September 26, 2010 by Bill
There was an excellent article in the New Yorker magazine on the healing powers of laughter. Included were strong and positive supportive statements from Dr. Andrew Weil of Holistic fame, as well as being a graduate M.D. from the Harvard University Medical School. Support came from Dr. Lee Berk of Loma Linda University as well as Dr. William Fry, a psychiatrist at Stanford University. They said that their research confirms that laughter can have salutary effects on everything fro m heart disease to diabetes and allergies.
Of course, the distinguished Norman Cousins, Editor of the Saturday Review, was the classic example. He came down with “ankylosing spondylitis,” a very painful degenerative disease of the joints. As he said, he was coming unglued. His doctor gave him a one in five hundred chance of recovery. Cousins took charge of his life. He cut out ALL prescription drugs, including pain killers, checked into a hospital room and spent every day with laughter and huge doses of Vitamin C. He watched the Marx Brothers, “Candid Camera” and others and he said that “ten minutes of genuine belly laughing had an anesthetic effect and would give him two or three hours of pain free sleep.” He became completely healed. The Dean of the UCLA Medical School said “thank God Norman Cousins never went to medical school” and invited Cousins to join the faculty there as visiting lecturer.
Laughter can also cure another disease, that virus of the mind, that “disease of the intellect” called “organized religion,” in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Of the world’s largest religious traditions, Christianity and Islam are the most grim and thin-lipped and humorless. There is no humor or laughter in the bible. D.T. Suzuki, the brilliant Zen Master, wrote, “I do not think the Christian theologians can ever laugh. They are too serious and too obsessed in trying to explain God, leaving no room for playfulness.” Or as Oscar Wilde put it “over-seriousness is a mask and a cover for the shallow.”
The two major failures of biblical literature is the complete lack of Eros and Humor, both vital for the growth, health and development of the human species. The only Eros in the entire bible is the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament. The only humor in the entire bible is the scene in Genesis when God tells Abraham and Sarah they are going to have a baby. Abraham and Sarah laugh, reminding God that he is 100 and she is 90 years old. Isn’t that pathetic, the only scene with humor in the entire bible? Read more
September 19, 2010 by Bill
My wife and I were guests at dinner in the main dining room of an exclusive, gated, private community. After a short time the woman sitting next to me blurted out, “My God, you don’t know how great it is to see a new face… hear a new voice… with new stories and new ideas.” On the drive home I wondered if any of these people had ever asked the question that Peggy Lee asked in her memorable song, “Is That All There Is?” Had they ever paused long enough to question the significance, or lack of it, of their daily lives?
How much is enough?
How many cocktail and dinner parties are enough, with the same people…same jokes… same stories… same trivia… same clichés… same gossip… same boredom. Have they realized that the rut they are in has evolved into a trench?
The distinguished actor, Anthony Hopkins, put it bluntly in an interview. “My wife and I stopped going to cocktail or dinner parties years ago. We got sick of the phony, ‘hello daaaaaaarling! How good to seeeee you.’ It made us gag.” Hopkins went on to use such strong language to express his disgust that I cannot print it.
How much is enough?
How many cars are enough? How many homes are enough? How many closets full of clothes are enough? How much jewelry is enough? How many golf and tennis games are enough before a person finally decides to do something significant? Many people know, through their consciousness that they have painted themselves into a corner and even their Rolex and Jaguar is depressing. Read more
September 12, 2010 by Bill
Before some reader thinks I’m not a “true patriot,” let me remind you that I flew as a Marine Corps pilot for 12 years, through WW II and Korea and was personally decorated by the Commandant of the Marine Corps for valor in Korea at his famous “sunset” parade in Washington, D.C. That should put to rest the “patriotism” issue.
Now, we are living in a right wing media-created environment of Islamic hysteria or Islamophobia fueled daily by radical religious and political television and radio entertainers and commentators, including Fox “news,” along with the Limbaugh-type clowns.
The only statesman-like eloquence that has cut through this cloud of misinformation and twisted hogwash is the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, who reminded Americans of WHO we are, and WHAT we stand for and represent in America, with complete approval of the Mosque Center. Since then, dozens of New York City organizations have joined him in a “New York City supporting American Values.” Bloomberg led the way for them to speak up for what America represents. And, what does America represent? In the words of the poet Stephen Vincent Benet, “Liberty…Equality…Freedom. To none will we refuse, sell or deny right or justice. What if these words pass and are no more? It took a long time to buy these words, and much blood and much pain. Liberty…Equality…Freedom. We hold these truths to be self evident.”
THAT is what America represents and what America will stand for around the world, said Bloomberg, and now many supporting groups from New York City.
The Islamic hysteria contributors forget about the “sins” and violence of Christianity, in many cases far greater than Islam. An exchange on National Public Radio (NPR) brought this to light and to national attention several years ago. I wrote a weekly column for the Flagstaff, AZ newspaper for 15 years. A reader of that column was Judith Fishback, who was a regular contributor to NPR. The following quotes an entire letter she wrote to NPR. The letter was read over National Public Radio, and highlights the crimes, cruelty, violence and horror of Christianity. What a blessing it would be if those feeding the Islamic hysteria would look at their own Christian history. Read more