For Mind and Soul
Editorials and Essays
Things to Ponder
On Falling in Love
Babies Listen From the Womb
In the past, doctors were only able to judge development indirectly by looking for physical movement in response to stimulation. But using a new technique they were able to detect a striking increase in brain activity, when music was played to babies in the womb.
A Little Music With Exercise Boosts Brain Power
Participants reported feeling better emotionally and mentally after working out regardless of whether or not they listened to music. But the improvement in verbal fluency after listening to music was more than double that of the non-music condition.
Addicted to Love
Have you ever wondered what fuels that flame when you fall in love?
Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions,
and Hurtful Acts
I do something that I should not have done, and this troubles me, because I'm not the kind of person who does that sort of thing. So, to salve this nagging complaint of the soul, I declare to myself that the act was right all along, and I confirm this by reinforcing it at the earliest possible opportunity.
How DNA Proves God Made All Creatures
The actual physical scientific evidence would say that the earliest creatures on Earth in fact had DNA with this kind of coding. The earliest cells all have the same kind of structure. So we went from no life on Earth to life that had this incredibly complex DNA that had coding in it. But just after Darwin, scientists had no inkling of this. So they weren’t too worried about their inability to explain the origin of life. They just assumed it was a simple globule of undifferentiated protoplasm. And of course, all that changed radically after 1953 with discoveries about the complexity and structure of DNA and other discoveries about proteins. I think we’re looking at a distinctive hallmark of intelligent activity. That’s simply the most logical thing to conclude.
A Walk Across the Universe
On this scale, the Milky Way Galaxy is about the size of a dime - one hundred billion stars in a whirling spiral. The next spiral, the Andromeda Galaxy, is another dime (well, maybe a nickel) about as far away as my footprint is long. The Milky Way under my heel, Andromeda under my toe. I take a step. I span galaxies. As I walk, galaxies flow under my feet. Fling dimes for a mile in every direction, a foot or so apart. Every dime is a galaxy of a hundred billion stars. Every star (perhaps) with planets.
Dividing 17 Mules
A Missouri farmer passed away and left 17 mules to his three sons. The instructions left in the will said that the oldest boy was to get one-half, the second oldest one-third, and the youngest one-ninth. The three sons, recognizing the difficulty of dividing 17 mules into these fractions, began to argue.
The Inner-Life of Animals
Their inability to see the obvious might be amusing if the consequences weren't so serious. Torturing rats or rabbits in scientific research wouldn't be so easy if you looked into their eyes and recognized a fellow being who experienced the same pain and fear you would feel.
Nelson Mandela's Lesson
I asked him another question. “When you were walking out of prison for the last time, didn’t you feel the hatred rise up in you again?” “Yes,” he said, “for a moment I did. Then I thought to myself, ’They have had me for 27 years. If I keep hating them, they will still have me.’ I wanted to be free, and so I let it go.”
Knowing History and Knowing Who We Are
Nobody lived in the past, if you stop to think about it. Jefferson, Adams, Washington — they didn’t walk around saying, “Isn’t this fascinating, living in the past?” They lived in the present just as we do. The difference was it was their present, not ours. And just as we don’t know how things are going to turn out for us, they didn’t either.
Gerald Ford at 90 Reflects on the Presidency
“I am still convinced that truth is the glue that holds government together not only our government, but civilization itself.” He cautions future presidents about general abuse of power and the dangers of over-reliance on staff. He maintains that staff ,members are not elected by the people and “the ramifications of their arrogance and abuse of power — particularly by secondary and lower level staff — can be and has been dangerous.“
Eudamonia, the Good Life
The first kind of happiness, the HollywooThe
modern medical term—the famous term, the
celebrity term, the superstar of psychological
monikers—is “acquired situational narcissism.” d,
smiley, giggly variety, is certainly a positive
emotion. But the second kind is eudaemonia; not
the propensity to giggle a lot; but an abiding
sense of flow, where time stops, you feel
completely at home, self-consciousness is blocked
and you're one with the music. The third form of
happiness is meaning, where you deploy your
unique strengths in the service of something
larger than you are.
Celebrity and Its Discontents
The modern medical term is “acquired situational
Trapped in their bubbles, celebrities experience
arrested development. They become an
adolescents, a developmental stage that is
non-age-specific. Nowadays in the celebrity
nuthouse, the inmates are running the asylum.
Top Reasons Why Marriages Struggle
Not understanding that real love is not just a
feeling, but is all about what we do for each other.
Couples lose sight of the fact that the head over
heals feeling they felt when they first got together
is not the kind of love that is going to take them
from "I do" to "happily ever after." A whole
different kind of love evolves which is based on
doing things for and with each other, not on what
I can get from the relationship.
Do Fish Feel Pain?
All the fundamental structures and modulation
processes necessary for the perception of pain are
present in fish.
Fish have 58 pain receptors around the mouth
and actually react at lower levels of pain
stimulation then humans, perhaps because their
skin is more easily damaged.
U.S. Teen-Agers Need More Rest, Researchers Say
American teen-agers are getting far less sleep
than they need, and their health, behavior and
academic performance are suffering as a result.
There's Just 1 Race of People, Say Experts: Human
Scientists say that race and skin color mean little
more than a good suntan. Or lack of one. Race
has nothing to do with science and everything to
do with society. But for many ethnic minorities, it
does not matter if race is cultural or scientific.
Most people still buy into the idea of race, and
many feel threatened by people who are different
The Aging of the Human Brain
“Somehow I have a confidence I didn’t have
before. I find that my brain makes leaps it didn’t
make so easily. I can hear my inner voice and
trust instincts and hunches in ways I didn’t used
Is Your Brain Male or Female?
The female brain is predominantly hard-wired for
empathy, and the male brain is predominantly
hard-wired for understanding and building
systems. Yet other individuals are equally strong
in their systemising and empathising. This is
called the "balanced brain."
Teens' Brains Lack in Ability for Sound Judgment
One of the last parts of the brain to mature is the
prefrontal cortex - the very part responsible for
self-control, judgment, emotional regulation,
organization and planning.
Inside the Teenage Brain
"If we were to compare the teenage brain to an
automobile, it's as if the gas pedal is to the floor,
and there are no brakes." The teen brain develops
from back to front. In other words, the part of the
brain that helps teens reason, plan ahead and
manage impulses - the prefrontal cortex - is one
of the last areas to mature, at around age 25.
Astronomers Spy 10 Billion Trillion Trillion-Carat Diamond
That's one followed by 34 zeros. If anyone's ever
promised you the sun, the moon and the stars,
tell 'em you'll settle for BPM 37093. This hunk of
celestial bling is an estimated 2,500 miles across.
Animals Called 'Bundles of Emotion'
Arguments that chickens and pigs and cows don't
experience fear and grief are no different from old
arguments that African slaves "don't feel pain like
white men," or that women weren't smart enough
The Four Modes of Marriage
"Institutional Marriage" existed for the welfare of
children and families, not primarily for the
personal happiness of the spouses.
"Psychological Marriage" emphasized the
emotional satisfactions of friendship, intimacy,
sexual satisfaction, and gender equality.
"Consumer Marriage" brought in a powerful form
of me-first individualism. People expected to be
treated lovingly and fairly by their spouses. For
the first time in human history, marriages could
be ended by one of the spouses saying, "It's not
working for me anymore." In "Modern Covenant
Marriage, "the well-being of your spouse and your
marriage is as important as your own well-being.
The Creative Person
is peculiarly gifted in seeing the gap between what
is and what could be (which means, of course,
that he/she has achieved a certain measure of
detatchment from what actually is)
The Limits of Power
This is the transcript of an actual radio
conversation between a U.S. naval vessel and
Canadian authorities off the coast of
The Captain Was Sober All Day
The first mate said, “But with that on my record, I
may have trouble ever getting a captain’s berth of
my own.” “I can’t help that,” the captain said
without remorse. “The statement is perfectly true,
and that is all that matters.
Blame Memory Lapses on Hard Work
Bone weary at times - feeling like your memory
isn't up to par? It could be you've had a hard
week at work and your cortisol is at flood tide.
Cortisol is a hormone that can interfere with
memory at times of high stress.
What the Experts Said
"That the automobile has practically reached the
limit of its development is suggested by the fact
that during the past year no improvements of a
radical nature have been introduced."
[Scientific American, Jan. 2, 1909]
Laughter Keeps Blood Flowing Through Arteries
Laughter seems to cause the inner lining of blood
vessels to relax or expand, increasing blood flow.
Mental stress causes the opposite — making them
constrict, thus reducing blood flow.
The Incompetent are Blissfully Self-assured
People who do things badly are usually supremely
confident of their abilities — more confident, in
fact, than people who do things well. The skills
required for competence are often the same skills
necessary to recognize competence in the first
Hounds Heal Hearts
Anxiety levels fell 24 percent and stress hormone
rates fell 17 percent. Pulmonary pressures
dropped 10 percent.
Findings: Some People More Sensitive to Pain
Pain that brings tears to one person's eyes may
be barely noticed by someone else, and that can
be a problem for doctors deciding on treatment.
Some people really do feel more pain than others.
Parental Job Description
Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an
embarrassment the next.
It's All So Ovibous
It deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a
wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist
and lsat ltteers are in the rghit pclae.
What Others Aren't Thinking About You
"People tend to overestimate the extent to which
their actions are noted by others," says Cornell
psychologist Thomas Gilovich.
One-Hour Life History
Writing a life history sounds like a monumental
task, but it can be done in an hour. It’s easy. It’s
even fun. Here is one way to begin:
Helping the Bereaved
This guide suggests the kinds of attitudes, words,
and acts which are truly helpful. The importance
of such helps can hardly be overstated.
On Losing a Pet
It was only a dog (cat, bird, etc.). What’s wrong
But a person often isn’t as intricate a part of your
daily life. Your grandmother wasn’t wagging her
tail when you came home, and she didn’t sleep
curled up on your bed. Often people are closer to
their pets than to many of their relatives. The
intensity of grief causes guilt and confusion, but
it’s actually quite logical.
A Quiz That Shows What Really Matters
The people who make a difference our lives are
not the ones with the most credentials, the most
money or the most awards. They are the ones
One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The
point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if
you try really hard you can always fit some more
things in it!" "No," the speaker replied, "that's not
Classical vs. Popular Music
Coming to classical music from popular music is
less of a leap than you might think. If you've
encountered a piece of classical music that you
loved, then you know more than you think you
A Provocative Prayer
Everyone was expecting the usual generalities,
but this is what they heard:
Now I Sit Me Down In School
If scripture now the class recites
It violates the Bill of Rights.
And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a federal matter now.
But, whatever the reason, his heart or his turban,
He stood facing U-ville, the part that was urban.
"They're doing their business," he snarled from his perch.
"They're raising their families! They're going to church!
They're leading the world, and their empire is thriving,
I MUST keep the S's and U's from surviving!"
Editorials and Essays
Happy Anniversary for Millions Never Born
Why is it so repugnant to accept that, knowing
more now, we may have been wrong in our initial
embrace of abortion?
Technology no longer permits us to look the other
way, to pretend that abortion does not end a life.
Feminism and the Family
After a generation or so of sexual license a culture
falls apart and implodes – cultures like the
Babylonians, the Greeks, the Persians. The
United States is following that pattern. We have
been conducting a generation-long social
experiment in America. For 30-40 years, we've
been saying that sex is recreation and
commitment is unnecessary.
Civilization on the Brink
Every civilization seems to itself to be
indestructible - even in the midst of
self-destruction. We will have thrown away many
of the very things that made our civilization so
dominant, so prosperous, so successful. For
instance, we have spent a generation trivializing
the family, debasing it and undermining it until it
doesn’t have as much practical value as a stock
Turning the Tables on Abortion
“Have an abortion,” the woman responded. “That
child would have a very poor quality of life.” “I
have a vested interest in your answer,” James
said. “The woman I described was my mother. I
was the fifth of six children born into poverty.
And, in case you’re interested, the quality of my
life is just fine!”
Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation
Doctors know that unborn children can feel a
touch within the womb and that they respond to
pain. Some unborn children do survive the
late-term abortions the Supreme Court has made
legal. Is there any question that those who don't
survive were living human beings before they
were killed? Either life is always and in all
circumstances sacred, or it is intrinsically of no
A worthy aspiration for most humans: To be like your own dog
Elvis is wholly and utterly devoted to me for one
reason and one reason only: because I'm me. OK,
and that and I can work a can opener. Dogs live
in the moment. Silly, happy, goofy grins that
capture that blissful, joyful essence of all that is
dog. If only we could all be content with so little.
A Loss for Words
As etymologists say, if enough people agree on
the wrong meaning of a word, eventually it
becomes the right meaning. That's how language
evolves. I'm just afraid that it's evolving in the
wrong direction - toward ambiguity, vagueness,
jargon. I'm like, whatever.
Don't Embellish the National Anthem
The national anthem shouldn't be treated like a
pop song, a rock song or a screaming gospel
showcase, a Broadway audition, or a grandstand
for vocal gymnastics.
The Paradox of Our Time
We have more to spend - but have less, we have
more leisure - but less fun, we have more
conveniences - but less time for each other, we
have more labor saving devices - but work longer
How About Tolerance For All?
One man, dressed in his church clothes, saw the
insults and desecrations, and grabbed the piece of
clothing. To protect it. He was charged with
robbery and taken to jail.
The businessman was red with rage and shouted
at the fisherman, "Don't you understand that you
can become so rich that you will never have to
work for your living again! You can spend all the
rest of your days sitting on this beach, looking at
the sunset. You won't have a care in the world!"
The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said,
"And what do you think I'm doing right now?"
The Love Test
A little story with a wonderful twist. The true
nature of a heart is seen in its response to the
Oh, what unhappy twist of fate
Has brought you homeless to my gate?
The gate where once another stood
To beg for shelter, warmth, and food
For from that day I ceased to be
The master of my destiny.
You never can tell what type of impact you may
make on another's life by your actions or lack of
A Christmas Challenge
If you can do these things, then you can keep
Christmas. And if you can keep Christmas for a
day, why not always?
And You Have the Nerve to Call Me Colored!
When you're born, you're pink,
When you grow up, you're white,
When you're sick, you're green,
When you go out in the sun, you go red,
When you're cold, you go blue,
When you die, you'll be purple,
And you have the nerve to call me colored!
We were very polite, this stranger and I
as we went on our way and said good-bye.
But at home a different story is told, of
how we treat our loved ones, young and old.
What Music Is All About
At Julliard, kids are hypercritical of each other and
very competitive. The teachers expect, and in
most cases get, technical perfection. But this
wasn't about that. I've never seen a more
appreciative audience, and I've never understood
so fully what it means to communicate music to
Making Music With What You Have Left
He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised
his bow to quiet us, and then he said, not
boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone,
"You know, sometimes it is the artist's task to find
out how much music you can still make with what
you have left."
Things to Ponder
On the Gift of Sight
Have you ever read Helen Keller's comment on a
girl who had just taken a walk in the woods, who
in answer to Helen's question, "What did you
observe?" replied, "Nothing in particular".
On Death, the Great Equalizer
When I see kings lying by those who deposed
them, when I consider rival wits placed side by
side, or the men that divided the world with their
contests and disputes, I reflect with sorrow and
astonishment on the little competitions, factions,
and debates of mankind.
On Extremist Positions
The problems of real life are gray, not black and
white. They are matters of judgment and degree,
the kinds of things that are difficult to understand
and don't lend themselves to easy solutions. The
hard core communist and the hard core John
Bircher are peas in a pod. Both are reactionaries.
On a Life of Action
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in
the arena, whose face is marred by dust and
sweat and blood so that his place shall never be
with those cold and timid souls who know neither
victory nor defeat.
On Counter-Culture Parenting
Once the chorus of cultural values was full of
ministers, teachers, neighbors, leaders. Now the
messengers are violent cartoon characters,
rappers, and celebrities selling sneakers.
On Generous People
How delightful is the company of generous
people, who overlook trifles and keep their minds
fixed on whatever is good and posit them. People
of small caliber are always carping.
On the Living of History
Nobody ever lived in the past, only in the present.
And just like us, they didn’t know how it would all
Inexperience is a quality of the human condition.
It wasn’t the soldiers who changed. It was the
leader. A great military leader imposes his will on
his enemy, and makes his own army a willing
extension of himself.
On Summer Time
Time in fact is the whole point and purpose of
summer. Time by the armful, time overflowing,
the way it was when we were younger.
On Our Deepest Fear
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond
On University Presidents
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond
On the Babies of 1809
We may well ask which of the battles of 1809
mattered more than the babies of 1809.