Friday, February 27, 2009

The Soul in Depression

Speaking of Faith has an interesting and thought provoking program available via podcast entitled, "The Soul in Depression. It can be downloaded and listened to here or you can read the transcript here. The description on the program's webpage reads, "One in ten Americans, and even more dramatically, about one in four women, will experience clinical depression at some point in their lives. We take an intimate look at the spiritual dimensions of this illness and its aftermath."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Forrest Church's Mantra

Forrest Church has a mantra that I find particularly meaningful these days, it is, "Want what you have; do what you can; be who you are." I'm going to borrow it from him.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Living Abundantly and Simply

My husband and I made a decision several years ago to simplify our lives, and from the moment that we made this commitment it has become an evolving and not always linear process .
We wanted to take some personal responsibility for the preservation of the natural world, we wanted to bring what mattered most to us -- family, friends, personal and spiritual growth - into sharper focus, and we wanted our daily lives to be more consistent with our deepest values. We've given up a number of possessions, downsized our home and our incomes, and transformed our vision of the 'good life.' Still, in general though, the steps we've taken have more often been tentative than bold, and we've a significant distance yet to travel before our lives satisfactorily approximate our vision.

It's not been easy to maintain our commitment to simplicity in a culture that has been as materialistic and as competitive as ours has been in spite of the inestimable cost of rampant consumerism to our planet and to our mental and spiritual health. And yet with the rate of job loss and business closings rising, and the stock market continuing to fall, I am unsettled and confused. On the one hand, I want to continue to encourage living more simply and sustainably, and on the other, I want the future of myself and my fellow Americans to be secure, and I fully recognize that this requires a healthy economy. In spite of the messages from the media that seem to imply otherwise, I don't believe that these two desires are in conflict. I believe that we can behave more responsibly fiscally, environmentally, socially, and morally and still stimulate the economy. And, I also believe that we can live more simply and at the same time more abundantly.

I'm going to be adding links to websites and articles regarding simple living on a regular basis. To begin with you might want to check out the following articles:

Simplicity and President Obama's Inaugural Address

Are We Ready for a New Kind of Capitalism?

The Overspent American

Simplicity and the good life -- this side of going hobo

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Group Discussion: The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus

An integral component of the SagePlace mission is to support the development and deepening of spirituality. One method of doing this will be to offer discussions, retreats, celebrations, and book groups where inquiry and exploration is warmly welcomed and absolute certainties are rare. This coming Sunday at 1:00 pm SagePlace will be hosting a discussion based on a dialogue between Rev. Alan Jones from Grace Cathedral and Peter J Gomes, Harvard professor, paster and author of The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus. The conversation between Jones and Gomes can be downloaded and listened to here. If you plan on attending, please listen to the discussion online first and be prepared to share your observations, reactions, etc

In his book Gomes writes, “Thus, when Christians state categorically that Jews, or Muslims, or believers in other faith systems are outside the provisions of God, they utter arrogant nonsense. A respected agnosticism is called for when often there is offered in its place a self-interested certainty. If God is the God of all, and not just a tribal deity, then God has made provision, not necessarily known to us, for the healing and care of all his creation, and not simply our little part of it.” He also wrote, "It may be scandalous if we actually tried to apply it in our communities ... to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love our neighbors ... those are dangerous things." We would be interested to hear your response to these and other statements.

You can also listen to Gomes on NPR's Book Tour here

All views are welcomed. We only ask that individuals be respectful of the beliefs and perspectives of others. Contact for further details.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Technique for Connecting to Your Spiritual Wisdom

In an article entitled, "Uncovering Your Own Spiritual Wisdom," Reverend John Robinson provides instructions for accessing our deeper wisdom through the use of a Socratic technique. I highly recommend that you give it a try. You can find a description of the exercise as well as additional guidelines by following the link highlighted above.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The lessons in Crisis

"A crisis is a terrible thing to waste" observed Paul Romer (as quoted by Richard Florida in "How the Crash will Reshape America".) I couldn't possibly agree more. They are anxiety provoking, messy, disorienting, and all too often overwhelming, and, at the same time, in addition to the pain (and I'd pass on pain every single time if I only had the choice,) they contain numerous possibilities. And that is my greatest hope during this current challenge that faces our country, that while we might resist the pain and loss inherent in this crisis, we will be wise enough to embrace the lessons...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Deepening the American Dream

There is so much fear and anxiety today. I see it on the news, in my communities, and in my work with individuals, groups, and organizations. A question that I hear repeatedly asked in one form or another is, "is the American Dream dying?" While I refuse to believe that it's dying, I suspect very strongly that out of necessity it may very well need to be transformed.

Following is a video excerpt from the Bill Moyers project, Deepening the American Dream.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Life in These United States and the "Pathology of American Normalcy"

In an article entitled, "Only in America Could Misery be Turned into a Commodity", author, Joe Bageant (in spite of his obscenities) makes some very thought provoking points (although I certainly don't agree with all of them) including:

That America has become a "Darwinian workhouse"

That our current mental health system "refuses to acknowledge that our aggregate society holds any responsibility for the conditions it produces in our fellow individual members." (ouch...)

That Psychological Institutions and practices perpetuate the alienation so many of us feel by responding to us as if our lives were lived in a vacuum, and that "our loneliness and despair are entirely our own, as if there were no such thing as context, much less American society's corrosive and toxic environment in which so many of us live out our lives." (Hmmm...)

As a mental health professional I have been repeatedly frustrated with the tendency of my profession to pathologize the legitimate pain of those sensitive enough or aware enough or brave enough to confront what so many choose not to fully acknowledge --- the destruction of our natural world, the tragic cost to individuals, families, and entire communities of our consumer society, the perpetuation of greed, emptiness, and meaninglessness, and the all too prevalent devaluation in our culture of commitment and service and even love.

My frustration with the mental health system ultimately led me to leave it and much later to begin making plans to open Sageplace. I believe that mental health professionals can offer so much more through facilitating and supporting the creation of healthy communities where pain and hope and truth can be shared and transformed vs. working with and diagnosing individuals.

In the above mentioned article Bageant asks, "Might not America's psychological malaise be the result of knowing deep inside that life can hold more meaning -- be more joyful? More emotionally rewarding and fulfilling? In a word, healthier?" My own response to this question is that yes, I believe that our malaise is in many cases linked to what we know deep down inside about our lives, about our country, and about our world; truths that so many of us bare alone instead of share.

Note: The address to Bageant's article is: