Sunday, January 31, 2010

That Crazy, Crazy God Guy Again

Oftentimes I have heard it said by people supposedly ‘in the know’ that God is just sitting there waiting for us to call to him. You know who I’m talking about, the God people. The people who tell us that we need Jesus as our Lord and Savior or we need to have a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus Christ (whatever that means) or that we need to ‘believe on’ (again, whatever that means) the Lord Jesus and we will be saved. Of course this all implies that the majority of us, the unwashed masses, the heathens, the primitives buried in the woods who have never heard of Jesus are ‘unsaved’ and therefore destined for an eternity of suffering by the fires of hell. If I cannot convince my brain to believe, really, really BELIEVE like I believe that one plus one equals two, if I cannot do that than off to hell I go for the entire, unending span of eternity. How on earth is it possible that there are actually people who believe this? Please, Pat Robertson tell me the answer to this question.

I digress. I do that all the time. That damn soapbox just keeps sneaking up on me and forcing me to get up on it.

Let us get back to the original thought of this post, this ‘calling out to God’ thing.

So let me get this straight because it's important and I need to make sure that I have all the facts. I don't want to to anything wrong and I want to make sure that I do everything just right, you know I'm a stickler for details and I like my stuff to be right. So... am I to believe that while I am in the throes of my suffering whatever it may be, depression, drug addiction, self-hatred, sick child, sick parent, sick self, again, whatever. While I struggle with those desperate times, when I’m lying on my floor prostate because I have no more energy, when all I can do is cry, when I am eyeing that bottle of pills or loading up the old .45 just a gittin ready to give my walls a new, bright red paint job do you mean to tell me that God is standing there five feet away with his arms folded across his chest not budging to help me until I call to him? Do you mean to tell me that he won’t lift a finger to help me unless I say the magic words or give the secret high-sign? Is that what you’re saying cause I just need to know the facts. Like I said, I want to get it right when next it happens to me.

Well, I suppose that’s pretty much all I should expect from a guy whose will it is that schoolyards are shot up by crazed gunmen.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Standing in the Shadows of Love

One day, not all that long ago a thought came to me. What if there are undiscovered, untapped sources of potential and energy within me, resources that I am completely unaware of but that somehow - if I can just figure out where to find them, how to access them well then somehow these resources would become available to me and I would blossom into this new and improved, energized, motivated superwoman who is faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane. No… it’s just me having tapped the mother-load of energy.

They will soar with wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary;
They will walk and not be faint.

What if?

We all know the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde written by Robert Louis Stevenson or at least we know of it. The story is a metaphor for the good and evil that exists within each one of us, although I have to say that when we’re kids and we first learn about this story whether by reading or indirectly that aspect really isn’t made clear. At least it wasn’t to me. That, of course is an indication of how much even the adults around us do not get it, even some of our teachers.

I digress yet again.

The shadow knows.

Or so Orson Welles said back in the 1930s. No truer words were ever spoken, even if he didn't know the extent to which he had hit the nail on the head.

What evil lurks within the hearts of men.

Well… that would also be true however, and this is very important, along with that evil is everything that is NOT evil but that we were lead to believe is evil, wrong, inappropriate, not acceptable, pick your poison. And that is exactly what these messages are… poison. Poison to the human soul. Deadly to the intrinsic creative spirit that exists in each and every one of us.
You see this is a problem. That shadow is always presented as evil. A monster lurking within each of us capable of violence and destruction, anger, hate, jealousy, selfishness. Everything that the average person does not want to be. Everything that we have been told all our lives we are not to be.

However here is the kicker; That is not all that is contained within the shadow aspect of ourselves and the truth is that it isn’t very hard to figure this out. All you have to do is poke around for a few minutes.

Some of the aspects of my shadow include:
· Emotions like sadness and grief equate to weakness.
· Don’t talk about yourself.
· Don’t need anything.
· Never, ever let them see you cry.

It would be easy for anyone in the know to see that these messages telepathically sent to me throughout my formative years resulting in full-blown denial of those aspects of myself (e.g. sadness, need and thus relegating them to the shadow aspect that I tote around like a thousand pound weight) can cause some pretty serious difficulties in the therapy room. One can hardly start working on emotional issues when one has developed what presents as a physical inability to discuss said issues. I have to first climb a mountain simply to get to the mountain that I need to conquer.

Thanks Mom.

Our shadow is everything we don’t know about ourselves, everything we deny about ourselves, everything we are ashamed of about ourselves and everything (and here’s the coup de grace) on which we expend tons of energy in an effort to keep them at bay.

So it seems to me that if I could figure a way to a) determine exactly what exists within my shadow and bring it into the light then I could b) stop wasting energy trying to keep those aspects tucked away in the darkness and turn that energy towards things like:

· Stopping speeding bullets
· Leaping tall buildings in a single bound
· Inventing new, good stuff
· Running cross-country marathons
· Riding in the Tour de France
· Writing poetry
· Playing Mozart
· Living and loving life

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Word I Hate Most

'Loser'. Don't anybody ever use it on my blog.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Earthquakes and Food Banks

When disasters happen, this devastating earthquake in Haiti for example, I am always pleased to see the way it brings people out of the woodwork and motivates them to open their hearts and wallets. I recall back in 2004 the tsunami that hit Indonesia the Red Cross was practically overwhelmed with donations from around the world.

But of course every event has another side, including generosity. I also recall during the 2004 tsunami giving spree that the local charities suffered the consequences of all those donations going to global organizations such as the Red Cross.

This is just a little reminder to everyone who opens their hearts to those desperate (and no doubt deserving) people in Haiti, please don’t forget your local food banks, your local homeless shelters, your local soup kitchens. While you’re going online to donate to the Red Cross remember to throw a few bucks to a state or local social service because they really feel the heat during these natural disasters.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Trusting God... Or Not

Let us go back to a thought that I had voiced in a previous post ( whereby I had expressed the irrationality of the idea that the mowing down of young schoolchildren by a mad gunmen was somehow God’s will. There are people, seemingly religious people, those who have intentionally given themselves to God, devoted their lives to the work of God and because of the simplicity of their lives, because they have renounced their ties to the material world, because they choose horse and buggy over cars we here in the ‘secular’ world believe that somehow they might actually be more ‘godly’ than the rest of us heathens who elect to use cell phones and like to drive fancy cars.

I would like to expand on my earlier thoughts about God’s will or rather that which we might be tempted to ascribe to God’s will as it pertains to trust or perhaps more accurately the inability to trust. The events that we choose to blame on God’s will, the death of a child at the hands of a gunmen, the devastation wreaked by an earthquake (thank you Pat Robertson), cancer, aids, airplanes flying into buildings, all of these tragic events of history are ascribed by so many of our religious ‘leaders’ as God’s will and to be sure sometimes God’s will comes in the form of God’s wrath.

But here’s the thing. These same people who assign responsibility of tragic events to the will of God are those same people who insist, quite possibly in their next breath, that only God can be trusted. In order to be saved (whatever that means) we must place our trust in Jesus, give our lives, our souls over to the care of God and he alone will take care of us.

So I would like to ask how is it possible, when God’s will is served for example by their five-year-old son dying of cancer, for two parents to be able to trust God with their own lives and the lives of the rest of their children? The assignation by the parent of so incomprehensible an event as the death of their child to God’s will is a coping mechanism. “God must have wanted him” we tell ourselves. He is now safe in the arms of God. And nobody would doubt that this is a comforting thought, the ONLY comforting thought they might be able to grab on to and to be sure it may very well be true (one can only hope). Problem is that I, as the parent, am left utterly devastated. And chances are probably pretty darn good that I’m pulling the rest of my children just a little bit closer to me and just a little bit further away from that God guy who seems to apply his will rather imperiously.

I am thinking about trust in the therapeutic relationship this morning. It is, I must admit a bit of a stumbling block for me. We as clients are supposed to lay our inner world open to this person, our thoughts, our emotions, our joys and (mostly) our pain. Two problems with this. First of all the laying open of ourselves, even a little seems to have the undesirable effect of somehow drawing us closer emotionally to this person of the therapist which is an instantaneous signal for the warning sirens to go off and the deflector shields to go up because... Secondly so many of us who end up on a therapist’s couch have had mostly nothing but disappointment and (for some) the most gross violation (annihilation?) of trust by the people who were supposed to love and protect us as children.

And so I ask how is it possible for me to trust my therapist not to up and bail on me in the middle of my hour of need when I cannot even trust God as witnessed by the seeming arbitrariness of the application of His will?

I have a theory (but you already knew that didn’t you) and my theory goes something like this: It is not God’s will that a five-year-old boy dies of cancer. In fact I think it might just be possible that God was nowhere in the vicinity when that young boy died.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


As I sit here listening to Ravel’s Bolero ( I am reminded of underlying themes. If we are not listening carefully they run beneath our conscious awareness. I read once that Maurice Ravel the composer of this powerful piece of music did not look kindly on this composition of his. I got the impression that he was disdainful of it, as if he thought it rather pedestrian, not up to his usual standards. I would like to strenuously object to that assessment. From what I have seen it appears to me not only a crowd pleaser but also a performer pleaser. I saw the New York Philharmonic performing this piece on PBS recently and it was clear they were enjoying the hell of playing it. Sometimes I think composers, or perhaps it is more accurate to say artists in general do not give the general audience much consideration, much credit for discerning good art. Do I need to be a classical music aficionado to like a piece of music, a painting, a poem? Does the fact that I, ignoramus that I am in the ways of musical composition, like something mean that the composer has missed his mark? Am I not his mark in the first place? That’s called hubris.

Anyway, I digress. Back to my original theme which was well… themes.

If you are not familiar with this piece please listen to it via the link above. Even if you are familiar with it give it another listen and you will hear it. Notice the violins plucking the theme that runs through the entire piece, it maintains the rhythm. On top of it runs the melody. It starts ever so slowly, building little by little, to a very loud and emphatic ending. Call me pedestrian but I love this piece. This is manner of composition, an underlying simple theme playing continuously through the piece while the melody and harmony rise and fall, telling the composers story that is used frequently (listen also to second movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony). For the record listen at the end for the audience response. Clearly they have no taste in music because it seems that they liked it too.

Does this not model our human existence? The archetypes of Carl Jung, the basic structures that run through our psyches and represented (unconsciously) in our art, our movies, our mythologies, our literature, and yes (and clearly) our music, these are the underlying themes of human existence. They set the structure, the beat, the rhythm, the tone of our lives. It is unfortunate that mostly all we ever hear is the melody of life and to be sure there are many of us who miss even that. But the melody is generally what is front and center. The sandlot baseball games of childhood, school, college, daily stresses of raising children, of going to work, of dealing with sick parents, the pain of physical and psychological illness and the fear of death. These are the melodies of human existence. They ebb and flow, they rise and fall from day to day. These are the events that hold our attention and place us in danger of missing the underlying themes.

What’s the point of this? I don’t really know, it is just something that dawned on me this morning. A reminder perhaps to remain cognizant of the foundations, to not get lost in only the enjoyment of the melody but also to pay attention to that on which the melody stands.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dreams, Jung, God and Stuff Like That There

How does anyone ignore an invitation like this?

As I'm reading this article, and might I just admit right here and now that I am fascinated by Jung's ideas. This man's work, his discoveries about the human psyche are to my mind just one of the many proofs of the existence of God. It is hard to deny that his theory of archetypes and the collective unconscious isn't pointing to an underlying structure, the foundation of the human psyche which must point to 'Intelligent Design', I'll use that soulless, impersonal and blandly scientific term for what I firmly believe is exactly the opposite. Anyhoo...

By the way for anyone who is interested in Jung's ideas I would suggest also the work of Joseph Campbell, specifically The Hero With A Thousand Faces. If you're interested in Jung than you must also read mythology and in doing so you will find out that there have been about a gajazillion other people who have been on the same life journey as you. Jung and mythology. They go together like salt and pepper, cream and coffee, Laverne & Shirley, Abbott & Costello, like ramalamadingdong...

Monday, January 4, 2010

What If

You were presented with a unique opportunity today to deconstruct, brick by brick, board by board and by your own choice, every belief you ever had about yourself, your relationships, about God or not God, about the ‘reality’ of the universe, humanity, creation, heaven and hell, life after death, etc. Everything until you got right down to nothing.

And what if this process guaranteed that you not only question every belief you ever had but caused you to realize that for your entire life you haven’t known yourself at all, that you haven’t been paying attention to what is really going on around you, that you don’t really know the people around you, your family, your friends, the sales guy at the hardware store.

What if it caused you to realize that you married your spouse for all the ‘wrong’ reasons and that in fact you never really loved her/him at all. What if you realized that your child’s drug problem, psychiatric problem, personality problem, fill in your own problem description here, was the direct result not of some gene that she/he inherited from you but rather your own psychological ‘disorder’ of which is currently not even on your psychic radar. The sins of the father and all that. In fact what if part of the deal was the realization that you don’t have the first clue what might be presented to you about yourself, good, bad, ugly, pretty and how it profoundly affected not only you but all of your loved ones also?

What if this involved the loosening of all of the bonds, the behaviors, the habits, those ‘things’ that get you through the days and nights, the booze, the drugs, the cutting, the smokes, the job, the gambling, the nail-biting and the porn in the hope of something new and undefined?

What if this process caused you to be thrown into complete and utter confusion, thick fog or even total darkness about what is real and that the only path out was to actively choose every moment for the rest of your life to live in this state of confusion and fogginess, to keep choosing to step out into the darkness, not able to see what lies even one foot in front of you, constantly letting go of the concept of ‘what is’, replacing definitiveness with a continual, active and conscious acquiescence to ‘this might not be’ again with only a promise of increasing clarity, true clarity which (it is promised) will be forthcoming only a teaspoonful at a time over the course of the rest of your life. And what if clarity turned out to be something you thought you knew the meaning of but in fact turned out to be something you had never seen before?

In other words you discard completely everything you (think you) know right now about EVERYTHING and start from scratch with a blank slate all in the interest (here’s the pay-off) of finding the ULTIMATE reality, true TRUTH.

You put yourself on a path, you have no idea where it's going to lead and you have absolutely no idea what or where you're headed and you haven't the first clue what it's going to look like when you get there.

Would you have the courage to do that?