Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Not That Kind of Chiropractor

Maybe it's just me, but in my experience chiropractors do things like spinal adjustments. I have yet to meet one who performed exorcisms, but apparently that's because I don't live in Iowa. A chiropractor there recently lost his license for performing exorcisms on patients and treating them in exchange for sex. I suppose it's good work if you can get it. Lately it seems like everyone is getting in on the exorcism game, from the Roman Catholic Church declaring war on sexy vampires and Bob Larsen's Teen Exorcist Squad keeping busy.

An Iowa chiropractor is out of business after authorities busted him for performing exorcisms and treating patients in exchange for sex.

Charles Manuel surrendered his license but could apply to get it back in 10 years as part of a settlement reached with the Iowa Board of Chiropractors reached in March.

The board had accused the southern Iowa-based chiropractor of "unethical conduct…engaging in practice harmful or detrimental to the public," and "practicing outside the scope of the profession" in the settlement obtained on April 15 by The Des Moines Register.

Yeah, that sounds about right. I have no idea what chiropractic and exorcism have to do with each other, which brings to mind two distinct possibilities. Either Manuel is a fraud and charged people for performing some sort of ritual he knew was bogus, or he believed in what he was doing but decided that it was easy enough that it required little training.

Actually, a lot of the training that exorcists get in the Roman Catholic Church, for example, has nothing to do with the ritual itself, but rather has to do with discerning an actual spirit attack from mental illness or a myriad of other problems that can be addressed by more conventional means. That's because like any other spiritual technology, an exorcism doesn't address physical issues. And, since spirit attacks are relatively rare, most of the time they aren't the cause of the subject's problems.

It's possible that I'm being a little unfair here, since I know nothing about Manuel other than this news story. Maybe he's a totally amazing exorcist who also happens to know how to do adjustments. But the whole "treating patients for sex" thing doesn't fill me with confidence in his abilities.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Introduction to the Thirty Aires

The following is the text of a presentation I gave over the weekend at Leaping Laughter Lodge based on material from my not-yet-published book, Mastering the Thirty Aires. It is a follow-up to my previous Introduction to the Heptarchia Mystica and Introduction to the Great Table presentations. The procedure outlined here is Dee's grimoire evocation method, but the book will include includes an expanded template showing show how to incorporate modern ritual forms into the structure.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The three primary sets of correspondences employed by most Western magicians are the elements, planets, and signs of the zodiac. The Enochian magick of John Dee and Edward Kelley incorporates all three. The material found in the Heptarchia Mystica represents the activity of the seven ancient planets in the form of Kings and Princes of the days of the week. The four quadrants of the Great Table represent the action of the four elements and the “black cross,” which binds them together and is often attributed to the “fifth element,” akasha or spirit. Finally, the twelve signs of the zodiac are attributed to the divisions of the Thirty Aires, the final portion of the Enochian system to be received.

The first two of these components, the Mystical Heptarchy and Great Table, were covered in the first two books of my Mastering Enochian Magick series, Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy and Mastering the Great Table. My planned third book, Mastering the Thirty Aires, has not been released, but this presentation will include some of the material from it. As with my previous introductory talks for the Mystical Heptarchy and Great Table, I hope to provide an overview of working with the Thirty Aires that in true to the original grimoire methods found in the Dee diaries, but which also is open to being informed by modern magical practices.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Devil Took My Airplane

Poor, poor Creflo Dollar. The devil won't let him fly in style. Back in March, the Atlanta evangelist launched a fundraising drive to replace his ministry's aging plane. But Dollar was roundly criticized by a lot of folks on the Internet, including me, for insisting that his new plane had to be a brand new Gulfstream 650, one of the most expensive private jets in the world.

Dollar took down his fundraising page in response to the controversy, but is now whining about how Satan didn't want him to get his luxury aircraft. It should be noted that a used Gulfstream V, a totally serviceable private jet that is plenty luxurious, runs between $12 and $17 million, as opposed to the G650's massive $65 million price tag. So maybe the devil just wanted make sure he got a better deal.

The popular preacher blasted “the enemy” for criticizing his dream of buying his pastors and staff at World Changers Church International a $65 million private Gulfstream G650 jet.

"Let me tell you something about believing God,” he's shown saying in a YouTube video of a sermon given at the World Dome, his 8,500-seat sanctuary in College Park, Georgia. “I can dream as long as I want to. I can believe God as long as I want to. If I want to believe God for a $65 million plane, you cannot stop me. You cannot stop me from dreaming."

His initial request reportedly entailed asking 200,000 followers to donate $300 each to fund the effort, according to Christian Post. The fundraising page has since been taken down. Dollar claims it was the devil that stirred the campaign against him. He believes Satan was trying to discredit him in order to stop the gospel from spreading.

Dollar is right that nobody can stop him from dreaming. But the problem is that his obsession with having the most absolute top-of-the-line aircraft possible, paid for in full by donations, is kind of laughable. It's not like Dollar has done this previously; the plane he is trying to replace was purchased used and served his ministry well for many years.

Seeing as a less expensive plane would work just fine, it seems to me that the only reason Dollar wanted a G650 was so that he could brag about having one. And frankly, that's not very Christian at all.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thanks Obama, for the Apocalypse!

If I had to pick one Minnesota politician who I was glad to see go, that politician would be Michele Bachmann. It's not that Bachmann is conservative; Tom Emmer, who replaced her in Congress, is conservative as well. The trouble with Bachmann is that, quite frankly, she's a complete religious nutcase who managed to embarrass the state of Minnesota every time she got in front of a microphone with her bizarre pronouncements about pretty much everything.

Recently Bachmann showed that even though she's officially out of the game, she's still plenty willing to spout nonsense at anyone who gives her a platform. On a Christian radio show over the weekend, she declared that the end times are upon us, and seemed to thank President Barack Obama for his role in helping to make it happen. I have occasionally wondered if Bachmann is simply a savvy operator who knows how to appeal to conservative Christians, but from these comments it sounds an awful lot like she buys her own bullshit.

"We need to cry out to a Holy God," Bachmann said on Jan Markell's "Understanding the Times" radio show over the weekend. "This is coming faster than anyone can see."

“Barack Obama is intent, it is his number one goal, to ensure that Iran has a nuclear weapon," she said. "Why? Why would you put the nuclear weapon in the hands of madmen who are Islamic radicals?"

Bachmann, however, then seemed to approve of the President moving mankind into "the midnight hour."

"We get to be living in the most exciting time in history," she said, urging fellow Christians to "rejoice."

"Jesus Christ is coming back. We, in our lifetimes potentially, could see Jesus Christ returning to Earth, the Rapture of the Church."

"These are wonderful times," she concluded.

Okay, genius, here's a pop quiz. If, as you say, you approve of Barack Obama hastening the apocalypse, which you believe to be his number one goal, why did you oppose every single thing he did when you were in Congress? Doesn't that mean when Jesus comes back he's going to kick your ass for impeding his return? Either there's something here I don't understand, or something that Bachmann doesn't - and my money is on her, given her history.

I'll say it one more time. A physical "end-of-the-world" apocalypse in which people are raptured or whatever is never going to happen. You would think that modern Christians would learn something from the fact that every single prediction of it has never come to pass, no matter how logical or well thought-out. That suggests to me that maybe the scriptures need to be looked at in a less literal light. After all, the word "apocalypse" actually means "revelation" rather than some sort of disaster or calamity.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Walmart Closed. Clearly, It's the Apocalypse!

Where do they come up with this stuff? Bloggers and other fringe media types on the Internet are now putting forth the bizarre notion that the closing of five Walmart stores in conjunction with a routine military training exercise means that martial law is about to imposed all across the United States. Or something like that.

“From the Boston Marathon bombings to Sandy Hook, the government has been executing false flags for purposes of imposing absolute NWO control over its citizens,” warned Joachim Hagopian, a blogger for the Centre for Research on Globalization.

He warned that “neocons” he believes to be responsible for staging the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will enact “draconian Orwellian laws of tyranny and oppression to conveniently vilify citizens bold enough to demand their civil liberties and privacy rights back.”

Other conspiracy theorists warn that the “Russians have penetrated the territorial boundary of the lower 48″ states to build “death domes,” although there is apparently some disagreement over whether they are arming insurgents here, while others warn Yemen is somehow involved in the alleged plot.

It's literally to the point where the minute you hear the words "false flag" out of somebody's mouth you can dismiss everything else they have to say. Seriously, do they think that there's no such thing as a terrorist attack that the government didn't orchestrate? Because that's what it sounds like. In fact, the entire point of terrorism is that it's asymmetrical - it allows a small group to do a lot of damage without government support.

According to more credible sources, the Walmarts may have been closed because the employees were attempting to unionize, which is diabolical enough without a bunch of goofy speculation. And so far, nobody's seen hide nor hair of a "death dome" - whatever the heck that is. I suppose people fall into this stuff because they want to embrace an over-arching theory that makes sense of every aspect of their paranoid worldview.

But really, the Walmart apocalypse theory is just dumb. You'd think with so much time on their hands, these conspiracy enthusiasts could come up with something better.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The United Church of Bacon

If you're the sort of person who loves bacon - and let's face it, a lot of us do - you can now make it official by joining the United Church of Bacon. While on its face this is another of the "parody religions" that promote religious freedom and are mostly made up of atheists and agnostics, the United Church of Bacon goes a step further than, say, the Pastafarians. Most people aren't really into wearing colanders on their heads or dressing up like pirates, but a whole lot of people like eating bacon.

The mockery religion was founded in Las Vegas by atheist John Whiteside in 2010. He started it as a protest to fight discrimination against atheists. Bacon prophet John said: "The hatred of atheists, atheophobia and secularphobia, has no stigma, unlike homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and racism. That needs to change.”

A statement on their website calls for people to stand up for separation of church and state. It reads: "The skeptics’ church has a serious intent, to fight religious discrimination against non-believers, to promote church-state separation, and to demand equal rights for everyone, regardless of faith."

Fundamentalists of whatever stripe who also like eating bacon now need to make a decision. Should they give up their favorite breakfast meat, or should they go on eating food that is now contaminated by the reverence of unbelievers? Muslims and Orthodox Jews are already off the hook, since they don't eat pork, but most Christians follow no such prohibition.

The United Church of Bacon now has billboards up in Las Vegas offering bacon-themed wedding services. It seems to me that's more practical and tasty than getting married by an Elvis impersonator.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sex Club Rebranded as Church

It seems that with all the media attention from the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act case, more people have started realizing what an enormous can of worms these law really open. Yesterday I covered the story of Joan Cheever, who will be arguing before a Texas court that she has a right to violate San Antonio's prohibition on distributing food to the homeless on religious freedom grounds.

The reason these laws can apply in so many ways is that the Supreme Court established long ago that the government cannot rule on the sincerity of any particular religious belief. It may intervene if a "compelling reason" exists, such as practices that cause real harm to the public. But otherwise, pretty much anything is fair game. So the Pastafarians can wear colanders on their heads in official photos, even though the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" is acknowledged to be a joke. Likewise, members of The Satanic Temple don't have to believe in a literal Satan.

Now this story, out of Tennessee, is an application of the law that I've never heard of before. A swingers club in Madison, Tennessee encountered resistance from the city when it announced plans to open. City officials went so far as to change the building's zoning so that it could not be used as a club. But the owners have now rebranded it as a church, and claim that they are therefore entitled to religious freedom protections.

Previously the owners of the proposed club in Madison had submitted plans to convert a former medical building, situated next to a Christian school, into a sex club only to meet with stiff public resistance.

Following a packed and contentious meeting last month — with one audience member shouting “we don’t want this darkness to extinguish this beacon of light that has been here for years and years” – the Metro Council amended the zoning laws to prevent the club from being developed.

Relying upon federal laws that protect churches, the owners reapplied as a church. A room that was once labeled “the dungeon” is now the “choir room.” The former “game room” will now be known as a “fellowship hall.”

And if their group can get recognized as a 501C3 religious corporation, as far as I can tell they're good to go - at least if the law is applied consistently. As is the case with most consensual, victimless activity it would be hard to argue that the activities of this "church" will cause harm to the public. The city probably will try in order to keep it closed, but it will be interesting to see the eventual ruling. At some point lawmakers will probably amend these laws in order to limit their scope, but until then I can imagine a lot more cases like this one going forward.

See, I'm mostly fine with the current situation, to tell you the truth. I understand that Christians originally pushed these laws thinking that they could use them against minority religions, but they also protect all sorts of non-mainstream things that minority religions might practice. I'm not in favor of world in which religion is driven from the public square; rather, I'm in favor of a world in which every flavor of religious belief is proudly represented, along with philosophies such as scientific materialism.

The good thing about these religious freedom laws is that they mean I don't have to obey the dictates of somebody else's religion, and they can't stop me from practicing mine. That works for me. We do need more comprehensive non-discrimination laws to deal with some of the assholes, as the Indiana case highlights, but I view that as a separate issue.