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NHNE News Brief 52
Friday, March 14, 1997
"A thought-provoking exploration
of the extraordinary times in which we live."
1,022 days until January 1, 2000
Total Paid Subscribers: 116
Total Online Update Mailing List: 831
The Fruits of Revenge
Russia Gets Religion
Growing Numbers Turning to Catholicism
World's Earthquake Death Toll Rises
Dante's Peak Special Offer
The World's Largest Dam
Blood from Tobacco
Smart Cards & Health Care
Device Turns Home PC into ATM
Computers Outsmarting Humans
NEWS BRIEF SPONSOR:
The Circle of Atonement
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Attention to Detail
My Kind of Resource
Ted Daniels -- Millennium Watcher
The God Hypothesis
I Don't Have Time for This!
Body & Soul Seattle Conference
ABOUT NHNE & HOW TO JOIN US
THE FRUITS OF REVENGE
"The person who seeks revenge should dig two graves."
RUSSIA GETS RELIGION
(Source: Irena Maryniak, INDEX ON CENSORSHIP via UTNE READER, Mar-Apr/97)
In Russia, the recently revived Orthodox Church is struggling to contain a crop of home-grown superstition, pre-Christian animism, shamanism, spiritualism, and sorcery, plus New Age imports from India, Korea and the U.S. While support for Orthodox Christianity surged in the early '90s, interest in mainstream religion has declined lately, in favour of more appealing alternatives. Since the Wall fell, 30,000 foreign missionaries armed with holy books and tracts have flooded the "dark continent" of Eastern Europe. So far, the most successful are the Baptists, Mormons, Unification Church, Hare Krishnas, and the Church of Scientology. In a country that has a history of killing priests (200,000 since 1917), the Orthodox Church now finds itself in the odd position of promoting religious persecution as it lobbies to place restrictions on domestic and foreign cults and missions. (JG)
GROWING NUMBERS TURNING TO CATHOLICISM
(Source: Cynthia Tornquist, CNN ONLINE, 2/16/97)
The number of adult converts to Roman Catholicism has reached its highest level in more than 20 years, with more than 160,000 converts are expected to be admitted to the Church this year in the U.S. alone. Despite its growth, difficult issues continue to divide Catholics, as illustrated by a recent demonstration outside St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City where activists from a Fairfax, Virginia-based group known as WE ARE CHURCH circulated petitions. The group calls for a variety of changes in Catholic policies, advocating women's ordination, optional celibacy for clergy, respect for rights of gay and lesbian Catholics and member participation in the selection of bishops and pastors. "Jesus was open to dialogue with anyone, including people with whom he vehemently disagreed," said Sister Maureen Fiedler, National Coordinator of WE ARE CHURCH. "If our faith community is going to be true to that kind of church that Jesus left us, we have to be open to dialogue as well." But these controversies don't seem to deter many converts, particularly those who perceive Catholicism as a way to fill a spiritual void. "[They want] a spirituality which is both traditional and alive, clarity on moral issues [and the opportunity] to be part of a religious community," says John Healey of FORDHAM UNIVERSITY. (JG)
WORLD'S EARTHQUAKE DEATH TOLL RISES
(Source: U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY Press Release, 3/5/97)
A recent earthquake in Iran has already pushed the death toll from earthquakes for this year higher than all of 1996, according to Patrick Leahy, Chief Geologist, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY (USGS). THE NATIONAL EARTHQUAKE INFORMATION CENTER of the USGS in Golden, Colorado serves as a worldwide data gathering source for both seismic information and official statistics on casualties. The USGS Center reported that 449 people were reported killed by earthquakes around the world in 1996. The Center has received official reports of at least 965 people killed this year in Iran alone. In 1935, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck 90 miles southwest of the epicenter of the recent Iran quake and killed over 30,000 people. (JG)
DANTE'S PEAK SPECIAL OFFER
(Source: IAVCEI Press Release, 3/10/97)
With all the interest generated by the movie "Dante's Peak" and the "Volcano" TV mini-series, a hot item these days is the 1997 IAVCEI Volcano Calendar. The calendar sells for $5 and Includes 13 great color photos of world's most famous volcanoes such as Stromboli and Etna in Italy, Erebus in Antarctica, Haleakala in Hawaii, Popocatepetl in Mexico, and Soufriere Hills in Montserrat, to name a few. As a bonus, the calendar also includes a chronology of all major historic eruptions. You can even preview the photos by visiting the Web site of the VOLCANOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF SACRAMENTO: <http://avogadro.chem.csus.edu/geo/vssac/>. For more information contact Brian Hausback, Sutter Buttes Volcano Observatory, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, Sacramento, 6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA, 95819-6043; email: "email@example.com". (JG)
THE WORLD'S LARGEST DAM
(Source: Elizabeth Gilbert, SPIN MAGAZINE via THE UTNE READER, 8/96)
China is building the world's largest dam on the Yangtze River. This megadam replaces 62 smaller dams washed out in a typhoon in 1975 killing tens of thousands of people. The dam is being built to control the yearly flooding of the great river as well as generate the electrical equivalent of 15 nuclear power plants. The international community has raised a furor over the construction of the new dam, because the resulting lake, which will be 600 feet deep and 400 miles long, will inundate 800 ancient sites, some of them still unexcavated, destroy 770 villages and towns, and force the relocation of 1.5 million people. In China, where it is considered treason to resist relocation, the dam is seen as a good thing. The project is scheduled to be finished in the year 2013. (JG)
BLOOD FROM TOBACCO
(Source: REUTERS via CNN ONLINE, 3/5/97)
A team of researchers has derived human hemoglobin from genetically-engineered tobacco plants. The team, working with scientists at the UNIVERSITY OF CEZEAUX in Aubiere, France, found that tobacco hemoglobin -- once extracted and purified -- transported oxygen and carbon monoxide just like human hemoglobin. The research opens up new possibilities for creating infection-free artificial blood, since there is no evidence that plant viruses can be carried over into humans. According to Michael Marden of the French research institute INSERM who worked on the project, the hemoglobin could be dissolved in saline solution and used as an emergency blood substitute. "One of the advantages is that there is no cell," Marden added. "You don't have to do the blood-type matching, meaning you can use it more quickly." While it is nothing new to create plants that contain human genes, this is the first time a plant has produced a complex molecule like hemoglobin. (JG)
SMART CARDS & HEALTH CARE
(Source: REUTERS, 2/24/97)
Smart cards containing a tiny computer chip that carries a person's complete medical records will soon revolutionize health care, predicts Roderick Neame, Manager of HEALTH INFORMATION CONSULTING in England. The cards allow patient information to be accessed via computer, but only when the card and the correct Personal Identification Number (PIN) are used. Because of the security of the system, patient records could even be accessed via the Internet. "The potential to exchange medical records between service providers would be achievable at low cost," comments Neame. "What's more, patient empowerment [would] be achieved at the same time; patients could control access to their own personalized records, as well as read them when they chose to do so." 90 million smart health cards are already in use in Britain, France, Germany and Canada. (JG)
DEVICE TURNS HOME PC INTO ATM
(Source: REUTERS, 2/19/97)
FISCHER INTERNATIONAL SYSTEMS CORP. says it has invented a $60 device that can be inserted into the floppy disk drive of any PC, enabling it to download electronic cash from the bank. The device reads "smart cards," a new type of plastic credit-card that can perform electronic cash withdrawls and deposits and store bank account balances. Already gaining popularity in Europe to pay for store purchases and streetside telephone calls, the "smart card" is about to start trials in the U.S. By enabling PCs to dispense money in a secure way, the device may provide a major stimulus to home banking by empowering consumers to perform financial transactions that now require a visit to a bank or an automated teller machine. "Smarty," as the product is known, is a slim piece of hardware that inserts into a personal computer's 3.5-inch floppy disk reader, allowing the machine to link via the Internet to banks or retail outlets. MASTERCARD, CITIBANK and CHASE MANHATTAN BANK will be offering Smarty later this year to consumers participating in a trial of smart-card technology in New York City. Art Burton, Fischer's Vice President of Sales and Marketing says the company is also in talks with top providers of home banking software like INTUIT and MICROSOFT to link Smarty to their software. (JG)
COMPUTERS OUTSMARTING HUMANS
(Source: REUTERS, 3/4/97)
Computers will surpass human intelligence within the next 20 to 30 years, according to Nathan Myhrvold, chief technology officer at MICROSOFT. "We're not getting smarter every year. They are," he said of computers, plus the fact that, "Humans take 20 years to boot." He made his remarks in a spirited keynote address to the ASSOCIATION OF COMPUTING MACHINE's 50th anniversary conference on the next 50 years of computing. (JG)
NEWS BRIEF SPONSOR:
THE CIRCLE OF ATONEMENT:
TEACHING & HEALING CENTER
The Circle is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching "A Course In Miracles." Staff writers and teachers are Robert Perry and Allen Watson. The Circle publishes newsletters & booklets, offers weekly classes, quarterly intensives, correspondence courses and Sedona-based workshops. If you are interested, you can contact The Circle at:
P.O. Box 4238
West Sedona, AZ, USA 86340
Phone: (520) 282-0790
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
"I really enjoyed "High-Tech Origins Challenged -- Again" in News Brief 51. I especially enjoyed the attention to detail, such as the parenthetical remark about why you weren't dealing with the Coliseum. It made your reporting seem tighter, more reliable. I would love to see a long-term treatment of the question of highly-developed ancient civilizations--as you have done, for instance, with the question of future geologic changes. To me, future geologic changes and the ancient civilization issue are two sides of the same coin. I think it would be very enlightening for readers and would contribute to some overall conclusion or perspective that the News Brief may reach in the future."
---Robert Perry, Sedona, Arizona
MY KIND OF RESOURCE
"Your Toby award to Michael Lindemann, Editor of CNI NEWS (http://nen.sedona.net/nhne/tobyaward.html), sold me on NHNE as my kind of resource. Lindemann spoke here a couple of years ago and I was very impressed. Some of my best friends are "true believers" in crop circles -- but I have had my doubts. It's nice to find others who are similarly spiritual and yet skeptical. I enclose payment for a six-month online subscription."
---Rob Mayer, Phoenix, Arizona
"I very much appreciate the quality of research and editing that goes into your News Brief. It is a publication that is valued by me and others -- so much so that we are willing to pay for a subscription. I do, however, suggest that you consider the following to improve the publication and ensure continuing support from paid subscribers:
-- Drop the "Lighter Side" editions. They are mildly amusing and/or of minor interest, but they do not provide content that is worth paid subscriptions. As an alternative to devoting entire editions to such lightweight material, you might consider including a Lighter Side Section in the regular News Brief.
-- Stop providing the same content for free on the Web that subscribers such as me are paying for. As an alternative, you might consider offering a sampler of back articles on your Web site. You might email complete editions as samples to potential new subscribers who request them. I know you want to get the information out to the world, but if you're going to give it away then there is no need for me or others to renew paid subscriptions."
--- Name withheld by request
[We publish the Lighter Side Edition once a month for a number of reasons: it's important for even those engaged in planetary transformation to lighten up once in awhile; it gives NHNE a vehicle for publishing articles which aren't quite "hard" enough for the regular News Brief; and it gives the editors a bit of a break once a month. Please note that "soft" does not mean "fluff" -- we feel that every item we publish has some merit in better understanding this marvellous world in which we live. What paid subscribers get for their money are: up-to-the-minute news on the transformation of the planet sent directly to their mailboxes every Friday at least a week or two before it is posted on the Web site; special reports on such topics as remote viewing and crop circles months before they are posted on the Web; and fast-breaking news which is flashed out only to our paid subscribers as soon as it happens.
What do the rest of our readers think? JG]
TED DANIELS -- MILLENNIUM WATCHER
By David Sunfellow & James Gregory
The concept of long period of peace and prosperity preceded by a time of turmoil and upheaval is theme common to most belief systems, both Eastern and Western. Central to Western thought is the Christian theology which prophesies the return of the Christ who will introduce "a new heaven and new earth" and a thousand years of peace on Earth. In the Bible version, this "Millennium" (which could refer to any span of 1,000 years) will be preceded by the terrible battle of Armageddon as the forces of evil, led by the Antichrist, battle the forces of good, led by the returned Jesus. In the end, good will prevail, and all traces of evil will be swept away in a global cleansing consisting of violent earthquakes, destructive volcanoes, and the fall of flaming bodies from the heavens. While there is not necessarily a connection between the prophesied Christian "Millennium" and the "new millennium" scheduled to begin at the end of this century, many people find the similarity in names irresistible.
Ted Daniels is the Director of the MILLENNIUM WATCH INSTITUTE, an organization devoted to tracking ideas of world renewal and the end of civilization as we know it, triggered in large part by the imminent approach of the new millennium. To gather his information, Daniels draws upon a wide variety of published material of a prophetic nature, as well as the global scope of the Internet. Daniels is also the Editor of MILLENNIAL PROPHECY REPORT, a 20-page quarterly newsletter which provides timely commentaries and news drawn from the publications of Christian churches, Jewish sects, New Age channels, Native American shamans, paramilitiary organizations, environmental groups and scientific prognosticators.
The following is an email interview with Ted Daniels (TD) conducted recently by NHNE:
NHNE: What kind of events in your personal life shaped your interest in tracking millennium groups?
TD: In order to understand the implications of my answer, it may be helpful to know that my religious background is nearly non-existent.
In 1987, while I was in the process of finishing my Ph.D., I had a day job at FOLKWAYS RECORDS in New York City. One day, while I was carrying a box of acetates out of the storage room, it came to me with utter certainty that, as the calendar millennium approached, a lot of people were going to get worked up about the end of the world, and there ought to be a clearing house where people could go to receive factual information on what was happening. I had no sense of any presence telling me these things, but the experience still carried with it the absolute conviction of a real vision, although I suppose it would be more accurate to call it an "inspiration."
The only trouble was that I knew nothing about millenarianism beyond the cartoon of guys in white robes carrying "Repent" signs. So, to teach myself and to give myself a basic credibility as someone who knows something about the subject, I set out to write what turned out to be, as far as I know, the only book-length bibliography of the subject. The finished product, a 600-page book entitled "Millennialism: An International Bibliography" was published by GARLAND PUBLISHING in 1992 and contains reviews of sociological, anthropological, and historical writing on the subject. The printed version of the book sells for $90.00; there'll shortly be an electronic edition available on our Web site for considerably less money. The material I am collecting is now housed in the rare book collection of the UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA.
NHNE: How many millennium groups do you track?
"Groups" is a little misleading -- I track "sources" of published material of a prophetic nature. I lost count when the number of sources reached the neighborhood of 1,200. I began following them in 1992, once the manuscript of the book was ready for publication.
NHNE: What kind of common themes have you noticed among the sources you've tracked?
TD: In every version of the millennium myth there are certain invariant themes. The one that's truly universal is hope -- believers will be sheltered and protected by divine forces and, as the chosen ones, inherit a paradise on Earth. Even in the most drastic and supposedly "realistic" scenarios (nuclear winter, greenhouse effect), there remains the possibility, however faint, that right human action will forestall the fist of God.
Revenge is another prominent example, although it's strangely absent from most New Age accounts. In other belief systems, it's very common to find that some group of powerful and mysterious outsiders is blamed for having made the world corrupt, vicious, unjust, and full of suffering, and they have to be removed in a tribulation before everything can be a paradise again.
And it seems every religious cosmology has some variant of a fall from paradise, because no one would worship a god who couldn't make a better world than this.
NHNE: What are the things you find most appealing and interesting about the groups you have studied and what are the things you find most suspicious and potentially harmful?
TD: To both parts of the question I say, their extraordinary imagination and their vision of perfection. The millennium is a myth about change, and the nature of change is that it is both good and bad. What the millennium imagines is that the "Big One," when it finally comes, will polarize the change so that all the bad people will get punished, and the good will live forever in paradise. This a dangerous belief because its narcissistic appeal can lead people to sacrifice literally everything in pursuit of the final perfection of Earth.
NHNE: Are there any current millennium groups or leaders that you think are particularly dangerous or particularly inspired?
TD: Hitler was the most powerful millenarian of this age. I don't see anybody coming along who's his equal in any respect, though Pat Robertson is probably as powerful and secretive as any leader around. These days a climate of feverish change seems to be overwhelming every aspect of life. And in a nation with as millenarian a view as the U.S., somebody is almost certain to hit the "sweet spot" (in Stephen O'Leary's phrase) and send the prophetic ball out of the park, with everyone in the country trailing after it.
NHNE: Why do you think that, so far, many millennium prophecies have failed to occur as predicted?
TD: Not "many" -- ALL OF THEM! They can't occur as predicted because the millennium is an impossible dream that people continue to pursue, regardless. All the stuff about titanic earth changes is a symbol of the cosmic struggle for our souls. That's what's going to end, not the world itself.
Ebola is the one potential disaster that scares me. In one outbreak, the Zaire strain of the virus killed 80% of the people it infected. There is no defense against it, no vaccine, no cure. When you get it, you decompose while still alive. Fortunately, it's pretty hard to get -- you have to handle body fluids from a victim. But viruses mutate quickly, and this one could just as easily become an aerosol-transmitted version that you could get simply by being breathed on. In that case it would become a global pandemic in two months, ending everything.
World War III? Doubt it. With only one superpower, and that one fading fast, future wars will be conducted for the most part like we saw in Rwanda -- interethnic, nationalistic, populist genocides fought with AK47s and machetes.
Pole shifts, in my opinion, are nonsense. I am aware that the magnetic poles jump around all the time, and have even reversed, but there is no way that such activity would result in the slipping of the Earth's crust.
Earth changes? In a cosmic collision perhaps, but otherwise I don't see a cause for the kind of all-at-once collapse we hear about.
Greenhouse effect? It almost certainly already has started, but I don't perplex myself much about the titanic consequences that some people predict.
ET contact? I think that it's inevitable sooner or later. Why should life flourish in every imaginable environment here on Earth, and nowhere else in the universe? Besides, I'm all in favor of whatever decreases human arrogance.
NHNE: Are there any guidelines you can offer that can help people evaluate today's millennium groups and their ideas?
TD: Take them seriously, but not literally.
NHNE: What personal lessons have you learned from the work you've done?
TD: I like to think I'm more tolerant and easier to get along with than I used to be, and I think I trust people more, though I find it very difficult to talk to people wrapped up in the millennium. I have found that when someone becomes a true believer, it narrows their mind and makes them unbelievably boring, which is odd, when you consider how exciting the idea of a new millennium is.
NHNE: Why is the globe in your logo upside down?
TD: Because it's a universal symbol of what people hope for at the "end of the world" -- a reversal of the social order. Remember Jesus's "the meek shall inherit the earth"? It's never the planet that's going to end in these predictions, but rather its order.
NHNE: Do you have any plans for a new book?
TD: I'm about two thirds through a third draft of a new book with the working title "Tales of Apocalypse at the Turn of the Millennium." It summarizes the most important and interesting predictions I've encountered, and attempts to make sense of them for thel reader who may not necessarily be aware of these trends and what they mean. No publisher yet.
NHNE: What do you plan to do once the new millennium has arrived?
TD: I'll keep on with my career, which is investigating the ways people deal with the world. I feel confident that interest in changing the world won't go away, just because the date "2000" does.
For more information, you can write Ted Daniels: "firstname.lastname@example.org" or visit the MILLENNIUM WATCH INSTITUTE Web site: <http://www.channel1.com/mpr>.
THE GOD HYPOTHESIS
(Source: Jessica Cohen, UTNE READER, Mar-Apr/97)
Psychiatrist Dave Larson, President of THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTHCARE RESEARCH and author of "The Forgotten Factor," has determined through his research that religion benefits both physical and mental health. Quite simply, according to his findings, the pious tend to live longer. For example, smokers who go to church regularly are four times less likely to have high blood pressure than those who don't. In addition, religious people are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, commit suicide, be depressed, or get divorced. Gallup polls show that 95 percent of Americans believe in God, and 40 percent go to church regularly. Only India is more religious.
But doctors are not taught to deal with religious issues in treatment. Religion is now the taboo subject that sex once was, and may be why people are as likely to turn to clergy as to mental health professionals for help with their emotional problems, according to a study Larson conducted at the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MENTAL HEALTH. While he admits that praying doctors raise delicate boundary issues, he would like to see doctors include faith in the initial patient history. If it is there, he argues, it should be encouraged, and if it is conflicted, it should be dealt with by a specialist in the field of mind-body-soul medicine.
His findings complement those of Herbert Benson, another spirit-oriented doctor and author of "The Relaxation Response," who found a connection between improved health, meditation and prayers which may reduce parasympathetic nervous system responses to stress. According to Benson, it is intrinsic spirituality (as opposed to false piety) and passive prayers ("Thy will be done") which are most conducive to health.
Faith not only prolongs life, it helps people cope with dying. Larson would particularly like to address spiritual issues in the last year of life -- a period during which people typically pay out one fifth to one third of their lifetime health expenditures. In his opinion, more inner peace would equal fewer panic-induced medical procedures.
Another subject of future study is to determine what exactly is going on in churches that produces such results? Larson's colleague and Research Director of THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTHCARE RESEARCH, Mike McCullough, thinks the answer may lie in forgiveness, an attribute encouraged by all major world religions. "The old theory was that if you were angry, you would need to express it," he says, "but expression actually makes it worse." Nurturing revenge fantasies creates physiological arousal, increased heart rate and blood pressure -- all the risk factors for heart disease. A recent study by the HARVARD SCHOOL FOR PUBLIC HEALTH showed that men who scored highest on an anger scale were three times more likely to develop heart disease than low scorers. (JG)
I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!
By James Gregory
Do you ever have the feeling that no matter how hard you try in life, and how fast you go, you are losing ground -- trying to keep up with your peers, ahead of the competition, out from under a crushing workload, out of debt? How can this be? This is the '90s -- the era of timesaving devices such as the fax, email, cell phones, overnight couriers, and power PCs. Wasn't all this technology supposed to help us find more leisure time? Yet, more and more it feels like our lives have turned into a grueling race towards a finish line we never reach.
Consider the following:
-- In the early days of television, an ad was typically one minute long. Now the norm is to cram the advertiser's message into 15 seconds.
-- In the early 80s, the bottom fell out of the cake mix market, as overextended homemakers could no longer spare 30 minutes to bake pre-mixed cakes.
-- At the turn of the last century, the leisurely 3/4 time of the waltz was replaced by the bouncy rhythms of ragtime. In the next hundred years, ragtime was pushed aside by ever-accelerating forms of music: jazz, boogie woogie, rock and roll, disco, punk, speed metal, and finally techno, which races along at 200 beats per minute.
People are no longer buying the maxim that speed is the vehicle by which a person can take control of his or her life and achieve mastery over the world. According to Juliet Schor, author of the 1992 best seller, "The Overworked American," research shows that 28 percent Americans have recently made voluntary changes that resulted in earning less money, in effect, "trading money for time. I believe that this is one of the most important trends going on in America." These people tend to be more highly-educated and younger than the U.S. workforce as a whole. There are a growing number of critics, including Schor, who believe that faster is not better, and that instead we must pay attention to the psychological, environmental, and political consequences of our constantly accelerating world. Environmentalist Jeremy Rifkin was one of the first to raise questions about the desirability of speed in his 1987 book, "Time Wars," where he commented, "We have quickened the pace of life only to become less patient. We have become more organized but less joyful. We are better prepared to act on the future, but less able to enjoy the present and reflect on the past."
Sante Fe physician Larry Dossey has identified a pattern of stress-related illnesses linked to battling time that he calls "time sickness." Typical symptoms are migraine headaches, irritable bowels, sleep disorders, and low-grade depression. Dossey states in his book, "Space, Time and Medicine," that this time sickness is nearing epidemic proportions. Victims are obsessed with the notion "that time is getting away and that you must pedal faster to keep up. The body will not be fooled if we try to beat it into submission, and ask more than it can deliver in a 24-hour day." Dossey's method of treating time-sick people calls for changing their perception of time by getting them to slow down and "step out of time" through biofeedback, meditation or prayer.
Last November, the city of Amsterdam in Holland hosted the world's first large-scale forum on the cultural and political implications of an ever-accelerating world. One of the keynote speakers was the prominent German environmental thinker Wolfgang Sachs, who maintained that, "A society that lives in the fast lane can never be sustainable. Slow is not only beautiful, but also necessary and reasonable." That may be so, but is it realistic to think that a world accustomed to thrill of the wind in its face, will ever choose to slow down? To answer this question, you need look no further than the host city; more than any city in the world, Amsterdam has consciously curtailed the speed of traffic. The city is designed for walkers and non-motorized vehicles -- in the city center, the fastest moving things are bicycles whizzing by at 15 miles per hour. The concept of traffic calming -- a popular movement to improve safety and environmental quality by reducing the speed of cars and even create car-free areas is spreading to other European and North American cities. The concept of calming should not be limited only to our streets, but could be imported into our workplaces, government and civic organizations.
Stephan Rechtschaffen, medical doctor and founder of the OMEGA INSTITUTE FOR HOLISTIC STUDIES in New York, claims in his book, "Timeshifting: Creating More Time to Enjoy Your Life," that time is circular -- a cycle of varying rhythms. If we can learn to vary the pace of our lives, he continues, a new sense of serenity will be our reward. Throughout history, religious teachers have understood the need to shift time, and have used ritual to make that transition. He suggests the following rituals to help make the shift from one rhythm to another:
-- Saying grace before meals to mark the transition between the "busyness" of the day and the more relaxed mood of mealtime.
-- Taking a shower at the end of the work day to wash off the cares and worries that accompany work.
-- Arriving at work 15 minutes early, to allow for a relaxing perusal of the morning paper and an opportunity to plan the day, before the phones start to ring.
-- On your coffee break, spending 15 minutes in quiet mediation, in lieu of a coffee or a cigarette. A walking meditation will give you the same benefit and some fresh air as well.
-- If you have children, taking private time each day with each one of them, and giving them your undivided attention. For most of us, our children are the reason we do what we do. The same thing applies to those who don't have children, but do have pets.
Here are some other ways that people are putting on the brakes in their own lives:
-- Enzio Manzini, Director of the DOMUS ACADEMY DESIGN INSTITUTE in Milan: "When I'm at work, there is nothing I can do to move slow. When I leave work, I try to switch off. This is what you might call selective slowness. It is the beginning of consciousness that you can escape the machine."
-- Jay Walljasper, Editor, UTNE READER: "Even cleaning up after dinner can offer a lesson in the pleasures of slowness, as I learned when our dishwasher went on the fritz. When I was forced to do the dishes by hand, I'd put on some jazz or zydeco music and sing along or daydream. What had been 5 or 10 minutes of drudgery, turned into 15 or 20 minutes of relaxation. My personal 'Slow is Beautiful' revolution had begun, one fork at a time."
-- Juliet Schor, author: "I don't work on weekends. My life outside of work has been simplified. I rarely drive a car. I ride my bike. I just don't do all the things that make me crazy."
-- Deepak Chopra, author: "Laughter, meditation, change of environment, breathing exercises, massage, visualization, music, crying when frustrated, a healthy marital life -- any single point or combination of points are effective. I personally use them all."
-- Rupert Sheldrake, biologist: "I pray every night before I go to bed. I find that puts whatever immediate concerns I have into a much broader framework."
-- Elaine St. James, author: "Simplify Your Life": When I'm overwhelmed, I just take an afternoon off and go out into nature. It gives me a breather and helps me see that there's a lot of stuff I'm doing that I don't need to be doing."
(Sources: Jay Walljasper, Dick Dahl, Stephan Rechtschaffen, UTNE READER, Mar-Apr/97; "How Life Got So Hectic and What You Can Do About It" by Ralph Keyes)
BODY & SOUL SEATTLE CONFERENCE
Seattle, Washington, April 11-13, 1997
For the first time ever, virtual participation via the World Wide Web will be offered for a landmark conference. The BODY & SOUL SEATTLE CONFERENCE will be held April 11-13, 1997 and feature Jean Houston, Ram Dass, Marianne Williamson, Terence McKenna, Bernie Siegel, Brian Weiss, Rachel Remen, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Larry Dossey, Judith Orloff, Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks. This historic global Webcast offers the unique opportunity to be a part of the virtual online community before, during, and after the conference. Here is what you can expect:
-- Live and recorded RealAudio presentations -- Eight conference sessions will be Webcast live from the Westin Hotel in Seattle beginning the morning of Saturday, April 11, and ending the evening of Sunday, April 12. A Saturday evening concert with Cris Williamson and Tret Fure will also be Webcast live. All RealAudio sessions will be available to virtual participants for 48 hours throughout the weekend. If you don't have RealAudio software, you can download it free from the BODY & SOUL SEATTLE Web site.
-- Live Internet Chat -- On March 11, a Body & Soul Chat Room was opened. Live chat (including online rituals such as meditation, prayer, and healing circles) will occur throughout the conference along with reports from sessions, interviews and Q&A with presenters, and interaction between onsite and virtual participants. There will also be several one-hour live interviews in the chat room with some of the keynote presenters.
-- Discussion Groups -- Also on March 11, message boards were been set up where both virtual and onsite participants can join in stimulating discussions on a variety of body and soul themes.
-- Virtual participants will have the opportunity to see and chat with some of the presenters during the conference. You will need CU-SeeMe in order to participate in the videoconferencing. This you can download off the BODY & SOUL SEATTLE Web site as well.
Once participants have registered ($50 for virtual participation), they will receive a password for entry into the Virtual Participant Web site. For more information visit the BODY & SOUL SEATTLE Web site: <http://www.whidbey.net/bodyandsoul>.(JG)
David Sunfellow (DS)
James Gregory (JG)
Gail Rossi (GR)
Lea Harwood (LH)
Joya Pope (JP)
Palden Jenkins (PJ)
Sandy Ezrine (SE)
Kathleen-Blake Frankel (KBF)
Karol Ann Barnett (KAB)
Mary Koch (MK)
NHNE Web Page Programming:
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