"I now know thee, thou clear spirit, and I now know that thy right worship is defiance. Of thy fire thou madest me, and like a true child of fire, I breathe it back to thee.” Captain Ahab

Can planetary-zodiac gemstones change your life? Lessons from a vedic astrologer

Posted on July 8th, by Derek Murphy in Life-improvement, Self-Help, Theology. 2 comments

Every year or so, I get obsessed about my jewelry. It’s silly, but mostly harmless, so I allow myself to obsess.
You see I like to believe that wearing gemstones can influence our lives.

You may think I’m an idiot, but first let me me explain.

I’m well aware of placebo effect, and it’s very possible that I and everybody else interested in vedic astrology (or Eastern astrology, which unlike western astrology, provides “remedies” to counteract planetary effects) is just fooling themselves. They think they feel better or more successful than usual, but it’s not really true.

Here’s my response: I never know what a stone is going to do for me. I’ll go into a market, pick up and hold the stones, and see if I feel anything. I’m not a psychic or warlock or anything like that, but often I can feel something, usually in my throat, heart or stomach. Sometimes I don’t feel anything. Sometimes I feel like I’m moving forward or backwards.

Often I feel lightheaded. This is something that happens reliably with stones, but with almost nothing else that I touch.

Many, many times, I’ll buy something that I think should be good for me, but it makes me so uncomfortable … Read More »

Jesus goes undercover to sleep with Muslims

Posted on July 6th, by Derek Murphy in Modern Culture. 6 comments

I can’t help but write a post after reading an article called “Is Jesus Christ Reaching Out to Muslims Through Their Dreams?” I found on The Blaze.

Basically, (according to the article), devout Muslims are having spontaneous dreams about Jesus, who touches their hearts and foreheads and says “You’re mine, Follow me.”

That’s freaking fantastic (not in the sense of good, but in the sense of “fantasy”).

If it’s really happening, it’s a small miracle, because it’s hard to account for any psychological factors that would make Muslims dream of Jesus.

Christians have Jesus-experiences all the time. Muslims don’t.

So on the surface, this is amazing.

My first thought was that some US Government anti-terrorism plot is experimenting with a form of mind control; maybe broadcasting subliminal messages at high frequency to Muslim communities to see if their subconscious will “tune into” Jesus.

If they accept Jesus, they’ll probably be much easier for the US to work with.

It’s probably not a genuine miracle, though, because: why isn’t Jesus appearing in the dreams of American Atheists or Chinese Buddhists? Why not appearing to everybody at the same time? Why wait till they’re sleeping? Why do these sort of miracle conversions only happen to a handful of people? Is … Read More »

“Atheists should be banned from Public Office because they are immoral”: a Rational Response

Posted on July 5th, by Derek Murphy in Modern Culture. 6 comments

Today on Facebook I found this excellent conversation between a Christian and David G. McAfee, author of “Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings” and someone who thought Atheists should be banned from government.

Personally, I no longer engage in debates like this because I don’t believe the party on either side is open minded enough to change their views – so it always becomes a shouting match that makes each side more righteous.

But that said, David cleanly makes 3 irrefutable points in response to the religious claims on the left.

(Click on it to zoom in and read in full.)

The claims are pretty standard, beginning with…

Atheists have no moral standard

We can’t let atheists into public office because they don’t believe in right and wrong, so they’ll let anything happen.

Christians, on the other hand, have an all-righteous, biblical morality.

But what is it?

The Bible says lots, and lots, of things about what is right and wrong, what is permissible or not, including what we can eat, who we can sleep with, what we should wear, when and how we should pray, etc. If you count up all the rules in the Old Testament, you’ll find that most Christians only follow about 2% of them. … Read More »

Find meaning in your life by following the signs (Jeff who lives at home, 2011)

Posted on July 4th, by Derek Murphy in Modern Culture, Movie Reviews. 1 Comment

It’s 7:38 in the morning. I stayed up late watching “Jeff Who Lives at Home”, which completely surprised me. It starts of with a douchy character talking about Mel Gibson’s “Signs” movie (Jason Jordan Segel). He’s a 30 year old pot-smoking loser who lives at home and has no job. I thought the film was making fun of him.

The movie begins with his mom demanding he get off the damn couch, pick up some wood glue and fix the broken window blinds. (A huge task for him).

He gets involved in his brother’s messy marriage (his wife is about to cheat on him) and tries to follow “Synchronicities” or little signs of coincidence to know what he’s supposed to do next. If you’re familiar with “The Secret” or any New Age literature, this is pretty common stuff. Remarkably, some of his gut feelings (jumping on a van because the name “Kevin” is on it) actually start working out.

By the end of the movie, after it seems like nothing has happened, he suddenly finds himself at the right place at the right time – he helps a city councilman and his two daughters escape from a sinking car. Then his brother jumps … Read More »

God, Jesus and Aliens: Faith and Religious Meaning in the Prometheus Movie

Posted on July 2nd, by Derek Murphy in Modern Culture. 7 comments

If you could meet God, what would you ask?

This is the basic premise of the 2012 movie Prometheus. Although as entertainment, the movie is weak (for being self-conscious, repetitive, and trying to be deeper than it is) as a theologian and religious researcher, I enjoyed it.

There’s a ton of references to religion and mythology, including of course the title. Since my PhD Thesis focuses mainly on the figure of Prometheus and rebellion against gods in general, I’ve got a lot to say on the topic.

The protagonist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) represents Faith. Her faith in God and the cross she wears = faith that we were created deliberately, for a purpose; that life has meaning; that we have value, that we are worth something.

The scientists want to find humanity’s creators and ask them, “What did you make us for?”

The Robot, David (Michael Fassbender), who offers a powerful foil to the plot, retorts:

“Why did you make me?”

And the male scientist Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) answers:

“Because we could.”

“Imagine how disappointing it would be to hear that.” David replies.

The protagonists struggle to understand herself, and her faith, amidst a cruel and violent world is the same question that Christianity continues to  struggle with: … Read More »

Should advanced technology lead to moral improvement? Falling Skies Season Two Premiere

Posted on June 19th, by Derek Murphy in Modern Culture. No Comments

I stopped watching Falling Skies before I made it to the end of Season One, but I thought I’d give it another shot and watch the Season Two premiere.

There are issues I’m interested in. Take this conversation between the protagonist and the leader of the aliens:

ALIEN: This was never a negotiation.

That’s why we’ll never stop fighting you.

ALIEN: We have no patience for empty bravado.

So those are our alternatives: live as prisoners or die?
ALIEN: Why would you expect better than us than you do for yourselves?

Because I look around this ship, at the technology that brought you from another world, and I want to believe, that only an advanced species could achieve so much.

The interesting thing is that this is a pretty common mistaken belief: the idea that advances in technology leads to higher standards of morality. This was the goal of rationalism and the industrial revolution – but instead we learned that technological progress, just when it should have solved all of mankind’s problems, instead led to the First and Second World Wars, and introduced mankind to more pain and suffering than it had ever known.

Modernism is pretty much a reaction to the bitter disappointment and the lesson that life … Read More »

Snow White and the… White Stag? Christian Symbolism in the 2012 Snow White movie

Posted on June 18th, by Derek Murphy in Modern Culture, Movie Reviews, Theology. 20 comments

The original Snow White myth is already full of esoteric, hermetic symbolism; written to preserve alchemical wisdom during times of persecution. So they could have left the story alone when making the 2012 movie Snow White and the Huntsman.

Instead, somebody in Hollywood decided to stuff  so full of overt, deliberate and obvious Christian symbolism that I feel like I’ve just suffered through a two hour sermon with flashy special effects.

I knew something was off in the beginning of the movie, when Snow White (Kristen Stewart) says the full Lord’s Prayer while locked away in her prison.

The evil queen (Charlize Theron) has taken over the kingdom after seducing her father, and turned the whole land to death and suffering (exactly like the first Narnia movie). She’s a witch, of course, and besides worshiping an idol (a big shiny mirror), she’s also obsessed with her looks (the sin of pride).

What she’s after is Snow White’s heart.

But Snow White escapes through the woods and ends up in a magical, always-spring meadow with 7 dwarves and a handsome hunstman (Chris Hemsworth).

That’s when things get really weird. Suddenly all the animals and fairies gather and lead Snow White towards the sunrise, and a giant tree … Read More »