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The Universe; Alive, Sentient, Conscious? How did we get here?

2006-01-a-1024_wallpaperI was reading a friend last night, and his latest entry “Exobiology.” Steve writes:

“Are we alone in the universe? The answer is every day growing more and more certain that we are not. Humanity may experience shortages of many things, however, pride is not among them. For millennia we’ve been convinced of our own superiority and, of late, we’ve become convinced that we must be as good as it gets.”

This was my reply to that post:

I watch all these “The Universe,” and “Cosmic Front,” so forth and so on. And I have quite a few years on this planet. Spiritually speaking, in my life, I believe the Universe is conscious. I say that because of what I’ve experienced getting from the universe spiritually, and personally.

I grew up with “(G)od. and I studied (G)od, and I am sober, so my God, the universe, always provides. I’m fairly certain that we as humans are connected to this grand universe unconsciously, there is a connection that exists, it is there working behind the scenes, directing the show, contrary to our arrogant beliefs, and when we realize it, it works to our advantage.

I know that there has got to be more than what we can see, and experience.

If we are reincarnations of people from the past, and we are spiritual beings having a human experience, then the question is, where did we come from and how did we get here? They say we are star stuff, which means, we came from “out there!”

So there must be something greater than ourselves out there. Something non-corporeal.

It knew how to make us, and we were made.

Isn’t it arrogant to say that, No there is nothing out there, and we are the best it gets? The universe is clearly alive, to me, and I don’t have all the answers. But 47 years later, the universe is good to me, and it sustains me.

The universe is quite a big place, for us to be the only living beings in it. just saying …

The Universe, it is a BIG universe. And it is the height of arrogance to say that we are the only living beings in this universe. We all know about the Big Bang.

Pow, Wow, and everything came into existence.

Reading Genesis, you might imagine that God was hiding behind this black shroud, waiting for the opportune moment to “create.”

The word came, and it was spoken, and creation came to be.

If God created all things, and if we come from “out there,” And we know that we are “Star Stuff,” then clearly we came from somewhere other than where we ended up.

Above I state that I believe the universe is conscious. It knows us. It is there for us. And we are connected to that “All Knowing.” The fabric of space is filled with stuff we cannot identify fully, and the universe is full of energy.

We are connected to that cosmic energy, and it is connected to us.

I’ve been alive a long time. I know about God. I know what a power greater than myself is, for myself, not necessarily for you. I’ve studied a few theories that I came up with in sobriety. And I’ve seen them proven over long periods of time, that tell me that,

Yes, the universe is alive.

We are arrogant to think that we are all that there is, and that, for some, there is only God, and He created all living beings on earth, but to expand that thought and say that maybe God created other beings in other places in the universe, would be heresy.

What would stop a creative being, who knew what we needed, to be, and brought all those things together to form us, and in his breath, we were made? There is something greater out there, it created us, and it is still creating. The sciences tell us many things about the universe, but it still cannot answer the eternal questions of

  • “Where did we come from,
  • How did we get here,
  • And are we alone?”

Where did we come from? Put simply, the universe knew what to do with all of its parts, and we came into being, for we are star stuff. Can you imagine that there is something dynamic in the universe that brought together, all that was necessary to make the planets and stars and galaxies, and bring us into being over millions upon millions of years.

For many that would be God. Or a Creator …

How did we get here? I believe that the universe is alive. It knows. It is constantly running like a program behind the scenes. A collective conscious. A knowing collective.

I believe that we are all connected to this universe. And it is connected to us. We don’t necessarily know about this connection, but with all my studies, reading hundreds of books, covering a multitude of topics, spiritual, religious, and so on, there is something out there, that brought us into this incarnation.

If you believe in past life regression, near death experiences, reincarnation, so forth and so on, many traditions tell us that we have been here before, and the reason that we are here in this incarnation, is because we did not get it all right, in the last incarnation. So the universe sends us back again and again to rework our life issues, to make things right, to get to nirvana in the end, and finally shed this wheel of rebirth.

It is also known that groups of people, families, friends, can be reincarnated together to come together in another incarnation, because we need to return. We may return as men or women or children, at the most, the universe knows what to do with us while we exist in the cosmos.

Where does all that conscious and unconscious energy of lifetimes, of knowledge, go when we die? We have souls. And at the end of our lives, everything that we know and everything that we have experienced on this earth, returns to the collective, to the universe.

Ready and waiting for its next vessel.

It is fact that children, when they are born, are the closest to the collective, to God, to the Creator, than adults are, with all that we know. Children are clean vessels, they are unaware of all the things adults are aware of, they are pure, and in the beginning of their lives, they have just come from somewhere that formed who they were to become, and sent them into this life.

The collective conscious, arranges, forms and re-sends us into consciousness, into being …

I believe that God, in all His wisdom, is out there, somewhere.

  • Is He the universe?
  • Does he lie just beyond what we can see, and stars are windows into the next realm of possibility?
  • The energy of life flows back and forth between the universe out there, and the corporeal existence here.

I believe that the universe is a conscious non-corporeal entity. It is filled with cosmic stuff, and now add all the energy from every human being that ever lived, then add all the living beings now alive on earth, and what lies beyond in space and other places, that is a lot of energy to be managed.

  • God is in His heaven.
  • The dead have gone to a better place.
  • And we are spiritual beings having a human existence. It all works.
  • The universe collects all this energy.

It knew what to do with it. And it knows what to do with it.

If we are reincarnations, then, what ever was? Will be again.

If we are made of Star Stuff, then, we come from out there, where ever “there” is?

If we return again and again to work out our karma, and learn the lessons correctly, that we did not learn correctly before, something greater than ourselves, knew what it was we needed, and it gave it to us, it filled our corporeal vessels, and sent us back into existence.

We are connected to the universe. And it to us.

It knows what we need, before we know we need it ourselves. The Bible says, God created us, and in the end we have free will, in the end the final choice comes down to us.

On a daily basis, some of us, connect to that power greater than ourselves. We make that conscious connection to all that exists, it is there already. We send it our prayers, our thoughts, our problems.

Then we get to work it out. The universe, if it is all knowing, is going to facilitate us working it out. And we know that when we speak to God, He is going to speak to us through a common vessel.

And then God speaks, only when we reply.

With that said, we speak to the universe, it sends us an answer, then we get to decide what to do with that answer. We, the human collective, commune with the conscious collective, and the universe sends us what we need. We don’t always catch it. Sometimes we miss it.

Which is all the reason why I believe the universe is alive.

I see in in simple thoughts and prayers.

Example … I think of someone in particular. I send that thought out, and within hours, and for this example, it came within a couple of days, that that person I was thinking about, came to me.

Now, did the universe hear me, and how did that particular person know to come to where I was at the opportune time, on that given day? I cannot explain it.

But the universe acted. And it continues to act on our part.

Synchronicity, Serendipity, Wishful thinking, Prayers, Thoughts … Where do they go when we think, or pray them? They go out to the universe, to God. To something Greater than Ourselves.

And then it responds.

It might not be what we like, or what we are expecting, but something always comes back to us.

It is arrogant to think that there is nothing “out there,” and that “We are all that there is.”

The Creator, God, The universe did what it did and it will do what it does for all eternity.

If what is out there is conscious, and knows, why would it be a stretch to think or believe that there may be other conscious beings somewhere else?

The universe is a Big Place, and it would be pretty lonely, to think that we are all that there is…


Finking Friday …

Courtesy: Abdldad

“I fink, therefore I fam…”

Lots of news for this Friday.

The last mission for the space shuttle took off from Cape Canaveral this morning. To the cheers and tears of millions of watchers. The end of an era.

A friend made mention of this topic on his blog and I got a fleeting memory that ran through my brain of a much younger me standing in a daycare center many moons ago when the first shuttle took to the air on the back of a special built 747 that lifted it into the air for a first run at flight.

Later on in my life I got to travel to California as a teen-ager to visit friends out at Edwards Air force Base and one day I got to see the desert landing strip for the shuttle.

I have also been to Cape Canaveral many times in my childhood to tour the grounds and the shuttle launch pads. When I lived in Orlando, if the shuttle was taking off, especially at night, you could pull off the road and the flash from the takeoff would over power and light up the night sky as far as the eye could see. I got to see a few of those launches from the roadside.

The space program will never be the same again. An era is coming to an end.

*** *** *** ***

The Royal Tour of Canada has come to an end. And it was a huge success. Millions of people got to see the royal couple and Quebec did its damnedest to make a scene but in the end the assholes who picketed were mostly ignored. I think Canada comes away from this with big press all over the world. It was a win win scenario.

Now we will see just how daunting the visit in the U.S. will be and we will see just how relentless the paparazzi will be in chasing the couple all over  Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

*** *** *** ***

Tonight was the first of the two U2 concerts here in Montreal. I was on my way out to my meeting tonight on the orange line, and the cars were packed from one end to the other. Stops were taken longer than the usual 30 seconds for doors open to doors closed. They were packing them in on the way up town.

The local Montreal traffic division had hoped that people would leave their cars at home and stick to rail and bus to get to the hippodrome, and it seems to have been a huge success. I was riding on the train listening to the concert on my phone, watching people traveling to the concert at the same time.

I got to the meeting and met my sponsor and we chatted a bit. It was a good night. A good time was had by all, and he dropped me off at the metro on the way home so I didn’t have to wait for a bus to get to the station.

It seemed that as soon as the concert was over with, the skies opened up and it poured cats and dogs. I was watching the late edition of the news and saw that they were getting soaked on air. The rain eventually moved south over down town. Which cooled things off quite nicely.

Another day, Another sober day alive and well.

Sometimes I feel insignificant in the greater scheme of things.

Onwards and upwards…


Post a Day 29 … Living forever …

Courtesy: Milkybarkid

If you could live forever, would you? Why or why not?

Even human science hasn’t cracked the code to live forever even if we tried. I’ve always maintained that if I could I would go backwards in time to relive some of the things I had from the past. Caveat, with the same people that were there as well, seeing most of those people are long since dead.

If I could live forever, would I? Yeah, I think I would. Who wouldn’t?

Why? I would want to see how far technology would progress, if we could all live forever that means that all of my friends would be here as well.

I’ve lived a good long life, longer than most doctors would have imagined for me, so that is a plus. Most of the good things that happened in my life are now in the past, so I don’t know how much life would change in the future from how it is going today.

The old are ignored and unwanted. In gay terms, I am already far over the hill, based on the current standards of gay viability. anything over thirty is over the hill. I am well into my 40’s now and marriage is a good thing, because I don’t know what I;d do if I was single at this age. Probably be like some of the odler men I see at meetings. Alone and lonely…

If I could live forever, then I would want technology to help me NOT age any further first off. And maybe technology could help us reverse the aging process and regain some of our youth, once again.

What would us old people contribute to society? Wisdom, thoughts, experience? What would we do in a bright new aging society? Something BIG and exciting would have to happen to really make living forever useful and fruitful.

I think that that exciting thing for me is coming in the next years time, that I am hopeful of. Sobriety has its perks.

That’s all I have for now.

more to come, stay tuned …


Life …

Courtesy: Thiswillnotdefineus

I just love this photo.

I am powerless over people, places and things. So that allows me to let go and let god. Enjoy the day and stay in the moment…

Don’t ask Don’t tell was given a sharp blow to the chest today. We are ashamed at the Republican party for their filibuster today. And we are also confused that the Democrats did not shore up the votes, they said they had just 24 hours ago. Gay rights in association with the military will just have to wait for the President to make his move. I guess we shall just have to wait for the military review to be completed in January. But the President has already promised a repeal by the end of this year. Someone needs to light a fire under his ass to get this done, already.

Last night I worked on the blog finding new imagery for my header and the sidebar. I really like the update. It is fresh, poignant, and brings a different slant to the blog. I have found a couple of sites through my tumblr account that collect these beautiful photographs from all over the world, by some of the best photographers in the business.

I started writing a post last night, that I later abandoned because I wasn’t sure about my topic. I’ve been talking to some of my friends lately about life, it is always great to hear that friends are doing great, having fun with life and exploring different aspects of our lives.

After reflecting on those conversations I’ve been reminded of the past and what once was, and just how much I miss certain people and times in my life, almost to the point of lamentation.

I wonder what life would be like, if those parts of my life, that have been long since gone many years now, that I miss so terribly, were a part of my life today, would life be so different? We do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it …

Today we revisited the past in talking about “Hitting Bottom.” Junior pulled this topic from the daily reflections and the group did not hold back the honest sharing.

I remember my experience with a crash and burn bottom when I first got sober in 1994. It was really bad, I almost died, save for the team that rallied around me to help me get better. Things that happened in my first round of sobriety did not happen the second time I got sober. I have said this before.

Everything that happened in my life the first few years I was sober, was cathartic real life teaching. It was the most transformative period in my life. If I had to do it all over again, I would. I would not change one thing about my past, in order to make it any better or worse. I had the right people in my life, I had the right job at that time, and I had the right friends in the family we created amongst ourselves.

I remarked that the second time I got sober, I hit more of a psychological bottom. On Miami Beach, where I was living at the time, it was all about being seen in the best light. Having the best body, using the best drugs, and drinking the best booze, and partying at the best nightclubs week after week. I could not keep up with the partying, nor could I compete with the gym bunny crowd any longer.

I was socially stuck in my thirties, trying to act as if I was twenty, playing the social games of society, trying to be good enough or pretty enough… But I grew up. And I knew the party was over by the time I decided that I had had enough…

I knew the way back. The prayers I said when I decided to quit drinking the second time were well placed. And once again, god put the right people in my path, at the right moment, to facilitate my return to the program.

Once I crossed that threshold back into the room, I hit my second psychological bottom. I was ashamed of myself. I hoped that none of my sober friends would see me coming back to the rooms. I thought getting sober on the beach, and not in the city, would save me face.

Later I learned that it was all in my head. My friends were happy to see me back. I had to get past all the shame and remorse I felt coming back a second time.

At that time, the right people welcomed me back to the meetings. They took care of me day in and day out. I had a good job, I had a place to live, and I was getting sober again.

I know that after those first four years, I forgot about how and why I got sober. I became blind and the disease of alcoholism was eating away at me, in certain aspects. At four years sober, I was living in Miami and not Ft. Lauderdale, where I first got sober.

I did not have the support of the men who were in my life in the beginning. I did not do enough to shore up my sobriety. When I pulled the geographic at four years sober, it was a slip in the making. I had no control over the first drink and drug.

Even there, on my slip, when I picked up and used, I had hit another bottom. There was no going back, I was fucked from the word go. I should have never done what I did. That whole 18 months of my life were a waste of time, talent and treasure. I lost everything I owned and almost my life. We heard tonight that if you go back out after time in the program, you are powerless over the first drink, and that once you start drinking again, it only gets worse.

It is a caution to the newcomer just how crucial it is to stay on track, to know your bottom, and respect it for what it was. If you were blessed to come in and stay in, then you must do what is necessary to make sure you shore up your sobriety against another drink.

I have been consumed with thoughts about the past over the last few days. There seems to be a lesson coming. I am not sure what the lesson is yet, but a theme is coalescing around me. I am too far out from my anniversary, to get on the pre cake roller coaster.

I guess I am polishing my gem, so it seems. Issues are cyclical. Life is cyclical. In sobriety, you get to review your life on a continual basis. As we hit beginner meetings, and you go over 1,2, and 3 over and over again, month after month, the act of self evaluation comes and goes. Every time you get to look at some period of your life and each time that specific point comes up, you get to look at it with fresh eyes, sober eyes of today.

What happens is that once you learn the lesson that happened in the past, you get to review it again. And from that comes gratitude. Gratitude that the lesson came and you learned from it, and that you can move past it, and let it go, until the next time the review takes place.

Every pass of the polishing wheel cuts and shines the gem, that is sobriety. Every memory that is cataloged is grace. Every person in your life, is there by divine position. I begin to see in sobriety the universal plan. The great hand of god making his presence known to me on a grand scale. Sobriety is a wonderful grace. Every day brings something new, and today we got to take a look at a specific area of life and we are reminded just how blessed we are to be sober today.

I had asked a friend of mine to speak at the 8 pm meeting, and she was fabulous. I’ve been asking people from my sober circle of friends to speak at the meeting this month. This group of people all got sober around the same time period and we are all coming up on our nine year mark. Every day is a gift, including the people in our lives.

Ok, I think I am finished with this thought.

If you have a cell phone, I wonder how many of you play Foursquare? A few of my facebook friends foursquare. It is an online application that you have running in the background on your phone, and as you move about your city, it knows where you are at any given moment and you “check in” throughout your day. You collect badges and you can see where your friends are during their days as well. It is quite fun.

I have a bunch of apps on my phone that I use on a daily basis. Hubby spends a lot of time on his phone with his work and all. he loves the functionality of it all. I never imagined what a freeing experience it is to have the phone, I don’t know how to explain it but having hubby just a phone call away when we are out and about is totally freeing. It just makes sense…

Ok it’s 11 o’clock I need to eat and do my other online activities…

That is all for tonight.


Hubble renewed …

Shuttle Hubble

APTOPIX Shuttle Hubble

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Photos courtesy of: Reuters Service. Posted online at Yahoo…


Wall-E

Tonight, being home alone, I took myself out to dinner and to a movie. Tonight’s feature is a Pixar Studio’s animated film called “Wall-E.” It was a cute movie – to sit back and enjoy the fun animation that went into this film. The short that preceeded the film was cute. If you can enjoy story telling without much dialogue then you will enjoy this film. Pixar has another HIT on its hands. They have shown that they can produce such wonderful material.

I have to say that going to the movies at the AMC theatre here is a very quiet experience. We do not get the crowds that most theatres get at the old Forum space. The theatre tonight was not full but there were more people seeing this movie than usual.

This was a cute tale of how the earth has become a wasteland of garbage and humans are traveling the galaxy on star-cruise ships – ours was called the AXIOM. A probe ship was sent out to collect living specimens that would direct the ship to return to earth and recolonize. There was a really interesting nod to 2001 A Space Odyssey with the auto pilot character on the ship, in a “Hal” like role. Eve collects a plant specimen that was given to her by Wall-E. And the whole rest of the movie was the aquisition of the plant that has to be set into the Holo-system so that the ship would be autopiloted back to earth some 700 plus years later.

This little adventure was funny and sad and happy all at the same time. You can take away many messages from the film and I will leave that to you to divine. A good time was had by all tonight.


Mars in Retrograde

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On November 15, 2007, Mars reaches his retrograde station, in preparation for a period of retrograde motion in Cancer and then in Gemini that will last until January 30th, 2008. In addition, the effects of the retrograde period will continue to be felt until he returns in direct motion on April 4th, 2008 to the degree where he first made his station (12° Cancer 27′). The first beginnings of the effect take place from October 20, as Mars begins to slow, so prepare for issues to cloud, especially if you have strong Cardinal Sign placements in your chart. The Cardinal Signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.

Mars turns retrograde only once every two years and two months, but the effects of each period differ, according to the sign in which it happens (see box for Mars Retrograde 2007).

A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac. This traditional concept arises in the illusory planetary motion created by the orbital rotation of the earth, with relation to other planets in our solar system.

Planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way, due to this illusion. Retrograde periods, although often problematic for us earthlings, are not particularly uncommon. Each planet retrogrades, except the Sun and Moon.

Fated Events

As a rule, retrograde planets presage a period of seemingly inevitable or fated events, which relate to their sphere of influence. The retrograde phase is when the planet concerned pushes itself into our consciousness, overshadowing the energies of the other planets and so affecting our personalities (each planet symbolizes and affects specific parts of our makeup). It presents us with a series of events over which we seem to have little or no control, relating especially to the sign in which the retrogradation occurs. For example, Mars retrograde in emotional, home-oriented Cancer presents quite different sets of circumstances from those generated when he retrogrades into gossipy, intellectual Gemini.

Retrograde Cycles

The retrograde period is best seen as a cycle, beginning when Mars begins to slow to a halt before travelling backwards through the zodiac and ending when he returns to the point where he first paused. However, during the cycle, the planetary energy is most powerful – and more likely to generate critical events of universal importance – when Mars makes a station, appearing motionless in the sky. These stationary periods occur at the beginning of the cycle (when Mars first halts as he prepares to move backwards) and midway through the cycle when Mars slows to a stop before moving forward again. It is worth noting that retrograde periods only occur when Mars is physically closest to the Earth, glowing balefully in the sky! With Mars so close, no wonder we are so affected.


Photo Essay #10 Moon Over Montreal

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Monday Night …

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I got some mail from London today and in it was a really wonderful gift from my Big Sis, needless to say I was amazed and overjoyed. I have really great family and friends, all over the world. It is far easier to love one another than to criticize or be hateful. So this little note starts off my gratitude list for tonight. Thanks Sis…

  • I didn’t drink today
  • I hit a meeting
  • I had a great day in class this morning
  • I saw some new friends
  • I did some writing earlier
  • I have great friends
  • I have a great life
  • Tomorrow is my Home Group
  • And I am right, and I am happy!!

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 “Oh to be this young and beautiful – again…”

So I was trolling my reads today and I ran across this picture over on DAN NATION, it seems he’s got a new job in the valley and I spied me some Chad Fox, isn’t he a cutie? Kinda makes me want to move out to the coast and join the Sunday Brunch Crowd! I even got an invitation from Dan the man himself!! I love me some CHAD FOX!!

What could be better than a room full of beautiful men on a Sunday morning? I don’t know about you but we don’t have that many good looking men here in our fair city! OMG!!

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The Forest, I love the forest. If you get a chance go over and take a look see at COOPER’S CORRIDOR, he has some beautiful writing and photos of his family from an outing this past weekend. Cooper is another fantastic read, no one should go without every day. He breathes such joy and wonder into my day, because he is such a gifted writer. I think this weekend we shall take a meander out to the green space and take some photos of our forest in the middle of the city (we call it Mount Royal). The real forest is far, far away from here up North.

From Cooper’s Blog: one of his favorite words, Forest:
“Because it is full of promise … because it is wild … because it is fragile … because it is strong … because it sings of simply being … because it is part of my bones and blood … The forest is in my heart”

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You can go read my friends and show them some love. First we have Steve, we call him Dr. McCoy, because he’s a Trekkie! I wrote a piece earlier for Arkano, he lives in South America and he is new to our little “Bubble of Love.” My read list, over on the Blog Roll is getting ‘closer’ by the day, as I noticed that many of my friends here, read over there and they comment as well. So please, if you like to look at beautiful men, and you are interested in fantastic reads, check out my read list. I have updated all the links and I am sure everyone will appreciate your visit.

Fall is on it’s way, it is 19c here and rain is in the forecast for the next couple of days! AS is the custom here in Montreal, the weather cools off, the rain comes, then we have our fist cold snap “in the city” then the leaves start turning in earnest. This photo above is a wishful prayer for Montreal in the coming weeks.

Tonight’s meeting was an experience. I heard what I needed to hear. I spent an hour doing nothing but be present and to live in the moment. My Monday night commitment to support “Came to Believe” persists. Things I heard tonight:

  • It’s all Good
  • Live in the Moment
  • Stay in the Now
  • At any time of the journey, you are right where you are supposed to be at any given location and at any moment on the time line
  • There are no mistakes in God’s time
  • Live and Let Live
  • Easy Does It
  • But for the Grace of God
  • Think, Think, Think
  • First things First

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I took a resentment to a meeting, and I left her there. But I will close with this little blurb on the Blog Nazi!! If you have a complaint about anything you see, read or perceive on this blog, please, by all means, let me know. If I have misrepresented Concordia University in any way, I haven’t heard that from any one. My disability and my student status is between my doctor, myself, my husband, my department, the government and the University and NO ONE ELSE! What I do with my education is my business. If you don’t like something on this blog, there are certainly other blogs for you to read. I am not changing my presentation or writing for anyone, even YOU Rebbecca.

They say in AA that acceptance is the KEY to all of my problems, and if someone has a problem with you, that – that is a direct signal that someone has a problem with themselves. And what YOU think of me is none of my business. If I have a problem with you then I need to look at me and find out what’s wrong with me. So you got a problem, first ask yourself what that problem is, and then fuck off…

I’ve never EVER had anyone complain about something I have shared on this blog, nor posted to this, my personal web log. AND I am not going to take horse shit from some chick who has an axe to grind with me so get the fuck off my blog! Oh, that felt good!

DO YOU GET THE PICTURE???


Temporal Shift …

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Hello, my name is Jeremy and I am a Graduate Student in the Department of Theology at Concordia University… Try that one on for size…

Today was a big day … My first day of school as a Graduate Student. The beginning of the Fall semester is always fraught with drama long lines and insanity. This morning brought with it some sad memory, as my Monday-Wednesday morning class is in the Mother House in the West end of the house which has been transformed from living quarters of former nuns to classrooms and offices. I wanted to go visit the chapel this morning and spend some time in prayer, but that wasn’t in the cards today.

Christian Origins is my first class of the week, and it seems, because of certain technical problems, [read:no internet connections or electronic availability] in the room we are using, means a room change is in the offing soon. I saw some familiar faces from my summer as an independent student.

Thank God that none of the witches from the religion department are in any of my theology classes! There IS a God!!!

I took the afternoon to do some power shopping for books at the Diocesan Book Store in the core after class, and I even treated myself to a BK Lunch, Woo Hoo!! The Eaton Centre food court is really interesting at lunch time lots to see…

The Textbook for Christian Origins, Theo: 206 is called The Shaping of Christianity, and can be purchased at the Diocesan Bookstore at Place Cathedral at the McGill Metro. The book ran me $33.87.

I came home from my journey to the “Core” and took a short power nap before my evening class, hubby decided to join me for a nap… [he just can’t nap by himself when I am home] … I had 3 hours to nap, and I was in the middle of this fantastic adventure dream, it was action packed and I was really into it, when the alarm clock went off at 5:15 and it startled me so bad and I was so groggy that I could not hold onto the visual to write anything about it… I know I was in a town with a above ground subway system, it was dark and I was running all over the place. So I washed up and left for class and I couldn’t raise the dream in the light, I hate when that happens…

This evening I went to my Theology 204 with Fr. Ray was quite interesting. I saw many of the same faces that were in my morning Christian Origins class, which was great because this class is a lot smaller – with about 45 students in a smaller intimate lecture room. I think it is going to be a great semester…

The University Book Store also has the course packs for Theo: 204 Christian Ethics with Fr. Ray. The texts books are available and are on reserve in the library.

We had some really great discussion, and it is really nice to have Fr. Ray teaching the course, since he is one of my spiritual advisers, on the Catholic side. I told him that I had one foot in the religion of my family [Catholicism] and one foot in the Anglican Church, having been given a green light by Bishop Barry. So now Fr. Ray calls me the Anglo-Catholic. I am hoping that I reach some place new in my spiritual journey.

We are going to play Word Association now:

Your three words are:

Ethics — Morals — Christian

We talked about Religious Studies being a study in culture, society, history and tradition and Theology having a different Methodology, it is faith seeking understanding. Will we agree on all issues in Theology, probably not. Especially with a GAY, HIV+, Married, Catholic Queer in the classroom. This should be an interesting semester. I can look into my crystal ball and see much discussion and choppy waters ahead.

We all introduced ourselves in class and shared our majors and reasons for taking that class, many of us are in Core Studies for Theology, though, many of the students are from many other departments like Psychology [YAWN] Applied Human Sciences [Double YAWN] and others… If today’s discussions were indicative of what’s to come, this class should be incredibly enjoyable because of the varied beliefs, opinions and ages of students in the class. There are a few Graduate and Master’s students in the class, which is really cool…

Tomorrow should be even better with Religions of Tibet. I have high hopes for this class because I have been studying Buddhism and other Eastern Religions over the past four years, last academic year I took Buddhism and Jainism [at the same time] which was a real challenge. I did better in Jainism because it was more writing and academic study into a tradition that is labor intensive, because of the scarcity of primary source material. I flubbed on my Buddhism final exam, which hurt my grade. I hate huge multiple choice exams with very little writing!!! I perform better when I write.

See I did learn something in University! I learned how to write Good Essays and I learned how to write academically sound papers. It took me four years, but I was successful in my writing career. Writing here as well, has enhanced my academic writing because I can work out my ideas here before I add them to a paper.

In The Montreal News:

main_casket.jpg

The Strike at the Notre Dame de Neige cemetery is OVER!! Thank Bloody Christ, it is about time – for Pete’s sake! Now gravediggers go back to work on Monday and they have over Seven Hundred and Fifty Caskets to bury, that have been in cold storage for Months!!

I talked to Fr. Ray about this on the way home tonight, we walked to the Major Seminary where he was parked just up the hill from home, The Bishop of Montreal got involved to try to end the strike, we all admit he was a little late with his word, but it seems to have worked! The Religious Authority has some sway over our community thank God for that!

So we are at 1042 words… Have I gone on too long here???

Ok that’s all for tonight. More tomorrow from the world of Tibet…

Stay Tuned…

Oh, I forgot to mention that I am listed as an ALUMNI Blogger on the Concordia University Website!! Very Kewl!! We are also listed on the Religio Scholasticus website as well. I am really grateful for the support of my peers at Religio and as well from the University.

 


Skool Daze …

skools-out.gif

Today was a busy and exciting day for students across Montreal, as I am sure, in many other cities across Canada. It is Frosh week here in Montreal. Students are moving into dorms and the stores all over the downtown core are busy.

We spent the afternoon shopping like mad women. I started at skool to buy textbooks which are never cheap, but this semester a few of my books I was able to buy used which saved me a chunk of cash.

Theo 204/AA Christian Ethics:

1. Living with Other People – Melchin
2. Reason Informed by Faith – Gula
3.  Course  Pack – not available yet

Reli 398P/AA Religions of Tibet:

1. Religions of Tibet – Samuel
2. Tibetan Civilization – Stein
3. Religions of Tibet in Practice – Lopez

Theo 206/A – XT Origins:
Texts not available yet…

I noticed that there were many Holocaust texts on the shelves so I found a new copy of “Night” by Elie Wiesel, Elie is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. I have wanted to read this text to put into my collection of Holocaust writings on my bookshelf, since I took Holocaust Studies last fall.

alexis-nihon-3.jpg

Hubby and I set out for a shopping trip to Alexis Nihon Plaza, which is pictured above, the mall is just up the street from home. I wanted to get some new clothes, since we’ve been wearing the same duds for months. I have to say that Zellers is a great store – which is where we get a lot of clothing for the year. $85.00 bought us 5 new shirts in assorted colors and prints, which was fine with me. We also needed folders, pens and paper.

Don’t you love – back to skool shopping?

We bought a new printer for our computer, The HP Desk Jet 4160 model. It is sleek and quiet and really nice. It has all these great printer capabilities with bells and whistles. It came with an extended warranty which was on sale, all in total the printer cost $70.00.

We have all that we need for skool now, hubby still needs to get some books, and next week classes begin. I have resigned from The Common Ground and shut down the blog, because I’m not going to deal with school girl drama. So that’s that for today. Maybe I will write some more later tonight, I haven’t done my reads yet today.


God's Warriors Part 1 – Judaism

gods-warriors-judasim-2.jpg

God’s Warriors – CNN Site
Tonight on CNN – Christiane Amanpour began her series called “God’s Warriors.” I happen to watch the second showing late tonight here in Montreal. This first part covering the Judaism portion of the documentary was very enlightening.

Having grown up with World News as a nightly dinner time fare, I have watched the world change in my lifetime. Wars have been fought, millions have died and still to this day there is conflict in the Holy Land. I am only going to address this first portion of the program as Islam and Christianity follow tomorrow and Thursday. You can visit the site above.

I make no bones about this fact that I am pro-Israeli. This conflict, it is said could be tempered by the “correct political agreements” for all parties involved, if you watched this episode of Christiane’s report. She chronicles the debate, the conflict and the war that rages between the Israeli and Palestinian people to find, colonize and legalize states.

There is a great divide when it comes to the Holy Land as the three major world religions those being Judaism, Islam and Christianity are literally on top of each other in the old city. All three religious groups share common holy ground and all debate the rights of others to visit certain holy sites. This is made clear by the Jews who pray at the Western Wall and are not allowed to ascend to the Temple Mount held by the Islamic faith at the Dome of the Rock. The hallowed location – it is believed that the Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven.

I am not known for my politics or my political writings because I don’t feel that I own the right to write political commentary on subjects that I am clearly not a master at. I guess I could write my observances as a writer to what I see. The battle for land has been going on since before I was born and this conflict will continue until leaders take the time to negotiate a proper settlement over land, holy sites and statehood. Leaders have come and gone, the few peacemakers of the past were assassinated by their detractors.

It just seems to me that there is enough land in the middle east to go around. The factions of Jewish warriors have made it their life’s goal to see Israel turned back into the land that they say “biblically” was theirs from history as the Torah speaks of. They take their stance from the Book of Ezekiel 37:14

god-warriors-judaism-1.jpg

I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’ “

I have spent my entire undergraduate career in University studying the world’s great religions from Christianity to Judaism, Islam to Buddhism and the far east Jainism back into my own back yard, religions of Canada and Native Studies. I have been granted a scholars gaze at the conflicts that spread around the world. Each major religion, speaking here of Judaism, Islam and Christianity hold certain biblical passages a doctrine and this, in my opinion, as well shown below is the basis for the ongoing conflict. Whether that be Jewish zealots and Islamic and Christian fanaticism. We are not immune to religious debate at Concordia University and we are not immune to religious conflict either.

There is a calm uneasiness on campus during the school year on the Mezzanine when groups rent tables to promote their views and clubs. In studying world religions, I was granted access to the many faiths on campus. I visited the Ghetto Shul for Passover and I attended Friday Prayers at the Concordia Islamic Prayer space in the Hall building. Attendance of these religious ceremonies was part of my studies and I am fully aware of what the facts are concerning land, statehood and jihad.

The conflict between the Palestinians and Jews is long standing. With the rise of Islam and the sad fact of jihad and terrorism, we stare down the gauntlet every day of our lives in many places in the world. This fact was driven home to me when I moved to Canada and began my immersion into community here. Montreal is a cosmopolitan city of millions of people who span the bredth of religious beliefs. I was forced at one point to make my choice of where I called home. I chose to become a brother of the True North Strong and Free. My education in religious conflict began when the United States declared war in Iraq. Living in Montreal gave me perfect vision of inner conflict in my own community.

Do you think that we all took this all is stride? That we did not march in the streets and did we not have continuous dialogue on campus and within all the campuses across Canada dealing with the common threat of war, revolt, terrorism and fanaticism? We faced all these things and much more. People in the United States, namely the south where I grew up did not see Islam make their presence known. I did not know a Muslim soul growing up but I had friends from other parts of the world.

Coming to Montreal was an earth shattering experience. I started university and began my journey into the world of Religious Education. It has been said of me that had I not been born a Christian, I would have been a Jew. And I contemplated conversion more than once during my university career. I love the three great traditions. I studied Judaism and Judaic History. So I am familiar with all the conflict in the Holy Land. We live with that inner conflict here every day. I am part of that conflict, representing the Christian branch of religious scholars now graduated. I use the term “scholar” very lightly, I am still a student of religion, yet above the fray, my degree grants me this title.

I took a unit on Islam, yet I failed the final exam and in turn I failed the class because I was stupid. That was the only “F” I have on my transcript. But this failure was the greatest opportunity that I ever had to learn something form the ashes of my failure. I met the most amazing man of faith – the professor of the class on Islam. He was a Sufi mystic. And he changed my life in ways that I cannot explain, but Islam is for tomorrow nights writing. Suffice to say, there is more to Islam than jihad and terrorism. I will expound on these ideas tomorrow.

There is always a solution, if all parties can come to the table and work out the fine minutiae and details of peaceful coexistence. It can be done, but in my lifetime?

That is the question the three faiths must approach, ask and solve…

You can read the report from News day.com:

We haven’t seen Christiane Amanpour in quite a while – in, oh, like 15 minutes or so. Flip on CNN and there she is, somewhere, though usually somewhere over there, in the war-torn world and far away from our safe, tethered and generally anesthetized lives. Outside of Anderson Cooper, Larry King or maybe Lou Dobbs, she is CNN’s most visible presence and someone who has amassed a pretty amazing body of work at this network over nearly 25 years.

If this doesn’t sound like a reasonable buildup for her six-hour tour of religious fanaticism that begins Tuesday at 9, then the fault is mine alone. “God’s Warriors” is an estimable achievement, even for a subject that has been relentlessly worked over by hundreds of scholars, journalists and book authors in recent years, including Amanpour herself. (It’s even hard to say how much of “God’s Warriors” has been strip mined by Amanpour before, although “Struggle for Islam,” which won her an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2002, addressed similar themes.)

But what’s special about “God’s Warriors” is the sheer totality of it. Over six hours, Amanpour and her team seem to capture the essence of a hugely important moment in world history, and with the exception of the title, do so without hyperbole or histrionics. It’s really the best of Amanpour – and really, dear, old, battered and much-maligned CNN, too.

“God’s Warriors” is about three world movements – though as you watch, you will probably want to come up with a better word to describe them. It’s about the religious zealotry that has forged so much of the global political landscape since the end of the Cold War. These “warriors” are fighting over radically divergent views while bound by some similar ones, too. In a paradox that unfolds over these hours, they are blood enemies on some obvious level yet strangely allied on another.

But Amanpour’s broadcast is far from comfort food. In a style typically restrained though never diffident, she explores the historical roots of these views that have become more pinched and close-ended over time. Offering no all-encompassing or compassionate solutions – at least in her reporting – the religious extremists are instead steeped in dogma and intolerance. Some of these “warriors” abhor violence. Others, of course, resort to it as a matter of course.

“What they have in common – Jews, Christians and Muslims – [is] the belief that modern society has lost its way,” Amanpour says in voice-over. “They say God is the answer.” (Tuesday’s broadcast is “God’s Jewish Warriors,” followed by “God’s Muslim Warriors” Wednesday and “God’s Christian Warriors” Thursday.)

What else do they have in common? Apparently an abhorrence for Britney Spears, who is made to represent Western culture’s over commercialized and oversexed ways. But West Bank militants are probably not deeply concerned about Spears’ recent car-ramming episode, although the “Christian Warriors” – evangelicals – haven’t exactly been advocating her album sales. The title itself is a silly stretch, too, placing under one all-encompassing catchphrase the kids at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University with the kids at some madrassa in Pakistan learning how to lock and load AK-47s.

Get beyond these superficial flaws, and a richly layered broadcast unfolds. Tuesday and Wednesday’s programs are the best, and “Christian Warriors” is the most dispensable. Much of the material in that installment has been reported so often – from Falwell, whose interview with Amanpour was the last before his death, to Ron Luce’s Battle Cry, the evangelical youth crusade. – that it’s already numbingly familiar.

But Iranian-born, globetrotting, battle-hardened Amanpour is at her best in the Middle East. She seems intent on interviewing everyone – patiently, at length, and pointedly. Tuesday’s Jewish “warriors” were inspired by the Book of Ezekiel (“Ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers”) and refuse to be pried loose from their West Bank settlements spread out over 26,000 square miles. They’re fighting rear-guard with Palestinian militants and a frontline battle with much of the rest of the world, while some of their biggest allies are America’s evangelicals.

Amanpour also interviews author and historian Gershom Gorenberg (“The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements”) who questions the settlements’ legality. She presses Theodor Meron, former counsel of the Israeli foreign ministry, on a “top secret” memo he had once written claiming the settlements violated the Geneva Convention. (He sidesteps the question.)

Wednesday’s Muslim Warriors” is filled with dozens of interviews, too (former President Jimmy Carter appears throughout) and a long historic perspective. It begins with Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian religious leader who inspired Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri and died in an Egyptian prison 41 years ago. She tracks the story of Ed Hussein, a former London jihadi who later published a book on his experience (“The Islamist”). She also travels widely in Iran, where she attends a passion play with Shiite Muslims who weep openly over a 1,400-year-old story.

And her journey ends up in America, with a New Jersey social worker, Rehan Seyam – born and reared in Islip – who insists on wearing a hijab (veil) in public. Like many others of her generation, Amanpour reports, Seyam is more orthodox than her Egyptian-born parents.

But one of God’s warriors? Hardly. She’s squarely in the middle of society’s struggle between the secular and non-secular. The punch line to Amanpour’s story: Seyam and millions more like her are growing in number and have no intention of backing down.

Part 2 – Islam, Wednesday Night… Stay tuned…


God’s Warriors Part 1 – Judaism

gods-warriors-judasim-2.jpg

God’s Warriors – CNN Site
Tonight on CNN – Christiane Amanpour began her series called “God’s Warriors.” I happen to watch the second showing late tonight here in Montreal. This first part covering the Judaism portion of the documentary was very enlightening.

Having grown up with World News as a nightly dinner time fare, I have watched the world change in my lifetime. Wars have been fought, millions have died and still to this day there is conflict in the Holy Land. I am only going to address this first portion of the program as Islam and Christianity follow tomorrow and Thursday. You can visit the site above.

I make no bones about this fact that I am pro-Israeli. This conflict, it is said could be tempered by the “correct political agreements” for all parties involved, if you watched this episode of Christiane’s report. She chronicles the debate, the conflict and the war that rages between the Israeli and Palestinian people to find, colonize and legalize states.

There is a great divide when it comes to the Holy Land as the three major world religions those being Judaism, Islam and Christianity are literally on top of each other in the old city. All three religious groups share common holy ground and all debate the rights of others to visit certain holy sites. This is made clear by the Jews who pray at the Western Wall and are not allowed to ascend to the Temple Mount held by the Islamic faith at the Dome of the Rock. The hallowed location – it is believed that the Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven.

I am not known for my politics or my political writings because I don’t feel that I own the right to write political commentary on subjects that I am clearly not a master at. I guess I could write my observances as a writer to what I see. The battle for land has been going on since before I was born and this conflict will continue until leaders take the time to negotiate a proper settlement over land, holy sites and statehood. Leaders have come and gone, the few peacemakers of the past were assassinated by their detractors.

It just seems to me that there is enough land in the middle east to go around. The factions of Jewish warriors have made it their life’s goal to see Israel turned back into the land that they say “biblically” was theirs from history as the Torah speaks of. They take their stance from the Book of Ezekiel 37:14

god-warriors-judaism-1.jpg

I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’ “

I have spent my entire undergraduate career in University studying the world’s great religions from Christianity to Judaism, Islam to Buddhism and the far east Jainism back into my own back yard, religions of Canada and Native Studies. I have been granted a scholars gaze at the conflicts that spread around the world. Each major religion, speaking here of Judaism, Islam and Christianity hold certain biblical passages a doctrine and this, in my opinion, as well shown below is the basis for the ongoing conflict. Whether that be Jewish zealots and Islamic and Christian fanaticism. We are not immune to religious debate at Concordia University and we are not immune to religious conflict either.

There is a calm uneasiness on campus during the school year on the Mezzanine when groups rent tables to promote their views and clubs. In studying world religions, I was granted access to the many faiths on campus. I visited the Ghetto Shul for Passover and I attended Friday Prayers at the Concordia Islamic Prayer space in the Hall building. Attendance of these religious ceremonies was part of my studies and I am fully aware of what the facts are concerning land, statehood and jihad.

The conflict between the Palestinians and Jews is long standing. With the rise of Islam and the sad fact of jihad and terrorism, we stare down the gauntlet every day of our lives in many places in the world. This fact was driven home to me when I moved to Canada and began my immersion into community here. Montreal is a cosmopolitan city of millions of people who span the bredth of religious beliefs. I was forced at one point to make my choice of where I called home. I chose to become a brother of the True North Strong and Free. My education in religious conflict began when the United States declared war in Iraq. Living in Montreal gave me perfect vision of inner conflict in my own community.

Do you think that we all took this all is stride? That we did not march in the streets and did we not have continuous dialogue on campus and within all the campuses across Canada dealing with the common threat of war, revolt, terrorism and fanaticism? We faced all these things and much more. People in the United States, namely the south where I grew up did not see Islam make their presence known. I did not know a Muslim soul growing up but I had friends from other parts of the world.

Coming to Montreal was an earth shattering experience. I started university and began my journey into the world of Religious Education. It has been said of me that had I not been born a Christian, I would have been a Jew. And I contemplated conversion more than once during my university career. I love the three great traditions. I studied Judaism and Judaic History. So I am familiar with all the conflict in the Holy Land. We live with that inner conflict here every day. I am part of that conflict, representing the Christian branch of religious scholars now graduated. I use the term “scholar” very lightly, I am still a student of religion, yet above the fray, my degree grants me this title.

I took a unit on Islam, yet I failed the final exam and in turn I failed the class because I was stupid. That was the only “F” I have on my transcript. But this failure was the greatest opportunity that I ever had to learn something form the ashes of my failure. I met the most amazing man of faith – the professor of the class on Islam. He was a Sufi mystic. And he changed my life in ways that I cannot explain, but Islam is for tomorrow nights writing. Suffice to say, there is more to Islam than jihad and terrorism. I will expound on these ideas tomorrow.

There is always a solution, if all parties can come to the table and work out the fine minutiae and details of peaceful coexistence. It can be done, but in my lifetime?

That is the question the three faiths must approach, ask and solve…

You can read the report from News day.com:

We haven’t seen Christiane Amanpour in quite a while – in, oh, like 15 minutes or so. Flip on CNN and there she is, somewhere, though usually somewhere over there, in the war-torn world and far away from our safe, tethered and generally anesthetized lives. Outside of Anderson Cooper, Larry King or maybe Lou Dobbs, she is CNN’s most visible presence and someone who has amassed a pretty amazing body of work at this network over nearly 25 years.

If this doesn’t sound like a reasonable buildup for her six-hour tour of religious fanaticism that begins Tuesday at 9, then the fault is mine alone. “God’s Warriors” is an estimable achievement, even for a subject that has been relentlessly worked over by hundreds of scholars, journalists and book authors in recent years, including Amanpour herself. (It’s even hard to say how much of “God’s Warriors” has been strip mined by Amanpour before, although “Struggle for Islam,” which won her an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2002, addressed similar themes.)

But what’s special about “God’s Warriors” is the sheer totality of it. Over six hours, Amanpour and her team seem to capture the essence of a hugely important moment in world history, and with the exception of the title, do so without hyperbole or histrionics. It’s really the best of Amanpour – and really, dear, old, battered and much-maligned CNN, too.

“God’s Warriors” is about three world movements – though as you watch, you will probably want to come up with a better word to describe them. It’s about the religious zealotry that has forged so much of the global political landscape since the end of the Cold War. These “warriors” are fighting over radically divergent views while bound by some similar ones, too. In a paradox that unfolds over these hours, they are blood enemies on some obvious level yet strangely allied on another.

But Amanpour’s broadcast is far from comfort food. In a style typically restrained though never diffident, she explores the historical roots of these views that have become more pinched and close-ended over time. Offering no all-encompassing or compassionate solutions – at least in her reporting – the religious extremists are instead steeped in dogma and intolerance. Some of these “warriors” abhor violence. Others, of course, resort to it as a matter of course.

“What they have in common – Jews, Christians and Muslims – [is] the belief that modern society has lost its way,” Amanpour says in voice-over. “They say God is the answer.” (Tuesday’s broadcast is “God’s Jewish Warriors,” followed by “God’s Muslim Warriors” Wednesday and “God’s Christian Warriors” Thursday.)

What else do they have in common? Apparently an abhorrence for Britney Spears, who is made to represent Western culture’s over commercialized and oversexed ways. But West Bank militants are probably not deeply concerned about Spears’ recent car-ramming episode, although the “Christian Warriors” – evangelicals – haven’t exactly been advocating her album sales. The title itself is a silly stretch, too, placing under one all-encompassing catchphrase the kids at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University with the kids at some madrassa in Pakistan learning how to lock and load AK-47s.

Get beyond these superficial flaws, and a richly layered broadcast unfolds. Tuesday and Wednesday’s programs are the best, and “Christian Warriors” is the most dispensable. Much of the material in that installment has been reported so often – from Falwell, whose interview with Amanpour was the last before his death, to Ron Luce’s Battle Cry, the evangelical youth crusade. – that it’s already numbingly familiar.

But Iranian-born, globetrotting, battle-hardened Amanpour is at her best in the Middle East. She seems intent on interviewing everyone – patiently, at length, and pointedly. Tuesday’s Jewish “warriors” were inspired by the Book of Ezekiel (“Ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers”) and refuse to be pried loose from their West Bank settlements spread out over 26,000 square miles. They’re fighting rear-guard with Palestinian militants and a frontline battle with much of the rest of the world, while some of their biggest allies are America’s evangelicals.

Amanpour also interviews author and historian Gershom Gorenberg (“The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements”) who questions the settlements’ legality. She presses Theodor Meron, former counsel of the Israeli foreign ministry, on a “top secret” memo he had once written claiming the settlements violated the Geneva Convention. (He sidesteps the question.)

Wednesday’s Muslim Warriors” is filled with dozens of interviews, too (former President Jimmy Carter appears throughout) and a long historic perspective. It begins with Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian religious leader who inspired Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri and died in an Egyptian prison 41 years ago. She tracks the story of Ed Hussein, a former London jihadi who later published a book on his experience (“The Islamist”). She also travels widely in Iran, where she attends a passion play with Shiite Muslims who weep openly over a 1,400-year-old story.

And her journey ends up in America, with a New Jersey social worker, Rehan Seyam – born and reared in Islip – who insists on wearing a hijab (veil) in public. Like many others of her generation, Amanpour reports, Seyam is more orthodox than her Egyptian-born parents.

But one of God’s warriors? Hardly. She’s squarely in the middle of society’s struggle between the secular and non-secular. The punch line to Amanpour’s story: Seyam and millions more like her are growing in number and have no intention of backing down.

Part 2 – Islam, Wednesday Night… Stay tuned…


Rare dead star found near Earth

From: BBC News Online

Neutron star artwork, Image: Casey Reed/Penn State

Neutron stars form when massive stars exhaust their fuel

Astronomers have spotted a space oddity in Earth’s neighbourhood – a dead star with some unusual characteristics. The object, known as a neutron star, was studied using space telescopes and ground-based observatories.

But this one, located in the constellation Ursa Minor, seems to lack some key characteristics found in other neutron stars.

Details of the study, by a team of American and Canadian researchers, will appear in the Astrophysical Journal.

If confirmed, it would be only the eighth known “isolated neutron star” – meaning a neutron star that does not have an associated supernova remnant, binary companion, or radio pulsations.

Either Calvera is an unusual example of a known type of neutron star, or it is some new type of neutron star, the first of its kind

Robert Rutledge, McGill University

The object has been nicknamed Calvera, after the villain in the 1960s western film The Magnificent Seven.

“The seven previously known isolated neutron stars are known collectively as The Magnificent Seven within the community,” said co-author Derek Fox, of Pennsylvania State University, US.

“So the name Calvera is a bit of an inside joke on our part.”

The authors estimate that the object is 250 to 1,000 light-years away. This would make Calvera one of the closest neutron stars to Earth – and possibly the closest.

Neutron stars are one of the possible end points for a star. They are created when stars with masses greater than four to eight times those of our Sun exhaust their nuclear fuel, and undergo a supernova explosion.

This explosion blows off the outer layers of the star, forming a supernova remnant. The central region of the star collapses under gravity, causing protons and electrons to combine to form neutrons – hence the name “neutron star”.

Data search

Robert Rutledge of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, originally noticed the object.

He compared a catalogue of 18,000 X-ray sources from the German-American Rosat satellite, which operated from 1990 to 1999, with catalogues of objects that appeared in visible light, infrared light, and radio waves.

Artist's impression of Swift, Nasa

Swift was launched to observe gamma-ray bursts

Professor Rutledge realized that a Rosat source, known as 1RXS J141256.0+792204, did not appear to have a counterpart at any other wavelength.

The group aimed Nasa’s Swift satellite at the object in August 2006. Swift’s X-ray telescope showed that the source was still there, and was emitting about the same amount of X-ray energy as it had during the Rosat era.

The Swift observations enabled the group to pinpoint the object’s position more accurately, and showed that it was not associated with any known astronomical object.

The researchers followed up with the 8.1m Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii and a short observation by Nasa’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Unusual properties

Exactly what type of neutron star Calvera is remains a mystery. According to Dr Rutledge, there are no widely accepted alternative theories to explain objects such as this that are bright in X-rays and faint in visible light.

“Either Calvera is an unusual example of a known type of neutron star, or it is some new type of neutron star, the first of its kind,” said Dr Rutledge.

Calvera’s location high above the plane of our Milky Way galaxy is also a mystery. The researchers believe the object is the remnant of a star that lived in our galaxy’s starry disc before exploding as a supernova.

In order to reach its current position, it had to wander some distance out of the disc.


Hurrican Dean from the I.S.S.

Hurricane Dean from the International Space Station/NASA