Friday, October 20th 2017

Spiritual Surf: Tom Hanks, Egypt, Parinirvana, street preachers, terrorism, hypnosis, depression during pregnancy

davinciTom Hanks newest patron of Da Vinci Code church

Tom Hanks has personally donated to help restore Scotland’s Rosslyn Chapel, where part of The Da Vinci Code was filmed. According to Dan Brown’s novel, the chapel was built by the Knights Templar, marks a point on the “Rose Line”, or prime meridian, and contains several  esoteric sculptures. 

In actuality, the chapel was built over 100 years after the Templars vanished, the prime meridian does not cross through the chapel, and many architectural features were added later by Anglican and (what do you know?) Scottish Freemason patrons. As its newest patron, will Hanks request any other additions?

stanthonyegyptAncient Egyptian monastery restored

Speaking about restoration, the Egyptian government has recently poured the equivalent of millions of dollars into restoring what is probably the oldest Christian monastery in the world. The Monastery of St. Anthony has historically housed the indigenous Christians of Egypt called Copts, who have their own unique tradition of prayer and the ancient Egyptian language called Coptic.  In light of recent violence between Muslims and Christians in upper Egypt, the government is continuing to preserve the nation’s ancient treasures and Christian minority.

buddha-paranirvana-closeup-713872Parinirvana, the Buddha’s death-day

This week across the world Mahayana Buddhists are commemorating the death and passage into Nirvana by the Buddha. The Buddha’s death marked his transition from this world into Nirvana–not so much a heaven as the freedom from rebirth and suffering. Though the Buddha attained enlightenment in his own life time, Mahayana Buddhists claim, he decided to stay in the world and teach the dharma, the path to removing suffering. The Buddha’s parinirvana was, literally, the “final Nirvana” which accompanies death; the final great sleep with the final great awakening.

preachingStreet preacher murders causes war of words on web

Two street preachers were gunned down in Florida by an 18-year-old who they had been preaching to minutes before the assault.  Christians across the web are not only upset at the murders but also the apparent lack of media attention that the murders may be an anti-Christian act.  Some Christians online are arguing that the media holds a double standard when it comes to reporting crimes related to race and religious affiliation; two Arab Muslims murdered by a white Christian would make the front page, but two black Christians murdered by a black teenager might be mentioned in passing.

blood-moneyFollowing the money of terror

A newly released book by Eli Berman, Radical, Religious, and Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism, argues that many terrorists are driven by economic factors and not only ideology.  Terrorist groups have tried and true ways of gaining recruits and keeping loyalty among its members.  From running hospitals and schools to forming courts of law, terrorists gain an economic edge, not to mention receiving money from several governments. Hence the “war on terror” could not be simply fought with guns and rocket launchers; altruistically offering services to the poor and needy would sap terrorist groups of their members and non-member support.  Sounds like killing kindness with kindness.

42-15600195Painless childbirth as a mesmerizing prospect

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen is one of many who have used hypnosis for pain relief during childbirth. In an age where medication is often held in an ambivalent position between praise of results and fear of side effects, avoiding drugs has gained wide popularity. Hypnosis can provide one such alternative to medications, as claimed by Bundchen.  One of the keys is not to expect pain during childbirth and eventually build this expectation into a reality.

pregnancy1If you got the blues, maybe your baby does too

A British study shows that urban moms who were depressed while pregnant have children who later demonstrate anti-social behavior, including violent behavior. By a strange coincidence, mothers in the ancient world and middle ages had a similar belief, claiming that whatever or whoever a mother looked at during childbirth had an effect on the appearance of the child. The same researchers argue that the link between motherly depression and teen violence exists, but they still cannot account for exactly why or how.

our_lady_of_lourdesOur Lady of Lourdes

On the topic of mothers, but of the more heavenly sort, this week Roman Catholics celebrate the apparition of Mary in Lourdes, France.  Popularly called “Our Lady of Lourdes”, Mary appeared in a series of visitations to young girl named Bernadette (now proclaimed a saint, not suprisingly) in 1885.  Today a majestic church stands over the spot where Benedette claimed to receive these visitations, and pilgrims from around the world visit the Marian shrine in hopes of spiritual growth or physical healing.

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