Let’s Get Metaphysical

metaphysics

I met a man at a networking event yesterday.  He started to tell the group that he’s writing a book.  As a writer, this made me curious.  He went on to say that the book will be about physics… and metaphysics.  I thought that was really interesting, then he took it a step further, and said that as an ordained minister, he thought it would be fun to add a little religion into the book as well.

I want to read this book.

When I have a chance to watch TV I like to watch documentaries.  We cut our cable cord a few months ago, so we stream television content over a ROKU device, or our smart TV.  I love the fact that there are so many shows about physics, metaphysics, and quantum physics.  To me it’s just fascinating to explore the origins of the universe, the laws of Newtonian physics, metaphysical explorations of the soul, and the possibility that anything is possible.

So, we define physics as a science involving matter, motion, space, time, energy, and force.  Through physics we look for explanations of how the universe works.

Metaphysics, on the other hand, is a philosophical study.  In metaphysics we explore abstract topics of being, reality, and existence.  Why are we here?  What does it all mean? Where is the soul located in the body?  We have some overlap with physics proper, as we look at space and time.  We look at cause and effect.  But in metaphysics, we look at them as concepts and consider possibilities instead of laws.

Now, I’m going to tell you that I find quantum physics fascinating.  But, I’m not going to try to explain it, even on such a superficial level as my definitions of physics and metaphysics above.  I love that there’s a book called “Quantum Physics for Dummies”.  Hmmmm…

Where does religion fit in?  I don’t know… Does it fit in?  I think it’s so interesting the Albert Einstein is quoted as saying:

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” 

I love that quote from Einstein.  It says to me that we shouldn’t rule anything out.  Some people think that religious ideas are foolish, and outlandish.  But… some of the ideas and theories put forth in metaphysics and quantum physics seem a little far-fetched and counter intuitive.

It is, after all, hard to wrap your head around the theory of the parallel universe.  Or, should I say “universes”, since there are differing theories to describe and explain this possibility.  Elon Musk, after all, thinks we might be living in a computer simulation.  I don’t know… he’s a pretty smart guy.

If you are highly educated in any of these disciplines, I hope you’ll forgive my clumsy mutterings.  I’m no expert, just an interested observer.  Are you interested in thinking about these things too?  I would like to know that I’m not alone in my own little parallel universe…

Cat

 

 

 

Leaps of Faith

Why should people feel forced to choose between science and religion? I’m going to say that I like a little religion in my science, and a little science in my religion. Lots of people feel that they are mutually exclusive.

 
I believe in God. As I age, my relationship with God has changed. I find that I can easily accept other points of view. It makes me wonder though, even the people who believe in God believe in different interpretations of God. It gets back to putting people in boxes. So, you’re a Christian… are you Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Orthodox, Mormon, seventh day Adventist, Jehovah’s witness? (Sorry if I left your church out) Why do we need God in so many versions? Is it so we can fight over whose God is better?

 
I take this point of view. If you believe in something…good for you! If you don’t believe in something…good for you! The nice thing is, you get to choose. I don’t understand why we have to judge and shame people who have different points of view. We have, throughout history, as humans, managed to kill millions of people because they don’t believe the same things that we do.

 
I want to share a passage that I read tonight in an old self-help book that I bought in the nineties. The book is called Life 101, and the authors are John-Roger (died 2014) and Peter McWilliams. I’m finding myself appreciating the wisdom in this book more and more these days.

 

The doctor who gives a vaccination and says, “Thank God, this child is safe from smallpox,” and the doctor who gives a vaccination and says “Thank Pasteur, this child is safe from smallpox,” give the same vaccination. Some may say that the doctor who gives a blessing is a better doctor, and some may say that the doctor who sticks to medicine is a better doctor, but in either case– thank God and/or Pasteur — the child can be safe.

 
Over time, ideas about religion change. But, at the same time, ideas about science are ever-changing and evolving. The thing that doesn’t change is people. Do we have a compulsion to view everybody with an “us” or “them” mentality?

 
So, these days, my faith is in the belief that everything will work out exactly the way that it’s supposed to. Like my grandson, I’ll stick with believing in God and Evolution.

 
– Cat

In Mysterious Ways

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My friend lost a child yesterday. Suddenly, unexpectedly, and sadly, gone. He would have turned two years old in a couple weeks. He was loved by his Mom and Dad, and his two sisters. He brought immeasurable joy into this world when he was born. He will leave a desperate sorrow with his passing.
As a writer, I pride myself on being good with words. When I saw the post on Facebook, I was stunned… at a total loss. I had nothing to say in response to the family, and the many others who had commented on this sad tragedy. Every response I can think of seems inadequate.
How can I say something comforting? I just cannot imagine or construct the proper response. Really… is there one? Is there the “right thing” to say to someone when their 2-year-old, the light of their life, has suddenly left this world?
We place so much importance on such ridiculous stuff in our daily lives. Road rage, sports, jobs, video games, new cars, sneakers, politics, organized religion, the latest technology, and fashion. We live like we will never die. We focus on achieving goals. Long term goals, short term goals, financial goals, college goals, retirement goals, career goals. We yearn for materialistic things.
This won’t change. It’s how we get through it all. We keep putting one foot in front of the other… walking through this world until our number is up.
Sometimes it doesn’t happen suddenly, or so we think. We know someone is older, and they are ill. It crosses our mind that they might not make it. It may be obvious that they are at the end of their journey. Why does it still shock us when they actually die? Is it our eternal hope that we can somehow escape this fate?
In the end, what’s important?  We each have a chance to make a difference while we’re here. Never underestimate that. What you do with the time you’re given can make all the difference to the lives of others. We can be a positive influence and encourage people to do their best.
I have to admit, I’m one of those people that has great faith in the resilience of the human body and spirit. It always shocks me when someone actually dies. I guess I’m the one that thinks on some level that we’ll all live forever in one form or another.
Some of you believe in God, mother nature, or some form of higher power. I do. I believe that we are under God’s care. We may not understand how events like these fit into the grand plan. The fact is, we are not privileged to know the big picture. We cannot possibly be granted foresight and volition. Because we get to choose our actions, we can only guess the outcomes. Some things are obvious, and some are hidden.
So, while we may not know tomorrow, we can live today. Hold your loved ones close. Call someone that you haven’t talked to in a while. Smile at a stranger. Take your chance while you have it.   If you’re the praying kind, please pray for my friend and his family tonight.

-Cat

Where Does All That Stuff Go?

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This may seem like a weird title when the topic is metaphysical.  But it’s the question my husband had when his Dad passed.   What happens to “us” when we die?  We know that there are only a couple of options for our body once it has lost it’s usefulness.  But, that’s not what I’m talking about here.

We are preparing for the changing of the guard here in America.  There is a lot of talk about President Obama’s “legacy”.  What will he be remembered for?  What will we be remembered for when we leave this earth?  What about our legacy?

If you think about it, we are really only remembered for a few generations.  Unless you come from a lineage that has a famous, or infamous person, the memory of you only goes so far.  What can you tell me about your great-grandmother, or your great-great-grandfather?  Maybe you have some scraps of information.  But, I’ll be willing to bet that you couldn’t write a biography.

So, all the jokes we tell, the meals we share with family and friends, the knowledge we gain, the lessons we learn, our longing, our passion, our joy.  Where does that stuff go?

If you’re from a religious background, you’ll probably explain that it goes to heaven.  You might say that it gets recycled, and we’re reborn into another body.  You may think that we become ghosts, or spirits that roam the earth.  I’m not into zombies, but maybe you are.  Do we just cease to be, once people don’t remember us? Are we dispersed throughout the universe, Carl Sagan style?

That thought just makes life seem silly, the way most of us live.  Reaching for more of everything.  More love, more money, more happiness, more fame.  Whatever your “more” is, you’re probably pretty serious about it.

We worry about being late for the dentist.  We worry about paying our bills.  We worry about our health.  We worry about our job.  A hundred years from now, what will be the result of all that worrying?  It’s a pretty safe bet that it will not feature in the future landscape of life.

One minute we’re doing our makeup, cleaning our car, getting groceries… the next, dead.  There are quite a few sites, blogs, articles, etc. on living a “mindful life”.  I envy people who feel especially “mindful”, or that cultivate “mindfulness” in their lives.  I think that most of us don’t have things dialed in to that extent.  I know I don’t.

As you age, life becomes less and less like Summer vacations were when you were in elementary school.  Remember the long expanse of Summer?  You become more and more aware of the passing of time, and the value of it.  Probably because there is less of it in front of you, and more of it behind you.

I know that as a Grandmother, I tend to think “I haven’t seen Oscar in a month… a lot will have changed.”  Seeing my grandkids grow makes me more and more aware of how things tend to happen fast in life.  Ten years ago, I didn’t have any grandchildren.  Five years ago, I had two.  Today, I have six, and my seventh on the way!  Things move at the “speed of life”!

I guess that the object of the exercise is to reach the finish line with as few regrets as possible.  It’s so tricky, though, when you don’t know where the finish line is.

“We are like butterflies that flutter for a day and think it is forever.” – Carl Sagan

-Cat

Keeping Christmas in My Heart

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I love the quote written by Charles Dickens in his famous book, A Christmas Carol.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.  I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.  The spirits of all three shall strive within me.  I will not shut out the lessons that they teach”

Most of us are familiar with a movie by the same title.  My husband, Iain, is a big fan of this movie.  I should say “these” movies, because he watches various interpretations during the holiday season.  He likes the older versions, and loves the Disney one, with Jim Carrey in it as Scrooge.

We watch a lot of holiday movies at Christmas time.  The old favorites, Holiday Inn, and White Christmas, are always watched in the run up to the big day.  We like some of the newer ones, too.  Polar Express has become an annual tradition. We’re guilty of tuning into the Hallmark Channel for the smoochy Christmas movies.   A Christmas Story, and my favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life, are usually reserved for Christmas Eve.

We’re not big fans of the “Bob slashes his best friends to bits on Christmas Eve” movies.  Some of the comedies that are Christmas themed are too cynical for us.

But, getting back to A Christmas Carol.  It isn’t really religious, but instead deals with having a kind heart and a good spirit.  This is the part of Christmas that I try to keep in my heart.  It’s about being charitable, empathetic, and connecting with other people.

I feel like this is the part of the holiday that has faded over time.  We all acknowledge that Christmas is over commercialized, but how do we balance that out?  So many things can be distracting this time of year. The calendar fills up fast, and everyone’s busy.  With all the thinking, planning, organizing, spending, partying… how can we keep Christmas in our hearts?

I think that so many people feel emptiness this time of year, when we forget to pause and reflect.  If you are religious, Christmas is a great time to think about your relationship with God.  Allowing yourself to be strengthened by prayer can definitely have a positive effect on your feelings about the season.

If you’re not Christian, you may still be religious or spiritual.  The end of the year is prime time for reflecting on your faith.  A renewal of your dedication to your chosen religion, a reset once a year, can’t hurt… and will most likely help you cope with the holidays.

If you don’t believe in a God, or a higher power, use meditation  to help you clarify your values and beliefs as the year ends.

Consider making these commitments to yourself over the holiday season.  Don’t beat yourself up if you get overwhelmed.  Refer to the quote above.  Scrooge says he will “try” to keep it all the year. He isn’t perfect and neither are you and I.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays!

– Cat

This Year, Give Yourself More Meaning

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I’ve seen some posts from people lately reminding us that not everyone is filled with cheer at the holidays.  Some folks are grieving for loved ones who are not here to celebrate with us.  Sometimes, it’s a long distance separation that puts a damper on the holidays.  Lack of resources may leave some people frustrated and fed up.

We call this the season of miracles.  The Christmas message is one of hope… Glad tidings, if you will.  We tend to romanticize Christmases past.  When you contrast those memories with todays realities, you can feel profound disappointment.  Remind yourself that it’s like comparing Summers as a kid to Summers now.  Like comparing Saturday mornings eating cereal and watching cartoons with grown up Saturday mornings.   I’d like to share some things that I’ve found add deeper enjoyment to this time of year.

Whether you are Christian, or not, you can gain an understanding of Christmas, and its symbolism, by reading the first four chapters of the New Testament in the Bible.  These constitute the “gospel” of Jesus Christ, and tell of his birth and the first part of his life.  This may be Holy to some, and merely interesting to others, but will help you reflect on the point of it all.

Shop within your budget.  Don’t kill yourself with credit card bills the first of the new year.  I’m not telling you this because I’ve never done it.  I used to do it quite a bit, but since I stopped, Christmas is a lot more enjoyable for me.  By all means, buy gifts for those you love, just don’t take out a loan on your 401k to do it.

Do at least one or two “Christmasy” things.  There are a ton of feel-good holiday movies on television this time of year.  If you are lucky enough to have a light display nearby, go have a look.  We try to take at least one trip to our favorite garden center, to see the model Christmas train display.  I know that some of you get annoyed by carols of the season.  I like to sing along.  I do get funny looks at the grocery store, so sometimes I turn it down to a hum.

Don’t let the pressure get to you.  Sometimes, I think it’s easy to feel responsible for everyone having the perfect Christmas.  Like so many other things, just do your best… and don’t stress!  My friend, Amy, would recommend that you pause and take a few yoga breaths when that happens.  It may seem corny, but she never steers me wrong with that.  If you’re so inclined, it’s a great time for prayer and meditation.  Those efforts can also have a calming effect when you’re needing to press pause.

It doesn’t matter if you’re gathering with a big family, or doing Christmas on your own this year.  Remember to be kind… to yourself and others.  Be thankful for Christmas memories.   Be emotionally present for this year’s celebrations.  And look forward to what’s coming up in the New Year. It’s going to be great!

– Cat

 

Intelligent Design

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Here’s another box to put people and their ideas in… as if we didn’t have enough labels yet.  For a while it was Darwinism vs. creationism.  For those of you that like a third party, please celebrate intelligent design! It combines the thoughts of scientists, philosophers, and scholars.

Is it creationism light?  Is it a compromise between science and religion? Is it a bunch of baloney?  When you research the topic, the answer seems to depend on the advocate.

People who lean towards science dismiss it as nonsense.  They feel that it’s just religion trying to repackage creationism, so that it’s more palatable. Intelligent design is not real science, they say.

Other people are skeptical that this world, and it’s inhabitants, are the result of a random, unplanned chain of events.

If you think about, all these theories seem pretty ludicrous.  In creationism, you have God, who speaks the world, and everything in it into existence.  He does all this in seven days.  Hmmm… it’s hard to take that in the literal sense.  Then we have evolution, where there’s the big bang.  All life begins randomly from a single celled organism. Humans, and everything else, evolve through mutation.  That sounds a little far fetched as well.  Intelligent design concedes that we have evolved, but according to design, implicating a designer. Sounds like a compromise to me.  But, if you don’t believe in a designer, that’s not going to work for you, is it?

This is a simplistic discussion of complicated theology and science.  I know that.  The point is, views on religion change, and ideas in science evolve.  They are all theories.  Intelligent design seems to be a good option, instead of choosing from two sides.  My grandson, Felix, says “I believe in God and evolution”.  Voila!  Intelligent design!

When it comes down to it, people are different, and we all have a variety of views on many topics.  How do you weigh in on this?

 – Cat

Who Is The Average American?

If you Google “Average American”  Your search results will start with:

HOW MUCH HAS THE AVERAGE AMERICAN SAVED FOR COLLEGE?

HERE’S WHAT THE AVERAGE AMERICAN WILL PAY FOR OBAMACARE, BY AGE, IN 2017

HERE’S HOW MUCH THE AVERAGE AMERICAN HAS SAVED FOR RETIREMENT

So…Is it all about money?  What makes a person qualify for this club.  Is it your ancestry?  Unless you’re a Native American, we all come from somewhere else.  Is it our religious background?  Here, you are promised religious freedom, and the ability to worship the way you want to, or not at all.  These days, that assertion would be challenged by many.

Some would say that the average American has a certain cultural ideology, but I’m not sure that the “average” person in America would pass that test either. Members of political parties feel that their party is the special one…the one that represents the average American.  How many people have you “unfriended” for opposing views in this crazy time election?  I’m talking about social media, and real life.

Why can’t we feel, on average, the sense of unity and patriotism that we felt on September 12, 2001?  Does it take that magnitude of tragedy to us to move us to the realization that we are all on a journey together as Americans?  Let’s just make up our minds to feel that emotional about our country everyday, without going through such a great loss.  It seems that we have built this great club…this community, and now we have decided we don’t like it or want to be in it. At least not with “them”. Our country’s motto, “E pluribus unum” translates to “Out of many, one”. We’re not meant to be the same, but to work together.

Where do you stand?  Are you an average American?  Has the description turned into an advertising ploy?  Did the “Average American” get lost in the “Good Old Days”?