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Remembrance Day, St. Michael’s Cathedral

In memory of all those who gave their lives, health and livelihoods to preserve the ideals of freedom. These are ideals which we should never take for granted. And I believe they could be easily lost if the struggle between good and evil went too far in the wrong direction. That’s why we have to use our gift of freedom to say what we mean and mean what we say. Otherwise, the truth could be swallowed up in a murky sea of political correctness and hypocrisy.


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Today’s Top Tweet – Mysticism hits the mainstream

Today’s top tweet points to a story about an Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) exhibit claiming that mysticism has the power to save our violent, secular society.

It’s a nice sentiment and I’m happy to see the topic of mysticism reach a mainstream venue. But, really, it’s not that simple. Most religious traditions and depth psychologist point to the belief that dark, “downward” mysticism coincides with light, “upward” mysticism. And most spiritual people believe that we are always tempted by the former.

So those with unresolved psychological issues are more likely to fall prey to – even come to enjoy, in a twisted way – the “power of the dark side,” as the Star Wars saying goes.

Art Gallery of Ontario at dusk. Toronto, Ontar...

Art Gallery of Ontario at dusk. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bible also talks about a struggle with dark forces in high places. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe evil rulers on Earth being influenced by the numinous power of Satan. But the point is, there’s always struggle. And mysticism alone won’t solve that. However, good ethical choices will help. That’s a bright ray of hope that empowers us all.


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A Little Sunday Reading…

I just updated a 2009 earthpages.ca entry about Rastafarianism. I’ve been meaning to update this for several days but partly because I wasn’t feeling motivated and partly because I was busy with other things, I didn’t get around to it till today.

It seems that if I wait and do an entry when the spirit moves me, the outcome is much better than just “trying to get the damn thing done,” as I’ve been guilty of in the past.🙂


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New ways of thinking about psychological discomfort and distress

Note – As we see on CNN and elsewhere, for educational purposes the following talks about the n-word (in reference to black people) and the f-word (in reference to gay people) 

Today’s tweeted story reminds me of a somewhat unpopular viewpoint of mine and a few others.

I don’t expect this view to be embraced overnight. In my opinion society is not yet in a place to fully get it. Sometimes I feel like a feminist, black or gay rights activist must have felt in the 1940s. It’s not too hard to imagine how most people back then would have reacted to innovative thinkers concerned with social justice. And it is not so different, I believe with the idea of mental illness.

The word “illness” lends support and legitimacy to the current medical model. And the term is used so often that to simply question it is usually met with indifference or, worse, hostility.

But there are other ways of looking at psychological discomfort and distress. Ways that involve personal transformation, spirituality and, yes, our largely unknown and mysterious universe.

Catholic devotional image of Saint Dymphna, the patron of those afflicted with mental and nervous disorders

Catholic devotional image of Saint Dymphna, the patron saint of those with mental and nervous afflictions

So when I see the term “mental illness” a red flag goes up.

Several corporations have launched “Let’s talk about mental illness” campaigns. I’m not certain how sincere these campaigns are. They may be genuine. They may also be an effort to publicly shine with the hope of boosting profits. Possibly both.

But what concerns me most is the persistent and widespread use of the phrase mental illness.

Consider:

  • In the doctor’s office I saw a sign that read, FACE MENTAL ILLNESS
  • On an Ontario highway a large billboard said I GOT MY DEGREE DESPITE MY MENTAL ILLNESS, replete with a smiling, slightly unusual looking woman wearing a mortarboard
  • At Catholic Mass a Jesuit priest and a Monsignor repeatedly offer up prayers “for those suffering from mental illness”

And, as I say, corporations regularly advocate discussion and promote charities for “mental illness.”

Sounds good, right?

Well, not to me. Sometimes I’ve felt that these drives are tantamount to saying something like:

  • It’s okay to be a n*****
  • Face being a n*****
  • I got my degree despite being a n*****
  • We offer our prayers for the n*****s among us
  • Let’s talk about being a n*****
  • BEING A N***** IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. BUT STIGMA AND BIAS SHAME US ALL

Or, perhaps, something like:

  • It’s okay to be a f**
  • Face being a f**
  • I got my degree despite being a f**
  • We offer our prayers for the f**s among us
  • Let’s talk about being a f**
  • BEING A F** IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. BUT STIGMA AND BIAS SHAME US ALL

If that’s not clear enough, I am alluding to the old, pejorative n-word once commonly used for black people, and the old pejorative f-word once widely used for gays.

For those who question or see beyond the overly medicalized understanding of psychological suffering, many signs and slogans about so-called mental illness seem strangely paradoxical and indicate just how unenlightened we are in 21st century.

It’s time to not just talk about mental illness in the mainstream sense, but also about the negative and limiting connotations carried by the very phrase, mental illness. This phrase is widely and unconsciously used today, just as the n- and f-words were once ignorantly tossed about in the past.

Words have power. They affect how people think and act. And the built-in assumptions and implications of many words can be harmful or helpful.

So I offer this perspective as something to think about. It’s time to talk. Not unconsciously, just kicking the same old ideas around—but consciously, with open, discerning minds.

About the Author

Michael Clark did his PhD in Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa, Canada (1997). His doctoral thesis focuses on Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity and Michel Foucault’s postmodern theory.


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Roger Scruton’s Critique of Scientism in the New Atlantis

Roger Scruton is an English philosopher who has published some very readable books about philosophy and God. I own a couple and was pleased to see this blog about scientism… that is, shoddy stuff posing as good science. Personally, I think a lot of science is actually scientism. But because many practitioners with conscious (or unconscious) vested interests have done such a good job in hoodwinking the masses, mine is not a popular opinion.🙂

Compassion in Politics: Christian Social Entrepreneurship, Education Innovation, & Base of the Pyramid/BOP Solutions

We are persons, and personality is of our essence.

Flowing from personality, there are concepts that play an organizing role in our experience — concepts like ornament, melody, duty, and freedom — but belong to no scientific theory because they divide up the world in a way that no natural science could countenance. Science tells us a lot about the ordered sequences of pitched sounds; but it tells us nothing about melodies. A melody is not an acoustical but a musical object. And musical objects belong to the purely intentional realm: they are about something else; they are imbued with meaning; they are sounds as we self-conscious beings experience and relate to them. The concept of the person is like the concept of a melody. It features in our way of perceiving and relating to each other, but it does not “carry over” into the science of what we are…

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Major update to entry on James Randi, the Canadian/American debunker of spiritual and paranormal truth claims


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The youth of today… faster, sharper..?

In response to the above tweet, I get a little tired of harping on the same theme day in and day out. So I thought I’d just link to something I said yesterday. The following tweet pretty well sums up how I feel about the hegemony of science in the early 21st century. The older I get, the more it seems young people are hoodwinked by the splendor of science and especially tech. Their minds may seem faster and sharper than the previous generation. But are they really THINKING?

Some are, thank God. But some others, OMG!