The Gates of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Part 2)

By Christopher Zoukis

Not only was the image on the Tilma a miracle, but miracles continued to escort the image’s passage through time.  In 1785, nitric acid was inadvertently spilled on the Tilma.  Regarding this incident, Dr. Orozco stated, “Besides any natural explanation, the acid has not destroyed the fabric of the cloth, indeed it has not even destroyed the colored parts of the image.”

The second miracle occurred in 1921, when a bomb exploded in close proximity to the Tilma.  The force of the blast shattered the marble flooring, blew out windows 150 meters away, and warped a brass crucifix.  The Tilma and the glass pane protecting it remained unscathed.  Dr. Orozco said, “There are no explanations why the shockwave that broke windows 150 meters afar did not destroy the normal glass that protected the image.  Some people said that the Son by means of the brass crucifix protected the image of His Mother.  The real fact is that we don’t have a natural explanation for this event.”[1]

The eight gates of St. Vibiana’s Cathedral in Los Angeles are the portal to this miraculous manifestation of the power of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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The Gates of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Part 1)

By Christopher Zoukis

There are eight gates, each weighing approximately 700 pounds.  For three-quarters of a century – from 1922 until 1997 – these gold colored gates surrounded the shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe at St. Vibiana’s Cathedral in Los Angeles. 

Traditionally, gates symbolize the threshold of an entrance into a new life and communication between one world and another world.  Gates represent the protective, sheltering aspect of the Great Mother.  In Christianity, the Virgin Mary is the Gate of Heaven.  Passage through the gate, especially for those in spiritual poverty, leads to rekindled spiritual understanding.  Proverbs 8:3 associates the gate with mystical wisdom. 

The eight gates at St. Vibiana’s stood before a shrine commemorating the Virgin of Guadalupe, who, in 1531 appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico.  Her appearance served as a bridge between the old Aztec world and the new world of the conquering Spanish conquistadors.  The miraculous manifestation of the Virgin’s image imprinted on a peasant’s cape[1] was reported to the Vatican.  The Vatican accepted the occurrence as a bona fide miracle, and a sanctuary was erected on the spot in 1533.  In 1695, construction   on a new sanctuary began, followed by the modern Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1976.  Tantamount to the Shroud of Turin, Our Lady of Guadalupe’s shrine remains second in visitors only to the Vatican.  Pilgrims come from all over the world to kneel before the shrine.  Her image, according to the Boston Globe, “May be the most venerated picture in the world.”  She is the benefactor and symbol of Mexico.

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How To Leapfrog From Good to Great

By Jim Collins

Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis

Any company wishing to leap across the chasm separating a good company from a great company needs to re-evaluate its perception of how and why change occurs.  The author, Collins, admonishes those who place their faith in the prevailing myths surrounding corporate change.  He cites seven myths and debunks each one.  For example, great companies “don’t motivate people – their people are self-motivated.”  

Change does not happen miraculously.  Collins’ illustration is the hatching of a chicken from an egg.  From the outside perspective, the hatching appears to be instantaneous.  From the inside – the chicken’s perspective – the hatching is the result of slow growth, development and evolution.  The inference is that change occurs slowly, the result of indentifying and sustaining the direction of the corporation.  Companies do not effect change by changing direction willy-nilly.  Collins calls this type of change the Doom Loop, because it results in further directional changes, which destroy momentum and focus.  Warner-Lambert’s protracted dissolution between 1979 and 1998 is the perfect example.

According to Collins, successful change takes place because of people, which means putting “who before what.”  Collins’ illustration is a bus.  Great CEOs – the bus driver – focus on finding the right people to ride on the bus.  The right people are those who are self-motivated and pursue excellence.  The wrong people are mediocre and produce only mediocrity.  Once the CEO has the right people on board the bus, he/she focuses on the “what,” which is likened to a Hedgehog.

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Conspicuous Consumption

By Christopher Zoukis

According to the psychologists we presently reside in an age of diminishing expectations.  And since all of us are products of this enormous bubble called the ‘social reality,’ we don’t expect much.  We actually believe that the future is “selling less of more.”

In other words, we expect little from life, society and our culture.    

            A syllogism:

            The poor get poorer                               

            The rich get richer

            The poor shop at Wal-Mart.

We become self-fulfilling prophecies.  Because we expect little, we get less.  What we get is:  Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Costco, and other retail behemoths.  These monstrosities are the cancers of an economy based upon mass production.  And mass production demands organized consumption and leisure – “the culture of consumption.”

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Write A Killer Book Proposal

By Christopher Zoukis

Every non-fiction writer needs to know how to write a killer book proposal, because that’s how you get a publishing contract and a nice advance.  A book proposal is composed of seven sections.  Three of those seven sections make up the ‘killer’ elements of your book proposal, so those three sections must be fabulous.

The seven sections are:  

1.  The introduction, which is a one paragraph summary of your book.  The introduction needs to pique the editor’s interest, so he wants to read more.

2.  Purpose, which some writers call “the book hook.”  This is one of the three ‘killer’ parts of your proposal, so make it dazzling.  The Purpose of your book is a one-sentence summary of your book that hooks the editor like a fish.  For example:  Queen of L.A. examines the extravagant life of Gladys Root, one of the first feminists, and the most successful female attorney in U.S. history.

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The Cuban Five: Spies or Heroes?

By Gualdo M. Hidalgo

Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis

In the late 1990s, five foreigners were arrested by the FBI.  The arrests occurred in Florida.  Those arrested were Cuban intelligence officers, who were investigating a group of right-wing Cuban die-hards, who, because they opposed Castro’s socialist regime, were blowing up buildings and killing people in Havana.

In other words, the Cuban five were soldiers in Castro’s war on homegrown terrorism. 

The FBI claimed the five foreigners were spies, so they arrested them, tried them, and sentenced them to prison.  This act increased friction between the U.S. and Cuba, where the Cuban five were (and still are) regarded as heroes.  The Cuban government has made repeated attempts to secure the release of the Cuban five, going so far as to offer the “release of all Cuban political prisoners in exchange.” 

The thesis of Gualdo Hidalgo’s insightful book is that different cultures possess different and wholly individual ways of looking at historical incidents.  Often the difference lies in each culture’s perspective of terrorism.  In other words, Hidalgo maintains that Cuba’s war on terrorism is comparable to the United State’s war on terrorism.  The separating factor is political.

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The Trinity

By Marie D. Jones and Larry Flaxman

Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis

Concerning three, Aristotle wrote, “Three is the first number to which the word ‘all’ has been appropriated.” 

The power of three is ubiquitous.  Famous threes include body, soul, and spirit.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Maiden, Mother,  and Crone.  Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.  Folklore relates three wishes, three rites, three princes or princesses, three weird sisters, and three cheers, along with many, many others.  In other words, three is a very significant symbol.   

This significance is discussed by authors Marie Jones and Larry Flaxman in their new book, The Trinity.  And according to Jones and Flaxman, the power of three is not simply symbolical.  It is real.  Not only is the power of three real, but it can be appropriated by you or me through what we call prayer.  Through prayer, you and I can ask God or the Prime Mover or Atum or the Supreme Mind or whatever you want to call him for tangible or intangible stuff.  And we will receive it (the stuff).

As improbable as it sounds, there is nothing new about this particular use of prayer.  It’s been around for thousands of years.  In today’s world, theologians call it ‘prosperity theology.’  That is, that God or whatever you choose to call him wants you to be prosperous – in body, soul, and spirit – and all you have to do is ask.

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