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In an effort to return to a regular weekend schedule, I present the creme de la creme of my web browsing put together in a mere five days time, and still overflowing with thoughtful, touching, funny and poignant goodness.  Today I have peer support, intuition, schizophrenia, salience, religiosity, spirituality, diet soda, cotton candy, and a bunch of other vaguely defined subjects.  So pull up a chair, sit down and dig in to the absolute best I could find on the internet- Read the rest of this entry »

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A couple of the research blogs I follow lately have had some insight that really struck me as they fought off dualism in regards to the thorny issue of psychological vs. physical addiction and the brain, arguing that the elimination of mind and body distinctions is a good thing, as addictive pathways are real, physical represented by neuronal circuits.

This is an interesting argument, that collapsing psychology to the brain mechanisms brain can erase stigma by medicalizing it and making it a matter of physical function.    In addiction it makes quite a bit of sense.  We know what part of the brain is being stimulated, that dopamine reward pathways are building and feeding the habit.  The derogatory statement, “It’s all in your head,” remains technically true, but loses its bite when you can explain it in such a real and tangible way. Read the rest of this entry »

First Published May 21, 2008

If there is one thing that can make religion unpopular in today’s pluralistic society, It is the idea of claiming access to exclusive truth.  On my mission I learned firsthand how the act of sending someone to your door is felt deeply offensive for so many people.  It is one reason religion is just something you are not supposed to talk about, in the interest of keeping peace.  Religion is simultaneously deeply personal and deeply divisive. 

     When you feel a strong spiritual bond of community, spirituality and faith, the proselyting of others is seen as an assault on everything you stand for.  At the same time, helping others see what you have and sharing it also becomes important the more invested you become and the more joy you find in your faith.  Calm assurance that you are “right” has been used to justify coercion, violence and even genocide against outsiders through history.  This in spite of the fact that such actions are almost always roundly condemned in the holy writings of all the faiths involved. Read the rest of this entry »

     Whether its Moses parting the Red Sea, Jesus rising from the dead, Mohammed riding a winged horse of fire up into heaven, or the Angel Moroni appearing to Joseph Smith to lead him to an ancient record written by his own hand on gold plates, all the World’s great religions are founded upon miracles. They are fantastic and dramatic, and awe inspiring. They are also generally ridiculed and looked down upon in today’s “evidence based” world. To believe in miracles is to be gullible. In today’s world there must always be an explanation.

Read the rest of this entry »

” …I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.”

     Doctrine and Covenants 6:21

    The Optic Nerves are the two most important cranial nerves in the body.  They account for 40% of all the sensory neurons in the entire nervous system, and contain 1 million nerve fibers each.  This is by far the most sensory input of any nerve in the body.   The trigeminal nerve, which gives our face its sense of touch, pain, temperature and vibration is a distant second at 140,000 nerve fibers.   The auditory nerve is third with just 30,000 nerve fibers.  By the numbers, vision is by far the most important sense in humans.  

      Most cranial nerves join into the very primitive part of the brain found in all mammals, called the brainstem.  The Optic and the Olfactory (smell) nerves and the only two that connect to the newer part of the brain, the neocortex, The folded, convoluted part that is far more developed in mankind than any other animal.   This turns out to be critical to the development of civilization itself. Read the rest of this entry »

24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.

Luke 4:24

These are the words uttered by Jesus Christ at the start of his ministry, which he had just announced in front of the very people he grew up with in Nazareth, in rather bold fashion in fulfillment of Scripture.  These are the words sung by Joan Osborne, trying to picture what our reaction would be if God were among us as man–

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home…

Back up to heaven all alone
Nobody calling on the phone
‘cept for the Pope maybe in Rome

I can imagine few things would be more crushing than expectations for anyone claiming to be a prophet.  What exactly does a prophet look like?  What do they do for fun?  Can they joke, smile, laugh, play?  Are they all curmudgeons?   What is to be the key prophetic characteristic?  Brash, bold, solemn, quiet dignity, old, wizened, unkempt, loving, serene, crazed, severe, scolding, bearded, mystical, wise, charismatic, learned, with plenty of experience or a complete lack thereof? I am not entirely sure.  I am quite sure that in any case being human is very likely to get in the way of anyone believing any claim for them to be what they are.

Samuel, the boy prophet Read the rest of this entry »

 

If there is one thing that can make religion unpopular in today’s pluralistic society, It is the idea of claiming access to exclusive truth.  On my mission I learned firsthand how the act of sending someone to your door is felt deeply offensive for so many people.  It is one reason religion is just something you are not supposed to talk about, in the interest of keeping peace.  Religion is simultaneously deeply personal and deeply divisive. 

     When you feel a strong spiritual bond of community, spirituality and faith, the proselyting of others is seen as an assault on everything you stand for.  At the same time, helping others see what you have and sharing it also becomes important the more invested you become and the more joy you find in your faith.  Calm assurance that you are “right” has been used to justify coercion, violence and even genocide against outsiders through history.  This in spite of the fact that such actions are almost always roundly condemned in the holy writings of all the faiths involved. Read the rest of this entry »

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