Knowledge of the Unseen
From "The Black Maria" by Aracelis Girmay
Excerpt from the poem "The Black Maria" by Aracelis Girmay
Time for a New Project
Announcing a new project for the show in which I’ll be working through the Iliad with a focus on its themes of anger and justice.
Ancient Prophecy and Modern Scientific Forecasting
How has the modern practice of scientific forecasting taken over the ancient role of priests and other experts who interpreted signs and provided warnings? I start off talking about the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, which was clearly foreseen by many experts who offered urgent warnings to policymakers. I then look at the theme of “knowledge or beliefs about the future” in a selection of stories in the Hebrew Bible, arguing that these stories are often about taking advice from the right authorities. I conclude with the argument that people who consider themselves religious or spiritual today are responsible for following the advice of scientific experts such as climate scientists and for being the most enthusiastic about supporting their recommendations.
Samurai and Ninja with Antony Cummins
I’m joined by Antony Cummins, author of many books on medieval Japanese ninja and samurai warriors. We talk about who the samurai were and what their relationship was with the art of ninjutsu. I ask many questions about ninja magic — the kinds of esoteric practices they did that gave them a reputation for having supernatural powers. We also talk about Antony’s recent project of reviving the Natori-Ryu samurai school of war, with the blessings of the Natori family in Japan.
Intelligence, Trust, and Enlightenment
Trust is a critical issue in the practice of intelligence. In this episode I start off discussing three situations where this is explicit: in the contexts of security clearance, asset recruitment, and intelligence liaison. In the second half of the episode I change gears and offer a meditative reflection on metaphorical affinities between the intelligence community and the “Illuminati” or enlightened beings. In the concluding segment I return to the issue of trust and its role in enlightenment and its presence in so-called Illuminati symbolism.
Secrets within Secrets within Secrets
Searching for the hidden God. Alex reads three texts — the Book of Jonah, the Book of Job, and the Book of Esther — to show how subtle themes run through biblical texts and address some of humans’ deepest questions while often appearing on the surface to offer very little beyond pious platitudes. Where is God when children suffer, when genocides happen, when bad people are rewarded for being predators and honest people lose out because they’re following the rules? How can there even be a good God when this world is so corrupt and full of pain and injustice?