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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 2:03 pm 
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Resurrection and Eternal Life in the Eleusinian Mysteries

Here is a nice quote from Dr. Morton Smith's Studies in the Cult of Yahweh (12). This book provides a number of elements backing up the material in The Christ Conspiracy and elsewhere.

Quote:
From remote antiquity the Eleusinian mysteries had promised men after death the most important attributes of divinity--a blessed and eternal life. By the second century A.D. there were mysteries and magical rites which promised immediate--or, at least, immediately...anticipated--deification.

Here we see that the very ancient Eleusinian mysteries, which archaeologically have been shown to date as far back as the second millennium BCE, promised eternal life, essentially a resurrection. Indeed, we would expect such a reward within the mysteries.

This process of eternal life was the fulfillment of the promise of deification for the initiate. Thus, we see that the dying-and-rising motif was prominent in the mysteries, which means also that it was to be kept secret, at least in the case of the Eleusinian rituals. Other "mysteries" were in the open, such as the bringing out of the god/dess from a temple during a holiday, as at the winter solstice, vernal equinox and so on.

As the source for this contention, Smith cites the Greek playwright Aristophanes's Frogs 316-53. There we read about Eleusinian initiates who, addressing "the Master" Dionysus, shout:

Quote:
Ἴακχ᾽ ὦ Ἴακχε.

O Iacchus, Iacchus O!

It is noteworthy that this cry of "Iakkhos," an epithet of Bacchus/Dionysus, has been equated with the god-name Iao, in turn identified with the Jewish tribal god Yahweh. As we read in Macrobius (1.18.20):

Quote:
φράζεο τὸν πάντων ὕπατον θεὸν ἔμμεν Ἰαὼ, χείματι μέν τ᾽ ἀΐδην, Δία δ᾽ εἴαρος ἀρχομένοιο, Ἠέλιον δὲ θέρευς, μετοπώρου δ᾽ ἁβρὸν Ἰαώ.

Macrobius translator Kaster (257) renders the passage thus:

Quote:
…say the greatest god of all is Iao: Hades in winter, Zeus at the start of spring, the sun in summer, delicate Iacchos [= Dionysos] in the fall.

Here we see that Kaster has substituted "Iacchos" for Ἰαὼ Iao and thus has equated the two with each other. Again, in antiquity Iao was identified with Yahweh.

At Frogs 340, the chorus sings:

Quote:
Awake, for it has come tossing torches in hand,
Iacchos, Oh Iacchos,
the light-bringing star of our nocturnal rite.
Now the meadow brightly burns
Old men's knees start to sway.
They shake away their pains
and the long cycles of ancient years
Through your holy rite.
Beaming with your torch,
lead forth to the flowering stretch of marsh
the youth that makes your choruses, o blessed one!

Here Dionysus is invoked as Iacchos, the "light-bringing star of our nocturnal rite," an obvious solar motif, reminiscent of the sun's passage through the night sky in the Egyptian myth. Indeed, it should be recalled that Osiris combines with Ra as the sun god moves through the night, and that Osiris was equated in antiquity with Dionysus. It is thus by this solar agency that the old men "shake away their pains" and attain to eternal life.

Asclepius's Deification and Raising of the Dead

Concerning an example of this mysteries process, Smith (12) remarks:

Quote:
Initiation at Eleusis may have been thought to have made Asclepius a god, whereas before he had only been a hero.

The Greek solar deity Asclepius, of course, possesses many attributes similar to those of the later Jesus, including the title of Soter or "Savior," the ability to heal the blind and resurrect the dead, the long-haired, bearded appearance, wearing robes, and so on.

So prolific was Asclepius at raising the dead that Hades complained to Zeus that the underworld was becoming devoid of shades. Hence, Zeus killed the healer:

Quote:
The goddess Athena gave Asclepius the gift of Medusa's blood. The blood from the veins on the left side of Medusa's head was for the bane of mankind, but Asclepius used the blood from the veins on the right side for saving mankind and for raising the dead.

Asclepius' raising of the dead aroused the wrath of Zeus. Not only was Zeus angered to see many of his old enemies, whom he had struck dead with his thunderbolts, returning to life, but his brother Hades, king of the underworld, was complaining about the dearth of new arrivals. And so, Zeus struck Asclepius dead with one of his thunderbolts, fearing the spread of his miraculous art of healing, especially into the wrong hands.

As we can see, resurrection of the dead predates Christianity by centuries to millennia and was accomplished by a pre-Christian Savior whose attributes evidently were utilized in the creation of the Christ character.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 12:10 pm 
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Dr. Robert M. Price - Dying and Rising Gods

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Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:52 am 
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Political Correctness and Comparative Religion

This issue has to do with comparative religion in general, but it does raise the "dying-and-rising" controversy, which is why I include it here. In his book Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times, Egyptologist Dr. Donald B. Redford discusses religious and mythological comparisons between the Phoenicians/Byblians and the Egyptians from remote times, when these two peoples first began trading during the fourth to third millennia BCE.

In his analysis, Redford begins with delineating the fact that religions are localized, drawing upon local natural features and activities in order to flesh out mythological stories or as the inspiration thereof. In the case of Byblos, on the coast of the Levant, where those later called "Phoenicians" rose up to prominence and spread cultural artifacts through sea trade around the Mediterranean for some 2,000 years, the story of the great sea monster was prominent, naturally.

After mentioning there are differences between myths of given regions, Redford cautions not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as has been done in comparative religion studies over the past century or more, based on political correctness and a fear of diffusionism and shared influence. Says Redford (43-44):

Quote:
While an occasional Asiatic deity may turn up in the Egyptian pantheon, consciously "borrowed" and partly "Egyptianized" like Hathor and Byblos, for the most part the cults, pantheons and mythologies of Egypt and Western Asia remained distinct in outward expression. The West Semitic "hero-god" Ba'al, the "Lord" par excellence, seems to spring spontaneously out of the rain-drenched mountains of the Levantine littoral; and equally, Khopry, the "Beetle," appears, as indeed the Egyptian creation myths maintain, from the mud flats arising out of the Nile's inundation. The mythology seems tailored to specific landscapes and climates, and the cults arise from markedly different societies.

If this suggests that the Near Eastern religions of historic times never enjoyed anything in common, one might be advised to beware. Long ago, for example, some scholars noted the striking similarities between Osiris and his cult and the "dying-and-rising" god of Canaanite mythology. Were not both "fertility" gods, associated with such cultic appurtenances, as flowering shrubs or trees, mounds or "high places," cultic pillars and pastoral animals? Had not both been murdered and subsequently championed by a faithful goddess-consort? Was not even the name Osiris related to a Semitic root whence came Asir and even Ashur? The resultant theory to which these observations were to give rise was so faciley stated and simplistic that debunkers easily pointed up a host of differences, some of them major, between the two gods and their cults. Few students of comparative religion today would dare even to broach the subject, preferring to dwell on the native character and roles of the individual deities. Nevertheless, one cannot help but be uneasy as the suspicion that we have "thrown out the baby with the bathwater": in mythology similarities do exist, if only in broad plot structure and plot roles. In culture occupying adjacent stretches of the eastern Mediterranean coast, do such similarities have any meaning?

Redford next raises up the Canaanite "Prince Sea"-versus-Ba'al motif and demonstrates that it can be found in Egyptian mythology as well, although more appropriate for the Byblian culture than the Egyptian, because of the former's coastal and sea-faring nature.

Religious Bias, not Science

Redford is essentially lamenting a fearful political correctness that holds hostage comparative religion scholarship, instilling trepidation in students and scholars who dare not "even broach the subject." This unscientific approach has been dominating the field ever since Christian apologists began the push back to emphasize the supposed differences between religious and mythological systems, in order to create a chasm that suits the fallacious origin story of Christianity, having allegedly popped up ex nihilo out of the mind of God, through Jesus. In this regard, it behooves Christianity to have this fearful air of suppressing comparative religion studies in general. For, if the death and resurrection of a solar fertility deity is a common mythical archetype spread around the Mediterranean, where it was adjusted with local color and social emphasis, then the same can be said about the dying-and-rising Christian savior. This very thread demonstrates the archetype to be real and explains its meaning, in a detailed and scientific manner.

Redford's mild objection to this censorial environment itself demonstrates the fear with which this subject is now treated, because of the apologetics push-back designed to salvage "history" from the provably mythical gospel story. Out of this distraction tactic of emphasizing differences likewise has sprung a sort of "cultural relativity" mentality that assumes entire systems sprang autochthonously, without any kind of diffusionism.

As concerns the Mediterranean, this isolationism appears to be unscientific and irrational, based on political correctness and fear. In consideration of the fact that there were sea traders such as the Byblians, later called Phoenicians, who skilfully navigated the Mediterranean for millennia, spreading wares and ideas around a significant area, there is little reason to insist that all of these cultures' religious, mythological or other ideas developed in complete isolation without external influence.

Redford's commentary suggests that students are being trained to emphasized the differences between cultures, rather than the similarities, that it is somehow "insulting" to insist that cultures did not develop ideas all on their own but often "borrowed" them. The reality is that there clearly was a significant amount of cultural exchange, and where ideas - whether religious or otherwise - were appropriate for the region, they were evidently borrowed and vice versa.

It is not "insulting," for example, to point out that viticulture and viniculture (grape growing and wine production) spread from one region to the next, bringing with them techniques and ideas previously developed elsewhere. Among these ideas, in reality, were religious and mythological concepts revolving around the vine and wine god, eventually known commonly by the moniker "Dionysus." The deity's name and myth may differ from region to region, as techniques were adjusted locally, but the basic vine-and-wine god archetype can be seen, because of comparative religion studies.

Archetypes Exist

The "broad plot structure and plot roles" represent archetypes, often based significantly on nature, as in the sea-monster-versus-hero motif, frequently also revolving around celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, planets, stars and constellations as well. Not only is there nothing wrong with defining these "broad plot structure and plot roles" or archetypes, but such exercises are basic to comparative religion studies in the first place. If we are not allowed to compare religious and mythological systems, out of fear and political correctness, then we have no subject to study within the field of comparative religion! The entire field has no purpose for existing.

As Redford says, one is "uneasy" at such a baby-with-the-bathwater proposition. Indeed, one can see that it is irrational and unscientific, based on bias and fear, not responsible scholarship. Hopefully, when scholars begin to realize these facts, they will adjust once more to where they should have been, based on the important comparative-religion studies of the past, now being ignored for these irrational, unscientific and biased reasons.

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Horus raises Osiris from the Dead

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 3:14 pm 
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Acharya wrote:
Political Correctness and Comparative Religion
Hi Acharya, thank you for opening this discussion of politics in myth. It really is absurd, as Dr Redford notes, to imagine that the Phoenicians founded Carthage and cities in Spain, trading from Lebanon to Greece to the Pillars of Hercules, but somehow never managed to sail up the Nile and cross-fertilize the religion of Egypt. There are so many points which can be made in this context, from Bernal, Jung, Witt, Wilders and others. Overall, the culture of political correctness goes back to the problem of witch burning, and the fear that both conventional religion and science have of any discussions deemed speculative. We see the fallacies all the time – most recently I was asked to cite modern Egyptologist work comparing Mary and Isis. I sought to open a discussion of Witt’s excellent academic book Isis in the Ancient World, but the political agenda of the person making this challenge emerged when it transpired that he had no interest in discussing Witt’s actual work but was just making cheap religious polemical shots against any discussion of Isis.
Acharya wrote:
This issue has to do with comparative religion in general, but it does raise the "dying-and-rising" controversy, which is why I include it here. In his book Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times, Egyptologist Dr. Donald B. Redford discusses religious and mythological comparisons between the Phoenicians/Byblians and the Egyptians from remote times, when these two peoples first began trading during the fourth to third millennia BCE.
In his analysis, Redford begins with delineating the fact that religions are localized, drawing upon local natural features and activities in order to flesh out mythological stories or as the inspiration thereof. In the case of Byblos, on the coast of the Levant, where those later called "Phoenicians" rose up to prominence and spread cultural artifacts through sea trade around the Mediterranean for some 2,000 years, the story of the great sea monster was prominent, naturally.
Re the sea monster myth, I recently read a book that some would see as deeply politically incorrect, Chaos in Astrology by Bernadette Brady. She explores this sea monster myth in the Babylonian context of the conflict between Marduk and Tiamat, representing control and chaos. Tiamat is the feminine sea monster representing chaos, and Brady suggests the dominant myth has involved a facile demonising of the feminine.

It seems these archetypes of control and chaos have continued down to the present day, for example the Chief versus Siegfried. The Control archetype readily distorts history for political reasons: we see this in this Canaan context where Biblical myths have produced a shocking corruption of historical knowledge of Egypt’s influence, for example shown in Finkelstein’s work on Egyptian dominance of Canaan from before the supposed Exodus time, and how this is an inconvenient truth for apologists.
Acharya wrote:
After mentioning there are differences between myths of given regions, Redford cautions not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as has been done in comparative religion studies over the past century or more, based on political correctness and a fear of diffusionism and shared influence. Says Redford (43-44):
Quote:
While an occasional Asiatic deity may turn up in the Egyptian pantheon, consciously "borrowed" and partly "Egyptianized" like Hathor and Byblos, for the most part the cults, pantheons and mythologies of Egypt and Western Asia remained distinct in outward expression. The West Semitic "hero-god" Ba'al, the "Lord" par excellence, seems to spring spontaneously out of the rain-drenched mountains of the Levantine littoral; and equally, Khopry, the "Beetle," appears, as indeed the Egyptian creation myths maintain, from the mud flats arising out of the Nile's inundation. The mythology seems tailored to specific landscapes and climates, and the cults arise from markedly different societies.

If this suggests that the Near Eastern religions of historic times never enjoyed anything in common, one might be advised to beware. Long ago, for example, some scholars noted the striking similarities between Osiris and his cult and the "dying-and-rising" god of Canaanite mythology. Were not both "fertility" gods, associated with such cultic appurtenances, as flowering shrubs or trees, mounds or "high places," cultic pillars and pastoral animals? Had not both been murdered and subsequently championed by a faithful goddess-consort? Was not even the name Osiris related to a Semitic root whence came Asir and even Ashur? The resultant theory to which these observations were to give rise was so faciley stated and simplistic that debunkers easily pointed up a host of differences, some of them major, between the two gods and their cults. Few students of comparative religion today would dare even to broach the subject, preferring to dwell on the native character and roles of the individual deities. Nevertheless, one cannot help but be uneasy as the suspicion that we have "thrown out the baby with the bathwater": in mythology similarities do exist, if only in broad plot structure and plot roles. In culture occupying adjacent stretches of the eastern Mediterranean coast, do such similarities have any meaning?

Some Christian historians somehow see any discussion of Osiris as disreputable. It is extraordinary how deeply Christian prejudice has wormed its way into the unconscious assumptions of such historians. They have an emotional reaction against scholarly analysis of Egyptian influence, as Redford clearly explains here in terms of fear. When scholarship is constrained by fear, it is time to put it on the couch for psychoanalysis.
Acharya wrote:
Redford next raises up the Canaanite "Prince Sea"-versus-Ba'al motif and demonstrates that it can be found in Egyptian mythology as well, although more appropriate for the Byblian culture than the Egyptian, because of the former's coastal and sea-faring nature.
Martin Bernal explains in Black Athena how the Greek virgin warrior goddess Athena, who allegedly sprang fully formed from the brow of her father Zeus, actually originates in the Egyptian Neith, illustrating that there was far more cross-fertilization between ancient myths than is conventionally understood. Like Athena, Neith was a city goddess, a warrior and a patron of weaving. For Bernal Athena is, effectively, Neith. The Christian prejudice of hostility to older myths has wrongly been assumed to apply more widely than it should. Egypt influenced Greece from prehistoric times.
Acharya wrote:
Religious Bias, not Science
Redford is essentially lamenting a fearful political correctness that holds hostage comparative religion scholarship, instilling trepidation in students and scholars who dare not "even broach the subject." This unscientific approach has been dominating the field ever since Christian apologists began the push back to emphasize the supposed differences between religious and mythological systems, in order to create a chasm that suits the fallacious origin story of Christianity, having allegedly popped up ex nihilo out of the mind of God, through Jesus.
It seems tenure can be a powerful weapon of fear and suppression. This ‘trepidation’ arises from the cautionary tales of careers that have been still-born due to interest in interdisciplinary analysis. The narrow silo mentality of specialists is designed precisely to prevent the political nature of scholarship from being seen. A restriction to “safe” topics produces its own destructive feedback loop, with the false argument used against Christ Mythicism, for example, that the capacity of “safe” academics to ignore research means the evidence does not even exist.
Acharya wrote:
In this regard, it behooves Christianity to have this fearful air of suppressing comparative religion studies in general. For, if the death and resurrection of a solar fertility deity is a common mythical archetype spread around the Mediterranean, where it was adjusted with local color and social emphasis, then the same can be said about the dying-and-rising Christian savior. This very thread demonstrates the archetype to be real and explains its meaning, in a detailed and scientific manner.
There has been an unfortunate confluence of political interest between religion and science in the suppression of comparative mythology. A prejudicial assumption that the field lacks empirical data has led to refusal to properly analyse the data that exists. There is a ‘suck-up careerism’ involved here, for example in the rather extreme way Richard Carrier argues that Kersey Graves should be suppressed. You have to wonder what Carrier’s motives might be, but it seems he regards this attack on Graves as a way of positioning himself as somehow safe and respectable, while analysis of common mythical archetypes is somehow portrayed as dangerous and impossible.
Acharya wrote:
Redford's mild objection to this censorial environment itself demonstrates the fear with which this subject is now treated, because of the apologetics push-back designed to salvage "history" from the provably mythical gospel story. Out of this distraction tactic of emphasizing differences likewise has sprung a sort of "cultural relativity" mentality that assumes entire systems sprang autochthonously, without any kind of diffusionism.
It is hardly surprising that the study of myth is beset by myths. ‘Apologetic push-back’ is adept at the construction of myths, with the mere insinuation that a topic is unacceptable sufficient to produce surprisingly wide political and institutional ramifications in how the topic is considered. Apologists have learned all the tricks of the preaching trade, especially the rhetorical skill of demonising opponents through fallacious argument. There was far more freedom to publish and discuss new ideas about religion a hundred years ago than there is today, although that is changing quickly with the rise of the internet as a free medium. I regard the Second World War as a turning point, as it instilled a social fear that discussion of deep religious questions could produce conflict and undermine liberal consensus. Both Nazism and communism were seen as cautionary examples of the ideological consequences of a failure to hold to a ‘cultural relativity’ liberal mentality. We are now seeing a pushback against the relativity model, for example from Geert Wilders who argues that it is a betrayal of heritage and identity to consider all religions as equally valid, especially Islam.
Acharya wrote:
As concerns the Mediterranean, this isolationism appears to be unscientific and irrational, based on political correctness and fear. In consideration of the fact that there were sea traders such as the Byblians, later called Phoenicians, who skilfully navigated the Mediterranean for millennia, spreading wares and ideas around a significant area, there is little reason to insist that all of these cultures' religious, mythological or other ideas developed in complete isolation without external influence.
This isolationism is a fine example of how paradigms are constructed. Paul Simon explained paradigm theory well in his song The Boxer – "a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest." When people do not want to hear that ancient cultures spoke to each other, they will construct a mythic paradigm in which the different cultures are imagined as isolated from each other. This paradigm will only break down when sufficient evidence and logic are assembled to show its absurdity.
Acharya wrote:
Redford's commentary suggests that students are being trained to emphasized the differences between cultures, rather than the similarities, that it is somehow "insulting" to insist that cultures did not develop ideas all on their own but often "borrowed" them. The reality is that there clearly was a significant amount of cultural exchange, and where ideas - whether religious or otherwise - were appropriate for the region, they were evidently borrowed and vice versa.
Training can be insidious. A grapevine trained to meet the needs of the grower can be very productive, but such training does not provide the best model for intellectual innovation. This prejudice against analysis of mythic similarities plays into the perverse incentive of academic empire-building. Professorial interest in constructing power over a narrowly defined field can be undermined by the interdisciplinary method of a focus on identity over difference. But this dialectic of identity and difference is perhaps the oldest idea in the academy, with the same and the different symbolised by Plato in the Timaeus as the two arms of the Chi Rho cross.
Acharya wrote:
It is not "insulting," for example, to point out that viticulture and viniculture (grape growing and wine production) spread from one region to the next, bringing with them techniques and ideas previously developed elsewhere. Among these ideas, in reality, were religious and mythological concepts revolving around the vine and wine god, eventually known commonly by the moniker "Dionysus." The deity's name and myth may differ from region to region, as techniques were adjusted locally, but the basic vine-and-wine god archetype can be seen, because of comparative religion studies.
Dionysus plays a further interesting role in attitudes to religion, representing an uncontrollable ecstatic popular movement that is incompatible with hierarchical control by the church and state. As Freud noted with his analysis of the return of the repressed, the attempt to deny and eliminate a psychological need always results in the repressed spiritual energy manifesting in some other way. We could even compare Dionysus to the Hydra, with all efforts to suppress it requiring an impossible Herculean capacity. When control and chaos are schematised as a cosmic conflict between good and evil, we find the emergence of pathologies such as the emotional disdain towards interdisciplinary studies, which are imagined as an upwelling of the chaotic. Dionysus is framed as part of dissolving chaos within the puritan tradition.
Acharya wrote:
Archetypes Exist
The "broad plot structure and plot roles" represent archetypes, often based significantly on nature, as in the sea-monster-versus-hero motif, frequently also revolving around celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, planets, stars and constellations as well. Not only is there nothing wrong with defining these "broad plot structure and plot roles" or archetypes, but such exercises are basic to comparative religion studies in the first place. If we are not allowed to compare religious and mythological systems, out of fear and political correctness, then we have no subject to study within the field of comparative religion! The entire field has no purpose for existing.
There is prejudice against the concept of archetypes, with Baconian induction asserting archetypes do not exist because they cannot be seen. Archetypes are a Platonic idea, requiring that we see the conceptual continuity between abstract patterns that are common across different times and places. Such abstraction is rejected by the method of shallow specialisation, which Plato critiqued in his dialogue The Sophist as restricting knowledge to material objects alone and failing to see the timeless meaning in symbols.
Acharya wrote:
As Redford says, one is "uneasy" at such a baby-with-the-bathwater proposition. Indeed, one can see that it is irrational and unscientific, based on bias and fear, not responsible scholarship. Hopefully, when scholars begin to realize these facts, they will adjust once more to where they should have been, based on the important comparative-religion studies of the past, now being ignored for these irrational, unscientific and biased reasons.
The symbol of the baby and the bathwater goes back to Kepler’s observation that narrow modern scientific methods failed to see the broad cosmic meaning of his astronomical research. Egypt is imagined from the Biblical discussion of fleshpots as a source of irrational corruption, representing an earlier phase of religion upon which monotheism is considered an advance. This prejudicial view is grossly inadequate, throwing out the baby with the bathwater by accepting an alienated narrow vision that wrongly excludes big themes in our human heritage.
Acharya wrote:

It is frustrating that this archetype of the son and the father is so weakly understood. The Egyptian myth found its way into the Fourth Gospel with the story of the resurrection of Lazarus by Jesus. Egypt is the father of Israel, and needs to be brought back to life if we are to understand the identity of Israel and of human culture more broadly.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 1:37 am 
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Thanks for the detailed and thoughtful response, Robert. I enjoyed reading every word of it. It's nice knowing there are others "out there" who get it and who are erudite in return.

Reminds me of our delightfully profound and interesting conversations in the Yucatan. Next time, Greece? 8)

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