Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Lies Ahead?

     As some of you may know my day job is that of a clinical psychologist. I have already been contacted today by a number of people from all over the world in which they are expressing their concerns and fears about what lies ahead for America and the world. For quite a while I have been amazed at seeing people repeatedly vote against their own selfish best interests. I know I do not fully understand the phenomena.
     As a therapist it has been my experience that people do not call to make an appointment because it is a good idea. There are perhaps three smokers somewhere in the world who don't know that smoking causes cancer. All the remaining millions of smokers do so even though they are causing themselves harm. It has been my experience that people do not call me to talk because they have heard that I am an interesting person to speak to. They do not call me because they are in a lot of pain. Most people are walking around with their own reservoir of pain. People call me when both their level of pain and their level of desperation exceed their capacity to endure. Such a moment will be experienced as a horror for both the individual and those that love him. While this is true it is also true that these are perhaps the only conditions under which there is an opportunity for change. I am not yet sure that most Americans are at this point at this time. It does appear that the coming months and perhaps years may bring us to that point. Since I believe it is an essential moment for us to get to I pray that it happens sooner rather than later and that whatever takes place between now and then does not destroy those aspects of our society that function for the greater good of all. I know that this too shall pass.
     It is perhaps now our task to seek out that place of goodness that resides in all of us rather than to focus on our need to emphasize differences and demonize the other.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Rev Ken

On 5/22 had had the good fortune to attend a Sunday service at Crathie Kirk Church. This is a very small church in Ballatar, Scotland. The service was led by Reverend Kenneth Mackenzie who is referred to as "Rev. Ken" by the members of the congregation. I met Rev. Ken the evening before as he attended a charity concert in which my wife was performing. He was friendly, talkative, and very much alive. This meeting gave me no indication as to what was in store at the service.
     Rev. Ken started the service by talking about numbers. He stated that the numbers one and two weren't really numbers at all. It was only with three that numbers started to have meaning. He spoke about how three was the beginning of diversity. He then spoke about the mystery of the trinity. He emphasized that this mystery could not be fully known. It could only be experienced. He then reemphasized the necessity of diversity. Diversity of experience, interpretation and people. He stated that it is only through such uncertainty, diversity, and necessity of experience could the trinity begin to be understood. He then spoke about the necessity of being of service to others as that was how the message of Christ could best be kept alive.
     So here sat this aging Hinjew in a Church of Scotland service with tears of gratitude in his eyes. The most difficult aspect of living in Nashville for me has been my introduction into a definition of "being a Christian" that horrifies me at best. In Nashville I've experienced a doctrine of absolute certainty. A doctrine that separates, excludes, demeans, diminishes, and causes so much needless suffering in the name of Christ. I cannot tell you how many clients I have here that are tortured by guilt and shame as a result of their religious experience. Last year a female Pastor asked a State Senate Committee to defeat a bill that would have expanded healthcare to the poorest people in Tennessee. She stated, "...let the people know that our (healthcare) coverage is the same as with Moses and the children of Israel when they went through the wilderness with only the divine providence of almighty God", (i.e. none). The legislators did their "Christian duty" and defeated the bill. Just last month that same legislature passed a totally unnecessary bill allowing counselors to refuse to see a potential client if that client's concerns went against their own religious beliefs.
     At the end of the service I had an opportunity to talk more with Rev. Ken. I asked him just how much of a weirdo he was within his church and he assured me that rather than being a weirdo he was quite mainstream. I then shared a bit of what is going on in Tennessee and told him how much it saddened me and scared the shit out of me. His immediate response was, "Amen."

Sunday, January 24, 2016

How Obscene

     I recently watched the movie "Spotlight." The movie is about the Boston Globe team that did an expose about the sexual abuse of children within The Catholic Church. As a sexual abuse survivor I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to view the entire movie. The movie is very well done and I had no difficulty with any evoked strong emotion except for the normal shock, horror and repulsion, that any human would have to the content. As the movie ended I was thankful that I was not overly upset. But my night was not over.
     I rarely watch the final credits of any movie. As the final scene faded to black they posted a sentence that stated that their research had revealed that similar events (to Boston) had occurred in the following locations... As I watched row after row, page after page unfold I got quite nauseous. I was aghast at the numbers.
     Every week our "great guardians of morality" seek to terminate funding for Planned Parenthood supposedly because one doctor misspoke about "selling fetal tissue." Regardless that subsequent investigation has clearly shown that Planned Parenthood is not in the business of selling body parts they remain steadfast in their moral indignation. The volume of their hypocrisy is amplified by their silence and inaction with The Church. 
     As I listen to the Republican contenders for the presidential nomination try to outdo each other with their war talk and repulsion for outsiders I remain totally dumbfounded that they claim to speak for God and morality. Yes, let's turn the desert into glass and carpet bomb everyone in the area. Yes, let's save a few dollars in Michigan by providing lead tainted water.  Yes, let's try to convince people that "big government and over regulation" are the problems.    

Friday, January 22, 2016

Republican Weather Reports

     One of the things that surprised me the most when I moved to Nashville from New Jersey was they way that people reacted to the weather. People seemed to freak out over the possibility of some form of precipitation. Unfortunately the presence of that precipitation highlighted the reality that the general population probably got their driver's licenses on the internet.
     Earlier this week there was a light dusting of snow in the forecast and that got all the juices going in the local TV stations. There were dire warnings about everything. The next day I watched a bit of the latest Republican debate and I was shocked to realize that it sounded exactly like the local weather forecasts. The style, tone, and even the words used all sounded the same.
     Modern day Republicans prey on fear, mistrust, and danger. They thrive on ignorance and prejudice. Of course there are times when people do need to be warned about real dangers both in weather and world events. But I would much rather live in a world that functions to engender understanding and compassion rather than hatred and mistrust.