Judaism in the Air

Taking Torah on the road

Even such insular groups as Lubavitcher Jews (www.chabad.org) and the Sikhs (www.sikhs.org) are online. Like Christ's apostles for the new age, everyone is spreading the word.

As the millennial end approaches, watch the proliferation of evangelical and End Times sites (see Eternal Destinies at www.primenet.com/~etdt for a hair-raising example). Technology may be the devil, but it's also the best way to light a flare in our mediated modern night.

— Tamara Fishman

Head End

The Active Side of Infinity (HarperCollins, $25), Carlos Castaneda's final "nonfiction" book on his apprenticeship with Yaqui Indian shaman don Juan, hits stores this month. Castaneda, the reclusive Peruvian-born Californian, died of liver cancer on April 27, 1998. Or, as his more romantic fans prefer to believe, he passed into the "Dark Sea of Awareness," disappearing in a flash of light. The Active Side of Infinity, coincidentally, focuses on the topic of death. Under the tutelage of don Juan, Castaneda brings a wide range of memories and repressed feelings to the surface, essentially making peace with the world before he leaves it for bigger and better things.

The new book combines conceptual theories, Mexican adventures, and faux anthropology. Fans of his peyote-driven classic, The Teachings of Don Juan, will be sorry to hear that this book is drug-free.

Nothing will dissuade the Castaneda loyal from reading and believing everything that takes place in The Active Side, but what of those who question the "nonfiction" label? Beyond the sentimental reality that it's Castaneda's last or the assurance that it will be an easy read— one which won't deviate from its self-created Yaqui-Sorcerer genre— they may not be persuaded.

— Aaron Tillman

Apocalypse Now

Millennium madness rears its many heads as we enter into the new year, and the Internet is the medium through which it roars. Believers in the apocalypse proliferate on the Internet with as much veracity as any old-fashioned fire-and-brimstone sermon.

Are the End Times really here? These sites will tell you how to prepare for the Rapture.

home.cwnet.com/crm/ The Open Scroll: Christian Research Ministries. Discovering the Mysteries of Bible Prophecy in the End Times. Highlights: A Prophetic Schedule Book, Celestial Revelation, and the usage of an encrypted revelation for "The Secured Word."

www.webcom.com/enddays/ Catholic Prophecy On The Coming Great Chastisement And Personal Salvation. You can count on the Roman church to spout out biblical links ad infinitum. If you can't find your salvation here, well, have a nice afterlife.

www.MT.net/~watcher/ UFOs, Aliens & Antichrist: The Angelic Conspiracy & End Times Deception. Way, way out there, but strangely thought-provoking, is the juxtaposition of heavenly bodies with cosmic realities and how everything ties together in a massive upcoming alien invasion— the apocalypse of biblical lore.

www.beastwatch.com Taking The Omen to the next level, this site offers one of the most thorough and step-by-step methods of keeping track of the Antichrist and his minions and saving yourself along the way.

www.mille.org/indexA.html The Center for Millennial Studies takes a scholarly approach that works best when engaged in the Interactive Bibliography compiled by Dr. Ted Daniels.

— Athima Chansanchai

Mind Rinse

Like Seinfeld, Zen meditation is mostly about nothing. At least that's a comparison the people at Still Mind Zendo, an interfaith Zen community, might make. Their routine is simple: remove your shoes, sit on pillows or chairs with open eyes gazing at the floor, and clear your mind, counting to 10 over and over.

It's not as easy as it sounds. I chose to sit on a pillow, my legs crossed. At first, I couldn't count past four without succumbing to random thoughts: the dumb rap hit on Hot 97; buy lettuce on the way home; do my socks smell? With each mundane intrusion, I bounced back to one. After 25 minutes my back ached and my feet grew numb. Despite attending the gym three to four times a week, I found simply sitting still and erect uncomfortable.

When the meditation ended an hour and 45 minutes later, I felt no different (other than a soreness in my lower back) and wasn't sure if I'd come again. However, walking to the subway I felt a refreshing lightness, as if my mind were a blackboard— layered with scribblings and erasures— that had been wiped by a damp cloth. This strange, energizing feeling was the surprising reward for my efforts. Maybe it's worth a second round.

— Ernie Glam

Still Mind Zendo 691-2972, $5 suggested donation

Prayer Port

Airports, so antiseptic and filled with the shrill yammerings of jet-lagged travelers, have always given me the creeps. But a family emergency last October led to my discovery of JFK Airport's interfaith chapel. Strangely, I found comfort there, amid the nasal dronings of an operator paging a passenger and the muffled thuds of luggage skidding across linoleum.

Tucked inside the second floor of International Air Terminal #4, the chapel doubles as a synagogue. Catholic and Protestant services are offered and prayer rugs for Muslim worshipers sprawl in one corner of the room.

JFK's interfaith chapel is one of 32 nationwide, according to Father James Devine, who heads the airport's Our Lady of the Skies Catholic Chapel. "We're here to serve the travelers," explains Devine. "And that is like a ministry of the moment."

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