Dr. Ferguson Saw Your Brain Being Religious

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Dr. Ferguson Saw Your Brain Being Religious

Jessica Wise

founder – The Litas

Devin Townsend

recording artist

Pat Bagley

Pulitzer finalist political cartoonist

Sean Whalen

men’s coach

Robert Clark

National Geographic photographer

Kurt Bestor

Composer, pianist, trumpet player Kurt Bestor

composer

Richard Dutcher

black and white portrait of filmmaker Richard Dutcher

filmmaker

Marianne Willamson

author & spiritual teacher

Steven Wilson

Grammy nominated musician & producer

Peter Breinholt

Singer / songwriter Peter Breinholt photographed by Paul Duane

singer / songwriter

Genpo Roshi

black and white portrait of Zen Master Genpo Roshi

Zen Master Genpo Roshi

[podcast src=”https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/5121578/height/205/width/600/theme/custom/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/autoplay/no/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/forward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/88AA3C/” height=”205″ width=”600″]

 

Dr. Michael Ferguson is a post-doctoral associate in the Department of Human Development at Cornell University. His work centers on the intersections of culture and brain. Active research includes cognitive neuroscientific investigations of intelligence and religiosity—two major themes of cultural studies.

Michael currently teaches the undergraduate course Gender and Sexual Minorities at Cornell. He previously co-instructed a graduate course on functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging at the University of Utah, where he completed his doctoral degree in bioengineering.

Michael is a popular public speaker with an engaging enthusiasm for asking “the hard questions” with rational methods. He and his husband, John Seth Anderson, were the first same-sex couple legally married by the state of Utah, and are outspoken advocates for LGBTQ+ communities and causes.

“The expectation primes the experience. What you are anticipating actually constructs your reality”

“If you’re expecting that your religion is going to help you lead a more prosperous, fulfilling, happy existence – your religion might then actually help you lead a more prosperous, fulfilling, happy existence.”

– Dr. Michael Ferguson, PhD

michaelfergusonphd.com

https://www.facebook.com/religiousbrainproject

https://www.facebook.com/michaeladamferguson
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I went to church

Hey guys, I went to church yesterday.
…. and last week
…. alone
…. and I met with my bishop.
It’s been 10 years since I’ve done any of that.

Normally, this kind of thing is nobody’s business.
I cannot believe how difficult it has been for me to write this.
For the past ten years, I have been an outspoken critic of the church. (Which church? All of them. Organized religion is inherently corrupt. I just happen to grow up as a Mormon). I have talked SO much shit on the LDS Church, I have “helped” so many people let go of their faith in it…
…. that I feel like the only way I can look myself in the mirror as an honest man, is to put this out there.

Here’s the short of it:
I feel this sense of being on the edge of something great in my life. (You glass empty people will call it a “glass ceiling”). I’ve had several messengers come to me and instruct me that the secrets to advancing in life are to be found in my shadow self.

Psychologist Carl Jung’s taught the idea that the things that irritate us in other people, are simply reminders and reflections of parts of ourselves that we have not become comfortable with – ie, your “shadow”. That’s where you tuck away the things you want to ignore.

It means, the things in life that keep bothering me, are the things I’m afraid to let myself feel.

It means that there’s a lie happening inside of me somewhere. Lies are tied to truths. Like the story line of any good video game, the more valuable the level-up item, the harder it is to get.

It means I’m insanely interested in finding this truth that’s hiding in the cobwebs of my shadow.

It means that I have realized that the church has been a MASSIVE mirror in my life. I’m completely uninterested in arguments about whether this or that church is “true”. That’s the wrong question to be asking, anyway.

It means that my view of “church” has changed a lot.
It means I’ve allowed the church, it’s leaders, and members, to be imperfect humans, and to stop expecting miracles from them.
The LDS Church is such a mess these days, and it’s getting worse, and it will become even worse yet. I’m there despite their moronic political moves, devastating policies and ludicrous public image.
NOPE.

It means I’m there to figure out why it kept me angry for ten years.

It means everything that Maynard James Keenan of Tool said when he wrote “46 and 2”

“My shadow’s shedding skin and I’ve been picking scabs again.
I’m down digging through my old muscles
Looking for a clue.

I’ve been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could’ve been.
I’ve been wallowing in my own confused
And insecure delusions
For a piece to cross me over
Or a word to guide me in.
I wanna feel the changes coming down.
I wanna know what I’ve been hiding in

My shadow –
Change is coming through my shadow.
My shadow’s shedding skin
I’ve been picking my scabs again.

I’ve been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could’ve been.
I’ve been wallowing in my own chaotic
And insecure delusions.

I wanna feel the change consume me,
Feel the outside turning in.
I wanna feel the metamorphosis and
Cleansing I’ve endured within

My shadow
Change is coming.
Now is my time.
Listen to my muscle memory.
Contemplate what I’ve been clinging to.
Forty-six and two ahead of me.

I choose to live and to
Grow, take and give and to
Move, learn and love and to
Cry, kill and die and to
Be paranoid and to
Lie, hate and fear and to
Do what it takes to move through.

I choose to live and to
Lie, kill and give and to
Die, learn and love and to
Do what it takes to step through.

See my shadow changing,
Stretching up and over me.
Soften this old armor.
Hoping I can clear the way
By stepping through my shadow,
Coming out the other side.
Step into the shadow.
Forty six and two are just ahead of me.”

Here is the song for any who are interested

https://youtu.be/Tja6_h4lT6A

DSC_6711-Edit

Self Portrait; 2012. Sitting in the church I grew up in. Logan 2nd Ward

My beliefs haven’t changed. I believe in a Divine Source. We can have a personal connection to it. All humans come pre-wired with an equal opportunity to have powerful connections to the Divine. God doesn’t pick favorites. I believe that our purpose in life is to become more masterful creators. Jesus was a super cool guy who truly understood what it’s all about and taught it better than anyone ever has. Ben Franklin was inspired when he said that “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
I’m ordained as a Dudeist Priest in the Church Of The Latter-day Dude, too.
RUSH is the greatest band of all time.
Anyway, spiritually speaking, that’s about all I’ve got.

So… what am I doing at church?
….long, boring, sleepy, church?
I’m stepping through my shadow.

 

An insiders view of the Mormon Political Machine

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Justin Anderson is a self styled citizen lobbyist and political strategist. He comes on the show to tell the story of working as a political adviser  to the upper echelons of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Justin shares with us some jaw dropping perspectives on what happens when The Mormon Church grapples with issues such as LGBT rights, gay marriage, and medicinal marijuana.

I have UTMOST respect for Justin for being willing to speak the truth, and to do it from a place of love – FOR THE TRUTH.

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ADDENDUM

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Since this interview was published, many of you have asked “What happened to Justin?”  I asked Justin to answer that question for you. Here is his answer:

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Hey Paul,

It’s been about six months since you invited me to sit on your show to discuss my interactions with church leaders and officials. The day I went on your show changed my life forever.

The weeks following the show I was left to evaluate my relationship with God and the Church. I was committed to stay and to work through my faith crisis. I was committed to do everything it took to “remain in the fold.”

During the weeks following the show I had to request the assistance of an attorney. Ecclesiastical leaders of mine showed hostility towards me in emails and voicemails. The Church asked that I delete all my emails from their Correlation Dept and other depts to remove all proof of discussions. I wasn’t expecting an apology, Elder Oaks made it clear that the Church does not apologize. I wasn’t expecting an apology but I was expecting any threats either, I was wrong on the latter.

The hostility that I encountered by my ward leaders added to my anxiety that already existed. Trying to find room for myself, and others with beliefs like my own, I was left with no choice but to resign through the means of an attorney. It was denied when I asked to remove my records directly to my bishop, and after further hostility, I had to move forward with an attorney.

For the past few months I’ve been faced with difficult emotions. I’m still processing my faith crisis which I’ve been struggling with for over a year. I’m trying to figure out if I’ll ever participate in another religion. Im trying to figure out what my life has in store for me. In fact, I sometimes refer to Mormons as “we” as if I’m still in the Church. A part of my heart will always remain Mormon, and I welcome and cherish that. “Do what is right and let the consequence follow” is one of the many Mormon phrases and beliefs that I will always hold close to my heart.

Closing that chapter of my life has been painful, but I welcome the new chapter with hope and excitement.

Your friend,

Justin

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Was Santa an inside job?

The Santa Claus Industrial Complex is the culmination of all the great conspiracy theories: aliens, the war on drugs, the war on families, religion, economics, and the illuminati.  Jake Garn Photographer Not Astronaut and I explain it all in painstaking detail.

mushroom_ornaments

We also discuss a northern European traditions explaining how psychedelic mushrooms gave rise to Christmas.  Good times.

SantaMushroom

 

 

 

The Most Absurd Story

There once was a man and woman who fell in love, got married, and bought an attractive home together.  The husband grew up in a home with many children and an overworked mother who struggled to keep the house clean. Dust, disarray, and clutter were the norm. Though he greatly appreciated neat tidy spaces, it could also be said that he was at perfectly comfortable in a mess.

 

One day, he found his wife pouting on the sofa.  He had known something was amiss for a few days, perhaps it would now finally come to the surface.

“What’s wrong?” he inquired.

 

“I know that you resent me for not keeping the house clean, but I have been so busy with my responsibilities on the committee, my boss has given me extra work, and this flu has sapped up all of my extra energy this week. I know you are always mad at me for the house being a mess. I am really hurt that you are so upset with me. That’s why I’ve been staying away from you, that’s why I won’t hug or kiss you, that’s why I’m so cold – because I know you are mad at me. How am I supposed to be loving to you when I know you are angry with me over something like this?”

 

The husband was shocked. In his own mind, just earlier that day, he had been contemplating how beautiful their home was and how grateful he was for it. The current state of housekeeping was vastly superior to anything he had grown up with. In his eyes, he didn’t even see a mess. All he saw was a beautiful home with an angry wife.

 

He tried to console her, but she did not believe him. She continued to attack him for being angry at her for not keeping the house spotless.  This pattern continued for some time.

 

The husband felt helpless, like a shipwrecked boy floating at sea on a tiny life raft, with no help in sight for months. At times his desperation started to taste something like anger for her construction of this artificial problem – but it wasn’t real anger.  Few things could sadden him more than her accusations of him feeling a way that he truly did not. A deep, profound despair took residence in his heart  as he contemplated the futility of the situation.  There was nothing he could do to convince her otherwise. If he helped more around the house, she would see it as evidence that he was, in fact, so upset with her that he was taking matters into his own hands. If he did not help, she further resented  that he was part of the problem. He was utterly powerless to help her – not because he himself lacked power, but because she would have no part of it.

 

If housekeeping was the only area in which the wife experienced this way of thinking, their marriage would have been salvageable.  Humans typically don’t compartmentalize habits of the heart, though. Her self criticism crept into every other area of life. Money, friends, work, sex… Brick by brick she laid an impenetrable wall, turning their marriage into a stale cavern of tears. Eventually, the marriage ended.  Both were devastated, both had radically different stories about what happened.  So much potential, so little realized.

 

So it is with our relationship with The Divine. (Call it what you want. For the sake of brevity, I’ll call it a few simple things, sometimes I’ll use the word God.) We emanate from a Source of ultimate creative power that we don’t fully comprehend. It is our heritage, and our destination, to grow eternally in our powers of creation.  If a God exists, I am certain that it’s main objective is to nurture us into beings like unto itself, masters of all creative powers.

 

Look at the ancient and modern wisdom that’s been put on the earth: Vast amounts of it are aimed at convincing humans to stop judging.  God has gone so far as to play a cosmic game of Santa Claus – a temporary charade that’s intended to get us going in the right direction, even if we aren’t fully mature enough to understand the real reasons yet.  He’s allowed the perpetuation of stories that should empower humans to relieve themselves of the judging duties and hand them off to someone that’s better equipped for the job: Think of the thousand of tales in all cultures that God, in fact, is the great judge, that there will be a great day of judgement, and thus, no other human needs to be concerned with judging. Taking it a step further into near absurdity,  there even exists a story about God sending his only Son in the flesh, to come down here, get horribly abused, suffer, and die, on behalf of all “sinners” – taking upon him the sins of all the world – just in an effort to convince us humans to CALM DOWN AND STOP JUDGING. There are countless ceremonies, rites of passage, rituals, all of which are a “Dumbo’s Feather” of sorts – intended to give each of us permission to feel “clean”, “forgiven” so that just maybe we’ll stop judging – others, and ourselves –  and get on with the joy of creation.

 

While it’s true that on some level, the wife was judging her husband, it all emanated from judging herself.  In the court of her own self criticism, she became the judge, jury, and executioner – and thus, unable to consider any evidence to the contrary. All of the promises of marriage became impossible and moot.

 

The dilemma of the married couple is a dilemma of human nature, and may be rightfully multiplied by many thousands as we contemplate our true relationship to God.  God loves us vastly more. The minutia we judge ourselves against are, in the grand scheme of things, irrelevant. The consequences of the rift between you and God are cosmic in scale.

 

God does not judge us. As we let go of the baseless assumption that God disapproves of us, as we accept our own unique perfection in God’s eyes, we’ll find that relationship to our Creative Power improving exponentially. This, I believe, is where the bliss begins.

 

much love-
Paul Duane

 

Tinfoil Hat Tuesday and why The Institute tripped me out so badly

It’s Tinfoil Hat Tuesday with Photographer-Not-Astronaut Jake Garn!  Our dear friend Joshua Delagarza joined us in the studio, as well.   I spent a good bit of time musing over a documentary I watched last night about a most fascinating movement that happened in San Francisco recently.  The film is called “The Institute”. Here is the trailer. The film is every bit as crazy as you think its going to be.