Monday, February 20, 2012

Perceptions – things are not always as they seem.

Interpretation of a situation is always context-dependent (Wittgenstein). 

Wittgensteing reconsidered some well-known psychological puzzles. Have you ever seen the duck or the rabbit?

This phenomenon of seeing either a duck or a rabbit Ludwig Wittgenstein philosopher (1889 – 1951) defined as we see something 'as' a duck – or 'as' a rabbit. 

(insert picture)

Much of the New Testament's teaching about last things is explained in word pictures  – picture thinking. Words that specify and present future scenes. 

James McClendon in his book Doctrine Systematic Theology Volume 2 explains "the 'seeing-as' (seeing a line drawing as a rabbit, for example) is not identical with ordinary seeing (for example, seeing a drawing on an artist's pad), but it has some feature sin common with the other as well." To relate this to theology Wittgenstein (1953) explains that religious belief, such as life after death and the last judgment, are not objects of belief on the basis of ordinary sorts of evidence; and they are not the result of better or worse reasoning based on such ordinary evidence, either (McClendon, 1994). They are not unreasonable beliefs. What distinguishes those who believe in the last judgement from those who do not is not different chains of reasoning, but radically different pictures of how in general the world goes. As a Christian we would explain that this is a difference in someone's worldview or conviction. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Interpret Dreams and Visions by Perry Stone

I spent Xmas hols reading How to Interpret Dreams and Visions by Perry Stone. This is my critique on the book he has written.

As much as I enjoy dialogue with people of the faith, I am well aware of the American pride that is often exhibited by its authors. I found the book would give anecdotal situations of what this writer had experienced --- which is all good and fine, I suppose. But the problem I have with that is that is smacks with spiritual pride. So he gets visions, yes, I get mental pictures too. But the whole ecstatic experience the apostles had I don't think he does get. Beloved brother Perry, when our brother Paul describes things happening to himself, he would say "I know of a man ..."

Also I note that having dreams and visions is something that was peculiar to the Old Testament and only a couple of times in the book of Acts. What I'm saying is that the gifts of the Holy Spirit (there are 9 of them) do not include having mental images or even using dreams. However, I would guess this is partly the function of the prophet.

Once the Church is removed from this earth, then the prophecy of Joel shall come --- it's like the OT times again, as the Holy Ghost has left with the believers. Now God reveals himself with His spirit being poured upon all flesh and all the earth will know the knowledge of God.

Apart from Stone's own experiences shared in his book, most of his authorship is valid and critical for our time and hour.

However, there are a number of errors in his work which I will point out here:

Page 54: The nightmare (para 2). Stone tells us it originated in the 1300s, but this is not right. The word 'mare' is Scandinavian for demon. Norwegian folklore believed that a demon would sit on a person's chest at night and give them a horrifying dream. This came into society shortly after the Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain.

Page 55: Lilin (para 1). Although he has rightly advised this is a demon spirit from Akkadian mythology, in the NT the Jews would have been referring to Lilith, which was their peculiar female demon that would only come out at night in their mythology. She is often depicted with a snake wrapped around her body. She is connected with the owls. Her habitat is in the desert.

Page 75: Test the spirits. Quoting from the last paragraph "In the late 1980s I was hosting a tour to Israel with more than two hundred fifty believers joining me. A woman who as not going on the trip was washing dishes when suddenly she dropped a glass, and it broke. She said that suddenly she had a vision [does she mean a mental image?] in her mind and heard a voice say, [audibly? or through her mind?] "Those going to Israel will come back broken like this glass!" She immediately called her friends and encouraged them to cancel their trip or they would return broken or injured. People planning to travel on the tour began calling me, concerned for their safety." Stone was correct in the action he took, however, he just says that the "woman totally misread what she felt." No she didn't misread. She was divining, which is prohibited in scripture. She was using augury, i.e. by the happenstance of certain objects (such as the plate breaking) she picked up a divining evil spirit to place an omen on people which would in effect discourage and put fear in them. She was being superstitious, again this is not how the Holy Ghost's nine spiritual gifts work. In the Middle East when people practised augury they would look at any thing happening and try and interpret it into an omen. God has prohibited this.

Page 107: Biased viewpoint. Stone says "Married couples often make jokes about the fact that a wife has a certain type of inner instinct that seems to be missing in the average husband." Wrong! Men also have intuition, but you know what, they give it a different name. It's called their 'gut feeling'. Police officers often have it when they sense something is not right about a situation or someone. I get tired of hearing that men do not have intuition.

Page 121 - 126. Apparitions of loved dead ones. The word of God clearly states that Jesus Christ has been resurrected and has ascended up to heaven. In the meantime, those that are dead are in the grave (body and soul), whereas their spirit has returned to the Father (whose it was in the first place to give life). Our spirits are with the Lord but are not returned until the resurrection of the dead. When Jesus Christ returns, those that are in the grave will be resurrected into eternal life and those that are living who have faith in Jesus will hear the sound of a trumpet and in the twinkling of an eye will be changed into an incorruptible body and raised to be with God in the clouds.

So how does this relate to Stone's book. Because people are saying they are seeing their loved ones in visions. That could only be a familiar spirit, as God does not allow people to come back from the dead --- only once did he allow it and that was with Samuel (go to Phantasm of Samuel). Until the resurrection then our bodies and our soul are still asleep, we will be in a state of dreaming --- whether of being in paradise or hell --- but we aren't there yet until the RESURRECTION of the dead. I can only understand Christians having DREAMS of their loved ones and not really apparitions.

When Stephen was being stoned he saw into the spirit world, because his spirit was going back to God his maker. And he called upon the Lord to "receive his spirit."

Page 140: The double law. This is true, however, just because you may have a double dream does not necessarily mean it is from the Lord. Satan can quite easily do this too, so we are always to try the spirits first .... not become superstitious because it is 'double'.

Page 148. The theophany of Daniel. Stone does not believe the angel of the Lord is the pre-Incarnate Christ. This is because this angel of the Lord was restrained by a demonic force - the prince of Persia for 21 days. I agree Christ cannot be hindered by any demonic spirit, however, this is before His death and Resurrection which is only when He was able to make an open spectacle of them once He had conquered death. Before this, ethically Christ was not in a position where He could with one sweep of His Word declare this prince to be out of the way. He is still in abeyance of His Word and His Laws. This is why prayer is so important, because it is God and the spirits that act on the speech or thoughts petitioned to God; without our help via prayer, angelic forces cannot act as efficaciously as they can if we pray earnestly and more so when we fast.

Page 154: Can angels appear as women in dreams? Stone quotes Zechariah 5:9 . Here are described two women with wings. However, this is the only time scripture has suggested female angelic beings, and here they are evil spirits. God did not create female angels. All angels have male names, they are not given in marriage, but it doesn't make them less male. This was the whole problem of the Genesis 6 Sons of God falling from heaven and materialising as men, cohabiting with women, then breeding giants (what our legends and myths have come from). During this time Nephilim had sex with women who produced both sexes, once they died they became evil spirits upon the earth and in the heavenlies. In fact these are the spirits Jesus went and preached to, and what Jude, Peter and Enoch talk about leaving their first estate (that is heaven).

Angels will always appear as men, as they always do so in scripture.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Phantasm of Samuel - the Witch of Endor

1 Samuel 28: 1 – 31: 13
The setting: King Saul of Israel at the foot of Mt Gilboa. He was old and weak.

His predicament: GIdeon is gone, Samuel was dead,e David was no longer by his side, and as Saul had slain the priests, Saul was utterly alone. He saw the Philistine army advancing and he did not know what to do. God had forsaken Saul and would not giveh im his help in need.

Saul's deceived solution: Saul heard that there was living at Endor, a witch (Hebrew word used in the scripture means 'mistress of a demon', in fact she was a necromancer). She would call up the spirits of the dead.

Saul was so desperate to know what was going to happen, that at night he changed into some old robes and sought this woman out who was living in a cave.

"Bring me up from the dead the spirit of a man whom I greatly long to meet" Saul anxiously and impatiently asks.

And the witch said "What spirit shall I call up?"

"Bring me up the spirit of Samuel, the prophet" replied Saul.

Theological interlude
Once a person dies his/her spirit goes back to God the Father of all spirits. When Jesus died he commended His spirit to His Father and then he gave up the ghost. Meanwhile His soul and body went down into Hades for three nights, then the Father returned His spirit back to him and raised Him from the dead (He was the first of the resurrection of the dead).

Any other person who has died his/her spirit is returned to God but their soul and body lies in the grave -- asleep until the first (eternal life) or second (damnation) resurrection. They cannot be communed with, their spirits are with God until those two resurrections take place.

When a clairvoyant or any other medium believes they are communing with the spirit of the person they are wrong. They are communing with a 'familiar' spirit or 'attendant' spirit. This spirit would be very familiar with the person who is trying to be reached by the medium.

Continuing the story:
The witch called for the spirit of Samuel. Business was as usual and she attempted to be a medium in contacting his familiar spirit or demon.

But she became terribly afraid as this is not what should be happening. Her own familiar was suddenly in abeyance to a higher power, her satanic accomplice was paralysed by the apparition of a being who she had neither part or lot with.

The Lord in His anger had allowed the spirit of Samuel to return to him and He rises him up for the dead as a phantasm to speak to King Saul. For since Saul sought unto the dead, God had in His anger sent up the real Samuel as the bearer of a fearful message of doom.

When the witch saw Samuel's ghost she was filled with fear and shrieked, as this time a real phantasm had appeared to her.

Saul replied "Do not fear; but tell me what you see?" For Saul could not see the spirit like the witch could. "I see one like a god * rising up. He is an old man, covered with a long robe."

Saul could not see but out of the darkness he heard Samuel say "Why have you troubled me and called me out of my rest?"

Saul replies "I am in great distress for the Philistines make war upon me and God has forsaken me. He will not speak to me either by a prophet or a priest or in a dream. And I have called upon you that you may tell me what to do?"

And the spirit of Samuel replied sternly with Saul "Tomorrow you and your three sons shall be as I am, among the dead." And so it came to pass.

The crime of consulting a medium sealed the doom of the first King of Israel.

* resurrected body made in the image of God, an incorruptible body with a radiance

Spiritual application:
In Perry Stone's book How to Interpret Dreams and Visions he gives some succinct information of the working of demons "… familiar spirits are familiar with information from the past and are able to relate it through the voice of a person who opens himself or herself up to being controlled or possessed by these spirits. In what is called the New Age movement, individuals connect to spirits by channeling them in their bodies."

The manifestations of such spirits are NOT the spirits of the departed (as only God the Father can return their spirit, like He did with Samuel) they are demonic entities that have existed since the fall of satan.
Any past information can be revealed to a medium or clairvoyant who channels the evil spirit -- the demons already know this, but as for the future, they do not know and only speculate. Don't be caught out by these false practises masquerading as divine insight.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gotham City of Fools

The 'Gotham Tales' are stories about feigned madness, similar to the holy fools of Russia. They became associated with the village of Gotham ('goat ham') in Nottinghamshire about 1540.  The tales were about the escapades of the mad men (fools) and the first works was called "The Merry Tales of the Mad Men of Gotham'.

These tales were penned by A. B. of Phisicke Doctor with subsequent editions the word 'mad' being replaced with 'wise', and the myth of the Wise Men of Gotham was born.

It is believed the pen name was the author Andrew Borde, who, however, denied it. There were 20 tales all up from Gotham in Nottinghamshire; but there is a rival from Gotham in Sussex. Still nothing to solidify this claim.

There were about 45 other villages in England and one in Wales who had their own Gotham cycle of tales. These tales were re-published over time and then exported to America by Washington Irvine who created the title of Gotham City (a city of fools) of his native New York in his Salmagundi, 1807; which of course developed into Gotham City of Batman.

In the Middle Ages in England the term Fool was an archetypal figure who, through his apparent foolishness, possesses wisdom and a state of near-divinity. The Divine Fool could say things to royalty no one else could.

The Fool would wear a hat which had goat horns on it, hence the jester's cap. The wearing of horns was linked to the Fool.

From mediaeval times until the 17th century licensed fools or jesters were commonly kept at court (Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable). They were also frequently in the retinue of wealthy nobles to keep them entertained or to ward off depression.

Most nations have some locality renowned for fools: Phrygia as the fools' home of Asia Minor, Abdera of the Thracians, Boeotia of the Greeks, Nazareth* of the ancient Jews (popularised by the Pharisees), Swabia of the Germans, etc.

*To call someone a Nazarine was to call them a fool. The divine fool who was born at a place known as 'The House of Bread' in a cave sanctuary dedicated to Adonis was referred to as 'the Nazarine' -- here is an example of the derogatory tales that emerged to ridicule Jesus Christ the Nazarine. Yet the foolishness of God was greater than the wise men of the Torah.

The word “jester” comes from Egypt, a reference to an entertainment in the courts of the pharoahs, wherein dwarves danced for the amusement of the royalty. “Jester” is a rough translation of the phrase “dancing dwarves from the land of the spirits.” The belief that dwarves came from the “land of the spirits” is key to the concept of the fool, a figure imagined as “not all there,” somehow only partially in this world while still connected to another.

As the jester/fool apparently retains some connection to another world, he is believed to have insights directly gathered from a sphere of knowledge the rest of us cannot know. This is related to a medieval word “oncunnynge,” from which we get our word “cunning.” Oncunnynge (applied to fools) is an intuition that is superior to logic, an understanding of truth that the rational mind is incapable of. Again, like the Egyptian jester, the medieval fool was perceived as someone who, in a world ruled by logic and order, understood reality on another level.

The medieval world was rich with customs and holidays for fools. The Feast of Fools (an inspiration for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night) was derived from the Roman saturnalia when masters and servants would exchange places for a few days. The Catholic church took over the Feast of Fools (12th to 15th century), calling it the Feast of the Epiphany, but retained the same role-reversal theme, so that in community celebrations, peasants reversed roles with the aristocracy, priests and the pope himself. Multi-day celebrations included the election of a mock-pope (called the Lord of Misrule), who made outrageous laws and ruled his mock court in an atmosphere of chaos and sensory celebration. The Catholic church continued to suborn pagan celebrations. The Roman’s Lupercalia (whose riotous celebrations are imitated in the first scene of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar) was transformed into Mardi Gras, a favorite holiday of Central and South America when African culture met Catholicism.

Mardi Gras was also an offshoot of the European carnevale (still celebrated in such Italian cities as Venice), an elaborate, sensual celebration of the wordly and the erotic (carnival’s root word, “carne,” means flesh). In a variation of the role-reversal theme, during carnevale and Mardi Gras, participants would wear elaborate costumes and masks, allowing them to take on personas far removed from their daily selves and indulge in undisciplined behavior they normally would or could not. As with the Feast of Fools’ Lord of Misrule, Mardi Gras elected a king who symbolized the chaotic and sensual demolishing of order. When New Orleans--a Caribbean city highly influenced by the cross-culturization of Central America, Africa and France--began its own Mardi Gras celebrations in the early 1800s, they took up the behavior that flourishes today in the French Quarter every March. Mardi Gras’s relation to the Catholic church is found in its name, “fat Tuesday,” a reference to the last day to indulge sins of the flesh before the advent of lent the succeeding Wednesday. It is in the midst of these Medieval and Renaissance celebrations that the fool flourished, both in the courts and among the peasantry. He symbolized the unleashing of counter-cultural behavior in a world that was becoming increasingly ruled by science, his antics a deliberate snubbing of culture, poise and manners amongst people who took themselves too seriously.

One of the greatest madmen in literature, Miguel de Cervantes had Don Quixote offer the finest insight of a fool: “Perhaps the greatest madness is not in failing to see things as they are, but in failing to see things as they should be.” (uplifted from

Monday, August 29, 2011

Holy Fools

St Basil's Cathedral

So, I haven't blogged for a while nor created any visual narratives, but wait we have "Of Jesters, Batman, Fools and St. Basil", so what could that mean? Well to get a drift, here is some background entries on the topic -- but no Rasputins.

Of Jesters, Batman, Fools & St. Basil
The question is, did you ever feel like a holy fool?
"The "holy fool" type conceals a radical Christianity under the mask of foolishness and holds the truth of the gospel, in the disguise of folly, before the eyes of highly placed personalities: the worldy and the princes of the church who do not brook unmasked truth. This type, which frequently appeared in the Byzantine Church, has been represented especially in Western Christianity as the 'Holy Fool.'" (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Extracts from National Catholic Reporter (Http:// 
Lurodstov is the Russian word for the idea of "holy foolishness" for Christ's sake. Its practitioners feign madness in order to provide the public with spiritual guidance and usually to say things, what we would say in our generation as politically incorrect, to rulers and kings. They dared to speak the truth to the powerful, being virtually the only group that could openly criticise the Kremlin rulers and channel ordinary people's frustration. St. Basil fearlessly lambasted the tyrannical policies of Ivan the Terrible – one of Russia's most violent tsars. And the moody, pious tsar, whose slaughters claimed tens of thousands of lives, feared the naked ascetic whom he considered "the seer of people's hearts and minds," according to a church chronicle. Ivan commissioned a massive cathedral that was erected over Basil's burial site whose grave wrought many a miracle over the years.

According to Russian Orthodox scholar Svetlana Kobets: "By his feigned madness the holy fool opts to say that the lowliest of the low can be not the poor wretch he appears to be, but a holy one and God's prophet. He shares his power and authority with all the weak, mocked and despised thus symbolically destroying clear-cut distinctions between the profane and the sacred."

In the Russian church it is regarded as the most difficult and controversial of all spiritual practices, possibly because of its association now with the mystic Rasputin. Thirty-six holy fools have been canonized by the Orthodox church. Foolishness-for-Christ was not a common phenomenon. They fasted and never slept indoors, uttered prophecies, performed healings and even walked on water, according to their hagiographies.

In Russian history the greatest of the 'holy fools' was Basil the Blessed, a man so revered that the famous Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square next to the Kremlin was named in his honour. Basil walked through Moscow wearing nothing more than a long beard. He threw rocks at wealthy people's houses and stole form dishonest traders in the Red Square. He was a peasant's son nicknamed "the Naked Walker" and revered by Muscovites for healings and prophecies.

The holy fools were echoing St Paul's famous words (1 Corinthians 1: 27 - 29) about God's choosing the foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.

"But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
That no flesh should glory in his presence."

And 1 Corinthians 4: 9 - 10:
" … we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake."

Foolishness-for-Christ's sake is considered to be the most difficult of Christian spiritual exploits. It is frequently misunderstood and, if undertaken outside the will of God, is a sign of spiritual deception -- prelest.

Other fools for Christ were St Seraphim of Sarov, St Andrew of Constantinople, St Xenia of Petersburg, Blessed Feofil of the kiev Caves, and Pelegia Ivanovna. The painter, M. P. Petrov came under this sister's influence and on visiting her she was able to tell him all about his past life, including details which on one but he knew himself. Astounded by this Petrov fell to his knees and kissed her hand. From then on he became her earnest visitor and admirer. "She pulled me from the depths of hell," he had said.

However, it is to be noted that some of these fools clearly went out of the will of God and strayed, shipwrecking their salvation as their mysticism was replaced with psychotic behaviour. Running around naked, shouting foul language -- more likely to be demon possession than mysticism.

And so here is our visual narrative.

Playing the Fool's Card