Sunday, October 31, 2021

No escape from coincidence

A famous person wears the same size water skis as me
She's got three cars as many years I've lived in this city
Her hair is blonde and mine is brown; they both start with a "b"
But when the phone inside her ribcage rings, it's not for me

-- They Might Be Giants, "The Famous Polka"

When I was a teenager and the Internet was in its infancy, the "about me" page on my website bore the heading "" -- all lowercase, with the syllables separated by periods. Recasting my name as the sentence "Will I am" had been inspired partly by Schopenhauer and partly by Green Eggs and Ham, and the distinctive typography was chosen for no particular reason, just because it looked Internetty.

Some months later, I got an email from someone offering to sell me the domain name He said he had offered it to "the rapper" first but that he hadn't been interested. I had never heard of, was a bit bummed to discover that I had inadvertently pinched some rapper's handle, and changed the title of my page. I never bothered to look him up, but many years later I discovered by cultural osmosis that he was the frontman for a group called the Black Eyed Peas.

Years before learning that, I had come up with the band name (every kid comes up with band names) Blue-Eyed Bees, which was inspired by two Sugarcubes songs ("Blue Eyed Pop" and "Bee") and was supposed to be a pun on "how blue I'd be without you" or something. I think I still have some of the album cover art. Never realized the similarity to “Black Eyed Peas” until just now. (There’s also that one Peas song where they repeat “I’m a bee” 105 times.)

Why did I write the above? Because I was trying to write a post about how there just has to be such a thing as a completely meaningless coincidence. I thought I'd get a clear example of such a by finding some random person who shared my birthday so I could say that that obviously didn't mean anything. So I ran a search for march 15 birthdays, and one of the first results that came up was none other than of the Black Eyed Peas. Looking the dude up now (finally), I find that his real name is William James Adams Jr. and that -- no, I'm afraid I'm still just not interested enough to read much more about him! No sense of affinity whatsoever, despite the coincidences. Oh, I did note that his mother’s name is Debra, and that one of my correspondents is a black woman my mother’s age named Debra.

It’s just kind of maddening. I deliberately go looking for a simple coincidence and uncover a web of connections instead!

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Jim Caviezel rallies the troops

False flags in Prisoners of the Sun

I've already discussed the Tintin book Prisoners of the Sun and its relevance to the birdemic and other current events. Now a recent comment from Debbie on international maritime signal flags reminds me that Prisoners begins with a fake quarantine for a non-existent disease.

A yellow flag represents the letter Quebec (Q), and two Quebec flags indicates "I require health clearance." If you don't have two yellow flags, you can indicate doubling by use of the yellow and blue "Repeater" pennant.

Later, the Repeater is replaced with a Lima (L) flag, indicating quarantine.

"Are they celebrating the captain's birthday?" asks the ignorant landlubber. Q is the 17th letter, and L is the 12th, so if Quebec Lima were used to indicate a birthday, it would be 17 December -- the birthday of papal pretender and birdemic enthusiast Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The ship is called the Pachacamac after the Inca god with the worship of whose consort, Pachamama, Bergoglio is famously and controversially associated.

While others take the flags at face value, Tintin discerns that the plague is fake and the quarantine a trick.

Also: A yellow "Q" flag -- where have I seen that before?

Un symbole des métamorphoses des insectes

"Fact-checking" is a precisely accurate term

Very first definition on

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Bern, baby, bern!

I can't believe I failed to connect this:

with this:

I mean, "The right has their racist frog," so the left needs a bear -- followed by a pun on the noun and verb senses of bear. How did I not immediately make the connection?

In the same movie, Kermit says, "C'mon, bear, burn rubber!" The combination of a bear, burning, and going fast in a car syncs with "Let's Go" Brandon Brown. (C'mon is roughly synonymous with "Let's go," and is a known Bidenism.)

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the English words bear and brown come from "a Proto-Indo-European root meaning 'bright; brown' (the sense connection might involve polished wooden objects)." I find this a very curious connection, since brown is one of the least bright of colors; of all the basic color terms in English, only black and gray are less often qualified as "bright" than brown is. Brown is not alone in this, though. The very least bright color of all, black, comes from the Old English blac "bright, shining, glittering, pale" and is related to French blanc, "white"; the OED speculates "the connecting notions being, perhaps, 'fire' (bright) and 'burned' (dark)." Perhaps this is also the connecting notion for brown; it certainly seems more plausible than the "bright as wood" idea.

By a very strange coincidence, the bear is also etymologically connected to the idea of burning in Chinese, a language completely unrelated to English. The Old Chinese character for "bear" was 能, and the term for a blazing or raging fire was 熊熊 -- made from the character for "bear" by adding a component meaning "flame." Later, the characer 能 began to be used for a completely different word (meaning "can, ability") and so 熊 (originally referring to a blazing fire) was pressed into service as the character for "bear."

Even more curiously, dictionaries say that 能 (originally "bear," the animal) was also used in the past to mean "to bear, to withstand" and "bearing, attitude" -- exhibiting some of the same polysemy as the English word bear.

There's something mysterious about bears. Beowulf's name means "bear"; so does King Arthur's. There are two constellations called Bears even though their most salient feature is their long tails. (The constellation-inspired myths about how the bear lost his long tail don't address the question of why the ancients would have called the long-tailed shape they saw in the stars a "bear" in the first place.) The universal and enduring popularity of the teddy bear also calls for some explanation, I think -- and no, some anecdote about an American politician ages ago isn't enough to explain why the idea took off and became so popular all over the world.

You hypocrites are worse than the Aztecs themselves

Yes, they may occasionally have sacrificed a person or two as part of their mostly peaceful religion (though I hasten to add that the overwhelming majority of towers in Mexico City are not made of skulls). You, though --

You have the unmitigated gall to pontificate on "gender equality" -- while in the same breath you unthinkingly classify people into two supposed "biological genders" on the basis of the racist pseudoscience of craniometry!

Monday, October 25, 2021

Bear with Biden

You may recall that back in 2020 there was a campaign on 4chan to trick Biden supporters into adopting Pedobear as a mascot, using the slogan #BearWithBiden.

In a comment to my recent post "Brandon the Crow - Russell Crowe - Russell Brand," Debbie (Ra1119bee) wrote, in part:

BR is the Bear ( BR of course after omitting the EA ( Vowels )

BR ( the Bear ) as in : BERN ( Switzerland and Germany )

The Bears ( who are Alchemists ) are pulling the strings...

Now I must say I don't quite follow this train of thought -- I'm not entirely sure where "BR" came from (Russell Brand's initials backwards? first two letters of Brand?), nor am I sure how we get from bears to alchemists -- but I know this commenter, she's about as in tune with the sync fairies as anyone I know, and her mention of BERN (in caps) turned out to be helpful.

In my October 22, 2020 post "Jay-Z in 2009 presages Biden and 2020," I noted that the three red horizontal lines that replace the E in the Biden 2020 campaign logo also appear on the covers of several Jay-Z (another corvid name!) records from 2009, including this one:

I found this one particularly funny because, while Jay-Z intended it to be read “A Star Is Born,” the Biden campaign would later use three red lines to represent E — making the Jay-Z cover read “A Star Is Bern.” In my original post, I took this as a reference to Biden’s rival Bernie Sanders, but now I see that Bern = bear = Biden. In fact, flip the two central letters and you get BIdEN.

I've mentioned before that the three horizontal lines used in Biden's campaign logo also resemble the Greek letter Xi. Xi is also the leader of China, and the nickname Xiden has been used to imply that Biden is a pawn of that country. Xi is of course also closely associated with "bear" imagery.

Pooh also confirms my original association of "A Star Is BERN" with Bernie (from Bernhard, "brave as a bear") Sanders, since "Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Sanders."

Incidentally, Pooh also ties in with Robin Hood, since he belongs to Christopher Robin, and his name is simply Hood written upside down. I note that my original Robin Hood post begins with a reference to "Samson tying firebrands to the tails of foxes." The firebrand -- French brandon -- has recently reappeared in the sync stream, and it was the fox that originally led me to connect "A Star Is Born," and Biden, with Xi. After noting that FOX could represent the number 666, I wrote, "the Greek-numeral equivalent of FOX is ϜΞΧ," and realized that Jay-Z had made this same O-to-Xi substitution.

Now that the bear connection has been made explicit, a possible interpretation of the three red lines suggests itself.

And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh (Daniel 7:5).

This bear is the second in a series of four beasts, and an angel later explains to Daniel that "these great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth." The first beast was a lion, which has already been identified as a symbol of Trump. After the lion, a bear. As I note in my post "One beast becomes four, and four become one" (like that title, Debbie?), the lion, the bear, and the other two beasts are later combined into a single Great Beast of the Apocalypse.

Now a few odds and ends.

First, Jay-Z is also known as Hova or Hove -- from the blasphemous nickname Jay-Hova, with the Jay removed. This parallels the case of Sonja Horah, where the Ja- is separated from the rest of the Tetragrammaton.

Second, my recent post "The birdemic in Asterix and the Chariot Race" discusses the French comic-book series Asterix. I've never really read much Asterix; I heard someone mention the birdemic connection and decided to look up the details. Just yesterday, though, I was reading The Sacred Heart and the Legend of the Holy Grail by René Guénon, and I found this: "The Round Table was destined to receive the Grail when one of the Knights should have succeeded in winning it and bringing it from Britain to Armorica." This caught my eye because of the similarity of Armorica to America, so I looked up the former name online and read, "The home village of the fictional comic-book hero Asterix was located in Armorica during the Roman Republic."

Asterix and his friend Obelix obviously take their names from the typographic symbols asterisk (*) and obelisk (†, also called dagger). "A Star Is" is very similar to "Asterisk." This is reinforced by the word born which follows, since "the asterisk and the dagger, when placed beside years, indicate year of birth and year of death respectively. This usage is particularly common in German." (Debbie had highlighted Germany and Switzerland in her original BERN comment.)

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Mr. Icthus-oress, the Dark Mice, and why I do this

Some people call them snake-eyes, but to me they look like mice

-- They Might Be Giants, "Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes"

In my post "Jonas, Jason, Sonja," I quoted Unsong and linked to an earlier post ("American politician spontaneously combusts") which had quoted the same passage. The earlier post had quoted three paragraphs, though, of which the later one only quoted two. The third paragraph was:

In the midst of the word he was trying to say – in the midst of his laughter and glee – he had softly and suddenly vanished away – because Dylan Alvarez had hacked his teleprompter to display the Mortal Name.

This is explaining why George W. Bush spontaneously combusted: because Dylan Alvarez, of the terrorist organization Boojum, had hacked his teleprompter to include the name Sonja Horah, thus tricking Bush into pronouncing the "Mortal Name" -- Jahorah, said in the novel to be the true pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton -- which causes instant death to any who utter it.

Saying Sonja Horah, then, is fatal because it is also Son Jahorah -- the syllable Son followed by (what is in the novel) a name of God. This construction -- son plus a name of God, without an intervening of (as we should say "the Son of God") -- made me think of this revelation reported by early Mormon apostle Orson Pratt:

There is one revelation that this people are not generally acquainted with. I think it has never been published, but probably it will be in the Church History. It is given in questions and answers. The first question is, "What is the name of God in the pure language?" The answer says, "Ahman." "What is the name of the Son of God?" Answer, "Son Ahman -- the greatest of all the parts of God excepting Ahman." "What is the name of men?" "Sons Ahman," is the answer. "What is the name of angels in the pure language?" "Anglo-man."

I've always wondered about this. Was it meant to be an alterative etymology of "Son of Man," with "Son Ahman" being misinterpreted as "Son o' Man"? Anyway, the parallel with Sonja Horah is interesting.

The Unsong passage quoted is also of course a modification of the ending of the Lewis Carroll poem "The Hunting of the Snark":

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away—
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

Though it has since come to refer to sarcasm, the word snark was originally coined by Carroll as a "portmanteau" (another Carrollism) of snake and shark. In the context of a post connecting Jonas (swallowed by a big fish) with the dove and Sonja with the serpent, this seems significant.

From the snake-shark, my mind jumped to the extinct reptilian "sharks" known as ichthyosaurs. There is in some of C. S. Lewis's juvenilia, published in a book called Boxen, a character known as "Mr. Icthus-oress" (or sometimes "Ick-this-oress") who "made his fortune playing the harp and got his name by fighting an icthus-oress." Although there is no indication that Mr. Icthus-oress is himself a mouse, his two sons are Tom Mouse and Bob Mouse. (Once, when my brother and I had occasion to attend a Scientology meeting under false names and false pretenses -- a highly entertaining experience! -- we signed in (yes, you have to sign in) as Thomas Maus and Robert Maus. Perhaps someday a Co$ operative, going through some old cold-case files, will find this post and think, "Aha! We've finally got you, 'Robert Maus'!")

Who else is known for playing the harp and got one of his names by fighting a monstrous reptile? The god of the lyre, Pythian Apollo -- who got that name by fighting the Python. Just as Mr. Icthus-oress was the father of two mice, Chryses in the Iliad prays to "Apollo of the Mice" (Apollo Smintheus, from smintha, an Aeolian dialect word for "mouse"), and archaeologists have discovered bronze mice used in connection with the worship of Apollo. Another of Apollo's epithets, Mousegetes, means "leader of the Muses," but look at the first five letters of the transliteration! (In Latin as in English, but a single letter differentiates a muse from a mouse.)

Obviously Apollo didn't have a son named Bob (though Socrates did, Lamprocles being a perfect Greek "translation" of the name Robert), but if Aleister Crowley is to be trusted (there's an "if" for you!), he did have a son named Tom. Here is the Great Beast expounding on the Kabbalistic meaning of the nursery rhyme "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son":

This is one of the more exoteric of these rimes. In fact, it is not much better than a sun-myth. Tom is Toum, the God of the Sunset (called the Son of Apollo, the Piper, the maker of music)

This "Toum" must be the Egyptian god Atum -- occasionally thus translilterated -- who was specifically the god of the setting sun (cf. the etymologically unrelated word autumn, the sunset of the year). I have never heard of Atum being called the Son of Apollo, but such an identification in the interpretatio graeca seems prima facie plausible -- that a subordinate sun god like Atum would be declared the son of the main sun god. Calling Apollo "the Piper" reinforces, by way of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the rodent connection.

It is perhaps worth noting in passing that Crowley also did "Hickory Dickory Dock" ("The mouse is the Ego; Mus, 'a mouse,' being only Sum, 'I am,' spelt Qabalistically backwards") and "Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater" ("The pumpkin is of course the symbol of resurrection, as is familiar to all students of the story of Jonah and the gourd").

Coming back to "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son," I currently own an orange and white cat called Q*bert, though these days he is just as often called Cucumber. This is partly because of the phonetic similarity in English, and partly because in Chinese the stereotypical name for a "yellow" (including orange or ginger) animal  would be 小黃, and the Chinese word for "cucumber" is 小黃瓜. Cucumbers are of course cucurbits -- fellow members with the pumpkin of the gourd family -- and cucumber even bears a certain resemblance to kikayon, the original Hebrew name of Jonah's "gourd."

Q*bert is my second orange and white cat. The first, a family pet when I was a young child, was called Tom. One of my brothers (not 'Thomas Maus,' the other one) used to call him Tom-Tom the Drum-Drum -- a double "Tom" followed by a reference to a musical instrument. Q*bert, then, may be considered somewhat interchangeable with Tom Mouse (Atum), son of Mr. Icthus-oress (Apollo) and brother of Bob Mouse. This is confirmed by the realization that if Q*bert had a brother, he would very likely be called R*bert -- or B*b to his friends. Our cat Tom had a sibling, a potential stand-in for Bob Mouse. She was called Mariel, after a book my sister had just read at the time: Mariel of Redwall, one of a series of Brian Jacques novels about -- of all things! -- anthropomorphic mice. One of these mice -- appearing only in Mariel and not in any of the 21 other Redwall books -- is a dormouse called Bobbo: Bob Mouse.

Thinking about Tom and Bob Mouse -- and connecting Tom and Bob with tohu and bohu -- reminded me of the Dark Mice. This is from a November 8, 2015, entry in my sync log.

[This] morning, I watched lots of Mark Dice videos on YouTube. Mark Dice does two kinds of videos: asking people on the street questions and letting them make fools of themselves, and Illuminati conspiracy stuff.

At around 6:30, watched Spectre, the new James Bond movie. While we were in the theater, before the movie started, I noticed that “Mark Dice” was an anagram/spoonerism of “dark mice,” and I dwelt on that phrase for a while . . . .

Before the movie, there was a commercial involving a girl and her parents all wearing Mickey-Mouse-ear headbands (actually Minnie Mouse in the girl’s case, complete with a polka-dot bow).

In Spectre, there’s a scene where Bond is going to spy on a meeting of the titular secret society. He’s stopped by a bouncer who asks who he is, and he replies (in Italian, with English subtitles), “I’m Mickey Mouse.” Later, when they discover Bond spying and try to kill him, the same bouncer guy says, “Ciao, Mickey Mouse!”

In another scene in Spectre, Bond is sitting in a chair in a hotel room, and a mouse appears. Bond pulls out his gun, points it at the mouse, and says something like, “What do you want? Who sent you here?” The mouse runs away into a hole (which later leads to Bond’s discovering a secret room).

Later that night, went out to . . . take a walk. “Dark Mice” came back to mind, and I was thinking of making a “Dark Mice” tarotesque card. I was also thinking about the one-legged golden chicken (probably because V mentioned a strange dream earlier). Thought first of a card with the Chicken, with two dark mice in the background, then of the Chicken and Dark Mice as two separate cards. Thought about how the Chicken was one of the three symbols of evil in Bhavacakra, and also of how a one-legged golden chicken was sort of connected to the three-legged golden toad. On my walk I ran across an actual toad –– the first I’ve seen in years, and the first ever in our neighborhood. Shortly thereafter, I realized that Mickey and Minnie –– two black mice –– were the “dark mice,” and I noticed the connections with the Bond film. Then, on my way back, I passed a house with a large lighted window, silhouetted in which were what looked like two large cut-outs, of Mickey and Minnie Mouse –– such a creepily precise echo of the whole “dark mice” train of thought that it spooked me . . . .

It also occurs to me that Mickey ears as a symbol of Illuminati mind control are prominent in the types of videos that Mark Dice makes, though I don’t know if Mark himself has commented on that particular symbol. . . .

In the car on the way home from the movie, talked about different Bond actors. Gwen mentioned Dr. No as the first Bond film. Later, at home, searched for “James Bond” + “mice,” and found that characters called the “Three Blind Mice” -- black men, and therefore dark mice -- try to kill Bond in Dr. No.

Why do I spend so much time pursuing these convoluted coincidence-driven trains of thought (if "thought" is even the right word), when so few of them reach any intelligible conclusion? The easy answer is "because I must" -- but that's not really true. This is something I choose to do (and I chose to do it much less in the past), and that choice must have some motivation.

Another easy answer is that it's just a meaningless and perhaps slightly pathological hobby -- that, just as playing a violent video game gives one a fake version of the satisfaction of defeating one's enemies, without the inconvenience of actually fighting, so synchromysticism offers an ersatz "eureka" feeling without requiring the hard work of making actual discoveries about the real world. I don't really believe that, though. I really do think I'm doing something potentially important, not just engaging in meaningless self-indulgence.

While the majority of my sync-connections seem to lead nowhere, I think that the discipline of noticing connections, and of being aware of things that just "pop into my head," makes me more receptive to revelation when it does come. I'm casting my net -- asking, seeking, knocking -- maintaining a constant attitude of "Are you trying to tell me something?" "For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not" -- so said Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, the only friend of Job whose speech was not condemned by God. Being alert for things that turn up "once, yea twice" is listening for the voice of God.

I also think that coincidence as such -- particularly the troublesome, seemingly-oxymoronic category of the meaningful coincidence -- is something of great potential metaphysical importance, and that I need to keep thinking about it until I figure it out. While I obviously have great sympathy with those who say that "there are no coincidences," I find that a very hard philosophical pill to swallow.  How could there possibly be no coincidences? That seems very close to being logically impossible. I have a hunch that philosophically assimilating the "meaningful coincidence" will have metaphysical ramifications every bit as wide-ranging as assimilating the concept of "free will."

Brandon the Crow - Russell Crowe - Russell Brand

In my last post, "Brandon the Crow," I mentioned Brandon Lee of Crow fame and connected him with the actor Russell Crowe. Then I thought, Hey, isn't there some sort of famous person called Russell Brand? He would complete the Venn diagram!

I am really terrible at remembering who Russell Brand is -- I always get him mixed up with Richard Branson, and I can't remember who that is, either -- but a quick image search jogged my memory: He's that guy who played Trinculo in that one messed-up Tempest movie that had a gender-flipped Prospero.

Then I discovered that the dude's got a YouTube channel -- and that he apparently actually belongs in the center of my Venn diagram.

That's right: This guy, whose name came to mind only because he's called Russell as in Russell Crowe and Brand as in Brandon "the Crow" Lee, turns out to have a thing for crows.

And, skimming the titles of some of his most recent videos, I find lots and lots of anti-peck stuff and -- but of course! -- a video on "Let's Go, Brandon!" Is it possible that this weird-looking Hollywood guy could actually be on our side? Probably not (evidence: YouTube hasn't banned him), but it does suggest that the sync fairies brought him to my attention for a reason.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Brandon the Crow

One year ago tomorrow, I first identified Slow Joe Biden with Slow Joe Crow and then, a day later, with a bluegrass album called The Crow. Earlier this month, the name Brandon came to be inextricably linked with Slow Joe.

Today, this 4chan thread (linking it to the recent shooting by Alec Baldwin) reminded me of the existence of this movie:

Brandon Lee was of course Bruce Lee's son, and his full name was Brandon Bruce Lee. The Brandon whose name has become attached to Slow Joe is NASCAR driver Brandon L. Brown. I haven't been able to track down his middle name -- could it be Lee? At any rate, the two names are highly similar: Brandon B. L. and Brandon L. B.

Here's a bit from the screenplay for The Crow. "Eric" is the Brandon Lee character.

Here come Lead SWAT and his Merry MEN.


Eric runs for it.  Half a story higher.  He hits the wall and skitters up, gripping tiny cracks in the brickwork.


Lead SWAT hesitates -- because of what he sees.

Holy shit, it's spiderman.

He tries to pull a bead and fires too late.

What're you boy scouts staring at!
Let's go!  Let's go!  Let's go!

To be fair, just about every movie ever made probably includes the phrase "Let's go!" somewhere in the script -- but I was intrigued by the strange stage direction (or whatever it's called in movies) inexplicably referring to a SWAT team with the Robin Hood term "Merry Men." I have previously connected Robin Hood both with Slow Joe (middle name Robinette, two sons named Hunter and Bow) and with the Crow (Russell Crowe played Robin Hood).

Friday, October 22, 2021


I’ve been told to post this right away, as a message to some particular person, though I don’t know who or why. I hope he or she gets it in time. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith:

Even  the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Just you wait.

Thursday, October 21, 2021


Except when it occurs at the end of a word, the [z] sound is difficult for many Chinese speakers to pronounce correctly and often comes out more like [l]. Zero, for example, is a particular challenge for many and often comes out as "lee-lo." This can lead to some unintentionally very funny statements, like, "I haven't been to the loo since I was a child."

Many years ago, I had occasion to discuss the signs of the zodiac with a group of adult students in Taiwan, and one of them said, "I'm a Leo, and my wife is a Libra, so it's a perfect match." Everyone laughed, but I didn't get it until he explained: "Because Leo is a lion, and lions like to eat libras."

I'm not sure why that popped back into my head more than a decade later, but today it occurred to me that there may be something deeper to this particular Chinglish pun. Aren't zebra-stripes, just as much as the scales, a symbol of objective justice impartially administered?

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Jonas, Jason, Sonja

In my last post, "Dove and serpent," I mentioned reading in the Wikipedia article on Jonah about a possible link, proposed by Joseph Campbell, between Jonah and Gilgamesh. Campbell also made another link:

Campbell also noted several similarities between the story of Jonah and that of Jason in Greek mythology. The Greek rendering of the name Jonah is Jonas, which differs from Jason only in the order of sounds—both os are omegas suggesting that Jason may have been confused with Jonah

So Jason and Jonas are anagrams, both in English and an Greek. There is a third such name, in English anyway: Sonja. In yesterday's "Look who's still showing up in syncs," I quoted a passage from Unsong about Jonah. In last December's post "American politician spontaneously combusts," I quoted a passage from the same novel that prominently featured the name Sonja.

"[. . .] But with the help of all the brave people in different government departments and all around the country working on this case, we’ve got Alvarez on the run and are tightening the noose around his neck. Some of these people are here with us tonight. People like Robert Mueller, director of the FBI. Like Michael Gellers, a police officer who successfully defused a BOOJUM bomb in Philadelphia. Like Sonja Horah . . .”

President Bush spontaneously caught fire. “HELLLPPP!” he screamed as the entire executive, legislative, and judicial branches watched on in horror. “HELLLPPP . . . HELL . . .”. By the time Secret Service agents reached him at the podium, he was already a charred corpse.

In the novel, the reason Bush caught fire was that the name Sonja Horah contained the sequence Jahorah, a magical "name of God" that causes anyone who pronounces it to die on the spot.

What does the name Sonja mean? It's a Russian diminutive of Sophia -- so, wisdom, but a lesser wisdom. This is precisely what William Wildblood ascribes to the serpent in his recent post "The Serpent and the Dove":

The dove is the Holy Spirit, and the innocence of the dove is true spiritual wisdom compared to the earthly, even if it is occult or esoteric, wisdom of the serpent. The serpent represents the wisdom of experience or evolution. In a way, it is the wisdom of matter. But the dove symbolises the wisdom of purity and innocence and truth that comes from God.

Jonas is the dove. Sonja is the serpent. What about Jason? Etymologically, Jason means "healer" -- but in English it sounds like "son of the jay," and I've known several Jasons who went by Jay or even Jaybird. Jason is a corvid, then -- perhaps even the solar crow ("jay-sun"). Jesus paired the dove with the serpent, but Noah (who is also part of the Joan/Jonah pun) paired it with the raven.

Dove and serpent

Shortly after I posted "Look who's still showing up in syncs," William Wildblood posted "The Serpent and the Dove."

My post connects Jonah, whose name means "dove" in Hebrew, with the "sign of the dove" given at the baptism of Christ. I also quote Joseph Smith on the sign of the dove and discuss the gourd that is eaten by a worm at the end of the Book of Jonah.

William, discussing Christ's injunction to be "as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves," also refers to the baptismal dove.

And what is the dove? For information on that we can go to John the Baptist who was the first to recognise the adult Jesus as the Messiah and who proclaimed when he baptised him that he saw the Holy Spirit descend on him in the form of a dove. The dove is the Holy Spirit, and the innocence of the dove is true spiritual wisdom compared to the earthly, even if it is occult or esoteric, wisdom of the serpent.

My own post makes no direct reference to the serpent, but it was certainly present in the context. I discuss perusing the Wikipedia article on Jonah. One of the things I read there, but did not mention in my post, was this:

Joseph Campbell suggests that the story of Jonah parallels a scene from the Epic of Gilgamesh, in which Gilgamesh obtains a plant from the bottom of the sea. In the Book of Jonah, a worm (in Hebrew tola'ath, "maggot") bites the shade-giving plant's root causing it to wither; whereas in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh ties stones to his feet and plucks his plant from the floor of the sea. Once he returns to the shore, the rejuvenating plant is eaten by a serpent.

Jonah's worm is equated with Gilgamesh's serpent.

Another thing that I didn't mention is that, when I was searching for the Joseph Smith quote about the sign of the dove, I misremembered the specific phrase "sign of the dove" as coming from the notes on the Second Facsimile from the Book of Abraham. Actually, all the Facsimile notes say is that one of the pictures "Represents God sitting upon his throne, revealing through the heavens the grand Key-words of the Priesthood; as also, the sign of the Holy Ghost unto Abraham, in the form of a dove."

I remembered, though, from my anti-Mormon reading back in the day, that the Facsimile was Smith's restoration of an incomplete Egyptian hypocephalus, and that he had restored it "incorrectly" by Egyptological standards. Specifically, the sign of the dove was based on a fragmentary figure that was probably originally an ithyphallic serpent.

It is probably indicative of my spiritual state at the time that when I discovered this serpent/dove connection I thought not of Christ but of Aleister Crowley: "Nor let the fools mistake love; for there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well!" However, Joseph Smith's (unintentional) dove-serpent hybrid is more suggestive of Christ's doctrine than Crowley's -- not "choose ye well" but "be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves."

Although it was posted back in July and linked to by the Junior Ganymede on October 18, I didn't see it until after writing my own post and reading William's: "On pills, blue and red" from Calculated Bravery. In this very interesting and perceptive post, the writer compares the red pill to the forbidden fruit and discusses the complementary roles of knowledge (the serpent) and innocence (the dove).

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Look who's still showing up in syncs

Did you know who it would be before you clicked?

I spotted this today, from a vocabulary list in an English magazine used by one of my adult students:

Joan juxtaposed with dark (d'Arc), as an example of how to use the word typical. I know typical is just about the last adjective anyone would think of applying to the Maid of Orléans, but the timing made it singularly appropriate.

Just last night, you see, I had been thinking about Jonah, though I'm not sure how that particular prophet happened to come to mind. (I have been listening to the Bible read aloud but had only got as far as Nehemiah last night.)

I thought of Jesus' statement, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas" (Matt. 12:39, 16:4; Luke 11:29) -- and I thought that, since Jonah is simply the Hebrew word for "dove," this could have a double meaning: "no sign but the sign of the dove."

Joseph Smith taught, "The sign of the dove was instituted before the creation of the world, a witness for the Holy Ghost, and the devil cannot come in the sign of a dove." In my recent post "Who or what is the ultimate spiritual authority? (a Mormon perspective)," I had discussed various litmus tests proposed by Smith for distinguishing heavenly messengers from demonic impostors, but had neglected to mention this one.

I thought of how the sign of the dove is supposed to have appeared both at Christ's baptism with water and at Joan's baptism with fire -- and then I remembered that it was a pun on the name Jonah that had first brought Joan to my attention.

I have recently been reading Scott Alexander's novel Unsong. One of the running gags is "biblical pun correction." One of the characters mentions Joan of Arc and is "corrected" by another: "Jonah whale; Noah ark." Later in the conversation, someone says "to no avail" and receives the converse correction: "Noah ark; Jonah whale."

As I dwelt on Jonah, I thought of the strange story with which that book ends, where a "gourd" (KJV) is eaten by a worm, making Jonah so upset that he wants to die. Gourds tie in with the cucurbit syncs from earlier this year, but I was vaguely aware that Jonah's plant was not necessarily a gourd, and that there had been some controversy among the early Fathers of the Church as to precisely what plant it was and how it should be translated. My curiosity about this led me to the Wikipedia entry on Jonah. In the second paragraph of that article, it reads,

Jesus calls himself "greater than Jonah" and promises the Pharisees "the sign of Jonah", which is his resurrection. Early Christian interpreters viewed Jonah as a type for Jesus.

The word type was a link to the Wikipedia entry "Typology (theology)," and even though I know perfectly well what a "type" is and was not interested in reading a Wikipedia article on the subject, I succumbed to a sudden whim and clicked it. The "Typology" article opened in a new tab, which I them immediately closed without reading any of it. (Looking at the article again now, I see that it highlights Jonah in particular, with a section called "Example of Jonah" followed by one called "Other Old Testament examples.")

Thus it was that, when I saw Joan (dark) described as "a typical girl," I was primed to think of a different -- an atypical, I suppose! -- meaning of that word.

If Joan of Arc was a "typical girl" -- a type, in the theological sense -- that would mean that some "new Joan" will arise -- some figure whom Joan would appear, in retrospect, to foreshadow. I had previously neglected this possibility, since I know, from my own direct experience and that of others whom I trust, that Joan herself has literally come back in person and appeared to people in recent years. Those two ways of "coming back" are not necessarily mutually exclusive, though. The Gospels present Elijah and Moses as types of John and Jesus, respectively -- but the two ancient prophets also appear in person at the Transfiguration.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Danny, Marvin, Brandon: Let’s go!

S. K. Orr recently posted a link to a particularly inspired Tucker Carlson monologue, under the heading "I, Too, Want To Encourage Brandon To Go." This rephrasing of the "Let's go, Brandon!" slogan made me think of the Dr. Seuss classic Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now? -- and of the time-honored tradition of replacing the title character with the president of the United States.

"Marvin" put in an appearance in my recent Gene Hackman dream, in which Hackman plays a father interacting with his son in a series of short video clips. At first the son is called "Danny," and the Hackman character is angry (expressing that anger by means of minced oaths like "Gosh darn it!"); later, the son becomes "Marvin," and Hackman's tone changes to one of kind reassurance.

In my original post on the dream, I asked "Why Gene Hackman?" and offered some speculations, but I did not consider the two names of his "son."

When I hear the name Danny, the first association I make is with the song "Danny Boy," which begins thus:

O Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen and down the mountainside
The summer's gone and all the roses falling
'Tis you, 'tis you must go, and I must bide

So Danny and Marvin have this in common, that they must go. (After which "Danny Boy" stops just one consonant short of name-checking Slow Joe!)

In my 2009 post "The old savanna calling," I discuss "Danny Boy" (as modified by the Beatles) in connection with 9/11 prophecies. I link it both to the lion and to the 18th Tarot trump, the Moon. In the Seuss book, Marvin's last name is Mooney, and "by lion's tail" is suggested as one of the many ways in which he may "go." This even makes it onto the cover of some editions.

The "Let's go, Brandon!" phenomenon began on October 2, 2021. In the "Ripple" Tarot spread, October 2021 is represented by a modified version of the Moon card. Where the traditional Tarot card features two dogs, or a dog and a wolf, the "Ripple" version replaces them with (Chinese-style) lions.

As for the name Brandon itself, it apparently derives from a Celtic root meaning "crow, raven" (Slow Joe Crow). There is also the etymologically unrelated French word brandon, meaning a flaming torch, or a twist of straw or paper used to start a fire. This ties in with my "spontaneous human combustion" premonition, and with a dream in which Slow Joe is called "the Human Torch." There's also this interesting figurative meaning:

Personne, chose ou événement qui provoque des conflits, des querelles. Brandon de discorde, brandon de guerre, de guerre civile. Jeter le brandon de la discorde parmi les citoyens. Cet écrit est un brandon de guerre civile.

(In case your French is even worse than mine, a brandon can be a person or thing that provokes conflict, and the bolded phrase means "a brandon of civil war.")

Finally, I note that "Let's go, Brandon!" has become a way to curse without cursing, a way of implying a particular vulgar word without actually saying it. This ties in with the "Gosh darn it!" minced oaths of my Hackman dream.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

How far will peck mandates go?

My prediction: not all the way.

This is primarily a spiritual assault. The ultimate goal is not to kill and maim but to damn -- and the thing is, no one else can damn you. You have to do it yourself. To reach their goal, then, the demons have to stop short of actual compulsion. They're not going to shoot you; they're just going to gather outside your window and chant, "Jump! Jump! Jump!"

An absolute peck mandate would simply make it illegal not to be whatever the latest definition of "fully pecked" is, and those who did not comply would be arrested, wrestled to the ground, and pecked by force. While they might try this on a very limited scale, pour encourager les autres, it can't be their overall strategy. It will play the same limited role that rape plays in the overall agenda of sexual corruption. Rape (especially of children) is obviously one of the satanic tools in the sexual revolutionary's toolbox, but it's just as obvious that "everybody gets raped" is not the ultimate goal.

Whatever you do, do not fall into the trap of getting pecked voluntarily because you anticipate being forced to do so later. Remember the words of Christ: "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

And if you've already been pecked, repent and go no further. Only a miracle (and I certainly do not discount miracles!) will remove the poison from your body, but your spirit can be cleansed in the blink of an eye if you will only repent.

A bit of perspective from St. Paul

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Let no man deceive himself.

If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

— 1 Cor. 3:16-18

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The birdemic in Asterix and the Chariot Race

Astérix et la Transitalique was originally published in French on October 19, 2017.

The Romans organize a Trans-Italic chariot race, with charioteers representing each of the peoples of the known world. Rome itself is represented by a bird-shaped chariot driven by a charioteer with a very interesting name.

By a strange coincidence, this charioteer also wears a mask.

His name is on everyone's lips.

This greatly pleases Caesar, who understands that those who repeat the charioteer's name are actually expressing their loyalty to the Empire.

In the end, the mask finally comes off, and -- hey, whaddaya know?

A further coincidence: October 19, 2017, the date this comic was first published, was also the day the Italian film director Umberto Lenzi died. One of his movies was called The Invincible Masked Rider. This is the plot summary, Google-Translated from Italian Wikipedia.

Around 1670, a plague epidemic broke out in Higuera. Don Luis kills the housekeeper and takes refuge in his castle to escape the infection. At the same time, a masked man takes charge to defend the poor against the usurper. Don Luis's stepson also arrives after a long absence.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Corvids, Ovid, and Coronis

A recent email from a pen friend mentions the "(C) OVID virus" and connects the Great Reset with the Metamorphoses of Ovid.

This reminds me of Ovid's story of Coronis. Coronis was a mortal woman who was a lover of Apollo but was unfaithful to him. The raven, which was then a white bird, heard of her infidelity and reported it to Apollo. Apollo killed Coronis and punished the raven by turning it black. Coronis herself became the constellation Corvus (the Crow) after her death.

Note that far-darting Apollo was the god of, among other things, epidemic disease. By some accounts, Coronis was the mother of Apollo's son Aesculapius, whose staff and serpent has become a universal symbol of medicine, appearing for example on the logo of the WHO.

I now support the LGBTQ movement.

Y'all knew this was coming, ever since I embraced the rainbow flag.

LGB = Let's Go Brandon

T? Q? Hmm . . . whatever could those two letters represent?

Who or what is the ultimate spiritual authority? (a Mormon perspective)

And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, "Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp."

And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, "My lord Moses, forbid them."

And Moses said unto him, "Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!"

-- Numbers 11:27-29

"Your Highness says her Voices have revealed to you, by her mouth, a secret known only to yourself and God. How can you know that her Voices are not of Satan, and she his mouthpiece? -- for does not Satan know the secrets of men and use this knowledge for the destruction of their souls? It is a dangerous business, and your Highness will do well not to proceed in it without probing the matter to the bottom."

That was enough. It shriveled up the King's little soul like a raisin.

-- Mark Twain, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

This is going to be long and meandering. I considered condensing it to a few pithy epigrams but in the end decided it would be better to "show my work."

Who or what is the ultimate spiritual authority? God, of course.

Okay, so what has God told us? Which ideas are truly from God, or in harmony with God, and which are not?

The Protestant answer is that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and can be treated as the ultimate authority. (This is how it is now at any rate; things must have been different in days of old, before Bibles were invented.) Different possible interpretations of the same biblical text are to be judged by, uh, how biblical they are -- how closely in harmony with what the rest of the Bible says. There's a certain circularity here, and in practice additional standards of judgment are needed. As the young Joseph Smith observed, people have "understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible."

Catholics point out that sola scritura -- the Bible alone as the standard of truth -- is self-defeating, since the Bible itself does not tell us which texts are "part of the Bible" and which are not -- and even if some Bible passage did tell us that, what good would it be unless we already had other grounds for believing that passage at least to be authoritative? Nor does the Bible provide hermeneutic principles for reading and interpreting itself -- and even if it did, how could we understand them unless we already understood them? Whatever it is that tells us that, then -- whatever defines "the Bible" and tells us what it means -- is the real ultimate authority. For Catholics, this higher authority is the tradition of the Church as interpreted by the Pope.

But of course Catholicism is not the only tradition, the Pope is not the only religious leader, and my earlier quotation from Joseph Smith was a partial one. What he actually said was that "the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence." The Catholics want questions of canonicity and hermeneutics to be settled by tradition and priestly authority -- but first we must judge among the various rival traditions ("sects") and rival authorities ("teachers of religion"). And if the only way to do that is "by an appeal to the Bible," well, then we're right back where we started.

It may seem strange to say that Joseph Smith in any way "solved" this problem. After all, what did he do but found yet another sect, propose yet another alternative scriptural canon (the Protestant Bible, plus the Book of Mormon and a few other texts) and set himself up as yet another alternative "Pope"? What clarity could come from that?

The clarity comes not from following Joseph Smith as one follows a Pope, but from following his example. Smith relates how, faced with a welter of competing versions of Protestantism, "At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. . . . So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt."

There followed the famous First Vision, in which he saw and spoke with entities he understood to be God the Father and Jesus Christ, and other heavenly visitations would follow -- John the Baptist; the apostles Peter, James, and John; and, most notably, the otherwise unknown "Angel Moroni," who set in motion the chain of events leading to the publication of the Book of Mormon.

Is that the answer then? Pray to God, and he'll send you angels, or even make a personal visit, and then you'll know?

Well, no. Even if we assume that God is willing to make such experiences available to everyone -- leaving aside the observed fact that people like Moses and Joseph Smith are very much exceptions to the rule -- apparitions and visions are no more self-validating and self-interpreting than anything else. Everyone knows that the devil may appear as an angel of light -- even if the Bible didn't say so (which it does), it would be a logical possibility -- which is enough to disqualify angelic, or even seemingly divine, visitants as ultimate spiritual authorities. They, too, must be judged and discerned.

Joseph Smith's First Vision is a case in point, as it appears it was the devil that first answered his prayer.

I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

Joseph Smith's interpretation of this is that he was met first with a demonic assault, because "the adversary was aware . . . that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom," but that as he persisted in prayer the true God appeared and delivered him from the devil. But of course another possibility that comes readily to mind is that the whole thing could have been a demonic good-cop/bad-cop routine -- that the devil appeared first in his own character and then, finding that he was resisted, returned in disguise as God himself. This possibility becomes even more apparent once the Personage has delivered his message

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the [Christian] sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight;

Keep in mind that these "personages" never actually identified themselves as God and Jesus; one simply called the other his "beloved son" and let Smith infer the rest. And what was the personage's message? That all Christian creeds were an abomination in his sight.

One's reaction to this reported vision reflects one's implicit hierarchy of spiritual authorities. For Smith himself, if Jesus appeared in answer to his prayer, then whatever he said must be true, even if it was something shocking, like that all Christian creeds were an abomination. (After all, didn't Isaiah also have the Lord call the religion of his time an abomination, even though it was the "true" religion given by Moses?) For others, any messenger who called Christianity an abomination must be demonic, even if he appeared in the form of Christ himself. (After all, isn't the Bible full of warnings about false Christs, and about apparent angels from heaven delivering a "different gospel"?)

Most of Smith's contemporaries were in this latter camp. When the young Smith (still a teenager) shared his vision with a Methodist minister, "I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil."

At first, Smith seems not to have fully grasped what the Methodist minister and others were claiming. His reaction was, "I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; . . . I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth?" But the mere fact of his having had a vision was really not the point. Some, of course, would claim that the vision had never happened and that Smith had made it up -- but the Methodist minister wasn't saying there had been no vision; he was saying it was all of the devil.

Later on, though, Smith kept coming back to this question of how to distinguish a genuine heavenly messenger from a demonic impostor. In his prologue to Genesis, Smith has Satan appear to Moses, saying "I am the Only Begotten; worship me!" In a pivotal scene in the Mormon temple drama, Adam prays to God and is answered by Satan ("I am the god of this world," he explains), the implication being that this could happen to anybody. At various points, Smith taught that false angels could be recognized by their hair color or by asking them to shake hands. (This latter test was later canonized as D&C 129!) In the temple drama previously mentioned, the "handshake" idea is taken further, with true heavenly messengers proving their identity to Adam by means of -- a Masonic grip and due-guard! (Mormonism uses different terminology.) All of these specific tests seem laughable to an outsider, but the point is that Smith recognized the need for some kind of test and did not naïvely assume that all "angels" are good.

Even if we grant the possibility that all of Smith's tests are grounded in fact -- that, as it happens, only fallen angels have red hair, only good angels have read Duncan's Ritual of Freemasonry, and all angels good and bad are bound by the "three grand keys" of handshakery -- the only reason for believing any of that is Smith's own authority, which in turn depends on the genuinely heavenly nature of his own visitants. We can accept these methods of judging angels only after we have already judged the "Angel Moroni" and the "personages" of the First Vision.

In Mormonism as it has developed, Smith's teachings about hair color and handshakes are little more than historical curiosities. The ultimate touchstone of truth that has been adopted is the one given in the Book of Mormon:

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things (Moroni 10:4-5).

Of course "by the power of the Holy Ghost" is a little vague, and so Mormons tend to zero in on what is called the "burning in the bosom." In Luke, two disciples who belatedly realize that the person they have been talking to was the risen Christ say, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" (Luke 24:32). This is reinforced by D&C 9:8-9 -- which, while it was originally about the process of "translating" the Book of Mormon by inspiration, has been interpreted more generally as an explanation of how God answers our questions.

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.

I first experienced this distinctive "burning" on July 22, 1996 and can confirm that it is a real phenomenon and is utterly distinctive, unlike either an emotion or a physical sensation. I first felt it after asking in prayer whether Jesus Christ was the Savior of the world, whether Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and whether Gordon B. Hinckley (then leader of the CJCLDS) was a true prophet. The burning started after I asked about Jesus and continued through all the questions, subsiding some time later.

For a long time after that, my "testimony" was based on the unique nature of that "burning." When I felt it thereafter -- as I did from time to time -- it was always in the context of Mormonism, and therefore I saw it as a consistent and reliable indicator of truth. Boyd K. Packer had compared a testimony to "tasting salt" -- an experience which, while it cannot be communicated in words, is utterly distinctive and reliable.

But in fact nothing in the mere experience of saltiness entails the presence of sodium chloride. That a salty taste tends to indicate the presence of that substance is an empirically based inference, not a direct experience, and it seems perfectly plausible that it might be a highly imperfect indicator -- that other chemicals might also "taste salty," and that some things that in fact contain a great deal of salt might not "taste salty" at all.

Similarly, once the "burning in the bosom" has been experienced, it can be recognized as a distinctive and indescribable sensation (akin in that way to the taste of salt), but it does not interpret itself any more than any other experience does, and it cannot be assumed a priori to be some kind of litmus test of spiritual truth.

Synchronistical interlude:

I have been writing this post slowly over a period of many days. Just after writing the above paragraphs, in which I discuss the "burning in the bosom" and question it as a guarantee of truth, I happened to read two things. One was in The Edge of Evil: The Rise of Satanism in North America, a 1989 "Satanic panic" book by Jerry Johnston. On p. 139, Johnston briefly discusses a 1988 magazine article by Lee Coit called "Inner Listening (Guidance) Made Simple," a New Age, non-Christian explanation of how to tune in to one's "inner guide" (which Johnston implies may be demonic in nature).

The article goes on to answer a subtitled question: "How Do We Tell When It Is Working?" Coit begins to answer with method number one: "We will have a warm glow." I flip to other pages in the magazine.

Shortly after reading that, I read a post by William Wildblood called "Valentin Tomberg on the Difference Between Buddhism and Christianity." in which he quotes the following passage from that author. The italics are Wildblood's and indicate parts which he finds "particularly pertinent."

This is why the mystics of eastern Christianity do nor tire of warning beginners of the danger that they call "seductive illumination" (prelestnoye prosveshtcheniye in Russian) and insist upon the nakedness of spiritual experience, i.e. on experience of the spiritual world stripped of all form, all colour, all sound and all intellectuality. The intuition alone of divine love with its effect on moral consciousness is —they teach —the sole experience to which one should aspire.

What you will read below -- further thoughts on the inadequacy of the "warm glow" and the necessity of "intuition alone" -- was already planned before I had read the two passages quoted above.

My over-reliance on the "burning in the bosom" was one of the underlying causes of my apostasy from Mormonism, which began in late 2001. Earlier that year, I had felt the burning while reading the James Joyce novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and then again while reading Einstein's Dream by Alan Lightman. Since these books were obviously not "true" -- both are works of fiction, and Portrait in particular has an intensely anti-religious message -- that meant that the burning was no longer consistent in its manifestations and was not a reliable indicator of anything. A few months later, when I encountered some particularly compelling secular evidence against Mormon claims, I no longer had the reliability of the burning to fall back on, and my faith quickly evaporated. At first I thought I might become a Protestant or Catholic, or even convert to Judaism, but it soon became clear that all my religious beliefs, including those that were not specifically Mormon, were grounded in the no-longer-trustworthy burning, and so I quickly became an atheist. The foolish man built his house upon the sand.

It is curious to note that, although my faith collapsed with the collapse of the burning in the bosom, it had not originally been built on that foundation. Before my prayer of July 22, 1996, I was already confident that Mormonism was true. I was praying not for my own enlightenment, but so that I would have something to tell others. I was 17 and had just returned to the world of secular "education" after a seven-year break, and was anticipating challenges to my faith. "How do you know?" people would ask me, and I would reply (because it's what Mormons are supposed to say), "I prayed and asked God, and he revealed it to me." Only he hadn't, not yet. So I was praying so that I would be able to say that. If I had been wiser, I would have noticed that my faith was obviously not based on an answered prayer, that I was seeking a rationalization for what I already believed; and I would have asked myself what my faith was really based on and perhaps discovered something important. But 17-year-olds are not noted for their wisdom.

After many years of atheism, I have returned to Christianity and even to a kind of "Mormonism." (I recognize Joseph Smith as a true prophet but am not affiliated with any church.) This time around I find that I have zero interest in "epistemology" -- in trying to justify my beliefs to those who do not share them or to explain "how I know." The burning in the bosom has played no role at all in my return to faith; nowadays, I find D&C 8 more helpful than D&C 9.

Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground (D&C 8:2-3).

As I explained it in an email to a family member,

The conversion has been the result of a simple decision to "listen to my heart" -- to admit that I know what I know and believe what I believe, and to dispense with the need, once so keenly felt, to make my "official" beliefs "respectable" to anyone but myself and God.

Listen to your mind and your heart, and to the Holy Ghost that dwells therein. Trust your own intuition and judgment. That's the bottom line. Everything else is secondary, because any authority you choose to defer to is just that: an authority you choose to defer to, based on your personal judgment, and is thus "downstream" from that judgment.

I do realize that if I someone had given the above advice to me a decade or so back, when I was an atheist, I would have found it uselessly vague -- and I probably would have felt that I was trusting my own judgment above all, and that that was precisely what had led me to reject all religious authorities and become an atheist. Here are two specific messages I would give to my past self if it were possible:

1. Every time you say to yourself, "Of course I don't really believe X, but --" and then proceed to think and behave just as someone who did believe X would think and behave, you need to stop and consider the possibility that you are not being honest with yourself about your actual beliefs.

2. If you maintain that X is false but that it is nevertheless necessary to act as if it were true (see Hume's position on causation, for example) -- that means that the philosophy that led you to the conclusion that X is false is dysfunctional and needs to be reexamined from its underlying metaphysical assumptions on up.

For me, the deciding issue turned out to be human agency ("free will"). Once I faced the fact that I did believe in it, that I had to believe in it, and that I therefore needed to jettison all the metaphysical assumptions that had led me to the conclusion that it was impossible, I did not remain an atheist for long.

Five cornerstones

I recently received another batch of emails from a correspondent who keeps encountering repetitions of the number 5 (55, 555, etc.). This ma...