Works of Love Newsletter
Make an Impact on the World
Thanks to your generosity over the years, this has been another extraordinary year for the Institute. Named by Sir John Templeton in 2001 to investigate themes suggested in his book entitled Pure Unlimited Love: An Eternal Creative Force and Blessing Taught by All Religions (2000), and founded as a non-profit public charity in Cleveland's University Circle (IRS Identification Number 34-1961143), we are dependent on annual donor outreach. Having known Sir John for two decades before his passing in 2008 we are boldly committed to his vision, which resonates closely with ideas on love in the world religions that I wrote my Sixth Form thesis on at St. Paul's School in New Hampshire. In the years that followed it is a vision supported in conversations with a young Steve Jobs at Reed College, with Nobel Prize Laureate Sir John Eccles and others at the University of Chicago, and eventually, with countless others including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Indeed, the Dalai Lama wrote to us on August 1, 2020, stating his appreciation for our "convergence of science and spirituality to benefit humanity" as uniquely focused on the great spiritual themes of "consciousness and interconnectedness."
The Institute was established 21 years ago in Cleveland with a team of 12 renowned research area consultants (aka "RACS") and six board members to create a research movement on kindness, compassion, altruism, spirituality, and yes, "pure unlimited love." At the time I was a full professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (1988-2008), with a research focus on caregivers and their love for "deeply forgetful people." In May of 2022 Johns Hopkins University Press published my most recent book on this topic, Dignity for Deeply Forgetful People: How Caregivers Can Meet the Challenges of Alzheimer's Disease. Joseph B. Martin, MD, Dean Emeritus, Harvard Medical School writes "In this serious and also uplifting book we can feel Post's passion for the 'dignity of deeply forgetful people,' learn to notice and appreciate their expressions of continuing self-identity, and include them in our moral vision of a shared humanity worthy of equal respect and care." The great Larry Dossey, MD, author of One Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters, adds "Stephen Post writes tenderly, lovingly, and wisely about those among us with failing mental faculties. His message reflects the view that we are conscious in spite of what our brain may be doing, and that it is human consciousness that is fundamental to our dignity, even if our cognitive strengths have weakened." It has been my feeling for decades that truly "nothing can separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:31).
The "who's who" list of researchers associated with the Institute, all working at the interface of spirituality and science, have gone on to produce more than 700 widely cited articles in the best peer-review journals. As President, I have also been very active. For example, my 2005 article "Altruism and Health: It's Good to Be Good," published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, has now been cited more than 1200 times and serves as a benchmark for the field. Two year later came my influential popular book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Happier, Healthier and Longer Life Through the Simple Act of Giving (Random House/Broadway Books, 2007). As Sir John always said to me, "Stephen, never forget that love heals." He also said "Be sure not just to study human love, which might be considered arrogant, but study the love that made humans."
For the past four years, while maintaining a leadership role at the Stony Brook University Renaissance School of Medicine as director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, I have been working hard on an eighth book on the theme of love, which will be available in early 2024. Each chapter in Give & Live Better: Eight Paths to Inner Peace, is a topic on which the Institute has funded research, each one endorsed by Sir John himself: 1. May you give and glow; 2. May you heal with kindness; 3. May you follow your Callings; 4. May you know the One Mind; 5. May you sense Nature as Sacred Gift; 6. May you raise kind children; 7. May you prosper with humility; 8. May you dignify the Spirit of Freedom. This may be one of my last books, so it has to be high impact in an American culture that needs a lot of healing. The distinguished poet Bill Caldwell is writing a brief poem to accompany each chapter.
Did you know that the Institute is formed by volunteers, with no one receiving salary support? It is strictly a labor of love. We all find "day jobs" that contribute to our theme. Matthew T. Lee, for example, our Institute Vice President, joined us in 2003, and went on to take the lead in a Templeton Foundation national survey on the American experience of spiritual love. He was the primary author of The Heart of Religion: Spiritual Empowerment, Benevolence, and the Experience of God's Love (Oxford University Press 2013). Matt rose to prominence and became Director of Empirical Research at the Human Flourishing Program in the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. His research, now at Baylor and Harvard, explores pathways to human flourishing, including through benevolent service to others and spirituality/religion.
Susan Wentz, MD (another original participant in the Institute and a close colleague at Case Medical School) and I just published an article in summer 2022 in the pre-eminent journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine entitled "Joining Humanity and Science: Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics in Medical Education." Thomas Jay Oord also an original Institute Consultant went on to be designated the world's fifth most influential living theologian. A theologian, philosopher, Methodist pastor, and scholar of multi-disciplinary studies, he has written or edited more than twenty-five books, directs a doctoral program and teaches around the globe. Tom is known for his contributions to research on love, science and religion.
The Institute co-convened a conference at Linacre College of Oxford University on May 6 and 7, 2022. As our invite letter to various distinguished Oxford scholars read, "We are immensely pleased to know that you will be contributing to the first of what we hope will be a series of annual seminars at Linacre College of Oxford University. The Ways and Power of Love Seminar at Linacre will bring together scholars and practitioners working in the area of altruistic love, spirituality, and social transformation. The 2023 conference will focus on the interwoven love for "God," neighbor, and nature in world religions.
To preserve its unique mission long-term, the Institute remains a free-standing and unaffiliated 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity. Again, we have no funded infrastructure and no one draws salary support. We do support great research, vigorous global dialogue, conferences, essay contests and book publications. As President, I have always earned my income by working as a medical school professor focusing on the closely aligned themes of empathy, compassion and kindness in the professional formation of physicians. The overlap has been perfect, as our Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics has received the most distinguished award in medical education, the national Alpha Omega Alpha award. Your Institute gifts are entirely dedicated to achieving our Institute mission.
Thank you in advance for your time and attention. Let us hear from you! We welcome your advice and ideas. Contact Dr. Post directly at StephenGPost@gmail.com or 216-926-9244 (cell).
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