Friday, October 28, 2011

Cell Phones: An Extension of Self

In today's society cell phones are everywhere. A majority of this generation has a cell phone, and the role that cell phone plays in each person's life is usually a significant one. The cool thing about cell phones is that you can be in 4 places at once, having 4 separate conversations with 4 totally different people. (I picked 4 at random) Cell phones have evolved over the years so that they can be very personalized, and it is for that reason that a cell phone can be viewed as an extension of oneself.

Have you ever wondered why your parents get so upset with you when you bring your cell phone to the dinner table? Its because the way they view cell phones is so different than the way our generation does. To our parents, cell phones are an accessory, something that is not needed, but for a lot of us, we feel like a part of us is missing when we are not with our cell phones. We grew up in a technological age, and its for that reason we often times identify ourselves with our cell phones. We see our cell phones, as an extension of ourselves, without our phones we are incomplete, but doesn't that sound a bit funny?

In class we discuss the different part of our selves, the soul, spirit, heart, and the mind. The question I want to ask is, What part of ourselves do we put in our cell phones? Our cell phones are just tools, but for so many of us, a day without our cell phones causes much more stress than it should.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On September 8, 2011, a 33 year old man named David Laffer was arrested outside his home in Long Island, New York for the robbery that took place on June 19th. Laffer robbed a pharmacy for prescription pain pills and ending up killing two workers and two customers. Laffer resisted his arrest and became extremely violent, eventually leading the police to take action using physical force in order to get him to cooperate. He eventually pleaded guilty to five counts of first degree murder. Laffer will be sentenced to a life in prison without parole and will start October 17th. Laffer’s wife was also arrested outside their home and was charged with third-degree robbery and obstructing governmental administration.

In class, we read Wilson's book “Hurt People Hurt People” which discussed how shame can create victims into victimizers. People become hurt from a deeply rooted problem that was developed during their childhood and, though often times the public overlooks murderer’s deep pain, they are created this way because that is the only way they know how to survive from their broken past. Sometimes it even involves bringing others down with them if they are still able to get their few minutes’ worth of “fix.” Also, Wilson’s book discussed how unresolved shame can lead to addictions. Laffer’s robbery was the result of his attempt to acquire more pain pills and it ultimately lead to four people losing their lives. This demonstrates how strong that desire for addictions become and how badly a person desires those addictions to help mask the hurt. Unfortunately, however, addictions become greedy and they only last temporarily. Also, in Anderson’s book “The Bondage Breaker” there is a discussion of the constant struggle between good and evil. Laffer was displaying behavior that is greatly involved with the enemy and his tactics in tearing down aching and vulnerable individuals.

This article is an appropriate depiction of evil and its temptations. I believe when a child grows up in an unhealthy environment, they are more vulnerable to the taunting of evil because of their lack of wisdom on God’s truth. A person’s lack of family guidance can lead them down a long nefarious path of fear, anger, and resentment. Addictions are very strong and evil uses it to its strongest advantage, and without truth or hope, there is no breaking free of the strong grip these powerful addictions have on their individuals. The truth and power of the Holy Spirit is the only answer to breaking free of evil’s strong grip it has on our hearts and mind.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Anxiety about Halloween?

One of the latest posts on an online parenting website addresses the issue of some children having anxiety about Halloween. The story addresses children that are afraid of costumes, decorations, and strangers ringing their homes doorbells, and how to step by step desensitize the child to many of this holidays fearful fun.

With this story i have a automatic tensing when i read how to coax your child into not being afraid of fearful things. I grew up not celebrating Halloween and still do not. I also grew up where there was already a natural fear in my environment. This fear was from high crime rates, instant death likely if you wronged someone or their family, witches and magic men are real, and naturally the tropics in Papua New Guinea were hazardous. So when I got to the States, i wondered why on earth would people want to scare themselves? Are our lives not full of fear daily? So i want to ask parents when their child is afraid of something (that is meant to scare and in essence be evil) why would you tell your child to not to be afraid? I understand for most people this holiday is for dressing up, fun, and candy, but there is a fear about Halloween that is expected. Fear to me is evil and i don't want a apart of it. I respect cultures and their holidays, but why is this holiday about fear. Isn't there a bit of anxiety when your scared? Should parents encourage their child to enjoy fear?

Although i do not condone Halloween I do have a problem with setting out to purposefully making someone fear for their safety which is obviously anxiety producing . I was thinking about fear especially around Halloween and i realize that anxiety is the fear of something happening to you or others around you regardless if this fear is logical or irrational. I really enjoy the book " The Anxiety Cure" by Dr Hart. This book goes step by step to helping a person establish rational coping skills to a world that is full of fear. The key is not to let fear debilitate you and to seek help for anxiety. Fear is real, but it does not have to rule our lives thanks to an amazing creator!

Claire Brown

Monday, October 24, 2011

Forgiveness Among the Amish

Recently, several members of the Amish community in Ohio have been attacked through a rather non-traditional method: hair and beard cutting. While this may sound like a rather petty and harmless crime to us, these acts are truly offensive to members of the Amish faith. To the Amish, hair is an important symbol. Women keep their hair long and covered while married men grow out their beards to demonstrate their marital status.

The Amish, who highly value forgiveness, have struggled regarding the involvement of the police in this issue. According to Amish belief, we must forgive others in order for God to forgive us. The traditional Amish response to evil is to forgive and to "turn the other cheek" according to Scripture. However, in this case, several Amish families have decided to involve police officers not for purposes of revenge, but in order to prevent future harm of other Amish men and women.

During the past couple weeks, we have discussed in class the importance and the process of forgiveness, especially as related to the effects of genocide in Rwanda. In class, we noted the connection between one's relationship with God and one's relationship with others. Apart from a genuine, growing relationship with God, we cannot truly forgive those around us. I think the Amish would agree with this belief and yet add to it. For the Amish, refusing to forgive others as God has forgiven you will result in God with-holding forgiveness from you.

I think the Amish truly grasp the depths of their own depravity and the heights of God's grace, and I think we have much to learn from them. Their view of forgiveness reminds me of the parable in Matthew 18:23-35. The king's servant,whose enormous debt is suddenly erased, immediately demands from his friend the small sum that has been borrowed. Instead of forgiving as he had just been forgiven, the servant throws his friend into jail. If we, like the servant, have received an incredible gift of forgiveness from a holy God, how can we refuse to forgive other human beings, who have sinned just as we have?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Soul Surfer

Soul Surfer is a 2011 drama film based on the life of surfer Bethany Hamilton. At the age of thirteen, Bethany lost her arm to a shark attack. The film details the events surrounding this attack and her struggles during the aftermath. Bethany was born to surf. A natural talent who started surfing at a very young age, she was leading an amazing life on Kauai, Hawaii participating in national surf competitions, when everything changed. On Halloween morning, a 14-foot tiger shark came out of nowhere and seemed to shatter all her dreams. Soul Surfer reveals Bethany's fight to recover from her ordeal and how she grappled with the questions about her future. Bethany says on her web site: “It was Jesus Christ who gave me peace when I was attacked by the shark...When people ask me what my faith in Christ means to me, I usually answer in just one word: "everything!" This was true before the shark attack as well as after. And I truly believe that this faith is a big part of what did get me through it."

In class we have been discussing the five primary terms that refer to the immaterial man, with one of those terms being soul. Among the ways that soul is used to describe the immaterial man is "the immaterial part of a person with feelings and emotions" and "the whole person". But the description that I personally like best is "who you really are at the core".

When I first saw the trailer for Soul Surfer I immediately knew that it was a movie that I really wanted to see...I love inspirational movies that are based on true, real life experiences. But at the time that I saw the movie I wasn't sure that I completely understood the title. I've seen it mentioned that the title may refer to a term coined in the 1960s to denote someone who surfs purely for pleasure. But in Bethany's case I believe that the title of the movie and Bethany's experience itself refers to something much bigger and much more important than her love for surfing. It refers to her soul, the immaterial part of her person that she drew upon for strength to help her through an incredibly challenging and difficult time, leaving no doubt that her strength and determination were part of a greater story—a tale of personal empowerment and spiritual strength that clearly shows that her body is no more essential to her surfing and her amazing comeback, perhaps even less so, than her soul.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Importance of Material Man

I recently saw the last Harry Potter movie (Deathly Halllows Part 2) with my boyfriend in the dollar theater here in Lynchburg VA and in the movie there was a very interesting statement that caught my attention. (I will forewarn you that I am about to share information about the movie that may spoil part of the plot line so you may not want to read on if you plan on watching this movie and have not seen it yet.) Harry Potter had just been killed and he was "in heaven." It looked like the train station he used to get to Hogwarts school except that it was clean, glowing, and there were no people around. He came into contact with the deceased headmaster of his school, Professor Dumbledore, and they began talking about the events that just occurred. Harry Potter had a way to return to the mortal world and right before he left "heaven" he asked Professor Dumbledore a very interesting question. He asked if what was happening to him was real, or was it all in his head. Professor Dumbledore responded with a statement about how just because it was in his head, did not make it any less real.

That statement really stuck out to me and it caused me to start thinking about material and immaterial aspects of the human. In Dr. Corsini's class we have discussed many aspects of the material and immaterial human and I have found that my focus has been primarily on having proof of the immaterial man. As a Christian I am very concerned about the immaterial aspects of man and I sometimes find myself discounting the importance of the material aspects. As we discussed the 5 different Biblical aspects of man (Heart, Mind, Conscience, Spirit, and Soul) in class, I noticed how intertwined the material and immaterial parts of those aspects were.

This brings me back to similar thinking from my previous blogpost (on September 22nd) about God using material aspects of man to help him understand the immaterial aspects of man. I realize that Harry Potter is not a real person, and that Dumbledore is not speaking "the Gospel Truth," but I started to realize that even material aspects of oneself can help us understand immaterial aspects. Just because the "heaven" Harry was envisioning may have been in his head (a material aspect of his mind), there may still be immaterial aspects to it that are very real. As a Christian who is concerned about proving the immaterial aspect of man, I must also remember that there is much to learn in the material aspect of man that can also point someone to God.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Intimacy and "All Good Things"

Recently, as my roommates and I were trying to decide on a movie to rent for our weekly movie night, we ran across a movie entitled "All Good Things". The movie was inspired by a true event, and this particular aspect, as well as the fact that Ryan Gosling was the lead actor, led us to rent it.

The movie is inspired by the life of Millionaire Robert Durst , and the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his wife, Kathleen Durst, the suspicious murder of his friend Susan Berman and his involvement with the death of his neighbor, Morris Black. The movie alludes to how these events might have happened and the guiltiness of Mr. Durst. Nevertheless, in real life Mr. Durst was never found guilty for anything, and was acquitted from the potential murder accusations regarding his neighbor, being let off on the basis of self defense.

After watching the movie, I was left with a clear image of how deceitful relationships can be, and how easily we are lead to believe lies about others and ourselves, blinded from the truth and then hurt by the very truth we had been avoiding. The relationship between the main characters, which in the movie are portrayed as David and Katie Marks, is one full of deceit, lies, false images, and a harsh realization of the truth.
This fact directed me back to our previous class discussion in which we mentioned the relational and intimacy rupture that occurred when sin came between, not only humans’ and God, but between man and woman. The divide that sin caused between this later relationship, that was created to portray the perfect image of the God Head relation, produced a crack between the intimacy that was supposed to be found in all three aspects: physical, emotional, and spiritual.
Sin came to deceive and create shame, turn perfection into imperfection, and distort the image we have about each other. In the movie David Marks (Ryan Gosling) sums this idea up in a conversation with his wife: “You make me out to be this person that you think that I am. I’m not this person!”

Man is still blinded by this sin and is lead to believe that the original pattern never changed, and that man and woman can create a perfect relationship and can create deep and balanced intimacy within all three aspects, without a fail. Even Christians are lead to believe this very same lie, as they think that God will restore all this once they enter into the union of marriage. Nevertheless, they forget that if God cannot restore the intimacy between us and Himself while on this earth, due to the presence of sin, then He cannot do the same thing within the man and woman relation because of sin. Until sin is completely removed from the equation, a perfect intimacy will never take place.

If you take a look at the movie trailer you will understand the constant lies that this couple was lead to believe about each other, and where their beliefs led them. At one point in the movie and the trailer, Katie Marks (Kirsten Dunst) states the following: “I’ve never been closer to any one and I don’t know you at all.” That sums up the results of this broken intimacy that cannot be perfectly restored; we can always strive, but never fully achieve it. But an awareness of a truthful constant investment that we must have in all the three aspects of intimacy (Physical, Emotional and Spiritual), within a marriage relationship, will prevent us from living a life full of lies and un-fulfillment.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Don't Know How She Does It

I Don’t Know How She Does it is a movie about Kate Reddy, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, who experiences the struggle of trying to balance her full time job as a financial executive with her duties of being a mother. The demands of everyday life become a tug-of- war for her attention and, even though it creates much stress in Kate’s life, she is still able to come out on top of her career and accomplish her duties as a wife and mother; so she thinks. Kate’s job requires her to travel across country on a regular basis and this eventually leads her to neglect her title as wife and mother. Inevitably, Kate becomes exhausted from being pulled in many different directions and she gains awareness of her inability to balance everyday duties with her fulltime career and still have the energy to be a good wife and mother.
            This movie is an accurate depiction of how today’s society proceeds through the daily struggles of trying to balance success, at least our idea of it, and family obligations. Particularly for women, this problem is becoming more prevalent because more demands are currently being placed on women in our culture than ever before. There has been an increase in the number of women who excel at becoming executives and business owners, and yet they still try to meet the expectations and needs of the family in accordance to the social norms. This movie demonstrates very well what the book, Anxiety Cure, was trying to convey. People who obsessively overwhelm themselves while not taking the time to relax or rest amidst all the rush and confusion of everyday life, become more prone to anxiety and therefore, more likely to experience panic attacks or worse, panic anxiety disorder. The brain’s production of adrenaline is caused by constant high stress and will eventually diminish the brain’s natural tranquilizers. Thus, it becomes vital that people do not over exert themselves beyond their limits and take time out of their day to, not only spend time with their family, but for their selves as well.
           Kate’s relationship with her husband and children began to spiral out of control until Kate could no longer grip her reality. I believe this situation is more common than people will admit to and, even though it develops an obvious sign for change, some people’s reality may be hindered to the effects experienced from the adrenaline rush of today’s fast past world. I know of a few incidences where a marriage ends in divorce and parents lose sight of what is important for the family; this has even affected me directly. As John 14:1 states, “do not let your hearts be troubled; trust in God.” God does not condemn the clutter of our schedule, but the worry and stress that is created as a result of the clutter for it can eventually cause our relationship with Him to become hampered.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Personhood: Life Beginning at Conception

         The Supreme Court approving constitutional bands on abortion sounds trumpets for Believers! Interpretation of the scripture supports this clearly. The demons that yearn for human sacrifice are happy with abortion, but God is changing that. Amos 1:13 Thus says the LORD, “For three transgressions of the sons of Ammon and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead In order to enlarge their borders. (NASB) Believers are standing against these demons, and charging heavens gates. Hart, the author of The Anxiety Cure talks about different forms of anxiety. How can Christians sit around knowing this is happening and not have any? (Hart, Pgs. 49-51)

          Supporters hope the so-called personhood initiative will succeed in a Bible Belt state that already has some of the nation's toughest abortion regulations and only a single clinic where the procedures are performed. (Excerpt from the Article)

       Anti-abortion and Pro-choice are different opinions. God has never operated out of opinion. He does not force somebody to serve him, but God breaths life. Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a [a]gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. (NASB) It is his plan, his will and his way. Yes pregnancies happen. Also, married couples sometime struggle to make a baby. God is present when conception occurs in wedlock and out of wedlock. With a saved woman and an unsaved woman also. If you look at Paul, he did not grow up serving the only True and Holy God. Galatians 1:15-17 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with [a]flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. (NASB) 
          In Hendricks’s Living By The Book (pg.265) the Song of Solomon is mentioned as an erotic marriage story between husband and wife the way God intended it. Genesis 4:1 Now the man [a]had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to [b]Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a [c]manchild with the help of the LORD.” (NASB) Genesis 4:17 Cain [a]had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. (NASB) Whether a pregnancy is planned or not, God gave those passionate feelings for his purpose and glory.

In Mississippi, the state's largest Christian denomination, the Mississippi Baptist Convention, is backing the personhood proposal through its lobbying arm, the Christian Action Commission. "The Lord expects us to value life, even as he does," the commission's executive director, Jimmy Porter, says in a video. (Excerpt from the Article)

          In Vitro fertilization is another hot topic discussed in this article. In Vitro fertilization is playing God. God meant for reproduction through sex not science. The bottom line is allowing God to be God. Trusting him that a pregnancy will go right. With a case of incest or rape, if the baby survives then God had a purpose for his glory. Revelation 22:13-16 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things [a]for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (NASB) Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder. (NASB)  Deuteronomy 5:17 ‘You shall not murder. (NASB) God will never accept murder in any form. Yes, some of the intentions are right. Some argue that a woman should own her body and have the choice. A Christian knows though that life is in God’s hands; the good, the bad and the ugly. He is a merciful God but he still has standards.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Have You Had Your Existential Crisis Yet?

If you read the accompanying cartoon and the recent article linked here, you might conclude that pondering the meaning of life is nothing more than the source of a good chuckle or an interesting way to pass an evening with a friend. The world around us seems to be flooded with people crying out from meaningless existences. Pay attention to the lyrics of pop songs, look deeper at the implications behind the sitcom's humor, and study the root causes for some of today's addictions. You'll find much of it links back to the overarching existential mindset adopted by so many today. The writer of the cartoon uses wit to possibly get us to consider our own reasons for the things we do. (Did you notice just how fat the dog was in relation to the reference to food?) The article introduces us to some typical folks dealing some typical modern complexities. How do I get ahead in this world? What really matters? Where do I find meaning? The writer has spent some time reading what others have said about all of this. And she's clear about the sum of it all- the whole universe (and by implication, our very existence) is meaningless, so let's just smile, sit here on a bench, and pet a white cat for a while. The article has little to offer anyone trying to fight their way through the existential quagmire. (Although I think I heard some of the more psychologically-focused in the group trying to decide how much Prozac to start her friend on:) Simple musings of one lost person attempting to lead another through the maze of meaninglessness are all she has to offer. It seems that in virtually every realm of society today, there are some very big questions being asked with very few people seeming to have any answers that make any difference.

In class recently, we discussed that in his original plan, God desired close relationships with and among his "image bearers". Since Adam (and the rest of us) have chosen our own rebellious way, that close relationship has been broken. A logical view of man's current reality apart from this deep relationship with God and others could easily lead one to espouse existentialism. Although difficult to absolutely define, the ideas of personal isolation, ultimate meaninglessness, pointless freedom, and impending death are some general characteristics of modern existentialism. If you take the ideas of religion (most specifically, Christianity) out of the picture, how can you resist looking at life this way? If the atheists and evolutionists are correct, then there truly is no point to our lives and nothing has any ultimate value. Thankfully, it is abundantly clear to me that those mislead theorists have it all wrong.

I have not been familiar with the meaning and assumptions associated with the word existentialism for very long. I had heard some educated people throw it around occasionally, but embarrassingly have only recently come to better understand the actual implications of it. I must simply state, the utter hopelessness, meaninglessness, and dark overtones of it are almost tangibly scary and unbearably depressing to me. My heart truly breaks for people looking at life that way. And it's not too hard for me to relate to them, for it seems only a short while ago, I was one of them. Although it's been almost two decades now, it seems only a very brief time ago that I surrendered my life to Christ and accepted his incredible offer of true freedom. I was one of those rational people looking around and wondering how any of this messed-up world made any sense. At that time, my life was externally going pretty good: I was in excellent physical condition, had money to spend, was succeeding and being rewarded in my chosen profession, had an extended family that loved me and a girlfriend and buddies to have fun with, lived in a tropical paradise with no reason to think life would continue in any other than glorious directions. I was even living out my dream of serving my country in some rather coveted positions. I was a key member of a SWAT team, completed sniper training, protecting VIPs as a bodyguard, and supporting counter-narcotics operations, among numerous other duties most young people would jump at. Even with all of this, I started wondering what any of it was for and why I was even bothering. Thankfully, around this time, God placed many key people in my life to clearly communicate and live out the gospel right in front of me.

I share all of this to make it clear how endlessly grateful I am that God didn't let me lose my mind (or life!) looking for the answers to it all. He reached down one night, adopted me as his son, forgave me for all the horrible things I'd ever done, and is cleaning me up and using me to bring praise to him and to further his kingdom. I actually have the incredible honor of knowing and being known by the God of everything! I have made it my goal to consistently reach out to the deceived and hopeless people God has put in my path, to try to lovingly share the immeasurable gift offers to us all through Christ. It's my goal now to try to better learn how to help people live out the victorious life God has purchased for us and to learn how to overcome the "sins that so easily beset us" and other problems we all face. I'm so thankful we don't have to give in to the despair of existentialism or any of the other Godless theories abounding. We can have confidence that through Christ, those looming questions can be answered and we can live out a fulfilling, joyful life. Not because we have it all figured out, but because we have an all-sufficient God who has made it his responsibility to take care of us. So, when those in our sphere of influence experience their Existential Crisis, will we be ready to humbly offer them the hope that is only found in Christ?

Childhood Schizophrenia or a Battle for the Mind?

A few months ago my roommate shared an incredibly interesting article with me. This article is about a 7-year-old girl names January. What makes January's story so intriguing is that this precious little girl has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Now, for those of you who are not aware, Schizophrenia does not typically show up until late adolescence/early adulthood which makes January's case extremely rare. January was diagnosed at age 5 when her parents were forced to hospitalize her not only for her own safety, but the safety of her younger brother as well. January loved her younger brother, but frequently and without warning would lash out in extremely violent outbursts toward him. These attacks became so intense that the parents actually kept the brother separate from January by living in two different apartments.

January has been hospitalized on multiple occasions has seen several psychiatrists and specialists, all of whom stated over and over how rare her condition was. Medication after medication has been tried, unsuccessfully. I was particularly interesting in a statement made by January's father regarding her symptoms. He stated: "We've come to understand what her baseline is -- she's always a little bit psychotic -- and she hallucinates about 95 percent of the time... She has so many hallucinations. When the medications work against one set, another set emerges to take its place. It's like fighting an insurgency."

This comment captured my attention and I began to think about Neil Anderson's book Bondage Breaker. In this book Anderson shares example after example of people who have fallen under the bondage or oppression of demonic influence. By no means do I want to pretend I am a psychiatrist and have all the answers, but the words from his book and the examples of people who have been oppressed and delivered continued to ring in my mind as I read the story of this precious child. The fact that medication only helps in sedating January, but never really "cures" her leads me to believe that perhaps January is not fighting against something organic or chemical, but instead is in a fight against something that is not of this world.

I think the thing that strikes me the most out of all of the story is the parent's reaction. In the blog that gives January's story from beginning to end and the article shared above, the parents share their feelings of hopelessness. They have since come to accept that this is their life, and they will just have to adapt, yet it breaks my heart to hear this. Parents just want the best for their children. Imagine having to sit by and watch as your child fights a continuous battle between reality and fantasy. Imagine as you watch her conquer these hallucinations one moment and lose to them the very next.

I don't know if they family has considered the possibility of a spiritual implication over a mental illness, but I do pray that somehow this family finds peace, and perhaps some how this child can find a sense of normalcy amidst the chaos.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

OCD in Children: Is Anxiety the New Normal?

A recent article done by CNN labeled "OCD in children: A darkness has overtaken me" looks at the growing trend of obsessive compulsive disorder occurring in children as early as 3 to 4 years of age. The article was published to help bring awareness for OCD awareness week (this week) and to bring recognition to the launch of the international OCD foundation kids OCD website today. The article looks at the stories of two young women suffering from this disease, Allisa who is 17 and Mystery who is 10 years old. Both girls have faced the hardships of the symptoms for OCD which are constant worry and anxiety to constantly do repetitive behaviors to rid their minds of unwanted thoughts. Allisa now 17 began at the age of 9 , to repetitively: turn the lights on/off, and wash her hands as well as avoid eating due to fear of food poisoning. Mystery who is now 10 began to wash her hands repetitively at the young age of 5. Both girls are under going treatment for this disorder yet in times of high stress the unwanted thoughts and repetitive behaviors begin to emerge. The article also has facts about OCD ( ex: 1 in 100 kids suffer from this disorder) from the OCD kids website and links to it as well. Reading this article had me reflect back to the book were currently reading "The Anxiety Cure" by Dr. Hart.

In his book "The Anxiety Cure" Dr. Hart states that anxiety is the number one emotional disorder in our society. He then indicates that anxiety is a disease of stress. Also within his book he identifies obsessive compulsive disorder as a common anxiety problem facing men and women today. One of the reasons he gives for anxiety disorders/problems being so prevalent in our society is due to our fast paced living, and our innate drive to seek perfection. Just like a person suffering from OCD we as "healthy" individuals strive to accomplish certain goals that just seem to be increasing in quantity just like the repetitiveness of the tasks that plague those with OCD. This type of high stress life is what Dr. Hart equates as the "American Way" he says that being over worked, and over stressed is the new normal. Yet this increased stress depletes our brains neurotransmitters or as Dr. Hart calles them our "happy messengers" and this decrease in organic tranqualizers leaves us more vunerable to anxiety disorders most specifically panic attacks. Dr. Hart encourages us a humans and especially those of us who are believers in Christ (because as believers we are more prone to anxiety) to seek out tranquility in some part of our daily lives to help reduce this stress, to reduce our risk of developing a serious anxiety disorder.

After reading the article on CNN it really put Dr. Harts view of stress and anxiety in perspective. As Americans we are so driven to accomplish the highest goals and standards without questioning the tole it takes on us. This idea of be all you can be is ingrained in us from childhood, it is no wonder that we are seeing what used to be an almost non existent disorder now appearing in children as young as 3 years of age. I know that my parents have both been pushers for my education, my dad earned his PhD and is what I would consider a workaholic weather it be at his job all day or on our farm in the evenings, because it was a trait his father instilled in him, and its one that he has given to me as well. We both find it hard to simply sit still in the evenings and just shut our minds off, we have to be constantly at work doing one thing or the other. Even on vacation we are constantly on the go (due in part to my moms obsessive exercise driven nature) we never take the time to relax. Reading "The Anxiety Cure" has really given me insight into my own stress driven life, and actually confirmed my fears. To me getting a high school education while playing sports was normal, playing a college sport and taking a full class load was expected, and having the drive to go to graduate school and get a PhD has always been my goal. To me all of these wants and drives were and are still considered normal. Yet now I am seeing that maybe my goal driven self is actually the cause of my constant mind chatter filled with any and every kind of thought/ worry you can think of. To me ive always thought this was ok and just who I was, its only now after ive starting reading the Anxiety Cure that I see it as my foe. It makes me wonder though, how many other of my classmates are like this, how many other kids are learning to be stressed at young ages. Just take a look at youth athletic teams whatever the sport may be, and you'll see a coach benching kids for not playing well, and parents berating their children for not hustling. Its sad that the youth of america is growing up in the stress filled fast paced society , because the facts ( 1 in 100 kids with OCD) show that it is taking a tole on the mental health.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Immaterial Steve Jobs

Many are mourning the passing of an American icon whose impact is fascinating to consider. Last week CNN Journalist Mark Milian’s article, The Spiritual Side of Steve Jobs, published the day after the information technology pioneer passed away, brought a sudden awareness of a cultural timeline. For many Steve Jobs' life and innovations mark the technological progression of our society and the resulting information age that he helped usher into our lifestyle over the last 30 years. Milian gives an inside look at the heart of Steve Jobs. He explores his up-bringing and implies some developmental dysfunction that shaped the inner drive of the man whose ingenuity and values became the defining DNA of the Apple Corporation. The article exposes the flawed humanity and spiritual journey of the company’s founder and re-creator. Milian discusses Jobs’ conversion to Buddhism, a dark season in Jobs’ personal life and an unhealthy work culture at Apple that he asserted as admirable. Milian quotes Jobs as saying when interviewed: "You'd be surprised how hard people work around here. They work nights and weekends, sometimes not seeing their families for a while. Sometimes people work through Christmas to make sure the tooling is just right at some factory in some corner of the world so our product comes out the best it can be."

We recently discussed the biblical view of the soul and the spirit to describe the immaterial man. It was interesting to see how this secular article describes the impact of the immaterial man, Steve Jobs, by referencing his heart, his flaws and his humanity. Milian attempted to define Jobs’ inner man in terms of the heart which drove his intellect. He wrote to reveal the heart that led him to embrace certain values which his company reflects, sells and helped build into our cultural fabric.

Our class discussion on the biblical view of the heart concluded that it was the “intellectual seat, center of the emotional life and the seat of volitional will.” Those components could form headings for an outline of Milian’s article with an alternate title: The Impact of the Immaterial Life of Steve Jobs. He concludes his work by saying that Jobs' remaining team of executives adopted his values and persona in significant and distinct parts. A key Jobs' mantra represents the heart as the “seat of volitional will”. His mantra as a minimalist presents a productive business strategy. Milian quotes John Sculley, CEO of Apple, who says this about the uniqueness that made Jobs great, “What makes Steve's methodology different from everyone else's is that he always believed the most important decisions you make are not the things you do, but the things you decide not to do." This ethic permeates the culture of Apple. One measure of the immaterial man is found in the lasting imprint of his values and is best explained, not merely with the intellect, but with emotion and heart. It is ironic to find heart language exuding from the life of impressions of this notable information technology pragmatist.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Scripture and the Modern Family


So when I scheduled my October date for my blog I should have checked to see if it was during fall break because I have no assigned reading or class lecture to go off of. So I began going through chapter 35 in the Hendrix book and it occurred to me just how important something like a concordance is when doing biblical study. I am always going back and fourth looking up different passages that speak on a topic that I am exploring. A couple of instances where my concordance has come in handy was during conversations that I have had on the topic of homosexuality and gay marriage.

Homosexuality seems to be growing in our society, or at least people are speaking out about it more. But I feel like every television show today has at least one gay character or the show is about the gay lifestyle. Look at one of the number one comedies in America, Modern Family. The title speaks volumes about the new paradigm shift in families today. I must admit, however, that my wife and I love this show and Cam is one of my favorite characters, but I can't help but wonder if Hollywood has a sort of 'gay agenda' to desensitize our society to being more accepting of gays and remove the stigma about same sex marriage.

One particular conversation that I had dealing with this topic, I could not remember any passage other than Leviticus Ch 18. Of course the natural reaction to this passage is that it was written a long time ago and was part of the Old Testament law, so therefore it is no longer a valid reference. Too bad I hadn't heard Dr. Corsini's lecture discussing that there were three different types of law in the Old Testament but I got into scripture to find more New Testament passages that dealt with homosexuality. Looking through my concordance I was expecting to find a numerous amount of passages condemning the act but to my surprise there was only one, 1 Cor. 6:9. This verse dealt with the fact that homosexual offenders would not inherit the kingdom of God. Scripture is much more clear about abstaining from sexual immorality. Some may argue that homosexuality is not included in that expression but such an argument would be difficult to sell.

So even though I know that the bible clearly rejects the acts of homosexuality as sin, I have at times questioned my responsibility as a Christian and the topic of gay marriage. This questioning came about when I watched a very interesting documentary titled, Lord Save Us From Your Followers, that talks about how the gay community views Christians as harsh, judgmental, cold, arrogant, hateful, and bigoted jerks. I highly recommend this documentary for an eye opening and challenging self-reflection. What you must be careful of is going from the extreme of, "God will judge you and you will get what you deserve," to the other which is, "God loves you for who you are and if you are gay that's ok, just be a good person." As I was personally trying to figure out what my political view was regarding gay marriage, I found myself relying on my own understanding and not on the Holy Spirit's guidance. I figured that homosexuals had every right to be married and that I or anyone else should be able to tell them that they couldn't. We do live in the U.S.A after all and just because I don't agree with their actions, doesn't mean they can't do it. I had stuck to the love sinner, hate the sin mentality. (I know, I'm a sinful heretic)

This was a view that I had up until a few months ago but I never felt right about it. This summer I was doing devotions on a completely different topic and all that I kept thinking to myself was, "Do not cause your brother to stumble." So I went to my concordance and looked up stumble. The verse that stood out to me the most was Romans 14:13, "...Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." Upon reading this moment it hit me that while in the worlds eyes gays should have every right to marry, in God's eyes giving gays the means to carry on their lifestyle is allowing them to sin and putting a stumbling block in their path. Needless to say now I have an entirely different stance on gay marriage and even though I may laugh at the two characters, Cam and Mitchel, I have to stick with my guns and remember that the laws of God are higher than the laws of man.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Stop and Smell the Roses

Recently the American Psychological Association (APA) did a study on Stress in America. In this study it was shown that a majority of Americans are living with moderate to high levels of stress. APA states that Americans recognize these high levels of stress as unhealthy and know what it would take to remain healthy, such as: eating right and getting enough sleep and exercising. However, taking such measures has proven to be a challenge due to being too busy and having a lack of energy and motivation. It was said that “[Americans] report being too busy as a primary barrier to preventing them from better managing stress.

I have begun to read our next assignment in class, a book called “The Anxiety Cure” written by Dr. Archibald Hart. Hart sees stress as preparing the way for anxiety which is a major factor for those who work in high functioning and demanding jobs. Overall, Hart seems to attribute stress to the fact that many of us live too fast paced lives. As he said, “If you really want to know why you are so stressed-out, consider the fact that you, like many others, are too hurried, hassled, and overextended.” (Hart, 1999)

After reading part of Hart’s book, I was reminded of another book called “The Life You’ve Always Wanted.” In this book, author, John Ortberg, discusses spiritual disciplines, and one discipline is the practice of “slowing” or the “unhurried life.” Ortberg says that the hurried life is “the enemy of the spiritual life” and can inhibit us from receiving and giving God’s love. We wear ourselves out from doing so many things that we are too tired and overwhelmed to give any part of ourselves to others.

The phrase “stop and smell the roses” never seemed more appropriate to me. I find myself getting impatient at almost anything- when I have to wait at a stoplight, when I am waiting for my food to cook, or waiting in line at the store. I get frustrated and stressed that these tasks cannot go faster because I am thinking of the million other things I need to do. This mentality that all things need to be done instantly and results should be immediate is a very dangerous mentality as a future counselor.

As counselors, we cannot demand immediate results from our clients, it is going to take time. We are going to have to slow down and be willing to go with them on a journey that could take longer than we think. A hurried life also can cause burnout in the counselor which is never productive for the therapeutic relationship. In essence, we somehow have to learn to slow down; most likely we will not have many opportunities to stop this chaotic life, but we must learn to slow down. A hurried life may seem productive but in the end we miss so much along the way and end up causing more stress and anxiety not only for ourselves but those around us. So as I said before, I believe it is time to slow down and “stop and smell the roses.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sex Trafficking and the Value of a Person

Each year, between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders, according to the US Department of State.

I recently watched the movie, Trade and it was sobering. The movie follows a young 12-year-old girl named Adriana who was taken from her home in Mexico City to be trafficked into the United States and sold for sex. Ray, a Texas police officer, who is searching for his own daughter who went missing years before helps Jorge track down his sister before she is auctioned online to the highest bidder. After a horrific, abusive trek over the Mexico border and to New Jersey, the journey ends as Ray bid to purchase Adriana out of her slavery. Trade brings to light many different issues including the sexualizing of modern US culture, which in part drives the vast human trafficking empire, the lies that abusers and traders use to lure women, girls, and boys into the sex trade, and the blatant disregard for a human being. This story ended relatively well for Adriana but not for Veronica, the woman from Poland tricked into coming to America, nor for the estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people trafficked into the US each year.

Before every counselor can define what a healthy person is, a goal for the counseling process, one must first define what a person is. In our Theology and Spirituality in Counseling class we tried to define what a person was (from a secular perspective), something that was assumed to be easy turned out to be quite difficult. It seems the definition of what a person is has changed many times throughout history. Legally, it is a major issue these days when it comes to abortion and even the debate on whether to grant dolphins personhood since they are intelligent and seem to have feelings. From a Christian standpoint, a person is not only someone who has volition, emotions, intellect, memory, a soul and a spirit but is someone innately valuable for the image in which they were fashioned after – God.

An underlying question of personhood resonates throughout the sex trafficking crimes. Not only of personhood but of value. A person who can kidnap another and sell them as a product cannot hold human life in much esteem. In a society plagued by relativism, devoid of any moral standard, the buying and selling of human products is not only accepted but also thriving. Is this problem really about the legality of black market sex or about pornography and sex addiction? No. I believe this issue runs deeper and goes back to the creation of man. What really is a person and what does that mean in relation to value?

Sneaky Naturalism and Rationalism

Here is Dr. Neil Anderson talking about his reasons for writing Bondage Breaker. Part two is available here if you are interested. Anderson talks about many of the things he says in his books and explains them verbally. I much prefer to listen than to read, so I hope these clips might help my classmates conceptualize and clarify by hearing what we read in Bondage Breaker. I went and heard him speak when he was here at Liberty, and I thought it really helped my understanding (though my test grade might suggest otherwise), so I hope this helps you as well. Dr. Anderson covers quite a lot of ground in these two clips, but does emphasize holistic answers that take into consideration the physical, spiritual, and psychological. He also emphasizes the importance of reconciliation to God through repentance and finding identity and authority in that reconciliation. However, what I would like to focus on in this article is the subject that seems to attract the most attention in Bondage Breaker: the demons.

All throughout our COUN 507 class, we have been talking about how there is more to life than simply the material. Currently, we are looking at what the soul is and how that differentiates from our spirit. These are topics that no naturalist would give time to, but, as Christians, we stroll trough these topics as if there is no doubt that these immaterial parts of what make us human are as real as our noses. We have discussed how not everything that is real is true, implying that there is a deceiver or a power that claims to be of God that in fact is not. What we have yet to cover, and may or may not cover, are the forces that plague our immaterial.

As Christians, we do not deny the Devil's existence, but why do I find myself thinking that Dr. Anderson is bringing up an "out there" argument when he says that there are very real demons affecting us today? In these clips, Anderson states how people are more afraid of these demons than they are of God, and I second that. Why am I so terrified to ever confront a demon? I think that I have a Hollywood "Exorcist" view of demons, and I have lived my life believing that I will never need to encounter one. Furthermore, I feel like I would be considered a crazy person if I ever suggested demon possession may be a cause of illness. We never doubt that the spiritual can affect the physical and vice versa. We believe the physical can affect the physical (a blow to the head); the psychological affects the psychological (thinking that about your spouse's anger towards you). Do we believe the spiritual affects the spiritual? How ironic that we want to tell people that their problems are more than just physical and psychological, but we want to tell ourselves that our spiritual is only affected by the physical and psychological. Is naturalism and rationalism slipping in the back door of our thinking? Sure, lack of sleep can cause you to be tempted spiritually. Sleep more. Depression affects your spiritual life. Here are some meds, or let's correct your thinking, but do we believe that there might be a demon attacking the person? We don't even want to consider it.

Do not get me wrong, I have as many questions as you do about the devil. What does Satan do? If there were no Satan would I sin? Would I still sin, just less? I don't think we have been taught about Satan. Anderson is really the first person, that is not a Biblical character, I have heard talk about casting out demons, and I love how he does not make it the focus of his ministry. If the stories in his books are lies, then he is a liar and why believe him. If they are true, then he is onto something that is an integral part to understanding what it means to be healthy. Once again, I do love how Dr. Anderson emphasizes holistic healing. The problems are not just demons, not just chemical, and not just psychological. They are all of them at once. That really changes what it means to be a counselor.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Harry Osborn - The Second Green Goblin

Harry Osborn, son of industrialist Norman Osborn, was first introduced on the Spiderman series as the best friend of Peter Parker (Spiderman). Going back to Harry's past one will discover some things that causes Harry to be the person he was depicted to be.

The birth of Harry weekened his mother severely, causing her to die. As a result, Harry's father became a cold and unloving father who dismisses Harry with contempt and lashes out at him frequently. The actions of his father resulted in him, Harry, spending much of his life trying to earn his father's approval.

Although fictional, this is a clear example of how hurt people, hurt people. Author Sandra Wilson, in her book "Hurt People Hurt People", describes how unseen wounds of parental verbal abuse and unavailability can leave persistent scars. Children often put more effort than necessary to get their parents approval when they are not cared for and loved in appropriate ways - the way that God intended. Not knowing that they are special to God, they may develop a sense of shame: a feeling that they are not good enough or worthless, often resulting in the making of inappropriate choices to deal with their hurt.

Harry Osborne eventually became the second Green Goblin in attempt to get his father's approval, even after he was dead. He sought to avenge his father's death by taking on his father's killer, Spiderman.