Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Death and Rebirth of God: Thoughts on a Great Historical Coincidence

1882 was the year that Friedrich Nietzsche announced that God was dead and added that “we” had killed him.  At Cambridge in England during the same year, Frederic Myers with several colleagues officially launched a new scientific discipline called psychical research.  If ever there was a “meaningful” historical coincidence,  this one qualifies.

It is about the most important crisis in the history of Western consciousness.  A key item of the Western worldview was the belief in God, but now we have the son of a Protestant minister announcing the death of God.  Modern astronomy and evolutionary biology reduce the Biblical God-story to fiction.  But the same year a  discipline took shape in England that attempted to use scientific method to investigate the nature of  the human soul—or, as we might say today, the nature and scope of human consciousness.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

An Afterlife Singularity

The afterlife story I want to tell is singular, first, because of the sheer oddness and rarity of the circumstances.  But also because, if true as reported, it’s remarkable 1) as proof of postmortem survival; 2) as showing human personality is multiple; 3) that we can be possessed by other minds; and finally, 4), it’s a story about a very unconventional healing of mental illness.

Two girls, Mary Roff (1846-1865) and Lurancy Vennum, (1864—1952) lived in Watseka, Illinois, a prosperous, middle class farming town.  As you might infer from their dates, Mary and Lurancy never knew each other in the flesh, and in fact Mary had been dead for 12 years when “she,” in 1878, reportedly took possession of Lurancy’s body.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hilarious Hopelessness: The Wisdom of John Cleese

April 11, 2018.  I was sitting in the second row of the very large and totally packed Paramount Theater, located on the downtown mall in Charlottesville, Virginia, not far from Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. 

When John Cleese of the legendary Monty Python Circus stepped on stage, the applause was overwhelming. John retreats to offstage and the applause dies down. Out on stage again, the roars of approval resume, and again he vanishes. Next time the audience gets the hint, and lets him speak.

“Hello Charlotte villains,” I hear him say—first laugh--and we’re off.    

Sunday, April 8, 2018

When Statues Cry Real Tears

The world is full of strange phenomena that challenge the way we understand ourselves.  I’m drawn to the extreme, the rare but often deeply revealing phenomena.  I’m trying to form as accurate a picture of human potential as possible.

The project calls for a gradual piecing together of many elements from various sources.  The interesting phenomena prompt us to ask: What does this matter to me, going forward? Of course, you might not want to probe too deeply. Phenomena are sometimes ignored because they can’t be explained, or because they challenge our assumptions.

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