The Magicians of the Gods

In the last couple of months the TV show Ancient Aliens has been brought up to me in conversation, and as (someone who has been reading about the Ancient Alien hypothesis since before the year AD 2000) it is always difficult to discuss a topic with peole who have only watched the horrible show.

With that being said, I’d like to share some thoughts from a 2015 episode of Coast to Coast AM.


George: Now back to the ancient civilisation: might they have been ET related in terms of technology and help?

Graham: Well, um. Let me make clear that I’m—I am not an advocate of the Ancient Alien Astronaut Theory.

George: Ok.

Graham: Um, and that’s for a number of reasons. Firstly I need to be absolutely clear that I have nothing against the idea of ancient astronauts or of alien intervention in human affairs. Um, we won’t talk about this at length tonight but I have had experience of contact with intelligences, with non-human intelligences, but those experiences have been achieved by altering my state of consciousness…

George: Right

Graham: …using the South American visionary brew called ayahuasca, and I have had classic ET contact experiences in that state and I think that one of the things that we need to do to investigate this mystery further, just as we investigate the physical aspects of the alien abduction phenomenon we should also be deeply investigating it’s implications for consciousness, ah and the possibility that by changing our state of consciousness we may contact ah and communicate with non-human intelligence. I think that’s worthy of real, deep research. That being said, having spent quarter of a century travelling the most intriguing, the most beautiful, exciting and mysterious ancient archaeological sites in the world, really walking the walk, investigating and exploring these sites—not just reading about them—but being there with my feet on the ground, sometimes for months, the conclusion I’ve come to is that I have not seen anything in any of these mysterious ancient sites that I could only explain with a culture that had the technology to cross into stellar space. What I see is evidence of incredible advancement, way beyond the period of time—at a time when human beings are supposed to have just been hunter-gatherers—we see evidence of huge advancement and great technical skill and knowledge, but I am of the opinion—I’m not going to completely rule the alien aspect out—but I am of the opinion that what we are dealing with is a lost advanced human civilisation, and that it much more brilliantly explains the anomalies that are raised by the ancient astronaut lobby ah than the notion of ancient astronauts themselves—in other words, I think that these ancient and mysterious sites around the world are very poor evidence for the ancient astronaut hypothesis, I don’t think they serve it well, when you really investigate those sites the notion that aliens were involved in building them doesn’t make sense—for example, the great pyramid is an incredibly precise and accurate monument, six million tonnes, 13 acre footprint, and its just 3/60th of a single degree of true north—but hey, if you can cross interstellar space and navigate all the way to this pale blue dot, and you’re involved in some way in building the pyramid, you are gonna get it dead on…

George: Hahaha.

Graham: …not 3/60th of a degree off. So that looks like human error to me, but it looks like the human error of a very advanced culture.


The key part that I’d like to emphasise to my readers is near the beginning, “I have had experience of contact with intelligences, with non-human intelligences, but those experiences have been achieved by altering my state of consciousness using the South American visionary brew called ayahuasca, and I have had classic ET contact experiences in that state and I think that one of the things that we need to do to investigate this mystery further, just as we investigate the physical aspects of the alien abduction phenomenon we should also be deeply investigating it’s implications for consciousness, ah and the possibility that by changing our state of consciousness we may contact ah and communicate with non-human intelligence. I think that’s worthy of real, deep research.”

Why is this of interest, excluding the obvious interest such a statement intrinsically breeds? If the reader follows the theological perspective that this blog puts forward—which is, that aliens are demons—then it follows that, at least in part, some times some of what we encounter in the psychedelic realm is demonic as well.

“The “astral plane” can also be contacted (but not necessarily in an “out-of-body” state) through the use of certain drugs. Recent experiments in administering LSD to dying persons has produced very convincing “near-death” experiences, together with a “condensed replay” of one’s entire life, a vision of blinding light, encounters with the “dead” and was non-human “spiritual beings,” and the communication of spiritual messages concerning the truths of “cosmic religion,” reincarnation, and the like….
     It is well known that the shamans of primitive tribes enter into contact with the aerial world of fallen spirits in “out-of-body” states, and once “initiated” into this experience are able to visit the “world of spirits” and communicate with its beings.
     The same experience was common among the initiates of the “mysteries” of the ancient pagan world. In the Life of Saint Cyprian and Justina (Oct. 2) we have the first-hand testimony of a former sorcerer concerning his experiences in this realm. . . .”
-Fr. Seraphim Rose,
The Soul After Death

“In my opinion, the primary nexus point of the spread of these Teachings [Yoga in the West and the occult revival of the late nineteenth- and twentieth-century magical orders] in modern culture was the phenomena of the 1960s and more specifically the use of LSD by many of my generation. Raised on Lassie and The Lone Ranger, we were catapulted into the fourth dimension by a liquid spot on a piece of paper or cube of sugar. With no preparation, a number of people experienced advanced—if thoroughly chaotic—states of mind, to which many experienced adepts, who had done the work unaided by the miracle of modern chemistry, felt were not entitled. Introduction to such psychic realms had been reserved for millennia to patient chelas of demanding gurus who had rules of behavior for those who sought after such mysteries.
     There were immediate consequences. The stoned-out hippies of Woodstock were replaced by pool-cue-wielding Hell’s Angels at Altamont. Baba Ram Dass was preaching love and meditating in India while Charles Manson’s “Family” was committing horrors I am loathe to describe. As Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison died in rapid succession and at roughly the same age, we knew something was wrong. The explosive deaths of three members of the Weathermen revealed a communist bomb factory in a wealthy Greenwich Village townhouse. The sociopath Eldridge Cleaver imprisoned Timothy Leary, himself widely accused of being a government agent. Then John Lennon was shot; Abbie Hoffman committed suicide. . . .
     […]The point is that a sea change occurred in the West. Aleister Crowley predicted it in a letter to Grady McMurtry, later Caliph Hymenaeus Alpha of Ordo Templi Orientis. Crowley wrote in 1945 that some twenty years hence he expected a radical transformation in consciousness to occur. Crowley’s particular influence in creating it (by, among other things, introducing Aldous Huxley to mescaline) was significant.”
-James Wasserman, “Introduction,” in Nancy Wasserman’s Yoga for Magick  

Learning Koine Greek With Exegetical Tools

A. Greek Primer

B. Basic Greek Videos – (Greek 1 &2) – these videos do not cover everything in the Primer, and some videos aren’t listed here either, such as the one for the Aorist Passive Indicative

C. Basic Greek for the Week E-Mail

D. 5 Free Advanced Greek Lessons

E. Greek Reading Videos (Greek 3 & 4) – Advanced


Learning Greek Vocab: learn every Greek word that occurs 10x or more in the NT by studying for 20 minutes a day for about half a year.

July 20, 2015 – Keep Your Greek: Choose the Right Bible

August 5, 2015 – Keep Your Greek: Don’t Lose Your Vocabulary

August 16, 2015 – Keep Your Greek: Taking Greek Electives

October 8, 2015 – Keep Your Greek: Reading Greek Devotionally

January 15, 2017 – Keep Your Greek: Get the Best Resources

Textual Criticism: Byzantine Text Proponents

I started this list off of searching a bunch of last names that Dr. Robinson wrote in a response to a blog post. The point is people who “paved the way” for the Byzantine Text, as opposed to the Textus Receptus. Any help in expanding and clarifying this list is greatly appreciated.

1794-1852 – Johann Martin Augustin Scholz

1813-1891 – Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener

1886 – Edward Miller – A Guide to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament

1893 – Rev. S. W. Whitney – The Revisers’ Greek Text Volume 1 & Volume 2

2005-2018 – Dr. Maurice Robinson

The Ideal Weapon For Spiritual Combat

From September 12th’s Daily Stoic:

Michel Foucault has a fascinating essay on journaling entitled “Self-Writing.” In it, he describes journaling as a “weapon in spiritual combat,” which is a brilliant phrase. That might seem to be overstating it, after all, is it really such a big deal to write down some of your thoughts in a notebook?

Yes. It is a big deal. As he puts it, “writing constitutes a test and a kind of touchstone: by bringing to light impulses of thought, it dispels the darkness where the enemy’s plot are hatched.” He quotes Seneca and Epictetus as evidence of this, since both believed that simply reading or listening to philosophy wasn’t enough. Philosophy to the Stoics was not just “practical” but designed to be practiced. You had to write it down too, you had to show your work. You had to put the issues you were struggling with down on paper and go through the motion of articulating the solution that you’d heard from a master or a teacher.

Foucault explains that this process has two benefits. First, it takes the philosophy from “meditation to the activity of writing and from there to…training and trial in a real situation–a labor of thought, a labor through writing, a labor in reality.” The second part, he says, is this becomes an endless, productive cycle. “The meditation precedes the notes which enable the rereading which in turn reinitiates the meditation.”

It’s quite beautiful. You learn. You struggle. You journal about the struggle. You apply what you’ve journaled about to your struggle. You reread your journaling and it teaches you new lessons to journal about and use in future struggles. It’s a truly virtuous feedback loop.

But of course, this process can only happen if you do the work. If you make time for the journaling and the writing, if you submit to the cycle. Too often, we are unwilling to do that. We claim we don’t have time. We are too self-conscious. We don’t have the right materials.

Nonsense. Start. Today. Now.

How Are You Still Not Doing This?

From today’s Daily Stoic email:

Saint Athanasius of Alexandria wrote in Vita Antonii that the reason he did his journaling–his confessing, as the genre was called by the Christians–was that it was a safeguard against sinning. By observing and then writing about his own behavior, he was able to hold himself accountable and make himself better.

“Let us each note and write down our actions and impulses of the soul,” he wrote, “as though we were to report them to each other; and you may rest assured that from utter shame of becoming known we shall stop sinning and entertaining sinful thoughts altogether…Just as we would not give ourselves to lust within sight of each other so if we were to write down our thoughts as if telling them to each other, we shall so much the more guard ourselves against foul thoughts for shame of being known. Now, then, let the written account stand for the eyes of our fellow ascetics, so that blushing at writing the same as if we were actually seen, we may never ponder evil.”

The Stoics journaled for much the same reason. Seneca said the key was to put the day up for review so that one could see their faults and find a way to mend them. Epictetus said that by writing, reading and speaking our philosophical journal, we keep the teachings top of mind and are better able to follow them. Marcus, of course,said less on the subject of journaling, but left us the greatest lesson of all: his example.

When you pick up Meditations, what you see is a man confessing, debating, considering, and struggling with all of what it means to be human. Marcus said in one of his notes that he should “fight to be the person philosophy made you.” His journal is the play by play of that fight–it’s his battles with his temper, with his urges, with his fears, even with his mortality. It took a lot of work, but from what we know, he won most of those battles. Through his writing and his philosophy, light prevailed over darkness.

It’s a grand tradition and an inspiring example that each of us is called to follow. The Daily Stoic Journal is one way to do that. It prompts you to prepare for the day ahead and review the day just past. It gives you big questions to consider and standards to guide yourself towards. A blank notebook can work too. So can a letter or an email to a friend. So can a silent conversation with yourself on a long walk.

The point is, you have to do the work. You have to put up the safeguards. You have to actively fight to be the person philosophy wants you to be…in the pages of your journal.

Celebrating Our Diversity Now Project Documentary

Readers of this blog will recall that back in February I was one of four representatives of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada) at a multi-city Youth Interfaith Initiative hosted by the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church’s Canadian Diocese and funded by the Colonial Government of Canada. I just got back from camping and hiking in Grasslands, Waterton Lakes, Banff, and Jasper National Parks and am still catching up on my emails; I have been asked to share the documentary of the event on my website and social media. So here it is.

The documentary can be viewed here.


Celebrating Our Diversity Now Project Documentary Trailer​

Readers of this blog will recall that back in February I was one of four representatives of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada) at a multi-city Youth Interfaith Initiative hosted by the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church’s Canadian Diocese and funded by the Colonial Government of Canada. I just got back from camping and hiking in Grasslands, Waterton Lakes, Banff, and Jasper National Parks and am catching up on my emails, and so it turns out I have been asked to share the trailer on my website and social media of the documentary of the event. So here it is.

The trailer can be viewed here.


Getting Drunk on God: The Drunken Glory Heresy

Now the Spirit manifestly saith that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error and doctrines of devils, Speaking lies in hypocrisy and having their conscience seared…
-1 Timothy 4:1-2 (Douay-Rheims)

I’m not even sure how I exactly stumbled across this video—presumably through the massive amount of time I waste wading through the internet’s sewers as I distract myself from doing some real reading… Does it matter though? I found it, and I watched it. The unusual thing is that this, unfortunately, isn’t the first time that I have come across John Crowder.

Way back in 2009, before I was even Orthodox, I first came across and read the name John Crowder on a book in my dad and stepmom’s kitchen on the cover of a book my stepbrother was reading for some Evangelical/Non-Denominational summer course he had quit his job to attend. My stepmother encouraged me to read it, saying that I would like it, but even then, my bullshit detector was already internally beeping.

As that day went on all four of us went for lunch, my stepbrother shared more of what he been learning about at that time, and I shared the little I had been gathering about Orthodoxy and the early Church—areas and information of which none of them had ever even heard of, just like I hadn’t until I read Dostoevsky in 2004-2005.

So we had a good time, and upon returning home, I eventually Googled John Crowder, found some YouTube videos and was confronted with a (per)version of Christianity in stark contrast to what I was discovering in Church history: a repackaging of quasi-Pentecostalism only possible in North America.

Beyond all this, there really isn’t much to say. Those that buy into it will continue to do so until they open their eyes in search of true Christian mysticism. The non-Christian reader with a skeptical mind and any knowledge of Scripture will clearly see Scripture being twisted yet again. And the Orthodox Christian with knowledge of Scripture, the Church Fathers and who is active in the Mystical life of the Church will undoubtedly see this for what it is: the fruit of the λογίσμοι, and the doctrine of demons.

For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.
-2 Timothy 4:3-4 (Douay-Rheims) 

David Bentley Hart’s “The New Testament: A Translation” & The Tyndale House Greek New Testament

Of the four most interesting books published in 2017, three of them are Christian, and of those three two are in Modern English, and one is in Koine Greek. Furthermore, of those three Christian books, two of them are the New Testament. In Greek, we have The Tyndale House Greek New Testament, and in English David Bentley Hart’s The New Testament: A Translation published by Yale. (For those interested, the other books of the four are The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher, and Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink.)

One would think that a new edition of the Greek New Testament would be of real interest and impact for Greek nerds, but the months following the release of both have seen unfold a unique situation. Outside of Evangelical Textual Criticism, Exegetical Tools, B-Greek, Textkit, and Nerdy Language Majors it would appear that the scholars, critics, and the rest of the world are either silent about it, don’t care about it, or don’t know about it. Indeed, no Orthodox Christian—clergy, laity, or scholar—has even mentioned it to my knowledge.

On the other hand, DBH’s translation has been addressed by all the groups mentioned or alluded to: clergy, laity, scholars, many of the internet groups and websites previously mentioned—both Orthodox and heterodox—have been talking about this translation. And with everything I’ve been reading, the discussion over this translation has brought out a fantastic amount of discussion concerning Koine Greek, exegesis, hermeneutics, textual criticism, dogma κ.τ.λ.

This isn’t to fault the people behind the THGNT. I own a physical copy and a copy in Accordance too and was reading St. James’ Epistle from the physical Bible on my flight back to Toronto from Winnipeg after Christmas. So I think its great (even though I am a Byzantine Textform proponent). But I think what most people are really looking forward to is the textual commentary that will accompany it, and the audio version read aloud by monks from the Orthodox Christian Monastery of the Transfiguration, Nafpaktos, in proper Greek pronunciation via BibleMesh (well, at least I am looking forward to both).

So due to the amount of relevant Greek material DBH’s translation has brought about I figured I would list here all the reviews, articles, and podcasts I have read and listened to. If any of my readers have found any that I don’t have listed here, please feel free to mention them in the comments or email me the link, and I will post new reviews as I finish reading them.

As for my own thoughts on the translation, which  have been asked, I relayed them on Instagram and other than a couple grammatical errors, my thoughts remain the same (so far):

“I think it is incredibly interesting, especially once one really understands what he is and is not attempting to do with his translation. Most reviewers fail to understand, and it shows. I had pre-ordered it on Amazon after reading an excerpt from the preface or intro that appealed to my love of Greek, and at first, as I read it I thought the translation was only of any real value if you know Koine Greek. As I read more, the vividness and oddity of the Greek were really brought forth in the English, so much so I bought my wife a copy for Xmas. It is definitely not for Liturgical use, but that wasn’t his intent. My only criticism so far is that he used the NA28/UBS5 as his Greek text, though he does note Majority Text differences.”

To elaborate, the most disappointing thing about reading the reviews and articles is that they mostly fail to understand what Hart is doing and devise straw man attacks against him due to their misunderstanding. And Hart’s Orthodox opponents sadden me the most, especially when they call his translation into question and then resort to non-Orthodox scholars, translations, and commentaries to support their point—the same point from the same non-Orthodox scholars, translations, and commentaries which were the cause for the translation effort in the first place!

The most depressing thing, however, indeed must be that the Orthodox and heterodox alike seem to take a major issue, not with ἀποκατάστασις, but instead push back against him when it comes to moneyThe lady doth protest too much, methinks… It reminds me of a story my Bishop told us seminarians during breakfast one morning. A priest and a doctor were out for a walk one day, talking about this and that, lost in conversation when they neared the edge of a cliff. The priest fell and was holding onto the crumbling edge, fingers slowly losing their grip. The doctor yelled to the priest, “Give me your hand, Father!” The priest, unfortuantely, lost his grip and fell to his death. The doctor ran to the priest’s home to tell the presvytera the awful news. She answered the door and broke down in tears as the story was retold, the doctor recounting to her “I said to him, “Give me your hand!”” The presvytera looked up and said to the poor doctor, “Oh, you should’ve said “Take my hand,” instead.”

In case it escapes you, the moral of the story is that priests want to take and not give, they love money. And if the reviews of Hart’s translation are anything to go by, it appears money and the defence of having and acquiring it is one issue that Protestants and Orthodox are united on, amongst the laity, and sadly even more so among the clergy.


23/31 October 2017 – The Tears and Laughter of the New Testament: Why David Bentley Hart’s Translation is a Glorious Failure By Wesley Hill

November 2017 – The Gospel According to David Bentley – Paul V. Mankowski, S.J.

29 December 2017 – The Hart Idiosyncratic Version – Fr. John Whiteford

January/February 2018 – A Mind-Bending Translation of the New Testament – James Parker

15 January 2018 – The New Testament in the strange words of David Bentley Hart – N.T. Wright

8 February 2018 – A Wild and Indecent Book – Garry Wills

11 February 2018 – Anent Gary Wills and the “DBH” Version by David Bentley Hart

11 October 2018 – The Vale of Abraham by David Bentley Hart

David Bentley Hart is an Eastern Orthodox scholar of religion, and a philosopher, writer and cultural commentator. He is an fellow/associate at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, and has held positions at the University of Virginia, Duke University, and Providence College. He lives in South Bend, Indiana and attends a Greek Orthodox parish.