“Pregnant and Homeless”

invisibleYesterday morning, I walked to the PCC near where I work to get a scone-type snack. As I approached the entrance, I saw a huddled lump of orange hoodie and yellow blanket. The lump kept slouching and then starting and trying to sit back up again, slouching and starting, slouching and starting. I thought it might be D, the youngish homeless guy I bought a turkey club for last week and was getting ready to say hi when I saw the disintegrating cardboard sign falling out of this poor, exhausted person’s lap: “I’m pregnant and homeless. Anything helps :D.” Continue reading “Pregnant and Homeless”

Emotions are Not The Enemy, Part 2

flagAs I said, there is always a reason for a particular emotion. Depression, for example, means a lot of things to a lot of people; rather than ask people, we do brain scans. Then we medicate feelings with drugs that have side effects similar to the symptoms we’re trying to treat. But, as one psychotherapist says, depression is the pysche’s way of saying, “I’m not going any further until you stop this bleeding.” So how do we stop the bleeding? Continue reading Emotions are Not The Enemy, Part 2

Another Shooting

gun controlDisclaimer: to make it clear from the beginning, I am not a gun nut, I have never fired a gun in my life and don’t ever intend to. I am for sensible gun laws. I am not obsessed with the 2nd Amendment. My main concern here is with how we are talking about gun control.

I cannot join the bandwagon clapping their hands at Pres. Obama’s speech regarding the massacre in Oregon on Thursday. And I’m pretty disappointed that The New Yorker called it powerful – no wonder we’re “numb” if that’s what we think “powerful” is – but I guess you can’t really expect much different from mainstream media anymore. Mostly what struck me about the president’s speech is how hard it was for me to distinguish his talk about those with mental illness from Donald Trump when he talks about Latinos, Syrian refugees, women, the poor, etc.: Pres. Obama continues to demonize and stigmatized those suffering with mental illness even though there is a TON of research that deeply problematizes the categorical link the president reinforced between mental illness itself and violence like this. There are, however, plenty of studies (that are, of course, being suppressed) that conclusively show a statistically significant link between psychiatric MEDICATIONS and acts of violence. This is not the only factor here, but I’m from Columbine town: after that iconic massacre, drug companies were required to put black-box labels on their drugs. That’s it. Yet we bicker and fight about gun control as if it’s this solve-all god. I’m sorry, but if your medication causes the same side effects as the “illness” you’re trying to treat (homicidal and suicidal thoughts being the relevant ones here), you are doing it wrong and we’re the ones left holding the (body) bag(s). Continue reading Another Shooting

Emotions Are Not The Enemy, Part 1

tar sands
Alberta, Canada – before and after a tar sands project

“My feelings, they don’t matter.” “Worship anyway.” “Feelings lie.” If those are various answers, the question might be something like “How are Christians encouraging one another when one is going through a hard time?” or “Name some song lyrics from contemporary worship songs.” Emotions in the church are increasingly scary, powerful and not to be trusted and most expressions of such are met with “encouragements” to recite “the truth” “despite” emotions, which apparently can’t ever contain truth, until you’re able to “calm down” about something legitimately upsetting. Or, best-case scenario, people will offer to pray for you, which has felt more and more like distancing, passing the buck to someone else (just like directing someone to their counselor). Whatever the case, demonizing feelings is considered legitimate, even Christ-like; we are, as a result, unable to care for each other effectively when complicated emotions come up that cannot (and should not) be ignored. Continue reading Emotions Are Not The Enemy, Part 1

Responding to the Crisis of Suicide

music“If you don’t know at least three people in crisis right now, you need to have more coffee dates.” This was a line from the best sermon I’ve heard all year, preached at a lovely Presbyterian church in Yakima this past weekend. It turns out, I may need to have more coffee dates. But even more importantly, I need to know how to respond to those in crisis. We collectively need to know, and, at least for one crisis in particular, we seem to be especially non-informed. Continue reading Responding to the Crisis of Suicide

The Life and Death Sentence of James Holmes, Part II

billboardClearly, this has taken longer than I expected to work out…and it may seem like an utter non sequitur to many so buckle up.

So James Holmes was not sentenced to death because of one juror holdout and people are up in arms about this “abortion of justice.” I won’t bother with all the caveats and excuses about not being an expert on any of this (expert worship in this culture is about as high as our thirst for blood, it would seem) and just offer some thoughts.

Continue reading The Life and Death Sentence of James Holmes, Part II

The Life and Death Sentence of James Holmes, Part I

Human skull with judge's gavel and sounding block. Symbolizes harsh justice, death penalty, etc. Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III.
Human skull with judge’s gavel and sounding block. Symbolizes harsh justice, death penalty, etc. Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III.

Two weekends ago, James Holmes was sentenced (one of the newscasters in that coverage, by the way – Ana Cabrera – was my babysitter when I was young and we’ve known her family for years!) to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murdering 12 people and injuring 70 others in an attack during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight in a Colorado movie theater, July 2012. He plead not guilty by reason of insanity (a questionable and atavistic plea in itself, but that’s for a different post), was convicted of all 165 counts against him and was spared the death penalty (pretty much only because the jury could not come to a unanimous decision, which is required to pass a death sentence, and that was only because there was a single holdout against deciding such a fate). People were “shocked” that this lone juror held this view, “disappointed” that she basically blocked justice because of it. Continue reading The Life and Death Sentence of James Holmes, Part I