How God Changes Your Brain Symposium a Success

November 5, 2016

On October 29 a the sanctuary of St. Margaret’s was filled with people of diverse backgrounds and traditions all focused on understanding the answer to one question: how God changes our brains?  The answers came from Dr. Andrew Newberg, a “neurotheologian” who has pioneered the scientific study of neurological consequences of rituals, prayer, and meditation.
 
Over the day consisting of two keynote presentations and a panel featuring Newberg alongside The Rev. Mary Vano and Dr. Donnal Walter, the audience came to a greater and greater understanding of the powerful ways ritual, prayer, and meditation can alter the structures of the brain in positive ways.  As The Rev. Mary Vano later summarized it, the learning of the day was that “prayer is good for you.”
 
Dr. Newberg not only talked about the positive aspects of religious practices, but also looked at some of the powerful ways in which group inclusion can lead some to embrace extremism. 
 
In his fascinating and wide ranging lecture Dr. Newberg also discussed how the growing field of neurotheology can bridge the conversation between science and theology, by bringing both disciplines together in order to better grasp reality.
 
The ITSSM Guild hosted the event and was able to make it happen with the help of many volunteers.  Thanks are particularly owed to Jo Gibbons, Deb Cooper, Dwight Cowan, Susan Hiller, Sharon and Ronnie Beggs, Jay Bruno, Sharon and John Echols, Millie Lockwood, Elizabeth Connery, Al Eckert, Tom Strother, cJohn Keller, Richard McKay, Barbara Hoffman, Donnal Walter, Pam Smith, and Mary Logan.
 
A very special thanks is owed to Jan Thames and Skip Cochran who were instrumental in organizing and facilitating the event. 

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