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Showing posts from October, 2018

But First, Breathe

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I've contributed a guest post at the blog Defy the Trend for a series on "Drishti," a concept of focusing on one point in order to deal better with the bigger picture.

My entry is titled But First, Breathe.

An excerpt:

Shorter, faster breaths signal a certain loss of control of the moment, in turn depriving my body and mind of the oxygen that it needs to function. From there, the cycle only worsens: the more I forget my breathing, the more my mental and physical states work against each other, and the more my reactions to the moment are based on stress rather than a true sense of what is happening.

Read the whole thing at Defy the Trend.

An Order of Healing for One with Mental Illness

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Greeting
Grace and peace to you from God our Creator, Jesus our Healer, and the Holy Spirit our Comforter.
Sentences
God invites us to bring forward our need for healing, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, as God is concerned with the well-being of our whole selves. Through Jesus we encounter a God seeking to redeem our dis-ease for greater peace of mind, body, and spirit for this life and the life to come.
Personal Sharing
[The one seeking healing is invited to speak their need. This may include a time of silence, prayer, or sharing their experience. In turn, the need may include relief from illness, mending of relationships, or a better understanding of God’s presence, among other possibilities.]
Assurance of God’s Presence
With sighs too deep for words, the Holy Spirit prays with us, knowing our deepest longing and pain. Though at times our condition may make it too dark for us to see, God is with us both in times of rejoicing and in times of despair, bringing consolation and love to…

Practical Help for Church Members with Mental Illness

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In recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 7-13), I'm pleased to share this guest post from Aaron J. Smith, blogger at Cultural Savage and author of the new book Cultural Savage: The Intersection of Christianity and Mental Illness

How do you help someone with mental illness?

How do you reach out when they withdraw due to depression? How do you deal with the hyper-anxious mind that can become paranoid? How do you love the people in the pews and pulpit that live with mental illness?

Mental illness is a reality in the world, and that reality includes the church. There isn’t some magic shield that keeps people who trust in Christ safe from this illness of the mind. Mental illness is the reality for one in five Americans. So, count out five people in your church registry. One of them is likely to live with mental illness.

So, back to my original question: how do you help someone with mental illness? If our church has so many people who live with mental illness, what are…

Book Review: Anti-Social Media by Siva Vaidhyanathan

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I have a new book review up at the Englewood Review of Books. This time around I reviewed Anti-Social Media by Siva Vaidhyanathan. An excerpt:

“The problem with Facebook is Facebook.” That is the title of the introduction to Siva Vaidhyanathan’s extensive writing on the effects that social media has had on the world, on individual cultures, and on individual people. And yet, positioning Facebook as a problem rather than an aid or benefit to social interaction, personal connection, gathering around mutual interests, and political activism might be a hard sell for the millions of people who use it around the world every day. As you might imagine, Vaidyanathan is up to that task, and presents his case in methodical fashion.

Read the rest at the Englewood Review of Books.

Film Review: The Road to Edmond

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Whenever a novel, movie, or TV show sets out to tell a story related to faith, these works tend to fall into one of two categories.

The first category is the one that is very up front with the audience about what it wants to do. This tends to include explicit dialogue where two or more characters have a bald theological discussion, usually with a lot of insider language involved. Sometimes the story justifies this by one of the people happening to have a seminary background (think Mack in The Shack), or they just luck into it because the writers just want them to say certain things (pretty much all the main characters in Left Behind). Whatever faith-related point the people in charge want to make is usually at the expense of the story, and the result is an inferior and pedantic piece of art.

The second category allows the story to lead the way, where the spiritual side of things becomes more embodied in what the characters do. The recent Martin Scorsese film Silence, as well as the c…

The Spiritual Practice of Shutting Up

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Many people have a certain idea of what prayer is. Call and response. Prayers of unison. Joys and concerns. The Lord’s Prayer recited. Words spoken aloud, usually to petition God for a certain sense of presence or activity on behalf of God’s people. Maybe there are a few token beats of silence, but most faith communities this side of the Quakers speak much, ask for much, state much about what they believe in prayer. We tell God what we hope for; we share with God our deepest longings for parts of the world, for loved ones, and for ourselves. Fortunately, more and more praying people are discovering listening as the other important element of prayer. We can’t always be doing all the talking. After all, even though the pinnacle of the campaign has long passed, some people still like to say that God is still speaking. The writer of Ecclesiastes claimed there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. But when we bring our anxious selves with urgent needs to God, it can take quite a lot of effo…

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