Thursday, October 22, 2009


Just food for thought... :)

Today I was sent an email/chain mail from a staunchly religious friend, with a link to a website dedicated to highlighting Muslims converting to Christianity. She was very excited about the topic. Here is the link:

Here follows my email reply:

My Friend,

Perhaps you would like this video about a Priest called to Islam by none other than Jesus?

Or perhaps you would like stories and videos about Christians who convert to Hinduism?

Or is it more likely that... just like a modern Bedouin tribesman born in Saudi Arabia prefers to hear about converts to Islam,

or just like a lady born in the Punjab region of India would likes stories of former Christians taking up the Vedic Texts and finding peace and enlightenment in Lord Vishnu,

or just like a Persian from 2,500 years ago would have preferred hearing about new converts to Zoroaster,

or just like a person born in Egypt 4,000 years ago would have liked to hear about new worshipers of Ra or Atan...

that you yourself, only because you were born into Christianity, prefer to hear about new Christian converts?

Ultimately, the overwhelming determining factor in your religious beliefs depend almost soley on where you are born and/or raised, nothing more and nothing less.

If you had been born in Saudi Arabia, you would be extolling to me the "virtues" and "Truth" of Isam... and sending out quotes from Joel Olsteen's Islamic counterparts.

If you had been born into a North American Apache Indian tribe 200 years ago, you would speak to me of the Trickster Coyote and the Thunderbird.

Of course, anyone can convert from ANY religion to ANY religion... and they do.

I can point out entire websites devoted to nothing but Christians becoming Muslims... the same can be said for Hindu sites showing and describing converts to their various Gurus...

BUT THE POINT is that all of these converts on all sides are in relatively very small numbers... the simple Truth, is that ones religion is determined by that which one covets first... that which one sees and knows first... that which one is born into.

And it is not a numbers game such as, "well I think my religion is true because I have more converts"... many religions dominated the globe in terms of sheer numbers throughout history... but this fact doesn't make them anymore True, than any other religion.

Sooo, before you make claims about your particular faith being the right one based on "your feelings"... just remember, that "your feelings" feel good, and right, and true, because that is what you have been most likely born into... not much else to it.

My Kitchen Table Said NO! (Based on the Chain Email Entitled, "God Said No")


I asked my kitchen table to take away my habit.

My kitchen table didn't answer.
I realized that it isn't for my table to take away,
but for me to give it up.

I asked my kitchen table to make my handicapped child whole.
The kitchen table said nothing.
I realized that his mind was whole, and that my child was still there, just in a broken body.

I asked my kitchen table to grant me patience.
The kitchen table said nothing.
I remembered that Patience is a byproduct of tribulations;
it is not granted, it is learned.

I asked my kitchen table to give me happiness.
My kitchen table said nothing.
I realized I should appreciate what I have;
Happiness is up to you.

I asked my kitchen table to spare me pain.
My kitchen table said nothing.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to accepting life's difficulties as being par for the course.

I asked my kitchen table to make my spirit grow.
My kitchen table said nothing.
I realized that I must grow on my own,
but I have friends and family to help me on my journey.

I asked my kitchen table for all things that I might enjoy life.
My kitchen table said nothing.
I realized that I have a life to live,
and that I should try and enjoy all things.

I asked my kitchen table to help me LOVE others,
as much as my kitchen table loves me.
My kitchen table said nothing...

I realized a positive message about life doesn't require any gods or goddesses;
it doesn't require the Greek Zeus, Apollo, Posideon, or Aphrodite;
it doesn't require the the Egyptian Ra, Ptah, Osiris, or Isis;
it doesn't require the East African Ju-Ju on the Mountain,
or the Apache Trickster Coyote,
nor any of the more than 2,500 gods and goddesses that reside in the various mythologies of peoples around the globe...
... oh yes, and including that particular Hebrew god, the God of Israel "YHWH" (Yahweh).

Finally you might start to have the idea;
The difference between asking your kitchen table and any god or goddess for something is... ZERO.


To the world you might be one person,
But to one person you just might be the world.

Good friends are like stars... you don't always see them, but you know they are always there.

Why muddy up a nice feel good positive message poem with imaginary friends?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lord Raglan, the “Hero Pattern”, and Pagan Parallels with Jesus

If you haven’t had the pleasure of being introduced to FitzRoy Richard Somerset, the 4th Baron Raglan (1885 to 1964), or just good ol’ Lord Raglan for short, then allow me to happily introduce you.

I don’t want to go into detail about the man himself, but I’ll just mention a few basics.

There is no doubt that he led a varied and very adventurous life. While in the British Army, he served in Southern Sudan between 1913 and 1918 and it was there that he became interested in Cultural Anthropology.

Specifically, he spent a lot of time with the Lotuko people and produced the first Lotuko/English dictionary (Andreas Grüb, ‘The Lotuho of the Southern Sudan: An Ethnological Monograph.’ Studien zur Kulturekunde, 102 Band, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 1992).

Later in life, he would write many different works, especially on the topics of religion and folklore, even holding the prestigious position of President of the Folk Lore Society which was part of the British Royal Anthropological Institute (

But the work I would like you (dear reader) to consider is his 1936 book, The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama.

In this book, Lord Raglan outlines 22 common traits of heroes and/or legendary beings… that are universal among cultures around the world.

Simply put, one may use the list to analyze any given folk hero or legendary figure, and come up with a score of 1 to 22.

Real people score very low typically 5 or below (Charles Darwin scores a 4), while mythical figures score high (Zeus scores a 14, Robin Hood scores a 13, Theseus scores a 20, etc…).

It has been noted that some historical figures can score a little higher. For instance, Alexander the Great can score a 7 depending on which claims about his life are used. Consider other cases where a real person has had folklore or myths added to their lives (i.e. David Korresh, Leif Ericson).

The crux of his argument is that most legendary figures are not based in historical fact, but rather in what he called Ritual Drama.

Using these scores, now commonly referred to as the, “Lord Raglan Scores", one can give a sort of calculation as to how likely a given figure is historical or mythical.

You may be thinking that this sounds like Joseph Campell’s idea of mythical archetypes, influenced by the likes of Otto Rank’s The Myth of the Birth of the Hero, and James Frazer’s The Golden Bough, and it is a similar concept, but Campbell was concerned with looking at the psychological aspects of the hero concept (Joseph Campbell, The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work, 3rd edition, Phil Cousineau, editor. Novato, California: New World Library, 2003).

Lord Raglan on the other hand was mainly concerned with the historicity of a given figure (The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama by Lord Raglan, Dover Publications edition).

One might also say that his system also represents a sort of red flag or bull shit alarm when looking at stories surrounding actual historical figures... that is to say, a method for identifying the infecting creep of folklore into the life stories of otherwise historical figures.

Here follows the scoring system for the Hero Pattern:
1. The hero's mother is a royal virgin
2. His father is a king and
3. often a near relative of the mother, but
4. the circumstances of his conception are unusual, and
5. he is also reputed to be the son of a god
6. at birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or maternal grandfather, to kill him, but
7. He is spirited away, and
8. Reared by foster-parents in a far country
9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but
10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom.
11. After a victory over the king and or giant, dragon, or wild beast
12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor and
13. becomes king
14. For a time he reigns uneventfully and
15. Prescribes laws but
16. later loses favor with the gods and or his people and
17. Is driven from from the throne and the city after which
18. He meets with a mysterious death
19. often at the top of a hill.
20. his children, if any, do not succeed him.
21. his body is not buried, but nevertheless
22. he has one or more holy sepulchres.

Let’s see what scores pop up when this system is applied to some mythological and known historical figures. The following scores are from several sources (see references):

Heracles (

His mother, Alcmene, is (1) a royal virgin
and his father is (2) King Amphitryon
who is (3) her first cousin.
He is reputed to be (5) the son of Zeus,
who (4) visited Alcmene in the guise of Amphitryon.
At his birth (6) Hera tries to kill him.
On reaching adulthood he (11) performs feats and fine victories,
after which he (10) proceeds to Calydon,
where he (12) marries the king's daughter,
and (13) becomes ruler.
He remains there (14) quietly for some years,
after which an accidental manslaughter compels him (17) to flee from the country.
He disappears (18) from a funeral pyre (19)
on the top of Mt. Oeta.
His sons (20) do not succeed him.
His body (21) is not found,
and (22) he is worshipped in temples.

Hercules (Heracles) scores 17 points

Krishna (

1. His mother Devaki had several children before having him, thus making her very un-virginal.
2. Devaki almost counts as royalty because her father Devaka was rich enough to afford a dowry of 400 elephants fully decorated with golden garlands, 15,000 decorated horses, 1800 chariots, and the hiring of 200 pretty young ladies to follow her.
3. His father Vasudeva was the son of King Surasena, but was not quite a king.
4. Devaki learned that she was pregnant with someone special when she became pregnant with Krishna; outside from that, her pregnancy and giving birth were normal.
5. Krishna is considered an avatar of the great Hindu god Vishnu.
6. The wicked King Kamsa had imprisoned Vasudeva and Devaki, and had killed their previous offspring. He thus followed the footsteps of baby-killers Pharaoh, Herod, and Amulius, who came after Moses, Jesus Christ, and Romulus and Remus.
7. When he was born, he was switched with Yogamaya, daughter of Yasoda and Nanda (mother and father), thus frustrating Kamsa.
8. Yasoda and Nanda return to their home and raise Krishna there.
9. There are some childhood details, such as his learning to dance, his having fun with some gopis, and his fighting some wicked demons.
10. King Kamsa invites Krishna and a friend to a wrestling match, hoping that Krishna will be defeated.
11. But Krishna wins, prompting Kamsa to order Krishna's foster father and several others murdered. Whereupon Krishna kills Kamsa.
12. Krishna marries some beautiful princesses.
13. Krishna helps make a certain Ugrusena king; he himself becomes king after a while.
14. The Kurukshetra War counts against this; Krishna also fights more demons, plays his flute, and has some fun with his gopi groupies. Krishna's fun loving is a rarity among religious prophets; only Jesus Christ comes anywhere close with his turning of water into wine for a wedding party.
15. Krishna delivers the Bhagavad-Gita to Arjuna at the beginning of that war.
16. Krishna's family misbehaves, giving Krishna a bad name.
17. Krishna's family and clan are destroyed in a civil war, leaving him to wander around.
18. Krishna shot in the foot by a hunter named "Old Age" (jara); his brother turns into a snake and goes into the sea.
19. Krishna dies in a forest by the seashore.
20. He had no successors.
21. He rose up into heaven.
22. Several places are described as his last resting place.

Lord Krishna scores 21 points

Jesus (
1. His mother is a royal virgin. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke state that Jesus' mother is a virgin. (e.g. Matthew 1:23). The genealogies in the two gospels indicate that Joseph is of royal descent; Mary would partake of royalty by being married to Joseph. (e.g. Matthew 1:1-16).
2. His father is a king. Jesus is regarded to be the Son of God, and God is often referred to as King of Kings.
3. His father and mother are related. There is no match here. Nothing is known about the genealogy of Mary, so this cannot be confirmed. If the early Christians believed that Joseph and Mary were related, then this information did not make it into the Gospels.
4. His conception was unusual. Both the Gospels of Luke and of Matthew state that Jesus was conceived by Mary "from the Holy Spirit" without having engaged in sexual intercourse with a man. (Matthew 1:20),
5. He was said to be the son of God. This is seen throughout the Christian Scriptures. Considering only the first chapter of the Gospel of John, there are seven references to Jesus as the Son of God:
6. 7. as "The Word" being with God.
8. 9. as the "only begotten of the Father."
10. 11. as the "only begotten Son"
12. 13. as "the Lamb of God." (2 times)
14. 15. as the "Son of God." (2 times)
16. There was an attempt to kill the hero while he was a child. In Matthew 2:16, Herod ordered that "all the Children who were in Bethlehem" and its vicinity were to be murdered. (KJV) 3 The NIV says that the slaughter was to be restricted to only male infants.
17. He was spirited away. Matthew 2:13-14 relates how an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to flee to Egypt with his family.
18. He was reared by foster parents in a country far away. Matthew 2:15 states that Jesus was raised in Egypt until Herod died, and it was safe for the family to return to Nazareth. Most hero myths involve a foster family. In the case of Yeshua, Joseph was not Jesus' father; Joseph was a type of foster father.
19. Little or no information is known about his childhood. The Christian Scriptures give almost no details about the life of Jesus, from the time that he was circumcised at the age of eight days (Luke 2:21) until his baptism at about the age of 30. The only exception is Luke 2:46-49 where, at the age of 12, he was described as having been taken to Jerusalem at the time of Passover. He is described as debating theological matters with the priests. Presenting the hero as a child prodigy does not appear in the Mythic Hero Archetype being considered here. However, Robert Price states that "it is a frequent mytheme in other hero tales not considered by Raglan..." 1
20. He goes to a future kingdom. Jesus went to Jerusalem just before his last Passover, where he was declared king by the public. John 12:12-13 says that "a great multitude took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: 'Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!' " (NKJ)
21. He is victorious over the king. The passage in John 18:36-37 describes how Jesus demonstrated superior debating skill when interviewed by Pilate. More importantly, Jesus' resurrection which was mentioned in all four Gospels and many additional locations in the Christian Scriptures is the ultimate victory over the king who was responsible for ordering the crucifixion. Pilate ordered Jesus death and Jesus was triumphant. Pilate was not a king; he was a procurator -- a type of governor. But he still had enormous power.
22. He marries a princess. There is no match here -- only the suggestion of a tie-in. There is no record of Jesus having been married. However, some theologians have suggested that the miracle story in which he converts water into wine may have taken place at his own wedding. The Gospels talk extensively about women being in Jesus' retinue during his ministry. In the culture of Palestine during the 1st century CE, these female followers would have had to be married to Jesus and/or the disciples, or they were prostitutes. One assumes the former, because one would otherwise expect the Pharisees to repeatedly and viciously criticize Jesus for moral laxity if he was followed by a crowd of hookers. It has been argued that Jesus was probably married. Jewish society strongly pressured men to marry while young; if Jesus remained single, then one would have expected the Pharisees to criticize him for remaining a bachelor. Luke 8:3 indicates that one of the women who followed Jesus was at least close to King Herod.
23. He becomes king. John 18:36-37 describes how the people of Jerusalem proclaimed him the King of Israel. Pilate jokingly recognizes that the public considered Jesus as a king in Mark 15:12 and John 19:15. In Mark 15:18, the Roman soldiers jokingly referred to him as king of the Jews. A plaque was placed above his head during the execution. It called him "The King of the Jews." (e.g. Mark 15:26).
24. He reigns uneventfully, for a while. He does not reign in the sense of having temporal power. However, Mark 12:27 to 13: describes how he holds court in the Jerusalem temple.
25. He prescribes laws. In Mark 12 and 13, "...He issues teachings, parables, and prophecies, which are taken with legal force by his followers."
26. He loses favor with the gods or his subjects. The Gospels record how the public turns against Jesus and demands that he be crucified. (e.g. John 19:15).
27. He is driven from the throne and city. In Luke 23:26-32, he is led out of the city by Roman soldiers.
28. He has a mysterious death. During Jesus' crucifixion, he died after an unexpectedly short time. (John 19:31-33). More mysterious than that were the events at the time of his death. Luke 23:44-45 describes how the sun stopped shining and the curtain in the temple was torn in two. Matthew 27:51-53 describes major earthquakes sufficiently strong to split rocks. Matthew also discusses the resurrection of many people from their graves, who subsequently entered the city and appeared to many people.
29. He dies at the top of a hill: He was executed on the hill of Golgotha, on top of Mount Calvary.
30. If he has any children, they do not succeed him. There is nothing in the Christian Scriptures to indicate that Jesus had children. It was Jesus brother, James, who succeeded him as leader of the disciples, and the head of the Jewish Christian group in Jerusalem. (Some faith groups regard James as Jesus' step-brother, cousin or friend).
31. His body was not buried: Rather than being buried in an earthen grave, his body was temporarily laid out in a rock cave. At some unknown time between late Friday afternoon, when he was laid in the tomb, and the following Sunday morning, the Gospels all say that Jesus was resurrected. Biblical Scholar Robert Price comments that this "would seem to be within legitimate variant-distance of the ideal legend type."
32. One or more holy sepulchers are built: The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built over the place where many Christians believe that Jesus was executed.

Jesus scores 18 to 20 points depending on certain interpretations

Charles Darwin (based on a similar 23 point Raglan Variation)

1. His mother, Susannah Wedgwood, came from an aristocratic family. (0.5)
2. She had four previous ones before having him. (0)
3. his father, Robert Darwin, came from an aristocratic family; his father was the noted biologist Erasmus Darwin. (0.5)
4. No evidence of this. (0).
5. No evidence of this. (0).
6. Even his most fervent admirers consider him 100% human. (0)
7. Does not happen. (0)
8. No need to. (0)
9. He was raised by his biological parents. (0)
10. No infancy details makes this irrelevant. (0)
11. His voyage aboard the Beagle might possibly be interpreted as that, but he becomes convinced of evolution only well after that voyage. (0)
12. He publishes the Origin of Species and other important writings. (0.5)
13. He marries Emma Wedgwood, from his mother's family. (0.5)
14. He gets hailed as a great scientist. (1)
15. He continues to be productive, though it is hard for him to compete with his magnum opus. (0)
16. His discoveries may or may not qualify as "laws"; they are descriptions, not decrees. (0.5)
17. Does not happen. (0)
18. Does not happen. (0)
19. He dies a normal sort of death. (0)
20. in his house. (0)
21. Some of his children become notable scientists, though in different fields. (0.5)
22. His body is buried in Westminster Abbey. (0)

Chuck here scores 4 points.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (based on a similar 23 point Raglan Variation)

1. His mother Rose Fitzgerald was the daughter of a notable Boston politician, John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald. (0.5)
2. She had Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. before having JFK, though he died in WWII. (0.5)
3. his father Joseph P. Kennedy was a successful businessman who was involved in politics. (0.5)
4. No evidence of this. (0).
5. No evidence of this. (0).
6. Even the biggest JFK groupies don't claim this. (0).
7. Does not happen. (0)
8. No need to. (0)
9. He was raised by his biological parents. (0)
10. No infancy details makes this irrelevant. (0)
11. He enters politics in his home state, Massachusetts. (0)
12. Defeating Richard Nixon in 1960 is hardly a very great triumph. (0)
13. He married Jacqueline Bouvier, who had come from a rich family. (0.5)
14. He became President. (1)
15. His Presidency was rather tempestuous, with the Bay of Pigs would-be invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. (0)
16. His record was rather mixed; he was slow to support civil rights, and he proposed landing on the Moon only late in his Presidency. (0.5)
17. Does not happen. (0)
18. Does not happen. (0)
19. He was assassinated by a lone lunatic who got a good shot at him. (0)
20. He is killed in his parade car. (0)
21. His son JFK Jr. was a lawyer, journalist, publisher, and sex symbol; his daughter Caroline has not been as notable. (1)
22. His body resides in Arlington National Cemetery. (0)
23. Not sure what would qualify as one. (0)

John scores a 4.5

The death of JFK has been the subject of much speculation and conspiracy theorizing, but calling it a mystery would raise his score only by 1.

You get the point.

Here following are the scores of some more interesting figures (

Moses (20) / Romulus (19) / King Arthur (19) / Perseus (18) / Watu Gunung of Java (17) Mohammad (17) / Beowulf (15) / Buddha (15) / Zeus (14) / Nyikang, a cult-hero of the Shiluk tribe of the Upper Nile (14) / Samson (13) / Sunjata, the Lion-King of Ancient Mali (11) / Achilles (10) / Odysseus (8) / Harry Potter (8) / Czar Nicholas II (14)

As I briefly mentioned earlier, an interesting discussion could be made of scoring actual historical figures that have had their life stories affected by the phenomenon of folklore creep.

People like Alexander the Great, who by many accounts was actually the son of Zeus, or Dionysius. The scores can be slightly altered depending on which accounts one uses. What of Achilles? What of Jesus? Ponder.

The topic of various Pagan parallels with the Jesus stories is often brought up in conversations… but I think the point is not that Jesus is copied off Pagan stories… the better point is that they ALL represent the spectrum of completely typical stories that surround human heroes, including Jesus.

Sure, many of the myths surrounding Jesus probably stem from various 1st century Pagan religions… but so what… so too do those 1st century pagan religions have their own sources and parallels with other earlier Pagan stories.

Nothing out of the ordinary as far as I see with the occurence of Pagan Parallels with the stories heaped on Jesus.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Recipes to Cook up Your own Real Life Miracles

Recently, a staunch Roman Catholic friend presented me with the story of the Miracle of Fatima, challenging me to satisfactorily explain the event. This is an event at which somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 people claimed to have witnessed a miracle… an event that has been accepted by the Roman Catholic Church as a bona fide miracle.

Events like this, are supposed to represent the proof of the divine required by those pesky skeptics… proving beyond a reasonable doubt the magic powers of Yahweh… and thereby subsequently also then give legitimacy to the miracle stories of Jesus. One conclusion simply follows the other… right?

This event, the Miracle of Fatima, or the Miracle of the Sun, or the “O Milagre do Sol” if one would like to be suave and say it in Portuguese, took place in 1917 over the Cova da Iria fields near Fatima, Portugal. The primary investigator was a Catholic priest, Father John De Marchi, who went to Fatima and conducted research into the alleged miracle… from 1943 to 1950. In 1952, he eventually produced a book on the subject (currently still available at all tourist hot spots in Fatima with many of the proceeds going to the church no doubt), entitled, “The Immaculate Heart”.

Excerpts and details from Di Marchi’s book are quoted and referenced nicely on Wikipedia at: .

One thing to note while reading through the information is that the numerous discrepancies within the reports get downplayed in a big way. One can easily see a constant theme by De Marchi to “harmonize” the reports as best as he can by saying things like, “Reports do vary; impressions are in minor details confused, but none to our knowledge has directly denied the visible prodigy of the sun”.

At first glance, the O Milagre do Sol is impressive, but only at first glance.

A fact that De Marchi buries deep within his book, is that many witnesses who were present at the event, believers and non-believers, didn’t see anything except the haze covered sun and the multitudes of enraptured believers around them ranting, praying, and prostrating themselves.

But this is an important fact.

Furthermore, three children claiming to have received visitations by the Virgin Mary herself, and who said that a miracle would occur that particular day, were the source of the entire tumult.

There is another conveniently buried fact. Joe Nickell reports in his “Examining Miracle Claims”, published in the March 1996 issue of Deolog, that the mother of the main child involved, 10 year old Lucia Santos, said that Lucia was, “Nothing but a fake who is leading half the world astray”.

And more, a Friar Mario de Oliveira who reputedly knew the young Lucia well said that she was living in a “delirious world of infantile fantasies”, and suffering from, “religious hallucinations”.

I should note here that the mother and Friar completely recanted these earlier statements. But I do not find this strange at all. Given how the events played out eventually, I might recant too if my town and child suddenly became the focus of attention with international tourist leaving hefty donations around the clock.

So, one should already ask the question of whether or not divine visions are involved here or simply bored kids?

But what about the Miracle of the Sun itself; even if the kids were basically telling stories of fantasy, somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 people reported the sun doing many strange things, like spinning and zigzagging. Furthermore, the whole reason people were there at Fatima was because the children had already predicted that a great miracle was going to happen. The case for a miracle sounds interesting. It is well know and documented that the prediction of a miracle was published days in advance by all the local papers. So how is the miracle explained?

Let’s look at this.

What exactly were the strange happenings that became, “The Miracle”?

Well, it depends on who you read and who is talking. We’ll look at witness reports in a moment but for now it should be noted that the 1917 newspaper O Sếculo recorded and published the reports of many witnesses but by the time De Marchi showed up to collect data for his book… it was 1950. This is 33 years later. Sure, many of the original people were still around but the fact is that the stories had plenty of time to grow in the re-telling of the tales.

The fact that such tales DO start to grow in an oral tradition is a phenomenon so well documented that I won’t even go into it in detail here. However, I will say to remember and keep in mind the fact that folk stories do evolve as they are told and the same folk stories evolve in different directions in different communities so that we often end up with regional variations of the same folk story.

Now, it is often pointed out by believers that natural explanations for the miracle at Fatima end up being too complex to work.

First, a very rare weather phenomenon that “just happens” to occur on exactly the day of the predicted miracle seems too unlikely to the believer. Also, the sun seeming to dance and spin in the sky isn’t well explained by any weather phenomenon we know of. So I need to address this issue.

Second, the explanation of a Collective Hallucination, which is rejected in Di Marchi’s book of course, does seem on the face of it, too fantastic… for how could so many people “see” the same Hallucination? So I need to address this issue too.

I have seen numerous explanations by skeptics that attempt to reduce the Fatima Miracle to a simple weather phenomenon and/or a Collective Hallucination and personally, if this is all there was to it, I wouldn’t be very satisfied either.

What is needed is a simpler way to understand what happened at Fatima in 1917… an explanation that can be tested against empirical evidence and is easy to understand at its core.

Here is, in my humble opinion, what most likely happened at Fatima in 1917.

1. I posit that no ultra rare weather phenomenon is needed at all.
In fact, while driving to work this morning (23 Jul 2009), my 8 year old boy mentioned that the sun looked just like the moon. He was right. It was a foggy morning, and as the sun just began to attack the haze, it sharply appeared as a moon sized silver/grey bright disc and we could actually gaze directly at it, for several seconds anyway, without even squinting much.

Guess what my son said after only about 10 seconds of looking at it and returning his gaze to the road? He told me, “All the colors are messed up”.

He saw dancing spots, random changing colors on various objects, and noted that things he knew were certain colors were the wrong colors, like signs and traffic lights. For myself, when I looked away, the image stuck with me for a short while, somewhat seeming to move. But don’t take my word for it, because this is a common phenomenon well described by many weather sites, look it up yourself.

How does this relatively common occurrence of the sun being filtered through fog and clouds, resulting in a sun that looks like a bright full moon, relate to the Miracle of the Sun and how in the world would something so mundane convince people of a miracle?

Let’s take a look at what people saw… according to newspaper reports at the time and then afterwards in De Marchi’s book.

Here are the most common reports of the miracle from 1917 (in addition to the sun oddities, the 3 children who were also present at the event claimed that they also saw Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph… though only the 3 children saw them). The newspaper reports can be boiled down to 5 basic descriptions:

A) Lots of reports that the sun appeared as an opaque disc.

B) Lots of reports that the sun appeared as an opaque disc and spun around like a disc.

C) Lots of reports that the sun appeared as an opaque disc and spun around like a disc and there were multi-colored lights.

D) Lots of reports that the sun appeared as an opaque disc and spun around like a disc and there were multi-colored lights and it eventually seemed to zigzag, falling to the earth.

E) Lots of reports from several people who reported that their previously wet clothing became dry.

Here are some of the reports from De Marchis’ 1952 book as quoted at Wikipedia (

1. "Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws — the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression of the people."

2. "Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws — the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression of the people."

3. "…The silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy grey light, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds… The light turned a beautiful blue, as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral, and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands… people wept and prayed with uncovered heads, in the presence of a miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they."

4. "The sun's disc did not remain immobile. This was not the sparkling of a heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl, when suddenly a clamor was heard from all the people. The sun, whirling, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was terrible."

5. "As if like a bolt from the blue, the clouds were wrenched apart, and the sun at its zenith appeared in all its splendor. It began to revolve vertiginously on its axis, like the most magnificent firewheel that could be imagined, taking on all the colors of the rainbow and sending forth multi-colored flashes of light, producing the most astounding effect. This sublime and incomparable spectacle, which was repeated three distinct times, lasted for about ten minutes. The immense multitude, overcome by the evidence of such a tremendous prodigy, threw themselves on their knees."

6. "I feel incapable of describing what I saw. I looked fixedly at the sun, which seemed pale and did not hurt my eyes. Looking like a ball of snow, revolving on itself, it suddenly seemed to come down in a zigzag, menacing the earth. Terrified, I ran and hid myself among the people, who were weeping and expecting the end of the world at any moment."

7. "On that day of October 13, 1917, without remembering the predictions of the children, I was enchanted by a remarkable spectacle in the sky of a kind I had never seen before. I saw it from this veranda…”

Does anyone see a pattern developing here?

First off, the earlier reports are much more basic, although there are intense descriptions of powerful emotions running through the crowd. The later reports described by De Marchi are much more flowery and a lot more “drama” has been interpolated into the descriptions.

It is good that the stories were eventually compiled by De Marchi and written down, even if he was a highly biased recorder. One can already see the rich details being added to the stories by the time De Marchi is writing, and I have no doubt whatsoever that if the stories were still being passed along today through oral tradition… the sun would be described as having actually landed on earth and bounced up and down.

I see two things going on here. The first is that the tendency to spice up tales as time passes has already started by the time De Marchi arrives. What were once descriptions of an opaque, silverish sun, sometimes reported as seeming to be spinning, sometimes reported as seeming to be combined with colors, sometimes reported as seeming to be moving, has become a “dancing sun” by 1950. There is nothing outrageous or out of the ordinary with this, it is what one expects to happen. It would be weird if it didn’t happen.

So, no real freak weather phenomenon needed, and the stories PERFECTLY fit the pattern of a growing oral tradition.

2. I posit that the question now is how mundane visual irregularities produced by looking at the sun, even in its dimmed cloud filtered form, evoke reports of a miracle?

Easy, combine it with a crowd full of religious devotees. Once someone sees something and shouts out something like, “The sun is spinning”, and bingo, it starts a chain reaction with a sort of ripple effect going through the crowd. It’s all downhill from that point. This isn’t a Collective Hallucination at all; it is simple crowd psychology, Mass Hysteria. This is quite a different thing from hallucinating.

I mentioned earlier that I would present empirical evidence. So let’s get to that. The nice thing about what I’m describing is that it can and has been witnessed in action! One doesn’t have to just sit and hypothesize; one can actually observe the wonderful combination of weather, emotional crowds, and religion in action.

In 1983, the fun began again as the Virgin Mary began to make an annual appearance at the farm of Nancy Fowler outside of Conyers, Georgia.

The resulting crowds at one time reached more than 80,000 people. Now, Nancy Fowler was the only one who could see or hear the Holy Virgin, but guess what others did experience? While the Virgin was allegedly in magical communication with only Nancy Fowler, many of those attending claimed to witness remarkable things, such as the sun spinning and dancing in the sky (gee does this sound like some other big miracle claim, i.e. Fatima??).

This time however, Rebecca Long who was the President of the Georgia Skeptics was present. She set up a telescope that featured a solar filter and let people actually observe the sun… seeing that it actually wasn’t spinning or dancing. Not many of the folks took her up on the offer and hundreds of people all around her continued to claim they were witnessing a miracle, completely ignoring her.

Optical nerve illusions caused by staring at or near the sun are boringly normal, dancing spots, color abnormalities, the sun appearing to vibrate sometimes appearing as spinning or moving back and forth in the peripheral vision… typical. What is atypical is people attributing such things to a miracle. But clearly, when the crowds want to believe, nothing will dissuade them as Rebecca Long discovered to both her chagrin and amusement.

You will be glad to know that Mary no longer visits the Fowler Farm, but a well is still there that had holy curative powers ascribed to it… supposedly blessed by Jesus himself. Ironically, the well is now marked with a sign that warns drinkers of health risks, as it has tested positive for harmful levels of bacteria (hey Jesus never claimed to have a degree in Laboratory Science).

The annual visits by Mary no longer occur as she announced in 1991 that attendance was too low… apparently the Union of the Saints works on strict quotas.

So, remember that incident at Fatima in 1917… it’s not really so impressive under the light of day, so to speak.

As for the non-believers who made reports of the spinning, moving disc, it is difficult to know what their actual belief status was. Were they simply non-Catholics and therefore called non-believers; were they agnostics but still steeped in Catholicism and overly impressed by the crowds? I don’t know.

What I do know is that I myself, an atheist, have seen the sun “appear” to move around. The ingredient lacking for myself is a motivation to fervently attribute it to a god or goddess. And I fully realize, that if I see the phenomenon again, which I will sometime, I’ll get the same result… maybe I can even add shifting colors and the illusion of spin if I stare a little longer.

Finally, what about people clothes drying suddenly?

According to the reports at the time, it has just finished raining. Shortly thereafter the sun began to break through the clouds and the subsequent event and commotion (so-called miracle) lasted for about 10 minutes.

With all the commotion, it isn’t surprising that somebody somewhere suddenly “realized”, after praying or staring up at the sun for 10 minutes, that their clothing was no longer damp. The fact that such a person would attribute the drying of their damp clothing to miraculous causes… is hardly surprising. The idea that the person might spread the gossip of the “dried clothes miracle” is also less than surprising.

Time to Cook:

With everything in mind, here are two delicious recipes for cooking up miracles. They have been documented by numerous religions and cultures throughout the world, try one for yourself!

The Two Recipes:

Recipe #1 (for dudes like Benny Hinn, Jerry Falwell, and Paul of Tarsus):

1. Start by adding the ingredient of any person who sees a miracle story as furthering their cause… whatever cause that may be, good or ill.

2. Add into the mix true believers who want nothing more than to have their faith verified.

3. Take your first ingredient (the person with a motif) and combine it with your second ingredient mixing well by adding in an appropriate miracle story.

4. Finally, for prep and proper rising of your dough (i.e. cash… I love puns), quickly add in the idea that questioning the beliefs laid out equate to something negative and should therefore be ignored, like the idea that doubt itself is the enemy of your faith, or that the influence of an evil deity making you doubt is present and needs to be expunged!

Recipe #2 (for events like Fatima):

1. Start with a strong dose of powerful belief.

2. Mix it with a heavy dose of religious anticipation and a trance like state of your choosing (here you can substitute a trance like state from any religion you wish… i.e. a Pentecostal in ecstasy in a tent in Alabama, or a Haitian dancing in a rite of voodoun in the Caribbean, a Yanomamo Indian Shaman of the Amazon Basin in the Reahu ritual, or a fervent Catholic obsessing over the mystery of the Virgin in a trance like prayer state… prayer beads optional).

3. In preparation, solitary confinement works (see the Apache Indian recipe for this alternative), but it is even more tasty and pungent in large crowds (i.e. whereas one person may interpret the feeling of a bead of sweat rolling down their back as a bead of sweat rolling down their back, that same person when surrounded by a hundred people shouting, “I can feel the touch of the Virgin upon me”, may then be at ease and feel free to suddenly yell, “Yes I feel the Virgin caressing my back with her holy finger”… never mind that the holy finger eventually travels down the persons butt crack…)

4. Next, add in staring at the sun, or at least up into the sky for long periods of time which is of benefit and helps increase the taste of the visual incongruities.

5. Finally, after combining all the ingredients, add long hours in the heat, directly under the sun is good, and lack of food and water for a few hours helps add more flavor by the way.

6. Mix thoroughly and then sit back and enjoy the spectacle (not of any miracles, but of the deluded people).

Cook’s Special Note:

For the best tasting recipe of all, use Recipe #1 first, then combine it later with Recipe #2… the result will be SUPER TASTY and you can have an epic level miracle!!

The Case for Perseus

The Case for Perseus

(Todd M. Pence gave me the idea and so I developed by myself as a Sermon)

Zeus be Praised, the story of Perseus with his heroic slaying of the Gorgon Medusa, the reclamation of his kingdom is true, and we need no other evidence other than the ancient Greek texts (you call them legends but we know they are Truth with a capital “T”) which are words divinely inspired by Zeus himself via his Muses.

To address the case of historical and logical evidence, there is one question that we must ask ourselves, “Did Perseus truly slay the Gorgon”?

Now why this question?

Because if we can show that he did truly slay the Gorgon Medusa, then it follows that it’s all probably true…

… There is no way he could have turned someone to stone without the head of Medusa and if that part is true, then his virgin birth and other amazing facts of his life are most likely also true. As a result of my studies, I came to see that a remarkably good case can be made for Perseus’ slaying of Medusa historically, and I hope to show that the Perseus’ slaying of that Gorgon is the best explanation of certain well-established facts about Perseus.

I will give irrefutable evidence by providing 6 proofs/facts/evidences:

FACT #1: It is a fact that many early pagans believed in the Gods of ancient Greece well up into the time when Christianity had gained power in Europe. Many of these good people were martyred for their beliefs at the hands of Christians. This proves that the ancient Greek stories are probably true, for who would willingly die for a lie?

FACT #2: There is also a record of Perseus turning his enemy Phineas to stone at a wedding before hundreds, possibly thousands, of eye witnesses. Not just a couple of witnesses, but hundreds! It stands to reason that a natural explanation of this event is unlikely given the number of witnesses and so it therefore happened historically.

FACT #3: Perseus' virgin birth and life were all in amazing fulfillment of dozens of prophecies given by the oracles of Delphi and Ammon. Not just a few wishy washy prophecies from an Old Testament, but dozens! Do you know what the odds are against any individual accurately fulfilling EVERY SINGLE ONE of those prophecies, as Perseus did? About one in seventy gazillion to the gamillionth power! This fact attests to the divine birth and life of Perseus.

FACT #4: Famous Greek historians such as Pausanias and Apollodorus make multiple independent references to Perseus as a historical figure, the founder of the kingdom of Mycenae, showing beyond doubt that the saga of Perseus, including his divine birth and all his heroic exploits are genuine historical records.

FACT #5: Furthermore, there is the amazing historical and geographical accuracy in the ancient Greek texts. The story of Perseus contains references to many lands and islands in the country of Greece that consultation of an atlas shows actually exist!

In fact, there is also fantastic Archaeological evidence showing that the Kingdom of Mycenae was real, and that many of the actual land marks mentioned by the historian Pausanias regarding the existence of certain shrines to Perseus, the Royal Treasury of Atreus, the Fortified Walls, and the Sacred Fountain of Persea actually existed as he claimed!

Also, it is well known that the Persian Empire was founded by Perseus or his immediate descendants and of course we all KNOW that the Persians, who are even mentioned in the Bible and were eventually, defeated by Alexander the Great, really existed!

In fact, it is even attested by historians that the Persian King Xerxes used this fact to try and bribe the Argives during his historical invasion of Greece!

Hardly the stuff of myth!

PROOF #6… from Personal Revelation!
In my own life, my wanderings along the path of faith have led me from Christianity, to Atheism and now back to following the truly divine.

This is my story:

Several months ago, after reading the above 5 facts regarding Perseus, I found myself losing five games in a row of Uno to my wife and 8 year old boy.

I was getting desperate.

I suddenly thought that perhaps I was losing because I was an atheist — what if there really was a deity out there, and he was teaching me a lesson?

But which god was thwarting me? I realized that I had denied the existence of thousands of gods as a Christian and as an Atheist.

As I thought about some of the ancient gods, I decided it might be Zeus… I mean I already had discovered 5 almost irrefutable evidences of His workings, and I had blasphemed old Zeus throughout my whole life, making fun of him and the other gods and goddesses.

This could very well be payback.

I didn’t want to lose again. So I bowed my head, raised my hands to heaven, and prayed aloud, “O Great Zeus, smile upon this game with your great grace and bounty.”

My son laughed and my wife looked at me a little strangely, but I didn’t really care; this was about winning.

We played again. It was a miracle — I won! I had prayed to Zeus and won! But I thought (as a skeptic), maybe this was just a fluke. It’s probable that after losing five times I could win one.

So before the next game I prayed again:

“O Great Zeus, thank you for your blessing. But if you are truly real and are God above all other gods and idols, let me win this game as well. Then I will worship you as a true and kingly god, the true son of Cronus.”

The stakes were high.

Then I thought, “If Zeus exists then there might be a more powerful deity than Zeus, and that deity could stop Zeus from getting the glory and cause me to lose. But then I reconsidered because, if Zeus was a more powerful god, I would still win!

I won again!

Now I don’t know but I think it might have been an actual miracle!

I present this as more irrefutable evidence that Zeus is the One True King God and that he works mighty miracles… not just in reports from thousands of years ago, but here among us today.

If you do not worship Zeus, it’s possible his anger will burn against you so that he might levy his brother to send you to a lower level of Hades for all eternity. So I implore you, believe!

Now come to think of it I just remembered that a friend called me earlier in regards to some of my emails evangelizing the glory of Zeus and he asked me the question, “I wonder if you will be so happy about Zeus when you end up standing before the great Egyptian god Thoth on the day of your judgment?”

Now I really respect my friend’s beliefs. But my thoughts on this at the moment are that so far Zeus is working pretty good for me right now... my car insurance got lowered, I avoided a head on collision last week while driving home, and it turned out the lump on my back is just an aggravated mole and not cancer like my doctor was initially worried about.

But ya’ know, I have a strong feeling that the mole on my back actually was cancer, but that a miracle happened!

If the blessings and endless miracles don’t continue into the future I might try Baal, or his father El or some of his other Elohim, or maybe Osiris or even Thoth.

But right now Zeus is my main man, and I feel I have a good personal relationship with him.


Skeptics, the burden of proof is on you to prove Zeus doesn’t exist, that Perseus isn't his son, and that Perseus failed to kill the Gorgon Medusa.

People today and millions of people in the past have accepted the grace of Zeus and his divine host; have YOU accepted them as your personal saviors and Perseus as an example of how to live your life?

Have you learned to ask, “WWPD – What would Perseus Do?”

Have YOU been bathed in the blood of the Minotaur?

As soon as you read this, immediately forward it to all of your friends or The Fates will not be kind… people have had terrible things happen who break this HOLY chain…

"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one less god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." – Stephan Roberts