Seances, Carlos Castaneda etc

Following the links from an essay, featured at AL Daily, published in the San Franciso Journal called “Leaving the Left“, I reached the web site of Keith Thompson, a writer in California. His site includes some of his freelance articles and essays including his interview of the writer and fakir Carlos Castaneda, and a magazine piece about a seance.


He recognizes that Carlos Castaneda was a con artist. Don Juan was a fictional creation – it wasn’t cultural anthropology, or even drugs. It was a writer’s scam to sell books to people who want to believe in magic. But, he treats Castaneda as an amiable trickster. The piece about the seance was written for the Noetic Sciences Review, which is now called Shift – a publication connected to Institute of Noetic Sciences. He wouldn’t have sold that story if he was skeptical about spirit communication, because IONS is a loon’s paradise.
Rupert Sheldrake – the man who believes in psychic communication with pet parrots published 30-35 papers in the Review between 1987 and 1999. They don’t talk about him on their web site as a founder, director or adviser. I thought they did, as recently as last year. He is presently listed as one of their Extended Faculty. They are conducting research into Distant Healing. The Extended Faculty includes figures like Deepak Chopra. Slightly (further) off on a tangent – check the degrees and qualifications for the directors and Extended Faculty. There are bogus degrees and degrees from degree mills. Beware of the Dark side of the Internet.
His writing exmplifies light American journalistic post-modernism. Everything is story, and there are always two sides to the story. Nobody tells the truth, nobody lies, nobody is right, nobody is wrong. He seems to like the Iron John, Fire in the Belly, Jungian, sensitive New Age guy stuff, which is all too fluffy for me. However his recent work seems to show that he has discovered some moral principles.
His essay “The Dangers of Devotion” cites 5 books. I can’t find the last two books he discusses – The Guru Papers or Saints and Sinners in our library system. They sound interesting for the purpose of looking at cults and sects although basically anti-religious. I am interested in Saints and Sinners because it has a chapter on Matthew Fox, whose trajectory went from Catholic priest and theologian to New Age guru. I read his autobiography a couple of years ago, and I am curious how a more skeptical observer evaluates his teachings. I am interested in another book he mentions, by Jason Berry. It may be worth reading and summarizing for my Sister Jane pages.

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