, so that it was considered a matter of course that all rabbis must have a cabalistic training....Yet, with the exception of Horowitz's work "Shene Luhot ha-Berit" (The Two Tablets of the Covenant), there is hardly one among the many cabalistic works originating in Poland that rises in any way above mediocrity.
The real continuation of the Cabala is to be found in Hasidism, which in its different forms includes both the mystical and speculative sides....those circles in Russia and Poland which oppose Hasidism also avoid the Cabala, as the real domain of the Hasidim....The non-Hasidic circles of Russia in modern times, though they hold the Cabala in reverence, do not study it.
Critical Treatment of the Cabala
Many obscurities will probably become clear as soon as more is known about Gnosticism in its different forms, and Oriental theosophy.
The Cabala in the Christian World
The first Christian scholar who gave proof of his acquaintance with the Cabala was Raymond Lulli (born about 1225; died June 30, 1315), called "doctor illuminatus" on account of his great learning...
But it was Pico di Mirandola (1463-94) who introduced the Cabala into the Christian world.
The Catholic Encyclopedia entry for Raymond Lully indicates that Lull's work was rejected:
The Church authorities, however, recognized the dangerous consequences which follow from the breaking down of the distinction between natural and supernatural truth. Consequently, in spite of his praiseworthy zeal and his crown of martyrdom, Raymond has not been canonized. His rationalistic mysticism was formally condemned by Gregory XI in 1376 and the condemnation was renewed by Paul IV.
The Encyclopedia entry for Pico di Mirandola indicates his work was condemned:
Despite all efforts Pico was condemned, and he decided to travel, visiting France first, but he afterwards returned to Florence. He destroyed his poetical works, gave up profane science, and determined to devote his old age to a defense of Christianity against Jews, Mohammedans. and astrologers. A portion of this work was published after his death ("Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem", Bologna, 1495).
Reuchlin's whole philosophical system, the doctrine of God, cognition, etc., is entirely cabalistic, as he freely admits. Reuchlin's contemporary, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim (1487-1535), holds the same views, with this difference, that he pays especial attention to the practical side of the Cabala--namely, magic--which he endeavors to develop and explain thoroughly.
The Catholic Encyclopedia entry for Johannes Reuchlin indicates he remained faithful to the Church while studying Cabala:
The chief service of Reuchlin was his introduction into Germany of the study of Hebrew. His "De rudimentis hebraicis" (1506), containing both lexicon and grammar, was epoch-making. In 1512 he published as a manual for beginners an edition of the Hebrew text of the Penitential Psalms with a literal Latin translation. In his "De accentibus et orthographia linguae hebraicae" (1518), he treats in detail the word-accent, and more briefly the rhetorical accent and musical emphasis. Less important are his cabalistic writings ("De verbo mirifico", 1494; "De arte cabbalistica", 1517), in which he becomes lost in the abstruse problems of mysterious names and figures. Meanwhile his unfortunate quarrel with Johann Pfefferkorn and the Cologne Dominicans concerning the destruction of the Talmudic books had begun.
Howard Jay Rubin. What is he framing with his hands?
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR DOLLARS GO ?
An article at Catholic Online indicates that in most cases the laity doesn't get a clue, though a semblence of transparency is provided in many parishes once a year.
CABALA IN THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA
The German Cabala
The esoteric doctrines of the Talmud, the mysticism of the period of the Geonim, and Arabic Neo-platonic philosophy are...the three chief constituents of the Cabala proper as it is found in the thirteenth century.
In Germany it appeared in two cultural centers simultaneously.
Eleazar of Worms, a student of Judah the Pious, is its most important exponent. Abraham Abulafia was its final representative 500 years after it sprang up.
Christian and Jewish Mysticism
Like the Christian mystics...who symbolized the close connection between the soul and God by the figure of marriage, the Jewish mystics described the highest degree of love of man for God in sensuous forms in terms taken from marital life.
The mystics accorded primary place to prayer, while the study of the Law was of primary importance to the Talmudists.
It was the chief task of the practical Cabala to produce this ecstatic mysticism, already met with among the Merkabah-travelers of the time of the Talmud and the Geonim; hence, this mental state was especially favored and fostered by the Germans. Alphabetical and numeral mysticism constitutes the greater part of Eleazar's works, and is to be regarded simply as means to an end; namely, to reach a state of ecstasy by the proper employment of the names of God and of angels, "a state in which every wall is removed from the spiritual eye" (according to Moses of Tachau.)
An opposing movement arose in Spain aiming to replace speculative Cabala by a prophetic visionary one.
Abraham Abulafia denied the doctrines of emanations and the Sefirot, and, going back to the German mystics, asserted that the true Cabala consisted in letter and number mysticism.
Joseph Gikatilla is included in the German school of concrete letter symbolism, while the mystical Provencal-Spanish Jews pursue the abstract speculative Cabala. The movements finally combine in the Zoharistic books.
The Cabala in Provence
It may ...be assumed that the speculative philosophy of Provence, like German mysticism, originated in Babylon: Neoplatonism, reaching there its highest development in the eighth and ninth centuries, could not but influence Jewish thought....the Cabala took up the mystic elements of Neoplatonism. The Cabala, however, is not a genuine product of the Provencal Jews; for just those circles in which it is found were averse to the study of philosophy. The essential portions of the Cabala must, on the contrary, have been carried to Provence from Babylon; being known only to a small circle until Aristotelianism began to prevail, when the adherents of the speculative Cabala were forced to make their doctrine public.
The Treatise on Emanation
The doctrines of Metatron, and of angelology especially, are identical with those of the Geonim, and the idea of the Sefirot is presented so simply and unphilosophically that one is hardly justified in assuming that it was influenced directly by any philosophical system.
The Zohar Literature
The Zohar is both the complete guide of the different cabalistic theories and the canonical book of the cabalists. After the Zohar, which must be dated about the beginning of the fourteenth century, and which received its present shape largely from the hand of Moses de Leon, a period of pause ensued in the development of the Cabala, which lasted for more than two centuries and a half.
The modern cabalistic school begins theoretically as well as practically with Isaac Luria (1533-72)....The theoretical doctrines of Luria's Cabala were later on taken up by the Hasidim and organized into a system. Luria's influence was first evident in certain mystical and fanciful religious exercises, by means of which, he held, one could become master of the terrestrial world. The writing of amulets, conjuration of devils, mystic jugglery with numbers and letters, increased as the influence of this school spread....A large cabalistic school was founded in the sixteenth century in Italy, where even to-day scattered disciples of the Cabala may be met. Herrera...tried to spread the Cabala among Christians by his "introduction," written in Spanish.
The article lists a number of attacks by various scholars including Samuel David Luzzatto who "attacked the Cabala with the weapons of modern criticism. But in the East, Luria's Cabala remained undisturbed."
In the Orient
Following in the Luria school, Shabbethai Zebi appeared about 1665.
Shabbethaism induced many scholars to study the speculative Cabala more thoroughly; and, indeed, the Shabbethaian Nehemia Hyyun showed in his heretical cabalistic works a more thorough acquaintance with the Cabala than his opponents, the great Talmudists, who were zealous followers of the Cabala without comprehending its speculative side. Shabbethaism, however, did not in the least compromise the Cabala in the eyes of the Oriental Jews, the majority of whom even to-day esteem it holy and believe in it.
Today Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain carries on the Sabbatean tradition at his Donmeh West Neo-Sabbatian Collective of the Internet.
Gershom Scholem devotes a chapter in his book MAJOR TRENDS IN JEWISH MYSTICISM to Zevi. After explaining that Zevi was a manic depressive (p. 290), quoting Abraham Laniado of Aleppo, he writes:
"Since 1648, the holy spirit and a great 'illumination' had come over [Zevi]; it was his practice to pronounce the name of God in accordance with its letters and to commit various strange acts, because it seemed to him that to act in this way was right for many reasons and for purposes of acts in Tikkun which he proposed to carry out. But those who saw him did not understand these matters and he was like a fool in their eyes. And frequently our teachers in the holy land punished him for his wicked actions which were far removed from common-sense, so that he was compelled to part company with other people and to wander into the desert...And sometimes he was overcome by a great depression, but at other times he saw something of the glory of the Shekinah. Often, too, God tried him with great temptations, and he overcame them all" Laniado even asserts that when the "illumination" had passed from him, "he was like a normal man and regretted the strange things he had done, for he no longer understood their reason as he had understood it when he committed them." (ibid, p.292)
But his truly original characteristic is without any doubt to be found in the peculiarity of his mania: the commission of antinomian acts which in his state of exaltation he appears to have regarded as sacramental actions....this and nothing else is the true heritage of Sabbatai Zevi: the quasi-sacramental character of antinomian actions, which here always take the form of a ritual, remained a shibboleth of the movement, not least in its more radical offshoots. In his "normal" state, the Sabbatian is anything but an antinomian. The performance of such acts is a rite, a festive action of an individual or a whole group, something out of the ordinary, greatly disturbing and born from the deep stirring of emotional forces. (ibid. p. 293-4)
Were it not for the fact that the raw material of this Kabbalistic doctrine is actually to be found in the Zohar and in the Lurianic writings, one would be tempted to postulate an intrinsic, though to us obscure, connection between the first Sabbatian myth and that of the ancient Gnostical school known as Ophites or as Naassenes who placed the mystical symbolism of the serpent in the center of their Gnosis. (ibid. p. 298)
I regard it as important to follow the course of this movement, if only because the part which Sabbatianism played in the spiritual development of Jewry during the generations that followed, is generally underrated. Sabbatianism represents the first serious revolt in Judaism since the Middle Ages; it was the first case of mystical ideas leading directly to the disintegration of the orthodox Judaism of "the believers." Its heretical mysticism produced an outburst of more or less veiled nihilistic tendencies among some of its followers. Finally it encouraged a mood of religious anarchism on a mystical basis... (ibid. p. 299)
Since no one speaks for Judaism, this movement can still be classified among the varieties of Judaism. It has adherents up to the present day as the Donmeh West website demonstrates. Scholem writes:
It was the influence of these elements which had not openly cut themselves off from rabbinical Judaism, which after the French Revolution, became important in fostering the movement towards reform, liberalism and "enlightenment" in many Jewish circles.
Around 1850, a consciousness of this link between Sabbatianism and reform was still alive in some quarters. In circles close to the moderate reform movement, a very remarkable and undoubtedly authentic tradition had it that Aron Chorin, the first pioneer of reformed Jewry in Hungary was in his youth a member of the Sabbatian group in Prague....
Of his [Jonas Wehle, spiritual leader of the Prague mystics around 1800] extensive writings, an extremely interesting commentary to the Talmudic Aggadoth is extant in manuscript from which it is clear that his particular pantheon had room for Moses Mendelssohn and Immanuel Kant side by side with Sabbatai Zevi and Isaac Luria. And as late as 1864, his nephew, writing in New York, lengthily praises in his testament his Sabbatian and Frankist ancestory as the standard-bearers of the "true Jewish faith," i.e. of a deeper spiritual understanding of Judaism. (ibid. p. 304)
Zevi ultimately converted to Islam under pressure.
Monday, March 05, 2007
THE TRAVESTY OF SR. JEANNINE GRAMICK'S LATEST AWARD
Presented to her by the St. Bernadette Institute of Sacred Art in Albuquerque, NM last November, the Mother Teresa Award would have pro-life Mother Teresa turning over in her grave. Matt C. Abbott has posted an article by Randy Engel at the Renew America website outlining the activities of this notorious feminist who disguises herself as a Roman Catholic nun.
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS
Zuukie sent in a link to an interesting interview with Judge Clarence Thomas talking about his years at Holy Cross and the priest who inspired him. Check it out. Thanks, Zuukie.
THE TIDE IS TURNING...
Susan Beckworth has an article about the heresy of von Balthasar up at Spero News. From the article:
But perhaps the most alarming of Balthasar’s work is his dedication for the book, “Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism”. This book is probably the deepest treatise available on the tarot which is a deck of cards used in fortune telling.
Through the centuries, the Catholic Catechism has always instructed, “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future.”
The Lord says “Nor charmer, nor anyone that consulteth pythonic sprits, or fortune tellers for the Lord abhorreth all these things, and for these abominations, he will destroy them at thy coming.” (Deut. 18:11)
Yet here is an excerpt from Balthasar’s foreword for the book” Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey Into Christian Hermeticism” (Referred to herein as “Cardinal” Balthasar). “A thinking, praying Christian of unmistakable purity reveals to us the symbols of Christian Hermeticism in its various levels of mysticism, gnosis and magic, taking in also the Cabbala and certain elements of astrology and alchemy. These symbols are summarized in the twenty-two “Major Arcana”of the tarot cards. By way of the Major Arcana, the author seeks to lead meditatively into the deeper, all embracing wisdom of the Catholic mystery.”
-Hans Urs von Balthasar
Writer’s Note: The Cabbala is a book of Jewish occultism to be avoided along with all occult activity.
In the book’s attempt to “Christianize” or add a Catholic perspective, one very important truth is excluded. There is no such thing as “Tarot for Christians” or a “Christian Tarot Practitioner.” God condemns sorcery and divination, and to give God credit for something He is not doing is blatant arrogance and a blasphemous insult to God Almighty.
To read the entire article, go here.
Credit to NOR for the link.
THE JEWISH CABALA
Returning to the Jewish Encyclopedia article "Cabala", I'm picking up the text at this sub-heading:
Adam Kadmon, the "primal man" of the Elcesaites, was also, according to the conception of these Jewish Gnostics, of huge dimensions; viz., ninety-six miles in height and ninety-four miles in breadth; being originally androgynous, and then cleft in two, the masculine part becoming the Messiah, and the feminine part of the Holy Ghost.
That bears not even a remote resemblance to Catholic cosmology. The God of the Bible is always male, including the Holy Ghost. In catholic cosmology man can never become god no matter how many times he is split. It is worth noting that in New Age theology man becomes deified, which is much closer to what I find in that quoted passage.
The Heavenly Halls
Mystagogues of the Merkabah are said here to bring "themselves into a state of entranced vision by fasting, asceticism, and prayer" in a fashion similar to descriptions of the Montanist ecstasy.
There is a reference here to Essene cosmology, prompting me once again to wonder what is contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Any one knowing the names and functions of the angels could control all nature and all its powers...Probably entrusted formerly only to oral tradition, the ancient names were written down by the mystics of the geonic period; and so Hai Gaon...mentions a large number of such works as existing in his time...Of all these works, aside from the Hekalot, only the "Harba de-Mosheh"...("The Sword of Moses")...This book consists almost entirely of mystical names by means of which man may guard himself against sickness, enemies, and other ills, and may subjugate nature. These and other works later on formed the basis of the theurgic Cabala.
Origin of the Speculative Cabala
If, now, the German Cabala of the thirteenth century is to be regarded as merely a continuation of geonic mysticism, it follows that the speculative Cabala arising simultaneously in France and Spain must have had a similar genesis. It is the Sefer Yezirah which thus forms the link between the Cabala and the geonic mystics.
Mysticism of Jewish Heretics
This Jewish form of the Gnostic Demiurge, which was also known to the Samaritans...was accepted with slight modifications by the Karaites...as well as by the German cabalists...These, of course, were not new theories originating at this time, but an awakening of Jewish Gnosticism, that had been suppressed for centuries by the increasing preponderance of Rabbinism, and now reappeared not by chance, at a time when Sadduceeism, the old enemy of Rabbinism, also reappeared, under the name of Karaism.
Is Sadduceeism still alive in Judaism today? How does it relate to Hasidism?
Sunday, March 04, 2007
As many of you who have stayed with this blog for some time know, I have a particularly strong objection to ad hominem arguments. I also have a strong objection to the charge of anti-Semitism being leveled at someone instead of dealing honestly with the material presented.
It is not anti-Semitic to quote a Jew. It is not anti-Semitic to quote a Jew when the words of that Jew back up your argument. It is not anti-Semitic to take note of what is being said in Jewish circles.
I will not tolerate this unfounded charge being implied or raised here. If you don't want to debate issues, don't come in here. This is a Catholic blog. I am looking at material from a Catholic viewpoint. I do not consider the Holocaust a get-out-of-sin-free card. Catholics do sinful things. Jews do sinful things. It is human nature to do sinful things. Unless we can look honestly at what is and has taken place, there is no point to any discussion at all.
Deal with the material on an intellectual level, or leave.
Matt C. Abbott reviews the movie:
On March 3, I saw Breach, the feature film based on the true story of former FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who was sentenced to life in prison for spying for the Russians.
I thought I would offer a few observations on the film and its subject matter.
Hanssen, as many people are likely aware, is/was a Catholic, and specifically a member of Opus Dei. He was a family man, outwardly committed to his faith and loved ones, but, inwardly, a twisted, perverted individual. In addition to betraying his country, he betrayed his wife by secretly videotaping their marital relations and letting others view it.
Hanssen obviously did not practice what he preached. At all.
And the film, directed by Billy Ray and starring Chris Cooper, certainly shows that Hanssen liked to preach.
"Do you pray the rosary every day?" he sternly asks FBI agent Eric O'Neill (played by Ryan Phillippe) in one scene. "Not every day, sir," replies O'Neill.
"You should," says Hanssen.
Again, outwardly, a faithful Catholic.
I tried to see it the other day, but the ticket line was so long that I would have missed the first part of the movie. I'll try again.
While you're over there, click the link Abbott has provided at the end of his review (or use this one) to an article about the travesty the bishops have cooked up with Ohio legislators to address the statute of limitations exemption for victims of clergy sexual abuse. The 18 month clock for this began running last November. The parishes were supposed to be notified. I'm at Mass every Sunday. This is the first I've heard about it.