Sunday, August 11, 2013

Getting the Love You Want : A Guide for CouplesGetting the Love You Want : A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

Hendrix and I have preaching and church ministry as a young adult in common. I love this about him. What I don't love is that his psychology model is born of psychoanalytic and Freudian models. He believes that we marry unconsciously to heal the wounds that our early lives have inflicted upon us, and that good marriages heal those wounds.

I believe instead that we marry others who feel instinctively familiar, like family, to us. In both good and bad ways. And that is our own work, our individual, relational and spiritual work, to heal our wounds. I think that is too heavy a load to lay on one relationship, particularly your spouse!

I am indebted to him, however, for teaching us/me the Imago Dialogue model. I use it almost daily in my practice to slow partners down, get them to listen to each other without reflexive defense, problem solving or arguing points of fact. It's the best thing about his work that I value.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Must

Today in Minnesota was a milestone day : it's the first day that marriage for gay and lesbian couples became legal in our state. In courthouses, hotel lobbies, and backyards around the state couples who have waited for years, sometimes decades, recited vows, were blessed and declared spouses. It is a day of great joy in so many lives! It's expected by those in the know that hundreds of new marriages of same-sex couples will be taking place in the weeks to come, and I say God Bless every one of them with a long and happy life together.

But, should there be any same-sex couple that in spite of all the joy around them, is tense, uncertain and uneasy, I hope they also hear this message somehow: just because you can, doesn't mean you must.

Gay and lesbian couples have all the same challenges that heterosexual couples have. But they also have a huge, additional stress: that of being part of a discriminated minority group. At the last big social survey, about 3-5% of the population is homosexual, and I believe every one of them has endured the pressure of being different from the majority in significant ways. Some have felt the tension between what was expected of them and what they felt within them so intensely they have turned to drugs for relief, self harm for escape, and self denial for peace. How each person in a same-sex couple has managed this discrimination is central to each partner's story and how the couple functions together.

As the GLBTQ culture explodes with joy and relief at the legal right to now marry in our state, there will be come couples who are just not ready to make a life commitment and who feel the pressure from all sides of their social circle to line up and book the caterer and photographer.  I want to be one among many, I hope, who will remind couples who are uncertain that while marriage law is indeed a political issue, they do not have to get married to make a political statement.

Marriage is a legal union, and comes with a large number of obligations, rights, duties, privileges and can involve children. If you aren't ready to make this decision, don't. The freedom to marry includes the freedom not to marry, too.




Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Morning Church Rant

I didn't go to church today because I couldn't face another stripped-down summer liturgy. Bleh.  Recycled sermons, vacationing preachers, substitute organists, empty pews, last moment lectors, absent acolytes, no choir, no coffee hour. The church on vacation isn't pretty. 

But that's not our only problem. We have a problem of relevance. We are trying WAY too hard to find it. When church leaders chase the latest opinion polls, and change their main Sunday liturgies to meet the "market," those who have been shaped by the liturgical traditions of the past are left to embrace the change or leave. What seems to have been left out of the rush to seek the seeker is that the Church was never more embracing or growth-filled as when it was the keeper of mystery, ritual, prayer and sacrament and served the community. (1st - 3rd Century CE)

It will be a sad, sad day when a generation hence American mainline churches are empty (like Europe) and leadership wishes we had hewed to liturgical practice, embraced social justice, and welcomed the stranger and the familiar at the same time.

Am I really all alone in my grief at the demise of the weekly Lutheran and Episcopalian Sunday liturgy -- the ritual of action, listening, singing, silence, Word and Meal that has sustained me spiritually all my adult life?

Are there no clergy around me who think that the rush to reinvent the church by changing worship is getting at the problem from the wrong end? Is technology in the sanctuary really All That?

You'd think with all the gutting of worship tradition that all following Jesus ever meant was showing up for church, and that Church meant getting people in the doors on Sunday morning. I always thought living the faith was what I did with my life the rest of the time, out in the world. Worship was what pulled me back into the tradition of the mothers and fathers, helped me remember, fed me at the Table, grounded me in the mystery.

I'm sad the scramble for growth, money, resources, and relevance has meant the suburban churches in my area are always riding the wave of the Next Big Thing. I've been around long enough to know that there is always a next big thing.

The rush to relevance has left me cold. It's exhausting (no wonder the church heaves a huge sigh during the summer). Think I'll go read Morning Prayer (BCP, p. 75) and have my own church today.

Signed,

Wish You Were Here. 



Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's Not About The Nail

One of my clients played this for me in session today. It's a short, priceless video about the way men and women seem to listen differently. Just watch, and you'll see.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Happy 29th Ordination Anniversary

29 years ago I was ordained a pastor in the LCA, now part of the ELCA. Today, my former synod is meeting in assembly in my last congregation, 3 miles from where I sit.

I'm not there because a few months ago my denomination took me off the roles as a pastor because I no longer serve in a ministry position. It was a process, and it took years, but I'm out.

Do I miss it? Yes. And No.

I think it's a terrible mistake to take experienced and quality clergy off the roles of the church simply because their call took them out of the parish and into different ministry. I do think of my work as a therapist as holy work. Even better than my work as a pastor. But in our denomination, ordination is to Word and Sacrament, and once I left the parish, I was more a word, healing and service person. I wasn't preaching weekly, or celebrating baptism or Holy Communion regularly. My work is in the world, not the church. So I am out. So I miss that role, some of that work, that chance to lead in my own way in the ELCA.

And No. The life of a pastor, the way church employment works, the daily politics of the job, and the distressing and disrespectful last years of my life as a pastor were soul-killing. The only way to save my life was to leave. Had I been allowed to take my first and only sabbatical in 20 years, I probably would have had room and grace to re-organize myself as a pastor in a changing church. But my proposal was rejected by the power that was immediately over me, adding to his pressure on me to leave the position. So I did. Making that power quite happy, and me relieved to have a new chance at being the vocational leader I wanted to be.

So Yes and No. And happy ordination anniversary to me. It's an important day for me, and means little to anyone else now except my family. I saved my life, and left the clergy system. Good luck to everyone who stays in.