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NAMI FaithNet Newsletter: April 20, 2007

In this issue:

  • Virginia Tech Tragedy
  • Mental Illness and Easter
  • Book Recommendation: Brain Bondage
  • Religious Belief and the Brain

Virginia Tech Tragedy

NAMI extends its sympathy to all the families who have lost loved ones in the terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech.

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine is asking that today, Friday April 20th, be a day of mourning which would include persons taking time for prayer and reflection, as is appropriate in their traditions.

In the day after the shootings, the Washington Post and Newsweek asked a panel of prominent leaders from a variety of faith traditions to respond to the question "How does your faith tradition explain (and respond to) senseless tragedies such as the Virginia Tech shootings?" Read their responses online.

NAMI is continuing to disseminate responses and resources related to this tragedy. Read the latest from NAMI...

Mental Illness and Easter

Like many Christians, in the days leading up to Easter earlier this month, Rev. Connie Clark was contemplating the meaning of rebirth in her life.

Clark, an Episcopal priest and chaplain in Wyoming, says she witnesses the Easter pattern of suffering and rebirth in the people with serious mental illness with whom she works.

"They struggle, they work, they endure and they continue to hope. As a chaplain serving such people, I am struck daily by the depths of their faith and their willingness to try again," writes Clark in a column for The Salt Lake Tribune.

Clark also writes about the ways that society contributes to suffering, as well as new life, in people with mental illness.

Read Rev. Clark's column

Brain Bondage

NAMI FaithNet founder Gunnar Christiansen, M.D., recommends Brain Bondage, a book by Florida lawyer Angela Vickers, that discusses the important roles of six professions--media, faith, education, legal, and medical and non-medical mental health providers--in bringing about an end to stigma and discrimination and  promoting mental wellness and justice.

Vickers lives with bipolar disorder and is a person of faith, who helped establish the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery & Understanding. She has worked to educate lawyers and judges about mental illness and  to include mental illness in school curricula for grades K to 12. For more information about the book, see

Religious Belief and the Brain

What roles does the brain play in religious belief and spirituality? What can brain scans reveal about the effects of prayer and meditation? Are we hard-wired to believe in God?

These are some of the questions being studied in a new field called "neurotheology" -- using the latest science about the brain and the techniques of neuroimaging to study the biological roots and effects of religion.

Read more about this emerging field of study in a recent article from .

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