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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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Embracing the Shadow – Inner Peace Tip by Catherine VanWetter

iconic void by Gisela Giardino via Flickr

by Catherine VanWetter

Debbie Ford, who wrote the book, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, has finished a movie called “The Shadow’. It was released June 26, 2009 and is available for purchase. It is a movie well worth watching.

I have been following Debbie’s work for years and had the opportunity to meet her at the Chopra Center in LaJolla, California, and again at the Coronado Hotel in California.

Debbie’s workshops focuses on that part of ourselves that we push away and that we are ashamed of. It’s that part of our self that we don’t like and try to hide. The shadow is sneaky and can show up as a sarcastic remark, as judgment, or in criticism. When uncovered, it often laughs, as if to soften the edges of being dishonest, cruel or unfaithful.

Carl Jung, a psychoanalysis, coined the phrase shadow to describe those places in us that are often buried deep in our unconscious. The parts of our self that we try to forget about and hope that no one sees it. Everyone has a shadow. Whenever we are not in love, joy or light, we are in the shadow.

I work with individuals and groups who want to uncover their shadow thus shedding some light onto it. They have come to a place in their life where the shadow part of them brings them so much grief and pain, that they want to get to the core of it. It takes courage to do this depth of work because we often go into those places in us that we would just as soon ignore but that keep coming up, reminding us of their existence. It’s like having a thorn in our side. We’re aware that it is there and yet it is illusive and shows up as addictions, distractions, anxiety and depression, to name just a few.

Between Shadows by loquenoves / Pía

Between Shadows by loquenoves / Pía via Flickr

Throughout my years of training and self-healing, I have begun to come to a place of peace within myself, and my shadow. My sense is that the shadow’s initial intention was to protect us. One of the ways that the shadow did this was to help us feel that we were connected to those around us and that we had something in common with others. We could talk negatively of someone, gossip, and “puff” ourselves up because we thought that we were better than the one that was being ridiculed. Yet, that part that we didn’t like in someone else often was a part in us that we didn’t like. This is where the ego plays a huge part in the shadow. If we are proven wrong, the ego expands, and if we are successful in hiding our shadow it expands as well. Often people who begin to get in touch with their shadow may have the dark night of the soul or several, where the parts of them that are no longer working show up in the middle of the night as they are trying to sleep. It’s that anxiety attack that seemingly comes out of nowhere waking them from a deep peaceful slumber.

As one begins to notice the shadow and shed compassion light on it, then the true work of resolving that part can occur. Until we have compassion for that part of our self and become aware of it, as a witness, we will not be able to embrace it. The shadow shows us duality. With the dark is the light. There are saints and there are sinners. This duality allows us to see the contrast that we walk in everyday. It’s finding the balance and honoring all of our self, especially the shadow. By doing this we can heal that shadowy part that has kept us from our pure essence of light, love and joy.

St. Peter Healing the Sick with His Shadow 00.jpg

St. Peter Healing the Sick with His Shadow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The times that we are in are challenging and as a result are activating many people’s shadows. It’s showing up as road rage, pervasive anxiety, violence, corruption, and betrayal. The shadow is appearing in ways that is evasive and often sneaks up on us when we are not conscious, when we’re stressed out or tired. To become aware of our shadow and how it shows up our life is to begin noticing it. It’s in the noticing that we can begin to come to terms with it, and to begin to heal that part of our self that has been deeply wounded. Give yourself permission to begin this sacred healing through gentle noticing and deep awareness. You may be very surprised at the gems you find deep within your shadows.

About the Author:

Catherine VanWetter is a Holistic Family Healing Practitioner trained in a variety of healing techniques that help people find Inner Peace Through Generational Family Healing. She invites you to be gentle, compassionate, and courageous as you put down your weapon of choice and step into a field of Grace. Additional information on this and similar topics are available at Catherine’s website, blog and radio program “Inspirations of the Heart”. Catherine invites you to a complimentary copy of her Morning Meditation, Welcoming A New Day. All may be found at

Article Source: Embracing the Shadow – Inner Peace Tip by Catherine VanWetter

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The History of Tattoos

by Becky McClure

The word, Tattoo, comes from the Polynesian word, “tatao” which means “to tap” or “to mark something.”Captain James Cook introduced this word to the English during his voyage around the world in 1769. Captain Cook and his crew of the ship, The Endeavour, were welcomed with open arms by the friendly and uninhibited Tahitians (yeah, that means many of them were naked.) Since the weather was very warm on the island, clothing was optional.

The Tahitians tried to look their best by decorating their bodies. But the fact of the matter was the application of tattoos, which was painful. It was done by dipping a sharp-pointed comb into lampblack and then hammering it into the skin. Nonetheless, everybody did it.

A woman showing images tattooed or painted on ...

A woman showing images tattooed or painted on her upper body, 1907. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As word of tattooing in Tahiti and other Polynesian islands spread, the European sailors began to get tattooed themselves. This probably illustrated why tattoos were looked upon with such a lack of credibility in the early days and were considered as a kind of thing suitable for drunkards, sailors and criminals.

Modern archeology has uncovered the practice of tattoos in many ancient cultures all over the world.

In 1992, in the Alps between the border of Austria and Italy, a perfectly preserved body of a man was found. He was estimated to have lived 5,000 years ago! And he had 58 tattoos all over his body.

Mummies from the ancient Egyptians had tattoos.

Clay figurines found in Japan dated 3,000 years ago were engraved with tattoo marks.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used tattoos to identify slaves and criminals.

But tattooing has only become acceptable in the mainstream society recently. Tattoo shops and parlors were nothing more than wretched hives of scum and villainy, located in the seediest parts of most towns have undergone significant changes.

English: Tattos of Cross on Croatian women in ...

English: Tattos of Cross on Croatian women in Bosnia and Herzegovina were defence from Ottoman Turks Hrvatski: Tetovaže križa i ostalih kršćanskih simbola na hrvatskim ženama u Bosni i Hercegovini bile su obrana od Osmanlija. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tattooing has really become popular with sports athletes. No one can forget the now-retired flamboyant NBA forward, Dennis Rodman, whose body was a tattooing canvas. A more current example is Allen Iverson of the Philly 76’ers. The tattooing trend is getting really popular in college basketball. And the trickle-down effect is appearing on high school athletes. Some old-fashion coaches forbidden any display of tattoos which meant some basketball players has to play with a t-shirt under their game jersey. Football fans can’t miss the barbed wire tattoos on the well-developed arms of football players.

The popular show, “Miami Ink,” from TLC is a reality-based show. The show’s popularity demonstrates just how mainstream the art of body art or “inking” has become. And it gives the viewers a look into the skill and history of both the artists and their customers.

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Liminal and Liminoid

English: Rock concert at The Hexagon The band ...

Rock concert at The Hexagon The band are Jethro Tull, performing an acoustic number. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Expert from my blog… read more here

Browsing through my library, I recently found some interesting material on the idea of liminality. You’d think I’d know all about this concept; it’s right up my alley. But as things go, I’ve only made note of it until now.

Some quick research on Wiki produced these two links. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in religion and the related idea of numinosity. Of particular interest is the distinction anthropologist Victor Turner makes between the liminal and the liminoid. The one is structured and expected by society, and more like work (e.g. going to Church); the other is free and playful (e.g. going to a rock concert). But both apparently have similar effects. They transport you somewhere out of the ordinary.

This second link is an interview with Talal Asad. I was pleasantly surprised to discover his views on postmodernism and religion. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. And it’s always great to find an “established” thinker who’s saying things that you’ve already thought about. It gives you a sense of reinforcement and encouragement. After all, a single innovative thinker is often ignored or marginalized (as has been my experience). More than one, however, and people begin to take notice.

Apart from my personal story, I really believe that humanity would benefit from using all of the intellectual tools we have at our disposal… especially with regard to religion and society.



Common interpretation and meanings related to dreams about trees or parts of a tree

Image via Tumblr

By Alex B

Dreaming about a tree represents a symbol related to one’s personal life and individuality of the person experiencing this vision. The shape of the tree in a dream is a subjective representation and reflection of this person’s or someone else’s, who is very close to the person, life situation and personal existence with relation to other people’s lives.

A tree in a dream, depending on its kind and state can be a symbol carrying a lot of meanings, both positive and negative, which can be describing dreamer’s body conditions and state, indication about health and physical wellness, ability to grow both physically and intellectually, personal achievements and progress with work as well as connection to the genealogical tree and immediate family or predecessors.

A tree in a dream can also be a representation of how studying and acquiring knowledge is progressing and even how they might affect the life of a person who happened to dream about this symbolic image. It can equally be a simple way for subconscious mind to tell people about their life course and reflect their direct or indirect relationship with others around them (these meanings will largely depend on in what conditions a tree was growing and what kind of a tree shape it has been seen: large, small, a tree with stunted growth, a perfectly shaped or a dwarf tree, a dry or a dead tree).

Tree branches seen in a dream are a symbol of hidden abilities and secret desires or aspirations. Some sources describe dreaming about a tree trunk as an indication of problems related to the dreamer’s spinal cord and basic health conditions which need to be looked at more closely or with more attention. Upper branches and canopy of a tree in a dream point out our connection to the outer space , ability to express ourselves spiritually and find ways to be able to deal with everyday life while relying on a higher levels of cognition and striving for balanced and self-fulfilling future.

Tree roots in a dream are usually what they symbolize in a wake life, they represent basic needs for our existence, connection with ancestors and inner urge to care about humankind or certain people we communicate with on a everyday basis (family, close friends, co-workers or relatives). Tree roots can also be a sign or financial stability and independence, propensity to accumulate wealth and provide for our family.

Tree leaves with all their various shapes, colors and sizes and depending on what state they were seen while dreaming represent subconscious concerns and worries related to personal private life, something we have been going through recently and our current state of consciousness. It is important to note here that even small details in a dream related to tree foliage can affect interpretation of its meaning and help to uncover positive or negative message these dreams may contain.

The overarching meaning related to dreams about trees can be described as development and growth in time, either for an individual or for relationships and personal connections this individual creates in his or her personal life with other people. Some dream interpretation sources make reference to dreaming about a ‘universal’ tree, an entity which represents the universe we exist in and which carries a special meaning when our mind tries to grasp the fact they exist and learn more about cosmic forces or objects in space which perplex and astonish us by their magnitude.

Lastly, dreaming about trees under certain weather conditions or with seasonal patterns can also reveal a multitude of interpretations and symbolic meanings. Many dream interpretation sources describe dreaming about healthy trees with lush foliage as a sign of personal wellness and material wealth, while dreaming about dry trees stripped of foliage signify times of loneliness and hardship. Depending on a season (winter, summer, spring, autumn), dreams about trees are interpreted as symbols related to the beginning of a new relationship or exciting and fulfilling career or less promising or inspiring outcomes, such as periods of hard work and the need to choose priorities in life in order to succeed or being able to handle many things simultaneously.

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The brain and the gut are more connected than you’d think

Intuitives, shamans and mystics have known for many years that the brain is not the entire person. While psychiatrists tend to focus on the brain, this can be misleading. The human being is a whole person, to include body, soul and a relationship with God.

To exclusively focus on the brain seems superficial to some, dangerous to others. Luckily, however, modern research is beginning to realize the inadequacy of purely brain-based psychiatry. Last night I saw this video with author David Perlmutter:

At first glance I thought Perlmutter was just another new age, health huckster who will say or do anything to peddle his book. But once he began to speak, I realized he was an intelligent, articulate proponent of the idea that the brain and the gut are intimately connected.

Dont get me wrong. I agree that the brain is crucial. But it’s not alone. It’s part of a total organism located in a physical, social and spiritual environment.


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