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Friday, August 24, 2007Mother Teresa 's Secert
CBS News reported:
In life, Mother Teresa was an icon — for believers — of God's work on Earth. Her ministry to the poor of Calcutta was a world-renowned symbol of religious compassion. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In a rare interview in 1986, Mother Teresa told CBS News she had a calling, based on unquestioned faith.
"They are all children of God, loved and created by the same heart of God," she said.
But now, it has emerged that Mother Teresa was so doubtful of her own faith that she feared being a hypocrite, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips.
In a new book that compiles letters she wrote to friends, superiors and confessors, her doubts are obvious.
Shortly after beginning work in Calcutta's slums, the spirit left Mother Teresa.
"Where is my faith?" she wrote. "Even deep down… there is nothing but emptiness and darkness... If there be God — please forgive me."
Eight years later, she was still looking to reclaim her lost faith.
"Such deep longing for God… Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal," she said.
As her fame increased, her faith refused to return. Her smile, she said, was a mask.
"What do I labor for?" she asked in one letter. "If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true."
"These are letters that were kept in the archbishop's house," the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk told Phillips.
The letters were gathered by Rev. Kolodiejchuk, the priest who's making the case to the Vatican for Mother Teresa's proposed sainthood. He said her obvious spiritual torment actually helps her case.
"Now we have this new understanding, this new window into her interior life, and for me this seems to be the most heroic," said Rev. Kolodiejchuk.
According to her letters, Mother Teresa died with her doubts. She had even stopped praying, she once said.
The church decided to keep her letters, even though one of her dying wishes was that they be destroyed. Perhaps now we know why.
Experts have found a way to trigger an out-of-body experience in volunteers.
The experiments, described in the Science journal, offer a scientific explanation for a phenomenon experienced by one in 10 people.
Two teams used virtual reality goggles to con the brain into thinking the body was located elsewhere.
The visual illusion plus the feel of their real bodies being touched made volunteers sense that they had moved outside of their physical bodies.
The researchers say their findings could have practical applications, such as helping take video games to the next level of virtuality so the players feel as if they are actually inside the game.
Clinically, surgeons might also be able to perform operations on patients thousands of miles away by controlling a robotic virtual self.
For some, out-of-body experiences or OBEs occurs spontaneously, while for others it is linked to dangerous circumstances, a near-death experience, a dream-like state or use of alcohol or drugs.
One theory is that it is down to how people perceive their own body - those unhappy or less in touch with their body are more likely to have an OBE.
But the two teams, from University College London, UK, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, believe there is a neurological explanation.
We feel that our self is located where the eyes are
UCL researcher Dr Henrik Ehrsson
Their work suggests a disconnection between the brain circuits that process visual and touch sensory information may thus be responsible for some OBEs.
In the Swiss experiments, the researchers asked volunteers to stand in front of a camera while wearing video-display goggles.
Through these goggles, the volunteers could see a camera view of their own back - a three-dimensional "virtual own body" that appeared to be standing in front of them.
When the researchers stroked the back of the volunteer with a pen, the volunteer could see their virtual back being stroked either simultaneously or with a time lag.
The volunteers reported that the sensation seemed to be caused by the pen on their virtual back, rather than their real back, making them feel as if the virtual body was their own rather than a hologram.
Even when the camera was switched to film the back of a mannequin being stroked rather than their own back, the volunteers still reported feeling as if the virtual mannequin body was their own.
And when the researchers switched off the goggles, guided the volunteers back a few paces, and then asked them to walk back to where they had been standing, the volunteers overshot the target, returning nearer to the position of their "virtual self".
Dr Henrik Ehrsson, who led the UCL research, used a similar set-up in his tests and found volunteers had a physiological response - increased skin sweating - when they felt their virtual self was being threatened - appearing to be hit with a hammer.
Dr Ehrsson said: "This experiment suggests that the first-person visual perspective is critically important for the in-body experience. In other words, we feel that our self is located where the eyes are."
Dr Susan Blackmore, psychologist and visiting lecturer at the University of the West of England, said: "This has at last brought OBEs into the lab and tested one of the main theories of how they occur.
"Scientists have long suspected that the clue to these extraordinary, and sometimes life-changing, experiences lies in disrupting our normal illusion of being a self behind our eyes, and replacing it with a new viewpoint from above or behind."
Not only has no one ever found a void this big, but we never even expected to find one this size,” said Lawrence Rudnick of the University of Minnesota astronomy professor. Rudnick, along with grad student Shea Brown and associate professor Liliya Williams, also of the University of Minnesota, reported their findings in a paper accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.
Astronomers have known for years that, on large scales, the Universe has voids largely empty of matter. However, most of these voids are much smaller than the one found by Rudnick and his colleagues. In addition, the number of discovered voids decreases as the size increases.
“What we’ve found is not normal, based on either observational studies or on computer simulations of the large-scale evolution of the Universe,” Williams said.
The astronomers drew their conclusion by studying data from the NRAO VLA Sky Survey (NVSS), a project that imaged the entire sky visible to the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope, part of the National Science Foundation's National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). Their study of the NVSS data showed a remarkable drop in the number of galaxies in a region of sky in the constellation Eridanus, southwest of Orion.
“We already knew there was something different about this spot in the sky,” Rudnick said. The region had been dubbed the “WMAP Cold Spot,” because it stood out in a map of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation made by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotopy Probe (WMAP) satellite, launched by NASA in 2001. The CMB, faint radio waves that are the remnant radiation from the Big Bang, is the earliest “baby picture” available of the Universe. Irregularities in the CMB show structures that existed only a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang.
The WMAP satellite measured temperature differences in the CMB that are only millionths of a degree. The cold region in Eridanus was discovered in 2004.
Astronomers wondered if the cold spot was intrinsic to the CMB, and thus indicated some structure in the very early Universe, or whether it could be caused by something more nearby through which the CMB had to pass on its way to Earth. Finding the dearth of galaxies in that region by studying NVSS data resolved that question.
“Although our surprising results need independent confirmation, the slightly lower temperature of the CMB in this region appears to be caused by a huge hole devoid of nearly all matter roughly 6-10 billion light-years from Earth,” Rudnick said.
How does a lack of matter cause a lower temperature in the Big Bang’s remnant radiation as seen from Earth"
The answer lies in dark energy, which became a dominant force in the Universe very recently, when the Universe was already three-quarters of the size it is today. Dark energy works opposite gravity and is speeding up the expansion of the Universe. Thanks to dark energy, CMB photons that pass through a large void just before arriving at Earth have less energy than those that pass through an area with a normal distribution of matter in the last leg of their journey.
In a simple expansion of the universe, without dark energy, photons approaching a large mass -- such as a supercluster of galaxies -- pick up energy from its gravity. As they pull away, the gravity saps their energy, and they wind up with the same energy as when they started.
But photons passing through matter-rich space when dark energy became dominant don't fall back to their original energy level. Dark energy counteracts the influence of gravity and so the large masses don’t sap as much energy from the photons as they pull away. Thus, these photons arrive at Earth with a slightly higher energy, or temperature, than they would in a dark energy-free Universe.
Conversely, photons passing through a large void experience a loss of energy. The acceleration of the Universe's expansion, and thus dark energy, were discovered less than a decade ago. The physical properties of dark energy are unknown, though it is by far the most abundant form of energy in the Universe today. Learning its nature is one of the most fundamental current problems in astrophysics.
Source: University of Minnesota
Commonly used rationales in support of gay marriage and gay civil unions avoid historical arguments. However, as Allan A. Tulchin (Shippensburg University) reveals in his forthcoming article, a strong historical precedent exists for homosexual civil unions.
Opponents of gay marriage in the United States today have tended to assume that nuclear families have always been the standard household form. However, as Tulchin writes, “Western family structures have been much more varied than many people today seem to realize, and Western legal systems have in the past made provisions for a variety of household structures.”
For example, in late medieval France, the term affrèrement – roughly translated as brotherment – was used to refer to a certain type of legal contract, which also existed elsewhere in Mediterranean Europe. These documents provided the foundation for non-nuclear households of many types and shared many characteristics with marriage contracts, as legal writers at the time were well aware, according to Tulchin.
The new “brothers” pledged to live together sharing ‘un pain, un vin, et une bourse’ – one bread, one wine, and one purse. As Tulchin notes, “The model for these household arrangements is that of two or more brothers who have inherited the family home on an equal basis from their parents and who will continue to live together, just as they did when they were children.” But at the same time, “the affrèrement was not only for brothers,” since many other people, including relatives and non-relatives, used it.
The effects of entering into an affrèrement were profound. As Tulchin explains: “All of their goods usually became the joint property of both parties, and each commonly became the other’s legal heir. They also frequently testified that they entered into the contract because of their affection for one another. As with all contracts, affrèrements had to be sworn before a notary and required witnesses, commonly the friends of the affrèrés.”
Tulchin argues that in cases where the affrèrés were single unrelated men, these contracts provide “considerable evidence that the affrèrés were using affrèrements to formalize same-sex loving relationships. . . . I suspect that some of these relationships were sexual, while others may not have been. It is impossible to prove either way and probably also somewhat irrelevant to understanding their way of thinking. They loved each other, and the community accepted that. What followed did not produce any documents.”
He concludes: “The very existence of affrèrements shows that there was a radical shift in attitudes between the sixteenth century and the rise of modern antihomosexual legislation in the twentieth.”
Mike Flynt was drinking beer and swapping stories with some old football buddies a few months ago when he brought up the biggest regret of his life: Getting kicked off the college team before his senior year. So, one of his pals said, why not do something about it?
Most 59-year-olds would have laughed. Flynt's only concern was if he was eligible.
Finding out he was, Flynt returned to Sul Ross State this month, 37 years after he left and six years before he goes on Medicare. His comeback peaked Wednesday with the coach saying he's made the Division III team's roster. He could be in action as soon as Sept. 1.
Flynt is giving new meaning to being a college senior. After all, he's a grandfather and a card-carrying member of AARP. He's eight years older than his coach and has two kids older than any of his teammates.
"I think it was Carl Yastrzemski who used to say, 'How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?' I'd be in my late 20s or early 30s, because that's how I feel," said Flynt, who has made a living out of physical fitness. "That's been my approach to this whole thing. I feel that good. I'm just going to find out if I can perform and make a contribution to the team."
A longtime strength and conditioning coach at Nebraska, Oregon and Texas A&M, he's spent the last several years selling the Powerbase training system he invented. Clients include school systems and the military. His colorful life story includes being the son of a Battle of the Bulge survivor and having dabbled in gold mines and oil wells - successfully.
Flynt's life was supposed to be slowing down this fall. With his youngest child starting at the University of Tennessee, he and Eileen, his wife of 35 years, are planning to take advantage of being empty-nesters for the first time.
Instead, they've moved to this remote patch of West Texas so Flynt can mend an old wound and, he hopes, inspire others.
He became emotional discussing his goal of "helping a bunch of young men to make up for those guys that I let down." Then he laughed about the reality that fellow Baby Boomers are getting the most out of his comeback.
"People are kind of in awe. They keep comparing me to themselves and where they are physically," he said. "If I can help anyone out by what I'm doing, then it's all worth it."
Flynt's position is still being determined, but he used to play linebacker. Wherever he lines up, he'll likely become the oldest player in college football history. Neither the NCAA or NAIA keeps such a statistic, but research hasn't turned up anyone older than their mid-40s. And even those are rare, for obvious reasons.
"I told him he's an idiot," said Jerry Larned, who coached Flynt at Sul Ross in 1969 and counseled him at the start of his comeback. "I said, 'Gosh, dang, Mike, you're not 20 years old any more. You're liable to cripple yourself.' He understands all of that. But he has a burning desire to play. ... He is in great physical condition. He still runs a 5-flat 40 and bench presses I-don't-know-what. He's a specimen for 59 years old."
Back in the day, Flynt was quite a player.
In 1965, he was on the first state championship team at Odessa Permian, the high school featured in "Friday Night Lights." He was offered a partial scholarship at Arkansas when the Razorbacks were among the top teams in the land, but instead went to Ranger Junior College.
He wound up at Sul Ross in 1969. An NAIA school then, the Lobos were in the Lone Star Conference with East Texas State, which at the time had future NFL stars Harvey Martin and Dwight White, and Texas A&I, which was starting a two-year run as national champs. The highlight of Flynt's two years at Sul Ross was sticking A&I with its only loss in '69.
Flynt was going into his senior year in 1971 when he got into a fight that was far from his first. School officials decided they'd had enough and threw him out of school. He earned his degree from Sul Ross by taking his remaining classes elsewhere.
"I actually grieved for more years than I can remember the loss of that senior year," said Flynt, who'd been a team captain and the leading tackler as a junior. "What really got me was I felt that was MY football team and I had let them down. ... I don't know if I ever got over it, but I finally learned to live with it."
Then came word of a reunion of former Sul Ross students from the 1960s and '70s. Randy Wilson, who has been best friends with Flynt since they met as college roommates in 1969, talked a bunch of his former teammates into using that event as an excuse to get back together.
During several days of reminiscing, Flynt's pain became fresh as ever, especially when one of the guys said their '71 season went down the drain without Flynt.
That's when he told them of his remorse. And, he added, "What really gets me is that I feel like I can still play."
"You might as well give it a shot," Wilson told him. "The worst thing that can happen is you get your head knocked off and come home."
When Flynt returned home to Franklin, Tenn., his wife wasn't as fired up by the idea.
"I feel like I'm married to Peter Pan," she said.
It took time to accept that instead of joining their daughter at Tennessee's home opener she would be watching her husband hit kids one-third his age.
Eventually she came around. They've sold their suburban Nashville home and are now living in Alpine, a town of about 6,000 residents near the Big Bend National Park, a three-hour drive from the nearest major airport.
"I told her, for me to know that I can do it and not do it would be worse than losing out the first time," he said.
A devout Christian, Flynt sees many religious undertones to his story. He also believes it touts the benefits of strength training.
"People have asked me, 'Mike, what is the fountain of youth?' Well, it's strength training that builds muscle, increases bone density and burns calories," he said. "It's the one thing you can do in your 90s and benefit from."
Just to be clear, Flynt won't be playing football in his 90s.
He'll be out of eligibility then.