The State of Faith in America

In 2012 a Pew Research study showed that one-fifth of the U.S. public identified themselves as unaffiliated with any religion. This means atheist, agnostic, and just darn nothing. Apparently two years later this inspired the folks at Larry King Now to put together a show on “The State of Faith in America” that primarily focused on the rising tide of nonbelievers in the United States. Assuming that two years later we’re still trending that way. (I just want some newer data to prompt a show on Larry! That’s all I’m saying.)

Now I am a lady that has watched more than her fair share of round table television shows and many, okay all, of them have featured people on opposite ends of the issue being discussed. The guests for this one are: Gus Holwerda, who directed the documentary “The Unbelievers”, Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist who is featured in the film “The Unbelievers”, Michael Beckwith, a new thought minister and author, David A.R. White, a Christian actor who stars in “God’s Not Dead”, and Jay Bakker, pastor, speaker, author, and son of Jim and Tammy Faye.

The participants were respectful of each other and although I may have detected a hint of exasperation in Krauss’s voice on the rare occasion, voices were never raised and tempers never flared. The problem is the show is only 30 minutes so no thoughts were given a chance to be expanded upon and no responses were given a chance for the other side to then make a brief rebuttal. King’s heart was in the right place, but he needed at least 60 minutes for it to be a real conversation.

Let’s be honest, we could have a million round tables like these and many of the questions posed by King may never be settled to the satisfaction of every American. The folks over at Larry King Now were nice enough to bring this episode to my attention and now I’m sharing it with you, if you’re interested.

Also for those who may be interested, here is the trailer for the movie “God’s Not Dead” that guest David A.R. White is in.

And for those of you who want the flip side trailer, here’s the one for “The Unbelievers”.

Moonlight Tarot’s Question Corner: Mystical Answers to Mundane Inquiries

By Angela Kaufman, Moonlight Tarot LLC

Fall is harvest time! In preparation for a very special gift for you, readers, I am revising the focus of this column to attune with the most popular topic for Tarot readings…Love!

This month’s Querent is a woman we will call Anna. Anna is gorgeous, friendly, and has a great sense of humor, yet like all of us she suffers the ups and downs of rollercoaster relationships. She asks if her boyfriend and she will be reuniting.

The initial guidance coming for Anna is not from the cards, but from a very significant spiritual presence that surrounds her. This figure appears as a woman in very bright white clothing-whose presence is very peaceful and healing- she appears as if carrying a Rosary and either Anna or this woman in her life would have had strong attachment to the Catholic faith or would have carried a Rosary. Anna is being guided to take a second look at this relationship as if it were not the best situation even though it may be what Anna wants. I also see a gavel coming down as if a judge were making a big decision or a verdict being reached. There is a lot of stillness/apprehension with this image- I feel like Anna is putting a great weight on this relationship so that it feels like other options are being excluded.

I get a sense of energy around the possible reunion in this relationship but it comes in faintly- as if to say there is a pulse but not a strong one. The cards drawn are the King of Swords- reversed, followed by the three of Cups, Lovers and the 7 of Swords. Yes I know that is 4 cards, not 3, but the King of Swords is a “Leaper” a card that “jumps” from the deck to signal the reading is ready to begin so I count it as holding significance.

I feel the reversal of the King of Swords shows a judgment about this past relationship that holds the man in a position that is not favorable to Anna. Either he has lost connection or for Anna and he are not on the same wavelength- he is out of touch, but I don’t sense that he is completely out of the picture.

The 3 of Cups and Lovers suggest to me that the potential for continued connection and renewal/reunion in this relationship is possible but I feel that efforts need to be made to bring about change in the relationship. If all continues as it was I don’t see this being a fulfilling situation.

The 7 of Swords suggests futility, wasted energy, and even a note of deceit or disappointment because of the lack of follow through on his part. This couple was brought together for important reasons, however it also feels like the “pulse” on this relationship is very weak I encourage Anna to proceed carefully, mindful of actions speaking louder than words. It feels like at first it would be a happy time, with excitement to have him back followed by a reminder of what went awry to begin with which will feel like a repetition of a self-sabotaging pattern from the past. I am a strong proponent of free will- so having stated this if such insight helps you to manage the relationship in a new way, open to possibilities but also aware of limitations, the outcome can be shaped by Anna’s actions and choices.

We all can benefit from Anna’s reading in an important way. By remembering free will, choice and the process of cultivating a relationship, we are reminded that partnerships are not just about whether someone is in our lives. A relationship is an active process involving effort and choice. All too often we subconsciously repeat old patterns, expect different results, and become frustrated as we watch history repeat itself.

Have you had a question like Anna’s before? Whether he returns or not, relationships take honesty, risk, and effort. To help you gain clarity and understanding, I am offering a FREE recorded presentation. Join the mailing list to receive the audio presentation 3 Biggest Reasons Single, Professional, Independent Women are NOT Finding the Love they Want. Receive this gift FREE by clicking here and joining the mailing list: http://eepurl.com/2k6r9

This month’s Tarot reading was conducted using the traditional Rider Waite deck. For more information on this deck, please visit http://www.usgamesinc.com/Rider-Waite-Tarot-Card-Deck/. This deck was created by A.E Waite and Pamela Colman Smith and is currently under copyright by US Games Inc, 2012-14.

Interested in finding out more about Psychic Readings from Angela Kaufman of Moonlight Tarot LLC, check out the new website moonlighttarotllc.com.

Banned Books Week 2014

It’s my favorite celebratory week again! Welcome to Banned Books Week! Go Team Freedom of Speech!

From the American Library Association website, “Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

Books are challenged and banned at schools and public libraries all over the United States. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

This year there is a special focus on graphic novels. For those of you unfamiliar with this format, a graphic novel is essentially comics bound into a trade paperback format. Many people don’t understand that the comic format can be used to tell complex stories that deal with adult themes. This leads to many misunderstandings where a parent assumes a graphic novel is appropriate for a child, even if shelved in the adult section of a library, because it’s just a comic book, how bad can it be?

When I was young, like elementary school and early junior high, I read the occasional comic book. My Mom would sometimes buy me an Archie, Misty, or Dakota North book at the grocery store. I knew other comic books existed, like Superman and Batman, but I didn’t really have any interest. Overall I had no real interest in comics.

Then one day in high school a friend had this odd book with him. It was a thin, with a leather cover that had an odd gold key on it. When I expressed an interest, he asked if I liked comics. I said they were okay. And that’s when he loaned me the graphic novel “Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes” by Neil Gaimen.

It collected “Sandman” issues 1-8. I read it in one sitting and it turned my mind inside out. It had visuals that repulsed me (and still do), but writing that was compelling. It created a world, and characters, I’d never experienced before, and it did it through the medium of comics. After that I was sold. First I had to make sure I was on top of the “Sandman” series. Then fortunately as an adult I found a comic store who had an owner with a real knack for finding exactly what I would like. Now I have a large graphic novel collection that yes, even has some Batman in it.

Now I learn that a large selection of my favorite graphic novels have been banned or challenged and that really concerns me. Not only do these books have literary value in their own right, I feel graphic novels are a great gateway reading device for kids and teenagers who may have lost their love of reading or have yet to develop it. Keeping the age appropriate ones available in schools is of upmost importance and keeping the others available in public libraries is just, well, kick ass.

Banned and Challenged Comics

“Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations” by J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita, Jr., and Scott Hanna
“Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again” by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley
“Batman: The Killing Joke” by Alan Moore and Brian Boland
“Blankets” by Craig Thompson
“Bone” by Jeff Smith
“Dragon Ball” by Akira Toriyama
“Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel
“Ice Haven” by Daniel Clowes
“In The Night Kitchen” by Maurice Sendak
“League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier” by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
“Maus” by Art Spiegelman
“Neonomicon” by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows
“Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi
“Pride of Baghdad” by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon
“Sandman” by Neil Gaiman and various artists
“SideScrollers” by Matthew Loux
“Stuck in the Middle”, edited by Ariel Schrag
“Stuck Rubber Baby” by Howard Cruse
“Tank Girl” by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett
“The Color of Earth” by Kim Dong Hwa
“Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

If you want to help defend challenged comics and graphic novels, consider donating to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Curious about what books have been banned or challenged this 2013-2014 cycle? Check out this year’s list!

The Inner Wizard

Many decks I’ve featured on The Magical Buffet are designed to tap into your intuition more than using a divinatory system. The cards I’m writing about today are touted as “Message cards from your higher self” and I couldn’t agree more. However, what at first may appear to be merely random notes on cards begin to reveal far more thought and design than one might have originally thought.

The Inner Wizard contains 84 cards with messages on them. The notes are from you, God, Venus, the Soul, etc. These personal notes will hopefully offer insight into your situation. The reverse side of the card has what they call a “renewed choice proclamation”. I might almost call them affirmations. Now if things stopped here, I would call this a wordy oracle deck, but it doesn’t.

Front with Message
Reverse Side

Did you notice the little Aries symbols in all four corners of the card up there? That’s right, each card is given an astrological designation and the enclosed instructions discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each sign. So you have your message, and then you apply this extra layer of information in the form of astrological data on top of it. But wait! There is still more.

Once you know the astrological designator for your card, and you have the informational sheet out, you’ll see that the four elements (earth, air, water, fire) are listed on it. Each astrological sign is listed with an element, and each element reveals a bit more information. It’s one last layer of information to that original card draw.

Due to the nature of The Inner Wizard the writers only suggest the single card draw reading and the three card past, present, future reading. I would have to agree with them, although honestly I only ever tried single card draws and that was enough for me.

The Inner Wizard is a truly unique divinatory experience. As far as I know, you won’t find anything like it, anywhere else.

You can find Inner Wizard at http://www.kabbalahinsights.com/en/products/the-inner-wizard.

The Geek Month in Review: August 2014

By JB Sanders

Is it still summer?

Live Inside a Volcano
This sounds like an ideal villain lair, and the pictures in the article support that claim.

Ape Selfies!
This is how the end begins: ape selfies. Read how a photojournalist, whose camera was pinched by a black macaca nigra monkey who then took thousands of photos (including a selfie), is now claiming that Wikipedia has no right to use the picture. Wikipedia is claiming that the copyright “belongs” to the monkey, and therefore is in the public domain.

The monkey’s lawyers were unavailable for comment.

Babylon5 on the Big Screen?
It could happen! Seriously, JMS is working on a script and seeking funding right now.

Self-Assembling Origami Robots
Sure, they start out flat and uninteresting, but they don’t stay that way. Watch as a robot assembles itself out of flat metal and walks away.

Glow-accented Shelving
Got a crack in that nice piece of lumber you bought for shelves? No worries! Fill it in with glowing resin. Not sure how that would look? Check out this album.

Neuronic Processors
IBM has released a chip that includes synapse-like elements on the chip. The coming future of AI? Probably. But it’s no photonics.

The Perhapsatron
So in the 50’s, this guy (scientist Jim Tuck) built what he hoped was going to be a fusion reactor, and it looks a lot like the arc reactor from Tony Stark’s lab. That’s Iron Man, folks. What a great kick-off to a scifi story, though. And he really did call it the Perhapsatron.

Best Birthday Present Ever? Secret Treasure Room
So these parents discover a storage space next to their kid’s bedroom, but instead of telling him about it, they hide the entrance behind a heavy dresser, wait until his 4th birthday, have it secretly renovated, and make it into his own Secret Treasure Room. Personally, I would have gone for more of a pirate motif in my Secret Treasure Room, but it’s not bad.

Dr Who Themed Restaurant
Who’d have thunk it? Tucked away in a sleepy upstate NY town, this eatery features “fish fingers” (french toast sticks) and pudding, plus a smashing decor.

Pyramids and Beehives of Mars
MakerBot (3D printer makers) and JPL (without rockets, it’s just science) solicited entries in a contest for a Mars habitat design that could be constructed using — you guessed it — 3D printers. Check out the three entries that one, including one pyramid design and one based on beehives.

How to Build a 1KB Hard Drive — In Minecraft
That’s right, build a virtual digital storage device inside the game (“game”) Minecraft. Essentially, this person builds a giant assembly of blocks and moving bits to create the drive. It gives me ideas for a way to “store” some kind of special encryption key — just encode it onto a virtual storage device you built inside a game, and let’s see someone figure that out.

Robot-driven 3D-Printed Hoverbike
I think we may have reached a nirvana of geek topics: 3D printed, robots, and hover bikes. Woo!

The Space Economy
What benefits there will be to mining the asteroid belt, in a handy bunch of info graphics.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

A Wickedly Dangerous Celebration

Granted this past weekend was a holiday weekend, with yesterday being Labor Day here in the United States (thanks Labor Unions!), but today a near and dear friend of The Magical Buffet has a real reason to celebrate. Today Deborah Blake’s fiction novel “Wickedly Dangerous” debuts! This is an exciting next phase of Deborah’s writing career for her and those of us who have been fans of her non-fiction Witchcraft writing for Llewellyn Publishing.

“Wickedly Dangerous” is part of a series of novels updating the Baba Yaga legends. And just to entice you a bit, let me hit you with the blurb from the back of the book:

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…

I was also lucky enough to attend a celebration for the book’s release! Although I knew that attendance came with a price, and that price was bringing one of the delicious Guinness Stout Cakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting from Dolce & Biscotti. It’s Deborah’s absolute favorite thing, and I sometimes suspect one of the few reasons she has an open invitation for me to visit.

As usual, Magic could care less that I was there.
Wickedly Wonderful is out in December!
EVERYONE loved the cake!
Me with future bestselling author Blake.