Psychology finally finds God

It turns out that religion can help unhappy people be more happy and find meaning in their lives. Who would have guessed it? For many decades, apparently not the field of psychology. But, according to this article, that is changing.

For anyone who took a college course in psychology more than a decade ago or who is even casually acquainted with the subject through popular articles, a close examination of today’s field would undoubtedly prove surprising. The science that for most of the 20th century portrayed itself as the enlightened alternative to organized religion has taken a decidedly spiritual turn.

Bowling Green State University professor Kenneth Pargament, who in 2013 edited the American Psychological Association’s Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality, notes just how dramatically his profession’s attitude towards faith has changed in recent times. As a young academic interested in the connection between mental health and religion, he would “go to the library once a semester and leisurely review the journals” only to be disappointed by how little his colleagues had to say about it. But “no more,” Pargament happily reports. In fact, he adds, “it is hard to keep up with the research in the field.”

Today’s psychology tells us that faith can be very helpful in coping with major life setbacks, including divorce, serious illnesses, the death of a loved one, and even natural or human-caused disasters. A study by the RAND Corporation, published in the New England Journal of Medicine just after the 9/11 attacks, found that 90 percent of Americans coped with the trauma by “turning to God.” During the week that followed, 60 percent went to a church or memorial service, and sales of the Bible rose more than 25 percent.

Other studies have shown that religious people are less prone to depression and anxiety, are less likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, and have above average immunity to physical diseases. As a result, psychologists are now developing faith-based approaches to treating chronic anger and resentment, the emotional scars of sexual abuse, and eating disorders.

As a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I can attest that I am much happier now than before my conversion. So, it is encouraging to see my experience — and the experiences of so many other people I know personally — being validated.

Christmas Music: In The Dark Streets Shineth: a 1941 Christmas Story

One of my favorite books of all time is “In the Dark Streets Shineth: A 1941 Christmas Story” by David McCullough. It’s a short book and mostly pictures, but it tells the story of Christmas 1941, right after the US had been attacked at Pearl Harbor. It was a very dark time in our nation’s history. This book also tells the story of how the Christmas hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” came to be and how that song, written in the 1850s, had a part in the Christmas of 1941. I think I also want to nominate David McCullough to narrariate the Ken Burns 9 part documentary on my life (haha).

Some of my other favorites by David McCullough are: 1776, John Adams, Harry Truman, The Great Bridge, and The Wright Brothers. Go HERE to see all of his books.

You always feel smarter after reading a David McCullough book. But seriously, I really hope you enjoy this short clip of Mr. McCullough telling this story.

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

Christmas Music: Songs from Handel’s Messiah

Happy Sabbath! The perfect Christmas music for today is Handel’s Messiah. These are just a few of the selections from the First Movement, which talks about the prophecies of Christ’s birth and the miracle of His birth. I have many happy memories of singing the Messiah at Christmas and Easter times — in our stake choir growing up, and in college. A few years ago we had a Messiah sing-a-long here in my very small Northern New Mexico town. The choir and orchestra were made up of people from all over the community. I was blown away by the level of talent in our little town. For me singing the Messiah — whether it’s in a choir, or just singing along to youtube videos — never fails to uplift my spirit and helps to sink into my soul the love our Heavenly Father has for us, and how the birth of our Savior is a true miracle.

Here is a good article about Handel and a short history of the Messiah. “The Glorious History of Handel’s Messiah”.

If you click over to this Wikipedia page, you will find all of the songs from the Messiah with their accompanying scriptures.

Click here, for the full Messiah directed by Sir Colin Davis on the BBC. And I have to mention how much I love the BBC, they announce concerts like it was a sporting event. We seriously need to do this in the United State.

O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion

Isaiah 7: 14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Matthew 1: 23, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his cname Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Isaiah 40: 9, “O Zion, that ringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Isaiah 60: 1, “Arise, shine; for thy blight is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”

Click HERE for a totally amazing rendition in German.

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First Man: Discussion with Singer and Hansen

My family was excited to see the film about Neil Armstrong’s moon landing. But as we emerged from the theatre in October, my husband commented:

“That wasn’t a feel good movie. That was a feel nothing movie.”

Despite the technical excellence of the film, I agreed that the overwhelming sense was of loss and isolation. Not being intimately familiar with Neil Armstrong, I chalked things up to 2018-era existential angst.

Yesterday I was given the chance to attend a screening of First Man at the National Air and Space Museum, with Q&A following the film with Armstrong biographer, Dr. James Hansen, and Academy Award-winning screen-writer of First Man, Josh Singer. Jeffrey Kluger, the author whose book inspired the film Apollo 13, rounded out the panel.

If you are a fan of history and space and film, First Man: The Annotated Screenplay is a fantastic look into all three topics.

Whether watching First Man for the first time or considering a return, here are a few things you really should know to properly understand the brilliance of the film created by Singer and director Damien Chazelle 1 based on Hansen’s book. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Damien Chazelle won an Academy Award for La La Land and was the driving force behind transforming Hansen’s biography into a film.

Christmas Music: Once in Royal David’s City

In Luke 2:4 we read, “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)” Bethlehem means house of Bread. It’s fitting that Christ, who proclaimed himself as “the Bread of Life” was born there.

This hymn was written as a poem by Dubliner, Cecil Frances Alexander. It was first published in 1848 in Miss Cecil Humphreys’ hymnbook Hymns for little Children”. English organist, Henry John Gauntlett, set the poem to music the next year. This version is the Henry Mann arrangement, and is always the first song on the program at King’s College every Christmas.

On a personal note, this is my favorite Christmas hymn from the LDS Hymn book. In my ward, at least, we usually don’t sing this at all over the Christmas season. One year we sang Christmas songs before Sacrament meeting started each week. Each week we sang every song, but this one. It’s #205 in the hymn book if you’re wondering — if we have any ward music people reading this post, please, oh please, put this song into the rotation! Continue reading