All Souls’ Day
Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholics this week celebrate the “Commemoration of the Faithful Departed” or “All Souls’ Day” (November 2). Prayerful attention is paid to the souls of the departed going through a purification (or purging) of past sins in Purgatory. Popular in Mexico as El Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), families gather in cemeteries to pray for deceased friends and families. A more macabre remembrance of the dead occurred last week: a member of 1 Mind Ministries has refused to plea guilty to starving a one year old boy to death because he refused to say “amen” after his meals.
Cute children dressed as witches filled the streets this Halloween, but witches have not always been seen in such a playful light. Charges of witchcraft was serious business in medieval and early modern Europe, particularly during the first century of Catholic-Protestant conflicts. But back on the lighter side, as Christmas approaches, another witch is expected to fly in with treats: Italy’s La Befana, an old broomstick flying woman who leaves gifts in childrens’ socks; candy for those who were good, coal for those who were bad. Sound familiar?
What does the brain have to do with learning? It seems pretty obvious, n’est-ce pas? French neuroscientists are arguing that the brain is not simply where learning takes place, but the human brain develops through habituated learning; repeated cognitive habits physically transform the brain. What has been neglected in educational theory is employing scientifically proven ways to stimulate particular brain development. When applied to spiritual practices, learning new techniques for meditation and prayer would physically change one’s brain, perhaps making for greater spiritual development; as they say “practice makes perfect.”
Hypno-therapy as a cure for racism?
British National Party leader, Nick Griffin, was recently invited to undergo hypno-therapy as a cure for racism. As an artifically induced state of sleep bringing about hightened suggestibility, hypnosis has long been viewed as a curative practice. Perhaps the earliest Western use of hypnosis is found in ancient Greece where priests, priestesses and patrons would receive dreams from gods or even go into a suggestive state of consciousness. Such an act is called contemplation, literally meaning the encounter with a god within (con-) a temple (-templation).
Rastafarians this week celebrate the anniversary of the coronation of Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia (1892-1975). Confessed by Rastafarians to be God incarnate, Selassie is believed to have not died in 1975 but concealed before his expected future return to gather the exiled decendents of former slaves in the western hemisphere.
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