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There are many voices talking about the 9/11 10th anniversary in our country. While I understand the traumatic impact that day has on our time in national history, I am puzzled why the Oklahoma City bombing, a domestic terrorism event, doesn't hold the same power. Perhaps it is easier to focus on 9/11 because it involves an outside enemy. Oklahoma City was perpetrated by a couple of good ol' white boys who hated our country's government. That is way scarier for us to face than an enemy force abroad.

Among the very few I want to hear talk about 9/11 this weekend is the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori. I give thanks to God for her, her words, and her mission to lead one corner of the Christian tribe in service, worship and community. Thank you, Bishop Katharine. I'm listening.

Bishop's brief reflection on 9.11

College Mom: I'm Trying, But It's Hard

We dropped our first born off at university this week. We have spent the last year plus supporting him as he got ready. From taking AP classes and exams, to doing half of his senior year of high school at our community college, our son was looking forward. We thought frequently about how the transition to college would be for us all, and he and I often would tell each other that we would certainly miss one another and that it would, yes, feel very weird.

Well, it does. I didn't even shed a tear until I walked into the house after we drove home without him. Our house, minus one of our children, just doesn't feel like our home. Walking into his bedroom brought me to tears. The boy is gone, at least until Thanksgiving break, and I have to get used to the change.

We left him seeming excited and confident, and for that, I am deeply grateful. He is competent to meet the academic challenges ahead, and has support for everything else.

I've been comforted by the texts we have se…

Mary Karr Interview

Thanks, Mary.

Tiger Woods : How Far the Great Have Fallen

With news this morning that Tiger missed the cut in the latest PGA tournament, sports journalists are beginning to comment on his astonishing fall from golf and sports greatness. It does seem as if his personal and professional troubles have created a failure that reminds us of an airplane in free fall. How could someone with such unusual talent lose it so disastrously?

There is something of gloating in all this talk, too. After all, who among us doesn't feel just a bit of pleasure in seeing the untouchable hero now seem so human?

While the sports writers opine over this and that detail, it seems sadly simple to me. He is suffering, and his life is demonstrating the difficulty he is having holding all the pieces of his super-star world together. What propelled him to greatness - his focus, consistency, precision, unflappability - are all possible because he once managed an internal calm. Even if that calm was managed, or maybe controlled, even masked, by dozens of handlers, unlim…

More Deadlines

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It's Thursday night, and I have more writing deadlines. I'm late on my professional blog post at GoodTherapy.org (again), and I have a sermon to do for Sunday.

For the first 12 years of my parish ministry life, I preached about 46 Sunday sermons a year. I had time away for vacation, and occasionally for continuing education, or a bout with laryngitis, or a special guest preacher, but otherwise, I had a deadline every week. In addition, each year I had a half dozen Lenten sermons to write, a dozen or more funeral sermons to prepare, half a dozen wedding sermons, and a dozen or more newsletter columns to do. When I joined a staff for my last 8 years in the parish, the rhythm slowed to about every third Sunday plus the added services which I led. That's a lot of writing to the clock. That's a lot of writing, period. I know I learned to cope with this demand while an English major in college. What I remember most about my Major are the piles of papers I had to produce in e…

Oh No You Don't

Medical docs, you don't get to run over a patient and their therapist with your assumptions just because you believe you can.

Yesterday one of my long term clients called me to ask for a psychiatrist referral. The message was a puzzle, so I called her back to learn the details.

She had been in to see a doctor for medication for an infection. After that examination, blood work and diagnosis was over, the doctor asked my client about an older mental health diagnosis that was in the chart. "Well, I see that you were diagnosed XXX in the past." "Yes," my client answered, "but my current therapist assures me I don't have XXX anymore." Well, that information was ignored. My client was ushered in to see yet another physician who "specialized" in mental health issues. He proceeded to give her a brief screening, and in a few minutes told her that while she probably didn't have XXX anymore she probably had ADHD.  She should see a psychiatrist …

‪What is a healthy marriage?‬‏ - YouTube

MFT research in the last 15 or so years points to this key concept of healthy marriages:  a secure, trustworthy, consistent emotional bond between the partners.  Dr. Sue Johnson talk about this in this brief, helpful video. Check it out :-)  What is a healthy marriage?‬‏ - YouTube

Just Kidding.....Not

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I've had the pleasure of being around girls in their early teens quite a lot the past few years, and I have noticed a quirky turn of their conversation that has got me thinking.

One girl in the midst of a conversation with another girl will say something critical, blunt, or even hostile;  pause;  and then follow up immediately with a smile and "Just kidding!" Thinking it might have been a style of humor unique to one (particular) girl I know very well, I listened for it when these girls were together in groups, or chatting back and forth on Facebook, or in conversations I overheard while driving or waiting for them (I'm always waiting for them).

Over and over the same pattern. Critique, "just kidding," then the other girl usually follows with a response that might be equally snarly and if not met with a light heart and smile in return. The first girl might answer with another blunt remark. Et cetera. I've often wonder how these relationships survive this…

A time of grace for women clergy | The Christian Century

Yes, women clergy can be particularly lonely. A retreat and contemplative community reaches out and gives a healing embrace:

A time of grace for women clergy | The Christian Century

I just can't believe it!

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Remaking the Heartland, by Robert Wuthnow | The Christian Century

Robert Wuthnow, a preeminent sociologist of religion, has written a new book about our region of the country. But this reviewer says he writes surprisingly little of the Christian church's influence on the culture. Odd.

Remaking the Heartland, by Robert Wuthnow | The Christian Century

What's So Bad About Excellence?

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I had another conversation with my professional mentor last week, and she said something about me and my good friend, K, as we finished the conversation:

... "it's because you (both) over-function."

Now, if you have been part of my training in psychotherapy, you would know that over-functioning is not a great thing. It's not even a good thing. It implies that I regularly do more in my relationships than is necessary or even helpful. I felt the power of her comment today in a session with a couple in which I was working hard, being helpful, resourceful, and empathetic all at once. I was working, but I was working very hard.

But here's the rub: what's the difference between doing more than necessary and striving for excellence? Because that's what I see myself doing. Pursuing professional and personal excellence. My clients count on me to bring a centered self into their time with me, a professional who has done her homework, reflected on their lives with…

Asking Permission

One of the most irksome things I've heard people say in conversation lately is this little quip: "After all, it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission."

What this says to me is that most people are so convinced of the entrenchment of power in their various workplaces, families and organizations that they would rather move ahead on their own initiative, knowing they will have to repent and grovel for a moment or two when confronted instead of go through the rigamarole and nonsense of trying to get something done the expected or defined way.

I love initiative. I really (REALLY) hate power plays. But just doing something, knowing you will have to apologize later for it, smacks of manipulation to me. It's much more honest to try to accomplish things by the accepted process, get stopped in one's tracks, and then decide to act anyway, knowing the consequences, than to act anyway without announcing your intention.

Those whose behavior constantly calls for (pla…

Does Handwriting Matter Anymore?

As someone who collects and uses fountain pens every day, I really value the importance of handwriting and what it does for and with our daily lives. According to this study, even with all the digital tools we now have, no one is about to stop writing by hand any time soon.

Will handwriting survive in the digital era? Learn the provocative results of a new study | The Hot Word | Hot & Trending Words Daily Blog at Dictionary.com

Post Rapture: Why We're Still Here

Did you find yourself just a little distracted Saturday night, May 21st around 6:00pm? If you were, you weren’t alone. It was hard to ignore the latest, confident predictions by fundamentalist Christian preacher and Family Radio Network owner HaroldCamping about the end of the world. Never mind that he had predicted the same “rapture” of the few faithful, the destruction of the world and the suffering of millions left behind before. And had been wrong, of course. His predictions, sent around the world via radio, newspaper articles, billboards, internet posts and video links gave him a platform of influence like never before. People persuaded of his insight are said to have sold homes, cashed in pensions, quit jobs and left incredulous families behind to publically warn their neighbors, just like Old Testament prophets of old. The date came and went. But Camping didn’t miss a beat, saying he hadn’t had all the data he needed, the real day for the rapture, he now says, is thi…

Being Blog • Complicated Grief: How to Lessen Pain that Persists

As I have tried to help people, both as a pastor and now as a therapist, move through their experience of grief, I have not had a good model for what is known as complicated grief. Complex or complicated grief lasts longer than most people mourn a loss, and is so intense it blocks every other life experience of drive, desire and pleasure.

Researchers at UCLA have made brain scans of complex grief that look and behave like trauma would. Treating complex grief with a model of exposure therapy has shown a great deal of promise for people.

At last, a map for this territory!

Being Blog • Complicated Grief: How to Lessen Pain that Persists

Loose connections | The Christian Century

Another great article thinking about the changes in mainline Church.

Loose connections | The Christian Century

Major Mental Illness (MMI) and the Family

For all the research that has been done in the last twenty years attempting to understand the brain, the organ at the top of our spine retains its essential mystery. We know more now than ever how the brain works, how it has developed over the centuries to do the miraculous things it does, and what is happening to it when it gets injured. Doctors, parents, coaches and professional athletes are more alert to the dangers of brain concussion. Neurologists study to become adept at repairing the brain with surgery, cellular transplant, or electrical stimulus. Every one of us has a stake in the health of our minds. But no one has now, or may ever, understand what to do when a brain loses its essential emotion balance. Major mental illnesses (MMI) like bipolar disorder, major depression, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorders, and severe personality disorders are currently treated with hospitalization, a variety of medicines, and several kinds of therapies including group, art, music, phys…

Missed Deadline

Chalk it up to personal development; I missed a writing deadline and I haven't fainted dead away.

For a writer, a deadline is a looming, ever-present line in the sand. The Thing Which Must Be Met.

All through college, seminary and grad school, I have made my writing deadlines. With more or less aplomb. For twenty years I had weekly sermon deadlines. And those deadlines were deadly, let me tell you. There is absolutely no getting around a Sunday morning pulpit. Nothing quite so serious, at least for me. I have written a spiritual reflections column every dozen weeks or so for a local paper since 1997. That's over 100 columns of over 500 words each. I have pushed my editor a time or two, but never failed to make my deadline.

And I write as a volunteer for an online psychotherapy directory, GoodTherapy.org. I'm one of their Family Therapy topic experts. I have had this monthly gig for about a year and a half. It's here, in my volunteer world of therapy expert, that I mis…

Sitting All Day Is Worse For You Than You Might Think : NPR

Even with daily exercise, don't just SIT THERE all day!

Sitting All Day Is Worse For You Than You Might Think : NPR

Pr. Rob Bell's Revision

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Rob Bell, evangelical pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, MI, is making quite a stir with his new book, "Love Wins." I hope lots of people read his words. I hope they come to his side of the old Christian debate about the nature of salvation and the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.  While I haven't read his book, I know what it contains. It contains much of what I have been taught, studied, preached, written about and believed about God's intention for the human world through the life, ministry and death of Jesus.