You “just want attention,” Part 2

Because of my observation that the Church seems to be complicit in the silence surrounding mental illness and perpetuating the negativity associated with needing attention, I did a research paper on Psalm 88.  This psalm is the only one in the Psalter that does not end with at least a bit of a nod toward God.  Today’s culture would probably diagnose the psalmist as “just wanting attention.”  When I read this psalm, I feel like depression is being given a canonized voice.  What follows is the conclusion to my exegesis paper (the whole thing was 21 pages so I won’t be posting the whole thing). Continue reading You “just want attention,” Part 2

You “just want attention,” Part 1

I’m worried we’ve created a culture where attention-getting behaviors

lonely-boyare seen as immature and are thus to be ignored, or even diagnosed as illnesses where “tacit ignoring” is prescribed as a “behavioral management strategy.”  Whenever someone is acting out, the response “oh, they just want attention” is supposed to give permission to others not to give it.  I’m not a doctor nor do I have training in the field of psychology so I’m not qualified to say that there is never e a time and a place for such distasteful action.  But a brand of such “behavior management” has leaked into mainstream relationships and is now accepted in commonplace interactions.  In my experience, one of the most common places this phrase is used, horrifyingly, is in the context of discussions of self harm and suicide.  First, about suicide: here are some resources and here are some warning signs.  Please take this seriously, folks.  Especially as a teenager, I remember people labeling those who mentioned wanting to hurt themselves as “being dramatic” or “just trying to get attention.”  The expected response was to ignore this “annoying” behavior and carry on with normal life. Continue reading You “just want attention,” Part 1

“What can I do to help?” Part 2

So what is it Bartimaeus asks for?  He changes his monniker for Jesus – from “Son of David” to “Teacher” –  and says, “Let me see again.”  So this is not a man blind from birth.  Bartimaeus came to Jesus and regained his sight.  Jesus, however, does not understand Himself to be the granter of this sight.  He says that it is Bartimaeus’ faith that has healed him.  Now, here’s where all sorts of sticky wickets are waiting for us. Continue reading “What can I do to help?” Part 2

“What can I do to help?”, Part 1

The cliff notes version of my story of conversion to Christ begins with learning that God is Healer.  I grew up being dragged to church – I wouldn’t say I was “raised in the church” – but I couldn’t fully enter into the worshipful life.  If faith is more “caught than taught” as the saying goes, I didn’t have a mitt.  I was aware enough about my own heart and the sorry state of the world to know that I needed help, but I did not perceive anyone around me offering it (which is not to say that no one was; I just failed to find enough safety to consider that possibility).  I somehow missed in all my years at the United Methodist Church I attended during my youth that God heals.  The moment I learned that God is Healer is one I remember vividly: I was 20 years old, in the mountains with the woman who is now my best friend and her husband.  I realized that healing was my only hope, and the only hope for the world, and began becoming Christian.  Healing, I believed (and still believe) is the only answer for the mess we’re in. Continue reading “What can I do to help?”, Part 1

“It’s just semantics.”

Speaking of phrases I don’t like, this one tops my list.  Recently, I had an interaction on Facebook where I posted my thoughts about language – particularly my annoyance at gender-exclusive language (using “he” and “man” for a generic person, and “mankind” instead of “humankind.”)   I was told – by strangers – essentially to “get off my soapbox” (talk about a trump-card/shut-down phrase I detest!) and “we need to agree to disagree.”   I was told that the sexism and gender issues I raised were not germane to the topic…of poverty and community development.  I was informed that my issues with language, which were reduced in this discussion to “grammar lessons” and “semantics” were best directed at the author of the book and were a “waste of time” compared to helping the poor.  My friend and I have since had a conversation about this and worked things out.  I admire her commitment to helping street youth and really do feel there is a lot I can learn from her. Continue reading “It’s just semantics.”

“Is there more?”

One of the phrases I’ve come to really appreciate is “is there more?”  This goes beyond the “how was your day” type questions and, when placed well in a conversation, can really show the other that you want to see them and understand.  Part of why I find this phrase such a gem is that it’s rare – I didn’t start employing it until my premarital classes in 2012 and even now, my instances of using it are still, sadly, few and far between.  I’m not sure if it’s just me, but it seems like a hard phrase to use.  That said, it’s well worth it. Continue reading “Is there more?”

“It’s what’s inside that counts,” Part 2

The divorce of the material from the spiritual has had two opposite effects.   One, the material/physical world is denigrated in favor of the spiritual, demoted to a status of “necessary evil” one looks forward to sloughing off in death.  The body, then, doesn’t matter at all, so why take care of it?  Asceticism is one extreme Christian example of this.  In the third and fourth centuries especially, monks would take to the deserts, living in caves off of a sip of water and loaf of bread a week.  Some would climb up on pillars they erected in the middle of the desert and sit or stand there for years at a time.  Because the state of one’s soul and spirit were of paramount importance, the body was not merely discarded, it was denied care and respect in service of strengthening one’s spiritual muscles.  Ironically, though perhaps not surprisingly, things would sometimes deteriorate into physical deprivation contests.  Despite the conception that bodily denial was supposed to engender spiritual growth and wisdom, monks would try to “out-fast” one another, or outlast one another on the pole, all the while inflicting hardship and suffering on their bodies. Continue reading “It’s what’s inside that counts,” Part 2

“It’s what’s inside that counts,” Part 1

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the phrases I hear and perhaps have even said.  It could just be because that’s where my attention is lately, but they seem to be all over the place.  The other day, when I was exploring the area in search of a new coffee shop, “It’s what’s inside that counts” appeared exuberantly on the side of a white truck.  Next to this seemingly encouraging phrase was a picture of a child with Down Syndrome.  I’ve always been bothered by this phrase, but this time, it struck me as particularly inappropriate.  So of course, I had to say something. Continue reading “It’s what’s inside that counts,” Part 1

“God is Dead,” Part 2: A Response to “An Unbelieving Age”

Thankfully, postmodernism has done away with all that modernity nonsense.  Not only is modernity dead, but so is God, and postmodernism, apparently, is the one who killed God.  “Postmodernism,” Eagleton writes in his article  An Unbelieving Age, “may be the first age of ‘authentic atheism,’ thing first age God is truly dead.  He spends most of his article explaining the dysfuctionality of trying to live as if God were dead while at the same time living as if God were not – that is, claiming a desire for a moral and just society.  Postmodernism answers this cognitive dissonance by relativizing morality – “what’s true for me may not be true for you” – rather than resurrecting God. Continue reading “God is Dead,” Part 2: A Response to “An Unbelieving Age”

“God Is Dead,” Part 1: A Response to “The Intellectual Snobbery of Conspicuous Atheism”

Normally, I take Mondays to reflect on Sunday evening’s homily.  Last night’s was one to let simmer for a bit, though, plus, intriguingly, atheism seems to be coming up in my circles lately.  Christian friends have been sending my articles asking for my thoughts and, since I have quite a few, it’s going to take two posts to share them so make sure to wait until Wednesday before voicing your disagreements. 🙂  One friend sent me an article entitled,  “The Intellectual Snobbery of Conspicuous Atheism” by Emma Green.  It reads like a hybrid of an apt critique of a common argument of atheists and a review of an atheists’ book.  This book claims that the complexity of the modern world has done away with the need for God, that the current work of modern intellectuals has now “got that covered.”  That seems to be one of humanity’s favorite ways to “defeat” any argument: caricature-ize the opposition unrecognizable so you don’t have to deal with real people’s actual beliefs and construct your argument from there. Continue reading “God Is Dead,” Part 1: A Response to “The Intellectual Snobbery of Conspicuous Atheism”