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‘Fire on the Mountain’ Category

  1. Distrustful Deer in the Headlights of Uncertainty

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    July 7, 2011 by Steven Worden

    According to David Rosmarin and his associates, “Cognitive theory posits that underlying beliefs and thoughts lie at the root of human affect.” Or more simply, change your thoughts and beliefs and you change the way you feel. As that famous folk psychologist, Mark Twain, prescribed years ago, “Drag your thoughts away from your troubles … by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”

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  2. Along the Borderlands

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    June 25, 2011 by Steven Worden

    Rural America ain’t what it used to be. For example, sociologists from the University of Missouri have uncovered two interesting findings about living in the country: (1) that over the past 30 years people have been moving from urban areas to rural communities (“the Turnaround”) and (2) over the past same 30 years the number of working family farms has fallen drastically.

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  3. On Exactitude

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    June 9, 2011 by Steven Worden

    Cynicism has moved from being the preferred stance of angst-ridden teenagers to the default setting in society at large. How did we get so fragile?

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  4. The Visit

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    May 26, 2011 by Steven Worden

    On the face of it, it was like something out of a short story by Mark Twain or Kurt Vonnegut. Or, as when the Jersey Lily visited the West Texas town of Langtry, home of her her biggest fan, Judge Roy Bean (“Law West of the Pecos.”) Last week, to cap off a festive Tibet Week, His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama (“Oceanic Teacher”), the incarnation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, manifestation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, and Nobel Laureate, Tenzin Gyatso, graced Bud Walton arena. But only the most churlish could find something to complain about the Dalai Lama. It would be like “hating on” Santa Claus. An affable, athletic, and pleasant-looking man appearing much younger than his 76 years and clad in maroon robes, His Holiness peppered his talk with short bursts of laughter, scratched his closely-cropped head, and rubbed his nose – all to the enormous delight of some 13,000 rapt attendees – His Holiness, “riding the clear light of bliss.” Sociologist Emile Durkheim, an expert on “the Sacred,” would have been fascinated. Durkheim argued that religion has a universal tendency to urge awe, respect, and reverence in regard to certain beings to distinguish them from the …

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  5. A Report from the Field

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    April 27, 2011 by Steven Worden

    He was a major force in British literature, influencing T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. But today most people might recall Robert Browning mainly as Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “handsome and dashing young” husband and subject of her poem, “How Do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

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  6. Contesting Worldviews

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    April 19, 2011 by Steven Worden

    Although in the middle of the last century, many observers seemed convinced that religion was fast fading from the scene, few social scientists hold that view today.  Instead of religion becoming less important, we listen to the furious sounds coming from the clashing of intense religious convictions. According to the noted sociologist, Peter Berger, the significant change that has taken place is not so much secularization—or the disappearance of religion—as pluralization or the rise of a diversity of competing and contesting religious worldviews spurred by a virtually instantaneously communicating, world-spanning media apparatus. Just consider this past week:  22 people in Afghanistan have been killed in protests over the burning of the Koran that occurred in Florida some 8,000 miles away.  Of course, the President of Afghanistan did not help matters by drawing attention to the acts of a couple of Florida preachers at a staged event, an event that was actually attended by fewer than thirty onlookers.  Nevertheless, the contrived media event triggered an enraged response worldwide when disseminated to the Muslim community. Such seemingly irrational acts usually occur as threatened supporters of traditions race to shore up the boundaries of communities of belief they perceive to be under attack.  …

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  7. The Progress of the Pilgrim

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    February 28, 2011 by Steven Worden

    In case you missed it, John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, turned 333 this February.  Although the ancients believed three to be the perfect number and thus,  three threes might be extremely portentous, you don’t have to be an ancient numerologist to marvel at a book that has been in continuous print for over 300 years. Said to be second only to the Bible in popularity,  it has been translated into over 200 languages.  In fact, when the Chinese government loosened up and first allowed Progress to be published, over 200,000 copies were sold in three days.  Even considering that in China the US Tax Code might sell 200,000 copies in three days, that’s still pretty amazing demand. In addition to impressive print-runs, numerous adaptations of Pilgrim’s Progress have been produced as radio serials, television and  film treatments, stage plays, musicals, cartoons, operas, and even computer animations, the most recent being released in 2009.  As a producer might quip, “It has legs.” So, how can we account for this longstanding fascination with The  Pilgrim’s Progress?  Probably a lot of it has to do with the fact that it is simply a great, fantastical, allegorical adventure.  Rudyard Kipling was so  moved by …

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