Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The true meaning of Paganism

Cernunnos,"The Horned One" - Paganism

The true meaning of Paganism

Detail of Runestone 181
The Triumph of Civilization
An ancient temple devoted to the god Zeus
The word "paganism" has come to refer to various pre-Christian religions belonging to a number of ancient cultures—those from Greece, Rome, Egypt, Scandinavia, and so on.  It has come to also represent, in some circles, the modern ideology of Wicca and the followers of revived versions of the old practices.  The truth about "paganism", however, is that it is a historically inaccurate phrase in the context of these aforementioned faiths.  Although it is now the accepted term for these religions, it is important to examine where the word truly came from and what it initially meant, allowing for a better, all-inclusive understanding of the world's religious past.
The term "paganism" was revived during the Renaissance when writers were trying to differentiate the old traditions from their contemporary Christian faith.  The term itself stems from the Latin paganus translated loosely along the lines of "country dweller" or "rustic"; thus it was initially a word describing a person of locality rather than a religion.  However, because of its usage in ancient texts, medieval authors mistakenly believed it referenced a religious sect and thereby gave it the corresponding connotation.  In actuality, there was a different word used to describe the "pagans" as they are called today, and that word too stemmed first and foremost from the location of the religious supporters.
According to scholar Peter Brown of Princeton University, "Hellene" was initially utilized in place of "paganism".  "Hellene" was a reference to Ἕλλην (Hellas), the native ancient Greek name for what is now called Greece.  Brown explains that when Christianity started making appearances in the eastern communities, "Hellene" was used to differentiate the non-Christians from the Christians.  Those from Hellas tended to remain faithful to the old religions, but with the strife between Judaism and Christianity beginning, the Jewish faction needed to ensure they were not incorrectly associated with them.  As they were not from Greece, "Hellene" became the perfect title.

An ancient temple devoted to the god Zeus. Credit: MM, Public Domain

In the Latin west, it was more common for the various religions to refer to themselves by their ethnic origins rather than by the gods they worshipped—they simply referred to themselves (in their own language) as Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, etc., simultaneously insinuating their religious factions as well.  This form of labeling was largely due to the fact that the political and religious aspects of life were a unified entity.  Thus, the tradition of ethnic titling appears to have been continued by the early Christians.  As far as ancient sources can tell, it wasn't until the Late Roman Empire that the term "pagan" began to be used instead, as it was an easy way to lump all the non-Christians together in conversation, decrees, etc.   It rose to popularity as a matter of convenience rather than of accuracy and respect.
It is important to note that "paganism" is not intended to differentiate the polytheistic religions from the monotheistic.  The number of gods does not apply to the term because many so-called "pagans" would have not considered it important to differentiate themselves based on the number of gods they worshipped.  Followers of the ancient religions did not necessarily have anything against Christianity based on its preference for a singular deity—many cults within each sect had a primary deity at the center of the religion, beneath which subordinate deities were also worshipped.  "Paganism" as a title was intended only to reference the non-Christians (and the non-Jews), isolating them into one solitary category that could be more easily destroyed and replaced.

The Triumph of Civilization’ by Jacques Reattu (Wikimedia). Many ancient religions were polytheistic and believed in a pantheon of gods. 

This effort of combining all non-Christian religions under one umbrella was, in fact, a clever strategy by the early Christians to remove the "pagan" faiths altogether.  Using the Norse traditions as an example, the Vikings of the early medieval period had no true name for their religious following.  In truth, the word religion would have been an unknown, foreign term to them.  The Nordic tribes preferred the word "customs" as—like the Greeks and Romans—their rituals, beliefs, and traditions were undefined and fluidly interpreted, orally passed down rather than rigidly studied.  There was no all-encompassing word for the belief in the Aesir and Vanir, and the various other beings and deities the ancient Norse worshipped, and there was no written text discussing their practices until the Christian author Snorri Sturluson wrote their mythology down in the 13th century.

Detail of Runestone 181, in Stockholm. Norse gods Odin, Thor and Freyr are represented as three men. Credit: Berig, Wikipedia

According to Gareth Williams in Viking: Life and Legend, what is now considered the Norse religion is actually the "legacy of the Christian missionaries", their textual product a "concentrated target" that is much easier to remove and erase than the amalgamation of gods liberally worshipped.  Consolidating the various Norse—and every other "pagan"—tradition into a simplified faith with recorded rules and codes provided the early Christians with a more straightforward target to remove and replace.
Though the phrase "paganism" is widely used to describe followers of the various ancient religions, it is important to understand from where the term originates and the misconceptions behind its usage.   Too many centuries have passed now—the word "paganism" will continue to label these supporters despite its original meaning.  But it is never too late to be informed of the origins of the term, thereby allowing a better comprehension of the history of the ancient followers.
Featured image: Cernunnos,"The Horned One", ancient god of nature and fertility. (Source)
Brown, Peter. Late Antiquity: a guide to the postclassical world (Harvard University Press: Massachusetts, 1999.) s.v. "Pagan".
Cameron, Alan G. The Last Pagans of Rome (Oxford University Press: New York, 2011.)
Davies, Owen (2011). Paganism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press: New York, 2011.)
Robert, P. & Scott, N. A History of Pagan Europe (Barnes & Noble Books: New York, 1995.)
Swain, "Defending Hellenism: Philostratus, in Honour of Apollonius," in Apologetics, p. 173
Williams, Gareth, Peter Penz, and Matthias Wemhoff. Vikings: Life and Legend (Cornell University Press: New York, 2014.)
York, Michael. Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion (New York University Press: New York, 2003.)
By Ryan Stone

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Limiting Intake at Big Run Landfill, Boyd Co KY

Contributor: Citizen Randy Roberson
CATLETTSBURG The Boyd County Fiscal Court took two major steps Tuesday toward limiting trash intake at Big Run Landfill.

First, members unanimously approved hiring Paul Nesbitt of Lexington-based Nesbitt Engineering as a consultant throughout Big Run Landfill’s permit renewal phase in January.
Nesbitt has worked with the court in the past regarding the county’s solid waste management plan. He said attempting to lower the total capacity of a landfill is groundbreaking for local government in Kentucky. Second, members unanimously approved a resolution accepting Nesbitt’s recommendation to lower the landfill’s total capacity by about 60 percent — in other words, cutting out about 18 million tons of trash from its currently permitted intake.
If the court is successful, it will be the first government body in Kentucky to reduce the total capacity of a landfill through this process, and the only way to do it is through an amendment to its solid waste management plan.

Nesbitt provided the court with data he obtained through state government agencies, noting it was not a “complete” set of data.

He said at one time, the landfill was accepting about 2,000 tons of garbage per day based on an average calculated for a six-day work week.
After a “boom” in 2013 and another in 2014, the landfill now accepts about 5,500 tons of trash per day. This figure, he said, was based on the last two quarterly reports from the landfill for 2014.
As of 2008, the landfill is permitted a total site area of 576 acres, with the ability to store trash in 255 acres.

Nesbitt said his justification to the state for implementing his suggested capacity reduction would be based off the 2008 slide, the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection-issued agreed order and other problems that appear to correlate with increased intake at the site.
“You can see that there’s a correlation when you look at the tonnage and the violation history that the increased flow into the landfill created some issues for the landfill,” Nesbitt told the court. “Because it is present in terms of violations, the slide and everything else.”
He added the landfill appeared to be able to operate successfully when it accepted about 2,000 tons per day. He recommended the company be required to return to this rate for the next 20 years, which would amount to a total capacity of 12.48 cubic yards.

Trash trains bring East Coast odors
Nesbitt also clarified the amendment is not based on a certain time frame and does not address daily flow. The time frame mentioned was more of a projection based on average intake data.
Boyd County resident Steve Cole asked Nesbitt if he would consider a rate that would effectively reduce the amount of garbage brought in from out-of state sources.
Cole said since the state would ensure the needs of Boyd County and other Kentucky-based customers would be met, lowering the overall capacity even further could cut off intake from some out-of-state sources since those needs are secondary.

Nesbitt, however, said he could not justify writing a suggestion that reflected Cole’s recommendation.

Boyd County Judge-Executive Steve Towler said the amendment could take up to five months to enact and it would have to be presented to the state for approval before becoming law.
EnviroSolutions Inc., the parent company for Big Run Landfill, had its CEO and President Dean Kattler and Regional Vice President Scott Cunningham present at the meeting.
ESI’s public relations representative Phil Osborne said Kattler could not comment on the suggested capacity reduction at this time.
Kattler did, however, release this statement: “We wish more than four of the 35-plus people that attended the fiscal court meeting would have attended yesterday’s two open houses where we could have listened, then answered their questions and concerns.
“We hope to see them at our July 15 open house, where we will be set up and waiting to share information.”

"We will be at your Open House on the 15th !!
This is another How great the Landfill is story by the Daily Independent this RAG is not worth reading it is not telling the full story about the pollution and and cancer causing coal ash, or fracking water waste that this company is destroying our environment with. And Kattler trying to say we are not interested enough to attend his Dog and Pony Show and saying they provide 14% of the county budget.

We got along without your filth money before the Dump Take Your Garbage Back to New Jersey. Good Job Ashland Daily  Independent Lick your Masters boots or kiss their a**'s"

 Randy Roberson
Citizen-Boyd Co Ky

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Five Boys From Royalton

 Deadwrite's Dailie's
 December 7, 2010

Uncle Bruce Stephens, circa 1943.

My dad, Woodrow Wilson Stephens, and two of his younger brothers, Bruce and Sam, all served in World War II. They were three poor Kentucky boys from a tiny backwater town called Royalton tucked away in an Appalachian holler. The Stephens boys had neighbors named Whitt who had two sons named Byron and Forrest who also went off to the war. These five boys represented a large proportion of the eligible bachelors of Royalton at the time.

Of the five Royalton boys who went off to battle, only Bruce, my favorite uncle, is still with us. Some time ago he sent me a family genealogy that included a nine-page autobiography he wrote a few years ago as he approached his eightieth birthday. To honor my father, my uncles Bruce and Sam, and the two Whitt brothers on this, the anniversary of the day that forever changed the lives of the “greatest generation,” I would like to reproduce a portion of it here:

I will always remember where I was on December 7, 1941. It was a Sunday and as usual, there was little to do for entertainment. Mostly we just loafed, but this day a couple of my buddies and I were playing cards and listening to one of the few battery radios in Royalton. We were at Ashland “Goose Eye” McFarland’s at a shanty-like garage he used for a home on Willie Shepherd’s farm at a place on Licking River called the Narrows. We could only get two or three stations: KDKA in Pittsburgh, WLW in Cincinnati, and WHAS in Louisville. Over whichever station we had on, the announcement of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came over the air repeatedly, which put an end to our card game. Young men in the area rushed to enlist, but at seventeen, I was not old enough.
My brother Woodrow and our neighbor, Bal Whitt’s son Byron, were already in the navy. My brother had only recently been shipped out of Pearl Harbor and thus escaped the attack, but Byron Whitt was serving as a gunner’s mate on the USS Arizona and was killed and went down with the ship. Years after the war ended, my wife and I visited the USS Arizona memorial where Byron Whitt’s name heads the last column of those killed.

In January of 1943, Uncle Bruce was finally old enough to enlist. He continues with his own wartime experiences where he served in the navy on a hydrographic survey ship at Iwo Jima:

The first battle we engaged in was Iwo Jima. We operated close in to the beach and had a ringside view of the awful action occurring before us, but surprisingly our ship was never struck by enemy fire. We were several times endangered by the falling empty cartridges from our own planes strafing enemy positions on shore.
I had occasion to accidentally come in contact with Byron Whitt’s younger brother Forrest, a marine, as our two ships almost touched each other on our way to Iwo Jima, which many say was the bloodiest battle of the war. We spoke to each other briefly but I never saw him again. He was killed in action on Iwo Jima. Because his brother Byron was entombed on the Arizona, his father and mother elected not to have Forrest returned to the United States and he was buried on Iwo Jima. Both are where they fell fighting for their country. Our neighbors, Bal and Josie Whitt, lost two sons. My two brothers, Woodrow and Sam and I all survived without a scratch. Seems unfair, but sometimes that’s the way it is.

Thanks Bruce, and Sam, and Byron, and Forrest.
And thanks to you, Dad. … I miss you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

JFK: Cold Warrior to Peace Maker.

In a 1966 New York Times feature article on the CIA, this statement by JFK appeared without further comment: “President Kennedy, as the enormity of the Bay of Pigs disaster came home to him, said to one of the highest officials of his Administration that he wanted ‘to splinter the C.I.A. in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.’”Presidential adviser Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., said the president told him, while the Bay of Pigs battle was still going on, “It’s a hell of a way to learn things, but I have learned one thing from this business—that is, that we will have to deal with CIA . . . no one has dealt with CIA.”
Earth shattering quotes from JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by James Douglass.
Essential reading for any thinking breathing human being who wants to understand the depth and breadth of the diabolical forces that still rule the world today, 52 years after Kennedy was assassinated.
It’s not often that the intersection of history and contemporary events pose such a startling and chilling lesson as does  the contemplation of the murder of JFK on November 22, 1963 juxtaposed with the situations  faced by President Obama today.   So far, at least, Obama’s behavior has mirrored Johnson’s, not Kennedy’s, as he has escalated the war in Afghanistan by 34,000. One can’t but help think that the thought of JFK’s fate might not be far from his mind as he contemplates his next move in Afghanistan.

Douglass presents a very compelling argument that Kennedy was killed by “unspeakable” [forces] within the U.S. national security state because of his conversion from a cold warrior into a man of peace.  He argues, using a wealth of newly uncovered information, that JFK had become a major threat to the burgeoning military-industrial complex and had to be eliminated through a conspiracy planned by the CIA – “the CIA’s fingerprints are all over the crime and the events leading up to it” – not by a crazed individual, the Mafia, or disgruntled anti-Castro Cubans, though some of these may have been used in the execution of the plot.

Why and by whom?  These are the key questions.  If it can be shown that Kennedy did, in fact, turn emphatically away from war as a solution to political conflict; did, in fact, as he was being urged by his military and intelligence advisers to up the ante and use violence, rejected such advice and turned toward peaceful solutions, then, a motive for his elimination is established.  If, furthermore, it can be clearly shown that Oswald was a dupe in a deadly game and that forces within the military/intelligence apparatus were involved with him from start to finish, then the crime is solved, not by fingering an individual who may have given the order for the murder or pulled the trigger, but by showing that the coordination of the assassination had to involve U.S. intelligence agencies, most notably the CIA .
Douglass does both, providing highly detailed and intricately linked evidence based on his own research and a vast array of the best scholarship.We are then faced with the contemporary relevance, and since we know that every president since JFK has refused to confront the growth of the national security state and its call for violence, one can logically assume a message was sent and heeded.  In this regard,  it is not incidental that former twenty-seven year CIA analyst Raymond McGovern, in a recent interview, warned of the “two CIAs,” one the analytic arm providing straight scoop to presidents, the other the covert action arm  which operates according to its own rules.
“Let me leave you with this thought,” he told his interviewer, “and that is that I think Panetta (current CIA Director), and to a degree Obama, are afraid – I never thought  I’d hear myself saying this – I think they are afraid of the CIA.”  He then recommended Douglass’ book, “It’s very well-researched and his conclusion is very alarming.” [i]
Let’s look at the history marshaled by Douglass to support his thesis.First, Kennedy, who took office in January 1961 as somewhat of a Cold Warrior, was quickly set up by the CIA to take the blame for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961.  The CIA and generals wanted to oust Castro, and in pursuit of that goal, trained a force of Cuban exiles to invade Cuba.  Kennedy refused to go along and the invasion was roundly defeated.  The CIA, military, and Cuban exiles bitterly blamed Kennedy. But it was all a sham.
Though Douglass doesn’t mention it, and few Americans know it, classified documents uncovered in 2000 revealed that the CIA had discovered that the Soviets had learned of the date of the invasion more than a week in advance, had informed Castro, but – and here is a startling fact that should make people’s hair stand on end –  never told the President. [ii] The CIA knew the invasion was doomed before the fact but went ahead with it anyway.  Why?  So they could and did afterwards blame JFK for the failure.
This treachery set the stage for events to come.  For his part, sensing but not knowing the full extent of the set-up, Kennedy fired CIA Director Allen Dulles (as in a bad joke, later to be named to the Warren Commission) and his assistant General Charles Cabell (whose brother Earle Cabell, to make a bad joke absurd, was the mayor of Dallas on the day Kennedy was killed) and said he wanted “to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”  Not the sentiments to endear him to a secretive government within a government whose power was growing exponentially.The stage was now set for events to follow as JFK, in opposition to nearly all his advisers, consistently opposed the use of force in U.S. foreign policy.

In 1961, despite the Joint Chief’s demand to put troops into Laos, Kennedy bluntly insisted otherwise as he ordered Averell Harriman, his representative at the Geneva Conference, “Did you understand?  I want a negotiated settlement in Laos.  I don’t want to put troops in.”

Also in 1961, he refused to concede to the insistence of his top generals to give them permission to use nuclear weapons in Berlin and Southeast Asia.  Walking out of a meeting with top military advisors, Kennedy threw his hands in the air and said, “These people are crazy.”

He refused to bomb and invade Cuba as the military wished during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.  Afterwards he told his friend John Kenneth Galbraith that “I never had the slightest intention of doing so.”
Then in June 1963 he gave an incredible speech at American University in which he called for the total abolishment of nuclear weapons, the end of the Cold War and the “Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war,” and movement toward “general and complete disarmament.”
A few months later he signed a Limited Test Ban Treaty with Nikita Khrushchev.In October 1963 he signed National Security Action Memorandum  263 calling for the withdrawal of 1,000 U. S. military troops from Vietnam by the end of the year and a total withdrawal by the end of 1965.[iii]
All this he did while secretly engaging in negotiations with Khrushchev via the KGB , Norman Cousins, and Pope John XXIII , and with Castro through various intermediaries, one of whom was French Journalist Jean Daniel. In an interview with Daniel on October 24, 1963 Kennedy said, “I approved the proclamation Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption.  I will go even further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States.  Now we will have to pay for those sins.  In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries.  That is perfectly clear.” 

Such sentiments were anathema, shall we say treasonous, to the CIA and top generals.These clear refusals to go to war and his decision to engage in private, back-channel communications with Cold War enemies marked Kennedy as an enemy of the national security state.  They were on a collision course.

As Douglass and others have pointed out, every move Kennedy made was anti-war.  This, Douglass argues, was because JFK, a war hero, had been deeply affected by the horror of war and was severely shaken by how close the world had come to destruction during the Cuban missile crisis. Throughout his life he had been touched by death and had come to appreciate the fragility of life.
Once in the Presidency, Kennedy underwent a deep metanoia, a spiritual transformation, from Cold Warrior to peace maker.  He came to see the generals who advised him as devoid of the tragic sense of life and as hell-bent on war.  And he was well aware that his growing resistance to war had put him on a dangerous collision course with those generals and the CIA.
On numerous occasions he spoke of the possibility of a military coup d’etat against him.  On the night before his trip to Dallas, he told his wife, “But, Jackie, if somebody wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why worry about it.” And we know that nobody did try to stop it because they had planned it. But who killed him?

Douglass presents a formidable amount of evidence, some old and some new, against the CIA and covert action agencies within the national security state,  and does so in such a logical and persuasive way that any fair-minded reader cannot help but be taken aback; stunned, really. And he links this evidence directly to JFK’s actions on behalf of peace.He knows, however, that to truly convince he must break a “conspiracy of silence that would envelop our government, our media, our academic institutions, and virtually our entire society from November 22, 1963, to the present.”  This “unspeakable,” this hypnotic “collective denial of the obvious,” is sustained by a mass-media whose repeated message is that the truth about such significant events is beyond our grasp, that we will have to drink the waters of uncertainty forever.  As for those who don’t, they are relegated to the status of conspiracy nuts.Fear and uncertainty block a true appraisal of the assassination – that plus the thought that it no longer matters.
It matters.  For we know that no president since JFK has dared to buck the military-intelligence-industrial complex.  We know a Pax Americana has spread its tentacles across the globe with U.S. military in over 130 countries on 750 plus bases.
We know that the amount of blood and money spent on wars and war preparations has risen astronomically.
There is a great deal we know and even more that we don’t want to know, or at the very least, investigate.
Are you ready to learn the truth? Or will you keep closing eyes?