Theses Toward a Theory of Generative Death Anxiety: Thesis #11

Thesis #11: Generally speaking, cultural narratives (narrative mythologies) are on one level fictional, since they promise something (immortality) which they cannot demonstrably deliver; however, when taken on faith, they are also potentially true in that each provides some functional easing of anxiety in the face of actual and symbolic threats. Human individual and social life without such cultural narratives would be unbearable and impossible.

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Adam and Eve – A New Vision: Part 1

For thousands of years the Adam and Eve story has dominated the lives of billions of people. Two small chapters! How is this even possible? With today’s social media we can see how an idea, no matter how ludicrous or absurd, can spawn and flourish in a matter of days resulting in riots and mass social upheaval. The same process worked thousands of years ago over longer periods of time but with the same net result. In many ways the old methods were more effective because they were backed up by legions of sword bearing devotees and enthusiasts or people just trying to make a buck.

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The Virtual Black Madonna Pilgrimage

This post is an orientation to our virtual pilgrimage — which I am so excited about! Together, we will journey to 12 Black Madonnas all over the globe — from the Caribbean to Latin America to Asia to Africa and Europe. Each stop on our pilgrimage will include four invitations — (1) to consider my own brief reflections about how cultural perceptions of race and gender impact our experience of the Divine, (2) to engage an idea/piece of art/beauty as we think about our own experiences of the Divine, (3) to reflect on several questions either individually or in community, and (4) to practice a different way of interacting with the world that will hopefully open us up to new experiences of the Divine. 

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Theses Toward a Theory of Generative Death Anxiety: Thesis #10 (Part B)

hesis 10 – This urge for symbolic immortality is a key source of human creativity and life-affirming energies; it is the underlying function of human cultures, and especially religions, to serve as venues through which people achieve and maintain a sense of participation in symbolic immortality.

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Values to Build a Life On – Pat IV

Dedication to Compassion for All Humanity

The 22nd chapter of Proverbs seems like a random list of statements that are right brain rather than left because they wander around a labyrinth rather than go straight to a clear point. Yet a message of compassion stands out that begins with how children are raised.

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Values to Build a Life On – Part III

Dedication to Citizenship in God’s World

n the 21st century, political campaigns appeal to American voters as taxpayers, as members of a party, religious or identity group, and sometimes as patriots. Citizenship and the obligations of public service that come with it are seldom mentioned. Success in the business or corporate world is admired because national prosperity is an important political goal. Self-interest that is at the heart of the Free Enterprise System and built into legal requirements for corporations is emphasized at the expense of non-profitable ideals of duty, honor, service.

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Values to Build a Life On – Part II

Dedication to Religious Traditions Updated with Democratic Values

Few Millennials or Centennials read books. Freshmen in my history classes prefer online assignments with video clips, diagrams, cartoons, and very short narratives. They like online textbooks with chapters that are short with links to interesting visuals. They read books only when they must. The Bible is something that hardly ever interests them at all. Having grown up a Protestant in the Old South’s Bible Belt, it’s hard to believe how knowledge of the Bible and Judeo-Christian history have declined since the mid-20th century.

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Values to Build a Life On

Part I: Introduction

Knowing the end of a career or life is approaching, one naturally looks over personal values, how they changed over the years, and what to share with those who follow. A “Last Lecture” has become a common way for academics to speak to posterity, even if the lecture is not given in public. Ministers sometimes deliver a “Last Sermon” at the end of their careers. Some of my friends in their 70s have shared drafts of their final thoughts with this fellow septuagenarian. The late Marcus Borg went even further upon reaching 70 by writing “Convictions”, a final book explaining his understanding of progressive Christianity and describing changes in his beliefs since a very Lutheran upbringing.

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Theses Toward a Theory of Generative Death Anxiety: Thesis #10 (Part A)

Thesis 10 – This urge for symbolic immortality is a key source of human creativity and life-affirming energies; it is the underlying function of human cultures, and especially religions, to serve as venues through which people achieve and maintain a sense of participation in symbolic immortality.

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Progressive Christianity and the Church?- BRUNCHtalks 9

Together, learning to be LOVE in the world! As we explore the connections between Progressive Christianity and the Church, Brian McLaren’s question: “What if Churches became schools of LOVE?” provides insights into the church’s task to become communities where we can learn to become the most LOVING version of ourselves. This is the last of our BRUNCHtalks for this summer. We have explored what it means to be Progressive in approach: Christ-like in action. 

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Theses Toward a Theory of Generative Death Anxiety: Thesis #9

Thesis #9 – Perhaps the most significant and ubiquitous anxiety-compensatory move is to transfer the urge for continued living from the physical realm to the symbolic realm; the organismic urge for continued living becomes channeled into the urge for immortality in the symbolic realm.

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Theses Toward a Theory of Generative Death Anxiety: Thesis #8

We continue the presentation we began in the last column, here offering:

Thesis #8 – The entire array of individual and collective defense mechanisms are regularly employed to maintain individual and social/cultural equanimity in reaction to actual threats of injury, death, and annihilation, and also in reaction to imaginative or symbolic threats of injury, death, and annihilation. Such defense mechanisms probably originated in, but certainly were strategically contoured in their contemporary form by the need for anxiety control in the face of mortality awareness. In short, our highly developed intelligence caused the anxiety problem in the first place, and also comes forth with at least the provisional solution to the anxiety problem.

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Confronting the Denial of American White Racism (Part 4 of 4)

Intergenerational White Victimhood

For my last installment on the topic of ‘Confronting the Denial of American White Racism’, I humbly submit a discussion on the pervasiveness of white victimhood through generations of American history; in fact, I call it: ‘Intergenerational White Victimhood’ (a psychological theory I’m developing). The basis for my research comes from a Newsweek/Gallup Survey, August 19, 1969, one year after the death of Dr. King, revealing that 44% of whites believed that black people had a better chance than they did at obtaining employment and earning a higher wage. 88%, in the same survey, outright stated that their chances were worse, insisting that they knew this to be true, not just a mere belief. Moreover, 80% of whites said that black people already possessed equal or better educational opportunities as well; only 17% of whites said otherwise (3% were indifferent). Remember, we are talking about 1969…

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Confronting the Denial of American White Racism (Part 3 of 4)

The Protests will NOT Stop!

On Tuesday evening, I joined the distressed voices of many freedom fighters protesting the brutal murder of Stephon Clark by the Sacramento Police Department. We converged upon city hall to confront SacPD, the mayor, and the city council, letting them know, in a way that we (the people) deemed necessary, we will no longer stand for the intimidation, violation, brutalization, and killing of our neighbors, especially those of color. As has been well documented, America has a history of oppressing communities of color through city, county and state police units. The citizens of Sacramento, CA want to make it abundantly clear: NO ON OUR STREETS! This ain’t Alabama; this ain’t Mississippi, or any of those other good ole’ boy, backwoods, country, down home states; this is California, and we will act by any means necessary before we allow state executions in our streets—any means necessary!

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Confronting the Denial of American White Racism (Part 2 of 4)

About five years ago, my best friends and I sat down at Leatherby’s Ice Cream one evening, and we began to discuss race relations in America. Three of us at the table recognized the fact that (systemic) racism was still a problem, while one of us was vehemently maintaining that it was not. We tried to have a conversation about this friend’s own white denial of racism, but this friend was NOT having any of that conversation. This friend became flustered, red, and angry at the entire discussion. Yes, this friend is a white male; one who in no way, shape, or form wanted to converse about American white racism. I knew, right then, this was not only a social issue, it was psychological. (It’s also spiritual, but that’s another post.)

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This Rabbi On That Rabbi

A modern Portland, Oregon rabbi explains Jesus’s messages

An outside-the-box, modern rabbi from Portland, Oregon explains the Jewish messages of Jesus. Rabbi Brian’s style is approachable, warm, honest and quirky. He quotes Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy to help explain the intent of the phrase “I am the way the truth and the life. No one gets to the Father except through me.”

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Theses Toward a Theory of Generative Death Anxiety: Thesis #7

Thesis #7: Just as there are individual defense mechanisms, likewise, there are collective defense mechanisms, habitual patterns of collective behavior aimed at defending against threats to established social formations. Each of these mechanisms may manifest itself in both creative and destructive forms.

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Theses Toward a Theory of Generative Death Anxiety: Thesis #6 (Part B)

Thesis #6 – There are defense mechanisms in individual psychology, habitual patterns of mental schemes and individual behaviors aimed at defending against potentially threatening, anxiety-provoking  information. Each of these mechanisms may manifest itself in both creative and destructive forms.

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