The Mafia of the Soul

Bad Guy

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ne of my favorite chapters from our book, Awakening from the American Dream, is the one on religion and spirituality. We included this quote from G. Vincent Runyon, a “retired” American pastor, who wrote in Why I Left The Ministry And Became An Atheist: “The seminary educated me to be a quack. What is a quack? A quack in short is one who pretends to have an inside wire or track. No priest, rabbi, minister or bishop or cardinal or pope has inside knowledge about heaven, hell and god but to hear me exhort you would have thought that I had influence with God. That is how all ministers sound when they pray (bray) with that old paranoic voice of divine authority, which so many clergymen quickly develop, while thundering and reechoing their god's fiendish and diabolical warnings of future punishment.”

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Liars in High Places

Political Liar

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ow that primary elections are over, some politicians are shifting their public stance on climate change. In other words, they said one thing while they were running for office, then another after they were elected. What could explain this anomaly? How about “politics as usual,” or, even better, “special interest groups?”

Monday, 13 October 2014

Greed is not Good

Greedy Man

We began our Dream book chapter on the economy with a memorable quote from the first Wall Street movie. You may recall it, delivered perfectly by Michael Douglas’s character, Wall Street wolf Gordon Gekko: “… Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

Saturday, 20 September 2014

We Done Good with Education

 

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In my Dream book chapter on education we commented on recent legislation in North Carolina against sea level rise. A day later, the Virginia legislature required that references to global warming, climate change and sea level rise be excised from a proposed study on sea level rise. And last year, the Texas Department of Environmental Quality, which had commissioned a study on Galveston Bay, cut all references to sea level rise – the main point of the study.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Power of Self-Inquiry

 

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Questions. Answers. Which are more important? Well, here’s a clue: that’s a question!

Self-inquiry empowers personal growth. It also contributes towards evolving the systems we live in. By contrast, one-size-fits-all answers can breed unthinking obedience to a certainty based in established norms. This, as we well know from years of frustrating experience, suffocates the spirit, deadens the soul, and ensures survival for the very social mechanisms that imprison us in regimented mediocrity and unconscious suffering. Nowhere is this enslaving protocol more powerfully influential and deceptively concealed than within the institution of public education.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Being the Media

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Much of our impressions about what’s happening in the world are delivered through the media: television, radio, newspapers, and an increasing array of on-line information streams. What’s presented is near instant, increasingly viral, and appeals to short attention spans. What’s hot and what’s not changes day to day, pausing only to focus on stories that are interesting enough to keep us watching/listening while advertisers sell their wares.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

You Are Already Complete

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Regardless of what Tom Cruise’s character said in the film Jerry McGuire, you are already complete. None of us are here to complete another, to make another person happy. We are here to grow and to help each other grow. Here’s the formula for a successful marriage: “We are not together to make each other happy, we are together to help each other grow.”

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Soul Food

Woman Eating Chocolatte

Let’s talk about addictions.

The word itself conjures up dark images of extreme behavior, slavery to urgings that explode lives, end careers in scandal, and sabotage relationships. True enough. But what about the little ones, the day to day addictions that most of us live with? For those of us who dare ask that question while we look in the mirror, it’s helpful to start with this simple definition of addiction: being unable to stop doing something we know we shouldn’t do. On this basis, it’s fair to suggest that all of us are addicts.

Friday, 03 October 2014

Reach Inside

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Some lucky souls do seem to live the good life, according to the American Dream. They don't miss a meal, they don’t worry about a sudden health problem draining their savings, and the prospect of being downsized doesn’t keep them awake at night. They have enough money for their kids’ college funds and their own retirement. They can vacation where and when they want, for as long as they want.

Friday, 05 September 2014

The Land of the Free

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The modern American lifestyle is rife with the illusion of success and plenty but the spell is breaking. All it takes is a little hard reality. You lose your job, a friend gets devastated by a health emergency that isn’t covered by their insurance, etc.

In my book, Awakening from the American Dream, I included a quote from University of Illinois psychologist Ed Diener: "Materialism is toxic for happiness."  No wonder increasing numbers of Americans are unhappy! This country is all about materialism and the pursuit of happiness.  Hermann Hesse offers a contrary point of view in his poem, called Happiness.

Sunday, 03 August 2014