Blessed Midsummer!

Aug 31, 2014

We Are Legion and We Are Tactless

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



One of the most consistently baffling things to me about the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is their tone-deafness. Do these Church officials really not know how out of touch they seem when they answer outrage over vile abuses with platitudes about forgiveness for perpetrators? The rush to forgive their own brethren left countless children vulnerable to non-rehabilitatable criminals. This was nowhere more true than with one of the Church's most notorious offenders: Marcial Maciel Degollado.

And they're still doing it.

Even as they are wrestling with lawsuits from his victims, his children, and the descendents of elderly people his organization bilked out of their fortunes, the Legionaries of Christ scramble to protect his legacy and his name. And of course they do it in an attempt to do what Maciel did best: raise money.

They have already raised $40 million of a needed $100 million to support an outrageous land-grab in the Holy Land. On the ruins of an ancient temple, they intend to build a new complex including a luxury hotel -- how very Maciel of them.

At issue is a women's institute promoted with a brochure entitled Magdala: God Really Loves Women. Yes, it's so nice the way God keeps forgiving women for being sexual creatures. Worse, it equates the Magdalene with Maciel. (I actually got a little queasy just typing that sentence.) The brochure text is truly unbelievable.

Aug 28, 2014

Bergholz Amish Win Appeal

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



It brings me no joy to report that Sam Mullet and his Bergolz Amish followers have won a victory in an appeals court and may "become loose" against the express wishes of many local Amish.

A deeply divided ruling from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals went against the jury's determination that the hair-cutting attacks, with which Mullet's minions terrorized the greater Amish community, constituted a religious hate crime.

The majority of those convicted had already completed, or nearly completed their sentences. The real issue, as ever, is with Bishop Mullet, whose fifteen year sentence offered his community a life free of his sexual demands on the women, physical abuse of their husbands, and the psychological control he exerts over all of his Bergholz Amish.

It is not illegal to run a cult. It is not illegal to extort sexual favors from adult women, in most cases. It is not even illegal to consign grown men to incarceration in chicken coops. It is illegal to terrorize neighboring communities with physical abuse and assaults on their dignity, and it is for this that Mullet and his co-conspirators were convicted.

The larger question from the beginning has been whether cutting off the hair and beards of other Amish constituted a hate crime, in other words, were the crimes motivated by religion.

Aug 26, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

A Shamanic View of Mental Illness-Tacey

What we diagnose as "mental illness" today grows ever more resistant to reason, logic, pharmaceuticals, or medicine. What if these are not illnesses of the mind, but diseases of the spirit? Author and scholar, David Tacey, explores how we would understand and treat mental illness if we understood that by shutting spirit out of our lives with our beliefs we have forced spirit to enter through the side door of illness. When we understand how spirit is trying to work with us through disease we can see that our suffering can be resolved or transformed only when we introduce the dimension of our soul into the healing equation. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she shares Tacey's work from his book, Gods and Diseases, which offers a powerful example of the way in which looking at mental illness through a different lens opens up new possible paths to health and well-being.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Aug 22, 2014

Negative Thinking Associated with Longer Life

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



"The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." ~ George F. Will


The data in support of "negative thinking" keeps piling up. I have posted a number of things about studies and assessments showing that staying positive doesn't necessarily bring positive results for either our physical or mental health, and can even be detrimental. See here, here, here, here, here, and here, for a start.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal addresses some of the newer findings that show pessimism and negativity can be better for you, depending on the circumstances and your natural disposition.

Experts say pessimism can at times be beneficial to a person's physical and mental well-being. Some studies have found that having a more negative outlook of the future may result in a longer and healthier life. Pessimism and optimism are opposite ends of a spectrum of personality traits, and people generally fall somewhere in between. 

One study found that older people who were pessimistic about aging had better health outcomes and greater longevity.

A study published last year in the journal Psychology and Aging found that older people with pessimistic views of the future were more likely to live longer and healthier lives than those with a rosier outlook. The researchers used data from a nationally representative survey in Germany of about 11,000 people. Among other questions, people were asked how satisfied they were with their lives and how satisfied they thought they would be in five years.

Aug 19, 2014

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The True Root of Illness-Maté

One significant root of disease is the chronic stress created in the body by suppression or denial of emotions and the resulting abnormal release of emotions. "Complex unconscious psychological stresses underlie and contribute to all chronic medical conditions, from cancer and addiction to depression and multiple sclerosis," states Dr. Gabor Maté. . Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she continues to explore how looking at illness through a different lens opens up new possible paths to health and well-being. Given the message in Maté's work, an aspect of our path to health and well-being must be to learn to express our emotional life in timely, honest, and healthy ways. Since contemporary people have no idea what healthy emotional lives feel like, Maté offers us a template to investigate our emotional life and a standard for the emotional competence and honesty needed to support vital health and well-being.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Aug 12, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

A Shamanic View of Mental Illness-Somé

When we look at mental illness through a different cultural lens we can see something entirely different than the standard allopathic interpretation of the situation. There are other ways to look at what is actually happening to someone who has been diagnosed as "mentally ill." Malidoma Patrice Somé is committed to helping contemporary people to see that we can use ritual, albeit adjusted rituals, just as the Dagara people do to relieve the suffering at the core of "mental illness." Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she explores the current work of Somé that shows that a different perspective opens up very different possibilities. Ritual can open the way for the individual's healing relationship with helping spirits that supports a cure or definitive movement out of the "mentally ill" state of being and back into the world as an individual better equipped than most to give their gifts to the world.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Aug 9, 2014

Dawkins Keeps Digging

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

 photo DawkinsBusesnBoobs_zpsac99bed7.jpg


Does someone maybe want to take the shovel away from Richard Dawkins? 

His recent Twitter battle, discussed here, is having a ripple effect I don't think he expected or intended. It's rather interesting to see Richard Dawkins so completely on the defensive. He did, after all, set out to do what he does best -- use logic and reason to make sure everyone who disagrees with his world view knows how stupid they are. But it backfired and brought him a lot of negative feedback, even from some atheists. I think he may be learning the hard way that it's not as easy to get away with belittling women as it used to be.

His latest post on the issue shows him to be in full damage control mode and you know what they say: If you're explaining, you're losing.

I have briefly explained (it’s in An Appetite for Wonder) that, as a small boy, I was the victim of a pedophile teacher in the school squash court. He pulled me on his knee, put his hand inside my shorts and fiddled for about half a minute. It was very unpleasant, but it didn’t ruin my life and I had the temerity to say so in my memoir and elsewhere. I had the effrontery to downplay my experience and imply that it could have been worse. The teacher could, for example, have . . . well, I didn’t specify details, but anyone can fill in some of the appalling things that have happened to other children of both sexes.

Pandemonium in the Pigeon-lofts. Freethought Feeding Frenzy. “Dawkins actually said – I kid you not – that his experience in the squash court wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened. Wow, just wow. Where has he been these past few years? Doesn’t everyone nowadays know there are NO gradations? All cases are exactly equally bad. How dare Dawkins BELITTLE the horrors of pedophiliac assault?”

Aug 5, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Freedom From False Passions-Working with Water

When we focus on the element of water we are focusing on the quality of our relationship with our own emotions. Do they flow or not flow? Old emotions denied or future emotions feared don't flow. As transformational force water is the warrior who is willing to change form, to do whatever it takes to create freedom of flow and to transform the enemies into allies. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, for the new series, Working with the Elements. This week she explores how we can work with the element of water to create the space to open our hearts in life. Only with an open heart can we properly learn from life as the Teacher and gain wisdom from our experiences in life. There is big medicine to be found for those who are willing to do what ever it takes to cultivate a wise heart and become a force for healing, reconciliation, and peacemaking in the world.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Aug 1, 2014

The Richard Dawkins Problem

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.


Richard Dawkins has stepped on his crank. Again.

Another day, another tweet from Richard Dawkins proving that if non-conscious material is given enough time, it is capable of evolving into an obstreperous crackpot who should have retired from public speech when he had the chance to bow out before embarrassing himself.

“Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse,” huffs Dawkins. Seeming to have anticipated, although not understood, the feminist reaction this kind of sentiment generally evokes, he finishes the tweet: “If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.”

I've really written very little about Dawkins, the man, and restricted my criticism to his dogmatic atheism and his disingenuousness in that arena. He has a long history of intemperate, ignorant, and insensitive remarks, particularly in the areas of gender politics and sexual violence. I've never thought it deserved a free-standing post because it's not really relevant to discussions of his atheist views. This is, I think, for reasons articulated in that same article.

Dawkins’ narrowmindedness, his unshakeable belief that the entire history of human intellectual achievement was just a prelude to the codification of scientific inquiry, leads him to dismiss the insights offered not only by theology, but philosophy, history and art as well.

To him, the humanities are expendable window-dressing, and the consciousness and emotions of his fellow human beings are byproducts of natural selection that frequently hobble his pursuit and dissemination of cold, hard facts. His orientation toward the world is the product of a classic category mistake, but because he’s nestled inside it so snugly he perceives complex concepts outside of his understanding as meaningless dribble. If he can’t see it, then it doesn’t exist, and anyone trying to describe it to him is delusional and possibly dangerous.

I think there is a connection between Dawkins's scientism and a kind of emotional stuntedness. He's suspicious of subjective experiences and seems to think that our emotions should follow a logical process. If you were raped this way, you should feel like this and if you were raped another way, you should feel like that. I mean it's only logical. And why on earth can't you be ruthlessly analytical about rape? You must be stupid.

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