Ferguson Links

Lighter stuff for those who get emotional/agitated reading on race and violence (whichever side you are on)

How Twitter and Facebook are different for sharing/following the Ferguson situation

How younger and older blacks feel differently about Civil Rights and Civil Disobedience

Coverage of the Coverage from a faith perspective

The following articles are by Christians talking about race, poverty, violence etc. in America (proceed at your own risk, send all complaints to original authors)

Silence by white Christian America

WARNING! Black American Christians may have a different POV than you are used to. Kristena Cleveland: “The Cross and the Molotav Cocktail” (ALSO: graphic images of lynching/hanging)

Don’t Ignore It by Eugene Cho

and lastly, if you only read one argument that may make you angry, this one is calm and rational and provides good suggestions for action: “Speaking of Michael Brown

 

 

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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??

Emotionally UnHealthy Spirituality, cont.

More Excerpts and Summaries from Peter Scazzero’s book, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.”

6. Doing for God instead of Being with God.

I have often wondered if having lots of programs and activities were the best thing for a church. If we are expected to be at the building 4 days a week, how will that affect our living of our faith in the world.  Scazzero deals with the tendency to emphasize and value activity to the neglect of relationship with God/Jesus. I have known Christians and churches who emphasize the work of evangelism so much above the work of sanctification or even discipleship. And the results can big churches full of eternally immature Christians. But with all the people and all the activity, it’s hard to see the downside.

“Praying and enjoying God’s presence for no other reason than to delight in him was a luxury, I was told, that we could take pleasure in once we got to heaven.”

“But work for God that is not nourished by a deep interior life with God will eventually be contaminated by other things such as ego, power, needing approval of and from others, and buying into the wrong ideas of success and the mistaken belief that we can’t fail.”

The result in Scazzero’s eyes is that “our sense of worth and validation gradually shifts from God’s unconditional love for us in Christ to our works and performance.”

7. Spiritualizing Away Conflict

“…the belief that smoothing over disagreements or “sweeping them under the rug” is to follow Jesus continues to be one of the most destructive myths alive in the church today.”

Scazzero said that he personally was the great “peacemaker” who avoided conflict…”so I did what most Christians do: I lied a lot, both to myself and others.”

Specific examples:

  • blame or attack
  • making promises we have no intention of keeping
  • become sarcastic
  • tell half the truth to no hurt someone’s feelings
  • say yes when we mean no

When does too much activity in your life or in your church become a problem?

So, do you agree with the problem of “spiritualizing away conflict?” How do you handle conflict?

Mental Health Monday: OCD Personality Disorder in the Church

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is not the same thing as being OCD.  It’s related but has different symptoms.  Whereas in regular OCD there are hard to stop/control thoughts and behaviors, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is seen as an extreme type of perfectionism.

Symptoms include (from National Library of Medicine website and my class notes):

  • Over-devotion to work
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Lack of generosity
  • Not wanting to allow other people to do things
  • Not willing to show affection, lacking in expressiveness or warmth
  • Difficulty in relaxing and having fun
  • Preoccupation with details, rules, and lists

Unfortunately, this sounds like some churches and Christians I know.

You can stop laughing or being offended, because I am serious. This is a prominent manifestation of “Christianity” that does not glorify God. This “perfectionism” mentality (whether pathological or not) is why some churches are dying, while they think it’s because no believes or wants to hear their “TRUTH.”

It’s the worst case of legalism. I don’t know if you can diagnose an entire denomination or not, but many churches need help. They are believers who want to do what is right, but are consumed with doing what is right instead of being consumed with their Creator God and Savior Jesus.

Fear of not getting a list right keeps them from KNOWING God and truly having a relationship with him. It causes them to be judgmental and arrogant. It divides churches and hurts families.

Yes, there is truth and we must be faithful to what God says, but each one must decide if God’s Word/Law/Truth is being used to make oneself feel good and right and better than others, or if a love of Truth and righteousness flows out of an intimate and loving relationship with Jesus.

You can read more about the disorder HERE.

What I been Reading

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron

You can read the DSM and doctor’s comments but reading a narrative by a gifted author (Sophie’s Choice, etc.) about what it’s like to have Major Depressive Disorder is enlightening.  He talks about how his view of depression (and suicide) change after suffering himself.  He talks about suicide, including how close he got, and various artists he knew who killed themselves. Provides great insight into severe depression.

His writing skill, personal experience, and research (he himself read about his disease in the DSM) provide for a fascinating and brief (less than a 100 pages) read.

Scarred Faith by Joshua Ross

I have already loaned my copy so I can’t quote much except this: “May God forgive us for taking better care of our buildings than we do our neighbors.”

The book is very personal and very powerful.  It focuses on the loss of Ross’ sister who died unexpectedly at a young age and that death’s impact on his faith. He says a lot of important things about risk, adventure, and faith. His style is humorous and down-to-earth but also be warned: Don’t read it in public unless are you okay with crying in public. Big, ugly crying.

The second half of the book has a lot of great stories about what God is doing in Memphis.

Would be great for anyone who has lost a loved one, for ministers, and Jesus followers of all kinds.

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison

Only halfway through this one but it is interesting.  It’s a personal account about living with Bipolar Disorder (technically Schizo-Affective because she also had delusions/hallucinations but she focuses on the more commonly known Bipolar) written by a psychologist.  She does a great job of painting the picture of the mood swings, especially the highs of mania and the spending, risky behavior, etc. that accompanies it.  Jamison does a good job of explaining why so many who suffer from BPD resist taking medication in spite of the severity of the symptoms.

The most interesting tidbit so far is that she made it all the way through graduate school without recognizing she had Bipolar Disorder.  She was well aware of her moods and struggles but didn’t connect the dots.