Friday, February 18, 2011

"Set down my name, sir!"

"Then the Interpreter took Christian and led him up toward the door of the palace; and behold, at the door stood a great company of men, as desirous to go in, but dared not. There also sat a man at a little distance from the door, at a tableside, with a book and his inkhorn before him, to take the names of them that should enter therein; he saw also that in the doorway stood many men in armor to keep it, being resolved to do the men that would enter what hurt and mischief they could. Now was Christian somewhat in amaze. At last, when every man fell back for fear of the armed men, Christian saw a man of very stout countenance come up to the man that sat there to write, saying, "Set down my name, sir," the which when he had done, he saw the man draw his sword, and put a helmet upon his head, and rush toward the door upon the armed men, who laid upon him with deadly force; but the man, not at all discouraged, fell to cutting and hacking most fiercely. So after he had received and given many wounds to those that attempted to keep him out, he cut his way through them all, and pressed forward int0 the palace."
John Bunyan Pilgrim's Progress

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Counseling with Dating Couples

I had a dream last night that Rabbi Ed Friedman was conducting a premarital counseling session with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz in front of a class of YWAM students. The session was being video taped and we all sat there mesmerized as the Hollywood stars began to answer questions while Ed fleshed out two genograms, side by side on a massive white board at the front of the classroom.

We were in Geneva, Switzerland and I had signed up to participate in a "Counseling with Dating Couples" class in his Family Systems Program. The syllabus highlighted the historic work of the famous Swiss Psychiatrist, Dr. Carl Jung and his influence on Dr. Murray Bowen, the pioneer of Family Therapy movement in the United States.

Friedman began the class by lecturing for a brief time on the difference between the more traditional symptom oriented counseling that tends to concentrate on the relationship of the dating couple, compared to the systems oriented investigation that focuses on emotional process in the family of origin over several generations.

He scribbled down three key components of the extended family approach to couples counseling:

1. First point - dating couples can't hear much premarital advice as they are moving toward one another at the speed of light and away from everyone else. The best way to assist them during this time is with a focus on extended family genograms that allow them to learn more about their own and their partner's backgrounds.

2. Second point - premarital couples haven't yet experienced the profound fusion (loss of self) that generally happens once they tie the knot. Marriage and having kids are the two most powerful events in life and the degree of fusion and or differentiation they can expect to experience is only predictable from a family systems approach looking over three generations of extended family emotional process. (They will behave much more like their parents than they are wont to believe.)

3. Third point - the typical linear "compatibility" model of dating focuses primarily on the personality of the two individuals and their relationship. A relatively calm courtship often times is judged as proof that the couple are made for each other. Actually a major component of "knowing" your partner is to experience how they operate in a crisis. And exploring family history is a much better indicator of how well individuals might cope with one another during a crisis after they have made the marriage commitment.

As he erased the board in preparation for the construction of two genograms, with stunned disbelief, all we could do was shake our smiling faces at one another as the two famous movie stars sauntered in and took their seats by the white board.

Friedman turned to the class and said, " I hope you enjoyed the recent movie, Vicki Christina Barcelona......because we are in for a real treat today!" With that, I was rudely awakened by Ann as she leaned over said, "Steve, will you quit talking nonsense about Barcelona, we are going to Sevilla."

Agh....shame! That was one (make that two) genograms I really wanted to see.

STEVEN Black + Winter White Classic British Biker Boot

Wanda Jackson feat. Jack White 'Thunder On The Mountain' OFFICAL HD VIDEO

Friday, February 11, 2011

Open Hand- Friday Morning Prayer Liturgy

Friday Morning Call to Prayer
"He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside, He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word: "Follow thou me!" and sets us the tasks which he has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they will be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they will pass through in his fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is." Albert Schweitzer

The Greeting (Doxology)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

A Reading (All in unison)
Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns." The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth. Psalm 96:10-13

For Silent Reflection (Meditation)
Domestic order is obviously threatened by the margin of the wilderness that surrounds it. Marriage may be destroyed by instinctive sexuality; the husband may choose to remain with Kalypso or the wife may run away with godlike Paris. And the forest is always waiting to overrun the fields. These are real possibilities. They must be considered, respected, even feared.
And yet I think that no culture that hopes to endure can afford to destroy them or to set up absolute safeguards against them. Invariably the failure of organized religions, by which they cut themselves off from mystery and therefore from sanctity, lies in the attempt to impose an absolute division between faith and doubt, to make belief perform as knowledge; when they forbid their prophets to go into the wilderness, they lose the possibility of renewal. And the most dangerous tendency in modern society, now rapidly emerging as a scientific-industrial ambition, is the tendency toward encapsulation of human order - the severance, once and for all, of the umbilical cord fastening us to the wilderness of Creation. The threat is not only in the totalitarian desire for absolute control. It lies in the willingness to ignore an essential paradox: the natural forces that so threaten us are the same forces that preserve and renew us.
And enduring agriculture must never cease to consider and respect and preserve wildness. The farm can exist only within the wilderness of mystery and natural force. And if the farm is to last and remain in health, the wilderness must survive within the farm. That is what agricultural fertility is: the survival of natural process in the human order. To learn to preserve the fertility of the farm, Sir Albert Howard wrote, we must study the forest.
Similarly, the instinctive sexuality within which marriage exists must somehow be made to thrive within marriage. To divide one from the other is to degrade both and ultimately to destroy marriage.
Fidelity to human order, then, if it is fully responsible, implies fidelity also to natural order. Fidelity to human order makes devotion possible. Fidelity to natural order preserves the possibility of choice, the possibility of renewal of devotion. Where there is no possibility of choice, there is no possibility of faith. One who returns home - to one's marriage and household and place in the world - desiring anew what was previously chosen, is neither the world's stranger nor its prisoner, but is at once in place and free.
If we are to have a culture as resilient and competent in the face of necessity as it needs to be, then it must somehow involve within itself a ceremonious generosity toward the wilderness or natural force and instinct. The farm must yield a place to the forest, not as a wood lot, or even as a necessary agricultural principle, but as a sacred grove - a place where the Creation is let alone, to serve as instruction, example, refuge; a place for people to go, free to work and presumption, to let themselves alone. And marriage must recognize that it survives because of, as well as in spite of, Kalypso and Paris and the generosity of instinct that they represent. It must give some ceremonially acknowledged place to the sexual energies that now thrive outside all established forms, in the destructive freedom of moral ignorance or disregard. Without these accommodations we will remain divided: some of us will continue to destroy the world for purely human ends, while others, for the sake of nature, will abandon the task of human order.
The Necessity of Wildness - Wendell Berry

Response - The Kingdom of God

Out of death came life


An empty cross and an empty tomb, A nail mark shown and a presence known.


Coming like fire to all people and ages, Coming to birth in the water of life.


Called to receive him in bread and wine, Called to be free in the power of love.
For when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power.


Out of love comes celebration


Where peace is the means of making us one, Where truth and justice is done.


Promise of splendor and signal of worth, Sources of all goodness, renewing the earth.


In our compassion, making love known, In our conviction, God's power shown. You did not choose me, I chose you.


Let us go into the world rejoicing.
It is Christ who goes before us.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Curb Your Anxiety Friday (Theology Happy Hour) - with Father Noah Casey

Please join our Open Hand community gathering, Friday, February 18th from 6:00 - 8:00pm with special guest Father Noah Casey, at the Reynolds home - 3173 N. Delaware Street.

As usual we will provide hearty refreshments, a light supper and drinks as we fellowship around the fireplace with Fr Noah. He will highlight some historic themes of monastic faith traditions that have informed and challenged the church for over 1,700 years.

(Our Bob Hunter toast will have to wait for another day - his flight has changed and he will only be landing in Indy after 10:00pm)


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Systems Thinking

"Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole." Wikipedia

"Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed. Connection is health. And what our society does its best to disguise from us is how ordinary, how commonly attainable, health is. We lose our health - and create profitable diseases and dependences - by failing to see the direct connections between living and eating, eating and working, working and loving. In gardening, for instance, one works with the body to feed the body. The work, if it is knowledgeable, makes for excellent food. And it makes one hungry. The work thus makes eating both nourishing and joyful, not consumptive, and keeps the eater from getting fat and weak. This is health, wholeness, a source of delight. And such a solution, unlike the typical industrial solution, does not cause new problems." Wendell Berry essay - The Body and the Earth

Challenged, O"