Book Review: After the Darkness by Rev. Joseph M. Esper (3 ½ *’s)

I recently finished reading After the Darkness by Rev. Joseph M. Esper. It is a fictional novel about the, as he puts it, “The coming of the antichrist and the end of the world.” The copyright is 1997, so, giving about a year or so for the final organization of the book, everything in it after 1996 or 1995 or so is completely speculative. And he admits that fact in the Introduction saying that his work is NOT an attempt to predict the future. I think he merely intends to give his fictional account as a means to stress the seriousness of the topic and to exhort us to a deeper spirituality. Or something.

There are three parts to the book. The first is a fictional history of events written in “2061” about the preceding 65 years. Part II consists of journal entries from the life of a mystic and seer covering another twenty years. Part III consists of diary entries from the False Prophet; the antichrist’s right hand man.

For myself, I found the book an interesting read because he bases a good portion of the events in the book on actual prophecies of seers and prophets who have lived. And it’s all footnoted. He’s got stuff from the Bible, of course, as well as Marian prophecies, Nostradamus, and many others. I used to be a prophecy buff. As these prophecies all relate to the end of the world and the antichrist—an issue, as readers of my blog are aware, I struggle with—I’ve found it an excellent resource for such. And, having read the book including all those prophecies, I can safely conclude that many of them do not apply to me. Most specifically, I can quite emphatically state that the prophecies concerning the political career of the antichrist do not apply to me at all. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), this may be the result of my choice. There was a brief period of time where I considered pursuing a political career. Only God knows what would have happened, if I had. For myself, I’m inclined to think the prophecies noted above describe the political career I would have had, if I had entered politics. So, I can’t use these prophecies to argue with myself that I am not the antichrist (hence, the descriptor of ‘unfortunately’). However, as I now have no intention of entering politics (partly because I think I’m the antichrist), I can declare those prophecies avoided. Hah! A victory for the good guys.

Anyway, back to the book. Overall, it was okay, but not great. If you’re interested in prophecies, it’s a great resource. However, as a story, it was nothing spectacular and at times even seemed a little cheesy. The writing was fine; there were only a few typos here and there; and, overall, the presentation was original and good, it was just a little lackluster. Ultimately, I’ll give the book three and a half stars out of five.

Alien Leaders Are Schmucks Too!

One of my favorite programs on TV is Ancient Aliens. For those who aren’t familiar with the program, it explores the hypothesis that extra-terrestrials have been visiting Earth and interfering in the affairs of humanity for thousands of years. They go through the evidence, examine the theories, and generally turn alien intrigue into entertainment.

Anyway, the other night I watched several episodes. According to the program, sometime in the 1950’s, an alien being named “Valiant Thor” landed on planet Earth and had a meeting with the President of the United States. Basically, the alien wanted to convey extra-terrestrial concern over the development of and use of nuclear weapons. Watching the program was the first I’ve ever heard of “Valiant Thor.”

Surprised?

One of the more common theories concerning aliens is that the U.S. government knows far more about aliens than they are letting on. Theories abound—and the occasional rebel official validates—about how the government has numerous contacts with multiple alien species. But they are keeping it secret from us. Because, well, they’re a bunch of jerks. Complete and utter schmucks.

If aliens are out there, and they’re visiting Earth, and our government knows about it; we, the population of the United States, have a right to know. We’re big boys and girls. We can handle it. There is no good reason for the government to keep such information from us.

Now what about the aliens?

Can’t they settle this mystery and just land a spaceship on the White House Lawn in broad daylight? I mean, all things considered, our tech is getting pretty advanced. We’re almost at the point of the commercial exploration of space. Well, maybe our super advanced fighter jets scare the alien spaceships away … but I’m not buying that, as their tech probably blows ours away in spades. Regardless, at the very least, don’t you think that the aliens could hijack a TV signal or something similar and announce their presence to our population? Why wouldn’t they?

The only reason I can think of is that the aliens, too, want their existence and identity to remain hidden from us. In which case, I am forced to conclude that the alien leaders, too, are schmucks.

Relativism and the Path Forward

Moral relativism. My personal nemesis. What is it? Generally speaking, relativism means that the truth of a belief is relative to the culture of a group of people (cultural relativism) or just to an individual alone (individual relativism). I think it was Shakespeare (I could be wrong) who said something like “Nothing is true or false, except that thinking makes it so.” And that is something I wholeheartedly disagree with.

The strongest case for relativism is usually associated with religion and the sacredness of something. For example, a relativist might argue that the 25th of December (Christmas) is sacred to Christians while cows are sacred to Hindus. I’m kind of of the mind that neither one is truly sacred; at the very least, I do not think anyone should be put to death for violating either tenet. Call me silly. Additionally, I don’t think celebrating Christmas should be grouped together with the practice of human sacrifice. Call me silly. That all said, relativists do have a point.

It is a strange phenomenon of war that, often, in a conflict between two parties, both parties usually regard the other as the aggressor. It is this phenomenon that has led to an embrace of relativism (in this case cultural relativism) in our modern society. In other words, there is a vast causal web that forms our cosmos. Our position in this web determines how we react to causal influences (you know, cause and effect); so, at that level our position is kind of relativistic (as in relativism, not relativity). The challenge is to get beyond our own relativistic limitations and seek to understand others from their own point-of-view. And the same should be said for these others. That is, both sides should flip-flop from point-of-view to point-of-view to gain knowledge (not truth; truth is a separate animal; knowledge is relative, truth is not). It is a process I will call, in fancy-shmancy language, reverse relativism or relativistic flip-flopping.

The problem with the Left is that they get hung up on their opponent’s point-of-view. They seem to apply relativism to one side and one side of the debate only. They say that the Right should look at their enemy’s point-of-view (at the present time, Isis’). And they stop there. They don’t seem to realize that if we are going to flip-flop into Isis’ point-of-view, Isis should flip-flop into ours. They don’t seem to realize that “talking” is a two-way street. They think we can have peace with an enemy just by being willing to talk to them. Yes, talking is the way forward (a.k.a. reverse relativism) but only if both sides are willing to talk. One side being willing to talk doesn’t get you anywhere when the other side is crucifying people with whom they disagree.

So, is there a way forward? I, in my vast cosmic wisdom (:)), would hesitantly suggest reverse relativism to the sane parties on the planet in their international correspondence. As for the terrorists like Isis … I just don’t know. In other words, diplomacy is preferable to war; but, we all knew that anyway.

I kind of meandered a bit, but I hope this was a useful post.

Action and Activism in Climate Change

I recently received an email from a friend who’s big on climate change. The email consisted of a presentation made by this daughter of a NASA scientist. The general gist of the thing was that they wanted to “take action” and “let our government know” how “we” feel about climate change and what needs to be done. The Congress must pass laws and do this or that to bring the varied companies of the United States in line. In the presentation, the young woman said that she represented so many organizations across the country that all together totaled 50,000 people. So, they could really accomplish something if they all participated.

I’m sure they could, but as a conservative I loathe regulations and government interference in anything unless absolutely necessary.

But interference because of climate change is absolutely necessary.

Is it?

Why is it the default position of activism that a group of people must come together and nag at government until a law is passed to control the behavior of other people? Why can’t you just do something yourself? 50,000 people could accomplish a heck of a lot. If every one of them contributed ten dollars that would be $500,000 and you could set that aside as a prize for some brilliant engineer to come up with some brilliant new environmentally-friendly technology like something that would suck the excess carbon dioxide out of the air. Then, if everybody in the group contributed three hours of time that would be 150,000 man-hours of time available. What could those people accomplish for their cause, if they just went out and did it themselves? 150,000 man hours. 15,000 ten hour days. 300 ten hour days for 50 people. So, roughly, the equivalent of a 50 person company working for one year.

NOBODY wants to destroy the planet, and regulations cost time, money, and aren’t necessarily the best approach anyway. Likewise, awareness of the environmental issue is wide enough that I think some companies will contribute … something—money, maybe—to the cause simply for the asking. You don’t have to beat them over the head with a legal sledge hammer. Nobody likes to be forced to do anything. So, why not try an opt-in approach?

I mean, I want to preserve the environment, too. But I don’t want to force everyone and everybody to OBEY MY WILL! It’s a question of freedom, thank you very much.

Homophobia and Homosexuality

I hate the word “homophobia.” Why? Because it is a recourse to an insult to win an argument. I believe arguments should be won on the merits not by twisting language into pretzels. Basically, the word “homophobia,” when taken apart means “fear of homosexuals.” Why would someone be afraid of homosexuals? I read on Facebook once that homophobic men are afraid of homosexuals because they are afraid of being raped. The analogy used in the post was how women might be afraid of men because the men are capable of using force to gratify their sexual desires. So men will be afraid of other men because those men will have the strength to gratify their sexual desires against the former men. In my opinion, that misses the counter-argument/s entirely. Not to be macho or anything, but I’m 6’3”, 250 lbs., and I have a black belt. I don’t get intimidated by other men easily. I’m not afraid of homosexuals.

Anyway, I can’t speak for other Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) sects, but by my understanding the Catholic Church is not opposed to individuals being homosexual, they are opposed to the homosexual act. That may not be fair—expecting homosexuals to go through life without ever having homosexual sex—but that’s the position of the church as I understand it. I don’t necessarily endorse that position, but I believe the Church should be represented fairly in discussions like this.

When dealing with the homosexual issue, there seem to be two different ways of approaching it. One, is the intellectual argument. For example, if one claims that homosexuality is some sort of biological dysfunction since there is an obvious function of the human reproductive system that is not met by a homosexual reproductive system, one is making an intellectual argument. There are other relevant intellectual arguments as well—like the effect on the family in society, etc… Anyway, these arguments are characterized by an appeal to some kind of logical, rational discourse. They are usually cold and impersonal. Alternatively, there is the emotional argument. In the case of the homosexual this is, basically, this is my friend; he’s a homosexual; and if you are going to get on his case about that, you are going to tick me off as well because I have accepted him as he is and I still love him as a friend.

For many years, psychiatrists and psychologists considered homosexuality a form of mental illness. Nowadays, most of them have reversed that opinion. I am neither a psychiatrist nor am I a psychologist so I don’t know which opinion to endorse officially. My own views have changed with time. When I was young, I agreed with the Catholic Church. Then, one day I saw on TV a homosexual man grieving for his partner who was dying from AIDS and I realized he truly did love his partner, and my position on homosexuality and homosexual marriage softened. I became a quiet supporter of the movement. Then, there was the transgender movement and the demands for public access to restrooms and showers by members of the opposite sex. Upon reflection, I’ve decided that I think transgenderism is a form of mental illness. Once I came to that conclusion, I began to rethink my conclusions regarding homosexuality; I am currently up in the air about that. However, before parting, I will point out that if you are getting all upset by labeling homosexuality a mental illness (which I am not sure is the correct move anyway), the next logical question to ask is: what do you have against those with a mental illness? It’s not like mental illness is their fault (although in my case, mine—if it is that—is: but mine is an unusual case and that’s a long story). Those who are mentally ill deserve respect and acceptance, and, indeed, love, too.

Satan’s Play: Dreams and Visions

Satan’s Play: Dreams and Visions

Those readers of mine familiar with my delusion, if delusion it truly be, may find some of this entry familiar. I’ve written of it before elsewhere on this site and in other writings. However, let me recap some of the highlights of my “delusion.” I believe Satan and the Universe are one and the same thing (I also believe Barak Obama is Satan, or an appendage of Satan, if you will, but that’s not really relevant to this particular post). I believe all the religions in the world were inspired by Satan’s activities on this earth; he set them up according to his own desires to get us to “worship” him when we thought we were worshiping God. The God I believe in doesn’t really want worship. He wants love, and that is not the same thing. He’ll put up with the worship because he understands us and our needs.

But enough about God. Back to Satan.

Satan is evil and he is hell-bent (forgive the pun) on getting us to worship him, even when we don’t realize we are actually worshiping him. He doesn’t care if we know or not; he just wants us to pray to him. To that end, he can respond to prayers or take activities like sending dreams or visions to us.

Imagine, if you will, an Islamic terrorist has a vision telling him to blow something up and kill some people. How can we make sense of that? We can analyze the vision as A) God or some other benevolent supernatural entity told the terrorist to blow something up—but that hardly fits our notion of God as a loving Creator or the premise that it is a benevolent entity responsible for the vision. Or we can analyze the vision as B) no entity is responsible; it is just a product of the brain without any connection to a supernatural reality. Lastly, we can have C) some malevolent supernatural entity is responsible for providing the vision while working disguised as a benevolent entity. I suppose you could also have a neutral entity responsible, but I’ll just group that in A) as well. Regardless of what the source of the vision might be, removing the impetus it provides would be virtually impossible. A vision, presumably from God, which dovetailed with the so-called “teachings” of the religion, and the understanding of that religion, to a practitioner of that religion would simply reinforce the beliefs, even should they be terrible and heinous beliefs, of that practitioner. If all the world is telling you not to kill someone, and yet the God you are devoted to, to whom you pray every day, is contradicting that and telling you to go and kill … to whom will you listen? Devout individuals will listen to their God every single time.

It is my belief that ‘divinely inspired’ visions supporting acts of violence and murder would be evidence of a malevolent entity interfering in human affairs, and I would call that entity “Satan.” Surely, the visions do not come from God. They might be just some figments of the brain, or they could be the result of some other mysterious entity that thinks very little of us.

Anyway, that pretty much describes how I think Satan could use religion as a tool to wreak destruction. Or, perhaps I’m guilty of judging God. I believe I’m the antichrist, so treat everything I say as suspect.

Our Dystopian Future

I volunteer at a Food Shelf. Sometimes it’s slow and we are left to ourselves to amuse ourselves with myriad tasks and conversation. A recent conversation drifted into the darker possibilities of our future.

Basically, the possibilities of technology are getting scarier and scarier.

It started with my lamentations concerning the influence the government has on the Food Shelf; we get food from them, and that, of course, comes with some strings attached. Not my problem, because I’m not particularly high up in the organization. But we discussed that for a bit, and then we moved into stranger and more frightening territory.

Somehow we got onto the subject of humans being implanted with computer chips when they are born. One of my co-volunteers said that was likely in our future. She didn’t seem alarmed…. until I came up with a few disturbing possibilities. Remember Snowden? All the NSA secrets? No doubt that was made possible through the government calling some shots at the point of origin of computer manufacturing. I assume that there is some secret hardware or something in all the computers ever made (yeah, I’m a little paranoid—or am I?). Will they have similar programs for these computer chips inserted in our bodies? Yes, the chips can monitor blood cell counts, temperature, etc… But what’s to stop them from putting in other “stuff.” Like, perhaps, a minute, but deadly, toxin. Someone is causing problems, and the government activates the “kill switch” through a simple wireless command. And the person dies seemingly of natural causes.

The same woman mentioned flu shots. And me in my paranoia wondered aloud about what if they’re doing this now? What else could they put into a flu shot besides the flu shot? The development of nano-technology opens floodgates of abuse here. The shot isn’t manufactured by the hospital—we would probably trust the hospital. But if the government were so inclined, they could inject nano-chips into flu shots. And flu shots and other shots can become mandatory all too quickly (because the scientists demand it).

This is all kind of spooky. I have no evidence to think that such is actually happening, at least, not here in the U.S. But it could happen in a not-too-distant future, particularly in a totalitarian state. Like I implied earlier, just think Snowden at an even more perverse level.

Happy Halloween!