Spirituality in the News

December 13, 2018
By Ross Douthat for the New York Times

Here are some generally agreed-upon facts about religious trends in the United States. Institutional Christianity has weakened drastically since the 1960s. Lots of people who once would have been lukewarm Christmas-and-Easter churchgoers now identify as having “no religion” or being “spiritual but not religious.” The mainline-Protestant establishment is an establishment no more. Religious belief and practice now polarizes our politics in a way they didn’t a few generations back.

What kind of general religious reality should be discerned from all these facts, though, is much more uncertain, and there are various plausible stories about what early-21st century Americans increasingly believe. The simplest of these is the secularization story — in which modern societies inevitably put away religious ideas as they advance in wealth and science and reason, and the decline of institutional religion is just a predictable feature of a general late-modern turn away from supernatural belief.

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November 19, 2018
By David Brooks, for The New York Times

A veteran of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.CreditCreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times
A veteran of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times

David BrooksWherever I go I seem to meet people who are either dealing with trauma or helping others dealing with trauma. In some places I meet veterans trying to recover from the psychic wounds they suffered in Iraq or Afghanistan. Sometimes it is women struggling with the aftershocks of sexual assault. Sometimes it is teachers trying to help students overcome the traumas they’ve suffered from some adult’s abuse or abandonment.

Wherever Americans gather and try to help each other on any deep level, they confront levels of trauma that their training has often not prepared them for.

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August 4, 2018
By Robert Weisman for the Boston Globe
Photo by SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF
From left, Suriphan Ratanamatmongkol, Kate MacDonald, and Diane Medeiros meditated at the Inner Space Meditation Center. Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

CAMBRIDGE — Kate MacDonald grew up Catholic, but now attends an Episcopal church. And after retiring from a stressful job and recovering from an illness in her 60s, she turned to yet another spiritual influence: Raja Yoga-inspired meditation.

Early last week, as the lunch-hour bustle engulfed Harvard Square, she sat in the quiet room at the Inner Space Meditation Center with other baby boomers listening to soothing flute music, staring at a point of light embedded in an Indian painting on the wall, and breathing in and out.

“It’s an internal balancing, and a release,” said MacDonald, now 73, a retired professor who lives nearby. As she’s gotten older, she said, she takes a broader view of faith and no longer feels she has to choose between competing beliefs and rituals. “This blends with any kind of religious practice,” she said. “It all comes down to loving one another.”
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May 25, 2018
Alanna Ketler for Collective Evolution
About 5 months ago I picked up a new habit and started sending a blessing to my food (each meal) before eating it. This is a common custom to pray or say “grace” before a meal in many religions; although I am not religious I have adapted this practice for my own reasons, which I will explore in-depth throughout this article.

There are many reasons to bless your food aside from religious ones, but considering this has been practiced throughout various cultures of the world for thousands of years, religion aside — there just might be something to this. Saying grace is essentially just taking a moment to show gratitude and appreciation to the fact that there is even food on the table or in your hands that you are about to eat, rather than what is typically done in North America at least, where the food is quickly shovelled into ones face.

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March 28, 2018
John Tarrant, for Lion's Roar
Glass-photo by veeterzy Photo: veeterzy

Zen Student: “When times of great difficulty visit us, how should we greet them?”

Teacher: “Welcome.”

The new world looks surprisingly like the old one, except that it’s different. Two years ago housing prices fell off a cliff and mortgages went underwater. Today, the hardware store is still quiet and the busy suburban hairdresser is empty on a Friday. Phobia about spending makes other people phobic too—a great university declares a hiring freeze, and a clinic is threatened with shutting down because it can’t afford to replace a receptionist who earns $9.00 an hour. The construction sites have filled with water and the bulldozers are silent.

We are now in the new world. In the new world, winter is still cold, summer is still warm, bread, cheese, pickled onion, and a glass of ale is still a ploughman’s lunch, the sky still has windows of translucent distance at sunset after rain, and a wet dog still smells like a wet dog. Perhaps it’s fine in the new world. Perhaps we don’t have to waste this crisis in wailing and gnashing our teeth.

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March 23, 2018
Meadow Rue Merrill, for the New York Times

By Giselle Potter for The New York Times
                                                                                                                          Giselle Potter

“This is it?” My 8-year-old daughter, Lydia, pressed her face against the van window. “This is the farm?”

“I think so.” I steered my van past the weathered barn, dodging pond-size puddles. As far as I could see, the earth looked dead. Dead grass humped beneath mounds of lingering snow. Dead leaves clinging to withered apple trees. Dead fields stretching to the distant pines. In springtime in Maine, nothing seemed alive except the mud.

“Pigs!” my 2-year-old son, Asher, squealed.

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February 14, 2018
Rick Hamlin for The New York Times

Ash Wednesday in New York City, 2001. Credit Greg MillerLent is here, and as a practicing Christian, I know the question is inevitable: “What are you planning to give up?” It’s a tougher decision than it sounds; I look with awe at a woman who gave up sarcasm one Lent. Now, that would be a real hardship.

Lent is the penitential season in the Christian calendar that traditionally runs from Ash Wednesday to Easter. It is 40 days long, not counting Sundays because Sundays are feast days (that woman could indulge in sarcasm on Sundays), and it marks the 40 days and nights Jesus spent in the wilderness before he began his ministry.

Forty is one of those biblical numbers that means a long time and is linked to periods of trial, like the 40 days and nights that the torrential rains floated Noah’s ark, and the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the desert after escaping the pharaoh’s clutches.

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December 27, 2018
Chaim Saiman for The Atlantic

The new Star Wars film dramatically breaks with the franchise’s reverence for tradition when it comes to learning the ways of the Force.

The Last Jedi - Photo by Disney

                                                                                                            Photo: Disney
This story contains spoilers for The Last Jedi.       

For at least two generations, the Star Wars saga has served as a kind of secularized American religion. Throughout the series, the Force is a stand-in for a divine power that draws on a number of mystical traditions, representing the balance of good and evil, the promise of an ultimate unity, and the notion that those learned in its ways can tap into the infinite.

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September 12, 2017
Theresa Keegan, for the Poughkeepsie Journal

American spirituality, but not necessarily religion, is on the rise, according to the Religious Landscape Study by the Pew Research Center. That spirituality — whether experienced through mindful practices, walks in nature or faith — ultimately results in a greater connectedness with self and the world.

“It’s a very misunderstood concept,” said Deborah Angeline Laclaverie. “The process of spirituality, in my mind, has nothing to do with religion. It’s a way of being.”

This transformational teacher from Woodstock is not alone.

GettyImages-504487318
                                                                         GettyImages-504487318
 
Dr. Dan Siegel, an interpersonal neurobiologist and clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine and co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA, said people are looking inward to find new discoveries.

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September 21, 2017
From LifeCoachCode.com

Scientists found that neurons in mammalian brains were capable of producing photons of light, or “Biophotons”!

The photons, strangely enough, appear within the visible spectrum. They range from near-infrared through violet, or between 200 and 1,300 nanometers.
Image Source: https://www.lifecoachcode.com/2017/09/21/scientists-discover-biophotons-in-the-brain-hint-consciousness-light/

Scientists have an exciting suspicion that our brain’s neurons might be able to communicate through light. They suspect that our brain might have optical communication channels, but they have no idea what could be communicated.

Even more exciting, they claim that if there is an optical communication happening, the Biophotons our brains produce might be affected by quantum entanglement, meaning there can be a strong link between these photons, our consciousness and possibly what many cultures and religions refer to as Spirit.

In a couple of experiments scientist discovered that rat brains can pass just one biophoton per neuron a minute, but human brains could convey more than a billion biophotons per second.

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