Romance of Religion

Remember To Give Your Lover Flowers On Valentine’s Day

September 19th, 2016

Most everybody who celebrates the holiday of passion does so without realizing the history behind the romantic tradition of flower giving. This holiday was named after several Christian martyrs who had the name of Valentine. This certainly is a traditional Christian holiday as it was established around A.D. 500 by the Roman Catholic Church Pope Gelasius the first, but then later was removed by Pope Paul the sixth in 1969.

In the Middle Ages Valentine’s Day became a tradition of love and flower giving as courting and romantic love blossomed. It was not until the 19th century that lovers began giving greeting cards to each other.

But how did the Lore of Valentine Love begin?

St. Valentine was a persecuted Christian who was eventually martyred because of his faith. When a Roman Emperor named Claudius II tried to convert Valentine to paganism in order to spare his life, he refused and in turn tried to convert Claudius to Christianity. The love that he showed for his Christian belief, even unto death displayed an uncommon love. However, prior to his execution St. Valentine performed a miracle to display the power of the love of God; and he healed the blinded daughter of the jailer who kept guard over him.

This however does not provide an explanation for sentiment, and additional folklore tells that Claudius forced the soldiers of his army to remain single and not to marry wives, so that his army would be stronger. But Valentine out of respect for the Godly institution of holy matrimony secretly married the soldiers and women. Once this was discovered Saint Valentine was arrested and became the Martyr for love.

What kinds of Flowers are Given on Valentine’s Day?

· Roses are the number one most popular flower given on Valentines Day with long lasting blooms and a strong fragrant smell you can’t go wrong with these.

· Tulips are next to the most popular flower given for Valentines they last a long time and are very beautiful

· Daisies come in various colors and sizes and are a welcome favorite for Valentine bouquets

· Azaleas are a beautiful type of flower given in Valentine flower arrangements

· Wild Flowers such as Daffodils make a nice sentimental gift from the heart as you often will need to go and pick these flowers yourself

Valentine’s Day is Celebrated All Around The World

Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the World by many cultures and ethnic groups.

· France the holiday is known as “Saint Valentin”

· Sweden the holiday is called “All Hearts Day”

· Finland it is called “Friends Day”

· Turkey recognizes Valentines Day as “Sweethearts Day”

· Slovenia recognizes this holiday as the beginning of spring and appropriately calls it “Valentine the First Saint of Spring”

· South American Cultures recognize Valentines as the “Day of Love and Friendship”

· Asian Countries widely recognize Valentine’s Day and spend more money than any other culture on gifts

Although some countries and religions have banned the holiday the power of love has overcame many throughout the world and they willing celebrate one of nature’s most treasured feelings.

Candy and Cards are nice to give on Valentine’s Day. However nothing seems to show such affection as a wonderful bouquet of flowers for your sweetheart.

Consider the times when little boys thought of their little girl sweethearts as the plucked the pedals from a daisy saying

“She Loves me…She Loves me not…She Loves me… She Loves me not… SHE LOVES ME!”

How sweet it could be to return to those innocent days of youth when we were head over heels in Love with our Sweet Heart.

Romance is not dead and you can rekindle the flame!

Little Touches

September 19th, 2016

On a cool crisp morning an hour after waking up, I had just walked myself into the day. I made myself a cup of coffee and relaxed in my chair. I was having a different morning. It was easier for me to get up and roll out of bed. It was easier for me to get active and actually accomplish some things first thing in the morning. I printed a letter that needed to go out and I already had it in the envelope with a stamp, addressed and everything. That was rare for it only being an hour after waking up in the morning. I just felt like everything was going to work for me today.

I had struggled with something the day before though. It actually started a few weeks earlier. I received a letter in the mail that really perked my interest. It promised me a book for free. I had been chosen by a secret society and I would receive the book for free. Exactly! I started to look a little closer at the letter. I read every line carefully. The secret society was made up of celebrities and wealthy business people. They were all anonymous, but the letter claimed that if I knew who was in the society and who had chosen me to be a part of that society that I would really be impressed. Finally, I was urged to send the form back within a few days or else all opportunity of being a part of this society would be lost. Well, I was going to get a book that contained all the secrets of the rich and famous for free. So, I sent the form.

A few weeks went by and I finally received the book in the mail. It was a little over fifty pages. So, I can read that in a little over an hour. I started reading. Story number one told me that an ancient manuscript from a Greek society has been passed down from person to person and was about to be placed on my lap. Everyone who comes into contact with the manuscript lives a blessed life. It happens automatically even if you only read the bold headings throughout the thousand page book. Somehow the secrets that are contained within the manuscript magically enter your life and you begin to see differences right away.

Story number two was a heart wrenching piece talking about how this ancient manuscript can change your life. It was a testimony of a lady who was an actress and that if she were to reveal her name to me, I would know it immediately. She was given the manuscript by a Las Vegas gambler who couldn’t lose. His life was so blessed that he could accurately guess what other people were going to do or what they were thinking. He was able to beat them at every game. He also knew that she would enter a library in an obscure place weeks from the first time they met. So, he left the manuscript there for her. When she found it, she was amazed. But as soon as she read it, things started changing for her. She lost weight and became more attractive. She fell into fortune and her husband fell in love with her more deeply than ever before.

There were three other stories, but you get the picture. Every testimony was a heartbreaking story of how a person was down and the manuscript magically landed in their lap. It changed their lives. Romance was better. Weight loss was effortless. Friends were flocking to them. They were amazingly turned into the most charming people on the face of the earth and they couldn’t help but to amass great fortunes. The manuscript was that special. And it would only cost me…

A one thousand page manuscript passed down from the ancient Greeks containing all the secrets of the powerful and the wealthy would only cost me… I was a part of a secret society. I had been chosen because I had the traits. I was special just like everyone else in the society. I would be amazed when I attended the summit and saw who else was in the society. But, I had to keep it secret. No one was to know about our connection. The society could make millions of dollars and get a Nobel Peace Prize if they published the manuscript and let everyone have it. But, they weren’t into making it public property. I could have it for…

Have you ever just wanted to believe in something so much? I put the little booklet back in the envelope it came from and I put the order form back in the envelope with it. I looked out the window and thought to myself, “If only something like that were true. If only something did have a magical ability to help me lose these few extra pounds and help me make better decisions so that the work I’m doing would make me financially independent if not incredibly wealthy. I wish something like that did exist!” I opted out of purchasing the thousand page, twenty three hundred year old manuscript. I would love to know the secrets if there were any. But, something was telling me not.

If I was chosen for this society, why wouldn’t they just give me the manuscript? Everyone else in the booklet I read was simply given the manuscript. Why did I have to buy it? Plus, I had encountered this so many times before. The empty promises of secrets and becoming wealthy, powerful and famous. You lose your precious time and money learning that there are no secrets. You’ve just been played again like a pawn in a chess game. Regrettably, I had to pass. And I say regrettably because I wanted to know someone’s secrets. I wouldn’t mind being wealthy, powerful and famous. And I’d love it if it was that easy. All I had to do was learn the secrets and I would have a blessed life. Who wouldn’t?

But, I had to go back to work. I had wasted enough of my time reading this free fifty page advertisement for a manuscript I would have to buy if I wanted to know the secrets. So, I went back to work. That night I slept comfortably. It was a decent sleep with no interruptions. That wasn’t common. I woke up earlier than usual and made myself a pot of coffee. I went straight to work on things that I needed to get finished. I was getting things done before I’m even normally awake. I had a different kind of energy and when I thought about working out, it wasn’t just a thought. It was going to happen this morning. It was a great morning. The coffee even tasted better.

I slowed down to look out the window and think about that manuscript. Had something from that booklet actually lit a spark in me? It said it was magical how it all works. If only something like that were true. But no, I don’t believe that there is a magical secret thing.

And as I looked out the window still thinking about it, still thinking about how I wish there was some magical secret thing to make life so much easier for me, I had to smile. I may not have found the secret magic of the universe, I may not have been chosen by some secret society and I may not ever even see an ancient manuscript containing all the secrets of the rich and famous, but I still smiled. I had a new energy this morning. I had a new feeling. I’m going to be everything I want to be without that manuscript. I don’t need any secrets. In fact, I’m already on my way.

“I don’t need any of that stuff!” I thought and I felt a warm smile come over me like a blanket reassuring me. I was right and I knew it deep down in that place where the truth is burned free from the rest of the noise and illusion.

Now, I’m not a religious fanatic. I don’t believe in any organized religion at all. I don’t like the guilt trips you get because you don’t go to church and you don’t pay your tithes and you aren’t at Bible study. I don’t like people wrapping religion up into little boxes so that the masses can handle it. I don’t like the freeze dried religion that makes people feel comfortable and less involved in the world. I don’t like the dangerously fanatical religious zealots who would blow up abortion clinics and fly airplanes into buildings. I hate sermons about drinking and cults, premarital sex and gambling. I mean, can’t I do anything? I don’t go to church and I don’t make it a habit of preaching, because simply enough I don’t like church and I don’t care for presumptuous sermons.

But, that warm smile was like an answer. I didn’t need all that stuff of prestigious societies and ancient manuscripts containing secrets of the rich and famous.

“I don’t need any of that stuff at all!”

“That’s right son!” I felt it. I actually felt that. Like I was going to start being more motivated. I was going to lose those pounds and I was going to become more successful. And while I’m at it, I just might find that person who is right for me. But, I didn’t need any secrets. I just needed that touch, the warm smile that covered me like a parent reassuring the son.

No. I don’t go to church and I don’t sit through sermons. I don’t watch religious programming on the television and I don’t subscribe to remedies that promise to make my life easier and more fulfilled.

But, I love those little touches of God.

Fantasy Books For Women

September 19th, 2016

If you are looking for some of the best Fantasy Books for Women (or any speculative fiction books written for girls), then read this guide

It’s no surprise that women want a different sort of fantasy book then do men. Many women complain speculative fiction books are almost all male-orientated. Fear not though. Not all the best books are for men! There are some great series in the genre for women! If you are a woman tired of male protagonists, pathetic female characters, and lousy romance, you’ve come to the right place!

While the majority of books in the genre is geared towards males, there is indeed a fair amount of superb books in the genre for girls. I’ve created a recommendation list of the Top 10 Fantasy books for women.

#1: Liveship Traders (Robin Hobb)
Robin Hobb is one of the best writers in the Fantasy genre. Her characterization and writing skills are sublime. Robb has the ability to create magical (in every sense) worlds that really just suck you in. Hobb’s handling of romance is very well done. If you are looking for a book with a fascinating magical world with a very strong female protagonist, Liveship Traders will deliver this. This is one book that will appeal to both men and women alike – but I believe women will find the compelling female protagonist quite appealing.

#2: The Sevenwaters Trilogy (Juliet Marillier)
Without a doubt, Juliet Mariner is a master at creating realistic female characters. Her Sevenwaters Trilogy is a masterpiece – intelligent, complex, adventurous, and sad. This is Celtic speculative fiction with a well-realized world, well-developed romance, and a magical and mysterious world. This is very well-written fantasy for the girls!

#3: Kushiel’s Dart (Jacqueline Carey)
Read this book and experience a gamut of emotions: passion, exultation and sadness. Kushiel’s Dart is a superb read for both women and men – but especially women. If you are a women looking for some literature geared towards women, then Kushiel’s Dart is just what you need. The female character is one of the most complex characters in the genre of fantasy. While the book can be read by both men and women, I think the strong female protagonist makes this novel especially appealing to women.

#4: The Lions of Al-Rassan (Guy Gaverial Kay)
This man has yet to write a bad book. Kay populates his landscapes with fully realized characters. Kay’s female characters are always intelligent, thoughtful, and likable heroines. Kay is a wordsmith – he takes his art very seriously. If you are looking for some beautifully written, mature read that lacks all the magical power-ups prevalent in most modern fantasy books, then pick this series up. Women should enjoy the vivid characterization of the main (female) protagonist. A fantastical story for women that absolutely rocks!

#5: Archangel (Sharon Shinn)
If you are looking for a wonderful romance novel set in a fantastical landscape, definitely check this novel out. It’s sort of a Science Fiction – Fantasy hybrid with a bit of re-imagined John Milton thrown along for the ride. This fantasy story has a great love story – it’s interesting to the relationship between the two protagonists evolve from utter dislike to love. Those women looking for some heavy romance fantasy with a lot of character, check this book out.

#6: The Ruins of Ambrai (Exiles, Vol. 1) (Melini Rawn)
Melini Rawn is a great fantasy author who writes books geared towards women. This story is wholly character-driven, with complex assortment of characters and a very compelling world. Rawn’s ability to create layered plots combined with her strong writing really makes this book something to be treasured. Without a doubt, this fantasy novel is a story that all women will love.

#7: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke)
Those women who are fans of Jane Austin and Lord of the Rings should definitely check this fantasy book out. It’s written in the old Victorian style with lots of big words and flowery prose. But the story, my oh my! It’s fabulous. This is not really romantic fantasy (though it does have strong romantic elements), but this is one book that should not be missed. It’s one of the best fantasy books out there and it’s made my top 25 best fantasy books list.

#8: Dragon and the Phoenix (Joanne Bertin)
This novel is an outright romance hiding in the skin of a fantasy book. But it’s also a good romance. If you love fantasy books and you love romance, then I urge you to read this book. This romance fantasy book has everything women might want in a fantasy novel: a powerful hero, strong romantic tension, love triangles, action, and an addicting plot. If there is a fantasy book for women subgenre, then this book definitely qualifies.

#9: Dragon Prince Trilogy (Melini Rawn)
Those ladies lusting after some epic fantasy for women, will find themselves quite satisfied with this novel. This novel is epic fantasy with a strong cast of dangerous females. The romance between the male and female protagonists is the central focus of the book, but world building is pretty good. I felt this was sort of a Robert Jordan for girls series (though, the plot is completely different). It’s good to see some epic fantasy for girls. Who says only men can read epic fantasy?

#10: Rhapsody (Elizabeth Haydon)
This is an interesting book. This is another “romance in fantasy clothing” book. Haydon creates an interesting world with a ton of romantic tension. This book makes no apologies about being a pure bodice ripper – so if you are looking for a fantasy novel with lots of romance and lots of sex, well, this book will be sure to deliver those in spades. Despite the heavy prevalence of romantic plots, Haydon’s world building is quite good. There are different races, cultures, religions, and magics. I only recommend reading the first book in the series though – the sequels are not as good. If you want a fantasy book geared towards women, well, this book delivers. It’s a fantasy book for women!

Creating Riveting Romances in Fiction – The Anima-Animus Archetype (Part 1)

September 19th, 2016

Psychological research shows a mere three things are crucial to human happiness, and one of them is love.*

Gods and goddesses of love, passion, fertility, and even marital fidelity appear in the earliest historic writings, and many of the stories that have endured best feature male and female heroes’ passionate love affairs. Famous examples include Chrétien de Troyes’ tale of Queen Guenevere’s love affair with Lancelot (c. 1170); Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1597); and Charles Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty (1697).

This basic human need for romantic, sexual, and marital connections is reflected in Carl Jung’s anima/animus archetype. In essence, Jung believed there is a psychological construct in males (the anima) that creates a strong draw to the feminine as it’s embodied in real women, and a matching construct in females (the animus) that draws them to men. One of the best visual metaphors for the concept is the yin-yang; each of the contrasting halves, one of which refers (in part) to the female and the other to the male, is embedded with a disc of the opposite sex’s color.

Losing and Finding One’s “Other Half”

“Chemistry,” as we now call it, has long been thought of as the need for and recognition of your “other half,” and as Jung saw it, this recognition was prompted by the anima or animus. Plato’s Symposium, written in 360 BC, provides an explanation for how the need initially developed.

“The original human nature was not like the present, but different. The primeval man was round, his back and sides forming a circle; and he had four hands and four feet, one head with two faces, looking opposite. He could walk upright as men now do, backwards or forwards as he pleased, and he could also roll over and over at a great pace, turning on his four hands and four feet, eight in all, like tumblers going over and over with their legs in the air; this was when he wanted to run fast… [The sexes were not two as they are now, but originally three in number; there was man (made of 2 male parts), woman (made of 2 female parts), and the union of the two (one male and one female part). But the primeval humans] made an attack upon the gods [and Zeus said]: “Methinks I have a plan which will humble their pride and improve their manners; men shall continue to exist, but I will cut them in two. [Apollo] gave a turn to the face and pulled the skin from the sides all over that which in our language is called the belly, which he fastened in a knot (the same which is called the navel).

“After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one. Each of us when separated is always looking for his other half.And when one meets with his other half, the actual half of himself, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and would not be out of the other’s sight, as I may say, even for a moment: these are the people who pass their whole lives together. And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love.”

What all of this means is that, just like in real life, your characters should be attracted to their love interests for a reason. The potential love interest’s traits and behavior must resonate with your hero because they somehow make him or her more whole.

Many writers create love interests that reflect their own ideas of the “perfect” man or woman; the danger is that sometimes we’re actually creating love interests for ourselves rather than for our characters. We may assume that everyone would be attracted to the same things we are, and that little explanation is needed to justify why our heroes and heroines would fall for each other. But if your hero or heroine is so universally appealing, 1) Why hasn’t s/he been snatched up yet and 2) Why has s/he fallen for this love interest? If the answer to 1 is that s/he’s been waiting for the “right one” to come along, 2 is even more important. Also remember that in real life, the people we’re most drawn to aren’t always the ones who are best for us–sometimes we’re so focused on a bad choice that we don’t even see Mr. or Ms. Soulmate when s/he wanders by. Scarlett O’Hara’s obsession with Ashley is doomed to failure because he can never be what she needs.

And of course, sometimes the people we’re most drawn to won’t have us, because while they could meet our needs, we don’t or can’t meet theirs. In the film Gladiator, Commodus is drawn to his sister Lucilla because she represents the purity and kindness he lacks, but he is too flawed for her to truly love in return, even as a brother.

The Anima, the Animus, and the Double

Because Jung didn’t address gay and lesbian relationships in the way that the Plato did, the anima/animus archetype is difficult to apply to gay/lesbian relationships. Some modern theorists argue that an archetype they call the Double is responsible for committed same-sex partnerships.

The Double draws us into all relationships with individuals of the same sex, which can range from platonic friendships to love relationships. In other words, the Double helps us find our best same-sex friends as well as love our brothers and fathers (if we’re male) and our sisters and mothers (if we’re female). Meanwhile, the anima (for men) and the animus (for women) help us find our opposite-sex mates. For those people who were metaphorically cut apart from a same-sex other half, the Double takes over this responsibility as well.

Three Influences on the Anima/Animus

Both the anima and animus are influenced by three things: biology, sociocultural environment, and personal experience.


Reams of paper have been used to argue which sex is superior to the other, but research demonstrates that men and women are actually equal in terms of their psychological and cognitive (thinking, intelligence) skills–except for one thing. Men significantly outperform women on spatial ability ( i.e. they conceptualize distance, speed, spin, direction, and area better than women, which is believed to have developed because men needed to be able to hit exactly what they aimed at when they threw spears at prey).

From an evolutionary perspective, the differences men and women do have developed because they faced different adaptive problems. The principle of natural selection says that any genetically-influenced characteristic or behavior that contributes to the survival of oneself and one’s offspring will eventually become more common in the general population.

For example, imagine all of the dangers our ancestors faced: predators, disease, famine, and long cold winters, just to name a few. Now let’s pretend that there are four types of men in this ancient world: men who are fast, men who are strong, men who are smart, and men who have none of these characteristics. When faced with a natural predator like a bear, the fast men may be able to outrun it, the strong men may be able to fight it off, the smart men may be able to outwit it, and the men with none of these characteristics probably don’t have a prayer.

Since the men who are fast, smart, or strong live longer, they have more years to produce offspring; they also are better able to hunt down and kill deer, buffalo, and other animals that provide food and furs. Men who then took these food and furs to their wives and children were more likely to have families that survived cold winters, thereby insuring that the man’s genetic material stayed in the gene pool. Men who had two or more of the above characteristics (fast, smart, or strong) were more likely to become renowned warriors who led tribes and were therefore able not only to protect, feed, and warm their families, but who also received additional resources and protection from the warriors who served under them.

Now think about the women in this same tribe. The women were often unable to hunt or fight off predators alone, so they needed men to protect them and bring them resources to aid survival. (Imagine a woman who’s 8 months pregnant chasing down a deer or fighting off a cougar and you’ll see what I mean–feminism works much better in a world that equalizes physical differences.) If these women were attracted to men who had neither strength nor speed nor intelligence, they were more likely to be left unprotected and without food and warmth; therefore, they and their children were more likely to die prematurely. Likewise, women who were uninterested in caring for their offspring were likely to lose those children, thereby removing their own genetic material from the gene pool. (With our modern perspective, we tend to want to imagine these women and children getting assistance from the rest of the tribe, but when food was so scarce survival was in question, each family would have had to put its own needs first.)

Because men’s hunting and fighting ability was so important, men convert energy to muscle more easily than women, experience faster healing of wounds and bruises, have fewer nerve endings in their skin (which makes their bodies less sensitive to touch and pain), and have excellent spatial skills (ability to think in three dimensions) that helped them shoot arrows and throw spears. Since they could never be absolutely sure that the children their partners carried were theirs, jealousy made them protect their wives from other men’s sexual access. Because only young, healthy women can have babies, men who were attracted to these kinds of women were more likely to pass on their genetic material than men who were attracted infertile diseased women!

Women convert energy into stored fat, which is necessary to carry healthy offspring (women who are very thin often lose the ability to have children; some scientists believe that industrialized nations have higher infertility rates because women strive to keep their body fat and weight so low). They also have a stronger resistance to infection, have more acute senses of vision, hearing, smell, and taste so they can take better care of their children and find dangers like rotten food.

Women are better at reading body language and emotional expressions, which helped them figure out which men were truthful about being committed (this is actually why women analyze their relationships to death and men don’t). They also have stronger verbal skills, which helped them get along in the community with other women, and better verbalize the need for help or medicinal remedies. Women also tend to be attracted to strong, masculine men who are of high status and have plenty of resources. This is why young, attractive women often end up with rich older men.

These differences have been encoded into our genes at the physical level, but Jung lived decades before David Buss’ extensive research into this kind of evolutionary psychology. What that means is that Jung probably would have believed the idealized “masculine” or “feminine” was imprinted on the “psychic DNA” of the collective unconscious rather than the literal, physical DNA of our bodies.

Rather than seeing that as negation of the anima/animus archetype, we have to remember that the archetypes are psychological echoes of different parts of human nature, many of which are influenced by biology. The persona (putting on a “face” others will like) is underlain by a social instinct that led our ancestors to develop “packs” to fight off predators; the shadow is underlain by aggressive and often sexual instincts; and the anima and animus are psychic manifestations of biological attraction and mating instincts.

Sociocultural Environment

Different cultures value different things. Growing up, we’re indoctrinated into our culture by learning that, for example, N is for Nurse (who’s female), D is for Doctor (who’s male), and T is for teacher (who’s female). And just try finding an advertisement that has a little boy using a toy vacuum or a little girl in a room with footballs on her sheets.

Some people argue that gender is a social construction–that is, the greatest differences between men and women exist because we act like they’re there. Myths, fairy tales, religion, art, and all of the other cultural images to which we’re exposed help us build our understanding of what is male and what is female.

For example, Cinderella, the Virgin Mary, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Katherine Hepburn, and Angelina Jolie all teach us different things about what it means to be feminine. Likewise, King Arthur, James Dean, Steve McQueen, Al Pacino, and Adam Sandler all teach us different things about what it means to be masculine.

Individual Experience

Both anima and animus are affected by the relationships we saw between our primary caregivers (traditionally the mother and father), and the interactions we have with the same and opposite sex. As we grow, each of us forms a kind of blueprint of how the world works. We incorporate things like our parents’ relationships and values, and their beliefs about relationships and sex.

These caregivers serve as doorways to the masculine and feminine in the collective unconscious. We come to understand what it means to be masculine (information contained in the animus) through our male caregivers and what it means to be feminine (information stored in the anima) through the feminine qualities embodied by our female caregivers.


* The other two are a/ satisfying work and b/ personality, most notably the qualities of high self-esteem, extraversion, and optimism.

TEASER for ANIMA/ANIMUS PART II: When we write, we often focus on watching our characters fall in love without thinking about what happens after the “happily ever after.” Given the 50% divorce rate in the United States, a lot of us like to leave our characters in a blissful state and pretend they’ll never face the struggles we do in our real-life partnerships. But research shows that there are a few very specific behaviors that will make or break a marriage; by focusing on these things alone, researchers can predict whether a marriage will last with 96% accuracy!

Is Nymphomania Real? It Depends – How About Religion? Is Billy Graham Real?

September 19th, 2016

Introduction: Irrationality in America

My position on nymphomania is fully described in the summary. It is one example of irrationality that is pervasive in America. I want to describe another kind of irrationality that is vastly more injurious to individuals and to our society and nations around the world, namely, organized religions and those who promote them. I wish to do so by contrasting the lives of two individuals, one dead and the other nearly so. One embodies reason; the other superstition and other qualities of irrationality. First, however, a few words on critical thinking or its absence.

While the influence of religion is reported to be waning, or so it seems if the latest Pew findings on religious affiliation in America are accurate, certain elements of religious dogmas are as pervasive as ever. Consider, for example, belief in miracles or even demonic possession. The strength of these ancient superstitions is on the rise.

In addition, there has been an increase in conspiracy thinking, led by birthers, moon hoaxers, antivaxxers, Holocaust deniers, young Earth creationists and so on.

H. L. Mencken had a term for the propensity of our citizenry to embrace nonsense – Boobus Americanus. The Boobus strain is a national embarrassment.

Republicans are fond of claiming a quality of exceptionalism for our nation. We’re exceptional all right, but not in a good way. We are exceptionally irrational. Of course, this criticism does not apply to all Americans. Mencken believed America was populated by a small elite of educated, cultivated and intelligent human beings – and then there were the masses. The latter he considered frighteningly ignorant and capable of being led and bamboozled.

In a recent personal message, Perry Street Palace blogger SJ expressed more or less the same idea, explaining that rational, evidence-based critical thinking takes practice, lots of it for most people. SJ rhetorically asked, And just who in the public domain is modeling evidence-based reasoning? I’m waiting for your answer. His point was that Americans are in thrall to absurd notions about supernatural forces.

Which brings me to two figures in recent American history – one a paragon of reason, science, free inquiry and wonder; the other a model of fear-mongering, ignorance and superstition. I’m thinking of Dr. Carl Sagan and Reverend Billy Graham, respectively.

Billy Graham

I first encountered the televangelist as a teen in the 1950’s. My parents were spellbound by Graham’s televised revival performances. His hell-fire and brimstone condemnations of sinners was captured beautifully by Bert Lancaster in the movie Elmer Ganty.

My childhood was deeply immersed in the Roman Catholic culture of the time. In that context, the Catholic masses (conducted in Latin) and other rituals were mind-numbingly boring; Billy Graham, on the other hand, was a showman. While I was appalled others, including my Catholic parents, were spellbound. Not getting it, I wondered: How could my parents watch this foolishness?

Well, I now suppose that, compared with Catholic ritual, Graham must have been both entertaining and effective. After condemning sin, sinners and backsliding Christians, Graham would soften his tone and, with a little help from an orchestra, a choir and George Beverly Shea, invite the fallen to come forward, renounce their wicked ways and be saved. All the audience members had to do was accept Jesus as their personal savior. Not much was said as to what that meant, but the assumption seemed to be that everything would be all right once they did so – and especially after they wrote a check for Billy Graham’s crusade and sent it off to the address conveniently shown on the television screen. Shea would sing, How Great Thou Art at this critical point as the revival audience moved toward the stage. For a sense of what a Godgasm the show provided, go to YouTube and search for a video of Mr. Shea reprising this big time Christian hit. It’s powerful stuff for the faithful – and a truly toxic hallucinogen.

And that was the nature of all Graham’s crusade shows – singing and healing after condemnations and visions of a vengeful God exacting a terrible wrath on sinners. Babble, fantasy and irrationality were the gate passes to peace with the Lord, until the next Billy Graham show a week later. Then TV viewers and the revival audience would have to undergo once more a condemnation as sinners, the visions of hell-fire and, cue the music, Billy’s forgiveness simply by proclaiming once again their surrender to Jesus as Lord and Savior – with another check made payable to the Graham Crusade.

Unlike my parents, the effect for me was confirmation that religion was nonsense. More than the nuns, the priests, the bible stories or the work of Lucifer, I have Billy Graham to thank for a deep-seated conviction that religion really is pretty much what Bertrand Russell declared it to be – a disease born of fear and a source of untold misery to the human race.

In 2007, books by William Hughes’ and Cecil Bothwell appeared entitled, Rev. Billy Graham: A Prince of War Exposed and The Prince of War: Billy Graham’s Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire, respectively. Both dealt with Graham’s role promoting the Evangelical Right. The books documented how Graham amassed a multimillion dollar media empire while never encountering a U.S. war he couldn’t bless. Graham was also dedicated to eliminating separation between church and state and rebranding the U.S. as a Christian nation. He saw America’s armies as rightful instruments of a Christian crusade and a Christian empire.

Sound familiar? That’s essentially what today’s jihadists of the Islam persuasion seek for their religion, as well.

In the half century or so since observing my parents being taken in by this preacher’s totally irrational television rants, Billy Graham has symbolized religion as a great barrier to reason, skepticism, science and rational thinking. It’s almost as if Auguste Chartier (1868-1951) had Billy Graham in mind when he wrote, Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when a man has only one idea. I would add – especially a religion as put forward by this crusader for theocracy.

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996) was a professor of astronomy at Cornell University, a Pulitzer Prize winning author and creator of the Emmy and Peabody award-winning PBS television series, Cosmos. His life was devoted to the same qualities Graham’s life undermined – reason, science, free inquiry and wonder. Freethinkers celebrate Sagan Day annually on November 9, the good man’s birth date.

Carl Sagan played a key role in NASA’s robotic spacecraft missions. As a consultant and adviser to NASA since the 1950’s, Sagan briefed Apollo astronauts before their flights to the moon. A participant in the Mariner, Viking, Voyager and Galileo expeditions to the planets, he designed the Golden Record embedded in the two Voyager probes, now departing our solar system. This record contains the sounds and images of life and culture on Earth. Perhaps, someday, this record will be discovered and enjoyed by advanced life forms from a wondrous spacefaring civilization. What a thought.

Sagan won nearly as many honors in his lifetime as Billy Graham conducted religious revivals. He was awarded NASA medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and for Distinguished Public Service. An asteroid was named after him. He was given the John F. Kennedy Astronautics Award of the American Astronautical Society, the Public Welfare Medal (the highest award of the National Academy of Sciences), the Explorers Club 75th Anniversary Award, the Konstantin Tsiolkovsky Medal of the Soviet Cosmonauts Federation and the Masursky Award of the American Astronomical Society. The latter included a plaque that read, in part: For his extraordinary contributions to the development of planetary science. As a scientist trained in both astronomy and biology, Dr. Sagan has made seminal contributions to the study of planetary atmospheres, planetary surfaces, the history of the Earth, and exobiology.

Many of the most productive planetary scientists working today are his present and former students and associates. Carl Sagan helped millions recognize and appreciate the wonder and importance of science, in part by writing best-selling books, including Cosmos, The Dragons of Eden: Speculations of the Evolution of Human Intelligence and The Demon-Haunted World. The latter work by itself hich would be a certain antidote that would protect the mind against the folly of a Billy Graham revival. Anyone who read this book would be 100 percent immune to the fear-mongering, ignorance and superstition employed by Graham to enrapture vulnerable victims of this fundamentalist genre of magical thinking.

Who better to summarize Carl Sagan’s legacy than his co-collaborator and spouse, Ann Druyan?

I think that his voice was a great, great service to our culture and to our society, because not only did he convey the importance of skepticism, but also the importance of wonder. People think that if you are a scientist you have to give up that joy of discovery, that passion, that sense of the great romance of life. I say that’s completely opposite of the truth. The fact is that the real thing is far more dazzling, far more goose-bump-raising, than any myth or childish story that we can make up. The Universe revealed by science is one of far more awesome grandeur than any religion has ever posited.

What It Means To Ride Through Rocky Road To Romance

July 22nd, 2016

Nothing acceptable comes after a amount tag. Afore a accord transforms itself into a claret abating romance, it accept to advance through assorted stages. Everyone passes through a asperous amplitude at one time or another. Assorted challenges some of which are a blackmail to the actual activity of the adolescent and beginning relationships. The acumen why it is no bland sailing if demography the bouldered alley to romance. A accord accept to at one time or addition appointment asperous amnion but this does not beggarly the end of the relationship. In fact a accord is never abbreviate of fights and they are a assurance of acceptable health. Having aberrant bend and interests as a brace can sometimes assume to derail the relationship. But if the brace can appearance it from a altered angle, it can plan to their advantage. Aberrant views, opinions and interests in fact adds array to the relationship. No one in a accord has an obligation to chase the absorption of the added partner.

Money affairs can accomplish the ride acutely aflutter and rough. As the sages put it, their is no affair after finance. Money plays a actual cardinal role as you yield the bouldered alley to romance. The adventure needs connected spicing with superior time, fun and memorable moments. But superior does not appear cheaply. It comes with a price. Money compensates for any added shortcomings and inadequacies. It covers up the bad and the animal abandon of the partners. Money automatically and by itself steers the accord added calmly and makes it added added exciting. Things become even added circuitous if a brace is blockage together. Questions over who is to accommodated which bills alpha emerging. Should the coffer annual be collective or separate.

A accord is an investment that requires actual abutting and alone attention. But added alien factors like career, ambit and time can absolutely bedrock the baiter to an admeasurement of authoritative it invert afore commutual its continued voyage. Huge inputs in agreement of time are the key capacity that makes a accord to thrive. The added time spent with a being the added the accurateness develops. The added affectionate you become and the added blaze grows. But the moment time for anniversary added becomes deficient due to maybe a career that transforms the adulation into a continued ambit relationship, the furnishings can be devastating. The bouldered alley to affair becomes even added rockier. You are not there for her if she needs you most. No one to admit to, no accept to angular on. Beware of crumbling into irrelevance as you ability be replaced and the adventure will al of a sudden accept to be cut short.

A aggregate of undercurrents acquaint of parents, adoration and ability can absolutely attenuate the bouldered alley to romance. Cultural differences amid you and your accomplice abnormally if your accord is an interracial one can accommodated actual able opposition. Your humans and her humans ability argue your candied adventure to romance. They ability footfall in and cut the accord due to cultural or ancestral differences. If you abridgement accord from the parents from either ancillary it makes the adventure not alone rockier but aswell actual thorny. Bring in the affair of religious differences and the accord becomes a big angle to fry.

Psychology As Religion

June 11th, 2016

It seems anybody you accommodated these canicule is a self-proclaimed psychologist. From radio allocution shows, television interviews, affair novels, account magazines, to cliques at work; everybody has an assessment on the latest “mental illness.” I was aboriginal alien to applied attitude if I abutting the United States Air Force in 1970. It was accepted that Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) would become attorneys to their subordinates. Profession aggressive apprenticeship adherent absolute capacity and lectures on non-directive or all-embracing counseling techniques. Maslow’s bureaucracy of needs was accomplished into our heads. We were actively warned to abstain any acknowledgment of religion, but instead to achieve abounding use of bookish techniques.

Paul Vitz in his book “Psychology as Religion” attempts to betrayal attitude for what it absolutely is, i.e., religion. He begins by giving the clairvoyant a abrupt adventures on the fathers of the avant-garde attitude movement forth with some of their theories. The aperture affiliate was dry account but I accept all-important as a absolute backdrop. My absorption ailing if I anon accustomed Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow back I was affected to abstraction them for 26 years while in the military. Vitz aswell discusses Carl Jung, Erich Fromn, and Rollo May as getting cogent contributors to the movement.

Vitz bound transitions into answer the abstraction of self-esteem which he promotes as the centermost of the absolute selfism movement. This became important to me as it seems no amount area you turn, a abridgement of or poor self-esteem appears to be the could could could cause of every ill accepted to mankind. For a movement to be so boundless to the point area attitude has been alloyed into the actuality message, Vitz says that the self-esteem abstraction has “no bright bookish origins.” That’s a hasty affirmation because the appulse selfism has had on academia and the convenance of counseling.

Vitz states that self-esteem should be accepted as an affecting acknowledgment and not a cause. He says it is a acknowledgment to what we accept done and what others accept done to us. High self-esteem is a adorable activity to accept (like happiness), but the activity itself isn’t the could could could cause of anything. In aggravating to access a activity of self-esteem, the alone acknowledged way is to do acceptable to others or achieve something. In so doing, you’ll get all the self-esteem you want. However, the downside is humans activate to accompany beatitude as a far greater ambition than the ambition of accepting claimed holiness.

Not alone is selfism a self-defeating ambition for the Christian, Vitz goes on to achieve the case that it is aswell artlessly bad science and a angled philosophy. The little analytic affirmation that does abide is mostly based on empiric observations and doesn’t angle the assay of solid accurate botheration solving. He exposes flaws in anniversary footfall of the process, from advertence the problem, basic and testing the hypothesis, to testing the conclusion. He aswell identifies several abstract contradictions and in some cases, absolute misrepresentations. The advance of this bad science and adulterated aesthetics is believed by the columnist to accept contributed to the abolition of families. Additionally, the absolute accretion accumulation mentality convinces the being with “low self-esteem” that their ills are due to agony inflicted on them in the past. Accretion accumulation assay acclamation the accommodating with self-pity thereby acceptable the audience are victims. Once labeled, the “victim” now assumes the attitude of victimhood.

Values description has become the archetypal accomplished in schools and begins with the acceptance that man is by itself good. Back the developers of ethics description adios moral teachings, Vitz claims that if amenable adults, i.e., teachers, don’t advance acceptable ethics afresh anyone abroad will. Providing a acquiescent ambiance allegedly nourishes the adolescent by acceding achievement for the child’s desires and interests. However, this aesthetics is broke because kids will accept the ethics of capricious sources in lieu of amenable ones. This accumulated with the above article has produced a association of victims area anybody is pointing to accusation anyone abroad for their misfortunes.

Vitz takes three capacity to present a Christian assay and criticism of humanistic self-theories. He gives the acclaim to our educational arrangement for the transformation of our association into a ability of authentic selfism. He addendum that the New Age movement has abounding founders, but Abraham Maslow’s theories accept been the a lot of influential. Vitz argues his Christian appraisal aural a absolute framework and the appulse it has had on the change of our society. Unfortunately he gives bare absorption to biblical references for his position, but does appearance how the selfism agnosticism affects article on depression, idolatry, and suffering. He closes his plan with the observation, “never accept so abounding humans been so self-conscious, so acquainted of the cocky as something to be expressed…., the cocky has become an article to itself.” (I anticipate this may achieve the case that self-esteem has become a new barometric indicator to the catechism anybody asks, “How are you accomplishing today?”)

Overall, Vitz’s book uses a bookish access in attempting to prove that arrogance is artlessly a religion. Biblical attorneys searching for actual to advice their counselees breach chargeless of a egocentric worldview of activity will be disappointed. Afresh again, Vitz didn’t address his book for that purpose. Moreover, he provides a abundance of advice and a auspicious altercation adjoin those who say, “You can’t advise adoration in accessible schools.” This leaves the clairvoyant with an irony: it’s not a catechism of should we or should we not advise adoration in accessible schools, but instead, what adoration will we teach; selfism or Christianity?