Apocalypse, New Age, or Mayan Meltdown?
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
The irony is that people have been trying to predict the end of the world since the beginning of the world, and so far, they all have one thing in common: They've all been wrong!
In contemporary western culture, we have taken to recycling and remodeling the cosmologies of the ancient world to our own liking, resulting in a lot of current excitement about:
1) The impending return of Jesus Christ in a Christian/Muslim Apocalypse, 2) The dawning of the New Age of Aquarius, and 3) The apparent alignment of precession, the winter solstice and the galactic equator at the end of the Mayan Calendar in December 2012.
Obviously, these can't all be true, but they are all fascinating, and enormously influential in popular culture.
It’s perfectly natural to want to see time and history as meaningful, and to try to organize the flow of the past, the present and the future into some far-reaching and grand design. We stand on the receiving end of some truly remarkable ancient attempts to do exactly that; for instance, the Zoroastrian Apocalypse and the Christian Millenniums, the Hindu Yugas, and the Buddhist Kalpas.
There is something valuable to be learned from all of them - even if lesson one is not to take any of them too seriously!
We all seek meaning in time, and our destiny and fulfillment in history. We long to fathom the hidden, innermost secrets of the universe, but at the same time, we can’t help but impose our own desires and limitations upon it. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference, but that's why it's so important to try!
So join us in this stimulating combination of lectures, graphics, discussions and small group work as we try to get a grip on the big picture. We'll examine the most influential cosmologies and chronologies of the ancient world, along with their contemporary interpretations, while coming to terms with our uniquely personal visions of the meaning of time and history in our own lives.
Visions of the Virgin
The Divine Feminine in Christianity
Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje, and more....
Millions of people of all faiths and nations flock to Marian Shrines around the world; a testament to the enduring human desire for transcendence and meaning, and devotion to the Divine Feminine. Visions of the "Luminous Lady in White" abound.
For instance, the sightings at Zeitun, Egypt in 1968 were witnessed by hundreds of thousands of Jews, Muslims, and both Protestant and Orthodox Christians. In fact, Egypt is a contemporary hotbed of sightings, for this can hardly be considered a uniquely Christian phenomenon.
These apparitions are just as popular among Muslims, Hindus, and even Buddhists. . Courtney adds fascinating dimension to the apparition stories by going beyond the orthodox interpretations to delicately unravel the tangled skein of pre-Christian goddesses woven into the cults of the Virgin Mary, exploring a tradition of goddess worship very much alive and well in contemporary Christianity.
Her findings don't distract from the meaning these visions hold for the faithful, but expand upon their greater relevance across religious and cultural boundaries, bridging the gap which separates Catholics from other Christians, and Christians from those of other faiths, all the while reconnecting Marian Christianity to its broader roots.
Visions of the Virgin
The first of its kind to explore the comparative religious dimension of modern Marian Apparitions
Rebuilding the Bridges
and the Judeo-Christian West
It's easy to lose sight of the fact that the three great monotheisms actually have a lot more in common than not. While each tradition celebrates a separate origin in divine revelation, the historical and sociological contexts reveal a much more inclusive story, and a shared set of core beliefs, all stemming from the influence of the Persian religion of the prophet Zoroaster.
But who was Zoroaster? What did he teach?
This program brings into focus the man and his message; an ethical religious system which the mighty Persian Empire spread throughout the ancient world. We’ll explore the specific historical contexts in which Persian Zoroastrian ideas interpenetrated Second Temple and Hellenistic Judaism, early Christianity, Imperial Islam and even the modern Baha’i movement.
In a world so often tragically divided by religious beliefs, the Persian perspective points to a worldwide religious heritage we can all share; an inclusive story that helps rebuild bridges between traditions which have too often lost touch with their essential messages.
In discussing Zoroaster, we'll explore how the mighty Persian Empire spread his revolutionary new religious ideas throughout the ancient world; dualistic ideas about the ultimate battle between good and evil (God and the devil) at the end of the world, and about the coming messiahs who would speed the process along.
This as the ground from which Second Temple Judaism sprang, and these same Persian concepts continue to pulse throughout contemporary Christianity, Islam and the Baha'i religion, moving world events along with them.
The Star of the Magi
New Light on
the Star of
The Star of Bethlehem is still one of the most puzzling and popular mysteries of the Bible.
Finally an author with a solid background in the role of astrology in ancient religion takes on the Star, exploring critical questions like:
1)Who were the Magi?
2) How did their astrology inform their beliefs?
3) How, and why did their beliefs influence their Judean neighbors?
Courtney Roberts highlights the surprisingly widespread influence of the Persian Zoroastrian religion and its astrology upon Judaism, and throughout the ancient world.
Courtney Roberts, M.A.
(Cultural Astronomy, Bath Spa University, UK)
A writer, teacher, and consultant whose work reflects a unique perspective: a real passion for the 'big picture,’ combining cosmology, religious studies, and history with a lifetime of observing the dynamic interaction of spirit and cosmos.
While developing my academic specialization in the role of astronomy/astrology in religion, particularly Persian Zoroastrianism and western monotheism, I also developed a passion for talking with western audiences about the Persian religion. It’s an effective way to examine the traditional thinking that still keeps us at war with the Muslim world.
I also gained a deep appreciation for humanity’s long-held, religio-scientific beliefs about a meaningful universe, and our rightful place in it. Cultural Astronomy/Astrology raises some very good questions about the nature of human consciousness, and its evolutionary relationship to our larger, cosmic environment. Regardless of whether we can actually answer those questions or not, they make a good starting point for any exploration of the meaning of time and human history.
I've lived and worked all over the world, and lectured on my work throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, speaking for churches, social & business groups, academic venues, and audiences of every persuasion.