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Today’s Top Tweet – Can you petition the Lord with prayer?

I was happy to see this (tweeted) web page today. We need more talk about parapsychology. Awareness and intelligent debate about parapsychology and its link to spirituality (and nuttiness) could help those overly invested in the medical perspective on self and others.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-psychiatry. Far from it. Medications can help, short and maybe even long term. But anyone concerned with their overall health would be wise to consider alternatives. Different approaches might enable some to discontinue their meds. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but over the long haul. And that would be a good thing. Not only would their bodies like it. Others on our planet would be happier too (see Drugs in the Water).

Glancing over the articles in today’s tweet, I see a problem that often crops up with parapsychology research: The method does not match the madness, if you’ll pardon my pun.

A Japanese man bowing in prayer at the Kamakur...

A Japanese man bowing in prayer at the Kamakura shrine. from original to remove black space (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take, for example, intercessory prayer. One article concludes that intercessory prayer has no verifiable effect on health. But this begs at least two questions:

  • What kind of intercessory prayer?
  • What kind of health?

Intercessory prayer takes different forms. One is vocal (or internally vocal) and the other is more contemplative and quiet.

For me, the latter is more effective. I often liken vocal prayer to using a squirt gun to put out a fire, while contemplative prayer is more like rolling out a heavy duty fire hose. Kids play with squirt guns. Adults risk their lives with fire hoses.

Mind you, all prayer is good and we’re all different. At the same time, I think there are differences in power between vocal and contemplative prayer.

But I could be wrong. Only God knows for sure.

The second question – What type of health? – is actually related to the first.

Intercession may not be visible to everyone. But I believe it helps us, psychologically and spiritually. And contrary to what some religious people say (especially those who pass themselves off as saints while behaving more like angry nuts), I believe intercession is a multi-directional interpersonal dynamic. It’s not just one-way.

Intercession may involve degrees of effectiveness but my analogy of squirt guns and fire hoses is only that. An analogy.  Life is far more nuanced than putting out a fire.

And it takes all types to make life complete. 🙂


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Today’s Top Tweet – RT (Russian Television)… life after the zombie apocalypse?

We get RT through our cable package. Every now and then it’s fun to watch. You get a totally – and I mean totally – different slant on the news. Coverage of Europe seems a bit better than the major American and Canadian networks. But what really struck me last night was the coverage of the US.

With an almost obsessive focus on the States, RT showed clips of a seemingly harmless group of anarchist protesters being clubbed by American police in LA. In this case, I don’t think the video was lying. But I’m not sure if it was the 1992 riot or something more recent.

Members of the Toronto Police Force

Members of the Toronto Police Force (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The scenes reminded me of a time, a few years back, when people questioned whether Toronto police were too heavy-handed during a G20 protest.

If a news network were to repeat a few choice clips of that Toronto event, it could make Canada look like, well, the Russian front!

But the point is, on the whole our cops are pretty decent people who do a good job, and a very difficult and dangerous job to boot. And I suspect it’s the same in the US.

Sadly, the veneer of civilization is pretty thin. This was painfully evident during a Toronto blackout a few years ago.

Before long people began to vandalize and rob. I began to feel scared. Would the downtown mobs reach my North Toronto neighborhood? A nearby bus shelter was trashed, shattered glass everywhere. They got close.

English: Plainclothes Officers -- circa 1919

Plainclothes Officers — circa 1919 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even in our enlightened age, it seems that life without cops would quickly revert to jungle life.

But I digress.

To return to RT, except for a story about apparently innocent athletes tested for drugs, I also noticed a dearth of news about Russia, itself. Always this obsessive attention to other countries. And the anchors, forgive me for saying, look like they are slightly doped. Say the wrong thing and God knows what happens to them. Even Larry King, whom I used to admire, has a show on RT. I’m not sure what’s worse. That, or his cheesy paid for TV interview/ads.

Speaking of ads, I didn’t see any on RT. Just lots of filler between news stories. Promos for RT.

By way of contrast, CNN’s Carol Costello seems so alive this morning and certainly NOT drugged. A real personality. I wonder what it is about Russians and their history that has lead to these dull, controlled mouthpieces we see on their news? Whatever happened to Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Gogol, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky? Clearly not all Russians seem like they’re auditioning for a zombie flick.

Why don’t the people stand up?


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Today’s Top Tweet X2 – Do we need a new game for a new era?

The Human Use of Human Beings

The Human Use of Human Beings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I first discovered The Conversation I was excited. I’m always looking for fresh material at Earthpages.org, and The Conversation seemed to be a cornucopia of Creative Commons material.

However, only researchers actively employed or funded are allowed to contribute. So that means any second- or third-rate thinker who gets their job or funding through a potentially corrupt system of patronage can write there. But smart people who don’t get academic jobs or funding – because they’re too clean or different – can’t write there.

This shortcoming is pretty evident in these two tweeted articles. Sure, the articles contain a reasonable amount of fairly well written material. Academics, be they cronies, stooges or not, need to perform to some degree. But also present is the usual constriction of thought that most academic game players must adhere to or simply exhibit. And it’s that very constriction of thought that earthpages.org and earthpages.ca intends to surpass.

Comment – I don’t believe we’ve ever had nonpartisan news. Different papers have always appealed to different markets.

Comment – Gosh. Back in high school we learned about checking sources and evaluating arguments. Just because someone uses the magical word “algorithm” doesn’t mean that it points to truth. This word is so common today. But it seems to mystify more than explain. Another case of human beings being duped by scientism?


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Peace on Earth

Image via Tumblr / hymncharts.com

Image via Tumblr / hymncharts.com

Late last night there were just a handful of stores open in my area. I drove out to the all night pharmacy to pick up some last minute items for tonight’s feast. The rattle and din of the usual Christmas traffic had all died down. And I felt it. I finally felt it!

The Christmas spirit!

When I got home that magical feeling finally hit home. A quiet city. Children asleep in their beds, dreaming of new toys and, I guess in the 21st century, all the latest gizmos. Also to remember on a night like that are the poor who have no one to celebrate with. I wondered about a man at my parish who lives outside in the harsh winter cold. Was he desolate? Happy? I can’t know.

I recall one Christmas when I lived by a Salvation Army Mission in downtown Ottawa. One man who simply went by the name “Animal” yelled out loud Christmas morning,

IT’S CHRISTMAS!

That really summed it up for me. A street person, yelling out in joy, that is was Christmas morning. Animal knew what it was all about.

Merry Christmas to everyone who wishes to celebrate it!

Image via Tumblr

Image via Tumblr


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Is Spirituality for Losers?

I liked this tweet because over the years some folks have confronted me in one way or another, saying things like “What if you’re wrong and there is no afterlife? You’ll have wasted your whole life, investing yourself in something that doesn’t exist!

My response to that person was that my spirituality enriches my life, here and now. And Arti Gupta’s response to a similar kind of skepticism is, I think, appropriate for the Christmas season.

For me, Christmastime includes quiet reflection on the birth of Christ. Not that I’m against party people in Santa hats who couldn’t give a hoot about Jesus. That’s fine too. But for me, there’s so much more than mere revelry.

Image via Tumblr

Image via Tumblr


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Today’s Top Tweet – The Herd Mentality

Remember Y2K? How about those Mayan prophecies about the end of the world? Some people made a lot of money out of all that hype. Today I’m wondering if some – certainly not all – of the media pundits realize just how good Trump is for their own particular business.

Human beings tend to see themselves as smarter than animals. At least, a lot of us do. But when huge groups of people react emotionally instead of rationally, getting all whipped up into a frenzy, I really have to wonder sometimes.

God gave us reason for a reason. Let’s use it.


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Today’s Top Tweet – Is psychiatry “fixated” at a base level of human understanding?

Is psychiatry “fixated” at a base level of human understanding? Generally speaking, I would say yes and no.

Yes… because individual spirituality is often suspect in psychiatric circles. We’ve all heard the phrase “magical thinking.” Problem is, some people really are on the edge, and not in a good way. So that only reinforces psychiatry’s potential marginalization of sane, non-violent individuals who might be pioneers in redefining how we, as human beings, relate to God and all of creation.

No… because psychiatry does recognize recognized religions. That means it’s okay, from the psychiatric perspective, to identify with traditional “Catholics”—a social group that tends to closet or turn a blind eye to in-house gays while at the same time calling homosexuality disordered. Contradictory?

Having said that, there are always exceptions. Some psychiatrists no doubt are more open-minded and aware than others. Contrary to what the APA and other “Royal Colleges” would have us believe, there is variation among psychiatrists, just as there are exceptions and variations among Catholics and Catholic priests.

Sociologically, psychiatry is a lot like a religion. And its ever-changing DSM∞ is reminiscent of new interpretations of religious scripture. If practitioners in a given “school” deviate too far, they’re out. So even those who think freely must toe the line or lose their jobs, in both psychiatry and religion.