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“Science, Technology, and Magic” by Umberto Eco

Originally posted on Stuff Jeff Reads:

Image Source: Wikipedia Image Source: Wikipedia

I have to admit that this essay, included in the book Turning Back the Clock: Hot Wars and Media Populism, was not what I expected from the title. I expected an analysis on the similarities between the three, but actually it is an exploration of science is different than technology and magic, which Eco asserts are similar in nature. Honestly, I always considered magic and science to be more alike.

Eco begins his argument by pointing out that technology is not the same as science, but is merely a product of science.

Science is different. The mass media confuse with technology and transmit this confusion to their users, who think that everything scientific is technological, effectively unaware of the dimension proper to science, I mean to say that science of which technology is an application and a consequence but not the primary substance.

Technology gives you…

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Hindus ask Utah school apology for reprimanding student on Hindu dreadlocks

Rajan Zed pic3

Rajan Zed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to

Hindus are critical of Lincoln Academy of Pleasant Grove (Utah) for reportedly reprimanding a student and removing her from class for wearing dreadlocks, which she links to her spiritual journey in Hindu beliefs.

Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that school should offer a public apology to the student and her family who had to unnecessarily go through this harassment, which appeared to be a case of religious infringement.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged Utah State Office of Education, which oversees this school, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Brad C. Smith to institute an enquiry into this incident.

Rajan Zed indicated that the harassment of eighth-grader Caycee Cunningham should be immediately stopped and her religious/spiritual rights be restored.

Zed stressed that following minority religious beliefs by students should not be “distraction” for any school.  Hinduism was oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it deserved the same respect as any other religion.

Rajan Zed explained that many Hindu ascetics sported dreadlocks as a part of religious practice, a sign of renunciation and disregarding vanity.  Lord Shiva, who along with Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu, formed the great triad of Hindu deities, was depicted as wearing matted hair. Rig-Veda, the oldest existing scripture of mankind, talked about “mighty Rudra, the god with braided hair”.

Lincoln Academy, launched in 2005 whose tagline is “inspiring children to excel”, serves students in kindergarten through ninth grade.

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Repentance and Atonement for Jews and Non-Jews

treeretold by Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Her mother once gave her a bag of nails and told her that every time she lost her temper or insulted somebody she must hammer a nail into large tree in the back of their house.

The first day the girl hit 14 nails into the tree. Over the next few weeks, as she learned to control her anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled. She discovered it was easier to hold her temper than to drive those nails into the tree.

Finally the day came when the girl didn’t lose her temper at all. She told her mother about it and the mother suggested that the girl now pull out one nail for each day that she was able to hold her temper. The days passed. Finally, she told her mother that all the nails were gone.

The mother took her daughter by the hand and led her to the tree. She said, “You have done well, my daughter, but look at all the holes in the tree. This tree will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like these.” You can put a knife in a person and draw it out. It does not matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is almost as bad as a physical one.

“How can I fix thetree?” asked the girl. “Will it have to remain damaged forever?”

“Yes and no” said the mother. “Our Rabbis say that if the tree is a special tree called a tree of life, and she responds to the way you have changed, she too can change and heal herself. If the tree is not a tree of life, and is dead to the possibility of your repentance, it will carry its scars onward. The tree will never be as it was before, but she doesn’t have to become like new to be a good tree of life. If you do your part and change, and the tree of life does her part in response, God will do something wonderful.

God will promote a healing that will make you and the tree of life better. This process is called repentance and atonement. It means that the changes that come about from repentance and forgiveness lead people to higher levels of relationship than was the case before the wound took place.”

“What happens if the tree doesn’t respond?” asked the girl. “Can I ever make it whole?”

“Our rabbis say you should try on three different occasions,” said the mother, “but if the tree remains dead even after you have changed, YOU can’t force it to become whole. In that case you should fix another tree somewhere else. There are always lots of other trees that need fixing, and most of them are trees of life.

Whenever you fix a tree of life God will make something wonderful happen. That is the miracle of repentance and atonement. God always responds to our attempts to change for the good, by helping us change; and then always responds to our change for the good, by giving us new and wonderful opportunities for repentance and atonement. This is why we have a Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) ten days after the beginning of every New Year; so the New Year will be a better one than the last one.”

tree1Yom Kippur is September 23 in 2015 and everyone is invited to fix things up with the trees of life in your life.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is:

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How to Determine Your Spiritual Gifts

By Rhonda Jones

Every believer has at least one spiritual gift according to I Corinthians 12:7, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” God has given every one of us at least one spiritual gift to edify the Body of Christ. Although we all have a spiritual gift, we often do not know exactly what that gift is or how it should be used. Four Biblical passages provide the basis for teachings concerning spiritual gifts, specifically Romans 12:1-12; I Corinthians 12:1-31, I Peter 4:7-14and Ephesians 4:1-15.

Spiritual gifts are meant to serve the Body of Christ in the pursuit to fulfill the great commission. The three categories of spiritual gifts include the motivational gifts, service gifts and the manifestation gifts. The motivational gifts are often referred to as the speaking gifts such as evangelism and exhortation. Gifts of service usually involve ministries that supply a need, like the food or usher board ministries. The manifestation gifts include gifts of healing, speaking in tongues or any gift that produces a result that can be seen or touched.

Learning what gifts God has given you through the Holy Spirit is a life changing experience. Once you know what gifts God has placed in you, it is easier to move into the purpose for which God has created you. If you are not confident in knowing what gifts you possess, there are steps to bring you closer to knowing your purpose.

Candlemas Day

Candlemas Day via Wikipedia

Step One: Listen to Your Heart

What are you happiest doing? What are you good at by nature? Knowing what brings your heart joy is the first step to discovering your spiritual gift. Often we operate unknowingly in our gifts, but on a much smaller scale than God would desire. Your natural reaction to a situation will offer insight to what gifts you possess. A person with the gift of exhortation will immediately begin to encourage someone facing an obstacle, while a person with the gift of intercession will immediately turn to prayer. A person with the gift of service will try to find a task that would lift some of the burden. Make a true observation of your heart; it will not lead you in the wrong direction as long as you are seeking God.

Step Two: Spiritual Gift Assessment

After you observe your heart, the follow up step is an assessment. A self-analysis of your strengths and interests will assist you with understanding specific areas of ministry for your talents. Evaluations vary in number and complexity of the questions and in their scoring methods, but often the results are relatively accurate. Assessments only provide a basis, they are not meant to replace seeking God to reveal your spiritual gifts. Primarily assessments spotlight gifts, such as faith, wisdom, discernment, or other qualities designed to glorify God. Free assessments are available with immediate results on the web.

Step Three: Pray

If you believe you have discovered your spiritual gift, ask God to confirm your discovery. The Bible tells us to do all things with prayer and supplication! Sometimes we learn how to do things and we learn certain responses, but it is not our true gift. God is the one who placed the gift inside you and he will let you know if you are on the right track. Even after you discover your gift, you must continue to pray. Prayer will help you remain faithful and humble in the use of your gift. Prayer will allow you to walk honestly and whole-heartedly in your gifts.

Step Four: Exercise your Gift

After you have discovered your spiritual gifts, learn to exercise them. Exercising what you believe to be your gift is the final determining factor of whether you posses a certain gift. For example, if you discover that intercession is your spiritual gift, but you find that you can never find anything to pray about, this may not actually be your gift. Likewise, if you believe you have the gift of exhortation, but feel like encouraging someone might be intruding, this may not be your gift. If you believe you have a gift, exercise it. If there is not a sense of fulfillment or joy just from exercising the gift (and not from affirmations by people), you may need to continue to seek God to reveal your gifts to you.

After you determine your spiritual gifts, continue to pray. The most important thing to remember is that gifts are given to edify the body of Christ and should never be used to promote negativity or competition. Ultimately, the gift still belongs to God and any power associated with the gift comes from God. Equally, any results from the use of your gift are up to God and are at his discretion. You do not bear the weight of “making” your gift work. You simply pray for opportunities to use your gift and an understanding of your gift.

About the Author

Learn about Guided Christian Meditation CDs and resources that will enhance your life and relationship with God. Are you ready to transform your life and live with more purpose and passion? Visit Detox Your Life Now and & Awaken Your Inner Spirit to learn about this 10-week Christian faith-based program.

Article Source: How to Determine Your Spiritual Gifts


Death – The Final Frontier?

I recently began an article on different beliefs about the afterlife. The first sentence went something like “Every culture has its own beliefs about the afterlife.” Almost immediately I realized this was pretty much wrong. Maybe in the old days different cultures contained large groups of people adhering to specific religious doctrines. But not today.

Some might disagree, noting that there are an estimated 1.2 billion Catholics out there—a huge faith group that believes in the afterlife as taught by the Vatican. Well, yes and no. From my experience as a Catholic, people tend to have their own private views. Get to know them a little better and their opinions leak out.

For instance, one person I knew was a Greeter at their local Catholic church, and they quietly believed in the idea of universal salvation. That means that everyone gets to heaven sooner or later, not just the pious on Earth or those in purgatory. This person was an upright Catholic, respected by many, who held this secret “radical” belief (The Vatican does not endorse the idea of universal salvation, but says that hell is eternal).

Afterlife (TV series)

Afterlife (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another Catholic person I knew was enamored with Benny Hinn, a former Catholic schoolteacher who made little swipes against the Catholic Church on TV.

Let’s face it. The world is fragmented and complicated. Even in the old days it was. Some scholars might, for instance, say that the ancient Mesopotamians believed in a shadowy underworld. But did everyone? Surely there were some hard core materialists back then who would have viewed the whole afterlife idea as rubbish.

To take another example, in ancient India there was a school of thought called Charvaka, which advocated materialism. And yet some Indians and believers in Hinduism see India’s ancient spiritual traditions as a backdrop to that country’s unique status as the “guru of the world.”

Again, not all saw nor see it that way.

Instead of going through the major world religions and their beliefs about the afterlife, I thought a more hands-on approach would be more informative. But I need your help. I’m going to ask what you believe.

So here we go. These are some guidelines to get you thinking. Please don’t feel obliged to answer all of these points.

  • What happens after we die?
  • Do we go on?
  • Why?
  • In what form?
  • Is it good or bad?
  • Do we disappear into oblivion?

Your thoughts would be very much appreciated. If we get enough replies here, perhaps I’ll republish this as a new article.


Michael Clark, Ph.D.


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Negative Entities and Their Removal

Originally posted on Shamagaia:

Space-Invaders-by-RonesImage source:

A Multi-dimensional Wake Up Call

One of the hardest facts of coming to terms with our multi-dimensional nature, is that we share the subtle energetic ecology of the astral planes with other beings who are not always friendly. Some in fact, can be downright nasty and pathological.

Sorry folks, the astral planes, just like the physical ones, are not always sweetness and light. But rather than putting our heads in the sand, and living in dangerous denial of the shadow — which unfortunately, many spiritual seekers tend to do — let’s look this issue square in the eye, and try to dissolve some of the ignorance and fear which allows such negativity to get a hold of us in the first place.

Chronic denial of shadow, can be an aspect of spiritual addiction. For more, see

Perfectionism and Spiritual Addiction

Negative Entities: What are They?

Note: this…

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Pope Francis Visits A Declining Catholic Church

English: Percentage of Catholics in the World

Percentage of Catholics in the World (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Rabbi Allen S. Maller

A new Pew Research survey of 5,122 U.S. adults, (including 1,016 self-identified Catholics) finds that the Catholic church’s share of the religious marketplace is down from 23.9 percent in 2007 to 20 percent in the new survey, conducted in May and June of 2015.

The new survey goes beyond the standard tally of how many people say their religious identity is Catholic. It asks many questions that Pew has not asked before.

Pew found that in addition to the 20 percent who are Catholics, 9 percent of U.S. adults are “cultural Catholics”. Reared as Catholics they no longer identify themselves as Catholic. However, they still consider themselves somewhat Catholic by culture, ancestry, ethnicity or family tradition.

Pew also identified another 9 percent of Americans as ex-Catholics — “lapsed” or “fallen-away” Catholics — who were reared in the church but have turned their backs on it. This would mean that almost one quarter (9 of 38) of cradle Catholics are no longer Catholic.

“We see enormous differences between cultural Catholics and ex-Catholics,” said Greg Smith, associate director of religion research at Pew.

“Cultural Catholics exhibit a significant degree of openness to the church,” he said, “whereas ex-Catholics have cut their ties. Asked directly, ‘Could you see yourself ever returning’ to a Catholic religious identity, 4 in 10 cultural Catholics say yes, but 90 percent of ex-Catholics say no”.

Many of the ex-Catholics have become evangelical Protestants; or Conservative or Reform Jews (almost half of all converts to Judaism are former Catholics).

While the Roman Catholic church is getting smaller, those who remain within the church are stronger in their faith: 7 in 10 U.S. Catholics say they cannot ever imagine leaving the Catholic Church, no matter what. That means that in the future losses should be less.

The Pew survey found that most remaining Catholics align church teachings they consider “essential” to what it means to be Catholic. Leading the list: 68 percent cite a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; 62 percent list helping the poor and needy; 54 percent cite receiving the sacraments and devotion to Mary.

But only a minority see addressing climate change (29 percent) or opposing abortion (33 percent) as “essential” to their Catholic identity. Catholics are evenly divided over whether it is sinful to spend money on luxuries without also giving to the poor. Neither do most see it as a sin to use energy without concern for the impact on the environment.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is:


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