The most compelling representations of Satan in world literature

KEY TAKEAWAYS Although infamous today, the character of Satan has been reinvented many times over the course of human history.  Generally speaking, he developed from Dante and Milton’s tragic and misguided villain into Goethe’s and Bulgakov’s sardonic antihero.  When placed side by side, these iterations can tell us a great deal about the time of their creators. by Tim Brinkhof By taking Satan out of the religious context, storytellers explored the nature of sin in new ways. Given how familiar we are with Satan today, it may come as a surprise to learn that the concept of the “great opposer” … Continue reading The most compelling representations of Satan in world literature

Life, Death, and What Fills the Interlude with Meaning: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Touching Diary Reflections on His Dying Mother and His Five-Year-Old Daughter

“I saw my little Una… so full of spirit and life that she was life itself. And then I looked at my poor dying mother, and seemed to see the whole of human existence at once, standing in the dusty midst of it.” BY MARIA POPOVA It is said that Orlando, inspired by the passionate real-life love Virginia Woolf shared with Vita Sackville-West, is “the longest and most charming love letter in literature” — said by Vita’s own son. But the most charming love letter in literature might be quite shorter and older and inspired by a very different kind of love — … Continue reading Life, Death, and What Fills the Interlude with Meaning: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Touching Diary Reflections on His Dying Mother and His Five-Year-Old Daughter

THE ART OF DEATHPROOFING

Gary Z McGee, Contributor Waking Times “Just as a well-filled day brings blessed sleep, so a well-employed life brings blessed death.” ~Leonardo Da Vinci Death comes to us all. But life does not, necessarily. Most of us live life half-alive, or half-dead, depending on how you look at it. Quiet desperation tends to rule the day. Most of us merely survive rather than vitally thrive. Ironically, death can help us with this conundrum. Death can help us live life more fully. It can help us go from mere survivor to resolute thriver. It puts life into perspective by teaching the living … Continue reading THE ART OF DEATHPROOFING

10 surprising new things we’ve learned about death

Studying death can improve life. By Kevin Dickinson Black cloak. Scythe. Skeletal grin. The Grim Reaper is the classic visage of death in Western society, but it’s far from the only one. Ancient societies personified death in a myriad of ways. Greek mythology has the winged nipper Thanatos. Norse mythology the gloomy and reclusive Hel, while Hindu traditions sport the wildly ornate King Yama. Modern science has de-personified death, pulling back its cloak to discover a complex pattern of biological and physical processes that separate the living from the dead. But with the advent of these discoveries, in some ways, death … Continue reading 10 surprising new things we’ve learned about death

What Makes You You Makes the Universe: Nobel Laureate Erwin Schrödinger on Quantum Physics, Vedanta, and the Ongoing Mystery of Consciousness

“This life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is in a certain sense the whole.” BY MARIA POPOVA To face the question of what makes us who we are with courage, lucidity, and fulness of feeling is to face, with all the restlessness and helplessness this stirs in the meaning-hungry soul, the elemental fact of our choicelessness in the conditions that lead to our existence. That is what the Nobel-winning founding father of quantum mechanics Erwin Schrödinger (August 12, 1887–January 4, 1961) addresses in some exquisite passages from My View of the World (public library) … Continue reading What Makes You You Makes the Universe: Nobel Laureate Erwin Schrödinger on Quantum Physics, Vedanta, and the Ongoing Mystery of Consciousness

10 Years of Rituals

Inside an exorcist’s diary. BY JOHN LAST We are living through a golden age of exorcism. Since the 1990s, when the famous Italian exorcist Gabriele Amorth revived the rite, the number of exorcists in the Roman Catholic Church has exploded, with training courses running in Rome forced to turn would-be exorcists away. The pope himself has endorsed the practice, as a growing number of Protestant churches promote “deliverance ministries” and other exorcisms as a central part of worship. And Hollywood has embraced it as a plot device, pouring cash into endless feature films, one tragically canceled TV series (and another critically acclaimed show that’s still ticking), and spending $400 million on a … Continue reading 10 Years of Rituals

What It’s Like Living in a Different Dimension

When my daughter died, I phased out of your reality by Jacqueline Dooley Part one: The many ways I’m separate Sometimes I almost forget that I’m not in the same place as you. This took me a few years to master and (let’s face it) I can never truly forget that I’m in a different dimension. But after four years of faking it, I’m much better at pretending that I’m still like you. I get work done, feed the cats, wrap Christmas presents, and convince myself that I’m in the same dimension as you are. But that only works until something … Continue reading What It’s Like Living in a Different Dimension

New study uncovers consistent patterns in the metaphors that people use to describe God

by Beth Ellwood A new study from PLOS One sheds light on the way people conceptualize God by exploring the metaphors people use when asked to describe God. According to the findings, people commonly use human imagery and power-related terms to describe God, with metaphors of God as power, human, and male. The way people view and understand God has been widely studied by religion researchers. The assumption is that the way people think about God’s character has psychological repercussions. A research team wanted to contribute to this field of study by exploring people’s use of metaphors to conceptualize God. God is an … Continue reading New study uncovers consistent patterns in the metaphors that people use to describe God

Three Reasons “You” Won’t Return After This Life

The idea that “you” persist after death does not hold up to the current understanding of memory and identity. by Derek Beres Many people are deeply invested in what happens when they die. Entire religions are constructed around theories of the afterlife. Christianity and Islam promise special places to go to while Buddhism prescribes breaking free from the hamster wheel of existence to leave the cycle of death and birth. Is any of this actually possible? Stephen Batchelor is skeptical. In Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist the former monk points out that the Buddha avoided discussing body-mind dualism, which the notion of … Continue reading Three Reasons “You” Won’t Return After This Life

Death, Physics and Wishful Thinking

Fear of mortality might underlie physicists’ fondness for the anthropic principle, multiverses, superdeterminism and other shaky ideas By John Horgan  Our quirky minds thwart psychologists’ efforts to find durable theories. But terror-management theory has held up quite well since three psychologists proposed it more than 30 years ago. It holds that fear of death underpins many of our actions and convictions. We cling to our beliefs more tightly when reminded of our mortality, especially if those beliefs connect us to something transcending our puny mortal selves. Terror-management theory can account for puzzling political trends, such as our attraction to outlandish conspiracies and authoritarian leaders. … Continue reading Death, Physics and Wishful Thinking