Friday, July 31, 2009

Cultivating Awareness & The Kingdom of God

by Scott Rieger

Derek, your comments concerning my blog entry "Focused Petition" are well taken. How do I (or do I) put these "great ideas" (of entering & receiving the KOG) into practice? The short answer is that much of the time I don't, but when I do it usually starts with cultivating a fresh awareness of God. I find that when my thoughts of God become static, it's time to invite him to break into my world again. My world can become small very quickly. So...

1. I find something like the following on which to meditate and reflect.

Excerpts from "The Divine Conspiracy" by Dallas Willard

"Jesus' good news about the kingdom can be an effective guide for our lives only if we share his view of the world in which we live. To his eyes this is a God-bathed and God-permeated world. It is a world filled with a glorious reality, where every component is with-in the range of God's direct knowledge and control - though he obviously permits some of it, for good reasons, to be for awhile otherwise than he wishes. It is a world that is inconceivably beautiful and good because of God and because God is always in it. It is a world in which God is continually at play and over which he constantly rejoices. Until our thoughts of God have found every visible thing and event glorious with his presence, the word of Jesus has not fully seized us....

"We should, to begin with, think that God leads a very interesting life, and that he is full of joy...

"Now, Jesus himself was and is a joyous, creative person. He does not allow us to continue thinking of our Father who fills and overflows space as a morose and miserable monarch, a frustrated and petty parent, or a policeman on the prowl.

"One cannot think of God in such ways while confronting Jesus' declaration 'He that has seen me has seen the Father.' One of the most outstanding features of Jesus' personality was precisely an abundance of joy. This he left as an inheritance to his students, "that their joy might be full" is deeply illuminating of kingdom living to understand that his steady happiness was not ruled out by his experience of sorrow and grief.

"So we must understand that God does not "love" us without liking us-through gritted teeth-as "Christian" love is sometimes thought to do. Rather, out of the eternal freshness of his perpetually self-renewed being, the heavenly Father cherishes the earth and each human being upon it. The fondness, the endearment, the unstintingly affectionate regard of God toward his creatures is the natural outflow of what he is to the core....

2. As this "sinks in" I can begin to see that there are options. I find that I can focus on what it is that is stirring in me - could be any number of things - and I am able to invite God's gracious and generous activity (KOG) into those things...(Let you Kingdom come). I keep inviting God's activity into these things (could be days/weeks/months) and wrestling until I have peace or clarity. The more deeply that I am convinced of God's goodness, the more quickly I seem to resolve issues or just move forward in faith.

The challenge here, as I see it, is to seek to be ravished by the goodness and nearness of God. If we can cultivate greater awareness and be more specific in our petitions / requests maybe we will see more of the KOG than we ever expected.

21st Century Hybrid Sustainable Organizations

Continuum of 21 Century hybrid organizations - where sustainable Leveraged Non Profits meet Social Businesses in the global marketplace. For further reference check out The Power of Unreasonable People - How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change The World by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan and Creating a World Without Poverty - Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus

Another White Board by O'Steven

Map of Christian Practice & The Great Emergence

(Click on photo for greater detail.)
Map of Christian Practice as adapted for ongoing discussion by our Open Hand community: Another White Board by O'Steven
The Great Emergence - How Christianity Is Changing and Why
by Phyllis Tickle

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Focused Petition and the Kingdom of God

by Scott Rieger

What if we enthusiastically wrestle and embrace the idea that God is very much at work in the world, is far more committed to it than we are (John 5:17), and is looking for people to partner with him in this work. We, individually and collectively, have ideas and dreams but lack the resources to move forward with many of them. The arena where God's work and our dreams collaborate is found in Jesus' invitation to the Kingdom of God.

Definition: Kingdom of God (KOG) = Not heaven but God's gracious, generous activity in the world. The two Bible verbs associated with KOG are 1. Receive & 2. Enter....into God's gracious action and activity. The idea of building or advancing the KOG is not a Bible idea.

Our strategy becomes a two-fold approach:

1. Receive - seek to be transformed into spirit-empowered apprentices. A rather crude analogy of this would be my experience as a "apprentice" to my dad in his business. One of the major reasons that I had any success at all in business is closely tied to partnering with my dad for 7 years...apart from this "discipleship" I would not have been able to do much of anything. "Apart from me you can do nothing." Jesus.

2. Enter - as individuals of a community that values wrestling, risk, adventure with God. What if we began to offer up our ideas and dreams to God for critique, wisdom, direction, resource, empowerment - looking for synergies (the working together of two things, muscles or drugs for example, to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects) between his work and our dreams. The story of Jacob wrestling with the "angel" at the river Jabbok and refusing to let go until he receives blessing comes to mind. These would be focused, specific and measurable. To me the challenge here is to "cross" the river by wrestling with God.

Preparation for the Life to Come - Dallas Willard

Those who remain undiscipled in this age will not be developed as they should be for their responsibilities in the next age. I don't think, for example, that a person who steps into the next world as a child of God is going to have problems with rebellion against God, doing what they know to be wrong. But there is much more to our personality than that, because life is not just a matter of "not sinning." When people have lived a life of sin, that affects everything about them - their capacity to live in a social context or their ability to handle jobs and carry out projects - which I believe is what we will be doing in the age to come.

I do think Scripture teaches personal, though not moral, development in the life to come. I think the image of God in man is creative goodness, and that we are enlisted into God's cause. The clear teaching of Scripture is that we will reign with him forever and ever. We will serve him forever. So we need to understand that that is the capacity in which we will continue to grow. And we will never cease growing in that regard.

So, suppose you have the responsibility of running a solar system? That's going to be a demand on you, even though you're going to be running it with God! So the rule is, if you were faithful over two cities, take five. People who have matured in their relationship with god are going to have a much better idea of how to run cities with God. Those who have not will have a lot of learning to do. So I think our preparation now makes a lot of difference. Once you get over the idea that you are going to be warehoused for all eternity when you die, lying about on shelves, listening to harp playing on Muzak, you can see how it makes a real difference.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Emergent Church Theology

Montserrat Benedictine Monastery - Catalonia, Spain

"We have yet to create a discipline of theology for the new century that is upon us. One hopes it is a world less in love with technology, less divided between materialism and spiritual extravagance, and less removed from the antique virtues of reverence and piety.

This new theology, in my utopian imagination, would be equal in validity and importance to any science. It would be thoroughly nonsectarian, even as it drew upon every imaginable instance of creed, worship, and holy text. It would be an applied discipline, its practitioners guiding governments and individual lives. It would largely replace, or at least modify, the therapeutic culture that developed in the twentieth century, and thus restore, in every aspect of individual and social life, attention to the eternal.

A new theology could address the depth of emotion and imagination that both inspires and deeply troubles the modern person, a depth not accessible to the sciences and to materialistic philosophies.

The Education of the Heart by Thomas Moore

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Connect up the Genogram to promote connection down the generations

Connecting up the family tree is probably the most important move you can make to help you mature, relate in healthy ways to others, and live a deeper life. It will give you the ability to CHOOSE what you want for your life and will benefit generations to come in the same way. It’s difficult to move forward with your life in a healthy way when there is unfinished business in your family of origin. RELATE to your parents as much as you can as an adult, showing them who you really are, though it may be hard. It often feels very uncomfortable and quite unnatural but if you take this step it has the potential to create innate changes in the way you relate in all your other relationships. This process is always a work in progress. Starting this process helps you take responsibility for your role in the family, lessens your defensiveness, inspires humility and truly opens your eyes to all people. This is what makes it Biblical for me. It is a process that enables me to truly hear from GOD because I am more open. Connecting with in-laws is much easier when you understand your own family better. You are less likely to take things personally as you understand what fuels behavior. You begin to see anxiety at work in family members and are able at times to step out of the reactivity of the situation and diffuse the cycle by changing your behavior. You have the power to change no-one. You have the power to change your interaction with family members and in-laws and in so doing create the potential to change your relationships and your SELF in the process. Be challenged.
ecting up the family tree is probably the most important move you can make to help you mature, relate in healthy ways to others, and live a deeper life. It will give you the ability to CHOOSE what you want for your life and will benefit generations to come in the same way. It’s difficult to move forward with your life in a healthy way when there is unfinished business in your family of origin. RELATE to your parents as much as you can as an adult, showing them who you really are, though it may be hard. It often feels very uncomfortable and quite unnatural but if you take this step it has the potential to create innate changes in the way you relate in all your other relationships. This process is always a work in progress. Starting this process helps you take responsibility for your role in the family, lessens your defensiveness, inspires humility and truly opens your eyes to all people. This is what makes it Biblical for me. It is a process that enables me to truly hear from GOD because I am more open. Connecting with in-laws is much easier when you understand your own family better. You are less likely to take things personally as you understand what fuels behavior. You begin to see anxiety at work in family members and are able at times to step out of the reactivity of the situation and diffuse the cycle by changing your behavior. You have the power to change no-one. You have the power to change your interaction with family members and in-laws and in so doing create the potential to change your relationships and your SELF in the process. Be challenged.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Social Business and the Future of Capitalism

Highlights from Creating A World Without Poverty - Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus

PMB's = Profit maximizing businesses

CRS = corporate social responsibility takes two primary forms and may be built on good intentions but some misuse the concept:
1.) Do no harm to people or the planet (unless that means sacrificing profit)
2.) Do good for people and the planet (as long a you can do so without sacrificing profits)

"We will do the socially responsible thing - so long as it doesn't prevent us from making the largest possible profit."

By nature - corporations are not equipped to deal with social problems, to make a profit is the goal, not to solve difficult social issues

Social Business = entrepreneurs set up these type of businesses not to achieve unlimited personal gain, but to pursue specific social goals...

New type of business - dedicated to solving social and environmental problems....same as PMB's but they differ in their objectives

Like all businesses - they employ workers, create goods and services, and provide these to customers for a price consistent with their objectives

Primary criterion - emphasis is on creating social benefits for those whose lives it touches

Definition - A social business is a company that is cause driven rather than profit driven, with the potential to act as a change agent for the is not a charity, it is a business in every sense except that investors who support it do not take profits out of the company except to recoup the original investment over a period of time. (on continuum = this could be just recouping the original investment or the original investment plus a minimum rate of interest, 1-3%)

Non-profit / NGO's - are different in that they don't recover their total costs, depending instead on charitable donations, foundation grants, or gov't support to implement their programs. They are forced to spend part of their time fund raising.

Social business - operated in accordance with for-profit management principles...aiming at full recovery, or more, as it concentrates on creating products or services that provide a social benefit. It pursues this goal by charging sustainable market prices/fees for the products and services it creates.

Generate - profitable sales revenues while creating benefits to society....(if it has to rely on subsidies and donations to cover the costs it is not a social business), just another non-profit charity

Expanded definition: "Thus, a social business is designed and operated as a business enterprise, with products, services, customers, markets, expenses, and revenues - but with the profit-maximization principle replaced by the social-benefit principle. Rather than seeking to amass the highest possible level of financial profit to be enjoyed by the investors, the social business seeks to achieve a social objective."....and I might add, while making a profit.

Profits - unlike non-profits/charities , social business has owners who are entitled to recoup their investments.....(can't incur losses indefinitely) - it might be defined as a non-loss, non-dividend business.

Surplus = rather than being passed on to investors, is reinvested in the business. Ultimately it is plowed back into the target market group of beneficiaries in such forms as lower prices, better services, and greater accessibility.

Profitability - is important to social business, first to pay back investors, and secondly to support the pursuit of long-term social goals....

Long term road map - generating a surplus enables the social business to expand its horizons in many ways.....expanding its market share and locations, improving quality, efficiencies, research and development, introducing new technologies, innovations etc....

Bottom line - of social business is to operate without incurring losses while serving the people and the planet - and in particular those among us who are most disadvantaged, in the best possible manner.

Why invest in social business: investors can get the same satisfaction they get from philanthropy, as giving to a charity, but eventually getting their investment back to use again and again.

1.) social business is self-sustaining, self-propelling, self-perpetuating, self-expanding, continuing to grow
2.) investors get their money back and can re-invest
3.) exciting opportunity for business minded people to give back doing what they do best - running a business with the purpose of creatively tackling social problems
4.) investor not only gets money back, but can remain an owner and help the company decide its future course of action
5.) marketplace now has some new and exciting options - as social business enters the market on equal footing, (not public relations window), they operate in the same market place with PMB's
6.) consumers can decide on whether to support social benefits organizations or PMB's in the same marketplace
7.) social businesses also compete with one another, for customers, investors, etc.
8.) adds new kind of competition to the marketplace - one based on social benefits achieved

Key - social business brings the advantages of free-market competition into the world of social improvement....(competition has always been a powerful positive force for change)

Early stage - of social business development without clear outlines - they will unfold over time

Differences between social business and social entrepreneur:
Social entrepreneur - is a very broad idea and is generally defined as any innovative initiative to help people - it may be economic, or non-economic, for-profit or not-for-profit. Best known is Ashoka Foundation and Bill Drayton, Skoll Foundation, Schwab Foundation for Social Entreprenenurship with the mission to find, support and encourage social entrepreneurs around the world

Subset - social business is a specific subset of social entrepreneurship (but not all social entrepreneur's are working in a social business)

Some of my thoughts:
Hybrid - he doesn't think it is possible in the real world to operate business with two conflicting goals of profit maximization and social benefits....he thinks they gradually migrate towards maximizing profit at the expense of social missions....

Another way - some (like Open Hand) have worked at combining the dynamism of self-sufficiency / sustainable business with the pursuit of worthy social goals through the creation of nonprofit organizations that sell socially beneficial products and services. He doesn't see these as true social businesses as defined above. Partly because they generally achieve only partial cost recovery, which means that they do not attain the "lift-off velocity" that would enable them to escape the gravitional pull of dependence on charity.

Main draw back - these organizations don't have the investor-owner feature that distinguishes social businesses, creating a source of funds with an interest in ensuring both the efficiency and effectiveness of the social benefits generated by the business.

Summary = well apparently he hasn't seen the likes of Open Hand - we are a small, ten year hybrid/experimental version of an "international-social-business-mission-emergent-faith- not-for-profit organziation" that is looking to grow into a more robust and innovative global social business with a variety of worldwide marketplace opportunities to serve the less fortunate among us....Amen.
More soon - over and out!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More Blood on Our Hands

Open Hand will get it.

Josh will kill it.

Nolan will cook it.

We will eat it.

Pitch-in Feast Sunday, September 20th 6:00 pm

"To live we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation....when we do this knowlingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such a desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want." Wendell Berry

Friday, July 17, 2009

$117,000 Grant for Mana Deschisa Campus

On Monday, July 13, Open Hand USA wired over $117,000 for the ongoing development of the new Mana Deschisa Campus in Campina, Romania.

The TIMKEN FOUNDATION of Canton, Ohio has graciously donated enough funds for Mana Deschisa to complete the first new residential treatment facility on the campus.

Young adults from the streets of Bucharest will live in this large double with a therapeutic foster family residing in the top apartment. This is an exciting new development for helping these "students" bond with caring adults in a more natural home-like environment.

We would like to begin matching those funds from other donors and investors here in Indianapolis and the USA. If you would like to get involved in this developing project let us know.
You can reach me at:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

R.E.A.C.T. # 89 goes to Canada !

Well done Monette! You are maybe the first Canadian (unless perhaps the Hatton's and their daughter Mary Hatton O'Brian were once Canadian's) to ever receive the prestigious Rhino Expedition Team REACT !

Monette received highest honors (A+ 4.3 out of 4.0) during her three month internship with our home-based counseling in cooperation with YWAM Switzerland. She fit in exceptionally well with our great team that included Evelyn, Kathryn, Leah, Josh, Sean, Scott and myself.

With Monette at Rieger's lake: Steve, Monette, Yuri (Russia), Hero (Japan), Scott and Jeff.
We say CHEERS!!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Don't take it personally

Shitz.......when was the last time you ruined someone's life. How many times have you heard "If it wasn't for you I'd be......bla, bla, bla freakin happy!" Chances are that somebody has broadcast a similar accusation your way, and the older you get the more opportunities you have to step into that shocking projection of a friend, spouse, parent, sibling, associate or adult child (heck today we even hear it from ten year old kids yelling at their mom's.)

Don't take it personally. I'm always reminded of Rod's typically nonanxious statement to distraught "victims" of such an outburst: "Relax, you are just not that powerful." Apparently, unless you are a King or Queen (or pathologically abusive to children who can't yet stand on their own two feet) it is almost impossible to wreck another person's life.

Rabbi Freidman's constant encouragement that the maturity of our response to such common pathogens (reactive outbursts) is much more important than the actual accusation itself, is the key to personal growth and stewardship of self.

It seems that the majority of blame throwers are just reacting out of their own pent up fears and anxieties. Heck, reactive sabotage may even be a sign that you are actually on the right track. So don't take it personally. Remember his five keys to effective leadership of self and others:

1.) generate the capacity to separate yourself from the surrounding emotional processes
2.) increase your capacity to obtain clarity about your guiding principles and life goals/vision
3.) be willing to be exposed and to be vulnerable - be "fierce with reality"
4.) manifest persistence in the face of inertial resistance, from friends, associates and family
5.) focus on self-regulation (taking personal responsibility) in the face of reactive sabotage.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

John Calvin & Neelah Grace 7-10-1509 / 2009

"Wisdom lies in knowing God and knowing oneself."

(Calvin's Institutes: Part 1 Knowledge of God the Creator - Section 1 The Whole Sum of Wisdom - first sentence)

Neelah Grace, may you likewise upon entering this world, find yourself on an imaginative adventure of self discovery in the coming years as you lean into experiencing and knowing your Creator God! And Neelah Grace, may the spirit of wisdom that resided in John Calvin through faith, hope and love, also populate your being....Amen.

John Calvin, a convert to Reformation Christianity was born 500 years ago in Noyon, France, on July 10, 1509. Neelah Grace was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on July 10, 2009.

"Calvin is best know for his influence on the city of Geneva. It was there that he modeled many of the principles of liberty later embraced by America's Founders, including anti-statism, the belief in transcendent principles of law as the foundation of an ethical legal system, free market economics, decentralized authority, an educated citizenry as a safeguard against tyranny, and republican representative government which was accountable to the people and a higher law."

"Those who consider Calvin only a theologian fail to recognize the breadth of his genius. The editing of our wise laws in which he had a large share, does him as much credit as his Institutes... so long as the love of country and liberty is not extinct amongst us, the memory of this great man will be held in reverence." Jean Jacques Rousseau

Once again, I have to forgive the French - shame!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wanted - A Few Courageous Mates

I am reminded that it took Columbus over ten years to get his wild vision birthed...can you imagine riding around Europe for over a decade trying to sell the idea that heading West (instead of East) was the way to go? I wonder how he recruited a crew when he finally got the financing from the monarch in Barcelona? Obviously he couldn't sail the ship by himself. (Cloumbus Monument - Barcelona)

How was he comfortable risking everyone's life, family relations and personal reputations with his wacky scheme? How did the crew decide to join him? I suppose those reluctant mates that cast their lot with Columbus were in it for more than just the adventure and that future rewards must have been a powerful motivator.

The good news is that Open Hand USA and Mana Deschisa Romania have been experimenting in the marketplace (like Columbus did initially in the Mediterranean Sea) for the past decade with various combinations of crews from all over the world as we applied Bowen Theory and Rabbi Friedman's focus on
strength in the rough and tumble world of home-based
counseling for the chronically disadvantated in Indianapolis and a homeless rescue ministry for the marginalized young adults of Romania.

For the most part both communities here and in Campina have been successful in building and sustaining effective interventions for hundreds of families and scores of homeless and chronically poor men, women and children.

Everyone including our mates (staff, interns and volunteers) have got what they needed to thrive - including but not limited to 12 college credit hours, a real world outreach that changed them as much as the less fortunate they worked with, paid housing when appropriate, and a good wage for staff and crew as they all became seasoned sailors, able to navigate in all kinds of challenging conditions.

We didn't lose anyone in the past decade and no one was thrown overboard (although we did have a few that mutinied as they were overcome with anxiety). So we now find our selves in a favorable position to gather the necessary resources once again to head out with confidence on new ventures into uncharted territories.

As you know, Rabbi Friedman talked a lot about our current "failure of nerve" with risk averse leadership that is more seat belt orientated than visionary and pioneering. Certainly the challenge of change and spirit of adventure is not for the faith of heart anymore today than it was for the folks that lined up with Columbus on the docks of Barcelona.

Open Hand USA and Mana Deschisa Romania need seasoned global mates that can navigate by the stars on a cloudy day, that have survived many dangerous journeys into the unknown, and have successfully charted their way through undiscovered wilds that most people only dream about visiting once they are tamed and civilized.

So Marshall and I hope you can overcome any instinctual anxiety (the thief of dreams) with a measured response to multiple challenges, and with the faith and hope of a visionary like Columbus, might find the courage to sail with us soon. We are looking for spirited and resourceful local and international mates that are hanging around the docks and seaports wanting to crew a ship heading West toward untold adventures.

On most heroic voyages in days gone by, the ship had at most two navigators (rarely more) so that if one died or was thrown overboard, the other could steer the crew successfully homeward. Thank God that today with modern GPS, each sailor can take more personal responsibility and never have to kiss the Captain's ass to get home. Amen.

Looking over the horizion,

Friday, July 10, 2009


".....the prime notion of truth within Christianity is directly connected with liberation and transformation rather than with objective description. For instance, when we read that Christ is the truth and that knowing the truth will set us free, we come face to face with truth, not as the objective affirmation of a proposition (as if that would set anyone free), but rather as that which arises from a life-giving encounter. The Truth in Christianity is not described but experienced. This is not then the affirmation of some objective description concerning Truth but rather describes a relation with the Truth. In other words, Truth is God and having knowledge of the Truth is evidenced, not in a doctrinal system, but in allowing that Truth to be incarnated in one's life. Hence, this claim of Christ is not a way of claiming that some theoretical system will bring new life, but a way of saying that by entering into a relationship with God we will find liberation. To know the Truth is thus to be known and transformed by the truth."

Peter Rollins - How (Not) To Speak of God

Thursday, July 9, 2009

With Blood on Our Hands

Open Hand will get it

Josh will kill it

Nolan will cook it

We will eat it

With blood on our hands

At the next tribal gathering.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Love Poem - The Body of Christ

In the Way Things Have Been

We have said:
we are gay
we are straight
we are queer
we are not
we are men
we are women
we have divided our own Body into Us and Them.
We have believed lies
we have told lies.

And the Way Things Could Be:

Our God calls us to believe that
all men, all women, are human
equal in the sight of eternity.
We share the same breath
we inhabit our bodies
we are all fed by blood
and love
and food
and water.
We celebrate and mourn
we rejoice and we grieve.

We Search for a New Way of Being:

We have been created with dignity
we have been created in love.
We respond to the call to return to who we truly are
who we were meant to be
in Community, in Diversity, in Conversation, in Love.
We are the Body of Christ.
The Body of Christ is queer,
is man, is woman,
is straight.
The Body of Christ is the people of God,
gathered here, and carried in our hearts.
This is the body we have, this is our body.

How (Not) To Speak of God by Peter Rollins
IKON Community


"It was one of the watershed events in my life, like your first car, your first day at university, or when you decide to like coffee or dislike Madonna. They were the decisions that, one way or another, started to define your life and your identity. For me, of course, the one that truly stands head and shoulders above all those mundanities was the day that I finally decided to inform my parents that I was straight.

It seemed so absurd not to tell them. I was an adult; I'd moved out years ago. Everyone close to me knew I was straight. And my sister swore up and down that my father had known for years.

I don't know what exactly I was expecting, but what I got was that reserved and quiet resignation and forced understanding which seems to be unique to people of my parents' generation. My mother, who has always disliked the term 'straight', kept using the word 'heterosexual', which made me feel a bit like a lab animal.

My father didn't let on whether he'd known or not, but his composed exterior did seem reasonably genuine. As with most other things, he was processing it all deep inside himself: "My son is a straight man. My son is attracted to women." We've always got on fine, and I do think that he didn't want to turn into the stereotypical disappointed dad.

Introducing them to Elizabeth was the next hurdle. This, of course, was like having to do the whole announcement all over again. This was when it all became real. I was inviting my parents into my whole 'heterosexual' world. Luckily, Liz is incredible, and once they'd met her, my parents enjoyed her very much as a person. After they'd left, Liz and I had a good laugh at my mother's studied usage of the word 'heterosexual'.

I should have known that the final hurdle would be big family get-togethers like Christmas. My mother has quietly made it known to me that she'd 'prefer' that Liz not come, the pretense being not upsetting my grandmother. It's not the first time that my mother has pulled this tactic out of the bag, by the way - make my grandma the villain. I just want to scream, 'Grandma knows!' She's known I was straight since I was 14! Never have I felt more accepted by anyone on earth than by her, and she's 85! Why do you think that I talk to her, Mother, and not to you? It's because she was the one who looked deep into a teenager's eyes and said, 'Well, don't you forget that God loves you , and I love you....Now go out there and meet some gorgeous girl!'

Thanks, grandma.

An anonymous story written by someone in the IKON community.
How (Not) To Speak of God by Peter Rollins

Quantum Kingdom of God

"We never have enough time, energy or money, but we always have more than we need."


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mana Deschisa & The San Patrignano Community

Mana Deschisa Leadership
Larisa Marshall Gigi Sara

In 2006, the founder of Europe's largest drug rehab community - The San Patrignano Community - of northern Italy, was named "Social Entrepreneur of the Year" at the World Economic Forum in recognition of the success of this community's recovery model.

Begun in Rimini, Italy in 1978 with 20 volunteers, the San Patrignano Community has been at work for over thirty years and helped rehabilitate more than 20,000 people to a drug free condition.

Like Mana Deschisa Romania, this thriving community has integrated traditionally separate structures - with business/non-profit/government/social welfare - all mixing together in new and innovative ways where rehabilitation meets economic sustainability and prosperity.

Here is a sumary of their wonderful work and you can find them at:

Mission: (much like Mana Deschisa)
  • To welcome and rehabilitate
  • To offer this service completely free of charge
  • To put an end to addiction
  • To use professional training
  • To provide support to families
  • To collect sustainable economic resources through our activities
Treatment: as with any successful program, depends upon the individuals desire to work to change his or her life, while being integrated into society (not in a gated community) as they thrive with daily interaction in the local marketplace.

From its inception the founders believed that there was "a business solution to the drug addict's life." They realized early on that collaborative relationships with the external world were critical to the community's long term success.

Vision is now reality with dozens of professional training sectors (over 50) or industry clusters, cooperatives ranging from wine making to high-end furniture, and even state of the art publishing. The kitchen produces over 4,000 meals daily and the majority of food is produced by the community.

Members: They have over 1,800 members and over 150 volunteers, many of whom are former addicts. They also have over 200 professionals and consultants that contribute to the many activities which take place at San Patrignano, like legal assistance and medical care.

The success of the community now rests on more than the vision of one person and in the hands of all the members that perpetuate a myth and a vision of a collective awareness and altruism.

Adapted from Phelps Equine Word News Jan. 14, 2007

What an inspiration!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Denmark and Social Justice Capitalism

Hey Hey C....

Just thinking of you as I was reading about Mill and your comments outlining the dis-ease (contemporary division) between individual freedom and social redistribution.

"Society cannot have both individual freedom and social redistrubution because taking away from some to benefit others is considered a violation of individual rights."

I am reminded of Denmark (and all of Scandinavia actually) and enjoyed the Time article entitled, "Denmark's Difference - high taxes, a welfare state, strong unions: how an unlikely formula delivers for the Danes."

Having been in Denmark and more recently Norway, I could relate to the reality of the theme highlighted in this article.

With living standards among the highest in the world and per capita income slightly behind the U.S.A., it amazingly has been able to distribute it far more equitably. Denmark has its fair share of smallish, forward looking companies that are well positioned in high growth areas and currently ranks third by the WEF in most competitive enconomies in the world.

Amazingly it accomplishes this with the second highest tax rate in capitalist nations, only behind Sweden, which is just behind Denmark in the competitiveness rankings. They have a generous welfare state, heavily unionized labor force and a minimum of five paid weeks off per year.

They have all manners of business friendly policies - including low corporate tax rates, few restrictions on trade, and it is the easiest place in Europe to fire people. They have come to call their approach "flexicurity" and it includes beefed up job-retraining programs, social protections and unemployment benefits that last up to four years. They also have free education, free health care, and a flexible labor market that adjusts well to the challenges of globalization.

Perhaps their size and homogeneity - 5.4 million people, one tribe with a thousand year history, help. They are more like an enormous clan than a modern melting pot of immigrants. They are also known for their stubborn informality and disrespect for authority. I have experienced first hand on several occassions these rather charming traits and would pick Danes (and Swedes and Norweigans) on my team before almost any other nationality. With clear goals they take the ball and run with it when given freedom and flexibility.

"....the fact that Denmark has combined a dynamic economy with a tax burden almost double that of the US gives the lie to many economic arguments made over the past quarter-century. There's more than one way, it turns our, to be competitive." Amen!
Cheers to the Danes,
During a family crisis/drama there are two options or perhaps more. One is to get pulled into the emotional reactivity of the situation. This is usually the first response that feels natural and justified. There is another option, however, that is much harder to do. This entails thinking and processing for as long as it takes to calm the reactivity within you that naturally rears up. Usually I go through a myriad of reactions ranging from extreme hurt and anger to exclaiming that "I don't really care anyway" and "it's their loss".

When I am able to respond to the person or persons involved, after getting out all my reactivity that comes from my own internal struggles, I am growing. I am not always able to do this but when I am, an internal change takes place within me, and I know I am maturing. I choose to look at the situation as an opportunity for growth rather than pain that has been inflicted upon me. When I am able to do this, peace resides in my heart, and my anxiety greatly diminishes.

This is not to say that these situations do not hurt at a deep level. This is why I give myself time to acknowledge the hurt, express the feelings in my head or often to my husband (shame), and then try to understand the other person's point of view or limited point of view knowing that nobody is perfect, I choose to forgive and ask for forgiveness for any part that I have played in the situation.

I am not a victim. Woe is not me. I choose to walk:" with my hands open, with my eyes open, I just keep moving hoping your heart opens." [snowpatrol- eyes open]

In my talk with Sarayu this morning she said: "Rest emotionally and mentally in Me." This is where peace is found and many are searching the world over for just a hint of it. Fear is the enemy of love. True love casts out all fear. I love you Sarayu. I love you Yahweh.

Characteristics of Chronically Anxious Families

Here is a description of five interlocking characteristics of chronically anxious individual families and their regressive parallels in the greater American family of today. Each is regressive because it subverts a major principle of the way life on this planet has survived and evolved, as shown below:

CHARACTERISTICS - of anxious individual and families
1. Reactivity
2. Herding
3. Blame Displacement
4. A Quick-Fix Mentality
5. Failure of Nerve in Leadership

1. Reactivity subverts our self-regulation of instinctual drives
2. Herding subverts our adaptation toward strength
3. Blame displacement subverts a growth-producing response to challenge
4. A quick-fix-mentality subverts allowing time form processes to mature
5. Failure of nerve in leadership subverts all of the above.

"All five characteristics contribute to one another, although the fifth, lack of leadership, may be the link among them all. For the first four all share two factors in common that always tend to compromise effective leadership: denial of emotional process and a devaluing of the individuality that is necessary for summoning 'nerve'."

A Failure of Nerve - Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix
by Edwin H. Friedman

The Greatest Gifts We Can Give Our Children

When a child is born, parents are bestowed the utmost honor and responsibility. Raising a child is both extremely rewarding and very challenging. It has the potential to drive one "batty" and also the potential to produce much growth and maturity in the parents themselves. Children are born with innate qualities but they are also molded by the emotional environment in which they live. Children are born with the ability to create their individual slate of experiences. Significant people in their lives, together with the environment, write and draw upon it. Here are three ways that you can love your children deeply and teach them well.

1. In a loving way define yourself to your own parents making sure they know who you are. This could involve some conflict- all of which has the potential to produce growth and healing. By growing up yourself, you become free to allow your children to do the same. Children very rarely go beyond the maturity level of their parents. This thus becomes one of the more priceless gifts that you can give them.

2. Be present with them without worrying about the future. Pay attention to what they are saying, you may learn something. Children don't need the latest and greatest educational tools or toys. They need you. They need your time, encouragement and input in their lives. They will learn how to do relationships from you, not by what you say but by what you do.

3. Set consistent boundaries in your home that you are prepared to enforce. Discipline is what children need and want. Guidance is how you teach your child to treat people, that they are not the center of the universe and to respect all people.

Fierce with reality - saying Yes to your true self

"This is not the self that wants to inflate us (or deflate us, another form of self-distortion), not the intellectual self that wants to hover above the mess of life in clear but ungrounded ideas, not the ethical self that wants to live by some abstract code. It is the self planted in us by God who made us in God's own image - the self that wants nothing more, or less, than for us to be who we were created to be.

True self is true friend. One ignores or rejects such friendship only at one's peril.

The spiritual journey is full of paradoxes. One of them is that the humiliation that brings us down - down to ground on which it is safe to stand and fall - eventually takes us to a firmer and fuller sense of self. When people ask me how it felt to emerge from depression, I can give only one answer: I felt at home in my own skin, and at home on the face of the earth, for the first time.

Florida Scott Maxwell put it in terms more elegant than mine: "You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and are fierce with reality." I now know myself to be a person of weakness and strength, liability and giftedness, darkness and light. I now know that to be whole means to reject none of it but to embrace all of it.

Some may say that this embrace is narcissistic, an obsession with self at the expense of others, but that is not how I experience it. When I ignored my own truth on behalf of a distorted ego and ethic, I led a false life that caused others pain - for which I can only ask forgiveness. When I stand attending to my own truth, more of that truth became available in my work and my relationships. I now know that anything one can do on behalf of true self is done ultimately in the service of others.

Others may say that "embracing one's wholeness" is just fancy talk for permission to sin, but again my experience is to the contrary. To embrace weakness, liability, and darkness as part of who I am gives that part less sway over me, because all it ever wanted was to be acknowledged as part of my whole self.

At the same time, embracing one's wholeness makes life more demanding - because once you do that, you must live your whole life. One of the most painful discoveries I made in the midst of the dark woods of depression was that part of me wanted to stay depressed.

I had missed the deep meaning of a biblical teaching that I had always regarded as a no-brainer: "I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Therefore, choose life" (Deut. 30:19). Why, I wondered, would God waste precious breath on saying something so obvious? I had failed to understand the perverse comfort we sometimes get from choosing death in life, exempting ourselves from the challenge of using our gifts, or living our lives in authentic relationship with others.

I was finally able to say yes to life, a choice for which I am grateful beyond measure, though how I found that yes remains a mystery to me."

Let Your Life SPEAK - Listening for the Voice of Vocation
by Parker J. Palmer

Differentiation and Bowen Theory

"Differentiation is a key concept in Bowen Theory which defines leadership as a matter of "Being" that informs and shapes a person's actions." Peter Steinke

Definition - differentiation is a process in which a person moves toward a more intentional and thoughtful way of life (and a less automatic - reactive way of functioning) is the relative ability of people to guide their own functioning by:
  • thinking clearly
  • acting on principle
  • defining self by taking a position
  • coming to know more about their own instinctive reactions to others
  • learning to regulate those reactions
  • staying in contact with others
  • choosing a responsible course of action
And as Peter Steinke reminds us in his book Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times - Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What - differentiation is a lifelong process that takes place in relationships......balancing two life forces for individuality and togetherness when interacting with others.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Emotional Process and Bowen Theory

"Emotions. The neuropeptides and receptors, the biochemicals of emotion, are, as I have said, the messengers carrying information to link the major systems of the body into one unit that we can call the bodymind. We can no longer think of the emotions as having less validity than physical, material substance, but instead must see them as cellular signals that are involved in the process of translating information into physical reality, literally transforming mind into matter. Emotions are at the nexus between matter and mind, going back and forth between the two and influencing both." Molecules of Emotion by Candace B. Pert, Ph.D.

Perhaps this biological understanding of bodymind, helps clarify an important foundation of Bowen theory. My understanding of his constructs about "universal emotional process" center around the notions that by "emotional" he meant = instinctual (not feelings), and by "universal" he meant = that which applies to all human beings, and "process" = is the 24/7 ongoing working out of those universal - instinctual behaviors; biologically inherited and hard-wired by evolution,
that motivate and influence (unconsciously or consciously) all human behavior.

He has spoken through the prophets

Here are some profound ideas from The Faith of a Physicist by John Polkinghorne.

Spirit as inspirer of scripture - once again we find an entanglement of the Spirit with creation which will not be susceptible to precise unraveling. Scripture arises from inspiration, not dictation; it mixes continuing truth about the divine with the culturally limited expression and understanding of its authors...and reinforcing this notion - the creative insight of Paul and John and the writer of Hebrews, three original thinkers, that have not been surpassed in the subsequent history of theological thought...

Bible - is not a kind of divinely guaranteed textbook in which we can without any trouble, look up all the is rooted in its own age but possessing through its underlying universality the power to speak across the centuries to other is stories told in such a way as to make its inner meaning accessible, revealing what was happening on the inside of what was going on in the events of Israel's experiences with God, and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ

Powerful - the Bible has the power to speak freshly to each generation of its readers, revealing further truth, which becomes available, not by a process of alien imposition, but by continuing elucidation of the profundity of the text....

Believer's - in the Holy Spirit do not find it difficult both to acknowledge his work in the development of doctrine and to expect that development to exhibit a continuous relationship with its biblical origins....we don't take an a la carte approach, relying on carefully selected favorite passages, but recognize that all parts of the Bible are not of equal spiritual stature (Epistle of Jude / John's gospel), yet we can use each part of the scripture in a way which proves possible and appropriate for it....only then does the untidiness yet hopefulness of life find its match in the untidiness yet hopefulness of scripture.

Theologians distinguish - between divine essence (God-in-himself) form divine energy or economy (God as he is known in interaction with his creatures)...and we try to understand the economy of the Trinity in seeing God encountered as Father (the transcendent Creator), as Son (made visible in the incarnate life of Jesus Christ) and as Spirit (discreetly at work within the process of our lives and of the cosmos), while holding fast to the fundamental intuition derived from our heritage in Israel, that there is but one true God.

Trinitarian discourse - has it origin in the Church's struggle to come to terms with its threefold experience of divine encounter...the Pauline necessity to speak of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 1.7;8.9) proved was the driving force of Trinitarian thinking...the proclamation of the One in Three and Three in One is not a piece of mystical arithmetic, but a summary of experience

Three-Person God - carries some hint of the richness of the transpersonal in a way whose precise articulation is beyond our limited powers of comprehension.

Eastern Church - has often been willing to take seriously a more "social" picture of the community of the divine Persons within the Trinity that has been accommodated in much of Western thought - which tended to minimize Trinitarian insights...a social Trinity delivers us from a static and narcissistic interpretation of the great text "God is love" (1 John 4.16) and permits a more dynamic account of the divine agape, and so of the divine nature...

Being-as-communion - has a degree of congenial consonance with modern sciences' way of speaking about the physical world...with the advent of both relativity and quantum theory that has replaced the Newtonian picture of isolated particles of matter moving along their separate trajectories in the "container" of absolute space, with something much more interrelational in character, both in its description and behavior.

Quantum system - both space-and-matter and observer-and observed display a quality of of a quantum system that retain non-local "togetherness-in-separation", however far apart they may become

The Holy Spirit and the Community of Faith

John Polkinghorne reminds us of the Spirit's participation in creating community in his book - The Faith of A Physicist. He points out the following:

  • The Holy Spirit is Deus absconditus - that is the hidden God, because his working is from within; his is the divine presence ever-active in the unfolding process of the created world and never wholly disentangleable from that process
  • The Holy Spirit is the third party whose unseen presence is the enhancer of our meetings...we are not directly aware of the Spirit, since in any experience of meeting and recognition his is always the go-between who creates awareness...and in the economy of our spiritual life, the Spirit is the one in whom we pray (Rom.8.26), through the Son to the Father
  • The Holy Spirit is God with us in the particularities of our lives and also with the necessary discretion of a love which does not overwhelm us. "God's absence in his presence is not merely an estrangement. It is liberation too." Moltmann
  • Christ becomes the sole image appropriate to the common nature of humanity - the Holy Spirit grants to each person created in the image of God the possibility of fulfilling the likeness of that common nature...the one is the inclusive destiny of us all; the other is the enabler of our individuality within that destiny (sounds like differentiation to me!)
  • The Holy Spirit is a person, and not just an impersonal force or power - he deals individually with different people - distributing a variety of gifts accordingly, and dealing individually with everyone.
  • The Holy Spirit is not simply general but also particular and as the creator of the community of the Church must be personal, that is able to meet people both in their individualiaty and in their relatedness.
  • The Holy Spirit participates not only in action but also in passion, with the creation groaning and ourselves groaning with it and the Spirit interecding with "sighs to deep for words" (Rom. 8.22-23,26, Eph.4.30)
  • The Holy Spirit is the unseen enabler of the truly personal, it could not be otherwise in the costliness of true personal encounter, with the Holy Spirit able to turn an It into a Thou. The Holy Spirit is the hypen in the I-Thou relationship.
  • The Holy Spirit does not have his divine image within the Trinity, he is at work creating that image through the transformation of humanity.
  • The Holy Spirit is the agent of sanctification and only the fully divine can fully save and transform, and the multitude of the saints will be in his image.
  • The Holy Spirit is a Person, a Self in relation, creating individuality and relatedness.
  • The Holy Spirit has too often been used as an unfocused expression of a general divine presence, without sufficient consideration of what that might mean. The Holy Spirit is more than a religious cipher for the scientifically discerned "optimistic arrow of time', leading from simplicity to complexity. He must be truly at work within the unfolding fruitfulness, drawing the universe on to purposed levels of fulfillment.
  • The precarious fertility of the cosmic history of all life, is not just the outcome of a drive towards complexity, but on its inside is the passion and action of the personal Holy Spirit. And the hidden working makes that statement an assertion of faith, yet one that is motivated by the recognition that the coming-to-be of created personality is the most significant event of cosmic history.
  • The working of the Holy Spirit in continuing creation may not be totally disentangleable from the unfolding physical process, but it is not simply to be identified with it....and the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives may not be totally disentangleable from our personal decision, but it is the paradox of grace that the two are again not simply to be identified. (This is not a panentheistic account - which partially assimilates the divine and the cosmic to each other. On the contrary, it is vital to maintain a clear distinction between the Creator and his creation.)
  • In historical Christianity, only the Son is incarnate, taking the form of a creature by becoming truly man, the Holy Spirit is not incarnated in the cosmos...and to blur the distinction between Creator and creation in a panentheistic way is to fail to do justice to the experience of God's irreducible otherness, to intensify the problem of evil and to jeopardize the concept of Christian hope, replacing it by an illusory evolutionary optimism.
  • The Holy Spirit's work is concealed within the flow of present process, but his power derives from the presence of God's future within that process. Were the Holy Spirit now also transcendent, his immanence might be no more than Spinoza's identification of God and it is the Holy Spirit is the pledge (arrabon) of future fulfillment, "given a guarantee." (2 Cor. 5.5)

Knowing With - the Open Hand community

"Truth be told, he said to me one afternoon that June, "these are the people I know with." "Know with'?" I asked. "Haven't you noticed how learning and knowing are ultimately communal experiences, social experiences?" he asked in reply. "I can see how learning is communal - like learning in a class or small group," I replied. "But knowing?" "Think of the word consciousness, whose components mean to know with. If I begin growing very far beyond what my community allows me to know, I need to persuade my community to think with me or else find or form a new community."

Brian D. McLaren

Creating Community - the Open Hand challenge

"But even as we act to evoke community, we must remember that community itself is a gift to be received, not a goal to be achieved. We have a strong tendency to make community one more project among many, to struggle and strain to come into relationship with one another, only to find that the stress of these very efforts exhausts us and drives us apart. True community, like all gifts, involves true risks. Community may or may not happen, may or may not be received, may or may not have consequences we like.

Jesus exercises the only kind of leadership that can evoke authentic community - a leadership that risks failure (and even crucifixion) by making space for other people to act. When a leader takes up all the space and preempts all the action, he or she may make something happen, but that something is not community. Nor is it abundance, because the leader is only one person and one person's resources invariably run out. But when a leader is willing to trust the abundance that people have and can generate together, willing to take the risk of inviting people to share from that abundance, then and only then may true community emerge."

Parker Palmer

The Silver Chair

"Crying is alright in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do."

"If you are thirsty, you may drink. Are you not thirsty? said the Lion. I am dying of thirst, said Jill. Then drink, said the Lion. Will you promise not to - do anything to me....said Jill. I make no promise, said the Lion. Do you eat girls? she said. I have swallowed up girls, and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms, said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it. I daren't come and drink, said Jill. Then you will die of thirst, said the Lion. Oh dear! said Jill, coming another step nearer I suppose I must go and look for another stream then. There is no other stream, said the Lion. Human child, said the Lion, Where is the boy? He fell over the cliff, said Jill. How did he come to do that Human child? He was trying to stop me from falling, Sir. Why were you so near the edge, Human child? I was showing off, Sir. That is a very good answer, Human child. Do so no more...the Boy is safe. I have blown him to Narnia. But your task will be harder because of what you have done. Please, what task, Sir? The task for which I called you and him here out of your own world. Hmmmm, Speak your thought, Human Child, said the Lion. I was wondering - I mean - could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to - to somebody - it was a name I wouldn't know - and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open. You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you, said the Lion. Then you are Somebody, sir? said Jill. I AM.


Friday, July 3, 2009

You know you're a parent when your dining room table is turned into a diaper changing station.
Our house right now is basically kiddified. Walking into each room it is impossible not to tell that children live here. Our home is lived in and I like it that way. I grew up in a similar way and I am grateful to my parents that they viewed hospitality as more important then what a house looks like. Hospitality and generousity are the two qualities that my parents posessed that I am very proud of. I embrace this about them and make it more intentionally apart of who I am.

I recently read a few letters that my mom had written to me while I was at Stellenbosch University. My mom passed away 10 years ago, and my dad nine years ago. All the letters started with; " My Dear Darling. They were very loving. They were really well written and to my surprise were quite humorous as well. I remember my dad being the funny one but my mom must have been too. I realize that my memory is selective and I think I have focused on some of the negative aspects of their personalities, not only because I am a therapist but because it somehow made the loss easier to deal with. If I didn't have to think of all the experiences and times I was missing out on then it wouldn't be so hard. I miss them very much and I love them very much. They really were wonderful parents.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Three Universal Laws Regarding Children

Rabbi Ed Friedman reminds us that there are at least three universal laws regarding children of all families. These universal laws transcend all cultural and sociological characteristics:

1.) children who work through the natural problems of maturing with the least amount of emotional or physical residue are those whose parents have made them least important to their own salvation. (Maturity = defined as the willingness to take responsibility for one's own emotional well being and destiny.)

2.) children rarely succeed in rising above the maturity level of their parents and this principle applies to all mentoring, healing, or administrative relationships

3. a third universal, which also applies to all leaders, is that parents can't produce change in a troubling child, no matter how caring, savvy, or intelligent they may be, until they become completely and totally fed-up with their child's behavior

Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix
by Edwin Friedman

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bodymind - The Psychosomatic Network

"We are all well aware of the bias built into the Western idea that the mind is totally in the head, a function of the brain. But your body is not there just to carry around your head."


"The concept of a network, stressing the interconnectedness of all systems of the organism, has a variety of paradigm-breaking implications. In the popular lexicon, these kinds of connections between body and brain have long been referred to as "the power of the mind over the body." But in light of my research, that phrase does not describe accurately what is happening.

Mind doesn't dominate body, it becomes body - body and mind are one. I see the process of communication we have demonstrated, the flow of information throughout the whole organism, as evidence that the body is the actual outward manifestation, in physical space, of the mind. Bodymind, a term first proposed by Dianne Connelly, reflects the understanding, derived from Chinese medicine, that the body is inseparable from the mind. And when we explore the role that emotions play in the body, as expressed through the neuropeptide molecules, it will become clear how emotions can be seen as a key to understanding of disease.

We know that the immune system, like the central nervous system, has memory and the capacity to learn. Thus, it could be said that intelligence is located not only in the brain but in cells that are distributed throughout the body, and that the traditional separation of mental processes, including emotions, from the body is no longer valid.

If the mind is defined by brain-cell communication, as it has been in contemporary science, then this model of the mind can now be seen as extending naturally to the entire body. Since neuropeptides and their receptors are in the body as well, we may conclude that the mind is in the body, in the same sense that the mind is in the brain, with all that implies.

In summary, the point I am making is that your brain is extremely well integrated with the rest of our body at a molecular level, so much so that the term mobile brain is an apt description of the psychosomatic network through which intelligent information travels from one system to another. Everyone one of the zones, or systems, of the network - the neural, the hormonal, the gastrointestinal, and the immune - is set up to communicate with one another, via peptides and messenger-specific peptide receptors. Every second, a massive information exchange is occurring in your body. Imagine each of these messenger systems possessing a specific tone, humming a signature tune, rising and falling, waxing and waning, binding and unbinding, and if we could hear this body music with our ears, then the sum of these sounds would be the music that we call the emotions.

Emotions. The neuropeptides and receptors, the biochemicals of emotion, are, as I have said, the messengers carrying information to link the major systems of the body into one unit that we can call the body-mind. We can no longer think of emotions as having less validity than physical, material substance, but instead must see them as cellular signals that are involved in the process of translating information into physical reality, literally transforming mind into matter. Emotions are at the nexus between matter and mind, going back and forth between the two and influencing both."

Molecules of Emotion - The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine
by Candace B. Pert, Ph.D.

Staying Sane May be Easier Than You Think

Psychological woes are not your fault. But if there are ways you can keep your body from breaking down, then why not your mind?
by John Cloud TIME - Special Health Report June 22, 2009

"In the early 1970's before Dr. William McFarlane was one of the world's top authorities on preventing mental illness....back when he was a student at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, few psychiatrists talked about prevention.

A key break came in the late 1970s when a UCLA team began to publish the results of an influential long-term study called the UCLA Family Project. The study found that you could predict, with remarkable accuracy, which 16 year-olds would develop schizophrenia later in life based on only a few characteristics. The teenagers whom the Family Project tracked had already sought treatment for a psychological problem, although the study excluded actively psychotic teens, since it would not have been a surprise if they had developed schizophrenia.

Studying such kids for more than a decade, the researchers discovered that those who became schizophrenic were most often from families that, when first interviewed, displayed "communication deviance" (unclear, unintelligible or fragmented speech) and highly critical and intrusive parenting. There weren't merely families that argued with difficult sons and daughters; they were families that had lost all ability to cope.

McFarlane and others began working with some of the families to address their interactions and teach them how to communicate better - more slowly, with less anger and intrusion. Even after they are on medication, people with schizophrenia have a difficult time tracking rapid, highly emotional speech, yet that's the kind they often hear from family members. These patients would improve in hopsitals but relapse once they got home, even when they continued to take antipsychotics.

For several years McFarlane developed and tested the Multi-Family Group approach, which brought several families together at a time to learn from one another how they sounded to outsiders. In twice-monthly sessions, the families modeled greater clarity and compassion and troubleshot daily-living problems like kid's marijuana use or sexual activity. It was a simple intervention that, when combined with antipsychotic drugs, worked to reduce schizophrenic relapse rates significantly more than the drugs alone.

A Theory Goes Wide

Even as McFarlane was exploring his schizophrenia-prevention idea, other researchers were having similar what-if-moments with respect to other, more routine conditions. Suppose irritable infants who become fearful toddlers who become shy children could be stopped from becoming adults with anxiety disorders. Suppose men and women who go to war or become cops in inner cities could be helped before developing post traumatic stress disorder. Could you, similarly, identify the children of depressed parents early and give them skill to prevent their own first depressive episode?

In any given year, approximately 17% of American under 25 have a mental, emotional or behavioral disorder. (Over our lifetime, 46% of us will receive such a diagnosis.) If we reduce the proportion of young people who become mentally ill by even one-quarter, that would mean about 3.8 million saved each year from what can turn into a lifelong struggle.

But if most mental illnesses have a genetic origin, isn't even that modest 25% reduction goal unlikely? The science can get tricky here, but the simple answer is that genes aren't destiny. Your can't do anything to change your genome, but your environment and experiences have powerful effects on the way those genes are expressed. A susceptibility to cancer may remain just a susceptibility - until you start smoking and kick the disease process into motion. Similarly, change a child's emotional experiences for the worse and you can trigger mental illness; change them for the better and you may hush the problem genes. One concrete example of this: in 2003, a study in Science found that the larger the number of copies an individual carries of a serotonin-transporter gene called 5-HTTLPR the greater the risk of developing major depressive disorder and suicidality - but only if the individual suffers stressful early-life experiences like abuse.

How long is the window between first symptoms and actual diagnosis? The National Academies report says that across several mental illnesses - including obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and substance dependence - we have about two to three years to intervene and keep short-term symptoms from becoming long-term afflictions.

Depression offers particularly good evidence of this idea at work. Currently about 5% of adolescents experience an episode of clinical depression in any given year. Rates of depression are three to four times as high among the children of depressed parents as among those whose parents aren't depressed. Dr. William Beardslee of Children's Hospital Boston, one of the authors of the National Academies report, has spent more than 25 years studying how some kids of depressed parents avoid the illness, and he has found that resilience is key. The kids who don't develop depression are "activists and doers," Beardslee says. Even growing up in the darkness of a depressed home, they muster the capacity to engage deeply in relationships. They also are likelier than other kids to understand that they aren't to blame from their parent's disorder - and that they are free to chart their own course.

How do you foster resilience in order to prevent depression? Over the past 17 years, Beardslee's team has developed an early intervention that targets kids from families in which at least one parent is depressed. Like McFarlane, he uses a family-based approach because a bad home environment tends to be more predictive of adolescent mental illness than dysfunctional peer relationships are. Beardslee's Family Talk Intervention includes both separate meetings with parents and kids as well as family meetings with social workers or psychologists that focus in part on demystifying depression - explaining that it is a treatable illness, not a beast that will necessarily crush a family. In a randomized trial, Beardslee found that just seven sessions of this intervention decreased predepression symptoms among the kids and improved the parent's behavior and attitudes. All this makes kids more resilient."

Mental Health & Well Being

The Medical Model Orientation vs The Family Systems Model of Well Being
by O'Steven

The medical model is primarily a linear orientation that looks for an "identified patient", someone to label with "individual problems" that must be diagnosed by an expert and treated with powerful drugs and/or extensive remedies administered by professionals over long periods of time.

The currently practiced mental health medical model in the USA, with a focus on pathology, goes something like this:

1. a symptom emerges in a family member and it can be a combination of physical, mental, emotional dis-ease
2. an assumption is made that something must be wrong with the person exhibiting the symptom
3. a professional is consulted to confirm the symptom (the pathology) with a descriptive diagnoses and money changes hands
4. the symptom bearer is labeled with a pathology and more tests are ordered and more money changes hands
5. the symptom bearer needs a prescription (a treatment plan) for healing and more money changes hands
6. the prescription is spelled out and the "identified patient" is expected to swallow the diagnosis, med's, and treatment in order to get well and more money changes hands
7. the extended family (and surrounding social environment) is relieved of any responsibility in contributing to the symptom and the "identified patient" then passively waits for the cure to take place as they obediently take the treatment and more money changes hands
8. when the symptom are relieved the "identified patient" has been successfully treated and the profitable medical model is poised for the next symptoms should they arise...

The organic family systems model clearly rejects this simplistic, black and white, linear cause and effect, medical model. With a focus on strength the family systems orientation looks for:

1. systemic forces within the extended family that contribute to one of it's members becoming burdened with symptoms - and they can be physical, mental and emotional illnesses
2. complex family dynamics are explored in family therapy sessions and money changes hands
3. the therapist coaches the family members into taking personal responsibility, lowering anxiety, stimulating family resources / resiliency and blames the entire system when one member becomes symptomatic, and more more money changes hands
4. the least mature family members (sometimes a parent, a spouse, a child, a boss) blame others, sabotage the process and focus on "identifying" another who needs fixing, rather than accepting that the entire family needs to function at higher levels of maturity, and the family therapists is fired
5. the family lives with the "identified patient" until the problem becomes too unbearable and the medical model is approached because the family therapy was "going nowhere" and wasting everyone's time and money.

Healing Feeling - Molecules of Emotion

"As a researcher on the drug frontier for over twenty years, I have to depart from the opinion of most of my colleagues in the mainstream and say that less is best. The implications of my research are that all exogenous drugs are potentially harmful to the system, not only as disrupters of the natural balance of the feedback loops involving many systems and organs, but because of the changes that happen at the level of the receptor.

Each of us has his or her own natural pharmacopoeia - the very finest drugstore available at the cheapest cost - to produce all the drugs we ever need to run our bodymind in precisely the way it was designed to run over centuries of evolution.

...a frequent theme in my thoughts is the question of healing feeling, something so desperately needed in our society, as reflected by both the rising numbers of people on anti-depressant medications and the escalating use of illegal drugs. In my mind, both kinds of user- the one who gets the drugs from a doctor and the one who buys them from a dealer - are doing the same thing: altering their chemistry with an exogenous substance that has widespread effects, many of which are not fully understood, in order to change feelings they don't want to have.

My research has shown me that when emotions are expressed - which is to say that the biochemicals that are the substrate of emotion are flowing freely - all systems are united and made whole. When emotions are repressed, denied, not allowed to be whatever they may be, our network pathways get blocked, stopping the flow of the vital feel-good, unifying chemicals that run both our biology and our behavior. This, I believe, is the state of unhealed feelling we want so desperately to escape from. Drugs, legal and illegal, are further interrupting the many feedback loops that allow the psychosomatic network to function in a natural, balanced way and therefore setting up conditions for somatic as well as mental disorders.

But the idea of the network is still too new to have affected the way mainstream medicine and psychology deal with our health and our illnesses. Most psychologists treat the mind as disembodied, a phenomenon with little or no connection to the physical body. Conversely, physicians treat the body with no regard to the mind or the emotions. But the body and mind are not separate, and we cannot treat one without the other. My research has shown me that the body can and must be healed through the mind, and the mind can and must be healed through the body."

Molecules of Emotion - The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine
by Candace B. Pert, Ph.D.