Posted by spritzophrenia on October 21, 2010
“Think and grow rich”. “If you can dream it, you can achieve it”. “Your thoughts create your reality.” Sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve seen “The Secret”. I was interested to hear Barbara Ehrenreich had published a book on the negative side of positive thinking but didn’t realise it started with her experience of breast cancer. Here’s an excerpt from Smile or Die.
I wanted to link to a friend’s blog reviewing Ehrenreich’s book, but can’t find the article. Message me if it’s you, huh? [Edit: Found it! Linked in the comments]
I did find this perceptive review by Eliza, a Lupus sufferer. A short sample:
My disdain for the Positive Thinking movement only grew as I began to become disabled about four years ago. I cannot even count how many people lectured me about the merits of “thinking positively” once I began to suffer sometimes-debilitating pain. …
Constantly lectured about how I should learn to see my chronic pain and fatigue as “positive developments” that “teach me to be more loving of humanity,” I call bullshit. And I was thrilled when I learned that Barbara Ehrenreich had written a new book on the subject.
On the whole, I would say that this is a highly flawed book that is nevertheless worth reading. …
She effectively draws on her scientific background to expose the pseudo-scientific claims (usually drawn from quantum physics and psychology) that are often quoted in order to add a scientific veneer to what is primarily an ideological movement.
This article notes
While Ehrenreich seems to harbor no ill will toward Christianity, some of her harshest critique is directed at positive thinking’s inroads into American churches. She indicts the usual suspects—Joel Osteen, Robert H. Schuller, Norman Vincent Peale—but she also includes much of the megachurch movement. Like other critics, the author believes the pressures of church growth have caused many pastors to adopt principles from the world of business and commerce at the expense of Christian distinctiveness.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been in christian meetings with razamatazz and hyped-up motivational speakers, thank g0d. I don’t like the way positive thinking has crept into spiritualities that have emphasised humility and even poverty in the past. Somehow it just seems fake to me.
How does this stuff make you feel? What place do you think positive thinking should have in our lives?
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The Streets | Positive
Posted in agnostic, personal development, Sociology | Tagged: Barbara Ehrenreich, Christianity, disability, Grinning to death, pain, positive thinking, problem of pain, self development, Smile or Die, The Secret | 17 Comments »
Posted by spritzophrenia on October 1, 2010
This is not a post about going bald. It’s part two of a short series on suffering and spirituality. Here I mention a common Christian “literalist” objection to theistic evolution:
Doesn’t Genesis teach there was no pain and suffering until the fall, and therefore evolution cannot have been the mechanism?
Christians, Jews and to a lesser extent Muslims, all take their origin story from Genesis. At a particular point in the tale the human race is flourishing and then everything goes wrong. Humans make Promethean choices that separate them from God, and like all choices there are consequences, much like choosing to jump from a cliff. Christians call this “the fall”.
If you’re not familiar, here’s the whole passage. Among other things, in verse 16,
To the woman God said,
I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.
~ Gen 3:16
In a literal interpretation— the approach anti-evolutionists normally favour— this clearly implies pain before the fall. Note the phrase “greatly increase”. In other words, there was pain before the human representatives made their choice, it just wasn’t so bad. On a literal interpretation, pain was around even in Eden.
And that’s really the only point I want to make today.
By the way, according to Galileo Goes to Jail, and Other Myths about Science and Religion from my public library, the church did NOT oppose anesthesia in childbirth based on passages like these. I also noticed that male domination (the husband ruling over the woman) only came in AFTER the fall. Take that, “women must submit to men” theology. Gee, maybe literalist interpretations of the Torah aren’t so bad after all? (Noting my post suggesting this whole section, like much of early Genesis, appears to be poetic in form, and reading those sections ‘literally’ is probably a mistake.)
There are some people who rather enjoy a bit of pain (see below).
More on the problem of pain tomorrow
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What Do You Think?
Depeche Mode sing Strange Love:
I give in, to sin…
Will you take the pain… I give to you?
Pain, will you return it?
Also check out the great
Pain and Suffering remix (Replicant tribute)
Anyone like to guess the where the title of today’s post comes from?
How do you think about physical pain and the meaning of life?
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Posted in agnostic, Christianity, god, hardship, Judaism, Meaning of Life | Tagged: biblical feminism, biology, creation vs evolution, creationism, Depeche Mode, Depeche Mode Strange Love, Depeche Mode video, evolution, feminism, Genesis interpretations, Genesis pain before the fall, pain, problem of evil, problem of pain, theistic evolution, theodicy | 11 Comments »
Posted by spritzophrenia on September 30, 2010
Welcome to the first in an occasional series where I specifically seek your feedback. I want to learn, you can guide my thoughts in ways I haven’t considered. Please respond in the comments and tell me what you think, even if it’s “I don’t know”.
[Edit: A good friend told me she wants to comment, but is "not a philosopher or theologian". That tells me I've pitched this too high- I'm sorry. As with all comments here, I don't expect you to be profound. I'm just happy to hear from you, even if it's "Hi, what a crappy post. You suck, but I can't think of anything to say."
So if you like, just read the first bit and skip the rest.]
Today, I’m sick. Nothing serious, but our topic will lead into a short series about pain, suffering and spirituality; surely a challenge for any path. (Here’s number two in the series.) Atheists have it easy of course, they can just say, “The world sucks, it proves there’s no benevolence in the universe, and that’s all there is to it”. Or do you atheists have something more to offer when we suffer?
What does sickness tell you– if anything– about the transcendent world? How does it affect you: Your meditation, your prayer life, your practice? What is the meaning of life for those who cannot function at the same level as others?
To get your thoughts going, read on. Or just ignore, and go straight to the comments.
Consider Mental illness,
What we call schizophrenic is, as Joseph Campbell has discussed, called (positively) visionary or mystical in shamanic cultures, hence is valued, not feared or sedated with chemicals.
Shamanic illnesses are no different or ‘special’ than the illnesses of ‘normal’ people. Disease all comes from the same source, shamanic or not. Shamanic healers don’t piece by piece heal, they heal as a whole.
~from mental illness and spirituality
I’m mentally disabled myself, I’ve struggled with depression at times for most of my adult life. Or consider the last time you were laid under by a severe cold:
The LORD will sustain him on his sick-bed and restore him from his bed of illness.
I said, O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.
What can we learn about the meaning of life from permanent disability?
The criteria of transcendence and transfiguration also apply to the spiritual development of disabled people, in each case relative to the characteristics of the body which is disabled, transcended, and transfigured. This enables us to conceive of a multiplicity of known and lived human worlds.
This has two advantages. First, the plurality of the human worlds enables us to construct a spirituality of disability which is not based upon a theory of deficiency. As long as disabilities are mainly understood as lacking something, their intrinsic character will be overlooked, and they will be understood as mere exclusions from the big world.
~ from A Spirituality of Disability
What is the meaning of life for those who cannot function at the same level as others? Do you know someone who’s suffered from chronic illness? Where is g0d in all of this?
Please leave your feedback in the comments. This is YOUR chance to share
Morbid Angel | Blessed Are The Sick
Posted in agnostic, Emergent, god, hardship, spirituality, Your Voice | Tagged: Blessed Are the Sick, disability, Morbid Angel, Morbid Angel Blessed Are the Sick, pain, problem of evil, problem of pain, sick, sickness, suffering, Your Voice | 33 Comments »