Quick note to say, it was great to meet you last week at the Front Porch Republic Conference Paul, and thank you for answering my question regarding the UK and agrarianism - I had not considered the issue of land shortage before and that has given me lots of food for thought (and the Land magazine looks excellent - just a shame they are not accepting new subscriptions at the moment due to the chaos that their community is currently experiencing!)

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On the UK and agrarianism you might find this of interest if you haven't seen it already:


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Thanks Rob, I am reading this book at the moment. It is excellent, though infuriating at the same time. Infuriating, as one realises while reading it, all that we have lost from the English Countryside.

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I agree -- as you say, here in the U.S. the situation is somewhat different because we have more space overall, but the losses are similar in their characteristics and qualities.

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I have the Bell trilogy on my shelves and it is years since I read them. Corduroy especially is an excellent read as I recall. Thanks for the reminder...I need to look at these again and in the light of current situations. It’s books like this that continue to speak.

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Hope not to offend anyone, as many seem to be religious here. Just wondering what you think of such as these four different ways to explain religion.

• God exists: He created everything, knows everything and have been actively communicating and interacting with humanity regarding His plans throughout history, often in symbolism through prophets, sages and churches. Accessed through prayer/meditation/rituals. Whether a personalized deity or more pantheistic cosmic mind, or every nuance in between.

• The atheist way attributes religions to the needs of both individuals and power structures for existential explanations about unknown aspects of our origins, death and ethics. God and mythology are humanity’s way of satisfying this need, by creating Him in our own image. A human-created structure to live comfortably within, a way of centralising and monopolising spirituality. Alleged divine visions are testament to an impressive neurological capacity, or cynical control-mechanism.

• Aliens: Scriptures and prophets describe actual historical occurrences through mythic lenses, though they happened by the hand of extraterrestrial beings, who throughout deep-time have interfered, colonized, warred, genetically modified, taught and/or tampered with Earth’s natural evolution.

• Entheogens: Mythologies describe actual mystical visions experienced (inter)subjectively, oftentimes induced by psychotropic plants and fungi. The visions are in turn attributed to divine powers, either celestial or earthly, communicating and revealing reality to the visionary.

This is a rough sketch, and the divisions can easily be sub-divided and overlap with each other. Especially the last two, if we think of entheogens as a key to access higher dimensions, wherein more evolved extraterrestrials reside. Or one and four, where mythic divinity exists and is accessed by certain techniques or substances, as a sort of Sufi mundus imaginalis or Buddhist Nirvana. Actually, number four works with either of them in some manner or another.

With regards to this psychedelic way of understanding religion, a lot of exciting research and theories have been made. I’ll just briefly touch on some of them:

• The Amanita Christmas Theory traces Santa, flying reindeer and decorating pine trees back to shamans gathering, prepping and sharing the psychoactive mushroom fly agaric with nearby villages. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz_JZJkqsEc&t=64s&ab_channel=AfterSkool

• Brian Muraresku’s “The immortality key” delves into ancient religious practices, such as the Eleusinian mysteries and paleo-Christianity (particularly Eastern Orthodox), and the potential use of psychedelics like ergot in shaping mystical experiences for them (especially the Eucharist sacrament).

• John M. Allegro argues in “The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross”, mainly through meticulous etymological research into cognates and symbolism, that the use of psychedelic mushrooms played a central ritualistic role in the religious experiences and symbolism of early human societies, and was transferred in morphed forms into the Common Era we still reside in. A bit weird and sexually reductionist, but nonetheless quite intriguing. Initially received as controversial, it’s since been somewhat rehabilitated and vindicated by respected scholars such as professor of classical studies Carl A. P. Ruck.

• Terence McKenna’s “Stoned Ape hypothesis” in Food of the Gods may be more fanciful, but nonetheless quite intuitive with regard to the evolution of human imagination and spiritual inclinations. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nxn2LlBJDl0&ab_channel=AfterSkool

• Plants containing DMT have been found on the Sinai peninsula and Negev desert, and some researchers attribute f.ex Moses’ vision of the burning bush to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byQ-dgOJuv8&ab_channel=TheCuriousMinds

• Another entertaining theory implies that the balm Jesus the Anointed used to miraculously heal the sick was made from cannabis, or Kaneh Bosom as described in the Bible.



• According to recent research from Johns Hopkins and others, a substantial number of participants in experimental psilocybin treatment reported having life-changing mystical experiences, often described as moments of profound interconnectedness, unity, and a sense of transcendence. In some studies, more than 2/3 described it as one of the most spiritually significant of their lives.

By all means, props to those who find peace and spiritual breakthroughs by their own craft. However, given the deep-seated conditioning many suffer under, in an anthropocene age of bicameral mind, Cartesian split and Machine capitalism, my position is that such remedies, and their adjacent theories about the psychedelic roots of religion as mentioned above, may loosen trauma and awaken grounded and forceful spirituality once more, for those who can’t. After all, shouldn’t we enable every tool available to counteract the shitstorm we’re in?

The great Martin Shaw has however stated how unimpressed he often is when youthful seekers tell him about trips they’ve had, because such activity are shortcuts out of rooted cultural contexts and tribal traditions, which often leaves the visionary without long-lasting meaning or capacity to digest the experience – “all sizzle and no steak”, as he puts it.

At the risk of verbosity and a moment too long of your precious time, I simply wonder if these perspectives are interesting, indeed potentially liberating, for believers invested in Paul’s project of enticing the flocks back to the woods and roots of it all, or merely regarded as immature heresy. Or something in between?

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Relegion is means of managing violence, man uses a scapegoat. He hides his own scapegoat as myth, unable to look at his own violence he hides it as ritual. Religion is a myth vaccine. https://www.firstthings.com/article/1996/04/are-the-gospels-mythical

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True, but not the whole truth. And I say this as a great admirer of Girard.

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You should read Violence Unveiled by Gil Baile, it goes extremely deeply into this idea. It's a beautiful book: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-8245-1464-8

For what it's worth, this sort of mythic interpretation is what has led me back to the church as well. I don't necessarily think it's that simple though.

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I have read it, fantastic

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Yeah Baile is an excellent writer. Have you read his next book? It's on my list.


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I got to listen to a set of class lectures of him when I was 16. Audiocassettes.

I remember being surprised at his southern dialect (to my my Canadian teen ears).

I remember most of it clearly:

He said, most people haven’t realized the bible is soaked in violent bloodshed. “Or those who have, let’s say they closed it. They closed it”

He proceeded to open the scriptures for us as best he was able.

Pretty good stuff and key to that time in my spiritual journey.

Haven’t returned to him since.

Heard he got quire Catholic trad against homosexuality and married priests? Just hearsay, I’m uninterested either way.

But wondered if that was sparked by fellow precocious Girarding in those beginning times, whose gone on to make the best place possible for same sex expression in a Christian highish tradition?

None of this should I be quoted on. Heresay and a topic not worth sorting out from the paths either of these sensitive men would try to outline in their sincere and misled best of intentions.

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Fellow Girard Ian scholar from the beginning = James Allison

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Buddhism is a religion, but does not employ a scapegoat.

Violence is handled through the imperative to do no harm. The imperative to do no harm is guided by the Four Sublime States and the Noble Eightfold Path.

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I know that's how the colloquialum came to regard buddhism.

but it's incorrect.

we had a buddhist- the kind from thia, then china, then india, etc. on site. (he was the serious kind) Decades long lasting, upper circles with the leadership, total devotee-

we had him repent and join our parish as an orthodox chrisitan.

he told me stories of how the bloodshed would cleans the earth when an exquivalent of pogrom was spontaneously waged:

the buddhist monks, top of the hills, would suddenly unanounced come dispassionatly down the mountains and hew down to death with blades every human in sight in the local villages (read, closest to the monks), as a cleansing.

this would reset, reoccor decades-centuries later.

it was an 'oral tradition' written only in blood though, not in the texts so missed notice of the Colloquium

so they made their violent religious creation myth on the scapegoat victim, in real time, and repeatedly..

needed because Siddhartha, got in trouble with easter chritianities, when he was adopted into the christian calendar of saints. (see St Nikolai Villimirovic. read his prayers by the lake first, then his source for the Siddhartha in the "Indian Rich young Ruler")

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Religion is how man manages the violence that threatens to destroy him. https://www.firstthings.com/article/1996/04/are-the-gospels-mythical

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I've only had one experience with hallucinogens, which consisted of taking a tab of LSD with an ex-girlfriend decades ago. Overall, it was the quintessential bad trip, and I suffered terrible flashbacks for years afterwards. I did, however, get to experience the "revelation of cosmic oneness" common to such hallucinogenic experience and came away able to understand and appreciate Joseph Campbell's quote, "the psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight."

I'd say that experience let me see there is some sort of fractal(?), gravitational, supra-conscious and unified aspect to reality, and that this entire culture is in complete neurotic flight from/opposition to this reality.

It also made me reflexively distrust the professed spirituality of anyone who has never done hallucinogens at all. In my opinion, they have no idea what they are talking about. The real thing is far beyond all words, and is in fact profoundly terrifying if you are unprepared for it. I'm also convinced this is the experience of death.

So how do you prepare for it? Your ego needs to completely go, and in this culture that is just about the hardest thing to get rid of. You either learn to swim with delight in your transcendence of/dissolution as an individuated consciousness in a kind of eternal ocean of love, or you drown in hell forever trying and failing to grasp what was never really there.

Good luck.

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@optera May not be quite what you were looking for. But ego death seems such a central part of Jesus’ teachings. One instance he said this, which is almost word for word a death of ego: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” The problem with ego death in itself is this: death with out life is just death. I don’t think man was made to be completely annihilated of their personhood. Yet obviously, there is a lot of our personhood that, frankly, needs to go. But the promise Jesus offers is is this: 1) Your ego is shot and needs to go (what you said) 2) I can offer a way out of the ego that otherwise inevitably leads to death and suffering. 3) not only is there a way out of the ego through death, but there is a door of hope that walks you squarely into LIFE. Death of the ego was never the end in itself. It is abundant life which is the end of all things.

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Say more? Don’t want to reply without fully understanding your question/insight

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Oct 26, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023

I think that there's a sort of paradox, and that "individualism" (or egotism) is the opposite of "individuation" (or the achievement of spiritually integrated personality). So in a way, we could say that Jesus is the least individual man of all, and that therefore He also has the greatest strength of personality. And likewise, the saints are most themselves by being the least themselves. "Lose your life in order to find it," as He said.

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My understanding of the word "individual" is the idea of being undivided. Could there be something positive involved in the idea of being divided ? It is something that we have a lot of problems with. Or... there probably isn't anything POSITIVE in the idea of being UNdivided, because the word "undivided" has the Latin prefix "un" which means.. NOT.

This may not sound important, but negativity at all levels is a big problem for our civilization. Our physicists may be doing high level research into negativity, but outside of cloud cuckoo land, most of us make a moral issue of negativity, while placing our hand over our heart, and affirming that no, we are not talking about a moral issue.

Who wrote the book "The Power of Positive Thinking" ?

How long have we been dividing the world into positive and negative.. poles ?

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I think I agree with Sethu, except I would actually phrase it a bit different, and more of my understanding about what God does to the ego. Second time mentioning him here, but George McDonald has an essay on “the new name” where he references the passage in revelation where it says that we will be given a white stone with a name only us and God can understand.

My understanding, this side of heaven, (which will change as I gain more wisdom and insight) is that part of the process of our ego is not necessarily that we will become less unique the more holy (whole & integrated) we become, but quite the opposite. I think that’s what Sethu was saying here. I don’t have the best understanding yet of the delineation of flesh and spirit as it relates to ego. But I conceive of the term ego less in the way of pride and more in Freudian terms. Which, to mention explicitly, none of which I am even a novice in these things.

To use Sethu’s terms: the more hole and holy we become, the more unique and individuated we become and less individualistic. In fact, the more one we become with our brothers (pretty mystical fact that we are called to the same oneness with God as our brothers).

So I guess all that to say I agree -- more processing as I write. But I think it’s SUPER tricky to use language like “lose your life” and become “least themselves” to someone who isn’t spiritually mature.

I’m coming from a place where I always thought Jesus was calling me to completely annihilate my self-hood, which seemed too tall of an order for me. Instead, he comes to redeem, make new, and “burn away” (thankfully). Still don’t have my head wrapped around this but I really want to understand this idea well. It’s central to my life and call, I think. Or at least it feels central to one of the messages I feel God has given me to speak.

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Have way more thoughts too... but that’s just my reaction.

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I think you're on the right track with your thoughts, here. In Hinduism, there are sort of two selves: there's the atman, which is like the spiritual core or image of God, and there's the jiva, which is like the psychic ego. The problem is that when people are "individualistic", they obsess over the features of the jiva, to the point that they can become totally opaque to the atman. And it's also a sort of a parody, because at the level of jiva, we aren't really that unique: it's like making an identity out of whether you like cabbage or not. But individuation is about connecting with the atman, which is the true uniqueness of God's image in each of us. So "Lose your life in order to find it" could be read as "Let go of your jiva to find your atman". It's not that the jiva is ever just annihilated (since it's structurally needed for life in this world), but we could say that it grows translucent.

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That’s really helpful... Practical follow up: how do let go of your jiva in order to find your atman?

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Oct 28, 2023·edited Oct 28, 2023

Just the typical stuff suggested by most spiritual paths—prayer and contemplation and mindfulness and all—although it could also vary a bit by temperament or calling. Some people are natural artists or philosophers, for example, and thoughts and creative processes may be spiritual experiences to them; others may just selflessly throw themselves into their daily work. It seems to me that a lot of it has to do with either losing ourselves in flow or watching ourselves with meta-cognition.

The jiva, though, doesn't typically want to be let go of, so that's where the concepts of crucifixion and resurrection come in—and also, I think, a lot of the mysticism in St. Paul's letters: the natural man (jiva) in us has to die so that the spiritual man (atman) may live. I don't mean to suggest that I'm anywhere near accomplished on this project, although I can sort of discern the contours of how it works.

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Thank you for saying that death of the ego was never the end in itself. It is abundant life which is the end of all things.

At this late point in my life, however, I am considering that one of my goals ? (but not projects...) is to learn how to die a good death, like my mother did. There is much to learn, although I have already learned that there are pernicious sins involved in getting old, much more pernicious than when I was much younger.

I don't know if you can learn that, although I do know that our end depends at least in part on what we feel that we have managed to pass on, even imperfectly, and unbeknownst to us, to our inheritors, children or not.

I DO believe that accepting death is a very important part of living a living life, as in the price to be paid.

And in this, Jesus's attitude was very didactic, in a way. He DID accept death. And suffering, too, by the way. I am not sure that his sacrifice was made to allow us to pass go, collect 200 dollars and AVOID his lot. Maybe not ?

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Debra, it’s interesting that you say that there are more pernicious sins in getting old. One of the main antidotes Jesus gives us is, “you must become like a child”... as someone who is just under 30, I am sure there are things coming my way I know nothing of, like you said. But I wonder what becoming like a child means the older we get, and how it may save us from pernicious old sins. I think part of the liberation Jesus has for us is paradoxically that as we grow older, we become more like children. Likewise, I would posit the question to you, Debra: what are ways that you can become more like a child that may, in fact, accomplish the very things you are trying to accomplish. Namely, (what seems like) leaving a good legacy and dying a Good death. What do you think?

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I am going to reply by starting from my last trip to my kids' house, 20hrs away, round trip, where we have three grandchildren under 5 now, with my son and his wife working full time in relatively prestigious, time consuming careers that give them a great deal of material ease. I notice that in the reading material for my grandchildren, there is a lot of Disney stuff.

I grew up as a Disney child in the 1960's in the U.S. There was no Disney channel yet, but I just remembered that we watched Disney full feature movies, divided in two, part 1 the first week, part 2 the second, ON SUNDAY EVENING at a family time.

Yesterday I realized that we watched our Disney family series ON SUNDAY EVENING and that Sunday used to be the Lord's day, too. The day reserved to worship the Lord.

So... I got to thinking about Uncle Walt and Sunday. I learned a while ago that Uncle Walt got himself freeze dried rather than accepting the death that was coming to him, and that made me uneasy at the time, mainly because getting yourself freeze dried was something that I am 100% sure that Adolf Hitler would have been enthusiastic about, knowing what I know about Adolf Hitler. That association makes me very uneasy. I hope it makes you uneasy too...

I hasten to add that all that family television was edifying in my book, and not really far away from the Christian values that I grew up with. After all... Uncle Walt was a specialist in the market for children, I could say very cynically. But then again, maybe he was a firm believer that he was doing good, and the Right Thing at the time. Who am I to say ?

Now, I feel that Disney has become one of the strong arms of empire, but what is coming out of Disney makes me even more uneasy as time goes by. My 3 year old grand daughter, like how many other little girls all over the planet now, has been hooked on "The Snow Queen", if that is what the title is in English. The one with Anna and Elsa in it. Disney's "The Snow Queen" is light years away from Hans Christian Andersen who I really loved. A very poetic "fairy tale", although I have heard some storytellers say that Andersen is not authentic.

After rambling somewhat, I feel that it is necessary to remember that the idea of original sin means that we are born fallen into a fallen world. I don't believe that sex is a consequence of being fallen, though, no more than I believe that death is a consequence of being fallen, although sex and death sure go together. There is no reason, no justification for sex without death, as our ancestors well knew, and we would do well to ponder.

So... being born fallen into a fallen world happens to our children, too, and they are not born innocent. From conception, maybe, they are subjected as fallen creatures to a fallen world. I feel that that is a major, correct assumption of the Christian faith, and one that we have been busy trying to destroy for quite some time.

So... our children are not little innocent toys or domestic animals who we must protect at all costs, thereby ensuring that we feel POWERFUL, and even more powerful the more we assume that they are helpless and innocent. They are born under the yoke of sin. If Jesus talked about becoming a child, he was not talking about pulling tantrums in supermarkets. I hope that he would have disapproved, and been horrified at tantrums in supermarkets.

I think that Jesus was talking about the child's condition of being painfully aware of how dependant we are on each other, as in "people who need people". Of being curious, exploring, trying to understand the world, having the courage ? the energy ? to discover the world. But children are not exempt from prejudices, and from inhibitions, maybe the worst part of what a stultifying education brings about : the fear of sticking out, not being accepted, taking chances, the desire to please at all costs.

Becoming older means to a certain extent "acquiring" experience in life, and that experience comes at a cost in terms of "freshness", "spontaneity", all qualities that we find very attractive and associate with childhood.

Becoming older means asking ourselves what we are going to do with our experience, how we can draw on it, and what responsibilities it puts on us.

How we can learn to control our impulsiveness, sometimes, and learn when it is appropriate to EXPRESS ourselves, and when it is not appropriate. Where it is appropriate. How.

I think that being an adult is not a question of age, but of attitude. A child... can be more responsible ? adult ? than an older person in certain circumstances.

Yesterday I told a 5 year old that everybody should say "please" and "thank you". They are not things that adults should be telling children to do IF THEY DO NOT RESPECT THE SOCIAL CONTRACT in the same way. We are all SUBJECTED to politeness, children and adults, in order to live in a world where we are not constantly in civil war.

For my own position, I need to control myself better with my adult children, and find subtle, tactful ways of leading them to act in ways that will foster their children, and not inhibit them. In the world of Uncle Walt's legacy, this is quite a challenge right now...

But at least I have noticed that when my husband and I are in their house, a kind of calm descends into the whirlwind, and everybody manages to find the time to just BE, maybe just for 10 minutes. I liken this to having the kingdom of God shine through a crack in the stormy sky for just two instants. Even that can be a lifeline. We are living in stormy times right now. Everybody needs this : my thirty year olds, and their little ones. Even... the cats and the chickens need this. I have observed it.

I hope that this answer speaks to you.

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Bad trips are a real bummer. Sorry to hear it. Seems like you got a mixed bag out of it though. I've heard it said that the bad ones are potentially the most educational, most confrontational with the issues that demand attention. But only if handled correctly, and that is easier said than done. Great Campbell quote, love that guy! Not sure I agree with your reflexive distrust, I think genuine spiritual growth can come from the heart and soul on its own. Psychedelics can be a forceful catalyst out of a rut, but it's merely a tool, not the endgame. But the comparison to feeling of death holds water, especially given that research into near-death experiences (like Eben Alexander) are comparable, though varied. Thank you for your thoughtful response :)

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My brother gave me, my then wife, his wife, himself,

a precise and I dare say perfect dose of magic mushrooms.

it was my doom.

you specifically, most of all, I would love to chat with face to face (as close as).


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Can I share with you why I love what I live most in this comment?

Apart from the providential closing of time and space hat fear though there be and shyness, your soul and my soul get to meet as friends here-

…” also made me reflexively distrust the professed spirituality of anyone who has never done hallucinogens at all.”

It’s because once again, what you put on the outside here gives my eyes a window to what’s inside you.

Distortions, relativity, passions aside- mine and yours that make it a fallible organic guesswork-

It’s courage and beauty that are in you.

And bring me to tears.

Why this, with this quote?

Because you are living among us fiercely honestly, though it tears you apart you still won’t back down.

Courage I think- more than love, mercy, kindness- courage we moderns lack more than all virtues.

And you have courage.

As much as one can being the child of the child of the child etc. In October 2023.

And, not because of the courage but additionally, you are beautiful.

Because you back down. You live others whom you could crush.

It brings tears my my eyes and joy to my heart that such a remnant lives!

We don’t have to fear the exultation of others. We are not loved because through the pixels or on the skin they cannot see the ugly still inside and on our left.

We are just loved, just loved actually as we are.

So, hopefully, we meet soon and just be WabiSabi.


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Look, please stop writing this stuff at me. It's weird and embarrassing and entirely false. For the record, I'm a grizzled old (male) bastard whose substack icon was lifted from one of my satirical 3D art pieces.

Since you appear to like that character—Ava Carren—so much, you should know that she is an elf that was abducted from her planet (Milmion) by a horrifying reptilian alien species, packaged as a trivial commodity, and sold as a collectible toy, pet, or snack. This is my idea of social satire about the commodification of life and was inspired by my love of butterflies as a kid and being presented one Christmas with a nightmarish collector kit (complete with dead butterflies) that my parents found at some museum gift shop. Here, have a sample:


And here is the actual animated NFT:


The last thing in the world I am is beautiful or courageous. I'm a dissolute idiot making a last wobble through a lousy life of almost unbroken failure. I'm also powerfully introverted and would cross oceans to avoid even the possibility of ever meeting anyone who talked about me like this.

You clearly have some vision of someone who may or may not actually exist somewhere. You absolutely do need to look elsewhere, however, to find such a person. Best of luck and take care!

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I’ll stop writing these things to you. :)

Respectfully, friend.


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I would never have written to you in the way and tone as I did if I did not think you were a woman.

I am really so deeply unplugged from internet etiquette etcetera- that I had gone only this far in my thinking looking at your picture: "She may be an older woman, even a grandma!" But to my embarrassment now I had never guessed you were a man. I am so sorry for how uncomfortable my attention and affection for you, and feelings of intimacy with you must have been!

While I didn't assume you looked like that picture of you I also didn't assume you didn't- I have had several students over recent years who look like this more or less.

But it was specifically because I assumed you were a woman, that I saw in your care for the Gaza attrocities, and your astute cultural critiques, and your love for "Sawdust and Diamonds," and your willingness to back down from attacking those who disagreed with you on Gaza, and that you had an ex-girlfriend, and that you had a painful experience of psychadelics that also made you distrust any spiritual experience of the 'uninitiated'...

In all this,

It was specifically in my assumption that you were a woman who had all of this inside her, that I found you courageous and beautiful.

All of that same stuff in a man, may not be beautiful or courageous at all. It can all come from a very different place and signal very different qualities on the inside.

It may be beautiful still, there may be courage.

But if it is not a woman who wrote those things, young or old, pretty on the outside or not, I would never have assumed these qualities or felt the closeness... to a fellow human being who must suffer tremendously for holding an 'inside' that is so out of the ordinary for who she is on the outside as a woman.

I would never have assumed- most of all, and where I felt the most tender-hearted kinship with you mistakenly- I would never have assumed that it was a heart of *love* for those who have died such attrocious deaths in Gaza.

I am sorry for all of this, friend.

Certainly I hold an admiration for your way with words, what you choose to look at in the world and how you see it. Kinship there too.

But nothing near the intimacy when I assumed you were a woman.

Of course I feel great and whithering embarrassment. :) And a great deal of mirthful laughter and eye rolling at myself! "Goodness, Mark, how can you be so utterly out of touch?! And then look what a mess you made for this poor fellow... making him so uncomfortable!"


for the loss of collectivist culture among men; for the loss of "2 souls in one body" friendships between both men and women. For the loss of intimacy and affection expressed without our contemporary default assumption that "Sam and Frodo must be gay"... etc.

Just because then,

at least I wouldn't have made you so uncomfortable. :(

though the joke would still be on me.

This will be my last comment directly to you friend.

With respect and my sincere apology for all of this confusion.


-Mark Basil

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As a believer, I must say that I don't find this offensive, but I do find it quite confused. Many of these things are not only incompatible with the teachings of the various religions, but also with each other. And at the root of much of it I find a sort of willfulness that will believe in almost anything except a Transcendent Ground of Being (i.e., God).

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Indeed. I am doubtless riddled with confirmation bias. I just find the correlation between psychedelic and religious/mystical experiences fascinating, especially given the archeological, anthropological and historical research namedropped above. And I don't think psychedelics, if treated with medicinal or sacramental respect, is incompatible with belief in/existence of what your poetically call a Transcendent Ground of Being. On the contrary, it can be seen as a tool or gateway to access such a divine presence.

In any case, the thriving potential for psychedelics to replace symptom-relieving opiods and provide solid long-lasting treatment to depression, anxiety (of death even, among many terminally ill), stress, loneliness and addiction, not to mention the destructive schism between nature and human, gives me hope.

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People who have actual experience with seeing God answer their prayers and work miracles know that He is real, not a hallucination or alien. Having a creation without a creator is simply illogical .

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Of course, to each their own. For myself, I have trouble accepting the "answered prayers" bit, since so many people and beings in the ecosphere suffer so much every day. Just seems so selective for a divinely benevolent God to only help some, oftentimes middle-class people with relatively trivial problems, from what I gather on social media.

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Psychedelics didn’t work out so great for that Alaskan airlines pilot .

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These perspectives are absolutely interesting. To my mind as someone who is coming back to the church after a while, these types of new understandings of the Gospel revelations are crucial.

I put this link below, but one of the major books that helped me come back to Christ was Violence Unveiled that goes over the truth of the Gospel and its deep impacts throughout the last two thousand years: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-8245-1464-8

The work of Jordan Peterson is in a similar vein, and to my eye has been crucial to many people coming back to the Church.

Ultimately once you accept that religions are not simply bullshit stories made up to pacify the masses, you can start to see the deep meanings and powerful truths within the gospel, and perhaps other religious structures. One of the hallmarks of religious text and texts that convey wisdom, to my eye, are that different people can read the same text at vastly different times, and still gain insight and wisdom from them. Christ's teachings are still relevant to us today because, through some still unknown mechanism, he was able to encode vast amounts of insight and wisdom in parables, sermons, and other vehicles.

To me, that's enough to qualify him as carrying the wisdom of God. I still have some trouble with the interpretation that he is the *only* way to the father, as for most of my life I have found some comfort in other religions such as Buddhism. That being said, I would be happy to argue that Christ's truth and the gospel revelations are the most complete by far out of any religious system mankind has created.

On the topic of psychedelics, they have been helpful for me. But I'll quote Carl Jung who said, when asked about mushrooms, "Beware of wisdom you haven't earned." I think that's true - if you don't earn your wisdom by battling through the hell of doubt and confusion, it can lead you to false places.

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How can Christ's truth be the most complete system? Jesus was not systematic: he flew around like a bird speaking the truth, but he did not build up some big philosophical system like Buddha did. Perhaps he did not have the time: one wonders what Christianity would have been if he had stuck around until his 80s.

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I think the Girardian interpretation of Christ's story and the gospel generally as a revelation of the scapegoating mechanism and an antidote to violence are why I am so convinced of the power of the Christian gospel.

That being said, yeah it's a thorny problem. Any set system is liable to get hidebound and outdating, everything needs to be renewed.

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Even Buddha was not that systematic (though his followers have more than made up for his lack of system in the centuries since

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Super simple and not academic... but Christ WAS the Logos. He was the system! Haha. He was the embodiment of all the truthiness of truth. “In the beginning was the [Logos] ... and the [Logos] was God!”

Pretty cool!

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Thanks for response. Not sure about the climate-denying, frackin-loving, semi-authoritarian and not so humble Jordan Peterson (maybe you're right about the going back to church thing, and he probably has helped a bunch of lonely men get their respective shit together), but I do love that quote by Jung! Very true, and ultimately essential for any psychonaut to be acutely aware of.


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Oh yeah, he's got issues for sure. But hey, the core of his message is brilliant and again I think overall he's doing a lot of good.

I try not to listen to his political views, and he actually mentions quite frequently that 1) he's a flawed man and makes many mistakes outside of his area of expertise and 2) his message is not political, it's about personal responsibility and sacrifice and the individual. I find those barriers and caveats sufficient for me not to hate him.

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Oct 26, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023

I’ve had a number of experiences with psychedelic drugs in my twenties that seemed to be quite revelatory at the time but in the long run it doesn’t seem that any real growth came from that specifically, speaking personally. I’ve come to realize that it’s a very serious thing to be messing with. The context in which most people take them, myself included, is very casual and divorced from any cultural or religious context. I don’t know who said it but spiritual growth can go both ways, up and down.

I don’t have a dogmatic opinion against them but I also can’t help seeing the parallels with the apple in the garden those many years ago.

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Over a period of a couple years in college I used LSD quite a bit. I never had a bad trip and it was vastly entertaining. I was lucky. I am also on the autism spectrum and was very afraid of people and closed off. I think it helped with that somewhat, made me less painfully inhibited, enough to test the waters in dating a few guys and finding someone to marry. I still find it miraculous that I could trust people to the extent that I did. It didn't fix my personality issues and I am still odd, but it helped.

I would never assign serious religious experience to my acid trips. I think the Jung quote above is brilliant.

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Great to hear you were able to get married! I actually had a similar experience with mind altering substances in my youth. My personality was closed off, I was very depressed and anxious. Taking these substances opened up my view of the world, made me realize that other ways of being were possible.

That being said, they also are addictive (yes, even psychedelics in a way) and inflamed my passions quite a bit. It has taken me a while to get back to a solid footing.

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Just last night, I watched my brother play a video game called Halo. He can do this with two friends who are not in the same room with us.

They have headsets and can talk-

I thought the whole thing was just fabulous. Wow. They do enjoyed themselves, taking the puss from each other and having a rolling good laugh all about.

He put his headset down to hear my stories from Texas- meeting Dymphna the Fly Aminita girl, and Boris Paisius who changed my life forever. Boris is on the spectrum too- a requirement for the thing that happened between us to have been able to happen

(Again these are stories for in person- I want to tell any of you! )

But he spent 60 percent of his time evangelizing psychedelics to me again.

And- all because of this salon- I agreed for the second time in my life. He’s going to give me lad to do with him.

A super small dose he assures me (I said make it half that still or I’ll run away!)

Any warnings or advice from any of you who have experienced this lots?

I need nothing general. I know everything general about it. Just you listening to your heart, saying this to me:

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Indeed, rings true like the Shaw quote. Set and setting is key, and the way it's often used and abused is almost tantamount to sacrilege. These are powerful substances that should be respected and handled with care. And ultimately merely tools for getting a glimpse through the keyhole of the mysteries, a kick to get started on the real work.

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Oct 26, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023

I may be an outlier in this group being, for the lack of a better term, a pentecostal christian. Jesus is introduced in each of the Gospels as being the one who gives the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is presented in the New Testament as being a tangible accessible gift available to ordinary people, not being only attained after a years long effort by a special few. So for me entheogens/psychedelics seem irrelevant and not needed in the knowing of God. John 7:37-39

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Psychedelics did have a powerful effect on me, yet, spirituality is not about emotion, and it is important to get to the point you can distinguish spirituality from emotion. Martin Shaw is right to be skeptic, because Rene Guenon is right, spirituality and intellectuality are ultimately the same thing, and getting high, whether on drugs or emotions, is finally not intellectual.

Whether Christians could sign on to this, well, depends on the Christian. The dogmatic ones never would, but then, they are lost, for there is and cannot be a perfect dogma: there will always be truth outside of the tradition, and one must reach for it, for spirituality is about truth.

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What you're saying sounds like gnositcism a bit, might want to look into that.

How would you say you distinguish spirituality from emotion?

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I actually think gnosticism would be a healthy path forward for Christianity. So, as Guenon says, spirituality is in reality intellectuality: there is no difference. You know you're doing spirituality right when you start to understand. Understanding is distinct from emotion.

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I actually disagree. One of the things I love about the Orthodox church is that they urge us to crucify the intellect as we crucify the passion. I think too much intellectualization is the deepest sin in our society, and it keeps us from God all too often. It's a large reason why so many people can barely even believe in God anymore.

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The intellectuality Guenon is talking about is not really the intellectuality of an academic, but rather, that of a mystic, an intellectuality that relies on a superior sort of intuition.

There are very brainy paths to God anyway, as after all, you can do just about anything with philosophy. That so many are shocked-and-awed by the wonders of science into atheism is in many ways a failure of intellectuality, a naivete.

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Yes, Dr. Iain McGilchrist would frame that intellect issue as left brain dominant - the primary problem of Western Culture.

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Christianity at its highest- most undiluted- is only about Eros. The wedding bed.

It’s all mad emotion, to use crude words in place of the ineffable

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Ooh, I was talking to my brother about this yesterday. Some people see Christianity as Dionysian in nature. Yet, it sure doesn't do that out in the open. Something Christianity could do to catch the attention of the world would be to actually wear that on its sleeve.

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except that would be exhibitionism if not pornography.

We even have a moment- before things get very intimate in our divine liturgy every sunday- where the deacon calls out: "the doors! the doors! all catechumens [i.e. learners; non-initiates; unbaptized] depart! all catechumens depart!"

modesty is a virtue.

jesus said keep your pearls for those who love you back.

but it's here, in word and deed, for those who unite themselves to their lover. "first comes love, then comes marriage, THEN comes the you-know-what..." and yes, a baby carriage (St Paul says in one of his letters "I begot you..." but only to those he actually fathered.)

very intimate.

...also E Orthodoxy is NOT a visual religion, it's a religion of touch.

we kiss the icons, kiss the crosses, kiss the priests, kiss each other (Brit's give a hug or hand shake, or at least a nod ;)

a kiss by any other name...

if you're ever in Vancouver area I'll bring you to my parish Holy Nativity. Fr Michael wont actually make you depart depart.

We're not Victorian anymore; exposed ankles and all that in the digital information age.

we recognize modesty is a culturally relative virture.

but, we do practice it.

so you dont get a taste, until you unight yourself to Christ formally.


-Mark Basil

(finally: we dont do all we can do to bring people into the church. we're not "seaker friendly" as the prot's put it; we kind of make it hard for you to enter)

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When I was in high school, I went to several parties at a friend's house. His house not only had a deck with a swimming pool but was equipped with a fire pit. I noticed back then that sitting around, staring at the fire was very popular, even among the non-stoned. Probably most of the readers here have experienced what occurs when you sit staring at a fire. After a while, you fall into a sort of relaxed reverie, where your consciousness seems to expand yet becomes more focused. The world fades and anxieties disappear. Unfamiliar feelings and thoughts might occur as the mind drifts to another place, and intuitions arise that are not describable in ordinary words and expressions. You just feel different. Now think back to our neolithic ancestors sitting around after the hunt, their bodies now relaxed and their stomachs full, staring into campfires and having the exact same experience. Some of the more sensitive among them might even have been moved them to rapture. Wonder arises, and along with wonder, questions. Perhaps what we call religion started as nothing more than an attempt to explain a common intuition felt by almost everyone, to a greater or lesser degree, who sits around a fire and stares at it long enough.

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(cool jellyfish/flame art Ewan!) lots going on there with all that Andreas-- yet at the same time, to my mind, not much at all.

no doubt many here aren't going to like this-- i wouldn't have liked it either back when i was trying anything and everything out there to sort out my deeply fkd up head/heart/life years ago. k, i will try to keep this short. (ha, like that will happen)

in a perfect world, (something that is quite impossible, of course) there would be no such thing as "spirituality". in this "perfect world", what us modern crazies call "love consciousness" would dominate as a natural state of being. we might well not even have created the word "love"-- kinda like fish need not have a concept representing "water" because of their absolutely unbreakable relationship to it. it is simply the realm of reality in which it exists and thrives and the atmospheric realm of air above is not regarded as relevant at all to existence as it is not possible to remain there. as a fish, you might jump from the waters' surface into the air, but quickly enough you drop back into the water and are stuck having no choice but to get on with the business of living your fish life without concern or desire to go, or explore, where you cannot go.

such would it be with humans living in love consciousness. or "holy spirit" or "presence of god" or "enlightenment" or what-have-you. to exist within love consciousness is our natural state. we are all born within it and as babies/children there is no need at all for us to go questing for god. we are "with god" as the fish is "with water". so what happens to us? where does the water go?

of course, the water doesn't go anywhere. we are the ones who "go". not all at once, mind you, but incrementally, slowly, over many years as the result of having no choice but to experience the invisible horror (yes, such a thing is possible) of what i've learned is a "sum-threshold attack".


the result of this attack is arrested development. what we call ego is nothing "bad" per se, but natural self-concern, natural self-focus, natural self-importance that is necessarily indispensable for human "larvae" (infant, child, adolescent) to grow a normal & healthy (as nature intends) adult psyche. kind of like a protective cocoon, the ego is necessary for the vulnerable child-psyche to establish itself, to see that its' needs (physical & emotional) are met and defend, shall we say, the "soft, forming neural tissues" of the emerging self/psyche against invasive/harmful treatment-- the "rebellious adolescent" being evidence of the ego's final fierce battleground defending the emerging self from the mad forces of the controlling/dominating parent(s). once this "self" has been established upon stable ground within the psyche, it destroys/emerges from the ego/cocoon and leaves it behind as something no longer necessary/important. voila! a stable, peaceful & loving, sane adult.

ah, but it is not a "perfect world" is it? tragically, sadly, this natural process whereby a human being rightfully flowers bringing to humanity its' unique brand of beauty, rarely happens. as adults the overwhelming majority of us remain locked inside the ego/cocoon, children in adult bodies, our natural unique selves unformed, incomplete, and therefore somewhat cobbled-together/fabricated into some kind of generally pleasant, socially-acceptable, substitute/imposter formed by will/desire which is, of course, unavoidably inauthentic and carrying as well a great unconscious thirst to complete the process that was not allowed to happen due to insufficient qty of "water" (love-concsiousness/god) around us during our formative years.

spirituality, then, "the search for god" is nothing short of a tragically heroic, quixotic "comedy- quest" where the fish lives out its' life in search of water. and with nary a moments' rest. the enormity and extent of this mind-fk and what it does to us, both individually and collectively, cannot be overstated.

so what is the solution? having tried them all, i don't believe there is one. i used to, but not anymore. seems clear enough to me we can't un-fk ourselves any more than we can go back in time and set right what went wrong. one rides it out, helps where they can & tries to not add more crap to the whole wretched mess. but perhaps within recognition/acknowledgement/understanding of what actually happened to us i believe there lies not so much a "cure" or "healing", but at least some relief in the form of self-care? we have only come to believe that we are "fish out of water", a conclusion that our little baby/child-minds had no choice but to reach due to lack of love in the form of the sum-threshold attack coming from well-meaning/well-intended/parental/societal-controlling behaviors.

the truth is that we are in the water. this is what our restless & searching egos need to hear but is easily shouted-down by our every act of searching. the sum-threshold attack results in our numbness/dissociation from feeling, whereby our senses are unable to deliver sensation of the water all around us. the intellect becomes our home in the attic where we play with dusty toys and old junk we find ourselves unable to discard. but if the problem was created by lack of love coming from those around us, then it follows that one option is to go beyond all conventional wisdom and learn to give ourselves that which was denied us. speaking for myself, in any given moment, this is really all i have-- a painful lacking, acceptance of this and every once in a while an unexpected moment of sweet bliss or two.

i am one of those "beyond all repair" type people. i have (and have had) many friends who say they love me, and i can see that this is so, yet for the life of me i can't feel that. i've no sense at all of my having any worth to anyone. i feel the outsider, a burden, someone people have to put up with. not at all true, yet nevertheless i feel this way most of the time. romantic partners enter my life and soon leave having received little sense of my loving them.

so here i am, late in life, left with not much aside from my ability to accept my fate and not hate myself for it. "is this enough?" i often ask myself. no easy answer-- sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. one thing i know for sure (however pale the comfort it brings), the water is real, the sun is up there, love consciousness exists whether or not i am actually feeling any of these against my cold, shiny, scaly/slimy skin or within this old bruised & battered heart.

pilgrims. once you sweep all the grandiose, noble & aspiring, devout & holy trappings aside, what are we but a big basket of helpless babies reaching upward, crying out for mama? a mama who never comes? no matter how you slice it, we are all in pain, we just do different things about it. i suppose the christian way is to pick up the baby, feed it and comfort it as best they can until it dies. the buddhist way is to pick up the baby, set it down under a shady tree, feed it nothing then sit there silently with it until it dies. either way is godly enough? the baby is a doomed entity regardless. better it had not been born at all, than born to the sum-threshold attack.

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So sad to read about your experience of life, and "beyond repair" verdict. Truly disheartening, but thanks for sharing many deep and personal thoughts. Sum-threshold attacks and being incrementally cheated out of our innate potential for human excellence, vague to the point of not being able to be identified, sounds familiar. I guess I should check my privelige and be more thankful that I love and feel loved -- however dimmed down the feelings may appear sometimes. I am tempted to say "life is long" and "this too shall pass", but I don't want to impose any naive optimism on your situation. I any case, I am glad to have corresponded with you, and respect your courage in sharing your thoughts and feelings (or lack thereof). If love consciousness exists, I wish for it to envelop you, and for you to open up to it, when the time comes.

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thanks, Andreas-- as i read that, feeling your simple, genuine caring, the warmth of it-- i'm thinking "okay, what just happened?"

nothing short of a proper christian confessional. entering Pauls' abbey, i read what folks have posted here and something moves me to "unburden myself" to the unseen being(s) behind the web-screen. by not comforting me, you have comforted me. which also is quite like the best kind of talk therapy? ugh, i tend to bash away at religious types, seeing most of them quite content with themselves, caught up in a diversionary realm i don't at all understand-- yet i cannot deny that at times i find real love among them, the kind i don't find anywhere else. so here i am, facing the truth of things & finding that i've no choice but to thank Paul and everyone here.

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Dostoyevsky, in brother’s karamazov, words in Ivan’s mouth were taken from real news clippings Dostoyevsky had saved.

Which is to say life is aweful beginning to end for some.

All Jesse does is kisses that.

Doesn’t solve it or answer it fairly.

But- here the f up for you- that’s not in your cards friend.

Everything is going to turn around for you, so that in this one life you’re only 1/2 through, you will look back at the end and see clearly you lived two lives. Had two names.

I want to be your friend through it.

I don’t deserve it but want it.

I’m sorry to be so weird and hard here, so full of the appearance of shattered sanity and all who. I’m sorry because I’m not that.

I’m close he’d snd in my right mind- eye to eye with you what I said here is true.

Live you.

Mark Basil

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And thick thumbed.

Jesus kisses.

I’m not egotistical.

I’m clothed and in my right mind.

You’re life is going to change. - not from worse to better, but from this. Full stop. To that.

A death is happening to you. Don’t be afraid!

A life, other life, new life, is coming.

I feel just a gentle tired smile for it and you. No excitement.

But maybe you’ll condescend so awkwardly and befriend me through this. I’ve never seen it happen quite from where you are.

Not on this continent anyway, with a modern North American.


I’ll leave the ball in your court.

But kissing your right hand at the end of it.


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Let's make this a lot more palatable, fair.

this is my feeling and hope for you friend.

that you live your own life, totally free. nobody knows what's going to happen least of all me, less of course any one of us for our own lives, the next turn.

From this moment forward.

My hope in some care for you and some affinity, and some look at how the creation loves a man like you:

that you discern the events, open just a bit, a bit more, through soft heartedness and humility, and perhaps your own hope, for something else.

From a bleeder to a bleeder;


(I'll leave you alone now too ;)

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First of all let me just say, I can hardly believe I get so privileged as to encounter this level and breadth of thought!

<<Yes, Paul and all, please! I got so excited about the thought of actually seeing some of you- ugh through a real-time screen- over a pint and whatever.>>

no idea how to do that though being more luddite yet and also to adhd and ptsd still to really make it happen.

please anyone though- bring me in! ;-)


the way my personality and mind works, I always like thinking about what we like thinking about and why?


my beloved brother has been evangelizing psychadelics to me for a decade now.

I have one story- where he facilitated this for us-

tell you in person/over a screen and a pint. It ends... remarkably. Tragically.


why are we all so interested in psychadelics?!!!!!!!!!

This is going to EFFING skyrocket you all know yes?

In just five short years we wont remember who it was and how it was they didn't drop to rise...

it will be ubiquitous, normalized, dosed very carefully and precisely tailored...


I am about 99% agnostic how I feel about that.

here's my 1% (winnowed down by my brother from an initial say 60% hostility toward psychadelics just 5 short years back).

My 1% is cautionary. Mmm, plumming my guts just now I feel I'm pulling my punches:

1% of me is very deeply concerned.

I think because... psychadelics work, solve real problems at their deepest emotional, psychological, existential, and relational roots.


I'm 1% deeply concerned, because of the undeniable effectiveness of psychadelics at doing exactly for the user what he or she wants and needs: healing. Balance. Peace. breakthroughs in relationships. harmony with God.

This is a concern for me as an Orthodox Christian,

because well...

isn't it just supposed to be the divine who can do all of that?! (and a bag of chips!)


then, for those who dont want or need or cant take the divine,

they have a functional alternative.

All that's missing- literally all- is just the Big Guy.


they/we, can just cut him out of our lives totally effectively.

He will get lonely. It makes me sad.

That's why.

Love all!

-Mark the Spark

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Hello Mark. A pint over the screen sounds appealing in its own time. Love the idea of the readers getting together, "find the others" as Dougald Hine quoted Timothy Leary on when he launched his "School called Home", and also in connection with Dark Mountain launching digital ways of doing just that, I think.

Sorry to hear about ptsd, and adhd maybe as well, depending on how you're coping with it. Certainly sounds like your brother (and maybe some own experiences) has given positive perspectives on its efficacy. Interesting predictions - there is talk of a "third wave" and "new renaissance" in the psychedelic culture now. Could be revolutionary with regard to both spirituality and mental health. Hard to say, in any case I hope it's handled better by both the populace and the state powers than in the 60s and 70s. Ultimately, I think of it as a tool, and the handler of the tool can do alot with it - build a house or bang one's own head in with it. Maybe it will lead to a more atheistic spirituality for many, without the need for God, as you say, but just as likely I think it will rejuvenate faith in many secular people who intuitively resent the demystification of reality which modernity has brought. You say it potentially brings balance and peace, and "isn't it supposed to be the divine who brings that?". But who's to say it's not? Within the faith, hasn't He created every plant and chemical? In general, when a religion petrifies and becomes a hierarchical power institution, a fortress around an initially divine core, the authorities often stamp out such direct ways to God, rather relishing themselves as interlocutors between human and divine. The forbidden fruit in the Garden is also invoked, by many of the researchers above, and also in other comments here. In Gnostic faith where a demiurge plays at God, that symbol may be quite accurate in relation to psychedelics.

In other words, I'm not sure. But thanks for your reflections and jovial manner of communicating :)

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I like all of this, thanks.

I still puzzle over what the soul believes, when the mind knows it ‘did this to itself’ versus some of the unmediated and uncaused experiences some we’d call religious have had.

But it’s of course *all* chemistry and biophysics, in both cases.

Why I scratch my head still.

Here’s one for you too:

All of Jesus s humanity- the flesh part, the DNA - all comes from the theotokos.

So by flesh he’s her clone.

Yet he was a manchild.

We call that stuff, “orators become voiceless as fish”.

Anyway again thanks for your well wishes.

Pint when the stars align, good man. You know where to find me.


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Ah I can’t remember where I wrote that other thing about the ascetic tradition.

But a visual to demonstrate:

I positively adore the icon of Christ and Micheal. Below in this sub stack.

Where is the eye drawn?

What care the artist put into ensuring the radiant beauty of the other one!

Christ and Michael are down right ugly in comparison.

And of course the indistinguishability of sheep from goat.

Chemistry in the brain. Nous, though, is inorganic perceptive organ endowed in every human creature.

Peace friend


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…sorry I have to add I mean no disrespect. I don’t understand any of this stuff.

Just enjoyed your refreshing gentleness.

Night time here. So peace, with respect and gratitude.


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I wanted to add something about hierarchy that may help.

Christianity is inherently hierarchical.

Jesus says:

The hierarchs among you, my sheep (already here a submissive power difference), are going to wash and kiss the feet of your lessers.

It’s why we’re not anarchists at the highest, we’re your betters, who voluntarily put our swords down and necks under yours.

Blandina is an example of this godlike power in our hierarchy.

As I teach my students, class isn’t a democracy but a dictatorship-

If done right (never, but I aspire) a benevolent dictatorship.

It’s common to the point of banal but still true: the church, concrete thing not system of beliefs, is an upside down kingdom

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… and again I hasten to add I speak not of myself, but of the Christians.

I’m not being polite but honest: I am not your better. But I’ve met her. She who is above us went under us and washes and kisses and perfumes our unworthy feet!

Respectfully, hoping you feel it,

Little brother mark basil

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Hi Andreas! E. Orthodox Christian here. Our perspective is one of receiving Tradition as handed down to us from the Apostles forward. The use of psychoactive substances to assist spiritual experiences has never been handed down to us, and in fact would be prohibited based on what we understand about the spiritual world. Referring back to Paul's recent article about the devil, we believe that Satan and the demons are real entities who are in the business of constantly setting traps for us to draw us away from Christ and his Church and to draw us into depending upon our own egos and experiences. We are taught to never seek after spiritual experiences (like visions, dreams and other charismata) because therein lies the deceptions of the demons. If we try to cross over into their realm all we will get it deception. They have thousands of years of experience with this. The Holy Fathers and the Saints Lives consistently teach us to ignore dreams and visions. When they really do come from God they persist and become clear in time. Because this is the tradition handed down to us, the use of psychedelics in the early church makes no sense. There were many gnostic sects and heretic groups around during those hundreds of years where the Church was articulating all that was revealed by Christ, and so I can't say what they experimented with. I suspect that any reliable data about the use of such substances may come from them.

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This is sweetly and silly put. And accurate.

May God bless you on his sure footed Way sister

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Sweetly and *simply put.

My phone hates me. With a real hatred this screen hates me. ;)

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You know how in our Eastern bible canon we have The Wisdom of Sirach?

In it he praises the “pharmacists”- the users of chemical compounds found in created matter given to humanity by God.

He celebrates the use of them for the believer, to heal the believer of his ailments.

So that the letter/law

Then you know how there’s a strong tradition of some Saints not accepting any medication- to relieve their pain or heal their terminal illness?

That’s the Spirit greater than the law (which they broke- in their bibles)

Likewise do you know how coffee was discovered? A short sweet story condensed here: Eastern Christian monks in Ethiopia discovered they could pray longer more easily through the night with this tea.

So, with psychedelics,

It will be right to prohibit using them in any means that would hinder our drawing near to Christ in loving union.

It will be permissible to use them in all the pharmacological ways blessed and encouraged in Sirach’s letter of the law (for Eastern Orthodox)

… and to sort all this out(the blossoming and flooding of psychedelics that will come popularly now), without fear, worry, heaviness, we have what the church has ALWAYS given us -

The Holy Tradition *applied* not ossified- only for us, in Her body, our spiritual life is made possible the right discernment and use of the tradition in the organic life of the church, this way:

Orthodox spiritual life

PASTORAL: ie personal; tailored to exactly each of us


OIKONOMIC: a relevant written rule from the holy books applies strictly, or is bent, or is set aside entirely, depending on whether it will help or hinder the persons(s) being considered in particular, and at this time.

This my sister, is what makes our church unlike any other church. Though many in her resistant and fail to live many aspects of this organic, merciful, compassionate, always pastoral and oikonomic use of the letters of the law hounded down,

It is how the tradition actually works to heal souls and set things right and make saints ansole real world (existential, relationship) problems.

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I see, thanks for the clarifying information. Interesting that E Orthodox generally view visions and dreams as deceptions, and qualitatively different from those rather rare ones sent from God. Will keep it in mind. Probably a lot of variations between different sects and denominations, yes. The Gnostics always struck me as more mystically minded.

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Hmmm… this has me reflecting on a possible e orthodox hesitancy with psychedelics:

She’s right,

The orthodox ascetic tradition rejects “images”-

Ie when visions come etc, you ignore and don’t believe them.

The principles:

Satan can appear as an angel of light.

Above all preserve your humility.

If it’s God he’ll use a two by four eventually.

You should check out “50 Spiritual homilies “

By saint macarius.

I listen to it on audible.

Serious I really do this.

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I had a vision which -wordlessly- showed me a two-part God. One part the creator, ineffable and unavailable, and the other the everything-else-we-need-as-God. Presented to me as a huggable woman. Beautiful experience! There was much more, and I was advised not to share. When I did anyway, with 5 or 10, they were mostly pretty upset. Forty five years later I am feeling that there is a host of volunteer helpers ln the spirit realm, willing to answer questions or to spread their own confusion. Perhaps some are gods.

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I haven’t figured out how to get to the Salon on Substack. In fact, in the app I have trouble finding the Abbey …

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Same, I cannot read The Abbey Of Misrule in the app…I wonder why?

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Has anyone had issues recently opening The Abbey?

Today seems to be fine, but a few days ago I was going back to re-read something and I was unable to open The Abby by tapping on the last post in my Substack Inbox. Both in the app and the mobile website. The only way I could get to the publication was to find an older article saved in my email and clicking the link from there. And Paul’s seemed to be the only Substack acting this way.

I tried a few others, including Hadden Turner’s (Hello Hadden!) and they worked just fine.

Seems that The Machine does not liked being called out, Mr. Kingsnorth!

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No issues my side and I've been catching up on essays most days. Strange that it would only affect the Abbey.

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I really tried to find another stack having that issue for me but to no avail. No way I could check all of the ones I subscribe to though. Haha. Too many!

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I occasionally have issues opening substacks from my email. I'd argue it's something on substack's end that causes links to be broken, or potentially spam filters getting them.

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I was getting a pop up error message in the Substack app but it’s gone now.

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Wild saints can wait, I'm still dreadfully behind. It's been refreshing to return to your work, Paul, and see how things have unfolded for you. One No, Many Yeses was an important book for me, a long, long time ago. I told a bit of that story in something I wrote today, which will be the beginning of a new series of writings partly inspired by the Machine essays: https://www.nobt.co.uk/p/the-mystic-and-the-malcontent

The Machine essays have given me a lot to think on. I'm wondering how to confront the horizontal haze of modernity whilst staying rooted in our vertical depths. On those depths, I'm hoping to explore another facet of the Machine: the evacuation of our interiors, a blindness to Being itself, that a Machine state of mind can't help but perpetuate, and how this shapes our understanding of what subjectivity is, at all.

Anyway, I will endeavour to catch up soon and looking forward to more saints and wells!

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Oct 26, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023

I was talking with someone about universal salvation, or the view that all souls will be saved in the very end. There are three arguments for it in particular that I appreciate. 1) The concept of "eternal Hell" is an oxymoron. Only God is eternal, and Hell is the utter absence of God, which means that there can be no eternal place that is Hell. 2) Our deepest human nature is the image of God; and if freedom means the capacity to perfectly realize our nature, then that means that any decision in favor of evil is an expression of unfreedom. When we are in perfect freedom, we will paradoxically have no choice but to choose Him. 3) The basic logic of love will not be at peace with some souls being condemned to Hell forever. Aquinas' view, which is that the saints in Heaven will derive pleasure from watching the torments of the wicked in Hell, is morally depraved. Much more Christian is the vow of the bodhisattvas, who refuse personal salvation until all creatures on this earth are also saved.

Many seem to believe that universal salvation is a heresy, but the formal stance of the Orthodox Church is that it is a permissible belief, with no dogma or doctrine requiring believers to feel one way or another about it.

The metaphysical implications are somewhat open. Assuming that not all people are going to become saints in this earthly life, universal salvation would seem to require either 1) ongoing purification of the soul in other realms in the next life, or 2) a type of reincarnation, so that people have further opportunity to become holy in this realm. I'm somewhat agnostic about the nuts and bolts of how it works, but I'm convinced that it does. And naturally, universal salvation should never be taken as an excuse to waste the gift of life that we have now. Whatever comes next, this life is of consequence—but it would be better to act out of the actual love of God rather than the fear of Hell.

One vision I have is that when it's time for us to depart from this realm, we will all be obliged to pass through a wall of purifying fire, and our egos are highly flammable. If we have spent our lives here drawing closer to God, then we may experience the fire as fulfilling our deepest desire; whereas if we have spent them clinging to the stuff that will burn, then the fire could seem like a sort of torture and loss of self. In other words, hellfire and holy fire might be one and the same fire, subjectively experienced by two different sorts of people.

Related to universal salvation may be Christian perennialism, or the view that the Logos who is Jesus Christ speaks through all wisdom in all cultures and places and times. It thus becomes possible to consider a distinction between "Christians of the heart" and "heathens of the heart", looking past tribal labels of what people merely profess with their tongues. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says, "Not all who say My name will be saved"—and I think that the converse must be true as well, and that many who don't say His name will be saved, since it is the state of the heart that matters. I expect that God is more concerned with whether our hearts are aligned with His will than with whether we formally declare faith in His name. If some professing Christians are in for a rather rude shock, then why not also imagine that some self-declared Buddhists are set up for a pleasant surprise? That's how I see it, anyway.

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Oct 26, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023

I’m an incorrigible Orthodox universalist. David Bentley Hart’s “That All Shall Be Saved” is sort of a tour-de-force on the matter from an Orthodox perspective. Your interlocutor seems to be drawing from it!

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Oct 26, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023

I enjoy his writings. Haven't read that one, mainly because it didn't seem like it was meant for me, given that I am already convinced. I just skimmed the basic arguments and thought, "Of course."

Oh, actually, that was my side of the argument. Haha. The other guy was convinced that universal salvation is incompatible with the Christian faith, which seems like the more typical view around, at least among serious believers.

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It’s very elegantly done! The mention of bodhisattvas was why I thought he was being drawn on (as he specifically mentions them as figures he was drawn to in his youth in the introductory chapters).

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Nice—I wasn't aware he said that, so it looks like we independently had the same thought.

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What then is the reason for the Incarnation?

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Oct 26, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023

So that all may be saved. I believe that the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection—and then the Descent of the Holy Ghost—were metaphysically powerful events that established a bridge from this world back to Heaven.

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“God became man so that man might become god,” says St. Athanasios, rather famously. God assumes human nature so that humanity, being incorporated into Christ’s Body through the Holy Spirit, may become “partakers in the Divine Nature,” as the Scripture says, in unity with God the Father.

“Christ died for our transgressions and was raised for our rectification/vindication,” says the Apostle. “Through Adam all die, and through Christ all will be made alive.” By death He tramples down death; Christ, “in Whom the worlds subsist,” takes upon all the brokenness of the cosmos in the Cross, and in His Resurrection, destroys it—“God has shut up everybody in disobedience that He might have mercy on all.”

And, if one takes St. Maximos (and a Christian Neoplatonism) seriously, all Creation is Incarnation—in the end, “God will be all things in all things,” and “death and mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the former order of things have passed away.” “Behold, I make all things new.”

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Why did Jesus say: "Do not fear the one who can kill the body, but fear the one who, having killed the body can also kill the soul"? If all is universal and not qualified, how is this passage to be read?

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7Where can I go to escape Your Spirit?

Where can I flee from Your presence?

8If I ascend to the heavens, You are there;

if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.

9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle by the farthest sea,

10even there Your hand will guide me;

Your right hand will hold me fast.

11If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,

and the light become night around me”—

12even the darkness is not dark to You,

but the night shines like the day,

for darkness is as light to You.

Psalm 139:7-12

There is no where that God is not.

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Thank you for this comment! I've had similar thoughts/qualms but have only recently come to the Orthodox church so I've been leery of bringing these things up to others. I did ask the Father at my church about it since I've yet to be christmated, and I liked his answer.

I essentially told him that I had logical issues with some of the doctrines I'd heard... he told me that truly following Christ was not a matter of the head, but a matter of the heart. He said that he felt my faith was true, and if I just kept coming to the services and sticking with the guidelines, even if they didn't always make sense, the truth of Christ would continue to unfold in my heart. And so far that has been absolutely true for me.

I think that many Christians make a grave mistake in the modern world by, as Paul would say, trying to explain the teachings of Christ through Machine logic. The Machine is antithetical to spiritual wisdom, and trying to argue that Christ was right through that sort of rationalist, utilitarian, materialist filter will never work. That's not the context Christ preached in, and it's not a context in which any spiritual truth can ever make sense, as far as I'm concerned.

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a Girardian in the church... choirs of angels praise halleluiah!

we need more of you brother.

for a soft poetic progenitor to our race, you could enjoy "the grace of incorruption" by don sheehan.

of blessed memory.

plus- dont answer!- but i like to think you're a distant relative of his godliness the great Lanza del Vasto.

I have the dust from his feet burning in my eyes sometimes, to tears of ecstatic joy that such a one as Shantidas was, and is. sinner though he was like me.

but God loved him sooo much,

he got to live to see everything of his, everything he built, figuratively burned to the ground= repurposed and destroyed by his 'friends of lanza'.

friend indeed! They betrayed him, ate him, and pooped out a secularized turd.

that's what you'll find on that website.

no matter. deep speaks to deep.

his unpublished authentic works will come out in the next decade.

I'm sorry Thomas if this is all over the top.

especially if I already offended you last time I commented on Girard, whom I so love, and if you have no relations whatsoever with Lanza. Who is superior.

(It's just a bubble I dont want you to burst. :)

(and finally, sorry if I embarrass you. Seriously. I'm sorry about that.)

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Hah, you don't embarrass me. Your earnest sincerity is sorely missing nowadays, and your comment brought a smile to my face.

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Have you read George McDonald before? Specifically how he imagines hell. His essay “consuming fire” is quite insightful for me on this. He takes the question you posed of “eternal hell” and turns it completely on its head. His main point is this: hell actually is not a place absent of God’s love, but it is a place that is fully consumed by God’s love, but it’s so tormenting because those who are there are those who are perpetually rejecting God. So where his love is delight to those in heaven, his love is hell to those who reject him. Really amazing adaptation of it here (not the full thing, but it is abridged): https://spotify.link/7ihjIQ89cEb

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Oct 26, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023

Thank you—I'll take a look. That seems to track really well with what I was saying about how those who hate God would experience the purifying fire. But then my thought is that the consuming fire will, well, consume, and that souls in the next life will thus somehow grow closer to God instead of remaining in static alienation forever. So it's sort of like various stages of Purgatory (or as some Orthodox say, the tollhouses) rather than any permanent place called Hell.

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MacDonald was every inch as firmly a universalist as it is possible to be—he would concur!

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What are tollhouses? Never heard that phrase

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The idea is that in the next life, the soul goes passes through several tollhouses as it gradually divests itself of its impurities and becomes fit for the presence of God.

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Woah... any resources for me to check in that you’re aware of?

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Actually, I only have secondhand familiarity with it, but the Wikipedia article is a good start: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerial_toll_house>. Maybe someone else here who sees this comment would be able to point you in a more specific direction.

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The idea that the departed soul must bypass demons as it ascends to God through a series of “toll-houses,” where if one does not have enough good deeds or repentance, one is cast to Hell.

The idea seems crypto-Gnostic, and I strongly advise avoiding it: https://publicorthodoxy.org/2019/05/08/hart-on-the-toll-houses/

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Thanks John! I started listening to a podcast on it and didn’t sit right with me! Thank you

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“The Consuming Fire” can be found unabridged here: http://www.online-literature.com/george-macdonald/unspoken-sermons/2/

It echos Origen of Alexandria, really. Scripture is marked with quotes.

“For what does God “consume” in respect of the fact that He is “fire”? Can he possibly be thought to consume bodily matter, “wood or hay or stubble”? And what, in this, would be worthy of the praise of God, if God is a fire consuming materials of that kind? Let us rather consider that God does indeed consume and destroy, but that He consumes evil thoughts, He consumes wicked actions, He consumes the desires for sin, when they enter the minds of believers, and that, inhabiting with His Son those souls which are rendered capable of receiving His Word and Wisdom, according to the saying, “I and the Father shall come and make our abode with him,” He makes them, after all their vices and passions have been consumed, into a temple pure and worthy of Himself.”

—On First Principles, 1.1.2 (tr. Fr. John Behr)

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this is so beautiful.


ya that book by Hart- well it's the end for intellectuals. if you're in the choir with me- elegant, but then shrug and yawn.

if you're steadfastly hell-bent on someone going there (other than Jesus), and staying there eternally (other than Jesus), then it's the most utterly disgusting, must-be-heretical, book ever penned by a christian!


and Hart knows this,

it's a total failure too.

St. Isaac the Syrian- unsystematic as a leaky ancient cedar pit house- he's a universalist in *deed*.

Hart knows it; not a problem for Hart. not everyone can be perfect.

I'll add this though:

if you want (mark northey's opinionion of) all christian theology distilled to perfection, ellegantly and in a 1/2 hour read (you'll do it violence but it's that small):

BECOMING HUMAN (not by jean vaniel)

by: JOHN BEHR (he endorsed 'that all shall be saved')

That's it.

it's all over- all of christian theology and the end of everything in two brief books:

first: Becoming Human (john behr)

second: That all shall be Saved (David Hart)

After it...

we must yawn. fart. yell at our kids.

and discover the sloppy unsystematic perfection of North Iranian Saint Isaac the Syrian.

...also would suffice: 50 spiritual homilies by St Macarius (available on audible! in western translation=mind=/=mind but nous=mind=heart... very confusing failure of English to have a word for nous(=/NOTmind))

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Oct 26, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023

Many of us still work with this ancient mind altering tool, the book. It is particularly useful, because you can buy one and hand it to a friend -- or in my case, a 47 year old son -- and they can carry it away for use on their own life-rebuilding project.

Paul, when might we hopefully expect to find your magnificent series of essays on The Machine available in such a format? I plan to immediately purchase 10 copies for my friends.

Christopher Carstens

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It would interest me if Paul could write (maybe monthly) on navigating the reality of life in contemporary Ireland. I seriously wonder if “his hermit” days may be numbered. This country I believe is in the midst of self-destruction — as one person has put it, “we’ve genocided ourselves.” I think Paul’s outsider Christian-inflected perspective would be fascinating.

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I've been reading Nihilism: the Root of Revolution in the Modern Age by Fr. Seraphim Rose. I'm relatively new to the Christian faith and still have questions about the theological or logical underpinnings of everything.

I suppose my main question is this idea of Absolute Truth - and that the postmodernist nihilists essentially argue that all truths are equal, that truth is an absolute truth, so their philosophy doesn't make sense. That checks out. But then I guess the leap of faith for me is going from discrediting nihilism to accepting the christian Truth as the truth to live our lives by.

While I have had personal experiences that led me back to the faith, I still can't help but wonder if the christian doctrine is... outdated? outmoded? Fr. Seraphim Rose talks about this type of doubt with scorn in the book, but as Paul has mentioned in his writings, I can't help but feel that we need to at least revitalize the truth of Christ, or help it find a new expression fitting for the modern world.

From my viewpoint, it still doesn't feel like most christians in their discussions of Christ's Truth have really grappled with the immense power of the rationalist, scientific worldview. While I do ultimately think that the materialist view is false and morally bankrupt, it's hard to deny the sheer explanatory power of materialism. I'd argue that's the major reason why nihilism has 'triumphed' in a sense in our modern age, for most people when they see things like modern medicine, airplanes, and nuclear armaments they can't help but buy in to the belief system that created those 'miracles.'

I hope this isn't too much of a ramble, but I suppose I'm just looking for confirmation that others have had similar doubts, and more deeply I'm asking for help understanding the faith and how to move past some of these deep doubts I have. Has anyone else here struggled with similar issues?

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Oct 26, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023

I think the main thing is to understand that reality has multiple realms. The fact that science can enable the manipulation of matter in the physical realm by no means suggests that this is the only realm there is; and moreover, materialism has no explanation at all for why there is something rather than nothing, or why creatures have purposeful drives, or how greater complexity emerges out of basic elements, generating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. (Life violates the law of entropy.) Such explanations require vertical causality, or spirit's effects on matter rather than merely matter's effects on other matter.

Also, it helps to focus on human subjectivity instead of the abstracted "view from nowhere". As humans experience it, the medieval view of the cosmos is correct: we are on the earth, and we see the vault of the heavens stretched as a celestial canopy above us, and there are various planetary spheres between us and the edge of the skies, the empyrean where God lives. This is the poetic understanding of the cosmos—and in my view, poetry is a superior form of knowledge to science, because poetry comprehends the spirit, whereas science by definition is only able to comprehend matter. Basically, I think that the materialist view is deeply unpersuasive, and that it also depends on excluding what matters most of all: the living human soul who experiences reality. It's just a sort of hypnotism, a metaphysical swoon. We have to snap out of it.

I would recommend Kierkegaard's *Concluding Unscientific Postscript* for a thorough treatment of how human subjectivity is not merely a distortion of external objectivity, but rather the gate into the only true objectivity there is: the reality of spirit.

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Thanks for this! I've been coming to a similar conclusion through Paul's works and others, namely that scientific realism is powerful for the realm of pure matter perhaps, but that there are other realms that are equally valid.

I've added Kierkegaard to my reading list. I cut my teeth on him in university but was unimpressed, seems like it's time to dive back in.

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Natural science is powerful, but not the end-all-be-all.

Natural science tells you about material and efficient causes in a 'low intentionality' limit, so to say; it's a system that allows for a quantitative description of some of the rational relations governing things that are in certain situations. Science does not proceed from a fundamental inquiry into what something *is*. Rather, it begins with empirical determinations of the behavior of matter in certain situations; implicitly making the assumption that reality is rationally ordered and stable in this order, it extrapolates from this to create models that allow one to make quantitative predictions in similar situations. Thus, it is inherently inductive, not deductive! It only describes behavior, not essence, and even then only does so in the conditions it was designed to make predictions in. All models are approximations valid in specific situations, but, if I may be so bold as to say so, there never has been, and never will be, an empirical theory of everything—the existence of mind, I would propose, is sufficient to demonstrate this.

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See I've read a lot of arguments like yours. My problem is that I really don't understand what the hell induction versus deduction or really what you're getting at with all this language. I wish that yourself and others would put the effort in to make this type of argument more accessible to everyday people, because this type of reasoning makes me feel patronized and as if I'm being conned, quite frankly.

Edit: Just want to say this came off as more hostile than I intended. But I do find this type of language quite frustrating. Perhaps I just don't have the proper learning to understand.

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Sorry; I don't mean to be a pretentious prick, but occasionally am. I'm working on it!

Deduction is the process of logical reasoning: one obtains knowledge of a set of first principles and then uses reason to come to a conclusion. Deduction is exact—if your assumptions are correct and your reasoning is valid, your conclusion is true. (E.g. syllogisms: "Socrates is a man; all men are human; therefore, Socrates is human.").

Induction is an inexact procedure. Essentially, one extrapolates from a limited set of data to come to a (possibly wrong) conclusion. (e.g. "Every swan I have ever seen is white, so it may be so that all swans are white"; in this case, the conclusion is wrong, as black swans exist).

Science exists in the latter category, rather than in the former. Physics, at least, assumes that the world is rational and that it makes sense; it then tries to develop quantitative models that describe a set of phenomena. It then (hopes) that the model is sufficiently general to describe a wide range of phenomena outside of the small set used to develop the model (e.g. from certain experiments, I discover that gravity can be well-described with a certain force law. I then assume this holds globally, and use it to compute, say, a spacecraft's path past Pluto).

Because science is fundamentally bound up with this method, it is fundamentally *limited*. Just like the white swans, a single counterexample can falsify the model. It can also only describe the range of phenomena it was designed to describe (classical physics cannot describe quantum phenomena adequately; physics itself may not be able to describe, say, biology accurately, and it certainly cannot describe a mind in any way). A model is, at most, only as good as its assumptions; they are useful tools, but they are only partial descriptions of how matter behaves in certain situations—and thus they are not the 'end-all-be-all' of understanding reality. For all the might of physics, it's powerless to describe the subjective experience of the redness of a rose.

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Thank you for explaining more, this certainly helps. I still find epistemology in general to be mostly incomprehensible, but I suppose it's necessary for conversations like these.

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this is beautifully put; precise.

have you read the utterly essential philosophical work, "the experience of God: being, consciousness, and bliss"?

it's deadly.

you'd like it... you'd understand it better than I. :)


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Yes! It is a good book.

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Is there a short top philosophical book that’s superior?

Sincere question, as one day I hope to be able to stretch myself again.

Respectfully, and appreciative of your dignity and nobility,


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Oct 26, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023

The basic idea is that science only develops provisional, working models of how the world works. Karl Popper is interesting here, with his concept of falsification. You can never say a scientific claim is "true"; you can only say it best fits what is currently known about the world. It's true until it isn't, at which point it is falsified and has to be tossed out. "All swans are white" was a valid claim until they went to Australia and discovered black swans, so then that claim was tossed out. So now can we say for sure "All swans are either black or white"? Well, not really: maybe there's a green swan out there somewhere that we haven't found yet. So the black-and-white hypothesis is the best we have for now, but it could be falsified at any time. And all science is like that.

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Spirituality is about truth, not power: materialism being false is enough reason to discard it, nevermind the achievements of science. You are right that spirituality needs renewal, but it is tricky to renew Christianity specifically, because they made the boneheaded decision to close the books (declare the Bible finished) a long time ago: when Judaism was a live religion, they were open to the possibility that additions could be made to the scriptures, then they somehow came to believe there could be no more prophets. When Christianity came along, the Christians opened the book again: there can be new scripture, they realized. But then they closed it.

Now? It's heretical to think you can add to the scriptures, which imposes an insurmountable barrier to the renewal of Christianity, as it has no adaptability. But who knows, the Jews did write the Talmud after they had closed their books. Perhaps there is room for a secondary scripture of sorts. But spirituality is not philosophy, and it takes a deep insight for someone to write a scripture. Is there any Christian alive who has this? Rene Guenon said Christianity is like a man in possession of a treasure chest, but not the key to it. They can preserve the chest, but not do anything with the treasure within. Of course, one can still force the chest open, but that would be heresy.

Jesus was a heretic though, as the founders of religions often are.

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Very interesting perspective. Yes, the idea that religions must evolve with their context is crucial as far as I'm concerned, and the way Christ's teachings have been interpreted is unfortunate.

Luckily as you mention there does seem to be some leeway to updating things, but adding to or altering the core Scriptures is a fraught process. Probably for good reason, as you mention it's almost impossible to figure out who would be as wise as Jesus, or even have a good enough understanding to add similar teachings and place them beside his.

Maybe the reason religions are closed off is because they require someone to come along who is so obviously Right, who so obviously has the divinity of God within them that they can break through the rigid structures that precede them. As you said, all messiahs are heretics fundamentally.

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But see, you don't have to be as great as Jesus to produce scripture: the New Testament is much bigger than the Gospels. The Talmud was not written by prophets.

The thing about being Right, is that not everyone will buy that. Clearly, not everyone listened to Jesus or Buddha or Muhammad. Perhaps the attempt just needs to be made, and let the chips fall where they may.

On that note, Rene Guenon wrote a book on pure metaphysics called The Multiple States of the Being. In it, he lays out a metaphysics that does not mention God explicitly, but instead speaks of something called the Infinite, this thing that admits of no limitation. What's crazy about that is that the Infinite is clearly the one thing that truly unifies all the religions, as they are all speaking about the Infinite in the end.

Perhaps there is a room for a new religion called Infinitism, which starts off by proclaiming that Infinitism is not new, because every religion is already a different sect or school of Infinitism.

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Isn't that just Unitarianism? Or like perennialist Christianity?

See the problem I have with those groups is that I've been in that circle for a while, the whole 'all truths are equal' type of thing. And it just... doesn't seem to do the trick. People aren't serious about faith and Truth at all. They just use it as an excuse for a social club.

Perhaps I just had bad experiences, but I've talked with hundreds of 'spiritual' types that profess a sort of Infinitist faith, yet they seem to just wear faith and religion as garments instead of taking it into their heart.

Perhaps there needs to be things you renounce and you have to make a stand for religion to truly penetrate into your inner being. Perennialist faith seems to be too easy and demand too little sacrifice, in my estimation.

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I suppose that can be the case, but I definitely allow my spirituality to change me. Most significantly, I give 10% of my income to charity: this is not to brag, but I want to explain, that this is something I can do purely because I know spirituality is true.

The problem of people doing spirituality wrong is an ancient one, and I'm not sure there is a solution. Plenty of traditional minded people screw it up too.

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maybe it's not so helpful but maybe it is:

there's shadow (OT), image (NT), and real (W.to.come):



all-in-jesus ... (yet to come!)

which is to say...

we're not in the real yet folks.

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I personally like Joachim of Floris and his vision of the coming Age of the Holy Ghost. But then again, I am also quite indifferent to whether or not any given idea or belief is considered a heresy: if it's beautiful and has spiritual utility, then I'm gonna take it and make it work.

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Over time, every worldview, including Christianity, becomes incrusted with misinterpretation, misapplication, and other errors. This is because the effort involved in appropriating to ourselves leads us into overconfidence, even into hubris. We close our minds to gaining new or more understanding. The clash between Christianity and materialism occurs because of the clash between egos.

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Sounds weird... but I think the one thing that our experience of Christ from becoming stale or misinformed is tangible experience of Grace. I would say any “Christianity” that has been misapplied or misinterpreted has done so because grace has lost its seat at the center of the whole thing! Paul even said “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? ...Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?”


This is put-your-hands-on-it type of stuff. Real deal, experience it when you’re pissed at work type of stuff. I’m asking for more of that in my life. All that to say, anything resembling “Christianity” that seems stale, or has become misinformed or not attractive to our hearts is because the breathe of God is no longer in that thing. (To which we must be slow to condemn things that make lack the spirit).

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Edit * keeps our experience of Christ

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Dear Thomas:

you're right.

Please friend- whatever taste I leave in your mouth-

please never let your piety quiet these thoughts.

See- if you like- my comment above on psychadelics.

They, will, succeed.


Why is materialism, well, I have to say it (as an Orthodox=material=spirit-bearing through and through):

materialism is right.


Because, God, is, uncreated.


humble... this last one, we dont begin to understand it. humble is this: you know yourself.

that's it.


there is no fear. no worry. no death. no sin.

God gives us everything, free of charge. no strings attached. no "gaps" in knowledge, no experience that cant be had without him.

He Is Gift Giver.

and all he does, is smile at us, give us every breath (laws of the universe, of material existence), and ask nothing in return.

so then,

god that i am,

how will I return such a gesture?

this is the judgement.

I'm given everything, no strings attached.

how will I respond to such a gift?



for there is no humility without honesty. I cannot meet God if I cannot bear the shame of the "me-stuff" that would come forth to face him.



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I can’t leave this alone like this…

It’s warmth. Not a distant smile.

It’s warm breath snd cuddles and kittens.

The humility of God I mean- all he does I mean.

It’s warm. Firelight and smoky sweet warm snd personable best friend. Mercy is not cold but warm snd laughing with a wink!

That’s the advocate. That’s the comforter. That’s the king snd spirit of truth!

It’s warm and gentle snd there’s room for us to let our shoulders slump and hair down and have a cup of tea, quietly, as he adores us with his smile.

That’s his humility and gift giving.

Forgive me for the other impression.


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Hello Thomas, and welcome home to Christ. Tell me if I am wrong but I have detected two basic faulty premises in your post:

1. That the Church needs to adapt to the changing world & not the other way round.

2. The Nihilism that has currently infected the West is indicative of the entire world. Most of the Globe looks at the sheer lunacy of the West and has rejected it.

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Thank you for the welcome. That is very kind.

I suppose I do agree with #1, and #2 is a good reminder. I think that the Church should keep to it's roots, but perhaps around the edges change up some of the support structures? Things like fostering more community for nonbelievers in churches, or trying to help with emotional repression... not sure. I don't know enough about the Church yet to be really making any decisions or recommendations.

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Hi Thomas! Are you new to Christianity in general, or are you inquiring into Orthodox Christianity? Me, I have been Catholic and an Evangelical Christian in the past, and Orthodox for almost 10 years. I can say I am very, very grateful to the Orthodox Church for rejecting the notion that the Church needs to adapt to whatever the modern mindset happens to be. Reason being that because the Church receives Tradition from the Apostles and Fathers, and rejects the adaptation model, gives me confidence that what I am truly experiencing in the Orthodox faith, is the faith the Apostles passed on. It is why Orthodoxy maintains an otherworldly, suspended outside time experience. If the Church did value the adaptation model, true, apostolic Christianity would disappear from the earth and we would have no true knowledge of what the Kingdom of God is really like. The Divine Liturgy is modeled upon actual worship going on in heaven and has not been made up via the creativity of earthbound humans, which lets it have the actual capacity for transformation of the human soul. It would be beyond tragic were that to be lost.

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I grew up in a nominally Christian church, but it was really more of a Universalist church. I tried to go back as an adult recently and had to leave when they only mentioned Jesus or the Bible in two sermons over multiple months. The priest talked a lot about Jung and shadow work and other things which I find interesting, but it wasn't sufficient.

So unfortunately while I did technically grow up a Christian, I really do not understand much of anything about the more traditional modes of church life.

I do have to say the Orthodox experience of worship hits quite differently from any other church service I've attended. You actually make a lot of really good points that they have carried on the beauty in the church and worship of Christ that I'm not sure has been captured anywhere else.

I suppose my main issue is that my newfound beliefs are constantly clashing with the political and social mores I grew up with. I am trying to submit myself to the wisdom of the church, but part of the problem is I am still pretty firm in some of my beliefs, and I also don't know enough about the church to really figure out what they believe.

A large part of the problem is that I've built up a strawman of Christianity in my head that was put there by angry atheists, and I'm slowly unravelling it.

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Hi Thomas, One thing to keep in mind is that the Orthodox Church has very few dogmatic doctrines (these would be points on which one must agree with/confess). These are limited to basically what's in the Nicene Creed, and the major conclusions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils (Mary as Theotokos, necessity of icon veneration to name a couple.) Orthodox people often refer to the difference between dogma and opinion or style as "Big T" vs. "Little t". Nowhere is there dogma about political positions and these are generally unwelcome in the realm of the services (and the pulpit). So there is room in the church for almost any political or social position. We are all works in progress.

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Hi Everyone

Just wanted to say hi and thank you for the interesting posts. Special thanks to Paul for his thought provoking open and honest writing. I’m not a practicing Christian but was when I was much younger, back then I enjoyed reading authors like Ruth Burrows describing the life of some of the Saints and how prayer might be approached. More recently, I have found reading Buddhists such as Thich Nhat Hanh and philosophers Iain Mcgilchrist helpful. I don’t think I have anything useful to add to the discussion so far, only a sense of gratitude that forums like this are beginning to appear when the world needs more than ever to regain a relationship to the sacred.

Best wishes


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It was Thich Nhat Hanh that influenced me to consider and investigate Christianity. I listened to a talk he gave (on cassette tape!) in which he says we should all go back and revisit the spiritual roots of our own cultures. He said that all religions have their "spiritual jewels" and implied that those jewels could have a stronger impact on us if they come from our own culture, even if we, as westerners, had also adopted Buddhism. I am so thankful for his life and teachings!

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Recently, while watching a documentary about a notorious, senseless double homicide at a Houston Pawn shop. The doc was seen through the eyes of the victims family and their decision to attend the execution of this dreg of society.

What struck me most, however, was the killers supposed conversion to Christ-the prison chaplain seemed to have no doubt about the authenticity of this literal come-to-Jesus experience.

Can this be a true transformation?

When an inmate knows the day and hour of his death and where Satan and eternal damnation awaits his arrival with open arms, where is the Free Will in this matter?

This phenomenon has been repeated countless times on death row as evidenced by the last statements of inmates found here:


Of Course, I shall leave the final judgement of their sincerity to God where it belongs but still I wonder if he had gotten away with this heinous act would he have converted?

The prisoner himself admitted as much in the documentary when he refused to fight his execution because he felt that if it would drag out for years then he would revert back to his evil identity.

Are all deathbed conversions suspect?

What about the penitent thief on the cross?

What about the parable of the late workers receiving the same wages as the early arrived workers (Matt 20:1-16)?

Are there degrees of Heaven?

Does Universal salvation make this a moot point anyway?

For me, it all goes back to the Free Will aspect of returning to God. Is it Free Will to turn to God when generations of your family have done so and you just continue the tradition automatically? It is my belief that Christ will use our own conscience to help him in his final judgements on us.

Here is that fascinating documentary that really provoke all these considerations:


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Someone who just continues the tradition automatically is like the person who buried the coin instead of increasing his master's wealth, so in all likelihood, the death row convert will be ahead of them in the kingdom of heaven.

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But would it matter who is ahead of whom in Paradise? Simply being in Heaven with our Creator would be awesome enough.

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True! Yet, isn't it better to try hard?

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“It seems to me that there might be a few of you who would like to talk to each other about building networks, communicating with each other outside of this Substack…”

Ruth and I (writing from School of the Unconformed) are hosting an online discussion this Saturday at 3 EST, which will include a recap of some of the talks at last week’s FPR conference by people who were in attendance, as well as discussion of the “3Rs” for un-machining our minds and reducing tech use in our lives. For more details see here:


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As to Pauls intro to the Salon, I had suggested the need to move beyond some of the limitations presented on virtual platforms. Even Zoom is a step over written interactions. I was hoping to be on your gathering but I have a client appointment that conflicts. I am appreciating your family's active contribution to move from ideas to action.

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I'm cooking up this project called The Question. That question is:

What do you wish that everybody knew?

The project is a site where anyone can submit their answer to that question.

There are many ways to view this project and one is spiritual. For spiritual knowledge is both:

1. Highly sure of itself

2. Desires to share itself with others (indeed everyone)

If you can answer that question, I submit you are in possession of a genuine spiritual insight. How about you share it? I'm curious to see which answers, if any, I will get here.

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I wish that everyone knew the living presence of the Holy Ghost, which is not knowledge that I could communicate to anyone else but rather something that needs to come alive as a direct experience within their own hearts. I think that without this core intuition, it is very difficult to properly discern spiritual matters, since we're only really capable of understanding things in relation to where we're standing. Not only is it knowledge in itself, it's a type of new lens that changes how we comprehend various other aspects of information and knowledge. We don't argue to it, we argue from it.

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That's a good answer. Will be going on the site when it goes live! Now, the site won't have a comments section as this is not a philosophical project, but I have to push back a little on this, as every spiritual tradition absolutely attempts to communicate the truth.

Saying you have attained a very special state that cannot be communicated at all is a bit of a failure of spirituality, as the truth must get out. You don't want to be that guy who just buried the coin, do you?

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Oh, I certainly believe in doing what is possible to communicate the truth: I'm a writer with a book that's going to published next year by an indie Catholic press, in which I talk about spiritual matters of all kinds. But I'm saying that the internal spark isn't a thing that I can personally give to anyone, because that is only God's to give. I speak of what I call the lighthouse model: we can create things of beauty that serve as beacons for people who walk their paths through this life, which is often dangerous and dark. And on their paths, maybe at some point they will encounter the Holy Ghost, and maybe we will have in some small way helped. What I oppose, though, is merely ideological conversion that isn't rooted in internal spiritual illumination, which I would consider pharisaism—the thing that Jesus cursed the worst of all. In short, I mean to encourage and not harangue.

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This is true, but someone once told me that when you take one step towards God, God takes one hundred steps towards you. God actively wants to meet you, He is not sitting there waiting like some kind of rock. Perhaps you can encourage people to take their first steps? Maybe that is what you will be doing in your book?

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I think of it in terms of journeying: I believe things today that I would have found insane a decade ago. And why is that? My view is that people need to be subjectively ready to understand or receive spiritual things, or to even become open to them in the first place. A book I wouldn't have read as a teenager might mean a lot to me today. So, my intention is mostly to share notes from my journey and my vision such as it is now, in the hopes of provoking sympathetic resonances among those who are in a receptive place, now or in the future. I think that God, the master of all destinies, can take care of the rest.

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"you take one step.... god takes one hundred steps...."

think i remember cg jung saying something very much like that. always liked it and stuck with me. reminds of the famous sistine chapel ceiling piece where god and the angels are striving mightily through wind and storm to reach the hand of man, our own adam who is sitting there in a relaxed pose, casually kicking back, like "yeah, sure, okay dude, whatever. here's my hand."

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The more I read Sethu’s comments the more I want to be friends! Couldn’t agree more. The Holy Spirit is one of my non-negotiables in my Christian life/Christian theology. Pneumatology for all my nerds out there

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Haha, sure!—let's be friends. I just signed up to your blog, and you're welcome to recipocrate.

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I wish everyone knew the Dharma

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What if you said this without mentioning the Dharma? What is so important about the Dharma?

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Especially without Greg.

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Definitely. Like pancakes without syrup.

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Then I would not be saying what I wanted to say.

The Dharma can be understood as the nature of reality, and that many Dharmas compose the Dharma. As with Sethu and the Holy Spirit, a sentient being cannot communicate the Dharma or the Dharmas that make it up, but outline practices/methods to experience it. As the Buddha advised, we try not to confuse the finger pointing at the moon with the moon.

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The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao, yet, the Tao Te Ching got written.

Isn't your real intent then something like: "I wish everyone knew the way to the end of suffering." which is, after all, what the Buddha said he was teaching?

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No. I stated my real intent.

You may understand my real intent as you have posted, and that is fine.

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What’s worth knowing about the Dharma? (Genuine question coming from someone who is curious)

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As I posted before, for me the Dharma expresses the nature of reality and a practice for existing within it. As Carlos noted, aligning with the Dharma is often associated with the alleviation of suffering and prevention of further suffering, and that is one aspect.

Other religious/philosophical paths did not provide the clarity and capaciousness that the Dharma and its practices did for me. So I would say that the Dharma is worth knowing for this clarity and capaciousness, but I cannot say what part of the path or what lineages you might align with.

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As Socrates pointed out, That we know nothing

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I would posit that modernity, and scientific materialism especially, has caused us to look "at things". The more spiritual minds of the past looked "through things and up". Everything made has a telos that is connected to its source of creation. Looking only at things as an end in themselves is akin to Eve reaching up and taking the fruit. Cheers!

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On the topic of making connections, readers here might be interested in Estuary https://www.estuaryhub.com/.

(and yes, today's cover picture is my profile picture, but I set it months ago!)

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I like to sew, and I’m working on a challenging project (for me) and it’s so satisfying seeing it finally start to come together. I always like hearing about people’s craft-related skills...I’ve known people who’ve taught themselves marquetry, vintage car restoration, etc.

Do you have one? What does it provide you?

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I spin wool and knit. I also felt and will soon be doing some natural dyeing. At the moment I’m spinning up some sock wool so I can knit socks as Christmas gifts.

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Oct 27, 2023·edited Oct 27, 2023

I carve spoons, when the wind blows me right. Meaning, I take years off, but it always finds me back. Carving spoons for me replicates the entire cycle of life, or something like that: I simply find the process of cutting and shaving and pulling out a bowl to contain all the philosophy I need. And goodness, how it cleanses the ratty mind! Anyhow, here’s a few pieces I’ve cut: https://www.stevenmorganjr.com/carve/

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dear Steven;

do you take commissions?

man or they [all one word] at gmail dot com

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You know I once sold a comb and a spoon, but otherwise have given all my wood pieces away as gifts, which is what I intend to keep doing. I don’t have pieces to give away currently but will keep you in mind when I start carving with my tired hands once again.

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