Wednesday, May 29, 2013

'Faith Crisis' in Mormondom

Posted: 29 May 2013
Updated: 4 June 13

Mormon Pioneers circa 1847
Conquering their 'crisis in faith'

A thoughtful friend, former Mormon bishop and now a visiting professor at the Graduate Theological Union at the University of California at Berkeley, sent the following letter a few days ago:
 A group of friends and I are attempting to understand what is commonly referred to as the “faith crisis” in relation to the Mormon church. We have designed the following survey to help us gather personal narratives of people who have experienced or are currently experiencing a faith crisis.
As the survey notes, all responses are anonymous and no personally identifiable information will be captured in this survey. Simply put, we are looking for personal stories of people who have experienced or are experiencing a crisis of their Mormon faith. 
If you know anyone who fits this category, we would appreciate your forwarding this message and link to them. 
Thank you.
·                                 While we encourage you to express yourself in whatever manner you see fit, please consider addressing: 1) The type of faith you had prior to your loss-of-faith (e.g., fully active, semi-active, non-active). 2) The reason or reasons for your loss-of-faith. 3) How you felt and what you experienced as a result of your loss-of-faith. 4) How others (family, friends, ecclesiastical leaders) have responded to your faith crisis. 5) How you would describe your current belief/relationship with the LDS Church. 6) What might have prevented your faith crisis in the first place, and 7) what, if anything, might help rebuild your faith? 

Since I identify with this category and value my Mormon friend's initiative, I submitted something like the following:

Mine was not a crisis of faith; it was a crisis of trust in the Mormon ecclesiastical system in Salt Lake City, which 'crisis' began in San Diego in January 1965.
When I was excommunicated (for the second time) in June 1992, it confirmed to my sorrow that many general ecclesiastical authorities of the Mormon Church are still primarily concerned with preserving power to control the minds, hearts and behavior of those pledging allegiance to the system. Simply put: institutional conscience trumps individual conscience, despite public claims to the contrary. It illustrated for me the truth of a personal dream I had had (just before meeting with the local stake president) warning me of "a law bent" and promising "understanding", which launched my challenge of the institution's (i.e., that stake president's) 'understanding' of the 'law'. That reaction (vs response) in August 1965 led to my first excommunication in April 1966. 
Which 'law bent'? The primacy of individual conscience.
Despite this indictment, I believe the LDS (Mormon) Church is important internationally as a powerful, though not always wise, political force and Mormonism as an idea is a powerful, though not always just, awakening psycho-social voice. My current relationship with the institution is cool, since I am unwelcome to speak in their meetings, especially Fast and Testimony meetings.

The single, even simple, thing that could repair my trust would be a welcoming invitation from the local bishop to make a presentation before him and the ward council on the subject of dreams and dream work. (I'm working on this these days, along the lines of last year's Lenten Retreat for the local Evangelical Lutheran Church.) Should that simple (miraculous!) invitation ever happen, it would make me happy indeed! And, should it extend to the stake president and high council, so much the better.
PS. It has taken me a very long time to tell the behavioral difference between "reaction" and "response" or being responsive rather than reactionary. It takes the wisdom of age to tell the difference, yes? I think so.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Socrates, Sunfellow and Dillard

Posted: Memorial Day 2013

This article by friend Joseph Dillard appeared on David Sunfellow's NHNE Pulse site and is worth plagiarizing.


"Strange times are these in which we live when old and young are taught in falsehood's school. And the one man who dares to tell the truth (Socrates) is called at once a lunatic and fool." -- Plato (429-347 BC)
 Joseph Dillard comments on Plato
"Plato probably didn't realize that the perennial problem he was describing is a macro-cosmic out-picturing of an interior reality with which all men, if they wake up enough, must wrestle. As children we are brainwashed by the cultural assumptions of our family and society. This is inevitable, because culture has no choice but to pass what it has learned, true or not, helpful or not, down to us in the particular distorted forms that it assumes at that place and time. 
The one part of us that dares to tell the truth - our inner compass, as represented by our night time dreams, is called a lunatic and fool. Why? Because it is a direct threat to the agenda of the prevailing culture. This will not change until the agenda of the prevailing culture reflects the priorities of each man’s inner compass. For that to happen, children in families everywhere must be taught from the cradle to find, listen to, and follow their inner compass.”

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Remembering Dad on his 110th birthday

Posted: 15 May 2013
Updated: 16 May 13

(click on image to enlarge)

Nicholas N. Kovalenko at age 60
(self portrait)
(click on name for earlier photo)
I remember Dad with great fondness, even though I didn't always feel that way when he was alive. But his life has had the profoundest influence on mine.

The first memory that came to mind this morning, as I reflected on this date, was an experience in Dad's home town of Melitopol, Ukraine, in June 2007. I had just sung an old Slavonic chant С нами Бог  (God is with us) in the largest Russian Orthodox church in the city and then discovered that it was in this very church that he'd been baptized as an infant in 1903! With that realization I experienced a "rush", which meant to me that his influence was still with me.

The second memory was the remarkable event that launched my U.S. Army career during the last months of the Korean War in spring 1953, where I filled a quota of one for the month of April for the state of Arizona for the Army Language School to study Russian, my Dad's mother tongue.

The third memory was of the time I snapped out of a deep post doctoral depression the night before Dad's 61st birthday (May 14, 1964) and before learning that he had died that night. I had been in that depression since the previous January 4th. I puzzled over that strange coincidence for decades, believing then as I do now that his death marked the beginning of my own spiritual work.

Only a few weeks later (June 1964) I had an idea that affected my career that apparently had nothing to do with my professional field of training, but which I was convinced came from him.

In lieu of these and so many other synchronicities since then, it's hard not to think that there hasn't been some powerful over-arching intelligence at work associated with my dad guiding my life!

16 May 13
A fourth pivotal memory came to mind today, which was of an experience with Dad in June 1963, two weeks before I finished graduate school and was released from an extra-curricular LDS stake mission. It amounted to the only thing I could call knowing "of a certainty" during that two-year mission, which had been promised to me during the official setting-apart blessing by a member of the U of Utah stake presidency at the beginning of that mission. "You will know of a certainty what your work is before this mission is through", he declared. And I believed it.

To be continued...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Remembering Jack Houck, inventor of PK Party

Posted: Monday, 6 May 2013
Updated:  Wednesday, 8 May 13

I was sad to learn yesterday from his widow Jean that Jack had passed away on March 26, 2013. We had unfinished business to do on our RPK experiment.

I met Jack in the mid 1980s when we were introduced by the late physicist Bob Beck, whom I'd known from Eyring Research Institute (ERI) days in Provo, Utah in 1979, where Bob and I had been consultants on different projects. Unknown to me at the time Jack was one of the USAF referees of a solicited proposal for an idea that I had brought to ERI in spring 1978. Ironically this proposal inspired Jack to continue the proposal's ideas on his own nickle after learning that his enthusiastic endorsement was not sufficient to win funding. The proposal would eventually morph into the famous "PK Party" or spoon bending party.

Years later, after Dr. Beck introduced Jack and me, I was engineering manager for a Brunswick Defense subsidiary in Santa Ana, California, and Jack worked as a systems engineer for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in nearby Seal Beach. We would meet frequently for lunch to discuss the latest developments in esoteric research.

Bob and I would occasionally meet at Jack's home in Huntington Beach to share computer data files of weird stuff. Those were the days shortly after the Macintosh computer had come out. Jack had both a Macintosh and a PC at his place, which he would have to switch between as we shared various files and programs. I had a "portable" Macintosh that I could lug around proudly. Incompatibility between PC and Mac programs was an issue back then.

In one of our last telephone conversations a year or so ago Jack mentioned that of all the reports he'd seen describing his PK Party event, the best and most accurate was in Michael Crichton's 1988 best seller Travels. Here is that chapter called "Spoon Bending":
(click on images to enlarge)
Travels, pages 318-319

Travels, pages 320-321
Wednesday, 8 May 13
Another incident comes to mind, which is when he asked Dr. Bob Beck to monitor my brain waves when I sang. I had dragged Jack to see a visiting Indian Guru, called "Babaji", who was supposed to be able to make it rain inside a room. I had sung for Babaji, which prompted him to invite me to sing on tour with him in India. I resisted this proposal, but Jack now wanted to explore something about my singing voice. When Bob put the electrodes on my head to measure the EEG brain wavelengths emitted while I was singing a capella with eyes closed, Bob noticed that the wavelength emitted corresponded to that of a group of people that Bob had also measured in various parts of the world when they were in their power, like witch doctors, shamans or other kinds of aboriginal healers. It was 7.84 Hz, the "Schumann frequency"!

Jack's letter about one of the EEG sessions

Jack's paper about EEGs of various people...

To be continued....

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Remembering Penny

Posted: 25 March 2013
Updated: 5 May 2013

On Friday, 22 March 2013, Penny Houghteling, 87, passed away peacefully in a local hospice. She had become a dear friend and star of our dream Creative Deep Listening workshop/seminar project. We will miss her greatly. In the last few months she left several wonderful teaching dreams and moments.

Penny's last contribution to our dream seminar was an IDL interview with Laura, her deceased daughter, in a deeply moving and surprising experience, given the trauma of her daughter's death. It was as if Laura herself was in the room with us!

This was preceded by a "Transformative" dream that she had had last summer, about which she asked to do an IDL interview of a dream character she called "Mystical Painting". In this link, which IDL creator Joseph Dillard posted on his website (with her permission), her name was changed for the sake of privacy.

With such dream experiences now behind her, Penny passed on from us. Bless you, dear friend, wherever you are.

Saturday, May 5, 2013. Memorial services took place at the Los Alamos Unitarian Church, where Penny's son Warren and family attend. Pastor Bruce of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, where Penny attended, also participated in the services. My wife Birgitta, Penny's friend and seamstress, sang at the beginning and end of the service.

During the Quaker-like "speaking into the silence" period of the service, I felt moved to speak of Penny's Mystical Painting dream and mention her IDL interview of that dream character. Immediately after the service, because several family members and friends mentioned Penny's late daughter Laura during that Quaker-like period, I was privileged to share with her family Penny's subsequent IDL interview of her dream character Laura.