Monthly Archives: November 2008

Psychologist Dorothy Rowe: “Churches keep me in business”

One of my favourite interviewers, Philip Adams, discusses the role of religion in depressive disorders with world renowned psychologist, Dorothy Rowe.

She spends a lot of time talking with her patients, not only about their problems, but about their philosophy of life – which is unusual in a psychologist. But for her it’s essential because she says that our ideas about life and death, the afterlife, about good and evil, are the window to our sense of self. And much of our unhappiness stems from having an insecure sense of self.

Download the podcast (about 12 MB and about 15 or 20 minutes of discussion) and check the blurb here.

Some clients, she says, can’t be cured because the rewards from their belief systems and consequent depression are too great for them to change. Clients of different belief systems become depressed in different ways. But the root of it all is the sense of sin and guilt and unworthiness that churches inculcate.

Dorothy’s website: http://dorothyrowe.com.au/

Philip Adams interview and podcast:  http://www.abc.net.au/rn/latenightlive/stories/2008/2413425.htm

Casting legions of demons into the sea — an original version?

This is one of a number of surviving Ugaritic incantations for exorcisms:

I will recite an incantation against the suspect ones;
alone I will overpower . . . .
And may the Sons of Disease turn around,
may the Sons of Disease fly away . . . .
may they beat themselves like the ill of mind!
Go back . . .
The Legion to the Legions,
The Flies to the Flies,
those of the Flood to the Flood

From Incantations I lines 20-30 (p. 179 of An Anthology of Religious Texts from Ugarit by Johannes de Moor, 1987)

Now I don’t know the original word translated as Legions, and I do not have access to my copy of the companion cuneiform and dictionary volume of this anthology. But though I have not included the scholarly marks indicating gaps and guesses in the above, it is a scholarly translation and the Legion translation is cross referenced to Mark 5:9

And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”

It seems superfluous to compare the incantation’s order that the demons beat themselves like the ill of mind with Mark 5:5

Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones.

And to compare the demons of the flood turning back to the flood with Mark 5:13

And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.

The same text notes that Baal was the preferred god for exorcism because of his mastery over the sea and the monsters therein:

Baal is the champion of exorcists because he had defeated Sea and Death with their monsters. (p.183)

“Their whole civilisation has been destroyed”

When will the Palestinians be acknowledged as a people again? How can we accept such a total inversion of the anti-semitism that plagued earlier centuries to dehumanize both Jew and Arab in Palestine today — By dehumanize, I mean perceiving others as either somehow purer and more deserving than the rest of us, or worse than the rest of us.

Mary Robinson has visited Gaza and speaks from first hand observation: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7708670.stm

“Their whole civilisation has been destroyed, I’m not exaggerating,” said Mrs Robinson.

“It’s almost unbelievable that the world doesn’t care while this is happening.”

Why it’s important to take on board what Mary Robinson says, and to explore it further:

” . . . ordinary Israelis did not understand the situation as they “couldn’t possibly support it if they really did”.

Of course the news is quick to broadcast Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel — http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-11/05/content_10312060.htm

And so the black and white perceptions are reinforced.

Compare, for example, the less publicized Palestinian news story that started the recent attacks:
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9937.shtml

If what has been happening to the Palestinians since the 1940’s is not just another form of anti-semitism against the other branch of semites, or is not ethnic cleansing pure and simple, even genocide on a par with the generational genocide of American and Australian aboriginal populations, I don’t know what is.