Lady Gaga Undresses The Burqa: A Step On The Path Of A World Artist

gagaOmid Safi has written a heartfelt editorial for Religion News Service explaining why Lady Gaga’s new song which uses the traditional Muslim burqa — women’s scarf and body covering — is in poor taste. It’s hardly the first time the performer has been accused of poor taste, but in this instance she is being accused of violating the sacred.

Here are some of the lyrics to “Burqa”:

I’m not a wandering slave, 
I am a woman of choice
My veil is protection for the gorgeousness of my face
You watch, you fancy me cause there’s always one man to love
But in the bedroom the size of them’s more than enough 

Safi writes:

But let us not, for one minute, confuse all the #Burqaswag references among her fan (“little monsters”, as she affectionately calls them) as something in any way emancipatory, or actually about the women who choose to wear burqa (or niqab) or are even forced to wear one by dominant patriarchal cultures around them. Gaga’s Burqa outfits (and song, if it is indeed hers) does nothing to share the already existing full humanity of Muslim women, or others who wear (by choice, custom, or force) the burqa.   It is merely appropriation of some one else’s clothing by an unimaginably wealthy, white, elite North American woman without in any way altering the reality of the lives of women on whose behalf it pretends to speak.

Later he quotes approvingly Suheir Hammad, a Palestinian-American Muslim poet, in the context of Lady Gaga’s song (noting that Hammad was not describing Gaga):

Don’t build around me your fetish, fantasy,
Your lustful profanity to cage me in, clip my wings.
Don’t wanna be your exotic.

Your lovin’ of my beauty
ain’t more than funky fornication, plain pink perversion
In fact, nasty necrophilia.
Because my beauty is dead to you…

Please, don’t don’t accuse Lady Gaga of necrophilia. We just don’t know what she’s capable of doing next.

I have a certain sympathy with artists who push boundaries of propriety even to the point where they are accused of breaking rules, being insensitive to the feelings of others, or engaging in sensationalism. There is no written rulebook for the agent provocateur, and each artist has a unique style. And then there are successful exploitations of a cultural opening and unsuccessful forays.

Did Lady Gage misfire? Is her Burqua song so offensive she ought to be criticized for Orientalizing all women who wear the Burqua, harming them in some way? Ought her effort to call attention to the potential for exploitation and oppression in Muslim culture be ridiculed as not “in any way emancipatory”?

The issues are complex and yet what does your heart say? Mine does not go on the offensive against an artist who knows how to use the power of her bully pulpit to shift the tide of public opinion — especially the opinion of youth — in emancipatory ways. Perhaps her flirtation with the Burqua song will be short-lived, a mere exploitation of a sensitive issue, an experiment in testing the boundaries of what is acceptable to say about Islamic tradition in a song. Even so I would not criticize her for trying, nor would I attack anyone such as Safi or Hammad if they are turned off by it. They are also entitled to their reactions.

At Think Progress, Alyssa Rosenberg doesn’t care much for Burqua and uses its opportunity to just say that Lady Gaga isn’t a very good artist:

There’s no question that as an advocate, Lady Gaga’s done enormous good in raising the profile of issues like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, marriage equality, and Russia’s anti-gay laws. I just wish that her songs were as nuanced and effective as her political work can be. Using your power in service of others is a generous act. Speaking for others in your music in a way that doesn’t recognize the difference between elevating their voices and subsuming them, is less noble, and less musically effective.

So you see here’s the crux of where I disagree with this strand of thought in art criticism: Safi and Rosenberg think Gaga is “subsuming” those who are different from her rather than “elevating their voices”. They have an either/or worldview: you’re either lifting THEM up, or you’re stomping on THEM. However, Gaga seems to be both identifying with the other as well as differentiating herself from them clearly by putting her lyrics into her own unique style. Safi’s and Rosenberg’s views are more Green, Gaga’s and mine are more Integral.

To think that you can’t sing about being “born this way” unless you are yourself that way is the worst sort of handcuffing of artists, a denial of the non-dual or causal self in the name of the subtle self or gross self. To think that an artist isn’t allowed her own voice because she’s a “wealthy, white, elite North American woman” is its own sort of unfortunate discrimination. Sometimes Gaga’s lyrics become bland and sappy when they fly too high above the particular, it is true, but when you’re doing work on the frothy edge of popular culture some of that is inevitable.

What I hope is that Lady Gaga will not stop at Burqua, but will continue to take up a truly prophetic calling to use pop music as a vehicle for shifting the cultural views of women throughout the world in more liberating directions, including those Muslim women who are forced to wear garments that violate them. If she keeps going she may not make every critic happy, especially the Green ones, but she will have demonstrated that she is a World Artist capable of delivering a mix of entertainment with enlightenment to audiences across the globe while changing millions of lives in the process.

“Moon Reflection” By Mattar Bin Lahej Depicts Phases Of The Spiritual Life

 

The-Dubai-Mall-Moon-Reflection-Exhibition

An artist from Dubai has created a unique art piece for The Dubai Mall which is associated with Ramadan.

Spiritual development is the primary theme of the work, with phases of the moon connected to the spiritual journey, according to an interview with the artist on GulfNews.com:

“The idea behind the ‘Moon Reflection’ can be linked to a typical Muslim’s life during Ramadan. The circles emphasise the moon and the letters inside indicate what a person does during Ramadan. In Ramadan, people always try to clear themselves from any sins by reading the Quran and so the different phases of the moon – changing shape from small to big then back small again – indicate that [spiritual] movement,” he added.

Bin Lahej also pointed out that the reason he made the first phases of the moon in silver and bronze and the last phase in gold is because “gold is the achievement or reward from God and it also marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid.”

Bin Lahej describes the purpose of his work as integrative:

“Art is about getting people integrated and not reaching out only to specific people. My target is to reach everyone and I like my work to speak for itself.”

Read the whole article.

Mystic Jocelyn Woods plumbs the depths of spirituality, eroticism, and disability

 

ecstasy-of-a-cripple

One of the most inspirational stories you’ll read about, right here, by Ken Picard in Seven Days. Jocelyn Woods, 27, of Vermont has not only battled a perplexing neuromuscular disease since childhood which leaves her mostly bedridden, she is also a cutting-edge artist with powerful creative visions which are defying stereotypes about disabled people and sexuality. Woods does so without resorting to politically correct message-driven art (which she detests), but by calling up the power of her True Self, the “vast eternity” which she came to identify with.

Picard writes:

Woods was born in Florida but moved to Vermont at age 10. An only child, she was homeschooled by her mom through high school, which she completed at 16. Woods traces her spiritual awakening to an existential crisis she had at age 4, when she brought her mother into the bathroom and stood there crying because she didn’t believe the little girl in the mirror reflected her true, infinite nature.

“I felt like I was sitting on the edge of this vast eternity,” she recalls, “and didn’t know how to process that as a child.”

Woods’ creativity also blossomed early. At 3, she asked her mother for piano lessons, and was playing by age 5. At 15 she was composing and performing her own classical pieces, and at age 16 Woods recorded a solo album titled A River’s Journey at Charles Eller’s studio in Charlotte. She expected to pursue a career as a concert pianist until her poor health intervened.

A severe bout of influenza when she was 18 robbed Woods of mobility and dexterity, including her ability to play the piano. She was left semi-bedridden and took years to recover. Today, her health has stabilized, but she undergoes daily physical therapy and Pilates sessions to maintain her strength and muscle tone. She also experiments with alternative therapies and takes singing lessons to strengthen her diaphragm.

In June 2012, Woods contracted a severe respiratory illness that nearly claimed her life. This time, it triggered what she calls a “shamanic experience” that inspired much of her recent work.

“It was quite frightening, and I wasn’t quite sure how I would emerge from that,” she recalls, “because I felt as though I were suspended between the two worlds of life and death, the soul realm and the physical realm.”

Read the whole article.


Photo: burlingtonfreepress.com

Are We Entering A Post-Mormon Moment?

 

book_of_mormon_musical

Joseph Walker at the Deseret News writes that a Mormon university president spoke of the religion entering “the post-Mormon moment.” Here’s an explanation:

Utah Valley University President Matthew S. Holland said Tuesday that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are learning to swim in contemporary religion’s mainstream during what he referred to as “the post-Mormon moment.”

“It’s one thing to think about loving others and getting along with people from different faith perspectives when you are insular and existing outside the main body of faith,” Holland told a classroom full of students and professors during his appearance as a guest lecturer for UVU’s special “Mormonism in the American Experience” class.

“But those questions,” he continued, “become very real, very challenging when you are suddenly in the mainstream and part of a society in which we interact more regularly and are more connected globally.”

And that is precisely where Holland believes Mormonism is as a result of the so-called “Mormon moment,” which he said consisted of an extraordinary set of situations and circumstances — from the two presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney to “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway to the LDS Church’s own “I’m a Mormon” media campaign — that put the church and its members squarely within the bright light of intense media scrutiny.

Read the whole article.

Whether or not one likes the term “post-Mormon moment”, Holland is pointing to something real, I think: a heightened visibility of the LDS Church which results in greater integration within American mainstream society. This is in a sense becoming more integral: integral to the mainstream society, and so long as that results in identification with positive cultural values then that is a sign of progress.

But it is not the same as saying Mormons are truly becoming more Integral — coming to a sense of their own identity which transcends their “ethnocentric” identification with their religious subculture or society at large. A more Integral Mormonism could be seen by signs such as more Mormons moving past the fundamentalism which locks their doctrine or beginning to challenge the identification of Mormon culture with American corporate values. More Mormons will have to become more postmodern before they can become post-postmodern. Will we ever see LDS missionaries in tie-dye T-shirts and Birkenstocks, or Mormon theologians leading the World Council of Churches? Will it be commonplace for Mormon scholars to be leading the vanguard in integral interdisciplinary studies?

I’m sure there are signs of these things happening, but I don’t see the media reporting on them. Instead they are talking about something routine, a sect becoming more socially acceptable. Once we see the LDS Church and its leadership becoming more Green and Teal, then we can start talking about a real “post-Mormon moment”.

“Between Holiness And Humanity, He Was A Man’s Man, Handsome And Strapping”

 

thomas-merton

Sojourners reports in “A Thoroughly Modern Mystic Makes His Way to the Big Screen” on big news for fans of American Catholic mystic Thomas Merton: his life story — or at least a love affair which played a significant role — is coming to the movies.

Cathleen Falsani writes:

Merton’s voice was unique in the way he lived in the awkward no man’s land between holiness and humanity. He was a man’s man, handsome and strapping, like a rugged Spencer Tracy with a tonsure and cassock. He had been around the block a few times, both before he moved behind Gethsemani’s cloistered walls and after. Which makes him more accessible and authentic than many other giants of the faith.

Merton was saintly and serious. He also was sexy and a little bit dangerous.

“He is so human, real and relatable to me,” Eisner said. “I am convinced that what he so eloquently and vulnerably wrote about is perhaps more relevant today than it was in his own day. … I just can’t wait to introduce this beautiful person to a whole new mass of people who have yet to be smitten by his wit and wisdom.”

The way Eisner and Miller have written the romance between Merton and his M isn’t tawdry or voyeuristic, and it leaves to the audience the (highly debated) question of whether their relationship was ever fully consummated. The details of what happened between the sheets are the least compelling part of their unlikely coupling.

“Dear, I have a terrible desire for fidelity to what has been far greater than either of us,” Merton wrote to M in the Midsummer collection. “And not a choice of fidelities to this or that, love or vows. But a fidelity beyond and above that to both of them in one, to God; to the Christ who is absolutely alone and not apart from us, but is the dreadful deep hole in the midst of us, waiting for no explanation.”

Looking forward to it. God bless the filmmakers and their production. I hope they find a way to make Merton relevant and exciting especially for today’s young people.

Muslim Congregations Show Civic Activism On Eid

 

eid

Sermons on Eid khutba, the observance which one Muslim described as “like the State of the Union address”, addressed many topics. Omar Sacirbey of Religion News Service leads with this summary: “[M]any imams across the country noted a growing climate of acceptance in America but urged Muslims not to forget the problems facing their communities in the U.S. and overseas.”

Sacirbey’s “What imams talk about during Eid” has its finger on the pulse of Muslim congregations in America during Eid:

Generational transmission:

“Our community is at a unique crossroads,” [Suhaib] Webb [of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center] said, issuing a call for older Muslim generations to allow younger generations to have greater roles in community affairs. “There are a lot of young people with a lot of excitement, and a lot of old people with a lot of fear. And that’s not a healthy thing.”

Civic involvement including activism around immigration, government surveillance, and anti-racism:

Muzammil Siddiqi, the imam at the Islamic Society of Orange County (Calif.) and a member of the Fiqh Council of North America, urged Eid worshippers to be involved in civic affairs. He said they should support pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, protest government surveillance policies, and participate in the NAACP’s anti-racism program.

In a progressive Islamic congregation, services were led by an openly gay person:

Some congregations celebrating Eid were much smaller but showed an increasingly diverse Muslim-American landscape. The Los Angeles chapter of Muslims for Progressive Values was expecting several dozen worshippers at its Eid service, where the khutba was going to be given by a young gay member of the community.

Read the whole article.

A report by Voice of America tracks the Eid celebrations worldwide, which were peaceful except in Pakistan:

Worshippers gathered in mosques in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, to begin the celebrations Thursday.

Celebrations are going on in much of Asia and the Middle East, including in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites.

Crowds of worshippers prayed and celebrated in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, while Egypt’s interim leaders attended prayers at a mosque in the capital.

U.S. President Barack Obama wished Muslims a “blessed and joyful celebration,” citing the traditions of Ramadan as ones that serve as a reminder to be grateful and compassionate.


Photo Credit: modenadude via Compfight cc

Aura Researcher: I Have Found Someone At The Zenith Of Spiritual Perfection

 

aura1

Skeptics dismiss the existence of auras as disorders of the optical nerves, eye fatigue, or migraines. But cross-cultural spiritual traditions have affirmed their reality and spiritual potency, and any Integral theology needs to be able to make room for them and ask how they can help us. Perhaps researchers too can bring together Integral research with Indian scholarship to learn how auras are connected with levels and states of consciousness.

A report, “Science Concedes the Power of Shaktipaat”, by Dr. Hira Taparia Aura of Mumbai is interesting in that it claims scientific validation for the existence of auras… and he also writes that he has found someone so advanced spiritually that his aura is beyond the capacity of his machine to measure. Certainly this scholar’s claims merit serious analysis and replication, if such efforts have not already been made. Here is the report:

I started to study the science of analysing aura in 1962. It took me six years to complete the study of this science. Thereafter I carried out research on this subject for several years. I am the first person in the world to receive ISO 9001: 2000 Certification. I have delivered lectures to students at Moscow Medical University six times.

A person’s aura extends to an area of 3 inches to 30-40 metres around him. Even insentient objects have aura. I have so far studied the aura of about seven lakh people including some one thousand distinguished persons – like saints, VIPs etc.

As I studied the aura of Sant Sri Asaramji Bapu, I found it so powerful that anybody coming near him would be overwhelmed by his luminous aura and would always remain under its compelling influence. (Aura photo on title page 2)

One of the colours of Bapuji’s aura is violet, which shows that Bapuji is at the acme of spirituality. This type of aura is found only in Rishis, in perfected Masters. The red in the aura indicates that Bapuji transmits spiritual energy into others (Shaktipaat); takes away their negativities, weaknesses and replaces them with his divine energy. The sky blue colour in Bapuji’s aura indicates the high celestial regions to which Bapuji’s aura extends.

Of particularly great importance in Bapuji’s aura is the potency of transmitting divine energy. In other people’s aura I found the capacity to receive energy from others. But the notable thing I found in Bapuji’s aura was the potency to destroy the negative energy of one coming into contact with him and to bestow positive energy on him. Another peculiar feature of Bapuji’s aura is the potency to transmit energy to anybody even from far off.

When I went to Bapuji’s satsang, I found that Bapuji’s aura gets stretched like latex and envelops the entire gathering…

Read the entire article.

Modernizing Mascot Names Is A Worthwhile Endeavor, So Is A Conversation About Reforming Sports

 

washington-redskins-1-single-image-cut

In this blog I sometimes point out instances of political correctness gone awry, but I also don’t hesitate to call for greater sensitivity and cultural diversity when it is genuinely needed. Changing sports team mascots is an example of an important change to the symbolism that defines our civil society, one which could have a significant impact on how people think. Just getting people to talk about the reasons for the name and logo changes would produce a lot of good consciousness raising.

However the situation with the Washington team bearing a name which is slightly to somewhat to moderately offensive to Native Americans raises another topic: We wouldn’t have to be having this debate if we reformed the ownership structure of sports teams. What would be the social benefits of eliminating private ownership of sports teams and replacing it with a public-private partnership or a system of non-profit organizations organized in the interest of the public welfare? More about this post-capitalist idea after giving readers a bit of background on the naming controversy…

David Plotz of Slate explains the need for the online magazine to no longer refer to Washington DC’s football team as “The Redskins”:

For decades, American Indian activists and others have been asking, urging, and haranguing the Washington Redskins to ditch their nickname, calling it a racist slur and an insult to Indians. They have collected historical and cultural examples of the use of redskin as a pejorative and twice sued to void the Redskins trademark, arguing that the name cannot be legally protected because it’s a slur. (A ruling on the second suit is expected soon; the first failed for technical reasons.) A group in the House of Representatives also recently introduced a bill to void the trademark. The team has been criticized from every different direction, by every kind of person. More than 20 years ago, Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser, no politically correct squish, urged the team to abandon the name. Today, the mayor of Washington, D.C.—the mayor!—goes out of his way to avoid saying the team’s name.

Why, then, has nothing changed? Because the choice of the team’s name belongs to one person, Washington owner Daniel Snyder. He has brushed off the controversy with arm waves at “tradition,” “competitiveness,” and “honor.” He recently told USA Today, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER—you can use caps.” Earlier this year, some Redskins flunky was assigned the job of locating high school teams around the country called Redskins, and found 70 of them, which proved very little except that the Redskins are capable of spreading a bad example to the young. (A Google search of “Redskins” “nickname” and “high school” turns up story after story of schools dropping the nickname.) And this May, the team pathetically trotted out a guy named Chief Dodson to explain that his people were “quite honored” by the Redskins name. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell cited Dodson’s support in a letter to the Congressional Native American Caucus, apparently not realizing that the supposedly Redskins-loving Dodson wasn’t a real chief.

And then Plotz explains that his publication doesn’t approve of the monicker (“While the name Redskins is only a bit offensive, it’s extremely tacky and dated…”) they aren’t waiting for the team’s owner. They’re just going to stop using the offensive term.

Andrew Sullivan has an extensive series of posts giving opinions about whether sports teams should modernize their dated and racially insensitive mascots. I find the topic interesting but also a diversion from a more difficult economic structural problem.

Daniel Snyder, like Donald Trump or Warren Buffett, has free reign in the U.S. economic system to run his enterprise largely as he sees fit, charging sky high prices, making fat profits, and giving the teams names as offensive as he wants. But if sports teams were quasi-socialized or mutualized, the decision-making authority would be handed over to an individual or group working in the public interest. Mutual insurance companies organize this way — their policy owners are literally owners, and profits are redistributed to them through premium refunds.

Mutualized sports teams could hoist a wide rage of benefits to the public good and social justice, lowering outrageous athlete pay sometimes in excess of $50 million for football players for instance and lowering ticket prices. How many sports fans would be interested in actually owning a piece of their favorite team, showing their loyalty and getting reduced prices on tickets as a result?

I would wager a whole lot. Sports fans would become more invested in what is happening with the team and participate in decision-making through their voting and election of officers. And the billions of dollars that taxpayers pay to fund new stadiums could actually be restructured to give taxpayers stock ownership in the teams which would use the stadiums.

From an Integral standpoint, I have to wonder if mutualization or quasi-socialization of sports teams would not raise the consciousness of many sports fans, turning Red towards Amber for instance, just as promoting an employee to a stockholder would increase their sense of participation in something wider than themselves which participates in the larger whole.

Spirituality isn’t just about connecting the little self with a God far removed from the world, but expanding the self’s sense of loyalties and concerns and caring to broader and broader communities. And in Christian terms, spirituality certainly is about more than individual salvation; it’s about our collective embodiment of the Reign of Heaven come.

On The Spirit of an Elm Tree

 

Constable_-_Study_of_an_Elm_Tree_640px

Have you ever wondered why it is that you can be unmoved by the sight of a homeless person on the street but want to cry your heart out when you see a TV commercial featuring an abused puppy or hungry child half way around the world? Or why it is that in order to feel more connected to other people you need to spend time away from them, off in a secluded wood or empty park for a little while?

I suppose no one answer fits every person’s way of seeing the world. But I know for me that I have often experienced my deepest heart openings at times when I have been lonely and in places where I have been alone. Not totally by myself, but absent other people or soft fuzzy needy animals. There my companions have no reptilian or mammalian brain systems — they are principally the trees and the stones.

My connection to trees is one to which I ought to pay more attention. For most of my life I didn’t think a lot about trees as I walked through the city streets unless I had some practical reason — say, a downed branch cutting across my path. That wasn’t very connected of me, and too often it’s still a shortcoming. So I’ve been working to become more mindful of my relationship with the world of trees in particular, one genus at a time.

Elms are of particular interest to me at the moment. Looking at pictures of elm trees, they are so very different in appearance.  The “Preston Twins” in Brighton, England, are absolutely wondrous. Other varieties are no less intriguing. And the “Biscarrosse Elm” in France is horror-movie scary with branches appearing like bony arms stretching out to grab you.

It’s no wonder that in Western mythology there have generally been two different traditions with regard to the elm tree (if you can believe Wikipedia’s entry on Elm). The positive tradition elevates the tree to the level of Paradise, admiring it as connected to the blood of life, the roots of the vineyards. And in the darker tradition poets link the tree with death, writing verses about elm trees upon gravesites and telling of superstitions that the tree is an ill omen because it doesn’t bear edible fruit.

It sounds about right that we have such different perspectives about the elm tree… and there’s something about both the golden and shadowy views of the elm tree that resonate for me. In times when I want to be alone with the trees, the elm gives me the feeling of being with an older person moreso than many other trees. There’s something about its shape, opening out from a sturdy trunk, that is human-like. The spirit of the tree seems connected to that of the Elder — even the names Elm and Elder start the same way. Elders may be wise and gentle and kind … or crotchety and cranky. And so trees too have personalities connected to them, which we intuit from their appearance.

Our relationship with an old tree may begin with the realization that from their perspective, we are but lads and lasses. They have been around longer and have the bark rings to show for it. We may speak of them wanting things from us or for us; many want our well-being and growth. Others, as Tolkien observed, seem to bear anger within their trunks and branches. Those trees also have lessons for us, and we can gain insights by observing them as if the Earth itself were speaking to us (which he/she/it is).

Nature spirits are real. Trees have lessons to teach us. Spiritual enlightenment does not force us to grow out of animism, it teaches us that we must grow beyond our exclusive identification with animism. Once we learn of the intelligence and personality within the Earth and its living beings that is a face of the proto-personal essence of the divine, we forget this lesson at our peril. At the very least, we may lose track of the simple ways that trees can open our hearts, connect us deeply to our grief, and generate longing for connection to the Source of All.


Photo Credit: John Constable, ‘Study of an Elm Tree’ [1821]

Prayer Addiction Is Real, Says Scholar

 

EvangelicalPrayer

T. M. Luhrmann, a professor of anthropology at Stanford, says prayer addiction may very well be an actual disorder. Evidence she cites in a guest column for The New York Times:

There are, indeed, evangelical organizations that teach people (often young people) how to identify and destroy demons. I met one young woman after she came back from one of those summer camps. She returned to college with a sense of purpose, and would pray intensely for hours. She would walk into a restaurant and sense an immaterial, sulfurous evil and feel that she had to pray powerfully against it. It was as though the world were drenched in darkness that no one else could see.

Soon, she found herself crying while praying; she felt God’s love so deeply that she wept with the grief of being human. But this intense need to pray also began to frighten her. “It is so crazy,” she told me. “It’s like we’re addicted.”

Eventually, she stopped. It was just too exhausting. Some weeks later, she remarked: “It’s so strange. You get into that zone, and you know that the students around you think about things completely differently, and you really do wonder whether you are crazy.”

Read the whole article. Much of the article is actually attempting to show that people believe prayer is beneficial, even an atheist she profiles. Very interesting.

That nugget alone is hardly a scientific analysis of “prayer addiction”, but it does open the door to a good conversation about how to draw the line between healthy and unhealthy prayer. And it does raise the question: How many of the saints, sages, and mystics of the past may have suffered from “prayer addiction”? William James is not alone among psychiatrists identifying a connection between the “sick soul” and deep religious experience. By no means does this disqualify religious experience, it deepens our understanding of its varieties, calling us to wonder what is so wrong or unhealthy with feeling God’s love so deeply that one “weeps with the grief of being human”?


Photo Credit: goddiscussion.com