The pleasures and dangers of religion


A new study suggests that burning incense may cause cancer, Reuters reports. But the study focuses more on home incense, common in Asian cultures, rather than at church, though I suppose that priests might be around incense enough to worry.

Earlier this year, researchers said incense might be a mind-altering substance. In the study mice remained calm in high-stress situations after inhaling some incense, Reuters reported. I always thought that relaxed feeling I got was just being in church! Actually, I doubt the concentration of incense in a big church is high enough to alter anybody’s mind, let along cause cancer…unless you go to this church (thanks to the Shrine of the Holy Whapping blog):


Even if it is mind-altering, is that so bad? Reuters also reported in another study that at John Hopkins University that most people taking mushrooms have mystical and spiritual experiences. Even a year later most rated it as one of the five most personally meaningful and one of the five most spiritual experiences of their lives. Those who had bad experiences weren’t scarred for life either. Though supervision is key, the results suggest mushrooms could help anxious and depressed patients.

So do we bring on the incense (and mushrooms) or not?