Saturday, September 26, 2020

Stephen Braude's New Book

I recently finished reading his latest book, Dangerous Pursuits (San Antonio, Texas: Anomalist Books, 2020), which consists mostly of updated versions of material he'd previously published. The book is largely about mediumship, but there's also a lot of discussion of philosophical issues related to the paranormal. Some other topics are addressed as well. You can find out more about the issues the book covers on the Amazon page linked above.

There are a couple of chapters on his investigation of the Felix Experimental Group, centering around the mediumship of Kai Mügge. Though Mügge cheats at times (which is common among people with genuine abilities, as we see in academic contexts, sports, etc.), it does seem that he's producing some real paranormal phenomena as well. Some apparently authentic table levitations were caught on video. Braude discusses them and includes some photographs. A video of a particularly impressive levitation is supposed to be included in an upcoming film by Robert Narholz (tentatively titled Finding PK). Judging by the photos and Braude's account of the surrounding context, it seems that the levitation I just referred to is genuine. Go here to watch Braude discussing the subject in an interview, accompanied by a series of photos of the levitation mentioned above. (Watch the remainder of the interview for more photographs and video of levitations not associated with Mügge. For a discussion of other paranormal events caught on video and links to the relevant videos, see here.)

I found Braude's chapter on the mediumship of Carlos Mirabelli highly interesting. I didn't know much about Mirabelli before reading Braude's material. Mirabelli was reported to have "produced full-form materializations in bright daylight, and these were often recognized as deceased relatives, acquaintances, or well-known public figures by those attending the séance. Sitters would watch them form; attending physicians would carefully examine them for up to 30 minutes and report ordinary bodily functions; photographs of the figures would be taken (for example, Fig. 1); and then they would slowly dissolve or fade before everyone's eyes. Moreover, Mirabelli reportedly materialized animals as well." (99) Braude provides some of the relevant photographs, including one apparently showing a woman in the process of materializing. He reports an occasion when one of the medical personnel present touched one of the bodies that was in the process of dematerializing and found it to be "a spongy, flaccid mass of substance and that then he experienced some kind of a shock and fell to the ground" (105). You can read an online version of Braude's chapter on Mirabelli here.

Braude also has a chapter responding to criticisms of the mediumship of D.D. Home. If you don't know much about Home, Braude's chapter is a good introduction.

Much of Braude's material in the book is about issues related to the distinction between psi and super psi. One of the chapters discusses why it might be that disembodied individuals would perceive their surroundings as if having a body (an ability to perceive the physical environment, a range of vision similar to what an embodied person has, etc.). Even the chapter on jazz improvisation includes some comments on paranormal issues. Because of the variety of topics covered, most people interested in paranormal issues should find something worth reading.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

What Would Your Relatives And Coworkers Think?

"For the people is our master and the great mob; a savage master and a severe tyrant: not so much as a command being needed in order to make us listen to him; it is enough that we just know what he wills, and without a command we submit: so great good will do we bear towards him. Again, God threatening and admonishing day by day is not heard; but the common people, full of disorder, made up of all manner of dregs, has no occasion for one word of command; enough for it only to signify with what it is well pleased, and in all things we obey immediately. 'But how,' says some one, 'is a man to flee from these masters?' By getting a mind greater than theirs; by looking into the nature of things; by condemning the voice of the multitude; before all, by training himself in things really disgraceful to fear not men, but the unsleeping Eye; and again, in all good things, to seek the crowns which come from Him." (John Chrysostom, Homilies On First Corinthians, 12:8-9)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Daniel The Prophet

I think Steve Hays wrote more about Daniel than any of the other prophets. You can find a collection of links to a lot of Steve's material on Daniel here. The page also links many of his other posts on issues related to prophecy. The collection is far from exhaustive, though. You can search our archives for more.

"The Egyptian or Chaldaean prophets, and the other writers, should have been able accurately to tell, if at least they spoke by a divine and pure spirit, and spoke truth in all that was uttered by them; and they should have announced not only things past or present, but also those that were to come upon the world. And therefore it is proved that all others have been in error; and that we Christians alone have possessed the truth, in as much as we are taught by the Holy Spirit, who spoke in the holy prophets, and foretold all things. And, for the rest, would that in a kindly spirit you would investigate divine things - I mean the things that are spoken by the prophets - in order that, by comparing what is said by us with the utterances of the others, you may be able to discover the truth." (Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus, 2:33-34)

"Let [Porphyry] explain the meaning of that rock which was hewn from the mountain without hands, and which grew to be a great mountain and filled the earth, and which smashed to pieces the fourfold image. And let him say who that Son of man is who is going to come with clouds and stand before the Ancient of Days and have bestowed upon him a kingdom which shall never come to an end, and who is going to be served by all nations, tribes, and language-groups. Porphyry ignores these things which are so very clear and maintains that the prophecy refers to the Jews, although we are well aware that they are to this very day in a state of bondage." (Jerome, Commentary On Daniel, Chapter Eleven, vv. 44-45)

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Perennial Jewish Corroboration Of Christianity

What's below are some comments from Augustine on Jewish corroboration of Christianity. Notice that he was writing about 1600 years ago and that his comments are applicable to every century of the church's history. We're sometimes told that people didn't have much evidence for Christianity during most of church history, as if people had little evidence for the religion between the earliest years of the history of the church and the modern era. Supposedly, recent developments in fields like archeology and historical scholarship have brought about a major change. Those who lived in the medieval era, for example, allegedly didn't have much evidence to go by. It's true that they had significantly less evidence than we have, but they had more than is often suggested. Augustine is addressing a significant line of evidence for Christianity that's existed throughout church history:

"Indeed, it is a great confirmation of our faith that such important testimony is borne by enemies. The believing Gentiles cannot suppose these testimonies to Christ to be recent forgeries; for they find them in books held sacred for so many ages by those who crucified Christ, and still regarded with the highest veneration by those who every day blaspheme Christ. If the prophecies of Christ were the production of the preachers of Christ, we might suspect their genuineness. But now the preacher expounds the text of the blasphemer. In this way the Most High God orders the blindness of the ungodly for the profit of the saint, in His righteous government bringing good out of evil, that those who by their own choice live wickedly may be, in His just judgment, made the instruments of His will. So, lest those that were to preach Christ to the world should be thought to have forged the prophecies which speak of Christ as to be born, to work miracles, to suffer unjustly, to die, to rise again, to ascend to heaven, to publish the gospel of eternal life among all nations, the unbelief of the Jews has been made of signal benefit to us; so that those who do not receive in their heart for their own good these truths, carry, in their hands for our benefit the writings in which these truths are contained. And the unbelief of the Jews increases rather than lessens the authority of the books, for this blindness is itself foretold. They testify to the truth by their not understanding it. By not understanding the books which predict that they would not understand, they prove these books to be true." (Reply To Faustus The Manichaean, 16:21)