As I kid, I was scared of monsters. Specifically, the Star Trek Salt-Vampire and Hans Christian Anderson’s Death, sitting on the Emperor’s chest. (I slept on my side for years after reading “The Nightingale.” Death couldn’t get you, I reasoned, if you declined him a seat.) But I was never afraid of the monsters in Where the Wild Things Are, the best-known book by Maurice Sendak, who diedonTuesday.
I have found myself dreading Facebook lately. With the general election beginning to churn, the competing posts are out: “Evidence of Obama’s socialist conspiracy!” “Republicans plan to inspect every woman’s womb!” Some are rather scary while others I quietly cheer; still others simply draw me into grief over how little Jesus seems apparent in any of it.
As a teenager I occasionally had moments of spontaneous helpfulness. I’d wake up and say to myself, “Today I am going to clean the kitchen for Mom.” Deeply satisfied with my initiative, I would spend the day soaking in the satisfaction of being a wonderful son. Then I’d return home from school and my mother would greet me, ask how my day had gone and tell me she needed me to clean the kitchen.
A study of HIV-positive men and women showed that those who engaged in spiritual practices had a two to four times greater chance of survival than those who didn’t. The researchers began interviewing people at the mid-stage of their disease. The researchers asked participants whether they prayed, meditated, went to religious services, were grateful to God for what they had, or believed that God could forgive them for wrongdoing. The findings showed that the way people focus on the meaning of life and relate to God can affect health, even in the case of HIV. Roughly one-fifth of the participants engaged in “positive spiritual reframing” of their disease, seeing it as a way God was using them, for example. These people had a survival rate four times greater than that of the others (Atlantic, May 6).