Thursday, 10.21.04: The Material Girl
The cover story in this week's Time Magazine in "The God Gene." Is there really a God or is our search for Him a biochemical adaptation -- better survival chances for those who can get it together around a Supreme Being?
In the article was a quiz "How Spiritual Are You?" -- 20 true-false questions, like "Often when I look at an ordinary thing, something wonderful happens. I get the feeling that I am seeing it fresh for the first time" or "I seem to have a 'sixth sense' that sometimes allows me to know what is going to happen."
Jim and I took the test independently and it turns out we are both spiritual nitwits: "highly skeptical, resistant to developing spiritual awareness."
Apparently, at least one psychologist defines spirituality as self-transcendence, which consists of self-forgetfulness (or the ability to get entirely lost in an experience), transpersonal identification (a feeling of connectedness to a larger universe), and mysticism (an openness to things not literally provable).
There is a judgment here and I'm not sure I like. It implies we're crass materialists with no sense of wonder. Okay, maybe we're a little materialistic, but we have wonder by the bucketsful. How could two people surround themselves with thousands of books and collectible works of ethnic and artistic genius without having some wonder going on? How could two people be so curious about history, the world, and how stuff works without wonder?
Maybe it's this: we like getting information through our senses rather than through intuition. See it. Feel it. Hear it. Smell it. Taste it. Analyze the hell out of it. Synthesize it into some new information. He made a career in health care research and built beautiful art and book collections along the way. I made a career in analysis and planning, then shifted to filmmaking. We explore the world as it is -- that seems like challenge enough.
If I get a sudden jolt of inspiration, I don't really think it came from out there. The churning caldron of my nervous system just finally managed to eek out a nugget of gold. Maybe God was somehow in charge of how my nervous system evolved, but He didn't have Gabriel deliver me the nugget. My dearly departed grandparents probably had even more to do with the makeup of my nervous system, but I don't need to channel them to come up with an idea.
I wonder what I'm missing out on...