RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Monday, March 31, 2014

New age hooey, courtesy of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln has a 'Wellness Program'. I have no problem with 'Wellness Programs', as long as they encourage people not to smoke or drink to excess, and to get exercise and eat properly. I annually fill out their little Wellness Survey, even though it's mostly just to get the discounted prescriptions they offer as a reward. The survey itself tells me nothing I don't already know. I diligently count calories and have a spiffy new Basis activity monitor. (OK, it's mostly a cool toy, but I do try to use it to make sure I'm getting adequate exercise, not sitting for too long, etc.) Feedback is good.

However, as happens to many initially well-intentioned ideas, UNL's Wellness Program has developed mission creep, and is now metastasizing dangerously close to the wall of separation of church and state. Here's their 'What is Wellness' page.

UNL utilizes a 7-element model of wellness including emotional, environmental, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual dimensions. This wellness model has been an internationally accepted model for over 10 years. It was chosen by the UNL Chancellor's Committee on Wellness over other models because of the inclusion of intellectual and environmental elements; elements we feel are important in a university setting.
Uh, huh. The mission ain't just creeping, it's gotten up and is settling into a moderate gallop. So let's look at some of their 'elements'

: Are you engaged in the process of Spiritual Wellness?

  1. Do I make time for relaxation in my day?
  2. Do I make time for meditation and/or prayer?
  3. Do my values guide my decisions and actions?
  4. Am I accepting of the views of others?
Uh, that's a no on number 2. That's because I'm an atheist, and when I tried 'meditation', I found it a pointless wage of time. The page disapproves.
If you answered "No" to any of the questions, it may indicate an area where you need to improve the state of your spiritual wellness.
Of course, a state university should not be pushing prayer, even in an 'and/or'.

Explaining their little symbol for spiritual wellness

Solar symbols can have meaning in astrology, religion, mythology, mysticism, and divination.
...or translated into the language of reality 'hooey, hooey, hooey, hooey, and hooey', and plagiarized hooey at that. Oh dear. Am I being unaccepting of the views of others? One more area I may need to 'improve my state of spiritual wellness!

Examples of 'Spiritual Wellness' activities

  • Meditation; prayer
  • Religious affiliation
  • Explore and enjoy the flora & fauna of a wilderness area.
  • Watch a sunrise or sunset
  • Exercise
  • Freedom
  • Outdoor act
I'm not sure how freedom is in any way a commensurate with 'religious affiliation'. Moreover, UNL should not be encouraging religious affiliation, or prayer.

The Spiritual Wellness Inventory below can be used to thoughtfully reflect upon your spiritual wellness.

  1. I am willing to forgive myself and others.
  2. I have a sense of belonging, meaning and purpose in my life.
  3. I have a belief system (e.g., spiritual, atheist, religious).
  4. I participate in regular spiritual activities with people who share my beliefs, and I am open to hearing about other's beliefs.
  5. I accept my limitations without embarrassment or apology.
  6. I keep the purpose of my life clearly in mind and let it guide my decision-making.
  7. I freely give to others.
  8. I am comfortable about knowing things without knowing precisely how I know them (intuition).
  9. I allow others the freedom to believe what they want without pressuring them to accept my beliefs.
  10. I look for and work toward balance.
  11. I continually explore personal beliefs, values and priorities.
  12. Principles, ethics and morals provide guides for my life.
Most of this is vapid new-agey crap, but 3 is stupid (atheism is not a belief system), and 4 is most certainly an endorsement of organized religion.

It goes on. Recycling is a form of 'environmental wellness', as is 'conserving water'. I don't just conserve water, by the way, I'm pretty sure, by metabolizing food, I actually increase the net amount of water in the world. I can write you a chemical equation for it, even!

The morons with too much time on their hands who wrote this could improve their 'libertarian wellness' by avoiding pushing their personal belief systems as university policy. Maybe I'll offer to create a page on that.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I realize this blog post is a bit old, but I came across it in my own musings about "spiritual wellness" and not holding to any specific organized religion or worldview. I hesitate to say atheist, but I recently came away from Christianity and I'm just on the road to figuring out what I think, who I am, what I believe about the world, etc. I am in a health and wellness program (don't worry, it isn't New Age crap, it's actually more focused on health and disease prevention than anything) and I hear the 7 dimensions very often. I've been wondering whether a person can be at optimal health, assuming 6/7 of the dimensions are fulfilled, if you are an atheist or agnostic. It seems a bit outdated to believe that someone who doesn't have (a) god can't be happy or healthy. I also hesitate to call myself or those things you mentioned "spiritual" - they seem to be fixed in the religious world and that's why it all ties into "spirituality." For example, ethics, seeking purpose, forgiving others, and being a giving person are not exclusive to "religious people." Is it more a matter of people redefining spirituality and removing the notion that it pertains only to the religious than anything else? It doesn't necessarily bother me that people may say I'm not spiritually fulfilled or whatever, but it's interesting that there is still a false dichotomy.