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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Weaponized Art: Part II

30 Masterpieces Of The Ancient World



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Professor Diana K. McDonald is an art historian on the faculty of Boston College. She has spent her life investigating primeval art – even from age 6, she jokes, with a trip to Mexico’s art treasures, courtesy of her parents. Dr. McDonald has critically examined ancient artwork in the museums and archeological sites of more than 40 countries.

In the following discussion, I offer my observations concerning the principle features of ancient art – what it meant to the people of long ago, its purpose, how it impacted the development of civilization, and its effect on the evolution of the human spirit.


art in service of cosmogony

Picture a tribal chieftain of a few thousand years ago. He and his troops have managed to subdue competing factions in the neighborhood. However, the warlord plans to expand his influence beyond the confines of the local citadel. He’d love to string along recent victories into a series, gobbling up nearby peoples and territory. But there's systemic problem with “imperial overreach.” As the despot’s domain grows, it all becomes thinly stretched and harder to govern. How do you keep the far-flung serfs from getting uppity and wandering off the plantation once they’ve been conquered fair and square?

so be good for goodness sake

This alpha-male needs a means of long-distance societal control, the ability to strike fear into the hearts of would-be malcontents. What the aspiring emperor requires is a jazzed “P.R.” campaign, a psychological warfare, something along the lines of a child's apprehension of Santa Claus: “he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you’ve been good or bad, so be good for goodness sake,” that sort of thing.

To support his long-reach herd management objectives, apotheosis is called for -- the morphing of the warlord into a god; or, at very least, a god’s special agent on Earth. But, it’s not so easy to assume the mantle of a god, an irritating fact not lost upon the chieftain. He knows full well, but never admitting, that when he’s cut he bleeds, when he’s tired he must sleep and eat, and then, most annoying of all, at the end of days, he dies like any dog in the street. Well, this truly is aggravating.

redistilling reality: dear leader in search of foundation myth

So, what’s an ambitious despot to do? How to convince the serfs that he has a divine right to rule over them, that it's immoral even to question his authority? It’s a hard door-to-door sell in most neighborhoods. The answer, however – simple and elegant – comes to the tin-star chieftain in a night reverie. Why not redistill reality, just say it's so, tweak the notion of what’s true, reshuffle the creation myths, and dream up a more advantageous cosmogony?

Editor’s note: “Cosmogony” has two root ideas: “cosmos” meaning “order” and “gonia” as “genesis” or “origin.” Think of Kipling’s “Just So Stories,” fantastic accounts of how animals came to have certain qualities; you know, how the leopard got his spots. To the credulous crowd, and to those preying upon them, a cosmogony provides a basis of belief, an ordering paradigm upon which to build thought and deed, loyalties and prejudices, perceptions of morality in this world and the hereafter.

the man who would be king

Dissatisfied with appellation of mere “local chieftain,” and with some help of cronies who will become temple priests, the warlord invents, not only a new and improved version of himself but, an entire cosmogony, a reordering of the origin and meaning of the whole universe, in which, of course, he plays the starring role.

As we learn in the “30 Masterpieces” lectures, and from many other historians, these ancient thugs, coveting better press, image, and legacy, merchandized the idea that the gods on high had invested them with divine pedigree. A carefully crafted gestalt, it was sold to the people primarily by the temple priests -- the king's ambassador-accomplices -- who worked conspiratorially with him in a grand religio-state charade of manufactured respectability, focused upon power and control over the masses.


Editor’s note: All of this disingenuous pageantry and stagecraft brings to mind some very impolite words by comedian Jerry Seinfeld (4-15-11), who, quite seriously, commented on a British royal wedding: "Well, it's a circus act, it's an absurd act. You know, it's a dress-up. It's a classic English thing of let's play dress-up. Let's pretend that these are special people. OK, we'll all pretend this - that's what theatre is. The British have the greatest theatre in the world. They love to dress up, and they love to play pretend. And that's what the royal family is. It's a huge game of pretend. These aren't special people. It's fake outfits, fake phoney hats and gowns," [all designed to make you believe that they are better, more worthy, than you].

Editor's note: We're also reminded of Jesus' sardonic comment on history's murderous politician-criminals: "they call themselves benefactors." Not much has changed in 5000 years. Also, in the taped lectures of Spirit Guide Abu, communicating via direct-voice medium Rick Rickards, Abu speaks of similar things. During his Earthly life he had worked as a temple priest in Egypt, circa 1500 BC. The priests, he said, were deceiving and gaming the people, and manipulated the fears of the Pharaoh, as well. Abu confesses that, in those old days, he was one of the bad guys. Essentially, the priests were hiding behind the prestige of religion as they role-played the pious, spiritual man. And in this ruthless competition among the fake-news sainted, these who wielded the true power behind the throne via the fear of death, Abu was brutally stabbed by a rival priest and left to suffocate in his own blood, as he died, ignominiously, in a ditch.


'king of the universe' and all that rot

And so, now, magically, the petty warlord is reconstituted as elite, above and better, no longer of the unwashed rabble in the marketplace. He's a god, don’t you know; or, at minimum, a son of god. As he reintroduces himself to the mob, this nouveau riche potentate hurls wild, self-identifying epithets: “King of the Four Quarters,” “King of the Universe,” “Divine Son of God,” and many other such modest proposals - all of which are designed to create the illusion that the newly-ascending lord commands power over life and death.

But, how to extensively market this “P.R.” campaign? It’s no good, you see, if you’re a legend only in your own mind. You’ve got to get your message out, as the politicians today say. But how can this spin-doctoring be accomplished? You just need an elaborate "wag the dog" program. But there's no mass media for you to corrupt, and you can’t just pass out leaflets or rewrite textbooks when pretty much everyone, except the temple priests, is illiterate – a state of ignorance well encouraged by the warlord.

art as visual propaganda

In virtually every ancient society, the answer to the question of “P.R.” became one of visual propaganda. The artwork in ancient times was not offered as “art for art’s sake” - not one pure example of that. What we find, instead, is art in service of cosmogony, art as cultish indoctrination, art as societal control, art as immortality strategy.

All of the "30 masterpieces," to one degree or another, says Dr. McDonald, were used for this visual propaganda effort; none of it was "art for art's sake."

The king, as supreme hegemonic figure in this concocted melodrama, was portrayed as a kind of “comic book super-hero,” larger than life, son of the gods, invested with frightening powers, a living blessing to loyal subjects, an ultra-nemesis to malcontents, the guarantor of the land’s fecundity, the protector of peace and order in the world. We expect him to wear a red cape and some bold letter on his puffed-out chest.

Editor’s note: The “30 Masterpieces” lectures feature a great many, more than 30, examples of ancient artwork. I will not attempt to reproduce them here; you’ll want to personally review this information. But allow me to offer one notable example: The Victory Stela of Naram-Sin of Akkad.


The Victory Stela of Naram-Sin of Akkad

(information from Dr. McDonald's course guidebook)

Naram-Sin was the grandson of Sargon the Great (2300 B.C.), the founder of the dynasty of Akkad in Mesopotamia. The empire reached its peak under the rulership of Naram-Sin. He commemorated his victories with stela – large stone monuments, usually carved on both sides and with a rounded top.

We also know, from an inscription on another statue, that he declared himself as divine during his lifetime, calling himself “king of the four quarters, king of the universe.”

Naram-Sin had the above stela carved to celebrate his victory over the Lullubi, a group of people who lived in today’s western Iran. The stela monument stands over 6 feet tall. Note that the stela has a pyramidal composition, with Naram-Sin firmly planted at the top. His wide stance conveys dominance. His muscles bulge, his entire demeanor bespeaks vigor and virility. He is larger than life, depicted much more robustly than all other combatants.

He alone confronts the divine by placing himself next to the steep mountain and closest to the divine symbols at the pyramidal top. We know that he assumes a divine status here because he wears a horned helmet, which is a recognized symbol of divinity in Mesopotamia.

Naram-Sin, with commanding presence, strides upward, and his soldiers march behind (and under) him in organized diagonals. The vanquished Lullubi, in contrast, are disorganized and humiliated, crushed and broken, pleading for mercy, beneath the feet of the invincible god Naram-Sin.


the king as underwriter of the land’s fruitfulness

Ancient totalitarians combined the offices of “state and church,” arrogating to themselves authority over the people as both king and priest; in effect, the king was also the chief priest of the temple. This is easily discerned in many examples of the artwork.

The king was portrayed as a kind of bridge between heaven and earth. Part of his duties was to call upon the pantheon to bless the land with fruitful harvest. But here’s how the game was played – then and now. If the crops were good in a particular year, the king, in his majesty, took full credit for the bounty. But, if the rains didn’t come, if food supplies ebbed lower, the people were blamed for their misdemeanors, having made the gods angry, now requiring propitiation, offerings, sometimes human sacrifice, and, at very least, the customary amount of groveling to make things right. Today, when things go wrong, the Pulpit Elite will decry the people’s “lack of faith,” with God, in consequence, and in his severe but holy justice, having withheld blessings. It’s “heads I win, tails you lose.”

Editor’s note: One of the etymological strands of the word “priest” comes to us via the Latin with a root notion of “bridge.” We see this in the Latin pontus, or today’s French word for “bridge,” pont, and also the modern word “pontoon,” a temporary bridge or landing stage.

The ancient king was the original “pontifex maximus,” the “supreme priest” or “chief bridge-builder” between man and god. But notice the diseased cosmogony, take note of the draconian implications. In such dystopian universe – one crafted by Dear Leader – a farmer cannot simply pray on his own and expect a Higher Power to send rain for his crops.

Well, how would that ever work? The gods won’t listen to you, scum of the Earth that you are. Whatever god or gods there might be could never love you or be concerned about you enough to listen to anything you have to say. What you need, little serf, is a professional “bridge-builder” to the gods. That’s the ticket. And, lucky for you, in your abject worthlessness, we just happen to have a local god-representative on duty, for your convenience, in that giant palace right over there.


raping and pillaging has gone out of style today - what’s a despot to do; but, if you can’t brutalize the people anymore, you’ll have to seduce them

In the ancient good old days, you could just do whatever you liked. People resist your dreams of world domination? - well then, just put their heads up on stakes or work them to death as slaves. No problemo.

Those were the golden days for “sons of god” and “kings of the four quarters.” In our era, however, it’s more complicated. Ever since annoying rule-of-law people like James Madison, John Adams, Thomas Paine, and the like, put a crimp in the designs of would-be totalitarians, stratagems have changed. Now you have to take the long road home and convince the people that it’s in their best interests to surrender their personal freedoms and let you rule over them. A pretty tough sell, one would think; however, surprisingly, about 35% of the population would agree with such draconian policy and think it’s just dandy.

In this seducing, the modern hopeful dictator still has to create an image of Agent Of The Universe’s Fecundity or some such modest marketing image. It’s the same old ancient gig today, though, but now it’s done with grand political promises, demonizing one's rivals, and offers of largesse from the national treasury.



art as architecture, the man-made mountain, nearness to the gods

Dr. McDonald points out that many ancient societies created a “man-made mountain”stupas, ziggurats, three- and four-sided pyramids, colossal mounds, staged temple-towers -- all these, gigantic stage-props, quite useful to an aspiring Dear Leader, a pageantry depicting him atop a universal food-chain. 

Even the earliest-known artwork – the Chauvet-cave animal representations of 35,000 years ago – might fall into this category as these paintings were created within the bowels of a mountain; art, therein, amidst hushed silence of venerable seclusion, issued as some sort of ritualistic rite-of-passage.

Ancient man’s creation of a symbolical mountain seems virtually to be a universal need and impulse. We find these mammoth structures in the Americas, Egypt to Mesopotamia, the Far East and South Asia. Some of these societies were isolated, with no contact with the world at-large. And yet the “man-made mountain” persisted, seemingly, everywhere.

Why were these edifices created? Many utilitarian reasons could be offered – temple worship and prayers, burial chambers, rites of blood sacrifice, astronomical observation, ritualistic matings with temple concubines, ostentatious displays of kingly power.

However, the essential purpose of these “mountains” – possibly, in all of these ancient societies -- likely revolves about a central concept of nearness to the gods. Deities were believed to be “up there” and an elevated platform seemed efficacious in terms of reaching them; "nearer thy god to thee," and all that.

Editor's note: Today our "man-made mountains" are enormous temples and formidable cathedrals with soaring steeples. But, as we are instructed by august Spirit Guide Elizabeth on the other side, we cannot find God in buildings made with hands, but only within the sacred soul.


the fear of death as art form

Man-made mountains were not built in a day. Some of these required the labor of many thousands of artisans, working for decades; in some cases, longer than a human life-span.

A construction project of a man-made mountain as burial chamber might consume the lion’s share of a kingdom’s gross national product for scores of years. In time, the king’s son would ascend the throne, and, not to be outdone by a father, he would embark upon his own massive burial-chamber construction project.

The writings on the Word Gems site frequently address issues such as the fear of death, the dysfunctional ego, and the “false self.” In a sense, these maladies are never so easy to label as with the ancients. We might say, “it’s all they did.” Well, we moderns do the same, but in those primeval times, with absolute power in the hands of a few, we readily observe what total power will concern itself with.

Imagine spending most of one’s life, and commandeering most of a country’s wealth, not to mention the lives of thousands of slaves and workers – plus, the typical burial chamber packed with gold and food and tools, and also a cadre of sacrificed servants and animals -- just to mollify one’s little fear-based cosmogony, one’s little cockeyed beliefs about the afterlife. As Dr. Ernest Becker puts it, it’s an “immortality strategy.” Here, too, not much has changed in 5000 years.


death, resurrection, rebirth

We’ve spoken of the man-made mountain as a recurrent theme in the ancient world. Why did this near-universal idea gain currency? See, if someone believes that “God” is “up there,” and “far away,” this is proof presumptive that the “false self” is running one’s life; it means that one has not yet found God within the "true self." Barring this discovery, the “Needy Little Me” ego is led around by feelings of “I don’t have enough” because “I am not enough.” Its greatest nightmare is what it perceives as the greatest loss – which would be death.

In the “Evil” articles, we discussed how what we call "evil" is an expression of weakness, of essential powerlessness. The Naram-Sins of the world and their “victory stelas,” their grasping, brutal, power-and-control activities, speak to an inner neediness of “I am not enough.” And this spiritual poverty leads them to bolster and parade themselves in untoward ways.

If the Needy Ego believes that the gods are unfriendly and angry, it will attempt to placate them. It will do whatever it feels it must do to get on their good side; including, offering human blood sacrifice: “Better they than me.” Have you ever asked yourself, regarding supposedly modern religions, where did we ever get this dark and dystopian idea that blood sacrifice is pleasing to God?

Editor's note: And to those who answer with, "the Bible tells us so," I would direct you to my "Bible" article.

As I reviewed Dr. McDonald’s research, a most fascinating item, I felt, presented itself as, what appears to be, a universal theme; as noted, the man-made mountain is an example of such. But, since the same Needy Ego, irrespective of time or geographical setting, fuels the unenlightened human condition, we should expect certain points of confluence across diverse societies. Another example of "universal theme" came to mind.

the 16 savior-gods of history:

these ‘resurrection’ epics are more properly viewed as ‘reincarnation’ myths

In the “Jesus article,” I presented historians’ findings concerning the 16 savior gods of history.” You’ll want to review this information. It’s one more universal theme – powered by the Needy Ego. How does it work?

Let’s recall that an ambitious ancient warlord, flush and heady with recent military victories, sought for means by which he could keep a tight fist on an expanding conquered domain. Hence, the rise of new power-and-control cosmogonies. But, here’s where it gets even more interesting. The Needy Ego, one who would be king, desired even more than godhood. He wanted to intimidate his people with the fear that “I’ll be back”; that, he would be reincarnated -- which is a myth and fake news -- and would then “check his list to see who’s been naughty or nice.” This is classic cult psychology; they work hard to have you “coming and going” with fear and guilt so that you’ll feel there's no escape from their clutches, even in death.



Is it just an accident that these varied and diverse ancient societies – 16 of them -- dreamed up similar savior-death-and-resurrection cosmogonies to help market a larger-than-death image for the local warlord? In these different cultures, the names and players are all different, but there’s always some reference to a dead savior god making a big come-back via resurrection, a reincarnation. Thrown in, as well, to tug at the heart-strings, there’s often a “mother goddess,” some “queen of heaven,” to help set things right.

Do we see how these concepts could be very handy for a Naram-Sin type-of-guy seeking to maintain control of the masses? All of this cultish strategy has had a long run in world history - courtesy of

(1) those who are afraid of death and need the safety of being ruled over, and

(2) a war-mongering overlord who needs to be needed, needs the adoration of the crowds, to feel good about himself.


Restatement: resurrection, reincarnation, and the 16 savior-gods

The inner-workings of the long-ago ancient world is often shrouded in mystery, and so what can we say, with some confidence, that we actually know about that primordial time?

To begin, we can assert, with more than a little assurance, that the dysfunctional ego readily oppressed, brutalized, and, if opportunity allowed, otherwise subjugated its neighbors, just as it does today. As the great psychologists have pointed out, we enjoy technological advancement today but, in terms of psychological orientation, we’re still running around as primitives in loin cloths. Just look at the news today which profusely speaks of a lack of authentic progress on the spiritual level.

Fake news is still with us. Prevarication, propaganda, and power-plays are all still with us.  Egos strutting on a world stage, posturing importance, is still very much with us, just as they loved to do it in the days of Naram-Sin of Akkad.

We know that 16 times in history, in various cultures and societies, ruthless dictator-potentates concocted “savior-god” schemes to control their unruly citizenry.

Further, we know that, in a survey of 30 of the most prominent art extravaganzas of history that, each and every one of them, was employed, not as “art for art’s sake” but, as hoodwinking effort to beguile and bedazzle the masses.

All of this might lead one to reasonably suggest that the “death-resurrection” motif regarding so-called “savior gods” was not conjured by pious minds having prayerfully discerned the mind of God in an effort to make plain how the divine economy truly operates. Hardly. These were dark and ruthless power-and-control contrivances, foisted upon superstitious and fearful minds, apprehensive of retribution and punitive action from on-high.

We also know that the Great Despotic Ecclesia, as a matter of policy, in an effort to create a “universal church,” thought nothing of opportunistically adopting-and-reformulating the local myths of the uneducated and hapless.

On the Word Gems pages devoted to “Bible”, “Jesus Christ”, and “God” we find ample evidence – rather, the lack of it – in support of the non-historicity of popular conceptions of the alleged deeds attributed to Jesus of Nazareth. Are we to remain confident in the notion that the Great Despotic Ecclesia, with so much power over people at stake, was immune from employing “fake news”, forged documents, and general prevatication, to achieve its ends?

The canonical gospels were produced many decades after the times and activities of which they report. These were not written by eye-witnesses. And they speak of “death-and-resurrection” of one more “savior-god” of history. Is this mere coincidence? Is this an isolated proposition? Or are we viewing one more hijacking of an old and tired theme, one successfully employed, for thousands of years, to bamboozle a populace?

The canonical-gospel writers used the word “resurrection.” But there is no “rising” and “resurgence” because there is no death. No one dies. No one has ever died. The term “resurrection” issued as “editorial comment,” the product of uneducated, superstitious, cultish, and fearful minds.

The 16 “savior-gods” of history presented themselves not so much as a resurrected version of the dead king but a reincarnated king – one who had come back to keep the plebs in line. It was just one more power-play scheme in an endless iteration of such.

Look at what the Great Despotic Ecclesia has done in the last 2000 years. Look at all of the bloodshed in service of its goal to achieve a worldwide iron-fist control over the fearful hearts of humankind.

Editor’s note: I recently had lunch with an old college mate whom I’d not seen in 50 years, and we began to talk of these things. He pointed out that, when the early Spanish conquerors invaded the New World, these more-than brutal oppressors came with strengthened hand. Dear Mother Cult had ruled that the expendable natives of these gold-bearing new lands were not really human at all, just indigenous fauna, like the monkey or lizard, and therefore one should not hesitate to kill and butcher them, as whim or necessity might warrant. With this Machiavellian mindset leading the Church, are we to suppose it so unlikely for it to have also crafted an entire pageantry, a full "cosmogony," of “savior myths” to further its bloody intentions of world domination - just as the Naram-Sins did it in earlier times?

As we look at all the evidence, we find it reasonable to conclude that the most recent “resurrection” theme is just a warmed-over concoction of the more usual “death-and-reincarnation.”

Editor’s note: On the “Reincarnation” page see the recent history of this enslaving concept, conjured as a form of class warfare and oppression, especially of women.



the Vatican and the ‘Pachamama’ controversy: a microcosm of a millennia-old modus operandi to become a ‘universal’ church

Shortly after I’d written the above paragraphs on the numerous savior-gods and mother goddesses, each fitted to a local culture as a power-and-control scheme, a modern day example presented itself, which, in principle, reflects an ancient Machiavellian dynamic.

In October of 2019, RCC bishops of South America attended a conference in Rome. To commemorate this synod, statues of a nude "Pachamama" ("Earth Mother"), an ancient South American fertility goddess, were displayed - "outrageously," some said - right next to the holy altar in one of the local Vatican parishes, the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina (“Holy Mary across the Bridge”).

Not everyone took kindly to what they charged to be an invasion of paganism. But the hierarchy just loved it.






art in service of cultism

People become angry when I frame the subject of cultism to include their friendly neighborhood church and their “Nice Young Man” as local pastor. Well, I know all about the “Nice Young Man.” I used to be one, and went to school with hundreds of them. See my article, “Spirituality, Part III.” But I digress.

People become angry and want to say, “How dare you call my church a cult! We’re not Jim Jones and we don’t drink the kool-aid!” Yes, I understand. But, what many do not understand is the essential core essence of cultism.

My articles on cultism I count as among the most important on the Word Gems site. Fundamentally, this dysfunction has nothing to do with “drinking the kool-aid.” As I explain in those writings, the etymological root of cultism is “to cut,” to pare, prune, refine, redirect, and recast, that is, to reorder, reconstitute, and repackage the very nature of things, the very meaning of life and the universe -- all in service of some Dear Leader's propaganda scheme to bring you under his control. I must not attempt an entire recapitulation of this discussion in the present forum but invite you to study these articles for yourself.

However, for our purposes here, it is important to understand that the production of a cosmogony, which is a redistilling of reality, is pure and unadulterated cultism, in its most fundamental meaning. It is recreating the origin of the universe in favor and in the image of some "holier than thou" elitist cabal – which means that the promoters of the cosmogony, if you allow it, will make sedulous attempt to bring you under their self-serving control.

Editor's note: Is it so different today? There are plenty of Naram-Sins in our world -- religious, corporate, political, academic, scientific -- who would just love to convince you that they are larger than life with a virtual divine right to own your soul, to give it meaning, to define how life works and how you should live. These totalitarians would brutally and violently oppress you, if they could, just as in the old days, but for a little thing called the protections of the rule of law; however, totalitarian-socialists are working hard to overturn these safeguards. The relative peace that we enjoy today is an anomaly in history, a brief oasis in the maelstrom of the Needy Ego's rampage; as Adrian and I tend to sardonically muse, "we'll soon be getting back to normal."

We fancy ourselves as advanced and modern, that we'd never do the things that were done in ancient times. And yet, so often, in this arrogant sentiment, many will support dark and dystopian totalitarian-socialistic cosmogonies, the hidden philosophical infrastructure of oppression. If we were to examine many of the essential beliefs and doctrines of popular churches, politics, and materialistic science, we would find teachings as anti-humanistically repugnant as any cosmogony of the ancient world.

Dr. Carl Jung was right when he said that, for all of modern man’s tech advances, for the vast majority, we have made no psychological progress in these last thousands of years; on the level of the psyche, we're still running around in loincloths, with painted faces, brandishing wooden spears. On the other side, they say this, as well; in that, the many, in their legions, upon transition, stumble upon the shores of the next world in a state of utter confusion and fear, having been manipulated and made merchandize by the Great Despotic Cultish Religions of this world.

Whatever safe harbor we might temporarily enjoy today from a would-be Naram-Sin, we do so as a rule-of-law heritage -- today, a wasting asset -- from people like Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison.

Think of what “normal” means. The average person, during the last several thousands of years of recorded history, has lived under constant threat of oppression from governmental overseers; constant threat of invasion to privacy or personal freedom; constant threat of disruption to peaceful mode of living. The personal freedoms, now fast eroding, a legacy of the Founders, represent a tiny island of self-determination in a vast ocean of deception, brutality, and enslavement. Few today perceive the uniqueness of what we have, or had. Yes, we’ll soon be getting back to normal.


more than drinking the koolaid

The long reach of cultism encompasses much more than crackpot churches. The root idea of cult offers the sense of "cut." This core concept of "cut" leads us to images of refinement and refashioning and, by extension, development, control, pattern, order, and system.

Cultism as systemization finds a ready home in religion and philosophy which seek to regulate and redistill the patterning and ordering of ideas. However, in a larger sense, the spirit of cultism extends to every facet of society. We find it scheming and sedulously at work in politics, academia, family, corporations, entertainment, science, artistry – anywhere power might be gained by capturing credulous and fear-based minds.

See the “cultism” page for a full discussion.


ancient art: final thoughts

Let's ask the question again: Have things really changed in the world? Somewhat, but it’s an uneasy peace. As the Gnostics believed, and I concur, this world is irredeemable.

Do we have “art for art’s sake” today? Some of it, yes. But, as Dr. McDonald points out, most artists are very mindful of a prospective audience; and therefore, the Needy Ego will tend to pander and offer art as means of self-aggrandizement. It’s a little harder today to create battles suitable for framing in a “victory stela,” but such sentiment, for some, is not so far below the radar.

One of my favorite quotations about art is from President John F. Kennedy:

The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction in the life of a nation, is close to the center of a nation's purpose - and is a test of the quality of a nation's civilization.

What is a “nation’s purpose,” the “test of the quality of a nation’s civilization”? In a short phrase, it's the promotion of human dignity, human freedoms, human self-determination. Ancient art was the antithesis of all this high-mindedness.

One grand feature of ancient art was the very poor showing of human beings. People were so often depicted as beaten-down serfs, beasts of burden, some Dear Leader’s largess in war. Kenneth Clark made this observation, too. However, finally, in about 1000 AD, the world's art began to reflect something else. Dr. Clark instructs:

Man is no longer Imago Hominis, the image of man, but a human being, with humanity's impulses and fears; also humanity's moral sense and belief in the authority of a higher power.

Art should take us to a higher plane. It should teach us about transcendent worlds of beauty and sublime vistas of consciousness. It should promote the sacred dignity of humankind, both women and men.


can war be stopped by legislative decree or popular vote


There is a section in the city where I live where one often finds protesters on street corners. They’re likely to be waving signs brandishing, “Outlaw War” or “Unilaterally Disarm” or some such.

Well, we all want to live in a peaceful world, and we all want a permanent end to the blood-letting – but, it’s not going to happen in this world; not as long as people have a “Needy Little Me Ego” running their lives. This is the way it’s been on planet Earth for thousands of years, with all manner of Naram-Sins corralling and enslaving as many as possible.

These protesters strike me as extremely self-righteous, incredibly naïve, overweeningly haughty and holier-than-thou, with no sense of history or, more fundamentally, their own inner state of being. Why not also protest against local crime and murder, and maybe the weather, too?

Someone needs to break the news to them that the only reason they have the freedom to wave their little signs is because rough men and women - with blood on their hands, sacrificial blood that would have been shed by the naive protesters - have stopped the brutal Naram-Sins of the world from interrupting their little protest.



Without this protection, the Naram-Sins would be hauling them away to a camp, or putting them to the sword right on the spot.

but aren't non-violent protests effective for change

What about Gandhi in India or Martin Luther King in Selma? Wasn’t non-violent protest efficacious to change? The answer is, non-violent protest can seem to work, but only in a society founded upon rule-of-law; moreover, only when powers-that-be, seeking for re-election, are subject to the invisible constraints of public opinion. If Gandhi and King had led their protests in a country ruled by Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, some tin-star generalissimo, some bemedaled savior in jackboots promising to lead us into utopia, some needy-ego Naram-Sin, they and their followers would have been loaded onto military trucks, dispatched to the nearest open pit in a nameless forest - and that would have been the end of the non-violent protest. After all, non-violent protest worked out so well for Jesus, didn’t it? – of course, he wasn't surprised, but maybe you see my point.

The egocentric protesting crowd blocking the intersection is like the out-of-touch “500” on the other side. Both groups believe that “if only the rest of the world could be as good and righteous as we are, all our problems would be solved.” Their prayer is subsumed by a self-congratulating "I thank thee Lord that I am not like other men.” This is the spirit of totalitarianism which arrogates to itself a divine right to rule over others, the unwashed rabble in the streets.

There is a class of low-spirited people in the world who cannot be reasoned with. You can't negotiate with them. They don't even care if they are hurt by what they do. This immensely dysfunctional group finds meaning and purpose for their warped existence by bringing others down to their level. Read about this perversion on the "levels of consciousness" page.

Also, for more discussion on the above issues, see my articles “Spirituality, Part III” and “The 500 Tape-Recorded Messages from the Other Side.”



Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen: packaging and merchandizing the monarch

We have seen how the potentates of the ancient world designedly cast themselves as larger-than-life, mythic, heroic figures. They did this in order to inspire fear and awe among the uneducated populace for the purpose of dissuading riot and rebellion.

Shades of this dissimulation are commonly found in our own time with empty-suit politicians employing spin-doctoring press secretaries, opportune photogenic moments, big sloppy grins, and a complicit fake-news media.

However, in terms of dramatic propaganda effect, we find Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII, giving the Naram-Sins of old a severe run for their money.

In the movie Elizabeth, we find a beleaguered Protestant queen (played by Cate Blanchett) having just quashed a murderous coup. The papists, in her own court, had tried to assassinate her, and had very nearly succeeded.

After the execution of the rebels, Elizabeth ponders the fragile state of her queendom. How can she structure her government to reduce the likelihood of uprising?

She glances at a nearby statue of the Virgin Mary – and it suddenly comes to her: “The rebels in my midst were willing to die for you!” And what is this “Virgin Mary”, she wondered, but an idea, a mythic concept, a puff of air, ruling over the hearts and affections of a religious army?

She decided what needed to be done. She, too, would become a larger-than-life Virgin Queen.

Each day, personal servants, her ladies-in-waiting, would apply facial make-up to Elizabeth, creating a statue-like, unapproachable, heroic image of the Queen. She too would become an untouchable “virgin.” She would not marry but -- emulating the Church with its celibates purportedly consecrated to marrying Christ -- would become the “body politic,” the living personification of England, married only to the people and their well-being.

With this tortured stagecraft and pageantry, presenting herself as living legend -- beating the clergy at their own game of thespian hoodwinking -- she united the warring loyalties of her realm and created what is called a “golden age” of prosperity for England.

Editor’s note: The myth of the Blessed Virgin Mary came into its own more than a thousand years after the time of Christ. Read about the Church's political maneuvering -- quite Elizabeth-like -- in this article.



Editor's last word:

Revelation’s metaphoric "Beast” and “False Prophet,” Brute Force and Propaganda, are two primary antagonists well represented in this ancient-history drama. These vectors of Evil find personification in the king and temple priests.

The king-priest-temple triad is another of those universal themes of which we spoke. It's such an obvious one. But we must ask the question, why should this be so? Why can’t a man or woman simply pray to God, openly and directly, and be satisfied? Why all this rigmarole with kings and priests and temples? – and throw in, too, a “holy infallible book” to complete the obfuscation.

The principle of Occam’s Razor suggests that the simplest answer is often the correct one. As we come to see "the truth," we find it to be beautiful in its simplicity. All great truths, as we begin to truly perceive, are very simple in essence. We find this general principle repeatedly exhibited in the natural world with physical phenomena tending to take the shortest, most energy-efficient path; all physicists know this.

And, therefore, I will posit that a king-priest-temple triad is very complicated, far too byzantine, on artificial life-support, and could never exist in the natural course of human relations but for gangster, conspiratorial efforts - which means, none of it could possibly represent Life as it was meant to be lived. The "simple and beautiful" way is for each individual to speak to God directly; no bridges necessary, no intermediaries required, no special agents of God needed, but thank you very much anyway.

This isn't just my private idea. It's how life works in the real world. There are no king-priest-temple power structures in Summerland, neither are there birth-death-resurrection savior gods, and this settles the matter for us, no matter what Naram-Sin or the local Nice Young Man says.

Summerland is the real world, our eternal home-world, and the citizens there smile indulgently, but with a measure of dismay, at our current immature level of superstitious, cultish, and egocentric thinking