Saturday, June 30, 2012

They give Christianity a bad reputation

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – We should not blame the song if we don’t like how it is being played. It’s the singer not the song. It’s the lovers not the love – when relationships nosedive. 
If we don’t like the shows on TV, let’s switch channels, not destroy the whole hardware. If we hate rats, let’s spare the whole house from our homicidal wrath.
Christianity, like other religions, is not perfect. In every forest there is snake, in every paradise there is serpent. When some people give Christianity a bad name, it does not follow that the entire religion is swamped by dregs and nincompoops. Gandhi didn’t like the Christians but he loved Jesus Christ.
Jamie Frater, a California-based author of Ultimate Book of Bizarre Lists, has identified 10 people who have given Christianity a bad name. They are: Fred Phelps, Sr., Fr. Charles Coughlin, Jim Jones, Marshall Herff Applewhite, Jr., Paul Jennings Hill, Michael Bray, Matthew Hale, Pat Robertson, David Koresh, and Sun Myung Moon.
According to Frater, Phelps, Sr. had three children, four of whom have disowned him and their other siblings. The four children, two men and two women, have denounced Phelps as “a vitriolic, megalomaniacal sadistic psychopath.”
“I can phrase it better than that, and yet, it still doesn’t fully capture the man’s personality,” admits Frater, who was born in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. “Ordinarily, the lister should remain objective about the list, but in this case, except for his congregation, which officially numbers 71, and 60 of whom are Phelps’ relatives, it’s highly doubtful that anyone else on the planet agrees with, or even slightly supports, Philips’ savage, barbaric perversion of Christianity and its founder. So I don’t feel quite so bad about being biased.”
Phelps’ “ministry” at the Westboro Baptist Church, which he founded in Topeka, Kansas, is based almost entirely on antihomosexuality, which is one of the easiest, if not the easiest, sin to denounce by means of quoting Bible, reveals Frater.
“God condemns homosexuality at least twice in Leviticus, and from this principle, Phelps feels he can condemn the entire world, but especially the U.S., which he has described as a liberal hellhole that supports homosexuality,” Frater explains. (That’s a very, very cleaned-up paraphrase of his graphic, disgustingly profane words).


Coughlin was a priest who used the radio to acquire a large audience for his political and religious propaganda, Frater writes. He was born in 1891 and was one of the first to use modern technology to mass communicate for such a purpose.
He started out innocently enough, using radio to decry the KKK for burning crosses on his church grounds, but 10 years later, in 1936, he started praising and defending both Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini for their politics and spewing some of the most despicable virulence against Jews that the world had seen to that point. He blamed the Great Depression on “an international conspiracy of Jewish bankers,” then blamed Communism, the Russian 1917 Revolution, and Marxist atheism on “global Jewry, in its attempt to lead people astray from the perfection of Lord Jesus.”
According to Frater, Coughlin plagiarized a speech by Goebbels, then delivered it himself in a rally in the Bronx on September 13, 1935, giving the “Hitler salute.” And this is what he said: “When we get through with the Jews in America, they’ll think the treatment they received in Germany was nothing.”
He acquired thousands of followers who chanted things like, “Wait until Hitler gets over here!” Coughlin was linked with a group that attempted to overthrow the U.S. Government, after which he was abandoned by most of them. He still refused to change his politics, and fought a series of radio duels with Unitarian Walton Cole, who wanted the Catholic Church to put an end to Coughlin’s vitriol.


The number of people who died with Applewhite is nothing compared to the 909 people, 276 of them children, who became enamored with the handsome, charismatic founder of the Peoples Temple. James Warren Jones started out Methodist and seemed to have fine intentions, endeavoring to bring about civil rights for blacks and integrate American society.
Somewhere along the line, however, he went patently insane. He was an aggressive narcissist. He never claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and the only reason he founded the Peoples Temple was for the money he could make via his congregation.
The strangest part is that his followers were not hopeless runaways or uneducated or uninformed. They were predominantly members of other Christian denominations. They were taken by Jones’ good looks and charm and his ability to lead and convince.
In 1974, the Temple went to Guyana with only 50 members. But Jones promised others back in the U.S. a tropical paradise, and they flocked by the hundreds to “Jonestown.” Because he had always been an outspoken Communist sympathizer, and intended Jonestown to be a socialist safe heaven, he drew the attention of the U.S. Government.
On November 17, 1978, investigating claims of abuse within the Peoples Temple, California congressman Leo Ryan went to Jonestown, and about 15 members wanted to leave with him. They attempted to depart via a nearby airstrip, and were fired upon by Temple security guards. Ryan was killed, along with four others, one a Temple member.
When the shooters returned to Jonestown, Jones and accomplices were preparing a mass suicide by poisoning: Flavor Aid loaded with cyanide, phenergan, Valium, and chloral hydrate. There are graphic pictures of the dead lying en masse outside the pavilion, 909 of them. The children were probably not told that the drink was poisoned. Jones shot himself in the head.


Applewhite has gone down in history as a true psychopath, write Frater. Born May 17, 1931, he proclaimed himself the prophet in 1972, and then, as all other weirdoes seem to do, called himself Jesus Christ reincarnated. He was not as handsome as Koresh, but he wasn’t exactly ugly, either; he was married and seemed for all the world to be “blameless and upright before God.”
Followers flocked to his forceful charisma when he told them that UFOs were coming to take them away to heaven. When the UFOs didn’t show, the followers left, but he kept preaching to friends and their acquaintances, and by 1975 acquired a following of 93 men, women, and children.
He eventually recruited people from all over 50 states and settled in Rancho Santa Fe, California. His wife died of cancer in 1985, and sometime between then and 1997, he had a nurse surgically castrate him, for purification. He called his church “Heaven’s Gate.” His congregation worshipped him fervently.
Om March 19, 1997, as the comet Hale-Bopp was passing Earth, Applewhite recorded himself preaching to his congregation that suicide “was the only way to evacuate this earth.” His congregation did not believe in suicide, but was so enamored with him, that 39 members took his word for it, and on March 24, 25, and 26, they killed themselves with mixtures of phenobarbital and applesauce, followed by vodka. They also put plastic bags over their heads to be sure of asphyxiation, in case the poison didn’t work.


Paul Jennings Hill was a trained and ordained Presbyterian minister, but the church excommunicated him in 1993 for taking such a militant stand against abortion and for becoming a member of the Army of God, a Christian terrorist, antiabortion organization.
This ordained minister finally let her anger get the best of him when he travelled to Pensacola, Florida, on July 29, 1994, to an abortion clinic, and murdered one of the doctors and his bodyguard point-blank with shotgun blasts. He also wounded the bodyguard’s wife. The he calmly put down the shotgun in the grass and sat and waited for the police.
He was executed. The law does not permit vigilante justice, and come to think of it, “Love thine enemies” seems a fair argument against it also, Frater reports.


Matthew Hale is currently serving 40 years in prison for attempting to solicit the murder of Judge Joan Lefkow. Not a model preacher. But actually, he calls himself the Pontifex Maximus of the Creativity Movement, which is just another offshoot from the Ku Klux Klan. The church is for whites only, and it has its own bible, in which one finds passages such as, “You have no alibi, no other way out, white man! Fight or dies!”
His church calls for a worldwide racial holy war to exterminate the Jews and all the black people in order to establish “a white world.” His reasoning: God is white; God created Jews and black people to test the faith and resolve of white people; thus, killing a Jew or black person is not a sin. After one of his followers, Benjamin N. Smith, committed a deadly shooting spree, targeting only minorities, Hale “defended” his actions on TV by saying, “We do urge hatred. If you love something, you must hate that which threatens it.” He is recorded on audiotape laughing about the shootings and imitating the sounds of gunfire.


Michael Bay is not an ordained or college-educated minister, but he does preach a lot about abortion. He served 46 months of a 10-year sentence for conspiring to bomb 10 abortions clinics in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. He and his wife stand firmly on Bible as the inerrant Word of God, and they say that because it preaches so firmly against homosexuality and adultery, anyone convicted of either in a court of law should be put to death, even though American courts have no problem with either. They might be sins, but they aren’t felonies, according to Frater.
Bray didn’t exactly help the Christian cause of conversion by allowing Richard Dawkins, the most famous atheist in the world, to interview him for a show called The Root of All Evil. Bray was thoroughly outmatched, of course, and made Christianity look like…well, the root of all evil, writes Frater.
He is now out of prison and living in Washington, Ohio; he is officially labeled as a terrorist.


Frater describes Pat Robertson as “worse” (than Sun Myung Moon and David Koresh) because “he doesn’t even know how to lie convincingly. He swear that “the spirit of God comes mightily upon (him)” and enables him to leg press 2,000 pounds even though he’s 79 years old. This claim has been thoroughly debunked by weightlifting experts, and yet he persists in claiming it without proving it.
He has claimed to be able to deflect hurricanes by praying to God, and stated that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for abortion throughout America, thus showing that he did not pray for Katrina’s deflection. He believes that the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina might be divinely connected.
He denounced Haiti after the January 12, 2010, earthquake, stating that Haiti deserved what it was getting because it swore a pact with the devil back in 1791 in order to drive out the French. Whether that pact was sworn or not, his comments were obviously intended to inflame and hurt, and they did so. How Christian of him. He was roundly denounced by most Christian denominations and still refuses to retract what he did.
He predicted doomsday in 1982. He predicted a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest in 2006, then a terrorist attack on American soil sometime in 2007. He defended this failure by saying, “All I can think is that somehow the people of God prayed and God, in his mercy, spared us.” He has made many other predictions, none of which has come true.
He has many times called for the destruction of Islam and all its followers and calls Islam “satanic.” He calls Hinduism “demonic.” He even claims that some Protestant Christian denominations harbor the spirit of the anti-Christ. He has made quite a few anti-Semitic remarks, notably about Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister of Israel, whose stroke and subsequent vegetative state Robertson calls “an act of God.”


David Koresh (born Vernon Wayne Howell) was a handsome, charismatic Texan, considered so poor a student in elementary and middle school that he was enrolled in special-ed classes. He memorized the New Testament by age 11, and impregnated a 15-year-old when he was 19. He must have forgotten a few verses, says Frater.
By 1983, after being kicked out of a Seventh-Day Adventist Church for fooling around with the pastor’s daughter, he began calling himself a prophet. He was able to recruit followers because of his good looks and magnetic personality, eventually proclaiming himself Jesus Christ, “the Son of God, the Limb who could open the seven seals.”
He taught that monogamy was the only proper relationship, but that polygamy was perfectly fine for him and him alone. After his first wife died, he quickly had sex with Karen Doyle, called her his second wife, and proceeded to have sex with as many as 140 different women.
Karen Doyle did not get pregnant, probably because she was 14 years old, so he slept with Michael Jones, who was 12 years old. By proclaiming this is to be God’s will, he was able to have sex with any woman or girl whenever he liked. He tried to gun down George Roden, who was also a high-ranking member of Koresh’s sect, and escaped conviction by mistrial.
By the time of the Waco Siege, he had, by his own admission, fathered at least 12 children, some by girls as young as 12. And the followers just kept coming. Frater says in his option, the NBI seriously botched the siege and used unnecessary force, but Koresh was the primary culprit of his followers’ death, 82 of them by fire. Which side started the fire is hotly disputed and will never be known, but Koresh told his followers, “Don’t move until you see God.”
They didn’t see God before they burned alive, Koresh with them.


Sun Myung Moon is the founder of the Unification Church, which has spread worldwide since its origin in 1954. Moon was born in 1920 and has set himself up as the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. A lot of people go around saying, “I’m Jesus,” but they’re usually dismissed as insane or attention-seeking.
Moon has convinced anywhere from several hundred thousand to one million people to join his church and consider him “Jesus reincarnated.” He is vehemently opposed to homosexuality. He is also extremely anti-Semitic, championing the Holocaust as divine vengeance against the Jewish because they didn’t support Jesus, which Moon claims brought about his murder by the Roman government.
And Moon leads an extraordinary lavish lifestyle. Modern church founders typically make a lot of money, but Jesus didn’t make one cent. Moon has been known to spend $2,000 a day and give his children as much as $50,000 monthly allowances. His “True Family’s” home is a huge mansion on 18 acres in Irvington, New York, with 12 bedrooms, a dining room complete with pond and waterfall, seven bathrooms, and a bowling alley. He also has mansions in Korea, England, Scotland, and Germany, and his kids have Thoroughbred horses, private tutors, Ferraris, motorcycles, and black checks to take on their vacations (on which they travel first-class, of course -- Frater).
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
The funniest part, Frater reveals, is that he was convicted of tax fraud and served 18 months in prison. Remember the fish Jesus told Peter to catch? It had two coins in its mouth, one for each of them, to pay the tax. “Render therefore unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.” Even Jesus paid taxes.

Friday, June 29, 2012


By Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY

Can you believe it?
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are getting divorced after five years of marriage. Katie's attorney, Jonathan Wolfe, released a statement to Lifeline Live (first to People), saying, "This is a personal and private matter for Katie and her family."
Wolfe adds, "Katie's primary concern remains, as it always has been, her daughter's best interest."
In a statement to Lifeline Live, Cruise's rep says he is "deeply saddened" and is "concentrating on his three children." She adds, "Please allow them their privacy to work this out."
The Rock of Ages star, 49, wed Holmes, 33, in an Italian castle in November 2006. They have daughter Suri, 6. While we've seen Katie and Suri out and about recently in New York, the last time we saw Tom and Katie together in public was in February.
Tom has two children from his previous marriage to Nicole Kidman. He was also married to actress Mimi Rogers from 1987 to 1990.
Tom has been spotted in Iceland this week where he's been shooting a movie called Oblivion.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wisdom in being human

"The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race." E.M. FORSTER

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – In October 1521, five years before Martin Luther King was to begin to shake the very foundation of the Roman Catholic Church, the great Renaissance painter and humanist Michelangelo had just finished decorating one of its ceilings.
“And what a ceiling it was!” exclaims Portland-based Ronald B. Allen, professor of Old Testament and Exegesis, in The Majesty of Man
The Sistine Chapel in Rome, named for Pope Sixtus IV who had begun its construction in 1473, has a ceiling that measures approximately 133 feet by 43 feet, with the crown of the vault some 70 feet above the pavement.
In conditions of terrible discomfort, Allen points out, the great artist Michelangelo spent nearly four years painting in the fresh plaster on the ceiling. 
“He lay on hard scaffolding board, breathing intolerable air and having eyes and skin constantly inflamed with plaster dust. All the while, the impatient Pope Julius II would periodically climb the scaffolding and threaten to toss the master to the ground if he did not finish his work more quickly,” narrates Allen.
The formal unveiling took place on October 31, 1512. 
What an event in the history of man this unveiling was—one of the finest artistic achievements of the Renaissance. 
Here Christian theology and humanism learned to hold hands. 
In his recital of the significance of this event, Charles H. Morgan says that Michelangelo “had joined two powerful philosophies, the Christian ethic and the perfect human, at the moment of their most sympathetic coexistence.”


This blending of the Christian and the human strains was perhaps nowhere more evidence than in Michelangelo’s portrayal of the Creation of Man. 
One of the most famous panels of the masterpiece is the scene of Adam reclining inertly on a brown field, his left arms stretched out languidly over his upraised left knee. Rushing toward him is God, surrounded by storm and cloud, attended by cherubim, and stretching out his hand in a dynamic gesture to the extended finger of Adam. 
Our attention is drawn to the rushing power of the finger of God and the small space left between God’s finger and that of man.
“In this painting,” suggests Allen, “we are there a microsecond before the giving of life!”
What are we to make of this imagery? 
Morgan sees in it the notion that the church had given nourishment to humanism, and that in this painting they both meet on an equal scale. 
Despite the tranquility of the scene, Morgan senses the irony in the painting, for a struggle was about to burst out between the church and humanism in which the power of God would be challenged by man whom heaven had empowered.
Allen says another view of the significance of the Creation of Man fresco is presented by the renowned American biblical theologian Samuel Terrien of Union Seminary, New York.
“Dr. Terrien, in a meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in San Francisco several years ago, observed that there is another figure in the painting in addition to God, Adam, and the cherubim,” Allen observes. “This other figure is a beautiful woman whose head is nestled in the left arm of God, and who looks with anxious interest on man whom God was enlivening.”


We almost miss this woman because of our interest in the latent energy in the space between the finger of Adam and the finger of God. “But there she is!” Allan stresses. “And her presence causes us to ask, Who is she? Is she the as yet unformed Eve, awaiting the awakening of need for her in her mate?” Is she, as some Catholics have imagined, the Blessed Virgin Mary, anticipating a significant day long in the future when God would have a ministry of mystery for her? Terrien brushes away these and other conceptions with his great discovery: This woman is wisdom. It was with his arm around wisdom that God created man, his finest creature.”
Allen observes further: “I suspect that Morgan’s point of view more accurately represents art history. But I am convinced that the viewpoint of Terrien is the one who need in order to understand theology rightly. For this painting points us to one of the most significant elements in our understanding of what it means to be truly human: We were created by God to be wise.”


Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – In the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy, a book that belongs in every seeker’s home and answers the universal question “How can I live a spiritual life every day?” authors Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat reveal “a way to read the texts of our lives and of the world around us for sacred meaning.”
Using more than 650 brief examples from contemporary books and movies, they tutor us in the art of lingering with our experiences and seeing the world with fresh eyes. They present spiritual perspectives on things, places, nature, animals, leisure, creativity, service, body, relationships, and community.
The Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy describes the key spiritual practices—from attention to zeal—the spell meaning in daily life. The authors offer the book “to share with children, family, colleagues, and friends as you explore together the bounties of the spiritual life.”
The basics explain that most of us started reading lessons by learning the alphabet. “We have borrowed that bit of pedagogy and created an Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy, a collage of wisdom from the world’s religions and from spiritual teachers of all eras,” the authors explain. “Spread throughout the book, these letters elaborate on the practices of spirituality which show up repeatedly in the chapters of readings.”
Following is a summary of the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy, with pointers on how the practices can spell meaning in our daily life. If ever we are tempted to ask why a particular passage in the book is spiritual, let’s check the alphabet, and we will find that it demonstrates one of these practices.


Attention: Let’s pay attention. Let’s stay awake and totally alert. Let’s see with receptive eyes and discover a world of ceaseless wonders. Beauty: Let’s walk the path of beauty. Let’s relish and encourage its inward and outward expressions. Let’s acknowledge the radiance of the creation. Being Present: Let’s live in the present moment and not be obsessed about the past or worry about the future. All we need is right here now.
Compassion: Let’s open our heart, mind, and soul to the pain and suffering in the world. Let’s reach out to others and discover the rewards and obligations of deep feeling. Connections: Let’s cultivate the art of making connections and see how our life is intimately related to all life on the planet. Devotion: Let’s express our feelings of praise and adoration through devotional practices and pray with words and pray through our actions.
Enthusiasm: Let’s celebrate life with this intoxicating passion. It adds zest to everything and helps build community. Let’s hold nothing back. Faith: Let’s recognize and accept that there is another dimension to life than what is obvious to us. Let’s live with obstacles, doubt, and paradox, knowing that God is always present in the world.
Forgiveness: In both our private and public lives, let’s discover the sweet release that comes from forgiving others and feel the healing balm of being forgiven and of forgiving ourselves. Grace: Let’s accept grace and our world will be larger, deeper, richer, and fuller. Let’s look for its intimations everywhere. Let this seed of the Giver of Life bloom in our words and deeds. Gratitude: Let’s spell out our days with a grammar of gratitude and be thankful for all the blessings in our life.


Hope: Let us let this positive and potent emotion fuel our dreams and support our service of others. Through our attitudes and actions, let’s encourage others never to lose hope. Hospitality: Let’s practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the “other” is shunned. Let’s welcome guests and alien ideas with graciousness.
Imagination: Let’s give imagination free rein in our life and explore its image and ponders its meaning-making moments, and it will always present you with something new to be seen, felt, or made known. Joy: Let’s rejoice and be exceedingly glad and find this divine energy in our daily life and share it with others. Justice: Let’s seek liberty and justice for all and work for a free and fair world where oppression and inequality no longer exist.
Kindness: Let’s let Spirit flow through us in little acts of kindness, brief words of encouragement, and manifold expressions of courtesy. These deeds will add to the planet’s fund of good will. Listening: Let’s cultivate the art of deep listening in which we lean toward the world in love. All things in the universe want to be heard, as do the many voices inside us.   
Love: Let’s fall in love over and over again every day. Let’s love our family, our neighbors, our enemies, and ourselves. Let’s not stop with humans. Let’s love animals, plants, stones, even the galaxies. Meaning: Let’s constantly try to discover the significance of our experiences and seek further understandings from sacred texts and spiritual teachers.


Nurturing: Let’s take good care of the best that is within us. Self-exploration and personal growth continue throughout our lifetimes and equip us to tend to the needs of others. Openness: Let’s hold an open house in our hearts for all people and all things and practice empathy with others and receptiveness toward the universe. Peace: Let’s protect the earth’s future by promoting peace every day. Our small steps will link us with others who are combating violence in the world.
Play: Let’s be playful, expressive our creative spirit in spontaneity, and hurrah the pleasures of being, and let loose our laughter. Questing: Let’s savor questions and thrill to the quest and see our life as a journey that quickens our faith and deepens our soul. Reverence: Let’s practice reverence for life. The sacred is in, with, and under all the things of the world. Let’s respond with appropriate respect and awe. Shadow: Let’s give up trying to hide, deny, or escape from our imperfections and listen to what our demons have to say to us.
Silence: Let’s slow down and find a place where we can regularly practice silence. There we will find the resources to revitalize our body, mind, and soul. Teachers: Let’s be willing to learn from the spiritual teachers all around us, however unlikely or unlike they may be. Let’s be sensitive students. Transformation: Let’s welcome the positive changes that are taking place in our life and open up the windows and let in some fresh air. Wholeness and healing are waiting in the wings.

Unity: In this age of global spirituality, let’s respect differences but affirm commonalities. Let’s work together with those who are trying to make the world a better place. Vision: Let’s practice the art of seeing the invisible and use the wisdom of our personal visions to renew ourselves and our community. Wonder: Let’s cultivate a vibrant curiosity and welcome the reports of our senses. The world is alive and moving toward us with rare epiphanies and wonderful surprises. Let’s remember we are standing on holy ground.
The mystery: Let’s accept the unknown as part of life. Let’s not try to unravel the profound mysteries of God, human nature, and the natural world. Let’s love the ineffable.  Yearning: Let’s follow our heart’s boundless desire. It takes us out of ourselves and fosters an appreciation for the multidimensional pleasures of life. You: Let’s accept that we are children of God. Let’s sing our own song with gusto and fulfill our mission as copartners with the Holy One in the unfolding drama of the universe. Zeal: Let’s be passionately aroused by life and cherish every moment, honor our commitments, and treasure our kinship with all.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

‘Love’ as an addiction

“Ideally, love and addiction do not have anything at all to do with one another. They are polar opposites. Nothing could be further removed from genuine love—conceived as a commitment to mutual growth and fulfillment—than the desperate self-seeking dependency which, with drugs, we call addiction.”  DR. STANTON PEELE

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – There is an understandable resistance to the idea that a human relationship can be equivalent psychologically to a drug addiction.
Yet it is not unreasonable to look for addiction between lovers when psychologists find the roots of drug addiction in childhood dependency needs and stunted family relationships. Others interpret drugs to be a kind of substitute for human ties. In this sense, addictive love is even more directly linked to what are recognized to be the sources of addiction than is drug dependency.
Almost everyone knows of people who replace romantic relationships with other kinds of escapes, including drug escapes, at least until the next relationship comes along. Immediately after or immediately before an affair, such individuals are deeply immersed in psychiatry, religion, alcohol, marijuana, and the like.
Just as some addicts shift between opiate, alcohol, and barbiturate addictions, so we find others using drugs interchangeably with all-consuming systems of belief or social involvements. Consider this testimony to a member of a fanatical religious commune: “I used to do acid, chug wine. I thought it was the answer. But it didn’t satisfy, just like everything else. I went to a head shrink…Nothing ever did satisfy till I came to Jesus.” He might have added, “I used to make it with chicks,” for other converts are the spurned lovers who in an earlier era would have entered a convent or monastery.


Addiction and personal relationships counselor, Dr. Stanton Peele, explains in Love and Addiction: “I know a man who started drinking heavily after a long-time woman friend left him. He wrote about his reactions at the time of the breakup:  Since Linda left I mainly just lie in bed. I’m just too weak to move, and I have the chills all the time. …I’ve been drinking the scotch my sister left here….I feel so horrible, so dispossessed—like the real me doesn’t exist anymore.
Peele says the man couldn’t sleep, and his heartbeat sometimes sped up frighteningly when he wasn’t doing anything. “These are symptoms of actual withdrawal,” elaborates Steele. “We know they can occur—perhaps quite often in certain groups and at certain ages—when one is deprived of a lover. Popular music sings paeans to the experience as a hallmark of true love: ‘When I lost my baby, I almost lost my mind…Since you left me baby, my whole life is through.’”
What is there about love that produces withdrawal in people we have all known, maybe even in ourselves? Can we envision a kind of love that does not bring such devastation in its wake? Let us look closely at how “love” can be an addiction, and how addictive love differs from genuine love.
In a monograph entitled “Being in Love and Hypnosis,” Sigmund Freud noted important parallels between love and another psychologically compelling process—hypnotism. According to Freud, a person’s self-love can be transferred from the person’s own ego to a loved object. When this occurs, the other person more and more gains “possession of the entire self-love of the ego, whose self-sacrifice thus follows as a natural consequence. The object has, so to speak, consumed the ego.”


The ultimate development of this sort of love is a state where the lover’s ego “is impoverished”, it has surrendered itself to the object, it has substituted the object for its own most important constituent.”
Freud goes on to say: “From being in love to hypnosis is evidently only a short step. The respects in which the two agree are obvious. There is the same humble subjection, the same compliance, the same absence of criticism, toward the hypnotist as toward the loved object. There is the same sapping of the subject’s own initiative…The hypnotist (as a model of a loved other) is the sole object, and no attention is paid to any but him.”
Love is an ideal vehicle for addiction because it can so exclusively claim a person’s consciousness. If, to serve as an addiction, something must be both reassuring and consuming, then a sexual or love relationship is perfectly suited for the task.
“If it must also be patterned, predictable, and isolated, then in these respects, too, a relationship can be ideally tailored to the addictive purpose,” adds Peele, who has written articles for Psychology Today, Reader’s’ Digest and other publications. “Someone is dissatisfied with himself or his situation can discover in such a relationship the most encompassing substitute for self-contentment and the effort required to attain it.”


When a person goes to another with the aim of filling a void in himself, the relationship quickly becomes the center of his or her life. It offers him a solace that contrasts sharply with what he finds everywhere else, so he returns to it more and more, until he needs it to get through each day of his otherwise stressful and unpleasant existence.
When a constant exposure to something is necessary in order to make life bearable, an addiction has been brought about, however, romantic the trappings. The ever-present danger of withdrawal creates an ever-present craving,” Peele concludes.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sex-object trap

“Men sometimes are masters of their fates; The fault dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."   WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – Dr. Warren Farrell refers to the socialization of men and women as it exists when he refers something as “masculine” or “feminine.”
At an early age, Farrell points out in the Liberated Man, boys see model of men who seek material success, physical and psychological strength, leadership invulnerability; who suppress their fear, control their emotions; who are pragmatic, know all the answers, never seek help, are tough and independent; who have a substantial degree of power, ambition, and physical and sexual aggression; who have control in sexual relations, make decisions, can get what they want when they want it; who generally want to be on top, be a protector, earn more than—and in general be better than—(preferably a man; if not, then a woman).
“The woman’s socialization encourages domesticity, nurturance, dependency, modesty, coyness, deviousness, warmth, emotionality, illogicality, the ability to be sensually and sexually arousing (while simultaneously properly inhibited and submissive), fearfulness, the need for protection, tenderness, fragility, displays of affection and ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’ (meaning: something extra to be added to the real substance). The traits are off limits to the mail,” explains Farrell.
Perhaps Dan Wakefield best describes in his novel Going All the Way. “You have to have confidence, a little swagger but not in a boastful way, an easiness, a style, an air of casual good nature, of leadership than wasn’t sought but seemed to come natural. You couldn’t pin it down but you could see it in a person.”


Men often ask “What’s wrong with appreciating a woman who’s physically attractive? After all, that’s the first thing you see, isn’t it?” In context, nothing is wrong, but as Farrel’s man in the consciousness group, Lewis, discovered, “the first thing you see” led him into what might be called a sex-object trap:
“I got to the party after not having sex for weeks. My girl and I broke up two weeks before. So I looked over all the girls in the party. One was really a turn-on, but I didn’t think she would be attracted to me. Besides, this lawyer fellow seemed to be putting the make on her. I didn’t want to hack the competition. But there was another chick, err, girl, who was almost as attractive, so I decided to see if I could get her—I mean, have a relationship—ya know what I mean.”
“Well, I got up the nerve to approach her—see if he wanted to drink, or something. I spent most of the evening on her—err, with her. When it got later, she made up some excuse about having to get to bed early because she had to get up early—but I wasn’t included in her bedroom plans that night. It took another couple of outings.
“The problem is, I like her physically and all, and she’s interested in what I have to say, but I always find I’m having trouble to bring her up to my intellectual level—I kind of like that for an evening, but I want a more liberated long-term relationship. I’ve really been looking, but it’s a problem. I guess I’ll break up with her if she doesn’t change. But it’s always a hassle to have to go back out and find someone else. I’ve sort of got an investment in her now, you know?”


Farrell explains that Lewis chose a woman primarily on the basis of physical appearance and expected mental compatibility. While he would not have pursued a relationship with a “dumb broad,” he would have found it much easier to find someone compatible in terms of mental vibrations and warmth had his focus been on that from the outset and on appearance secondarily.
By focusing on the physical the rest only came by coincidence. We eventually started referring to this as the first stage of “the sex-object trap,” says Farrell who found out that often our assumptions that we were bringing the woman up to our level only meant that we were evaluating her from our area of topic security—bringing her to our functions with our friends discussing topics with which we were familiar.
The sex-object trap becomes greater if a man’s investment in a woman is greater and if she finds him attractive, says Farrell. Then he really feels trapped, looking for a graceful way to back out. His resentment increases the longer he plays the game, eventually becoming deep; at that point he usually gets out, but not without a mark on him and his feelings toward women.
He is determined not to make the same mistake again, but he doesn’t know how he made the mistake. Now he knows only that the last weeks of the relationship were without sex. He’s hungry for sex. So once again he looks for a beautiful woman. He goes to a party, sees one who’s a turn-on, and it starts all over again.


While the resentment occurring from finding oneself trapped with an incompatible woman may lead to contempt if his “investment” in her is great, a small investment can lead to a different type of contempt. A woman (a “chick”) who does initiate physical contact or goes to bed the first night still has unspoken (or spoken) aspersions cast upon her. She is suspected of being just a sloppy two-bit whore, an oversexed, insatiable bitch, a nymphomaniac. She is the subject of myths such as “a woman who goes to bed a lot gets a big sloppy cunt.” As Germaine Greer put it, “The best thing a cunt can be is small and unobtrusive; the anxiety about the bigness of the penis is only equaled by anxiety about the smallness of the cunt.”
The trapped man’s contempt for women increases, no matter what his investment, and the woman denies her sexuality, risks being termed “a cunt,” objectifies the man for his investment capabilities, or finds herself in all three traps.
The negative connotation in calling a woman “a cunt” also stand in marked contrast to the positive connotations of terming a male a “man with balls”—a man who stands up for his rights. If a guy is “hairy,” he’s smart and conniving, and “Man, what a fucker!” is even more a phrase of inspiration than the military slogan “He came, he saw, he conquered” (unless inverted: he saw, he conquered, he came”).


“At first it may appear that the compulsion a woman feels to keep slim, dye her hair, make weekly trips to a beauty parlor, use a feminine-hygiene deodorant, apply make-up, and shave her legs and underarms is just a way of keeping herself properly maintained,” stresses Farrell. “However, this same woman is often expected to accept a beer-billed man who, in Germaine Greer’s words, sports ‘bad breath, farting, a stubble, baldness, and other ugliness without complaint. Man demands his arrogance to be loved as he is.”
The difference is not absolute—everyone likes everyone to look nice—but a matter of degree. The degree to which slimness and shaved legs and underarms is presumed necessary for a woman and the degree to which it is of little importance of a man in her life, dares not challenge him to “Accept me as I am” or she believes she may find herself rejected. It may not be an exaggeration to claim that a person who feels he may be rejected if his looks are not maintained may be the object of underlying contempt.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Our best friends and worst enemies

"Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody." MARK TWAIN

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – Our thoughts are our best friends and our worst enemies.
A thought can do us more good than a priest or a faith healer or a faithful friend. 
It can also do us more harm than a boxer’s lucky punch.
That many people are injured in health by their thoughts is well known, according to religious minister, Dr. Frank Crane. Many systems of healing are built up around the idea of the healing nature of what takes place in the mind.
Christian Science largely depends on our control of our thoughts, and the Coue system rests upon the same basis, he pointed out.
Many of us have known what a disturbing thought can do to us when we are trying to go to sleep. 
All of us have passed sleepless nights with bothersome thoughts. 
If we could have dismissed these kinds of thoughts and had the consoling kind we would have been able to have our desired rest.
Thoughts get between us and our friends. 
Many a quarrel and a grudge has been kept alive by the wrong thought, and if we could have got rid of it or laughed at it the quarrel would have disappeared.


The object of all religions is to encourage us in the right kind of thinking, to fill the mind with the proper images. 
For when the mind is full of wholesome thoughts the body responds.
“We can see what influence a thought has upon us by concentrating our attention, for instance, on our hand or foot; in a short time the member which we think about will develop some kind of a disease,” Crane explained.
“Every great work of man has been the result of a thought. A tall office building was once merely a thought. The cathedral was once a vision of the mind. In fact, it is thought, after all, which eventually commands material and controls brick and mortar.”
Thoughts are the causes of war. 
There would be no conflict if one nation did not get into a state of mind in regards to another.


Thoughts bring on peace. 
They are the greatest of peace makers, although peace-producing thoughts are not so plentiful as those which produce trouble.
One of the hardest things for man to learn is that he can control the visions of his mind.
When one has mastered this difficult art and can in a measure determine what he shall think upon he is on a road to health and sanity.
Crane stressed: “On the contrary, to think of thoughts as something inevitable, something over which we have no control, and to whose influence we are subject as to an unescapable tyranny, is the way to laxness and disease.”
Doubtless every suicide is a culmination of wrong thinking. Every other kind of crime is the outbreak of wrong thinking,
“If the control of one’s self is the greatest of goals, the control of one’s thoughts is a still greater, for what a man thinketh so he is,” suggested Crane. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Secret of genius

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – Dr. Frank Crane once narrated a story about the writer who asked an eminent musician why Paderewski was better than other piano players.
This was the musician’s reply: “Did you ever see a horse race? Well, in a close finish, you know, one horse is just a little bit better than the others. That’s why Paderewski is the greatest pianist.”
This enigmatical reply suggests a great deal.
It is the thing we cannot put our finger on, the indefinable, the impalpable, which bridges that fine line between talent and genius.
Work alone won’t take us over the line. It takes us nearer, and we cannot bridge it until we near it, but work alone will not do it.


Determination alone won’t do it. We may grit our teeth and say, “Now something’s got to crack. I will do it.” But determination alone will never create a work of genius.
Education alone won’t do it. It helps, but genius is often a thing apart from books and instruction.
The truth is, genius is something we either have or we have not. If we haven’t, there is nothing we can do about it.
Then, we ask, what is the use talking of it?
This is the answer:
Nobody ever knows whether he has genius or not. Some unpromising specimens have had it. It sometimes does not show itself for years and years, Sometimes it is not recognized until long after the possessor is dead.
No one can tell until he has tried, and he has not tried until he has done his best and continued to do his best for a long time.


De Maupassant, the master of French short story, wrote and tore up what he wrote for give long years, perfecting his art. Later he produced such masterpieces as “Happiness” and “The Piece of String.”
His advice was: “Practice for years. Make yourself as clear as possible, Then in everything you write do your best. Someday the muse may visit you and you will write a masterpiece. And one sonnet or one short story is enough to bring lasting fame.”
As someone has said: “Genius is the matter of a quarter of an hour.” If we always try to do our best, always strive to perfect to the highest possible degree, we may be one of the favored few, but anyhow we will have done our part.
Having genius is something we cannot determine and are not responsible for, but doing our best is entirely within our control.

‘Suspicious’ friendship between men and women

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California -- It is the custom to look upon friendship between men and women with suspicion.
The hard-headed wisdom of the world finds it difficult to admit that there is any such thing without the entrance of a baser motive, Dr. Frank Crane wrote in his book, Everyday Wisdom.
At the same time there have been as many enduring friendships between men and women as there have been friendships between men and between women. There is no doubt , Crane explained, that the play of sex instinct, in what may be called a secondary or tertiary place, is as stimulating as those of more immediate contact.


There is something in the companionship of men and women that is distinctly stimulating and creative. According to Crane, it is allied to, and germaine to, that creative instinct which enables people to do their best work in the world.
The greatest poetry, if not the greatest prose, has been written under the inspiration of the opposite sex.
“There is no doubt but that the companionship is dangerous in a way but all precious things are dangerous and this should not induce us to question our friendships. There is something peculiarly stimulating to a man in the friendship of a woman which he does not find in that of a man,” Crane wrote.
He said there is such a thing as sex in ideas and in personality and point of view, as well as more bodily functions; and there is little doubt but what each member of the race is stimulated to do the best work under the influence of the opposite sex.


Boys are better trained if they are allowed to associate freely with girls, and men acquire a smoothness of manner under the influence of women more than they do by themselves. In fact the question of educating each sex by itself has found considerable opposition from those who are best acquainted with the fundamentals of human nature, he added.
Whoever made the human race, male and female created He them, and it is intended for them to best develop their personality and live out their lives by being in constant contact one sex with another.  It is pretty well demonstrated that a life can only find its proper stimulus and interest in the presence of the opposite sex, Crane stressed.
He summed up: “It is doubtful whether a man has ever attained distinction without the presence of some of those women who are called ‘femmes inspiritrice’ by the French which means those women who are especially endowed in inspirational ability.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pacquiao wasn’t robbed; he was ‘punished’ under law of supply and demand

Pacquiao wasn’t robbed; he was ‘punished’
under law of supply and demand

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – When Manny Pacquiao was “about to fail” to produce a knockout victory after five straight fights the night of June 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, his goose was cooked.
After his failure to deck Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, and Juan Manuel Marquez, boxing – Las Vegas boxing to be precise – was on death throes. (He fought both Clottey and Margarito in Arlington, Texas).
Four straight boring decision wins for the man who rescued professional boxing from doldrums in absence of exciting heavyweight bouts that used to dominate prizefighting in the 60s, 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s was not good for business.
A fifth straight decision win for the most celebrated boxer in the planet today would be fatal for the sport that has amassed billions of revenues since Las Vegas captured worldwide audience in sports and entertainment on October 2, 1980 when Larry Holmes blasted to smithereens Muhammad Ali via 10th round TKO to annex the WBC heavyweight title.
For financiers to continue hitting pay dirt and luring rich sponsors, boxing needed a spectacular knockout show from the best boxer pound-for-pound to satisfy paying bloodthirsty fans and to keep boxing’s cash registry machine ringing.
In Las Vegas – or in any part of the United States in as far as boxing is concerned – Manny Pacquiao is business; business is Manny Pacquiao. The congressman from Mindanao is boxing’s multi-billion guy and number one endorser. He is boxing’s life-support system. Each lackluster performance means a decline in pay-per-view and gate receipts in the next promotion.


On Pacquiao’s shoulders rest the titanic responsibility to fill the vacuum left behind by Holmes, Ali, George Foreman, Riddick Bowe, Andrew Golota, Evander Holyfield, Ray Mercer, Vitaly Klitschko, and Mike Tyson. Boxing skidded into all-time low when explosive heavyweight duels virtually closed shop in the later part of 1990’s. Enter Pacquiao, a mighty atom who packs wallop in both fists.
Although his baptism of fire in Las Vegas occurred on June 23, 2001 when he poleaxed Lehlono Ledwaba of South Africa in the sixth round to clinch the IBF super-bantamweight crown as a relative unknown in the US market, empty seats in major venues such as Thomas & Mack Center, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, began to disappear when Pacquiao humiliated Erik “El Terible” Morales via 10th round TKO on January 21, 2006 at the Thomas & Mack Center to avenge a 12-round unanimous decision loss  to the Mexican on March 19, 2005 at the MGM Grand.
The revenge to Morales romped off Pacquiao’s love affair with Las Vegas where he obtained a perfect 10-0 win-loss (6 KO’s) juggernaut in world title showdowns. In those victories, he became one of the riches paid athletes in the world amassing nearly a whopping $60 million in purses and shares in pay-per-view, according to Forbes Magazine


Pacquiao’s last stoppage victory came on November 14, 2009 when he grabbed Miguel Angel Cotto’s WBO welterweight title on a brutal 11th round TKO at the MGM Grand.
Since then, he logged decision victories against Clottey (12-round WBO welterweight title), Margarito (12-round WBC light-middleweight title), Mosley (WBO welterweight title), and Marquez (WBO welterweight title).
Hounded by calls for his retirement owing to a mothballed fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and alarming decline of his knockout percentage, Pacquiao was obliged to put to sleep Timothy Ray Bradley Jr. in their 12-round battle for the WBO 147-lb jewels to preserve the chain of command prior to a possible fisticuff against Mayweather Jr. and to protect his market value as boxing’s only 8-division champion in history. Most of all, to ignite sparks in fight business in danger of being walloped by recession.
If he couldn’t put up a spectacular performance against Bradley – a knockout in his 60th professional fight – a changing of the guard was imminent.  No one has the monopoly to bankroll millions of dollars without putting up a hair-splitting show.


Since Bradley’s “a good guy,” according to Top Rank boss Bob Arum during the post-fight press conference, “it’s okay” (if Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight belt changed waist).
Young and eager to prove his win against Pacquiao wasn’t a fluke, Bradley will now aim to give the sport a new lease in life by knocking out all his next challengers if he hurdles Pacquiao in their November 2 rematch.
For Arum, et al, when one door closes, another door will open. Arum’s love for Bradley is not a secret. Immediately after Michael Buffer announced the split decision verdict, Arum didn’t hide his excitement as he congratulated the newly crowned champion like a father shaking the hand of a graduating son accepting awards on stage.
Pacquiao, who vowed to deny the judges the chance to decide the outcome of his rematch with Bradley, may not have realized that the judges who scored a split decision for Bradley after he failed to send the unbeaten American to dreamland, did not rob him of his WBO title. The “punishment” was necessary under law of supply and demand.