Soulfully Gay (Movie Screenplay), Scene 1

clear-lake-south-campground-52ab3049bb7c09086400022fI’m picturing myself in Soulfully Gay, an imaginary movie adaptation of my spiritual autobiography. In the opening scene, a young boy about 9 years old runs through the woods at sunset, sobbing as he goes along. He is solitary and frightened. It is 1978 in the Wenatchee National Forest.

Narrator (Voice Over): “The author of Soulfully Gay called this incident his ‘Childhood Wound’. It makes sense when you think about it, that a boy who is loved by his family should feel so terrorized by their abandonment. But there is a double meaning to consider.”

Joe continues to run. Then stop! He trips and falls. He is face-to-face with the carcass of a deer, his eyes looking into the face of death.

Cut to Seattle, 2003. Joe’s therapist’s office.

Harry, Joe Perez’s therapist: “How old were you when this happened?”

Joe Perez, a man in his early 30s: “Nine. It was my birthday.”

Cut to 1978. The 9-year-old boy gets up and continues running. He finds a road. He waits for someone to come by.

Joe Perez (voice over): “I was lost all morning and into the afternoon. I was totally alone. I cried the whole time. I felt so ashamed. And I thought I was going to die. Then I got lucky. I finally found a road. After another hour or so, a man on a motorcycle drove by.”

Cut to the road in the forest. The child waves for a motorcyclist to stop. They speak for a moment, and then the boy gets on the back of the motorcycle.

The therapist sits up straight.

Joe Perez: “I waved the man down and he took me back to my family’s camp at Clear Lake.”

Harry: “And then?”

Joe Perez: “Nobody had even noticed that I was missing.”

The 9-year-old boy arrives at the family’s campfire where his parents are gathered with many aunts and uncles. The family continues to prattle about the fishing, and pays no attention.

Harry: “There were no search parties. Nobody was worried about you. Nobody went looking for you. They didn’t see you.”

The 9-year-old boy turns away from the campfire toward a camper. His 18-year-old brother stops him.

Bobby: “Where do you think you’re going?”

Young Joey can’t reply, he is too distressed. He just sobs and wails until he is calmer. They stand at the entrance to the camper, sheltered from the sight of the other campers. Bobby stoops to listen to his younger brother.

Young Joey: “Nobody cares about me.”

Bobby: “I love you Joey. I thought you got on the boat. I didn’t know.”

Cut to: Bobby tucks Joey under a blanket.

Joey: “I love you Bobby.”

Bobby: “If you need someone, call on me.”

Bobby turns to go.

Joey: “I prayed to God. He didn’t answer. He left me out there alone and I could have died.”

Bobby: “If he didn’t answer, then who brought you home?”

Bobby closes the camper door and wanders off. Under the moonlight and starlight, he is embraced by another man. The campers talk on, telling stories in Spanish and English in the summer evening.

 

 

It’s Insane To Believe There Is No Truth

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By Joe Perez

Note: The following post was originally published on February 2, 2012, on Joe-Perez.com, and has been modified on this date.

I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to have had a good education in philosophy, theology, comparative religion, psychology and sociology of religion, and so on. This has given me the chance to see how the brightest minds, past and present, have addressed the fundamental question in philosophy: “How am I to live?”

Those smart people haven’t always agreed. In fact, the study of these subjects in college is pretty much an exercise in learning the different schools of thought and how to argue one side against another. In ethics, there are consequentialists and Kantians. In psychoanalysis, there are Freudians and Jungians. And then there are about a million different views of religion.

It wasn’t really until over a decade after I finished my formal study of religion that I encountered the work of the philosopher, psychological theorist, and mystic Ken Wilber. His work was remarkably different because he didn’t care less how exactly one thinker disagreed with another thinker. In a sense, he was only really interested in what they had in common. He asked how they were looking at the world in such a way that he could understand that in a way they weren’t really disagreeing? He saw that they were only talking past each other, comparing apples to oranges.

For Ken Wilber as I interpret him, there really is something that you might as well call Truth with a capital “T,” to distinguish it from all of the various perspectives that people have about truth. He doesn’t think we ever really are able to talk about Truth or grasp it intellectually without diminishing it to truth with the lower-case “t.” There is Truth. It is unqualified only in the unmanifest realm. And then there are perspectives on Truth. And we are always, everywhere, in the manifest order, taking a perspective.

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Do you create your own reality? Studies on gender describe the astonishing power of a single thought

Do you create your own reality? Does thought generate its own object? Does naming a thing give power over it?

When questions about mind and language are asked in this way, sophisticated thinkers are usually inclined to find them laughable or at least misguided. After all, while the effects of language and thought on the physical universe are certainly complex and not fully understood, there is precious little scientific evidence to support a naïve magical worldview.

On the other hand, it’s hard to find scientific evidence for propositions that have never been tested. And there are few in the scientific community willing to risk their careers and reputations to investigate “fringe” topics. It’s at least conceivable that properly designed studies focused on limited and well-articulated propositions related to thought and reality could lend support to holistic views that do not starkly separate thought and reality.

For example, you might imagine a simple test of the power of visualization exercises. Students could be asked to perform a visualization exercise prior to taking a standard test of competency, and the impact of the visualization could be calculated based on the student’s performance. That’s not far-out woo-woo parapsychological research; it’s common sense investigation of psychology and education.

The article “Gender Is Dead! Long Live Gender!” on the NPR website last week looks at relevant research described in Cordelia Fine’s new book Delusions of Gender. While I haven’t yet read Fine’s book, I’m intrigued by the studies she describes and how they seem to shed much light into the relationship between language, thought, self, and behavior.

NPR’s Alve Noe describes a few examples from Fine’s book. First, this one about the impact of visualizing one’s gender:

Conjure before your mind the image of a physics professor. Imagine what his life is like. Now pretend, for a few moments, that you are that person. Try to get a feel for what it is like to be him.

Now let’s start anew. This time think of a cheerleader. Picture her; imagine what her life is like. Now pretend to be her. Imagine what it is like to be her.

When psychologist Adam Galinksy and his collaborator at Northwestern University asked subjects to carry out this sort of exercise, they made a startling finding. After the exercise, subjects were asked to characterize themselves. Those individuals who had imaginatively adopted the perspective of the professor were more likely to describe themselves as clever than those who had been assigned the cheerleader persona. And those who had adopted the cheerleader perspective, were correspondingly more likely to describe themselves as gorgeous.

But that’s not all. The exercise had actual effects on how people performed on tests. Those who had identified with the professor performed better on tests of analytic intelligence than those who had identified with the cheerleader!

Continue reading “Do you create your own reality? Studies on gender describe the astonishing power of a single thought”