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Once a month, I re-send a previously well-received newsletter to those who haven't yet had a chance to read it. I'll be back next week with something new!

Dear Friends,

Science and religion are forever pit against one another. Secularization theory teaches that as scientific understanding advances, religious adherence retreats.

We answer questions like "What happens when we die?" by explaining biology, rather than exploring wisdom teachings. (Though Keanu Reeves' masterful response on Colbert suggests that we're still hungry for spiritual insight. In fact, TV has been particularly curious about this question recently; both The Good Place and Russian Doll explore life after death.)

But this dichotomy of religion and science can leave us feeling trapped by ironclad materialism, "bereft of human feeling, imaginative freedom or spiritual transcendence." So writes Chris White in his recent book, Other Worlds: Spirituality and the Search for Invisible Dimensions

Though much of Biblical storytelling has correctly been replaced by scientific discovery, White argues that it is now these very scientific principles that are informing - if not directly shaping - our spiritual imagination. 

Take the idea of higher and invisible dimensions, for example - a staple of 21st century spirituality.

White argues that this language comes directly from physics. On the one hand, Einstein's theory of relativity describes the behavior of large things in the cosmos, while quantum mechanics correctly describes the behavior of small things in the sub-atomic world.

But, explains White, these two sets of laws do not fit together. How can the natural world be governed by two incompatible sets of laws and mathematical equations? "Are there two (or more) separate worlds or layers within nature, worlds with different characteristics and rules?"

Even more provocatively, seekers started to wonder, if there are separate layers or realms within nature, might there be other kinds of openings and layers – including a layer of supernatural things?

Enter the spiritual language of higher plains, states of consciousness and subtle energy. 

It seems Max Weber's idea that the modern world has become disenchanted is incomplete. Instead, where we see enchantment is shifting. Rather than disappearing, religion has moved into the very science that had displaced it!

Perhaps unsurprisingly given their close engagement, it is frequently scientists themselves who are most able to communicate these modern mysteries. 

Well, scientists and Keanu Reeves.

Have a wonderful weekend, Shabbat Shalom,




PS. Huge thanks to everyone for checking out the big decision spreadsheet! We made a beautiful resource together and folks are using it every day. Thank you!

I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds…

I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.

I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.

-
Julia Kasdorf

 
Copyright © 2018 Casper ter Kuile, All rights reserved.

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