News & Submissions 2/8/2011

February 8th, 2011 by sivodd

On Evolution, Biology Teachers Stray From Lesson Plan
Teaching creationism in public schools has consistently been ruled unconstitutional in federal courts, but according to a national surveyof more than 900 public high school biology teachers, it continues to flourish in the nation’s classrooms.

Researchers found that only 28 percent of biology teachers consistently follow the recommendations of the National Research Council to describe straightforwardly the evidence for evolution and explain the ways in which it is a unifying theme in all of biology. At the other extreme, 13 percent explicitly advocate creationism, and spend at least an hour of class time presenting it in a positive light.

That leaves what the authors call “the cautious 60 percent,” who avoid controversy by endorsing neither evolution nor its unscientific alternatives. In various ways, they compromise.

The survey, published in the Jan. 28 issue of Science, found that some avoid intellectual commitment by explaining that they teach evolution only because state examinations require it, and that students do not need to “believe” in it. Others treat evolution as if it applied only on a molecular level, avoiding any discussion of the evolution of species. And a large number claim that students are free to choose evolution or creationism based on their own beliefs. Read full story from nytimes.com

Catholics change position on Wicca and witchcraft
London, UK – According to Elizabeth Dodd, a former Wiccan, in her pamphlet: Wicca and Witchcraft: Understanding the Danger, published by the Vatican associated publisher, the Catholic Truth Society in England, the Roman Catholic Church has changed its position on the treatment of persons who are Wiccans and witches. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1353517/Catholic-Church-issues-guide-convert-Harry-Potter-witches-Christianity.html;http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/04/catholic-church-issues-guide-on-how-to-convert-witches. In the guide, the author says that it is important to recognize that Wiccans are on a genuine spiritual quest providing a starting point for dialog that may lead to their conversion. She goes on to say that “whether spellwork is effective or not has no bearing on the psychological damage that can be done to a young person who is convinced that they have summoned the dead, or have performed a spell that has hurt or injured another.”John Lenz, the assistant manager of the popular Kansas City religious bookstore, Aquarius Books, and a Second Degree Initiate of Wicca, commented on the statements in the article. He noted that most former Catholic witches have left the Church because they have been “bludgeoned” with the Love of Christ. He means that they have been told that to believe in a spiritual path not approved by the Church would be a sure pathway to hell and that because people love you and want to help you, you should not follow this path. He points out that true followers of the Path of Wicca do not believe in harming others as the adopt the creed of Wicca, which is “Do what thou willst, harming none.” Read full story from wwrn.org

Which witches?
A while back I watched a rather chilling history program about the occult, witchcraft and witches down through the ages. I guess the main object was to establish as undeniable fact that such things do exist.

With the plethora of horrendously violent, gory and mind-boggling computer-enhanced movies and TV productions roaring forth nowadays, a lot of it replete with magic, the occult and just plain horror, I suppose that younger folks would have thought this was pretty innocuous and boring stuff. Asked if they believe in witches, and they’d probably answer: “which ones?” But, to me, it’s rather disturbing to consider how prevalent such evil activities actually are and, apparently, have always been.

I have a rather large book that traces a branch of my ancestry about 500 years back into England from whence my English ancestor immigrated to America in 1626. I remembered even that obscure genealogical volume contained some reference to witchcraft, so I looked it up and re-read it. Read full story from thetandd.com

St Brigid, a pagan goddess turned christian saint in Ireland
Spring in Ireland officially starts on St Brigids Day which is February the 1st in our calendar? Which may not be accurate as this is a celebration that has its roots along way back in pre-christian times, some 6000 years ago actually when there was no written tradition. Like many other cultures around the world female deities ruled supreme, the similarities between Egyptian mythology and Irish mythology being quite remarkable? For example most people will be familiar with Egyptian ritual from the Book of the Dead, of Isis breathing life into the mummified corpse, well not many know that the same scene is depicted in stone at the foot of a high cross in Ireland. Read full story from irishcentral.com

Romania may get even tougher on witches
BUCHAREST, Romania — There’s more bad news in the cards for Romania’s beleaguered witches.

A month after Romanian authorities began taxing them for their trade, the country’s soothsayers and fortune tellers are cursing a new bill that threatens fines or even prison if their predictions don’t come true.

Superstition is a serious matter in the land of Dracula, and officials have turned to witches to help the recession-hit country collect more money and crack down on tax evasion.

Witches argue they shouldn’t be blamed for the failure of their tools.

“They can’t condemn witches, they should condemn the cards,” Queen Witch Bratara Buzea told The Associated Press by telephone. Read full story from washingtonpost.com

What gets on your Wiccan?
There’s no denying the appeal of witches. When I was a teenager I was dead keen on the notion of being one. Partly this is because teenage girls are mental, partly it was because I am of a generation that has been exposed to a lot of Duran Duran music videos and cinematic adaptations of Stephen King novels, hence I was of the belief that exercising witchly powers would also involve dramatic backlighting and some kind of localised wind generation that would make your hair look all supernatural and cool. So clearly, my interest was deeply spiritual.

And this interest was very superficial. I never read any books on Witchcraft or attempted any spells. Why spend time gathering ingredients, following a specific set of instructions and then crossing your fingers that it all works if you don’t get a banana cake at the end of it? Madness.

No, really any tendency toward the Wiccan crafts that I might have had was slight and probably stemmed from a love of the book The Changeover by Margaret Mahy as well as a general feeling that I was a bit of a dork and wouldn’t it be cool if you could get the upper hand with some kind of magic (because sure as eggs, I wasn’t going to get anywhere on social cachet alone, given that I didn’t have any). And then I grew up and realised that a good vocabulary, manners, and confident demeanour (faked) could be just as useful. And suddenly a desire to do magic only reared its hopeful head in the changing cubicles in women’s fashion outlets. Basically, I figured out that I don’t need so much of a helping hand as I may have thought (except with skinny jeans). But I did think it would be cool to make stuff fly across the room (Lord knows it’s sometimes a chore getting up to fetch that remote control from the coffee table). Read full story from stuff.co.nz

Jury told of ‘witch stuff’, then killing
A man accused of a stabbing death then inflicting knife wounds to himself, claimed the dead man had been calling up Maori gods and going on about “witch stuff’, a jury in the High Court at Rotorua was told today.On trial is Christopher Allan Heenan, 51, an artist, carver and tattooist, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Raukawa Newton, 38, at Rotorua on October 11, 2007.

Opening the Crown’s case, prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch said Newton had suffered from a bi-polar illness but with medication this was under control at the time of his death, although his condition could be aggravated by alcohol. Read full story from tvnz.co.nz

Revisiting the “Moon”: An Interview with Ben Whitmore
Ben Whitmore shares what led him to author of a critique of Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon.

Editor’s Note: Ben Whitmore is an Alexandrian High Priest, Co-Freemason, Morris dancer, artist, and software engineer. He is the author of Trials of the Moon: Reopening the Case for Historical Witchcraft, a critique of Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. You can read an excerpt of his book on his website. He lives in rural Auckland, New Zealand, with his partner and daughter. Read full story from pantheos.com

Revisiting the “Moon”: An Interview with Ben Whitmore
Ben Whitmore shares what led him to author of a critique of Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon.

Show: Is Church of Scientology violating human rights? (source Youtube – engramBT)

Colbert: Bill O’Reilly Believes God is the Answer to Everything (source Colbert Nation)

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