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Richard Smoley's Blog


Usura rusteth the chisel
It rusteth the craft and the craftsman
It gnaweth the thread in the loom . . .
Usura slayeth the child in the womb
It stayeth the young man’s courting
It hath brought palsey to bed, lyeth
between the young bride and the bridegroom

—Ezra Pound, Canto XLV Read More 
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The Twisted History of the Swastika

The swastika used to be a good-luck symbol. How did it come to stand for hatred and cruelty?

My article, originally published in Quest magazine, winter 2016, explores this issue.

You can find it at the link to the left.
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The Categories and the Paranormal

As is well-known, Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century pointed out a problem with our knowledge of the world that has never been resolved. He showed that we perceive the world through what he called categories: basic structures of experience that organize, but also limit, our apprehension of reality. They obscure our  Read More 
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The Liberal Catholic Church Celebrates Its Centenary

“Are you a bishop?” I said to Dan, the man who picked me up at the Albuquerque airport. He was wearing a purple fleece windbreaker.

“Me? No, I’m an acolyte,” he replied.

Thus began my immersion into the world of the Liberal Catholic Church (LCC), which was celebrating its hundredth anniversary on February 13, 2016,  Read More 
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Super Natural: A Review

The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained Whitley Strieber and Jeffrey J. Kripal. New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2016.

A review

Disclosure: Tarcher/Penguin is the publisher of four of my books, including the forthcoming How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying about God and the  Read More 
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Ritual Magic in Theory and Practice

New Dawn magazine is featuring an article of mine on ritual magic.
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The Future of Thought Forms

Located in a three-story bank building from the 1920s in Chicago’s scruffy South Side, in a neighborhood mostly made up of brick row houses in various states of repair, Stony Island Arts Bank is one of the city’s newest and most interesting art venues. Serving partly as  Read More 
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What is the meaning of life?

I've been asked by Nicolae Tenase of (link at left), to answer the question "What is the meaning of life?"

This is what I wrote:

It’s a funny question. Meaning, in its conventional sense, relates two things to each other — usually a word and an object. There is the  Read More 
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The Origins of the World's Mythologies: A Review

This is a book review of mine that originally appeared in Quest, fall 2013.

Origins of the World’s Mythologies
E.J. Michael Witzel
New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. 665 + xx pages, paper, $45.

Why do so many creation myths sound so much alike? Why can myths about a flood that nearly destroyed all of humanity be found worldwide? And why do we find motifs of an end of the world in equally far-flung places?  Read More 
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The Study Quran: A Review

The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary. Edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Caner E. Dagli, Maria Massi Dakake, Joseph E.B. Lumbard, and Mohammed Rustom.
San Francisco: Harper One, 2015. lix +1988 pp., hardcover, $59.99.

The Qur’an (or Koran, or, in this edition, Quran), as is well known, is the holy book of  Read More 
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