Archive for January, 2012

A Bitter Irony

January 19, 2012

I read an article yesterday about the state of Virginia’s concern over rats.  It seems rats are being transferred from Washington DC and relocated into Virginia, making them Virginia’s problem.  Washington DC, concerned with animal rights and right to life is now requiring all exterminators and pest control experts to have a “no kill” policy.  Rats must be captured along with their “families”, where possible and relocated to another place.  Since rats will return is relocated too close to their former home, they are taking the rats out of state into Virginia.

The irony is that Washington DC has the highest abortion rate in the nation.  Its abortion rate is three times the national average.  Its seems DC’s concern for rats lives doesn’t extend to babies.  Could it be that babies are deemed either more dangerous pests, or less worthy of life than rats?  Rats carry disease.  Newborns don’t.

Can a nation survive losing its young?

January 15, 2012

Its been said that one of the reasons Britain lost its greatness was the two generations it lost in war.  It simply couldn’t survive as an economic powerhouse with a significant loss of its younger population.  What would happen to a country that lost 15% of its population, especially if that population loss occurred solely among those younger than 40.  Could it survive the economic loss of energy, earning power, innovation, tax base, reproductive potential, and so on?  Its a good question to ask because the U.S. has now lost 15% of its population, solely the under 40 population.  Who knows what talent and what greatness was lost, and how even future generations will be affected.  We are an aging, topheavy economy, and the effect of that hasn’t been fully experienced yet.  The U.S. has aborted 50 million of its young.  No nation has ever even considered such a thing, and certainly hasn’t considered such a loss to be in its national interest.  This week we remember 39 years of Roe v Wade.  Something to pause and think about.

Christian Psychology

January 7, 2012

Many years ago I earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and recently at quite an advanced age, I earned a master’s degree in Christian psychology.  A number of people have asked me what is the difference, and that has provoked a lot of thought on my part.

When I was in my twenties and working on my bachelor’s degree, psychology was a way of seeking truth.  It was, in a sense, my religion.  I wasn’t a Christian myself, although I liked Jesus.  I was almost completely ignorant of the bible, and I had certainly made no commitment to Jesus, or any religion.  I thought, in studying psychology, I could learn what brings people happiness and fulfillment.  I thought psychology would give me answers to problems in my own life, such as anxiety, loneliness and relationships that weren’t working very well.  Psychology, I learned, was the science of human behavior.  In the first year, I learned that if something couldn’t be researched, it wasn’t psychology, but belonged in the realm of philosophy or religion.  By the final year, I was learning dozens of theories of psychotherapy.  These theories could be researched as to whether clients felt themselves to have been helped, but it was all very nebulous as to how the theory helped.  I became very Rogerian.  I felt people just needed love and understanding, and they could go a long way toward solving their own problems.

After college, I began to work in the mental health field.  I very quickly learned some conditions were improved with medication, such as certain types of psychosis.  I also learned that psychotherapy of almost any stripe seemed to help very little.  We did it all.  We had a “therapeutic community”, had group therapy twice a day, psychodrama, occupational therapy, individual counseling, and so forth.  We had the same patients coming back and back.  After three years I was pretty doubtful that we were doing much good other than giving patients and their families a break during hospitalization.  I got into a related career field, doing health education.  I felt I could contribute more to people’s mental health by helping them to live healthier lives in general.

About that same time, I became a follower of Jesus Christ.  I had begun to read the bible, and became convinced the accounts of Jesus were true.  What is more, there were answers in His teachings to the questions I had asked since college.  Jesus had answers I had never heard while learning psychology.

All human beings have questions, and the answers they come up with determine how healthy and happy their life turns out.  Universal questions include:  Who am I?  What am I doing here?  Do I have significance?  Why do I feel so lonely inside?  Why do I feel so guilty sometimes?  Why can’t I get along with …?  How can I feel satisfied with my work?  Is this all there is?  Why am I not happier?  Why is life so unfair?  What happens when I die?

Psychology, as far as I ever learned, just doesn’t answer these questions.  It essentially says its up to each individual to find their own answers.  Well, answers that are invented just can’t satisfy.  People know they are engaging in wishful thinking.  They want to know there is truth, and they want to know what it is.  The other thing psychology doesn’t address is our limitations.  Limits are what cause mid-life crises.  The young think the whole world is out there for them to examine and enjoy, but by middle age one realizes there are limits and one won’t ever do all one has wished to do.  How can we live with our limits?

Christian psychology helps people to seek truth where it may be found: in the teachings of Jesus, and the older book Jesus so often quoted, called the Old Testament by Christians.  Jesus addressed all the issues that go beyond psychology to our deepest self, beyond this life, beyond this world, to God Himself.  In addition, He offers a relationship, whereby He helps us with our limitations, satisfies our loneliness, deals with our guilt, gives us meaning and purpose, and settles once and for all our value, based on God’s love for us. 

The bible has something to say about every issue people face, and deals with these issues on a deep level beyond the surface behavior and emotions.  Christian psychology gives people, not only answers to their day to day problems, but a view of life based on God and eternity. 

One might ask if this isn’t just religion dressed as psychology.  It is more.  It is the same truth found in the Christian religion, but it is made personal, it points to specific, individual needs, and it uses counseling techniques as pschology does.  It also shares truth with psychology, because truth is a unity, and all truth comes from God.  Where psychology can teach relationship dynamics and communication skills, that is truth and is used in Christian psychology.  Where psychology attempts to get into humanistic philosophy, relativistic values or sheer speculation, that would not be part of Christian psychology.

Much more could be said on this topic.  Someone smarter than I am could write a book titled “Why Christian Psychology.”  I have just scratched the surface.  What I have seen, is healing going on in lives where a person begins to follow Jesus.  These healed lives aren’t all that uncommon among Jesus followers, yet they would have been considered a miracle in the mental health world where I worked.

 

Yoga, Prayer and the difference.

January 6, 2012

“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way.  With Yoga we become aware of how and where we are restricted—in body, mind and heart—and how gradually to open and release these blockages.  As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed.  We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves.  Our lives begin to flow—or we begin to flow more in our lives.”    quote by Cybele Tomlinson.

 I read this quote today on the facebook page of a friend who has been going through a lot of soul searching.  It sounds good, but its really so very, very limited.  Its ultimately all about self, and no one else.  The human condition is such that we are limited and we are lonely.  We can’t solve our problems all alone.   Our problems with our loneliness and limitedness can’t be solved by a limited, lonely self.  Someone once quipped they couldn’t run from their problems because “wherever I go, there I am.”  The self is so constant it becomes a pain.  “Otherness” is as necessary to us as the air we breathe.  Its not so much whats in us that prevents us living a full and whole life, its the need for more than what is in us.  We have to open up.

Rather than Yoga, prayer opens the heart, mind and emotion to the great Other.  The best part of that is this  Other is the only One who has the power and wisdom to truly help us.  No one understands us like God, for He knows us better than we know ourselves.  As we pour out our hearts in prayer, we not only see ourselves more clearly, but we see answers to what we are seeking.  By opening up to Him, we learn to appreciate and love Him back.  This gives us the energy to love others and to have compassion for them.   “We love because He first loved us.”  I John 4:19