What am I Reading?

Glad you asked.  May not finish these until August because classes start this week, but enjoying all three.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

This classic is a hard read because of the content of Frankl’s concentration camp experiences. Existential theory gets a bad rap in Christian circles for different reasons, but I believe there is more complementary between the view and Christianity than contradictory.

“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”

my favorite part is actually from the preface, and not even a main principle of the book:

“…success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success; you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain by Antonio Damasio

I have been interested in this for a while. It is written by a neurologist, but for a general audience. I worry that emotion is given a bad rap in psychology and Christian circles. He has done research that suggests that emotion can be an integral and helpful part of decision-making.

“feelings are just as cognitive as other percepts.”

“Emotion, feeling and biological regulation all play a role in human reason.”

“I began writing this book to propose that reason may not be as pure as most of us think it is or wish it were, that emotions and feelings may not be intruders in the bastion of reason at all; they may be enmeshed in its networks, for worse and for better.”

Unholy Ghost: writers on depression

This is an anthology of writers sharing their own experiences with depression.  So it’s not clinical but personal and fascinating. And powerful, at times.

There are three cases where a person afflicted will write, and then a loved one will share their perspective.

Russel Banks contribution, “Bodies in the Basement” is a great essay on poetry, fiction, and depression. Highly recommend.

You will get stuff like this by Darcy Steinke: “The raw nub of my soul bobbed up to the surface, ugly and ungainly, and I was suddenly pierced with panicky malaise.” So, if you are interested in depression/mental health but prefer something more scientific, this may not be for you.

My favorite, so far, has by Susanna Kaysen, who wrote, “One Cheer for Melancholy.”

These quotes give you the gist:

“Any psychiatrist can tell you this (pessimism) is a standard defense mechanism against disappointment and loss. But so is optimism–and optimism is a lousy defense mechanism because more than half the time it leaves you feeling bad.”

“Seeing things clearly, for me, is a sort of happiness, even if what I see is banal or sad.”

“Americans are saddled with the idea that we can and should be happy.”  (I could go on for days on this sentence)

“I think depression and despair are reasonable reactions to the nature of life.”

“The melancholic temperament is equipped to perceive and, more important, to tolerate the fundamental ambiguities of life.”

 

 

 

Do the Right Thing

not Spike Lee, but Ages and Ages.  Catchy tune with a nice message, although somewhat repetitive and Arminian.

“Divisionary”

“Do the right thing, don’t you know you’re not the only one suffering”

 

An interesting quote

I don’t fully understand it so I am not promoting anything, just found it interesting and wanted to share:

“A good story and a well-formed argument are different natural kinds. Both can be used as a means for convincing another. Yet what they convince of is fundamentally different: arguments convince one of their truth, stories of their lifelikeness. The one verifies by eventual appeal to procedures for establishing formal and empirical truth. The other establishes not truth but verisimilitude.”

–Jerome Bruner

Still More from Scazzero’s “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”

Continuing the list of unhealthy behaviors:

8. Covering over Brokenness, Weakness, Failure

The Bible is full of examples of God using sinners, of sinners glorifying in the grace of God. Scazzero points out that David wrote a hymn about his sin with Bathsheba to be used in corporate worship.

Why do we still feel the need to wear masks and pretend we have it all together?

“We are all deeply flawed and broken. There are no exceptions.”

9. Living without Limits

Guilt for never doing enough. No boundaries. Unrealistic expectations.

“Few Christians make the connection between love of self and love of others. Sadly, many believe that taking care of themselves is a sin, a “psychologizing” of the gospel taken from our self-centered culture. I believed that myself for years.”

Jesus didn’t heal every sick person. He didn’t feed every beggar. Why do we feel we have to fix and save every single person to the neglect of our selves.

10. Judging Other People’s Spiritual Journey

“If you are occupied with your own faults, you have no time to see those of your neighbor.”

“We judge the Presbyterians for being too structure. We judge the Pentecostals for lacking structure. We judge Episcopalians for their candles and their written prayers. We judge Roman Catholics for their view of the Lord’s Supper and Orthodox Christians from the eastern part of the world for their strange culture and love of icons.
“By failing to let others be themselves before God and move at their own pace, we inevitably project onto them our own discomfort with their choice to live life differently than we do”

Are we commanded to teach and correct? Sure!

Do you know people churches who are only and constantly correcting, rebuking, fixing other people and churches? Yes. And how do we feel about them? Okay, you say feelings shouldn’t matter.  How EFFECTIVE are they in helping people grow and change??

Happy Valentines Day!

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