Andrew Sullivan today passes along a link to a study on the QWERTY Effect with a false, inane comment.
Here’s my reply to him:
These authors of the QWERTY Effect have identified a valid phenomenon, but they are utterly clueless as to the explanation (as I wrote the other day on my blog when I first read the report). Just think about it: does it make *any* sense at all that letter combinations on the right side of a keyboard are “easier to type” and therefore words that contain those letters have a more positive feeling? It’s preposterous.
It’s an utterly thoughtless hypothesis to explain something whose explanation would have been obvious if the authors had considered one shred of evidence from the study of sound symbolism or phonosemantics. (Google “sound symbolism” or Margaret Magnus, Ph.D., the MIT-educated linguist who demonstrated the essential validity of Plato’s sound symbolism hypothesis that’s 2,000 years old in her groundbreaking doctoral dissertation.)
Even if you only accept a weak version of the phonosemantic hypothesis and not a strong version (e.g., quasi-Platonic), it’s more than adequate to explain the QWERTY effect. There are more vowels on the right than the left, and vowels generally are more positive than consonants, with unrestricted airflow giving the sounds a more Divine quality according to sacred word traditions in various esoteric religious traditions.
The letters on the right hand side of the keyboard have sounds which happen to be associated with more positive affects (the soft, more precise, particular, and peculiar unvoiced labial “p,” on the right contrasted to the brutish, bawdy, and blasting sound of the voiced “b.” The words which are comprised of sounds carry an emotional or subtle resonance with the sound’s symbol — e.g., stopped consonants tending somewhat to refer more to endings and disruptions and glides tending to refer to sustained patterns.)
You don’t have to be a Kabbalist to see the ridiculousness of this paper’s explanation (although the Kabbalists know a lot more about sound than these scientists seemingly ignorant of the relevant literature).
I’m giving you, Andrew, a break because your post consisted in only one word — “Explained” — but it was a very poor choice of word.
Joe: Where is the World Spirituality movement today?
Marc: The World Spirituality movement has many expressions in the world. There are many people practicing World Spirituality not in an organized way, not in a theoretically consistent way, often not in a dharmically completely sound way, but they have this core intuition and they are grasping and looking for ways to express it. At some point, we are looking to develop means to allow this grassroots world movement expression, and the book you’re working on, The Rise of World Spirituality, I hope will at least in part, the way you described it to me which sounds really exciting, you’ll be able to point to this, that it’s already happening.
The leading institution in the movement is the Center for World Spirituality. We just finished our second annual board meeting. I want to give you a sense of where we are because it’s really exciting. We’ve decided that our mission, our mantle, is to shift something in the source code of consciousness. The evolution of the source code of consciousness is our core mission statement. Some of our board members, Tom Goddard and Kathleen Brownback, are heading a group to work on this. It’s a fantastic board of people from around the world.
What we’ve done is identify what we’re going to do. We identified two things at the meeting. One, what is the theoretical framework of World Sprituality? And two, what are the action items? The theoretical framework is different, so I’ll talk about the action items.
Joe: So by “action items,” just so my readers are clear, you’re talking about this organization, called the Center for World Spirituality, you’re talking about what this organization has in store for the near future. Is that right?
Marc: That’s correct. The Center is one I founded a few years ago with Mariana Caplan and Sally Kempton, and Ken Wilber was involved as a very important member on the Council, and any number of fantastic leaders and teachers from around the world. We’re partnering with our friends who have a Global Spirituality website and we will be integrating that into the Center in a very deep way.
The center is both a lower-left and lower-right expression, actually an all-four-quadrant expression now that I think about it, whose prime purpose is to articulate the dharma of a World Spirituality and to evolve the dharma of a World Spirituality. That’s the job of the Center. The job of World Spirituality itself is to evolve the source code of consciousness.
What are the methods for doing this mission? We’re focusing on three major areas.
First, the Center has decided to focus on acting as a think tank / publishing concern. We actually chartered approximately 12 – 15 major projects of different natures.
Joe: I’m glad you were able to keep track of them. There were about 25 different people in attendance, and just about all of them committed to some sort of project or other key way of supporting World Spirituality. That’s more than I expected. I heard that too from some of the other board members, the newer ones who didn’t know quite what to expect. Once we engaged with the rest of the board, we got a feel for the caliber of the people in attendance, our expectations were exceeded, and we ended up feeling more optimistic than when we sat in our first meeting.
Marc: That’s great feedback to receive. Even though I knew going into the meeting all of the different pieces, but just hearing all the pieces spoken aloud into the room, hearing the interaction of the board community. Of the 20 projects, if the top 10 happen, we’re in really good shape. The top 10 include a book on The Rise of World Spirituality, a collection of essays on the Enlightenment of Fullness. There will be a major book on World Spirituality based on Integral Principles with Ken Wilber. There will be a book on shadow work – Lighten Up. There will be a World Spirituality practice book. Without going down the entire list, there’s … people like yourself, to Kathy Brownback, to Ken Wilber, to Warren Farrell, Wyatt Woodsmall, Helen, Tom, Mariana. And there were some board members who weren’t there who all have fantastic contributions to make. So we’re very excited about the think tank / publishing dimension.
The second dimension is training. We’re working on creating a new series of trainings which are rooted in World Spirituality and Unique Self technology.
And third we are calling “community lab.” Instead of creating one big World Spirituality Center or Church, there will be smaller circles meeting around the world, circles of people. That’s a big deal, that’s exciting, that’s good. At least at first, those circles will be circles of study – whether in Holland at Venwoude or Shalom Mountain or San Francisco, perhaps in Seattle something will emerge.
And finally a very strong Web presence which we are going to be working on in the next six months. I hope by six months from now the Web presence will reflect this vision of World Spirituality, its five-part theoretical framework – which we won’t get into on this phone call – but which is a beautiful, modular way of understanding the core principles, which you can understand on a popular level and a deep mystical level, will appear as the core of the website as the core module of all the books. It’s a lot.
Joe: We’re running out of time today. On this topic, we could drill into detail on all of these and talk much longer, so we’ll need to look for updates on the CWS website, watching for news as it develops. I know there’s a lot of information coming in the future. But if somebody wants to get started today practicing World Spirituality in Toledo, Ohio, or the jungles of the Amazon, what are they to do?
Marc: We’re not completely yet prepared to fully receive that question, meaning, the framework is not yet completely articulated. I would say, go to the website, go to the teaching tab – “Core Teachings” – and they’ll be able to read the basic principles of World Spirituality, which will give someone a framework for practice which they can immediately implement.
Joe: What about the book Unique Self which we’re all waiting for?
Marc: I don’t have a final word. But the last word I have as of a few days ago is that it’s supposed to come out in mid-June or July. The latest it would come out is the fall. We’ve just completed the transactional pieces of that book. We’re very excited that Your Unique Self: the Democratization of Enlightenment, will be out by the summer. And there’s already some key pieces on the Web. On our website, there’s a keynote address I gave at J.F.K. on Unique Self, and there’s the Journal of Integral Theory & Practice, Vol. 6, 1, on Unique Self. There’s a core article there, a 40 or 50 page article there, which gives you the core of the teaching, which is already available and will be fully fleshed out over the book. We hope over the next 18 months there will be about 5 volumes coming out covering these dimensions even as we’re writing the next stage for the library.
In “Out and Ordained,” Brett Webb-Mitchell tells of his journey as a gay Presbyterian pastor and offers his prayers for the Church. In 2011, the Presbyterian Church formally allowed openly gay and lesbian ministers. Now, there are new challenges ahead:
In order to become more inclusive, there are many “next steps” to be taken in righting past wrongs. For example, as more states permit LGBTQ people to wed, churches will need to craft a theology of marriage that includes LGBTQ congregants.
To this, I offer my prayer that theologians in the Presbyterian communion realize that their work is not to be done in isolation, looking mainly to the Bible and the Westminster Confession.
We live in times in which people in every religion are awakening to see their sacred texts as historically conditioned and requiring much discernment to see how their authority can be reconciled with recognition of the dignity of gays and lesbians and others.
A theology of marriage must not rest content with looking to old texts to seeing how they have been misinterpreted; we must be willing to see our knowledge of God evolving over time in the fullness of history. A theology of marriage inclusive of gays must be one which acknowledges spiritual evolution, or it will only be a stopgap, an ethnocentric adjustment made at a time when what is most needed is a worldcentric transformation.
Affirming the sacredness of gay marriage isn’t about people embracing diversity for diversity’s sake, but finding in committed same-sex partnerships a new and essential expression of the Divine Love.
That’s why the perspective I staked out in Soulfully Gay is so relevant to the future discussion about the sacramental worth or sacredness of gay marriage.
In my book I take a step beyond the “diversity for diversity’s sake” rationale offered by postmodern religionists for affirming gay marriage, staking out an argument for gay marriage based on a philosophical and spiritual anthropology (that is, a vision of human nature) which describes how understanding the proper nature of gay love is essential to understanding the nature of God’s love for creation.
Theologically, affirming gay marriage is an evolutionary step forward in humankind’s understanding of the nature of Divine Love, a gift from God for all people, not just a tiny minority. The love of Same to Same is viewed as theologically distinct from the love of Same to Other, one giving us a mirror to self-immanence and the other a reflection of self-transcendence. Heterophilia gives us a picture of how humanity loves God; homophilia gives us a picture of how God loves humanity.
Such a vision is not merely a Presbyterian theology or even a Christian vision. It’s a philosophical-spiritual statement about human nature that can be affirmed by integral Christians, integral Jews, integral Muslims, integral Buddhists, integral Hindus, and even — by looking at self-immanence and self-transcendence as biological drives situated within a general theory meta-theory of evolution — integral secular humanists.
Last fall, the eruption of the Occupy Wall Street movement in protests in major cities across the U.S. and elsewhere focused attention on income inequality. At the time, I expressed my support for the cause, when it is viewed not as a power play between haves and have-nots, but as a movement of integration towards greater fairness and balance in the world’s evolving consciousness.
From Spirit’s perspective, as I noted at the time, we are all the 99% and we are all the 1%. But there’s a much wider global lens that I did not speak to, which is now being observed by writers including Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.
First things first: America’s rich are really, really rich. U.S. Census data suggest every man, woman, and child in the top 1 percent of U.S. households gets about $1,500 to live on each day, every day. By contrast, the average U.S. household is scraping by on around $55 per person per day. But the global average is about a fifth of that.
So by global standards, America’s middle class is also really, really rich. To make it into the richest 1 percent globally, all you need is an income of around $34,000, according to World Bank economist Branko Milanovic. The average family in the United States has more than three times the income of those living in poverty in America, and nearly 50 times that of the world’s poorest. Many of America’s 99 percenters, and the West’s, are really 1 percenters on a global level.
Why are so many Americans in the world’s 99th percentile of income, and much of the rest of the world poorer? Not owing to merit, continues Kenny:
Nor did the Western 99 percent “earn” most of their wealth, any more than the top 1 percent “earned” theirs. It’s the luck of where you’re born, according to the late Nobel Prize-winning economist Herbert Simon, who estimated that the benefits of living in a well-functioning economy probably account for 90 percent of individual income.
Based on the notion that there is no moral reason why some people make more than others, economist Herbert Simon argues for radical global wealth redistribution:
“On moral grounds,” he wrote, “we could argue for a flat income tax of 90 percent to return that wealth to its real owners” — i.e., everyone else in the country. That radical suggestion makes the Occupy Wall Street crowd look like a bunch of free-market libertarians.
Kenny doesn’t go so far as to back Simon’s plan, but he is definitely not giving comfort to the Occupy movement in the U.S. which feels indignant about wealth inequality when it concerns people richer than themselves, but feel nothing about their own relative wealth compared to the rest of the world. Kenny continues:
Plus, taxing the West’s obscenely rich to help a Western middle class that is merely very rich doesn’t seem like the highest of priorities, frankly. We need to deal with inequality all the way down to the bottom of the income pyramid, for everyone’s sake.
IMF research suggests that countries with high levels of inequality are far more likely to fall into financial crisis and far less likely to sustain economic growth. But this is not just about taxing the richest 1 percent to help the middle 60. It’s about taxing the middle 60 to help the bottom 20. And ensuring that rich and poor alike worldwide have access to basic health care and education, with their well-documented effects on income and productivity, will work to the benefit of the Western middle class. If Americans and Europeans want to export their way out of recession, they need rich consumers elsewhere.
So stop whining, Occupiers. It is high time for the richest 1 percent to help the rest catch up. But don’t fool yourself — if you live in the West, you probably are that 1 percent.
To repeat, if you make more than about $34,000 a year, YOU are part of the 1%.
So now, tell me again how angry and resentful and hateful you got as you stood outside the Wall Street sign, broke the windows of banks, and hollered to the moon about the evil rich millionaires and billionaires?
Sorry, I goofed. That wasn’t you; it was somebody else. Never mind.
Income inequality deserves to be a topic high on the agenda for discussion in the U.S. and around the world, as part of a larger discussion about global economic development and the best relationship between government and private sector initiatives. People making $4,000 or $14,000 or $24,000 or $34,000 a year don’t deserve nutritious food, quality health care, and college educations any less than those of us in the top 1%.
Taking an integral perspective means trying to look at the income inequality topic sympathetically from as many different perspectives as possible, and not simply resting content with one’s own opinions and prejudices. By challenging ourselves to see the world from the view of both the 1% and the 99%, and looking at ways that we can increase the level of love and compassion all the way around, we can avoid falling into some serious mistakes.
There is reason for urgency around this. Everywhere in the world, there are people who have no clean water, no job, and no hope for a college education for their children.
World Spirituality tells us that as we find our Unique Self, we understand increasingly that there is only one True Self anywhere in existence. We are all the True Self, and being kind and just to both the 1% and the 99%, and seing through the illusions that seem to divide us, is all part of our urgent work of Self-love.