Showing posts from January, 2010

Mind over matter

One of the teacher candidates I supervise teaches biology and life science. He handed me a science magazine for youth with an article that fits right into my theme of spiritual power over physical reality. Wim Hof, a 50-year-old athlete from the Netherlands, climbs into a tank wearing only a pair of shorts and is buried up to his neck in ice. This would kill me and you in about an hour. Not Hof, who emerges healthy and comfortable. And not Tibetan Buddhist monks, who achieve the same. The monks, wearing only loincloths, meditate in below-freezing temperatures at high altitudes. By visualizing fire and heat, they are said to be able to control the flow of blood in their bodies and stay warm, resisting frostbite and hypothermia. In one amazing feat, the near-naked monks are draped in wet sheets while they sit on glacial ice. Within minutes, their bodies dry the cold sheets. The ice around them melts too. I don’t know what physicalists would say about this—maybe that it shows “God” is ph

God in the brain? 2

My friend Tina: I know this sounds a bit "far out" but after my brother John died this past year, I went to see a local psychic who lives in my neighborhood and has a good reputation locally. I wanted to know if John had "crossed over" or not, as his consciousness was so intermittent. He did come through with her to reassure me that he had . . . he mentioned a situation only he and I knew of, so I was convinced it was his spirit. She described him as looking vibrant with a thick dark mustache and hair. And when he told her "death is the only sure cure for aging," we (the psychic Dona and I) both laughed. She said that was a good one and she would have to remember that. I’m not pushing psychics. I know there are many kind of shady ones. But I had previous knowledge about her so wanted to share this to perhaps help you picture psychics as healthy. Now to my skeptical friend whom I quoted a few posts ago. He thinks that if our “brains got turned off, there

“Why God hates Haiti”

This is the title of Lisa Miller’s column in Newsweek . She quotes Western religious attempts to crack the mystery of theodicy—why does God let bad things happen? None of the attempts gets past the limiting habit of discussing spiritual reality (“God”) as if it were an individual “He.” A more answerable question is, Why do disasters induce deeper relationships with Spirit? Why do tragedies turn people toward spiritual reflection? Being jolted out of ordinary existence prods us to look deeper than surface existence. It plunges us to a depth where Spirit reigns and we can’t deny It. In shock we yearn for and stumble toward greater purpose and meaning than caring for creature comforts. Bad things happen. Evil is part of reality. This is easier to accept with a more abstract notion of Spirit than a theistic god with humanlike mind and will as Westerners imagine Spirit. In the face of Infinite Immensity we intuit a Force that cannot be fathomed, and we are humbled. P.S. Sure, I know intelle

God in the brain?

I got a fascinating response to the previous post and here are pieces of that email conversation. David Steeves wrote that he read Varieties of Religious Experience years ago and it helped him to keep an open mind. Science is bound by rules regarding quantifiable events. In other words, if it can’t be measured, it’s not open to scientific inquiry. Religions and questions of god are by nature not quantifiable, so I doubt that science will ever have an answer to the question of god’s existence. I have kept an open mind because I have experienced and seen things which are not quantifiable. One simple example happened years ago and is not religious. I witnessed a glass ashtray which weighed about 14 oz., jump about 8 inch into the air all by itself and break in half. It then fell back down in two pieces and lay where it landed with no further motion. I picked it up and looked it all over. It was room temperature, the break was very clean, no splinters, and nothing was attached to the


An epiphany is a manifestation of divinity. It can happen unexpectedly in any circumstance. Most scientists refuse to believe that real epiphanies happen, which leads me to the topic for today. Yesterday the Christian feast of Epiphany celebrated the wise men visiting the infant Jesus. In church I was disappointed that the homilist, a learned, highly-respected scripture scholar, spoke of the Magi story in the Gospel of Matthew as if it were fact. I nodded when he encouraged us to discern the direction of divine guidance at this beginning of a new era, expecting him to throw an inclusive light on the subject, but he floored me with his narrow interpretation. He upheld the Christian claim that Jesus is the only Son of God and savior of the whole world, even adding the self-serving, christo-centric claim that Jesus saves Hindus, Buddhists, etc.etc, even if they don’t know it. I’m sure that, if questioned, he would be quick to agree in a politically correct way that other religions ha