Friday, November 20, 2009

Interview weekend!

Back in the 70's I was called a turkey on many occasion. Yeah, I am dated. But perhaps this fowl reference harkens as to why I have been asked to do 2 blogtalk interviews this weekend before Thanksgiving!

First up is Saturday night 10-11PM with Spooky Southcast. Topics will include 2012 and general strangeness.

Next is Sunday night 10-12 with Beyond the Edge Radio. One of the hosts, Eric Altman and I were two of the special guests of the Erie Horrorfest this year. He is the Director of the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society and one of the nicest guys I have ever met.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

2012 and the Coming Apocalypse

Montanus was a former priest of Cybele. A recent convert to Christianity, he began his ministry as a prophet and mouthpiece for God during the late 2nd Century in the small village of Ardabau in Phrygia (Asia Minor-Modern Day Turkey).
He claimed that God came to him and filled Him with His Spirit, causing ecstatic utterances and prophecies. He gathered to himself two others who proclaimed to have the same gift, Maxamillia and Priscilla, and the two of them went about Asia Minor proclaiming that God Himself was speaking through them and the end of the world was nigh. As his message of Apocalypse spread across the world, Montanus commanded his followers to gather together in the city of Pepuza, which (according to his prophecies) would become the New Jerusalem after the global conflagration. His followers obeyed and came to him in this new city of hope and awaited the appointed time. But the end of the world did not happen. Some were dissapointed, but some still 'girded their loins' in determination and continued to believe in the prophecies of Montanus. Later the prophet would be condemned as a heretic for various bizarre teachings, the foremost being that he proclaimed to be God the Father Himself when he made his prophecies, and not just a prophet indwelt with the Spirit of God.

For us today in the early 21st century the dire mystery of the 2012 Apocalypse prediction looms menacingly. I will not go into any of the theory, I am sure most of the readers have heard of it and the multitude of substatiating 'facts' that surround this view that the world will end on December 21st 2012. You do not even have to do any research, you just have to watch the History Channel regularly to get the full rundown. Myan Calander interpretation, planetary and galaxy alignments, solar storms, climate change, economic disaster and an upcoming volitile Presidential election all seem to point to a very rough time is to come near the end of 2012.

It seems as if someone flushed an M80 firecracker down the cosmic toilet and we are all waiting for the big explosion.

Of course when there is fear with potential death and mayhem Hollywood can't but be drawn to the fire and produce an epic movie where all our previous fears pale to the technicolor global holocaust that assaults our eyes in a darkened movie theater. So this weekend as the epic opens we are also bombarded by various news monkeys who have just discovered that the world will end soon. Of course almost all of them do not take the source material for the movie seriously. But with most reports you do see an ominous tension.

I think it is because socially we feel like we are all teetering on the edge of the abyss, and are waiting for something to push us over.

Many are overwhelmingly pessimistic because of the dire straits they find themselves in. Be it economic trouble, environmental worries or social and political disdain, many find themselves gripped by a fear that the worst is yet to come. We are communally holding our breath and waiting for what we feel is inevitable, hoping that we are wrong.

So the end of the world is a natural conclusion, not just because of the substantiating evidence of the 2012 theory, but because of the global angst we all perceive.

But such is the human condition. Since the dawn of civilization mankind has been waiting for the dusk to overwhelm them in darkness.

A clay tablet dated at 2800BC was found that has the inscription "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common."Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts

Since then humanity has faced the coming apocalypse thousands of times, mostly fired by social or religious motivation. An incredible resource for those who wish to study the history of Doomsday is found on the website A Brief History of the Apocalypse, where you can view each failed prediction chronologically.

Armageddon for good or ill is hardwired into our human consciousness. Prognosticators and those who diligently follow are part of who we are as human beings. It is a means to find order out of the chaos that surrounds us. There will always be a coming apocalypse. And one day there will be an end of the world. How will we know which one is the real end? Christian Scripture can shed some light on that. In the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 24 the Disciples ask Jesus how they will know when the end is near:

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? And Jesus answered and said to them- “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.-the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:3b-4a;36;44b.

So safe to say from a Christian perspective is that whenever a 'prophet' or anyone else claims to know the exact date or time that the world is going to end, you can rest assured that that will not be the day or time. There might be incidents of trouble, disaster or tribulation. But such is life on the planet Earth. Looking at the dilemmas brewing worldwide, we may face unprecedented challenges for freedom, liberty and survival on a global scale in the years preceding and following 2012.

The Mayan calendar does stop in December 21 2012; but then it starts all over again.
It has a new beginning.

Like any situation we find ourselves in we can look at the end pessimistically, or in hope we can look at the new beginning with optimism and take advantage of a new opportunity.

Mankind grows and flourishes when faced with trouble, for it is a challenge to overcome which brings with it personal and communal character.
In the words of Captain James T. Kirk, "Man stagnates if he has no ambition...We were meant to fight our way through - struggle, claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way."

So whatever befalls us on Friday December 21, 2012- Saturday the 22nd will prove to be a most exciting day.

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Eye of the Watcher

Throughout the history of mankind the eye has provoked the most primal of responses.

It is not surprising, for having a disturbing feeling that you are being watched by unseen eyes is basic to most all living things. Through eons the unease at the presence of a fixated iris has been passed on from generation to generation until the actual sight of an eye upon you is naught but the confirmation of what the rest of your body is telling you.

You are being watched.

It is the feeling of being prey. It is a learned trait that has been passed on to future generations for survival in a cruel and violent world.

Sometimes this natural response to the predator/prey instinct seems preternatural.

You cannot explain it,but you know you are being watched.

I am sure most of you have experienced that hair raising feeling of being watched by unseen eyes. You don't know why, but you know there are eyes upon you.

Perhaps some of you are feeling that sensation now.

In our modern times with Internet communication, and the proliferation of hackers and government oversight, it is a fact that there are unseen eyes upon you, watching your every move.

You are being watched.

Sometimes though, you do not have that unsettling feeling of being watched while sitting in the glow of a monitor alone in some secluded room. No. It is while you are at work, or at play. It is while you were taking that leisurely walk in the woods that lie not far from your home.

You could swear you were being watched.

There is an eye upon you.

What is the intent of that elusive watcher out of nowhere?

Is it something that plans your destruction; are you the prey for a superior predator that is merely stalking you?

Or is it something else?

History is also abounding with references to an 'all seeing eye'. From the beginning of human culture, religious iconography has been imbued with an eye symbol. Be it Wedjat (the ancient Egyptian eye of Horus), The third or inner eye of Eastern Mysticism or the Western eye of providence; the symbol of the eye often connoted deeply spiritual truths for the follower. The believer was either protected from evil, the object of divine oversight or imbued with deep spiritual knowledge or wisdom.

The eye symbolizes an active presence.

There are also folklore traditions of the malevolent eye gazing upon you, wishing you ill will. The most popular of these instances is the curse of the evil eye. A person of magical power is said to have the ability to curse with but a look from their eyes. This belief spans many millenia and cultures; it often spawns the production of various amulets or counter hexes to ward off the evil power of the dark enchantment.

So historically there are many meanings to the symbol of a watching eye. However to many in our culture today the symbol of the disembodied eye conjures a creepy and loathsome feeling of menace. Perhaps it is the ancient fear of the watching predator or pop culture referencing such as the evil eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings.

Of course it would be very disconcerting if one would encounter an actual disembodied eye in real life.

Moreso if you discover the eye is connected with a phenomena that you have been trying to explain, and something you have put off as a hallucination or signs of old age or disease.

And greater the perplexity of the situation if the phenomena occured in a church.

I have referenced the church that I attend here on this blog numerous times. After many investigations by various local paranormal groups St. Paul's United Church of Christ here in downtown Erie has officially been declared haunted by at least two groups. It has been featured on local news stations and was host to a paranormal tour this Halloween season. One of the videos caught at the church will also be featured in an upcoming episode of the new show Ghost Lab.

This past Halloween night Erie County Paranormal once again investigated the church. As a Church Council Memeber I sat with them while they did the investigation. Usually when I have my turn at hosting the church for an investigation I catch up on my reading (or sleeping!) in the Pastor's Study. However, this time I thought I would join in on the fun and stationed myself in the santuary with a camera and digital recorder. I sat in the back pew and sang hymns and prayed hoping to perhaps catch an occasional voice that might sing alone. Alas, there were no such phantom voices on my digital recorder after the night. However, it was a very strange night to say the least.

Throughout the night I was seeing tiny flashes of light all over the Santcuary. Like tiny pinpoints flares of a flashlight quickly turning on and off at various areas in the air. There were white ones and red ones. None of these seemed to have an outside source. It was if they appeared and dissapeared out of nowhere.

This was not the first time I had experienced this phenomena at the church. Last year while talking with the leader of the same team in the church's fellowship hall, we both experienced the blinking tiny lights floating in mid air. At that time we both chocked it up to being near a high electro magnetic field that was on the other side of the hall. We thought we were halucinating.

This previous Halloween though, I saw this phenomena while in the midst of others who did not notice it. I again counted it up to either hallucination or old age. Later in the night though as two of the groups members sat across the sanctuary in the chior loft, the lights began to occur more frequently. And one of the other members saw them as well. All night I had been taking photos wth my digital camera, and I tried to see if I could catch these lights on camera. Luckily, and to my astonishment, I did. Here is the photo:

The most obvious explanation for this photo is that it is an orb, and therefore a piece of dust reflected from the camera light. I did catch many orbs in the church that night, in fact there is an orb in this same photo-almost in the exact center. However all the orbs I caught were the common phantom half lit circle. This object is very bright, appears very high in the ceiling (50 ft) and oval in shape. And it is exactly what I had been witnessing all night. Bright tiny oval flashes. I was curious what I would find if I magnified the flash to see if I could make out the image more clearly. to my surprise I caught this:

Take a closer look at the enlargement:

At first I was a little disturbed. My mind raced back to Lovecraftian Literature and to the vivid images of August Derleth where the ancient evil ones constantly observes the Earth waiting for the eventual invasion of the ancient evil horde and he total destruction of mankind.

But a much better esoteric explanation can be found within Scripture itself.

Revelation 6:6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.

This verse describes the Angels of God before His throne.

Angels are not only God's messengers, they are also God's eyes over the Earth. Not limiting His omnipresence, they observe with a distinct free will and compassion that is their own. Perhaps the eyes of light were snapshots of a sort. Just as I was trying to capture the otherworldy within the church with my digital eye, perhaps the beings of the otherworld were capturing what was happening in our material realm with their supernatural eyes.

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope