By EBF Staff
Relevant in an assessment of Ernest Becker’s theory that denial of death gives rise to some of our most important cultural innovations is the root question of how human religions actually come into being. Is it possible that we can examine the historical record and identify certain specific characteristics shared by those humans who’ve succeeded at founding new religions? If this were so, is the quality of that evidence such that it supports an inference that a new candidate for world-savior, one who appears at some as-yet undetermined time in the future, will display the same characteristics? And perhaps a more basic question is this: how does it happen that a mere human, a man or woman no less impressionable and no less fallible than we humans all are, nevertheless comes to believe—and to believe with unshakeable self-confidence—that he or she was contacted by a supernatural power and entrusted with the task of proclaiming a new path of human salvation?
These issues will be addressed in an illustrated talk on March 16th at the First Baptist Church of Seattle. The speaker will be science writer Philip T. Nicholson, author of Meditation & Light Visions: A Neurological Analysis, and of a number of scholarly articles on religious mysticism. Nicholson also publishes a non-sectarian website,
www.religiousvisionsoflight.com, which features video animations of meditation-induced light visions along with descriptions excerpted from mystical texts.
Event at a Glance
Medical Writer and Independent Scholar
M.S.P.H., Harvard School of Public Health
J.D. Stanford University School of Law (Law & Psychiatry Program)
B.A., Princeton University (Honors in Philosophy)
Author of Meditation and Light Visions: A Neurological Analysis, 2010
Will speak on:
"The World's Next Savior: Does the Past Predict the Future?"
In the Parlor, Seattle First Baptist Church
1111 Harvard at Seneca
Sunday March 16, 1 p.m.
A box lunch will be served for $5 in the parlor after the morning church service, which runs from 11 to noon.
There is no charge for the presentation, but we need a head cound and a box lunch count.
Please call Neil at 206-232-2994
By Daniel Liechty
Of Recent Interest… is the major article published this month in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, “Ernest Becker at Simon Fraser University (1969-1974),” (JHP 54(1), pp. 66-112). The article was written by Jack Martin, BA, MEd, PhD, who is Burnaby Mountain Professor of Psychology at Simon Fraser University. This will be viewed for many years to come as a very important contribution to Becker scholarship, and is thus far the definitive narrative for those final years of Becker’s life.
The opening pages of the article present the background for Becker’s intellectual development in the years prior to the invitation to join the faculty at Simon Fraser. Here Martin relies heavily on established sources, but adds to our understanding of these sources through personal interviews with people who knew Becker during those years, especially psychiatrist Ron Leifer, Becker’s wife Marie Becker-Pos, and also a small group of personal friends and acquaintances who socialized with the Beckers in a non-professional capacity. The basic facts of Becker’s life during those years have been covered before, by Ron Leifer in his entry on Becker in the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, and by me in the opening chapter of my book, Transference and Transcendence, which is also the basis for the summary that appears on the EBF website. Martin enhances these basic facts with interview material such that we really start to get a “feel for the man” who was struggling through the issues of family background, creating his own way in the world, and the rocky issues Becker faced in trying to get his academic career off the ground.
By EBF Staff
Greg Bennick, from Seattle (humanitarian, speaker, EBF Advisory Board member, and co-producer of Flight From Death) spent the last year on the road worldwide speaking about Becker’s ideas and introducing audiences to the film. His venues were colleges, punk music venues, art spaces and even private homes. He spoke in over twenty countries, including the first-ever national speaking tour of Russia by an American spoken word artist.
For the tours, Greg had Flight From Death translated into a number of different languages, including Russian, and through the use of a live translator in predominantly non-English speaking countries, either showed the film or directly engaged audiences in question and answer sessions all over mainland Europe, Russia, Ukraine and Canada and Mexico as well. In 2014 Greg will be bringing the film and its ideas to Chile, Argentina and Brazil as well as a return trip to Russia.