TheGroundOfFaithThe Ground of Faith
Exploring Science, Mysticism and Experience Together

October 2006

Looking again at spirituality

Editors: The Rev. Michael Cocks and The Rev. Victor MacGill

Contents

Guest Editorial

What is Spirituality and how do we apply it to expand the quality of life?
Rev. L. Richard Batzler, Ph.D. (USA)

Articles

Keeping our feet on the ground
Michael Cocks

The Activity of the One Whole
Victor Mansfield (Physicist) USA

What did Jung see in the Shroud?
Louis C. de Figueiredo (Brazil)

The Shroud of Turin and the Resurrection Problem - An Anglican/Episcopal perspective
Daniel R. Porter (USA)

Radio Interview

RadioOutThere.Com
Produced & Presented by Barry Eaton.(NSW Aust.)

Michael Cocks (N.Z.) - "The Stephen Experience" Channeling St. Stephen the First Christian Martyr

Book Review

Communion with a Saint
Olive Jean Ashman (NZ)

Here is an excerpt from her book, page 71:

Google Video

Multiple videos on science and religion
Interviewer Robert Wright

Podcasts on Faith and Reason
Bill Moyers

A Beginningless Universe

Science

A Cyclic Model of the Universe
Dr. Neil Turok

To what extent should we place our trust in science?
Chris Bateman

Voices from the great beyond

Inter-Faith

A Connection of Views- A Forum Exploring World Religions
John Queripel (N.S.W., Australia)

Experience

Rebutting the Skeptics
Mike Tymn (Hawaii)

Guest Editorial

What is Spirituality and how do we apply it to expand the quality of life?
Rev. L. Richard Batzler, Ph.D. (USA)

Spirituality is a word, a concept and an experience that has many definitions and connotations. The word “spiritual” has a synthetic quality and draws to it many major categories and issues associated with the life of faith.

Consider the following basic approach to understanding spirituality: It is God-like or godly; pertains to the life of mind, soul or spirit; relates to virtue, good character or conduct; is distinguished from the physical or material; expresses a depth of faith, love or knowledge; is the agent for the divine will; is that which creates, guides and sustains life; is expressive of energy or power; has ultimate values and meanings in terms of which we live; is something holy, or of ultimate importance, which all have; is in contact with nonlocal mind or God; recognizes the omnipresence and oneness with God; and is heavenly in the sense of referring to the next world.

The following Guidelines have evolved from a set of eight “Proposed Points of Common Understanding Among the Religions of the World,” drawn up by Father Thomas Keating in 1982 and since refined by a number of inter-religious groups:

1) The world religions bear witness to the experience of the Ultimate Reality to which they give various names: Brahman, the Absolute, God, Allah, Great Spirit, the Transcendent.

2) The Ultimate Reality surpasses any name or concept that can be given to It.

3) The Ultimate Reality is the source (ground of being) of all existence.

4) Faith is opening, surrendering, and responding to the Ultimate Reality. This relationship precedes every belief system.

5) The potential for human wholeness - or in other frames of reference, liberation, self-transcendence, enlightenment, salvation, transforming union, moksha, nirvana, fana - is present in every human person.

6) The Ultimate Reality may be experienced not only through religious practices but through nature, art, human relationships, and service to others.

7) The differences among belief systems should be presented as facts that distinguish them, not as points of superiority.

8) In the light of the globalization of life and culture now in process, the personal and social ethical principles proposed by the world religions in the past need to be re-thought and re-expressed. For example, world religions should emphasize the corresponding moral obligation of nations and ethnic groups to make use of nonviolent methods for the resolution of conflicts; they should encourage civil governments to respect every religion without patronizing one in particular; they should work for the practical acceptance of the dignity of the human person and a more equitable distribution of material goods and of opportunities for human development; the cause of human rights, especially the right to choose and practice one’s own religion or no religion; the solidarity and harmony of the human family; the stewardship of the earth and its resources; the renewal of their respective spiritual traditions; and inter-religious understanding through dialogue.

Another focus is on the Web of Life where I think Spirituality is so important because now in environmental, political and economic concerns, there is an interrelationship. It is so important for a spiritual undergirding. The world view now, descriptive of the Web of Life, is that of an unbounded, incompleted, changing, relational, vibrant, growing and mysterious world, pregnant with possibilities for new and unexpected emergencies and developments. The Web of Life is about life at all levels, of living systems, organisms, social systems, ecosystems and their interconnection and interdependence. This view is based on a new perception of reality that has significant implications not only for science, philosophy and religion, but also for business, politics, health care, education, and every day life.

The Web of Life portrays the world not as a collection of isolated objects, but as a network of phenomena - matter, energy, mental activity - that are interconnected and interdependent. The web concept recognizes the intrinsic value of all living beings and considers humans as one particular, special strand in the web. Humanity participates in all cosmic events and is inwardly as well as outwardly interwoven with them. When the human spirit is understood as consciousness on all levels, in which the person feels a sense of connectedness, of oneness and of belonging to the cosmos as a whole, it becomes clear that the Web of Life is deeply spiritual.

Thus, one does not seek God in the heavens above or only on this planet, but recognizes God as the great Fact of the Universe, separate from no part or place, but revealed in all persons, places, things and events, moment by moment. God is not somewhere out in space beside us like our neighbors, but God is the causal root of our being and every being. The universe is not some blind and uncaring organization of atoms, cold, indifferent or alien. We are not strangers here. We belong to a living universe, which is God’s most personal work and something for us to know and revere.

As conscious participants in the Web of Life, we have causal effects on other parts of the web, and, therefore, bear a heavy responsibility for what happens. We are here to embrace the world, not to conquer it. We have the intelligence and the capacity to care for others, whatever their forms of life. Self-being and being-for-others arise together. Knowing and affirming what the Web of Life is and then manifesting this knowledge and affirmation is one of our greatest challenges today.

[Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies, Inc. Volume 15, No. 3 The Searchlight - September 2006]



Articles

Keeping our feet on the ground
Michael Cocks

We can agree that the Afterlife is a central belief for Christians. No doubt we can agree that it would be good if we could think about it in an unprejudiced way, intelligently collecting data on the subject, putting forward ideas, theories, hypotheses about these data. We could then evaluate our ideas in the light of what we think we know, and be prepared to change our minds if the upshot of our research seems to demand it. It would be good if this were possible, for this kind of procedure, (Scientific Method, in fact) is a wonderful tool that humanity has developed, and can save us from much error. Afterlife experiences often cannot be controlled and measured in a scientific way, so we need to use procedures more characteristic of a Law Court, where the reliablity and the meaning of the testimony of experiencers is evaluated. Is the person testifying really trustworthy? (The Testimony of Witnesses, TGoF 2005-11)

An example. In this journal there is a review of a book by Olive Ashman, Communion with a Saint. She reports that her husband (an agnostic Jew) began to speak Latin in his sleep, that she taperecorded the words, and later when he spontaneously went into trance, both Christ and St. Stephen the first martyr were discovered to be communicating. (You can read the review, and an excerpt of some teaching that St. Stephen gave.) We may agree that the story is well beyond the boggle threshold of most of us. More than thirty years of relationship to Olive Ashman and her husband Tom (used by Stephen) and Stephen himself lead me to know, love and trust all. I don't require further proof. However, with the Law Court approach we can ask a host of questions: We know that Olive and others had almost 200 conversations with the spirit she believed to be Stephen.. Could her husband Tom have been playing a prolonged trick on Olive and other people who were sharing in the questioning? We think not. Much checkable information was conveyed of which Tom could not have been aware, some words were spoken in a not well known dialect of ancient Greek also conveying new and obscure checkable information. The communications conveyed an advanced and highly spiritually developed understanding of reality. Relationships were of great warmth and depth between this Stephen and those questioning. The prolonged encounter with this Stephen was life changing. The experience was of such depth, with such a sense of being in the presence of the holy, that the Law Court approach would be quite sufficient for those who were present, and for many who would read this book.

Of course the Law Court approach is only used when we neither know, love nor trust the person who is relating a spiritual experience. In thinking about Olive Ashman's experience, if we are a little sceptical, we may want to know how common is it for people to believe that they have been contacted either in dream or directly by the “dead”. The surprising answers are, 25% (Spirituality of the Unchurched <http://www.martynmission.cam.ac.uk /BIAMSHay.htm>), 47% (Spontaneous Contact with the Dead <http://www.survivalafterdeath.org /articles/rogo/spontaneous.htm>), depending on which age-group is questioned. Morton Kelsey, in his Afterlife, 1982, p.97 quotes Andrew Greeley's 1974 poll conduct giving the 25 % figure overall, but 51% for widows and widowers. A 1971 study in the British Medical Journal showed much the same results. Of course the experience of Tom and Olive was highly unusual, needing an advanced spiritual development to cope with it.

Stages of Faith <http://faculty.plts.edu /gpence/html/fowler.htm>

The Kingdom of Heaven and Spiritual Development, TGoF 2005-11

What objective studies can convince us of the reality of the Afterlife, and that the experience of Tom and Olive is not some strange illusion?

[ Look at Victor Zammit's Book <http://www.victorzammit.com /book/index.html#download>. Scientific method has been used here to investigate the question. Look at his chapter on Quantum Mechanics and the Afterlife <http://www.victorzammit.com /book/4thedition/chapter25.html> ]

Scientific method and looking dispassionately at experience, is most precious to us all. It can save us from superstition, and from closed minded dogma of all kinds. And it is certainly the case that not all reports of afterlife experiences are realistic or genuine. There is always need for scepticism and caution, along with our openness to what we may learn. On the other hand, those who oppose and deride the very idea of the afterlife, show that they are very much under the influence of nihilist reductionist dogma. Such opponants do perform a valuable service, through pressing for caution and integrity in research into spiritual matters. We all do owe a debt to organisations such as the SKEPTICS or CSICOPS. But they themselves can frequently lack integrity. I watched a Discovery programme compèred by Arthur C. Clarke featuring founder of CSICOPS James Randi testing the dowsing abilities of a group of people. The subjects scored badly dowsing for metals, and well for water. Success in dowsing conflicted with his materialist beliefs, so he averaged the scores of the two tests, thus destroying the statistical evidence, enabling him to declare that the subjects had failed to provide evidence of dowsing. In fact Randi, although highly intelligent, lacks scientific education. His training, like that of a former debunker of the paranormal, Houdini, is that of a professional magician.

Get an impression of Randi's approach <http://www.randi.org /jr/091903.html>

Read a response to Randi <http://www.survivalafterdeath.org /articles/keen/jamesrandi.htm>

The reader may agree that we are learning more about heat than light! Nevertheless Randi needs mention, since he is a figurehead for those skeptical people who by fair means or foul try to prevent a spiritual interpretation of reality gaining any acceptance especially in the academic world.. In English-speaking philosophy and psychology departments over the past century, it has not been a good career move to be known not to be a reductionist, or materialist.

There must be almost universal agreement that scientific method is most precious in saving us from error, and helping us towards a more realist view of things. But, as someone has said about Christianity, that it has been found difficult and not tried, the same may often be said about the use of scientific method. Catholics, while accepting scientific method in general, allow the Pope in certain circumstances to proclaim a limitation to its use; Fundamentalists, who may likewise agree, are reluctant to accept research into the origin of species, if it conflicts with the first chapter of Genesis. Reductionist-Materialists loudly put forward scientific method as establishing the facts, yet refuse to accept a hundred and fifty years of research into the paranormal using that very method. Not only this but Reductionists take no regard to the fact QM physics proves a machine-like view of reality to be quite inadequate. QM in itself is largely a mathematical process, and as in all sciences, there are differing theories and no general unanimity. Richard Cocks recommends Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World's Great Physicists including Max Planck, Pauli, Heisenberg, Shroedinger, de Broglie, Jeans, Einstein and Eddington (who is the most beautiful writer). Reductionist-materialism is no less a dogma standing in the way of the free use of scientific method, than dogmas such as that the Quran, the Bible or the Church is infallible.

In short, when people report experiences of the paranormal or spiritual, we can on the one hand trust their stories, based on our knowledge of their character. On the other hand, if we want to be more certain, we can use the methods of the Law Court, where we may seek to establish their reliability in many ways, we can determine whether such experiences are sufficiently common to be accepted without much question, and we can call witnesses: were there others in this event whose testimony we may hear? Under what circumstances did the event occur, what might be the meaning of the event, and so on. If we want to try to demonstrate that a particular experience is telling us something about the ordinary nature of things, then we shall try to use scientific method in various ways. We can put forward a theory about that particular experience, and attempt to prove or disprove that theory. An example of a theory would be to put this experience alongside Bell's Theorem, namely that we either drop the idea of local causation, or drop Quantum Mechanics. It implies that the experience came about through the activity of One Whole. When we have done that we have supported our theory, and take it a little more seriously, but we have as yet neither proved nor disproved our theory. Affronted as we may be by the dogmas of others, we do need to remind ourselves that if say the dogma of materialism is accepted like the air we breathe by our friends, by our society, then it just seems self-evident, and no dogma. Similarly like the air we breathe may be Fundamentalism, and so on. Perhaps no one sets out to be unreasonable, and we should forgive each other our dogmas, but be aware that apparent unreason in others may simply mirror our own. Can we keep our feet on the ground? It takes constant vigilance.

The Activity of the One Whole
Victor Mansfield (Physicist) USA

[Quotations from his book Synchronicity, Science and Soul Making.]
Physics has been forced to accept a non-local and interconnected quantum world, whose mathematical manifestation requires our participation. This revolution occurred in spite of the philosophic preconceptions of its practitioners. Similarly, in spite of our preconceptions, the unity between the inner and outer worlds implied by the synchronicity phenomena challenges our belief in a world external to our mind. The philosophical arguments, physical analysis, and psychological experiences of synchronicity all encourage us to abandon the persuasive projeciton of inherent existence, the false belief in a world external to mind.
He quotes Jung: " The synchronicity principle possesses properties that may help to clear up the body-soul problem."
"even the most physical of experiences, whether mountains or microbes, are thoughts within a larger mind that simultaneously unfolds the experiencing ego as a though complex within it." [p.129]
"Quantum mechanics teaches that the universe is nonlocally connected
and we participate in its definition." [p.136]
"Destroying the false belief in inherent existence is the prerequisite for recognising the world as sacred" [p144]
"Since mind projects our world image, then as long as we stay in the image we will never know the projector - the source." [p.198]
"synchronistic experiences... are a numinous expression of transcendent meaning that unfolds in both the inner and the outer worlds. Synchronicity is soul-making: a revelation of the cosmic self or soul as meaning, an instruction through acausally connected events in both the inner and outer worlds.
If we have inner eyes to see, the self is providing us with both the necessary experience and meaning required for our transformation, our individuation." [p.199]

Spontaneous phenomena, which are uncontrollable and are not repeatable in a laboratory, entice us towards Spirit. Two articles on this theme follow:-

What did Jung see in the Shroud?
Louis C. de Figueiredo (Brazil)

Portuguese-English translator, free-lance journalist and researcher
He writes: I was raised as a Catholic and am an ecumenical-minded one to a certain extent. My approach is Christocentric. The Turin Shroud is just one of my "passions", the other being developments in biblical archaeology, particularly during the period 200BC - 200 AD. Regarding psychical research, I did two courses in Parapsychology with the country's foremost parapsychologists, and have conducted my own research into spiritualist groups, both Allan Kardec and Afro-Brazilian. I have now sort of drifted away from Parapsychology and have only checked developments in the area from time to time, devoting more attention to existentialism, obviously involving theology, science and so on.

Opinion:

Philosophy is said to be leading to nihilism and and there is no scientific consensus on Psychoanalysis, which is being challenged by clinical practice today. So if there are people who feel that philosophy is not enough in soul-searching, imagine the reaction when they are told to “find themselves and then decide what to do” in Psychoanalysis. Freud admitted that the search for transcendence is part of us. Jung had already realized that. Consciously or unconsciously we humans are all looking for meaning in life as there is always some gap or the other that we are unable to fill. Something is wrong somewhere and we have to find out what that is, whatever our beliefs may be.

The solution seems to lie in theology guided by Holy Scripture and the latest discoveries in science. Psychical research also has an important part to play, despite the prejudice that exists against it in conventional science. There appears to be something beyond our world that reaches some people via spontaneous phenomena, which are uncontrollable and are not repeatable in a laboratory. These can be precognitions, warnings. They can also come as sensations like the presence of evil, positive and negative energies felt in certain environments and so on. It has nothing to do with the occult, as it can and does happen to people who are not superstitious or have little or no defined religious belief. The light that blinded the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus shows that it can be highly spiritual. If conventional science devotes more attention to psi, so can theology (or religion in general). If we believe in God, then we can also believe that paranormal phenomena are a part of the reality He created. What remains unexplained today can be explained tomorrow. The quest continues as we move from one level of consciousness to a higher one without the fear that we will have to distance ourselves from the Christian faith. Thinking Christians will surely always feel the guiding hand of Christ in his words, “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words will not pass away.”

[ Figueiredo article ]

It can also be found at "Collegamento pro Sindone Articles" the website of which is <http://www.shroud.it/CPSWEB2.HTM> In this website click on link: What did Jung see in the Shroud?

The Shroud of Turin and the Resurrection Problem - An Anglican/Episcopal perspective
Daniel R. Porter (USA)

[ Porter article ]

Daniel Porter is a lifelong Episcopalian. He is a member of Trinity Church, Wall St. in New York. The article is copyright, 2001. This paper may be reproduced by any means without further permission.][This article can also be found at "Collegamento pro Sindone Articles" the website of which is http://www.shroud.it/CPSWEB2.HTM In this website click on link: The Shroud of Turin and the Resurrection Problem - An Anglican/Episcopal perspective by Daniel R. Porter

Radio Interview

Eaton Enterprises Presents

RadioOutThere.Com
Produced & Presented by Barry Eaton.(NSW Aust.)

Michael Cocks (N.Z.) - "The Stephen Experience" Channeling St. Stephen the First Christian Martyr

Radio Out There <http://radiooutthere.com/> click Archive Shows

Find Program 92 Week Commencing September 14 [Program lasts one hour]

[Michael is grateful to Barry for a well-researched and sympathetic interview. Michael was glad to accept the offer to be interviewed, but is not in sympathy with some “New Age” views of some other of his interviewees.]

Book Review

Communion with a Saint
Olive Jean Ashman (NZ)

Size: 234mm x 156 mm, Pages: 224, Binding: Hardback; ISBN: 1-905226-51-9 Publication Date: 14th August 2006; £14.99
Order: Sales Department, Melrose Books, St Thomas Place, Ely, Cambridge, CB7 4GG; sales@melrosebooks.com (+44) 01353 646608 Fax (+44) 01353 646602

It was a most amazing experience for the author when, unbeknown to her husband Thomas who was sleeping at the time, Jesus Christ and St. Stephen began speaking through him. Fortunately, she recorded what was said and so began years of transcribing the teachings that were received.

The teachings, given by St. Stephen, the first martyr, came whilst Thomas was in a deep trance. His compelling love, gentleness and humour, which is evident throughout the book, made all who conversed with him feel very comfortable. Having decided that the knowledge they had been given should not be kept to a relatively small circle of people but shared with as many as possible, Communion with a Saint, was written. It is a personal account of how it happened and what was taught to a group of people over a period of ten years.

St. Stephen’s messages often speak about Jesus Christ, revealing new meanings behind His words about non-judgement and the oneness of us all. Some may consider St. Stephen’s words controversial, as he answers questions on subjects such as reincarnation, karma, psychic experiences, the afterlife, personal problems and how to receive directly from God, for example. Nonetheless, he provides much food for thought.

Here is an excerpt from her book, page 71:

CHAPTER FIVE
RECEIVING

"For everyone who asks, receives. He who seeks, finds.

To him who knocks, the door will be opened." Luke:11.10.
WE ALL RECEIVE.
STEPHEN: "Firstly, each and every soul does receive. Each one, when we feel love, is receiving. We all receive every second of the day and night, Gods love, sunshine, rain, food for the body, the mind, the soul, the love of others and much more. I receive also, I receive from you, I feel the willingness here with myself, to serve the Lord. To receive this feeling from others is a gift that comes to me from yourselves. Receiving is basically the awareness and feeling of God within you as you are within Him.
When a child dresses itself, when a child eats, when a child plays with its toys, it does so in acceptance, not in wonder. For a child knows that these things are there as a right of love, by the grace and love of its father. Therefore these thing can be enjoyed simply and without question by the child.
Now take another child, one that does not know its father, one for instance that lives with other children in a home for orphans. The child is told, "These are gifts to you from this or that organization, this was given for our use from yet another organization and a kind person has supplied you with this." Each child, the one who knows its father and the one who does not, has the same things. But the one who knows his father, has what can be received by no other!
So our first step in being able to receive is to know that there are not diverse organizations throughout the universe some mysterious union or club that supply us with these things. These thing come from our personal Father. We should ask for grace to receive from the Father, for without this true concept of our Father, we become lost and we have not received.
HOW CAN WE RECEIVE?:
STEPHEN: "Guidance and answers to questions are received in many ways. Visions, Intuition, Instinct, Symbols, Images, Dreams, The Spoken Word, The Written Word and Trance. These are but a few of them. Spend time quietly by yourself, eyes closed and Pray for guidance. Some may call this contemplation and we are often told that we must make our minds become blank, this is a mistake! We should let our minds act, let our minds receive, let our minds understand and let thoughts come and go. Allow an answer to arise from a question you have asked, you may be surprised at the wisdom it brings. For we can learn much from our thinking. Ideas that come into our thoughts are our receiving if we would just allow ourselves to accept what comes.
After contemplation, check and confirm your answer, for a true answer must satisfy the question......

Google Video

Multiple videos on science and religion
Interviewer Robert Wright

Download Google Video as a programme. Readers might like, for instance, to view a 45 minute video of Robert Wright interviewing Freeman Dyson <http://video.google.com /videoplay?docid=350379535220823176>

Try also Meaning of Life TV <http://meaningoflife.tv/>



Podcasts on Faith and Reason
Bill Moyers

Moyers podcasts <http://www.pbs.org /moyers/index.html>

"In negotiating the territory between faith and reason we need all the help we can get."



A Beginningless Universe

Beginningless Universe article <http://www.meta-library.net /cqinterv/nobegin-frame.html>

Other Cosmic Questions Video Sequences:

Setting the Scene Steven Weinberg and John Polkinghorne A Dialogue of Scientists and Theolgians Did the Universe Have a Beginning? At Home in the Quantum Universe; Was the Universe Designed? The Argument From Design; The Anthropic Principle Are We Alone? Is There Intelligent Life Elsewhere in the Universe? The Faith of Scientists Literal and Symbolic Truths; What Science Can Learn From Religion; What Religion Can Learn From Science; Questions, Answers and Ongoing Dialogue Anindita N. Balslev, John D. Barrow, Anna Case-Winters, Irven DeVore, Sandra Faber, Owen Gingerich, David Ray Griffin, Alan Guth, John F. Haught, Edward (Rocky) Kolb, Lawrence Kushner, David Latham, John Leslie, Jaroslav Pelikan, Sir John Polkinghorne, Joel Primack, Bob Russell, Seth Shostak, Jill Tarter Trinh, Xuan Thuan, Neil Turok, Steven Weinberg, Cosmic Questions

Science

A Cyclic Model of the Universe
Dr. Neil Turok

Professor of Applied Mathematics and Physics at Cambridge University

A row is brewing between scientists on how the universe was created. A new theory says there may have been hundreds of Big Bangs and not just one as is currently believed.

On his website, Turok notes, “I discuss a new model for the Universe, which is a development of the ekpyrotic scenario. The usual puzzles addressed by inflation -- the horizon, flatness, and fluctuation puzzles -- are resolved but in a completely different way. The new model goes further than inflation in several respects. It connects M-theory and string theory to the early universe, showing how the initial singularity may not be the impenetrable barrier it has been hitherto thought to be, thereby resolving the puzzle of the origin of time. It addresses the relative abundances of the different types of matter in the universe today and provides a clear and remarkable raison d'etre for dark energy present in today's universe.”

Cyclic Universe article <http://online.itp.ucsb.edu /online/colloq/turok2/>

A “conference, organised by America's National Academy of Sciences, froze in embarrassment as Guth attacked Turok and his theories – and called up a slide of a monkey to illustrate his comments.” (Christchurch Press,September 1, 2006.

To what extent should we place our trust in science?
Chris Bateman

He has worked in game design and writing for over a decade. Masters degree in Artificial Intelligence/Cognitive Science.

We live in a time when interest in science is at its highest, but trust in science is at its lowest. Polls and other investigations show that the public is aware of the important role that science has taken upon itself, but that they are concerned about its increasing commercialisation, the way it is presented in the media, and they would also like to have more influence on what the scientific endeavour chooses to research. The question arises: to what extent should we place our trust in science?

Trust in Science article <http://onlyagame.typepad.com /only_a_game/2006/09/trust_in_scienc.html>

Voices from the great beyond

There exists in the UK a society that investigates the communication of spirits through electronic means: the spirit voices are captured on magnetic tape or digital recorder. The EVP & Transcommunication Society headed by former Psychic World Deputy Editor Judith Chisholm was formed in the early 1990's after she had received and recorded verbal messages from another dimension. In her excellent book: 'Voices From Paradise: How The Dead Speak To Us' Judith details how, in despair at the premature death of her son Paul, she set out to discover if he was alive in spirit in another world. Her search led her to experiment with the EVP using a tape recorder with inbuilt and open microphone. After recording various voices, some of which she recognised, Judith did manage to record a number of short messages from her physically deceased son Paul.

EVP article <http://blog.wfmu.org /freeform/2006/09/voice_from_the_.html>



Inter-Faith

A Connection of Views- A Forum Exploring World Religions
John Queripel (N.S.W., Australia)

A unique opportunity locally to examine a range of the different religions which make up our world was on offer Saturday 12th August at the Wauchope Uniting Church, Wauchope being a country town of 7-8,000 people on the N.S.W. north coast hinterland. The forum featured speakers from some of the world's great faith traditions.

Those that spoke were Mehreen Faroqi (Islam)[LH front row of picture], Tin Hta Nu (Buddhism)[Centre], John Queripel (Christianity)[Rear], Surinder Kaur (Sikhism)[Right], and Fay Nelson (Aboriginal Spirituality)[ Not shown in picture ]. The speakers were all local, giving some indication of the variety of faith found even in a rural community. Given the heavy masculinist bias in the classic religious traditions it was a revelation to note that four of the five speakers were women. Each speaker gave a basic outline of their confessions and then were open to question. Literature was also on offer from a number of these faith traditions.

One the forum organisers, the minister at the Wauchope Uniting Church, Rev John Queripel, stated of the forum and the motivation for the church in facilitating it, 'it is crucially important in the present dangerous climate of misjudgement and fear, to build bridges between adherents of different religious traditions. By providing those attending the opportunity to better their understanding of other faiths it is hoped that this forum went some of the way in achieving this.' 'I would encourage other communities to try something like this', he added.'

Afternoon tea included some Indian spice from the Sikh community, Asian delicacies from the Buddhists and some good old Anglo-Celtic spread from the Christian community. That space provided some informal time, where perhaps some of the most fruitful discussion took place.

Above all what was clear from the forum was how difficult understanding is again becoming in our world. Religious forces of fundamentalism and political forces, so often ready to feed those prejudices for their own benefit have presented a great hinderance to dialogue and understanding so neccessary in our modern world.

An interesting backdrop to the event was a very public revelation by the local media of a large scale letter drop taking place in the local community of literature demonising those of some different religious and racial backgrounds. The media were keen to ask organisers their thoughts, and also gave the forum wide cover.

Papers from three of the speakers at the conference are available and are available from John Queripel, 5 Range St. Wauchope 2446 or 61-2-6585-1488.

Experience

Rebutting the Skeptics
Mike Tymn (Hawaii)

Mike Tymn, Editor of Searchlight writes, "I was exchanging e-mail with a hard-core skeptic -- a person who idolizes "The Amazing" Randi. Like so many of the debunkers, he has a response for everything that only partially addresses the evidence.He mentioned that Randi had successfully debunked Uri Geller, the person in England known best for spoon bending. I've never been able to fully grasp what spoon bending has to do with spiritual matters other than it is mind over matter. Anyway, I told him that my wife and I attended a spiritualist conference several years ago in which a spoon bending demonstration was given and the audience was asked to participate. About half of the audience was successful in "bending" spoons. That included my wife, but not me. My wife was as shocked as anyone In fact, she didn't even know it had bent -- actually "curled" would be a better description for it. She was talking and laughing with a person next to her as she gently rubbed the spoon between her thumb and forefinger when she suddenly realized that the spoon had curled around on her. Some of the audience members had forks and the prongs on the forks curled up. To make a long story short, my debunking friend is certain that those who succeeded were furnished with some kind of defective metal, while those whose spoons didn't curl had the real thing. We were allowed to keep the spoons and we still have the one my wife bent and I offered to send it to him to conduct a metallurical test, but he said it is not worth the expense."