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How I see prayer

August 28, 2012 2 comments

This is a brief outline of my many approaches / perspectives on prayer. I do not simply see it as making demands of a higher power and expecting a response according to your timetable.

I may pray out of a desire or wish for something, but I do not look nor expect it to occur – and in the way that I may expect. If things work out as I wished, that’s great, and I’m happy; and if they don’t, that’s ok too – I’m modest enough to take a No!

1. prayer has the effect of cleaning one’s heart and soul. It’s like when your very confused about a very troubling personal issue, but then you find a solution that settles it – no confusion. It’s like your house is dirty and now it’s clear and clean.


2. prayer as a way for organizing your life. Similar to meditation.

3. prayer reflects and affirms to yourself how you think about something (or maybe that you should rethink it!). Nurturing a healthy attitude by means of prayer (or meditation) could have a positive impact on how you relate to your circumstances. It could make a difference in your life.

4. when someone is told that I’m praying for them, it is a kindly act and affects how they feel in their hearts and how you feel for them. It is a human way of caring for others.

5. you know the expression “what goes around, comes around.” Maybe by praying and showing goodwill to others, those good things may come back to you. Just as when you care for others, others will show care for you.

6. prayer is also a form of love. When you pray sometimes you express love and affection for the people you think of when you pray for them. What you build in your heart and in your attitude toward people reflects in the way you become a person and how others perceive you and how you perceive them.

7. prayer is a time for ‘divine’ guidance. Or, a time for personal devotion to your thoughts about something and on which you are seeking wisdom and guidance. A way for your thinking to rethink itself, possibly by the help of a Higher source. (That’s what I think the Bible means by “not leaning on your own understanding” – a phrase that might seem confusing.)

8. prayer is also a time for seeking inner (or divine) strength and peace. Life is full of challenges. If prayer can be a tool or weapon for dealing with these challenges, even when we are down and weak, then it can’t be such a bad thing. Many people have been invigorated thru prayer when they were at their lowest moments.

9. why do some people pray when they’re facing a crisis or a stressful situation? Because it can be a life stabilizer; a ‘tool’ to get your mind around personal issues in depth, seeking foresight, and maybe seeking the proper perspective on it.

They say “perspective is everything”. If you’re facing a daunting perspective, you might find another perspective.

10. prayer can shape a person. You can shape yourself from the inside out. How you are on the inside reflects on how you are on the outside. (Jesus said something like this.)

11. you don’t have to be religious or even spiritual to pray. Prayer is a very human activity. It’s a mode of self-communication. A reflection of an evolved mind that knows to seek venues in its mind or outside Source from which it can glean solutions.

I’m sure there are many other ways to express prayer, but these are probably enough to give a flavor of my philosophy on prayer.

Children of older fathers

August 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Sometimes when you put separate studies together you could get what seems a confusing picture (or maybe no picture at all?) — particularly seeing how they word their conclusions. Here is an example on studies related to offspring of older fathers.

Study 1. Older fathers have longer telomeres in their chromosomes as they age, so the offspring of older fathers inherit these longer telomeres, enhancing the life expectancy of the offspring.  This was reported by the BBC and is based on a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study 2. Children born to older fathers have a greater likelihood of developing autism or schizophrenia.  Reported by Nature Magazine (here’s Nature’s summary of the actual Nature study) and also quite recently by the BBC.

Study 3. The life expectancy of people with schizophrenia is lower than average, and can be lower by as much as 10 to 15 years. Reported by the BBC and based on a study done by the British Biomedical Research Centre for mental health, and published in the online journal PLoS ONE.

 
These conclusions aren’t necessarily in contradiction to one another (even if verbally they seem to be). It depends on the various rates (such as the smaller fraction of schizophrenics, for example, compared with the many who don’t get mental illness). So if you’re normal and descended from an older father ‘the chances’ are better that your longevity will get a boost (statistically!) if you don’t get a mental illness like schizophrenia. (Barring a Study 4 and Study 5, about which I know nothing and which could wreck my post!)

I’ve often wondered if in some societies around the world these effects and results could be varied depending on the people being studied. There are still numerous factors beyond our control. (Anyway, whatever your condition, I hope this makes you feel better!) 🙂

Synapses, neurotransmitters, axons, neurons, …

December 16, 2011 1 comment

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/30/Chemical_synapse_schema_cropped.jpg/481px-Chemical_synapse_schema_cropped.jpgI liked this very illustrative diagram of how signals are transmitted between neurons in the brain. It’s incredibly amazing.

We start with electrochemical signals (or chemical potential) from one neuron (top right of figure).

The signal moves along an axon. (A tube-like structure.)

The axon branches out into several parts that attach to the next neuron or to its dendrites (which are like little trees emanating from neurons).

When the signal arrives near the end terminal junction it creates or releases ionized calcium Ca+.

These ions trigger neurotransmitters from little blobs called vesicles (which are like bubbles containing the neurotransmitters).

These neurotransmitters move out of the end of the axon, thru a region called the synaptic cleft, and into the channel receptors which are on the other neuron.

This leads to the transmission of the electrochemical signals into the next neuron.

That’s it.

I find this kind of stuff amazing. One piece of knowledge to excite our synapses!
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My sources are the Encyclopedia Britannica article on “Synapses” and a wiki entry.
One book I thought of getting is the shortest book on the brain I could find, and its reviews look pretty good. It is:
The Brain, a very short introduction, by Michael O’Shea, Oxford University Press, 2005.

I downloaded a Kindle sample and found the first chapter a delightful read. So I’m thinking of getting it. A more advanced book is that by Nobel Prizer Dr Eric Kandel, In Search of Memory (he was invited to a Charlie Rose special on the brain).

Categories: Health, Life, Science

Violence against women

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Most shocking and sad report from the Centers for Disease Control about the high crime rates against American women: 20% raped or experience attempted rape, 25% experience violence. This is unacceptable in our society for our women to be treated such.

Categories: Health, Life, News, Uncategorized

Physics, Nobel, Pius XII, prostate, Bible

October 8, 2008 Leave a comment

Some interesting recent news articles.

Atom smasher fired up in ‘God particle’ hunt

Particle physics celebrates Nobel

Nobel prize for viral discoveries

2008 Nobel in Medicine

The rival to the Bible
Meat ‘ups prostate cancer risk’

A Ynet news article about the Vatican’s excuse for Pope Pius XII’s silence toward the Nazis.  And my response:

Let’s get this puppy straightened out.  Pius’ silence with the Nazis was in order to protect his church, not the Jews.  He was trying to save his own skin.  But why wasn’t Pius silent with the communist Soviets even when they were a threat to Catholics and Jews?  He was known to have openly condemned the Soviets even though they have persecuted Jews and Catholics (and there were certainly many Jews in the USSR).; whereas the Nazis weren’t in the habit of persecuting Catholics! Therefore, that whole gibberish about Pius being silent in order to protect Jews fails the litmus test.  One could argue that Pius could have saved more lives if he called upon German Catholics to wage a crusade against the Nazis right from the very start.

If the Catholic Church can’t learn today’s realities about such basic things as contraception, they will continue to color the past to suit their dream world, and this Pius excuse is no exception.

Categories: Christianity, Health, Science