Wednesday, April 22, 2009

(1) The Meme

Chapter Seven. THE MEME

Alas, I only had a one-year sabbatical at Edinburgh, hence I was
limited mainly to my scientific study of prayer. I would have liked
to have delved into the OBE and the NDE--and even into the
research underway on the topic of reincarnation--but it simply
was not possible during the short span of time I had in Scotland.
As for the peak experience, that special cosmic vision, it still
remained a question on my back-burner.

However, having winged my way back to Southern California, I
spent the remaining few years I needed to retire from Claremont
working-up one more book in which I blended these scientific
studies on prayer with theological perspectives. Finally, at last,
my days at Claremont's School of Religion came to an end. I was
now a professor emeritus, if you will.

Still young-ish, I had decided that I wasn't quite ready for that
endless game of golf so oft touted when one retires! I still loved
pursuing the Mind, how it might be influenced by the Spirit,
actually how it might work in tandem with the Logos-Pneuma.

Happily a new field of inquiry crept-up on me: Memetics. Basically
a "meme" is a unit of a cultural transmission of thought that evolves
via ideas, symbols, or practices--and it is transmitted through a
variety of ways, such as gestures, speech, rituals, etc. The meme
was first proposed by Richard Dawkins, a zoologist at Oxford; and,
interestingly, nearly simultaneously, it was noticed by E.O. Wilson,
the famed socio-biologist at Harvard. Both saw the mental meme
as somewhat analogous to the biological gene.

I easily recognized that the meme could be related to our steadily
evolving religious concepts about God, about the work of the Spirit
in the world, about our relationship(s) with such, and how all this,
altogether, might connect with our developing cultures and
consequent civilizations.

Consequently I designed a research plan entitled "The Majestic
Meme," in which I would attempt to work through how God might
be the greatest of all memes! Memetics and Theology, integrated
together, might result in a new systems model wherein the blending
of older theological models might result in a new higher model of

I wasn't sure my research plan, which was no more than a
hypothesis, would even be considered--but, I dared to submit
my plan to All Souls College, at Oxford. All Souls was/is mainly
a research college, consisting of different grades of "Fellows."
I decided to apply for a Visiting Fellow position, which All Souls
financially endows for one year.

Much to my amazement, I was accepted and arrived at All Souls
just a few months after I had retired from Claremont. So, here I
was--back at the university of my undergraduate days. All Souls
was just off Oxford's High Street, not too far from Queens College
(my alma mater).

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