#OntheBlock

Episode 73 - Tom Krattenmaker

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Been a while since we've been with you, lovelies. The world continues to end. Or is it just continuing to transform itself? This show has always been about borders. About intersections. About the boundaries out on the edges of the Self where subject and object, self and other, start to blend. Now, it seems more than ever, we need to engage the great, maligned and feared "other" rather than succumbing to the constant barrage of media that seeks to make us demonize and simply dismiss that which isn't "Us." Our guest this episode is a person that seeks to change that orientation. 

Tom Krattenmaker is a writer specializing in religion in public life and author of the new book Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower (Convergent, 2016). His first book, Onward Christian Athletes (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), examined Christianity in professional sports. The book was a winner in ForeWord Review’s 2009 book awards and a finalist in the Oregon Book Awards. Krattenmaker’s second book, The Evangelicals You Don’t Know (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), on the “new evangelicals” in post-Christian America, was a winner in the best books competition of the Religion Newswriters Association in 2014.

Krattenmaker writes regularly for USA Today’s op-ed page as a member of the newspaper’s
editorial Board of Contributors. His column-writing was honored by the American Academy of Religion in its 2009 Journalism Awards program, receiving praise for challenging popular misconceptions about evangelicals “and showing that something new, something more complex and subtle is going on — a great goal for religion commentary.” His work has also appeared in recent years in the Washington Post, Religion News Service, and Huffington Post, among numerous other media outlets.

Krattenmaker’s numerous media appearances include Fox & Friends, the documentary “Lord Save Us From Your Followers,” National Public Radio, the New York Times “Idea of the Day” website, ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,”  the Christian Broadcasting Network, The Nation, Christianity Today, Air America, the Michael Smerconish Show, the Michael Medved Show, Portland Monthly, and radio networks/stations including Fox, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, and numerous regional and local outlets.

Named the 2009 Mendenhall Lecturer at DePauw University, Krattenmaker has also spoken at college campuses including Yale, Harvard, Georgetown, Baylor, Lewis & Clark, Willamette University Law School, the University of Portland, Portland State University, Missouri State University, and Springfield, Swarthmore, and Haverford, and Kilns colleges. He was a recipient of the 2009 “Friend of MET” award from the Portland-based Muslim Educational Trust and, in April 2013, was honored by Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon with its Hunderup Award for Religious Education. He resides with his wife in New Haven, Connecticut, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Yale Humanist Community

We recorded this episode a few months ago. Before the Trump era had fully taken hold. It is interesting to listen to the perspective of a cultural critic sitting on the front end of what was to come. We tend to avoid the overtly political here at OTBR. But in these times, even the exploration of consciousness seems to be a political enterprise (in that it involves people coming together to build consensus and mutual understanding). Tom is a great example of what a version of this understanding and mutuality might look like going forward. We were delighted to speak with him. 

Episode 72 - Joel Bakst

Joel David Bakst is a teaching rabbi and scholar of Talmud and Kabbalah who, while living in Jerusalem for 20 years, studied and taught in Orthodox yeshivot.

Raised in a Southern California Conservative Jewish home, Joel became a ba’al teshuva (newly religious) at the age of 20 bringing full circle his lineage from a long line of rabbis.  Both his grandfather and uncle were Orthodox rabbis, his great grandfather was chief rabbi of St. Louis, MO and his great, great grandparents made aliyato Eretz Yisrael and are buried on the Mount of Olives.  He is the 8th generation of Rabbi Avraham Ragoler of Skhlov, the brother of Rabbi Eliyahu, the famed Gaon of Vilna, whose unique teachings and School of Kabbalah, have been a focus of Joel’s esoteric studies.

Joel’s spiritual search through comparative religions led him to Israel in 1971 where, upon enrolling in a traditional Eastern European style yeshiva, he became part of the original Ba’al Teshuva movement, the initial great wave of assimilated Jews returning to traditional Judaism.  For 10 years he pursued a path towards rabbinical ordination and studied Talmud, Halacha (Jewish Law) and mussar (Jewish Ethics).  During the next 10 years, while continuing his Talmudic studies, he also began a search into Hassidic and Kabbalistic literature.

He studied under Sephardic kabbalists (Moroccan and Tunisian) along with Ashkenazic teachers and colleagues versed in Kabbalah.  Uncommonly, Joel has had the honor of having immersed in all four of the great rivers of Kabbalah that flow from the holy Arizal (Lurianic Kabbalah): 1) R. Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov (the Besht), 2) R. Shalom Sharabi(the Rashash), 3) R. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (the Ramchal), and 4) R. Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman, the Gaon of Vilna (the Gra).

Joel continued his rabbinical education and continued on a path of intense Torah study and practice as well as teaching the traditions he received . He has lectured and taught in Israel, the United States and India. Joel is the author of numerous works on rabbinical methodology, esoteric Judaism, the prophetic confluence of Kabbalah with the new sciences and the messianic role of the maps and models pouring forth from modern technology. A guiding light for Joel’s stimulating approach to Torah teaching is stressed by the Gaon of Vilna, “There can never be a contradiction between the esoteric (sod) and the exoteric (pshat)”.

Concurrent with his traditional yeshiva training, Joel had also taken a deep interest in the Torah’s interface with world religions and Noahide movement. He has done extensive research into the Talmudic, Midrashic and medieval rabbinical sources concerning Noachides, Christianity and the “Seventy Nations”.  This investigation includes many obscure and little known Kabbalistic teachings about Yeshu HaNotzri (Jesus of Nazareth) , the role of Christianity and Islam as well as the role of Oriental religions in our “Final Generation” – the present period on the cusp of entering into the Messianic Era. “In the Torah world it has always been known that the non-Jew can best access his true essence and mission from an authentic Jewish perspective. As we are currently accelerating toward the Edge of Time the Torah and her ancient sages are beginning to reveal that a key to the mystery of Jewish existence is also to be found in the eternal mystery of Philo-Semites and especially wihtin the growing movement of Noahides”.

Continually evolving, the City of Luz web site is the culmination of over 35 years from the time he began a systematic study of Torah in search of a coherent interdisciplinary Torah-based system.  City of Luz offers the beginner, as well as the advanced talmid chacham (Torah scholar), a unique approach and collection of methodological tools that teach both conscious learning and direct experience.  The secret of Luz allows for a seamless interface between every field of Talmud, Halacha and Kabbalah.  The City of Luz also interfaces Torah itself with every school of science, theology and mysticism found among the Seventy Nations of the world, both ancient and contemporary. City of Luz is the ultimate interdisciplinary meta-tool for eveyone, regardless of religion or belief system.

Joel lives in Southern Colorado where he has been teaching in his yeshiva to a dedicated group of Jews and Bnai Noach for more than 10 years.

Episode 67 - John Voelz

John Voelz is a tamed rebel, artist, songwriter, painter, musician, writer, pastor, and aggravator. His love of all things creative in tandem with a severe angst towards mediocrity and religiosity has given him a unique platform as a voice in the church--local and worldwide. He is currently The pastor/curator at Lakeside Church in Folsom, California. He is also one of my oldest friends in the world. I have not known a man who is more invested in those riches which do not succumb to moth and rot than John. He is the embodiment of a supernatural grace that seeks to wrap the world in a relational embrace of sacrificial transformation. In other words, he loves fiercely and creatively because he feels we are all loved in this manner by the Ground of our individual and collective being. No matter where you stand on issues and ideology, I trust you will find a kind and kindred soul in his story...

Episode 65 - David Jay Brown

David Jay Brown holds a master's degree in psychobiology from New York University (1986), and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Southern California (1983). He is the author of two science fiction novels, Brainchild (New Falcon, 1988) andVirus (New Falcon, 1999), and is co-author of two volumes of interviews with leading-edge scientists and artists--Mavericks of the Mind (Crossing Press, 1993) and Voices from The Edge (Crossing Press, 1995). He is also the author of The New Science of Psychedelics: At the Nexus of Culture, Consciousness, and Spirituality .

David's interviews have been translated into Japanese (Hachiman, 1995), Italian (Gruppo Futura, 1997), and Czechoslovakian (East Hauz, 1999). He was responsible for the California-based research in two of British biologist Rupert Sheldrake's books on unexplained phenomena in science: Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (Crown, 1999), which was the bestselling science book in the world for several weeks in the Fall of 2000, and The Sense of Being Stared At (Crown, 2003). David has also made numerous contributions to other books, including having co-written a chapter in Terence McKenna's The Archaic Revival(Harper, 1992). 

He is currently working on two new books--a book with Annie Sprinkle about combining sex and drugs called Sex on Drugs, and a new book of interviews for St. Martin's Press entitled Renaissance of the Mind. David also teaches workshops with Annie Sprinkle on sex and drugs; to find out more visit:www.anniesprinkle.org

Episode 64 - Fernando Viciconte

Argentina-born Fernando Viciconte came of age musically in L.A. fronting the popular hard rock band Monkey Paw. He moved to Portland, OR, in 1994 and released Season in Hell, a downbeat collection of country rock. Almost immediately, he became a Northwest musical institution.

In 2001, Fernando founded his own label and released Dreams of the Sun and Sky, a gorgeous collection of gauzy, narcotic tracks with Latin and country-folk accents. The Oregonian named this album a top ten release of 2001. In 2006, Fernando returned from a hiatus from music and he delivered his most critically received record to date: Enter to Exit.

For this project, Fernando teamed up with long time friends from the Eels, Jeff “Chet” Lyster (who also plays guitar for Lucinda Williams) and Derek Brown and Paul Brainard from Richmond Fontaine, Lewi Longmire and John Amadon to make what many critics called one of the best pop rock records of 2006. Magnet Magazine went as far as naming Fernando one of the best new artists of 2006 in their year end issue. The album also garnered glowing reviews from Billboard, Paste, Amplifier, No Depression, and MSNBC.com.

Fast forward to 2015, with Fernando's most recent release, Leave The Radio On. 

Leave The Radio On features a virtual who’s who of Portland’s finest musicians, including Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey as well as members of M.Ward, Elliott Smith, Richmond Fontaine and The Delines. This is a new chapter in Fernando’s ever-evolving musical trajectory, a career marked by creative integrity and an almost painful honesty which attracts fans that still believe in the redemptive power of rock and roll.

Fernando was also be inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in October of 2016. We have been following his career since it began and are so excited to finally have him on the program. A truly unique artist, he is a troubadour, a story teller, a traveling musical monk who reflects the grit, the devastation and the transformational beauty of a life lived in service of rhythm, harmony and the melodic sensations of our shared emergence. His music is familiar because it reminds us of deep, latent truth hidden in the storehouses of our collective experiences. He is a musical mirror for us to see ourselves in a new, yet utterly recognizable, manner. We hope you enjoy him as much as we do.

Photo Credit: Dan Eccles 

Episode 63 - Max Dashu

SHOW NOTE: This episode was originally scheduled to air on Christmas Day of this year but has been moved up for scheduling reasons. Some of the conversation is about Christmas and its role in our culture and in our understanding of religion. Apologies for the confusion. 

Max Dashu founded the Suppressed Histories Archives in 1970 to research and document women's history from an international perspective. She built a collection of 15,000 slides and 20,000 digital images, and has created 150 slideshows on female cultural heritages across human history. (For titles and descriptions, see the online catalog.) Read some of the enthusiastic responses to these dynamic presentations here. Her work bridges the gap between academia and grassroots education. It foregrounds indigenous women passed over by standard histories and highlights female spheres of power retained even in some patriarchal societies. 

For over 40 years, Max Dashu has presented hundreds of slide talks at universities, community centers, bookstores, schools, libraries, prisons, galleries, festivals and conferences around North America and in Mexico, Germany, Ireland, Britain, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Australia, Belgium, and Austria. She has keynoted at conferences (Feminism in London, 2015;Women's Voices for a Change at Skidmore, 2013; Association for Women and Mythology, 2010; Pagan Studies at Claremont University, 2008, and Domestic Violence Conference at Rutgers, 2005). 

Dashu is known for her expertise on ancient female iconography in world archaeology, women shamans, witches and the witch hunts, mother-right cultures, patriarchies and the origins of domination.

OTB has committed itself to forging relationships across ideological boundaries in the years ahead. We cannot truly understand one another if so much of our actual history has been buried, destroyed, co-opted or misunderstood. We applaud the work Max is doing to help bring us a fuller picture of human history and culture from which to weave the new tapestries of our shared becoming. 

Episode 62 - Paul Devereux

Paul Devereux is:

A Founding Co-editor of Time & Mind - Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture

A Research Affiliate at the Royal College of Art;

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts; 

A Senior Research Fellow at the International Consciousness Research Laboratories (ICRL) group at Princeton;

And an Honorary Member of the Scientific and Medical Network.

He's also a friend and one of the world's leading researchers in the emerging field of archaeo-acoustics. 

But Paul started out as a painter, having a degree in Fine Art. He participated in numerous group exhibitions in Britain such as John Moores, Liverpool, and the Royal Academy Schools, plus travelling shows under the auspices of the Arts Council. He also exhibited in Germany. His painting became increasingly inspired by the geometry and numinosity of ancient monuments and this began to lead him deeper into an interest in archaeology. This resulted in him turning more toward writing and research with the consequence that he slowly shifted from painting and gradually relinquished his formal teaching of painting, drawing and photography.

Paul’s research interests in archaeology focus especially on “cognitive” aspects, trying to “get inside” the prehistoric mind, and this has broadened into the study of anthropological themes, especially what is known as “the anthropology of consciousness”. This in turn led him to become involved more generally in what is loosely termed “consciousness studies”. He has frequently combined these themes – such as writing a prehistory of the use of mind-altering substances, andexamining anomalous phenomena of various kinds, especially supposed psi phenomena.

This mix of archaeological, anthropological and consciousness studies interests has led him to co-founding and co-editing a new peer-reviewed, academic publication, Time & Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture.  For 20 years (1976-1996) he edited and published the legendary The Ley Hunter journal, eventually deconstructing the modern myth of “leylines”, for which he has not been forgiven in some quarters! But his authentic and documented research into spirit and death roads across archaic landscapes developed directly from his early ley interests (see SPIRIT ROADS in the On-line & Mail-order Book Sales pages). 

He has given a great many presentations on various aspects of his multidisciplinary range of subject matter to specialist, academic and general audiences in Britain, Ireland, the USA, Canada, Germany, Norway, Holland, Switzerland, Italy and France. Venues have ranged from Glastonbury New Age “fairs” to some of the most prestigious universities and institutions in England and America. His portfolio of written work includes 26 published English-language books (plus numerous foreign-language editions), many articles for popular and specialist magazines (including being archaeology columnist for Fortean Times magazine), plus a range of peer-reviewed academic papers. He has, additionally, conceived, co-produced, or appeared in television documentaries in the UK and the USA. He is currently a research affiliate with the Royal College of Art working on an audio-visual study of Mynydd Preseli,  the source area in Wales of the Stonehenge bluestones (see the Landscape & Perception pages on this website).

The world recently turned upside down. Regardless of what "side" you are on, the work Paul is doing helps to re-connect us to some longer, larger cycles of human activity. From this view, our differences fade into a rhythmic, shadowy dance of shamanic intuition and planetary consciousness. From Brexit to Trump, the old paradigms are starting to collapse. Perhaps we can look to even older models of human organization for some clues on how to move forward together with empathy, compassion and shared vision. One can only hope... 

Episode 61 - Joe Biel, Elly Blue & Joshua Ploeg (Dinner & Bikes Tour)

Well, well, well. What's been up in your lives, lately, America? Any news you'd like to discuss?

This week, we bring you a conversation with the members of The Dinner and Bikes Tour. The Dinner & Bikes is a month-long tour of the U.S. to bring people together to eat delicious food and get inspired about bicycle transportation. Here’s what happens at a Dinner and Bikes event:

As the audience arrives, they serve themselves from chef Joshua Ploeg’s seven-course gourmet vegan and gluten-free buffet spread. While the audience is eating, local advocates discuss their work and local issues and initiatives over the first fifteen minutes.

Then, Elly Blue and Joe Biel co-present a new interactive discussion and presentation including eight short films about Groundswell movements, incidences where people demand better neighborhood conditions and successfully implemented them. Stories include how Reading, PA came to be 13th on the East Coast for bike commuting without any advocacy or government spending, former gang members riding bikes to raise awareness about gang violence, Mexico City’s superhero of the streets, Peatonito, the story of the League of American Bicyclists’ equity council, how the City of Portland’s Sunday Parkways worked as a response to gentrification, and how cyclists are representing themselves and creating their own voices all over the world. Throughout the evening there are plenty of opportunities for discussion, questions, and browsing the Microcosm pop-up book and t-shirt store

Joe Biel is the co-producer/director of Groundswell, the director of the feature documentary Aftermass: Bicycling in a Post-Critical Mass Portland as well as over 100 short films.  He is also the author of half a dozen books, including Good Trouble: Building a Successful Life & Business with Asperger’s. He founded Microcosm Publishing in his bedroom closet in 1996 and has since published over 350 nonfiction books, zines, and movies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Elly Blue is the co-producer/director of Groundswell and the author of Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy and Everyday Bicycling: How to Ride a Bicycle for Transportation (Whatever your Lifestyle). When she isn’t writing, she is the marketing director of Microcosm Publishing, producing books and zines about all aspects of feminism, self-empowerment, and bicycle transportation. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Joshua Ploeg is the the traveling vegan chef. When not touring the world, he is a personal chef and delighter of secret cafe goers in Los Angeles. His eighth and newest cookbook is This Ain’t No Picnic: Your Punk Rock Vegan Cookbook. He lives in California.

As the country and the world move into unprecedented and scary territory, we are heartened by the kinds of young people that Joe, Elly and Joshua represent. They are not looking for a savior or a political party to make the world a better place for them. They are hitting the ground and making it better themselves. They are building community and empowering marginalized voices and advocating for a world that does not constantly run itself adrift under the weight of its own hubris and apathy. 

Episode 60 - Karen Tate

As an independent scholar, speaker, radio show host, author, and social justice activist, Karen Tate's body of work blends her experiences of women-centered multiculturalism evident in archaeology, anthropology and mythology with her unique academic and literary talents and travel experience throughout the world. Her particular emphasis is on the roles of women and the study of comparative religions and ancient cultures in a modern or reconstructed context, bringing the ideals and awareness of the Sacred Feminine into the mainstream consciousness.

Tate's work has been highlighted in the Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times and other major newspapers. She is interviewed regularly in print, on television and on national public radio and hosts her own show, Voices of the Sacred Feminine Radio considered a treasure trove of insight and wisdom for our time. Her published articles have appeared in both domestic and international publications since 1995.

Karen can be seen in the 2015 documentary, Femme, Women Healing the World, produced by actress Sharon Stone and Emmanuel Itier of Wonderland Entertainment. Most recently she was honored with opportunity to moderate a panel and give a presentation at the prestigious Council for the Parliament of World Religions in Utah. Karen spends much of her time giving interviews, teaching, and lecturing at private and public educational and spiritual institutions, temples and churches such as Joseph Campbell Roundtables, The Gaia Festival, Loyola Marymont College and the American Academy of Religion. 

As an ordained minster, she guest ministers at Unitarian Universalist Churches, The Goddess Temple of Orange County and at the invitation of other groups. She has received acclaim for reviving the Cakes for the Queen of Heaven curriculum as well as the Rise UP and Call Her Name course. An associate with the Joseph Campbell Foundation, Dr. Tate currently sponsors Joseph Campbell Round Tables in Venice and Irvine to perpetuate continuing adult education in the genres of mythology, history, sociology, archaeology, psychology, religion, anthropology and the related sciences.

She was also the first person to ever put me on the air and has been a leader not only in the women's empowerment movement but also in Internet radio, starting one of the first shows ever on Blog Talk Radio. She is a mentor, a friend and a visionary and compassionate leader with the wisdom of the ages to fill her sails. Karen reminds us that the #imwithher hashtag should be a rallying cry not for any one political party or candidate, but for our strong solidarity with the women, girls and non binary folks in our culture who have been subjected to a lopsided power sharing program for many millennia at this point. We were so delighted to have her on the program, especially this last weekend before the presidential election.

Episode 59 - Emily Bingham

Emily Bingham is a writer, rope instructor, model, and professional pervert. 

As a writer she strives to weave fantasies that will turn-on her readers. As a rope instructor she works to bring new skills into the bedroom of her clients so they can make their fantasies come true. It’s all about desire in both of the worlds she inhabits. Recently she combined her two greatest passions into one unique and exciting book: Diary of a Rope Slut.

As a kinkster, teacher, model, and writer Emily's love affair with words has been going on since as long as she could hold a book in her hands.  Along the way she realized she could make up her own stories about anything; this eventually turned to writing dirty tales.  It was, and still is, a safe and exciting way for her to explore the boundaries of desire and sexuality. Emily particularly enjoys writing about characters or situations that aren’t often depicted in sexy stories, so that people of all shapes, genders, interests and fetishes are represented.

When she's not writing, Emily is a significant part of the rope community in Portland, Oregon where she teaches classes and facilitates monthly rope groups.  

Follow her at the usual fine social media outlets or friend her on Fetlife.