Friday, May 31, 2013

200 years ago: The birth of Soren Kierkegaard

May 5, 2013 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. Mr. Kierkegaard has been called the father of existentialism, and his ideas tremendously influenced the 20th century strain of pseudo-Christian liberalism known as Neo-Orthodoxy. He believed that truth was subjective rather than objective, and that one comes to knowledge of God through mystical experience. As Francis Schaeffer argued, "Through a "leap of faith" one must try to find meaning without reason...optimism will now always be in the area of non-reason." (How Should We Then Live?, 1976, p. 163).

Mr. Kierkegaard, who died on November 13, 1855 at the age of 42, is one of the figures profiled in Dave Breese's book 7 Men Who Rule the World from the Grave (1980) and in Brannon Howse's book Grave Influence (2009).

I don't have the desire or energy to do a long-winded post on Mr. Kierkegaard, but I recommend the books mentioned above (as well as Francis Schaeffer's book Escape from Reason (1968)) for further information on Soren Kierkegaard and his effect on modern Western philosophy and theology.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

30 years ago: Mormon front organization sponsors talk by Eldridge Cleaver and Cleon Skousen

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
II Corinthians 6:14-15

On Thursday, May 5, 1983, former U.S. Black Panther activist Eldridge Cleaver was in Edmonton, speaking in Tory Lecture Theatre L-11 on the University of Alberta campus. Mr. Cleaver expressed his opposition to much of the "peace" talk and activities of the day, and talked about how he had come to oppose Communism as a result of actually living under Communism in places such as Cuba. Mr. Cleaver was followed by Cleon Skousen, former FBI agent and Salt Lake City police chief and author of The Naked Communist (1958) (see my previous post on Mr. Skousen).

I had read a newspaper item sometime earlier stating that Mr. Cleaver, a former leader of the Black Panther movement in the United States and a professing Christian by the late 1970s, was flirting with Mormonism (strange, given the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' historic attitude toward blacks); indeed, seven months after his Edmonton appearance, Mr. Cleaver was baptized as a Mormon, and was apparently still a member at the time of his death at the age of 62 on May 1, 1998. Mr. Cleaver's conversion to Mormonism didn't have any apparent influence on his behaviour, since he developed a cocaine addiction and had numerous brushes with the law. As I recall his speech at the U of A, his message consisted mainly of how he became disillusioned with Communism after spending time in societies dominated by it. There was nothing in his address that mainstream conservatives would have disagreed with.

I don't remember much of Mr. Skousen's talk, but if I recall correctly it seemed to focus mainly on things that would have been of interest to Americans, and seemed somewhat inapplicable to Canada. I think they were selling some sort of manual with editorial adjustments suitable for Canada, but I didn't buy anything from them, and my memory is hazy on that.

The lectures were sponsored by The Freemen Institute (now known as the National Center for Constitutional Studies), an organization dedicated to upholding the principles of the United States Constitution. Why such an organization would be active in Canada I don’t know. I started to suspect that the Freemen Institute was a Mormon front, and that suspicion was heightened by a look at the audience, which consisted mostly of young people who had a "Mormon look" about them--better-groomed and better-dressed than average, looking as though they had stepped out of a television show from the 1950s.

Mr. Skousen and the Freemen Institute were popular with some Christians and political conservatives at the time, and some Christians were appearing at conferences sponsored by FI (as well as with the Unification Church ("Moonie") front organization CAUSA International, perhaps unwittingly (the Freemen Institute, like a typical front, didn't come right out and say that it was a Mormon front organization). This sort of fellowship with unbelievers on the basis of similarity of political views is in disobedience to scripture, and should be avoided by Christians, regardless of how worthwhile the cause appears to be. Such forbidden fellowship may have affected the results of a few elections in the last few decades, but it hasn't resulted in a more godly society.

50 years ago: Spiritualists in Edmonton get a visit from their national leader

When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.
Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
Deuteronomy 18:9-12

Before there was New Age "channeling," there was occult mediumship. Spiritualism began to become popular in North America and western Europe in the mid-19th century--probably peaking in the 1920s--but was long past its peak in popularity by the time the following article by Sharon Winkelaar appeared in The Edmonton Journal on Friday, May 3, 1963, page 19 (in a section of the paper then known as "women's pages"). Any resemblance between spiritualist practices and contemplative "Christian" practices is, of course, coincidental--or is it?

Vancouver Spiritualist To Visit City Temple

"It will be a normal sort of church service," said secretary of the Temple of Spiritualism, Mr. John Morrison.

The only difference will be that the person who gives the sermon, the Rev. B. Gaulton Bishop of Vancouver, "will probably go into trance and will give a trance lecture from someone else completely."

The someone else will be a different entity, a spirit guide, a disembodied soul, if you like.

What visiting medium Mrs. Bishop says at the two services Sunday at the Temple will "depend entirely on the guide."

Mrs. Bishop, president of the International Spiritualist Alliance of Vancouver, will arrive Saturday. She will be honored at a reception at the Temple Saturday evening, and will take charge of morning and evening Sunday services.

Until May 16, Mrs. Bishop will demonstrate her powers for both members of the Temple and curious enquirers. And whatever else a medium is haunted by, curiosity could be called the most persistent.

TRANCE CIRCLE

Monday, Mrs. Bishop will conduct a trance circle for members only, and Mr. Morrison is hoping to arrange a circle for "handpicked" persons outside the Temple's membership.

Trance is a "state of passiveness in which the medium is controlled by a discarnate entity," Mr. Morrison explained.

To demonstrate how completely separate a medium can be from his spirit guide, Mr. Morrison told of a male medium in England who didn't believe in re-incarnation--but his spirit guide preached it through him!

Each medium gathers a band of spirits--like good friends--and each spirit has a specific job. In addition, a medium will have a guardian spirit who keeps "lower vibratory" entities from him.

AURA COLOR

Mrs. Bishop will do "aura diffiniations" on Tuesday, at which she will tell visitors the color of their aura, or roughly speaking, halo. White is the purest color, indicating progress, but not necessarily nobility.

Thursday Mrs. Bishop will demonstrate flower psychometry. Mr. Morrison has never seen this done, but supposes that the medium will pass messages to persons according to a flower they will be given as they enter the Temple.

In following days, she will demonstrate the psychometry itself. This is giving a person a message of the past or future by holding an object they have been associated with.

Broadly speaking, basic spiritualist tenets are that each person has a soul, and his soul has a certain vibration. When a person dies, the vibration survives and is partly made up of his complete personality.

This personality, or disembodied soul, carries on in afterlife much as before, his vibration determining the state of existence which he or she can change and improve upon.