Monday, August 31, 2009


There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs when a person (not unlike myself) becomes quite convinced of the existence of God and beyond that of His intimate presence within us, and it was brought home to me last night in a most penetrating manner. I suspect that the title of this post gives away a clue as to what I'm speaking of.

Doubt. It's a real bugger and as I'm finding out it never goes away, it just changes in nature.

There has always been doubt for me when speaking of God. As I have indicated in previous posts to this point it has generally been the same kind of doubt that most people have which is to say 'is He here?'. Normal, everyday, regular and understandable doubt. The kind that reflects the notion of "I can't see Him and therefore I have my doubts that He's really here". Fair enough.

But that changes or rather evolves. You see I can no more ask that question since I am actually quite sure now that He's here. But it hit me big time last night that now it is a whole new experience of doubt.

I was watching a movie called The Pianist. For those who have never seen it, it is a movie about (drum-roll please) a pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman (oy!) who experienced first-hand (it is autobiographical) what it was like to live in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. Funny thing about movies depicting the Holocaust, or any other form of man's inhumanity to man for that matter, you don't need to see the actual cruelty, the blood and gore, that defines these events. It is enough, and sometimes even more powerful to merely depict the everyday life, the 'normal' existence of the people caught up in it. And I think it is exactly because of that which is going unspoken. We don't need to have it play out right in front of our eyes to know the magnitude of it all and for it to make us squirm in our discomfort.

And this doubt that occurs is not a doubt that questions God's existence, it is a doubt that asks "how could you?" (let this happen). It asks "where were you?" (while this was happening), and "why did you?" (let this happen).

It is a doubt that questions the very goodness of God, the lovingkindness of God of which is so often spoken in our religious texts, the intimate, loving presence of Him in every moment of our lives.

And it makes me realize that I was far more comfortable with the other kind of doubt, you know the one which asks if He's really here because it's easier to get through the day with that kind of doubt.

And I'm left with this nagging feeling that I never had back in those good old days of regular old doubt. And the nagging feeling is that while I am asking Him those questions He is looking right back at me and asking 'how could YOU' let this happen and 'where were YOU' when this was happening and 'why did YOU' let this happen?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I found a lovely post about trust over at:

Some people just say it so well.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Learning to Trust?

Whoever decided that we ‘learn to trust’ someone? I’d like to meet the guy who coined this phrase. It completely misses the mark. You don’t ‘learn to trust’. If I don’t trust you it is most likely because you haven’t given me any reason to trust you not because I have not ‘learned to trust’ people. Trust is something that is earned in the context of a relationship. It is something that is developed between two people, sometimes excruciatingly and frustratingly slowly and conversely (and most unfortunately) it can be smashed to smithereens in an instant.

It is not something that you study in school, take a test and then you know it for life like multiplication tables. That’s just not how it works.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Psalm 53 (and 14) begin as follows:

‘The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.’

I read once not long ago that this is an inaccurate translation and should read rather as:

‘The fool has said in his heart, No to God.’

I believe that the difference and beyond that, the implications between the two are profound. To my way of thinking the first one suggests ignorance on the part of the fool. Clearly we can all cop to ignorance in our lives. There is nobody who cannot at one time or another in his or her life claim that they are not ignorant about something. We simply cannot know everything and we know that. And perhaps that makes us a fool about that particular topic of which we are ignorant. I suspect we become fools when we arrogantly think we know when we haven’t a clue. And sometimes our ignorance has a profound impact on our lives and at some later date we find ourselves berating ourselves for that ignorance as in “If I had only known”… hindsight and all that. But sometimes we cannot know and that is a fact of life. Sometimes we cannot know and we simply have to endure the consequences of our ignorance.

But the second translation, whereby the fool says ‘No’ to God, THAT suggests (very strongly I might add) willfulness. That implies choice. That implies knowledge and then a willful turning away, a willful, defiant dismissal, a thanks but no thanks to God.

I cannot help but carry around this feeling that God has set things up just right, with such exacting precision that somehow He has left it entirely up to us to either willfully choose Him or deny Him. In other words when I look around me at all that is here, the created universe, and the more I get to know of human nature, the more I learn of the ways that human beings interact with one another, the more I learn of our need for each other and our reliance on the created world, the more it becomes glaringly apparent to me that everything is connected, the more I realize just how much evidence has been given to us by Him. And yet there are so many who continue to say that there is no evidence for God and they continue to deny His existence. This I believe defines that willful turning away, that saying ‘No’ to God. And I cannot help but think that the second translation is exactly what the psalmist had in mind and probably wrote originally.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Physician Heal Thyself

In the past year I have read a lot of material on the subject of psychotherapy and psychology and all things pertaining to said topic. And I've done this because well I started seeing a therapist for the first time ever in my forty something years of living just last summer and is usually the case with me I have to get my hands on as much information as I can so I can know what the hell is going on and blah, blah, blah. Some people would accuse me of having 'control issues' and to that I would say that if wanting (ok needing) to educate myself about something as personally relevant as being in therapy means having control issues well then a control freak I am. If needing control is wrong then I don't want to be right.

Anyway, enough about me. Here's the thing. In my travels through the psychotherapy/psychology literature which includes blogs and discussion groups and books, etc. I have come to realize that a lot and by a lot I mean A LOT of people become therapists because they have been in therapy and (presumably) had a good experience. I'm cool with that. But what I'm also noticing is that many of these same people who become therapists after being in therapy (and frequently still are in therapy) have and continue to have significant psychological problems, issues, maladies, choose your word. And I read this stuff and while I think it wonderful that people are brave enough to acknowledge their need for help and do their best to get that help via the therapy process I then think to myself "hmm, would I want this person to be my therapist? Would I want someone who is so clearly still working through their own 'stuff' treating me?". And the short answer is "nope".

Now let me just make one thing very clear, in no way do I discount the validity of someone who has had in the past significant psychological and/or emotional (I think they sort of go together no?) issues becoming a therapist. Quite the contrary actually. I am a firm believer in personal experience being exceptionally relevant in the helping professions. For example I honestly think that somebody who has never experienced depression can never understand the difficulty involved in dealing with depression and one thing I have come to appreciate is that there are many areas in which the understanding expressed by my therapist is paramount to me. Sometimes just plain acceptance is enough but at other times it is clear that she understands what I am saying and I can tell that it is not just at an intellectual level. I'm not necessarily suggesting that it is experiential on her part – I do not know. But it is obvious by her responses that she gets it. And that matters.

But here's the thing: at times I need her to be stronger than me – and I would interject here that I do not think that there are a whole lot of people out there who are in fact stronger than me - or at least I need to know that she can take me, that she can withstand the sometimes intense emotions that I am feeling without being repelled or afraid or just plain nervous. And I honestly doubt that if she is in the throes of her own deep depression or substance abuse issues or whatever that she will be able to handle my stuff. I think it is safe to say that if I found out that she was in the throes of her own deep stuff that I would have to leave her. I would hate it because frankly I have become rather fond of her but I know that I would have to leave her.

I guess this falls under the heading of "Physician Heal Thyself" and I would add "Before Thy Attempts to Heal Others".

And I wonder, am I wrong?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Caught Beyond Two Worlds

It is being caught, trapped or perhaps imprisoned in between the two worlds. The reality is not religious or secular, the reality is somewhere in between but not really in between but rather beyond. It is beyond the divide between what we have come to know as 'religious' and 'secular'. It is beyond, where there is knowledge that religious and secular do not exist but in the minds of human beings.

So one demands that God be here, that He is necessary and the other excludes God completely and yet they both point to the same thing.

I have a nagging feeling these days that this delineation that we place on 'this' life and the 'next' life, religious vs. secular, here on earth vs. heaven are misguided. Which is to say that I am not at all convinced anymore that we actually completely leave one and cross through some doorway at death that puts us in that completely different place we call heaven. And while there is something within that tells me that the differences may very well be profound (one can only hope) I am not so sure that there is some specific dividing line between the two places. I do not think it valid that we completely leave all of this behind and I feel that it is a much more gradual and gentle exit and entry from one to the other that maybe allows us to retain what has come before. And I think we will be given the opportunity to see all of this, this life we live here on earth here and now with much different eyes. With a newness and a clarity that we never knew existed and yet somehow we will still be able to see what we now know, what is now familiar.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's Personal

I do believe that it is this idea of impersonal with which I am uncomfortable. Philosophers, scientists and even some theologians that present an idea of something more, something beyond, something higher, a supernatural power existing in the world, they accept the concept of a higher power and yet do not seem to necessarily yield to the notion that this higher power can be personal but is rather completely impersonal. It is referred to as a 'higher power' or Intelligent Design or some other euphemism for God that connotes a totally impersonal 'thing'. Like God is some sort of mass or energy or force that is behind the whole of creation - including personal human beings – that is unseeing, unhearing, unthinking and unfeeling. And I cannot wrap my mind around this. How can the personal (and human beings are undeniably personal) come into being from the impersonal? Our own personal-ness requires that we must interact with other personal beings in order that we survive, it is the way we are made and even a cursory investigation bears this out.

And I often wonder why so many people are so blind to this. I've heard it said that it is a choice, that we actively choose to deny God. Maybe that's true I don't know but I'm not so sure I accept that as the complete answer. I think perhaps ignorance or even laziness would be a better explanation. Ignorance in that nobody ever taught us properly and laziness in that we never really bothered to think about it much. I can look back on my own life, consider my own (what I would now call) blindness and realize that I never gave it all much thought but I can say this: I never, for one minute dismissed the notion of God. I never discounted completely the possibility of the existence of God. I knew that I simply did not know enough to discount the possibility but if truth be told I also didn't have the first idea of how to go about finding out whether or not God truly does exist.

However I can remember many times throughout my life those brief moments of consideration when I allowed myself to ponder the question of whether or not He was there. And I recall that there was always, every time a sort of pain associated with it, an longing present – intense, and I needed to put the thought out of my head in order to dispense with that pain and longing. As if it just hurt too much to think about it because I didn't know and it is clear to me now that the need for Him to be there was so intense that I could not bear the thought that He wasn't. It was easier to simply not think about it.

It is almost comical in a sad and tragic way that all of our science, all of our philosophy, our theology and our psychology – all these schools of thought that are supposed to provide us the answers to the basic questions of existence have frequently done nothing more than obscure the simple answers to these basic questions.

We don't know, we don't recognize the need to look to ourselves, within ourselves for the answers, to look within our own hearts, to trust our own intuition and this is so sad because it is this willingness to see only the external that enables us to deny Him, to look right past Him, to completely miss the truth and the reality of God in all of his personal-ness.