Tuesday, February 27, 2007


According to Systems Theory, dyads - or two people are the basic unit of human behavior. When anxiety is experienced by either or both in the dyad a third "unit" is sought, identified and used to "absorb" or "displace" the anxiety that cannot be managed. Quintessential is the married couple who decide to have a child instead of deal with any one of the many issues that can break up a marriage - finances, sex, future visions, substance abuse, etc...

And some theorists maintain that all triangles are bad news. I'm not so sure. Part of the premise that triangles are always bad is based on the observation that triangles are stable, followed by the assumption that the triangulating will prevent the engagement of the issue stimulating the anxiety and "lock-in" a pattern of negative behaviors. However, it seems to me that seeking help is a positive form of triangulating. Or if a well differentiated individual is brought into a triangle there is an opportunity to bring the dyad back into full, direct relationship in a way that is not overwhelming and therefore destructive. It's kind of like a defense mechanism in more individualistic systems - they can be necessary for survival, even though they can also become debilitating.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

R D Laing: Selected Works: Knots

He is devoured
by his devouring fear of
being devoured by
her devouring desire
for him to devour her.

Laing, R. D. R.D. Laing : Selected Works : Knots, Volume 7.
Florence, KY, USA: Routledge, 1999. p 16.
If we could talk about our talking we might talk like that. Often I wonder - yes, sometimes during the conversation - what I am talking about. And of course, when I say "what I am talking about," I mean what we are talking about. What is the underlying fear, rage or shame that is "driving" the conversation? It finally sunk in last semester: most people are uncomfortable talking about what they are talking about. I suppose I'm uncomfortable but I'm also invigorated - energized. But then tragedy hits... the experience of interacting becomes circular. I'm afraid you're afraid I'm afraid; and I'm afraid that is not good - like a never ending, "No after you..." we get stuck.
So I've been reading about Heinz von Foerester too; and his kubernetes (cybernetics) contribution seems like just like a primary prinicple of my own upbringing, "maximize the options." My dad taught and sold programs of corporate strategic planning and decision making. So I felt right at home with that principle; as well as it fitting the image of the therapeutic process I see. New options are created by new relationships; and a new relationship can also be intentional about maximizing possibilities. And since the expansion of possibitlites or options means the expansion of reality, therapy is generative or healing.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Who is burning in Hell?

A pentacostal preacher from Tulsa no longer "believes in hell" and the number of people who come to hear him on a Sunday morning from many thousands to a couple hundred. A really great report from NPR:


As I continue to think about the popularity of claiming the power of Hell, I came across this quote in E. Peterson's Reversed Thunder: the Revelation of John and Praying Imagination:

"We are now able to look upon the events around us not as a hopeless morass of pagan decption and human misery, but as the birth pangs of a new creation and a beckoning to partcipate in God's remaking of God's creation."

I do not have the faith to encourage people to participate in a life of faith marked by participation in a faith community because I fear for their soul. There is no "hell" for someone who feels so isolated, neglected or abused she or he feels unable to join a community that nutures faith. Still, I do believe life is diminished, limited in its fulfillment if there is no fuller expression of our numinous experiences than the individual. So I BECKON - call, exhort, impolore, enjoin, instruct, direct, charge - so that people participate more fully in "God's remaking of God's creation."

Certainly, not every group of people is such a community. However, they do exist and they support that participation.

I wrote this in an attempt to be clear - some voices are so clear claiming the powers of Hell. The power of heaven must be greater. Who will receive the invitation to participate in that heaven from me today? Who will recieve an inviation from you?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


This article in the NY Times is what got me started:


January 2, 2007
What’s Making Us Sick Is an Epidemic of Diagnoses

Medicalization. I get it. The success of the modern allopathic medicine is awe inspiring - from syphilis to yellow fever. But our minds - by which I mean thoughts, feelings, visions, judgments, maybe even sensations, etc., that arise out of and beyond our bodies/brains - is not reducible in the same sorts of ways our spleens are. It is normal - both average and normative - to feel sad and elated. We can even grieve and not be accurately described as having depression. Not everything is an illness. Not everything needs to be treated or cured. Some things simply have to be lived. And life IS painful. It is the absence of life which is numb to pain.

I cried this morning reading a saccharine story about a busboy with Downs Syndrome around whom a Truck Stop community gathers in support during a time of crisis. The sweetness and the pain make the story real - even if it isn't.

Sure I'm glad I've got Ibuprofen, Loratadine, etc... but I'm also feel blessed to know the sadness of loss, the pain of neglect because it means I am alive. I am not those experiences - any more than I am Hodgkins Lymphoma - but they have all shaped my experiences and responses to the my family, the world, to you. To "cure" any of those pains would be to eliminate those moments of my life as well as the richness of my future.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Okay... I'm easy... not cheap... but easy. So I've been "tagged" to write 4 truths adn a lie. Fine. Can you tell?

1. I don't like professional sports (although I will watch World Cup games).
2. I've built a canoe - AND it floated - actually 3 canoes!
3. I don't like ice cream.
4. I've run naked on the Philadelphia Art Museum steps (yes, like Rocky - only better)
5. I usually think in lines from movies.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I got to thinking... that alone is a recipe for disaster. Everyone asks about being busy "this time of year." I wonder is daylight just shorter or is it the very hours of the day? What is so attractive about being busy?

Since hardly anyone knows this blog exists it's safe for me to confess: I'm NOT busy. And worse than that: I don't intend to be. Sure, there are times when I have multiple projects due and several people would like some of my time. But I've not found any way to do more than I can do. And simply because I won't accomplish much of what I think I should - or more accurately what others would like me to - doesn't mean I'm busy. I fall short of my expectations and others, of course, but I don't think that being "busy" will extricate me from the emotional quagmire that creates.

Busy can mean "full of activity" or "engaged in action," which I am - much of the time. What busy does not mean is that I am important. Neither does it mean that the choices I make - between competing demands on my time - are justified. And those two needs, importance and justification, I'm pretty sure, are what's behind all this need to feel and be known as busy.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Christian War?

I recieved an email - one of those forwarded to many people - about how often Iraq is mentioned in Scripture. In Christian and Hebrew Scripture Iraq is refered to as Babylon or Mesopotamia and such. At the end of the email there there is a suggestion that the Koran predicts the United States' invasion of Iraq; and to my reading, therefore a Divine Justification for the invasion. Here is what I wrote:

It is true that what we refer to as the Old Testament - the Hebrew Bible - has been formed in light of the Babylonian Exile; and Babylon IS in modern day Iraq. So the Israel's self-understanding is largely shaped by Babylon and the number of references to it are understandable.

The New Testament - or Greek Scriptures - use Babylon as a code word for Rome. Both were the centers of what we might call secular power although pagan power might be less anachronistic.

Power certainly is a central theme in all of our Scripture. The questions become: how is God revealed in manifestations of power? both "natural," water in the wilderness, fish, etc.; and human, nations defeating each other, Joseph's brothers, the Temple Leadership and Roman Government?

Israel had a brief time of what we would recognize as power - David and Solomon's reigns. But for most of the history they have been sojourners, slaves, exiles, and victims of hatred. Jesus the Christ too was abused and eventually killed. Rare, very rare, is it when God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus of Nazareth, militarily or through natural means defeats a political power. The Egyptians are the ones who come to mind (the Philistines too but that seems to be secondary). And there is a rabbinical tradition that says when the Heavenly Host began to sing God's praises when the Egyptian Army was drowned, God silenced them and said, "No one will rejoice when ANY of God's creatures are destroyed."

Like those who interpret Jihad as a military battle, I believe those who interpret God's command to battle evil militarily are wrong. Yes, battle can be a valuable image for our participation in God's work - because people will be hurt and even die. However, my understanding of Scripture is that God calls us to be willing to lay down our lives rather than kill. I pray for the strength and faith to be able to do as Gandhi was able to do. He said, "There are causes for which I am not willing to kill but for which I am willing to die."

Those are my thoughts.