Spirituality, “The Devil and the Monk”

I accidentally upset Rodger Trinidad with my review of “The Deavil and the Monk.”

This is probably the first response where someone found the story more funny than they found it spiritually enlightening (Theory of Everything Comics).

I hate to say this, but I found the story to be a great tale of Crazy Wisdom.  I have practiced several forms of Buddhist Meditation for years, and after 2004, I have refrained from talking about my religious and spiritual beliefs on this site.  As a result, I did not mention to the enlightening nature of the comic.

As often happens, I have gone to an extreme that is too far from where I should be, and it caused my review to suffer.  When I told my friends in person, I explained the spiritual insight of the comic.

I am sorry for this, and I will work harder in the future to find a better middle between talking too much and not at all.

Golden Compass, Hold on to your Soul

I hate these discussions. It drove me crazy with Harry Potter, and now it is following the Golden Compass. Personally, I am late to the show for this controversy. I didn't even know there was one until my sister said something, and I only finished reading the Golden Compass last night. I really enjoyed the book. Golden Compass, originally published as The Northern Lights in the UK, is the story of Lyra Belacqua, a little orphan girl growing up in Jordan College in Oxford, with her daemon, Pantalaimon. In the world of His Dark Materials, every Human has a daemon, and only the witches can be any great distance from them. Shortly after saving her uncle from an attempt on his life, Lyra is taken from the college and placed in the care of the villainous Mrs Coulter after her friend is taken by the Gobblers. After she learns that Mrs Coulter is one of the Gobblers, she runs away from home to find her friend.

The story is an exciting adventure story with many well placed fantasy elements. It opens with a quote from Milton's Paradise Lost from which the series takes its name:

…Into this wilde Abyss, The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave, Of neither Sea, nor Shore, nor Air, nor Fire, But all these in thir pregnant causes mix't Confus'dly, and which thus must ever fight, Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain His dark materials to create more Worlds, Into this wilde Abyss the warie fiend Stood on the brink of Hell and look'd a while, Pondering his Voyage...

The controversy is over whether or not the books are anti-religious or anti-God. The Telegraph explains the trilogy:

Pullman doesn't believe in God, or so he has said countless times. He is also vehemently opposed to organised religion - in His Dark Materials, the church and clergy are malevolent, child-destroying forces of repression. The trilogy is in part a reworking of Milton's Paradise Lost with two children, Lyra and Will, taking on the quest to save the world and fighting the war in heaven. Only this time, the fates are reversed. Lyra and Will overturn the established order. Their worlds are redeemed, and God, who turns out to be only a wizened old man encased in a life-support machine, crumbles to dust (Telegraph).

Or viewed from another angle:

Boston University Professor Donna Freitus is a Catholic and claims the book is completely opposite of what most think.

"It's this story of salvation and awakening to God not the death of God. It's not God at all who's dying. It's the first angel. A corrupt angel who has ruled with an iron fist," Freitus says (WIStv).

I have only read the first book, but I am not sure that it even matters which view of the books is the one the author had in mind as he wrote. I am a Christian. I am a Catholic. And so far, in the first book, I have not seen anything contrary to my faith.

Honestly, the first book in the series is the only one that is important to the current controversy since it is the one the film being released on Dec 7 is based upon.

In Golden Compass, the oblation board is the enemy, but is that the same as saying that the church is evil? Not, necessarily. Devotion to any institution or person is always a dangerous thing. The actions of the Oblation Board are a perfect example of how blind devotion to any human institution leads to harm.

The plot of the Golden Compass is about how we must fight not to loose our soul. So unless your church teaches you that you must loose your soul to achieve salvation, then this book is not against your religion; but if you believe in standing up for what is right, loyalty, and keeping your soul from harm, it is not.

I fully expect that as the story unfold, Lyra will have to continue to fight against the false god who is against the soul. I anticipated that from the first lined of the book evoking the image of Satan believing he is God.

I loved Pleasantville and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, both films about defeating a false god to liberate humankind, so if that is the over arching plot, you would have to have a weak faith or a tyrannical deity to fear that your faith would be challenged. The God I believe is would never instruct his ministers to harm children.

In the end, this is a work of fiction about a heroic young girl fighting against unimaginable horrors to save the people she loves. The shocks are non-stop, and poor Lyra is constantly being challenged by putting her trust in people that disappoint and betray her. It is a perfect opportunity to sit your children down and tell them to never trust anyone just because they hold a position of power or authority. Even people that work for the most noble institutions are capable of doing the most horrible things. Tell them to trust their hearts, and always do what is right, regardless of who is telling them to do the wrong thing.

"The church has to stand for something. We have to stand for something. If someone has an agenda that goes directly against what we stand for, it's a pretty easy decision for us," says Bird (WIStv).

So stand up, but if you feel that you have to defend an institution that kidnaps kids to separate them from their souls, causing pain and suffering everywhere they go, I think that says something more about how you view your religion. I am a Catholic and a Christian. I do not take anything from a fictional book that includes a religion by the same or similar name to the one I practice that does not act at all like the one I belong to seriously, especially because the book is set in a fictional other world where bears talk, witches really fly and the Calvinist somehow control the papacy. The moral lessons Lyra learns are valuable to people of all faiths or of no faith at all.

Personally, I cannot wait to read the next book and watch the movie.

Our Lives in Sim City...

Hmm, I know I should not get worked up about this, but you know me. In the Article: Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch - New York Times John Tierney talks to Dr Nick Bostrom from Oxford University about his theory that we are nothing more than a simulation running on someone's computer and notes that there is a better than 20% chance that we are, in fact, created by some futuristic computer geek for the entertainment or curiosity... That is not what got me worked up. It is just the idea that we are computer simulations has a greater than 20% probability of being true, but if I said I believed in a Higher Power creating the universe, that would be laughed at...

I understand that Atheism is en vogue right now, but to say with a straight face that we are living in an elaborate computer game created by a techno-geek... how is that any more rational?

This reminds me of those people that say they do not believe in angels but instead in aliens, and mock believers in angels. Both beliefs are unprovable through argumentation, so don't even try.

This is Lama News Network's Eric Dorsett, and that is how I see it. :P

Religious Kookiness

Today has been one of those days when religious people doing stupid, vile, and violent things has filled the news.  As a religious catholic myself, these stories make me squirm.  There seems to be an simplistic connection between religion and morons. You do not have to be an idiot to have faith in a power greater than you, but you do have to be an idiot to allow that faith to justify hatred and violence.

I am a person of faith.  I have spent years questioning every aspect of my faith.  The dark night of the soul has lasted for a bit too long for me.  On my journey, I have met many other people of faith that have struggled with the same issues that I do, but the blanket association between religiosity and lunacy have forced many of us to go into the closet...

I have found myself hiding my faith lately, too afraid of being counted in with the kooks to be open and honest about my own beliefs.  I do not believe beating people over the head with my face.  I believe that all of the great stories of humankind have something to say about our true nature and our relationship with the cosmos.

So again, I am coming out of the closet.  My name is Eric and I am a religious person.  I believe.  I pray.  I practice my faith and live it to the best of my ability.  Enough said.

Prayers for James and his family

A tear falls from my eyes:

An Oregon law enforcement official got choked up today when he announced the dreaded news: James Kim -- who had left rescuers a trail of clues after setting out into the rugged, icy Oregon mountains to find help for his stranded family -- was found dead (San Jose Mercury News).

Words fails me.   My heart, and prayers go out to all who morn this night and this holiday season.  I wish I had something wise or comforting to add, but the words fail me... or have I failed the words.

May the angels carry him to heaven, where he can guard over his family.  May the angels be we the Kims and the morn.  May God bring hope of new life to us all as we pause in this breathless moment.

Seven good Catholics Stand up to Bishop

C.E. Dorsett To be upfront and honest with you, this is why I left the Catholic Church. My beliefs remain Catholic even though the church has gone batty. Just wanted to reveal my bias up front.

Seven members of the board of Catholic Charities of Boston resigned Wednesday to protest bishops' effort to prohibit same-sex couples from adopting from Catholic social service agencies.

We “cannot participate in an effort to pursue legal permission to discriminate against Massachusetts citizens who want to play their part in building strong families,” the seven members said in a written statement (

How can the Church actively work to stop LGBT people from adopting? What legal or ethical grounds could they possibly have? I am going to hold my tongue on this and go say a Rosary for this Bishop and the errant church. I salute these seven board members, they are truly on the side of the angels.

Marriage under Fire: The Ban, The Evangelist, and the Fraud

C.E. Dorsett As I read the news this morning, I thought to myself: I hope and pray that someday soon, I will have no stories of hate, bigotry, or discrimination to blog about. I get worried sometimes that I sound like a broken record, because the same divisive tactics are being used over and again from state to state, and internationally. If you ignore the problem, it only grows. So here we go again:

The Ban:

Wisconsin has become the seventh state to place a constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of same-sex couples on the 2006 ballot.

Passed by the state Assembly by 62-31 on Tuesday night, the amendment takes the familiar route of defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, but goes on to outlaw recognition of “any legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals (”

Don't you just love how it is no longer acceptable among fear- and hate-mongers to just be against same-gender marriage, they have to ban the segregated versions of it too. What do these people have against the family?

The Evangelist:

A longtime Presbyterian minister and avowed “lesbian evangelist” faces a church trial Thursday over allegations that she violated church mandates by marrying two lesbian couples (

Now, they are attacking ritual marriage too? Well, guess this destroys their argument that people can at least have the rite even if they don't have the rights. I hope she is not removed from office. She is doing God's work.

The Fraud:

The Massachusetts attorney general's office is launching a criminal investigation into whether signatures on an anti-same-sex marriage petition were forged, the Associated Press reported (

They attack the institution of marriage and the clergy who support it, and they will even commit fraud to undo equal rights in Mass. It makes you feel sorry for these people in a way doesn't it. They are so lost in their own prejudice that they would break the law to see it forced on others. It's sad, and a little scary.

A Note:A certain bow-tied idiot on MSNBC has blogged about how Gay marriage will legalize Polygamy...Why it would not legalize Polyandry as well, I do not know, but he has his knickers in a twist about this. This apples and oranges thing is wearing thin. Plural marriage has a negative emotional and economic impact on those involved. It is a separate issue. [Ugh] If Rachel Maddow were not on his show, I wouldn't even know it was on.

Christians and Lawmakers Against Adoption

C.E. Dorsett Hate is the Republican Party's plan for reelection of this year... a fear of families:

At least 16 states are considering whether gay men and lesbians are fit to be parents, USA Today reported Tuesday (

I am literally shaking as I write this. Gay Adoption is really a threat to this country? Children having loving families is a bad thing? The very thought does violence to the national soul. Do we really believe that Gay adoption will destroy the country?

Steps to pass laws or secure November ballot initiatives are underway in at least 16 states, adoption, gay rights and conservative groups say. Some — such as Ohio, Georgia and Kentucky — approved constitutional amendments in 2004 banning gay marriage (USA Today).

The Ohio adoption ban has already been defeated, but I have no idea for how long. A wild card in this whole debate is that the Missouri Policy against Gay Adoption was recently ruled without merit. And who could forget Janet Parshall comparing gay adoption to child abuse on Larry King Live.

There are about 520,000 children in foster care, according to the North American Council on Adoptable Children in St. Paul. Of those, 120,000 are available for adoption, but only 50,000 find permanent homes each year (USA Today).

The need for adoptive families in this country is great, and to bar an entire segment of the population from adopting for no reason is unconscionable. Find out if your state is planning to hurt our children by depriving them of parents, and study up on the facts from the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse on the subject (fact sheet here). We have to defend our children from this religious zealots who want to deprive those in need of a good home the family they so richly deserve.