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Panentheism – Nope… it’s not a spelling mistake…

Over at Earthpages.ca I’ve been doing some heavy duty revising. It’s my way of being a scholar and journalist at the same time. If only I got paid for it!

Oh well, better to try to do the right thing than to peddle products in the name of God. So many ‘squeaky clean’ Christians do that and, frankly, it turns me off big time.

For me, washing the inside of the cup is far more important than washing the outside (Matthew 23:26). Keeping both sides clean is best. But given a choice, the inside is what counts most.

What does this mean?

Usually when I hear Catholic homilies about this teaching they seem to fall short. Catholicism is great but, let’s face it, there’s a lot of worldliness too.

Some people gloss over it. Others repress it. But it’s there. I guess that’s why I’m not a priest or a monk. I would have liked to have been. But it’s just too much polishing up the outside while ignoring the inside.

Familiar patterns may be necessary. But they can also be used as a crutch to prevent real change. Inner change. Reel off the printed prayers, go to confession, give the ‘offering,’ and you get to heaven!

Hmm. I’m not convinced.

As any priest or preacher worth their salt will emphasize, what matters most is internal change. We have to dig deep into our own faults and not dismiss them as “weakness” but, rather, work toward eradicating them. Not easy. And it takes time. But anything else is just whitewash.

But I digress. My intent here is to introduce another entry about different ways people conceptualize God. Panentheism is not a spelling mistake. It’s just another variety in the endless chain of trying to make sense of something far bigger than ourselves.

 Why it was once unthinkable for a US president to be seen with the Pope(businessinsider.com)

 Gay Catholic sitcom The Real O’Neals got cancelled and homophobes are overjoyed (pinknews.co.uk)

 Chris Selley: Saskatchewan ruling on Catholic schools could be historic – if it holds up (news.nationalpost.com)

 Why hasn’t there been a Catholic President since JFK? (irishcentral.com)

 There’s literally a startup accelerator at the Vatican now (mashable.com)

 Pope names cardinals for Laos, Mali, Sweden, Spain, El Salvador (japantimes.co.jp)

 Stephen Colbert won in another debate about the existence of God with Ricky Gervais (businessinsider.com)

 Ondo CAN Preaches Religious Tolerance Among Nigerians (sundiatapost.com)

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New Anti-Corruption Masters Degree in Vienna

When I saw this I wanted to add “that should be a laugh” to the tweet but there was no room for more characters.

However, I shouldn’t be too cynical. When I had just finished my PhD I found only one sociology reference book (by Blackwell, I think) that even listed the topic. It said that corruption was a relatively new topic for the social sciences due to the difficulties in studying it. So true.

At least this course is making a stab at it. Some discourse is always better than no discourse.


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Today’s Top Tweet – Corruption: Hiding the skunk at the garden party?

A study has recently come out about corruption around the world. There are a few factors that make me question it.

First, criminals usually don’t report their crimes. So things could be, and probably are, much worse than what we see. Only those insider deals, bribes (given and taken) that have been officially dealt with hit the radar.

Second, human bias is unavoidable and, third, corruption within the corruption indexing system, itself, is also possible.

For political and economic reasons, blind eyes could be turned toward home affairs while faraway countries are highlighted. This is called scapegoating. Scapegoating happens within small and large groups. It’s a pretty common human dynamic among people who can’t or don’t want to look at themselves honestly. Or among people who do know themselves fairly well but wish to mislead others for (perceived) personal gain.

The former are just ignorant. The latter, creeps.


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Today’s Top Tweet – Corruption… Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves

Today’s top tweet actually comes from yesterday. I’ve been busy learning Linux (read here) so the news – or at least my commenting on it – has taken a temporary back seat.

But I’ve more or less figured out enough Linux to do the news with it. So here I go…

About today’s tweet…

When I won a scholarship to study in India I was a naive North American. I had a few misconceptions:

One… I thought Canada and the US were basically the same. Two… I thought large scale corruption only took place in seedy, faraway countries.

Image - wikimedia.org

Image – wikimedia.org

So when in India, I was offended by its obvious, in-your-face corruption.

This was the mid-to-late 1980s and you couldn’t miss it. I’m not sure about today. The last time I visited India was around 1991.

To make a long story short… on returning to Canada and the Canadian academic system, I was happy. I even felt – at the beginning – that I had found a new ‘family.’ A group of honorable people dedicated to learning and knowledge in areas I was becoming increasingly interested in — in my case, Psychology and Religion.

http://www.transparency.org/policy_re...

World Map Index of perception of corruption 2010 (Image: Wikipedia)

A few years later, however, my new ‘family’ proved to be just as weird and dysfunctional as any biological family can be. And I realized that corruption is not just an Asian thing. These days I believe it’s everywhere. We just hide it better in the West.

So I usually laugh at global measures of corruption… corruption “indexes” and so on.

Can a broken yardstick accurately measure another broken yardstick?

No. Obviously not. Measures of corruption, themselves, are inherently biased. Possibly even corrupt, themselves. That’s why I welcome today’s top tweet. We need to realize this.

Corruption isn’t just a topic for disgruntled outsiders shafted by the system. It’s something that hurts us all. And the longer we turn a blind eye to corruption, the longer it will do its damage to real people, here and abroad.


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Is university still a place to question and explore?

As far back as 1992 in a graduate studies methodology course I questioned the psychiatric model – not dismissing it, mind you, but questioning it. After all, that’s what we’re supposed to do in academia, right? University is not a church or a political party. It’s a place where the mind can explore new possibilities and critique existing conditions.

Sadly, the professor who hosted the course was a capricious, cynical stooge. He is alleged to have said that “a university is a place where a professor can get a paycheck.” And after initially agreeing to write letters of recommendation for post-doc scholarships, at the last minute, just before application deadlines, he changed his mind and literally shafted me.

“Shafted” might sound like a harsh word but it’s the very word the Department Head at the time used to describe what happened, later on, when I was also not given the chance to teach a course, which is important to your CV.

Sensing that my academic future was on the line, I went through every legitimate government agency, asking for help. Everybody just passed the buck and I didn’t get a fair chance to compete for a post-doc scholarship. (I had a fantastic track record for getting funding before running into this professor).

I suppose there is some value in seeing the dark side of life along with the sunny side. Until meeting this professor, I was the apple of just about every professor’s eye. I’d hear comments like “It’s Michael Clark and all the other students.” Or “She is not as good as you.” (“she” being a leading student). “What would we do without you, Mike!” Michael Clark is “stellar,” “outstanding,” and I could go on. But when I encountered this dishonorable professor, the dynamic changed.

Let’s not fool ourselves. University is as politically charged and potentially corrupt as any other social institution. The higher you go, the more you see it. I was naïve at the time and could not understand why one crummy professor’s actions could seemingly influence so many others. But that’s what apparently happened. Many professors who once glowingly supported me suddenly did not return my emails. Some had integrity and hung in there, and for that I am truly appreciative. However, the ones who did try to help were mostly undergraduate professors. And that just doesn’t cut it when you need several letters of recommendation for post-doc funding (My Masters professors were all in India, which in the 1990s was still a difficult place to communicate with, and I was not given adequate time for snail mail).

The professor who shafted me would have known all this. In his jaded, cynical way, he was clever. He tried to slough me off by suggesting I go see my “Peterborough people” after changing his mind about supporting me. (Peterborough, Ontario is where I did my undergraduate studies).

Weird? Not really. I see it more clearly now. But I don’t like to use overly nasty words at this blog. It would alienate readers and get the site designated as mature, which would only hinder any chance of getting a more positive message out there.

Anyhow, today’s tweet brought back a lot of memories. I wrote about the DSM-III-R from a cross-cultural perspective back in 1992-93. I was moderate and didn’t romanticize things. I recognized that people with mental injury or differences often do suffer.

But it only took one creepy professor with a bit of imo questionable power to put me in the academic trash can. He was the kind of professor who was often seen volunteering in the department mail room when the mail room secretary wasn’t around. But he would rarely, if ever, show up at colloquia and graduate presentations. It seems he liked to sift through the mail more than talk about intellectual issues, which in retrospect seems pretty strange to me. No time for academic debate? Lots of time to play mail boy?

Little did this enigmatic professor know, however, that out of the ashes, Earthpages.org | Earthpages.ca would arise. So even though I’m not getting paid for doing this blog, at least the internet has provided a forum that one lousy, authoritarian professor tried to shut down.

I mean, this guy may have had power in Religious Studies within the Canadian system. But he couldn’t shut down Google. And Google US recognized the value of Earthpages well before any search engines north of the border did. A little nod to my American friends. 🙂


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Today’s Top Tweets – and a great new time saving feature!

I’m a bit like Donald Trump in the sense that I want to get as much done as possible with the least amount of menial labor. So I like automated feeds, flipping information around the web and back into Earthpages because it means less coding and more living. (Okay, some see coding as a way of life but that’s not me.)

When I say “automated feeds” I’m not talking about those useless scripts that gather just any old news story and plaster it to your website or blog. Nope. I go through each story and personally choose those which are a good fit for Earthpages.org. And, if time permits, I try to comment. Commenting allows me to show readers two things:

  1. I don’t agree with everything I post
  2. I don’t NOT post things because I disagree with them

To not post things you disagree with is just commie-fascism. And I do not see that as the best way to go about trying to inform and elevate readers! However, there are some things I do not post because imo they are so dark or misguided that I don’t want to reinforce them in any way. Posting articles gives publicity to some extent.

So one has to really think about it.

I just wanted to clarify this before implementing my new time-saving feature. And that is… when relevant, I will link to a page that I have already highlighted. The highlighting should appear in most devices. I’ve tested it with Chrome and Firefox, and with my iPhone. So even if I don’t have time to comment, at least I have highlighted portions of an article that I feel are most crucial.

Basically this saves both of us time. And that’s a good thing!

I have highlighted the following but want to add that Big Data is fine as long as it’s not used by Big Brother. Hitler used big data, in a sense. The following enthusiastic case for big data in psychiatry overlooks the dark side of possible abuses by those in power. Also, the text highlighted in blue overlooks the fact that there is much debate about so-called biomarkers in psychiatry.


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Today’s Top Tweets

Today’s another day where I won’t have time to comment on these stories until later. So I thought I’d just list my favs for now: