31 March 2009

Walker Percy on Suicide

The therapeutic rationale, which has never been questioned, is that depression is a symptom. A symptom implies an illness; there is something wrong with you. An illness should be treated...

Begin with the reverse hypothesis, like Copernicus and Einstein. You are depressed because you should be. You are entitled to your depression. In fact, you'd be deranged if you were not depressed. Consider the only adults who are never depressed: chuckleheads, California surfers, and fundamentalist Christians who believe they have had a personal encounter with Jesus and are saved for once and all. Would you trade your depression to be any one of these?...

Percy goes on to describe the true choice for the depressed when considering suicide. You can either become a non-suicide, avoiding the pain, treating symptoms, running, or you can become an ex-suicide, pushing into the pain, searching for your truth, stopping.

The non-suicide is a little traveling suck of care, sucking care with him from the past and being sucked toward care in the future. His breath is high in his chest.

The ex-suicide opens his front door, sits down on the steps, and laughs. Since he has the option of being dead, he has nothing to lose by being alive. It is good to be alive. He goes to work because he doesn't have to.

From Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy

I've been in deconstruction mode in a lot of areas of my life--religion and my work in specific. I was taught in school and in the profession at large to help people avoid suicide. I give people suicide contracts which state that they will not kill themselves until X-date. We keep the ball rolling (and protect ourselves legally). While there is merit in this (it is good that people do not kill themselves), I am realizing that it does not get the job done.

Percy confirmed this feeling with his essay on suicide and the way depression and suicidal ideation is treated by therapists. He makes the case that rather than helping people avoid suicide, stepping aside and then walking with them into the despair is the only chance at peace. Instead of asking, "What needs to happen for you to not kill yourself?" What if we asked, "What needs to die?"

Or to put it another way, to gain your life you must lose it.

21 March 2009

The Church Business

Something I've heard a lot:
We need to run this church more like a business.
Something I've never heard:
We need to run this business more like a church.

20 March 2009

Nothing is Free

You got a feeling nothing here is free
'Cause you grew up in a mall

From "Nothing at All" by The Shins

This is our zeitgeist. This is the story of my childhood. This is the sentiment I'm trying to pry myself from. This is what I fear my kids will someday believe.

17 March 2009

My Beloved Corn

It's almost time to start gardening. My little garden is really the only thing connecting me to the idea of seasons. I hadn't done anything in my garden until last week when my son and I emptied the wondrous compost out of our bin and spread it on our plot. I love my garden, spring, new growth. Here's a random gardening story:

Two years ago I thought it would be funny/interesting to plant corn in my front yard. I tilled a 20 foot path and planted two rows of corn. Yes, I was that crazy corn-in-front-yard guy. My wife was not overly thrilled, but was cool. My neighbors were not happy one bit. On at least three occasions, I saw them standing near my beloved corn, pointing and scowling. I wanted to go out and hug each one of those precious little corn plants and say, "It's OK, people don't know where food comes from, but I do...and I love you." The minor scandal my corn-in-front-yard caused is still a mystery to me.

Four corn-related facts:
  1. Corn must be planted in at least three rows so that it can be properly pollinated.
  2. Corn, a grass plant, requires full sun (it did not do well in my partially shaded front yard).
  3. Corn is scandalous in suburban Atlanta.
  4. King Corn is a great documentary about industrial corn farming, community, and "progress."

06 March 2009

Inherent Unmarketability

This is from the introduction to Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr. I'm rereading it for Lent. It's a wonderfully butt-kicking book. As some of you may know, I've got a lot of questions about the church. This little poem/list gets at a lot of the tension I feel for how we (at my home church and the church at large) do things.

How do you make attractive that which is not?
How do you sell emptiness, vulnerability, and nonsuccess?
How do you talk decent when everything is about ascent?
How can you possibly market letting go in a capitalist culture?
How do you present Jesus to a Promethean mind?
How do you talk about dying to a church trying to appear perfect?
This is not going to work.
(admitting this might be my first step)

05 March 2009

Why We Fight--Film Review

I'll sum this "documentary" up in one word: silly. Are you telling me that I am to believe our country would literally perpetuate war to keep the "military industrial complex" moving forward? And who came up with that silly phrase, military industrial complex anyway? Oh, Dwight D. Eisenhower...well what did he know? Wasn't he the same president who made those silly buttons that said "I like Ike?" You can't spell silly without Ike. His warning to future generations regarding the dangers of having a standing military and corporate interests tied so closely with the war machine were, well, silly. If you look at our wars since WWII, our causes were clear. We were fighting for...oh, never mind. The movie asserts that profit may be driving much of our war effort. They present silly "facts" about how our defense spending blows all other countries out of the water, by a long shot. Obviously, the makers of this movie have not studied up on just war philosophy developed by the unsilly St. Thomas Aquinas. Yeah, he's old school, but he clearly stated that profit motive is a perfectly good reason to go to war.

To summarize, if you like silly movies, this one's for you.

Seriously, this was the scariest movie I've seen in a long time. I'm talking pit in my stomach, loss of sleep scary.