all posts tagged 'spirituality'

Politics, Friendship, and the Search for Meaning

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Imagine, by analogy, a virtuoso pianist at the peak of her career who looks out at the culture around her and realizes that appreciation for classical music is rapidly fading. She senses a crisis: if things continue, there will soon be no audiences, no careers in music, and no future great performances. She considers the situation so dire that she decides to step away from her instrument, if only for a time, in order to defend classical music nationwide. She gives speeches about composers in grade schools across the country, lobbies Congress for increased support for the arts, and solicits wealthy donors to sponsor classical-music instruction. Her work is noble, but it consumes her; and the crisis is so severe that her task is never done. Thus, she never fully returns to the life of music she enjoyed before. Now, when she has time to play, which is rare, she’s a shadow of her former self. Practice sessions find her distracted. Her music suffers as a result of her effort to save music.

The battle to save music is not itself the practice of music. The two activities are worlds apart. One is an instrumental good, the other intrinsic; one is never complete, the other complete in itself. This paradox occurs across domains: The battle to preserve a space for Christian worship in an increasingly secular society is not itself Christian worship. The defence of the liberal arts is not the liberal arts. And the war to save our political union from our enemies is not itself political union.

A pretty heavy article that makes a few great points about nihilism, politics, friendships, and meaning.

My only quibble is that the article makes an unnecessary leap about not being able to be complete without a relationship with God, but hey, maybe the longer I live and partake in intrinsic activities, those experiences will help change my opinion about why we’re here and what set this world into motion.

Continue to the full article

What Happens to Your Brain When You Stop Believing in God

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

We arduously convince young children to believe in Santa, and they do. Testimony dictates religious beliefs, too. For example, psychologist Rebekah Richert has found that if you frame a fantastical story as a religious story, children raised in religious households will believe it. If you don't frame it religiously, they'll call your bluff.

When we get to college, however, cultural testimony changes. An analytical, scientific view reigns, and there's little room for God. We staggered home from parties pontificating on the pointless evil of Western religion. We made friends by cynically confessing our doubt. College is "very likely to challenge the more conservative belief systems we have in our brains," Grafman says. It deflates our adolescent faith.

Continue to the full article

Erykah Badu: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

YouTube’s algorithm brought this video to me and my wife’s attention tonight.

For as many faults as you can place on Google and their algorithms, I sure am grateful they surfaced this.

Two observations:

First, the stunning artistry, my god. The song “Green Eyes” is like listening to an emotional onion being peeled. You start with denial, which fades into anger, which fades into loneliness/lust/regret. What an amazing commentary on heart break.

Second, I never appreciated recorded concerts much until now. I always thought the in-person factor made more of a difference for experiencing music than what could be accomplished via a recorded medium.

It must be what it felt like to listen to a vinyl record in the sixties, or an orchestra in the 1800s, or a gospel chant in the 1400s. Simply an ethereal experience that makes you happy to be alive.

40 Life Lessons from 40 Years

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

I always get suckered in by these types of posts (certainly they’ve been sprinkled throughout the archives of this blog).

This one is exceptionally well done. There are simply too many to choose a pull quote from, but I’ll share the two reasons why I wanted to post about this article.

First, it’s heavy on the minimalism. It’s hard to participate in our society and not strive to be a maximalist. Capitalism is all about growth, after all, and if you aren’t expanding your footprint on this planet, what’s the point, right?

I’ve been working on being content lately. That contentment comes in several forms, like being content to spend time with my kids, being content to live in a smaller house than my neighbors, being content to drive an older car.

This post gives a lot of good snippets to keep in mind while maintaining the pursuit to think through what truly matters and what truly makes you happy.

Which leads me to my second reason: labeling my spiritual beliefs. This post contains a lot of axioms which seem to gel nicely with Buddhism.

I would not call myself a Buddhist. Frankly, I’m not sure what I’d call myself. But lately, the tenets of Buddhism have been appealing to me, and again, there are a lot of thoughts around how to deal with pain and suffering within this collection.

Continue to the full article

Americans: Undecided About God?

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

The holidays are upon us again — it sounds vaguely aggressive, as if the holidays were some sort of mugger, or overly enthusiastic lover — and so it’s time to stick a thermometer deep in our souls and take our spiritual temperature (between trips to the mall, of course).

For some of us, the season affords an opportunity to reconnect with our religious heritage. For others, myself included, it’s a time to shake our heads over the sad state of our national conversation about God, and wish there were another way.

Interesting op-ed in the New York Times.

Continue to the full article