I have seen no signs or placards announcing the quality of the Fortune-Cookie Message. However if it says something about General Tzo's Chicken, then that's a decent choice for then night.
Archaeopteryx--How are those ancient wings?
I should comment having attended a Catholic College for my PhD. During my independent work on coercive persuasion (brainwashing). I went through Catholic dioceses seeking information, and eventually found that the Catholic Church had hired a team of psychologists to work with them to develop a system of influencing their parishioners to rally around the church and bring their youngsters in, as well as a method of keeping those who has been influenced. In short, this was a method of brainwashing and it was distributed among the church leaders and carried down to the individual level, in disguise, as a method of assisting people. I didn't see the original work however the intent was clearly a high level of coercive persuasion by inducing fear and guilt.
I was not a Catholic at the time, but an atheist taking advantage of a free education I obtained by my own flavor of working the church with guilt and promise. It's very effective right back at them--until they turn over their cards and display five aces and a flush at the same time. One cannot argue with the Catholic Church at it's higher levels.
What has been mentioned above is a continuation of that same coercive persuasion which has been picked up in the Xian churches. I mention Xian as many Xians feel that the Catholic Church is not a true Xian church. They have forgotten much of history.
As a side note of interest concerning Xians not recognizing the Catholic Church, I recently read in the Christian Ministries Report that there are currently 43,000 churches that do not affiliate themselves with the main Christian Church, but have devised their own form of Xian religion.
Three years ago there were 38,000 independents who refused to be a part of the whole so the numbers of Christian Churches that have dissented and teach whatever they choose are continuing to grow. It seems that the Xian religion is based on so futile a mythology that they have become incapable of agreeing among themselves. As example, is the egregious Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church.
I was doing my doctorial work in the era of Catholic brainwashing and the infamous MKUltra affair the CIA was conducting (1973) and managed to get information on both. Regretfully I used that in my dissertation and was abruptly arrested soon after graduation by a group in black suits at night when I was sleeping. They had guns and placed a black cover over my head, claiming to be CIA but I more suspect the Catholic Church of faking it.
I was held two weeks to a month (it was a highly onerous affair they put me through) naked in a dark concrete cell without windows a chair or a bed and interrogated daily as well as threatened with immediate death by firing squad if I continued writing for an atheist magazine. I don't think the CIA would do that, so the Church is my primary suspect. My dissertation also disappeared along with any of the university records. There is a much longer story but that is enough.
That is the extent to which the church has dominated and robbed the public. They definitely have the power. It seems much like the Nazi campaign of propaganda against the Jews in Germany, but directed at the earth's population to seize wealth. Recall the billions the Catholic church is known to have.
Thus is one of the major problems with religion. The money and how horribly they might use it if they choose. There is formidable power in the church.
You sound as if you approve.
I think the Dalai Lama is the one carrying the torch at the moment.
There's also Karen Armstrong and the Charter for Compassion. The Golden Rule isn't enough though. It goes deeper than that.
I've learned to be [slightly] more empathetic in the past few years, by studying a friend who has great empathy. For me it's about wanting to know how another person is feeling, and finding out by asking questions and looking at body language, tone of voice and reading between lines.
At the same time, experience is necessary for true empathy I think. Otherwise we don't recognize what's going on with the other person. Maybe this is why so many young people lack empathy - they lack experience.
Jesus' major contribution was his emphasis on forgiveness.
We're born with mirror neurons. When we recognize pain in another, the mirror neurons light up, so it's like their pain is happening in our brain.
"How do you teach that without a common model?" - it's not too hard, it's just [perhaps] never been done. I would love it if you could put some outline ideas together, and I can work them up with some assistance from others and stick them on my website. I do get what you're talking about.
I didn't realize that we're hard-wired for forgiveness as well. Forgiveness comes under the Golden Rule I believe - in mathematical models, known as "Generous Tit-for-Tat". Tit-for-Tat with forgiveness so that people can move on from destructive cycles of conflict. Forgiveness in ourselves raises the standard of behaviour that we can expect from others. This is why it contributes to social cohesion I believe. We can look at these things from a brain level or a social level, or both, depending on what's most useful. Atheists do love to have rational answers, and that's a good thing.
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