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My own recent deficiencies notwithstanding, this has been an especially powerful and abundant week for the mind, soul and body on the Internet.  There is more to share than I had room for.  It sometimes seems I spend more time bringing everyone else’s work than I do in my own writing, but know this- I do it especially for you, the reader.  What good is wisdom and knowledge if not shared among people.  So partake and enjoy the best of the Internet- Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

I just wanted to announce that the twice monthly Brainblogging carnival is out and excellent as always, moving beyond the neuroscience into more personal psychosocial side of the brain. It seems I am becoming a something of a regular contributor there, which is both flattering and humbling. Many thanks.

Also this weekend is time for the semiannual conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, something of a spiritual feast for myself as we Mormons get to hear from those we hold to be living prophets and apostles proclaim God’s message to us today. Any interested are welcome to listen in. I have also found it is sometimes interesting to get other’s reactions at the LDS Bloggernaccle various open threads found here, here, here, and here.

Here is the remaining best of the web in what has been a very, very interesting week, especially for you, the reader. Read the rest of this entry »

MS NBC has a beautiful little story about a relatively new phenomenon, perinatal hospice and the experience of having a child with a fatal prenatal diagnosis given before birth. (hat tip to PalliMed). Scientists have now unlocked the entire human genome, madly dashing to figure out what the function of each piece is. As a result our ability to test for genetic disease has exploded for an entire host of conditions. Unfortunately, diagnosing is a lot different than treating or curing. Knowing what is coming most often does not include being able to treat it or improving outcomes.

In many ways this is a throwback to the medicine of past centuries. Back then, doctors didn’t have a lot of effective treatments, so they made house calls, they learned to comfort patients, and be of whatever assistance they could. Childbirth was vastly different then as well. Infant mortality was much higher. Names weren’t picked out until you knew the child was okay. Attachment and hope were much more cautious.

My chosen specialty is often like this, though less often than you might think. There is an old joke about neurologists being admirers of disease rather than treaters. This is becoming less true everyday, but like most stereotypes, maybe had a small kernel of truth at its base, now distorted and stretched by the generalization. The sad truth is, any pediatric subspecialty is going to have more than its fair share of heartache and incurable conditions. And so, my heart went out to this family. I can relate. We doctors have to learn to deal with grief too. We love to bottle it up and this has led more than one physician on the fast track to burnout.

It makes me wonder what the impetus is for developing these gene tests. Too often in Obstetrics, it feels like the entire point of prenatal testing is to abort the pregnancy should it be deemed “defective”. I know this isn’t always the case. Being given time to adjust, grieve and mourn a very real loss can be helpful to so many families in this situation. Often, the worst part for families dealing with childhood illness is not having a diagnosis. Even if you can’t treat it, there is real relief in giving it a name and description of what to expect. It is not my wish to stand in judgement of any parent who has faced such a very difficult situation. Certainly facing the choice of “terminating” vs palliative care is heartbreaking either way. I have to say I was absolutely floored by the video interview of this family and the courage they took in loving, embracing, and caring for their child with Edward’s syndrome for the duration of its very brief life.

It would have been so easy not to get attached. It would have been simple not to mourn. It is the default protection response of many. It is a form of denial, the first stage of grief. I think it stops the grieving process dead in its tracks, and can make a family sick. You never get the chance to try to make peace with the tragedy.

I think this story is a beautiful example of what can be gained by not giving in to this impulse. In short, families are allowed to grieve, to cherish a memory and their short time with the baby. Then they can heal. Sometimes we need to allow pain to wash over and immerse us in order to move on and be healed. We need to grieve, and grieve fully.

The number of families that choose to carry a pregnancy with a terminal diagnosis to term is unknown, but definitely a small minority. They face family and friends who are often baffled by their decision not to terminate. One small British study showed that the number of families who choose this options reached 40% when perinatal hospice is offered. This tells me there are many who would like to see, spend time with, and know their infant and be able to tell them good bye. They just need a little help and support in doing so. What a wonderful cause.

Anyone who is interested in learning more, supporting, or referring a friend to perinatal hospice can find information at Http://www.perinatalhospice.org

He who fears he shall suffer, already suffers what he fears. ~Montaigne, Essays, 1512     

  Fear is a very primitive emotion, setting off a chain reaction of events that pumps our blood full of adrenaline, raises our heartbeat, tenses our muscles, expends our energy, and quickens our thoughts. This is the essence of the so called “fight or flight mode.” It is very necessary for our physical survival that we recognize danger and react to it. Its result is a complete shutting off of higher centers in the brain, in order to focus all our faculties on a threat.

     While fear is good for survival, the behavior that results has lead to some of the ugliest, most savage, animalistic atrocities that our race is capable of.

Read the rest of this entry »

I get some very offbeat searches thrown my way every now and then. For example, wanderers of the Ethernet have come in search of Strong powers to help me fight, which I am not so sure I could provide. It seems this would be important as mechanic vs. doctor is a search category. Is this a no holds barred grudge match or a freaky Friday type takeover of one another’s job?

Apparently I am more Christlike than I realize, as news of Jesus social phobia reached me. Another mistook my blog for Orson Scott Card’s Children of the mind with two body with one soul. One searcher sought info on wheelchair user pretender experience, which brought to my mind visions of George Costanza madly scooting away from a gang of the angered elderly, also on scooters, eager to expose his walking ability and take him down, classic, but not really available on my blog. Some masochist wants a kazillion question test and another surfer, truly fearful of the insidious Mormon collective sought out the secrets of the mind reprogramming Mormon.

There is one search this week intrigued me beyond all these, to the point I had to make it my next post. This is for that intrepid voyager who sought science for the soul. Read the rest of this entry »

  The human body is a wonderful and marvelous gift.  As wonderful as it is for us as individuals, it can also be a wonderful gift for the good of mankind.  I posted a recent link about a special group of individuals.   Every medical student, along with many other training medical professionals has the opportunity, in order to learn the art of medicine, to open up the empty shell left behind by these people in mortality and study it firsthand, orienting themselves to the structures that they will later learn the marvelous functions of.  They donate their bodies to science, where we can learn from them prior to their returning to the dust and apply that knowledge to the healing of others.  Read the rest of this entry »

“The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.”

Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

From the dawn of history, religion and anxiety have been intertwined. Read the rest of this entry »

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