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Obama is a great speaker and mythmaker but…

Tower of Freedom Underground Railroad Monument on June 17, 2016 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

US President Obama is a great speaker and mythmaker but I think a little mention of Canada’s role in the emancipation of black people would have been appropriate today at the Smithsonian. Obama and many Americans love to paint this myth that the USA is unique and “the greatest.” Some Americans say this so many times that sometimes I wonder if they’re trying to convince themselves. I mean, if you are really secure about something you don’t have to continually brag, do you?

Aside from that, it was a great speech today. I think Obama would have made a superlative first President of the World. But we’re not there yet. And with American exclusivism, it clearly will take some kind of shakeup before most Americans come on board with that idea. I suppose the same could be said for Canadians and for people of many other countries. Each for our own reasons, we remain an assortment of separate states, provinces, territories and jurisdictions.

A quick look at history, however, tells a different story. For the most part, countries are becoming larger, geographically speaking. Is it only a matter of time before we have a centralized government for Planet Earth? I think so. But as I said, we’re not quite there yet.

—MC, Toronto 9/24/16


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Me, myself and I – A balanced approach makes the most sense

Today’s featured tweet points to a surprisingly good, balanced article about different conceptualizations of the human self. I wrote about this at university but, in all honesty, I don’t think the professor in question understood what I was talking about. S/he immigrated to Canada from a communist regime and the years of military oppression seemed to taint his/her thinking and sense of fair play. Either that, or s/he was just always tainted. I’m not sure.

I say this because I had another professor, quite well published, who came to Canada from the same region, under similar circumstances. And s/he was fair and open-minded.  So it seems some can resist the iron grip of communist ideologies while others don’t really care to—or perhaps they are totally unconscious of it. As Carl Jung would have put it, they’re identifying with an archetype or, if you will, they are children of a lesser god.

But I digress. The point is, politics and psychology may be linked, but not necessarily causally. Natural authoritarians may actively seek out and choose to participate in authoritarianism and not simply be victims of it. Whereas others seem to have a clearheaded openness that acts as an safeguard against authoritarianism.

 


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Another (questionable) side of Carl Jung… and Freud too

Jung…was physically large, selfish, bullying and loud of voice; he cheated at games, had a vile temper and appalling table manners; he thought men should be polygamous but that Emma [his wife] should be his alone. He was also narcissistic and unbalanced, coming from a family with severe mental health problems.¹

English: Group photo in front of Clark Univers...

Group photo in front of Clark University Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung; Back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi. Photo taken for Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts publication. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Whew! That’s what my father would have called a “hatchet job.”

Q: Is this a fair assessment of Carl Jung, the psychologist who has inspired many by trying to bridge the gap between psychology and spirituality?

A: I think the tweeted article is important to read, even if definitely slanted. Always good to hear both sides. And, come to think of it, I recall Carl Jung’s son saying much the same thing—that Jung Sr. wasn’t the greatest dad in the world. Also, having studied Jung for several years, I knew about his polygamy. But I hadn’t fully considered – nor heard – that he demanded monogamy from his wife.

While reading the tweeted story I began to think about something I’ve been considering for a while now: Are insights, theories or moral teachings invalidated by the less than admirable behavior of those advancing them?

In the Bible story, if I remember right, Jesus tells others to do what corrupt preachers say but not what they actually do. Jesus is not condemning their good teaching but rather their bad example. I think this is an important distinction to keep in mind. It doesn’t get someone off the hook for being creepy. But it does suggest that, since we’re all ethically imperfect, a realistic and arguably effective approach to life demands a nuanced understanding of how most human beings actually work.

¹ http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/09/emma-jung-and-her-impossible-husband/


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Hey Hillary: From Us ‘Deplorables’

I live in Canada and watch the US electoral hype with a sense of bemusement. Sometimes it seems that the endless commentary at CNN is mostly about media personalities jockeying to advance their careers and, of course, more advertising revenues for CNN. But I also know it’s not quite that simple. The guy who does that amazing podcast at Spotify about the Romans likens the USA to the Roman Empire. In some ways I agree with him. Both fun to study. —MC

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Is Psychiatry Overdoing It With The Diagnoses?

MRT scan of human head

MRT scan of human head (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I go through tons and tons of news stories every day and, not being a computer, cannot read each one fully. I admittedly scan a lot of stuff, looking for good content and also to avoid contentious material that might unduly offend readers or go too far against my own standards.

Back in high school we were taught that speed reading and skimming would be an increasingly important skill as we entered the “new information age.” This was the late 70s, early 80s. And boy oh boy, were they ever right!

So here are two articles that I skimmed earlier today. They differ from extreme anti-psychiatry polemics because they are not anti-psychiatry, but rather, written by someone who was in medical school and yet can still think for themselves (his or her gender is not specified at the web site).

I think anyone who blindly accepts all the latest psychiatric labels should have a quick scan too.


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William Gibson’s influential “Neuromancer” – A thought-provoking review at Stuff Jeff Reads


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From stone cold and lukewarm to beautiful flames of love – you’ll find it all in today’s Catholic Church

“Jesus was a radical who challenged the establishment, while Christianity has been so successful that in much of the world it is the establishment.”

This quote stood out as I went through this morning’s news. It’s from the tweeted article, above.

As a converted Catholic coming from a non-churchgoing Anglican past, I can say that my experience of Catholicism has been layered. On one level the Catholic Mass is a social event, even if you don’t say anything to others. Looks and glaces are exchanged, and anyone who knows the ABCs of non-verbal communication will acknowledged that a lot can be said without saying a word.

Monks have commented on the very real, ongoing relationships they have without saying a word. And I think some parishioners would attest to a similar kind of interpersonal (and sometimes) spiritual dynamic at the Mass.

Others would not, of course. These people tend to make up the chattier, socially visible and physically active layer of the Church. When these folks are nice we call them social butterflies, organizers, leaders, and so on. When they are nasty we call them busybodies, gossips, and backbiters. I have met both types (and combinations thereof) in today’s Church.

On a deeper layer, I always have indisputable spiritual experiences within the Catholic Church. A worldly person might attribute these to “memory,” “association” or “social belonging” but they are dead wrong. The Holy Spirit is strong in the Catholic Church. And it almost instantly enables me to see myself better. But not only only see. The Holy Spirit is also a healer and purifier. Moreover, the heavenly beauty of the Eucharist is something that, sadly, I don’t think all Catholics experience to the same degree. I would venture to guess that it’s their own worldliness, status seeking and the love of prestige that blocks their reception of this heavenly gift.

In a nutshell, if we keep our noses to the ground like animals grubbing in the dirt, we won’t be able to receive gifts from above.

And this is where today’s tweet comes in.

I see humanity as an evolving species. And worldly attitudes, ideas and behavioral routines are a large part of that. I think it was the philosopher Santayana who spoke of well worn paths or psychological channels that humanity trudges along. Almost like rats in a maze or, if you will, horses with blinders, many individuals have erected high walls around their minds. They plod along in the same old direction without thinking about it too much.

This might be necessary to keep things moving in an orderly fashion. But as time goes on, the psychosocial walls, that is, the conventional order, must either fall down or, less drastically, be rearranged or transformed. Otherwise society and the people who comprise it will become blocked, stagnant and fall short of their full potential. — MC