• human being is a dynamic complex of myriad interactions within the individual, between intimates, among communities, and formed by the world by arising according to the mathematical theory of Emergence. This happens because of the enormous number of connections between neurons in the brain and through the whole body.
  • Each human follows the rules of all life: beginning from pre-existing forms, rising to a climax/blooming, falling into disfunction and then ceasing.
  • Every former stage of evolution — plus remnants of some that no longer exist — remains present and operative in the most recent versions.
  • The body of a human being entangles both flesh and mind and bounds it with skin, except for passing the world through the GI tract and the lungs.
  • Each human body extends itself through the sensory system which is in electrochemical code that must be translated by the brain. This makes a human a part of a community with a culture and the world at large.
  • This process seems to be related to the six layers that enwrap the cerebrum and possibly the dialogue between the two specializing halves of the brain. We know this because humans are the only ones with six layers. Other mammals have only the first few bottom layers.
  • The most recently evolved part of the brain is consciousness and self-awareness. This is evidently located in the prefrontal lobe of the brain along with “humanities”, capacities in art, morality, logic, and empathy.
  • It’s possible that the glimpses of transcendent intensity that come arbitrarily or sometimes after preparation are a new and developing capacity of humans. Only some people seem to claim these moments and some people find them negative and terrifying. There are accounts in writing over the millennia, so “recent” is relative to the existence of humans, maybe after the development of the prefrontal cortex.
  • Since one of the crucial tasks of the brain is to organize systems/networks with assigned tasks like waking-up/going-to-sleep, or listening or navigating the six directions, our functions we call “focus” or “paying attention” are related to moving the brain’s energizing of the right network. This is a crucial skill that develops lifelong. It can be overwhelmed. “Education” in the sense of coaching can help.
  • The present task of the study of humans in psych and anthro is to reconcile observations, logical systems like that of Freud, and the evidence from surgery and lesions — all basically constructs — with what research with highly technical evidence shows us with instruments. It is possible that everything we have thought of as mysteriously mental or even virtual to the point of being supernatural is simply the result of the brain, perhaps at a quantum level we can’t perceive. The other scientific task is reconciling Newtonian and Quantum mechanics.
  • Victor Turner’s idea of going over a threshold to a privileged space and time (Liminal) describes a way to change the brain’s system focus to a system about being mentally plastic and open to relationship with others. It is related to what Merleau-Ponty and Susanne Langer called “feeling.” That is, crudely put, it helps a person “feel” meaning. The threshold is sensory. My piece called “The Bone Chalice” is a pursuit of ceremonies and liturgies that include the sensory trippers of shift.
  • Understanding this brain shift and how to support it is crucial in our time of needing to reconcile many cultural methods developed in other ecosystems, since each eco-system is what supports “religious” liturgies and what has been made sacred. Robert Schreiter’s attention to the deep meanings underlying human feeling, thought out to help missionaries, is a key to doing this. Simply assembling artifacts or quoting old ceremonies will not do the work of penetrating understanding.
  • Sacredness and taboos are matters of feeling anchored in the community, not concrete nor present in the nonhuman world but located in the “feelings” of humans.



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Mary Strachan Scriver

Mary Strachan Scriver


Born in Portland when all was calm just before WWII. Educated formally at NU and U of Chicago Div School. Clergy for ten years. Always happy on high prairie.