...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Grinch Therapy & Functional Atheism

Similar to the Grinch's heart being three sizes too small, would it help those who live in grinchy isolation to speak with a therapist? The problem is, we and the Grinch like where we are.

"Atheist" is a crowded word. It could include all who reject any form of theism on philosophical grounds and/or those who reject religion because of the bad behavior of its adherents. When it comes to what people believe or don't, frankly only God knows if what we say and what we really think are remotely similar. Many Americans subscribe to what I would call functional atheism, that is, there has been and continues to be a gap between what we say we believe (78% belief in God) and actual religious participation and practice (54% say religion very important in life). For Americans, especially UMC's, we know the "right" (read: popular or majority) answers so the presence of the cheat scale is real.

But I wonder if the gap is explained away just by fudging the questions. In one video our kids enjoyed years ago, the Grinch is psychoanalyzed by none other than the Cat in the Hat. What prompts him to do and persist in doing such mean things? In a similar fashion, it might be helpful to assume that absolutely everyone who walks into our lives is a wounded individual, with or without church affiliation. And the wounded wound.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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