Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Returning to Trauma (Especially For Those Going *Back* to Boston)

The 117th Boston Marathon was a year ago today.  I was not there, of course, but ran my first marathon the week before.  Some of my running friends were preparing for Boston while I was preparing for mine, and we met for several training runs throughout the winter.  So, I was especially excited to follow my friends' progress as they ran the premier race for marathoners.

When I pulled up the Boston Marathon website to look up their times, however, it was with a fearful anxiety, as a coworker had just mentioned a bombing at the marathon. My heart had dropped when she told me.  I managed to find my friends' finishing times.  Just the fact that the times were posted gave me hope they were both out of harm's way.  It was several hours until connections on facebook confirmed they were not hurt.  They were perilously close to the bombing, but emerged (physically) unscathed.

As my friends--and thousands of others--prepare to return to Boston to run its 118th marathon next Monday (April 21), I've wondered what that will be like for them.  I've thought about my own experience of returning to a race with memories of trauma attached.  I don't know whether sharing my story can help them or anyone else.  If nothing else, I know it helps me to share it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Just Cooperate and ________, Already!

We all pretty much think we know what's best--for us and for other people.  We want others to cooperate to make this "best" happen.  Sometimes we're able to to keep in check our urges to control; other times we're not so successful.  The hardest urges to control are the most subtle: those we believe are truly in others' best interest and those culture convinces us we have a right to.  Usually, as noble or validating as our causes seem, it turns out our impatience for cooperation is mostly about making ourselves feel better.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Christianity: Now in 3D and Living Color (PRISM)

I am so excited to post this link to my latest piece in PRISM Magazine, "Christianity: Now in 3D and Living Color."  The piece calls for a move away from black-and-white thinking and two-dimensional faith, and towards a colorful Christianity that acknowledges uncertainty and brokenness.  I mentioned it a few weeks ago in my post, "So Long, Status Quo...".  I'd love for you to read it, and would love it even more if you would support PRISM Magazine by subscribing (the digital edition is free!).

Sunday, March 30, 2014

How Disney Hasn't Messed Me Up (Where Christianity Has)

With the popularity of the movie Frozen, new vigor has been injected into the strangely common conversation in Christian circles in regards to the influence Disney movies have on children and/or adults who watched them as children.  Some of the opinions I have read seem to praise Frozen for introducing new, positive concepts to Disney movies. While I strongly disagree that any of these concepts are "new" for Disney--and doubt these authors' personal familiarity with Disney's nearly 80-year history--I am more concerned with the other set of opinions.  This other set of opinions continue to accuse Disney of trying to push some kind of social and moral agenda and condemn the movies as damaging our children.

Here is the essence of what I would like to say: Disney never ruined my views on relationships, morality, femininity, or anything else.  Disney told me stories--fairy tales--and never represented themselves to me as anything else.  Disney never told me I was required to do or not do anything... including watch their movies.

Christianity, on the other hand, has taught me quite a few unhealthy paradigms I have had to unlearn, mostly through therapy.  These paradigms were represented to me as truths, and I built my life on them.  This is not to say that I did not also learn some wonderful, foundational ways of relating to God, to others, and to the world.  Those lessons are as wonderful and dear to me as the others are terrible and painful.  The wonderful and the terrible are on the same scale of significant life influence.  However, I believe we need to be much more concerned with harmful teaching about the formation and direction of one's life and relation to God than we are about debatably questionable ideas represented in animated movies no one is forced to watch.

Monday, March 24, 2014

When Every Fiber of Your Being Tells You Otherwise

There are times you just have to stop yourself.  Times when your past teaches your present that the way you feel right now is not the way you will always feel.  When memories remind you that the way things seem to be right now is not the way things always will be.

One of the times I have to stop myself revolves around this recurrent line of thinking: "People hurt me. They are always going to hurt me. I need to separate myself from people. All people."  I tell myself:  I'm a fairly introverted and independent personality, so I can handle being alone.  It's easier that way.  I don't "need" people.  If I don't allow myself to attach to people (or they to me), then I can't be hurt.

Monday, March 17, 2014

How Stubborn Is Your Paradigm?

How willing are you to consider beyond what you know or believe to be true or possible?
Earning my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I often ran into theories about how we, as humans, develop (cognitively socio-emotionally, morally, physically, etc.).  Something has always struck me about two of these major theories.  According to both Kohlberg's theory of moral development* and Piaget's theory of cognitive development*, many (if not most) people do not reach the "highest" levels of development in their lifetime (and/or people who reach these levels do not show evidence of these levels in all aspects of their lives).  These final levels of moral and cognitive development involve an ability to reason abstractly, to think beyond what is right in front of you, and to consider multiple aspects and perspectives.  There are all kind of possibilities as to why some people don't possess or exhibit these cognitive and moral decision-making abilities, but I'd like to suggest and describe only one:  Maybe we don't think beyond what we know or believe because we simply don't want to.

Before you stop reading because I've already lost your interest, let me assure you this post isn't going to go over your head (and hopefully won't bore you).  After all, the rest of this post is about shapes!  You can handle that.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"So Long, Status Quo..."

As I have tested the writing waters in the past year or two, I have made several discoveries about myself and the ways I have changed.  One discovery has surprised me the most: there are certain publications for which I have nothing suitable to submit.  It surprises me because these are publications that I used to read and organizations that used to be quite in line with my thinking and believing.  But, now I find I simply have nothing to say to them or for them.

I am no longer capable of writing in a way that makes me or my readers feel comfortable or satisfied with their own status quo.  I cannot write in a way that communicates clear-cut, clean, blanket ideas.  I cannot write in a way that falsely portrays me as strong or certain.  I cannot write in this way because I am no longer capable of living in this way.