thank god for Turner Classic Movies

That’s what my mother watches. Sometimes all day. The other night it was a Bing Crosby Marathon. She lasted until midnight and I taped the two that came after. I have to admit that I enjoyed the simplistic, heartwarming, idealistic stories of both Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary. I know that I must have seen them as a young Catholic child, but I didn’t remember them. And those old movies sure do have sound tracks that are much clearer to the old ear than the newer films. I can’t help wondering how come, given all the new audio technology available now.
I also have to say that I do not use the word “god” in the title of this post in any literal way. It’s just an expression to me — like “go to hell.”
Which is why I am so delighted with that brilliant judge barring Intelligent Design from Pennsylvania’s Biology classrooms. You can read about and link to the specifics of that landmark ruling here.
And, speaking of going to hell — or heaven — the Barbara Walters special on what various people think “heaven” is was most encouraging because it showed just how much that idea is simply a matter of faith and belief — and, as far as I’m concerned, lots of entertaining brainwashing.
What is even more encouraging for me to hear is also quoted on the ABC “heaven” site:
For most people, proof of Heaven’s existence is not necessary. Faith is all they need. Dr. Dean Hamer, a geneticist at the National Institutes of Health, thinks he has figured out why this faith comes easily to some, but eludes others. “Whether a person is spiritual or not is not necessarily a matter of their will. It may be something innate about their personality,” Hamer tells Walters.
Hamer suspects spirituality might be a personality trait encoded in our genes. He began his research by asking more than 1,000 people to answer a series of questions about faith and spirituality. He then tested DNA from the study participants and found that those who scored highest on his survey had a mutation of at least one gene that seemed to affect their level of spirituality. He named it “the God gene.”
And, in response to the illusion that some people have about “near death” experiences:
British psychologist Susan Blackmore has spent decades searching for a scientific explanation: “When the oxygen levels fall in the brain … you get massive over-activity in the brain. … I think there is a true transformation, but not because you’ve been to heaven.
Ah. A “god gene.” I guess I was born without that.
Although, I did have a “near death” (sort of) experience in which I saw a white light toward which I felt I was flying. And I heard a strange buzzing in my ears, which — as an English major — made me think of Emily Dickinson’s poem that goes “I heard a fly buzz when I died.” I was sure I was dead.
I had just given (breech) birth to my daughter, and had gone through excruciating pain before anyone believed me enough to give me enough drugs to knock me out cold.
And so I felt myself flying toward a bright light in the center of my vision, listening to the fly buzz, sure that I was dead and regretting terribly that I would never even have a chance to see my baby.
Slowly the buzz became the voices of the doctors and nurses, and the light focused into the lights on the celing as they were wheeling me to wherever they were wheeling me.
So much for my “near death” experience.
But I have had transcendent feelings while meditating — a phenomenon also explained in Walters’ report:
Hamer also notes that researchers have been able to detect changes in the brain when people are in the midst of intense prayer or meditation.
Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroradiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, is one of those researchers. Newberg says his research shows a marked increase in brain activity in the frontal regions of the brain. “At the same time,” he adds, “the parts of the brain that monitor our sense of time and space became less active.”
Newberg says this contributes to an individual’s feeling of “losing that sense of self.” The feeling, he said, is “attributed to God, for example. And then they feel that God is providing them that energy, that feeling.”

Heaven… I’m in heaven,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak.
And I seem to find the happiness I seek,
When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek.
Heaven… I’m in heaven,
And the cares that hung around me through the week,
Seem to vanish like a gambler’s lucky streak,
When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek.
Oh, I love to climb a mountain,
And to reach the highest peak.
But it doesn’t thrill me half as much
As dancing cheek to cheek.
Oh, I love to go out fishing
In a river or a creek.
But I don’t enjoy it half as much
As dancing cheek to cheek.
Dance with me! I want my arms about you.
The charms about you
Will carry me through to…
Heaven… I’m in heaven,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak.
And I seem to find the happiness I seek,
When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek.

I just love those Turner Classic Movies.

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