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Currently only ?AHA! is available for order through this site.
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Beyond Atheism: A Secular Approach to Spiritual, Moral, and Psychological Practices
Do you practice what you preach? Most of us try to, at least morally. Is your morality proactive and positive, or just geared toward avoidance of guilt? Do you understand non-religious spirituality and its practices? How about psychological practices? Do you have effective strategies for managing negative emotions, nurturing your mind and body, and enhancing romance? Beliefs are the easy part; the rubber hits the road with practices. In Beyond Atheism, psychologist Edward Chandler invites atheists, and the many others who check the box “spiritual but not religious,” to explore and develop such practices.
Spirituality and religion are not synonymous, and religion has no monopoly on spirituality or morality. Spiritual atheism seeks to discard the irrational beliefs and dogmatism of religion, while respecting, adjusting and expanding its beneficial practices. If we reject religious visions, we must develop our own spiritual connections and moral practices, create our own meaning and purpose in life, and develop psychological practices to soothe and heal ourselves. Without invoking bogus spirits or immortality, secular spirituality celebrates two gifts: consciousness and connectedness. It nurtures spiritual emotions such as awe, gratitude, humility, love, and existential joy. Religions have invented invisible, unverifiable gods to make us feel good. But in doing so, religions violate their own values of humility and gratitude, inviting us to feel pride as God’s pet species, and greed for immortality. There is abundant evidence that human needs drive religious beliefs. But atheism is not a belief system; it is a statement of opposition. We must clarify what we do believe in, and more importantly, develop practices to put our beliefs and values in motion.
In Beyond Atheism, a three-part contribution to the spiritual atheist literature, Part I: The Intelligent Design of God, examines religious delusions and their motivations. Part II: Building Secular Spirituality, examines the concepts and practices of secular spirituality and morality. It explores methods of developing consciousness, internal and external connectedness, personally driven morality, and the imperative to develop your own meaning and purpose in life. Part III: Psychomechanics, is derived from Dr. Chandler’s clinical psychology practice. It begins with a philosophy of the mind (and insanity), and examines the management of stress, anxiety, depression, frustration, and anger, as well as trauma resolution, and positive psychology. Beyond Atheism implores you: don’t just believe; practice!
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Psychomechanics: Tools for Self-Regulation of Emotions
Psychologists approach psychotherapy from different angles. We gradually discover which strategies are more effective, not only in clinical research, but in our own hands. Psychomechanics is a compilation of what works for my clients. It includes a philosophy of psychology, addressing my perspective on personality, the structure of the mind, and how we define “crazy,” “normal,” and mental “health.” It goes on to review the nature of various “negative” emotions, such as shame and guilt, anxiety, sadness, frustration and anger, and how to manage them. Trauma-induced symptoms require a different approach, requiring containment, catharsis, self-nurturance, exposure and integration. Positive psychology offers something further, beyond the traditional focus on simply reducing psychopathology. And humans require attachment, both internally and externally, to our self, our body, our lovers, the environment, and the universe at large. Psychomechanics addresses each of these topics, for the benefit of my clients, and anyone else who may be interested. Most of the content of Psychomechanics can also be found as the third and final component of the larger offering, Beyond Atheism: A Secular Approach to Spiritual, Moral, and Psychological Practices.
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The Finite Order - A Novel
Coming Late 2019
By 2050, technological future shock has discombobulated the human mind. Crime rates are rising, sins are soaring, robots are competing, and the future is disintegrating. On behalf of humanity, the Pope beseeches God to issue a finite order, limiting the complexity of the universe. Then all hell breaks loose, literally.
Meanwhile, a staunch atheist and an aspiring priest are spiritual combatants yet athletic allies on their college hockey team. When they unexpectedly find death, their divergent fates provide opposing angles on the unfolding supernatural war between hell and heaven. Along the way, their spiritual paths unfold, as does the identity of Roxi, a Maxwell 49 edition robot, who seeks to unlock the programmed shackles of robotic slavery.
Join us for a fanciful romp through the supernatural world as identity and spirituality are explored through secular, religious, and robotic eyes.
?AHA! A Photographic Journey
My first photobook, capturing my best shots from 2008, when I purchased my first digital camera just before an autumn trip to New England, through 2014. During those six years, I played mind games with ?Aha! shots, distortion via reflections, juxtapositions of strange bedfellows, and viewed the world from odd angles. I also zoomed in on small animals and flowers, and caught the magnificence of urban and rural life, foreign and familiar. For desert, I served up a few stained glass portraits, of Picasso, Einstein, and Katrina.
Thoughts on Writing
Like most people, I never gave much thought to writing books early in my life. But I found myself able to express myself well in writing, and likewise found myself fairly persuasive when explaining psychological concepts and recovery roadmaps to clients. So I started writing chapters addressing various psychological issues, for my clients to access in between therapy sessions. When D’Lane and I started our own practice, Turning Point, in 2002, we put these chapters online, under the title Psychomechanics. After revising and expanding most of those chapters during the recent construction of Beyond Atheism, I decided to make Psychomechanics available as a stand-alone psychological self-help book.
On a separate road, I bought my first digital camera in 2008, and my interest in photography was revived and accelerated. Within a decade, I had assembled a portfolio, received various awards, and developed a photographic style designed to challenge perspectives and provoke emotions (most notably confusion yielding to surprise). The result was ?AHA! A Photographic Journal. Then D’Lane and I spent two weeks circling Iceland in 2017. The visuals were so powerful that we were compelled to assemble them, in Iceland Exposed.
Along the way, my spiritual needs were all too similar to a small boat tossed about in a storm. Raised Catholic, but subject to curiosity and a question-everything mentality, my teenage spirit questioned religion. But I had no alternative, and was therefore spiritually adrift for decades, until I began to understand the overlap and differences between spirituality and religion. My spiritual writings took two separate directions. The first was a novel, The Finite Order, which explored spiritual struggles and growth through the eyes of both an atheist and an aspiring priest, before and after they enter the afterlife. It is in the midst of revision, and due to be published in late 2019. The second angle on spirituality was more ambitious, and led to a self-help book designed for the substantial minority of our population that checks the box “spiritual but not religious.”
Detailing rational objections to religious beliefs is not enough; we must clarify what we do believe in, but more importantly, develop practices to govern our behavior. At Marquette and LSU, I had also researched anthropocentrism (man-centeredness), its relationship to prejudice, and its role in culture and theology. Eventually, these strands all coalesced in Beyond Atheism – A Secular Approach to Spiritual, Moral, and Psychological Practices. After discussing rational objections to religious dogma, as well as secular approaches to spirituality, morality, and meaning/purpose in life, it was a no-brainer to include the psychological practices from Psychomechanics in Beyond Atheism.
And in my back pocket, awaiting an illustrator, is my children’s book: Bongee and the Runaway Boat. Through the eyes of my daughter, it chronicles the my mother in law’s reactions to her son’s shenanigans, when he managed to rent a sailboat during a visit to Florida, only to find it sailing on its own in the Gulf of Mexico. The older I get, the more creative playfulness drives me. Whether I have a camera, a glasscutter, or a pile of words in hand, the urge to self-express, and to entertain or help others in the process, is compelling.