July 2017 Newsletter

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Dear WesleyNexus Colleague:

In Bruce Epperly’s book Praying with Process Theology: Personal Practices for Personal and Planetary
, he quotes Patricia Adams Farmer who asserts that a beautiful soul is a large soul, one that can overcome the smallness and   pettiness of our human condition. A really fat soul can welcome diverse
people, ideas, and ways of being in the world without feeling threatened. A fat soul experiences the intensity of life in its fullness, even the painful side of life and knows there is something still bigger
(Epperly, p.80). Epperly goes on to describe a fat soul as one whose spiritual practices seek truth
in “unexpected places” such as a child at play, a saffron-robed monk, religious critics and elderly adults.  A fat soul recognizes that the earth is full of God’s glory.

We at WesleyNexus hope that we can contribute to the development of fat souls. By bringing together
ideas many view as conflicting and setting them side-by-side for reflection, critique and interpretation, new insights can be developed.  We hope that something in this newsletter will give you pause and invite you to read and reflect.  In our world of extreme specialization it is rare that one is invited to be an amateur explorer. Science and religion is kind of like that, an invitation to do some informed exploring and make some insightful connections across conceptual boundaries, for that is what is necessary to make a fat soul.

In her gracious book on the American political right, sociologist Arlie Hochschild supplements this
understanding of a fat soul (our term, not hers) by saying “the English language doesn’t give us many
words to describe the feeling of reaching out to someone from another world, and of having that interest welcomed.  Something of its own kind, mutual is created.  What a gift.  Gratitude, awe, appreciation: for me, all those words apply and I don’t know which to use.  But I think we need a special word, and should hold a place of honor for it, so as to restore what might be a missing key on the English-speaking world’s cultural piano.  Our polarization, and the increasing reality that we simply don’t know each other, makes it too easy to settle for dislike and contempt” (Strangers in Their Own Land, p XI). Fat souls are able to reach out to someone whose world differs from their world and see a sacred presence.  This is the goal of science and religion as well, to bridge the gaps and encounter new ideas that generate spiritual heft.

Interestingly enough, it seems that our brains synchronize with each other during a conversation. In a recent report in Science Daily, this conclusion emerges from a recent study: “The rhythms of brainwaves between two people taking part in a conversation begin to match each other, concludes a new study. According to scientists, this “interbrain synchrony” may be a key factor in understanding language and interpersonal communication.” The team, led by Alejandro Pérez, Manuel Carreiras and Jon Andoni Duñabeitia, has confirmed this by recording cerebral electrical activity – that the neuronal activity of two people involved in an act of communication “synchronize” in order to allow for a “connection” between both subjects. “It involves interbrain communion that goes beyond language itself and may constitute a key factor in interpersonal relations and the understanding of language,” Jon Andoni Duñabeitia explains.

Thus, the rhythms of the brainwaves corresponding to the speaker and the listener adjust according to the physical properties of the sound of the verbal messages expressed in a conversation. This creates a
connection between the two brains, which begin to work together towards a common goal: communication. “The brains of the two people are brought together thanks to language, and communication creates links between people that go far beyond what we can perceive from the outside,” added the researcher from the Basque research centre. “We can find out if two people are having a conversation solely by analyzing their brain waves.” The full report can be found here

God Bless,

Rick, Maynard, and the rest of the
WesleyNexus Board of Directors

Click here for the July 2017 Newsletter