Wednesday, August 30, 2006

In the Telegraph...

Interesting article in today's Telegraph:
The idea that there a "God spot" in the brain, a circuit of nerves which could explain mankind's almost universal belief in a deity, is questioned today by a study of Carmelite nuns.
Scientists have been in the pursuit of the brain processes underlying the Unio Mystica - the Christian notion of mystical union with God - and this endeavour is now part of a newly-emerging field called "neurotheology".
But the God module, as some scientists call it, is a mirage, according to the study by Dr Mario Beauregard, of the Department of Psychology at the Université de Montréal and his student Vincent Paquette, published in the journal Neuroscience Letters. "The main goal of the study was to identify the neural correlates of a mystical experience," said Dr Beauregard. "This does not diminish the meaning and value of such an experience, and neither does it confirm or disconfirm the existence of God."
Fifteen cloistered Carmelite nuns ranging from 23 to 64 years old were subjected to brain scan using a method called functional magnetic resonance imaging while being asked to relive a mystical experience, rather than actually try to achieve one. "I was obliged to do it this way seeing as the nuns are unable to call upon God at will," said Dr Beauregard.
This method was justified because previous studies with actors asked to enter a particular emotional state activated the same brain regions as people actually living those emotions.
Rather than reveal a spiritual centre in the brain, a module of neural circuits specifically designed for religious experience, the study demonstrated that a dozen different regions of the brain are activated during a mystical experience.
In other words, mystical experiences are mediated by several brain regions and systems normally implicated in functions such as self-consciousness, emotion and body representation.
In the past, some researchers went as far as to suggest the possibility of a specific brain region designed for communication with God. This latest research discredits such theories.
Speculation about the God spot was triggered when a team at the University of California, San Diego, saw that people with temporal-lobe epilepsy were prone to religious hallucinations.
This led Michael Persinger, a neuropsychologist at Laurentian University in Canada, to stimulate emporal lobes artificially to see if he could induce a religious state. He found that he could create a "sensed presence".

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Faint echoes of Kierkegaard's Either-Or

From the Telegraph, the story of a furniture restorer who uncovered Victorian love-letters in the secret compartment of a desk:
His employers, Peter Hall and Son, had been asked to do some conservation work on the writing slope but Mr Griffiths realised there was a hollow area he could not reach. He suspected a secret compartment, but he could not find the mechanism to expose it.
Eventually, after sleeping on the problem, he tried pressing down a screw. To his delight this released a cover and thereafter not one but three secret compartments.
"The initial mechanism is the most devious I have ever come across," said Mr Griffiths. The slope was bought at auction by the present owner's grandmother. Neither she nor the grandson had any idea of its romantic history.
Jeremy Hall, the head of the family restoration firm, said: "This lady was clearly anxious that no one uncover her letters and I'd be fascinated to know why. I'd also be fascinated to learn anything more about either her or George.

Monday, August 14, 2006


I find it discouraging that a movie called Snakes on a Plane is about to be released. Whatever happened to putting some effort into naming a film? Or is it supposed to be ironic?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Church Signs...

I forget what 'blog I saw this on (ah! it was The Moral Highground), but someone posted a few of those Italian signs telling people to dress decently in church - no shorts, exposed shoulders, etc...
Tha inspired me to post the following pics I snapped in the Holyt Land where they need to specify a few more restrictions in the Holy Places...

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Firstly, a belated plug for the SS. Peter & Paul edition of the online magazine Dappled Things. (Not to be confused with Fr Tucker's 'blog of the same name.)
Secondly, an interesting article about the crop circle phenomenon:
The death of one of the leading lights of England's crop-circle world has led to a fall in agricultural artwork, it emerged yesterday.
Friends of Paul Obee admitted they had been devastated by his suicide this year and no longer had the will go out and create the circles.
Fellow "croppie" Andrew Byrne, 41, said: "There was a slump in crop circle-making after Paul's death. The community of circle-makers was whacked by his death because we're all quite close. People just didn't want to go out and make them."
The huge intricate patterns that adorn fields are believed by some to be the work of a paranormal force.
In reality the geometric designs are created at night by "landscape artists" who are considered vandals by many. The designs attract tourists from around the world.
Wiltshire, where Mr Obee lived, has seen a slump in the activity of the crop-circle makers in what is traditionally their peak season.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Something for the Shrine?

They're the big Chuck Norris fans around here, right?
From the Telegraph:
A new bridge over the Danube north of Budapest could be named after the action movie actor Chuck Norris, who is leading in an internet vote.
The nomination for "Chuck Norris Bridge" has attracted 8,725 votes, 11 per cent of the total, putting it ahead of more than 500 other nominations. Voting closes on Sept 8.
Also this is interesting:
Pregnant train passengers are to be issued with badges by Japanese rail firms so that other travellers know they should give up their seat.
The scheme is designed to solve the problem of men hesitating as they judge whether a woman is pregnant or merely overweight.


Check out City of Steeples - Reflections of a Milwaukee Catholic.