Monday, April 30, 2007

Rejected

Last week, I applied to BlogBurst to request Burning Taper be added to their network.

According their website, "Pluck's BlogBurst network is an opt-in aggregation and syndication service that brings high-quality, topical blogs together with high-traffic web sites. With BlogBurst, bloggers gain visibility, audience reach and traffic through placement on major online publishers and media destinations in real time."

In other words, they get your blog tied in with the Big Boys of publishing, such as Reuters, USA Today, Gannett, Fox News and Internet Broadcasting.

The Burning Taper didn't qualify.
Thank you for requesting an invitation to BlogBurst.

At this time your blog is not a good match for the BlogBurst network. A blog can be denied an invitation for many reasons, including quality as compared to other blogs in the network, needs of our current set of publishing partners, and topical focus. We invite you to visit our blog guidelines at http://www.blogburst.com/blogger/guidelines.html for more information on what we look for in blogs.

Our network of publishing customers is quickly growing and we encourage you to check back with us occasionally. We expect for some blogs not invited at this time to be a part of the BlogBurst network in the future.

Thank you for your interest in BlogBurst, and best wishes.

Best Regards,

The BlogBurst Team
With so many articles being written these days in the mainstream press about Freemasonry, I was hoping they'd be interested.

If any readers here who are also bloggers — Masonic or otherwise — apply to BlogBurst, I'd be interested in hearing of your results.

You can apply here.

| | | | |

Saturday, April 28, 2007

'Mission accomplished'?

1501 days.

3,337 dead American military men and women.

24,314 wounded American military men and women.

421 billion dollars.

So far....

| | | | | |

Friday, April 27, 2007

(Some) Christians crack me up

Quite often someone leaves a comment on The Burning Taper suggesting I "apparently have a problem with Christians."

It's not that. It's just that I can't open a newspaper, scan the web, or turn on the television without something strange, funny or just downright bizarre relating to something said or done in the name of Christianity jumping out at me.

Here are some recent examples:

A small town Georgia newspaper ran an article called "Bethany Church: An old church with a new vision" recently. It's a regular "church of the week" feature, commonly known in the newspaper game as "filler."

When asked what the church's mission is, Pastor Allen Howard said, "...going to heaven when we die, and taking as many people with us as possible."

Fine. Wonderful mission. Sign me up.

But what I found most humorous is this pudgy preacher's nickname: "Buddha."

Maybe it's just my warped sense of humor, but calling your preacher by the name of another religion's god object of spiritual adoration just cracks me up. If this guy had been thin, effeminate, bearded and had long hair, would they call him Jesus?

(Actually, he looks a bit like Alfred Hitchcock, doesn't he?)

Meanwhile, in Utah, Republican Party District 65 Chairman Don Larsen has decided that illegal immigration into the United States is part of Satan's plot to "destroy the U.S... as predicted in the Scriptures." He has introduced a resolution against the Devil. Yeah, that'll stop Him.

The resolution, in part, reads: "In order for Satan to establish his 'New World Order' and destroy the freedom of all people as predicted in the Scriptures, he must first destroy the U.S. The mostly quiet and unspectacular invasion of illegal immigrants does not focus the attention of the nations the way open warfare does, but is all the more insidious for its stealth and innocuousness."

Even his Republican compatriots are backing away from this misguided man.

A British blogger regularly rants against the Islamic invasion of his country, and promises "as a Christian it is my responsibility to stand before my God and my country in defence of this Evil enemy that has invaded our shores."

In February Lionheart called for the Knights Templar, the "legendary Army of Christian Warriors," to rise up and fight to protect his "Judeo-Chistian way of life" from the godless hordes of Islamic would-be conquerers flooding England.

He writes: "My God is real and all other gods are idols. I put out a call to every other person who has been chosen and anointed by God to rise up and let us unite as brothers and sisters in the Most Holy Faith with the divine mandate given from Heaven to defend the peaceful people of the Christian and Jewish world that expands the entire globe, against the Evil of Islam."

Didn't the Brits once conquer much of the world, so much so that it was said the sun never set upon the British Empire? Now that the tide is flowing the other way, it's not so pretty. Call out the Templars!

So, anyway, a few months later, he posted a rant against those damned Freemasons, about how Freemasons, "along with the Moslems from Luton... [are] threatening the whole community and the time has come for them to sweep their house clean or expect the 'Wrath of God' wrought through men to come upon them."

I guess he's unaware that many people believe the Knights Templar went underground and later re-emerged as Freemasons.

In Indiana the Jesus Metropolitan Community Church working with the Christian gay advocacy group Faith in America put up 22 billboards and 1,000 yard signs promoting tolerance towards homosexuals. Several of the billboards have been vandalized, and other Christian churches in the area are unhappy with the signs, the Indy Star reported on Wednesday.

The signs show a traditional Jesus-face or other Biblical image and one of these statements:
  • Jesus affirmed a gay couple. Matthew 8:5-13
  • Ruth loved Naomi as Adam loved Eve. Genesis 2:24, Ruth 1:14
  • Jesus said some are born gay. Matthew 19:10-12
  • The early church welcomed a gay man. Acts 8:26-40
  • David loved Jonathan more than women. II Samuel 1:26
The website WouldJesusDiscriminate.com has graphics of the billboards, and an in-depth discussion of (including audio files of sermons) each of these statements from a Biblical, historical and Greek-to-English translation perspective.

| | | | | |

Thursday, April 26, 2007

'Inside a secret society': An interview with an anonymous African-American gay Freemason

I found a rather strange and interesting "interview" with a Mason today. Titled "Inside a secret society: A gay African-American Freemason's story," it purports to be a discussion with an African-American gay Freemason.

No name or location is given for the Mason, who wants to remain anonymous. The person who posted the article appears to live in the San Francisco Bay area. Halfway through the interview the Mason admits he's not a Master Mason, but has attained "the second degree."

The strange and interesting parts of the interview are not that the Mason is African-American, or that he's gay. It's in what he says.

He says he was invited by letter to become a Freemason. I've heard this is the way it's done in England, but it's the first I've heard of it in America. He suspects he was on a mailing list of charity donors. When he asked a Mason at the lodge he eventually joined why he'd received the letter, he was told, "It could be the kind of wines you like, it could be places you like to go, your taste, your station in life."

When asked why he joined the fraternity, he told the interviewer, "The most important reason for joining is the networking benefits. I do not think that I would have the opportunity to meet the people that I am meeting otherwise. The men at my lodge, who are 35 to 45 years old, are at the top of their fields — they are active, they are getting things done and they care. I think that is hard to find."

The interviewer asked if he felt discriminated against in his lodge because he was gay. The anonymous Freemason replied, "These men have been to my home. They have gone into my bedroom to get their coats and have seen pictures of naked guys on my walls, and then they have come back again afterward. I have not seen any evidence of discrimination in my lodge."

Interviewer: "Do you plan on using your membership in the Masons to further
gay-related causes and/or causes that benefit people of color?"

African-American gay Freemason: "The cause I am most interested in furthering is my own."

Interviewer: "Are there levels to achieve within the Masons?"

AAGF: "Yes. There are 33 degrees. I have just made the second degree."

Interviewer: "Are you required to contribute money to the organization?"

AAGF: "Yes, but less than four figures annually."

At one point, the AAGF says "everything I'm telling you about I've either read online, or seen on TV."

When asked "Wasn't someone kidnapped and supposedly murdered in the 1800s for threatening to reveal Masonry secrets?", AAGF replied, "Yes, his name was Captain Morgan. There was another incident in Long Island, where someone was shot a dozen years ago or so in a Masonic lodge." [Note: The shooting in a lodge basement happened just over three years ago, in March 2004.]

Like I said. Strange and interesting.

| | | | | |

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hiram's: 'We Take Good Food and Make It Better'

With a hypothetical chain restaurant called "Hiram's" representing American Freemasonry, this video outlines the problems inherent in Masonry today, and suggests new ways to make the meal more tasty.

Watch this excellent video on Freemasonry titled Restaurant at the End of the Masonic Universe, from Stephen Dafoe and TheLodgeRoom.com, here or on YouTube.



| | | | | |

Radio show keeps Westboro Baptist Church from protesting Virginia Tech victims' funerals

I've written many times about the wackos at Westboro Baptist Church. You know the ones — they show up at funerals for soldiers carrying signs printed with "God hates fags" and "Your son is rotting in hell."

Last week it was reported that this group of fundamentalist fools were planning to stage protests at the funerals of all 32 victims of the Virginia Tech massacre. I've been following the news, but haven't heard of any incidents.

Now I know why.

Radio host Mike Gallagher got them to promise not to do it. According to his website SmallGovTimes.com, he offered the group extended airtime on his radio program in exchange for their promise not to picket any of the funerals.

Last year he offered them an hour of airtime, which they accepted, in exchange for their promise not to show up at the funerals of the Amish children slain at a school in Pennsylvania.

Westboro Baptist Church formally accepted his offer, and Shirley Phelps-Roper and other representatives of the group were scheduled to appear on his show yesterday.

Gallagher wrote on his webpage April 23:
I know that many people disagree with my decision. I have also received many notes and calls of support. Please allow me to state why I'm doing this: I truly feel called, on a spiritual level, to allow my radio show to be a tool that prevents these angry, hateful people the opportunity to hurt grieving families. I fully comprehend the arguments against doing this ("giving in to 'terrorists', "allowing them a national platform", etc.) but my heart is telling me to do something positive here. If my radio show can prevent a circus atmosphere of protests, counter-protests, police protection, and media coverage from taking place in front of churches where grieving families are trying to say good-bye to their loved ones, then I think that's a good thing. I feel with all of my heart that this is the right thing to do.

If you don't choose to listen, I understand completely. If you disagree with my offer, I respect your position. Please know that I didn't come to this decision easily or casually. I've prayed and consulted with my family, friends and colleagues. I know that many people will slam my decision. Last time, I was publicly criticized and mocked by a CNN/Headline News talk host for doing this with the Amish funerals. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper wrote that I "surrender(ed) (my) radio show... giving them a minor victory."

I am proud when a radio show like mine can actually do something good for people. Most times, those of us with a radio show or newspaper column can just talk about issues. Once in awhile, we can literally stop a horrible event in its tracks. This is one of those times. And whether you agree or disagree with me, I just wanted you to know — from me — why we're doing this.
| | | | | |

'Support the troops': The worst damn week of her whole damn life

I've made it to Blog Entry Number 526 without writing about politics, other than about Masonic infighting and the occasional rant against Christians trying to take over local, state and federal governments with their creeping theocracy. Oh, and there's that "cost of Iraq war" thingie over in the righthand navbar, which continues to tick off the mega-billion$ being wasted on the Iraq War.

I'm not about to start pretending to be a political pundit.

But I'd be remiss in my blogging if I didn't point you to this article originally posted on Craig's List on April 10. It was written, purportedly, by a former Marine who returned from Iraq six months ago. Her Marine husband went back to Iraq for another tour, and was recently killed.

The letter is full of anger and profanity, so if you can't take the dirty words, or her message, don't click here.

| | | | | |

Jack Chick parody tract warns against Tiki worship

You'd think with all those tracts Jack Chick has done, the world would have been made safe for Christianity. I mean, he's warned us about EVERYTHING, hasn't he?

Not quite.

Parodists found the one religion Chick forgot to write about: Tiki worship, which apparently is running rampant in the U.S. of A.

Save your soul against this danger by reading the tract here.

| | | | |

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bro. Jeff Peace's Masonic talk in Cleveland a success

I'm hearing that great things happened over the weekend in Cleveland, Ohio.

Bro. Jeff Peace spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at West Side Masonic Temple on the history of speculative Freemasonry.

Tubalcain420 has written about it on his blog in an article called "A Great Masonic Weekend." In part, he writes:
The fellowship and brotherhood that was exemplified this weekend will have an eternal impact on many lives. The masonry/brotherhood we all experienced cannot be regulated; it cannot be chartered; it cannot be dispensated; And it cannot be forced. The love and tolerance that was exchanged between brothers (whether recognized or not), unconditionally is what masonry is supposed to be about. Men meeting on the level. There were no aprons brought out to potentially show some inequality in rank, there were no appendent bodies trying to get recognition. It was men only interested in the world of Blue Lodge Masonry. Where ALL men meet on the level.

The knowledge that Brother Peace has on Masonry, the zeal and passion for the fraternity is second to none. I am quite content in the side of the story I have on Brother Jeff Peace being expunged from the records of the GL of Ga without a Masonic trial (which I thought we were all afforded?). Once a Mason always a Mason. All I know is that any group of Masons would benefit from having Brother Peace around, teaching and enlightening the members. Whoever Brother Peace meets with at the present time must be blessed men to be privileged to be exposed to a man with this knowledge and love of the craft. Another humble servant of the craft. Brother Jeff Peace is a Mason through and through and no man has the authority to say otherwise.

— Tubalcain420
Bro. Jeff writes of his experience in Ohio:
On Saturday, April 21st, 2007, after 20 years of being a Freemason I discovered the secret treasure that every true Freemason seeks: a real Masonic lodge. Like many others after so many years of searching and hoping I had all but given up any hope of ever meeting on the Level with true brother Freemasons in a Masonic lodge dedicated to the very spirit of Freemasonry. I had become so accustomed to the long boring meetings of doing nothing more than meeting, eating and paying the bills that each visit to a Masonic lodge to give a lecture on history or symbolism represented something I dreaded, but felt obliged to do. Within minutes of meeting the brothers at Halcyon Lodge, No. 498, in Cleveland, Ohio, I knew that something was very different here. This was a thriving lodge of young Freemasons whose interests were wide and varied. There was total equality among them and nasty Masonic politics was nowhere to be seen — all met upon the same Level. As a brother who has been erased by the Grand Lodge of Georgia I had expected a rather cold reception, but instead discovered the warmth of friendship and brotherly love with each new face I came across. One brother came up and said, "Brother Peace, no Grand Lodge has the power or the authority to sever the mystic tie that binds us together as brothers. Once a Freemason — always a Freemason. Forget your past and live in the radiant Light of the present." It was at once humbling and wonderfully refreshing to be among this most excellent group of men, who were not only Freemasons, but true brothers.

The lodge building where Halcyon meets resembles the Greek Parthenon and is a magical edifice where the ghosts of brothers past freely roam the halls speaking out from their graves in testament to the brotherhood that still exists within the walls of this temple. For it is indeed a "temple" and not just a "lodge" — it is a Temple erected to the spirit of Freemasonry and the brotherhood of man. I couldn’t help but feel that some sacred force lived within the walls — ever watching over the brotherhood.

While I am not a member of Halcyon 498 I shall always know it to be my mother lodge because it was there that I first discovered Freemasonry.

— Bro. Jeff Peace
Image: Brothers from Georgia with Ohio brothers before Bro. Peace's lecture April 21, 2007. L-R back row: W. Bro. Chris Snow, Bro. Eric Chipps, Worshipful Master Mike Howard. L-R front row: Bro. Brian Roper (Ga.), Bro. Jeff Peace (Ga.), and Bro. Andrew Kavanaugh.

| | | | | |

Monday, April 23, 2007

Frank Cicci Racing going out of business

I'm going to withhold posting any personal comments or opinions here. I don't know all the details, and posting my opinions on how and/or why this has happened would probably get me accused once again of trying to "make Masons look stupid." Or worse.

Frank Cicci began this season's NASCAR Busch Series with high hopes and a much ballyhooed sponsor: The Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction.

Three races into the season, the deal fell apart. We were never really told why. The heavily publicized Masonic driver, Brian Conz, didn't drive even once in a Busch Series Scottish Rite car.

Not even to the mid-season mark, Frank Cicci has shuttered his garage doors. After 20 seasons of NASCAR racing, he can't afford to field a car. Unless a sponsor shows up soon, he's out of business.

"We don't have the funding to go on," Cicci said. "We've got a good team, it's my 20th year, really good people, really good driver in Jay Sauter. We were just getting better and better. We just can't go on any more. It's a bad situation."

His racing cars are up for sale.

| | | | | |

The star at the center of the Universe

They say video killed the radio star. I'm not so sure of that, but with YouTube and other video websites, it's certainly become easy to make a point without having to write very much.

Here are two videos to compare and contrast.

The first attempts, using a star, to tell us "who really rules the world." Yeah, yeah... we know. All the conspiracists think it's the Masons, collaborating secretly in lodges and temples across the world, manipulating elections and elected leaders, financial markets, and God knows what else.

The second video, a musical performance by some of the greatest rock and roll stars of all time, tells it more like it really is. This song has been my anthem since I was old enough to have an anthem.

"Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss."

Look in the mirror, Tommy. That's the guy who is the ultimate boss. Always has been. Always will be. No matter how many times you get fooled. Or how many times you fool yourself.

Man is the center of his own Universe. He controls It with his thoughts.

Sure, he can believe he's controlled by others, by conspiracies, by gods and demons, or even by random chance. But deep down, at a cosmic, quantum level, he's controlling his own Universe.
  • Man is his own star; and the soul that can render an honest and a perfect man, commands all light, all influence, all fate.... — John Fletcher (1579-1625)
  • Every man and every woman is a star. — Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)
Video #1: "Who Really Rules the World?"

Video #2: "Won't Get Fooled Again!"

| | | | | |

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Rosslyn Chapel gives up another secret: Father and son discover musical masterpiece carved on its walls

In an exclusive report Sunday, the Sunday Mail reported that a father and son codebreaking team have dscovered — and deciphered — music hidden in the carvings of Scotland's Rosslyn Chapel for almost 600 years.

For 27 years, music teacher Thomas Mitchell, 75, worked on deciphering symbols found in the chapel. Joined by his son Stuart in recent years, the pair have finally deciphered the music tucked away on the walls for so long.

Next month, father and son will reveal the secret songs in a concert at Midlothian chapel. Stuart calls the collection of songs The Rosslyn Motet.

"For the choral sections, we've used the words from the hymns to St. John the Baptist taken from Matthew in the Old Testament which is fitting because the chapel itself is dedicated to St. Matthew."

St. John the Baptist is, of course, one of the two patron saints of Freemasonry.

Read the entire fascinating story here. Find out how the two men broke this real life code which was carved into the shapes of angels and cubes on the walls of the chapel.

Read more about how the two men deciphered the music, told in their own words, and listen to an excerpt of the music. You can also buy the album they have produced, or order tickets to the May 18th concert.

Or just go straight to the mp3 recording here.

"We think we've cracked one particularly fascinating code, although we're convinced Rosslyn holds many, many more," Stuart said.

Four singers will join eight musicians playing medieval instruments to perform the Rosslyn Motet at Rosslyn on May 18.

| | | | | |

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Winding Staircase: Brain-change for the 21st century

As Fellowcraft Masons we are advised to learn all we can about our world and our Universe through study of the Seven Liberal Arts, or the Trivium of grammar, rhetoric and logic and the Quadrivium of arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. All seven make an integrated whole which also makes all seven necessary.

One of the 20th century's greatest thinkers — some say the greatest — was Albert Einstein. He has been quoted as saying, "If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music."

Einstein would probably have made a good Freemason. Not only a renowned physicist and an accomplished violinist, he was a noted writer who penned not only about science, but about matters close to his heart — politics, health, even love.

Archives of more than 43,000 documents by or about him are maintained at the Einstein Archives Online. And in Jerusalem, you can visit, by appointment, the Albert Einstein Archives at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

On relativity, he wrote: "It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing — a somewhat unfamilar conception for the average mind....

"Furthermore, the equation E is equal m c-square, in which energy is put equal to mass, multiplied with the square of the velocity of light, showed that very small amounts of mass may be converted into a very large amount of energy and vice versa. The mass and energy were in fact equivalent, according to the formula mentioned before. This was demonstrated by Cockcroft and Walton in 1932, experimentally."

Einstein's theories predict two effects in space (or of space) that are currently being tested by a NASA satellite, the Gravity Probe B, launched into space from the California desert three years ago, on April 20, 2004.

One of the predictions, according to physicists who met in Jacksonville, Florida recently, has proven to be true.

From a recent BBC article titled "Einstein was right, probe shows":
A common analogy is that of placing a heavy bowling ball on to a rubber sheet.

The bowling ball will sit in a dip, distorting the rubber sheet around itself in much the way a massive object such as the Earth distorts space and time around itself.

In the analogy, the geodetic effect is similar to the shape of the dip created when the ball is placed on to the rubber sheet.

If the bowling ball is then rotated, it will start to drag the rubber sheet around with it. In a similar way, the Earth drags local space and time around with it — ever so slightly — as it rotates.

Over the course of a year, these effects would cause the angle of spin of the gyroscopes to shift by minute amounts.

The mission's principal investigator, Professor Francis Everitt, from Stanford University, discussed preliminary results at the American Physical Society meeting in Jacksonville at the weekend.

The data from Gravity Probe B's gyroscopes clearly confirm Einstein's geodetic effect to a precision of better than 1%.
Hopefully all Masons will remember their Fellowcraft instructions, and keep their brains in tune by examining their Universe through study of the Seven Liberal Arts. Read a book. Debate a point. Work a crossword or sudoku or even a jigsaw puzzle. Strum a guitar or pound a piano. Stare at the Moon with binoculars. Plot something on a graph. Do some algebra or calculus or just add up a row of figures. Take a class — or teach a class — at your local college. Explore your world. Explore the Winding Staircase.

Image: A Fellowcraft tracing board.

| | | | | |

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Full list of Virginia Tech victims

Here is the complete list of victims from Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech. This updates the partial list we posted on Tuesday.

Virginia Tech officials announced today that all of the student victims would be awarded their degrees posthumously. Students wounded or traumatized by the attack may be allowed to finish the semester immediately without academic consequences, they said.

  • Ross Abdallah Alameddine, 20, sophomore from Saugus, Mass.

  • Christopher James Bishop, 35, German instructor.

  • Brian Roy Bluhm, 25, civil engineering graduate student from Stephens City, Va. He had previously lived in Iowa, Detroit and Louisville, Ky.

  • Ryan Christopher Clark, 22, of Martinez, Ga., senior majoring in psychology.

  • Austin Michelle Cloyd, sophomore international studies major and member of the honors program from Blacksburg, Va. Cloyd and her family previously lived in Champaign, Ill.

  • Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, French instructor, according to her husband, Jerzy Nowak, the head of the horticulture department at Virginia Tech. Here is an article from a newspaper website in Nova Scotia, Canada, about her.

  • Daniel Alejandro Perez Cueva, 21, of Peru, sophomore majoring in international studies. He also had lived in Woodbridge, Va.

  • Kevin Granata, engineering science and mechanics professor, according to Ishwar K. Puri, the head of the engineering science and mechanics department.

  • Matthew Gregory Gwaltney, 24, of Chester, Va., graduate student in civil and environmental engineering, according to his father and stepmother, Greg and Linda Gwaltney.

  • Caitlin Millar Hammaren, 19, sophomore majoring in international studies from Westtown, N.Y.

  • Jeremy Michael Herbstritt, 27, civil engineering graduate student from Bellefonte, Pa.

  • Rachael Hill, 18, of Glen Allen, Va., according to her father, Guy Hill.

  • Emily Jane Hilscher, 19-year-old freshman from Woodville, Va., majoring in animal and poultry sciences.

  • Jarrett Lee Lane, 22, senior majoring in civil engineering from Narrows, Va.

  • Matthew Joseph La Porte, 20, sophomore from Dumont, N.J.

  • Henry J. Lee, also known as Henh Ly, 20, first-year student majoring in computer engineering from Roanoke, Va. He had enough advanced-placement credits to be considered a sophomore by Virginia Tech.

  • Liviu Librescu, 76, engineering science and mechanics professor who joined the faculty in 1985. Originally from Romania and had also lived in Israel.

    From the blog Religion Clause, April 19: "The blog Yeshiva World on Tuesday carried an interesting account of the accommodations made by Virginia state officials so that Professor Liviu Librescu, one of the victims of the Virginia Tech mass shooting, could be buried in accordance with Jewish law. Librescu was the Romanian-born Holocaust survivor who was shot while barring his classroom door to permit his students to escape. Rabbis in the United States, contacted by Librescu's family in Israel, told the Virginia medical examiner's office that autopsies were inconsistent with Jewish law. The medical examiner agreed to merely use x-rays and a minimally invasive procedure to remove bullets. Also Jewish funerals are generally conducted promptly after death. Bad weather prevented immediate flight of the body to New York for ritual handling before burial, so state police all along the route from New York to Virginia provided a police escort for the vehicle that drove to pick up the body. On Wednesday, President Bush specifically mentioned Librescu's courage during a presidential speech at the U.S. Holocaust Museum."

  • G.V. Loganathan, 51, civil and environmental engineering professor, according to his brother G.V. Palanivel.

  • Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan, 34, of Indonesia, civil engineering doctoral student.

  • Lauren Ashley McCain, 20, of Hampton, Va., freshman international studies major.

  • Daniel Patrick O'Neil, 22, of Lincoln, R.I., first-year graduate student in environmental engineering.

  • Juan Ramon Ortiz, 26, graduate student in civil engineering from Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

  • Minal Hiralal Panchal, 26, of Mumbai, India, graduate student in architecture.

  • Erin Peterson, 18, of Chantilly, Va., an international studies major, according to her father, Grafton Peterson.

  • Michael Steven Pohle Jr., 23, of Flemington, N.J., senior majoring in biology.

  • Julia Kathleen Pryde, 23, graduate student in biological systems engineering from Middletown, N.J.

  • Mary Karen Read, 19, freshman from Annandale, Va.

  • Reema Joseph Samaha, 18, freshman from Centreville, Va.

  • Waleed Mohammed Shaalan, 32, of Zagazig, Egypt, doctoral student in civil engineering.

  • Leslie Sherman, sophomore history and international studies student from Springfield, Va., according to her grandmother Gerry Adams.

  • Maxine Turner, 22, senior majoring in chemical engineering from Vienna, Va., according to her father, Paul Turner.

  • Nicole White, 20, junior majoring in international studies from Smithfield, Va., according to a family statement released by the Suffolk, Va., Police Department.
| | | | |

The Sun of God

I've written several times on, or made reference to, astrotheology, which is the study of, or belief, that the Sun, Moon, planets and stars and their movements are the basis for all mythological and religious stories.

Earlier articles include:I have come to believe this is not only the basis of the general story of Jesus and other savior-gods who came before and since Him, but is also the source of the Masonic legend of Hiram Abiff, and why the Sun and Moon are such important symbols in Freemasonry.

This doesn't discount the fact that Jesus may actually have existed; it simply calls into question whether the widespread astrotheological beliefs of the ancient Middle East and later Rome were superimposed upon a historical man who was the descendant of King David and rightful heir to the title King of the Jews, and that then superimposed onto religious, spiritual and moral philosophies and commandments.

Heretical? Yes. True? Could be. It vibrates as truth to me.

I live in the country, where the lights of the city don't block out the stars at night. I sit outside in the evenings regularly, basking in their shimmering, subtle rays. I can't observe a sunrise or sunset, or watch the motion of the Moon, Venus and the constellations without the overwhelming feeling that humanity has been doing the same thing for eons, watching the sky with a curious amazement, creating stories to explain what they see.

Until now.

In today's world, we seldom look up. We take the Heavens for granted. To most of us, space is just a place we send satellites and shuttles, and a setting for sci-fi soap operas and shoot-em-ups.

I stood in awe a few months ago, watching a perfect lunar eclipse just after sunset, with hundreds of unaware people near me, first outside a scouting function I was attending at a local elementary school, and then in a Wal-Mart parking lot.... A few scouts came out to watch with me, but to my knowledge, no one there even knew the eclipse was happening until I mentioned it to a few people who then joined me outside. Later, at Wal-Mart, shoppers bustled through the parking lot, not noticing the magnificent light show in the sky, as I leaned against my car watching for another half hour.

Is not the Sun the Giver of Life? It shines upon us, warms us, and feeds us. It is the Light without which we would die. Humanity figured that out long ago, and deified it, calling it (or its human, often kingly "son") Jupiter, Zeus, Apollo, Ra, Osiris, Mithras, Deus Sol Invictus, and finally, Jesus, the Son of God. Some Hindu teachings have 12 names for the Sun, one for each month. Sun-chariots are pulled by 12 horses. Its disk shape is the All-Seeing Eye of God to Freemasons, and together with the (apparent) same-sized Moon disk, it is the Eye of Horus, the child of Osiris and Isis. The child is or becomes the parent, just as Jesus, the Son of God, is also considered God the Father.

It's not easy making this "leap of faith," that the Jesus story as we usually hear it is a myth. I'm as steeped in Christianity as any one of you reading this, perhaps moreso. Sunday School threats of eternal damnation for disbelief still rattle around in my brain, I guess.

But it's never made sense to me. Jesus, the scapegoat. God killing himself on a cross because He loves us, but damning us if we don't believe it. Paul, the former Christian-hater, writing all the rules of Christianity, right down to silly requirements about women wearing hats to church that most Christians ignore. Judas died either by hanging himself, or by falling off a cliff, depending on which book of the Bible you read. Walking on water. Raising the dead. Miracles....

These things are illogical and in most cases impossible, and if someone told you any of this happened in modern times, you'd laugh and call them a kook. Because people don't rise from the dead or fly or walk on water, except in movies and comic books. And myths.

And don't even get me started on the Old Testament Yahweh, the baby-killing, nation-smiting, jealously insecure God in a Box. That God certainly isn't "love."

I read recently there are 30,000 different sects or variations of Christianity on the planet. If any one of them is "right," the other 29,999 are wrong by definition.

But... if it's all metaphorical, allegorical, symbolic — then and only then does it resonate rationally within me.

There you go.... There's my "testimony" as it stands today. I don't expect I'll be invited to give it at the local Baptist church, but so it goes.

Have I been duped by the Devil, doomed to Hell for my non-belief in today's "standarized" version of an age-old world mythology? I don't think so. It doesn't seem that way to me. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his essay "On Self Reliance,"
On my saying, What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? my friend suggested, — "But these impulses may be from below, not from above." I replied, "They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the devil’s child, I will live then from the devil." No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.
None of this means I don't necessarily believe in a God, or a Great Architect of the Universe, or a Higher Power, or the survival of the soul or survival of the personality after death, nor does it deny the desirability of being moral, upright, compassionate or spiritual. It's simply my attempt to shake off the shackles of a twisted theology based in fear, foisted upon me at an early age, and to replace it with something of value that makes sense.

This, for now, is my Truth. I don't ask that it be yours.

You might enjoy the video below. You can watch it here, or on YouTube.com.



Image: Sunrise over the Atlantic, taken on the shores of Daytona Beach, Florida, July 4, 2005. Released into the public domain.

| | | | | |

Conspiracy nuts on parade: '666, the Pope, Anti-Christ & Vatican — for Dummies!'

Sometimes religiously-inspired conspiracy nuts are interesting. Sometimes they're just weird.

An entry on the blog 666, the Pope, Anti-Christ & Vatican — For Dummies! yesterday called "The Roots of Evil in Jerusalem — The New Masonic Israeli Supreme Court" is a little bit of both. But it's the photos that make it worth looking at.

It's a rambling piece, reprinted from 2004, by a Jew who seems to be expecting the imminent return of Jesus. He begins by worrying his "report will shock and upset some; it is one I have put off for over 4 years. After struggling with it I have decided now is the time to write it." Pretty deep emotional territory there.

Then he launches into a fearful diatribe about dark Satanic conspiracies involving Freemasons, the Illuminati, the Rothschilds, the Federal Reserve and the New World Order. There's some weird jibberish about the number 20, where he says three years equals 750 days. He's especially concerned about the diabolically-designed architecture of the Israeli Supreme Court building, built along "ley lines" in close proximity to the Foreign Ministry and the Central Bank of Israel in Jerusalem.

Ley lines, he says, are "lines in geographical places that Witches, Warlock, and Wizards walk claiming for the Devil."

Like I said, this is the stuff of Conspiracy Theory 101.

But it's the pictures that feed the imagination. The complex contains a pyramid with the All-Seeing Eye as well as a Washington Monument-like obelisk and what he identifies as Hindu altars.

Noting there are 30 steps in one part of the building, he writes:
For a moment lets go back to the top of the 30 steps, as we know there are 33 degrees in Free Masonry but the last three are the ones of higher learning and preparations to enter the Illuminati. So as we move from the top of the stairs towards the Pyramid we see a great library with three tiers to those three levels of higher learner. They three final steps in Free Masonry and after that if ones choose to go higher and have been accepted they enter the highest levels of the Illuminati. It is also important in this building to note that the 33rd level ends at the base of the Pyramid.
He calls an oval staircase a "fertility symbol always present in any illuminati structure, often hidden but always there. Much can be said about this symbol and the symbol of the masons with the compass and square with the 'G' in the middle."

Do conspiracists have software that just randomly generates this kind of stuff?

He closes with "Shalom," and asks you to pray for his "ministry."

| | | | | |

Smithsonian Magazine gives us same ol' same ol' in article on Scottish Rite's House of the Temple

The Smithsonian Magazine has published a piece on the Scottish Rite's House of the Temple in Washington, D.C.

As you might guess, they played up the conspiracy angle, saying things like "the number 33 proliferates in Masonic ritual" without giving any examples. And of course, there is a quote from a Mason denying that Freemasonry is a secret society.

Or maybe they got it right this time, quoting a history professor and author of a book on Freemasonry as saying, "Today it's all pomp and circumstance."

The fact that the building is the headquarters of the Scottish Rite and not all of Freemasonry is downplayed. The distinction, as usual, is blurred.

It mentions several famous Freemasons, pokes at Pike's proclivities, uses the buzz-phrases "National Treasure" and "The Da Vinci Code," and ultimately hints that secret treasure may be found in the walls of the building.

Still, it's a better article than most in the mass media, describing a few of the things the public can see when touring the House of the Temple.

| | | | | |

Georgia's Pickens Star Lodge celebrates 150th anniversary

Pickens Star Lodge No. 220, F. & A.M, located in Jasper, Pickens County, Georgia is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The lodge was founded on October 30, 1857.

Pickens Star Lodge has the largest membership of the three Masonic lodges in Pickens County. The other two lodges are Blaine No. 534, to the west of Jasper, and Marble Hill No. 207 to the east. A lodge at Tate closed many years ago.

Established in 1853, Pickens County was named for South Carolina military leader and politician Andrew Pickens, who fought the Cherokee in 1760 and 1782, and fought in the Revolutionary War. Col. Pickens did have occasion to visit the county that came to be named for him, in 1782, when he hung six British loyalists near Nelson.

As early as 1836 marble was being quarried in Jasper. Today Pickens County marble is world famous; many of Washington, D.C.'s buildings and monuments were built with marble from the Tate mines just east of Jasper.

Pickens Countians weren't keen on fighting the Civil War. They had no "dog in that fight," being a tucked-away town minding its own business. There were no plantations or slaves in the area, and then as now, native Pickensians are a clannish group. There are still very few blacks in the area; the 2000 census showed there were approximately 23,000 residents in the county, but only about 200 of them black.

In 1861, to protest the secession of the state, residents flew the Union flag — then the flag of the nation — over the courthouse for a month in defiance of Georgia's secession. Were it not for the fact that the governor of Georgia at that time was from Gilmer County, just to the north of Pickens County, Confederate troops would have stormed Jasper to take down the Union flag and replace it with the Confederate flag. The governor told the gathering Confederates in Atlanta to give them some time: "They're good ol' boys... they'll come around." Within a month, Pickens County reluctantly raised the rebel flag (and they haven't lowered it since, but that's another story).

Even during the War, Pickens County remained strongly pro-Union. Only minor engagements occurred in the county. After the War, returning gangs of southern ex-soldiers did more damage to the homes and crops than the Union ever did.

Pickens County was a center of Native American culture. In a previous article, I told about Fort Talking Rock and the graveyard of Cherokees who died awaiting the long walk to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears, which began in this area along the Federal Road in 1837.

Pickens was one of the earliest counties with white settlers in Georgia, outside the coastal areas. Many called the town of Talking Rock, about five miles northwest of Jasper, home. In the 19th century they ran inns and taverns for the travelers on the Federal Highway.

In an area known as Taloney to the Cherokee and Talona Station to early white settlers, missionaries built a town where they Christianized the Cherokees.

The town of Jasper was named for Sgt. William Jasper, a Revolutionary War soldier. The town was incorporated in 1857, the same year as the Pickens Star Masonic lodge.

An 1876 directory shows there were 110 residents in Jasper. The town was made up of a Baptist church, a Methodist church, three general stores, two doctors, a seller of sewing machines, a blacksmith, a cobbler, a teacher and a postmaster, the directory indicated.

What else was going on in the world in 1857, the year the Pickens Star Masonic lodge and the town of Jasper were chartered?
  • Giuseppi Garibaldi, a Freemason, named his donkey Pio Nono, after the then-pope, Pius IX. In 1857, Garibaldi moved back to Italy after living in the U.S. for five years, working as a candle maker, and formed the Italian National Association, which eventually re-united Italy.

  • Benito Juarez, another Freemason, was appointed the head of Mexico's Supreme Court by the nation's new Congress, effectively making him vice president of the country.

  • William Walker, an American and a Mason, as dictator/president of Nicaragua, seized overland transportation properties belonging to the New York-based Accessory Transit Company, which operated between Atlantic Coast ports and San Francisco by way of Nicaragua. Led by (unconfirmed Freemason) Cornelius Vanderbilt, the company financed a coalition against Walker, who escaped capture by surrendering himself U.S. Navy Commander Charles Henry Davis who had intervened to try to avoid bloodshed. Walker escaped after being returned to the U.S., and was again captured some months later in Nicaragua by Commodore Hiram Paulding, who was later appointed to head the Navy by President Abraham Lincoln (an Entered Apprentice Mason).

  • John Rock — Freemason, lawyer, physician — was the first black attorney to be admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. He traced his desire to become a lawyer to the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which ruled that Scott, a fugitive slave, was a non-citizen with no legal standing. The ruling further said that a black man could not bring suit in a federal court, that living in a free state does not make him free, and that Congress had no authority to ban slavery. This ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (no masonic affiliation found), was supported by President James Buchanan, a Freemason. Chief Justice Taney holds the distinction of having sworn in more U.S. presidents than any other chief justice. Two of those, James Buchanan and James K. Polk, were Masons.
What else happened in 1857?
  • Elisha Kent Kane, Arctic explorer and physician, died at age 37.

  • William Colgate, co-founder of Colgate-Palmolive, died. He was not a Mason, but his partner, William Sims, was.

  • The New York Tribune fired all but two of its foreign correspondents in an economy move. One of the two retained was Karl Marx.

  • The novel Madame Bovary, by French novelist and Freemason Gustave Flaubert, was published. He was prosecuted for immorality but was acquitted. The publicity made his book a bestseller.

  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Santa Filomena" was published. It is a tribute to nurse Florence Nightingale. One line of the poem is "Lo! in that house of misery/ A lady with a lamp I see."

    Longfellow is more famous for his poem about Paul Revere.

    Longfellow lived much of his life in Hiram, Maine. Early settlers Gen. Peleg Wadsworth (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's grandfather) and Timothy Cutler, for whom nearby Mount Cutler is named, were both Freemasons. They felt that the abundance of timber in their town resembled the biblical description of a land called Tyre, and they decided to name the town after Hiram, King of Tyre.

  • Freemason and composer Franz Liszt's symphonies and concertos were all the rage. Piano Concerto in A major and Symphonic Poem No. 1 opened in January at Weimar's Grand Ducal Palace; Sonata in B minor by Franz Liszt premiered later that month in Berlin with pianist Hans von Bülow, who married Liszt's daughter Cosima in August. The Faust Symphony in Three Characters, named in honor of Goethe, by Liszt opened at Weimar's Grand Ducal Palace in September; his Symphony to Dante's Divine Comedy in Dresden in November; and The Battle of the Huns (Die Hunnenschlacht) symphonic poem played at Weimar on December 29. That's some Lisztomania.

  • Two songs which became Christmas classics were written in 1857: "We Three Kings of Orient" by English-born U.S. clergyman John Henry Hopkins, Jr., and "Jingle Bells (One-Horse Open Sleigh)" by Boston composer James Pierpont.

  • The first commercially produced toilet paper hit store shelves in 1857. Gayetty's Medicated Paper for the Water Closet was introduced in New York by Joseph C. Gayetty, who sold the product in his shop in lower Manhattan. It sold for 50 cents per 500 sheets, and was watermarked with the name J. C. Gayetty on each sheet. It was advertised as being "conducive to comfort. It is elegant and pure. It is proven beyond doubt to be the finest and purest paper ever made from Manila hemp, and four grand medicines incorporated with the pulp render it a sure cure and preventive of piles."

  • In England, Parliament eased British game laws after years of harsh penalties that made anyone caught poaching liable to be sent to Australia for seven years. That year, they also made getting a divorce a lot easier.

  • The world's first commercial passenger elevator was installed at 488 Broadway in a five-story New York china-and-glass emporium, a new building designed by Irish-born architect John Plant Gaynorl Badger. It was installed by Elisha G. Otis, who invented the brakes for elevators.

  • Italian honeybees were introduced into California. California is now the leading producer of honey in the U.S.

  • Commercial production of Borden's condensed milk began at Burrville, Connecticut. First sold in New York, Borden's promoted sales by crusading against "swill milk" from Brooklyn cows fed on distillery mash. Samples of Borden's product were given away on the streets of New York.

  • James Clerk Maxwell proved mathematically that Saturn's rings are composed of many small bodies orbiting the planet.

  • Alexandre-Edmund Becquerel experimented with coating electric discharge tubes with luminescent materials, a process that eventually led to fluorescent lamps.

  • Gustav Kirchhoff discovered that static electricity forces and magnetic forces are related to each other by a constant that turns out to be the speed of light in a vacuum, a clue that electromagnetism is related to light.

  • The excavation of the tunnels for the London Underground railroad, or subway, began, using a method of iron casings developed by Marc Isambard Brunel while building the first tunnel under the Thames River.

  • John Townsend Trowbridge published his Neighbor Jackwood, an antislavery novel that became notorious for featuring a marriage between a white hero and a multiracial (daughter of a Frenchman and his slave) heroine.

  • Frank J. Webb wrote The Garies and Their Friends, one of the earliest novels by a black American, portraying a white Southern aristocrat and his mulatto wife and a middle-class black family. It is considered the first fictional work to describe free Northern blacks, a lynch mob in a free state, a mixed marriage, and the theme of passing for white.

  • "Masonry originated with the Devil and will end with the Devil," said Peter Cartwright. Cartwright, then age 72, published his Autobiography of Peter Cartwright, the Backwoods Preacher, in 1857. It's the personal story of the life of the traveling preacher who led frontier camp meetings for fifty years in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois and unsuccessfully ran for Congress against Abraham Lincoln. It became a guidebook of sorts for circuit-riding Methodist preachers.

  • Fitz Hugh Ludlow published The Hasheesh Eater. Ludlow achieved a sensation with a confession of his experiences as a drug addict. He regularly smoked hashish with Mark Twain, a Freemason, and reportedly taught author Robert Louis Stevenson to smoke it as well.

  • James Parton wrote The Life and Times of Aaron Burr. Parton's careful research made this book a classic, objective biography of the much-despised Burr, a Freemason. North American Review declared that "it ought to be read by every American who would know the history of his own country."

  • The Sheffield Football Club, the world's first soccer team, was founded in England.

  • The 12th Dali Lama was born.

  • Britain's Lord Robert Baden-Powell, who based his Boy Scouts organization on Masonic principles, was born.

  • Pope Piux XI was born.

  • William Howard Taft, who became a Freemason and U.S. president, was born.

  • Sir George Cayley, English aviation pioneer and inventor, died. He had been Master of Old Globe Lodge #267 in Scarborough, Scotland, in 1822, 1846 and 1847.
Happy Birthday, Pickens Star Lodge!

Sources: Wikipedia, Answers.com, RoadsideGeorgia.com, and other references

| | | | | | | |

Democracy NOT Theocracy: The video



Or click here to watch the video on YouTube.

| | | |

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

'A Brief History of Speculative Freemasonry': Masonic talk by Bro. Jeff Peace April 21 in Cleveland, Ohio

This Saturday, April 21, Masonic historian Jeff Peace will present a talk titled "A Brief History of Speculative Freemasonry" in Ohio City, Ohio (suburban Cleveland) [map].

Did Masonry really derive from Templars, or from King Solomon, or from medieval trade guilds? Or from something else? Where did Masonic symbols come from, and what were their original meanings? What was going on in the "outside world" that led to the formation of Freemasonry? Why was Freemasonry created, and what purpose did it serve, and does it serve today?

This lecture is open to the public. It will be held on Saturday, April 21, in the West Side Masonic Temple at 2831 Franklin Blvd, Ohio City, Ohio, beginning at 5 p.m. A $5.00 donation at the door is appreciated.

Previous articles on Bro. Peace's talk: | | | | | |

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sick bastards at Westboro Baptist Church praise God for sending mass murderer to 'shoot at your children'

Those sick bastards at Westboro Baptist Church never sleep.

Already, Rev. Fred Phelps and his insane hellions have issued a screed on their website God Hates America, praising mass murderer Cho Seung-Hui as "a crazed madman sent by the Lord your God to shoot at your children," claiming God "willed this to happen to punish you for assailing His servants [them, the Westboro Baptist Church]."

They vow to "preach at the funerals of the Virginia Tech students."

I don't like even giving these perverted fundamentalists publicity, but these extremist "warriors of God" are more dangerous than any Iraqi suicide-bomber. The members and supporters of Westboro Baptist Church are too twisted and demented to ignore.

Everyone, but most especially Christians, should be outraged at and should be speaking out — loudly — against this lunatic cult. It's your Savior's name they claim to be speaking in: your Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

God — Jehovah, YHVH, GAOTU, whatever you call Him — doesn't hate homosexuals, soldiers, America, or even these demented demons from Westboro....

God is love.

Image: Vile. Nauseating. Disgusting. My blood pressure is up just writing this.

| | | | | |

Temple-builders close shop after 1,400 years

After 1,400 years, the world's oldest continuously operating family business is closing up shop.

Temple-building just isn't what it used to be.

Japanese temple builder Kongo Gumi, in operation under the founders' descendants since 578 A.D., succumbed to excess debt and an unfavorable business climate in 2006, Business Week reported.

Company officials say they lasted as long as they did by adopting a policy of being both conservative and flexible. Stay in the same core business — in their case, building Japanese Buddhist temples — but be flexible enough to see a good opportunity when it comes along. During World War II, for example, they switched to coffin manufacturing for a while.

Bad real estate investments during the 1980s which cut jacked up their debt while the value of their assets fell, coupled with the changing Japanese culture — nobody needs a new Buddhist temple these days — is what finally brought an end to the 1,428 year old family-run operation.

In January, the company's assets were acquired by Takamatsu, a large Japanese construction company, and it was absorbed into a subsidiary.

Let all the other temple-building organizations take due notice, and govern themselves accordingly.

| | | | | |

Georgians among those killed at Virginia Tech

The Widow's Son and all Masons (if I may speak for you) send out prayers for and condolences to the students, faculty, friends, families, law enforcement agents and others who were involved in and affected by yesterday's senseless killings at Virginia Tech.

Christopher "Jamie" Bishop, instructor of Introductory German, was the first to die in the classroom building. He earned his undergraduate and masters degrees at the University of Georgia. He was an avid hiker, movie buff, and Atlanta Braves fan. He had spent several years in Germany, and had married Dr. Stefanie Hofer, whom he met there. She is an instructor of foreign languages at Virginia Tech as was he.

You can see Jamie's Virginia Tech website here.

Jamie was a talented artist and photographer. You can see his portfolio here.

Jamie Bishop's father is science fiction writer Michael Bishop, from Pine Mountain, Georgia. The elder Bishop is the author of The Secret Ascension: Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas. The "alas" in the title of the Kurt Vonnegut article I wrote here last week, "Kurt Vonnegut is Dead, Alas," was a nod/tribute to PKD and to the 1987 novel by Michael Bishop.

Several bloggers who knew Jamie have written about him in the past 24 hours. As someone who has lost close friends who were in the prime of their lives, including one who was murdered, I especially sympathize with them:Ryan Clark, 22, from Martinez, near Augusta, Georgia was one of the first two people killed in yesterday's rampage. Ryan was to graduate next month with dual degrees in biology and English. He was a resident adviser at West Ambler Johnson dorm. He intended to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology and was a member of Virginia Tech's marching band.

Though neither of these two men, nor anyone killed at Virginia Tech were Masons (that I know of), they were fellow human travelers and fellow Georgians. I offer this Masonic tribute to their too-short but well-traveled lives:
Wherever you may chance to be — Wherever you may roam,
Far away in foreign lands; Or just at Home Sweet Home;
It always gives you pleasure, it makes your heart strings hum
Just to hear the words of cheer, "I see you've traveled some."

When you get a brother's greeting, And he takes you by the hand,
It thrills you with a feeling that you cannot understand,
You feel that bond of brotherhood, that tie that's sure to come
When you hear him say in a friendly way, "I see you've traveled some."

And if you are a stranger, In strange lands all alone
If fate has left you stranded — Dead broke and far from home,
It thrills you — makes you numb, When he says with a grip of fellowship,
"I see you've traveled some."

And when your final summons comes, To take that last long trip,
Adorned with Lambskins Apron White and gems of fellowship —
The Tiler at the Golden Gate, With Square and Level and Plumb
Will size up your pin and say "Walk in,"
"I see you've traveled some."

— Author Unknown
Image #1: Christopher "Jamie" Bishop
Image #2: Ryan Clark


UPDATE: Here is a partial list of those who died yesterday at Virginia Tech. Remember them and their families.
  • Maxine Turner, Vienna, Va., Senior, Chemical Engineering
  • Henry Lee, Roanoke, Va., Freshman, Computer Engineering
  • Matt La Porte, Dumont, N.J., Freshman, University Studies
  • Jamie Bishop, Instructor, Foreign Languages and Literatures (German)
  • G.V. Loganathan, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Juan Ortiz, Graduate Student, Civil Engineering
  • Jarrett Lane, Narrows, Va., Senior, Civil Engineering
  • Ryan Clark, Columbia County, Ga., Senior, Biology, English, Psychology
  • Leslie Sherman, Sophomore, History and International Studies
  • Caitlin Hammaren, Sophomore, International Studies and French
  • Liviu Librescu, Professor, Engineering Science & Mechanics
  • Kevin Granata, Professor, Engineering Science & Mechanics
  • Reema Samaha, Centreville, Va., Freshman
  • Emily Hilscher, Woodville, Va., Freshman, Animal and Poultry Sciences, Equine Science
UPDATE: The Salvation Army brought a truck from Roanoke to serve meals to victims to families, emergency workers and others gathered at the Inn at Virginia Tech. Richard White, a captain of the organization, estimated 500 meals had been served so far, about 10 of which were brought to a grief-sticken family staying upstairs at the Inn at Virginia Tech. "There's not a lot you can say," White said.

If you feel the need to "do something," a contribution to your local Salvation Army might be appropriate.

UPDATE: Bro. Chris Hodapp of Freemasons for Dummies has put faces on some of those killed by posting photographs.

| | | |

Monday, April 16, 2007

'Fundamentalists Say the Darnedest Things!'

Warning: This article contains the F-word.

I found a website yesterday that is not only amazingly amusing, but downright frightening in what it showcases.

Called Fundies Say the Darnedest Things!, this site monitors fundamentalist Christian websites, blogs and forums and re-posts the most absurd things jackasses for Jesus write. The site bills itself as "an archive of the most hilarious, bizarre, ignorant, bigoted, and terrifying quotes from fundies all over the internet!"

These are excerpts from Christian forums, liked Teens-4-Christ.org, Usenet's alt.christnet.christianlife, ChristianForums.com, and countless others. Expect lots of homophobia, racism directed at blacks and Muslims, and thousands of other non-Christlike rantings. The site currently indexes over 14,000 quotes.

To make it easier on you (and your stomach, because you can't read too much of this stuff without getting ill), the webmaster lists the "best" of the quotes each month. Nominate your favorite quotes for awards.

Currently, there are 19 comments up for "awards." Go to this page for the actual links.

  • "Choose Life or I'll Kill You" Award: Paul displays the "Life begins at conception and ends after birth" mentality.

  • "I Define Homophobia" Award: Tiffany09 hates MySpace because it asks which team you're on.

  • "I Love My Cult!" Award: Evangelist is proud to be a member of a cult. Could you please pass the punch?

  • "Projecting Much?" Award: Mosheh_Thezion describes his, er, men's, desires to fuck anything that they can get his, er, their, dick in.

  • "Proud to be a Doormat!" Award: Juanita is oh so very proud of sacrificing all independent thought for God and her husband!

  • "YELLING MAKES ME RIGHT!" Award: HoLy Knight is right, BECAUSE HE CAN YELL!

  • Argumentum ad Populum Award: Jacob1983 thinks that 2 billion people can't be wrong, yet still disagrees with those 12 trillion flies that think stool is delicious.

  • Dim Bulb of the Month: Elizabeth Maxwell's failure to comprehend what a logical fallacy is shows just how dim some bulbs really are.

  • Evil Mother Fucker of the Month: Dr. Jack Hyles explains how and why beating your child is the sign of a True Man of God.

  • Exclamations for Jesus Award: OMG!!! Ashley Brianne talks about the DECAY of MORALITY very EMPHATICALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Fundie Debate Tactics Award: Cdevidal tells us all we need to know when it comes to debate.

  • History Revisionist of the Month Award: Mrs. Debbie reveals that Baptists predate all other sects of Christinaity, despite historical proof showing otherwise.

  • Pot and Kettle Award, Bro. Randy tells the Kettle just how black it really is. And describes himself in a nutshell at the same time.

  • Profound Arguement of the Month: BAFRIEND eloquently tells us what he thinks of homosexuality.

  • Prude of the Month Award: TJ finds any sexual act aside from the missionary position to be perversion.

  • Rambo Jesus Award: Jesus is coming back, and this time, he's out for blood!

  • Sigmund "Fraud" Award: Thom319 thinks he's the next Sigmund Freud, too bad his theories make even less sense than Freud's.

  • Teflon Coated Slope Award: The author of Gather.com has coated the slope of gay marriage with a microfilm of teflon.

  • Unintentional Innuendo Overload of the Month: OnMyKnees is in love with Jesus!
The site also has secondary projects called Conspiracists Say the Darnedest Things! and Racists Say the Darnedest Things!

| | | | | |