Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Psychics, Parapsychology, and Faking It

When I would come home on furlough, I would always visit my grandmother who helped raise me. Loving to test her extra ordinary abilities, I would never let her know I was coming. Every time, as I sneaked in the door (those days, people left their doors unlocked), her familiar voice would ring out “Donald, is that you?”

Because my grandmother’s paranormal abilities were so amazing, no one should be surprised that when I became a psychologist, I would have a great interest in the field of parapsychology

Paranormal abilities seem to run in families, and as a psychotherapist, when I first began listening intensely to my patients, I would sometimes hear what they were thinking. Believing they had spoken aloud, I would respond back to them. When they realized I had read their thoughts, both my patient and I would be startled. Sometimes however, my intuition would misfire, so over time, relying more on training and experience, I dampened down the ability until it nearly disappeared entirely. (I hope to write more about that later.)

In America, William James began the first scientific study of the paranormal in the late 1800's at Harvard. Of course he was criticized by colleagues because so many psychic practitioners were being exposed as fakes. He tells a funny story on himself when he faked once.

His story goes like this. Scientists of his time were very excited over the discovery that electrical impulses stimulate reactions in the nerves. In order to demonstrate this phenomenon in front of his class, James would apply an electrical impulse to the muscles of a frog, creating movement. However, one day, he applied the stimulus and nothing happened. (He discovered later that the muscles had just worn out from use.) Quickly, he secretly jammed his finger inside the frog and as he continued his lecture, kept the dead frog wiggling.

He would tell that story to make a point. The point was, sometimes from many experiences, you know a thing is supposed to happen but it doesn’t. He knew those failures could unexpectedly happen to genuine psychics. When the expected didn’t happen, they sometimes faked it. Sometimes they were caught.

James was willing to cut them some slack and continued studying paranormal experiences throughout his life and so have I.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cutting Onions

My wife saw this on TV. Cutting onions with my safety glasses on. It works!

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

After Jerry Falwell, but the Fat Lady Hasn't Sung

Jerry Falwell is gone. There may never be another solid religious block like the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority to counterweight the large voting blocks on the Left. However, there are stirrings in the religious world that can be like leaven, peeling people out from these Leftest blocks. Specifically, I am thinking of the Pentecostal/Charismatic (called Renewalist for short) phenomenal growth.

The Left pulls its strength from those who tell themselves they are disempowered or are victims. In an, earlier post I wrote how a direct encounter with the living Jesus can be empowering. and turn a person around.

Polls indicate that the new Hispanic immigrants (not the earlier ones) are forming a block vote for the Left. At the same time, polls also reveal that the new Hispanics are being drawn to Renewalist churches, Roman Catholic and Protestant. Following is a quote from the Pew study: “Renewalist Christianity, which places special emphasis on God's ongoing, day-to-day intervention in human affairs through the person of the Holy Spirit, is having a major impact on Hispanic Christianity. Among Latino Protestants, renewalism is more than twice as prevalent as among their non-Latino counterparts.” I predict the Left cannot count on these new immigrants to feel disempowered forever.

Following the idea of the impact of the Renewalist movement on traditional blocks of voters, another group are the African Americans.
Again, the same concept of the Renewalist movement and empowerment can be made for them One of the characteristics of Renewal churches which has been there since the beginning at Azusa Street in 1901, is that in these churches, red and yellow, black and white have worshiped side by side on equal ground. Many African Americans attend churches whose major message is empowerment. So, the Left can watch as empowered leaders arise in the Black communities.

Another group of interest, are those Southern Democrats, sometimes called Blue Dog Democrats. They are my neighbors here in the South, and when I ask them how they stay in a party whose Hollywood values violate everything they believe, they often say, “My daddy was a Democrat, as was his daddy and his daddy’s daddy, and I will live and die a Democrat.” Here in the South, there are families who have never forgotten what the Northern Republicans did to the South during Reconstruction days. It is no accident that in my state of North Carolina, ruled by Democrats, the most powerful of them come from former slave holding areas of the state. Hatred of Republicans is in their DNA. One day, however, they have to notice the world changed.

A last group that may some day be impacted by the Renewal movement, are the Jews. For a long time Jews have been solidly on the Left. However, it is beginning to dawn on many, that the only real friends they have on this planet are those in Renewal churches. These are people who live by the Scriptures. God says of Israel in Gen 12:3 “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curse thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Some day, Jews have to wake up and recognize who their friends are.

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Personal Prophesying, the Big Woo

The Morningstar fellowship that I attend, does training in personal prophesying. If you are not acquainted with this concept, following are two illustrations of the gift and the powerful impact it can have. When Nathaniel first met Jesus, the Lord revealed a secret about Nathaniel that He could not have known by ordinary means. Nathaniel was so blown away that he became a disciple. A similar example was with the woman at the well. Again Jesus revealed something that could not be known in ordinary ways, and this time the woman became Jesus’ evangelist. (John. 1:48 and John 4:18) Later St. Paul describes the impact of prophesying in 1 Cor 14:24 ff.

The first time someone revealed something extraordinary about myself that they could not know ordinarily, I had the same reaction as the people in the New Testament mentioned above. The medium was the message. It was not what was said that changed my life forever, it was the overwhelming awareness that Someone out there had me on His radar.

I have a friend who knows how excited I get developing this gift, but who always says “Big woo. What good is it?” Last night, our teacher said something important in this regard: “At all times, God has every one of His children on His mind. He wants them to know it. Our giving a personal prophesy to a person that could only have been known supernaturally, lets the person know that God is thinking about him or her.”

We can understand why Paul said we all should be “zealous to prophesy.” (1 Cor 14:39) Fortunately, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit that can be sharpened.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lanny Davis, Watchdog Committees and Bureaucrats

Lanny Davis, former Clinton White House counsel and lone democrat on the privacy oversight committee, resigned this week. He faulted no one, saying only that Congress had made an error by putting the committee into the White House, allowing the committee to be co-opted by White House staff.

Listening to Mr. Davis was deja vu. I reminisced over my own oversight committee experiences for which legislators had good intentions, but officials cleverly subverted them. I learned two things. Bureaucrats are insidious sabotagers of watchdog committees, and secondly, resigning is an act of integrity.

My first experience was being appointed to the NC Commission on Mental Health, Developmental Disorders, and Substance Abuse Disorders. Ostensibly, this citizens’ oversight committee signs off on all the laws for those disabilities.

As a college professor, I had a long experience of faking out students in to believing they were a part of university governance. Often, students did not recognize they were being had, or if they did, they did not care because everything looked good on a resume.

Years of such experiences, made it easy to spot the fakery on citizen’ oversight/watchdog committees. In the case of the Commission, the state officials would come in, give us their dog and pony show, apologize for getting the material to us too late to study it, then ask us to rubber stamp what they had already done. We did. Then, my political party lost an election, and I was replaced.

Through that experience I learned to never underestimate bureaucrats. They may not get much done, but they are the masters of faking it and of keeping their jobs. I soon became aware of what presidents learn and that is, no matter what they want to do, the bureaucrats can keep it from happening.

Then, I was appointed to another committee. This committee’s mandate was to have citizen’s input in to and oversight over the spending of money that had been block granted back to the states from Washington. Again, legislators had good intentions. This committee was half made up of bureau chiefs and half citizen stakeholders, the disabled themselves and their advocacy groups.

Now I was to learn a new lesson. Bureaucrats hate oversight committees. So, no matter whether they agree or disagree, they scratch each other’s backs. This time, it did not take the stake holders long to see they were being had and one by one, they would move back to their own more effective advocacy groups.

Once again, the bureaucrats came in with their dog and pony show, apologize for getting the material to us at the last minute, and ask us to sign off on it. Finally, as the chair, I went to the top officials, who with a wink and a nod, informed me that the director actually believed the money was his personal money.

I then turned to the officials in Washington. Block Grants are to be locally controlled, so they had little authority. But, we hatched a scheme in which they would visit and in front of the stakeholders, they would make it clear what was the intent of the Congress. First, of all, I had to get the state officials to agree to their visit.

To my shock, the state officials agreed with enthusiasm. Two days later, I received the following telephone call. “Oh, Dr. Clark, we just discovered that your term of office has expired” (a move never enforced before). Surprise, surprise, the president elect cancelled the government visit. This time I resigned.

What I learned is, no matter what the legislators want to accomplish with civilian oversight committees, the entrenched bureaucrats are too clever to let it happen.

My second learning is that many watchdog committee members are political pay backs. They don’t have a clue what is going on and could care less. They enjoy the status and the meals. We had one dear lady on one local committee who for 20 years, loved to be the one who said “I move we accept the proposal.” Didn’t seem to ever matter what.

Bottom line, I wrote this to get it off my chest. I can say as a Conservative, I believe in citizen watchdogs, but no one should underestimate the ingenuity of a bureaucrat.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Giuliana on Abortion

I posted a letter to the editor that I sent to our local newspaper, then added it as a comment to another blog. The local paper comes out today so I will see if they posted it. Meanwhile, tonight, Giuliana will have another shot at in in the debate.

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Eyes to See and Ears to Hear

As I wrote in an earlier post, Google sends me links to every new post on speaking in tongues. After witnessing people praying in the spirit, some bloggers come away, mocking what they observed. Those, remind me of the old nursery rhyme:

Pussy cat, pussy cat,
Where have you been?
I've been to London to visit the Queen.
Pussy cat, pussy cat,
What did you do there?
I frightened a little mouse under the chair.

Then came back and blogged about it?

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Anyone Else for President

Last election, people had bumper stickers reading “Anyone else for president.” Somebody must have read them. The Dems are ga ga over a pretty boy with absolutely nothing in his resume that qualifies him for president. (He hasn’t even run a tiny town.). Now the Republicans are doing the same, going ga ga over a TV actor whose only claim to fame was a dismal performance as Senator. (On his one committee assignment investigating the Democrat’s fund raising, they ate his lunch.).

Looks like Americans really think "just anyone" can do the job.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Speaking in Tongues

Whenever any one writes in their blog on the subject of Speaking in Tongues, Google notifies me. I had really hoped bloggers would be sharing their exciting experiences and insights. Instead I have found mostly tiresome, theological yakety- yak.

I am being reminded of when we young males were going into puberty. You would hear us say, “Girls! Yuk!” A few years later, our hormones kicked in and it was “Girls! Yippee!”.

Amazing how a little experience changes our conversation.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

St. Paul and Sigmund Freud' s Psychotherapy

Sigmund Freud discovered the Id, the Ego, and the Super-Ego. Modern Christian teachers are finding similar discoveries in St. Paul’s Epistles.

For Freud, the Id is similar to Paul’s Flesh, with all its lusts. For Freud, the Ego is similar to Paul’s Soul, that is, the conscious cognitive abilities, including the will. (Although sometimes, Paul includes both Id and Ego under the word “Flesh.”) Finally, for Freud, the Super Ego is similar to what St. Paul called “The Law.” (The Super Ego is the internalized values of one’s culture.)

Each writer had similar approaches to dealing with the problems arising from our Id/Flesh. For Freud, the Id is to be brought into conscious awareness by the Ego; thus, giving the Ego control. Freud’s mantra: “Where Id was, Ego must be.”

St. Paul had a similar system to that of Freud’s which he describes in the 6th Chapter of Romans. He identifies the offending part of his Flesh/Id, however, instead of bringing it under the power of the Ego as Freud does, he is going to bring it under the power of God. Paul does this by declaring himself dead to that part (“member,” the word translators use). Now the problematic member can go through God’s process of being crucified and raised to new life. Paul’s mantra: “die daily.”

There is another similarity between Freud and Paul. Freud discovered that rather than use the Ego to control the Id, some people use an overbearing Superego. Crushing the Id with the Super Ego/Law can produce serious psychological pathology and even kill you.

St. Paul made a similar finding described in Romans Chap. 7:15. He reports his struggle using the Super Ego/Law to control the Id. He gets sicker and that method is killing him. I mention both Freud and Paul’s discovery here because trying to crucify the flesh by the Super Ego/Law creates toxic people. Much of the rejection of Christians is brought on by such legalism. Also, legalism used in the manner Freud and Paul described, leads to early aging and deaths of Christians and sometimes even the people around them.

Both systems, Freud’s and Paul’s, call for a kinder, gentler and safer way of dealing with the Id/Flesh. Both work, but Paul, at the same time, cleans us up for eternal life.

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