Friday, December 31, 2010


There is something decidedly comforting in the notion of God's revelation of himself. I feel too often like I'm the doer and perceiver and believer. There's a true active sense in my experience of myself. However just as I feel the earth is flat when it's round this sense of self in relationship to the world is as far from centre as it might be. As a scientist I know that my mind experiences after the fact. There's milli and nano seconds of time between perception and perceived. This makes me not the prime mover but indeed the receiver. As masculine as I may wish to be I'm really the bitch of mystery. Because mystery is what this other is to me. And I call that mystery God. With rare humility, even as a scientist, I acknowledge the dynamic equation is that God is greater than I am and primary making me secondary.

From this I have that Hound of Heaven, Thompson poem sense that God is revealing himself to me, me the Bitch of God, as it were, and I'm really at a loss as to how to wrestle the very channel changer from Him. It's a maze. I wake each day in this reality that may well be of my making, if I accept the Eastern sense of Bardot, that play writing in between death and life place, the reincarnates green room, or the Gnostic sense of cat and mouse and I wrote this entertainment, called my life, for my self to find and explore. However, if I accept this, then I and it are even more twisted, involuted and convoluted than things might other wise be.

At its simplest its "I and God" or "I and Thou or I and It" or even "we and them" Us and this mystery. God is. I am of God and God of me but that's all 60's booblygook, that zen, thinking the unthinkable and unthinking the thinkable, paradoxical can't get there from here stuff. White Rabbit on Acid.

But then I think of God's Revelation. I think of the Bible. I remember that through out the ages holy men, mystics, seers, preachers, priests and priestesses, nuns and ministers, pastors and even psychiatrists, psychologists and neurologists and even more astronauts have all been trying to get a better understanding of God. The words they use aren't necessarily 'God' but the unknowable is what it's still about.

And in the midst of that I think of God trying to talk to me like I'm a baby. That's the primal image of the relationship of Biblical terms and elsewhere it's friend, Jesus called God Daddy. I'm a baby.

But I want to be lord of my creation. I wan't to swagger with adolescent machismo. I want to be the Mommy. I want to be the Daddy. I want to be the parent. I know it all even more than adolescent girls. I know it all even more than old men. I'm not God's Bitch. God's my Bitch. Yea, yea. Well, we're at best in this together. Like the trainer and the dolphin doing tricks for each other and trying to bridge the gap of unknowing.

Today God is my teacher again. Today is another day in Dr. Scott Pecks' kindergarden. I'm a student of life and God is Life. God reveals himself through his creation and through my experience. God is with me and God is in me and as St. Patrick said, God is above and below and around me and before me and behind me. I am in the arms of the maker. The problem is I'm a crybaby, whiner, neurotic, peevish, childish, emotionally undeveloped, fearful little bitch. That's the truth. Despite all the swagger and the violence and the aggression and the dare I'm inside afraid of everything. Or to be more specific I'm afraid of God. I'm in awe of God.

Yet God is trying to reveal himself to me. God is Love. God is loving. Wake up, little man. Do not be afraid.

It's a New Year. You got through this last one didn't you. So suck it up!
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Burnaby Cariboo Walk with Gilbert

I've walked Gilbert dozens of times along these Burnaby trails. Usually I'm out before work in the dark or at night in the dark after work. Occasionally I see the trails in the daylight. Then there are usually other people out then too. I feel a bit proprietorial then. They weren't out pushing their strollers,bicycling, jogging or power walking in the darkness when Gilbert and I, the coyotes, cougars and other wild creatures were making use of the park. They are definitely fair-weather park users. Gilbert's desire to pee has me out in the parks in blizzards and down pouring rains so heavy only the occasional other dog and owner is out there. That's when Gilbert comes alive wanting to cavort, hump and generally doggy socialize while the other owner and I share dog comments in passing.
Today though I took a camera just to remember all the things I take for granted when I take Gilbert to his lieu.

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Location:Woodlake Ct,Burnaby,Canada

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Premodernism, Modernism, and Postmodernism

I am very thankful to Milton J. Erickson's, Christian Theology for it's clarity regarding concepts which are commonly bandied about and assumed to be understood.

Erickson delineates the periods of world view as premodern, modern and postmodern. Interestingly he shows that much of what has been called postmodern, the radical fringe that is, is indeed 'ultramodernism' or the natural culmination of modernism.

In the premodern period there was dualism with belief in supernatural and the natural. Plato's Ideas of Forms was an example of the unseen as more real. Later God had purposes he was working out and we were a means to his achieving that end. It was further believed that the natural world existed independent of anyone being there to perceive it. Language was referential in that it didn't just refer to other language but actually something extralinguistic.

Modernism continued to believe in the objective reality of the physical world, referential nature of language, the correspondence history of truth and that history had a sensible pattern once could discern with careful study. Modernism retained the conception of the world but remove it's supernatural basis. There was emphasis on rationality and certainty. Descartes resolved to doubt everything and found that he could not doubt the fact of his own doubting. Kant noted that we didn't know the objects of knowledge as they really are themselves (the noumena) but only as they appeared to us through senses (the phenomena). Because we had no sensory experience of God Kant considered it a matter of faith and necessary for morality but not like science, history where reason could be applied. Bacon felt that real knowledge came from the process of observation and testing giving rise to the scientific method.

Erickson quotes John Herman Randall's "Making of the Modern Mind" saying that Modernism was essentially humanistic. The human being was the centre of the universe whereas God had been that to the pre modern. Naturalism went along with humanism because the human lived in nature so the study of nature took over from the pre modern study of heaven. Nature was considered no longer passive but dynamic and sole and sufficient cause for all that occurred making humans not uniquely different as formerly thought. The scientific method used to study nature tended to reductionism with psychology reduced to biology, biology reduced to chemistry and chemistry reduced to physics. There was a strong tendency to foundationalism with knowledge based on indubitable first principles and felt superior to religion which had to be based on faith. Metaphysical realism prevailed with the objects of the inquiry in which science engaged external to the consciousness of the knower. There was a correspondence theory of truth , truth a measure of propositions which corresponded to what they claimed to present. In general modernism sought an explanation to cover all things with Darwin accounting for everything in biological evolution, Freud explaining all human behaviour by sexual energy and the unconscious while Marx explained all history with dialectical materialism.

Erickson quotes Diogenes Allen in discussing the Dissatisfaction with Modernism.
The idea of a self contained universe is dissolving. The Big Bang theory has raised questions of why just this universe has arisen. This renders pertinent the question of God. The second collapse is the failure of the modern world to find a basis for morality and society. This failure was not so evident as long as the members of society adhered to traditional values, based on Greek and Christian principles. Thirdly, optimism regarding inevitable progress has also been lost. There is grave doubt today that education and social reform will be able to solve the problems we now face. The fourth enlightenment principle was the inherent goodness of knowledge but today it's known that knowledge is neutral.

Erickson then quotes Thomas Oden who identified his own four interrelated motifs of late modernity that are collapsing: autonomous individualism, narcissistic hedonism, reductive naturalism, and absolute moral relativism. individualism has led to intergenerational conflict, family decompensation and 'gun battles between nine year old boys in ornate tennis shoes'. Narcissistic hedonism is epitomized by 300,000 babies born each year with their mother's drug addiction. Reductive naturalism has depersonalized humans and led to the loss of human freedom. absolutes moral relativism has led to absolute dogmatism which cannot be challenged.

Erickson states that the Post Modern Period is a reaction to the perceived failures of modernity. He sees these as negative and positive.

He first discusses what he calles "Radical Postmodernism" which he says Thomas C. Oden argues is really "Ultramodernism".

First in literary criticism , the most radical view is deconstructionism. Jacques Derrida is quoted here as is the Yale school which insists that the literary critic alone determines the meaning of the work, not the critic in conjunction with the work. Later in the criticism of postmodernism James Sire is quoted as saying "the 'deconstruction' touted by Derrida and DeMan is in the last analysis universal. Depending on how it is interpreted, nihilism is either the legitimate father or illegitimate child of 'deconstruction'....In any case, neither feminism nor Marxism can withstand it's acids. If no text is privileged, no story more 'true' than any other, then every ideology fails to be grounded.' What this means is that if deconstruction is correct then it must also be deconstructed.
In philosophy a corresponding or parallel development was neopragmatism. Truth becomes what is good or useful to believe in a particular context.
In history, the new historicism is contrasted with the older views. Meaning is not there to be discovered but rather to be created and interacted with. New historicists espouse radical pluralism. Imaginative interpretation is central. History is 'history making history'.

Erickson then quotes who sees a constructive postmodernism that agrees that the traditional worldview cannot be held but that a worldview can and must be constructed on different grounds and with revised concepts. Process theologians such as Griffin and narrative theologians such as James McClendon reflect this.
Liberation postmodern theology is concerned less with epistemological questions as with the transformation of the structures of society. He goes on to discuss conservative or restorative postmodern theology with rejects much of modernism such as its relativism, subjectivism and reductionism but seeks to retain realism, correspondence theory of truth and referential understanding of language. In many ways this hearkens back to the premodern.

Erickson states that The postmodern rejection of the rationalism of the modern period with its restriction of meaning and of the possible objects of inquiry is legitimate and desirable but that this doesn't mean all rationality must be necessarily rejected. He argues that truth may be absolute but that our knowledge of truth maybe be relative. He quotes the story of the blindfolded wiremen and the elephant and states that the elephant is true but the knowledge of the elephant is relative. He calls this perceptual objectionism and contrasts it with true relativism, pluralism and even subjectivism in which one would have to say, "That the elephant is like a tree is the truth for me but for me the truth is that the elephant is like a rope". He states that this is 'theory' but that the 'truth in fact' of this 'political correctness' is that it is the new 'absolutism'. He quotes the English major student of a state university who said all the department's faculty were 'deconstructionist' with the exception of one who was not granted tenure.
"Political correctness is a form of coercion." "One position is arbitrarily imposed."
Erickson states that the postmodern university should retain a 'free competition of ideas'.

Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd edition, Baker Academic,Grand Rapids , 1998

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Location:Cariboo Rd,Burnaby,Canada

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mystery and Miracle

"If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins." (I Corinthians 15:17)

It is only my fear that states that the world must be limited to what I know and see. My arrogance alone demands this. Freed of fear and pride I could humbly believe as a child does, because my relationship to God and the cosmos is as a child.
It was considered insane to suggest that men could fly in ships of steel. So much of what we take for granted is a product of this generation a lone. Our cellphones are the thing of science fiction and 'futurist' thinking, Buck Rodger Communicators. We live in a miraculous and sacred world more dream like than real with few but us scientists understanding the laws of physics. Yet all around there are 'believers' participating in the great awakening.
What little more does it take to think that God became man and as man lived as such but also was in the process of becoming God again. Jesus walking on water isn't so fanciful. We have hovercraft today and all huge devices like the computers of my youth become small in time.
Our 'machine' religion though demands this device where as the idea of unlocking the secrets of the mind and the universe transcend the need of this 'device', this 'totem'.
Jesus said that if you had the faith of a mustard seed you could move mountains. We can move mountains with explosions. The Egyptians made mountain pyramids with human labour. We have wonders of the world that now include space shuttles and space stations.
But I'm still fascinated by the stories of women who lift buses to save their babies. There's something in me that has come forth and I have done what I did not believe possible. In the poem of the Footprints the man asks Jesus why in toughest parts of the trail of his life there aren't the two sets of foot prints, of man with God walking beside him but only one set as if God forsook man. Jesus responds to that, saying those are the places where I was carrying you.
It's this experience that touches me. I've had that sense of being carried, of going beyond the limitations of this world.
I prefer this open world of infinite possibilities where we know scientifically everything is just a hypothesis and even the physics of tomorrow will allow us to travel beyond the speed of light to perhaps the speed of faith. Time itself is temporal. Nothing is impossible in God's world.
As Jesus was the Son of God so I am a child of God. Today I ask God to be my eyes, my ears, my hands and feet. Show me the miraculous world. Open my eyes to the wonder of your creation. Don't let me reduce everything to the limits of my mind alone. Raise me from the beast to the man I can be. Help me walk upright today that one day I might fly like an angel. If it be thy will. I die and am reborn in you daily. Let me celebrate creation with all the appreciation your artistry deserve. Thank you. Christ is risen. Christ is risen today.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More on books I loved

When I think of the periods of reading, there's that great gulf of time in Medical School. Gray's Anatomy and Harrison's Internal Medicine, now there were two books I married, definitely an erstwhile love affair. The intimacy with which we lived together is something that still daunts me. Then I'd become an apostle of the Saddock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry and DSMIII and DSMIV. New England Journal of Medicine and Scientific American were literally bed time favorites for decades. I never did get hooked on the American Journal of Psychiatry which excites so many of us. What I loved instead were the Hospital and Community journals. Yes, I was writing for the Medical Post but I was also reading it religiously because it was guaranteed to tell what was fresh off the presses, give the Canadian doctor political scene and let me know what colleagues were doing across the country. Today I'm more interested in the professional Merck Manual. It's on my pda and where once I 'd read it as general interest today I use it as reference and only read a chapter when I've come across something in the office. I get the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry but it's predominantly written by psychologists and so often fails to have any clinical relevance to front line psychiatry. In contrast I still find things of great relevance in the Canadian Medical Association Journal but rarely have time to read the stack that grows in the office. I'm more likely to pick up a MOJO Motorcycle mag or HOG and read stories of what fellow bikers are doing. I still read Currents the Blue Water Cruising Associations journal. I've written for it and been the advertising executive but just love to read, especially in winter, about some fellow cruiser in some hot place sailing his boat with fair winds and following seas.

Work and the demands of reading for work have really dominated the type and kind of reading I do. For years in family medicine and then in psychiatry I'd have a patient show up with some sign or symptom and I'd spend the night reading all I could find in pathology or clinical journals about this particular patient's problems. With computers I'd do PubMed searches and be hours on the computer reading all the latest research, looking for some medication or treatment that had yet not been tried on these so often chronic and forlorn. In later years I'd read an Ian Rankin novel to off set these clinical searches with detective searches.

I started to write a detective novel in Saipan and never did get it finished despite the wonderful help of being in a Canadian Author's Association writers' circle. What I did get was permission to myself to read all the great detective writers. And these I've enjoyed, Evanovich, Sue Grafton, and Harlan Coban certainly have been fun.

Sailing I've loved to read but because I'm on watch the kind of reading has had to be light but interesting. Tom Clancy really is a great boat read. I like how writers' of intrigue tell stories that are captivating but not so entwined that you can't put them down at a moment's notice grab the wheel and miss an oncoming tanker in the open seas. Off shore I had a radar detector device that would notify of the boat's need for attention but coastal sailing reading has had it's rather exciting moments. A bit like reading cell phone text messages on the freeway but in slower motion.

Paramahansa Yogananda, Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis were spiritual writers who changed my life. Thanks to Yogananda I was involved in reading Eastern literature for years as well as in the practice of Yoga for life. The mystical path of C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, and Evelyn Underwood would get me into Regent College studying Christian Spirituality and loving St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila. Oswald Chambers and Brother Lawrence were bedtime favorites. The Spirituality of Imperfection was a thorough delight. More often now I'm studying the MDiv textbooks that probably began sometimes years back when I read Paul Johnson's various texts starting with the History of Christianity. Another spiritual historical series that delighted me was How the Irish Saved Civilization which eventually made the BBC.

Historically, I loved reading Churchill's books but I began my historical foray with Modern Times and H.G. Wells History of the World. I loved approaching a subject through history as a way of getting a grasp on it. So Jared Diamond's writing recently has captured me because it works within the historical framework like Michener would write all his immensely delightful novels.

I'd so often find an author like Michener whose novel about the Middle East would captivate me then I'd run the gamut of all his books and get the latest, like his Mexico and Alaska ones when they came out. I liked historical fiction. I liked fiction where I'd learn facts as well. I loved the thoroughly incorrigible Flashman series not just for the sex and characters but for the actual clear facts that MacDonald incorporated in his bawdy tales. Asimov had this same capacity of coupling fine science with a good story. Which made me love the writings of the doctors so many times especially Jurassic Park.

Recently I've loved Gibson's writing starting from Neuromancer to Pattern Recogntion and beyond. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books were all favorites and the detective series that followed. Thanks to the local Canadian Author's Association I've been reading the books of friends like Ben Nuttall Smith, Anthony Dalton and Bob Mackay. I've just finished the English block buster Birdcage about tunneling in WWI and am looking forward to Bob Mackay's book, Horse Soldiers, about his father's regiment. I loved Farley Mowatt's war book but then I loved all of Farley Mowatt's writing. What can I say I read authors and read all the early Margaret Atwood until her bitterness turned me off her and it was years before I returned to find she'd gotten over herself or maybe I'd matured enough to appreciate her genius once again. I read all of Margaret Lawrence and just never stopped loving her writing only angry that she didn't write more. Robertson Davies sure did capture me and have me reading all night long with a bed light. Canadian authors, like the poet, Leonard Cohen have made me very proud to be Canadian.

But I've got to get to work where I have to read reports and write them so I can't do nostalgia anymore despite how pleasing it is to the soul. Remembering favorite writers is like looking at old photo albums of the family and remembering parents, grandparents and cousins and nephews with a deep and loving fondness. I have truly been blessed by the people who have shared their lives and thoughts with me through writing all these years of my life. But it's like seeing old family photos I forget so many of the names even though the faces are imprinted on my soul.

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Location:W 12th Ave,Vancouver,Canada

Monday, December 20, 2010

Books that have changed me

A friend asked what books had changed me.  The word 'change' is the key word.  I've loved books all my life. This began for me as a child, both my parents being readers and me encouraged to read at an early age by their behaviour and desire.  I was also blessed with a highly intelligent brother who read as well. Being the younger brother I looked up to these 'role model's' and read.  The first "Book" in our family was the Bible though and reading for the sake of reading the Bible was encouraged in our community.  Dad read mostly scientific and technical books whereas Mom read the occasional novel.  My closest Aunt, Aunt Sally, was a constant reader of most anything she could get her hands on.  I grew up in Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Free Press which was delivered to our door daily was read by all.  It was a source of all the finest reading. Newspapers were especially appreciated in our home and magazines like the Upper Room were present as well.
As a child I remember the weekly visits with my mother, brother and myself to the Fort Gary Public Library.  Much later I'd have a library that filled a room.  At that time in my life, my late 20's, I took it as such a compliment that my friends considered me an "intellectual".  I had studied Milton at university and learned that he was considered the last of the renaissance men who could know 'all' the world's knowledge having the most extant library of his day. I couldn't know all the works of the world like Milton but I do remember as a child I made a point of reading all the science fiction books in the Fort Gary Library.
So the first book probably 'changed' me would be the Bible.  After that it was no doubt the "Hardy Boys".  And somewhere around then Poul Anderson caught a hold of me.  Then I specifically remember Ian Flemming's 007 series being read as they came off the presses.
I remember Shakespeare from school but don't know that studying Shakespeare in high school had much influence on me though years later King Lear would have a profound impact. I studied Shakespeare in Honors English and was immensely moved by the depth of learning that I'd simply not known about as a high school student.
But Cervantes really impressed me. I was bicycling across Europe and kept meeting Europeans my age who were simply more learned than me. Their educations had encouraged a breadth and depth of reading that was so foreign to me.  I was college age and kept meeting Europeans that spoke several languages and had read English classics in the original.  So I set about 'improving' myself.
I remember reading Don Quiote because it was a 'big book' and by that time in my life, early 20, I'd not read anything more than a hundred pages.  So here was this huge book that I read ploddingly through. I actually enjoyed it and learned to love it.  What a brilliant book.  Now having read this massive tomb I concluded that no book was too big for me. And yes I'm still charging windmills and still see Dulcinea everywhere.
Somerset Maugham is the next great in my development.  His short stories and his classic novels some made into plays impacted powerfully on me. I loved his tales of travel.  I related to him telling stories of his love life and his school days.  It was like having an uncle who talked to me and told me the truth about life on the big stage.
I had this Everyday Library book with a list of classics and made a point to read one of each of the famous authors listed. It was as a result of that that I read the Russians, fell in love with Tolstoy and Doysteyefsky.  Later I'd study Brothers Karamasov at university and love it even more than that first time I read it.
Herman Hesse captured me with his mystical interests, Demian, Journey to the East.
Then came that whole collection of existentialisms, the Castle and the Trial.  Of course, Franny and Zoey.
Meanwhile I'd read dozens or a hundred books to everyone I remember 'changing' me.  I was always reading a book a week at least with textbook reading taking longer but there was invariably some books that kept me up all night and others that just haunted me, their ideas lasting long after the last page had been read.


The air is brisk. It is dark and cold outside.
Bundled in coat and hoodie,
I walk my dog, a daily routine.
Today he meets the older female
The two of them have played before.
Her master is further along the trail
That runs by the rushing stream
Where signs say that salmon spawn.
My dog was delighted the day he rolled in a dead fish.
Today he pounces, lunges, runs in circles.
She is black. He is black and white.
"We're breaking the law," the leather jacketed owner says
When I come up beside him.
"They're supposed to be on leash.
That makes us criminals."
The dogs cavort ahead of us.
"She's sometimes so happy playing with other dogs
She gets so tired, she pees herself."
I can see his breath as he talks.
"My dog just loves to play." I respond
It's early for eloquence.
Then I catch my dog
Put him on the leash and head back
In the other direction,
Away from fun and walk and river
Towards the city, traffic and work,
People bustling with intent.
But not so much fun,
Not so I'd pee myself.
But some fun, and friends and purpose.
The sky is lightening,
The day has just begun.
Miracles await.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Conversation as Exchange, Soul Suckers, Tit for Tat

Conversation is a civilized term for verbal and non verbal communication between two beings. As such it is an exchange. Information is as valuable as time.
In process psychiatry the object is to observe the 'exchange' itself, recognizing quanta of information and observing how one person shares or hoards depending on their level of generosity or paranoia.
Military folk naturally trained to paranoia are the most noted for being 'short of words'. The police are specifically trained in dominance tactics, demanding information themselves, with high expectation of receiving it, without returning information. Indeed, in such power positions the verbal interaction is less appropriately called a conversation as it is an "extraction". With threat of punishment one extracts information from another. Much is carried in the tone and non verbal presentation.
In another situation, the "sale", the conversation is a guise for the selected prosyletising of a particular marketing idea aimed at achieving reward. This at its rudest is commonly seen in the street peasant who approaches asking for the time then goes on to ask for money. In a way this is a kind of verbal to material extraction linked to a conversation con tidbit.
The softening up process in these latter extractions are associated with encouraging the 'flow' of data. Once the person has said what time it is, and agreed to something to do with the weather or whatever, the flow has been established and it's easier to extract the aimed for money thereafter.
Interestingly these 'soul suckers' and "takers" sociopathically do not recognise or return the value of your time or your information. The key word to note is 'entitlement' as they are commonly 'working' the 'marks' to perpetuate their notion of themselves as the 'smart baby'. The transaction in these instances is called 'soul sucking' because once the money is given there is not the same 'feeling' of well being associated with truly grateful civilized people who ask for help when they truly need it and are genuinely grateful when they receive it. The soul sucker takes the money as a thief and the giver is left with the sense of 'having been taken".
Often sociopaths use elaborate cons which harm society as a whole because they lie and plead for help which would normally go to the ones they are imitating. An obvious example would be the beggar who can walk but sits in the wheelchair asking for help for their dying sister. This particular sociopathic gambit does damage to those in wheelchairs who might need help and now society hardened by the social criminals might well turn their back and not be particularly sensitive to a person who says they have a dying relative.
It is for the immediate above reason the paranoid and military don't give initially. They avoid the hustle by this means.
In an conversational exchange one can actually observe like and equal amounts of quanta of information being exchanged. This is commonly the opening gambit in a conversation. The standard language translation books put forward the prototype which goes as follows:
What is your name?
My name is.
What is your name?
My name is.
Where are you from?
Where are you from?
Here there is a précise and equal exchange. The only thing that would change the 'value' of the information would be the celebrity status of a name, ie a wanted criminal or a rich king in a ghetto setting. Otherwise, normally this introduction represents a true conversation. There is the classic 'tit for tat'.
What makes for a good feeling in a conversation is this exchange or the experience of getting more information for less, where the information given is of the quality desired. In the latter case if I am interested in how to make a dish I've had at a restaurant and am an amateur chef, I will be very appreciative and feel happy if the chef comes out into the restaurant and gives me the details of the sauce that I've so enjoyed. Note that the chef and I in this example are part of a mutual appreciation society and that I exchange praise for his work and then go away planning to cook myself a similar meal.
If however the chef is a paranoid businessman with the sense that his success is in the one recipe and I am another espionage businessman seeking to 'steal' the 'information' about his famous 'sauce' to use at my restaurant this whole exchange can be macabre in comparison. Indeed much of the introduction of money into human activity has resulted in the hoarding and paranoia about all information because 'we are told', identity theives are always after us. Maybe the way I say something, maybe my 'bon mot', maybe my smile, any of this might well be worth more than the standard exchange. I may be worth millions and others are trying to 'steal' this from me. Nothing crimps creativity more than this kind of thinking. In the village not so long ago by human reckoning, a generation or two, money was not a part of the vast majority of exchanges. Just as my father told me a lawyer was only a part of a will and a house sale so too money was not part of the majority of transactions. Barter of some kind however has always been normative in society. The professionalism in society has introduced sophistication and coupled it to money, a specifically controlled, scarce, manipulated commodity whose principal value is it's capacity to buy weaponry above all other products.
In the earlier example of exchange and feeling good, I'd simply 'share' information and leave feeling good if I didn't feel 'interrogated'. In this case if a person asked me about my school, I'd tell them and wait expecting quite reasonably they would then share about their school.
Given that soul suckers and other paranoid criminal and police types, those damaged in early child hood and chronically needy and defensive and not uncommonly thinking 'the best defense is an offense' to justify their own initiatory offensiveness, the original exchange pattern of 'polite conversation' became readily recognized and open to imitation by psychopaths and sociopaths. They took information and didn't give.
To this end, in today's more sophisticated world the conversationalist often has to 'test' the waters with 'free conversational tidbits'. In this ultrasound type of communication, used by whales, and submarines a person 'pings' another, giving them free bits of information and observing whether they have developed sufficiently spiritually to be able to engage in adult conversation.
To the sociopath and the needy "perpetual child type" if you give something for free then clearly 'you' don't appreciate it's value and "I" can 'take it". This was observed in cultural development where primitive cultures desperately living hand to mouth would readily take anything that came their way and lacked any sense of proprietorship or exchange. In early interaction with them there was always the issue of 'theft' and the issue of 'ownership' problems with no one initially appreciating that a primitive culture is highly limited in it's endeavors because it lacks the organizational structure to do large work or highly specialized work. The fact that it's members would 'take' shiny things and rapidly entered into 'barter' and 'exchange' for sophisticated materials indicated that they clearly wanted what to that date they'd been unable to manage or make themselves.
The making of a pair of glasses is far beyond the capacity of any hunter gatherer group or even agricultural societies in their early development. The advance to industrial society out of the agricultural excess leads to the ability of individuals to specialize to a degree where a watchmaker or maker of eye glasses develops. Of course the 'products' of these specialized works can be 'taken'. However they can not be reproduced without the specialized individuals.
The whole world of 'patent' and 'copywrite' today is the furthest extension of this development.
Clearly the primitive social economies of fascist communist countries were good at war and theft surviving as long as they did through the rape of the communities their ideologies invaded. New governments always look good at first as evidenced repeatedly in modern times in Africa where one tribe takes the wealth of another making themselves richer by reducing the whole to half. Politically societies commonly go through these 'war lord' beaurocratic developments before they reach some measure of democracy. Democracies then commonly face the threat of devolution within to the previous elite war lord 'strong man' societies or oligarchies which are meanwhile trying to take them over from without. However they fail to perpetuate simply because there is no real reward or protection for the watchmaker and maker of eye glasses. These individuals were threatened to perform in these communities but immediately given the opportunity would move to where their specialization would gain them assets. Today 12 year olds manage guns and whole armies of children can master war with little leadership. Sometimes these 'warriors' appear like men and women but by the brainwashing techniques of their societies have only achieved 12 year old developmental status. Nothing more is really needed for the task at hand.
However children can only apprentice in the real crafts. Beurocracies exists to contain and suck the life of engineers and doctors and scientists while in the arts the bullies steal the works of creative individuals likewise forcing even highly skilled and talented athletes to have to unionize.
All this comes back to the exchange. Information and ideas are units of exchange. On the internet there's a very exciting 'freeware" movement that competes with the existing 'copywrite' and 'patent' movement. It may well be the ping of the whale.
One individual to another it's critical to note the same 'sales' maneuvers that go with 'bartering' being played out in such arenas as 'dating'. I might well watch benignly as you offer more and more information to me over a coffee recognising your 'low self esteem' and 'pedestalling' of me by the amount of 'baksheesh' in information you might give to me. I can make something of little value appear more valuable by holding out on giving it as one might hold a piece of smoked salmon before a dog. The longer he is denied this 'food' (albeit of great dog food worth) the greater it's value acrues to him. Further I can 'starve' him and 'deny' him any food and make any old dog food appear exceptional through the starvation process.
The terrible consequence of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction is that it acts like a solvent and people share all manner of information without consideration of the purpose of the audience.
Without divergence into the drug and alcohol world where men and women play the 'poker face' game trying to 'control' themselves compared to those around them in that sociopathic drunken arrogant superiority inferiority gambit interaction usually with a marketing tidbit of money, power or sex thrown in, the mainstream conversations can be assessed purely as they play in the "process" by comparing them against the normative 'tit for tat' exchange. This latter has been called by other names in game theory where conversations are measured such or in the transactional analysis models where similarly the assessment of individual character and intent could be derived from observation of the 'exchange' or even a 'slice of conversation'.
Much of friendship is associated with the feeling of being able to 'talk' without their being 'ulterior motives' or 'hidden agendas'. Conversation is assumed by so many but in fact very few indeed have this skill today. Reading Jane Austen for instance is a lesson in the history of conversations. People assume they are conversationalists when in fact they are simply takers or salesmen. Conversation today is rare because much of our activity is parallel play, together we watch entertainment rather than participate in the exchange.
Good conversations are in fact like good tennis matches without the scoring. Today it's even common for a couple of tennis players to forget the game and play fisticuffs in the middle of a tournament. Worse I heard of a golfer punching another. In hockey one might anticipate competing teams being allowed to carry knives to increase the ratings on television. No doubt these 'new games' , variations on much more primitive, games would be entertaining for some but they'd not be tennis, golf or hockey. The same is true for many conversations today. Partly this has to do with the social police and bullies but mostly it's just ignorance.
Not surprisingly technology in the form of messaging and Twitter and even Facebook, though not so much, are being developped not so much on the basis of today's human interactions but rather using the historical conversational forms increasingly lost in the non virtual world today. As such they are filling the void that is obviously important to the communicating relational human. Possibly conversations are possible in these once removed media because people have become so out of control of their emotions and so defensive and oversensitive that they simply can't have a conversation person to person.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reader-Response Biblical Criticism

Historically, the Bible was considered 'revelation'. It still is. However, when Moses said the "Burning Bush told me to take my people home" today,given the history of miscommunication and chaos and world wars it would be more likely that Moses would be locked up for antagonizing Egypt.
There has been a radical shift between what is considered 'objective' and what is considered 'subjective'. In the past the 'consensus' was considered 'objective'. Since the Jewish people, according to the wealthy powerful, and evicted from the land as a murderer, Moses, said it would be better for us to get out of Dodge, given his 'strong man' position the majority of Jews, followers lacking capacity for independent thinking, slaves to the Egyptian or their own rigidly hierarchal traditions, got out of Dodge.
Today the youngest kid would ask, Why and the exodus would not occur. Much bickering would ensue and the Child Protection Services would be brought in to arrest Moses for endangering children by suggesting they walk through an ocean without proper life guard certification and back up scuba gear.
I heard that God had died and then I heard Sartre had died. Truth itself died when the girl told me "My Truth" and further went on to say "Your God". Historically there was an idea that a child was narcissistic and that the elderly returning to dust to provide good soil for the crops were Altruistic. There was this movement forward from nowhere to somewhere. There was even the circle from Old Jerusalem to New Jerusalem that didn't just run like a hamster in a cage but rather elegantly spiraled up like a Watson Crick diagram of DNA structure.
Subjectivity and loss of faith in the consensus began in the 30's between World Wars. It was the recognition that the upper class were decidedly in bred and utterly dangerously insane willing to kill off all humans with their new toys. WWII didn't make things any better but by the Cold War the leaders were decidedly not to be trusted as they now had the means to kill cities and perhaps make the very planet uninhabitable. Further after the Cold War the hot air of politicians was likely to kill us all in the microwave effect of global warming. Lots of images of children putting cats in the microwave and watching the outcome were naturally associated with media images of humans having the same thing done to them by the leadership.
Meanwhile there were still those like the Moslems saying it was the Christians that were killing the planet or Koreans saying it was the Americans. In the West the British had long realized that the Germans were as much at the mercy of their leadership as they were. At Christmas they stopped fighting by themselves all along the WWII front and this was made a "state secret" only released decades later before Julian and Wikileaks showed us a couple of soldiers were more likely to bring peace to the planet than the likes of the Golmand Sach Banker scoundrels.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely seemed to be the daunting lesson to be learned as first Psychiatrists, then Priests, then Judges, then Rabbis, were sexually abusing anyone that found themselves under their robes. The Imans were likely the worst of the bad lot because anyone who questioned their use of privates was made a fatua of.
It all rather made the idea of 'objectivity' questionable since the academic teachers seeking tenure were more often the toadiest or most irrelevant but principally interested in status and salary. The boss gave them that so even the 'illusion' of independence and freedom of thought got shot to peices when it was recognized Freemasons were behind one group, communists were funding another group and cocaine money Republicans were behind another group. Academics were being bought by industry and dropping their credentials as fast as prostitutes dropped their nickers. One leading environmentalist 'authority' said another was wrong and in the courts there was always an 'expert' who could be paid enough to appear in a latter day OJ trial and reduce learning to the cockfight that the courts had become in an attempt to keep some interest in themselves after the advent of reality tv.
So what is mine and what is yours. Truth is no longer God's revelation or if God is standing right in front of me depending on whether I've seen Matrix or dropped LSD or gone to a closed minded one idea school teaching one strict view of whatever cultist fundamentalist liberal authority reigns this week then that's the fashion of religion.
The Messiah could come but no one would notice because he wasn't wearing prada. With the wrong colour of robe today the truth can be rejected as passe. Whatever!
The subject, me, I'm the reader, and my opinion is as important as anyones and I don't have to have a community because I'm alone and alienated and we're all living separately and there's no federalism just an aristocracy and the rest of us peasants.
Mostly your truth is not my truth the adolescent insists as he donns the latest uniform. 12 years stylish with male bling kalishnikovs and as feminists realize their castrated demeaned men can't protect them Sarah Palin denies shooting a moose because she at least can tell objectively that a caribou is not a moose.
Out of the drug crazed media hazed fear mongering of deconstruction and celebration of the mastabatory genius of destruction and temple toppling there remains the question of degrees of objectivity. Cogito ergo sum.
Where the universal unconscious of Jung met with the Hindu Greater Self and the common ground of mysticism the philosophical rants of the politically depraved threaten to spin off into outer space breaking the planet apart with the silliness that comes of loss of gravity and laughing gas.
My truth. My God. My interpretation and we don't have to agree. We just have to judge conflict of interest and then ask how many guns can you bring to bear on this situation. Power politics. Before the mercy of an Eye for an Eye there was the feral beauty of 'touch me and you die'. My genetic strain will wipe out your genetic strain and rape anything that remains. I am Darwin. Fuck you."
There was before the chaos of present day Globalism where ideas of Babylon with all the languages and all the people compete in the insaniety of the United Nations and the absurdity of the World Court with war criminals judging war criminals and lies hiding lies and deals making deals, some ideas of what we should do for each other in our individual groups.
The first nations called themselves 'human' if they acted in kind. The Europeans called themselves gentleman and gentlewomen if they behaved according to code. Of course the cannibals always excluded the neighbors they called the 'edible ones' from their own inclusivity myth but really must we wait for an alien invasion before we come to see us all as 'us'. Earth Folk. EF for acronym short sense of commonality.
And frankly I'm not ready to extend Earth Folk to the cockroach or the planet calling her Gaia or saying that a spotted butterfly is equivalent to a child starving in a dessert. What absurdity we have today with those killing each other to protect an endangered linguistic. No different than the age old excuse of one nation invading another to protect some marginalized people under rule of some 'strong man' who happens to have some gold or spice or oil or land or trade route.
Sure, look at the conflict of interest. Question the 'Truth' as presented but as Earth Folk and Humans together can we not see there is more than just 'reader response'.
Am I really that alone.
Are you so distracted by your game boy that you can not hear me. Are your earphones so tight that you cannot hear the world outside your selected safe media. Am I limited thoroughly by this room. In this space can we not meet.
The Liberal Pluralists say, "I'll meet you in the middle", when they are way out in left field. The right wing merely flaps and the centrists won't come out of the lavatory.
Our Truth. Our God. I'm not suggesting an umbilical cord by any means. We're cut off from Eden and a flaming sword blocks the way. The Cross at least offers a meeting place between horizontal and perpendicular.
But Satan turns his back on God and prefers to watch his shadow. The world pouts as the child insists on my way.
But "our" preceded "me" and "we" will go on.
Bible study is discussion, not lecture; love making, not rape.
And at it's best something a whole lot more than masturbation.
Despite those that insist that lust is just love.
For what it's worth, that's "my reader-response". Deconstruct that!

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Transubstantiation and Transmutation

She said tonight she loved the eucharist.
"It's so very sensual," she said, eyes sparkling in the candle light. "I mean, kneeling there, the priest, placing the wafer, in your palm, saying, "This is my body shed for you", the actual body. It's the sacrifice being enacted all over again. 2000 years later and I'm there on my knees being fed the body and blood of the Lord. It's all I can think of. He gave his life for me. God cares that much."
"Bloody cannibalism," I said. The waiter brought more coffee.
"Well yes, I know what Joseph Campbell said and it's really the way Robert Graves might approach it but God is holy. I can't be holy by myself. I'm quite the animal if the truth be told. God enters me and changes me. It's all God's doing. I just take the host and He does the rest."
I knew she was experiencing the real thing. For her there weren't any of the intellectual barriers that confound the many. Her passion spoke of his Passion. Earlier her husband had said grace, thanking God Almighty whose 'greatest was in the very mystery of his being' which we can only ask to be in relationship with. I loved reading Phillips book, "Your God is too Small". It's arrogance that would have a pot believe it could know the potter. Yet it's the nature of man's mind and certainly mine to want to contain and control and classify. God is beyond all that. The medieval mystic spoke of the "Cloud of Unknowing."
I know what she says. In the bending my knee and taking my place in the wall of humanity I too am there with Christ at the Last Supper hearing him say that the bread and wine are his body and blood. The blood of the lamb sacrificed for you. The ultimate sacrifice. The servant king. God dying that I might live.
So yes for me, like her, the bread and wine are the physical body of Christ. They don't just contain the physical body and blood. They're not just spiritually the body and blood unless spiritually is beyond dualism. In Christ's death he joined the father and God is all. The bread and wine aren't just representative of the body and blood. They are. Of course they are. They're all this and much much more.
"I feel alive again when I've gone to Eucharist. Cleansed and whole and with my Lord as one," she said.
And I knew what she meant. But knew that on bad days I'm just going through the motions, living in the worries of finances and future, thinking of disease and dying, feeling alone and self important. I walk in the herd and participate but I"m not all there. My mind is elsewhere. I don't trust God to care for me in everything and always. I'm trying to think myself out of some latest of holes I've fallen into. I'm there in the church. There's incense and music and even laughter. It's just that as I'm kneeling and the priest is giving me the host I'm just eating bread. Later kneeling at my pew I'm praying and thinking of God but it's sometimes so half hearted.
I look across at her flushed high cheek bones, vibrant eyes and see she is alive with the Lord. Looking at her husband beside her I see his steady eyes calmly watching me. Beside me my dearest friend is comfortable too in her relationship with Christ.
And all I can think of is how I kill him and betray him and that on those days I'm really not all there I am all that Joseph Campbell says I am, a cannibal participating in the carnage of animalism. There is the source of shame and fear.
It's just a moment as the conversation has moved on to a rather risque tale of camels and sex and the French foreign legion. Everyone is laughing. I can only promise myself to pay attention again and again and again. It's in the moment. It's in practicing of the presence of the Lord. It's the mystery. I have to stop going through the motions. Life is far too precious to be wasted with lies and deceit. God is everything or God is nothing.
Turning to her husband, she asked ,"What is the term for it, is it transmutation?"
He laughed, "I think you mean, Transubstantiation, dear. You'd have to ask the doctor here about transmutation."
And earlier I'd answered her, using the word, "transmutation" meaning "transubstantiation". Now I had to wonder if it was just a slip of the tongue. Certainly Freud would have a lot to say about my 'slip' in the choice of a word that reflected alienation. I trusted though that Dr. Carl Jung, son of a minister, would be more understanding.

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Handel's Messiah - Vancouver Bach Choir and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Handel's Messiah was a wonderful experience tonight. The Vancouver Bach Choir, founded in 1930, was a thorough delight. What a rush to join the full house of the Orpheum rising en mass to the Hallelujah chorus. The Vancouver Symphony strings were transcendent, t

YouTube Video

he horn and kettle drums so impressive.
Leslie Dala is the Music Director of the Vancouver Bach Choir. Tonight he was the finest conductor. Soprano Allison Angelo stole the show with pure notes rising from the depths of her soul and filling the Opheum on wings. Having so enjoyed tenor Colin Ainsworth's clarity with the Vancouver Opera in Lillian Ailing this fall it was a delight to hear him so soon again. Mezzo Soprano Lauren Segal was certainly a presence while Alexander Dobson's baritone had power.
Laura and I were so thankful that Baptist Ivan and Anglican Anne were already going so Anglican me and Catholic Laura could mobilize to come along. What more thoroughly radical way to begin a Christmas season than to attend the utterly politically incorrect Handel's Messiah!

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Jesus Christmas 2010

Jesus Christmas 2010

Jesus Christmas 2010

D                               C                                             G                                  D
It's Christmas time again, buying gifts for family and friends, Growing love with in
D                                C                                      D
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so
D                                C                                         D
Little ones to him belong, they are weak but He is strong

C                G          C            G      D                   C                           G                       D
Handels' Messiah, Advent Candles, Looking at the Milky Way for the Star of Bethlehem
D                             C       G                          D          C                     G               D
Will you go with me again, carolling, Singing praise, Singing praise for Jesus the King
D            C                      G            C           
Lord of Creation, Son of God.

C             G       C             G          D                    C         G                D
A baby is born, A baby is born, That is why we celebrate Christmas morn!
D                                D
Jesus Loves me, this I know

Joni Mitchell - I wish I had a River

I've been listening to the 104.9 FM Christmas Fun Radio and love hearing, "I wish I had a River so I could skate away". The song brings back memories of skating on the frozen windswept Red River growing up as a boy in Winnipeg. But it's bittersweet sadness speaks to the loneliness I've felt so many Christmas seasons, when my own spiritual alienation, and desire to be closer to God is made worse by the booze infested jollity of this frenetic consumer holiday.
First I heard Sarah McLaughlin singing this song. Her voice is so haunting it comes from the centre of the universe before braiding a few galaxies and bits of heaven into the song. Then I heard Robert Downey Jr singing it and sure enough he too made the song seem a modern day Song of Songs with the story of the Garden of Eden thrown in, just for good measure.
So I asked myself who wrote the song? Sure enough, Joni Mitchell.
That Saskatchewan woman has been opening my eyes, heart and ears to the possible since childhood. She's a folk jazz Mingus in skirts guitarist, with her own Judy Collins, Joan Baez. Anne Murray voice, but a uniquely incomparable melodist lyricist that might make Gordon Lightfoot and Leonard Cohen wish they had ovaries.
Thanks as much to her as anyone I grew to know that women were different but the same in things related to love and desire. God, she's been my heroine. I've bought her albums. I've admired her paintings. I 've enjoyed the bits of flotsam and joy I've heard of her life.
I've always been immensely proud that she's Canadian. I've always heard the intimacy and wide open spaces of the prairies even in her most urban songs. And yes, I've found myself singing her songs in my head as no other words painted the picture of some experience I too have floundered into, only to know that Joni had been that crazy way before and written just the words to make it all feel okay.
Today, it's "I wish I had a river."
Yesterday, it's been "Both Sides Now", "Woodstock", "Big Yellow Taxi", "Free Man in Paris", "Help Me", "Chelsea Morning",and so many more. So many nights driving across some northern stretch of Canada I've slipped on a Joni Mitchell album and let her talk to me. My life has been made so much richer reflecting on life in the light of her depth.
In 2007 I bought her Shine album and was transported again to that place only Joni is the guide too. Today this song took me to that Joni Mitchell place of candles and sweet scents and vivid feeling colours where even the toughest of men once were babies and all the women can still be girls.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Psychological Regression

It is extremely common to encounter psychological regression in therapy. It's so common that it is often readily apparent in observing friends and co workers over time.
What is meant by psychological regression is that a person reverts to an earlier developmental behaviour in face of new challenge or under stress.
Psychological regression is commonly noted where trauma has been significant.
Probably the most common today though not always so is the psychological regression seen in men and women who have been sexually abused.
Watching the behaviour and interaction of a 40 yo you might say, they are behaving more like people who are in their 20's. Alternatively a 25 yo might be said to be sounding and acting like an 13 year old.
Indeed diagnostically there's often a behavioral 'tell' which is a fixation that occurred around the time of trauma. I usually pick this up in 'tonal' shifts or use of language and in the inappropriate laughter which would be alright if the person were the stated age but really 'fits' better with a much 'younger' person. It's downright eerie at times and often comes across as 'fake' because of the inherent falseness.
Trauma is commonly associated with dissociation. While most people think of war and violent rape when they think of trauma, it's well recognized that to the growing immature individual a lot of experiences, clearly not in the league of front line war or physically violent rape by strangers, but nonetheless traumatizing to the undeveloped individual do occur. These are what constitute the inclusion criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, near death experiences, experiences of crippling or threatened crippling, significant sexual abuse, but also death of a parent, divorce of parents, multiple moves in childhood, serious childhood illness. Much of the psychological impact of the trauma is a product of the age of exposure. A 5 year old sexually penetrated will have far more likelihood of psychological regressive phenomena than a 17 year old sexually penetrated in an 'unwanted' sexual experience. Similar divorce is perceived by a 7 year old very differently from a 20 year old. Age and experience tend to protect so that the 19 year soldier shooting a child by mistake is more likely to develop ptsd than a battle hardened 40 year old sergeant who has been through many campaigns.
Multiple personality disorder is a direct consequence of trauma and most commonly associated with early childhood sexual abuse. This level of regression, often a childlike character in the midst of many other separate characters, is the most extreme.
Regression is seen in lesser degrees but is a part of the dissociative process.
Trauma leads to a person having a 'split' reaction to reality, feeling like they're struggling with two or more people inside. Having internal dialogues where they feel others wouldn't be so divided.
Alcohol and drugs are so commonly associated with trauma that regression is the norm the worse the disease. Indeed dissociation is considered psychologically to be the fundamental process in just addiction without trauma, the drug and alcohol abuse being it's own trauma as it subjects the brain to what biologically is a full blown chemical assault.
What I notice in therapy is a 'baby like' quality or 'innocent' quality in a person mature enough to be less naive. They also commonly are insensitive and indifferent to the really caring people about them. Their choice of friends is often poor and while this is associated with with the shame that is associated with alot of trauma, the fact remains that they commonly seek advice from those who have a limited experience. They commonly look for agreement and react sometimes violently in that adolescent and pre adolescent way to any wise or mature advice.
When men return from war the dissociation and regression is seen in their return to adolescent male activities, excessive drinking, drug abuse, playing games, lacking interest in commitment or work and generally childlike behaviour. This is a feature commonly understood when the inner workings of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are recognized.
A very big problem is an individuals lack of commitment to the present and future, living in past failures and believing that the past will recur in the future. Rather than try they perpetuate the false belief by self destructive tendencies and trying to prove their negative world view while blaming everything on the outside world because they're experiencing themselves and others from a regressed childlike position.
The work of analytic psychiatry developed an understanding of the unconscious process that a person was being controlled by and explained much of the background noise that to those close to a traumatized person was just plain 'irritating'.
One can imagine reading Freud and Jung's histories of some of their early patients, especially one famously sexually traumatized woman, those around her, would just say "grow up". Yet as those famous analysts showed she was afraid of life itself and ran from the present and the future by regressing to the pre trauma levels so that she acted silly and like a baby at times. Indeed to the external observer the patient was ridiculous, phony and immature but seen through the analytic lens the doctors recognised that she was dealing with the unresolved effects of trauma.
In a true history of the war, well represented in the movie Patton, the general is haranguing a shell shock soldier who is literally regressed to infancy, almost sucking his thumb as a result of war exposure. The general harangues him and abuses him such that subsequent official complaints almost lost Patton his generalship. Wiser minds than his understood the effects of trauma. Indeed it was in WWII building on the horrendous experience of WWI that it was recognized that 'everyone' had a breaking point in war and all (including General Patton) would collapse and regress and dissociate if they were exposed to (I believe 40 days and nights was the rough number) of days and nights of actual assault and threat. Ancients knew this and it was the basis of many defeats that followed long sieges. Trauma with it's tendency to nightmares damaged sleep and interfered with other reparative psychologic and physical processes.
Judith Herman, director of the Harvard University Trauma center, is a leading authority and her book Trauma and Recovery remains a classic decades after it's writing.
Regression has been seen as a 'generational' response and indeed some questionable elders wrote off the 60's hippy era as a collective psychological regression of young adults who had come through a cold war and now were threatened with conscription in the Vietnam war as the western world feared the expansion of that war to WWIII.
First Nation elders in Canada saw that their young were commonly psychologically regressed and unable to maintain commitments and marriages with more often than not the grandparents caring for the children because of the effects of residential school system sexual abuse on the community. Increasingly these young adults however as the community heals and returning to the normative and health producing, community building roles of child raising, work and longer stable relationships.
This is especially true in the AA and NA communities where drugs and alcohol and trauma were associated with the immaturity recognized by psychological studies as far back as the 30's. In recovery the flip side of the irresponsibility is the joy people take in the privilege of parenting and work. As one fellow said, "I'm thankful I can pay taxes today."
Indeed the move from narcissism to altruism is often seen as the key evidence of recovery from trauma. The person traumatized is often in survival mode and regressed to a self centered child but when she or he makes that critical decision the change occurs and the person begins really considering how their actions affect others, putting children first, or caring for old people, asking what benefit an action will have in the short term and long term rather than just thinking of the one night stand or the party.
What is so sad is that the 'regression' is so obvious to the adults in the community around the person. However only when the person is ready to give up the temporary and destructive false self soothing that comes with the almost masturbatory quality of the regression is there any hope of growth and recovery. This movement towards health is commonly seen when the adult turns to those more experienced, recovered alcoholics or addicts for instance, soldiers who have been to war had ptsd but got on with it, sexually abused therapists who have left the subsequent gender wars to go on and have successful marriages and raising children so they can talk seriously about recovery firsthand as well as from books, and seeing the elders of the community, the old people, those old elephants as it were who look like shit but have indeed been there, done, that and got the tshirt and ball cap to prove it. Sometimes the latter individuals are physicians, psychiatrists, priests and ministers. Sometimes they are not.
The key though is when the regressed individuals ask and follow advise from those more experienced rather than childishly wallowing in their own shit, making more muck and being what kids today call these men and women, "drama queens".
Indeed modern psychaitrisy, especially the work that has come from the pure laboratory of war zones, indicates that the longer the person is 'stuck' the more long term potential for growth is lost. Being 'stuck' in the past, living in the safety of the masturbatory " I'm alright, you're not" world, since alone and with those who agree with me " I'm right, you're not," is a nice safe suckling sort of zone. It's like people with elevator phobia. As long as they avoid elevators they're fine. But the longer they avoid , the sicker they become and the more difficult it is for them to get back on the elevator.
This was seen in the political gender wars of the 60's and 70's with the girls lining up on one side of the room in angry feminist camps while the boys lined up on the other side in indifferent playboy camps. One was in the classic tempertantrum regressive mode while the other was in the equally classic regressive pout mode. In the 80's and 90's the Sex in the City 'role reversal' occurred with the playgirls and the angry househusbands. This mirrored the political world of left and right before the real movement to the so called 'third corner' positions.
Without getting into the historic developments in modern and post modern psychiatry, group and marriage therapies or the developments in political science which is beyond the scope of a regression discussion, it's just worth considering the equivalent terms from other areas such as 'devolution' and "reactionary" and 'luddism."
Sometimes the regression is so obvious, the behaviour so plain that I find myself as a therapist listening to a 30 year old and asking "were you traumatized" at 5 or 6 and seeing them do that "how did you know' thing. Similiarly I ask the 50 yo 'playboy', were you in the Vietnam war and he tells me he was. It's not rocket science. It's just obvious when a person isn't acting their age but it's also true that no one who has ever really been there can 'snap out of it'. It's just that the sooner they do the sooner they get help and heal.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christ, Friendly Man

I heard of you as a child,
The friendly man
Who died for me.
I didn't want you to die.

I was glad when I learned you were alive
Just that I couldn't see you,
Unless I tried.
I mean really tried,
As I still try.
To see you in every helping hand
And every needy person
In everyone really.

I'd rather see you resurrected,
Walking in light across the room
Smiling. Better still laughing.

When I was small, I was afraid.
So many people and things were so very big.
I liked there was a friendly man,
An important friendly man.
I didn't like that he had died.

Now as a man, I am perhaps more frightened,
Of the big people in big stupid groups with big nasty power,
The same people who killed God who came to earth to save us
From them, I guess, and from ourselves.

Jesus Christ is God
We kill God.
Now we celebrate his birth
Just in time to kill HIm all over again on Good Friday.
What a strange lot we are, I am.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Much of leftist rant misses the mark completely with regard to the right. This is due to leftist egocentrism that appeals so to the young. Corporations, big government and the megarich, all of those others that e. e. Cummings just called 'thosepeople' are just afraid of losing what they took from other people before they were right when they were still left. No one wants to lose, neither the left or the right, and especially not us.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Morning Aging

They talk of euthanasia
As the solution to their financial problems.
The reason they say is compassion,
But the zeal in their eyes as they rub hands
Belies a different reason.

I am not old but no longer have youth,
Or the foolishness of eternity
To hide my fears in.
I wake to vulnerability,
And know that only God can save me.
For if God is with me
What man can stand against me.

The long necked women of Isaiah
Are a different matter.
I can not predict a future in the chaos
Of the present world,
Each course I take is blocked
With money lenders and boundary movers.

If only I could trust in God more.
If only my faith were strong enough.
I shudder and another reason for fear
Comes unbidden into my mind,
Which has been taught by careful academics
Hiding behind walls of sycophants and tenure.

Even as I take pride in my frontier service,
I know that I am kept far from the courts,
Which are glad to have their warriors at a distance.
No need then to share the women, wine and song
With the rabble that defend it.

If I trust in God then this service is made more.
If I love my God what Song of Songs on earth
Can give me what my hearts desire has sprung forth.

I work in the world but my love is with that
Which is imminent and transcendent.
Let me know you more, God of Gods,
Almighty, all knowing, all being, evermore.

I would find my lost youth in your newborn love
This Christmas advent season.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Canadian Authors Association - Vancouver Branch -AGM -2011

The Canadian Author's Association Vancouver Branch held their Annual General Meeting at the White Spot Restaurant near Stanley Park. Caesar Salad with Entrees of either Tuscan Chicken Pasta, Roast Turkey, Fish and Chips, or Blackened Cajun Chicken were offered at the low price of $25 a plate, gratuities included. While choices were being made, Forest Hume, husband of past president , Margaret Hume, informed us that the Cajuns were originally the Acadians from Newfoundland. In keeping with political correctness and the august occasion we refrained from telling Newfie jokes.

Bob Mackie, present president and author of "Horse Soldiers" to be released in January of the coming year, ran a tight meeting. It helped for some that wine was served with the meal. As glasses were rapidly emptied the agenda and minutes of last meeting were approved. A letter from Patrick Taylor, author of a Country Irish Doctor, now residing on Salt Spring Island was read expressing his sorrow in his absence. Given the popularity of his highly successful series, he was barely forgiven.

Prolific and Adventurous Anthony Dalton, President of the National Canadian Authors Association and with something like 5 books published this year and next, shared that our robust chapter was known for it's activity. I'm delighted now to have a signed copy of Anthony Dalton's latest Amazing Stories, Polar Bears, published by Heritage House, 2010. CanWrite 2010 organized by Jean Kay with the help of Perry Wilson had been a resounding success much talked about across the country.

Annual Reports were given. The 2010 CAA Executive had included Margaret Hume, Anthony Dalton, Robert Mackay, Ben Nuttall-Smith, Perry Wilson, Joyce Goodwin, Jane Hall, Barbara Mumford, Bernice Lever, Jean Kay and Carol Tulpar.
This year's executive, showing only modest signs of press ganging, voted in unanimously , were Robert Mackay, President; Margaret Hume, Past President;Perry Wilson, Vice President and Program Chair; Doris Kavanagh-Gray;Treasurer; Jane Goodwin, Membership Chair; Ben Nuttall-Smith, Publicity Chair; Douglas Cameron Aitken, Writer's Circle Coordinator;David Roberts, Executive Member at Large; Rush Harvey; Webmaster; West Coast Writers Editor, Carol Tulpar and Bernice Lever, Writer-in-Residence.

With the business part of the meeting concluded the writers collectively changed into scanty party clothes, donned pointy hats, Rocky Horror Picture costumes, and to the Sound of Music soundtrack competing with musical Cabaret,

began doing cancan on the tables. After this briefest of interludes they then took their seats and listened attentively to the readers.

Jan Furst read Peace on Earth, "Thank heaven for Little Girls." Having completed another National Novel Writing November, Perry Wilson shared 'fairy talking...supernaturals...keening...spirit in the jug" which was part of the explanation for the collective death of vampires. It was the closest she could come to something Christmas like. Ben Nuttall-Smith gave a thrilling reading from his newest novel, "Blood,Feathers and Holy Men" to be released in January, 2011.
Carol Tulpar read "Decorating Christmas Trees", with each decoration a moment of nostalgia. Bernice Lever read a Gingerbread poem from her collection about 'my gingerbread dream house." Joyce Goodwin read her "Hole in the Heart of New York City" poem from the 2010 poetry Anthology. Elizabeth Carroll read Christmas memories of sleigh rides and pranks from one of her several newspaper columns. Leila shared "seeking the infinite" a truly inspiring contribution. Elaine Burk's contribution was by far the funniest as she read stories of Horrace Morris Leonard the Third. David Roberts read "an underground encounter" a story of his meeting fame in London. Jean Kay concluded with her "Christmas Angel Poem" which said "Love still is the very best gift to give."

After that the authors rushed the table in an ill mannered rout grabbing up the books that came from contributions to the Canadian Author's Association contests. Bob Mackie and Jean Kay did their best to keep these ravenous readers orderly to no avail. After ensuing punch ups and squabbles over favored books, the meeting was adjourned. Hand shakes and hugs were shared with European kisses at the conclusion of another uniquely Canadian event.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Suicide is an Autoimmune Disease

The title of this article is, "Suicide is an autoimmune disease". In truth I can't say for sure if 'Suicide' is a disease or the principal symptom of the underlying auto immune disease. What is imminently clear is that is an autoimmune phenomena.
It is seen in a wide variety of mental illness and mental illness associated with physical illness. Suicide has been reported with Thought Disorders like Schizophrenia, Addictive Disorders like Alcoholism, Mood Disorders, both unipolar and bipolar, personality disorders, especially borderline and sometimes in adjustment disorders.
What is clear is that it is not conceptualized as an autoimmune disease phenomena in general yet it is imminently clear that it is highly consistent with autoimmune phenomena seen in genetic and acquired immune disorder.
To this end I would propose that psychological, sociological and especially pharmacalogical therapies be developed along these lines. With respect to the latter there has been use of prednisone in the treatment of mental illness but not specifically looking at suicidal behaviour, thought and speech. Certainly the increasing variety of medications used in the treatment of autoimmune disease warrant a trial of therapy along the lines of Star D trials as adjunctive medications in relationship to suicidally as it arises in mental illness.

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