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Dog Psychics and Stigmata

24 Jun

Recently, a woman at work told us that she had taken her high-strung canine to a dog psychic.  We’re not clear as to what the psychic’s observations were, but it got us thinking about psychic phenomena and religious experience.

As we’ve mentioned before, we’re wusses.  We adopt a pose of being coldly scientific, but we’re on the fence.  We’re not religious, but we have a not-so-secret desire to experience the numinous. It was this desire that impelled us some years back to see a stigmatic. An e-mail we’d received stated that this individual would be at such-and-such a church on such-and-such a date. After work, we drove the better part of a hundred miles to check it out for ourselves.

We got there, and from what we recall, the scene seemed like a religious Woodstock. We were instructed to let people with illnesses approach first.  As there were many people there, and as we were in good health, it was clear that this was going to be a long night.  We seated ourselves at the very back and settled in. Several hours passed, and it was finally time to approach the stigmatic. We’d seen photos of the columnist Mike Royko, and this chap looked vaguely like him. He embraced us with his bandaged hands and boomed “God love ya, buddy!” (Note: we think he had bandaged hands, but we’re not sure – we’re recalling this from memory.)  And that was that.

In the days that followed we tried to objectively observe any changes in ourselves and there were none.  Well, one actually. For about a week after the experience, we discovered that we’d lost the ability to judge anyone harshly.  Reading a newspaper article about the latest thing that Dick Cheney (a politician we disliked) had said, we found that the anger we normally experienced on reading his pronouncements just wasn’t there; all we could manage was to wonder what would make a person say the things that Cheney said. We figured it wouldn’t last and it didn’t; after about a week, we were our same ol’ judgmental selves again.

We’re not drawing any conclusions one way or the other, merely reporting. We’re neither scientists nor seers.  We’re just some guy.


Dick, why’d ya say those things?







Angels on a Pin, Clapping

21 Jan

When people want to dismiss an argument as being trivial, they often compare it to the question “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” From our casual research, we have learned that this exact question was never debated in medieval times, although Thomas Aquinas did raise the question of whether several angels could be in the same place at once.

Let’s assume for a minute that medieval clerics did debate the question of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Makes ’em sound kind of idiotic, doesn’t it?

Now let’s change the venue a bit. Let’s imagine that Buddhist monks, in addition to creating the famous koan “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” also created the koan “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” When you couch it as a koan, it sounds kind of cool, doesn’t it?

One woman’s (let’s not be sexist) pointless debate question is another woman’s groovy koan…

Tree Falling

Does it make a sound?

Belief and the Lack Thereof

14 Dec

We’ve wondered about a/theism for a while.  As in other things, we’re wusses about the whole God / No God thing.  We can’t imagine being so certain about the non-existence of a supreme being that we’d plant our feet firmly in the atheist camp, but the unquestioning attitude of “I read X and Y in this sacred text, therefore I believe X and Y” gives us pause as well.

We find proselytizing believers a bit off-putting, but we find proselytizing non-believers no less so.  Nat Hentoff is a columnist who is an authority on the First Amendment.  He also happens to be an atheist.  The thing we’ve always found refreshing about Nat Hentoff is that he has never exhibited any tendency to convince anyone to be atheist.  He seems comfortable in his beliefs, and he seems willing to leave it at that.  The late Christopher Hitchens, however,  seemed to go out of his way to promulgate his atheism.  We often agreed with Hitchens (and just as often disagreed with him), but his need to go out of his way to advance the cause of atheism seemed to us rather tedious.

We don’t know about you, but we find both concepts (there is a creator who made the universe / the universe exists but there is no creator) equally unlikely.  As with a lot of our posts, we don’t really know where we’re going with this.  We like to talk about movies a lot, so we’ll close with a metaphysical movie joke (we didn’t write this one, we just heard it.)

When Spielberg dies (he’s very much alive as we write – this is a joke) he is dismayed to learn that he cannot get into Heaven; they don’t allow film directors there.  Peering through at the pearly gates, he sees a slightly rumpled bearded man on a bicycle ride past.

“Wait a minute”, Spielberg protests.  “That’s Stanley Kubrick!  You let him into Heaven, why won’t you let me in?”

“Oh, that’s not Kubrick”, the gatekeeper informs him.  “That’s God.  He only thinks he’s Stanley Kubrick…”


Catholicism is a pagan religion

13 Oct
St. Anthony

Good guy to know if you lose an object

We never know where were going with this blog (that’s why it’s a jungle), but since our last post dealt with the Buddhist concept of enlightenment, we figured we’d ride the religion wave a little longer.  Now, before you get mad as us for that provocative title, hear us out.  When we assert that Catholicism is a pagan religion, we’re not saying it as a criticism.  In fact, we think that’s kind of cool.

When we (us folks here at De Jungle) think about pagan religions, we think of polytheistic religions like those of the ancient Greeks and Romans.  The Greeks and Romans  worshiped the same pantheon of gods, with only the names being different.  Do Catholics have a pantheon of gods?  Well no, not exactly.  But Catholics have some traditions that are at least a tip of the hat in that direction.  If you’re Catholic, and you want a certain outcome (the healing of an affliction, etc.), you might just pray to a patron saint (for example Saint Anthony is the go-to guy for lost objects.)  The idea is (we speculate) that a saint might hold a bit more sway than you do with God, and will therefore intercede on your behalf.  That sounds a bit like going to the temple of Athena to us.  True, the ancients worshiped Athena, while Catholics point out that they revere the saints but worship only God. OK, fair enough.  But nevertheless, in our humble opinion, Catholicism took on aspects of the pagan religions that it replaced. Again, we’re not criticizing, we’re just observing.


12 Oct
Buddha statue

statue of the Buddha

Buddhism has the concept of enlightenment, which is a very appealing concept.  As I understand it (and I’m not claiming that I do), when one reaches enlightenment, one realizes that the concept of the self is only an illusion.  One is free of false conceptions, attachments, judgments of others, and a state of bliss follows.  Furthermore, one cannot gain enlightenment by trying to become enlightened, as that is a form of craving. “Buddha” means essentially, “the one who woke up.”  Buddhists teach that Buddha was not a god, but a human being like one of us.  Years ago I saw the Dalai Lama when he spoke at a nearby university, and he seemed to be a very wise individual.  However, I was wanting him to levitate or something, and he didn’t do that. I guess I keep expecting special effects, but maybe it’s just not that way.