Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Kindle is a terrible thing to waste: books being read, various and sundry

It's that time again where I prattle on about books that I start (and often finish) in what can be generally called the paranormal or related vein.  I haven't had many original thoughts lately, so this will be a sort of space-filler.

Before commencing, I searched online to see if Jeff Ritzmann has a podcast. I don't think that he does. Since podcasts are very labor-intensive (and generally not profitable), I can't blame him for not having one, even if the "paranormal" is much diminished without it. But in a world where the host of a very well-known podcast has taken to begging for money to meet his most basic living expenses, what hope does an ordinary sincere and talented truth seeker have?  I say this to preface the fact that I'm finally reading Richard Dolan's "The Cover-Up Exposed, 1973-1991 (UFOs and the National Security State Book 2)," which I downloaded a million years ago when I was actively following the UFO field. And I'm enjoying it. The historical period under examination is one where I had my own UFO "experiences."  I remember many of the cases he discusses from the time--that being the era when UFOs were still mentioned without ridicule in the mainstream.  Dolan has taken a historical approach to the matter, which is certainly one way of doing it... Though if you wonder, like I do, whether the UFO enigma *might* be part of a longer, larger sociological process, then looking at the events from a narrowly historical vantage point might cause you to miss something. But I can't fault Dolan for his approach. Someone has to do it, and as far as I know, no one else has. When I read UFO sighting accounts now, however, I'm struck by how vaguely two-dimensional the phenomenon appears to me. They do not strike me as "real"--almost like these lights and seemingly-material craft are a display of some sort. Generally, they show up, put on an aerial light show for a few minutes, then vanish. In most cases, even the military doesn't bother chasing them. Buried in Dolan's accounts, however, are several extremely strange and fascinating incidents that suggest that there is more than "just" a coverup going on; and that whatever *is* going on is related somehow to totalitarian thought-strain that is slowly infiltrating the world. I'm careful how I phrase this, since I well know much certain right-wing extremist thinkers enjoy the subject of UFOs more than they should. (Indeed, it's the main reason that I *don't* enjoy it much anymore.)  Almost doest Dolan persuade me to be a conspiracist. But not quite. Not sure what I think about this, yet. But Dolan is making me think.

Next up is a book that I purchased last night, but it's turning out not to be what I had hoped: "Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr," by Michael Cocks. It's a channeled book, but I researched it a bit before I got it, and I let myself be persuaded by the five-star reviews on Amazon.  I had really hoped, against hope, that it really was Stephen the Martyr from the First Century coming through, and that he might teach me something I hadn't read in the dozens or so other channeled books along this vein. But, I'm convinced, it's not.  To wit:

The acting is the understanding of where we are, to appreciate the moment. The disappointments always come from the actions we feel that we might wish to take. All of these things are not possible and it is just as impossible for this earth to change place with another planet. In the course of our destinies we tend with the use of our physical minds to create a path which differs from what we are to follow and will follow. It would be easier to step off this earth than to change one moment of what our lives will be.

In other words, "Stephen" argues that the events of our lives are predestined; we cannot change them. I actually re-read this several times to make sure that this is what is being argued. I personally reject the doctrine of predestination (and would, if I had the time or inclination, hope to persuade my readers to reject it also).  Actually, it appears that predestination might be historically appropriate for "Stephen," since the Essenes might have believed it, but that doesn't make it correct. In 2000 years, Stephen (if it really *is* Stephen the Martyr) has not evolved beyond his initial belief system. And that was not what I was expecting to read.

So, what might be happening here?

The provenance of channeled material is paramount, in my opinion. We should not automatically embrace a channeled text just because it purports to come from the "beyond," and we should maintain a healthy skepticism when a historical figure is claimed to be the source. (Seth, to his credit, never claimed to be anyone other than Seth, though several channelers have claimed to be "Seth" since Jane Roberts' death.)

It's possible that this really is Stephen the Martyr speaking, but that he's still stuck, philosophically, in the first century. If so, does he have anything to teach us now?  Maybe, maybe not.

It's more possible that the source is someone, or something, else, and the material might be a series of teachings from "somewhere."  I actually believe that a lot of channeled material exists, in completed form, somewhere--as a book, or series of teachings or ideas--and the channeler translates the material for a contemporary audience. This would explain how large volumes of detailed information are channeled seemingly out of thin air.

However--as a general rule--channeled material (including a lot of contactee literature) is not philosophically complex, enlightening, or revelatory. It's still often interesting, and it might actually be useful and beneficial... But it is not what it purports to be. And for me, this is a deal-breaker.