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The Pyramids – Afterlife portals or symbols of worldly power?

Inside the Pyramid

Inside the Pyramid: Ricardo Liberato via Flickr

Pyramids are really just a big billboard that says “the richest guy in Egypt is buried here” – Quora

In the 1976 playoffs the Toronto Maple Leafs made it to the semi-finals against the Philadelphia Flyers. This was pretty rare back then because the Leafs had been floundering for years. The fad at the time was pyramid power. All along the Leaf bench pyramids could be seen. The club thought it was bringing them good luck. They lost anyhow.

A couple of years later the British musician Alan Parsons released an album called Pyramid. Pink Floyd had already released Dark Side of the Moon (1973) with a prism – a miniature pyramid – on the album cover.

Pyramids had taken off in pop culture…

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Poststructuralism – Another label to be avoided?

Saint Foucault

Saint Foucault by Sándor Iskender via Flickr

Poststructuralism could be defined as an approach to knowledge that appeared in the social sciences during the 1960s to 70s as a reaction to or outgrowth of structuralism.

The term poststructuralism was chic within academic circles during the mid-1980s to early-90s, after which time ‘postmodernism’ became the trendy term, aided perhaps by figures like Jean Baudrillard who made headline-grabbing comments about America’s involvement in the Gulf War.

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Time to stop pretending that counselling is objective?

I’ve heard stories about misogynist counselors blaming the wife for a bad marriage because she looked the counselor straight in the eye. To this defensive creep, that indicated that the woman was “aggressive.”

Is it time to admit that counselling is a human enterprise unlike any other? The mask of objectivity and the associated “neutral” tones of the counselor cannot hide the fact that everyone is biased in some way.

Reputable counselors will concede this point and still try to help, acknowledging their limitations. But others, well, could we say “power trip”?


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What does it mean to be spiritual?

What does it mean to be spiritual?

File 20171115 19836 uy2yzs.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Increasingly, North American millennials identify as spiritual as opposed to religious. To them, part of this spirituality means being compassionate, empathetic and open-hearted.
(Shutterstock)

Galen Watts, Queen’s University, Ontario

Spirituality has become a kind of buzzword in today’s culture, especially for the millennial generation. Increasingly, North Americans identify as spiritual as opposed to religious.

What is behind the rising popularity of spirituality without religion? Some critics have suggested it is a byproduct of the self-obsessed culture of today, evidence of a narcissism epidemic. This criticism is similar to that launched at the millennial generation (born between 1980-2000) in general, what some scholars have called “Generation Me.

Although I don’t disagree with these characterizations, I believe there is more to the story. Since 2015 I have conducted in-depth research with Canadian millennials, interviewing 33 Canadian millennials who self-identify as spiritual but not religious — in order to better understand their beliefs and practices.

I believe when people call themselves spiritual they are basically signaling three things: first, that they believe there is more to the world than meets the eye, that is to say, more than the mere material. Second, that they try to attend to their inner life — to their mental and emotional states — in the hopes of gaining a certain kind of self-knowledge. Third, that they value the following virtues: being compassionate, empathetic and open-hearted.

Questions about meaning and value in the world

The origins of the word “spirituality,” in the context of Christian theology, lie in the Latin noun spiritualitas, which derived from the Greek noun pneuma, meaning spirit. Interestingly, “spirit” in its original context was not the opposite of the “physical” or “material,” but of “flesh,” or everything that is not of God. Therefore a “spiritual person,” in its original Christian sense, was simply a person within whom the Spirit of God dwelt.

Despite this, among the millennials I’ve interviewed, “spirituality” is generally contrasted with “materiality.” It therefore gestures towards that which we require to live, but which we cannot perceive or measure.

Religion, many conventionally think, attends to the field of human experience that concerns our most fundamental questions — questions of meaning, purpose and value. But since the Enlightenment, many individuals in North Atlantic countries have developed a self-understanding of themselves as secular, or modern.

For many, religion does not seem like a viable option. It seems outdated, or at odds with a scientific understanding of the world (or, at least parts of it do). Yet, despite this shift, questions of meaning, purpose and value remain.

Moreover, for many of my study participants, science is incapable of adequately answering some of life’s most crucial questions: What is beauty? How should I relate to the natural world? To whom (or what) should I commit my life? Why be just? What is justice?

Although science can provide answers to these questions, the answers rarely inspire my participants as they would like them to. And for many, science’s answers simply don’t suffice to help them live their lives as they experience them.

So when people speak of spirituality they are generally invoking some framework of meaning that enables them to make sense of that which, for them, science fails to address.

This is why atheists, agnostics and believers can all — and often do — identify as spiritual. One need not believe in God in order to have questions that scientific materialism cannot answer.

Western culture too focused on material success

The second aspect of spirituality involves a move inward, or an attention to one’s inner life, often as a means of honouring the immaterial dimensions of life. Most of my study participants think contemporary Western culture is far too outward focused, glorifying material success and procurement at the expense of the things that really matter.

They would agree with the famous cultural critic Erich Fromm, who in the 1970s argued modern societies emphasize having things as opposed to just being. Spirituality stresses the importance of attuning to our inner life — both as a way of resisting the constant pressure our culture exerts to value what lies outside of us, as well as a means of finding a place of refuge.

This is one reason why, for instance, environmentalists have often endorsed spirituality. One of the major causes of climate change and environmental destruction, these environmentalists argue, is the never-ending quest for economic growth, fuelled by a capitalist logic of acquisition and expansion.

The Dalai Lama once said, while the West was busy exploring outer space, the East was busy exploring inner space.
(Shutterstock)

The Dalai Lama once quipped, while the West was busy exploring outer space, the East was busy exploring inner space. Regardless of the veracity of this generalization, he was getting at something that many of my study participants feel: that contemporary societies in the western world are structured in such a way that silence and stillness are the exception, not the rule.

When millennials say they are seeking to become more spiritual, they are often saying that they are trying to resist this trend.

Looking inward to act more wisely

For many millennials looking inward is an ethical endeavour. Being spiritual to them implies seeking to better understand one’s inner life in order to act more wisely in the world. For many, becoming more contemplative or aware of their inner life allows them to interact with others in a way that is less reactive, less harmful and more authentic to who they think themselves to be.

Thus, there are certain virtues which have come to be associated with spirituality: compassion, empathy and open-heartedness. These virtues naturally flow out of the introspection inherent to spirituality because they ultimately require a high level of self-knowledge. That is, knowledge of why we hold the beliefs we do, knowledge of why we act in certain ways, and most importantly, knowledge of our interdependence.

This knowledge — acquired either through practices like meditation, self-reflection and (in some cases) psychotherapy — leads one to become more sensitive to the emotions of others, and even to one’s surrounding environments, both social and natural.

Many millennials believe contemporary societies in the western world are structured in such a way that silence and stillness are the exception, not the rule.
(Shutterstock)

Thus the path inward, in its best form, is not rooted in narcissism but rather based in a robust ethicality — a willingness to face one’s demons in order to better understand the human condition.

For some, this path inward is ultimately about self-transformation, or transcending one’s early childhood programming and achieving a certain kind of self-mastery. For others, it entails attuning themselves to the immaterial dimensions of life.

The framework I’ve sketched above doesn’t exhaust the full range of meanings the term spirituality invokes. Nor am I suggesting that all individuals who fit the above description are necessarily spiritual. I only mean to propose that these three characteristics cover a lot of what millennials mean when they call themselves spiritual.

What I’ve outlined should not lead readers to think that all millennials who call themselves spiritual live these ethical ideals. Our ability to realize our ethical ideals depends not only our own willingness, but also the social and economic constraints that we live within.

Thus my current research seeks to better understand lived spirituality, or, how spirituality operates in people’s everyday lives. Ultimately, more research needs to be done to better understand this emerging trend.

The ConversationAs the number of people who identify as “spiritual” continues to climb, it is likely that spirituality will come to shape North American societies in important and enduring ways.

Galen Watts, PhD Candidate in the Cultural Studies Graduate Program, Queen’s University, Ontario

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 Our Calvinism Spared Us From Modernity: (brothersjuddblog.com)

 Higher Criticism, Darwinism, & the Loss of Western Culture (patheos.com)

 The Six Commandments? Christians feel four of the ten are no longer important (telegraph.co.uk)

 Minister Fuses Yoga and Christianity (prweb.com)

 Western philosophy is racist (aeon.co)

 In Photos: Cremated Buddha Remains and Buddha Statues (livescience.com)

 Is this blasphemous? (quinersdiner.com)


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Cut toxic people out of your life

This is so true. Something I’ve been writing about for a long time. Part of the problem, I think, is that toxic people don’t know they are toxic. Just as it is perfectly natural for an animal to try to get into your garbage on a regular basis, toxic people rationalize their hypocritical activity.

Same thing with madpersons. Mad people do not know they are mad. That’s why we need a larger community to contain the disturbed ones before they do real harm to individuals or to society as a whole.

Not an easy topic but ignoring it will not make it go away.

 Evangelical quits Church of England leadership over ‘heretical’ stance on sexuality (telegraph.co.uk)


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The leaves need raking… car needs an oil change… but at least Twitter doubled its char. limit!

I’m a bit behind in realizing that Twitter implemented its controversial character limit change.

I have a bad cold to blame. Most of my household chores have been on hold while I’ve been trying to sleep off a nasty virus. It’s been a week so far. Seems that I’m coming around the bend and will be better in another week or so. When I get sick I really get sick.

Anyhow, this morning I guess I recovered enough to twig into the fact that I could add more commentary to my tweets. I really like this change. Expect to see more tweets with commentary right here! 280 characters (the new limit) is perfect imo.

When a student I liked writing footnotes most. Compacting info into tight spaces. 140 chars was just a bit too tight. 280 works for me! Here are some examples from browsing today’s news:


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Religious people have a brain so why don’t some use it?

 

Star Trek – All Our Yesterdays via http://tos.trekcore.com

The title of this article is meant to be tongue in cheek. Obviously some religious people are bright and apply intelligence to their faith and practice. But there is a sector that seems to blindly accept whatever a particular religion teaches.

I met one of these folks last night at church. S/he seemed like a nice person but after speaking with him/her for a while, I automatically tuned out while s/he rambled on with the usual Catholico-paranoido-hypocritico Beware! The world is sending you to hell! preaching.

Walking back to where I had parked, it felt like I had time traveled in a way. I’d just spoken to a medieval person. That is, someone with a medieval mindset. It reminded me of the Star Trek TOS episode “All Our Yesterdays” where Captain Kirk is sent to a planet resembling Earth’s Middle Ages. An unkempt woman hears Kirk speaking to his invisible crewmates through a portal and hisses that Kirk is a witch. Meanwhile, the fearful and rigid male authorities imprison him.

“Witch… Witch… you’re going to burn, WITCH!” – Star Trek – All Our Yesterdays via http://tos.trekcore.com

That scenario of the Middles Ages, however, is a simplification. Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D. points out that Medieval people could be just as complex as us—despite not having access to computers, the internet and smartphones.

So what is going on with some religious people these days?

We all have pretty much the same sized brain. But apparently there’s a catch. Neuropsychology tells us that some brain regions are more specialized than others. So we develop a greater density of neural pathways in our strong areas, usually at the expense of other less developed areas. Everyone differs here. Some might be strong in abstract thinking, like Einstein. Others in artistic processing, like Picasso.

To be fair, the person I spoke with last night did make me think. Sometimes it’s good to get the Beware of Hell! sermon. It makes us look at ourselves and clean up any areas in need of improvement. If we’re sincere, that is. I know some Christians who are so distasteful or obsessive that I can’t associate with them.

But I digress.

The upshot of last night’s encounter was that I felt like I’m still on track with Earthpages. I imagine some religious persons will see the site as satanic and delving into the devil’s paranormal world. Especially with recent articles like Psi – Good, evil, real or fantasy?

To me, these people are like those stubborn, ignorant characters in Trek’s “All Our Yesterdays.” For some reason they have developed a bigotry-fear complex, and so far haven’t cultivated the knowledge and analytical skills to circumvent it.

I mean, what else would it be?

 Trinity reveal eight rare and fascinating ancient manuscripts online (irishcentral.com)

 Is this blasphemous? (quinersdiner.com)

 Does Religious Liberty Apply to All Religions? (washingtonmonthly.com)

 Our Calvinism Spared Us From Modernity: (brothersjuddblog.com)

 Civilization VI To Deepen Religion And Fix Various Annoyances In Its Next Big Update (wccftech.com)

 Bow down to the new robot religion (hotair.com)