Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lasting Connections

For anyone who has not seen the movie Facing the Giants, I would highly recommend it. The movie follows the story of a football coach of a Christian school who seems to face obstacle after obstacle. His car is falling apart, he's struggling to make ends meet, and his superiors are just waiting for an excuse to replace him as head coach. In a moment of desperation, Coach Taylor cries out to God. In this moment his heart changes and he realizes that his whole focus has been in the wrong place.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is a speech Coach Taylor gives to his boys before one of the games; he calls it the new team philosophy. His new philosophy changes their perspective from fleeting fame and glory to seeking to please and glorify God in all that they do. Win or lose, they will have given it their all.

I personally love this movie because I'm a sucker for any inspirational movie, especially sports movies. I especially love this movie, though, because it makes me think of how we connect with other people. As I read Larry Crabb's book "Connecting" I couldn't help but think about the people who have made a significant impact in my life and why. Most of them were significant figures in my life because they believed in me, invested in me, and saw my mistakes but knew I was more capable than I ever realized. I feel this is similar to the idea behind Larry Crabb's book.

Crabb states that humans were made with an innate sense of connection. We desire it, we long for it; but Crabb isn't just referring to emotional connection. He stresses the importance of spiritual connection. Just liking the same things as someone else or having similar interests aren't going to matter when it counts the most. For counselors, all the empathy in the world won't matter if your client never feels a strong enough or deep enough connection. Crabb states that one of the deepest and most effective ways to connect is through a true, spiritual connection. Looking past all the mistakes, the shortfalls, the deficits and seeing the potential. A little faith in someone can go a long way.

After Coach Taylor gave his speech, something out of the ordinary happens. The school experiences a revival (see clip below.) This scene is another favorite of mine because it just goes to show what can happen when we step out of the way and let God do his work through us.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Soul of a Drop Dead Diva

I have not been feeling well for several months now and I have needed something to pass my time. Most people would probably watch television but I don't happen to have cable. I decided to look through Netflix for something on instant streaming when I came across a very interesting TV show called Drop Dead Diva. This is an interesting show where a model named Deb gets in a car crash, is sent to heaven, and then accidentally sent back into the body of an overweight lawyer named Jane. I was not sure how enjoyable this television show would be but it did get me thinking about counseling and people.

In the very first episode when Deb wakes up in Jane's body, she is very confused. She tells her guardian angel that even though she is in Jane's body, she only has Deb's memories. The guardian angel (named Fred) then tells her that memories stay with the soul. In Dr. Corsini's class we have talked about the soul and what the Bible has to say about it. Biblically speaking, the soul is the immaterial part of a human that can be saved. Biblically speaking the spirit of a person is where the thinking occurs and is the life breath of the individual.

The longer I watched this show and thought about life, the more I realized that media portrays a lot of untruthful things about heaven and the afterlife. Although we may be given new bodies in heaven, we will never be reassigned to already existing bodies on earth. This brought me to realize then when I work and counsel teen girls that I should ask what type of shows they watch. This could lead to some of the false beliefs that they deal with.

Biblically speaking, the soul in Drop Dead Diva would have never been able to placed in another persons body except the heavenly body that he or she is given. If we do have memories in heaven then they would come from our spirit, not our souls. It is all a little confusing but our memories seem to be immaterial aspects of us. What would happen if some would had brain injury and damaged the part in their head that allowed to them to store memories? If they can no longer remember their memories then have they lost an immaterial aspect of themselves through a material accident? This is just some of the questions that keep me up at night. I would be interested as to what you think.

Retirement Age and an Anxious World

The article, “Retirement: Is 80 the New 60?” discusses how the national retirement age of 65 is trending higher these days. They say that people are planning to continue to work well into their “golden years” with the expected age of retirement to be more around 80 years old! Reasons cited for this delay in retirement center around financial security but some 35% surveyed said they just wanted to keep working.

We have recently read The Anxiety Cure that was all about stress, worry, and anxiety disorders. The author, Dr. Archibald Hart, quoted the National Institute of Mental Health saying, “more than twenty-three million Americans suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, including panic anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder.” (Hart, 1999, p. 7). In addition to the benefits of medication and therapy, Hart gives practical methods to reclaim tranquility in an over-anxious world. Among a myriad activities, situations, and foods to avoid, and those to add to your lifestyle, Hart says we do not get enough sleep, we experience long periods of stress and conflict, and are under assertive. He says to combat anxiety we need to slow down, take time to rest, meditate, and break out of the type A personality rut.
I believe the attitudes of the generation that are at retirement age are indicative of the society that is addicted to adrenaline and stress. The article states that 80% of the people surveyed believe the age of retirement should have nothing to do with age, but about how much money is set aside. Only 20% said we should just pick an age and then retire. Many people simply do not want to retire. Why is this? Perhaps these people have never learned to settle down and relax and they simply do not know what to do with the time that could be theirs in their golden years. Then there is the subject of money. “Americans are bad at saving,” says the author of the article. I would propose this is due in part with “keeping up with the Jones’” syndrome of our American dream mindsets. Keeping up with the standards in our heads and those around us costs money and so we spend, we work longer, harder, and we spend more. This cycle drives us to work longer hours, experience greater stress, and feel guilty when we are not busy and filled with adrenaline. “Pleasure, like a mountaintop, is only pleasurable when surrounded by valleys of tranquility, calmness, and peace.” (Hart, p. 97). This enjoyment certainly doesn’t need to only come at retirement and according to this article, without taking time for tranquility, calmness, and peace in the midst of our over anxious lives, we may never even get to that relaxing retirement we look forward to.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Passion of the Christ Film

The Passion of the Christ
is a vivid depiction of the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life. It is a 2004 film directed by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel. It depicts the Passion of Jesus, drawing from the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The story begins in the Garden of Olives where Jesus has gone to pray after the Last Supper, and ends with a brief depiction of Christ's Resurrection. Also included in the film are flashbacks from Jesus' childhood, the Sermon on the Mount, the Last Supper, and other scenes from Christ's life and ministry. But the primary focus of the film is the crucifixion of Christ, and the incredible humiliation, agony, and suffering that He endured.

Recently in class we were discussing Soteriology, which is the theology of salvation. The word "salvation" is the translation of the Greek word
soteria which is derived from the word soter meaning "savior". Included in our class discussion was substitionary atonement: God coming to earth in the form of man; redemption: the transaction that occurred when Jesus' blood redeemed us; reconciliation: through Jesus' sacrifice mankind's relationship with God changed from one of hostility to one of harmony; and propitiation: the wrath of God was satisfied by Jesus' sacrificial death. Also included was adoption: because of what Christ did on the cross, as Believers, we are adopted into God's family. All of this has to do with our soul being saved (the immaterial aspect of our being).

As I recently reflected back on our class discussion I was reminded of this film,
The Passion of Christ. Although the film was controversial and received a great deal of criticism, I personally was extremely moved by it. I believe that it is the most accurate portrayal that I have seen, graphically illustrating the unbelievable betrayal, anguish, and pain and suffering that Christ experienced and endured as a sacrifice for mankind's sins. As someone that has been a Believer for almost half of my life, I often fall into the trap of taking for granted the unfathomable debt that Christ paid on my behalf, and the awesome privileges that I have received as a result. Although I am not entirely certain of the complete biblical accuracy of all of the scenes portrayed in this film, I am certain that as a Believer one cannot watch this film without being undeniably humbled and unspeakably grateful.