“What science can tell us about the benefits of religion”

The above headline caught my eye:

So I took a look at the article (here).

People have turned to religious practice to help them deal with issues of life and death, loss and meaning for thousands of years. In his new book “How God Works,” psychologist David DeSteno uses the latest scientific evidence to examine how rituals help shape behaviors such as compassion, trust and resilience and why many of them are so beneficial. He looks at how Shinto rituals surrounding childbirth can help strengthen parental bonds with children. He shows how Buddhist meditation can increase compassion. And he considers how the Jewish practice of sitting shiva helps those who are mourning.

Go read the whole thing. It’s quite the acrobatic approach to picking and choosing parts of all faiths to approach life.

The most accurate part of the piece was this line: “I can’t be sure God doesn’t exist. I see no evidence of it, but I can’t be sure.”

Hard stop.

That’s what all people should admit. And yet, many people have told me that I’m the one who is pretentious, pompous or whatever to think I’m right.

There’s absolutely NO way to know if you’re right about God. None. So one can merely believe or not. It’s not a big deal.

We were in Santa Fe last week for a project. On the plane back, the guy next to me was reading a tome of a book. I finally caught the title. It was, “The Gagging of God” by D.A. Carson.

The man reading it was highlighting the hell out of the pages. One chapter title read something about how Christians need to insert themselves into Hollywood-level cinema. As if to say, “To be a propagandist, you must be the propagandist.”

Yawn.

I wanted so badly to lean over and say, “You’re wasting your time.”

How can a person reasonably pursue a book that claims that the creator of the universe can be gagged? As if this being is approachable in the first place to wrap a gag around his mouth and tie it in the back. As if God’s creations are powerful enough to overpower the all powerful.

This is the problem with religion in America. People claim that God is removed from culture, schools, government, families, etc. That this is what causes problems. When one speaks of the almighty, the all powerful, the omniscience, the omnipresence in this way … it demeans and belittles the views they claim to uphold.

Disbelief should NOT cause a less powerful god. It should not diminish his ability to reign supreme. And yet the thought crime of not worship or no faith is the kryptonite that crumples God’s muscles into flaccid atrophied flappy skin?

When I looked up the book later, it had some mixed reviews. Most people thought it was too long and repetitious. Some had a reasonably good criticism of its approach. Others loved it.

No one criticized the title for being egregiously damning of God and his character.

According to the reviews, though, one of the sections of the book is critical of universalism, which is the point of the article I posted above. One should not mix ideologies or religious practices. Buddhistic practices have no place in the minds of congregants.

Universalism might have saved my deconversion. But it arrived to the massacre too late. And by massacre, I mean the 10-year battle to diminish belief from my noggin.

The end of the article on faith is equally troubling:

Q: Where do you see some of the trends in religious practice headed?

A: People are leaving faiths. They’re looking for new ways to be spiritual. But when you leave the institution behind, you often leave behind all these tools, rituals and practices that form the daily rhythms of life. You can’t just create a ritual randomly. Over thousands of years they’ve been kind of debugged to leverage the mechanisms of our minds and bodies.

“People are leaving faiths” followed by “they are looking for new ways to be spiritual” is completely illogical.

Leaving faith and looking for spirituality is not cogent.

I left faith and did not replace practices for other practices. That’s why it’s a challenge to hang with anyone who practices their rituals. Tina and I hope for the best, but that doesn’t make us prayerful. We think about others, but that doesn’t mean we reach out to some power for intercession. We hope that it makes people feel better if we say we’re praying for them. But that’s not really what we’re doing.

Since I stopped “praying”, whatever I do hope for in a “prayerful” manner has a better track record as it did when I “prayed” to a deity. So I find it hard to return to the ways I was taught.

I find value in yoga. But it’s not a spiritual love. It’s a physical one. My body and mind reach a zen place, but it’s because we’re loving ourselves and those who practice with us. It’s a chance to pause from the rat race.

If that’s spirituality, then I would have stayed in church. Self care and care of others is what I was taught the church offered, but as I grew up I saw that it really wasn’t. It’s a method for people to cope with not caring about all people regardless of sex, race, love interest, etc. The church said Jesus loved all the children, but the church also said those children need to profess faith in God, or they’ll burn endlessly … like the sun.

And that, dear reader, is why this guy doesn’t adhere to church teachings. You can’t love all the children with threats of torture and be legit.

Clap hands like dusting chalkboard erasers.

That’s the breaking point.

Sam Raimi being Sam Raimi is Raimi

I watched this short dissection of a scene from Spiderman 2, and while I loved rewatching the visuals, I was a little miffed that Evan Puschak was so pleased with his review of it.

To me, a Sam Raimi fan through and through, loved the scene at the time and bought a copy of the film to rewatch just that scene over and over. It was a precision homage to himself in an otherwise non-horror film.

But, I share it anyway, because it encapsulates why I loved the movie. Take a look.