Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission 2017-06-24T18:57:55+00:00

When the Spirit Breaks Loose

Last night I went to church not knowing what to expect. You never know what to expect with the Holy Spirit. Whenever two or three are gathered together in Christ's name -- WATCH OUT. Something is bound to happen. Last night in the midst of a service performed every Sunday night at the same time, in the same place, with essentially the same people, a miracle broke out. A miracle of understanding and compassion. About four years ago, I began attending the Columbus Reformed Presbyterian Church (CRPC). I was immediately drawn to the Psalm singing. Each of the 150 Psalms are set to simple (and often familiar) tunes and a song leader directs us through them acappella. The service was thoroughly steeped in Scripture, including a sermon that was well researched and thoughtfully presented. The prayers were heart-felt, not so emotional as to be manipulative. As I was leaving the [...]

By | September 25th, 2017|Categories: Church|4 Comments

Nurse Ratched Now

{from Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest} [Nurse Ratched] reached in the basket for the log book. "Must we go over past history?" That triggered something, some acoustic device in the walls, rigged to turn on at just the sound of those words coming from her mouth. The Acutes stiffened. Their mouths opened in unison. Her sweeping eyes stopped on the first man along the wall. His mouth worked. "I robbed a cash register in a service station." She moved to the next man. "I tried to take my little sister to bed." Her eyes clicked to the next man; each one jumped like a shooting-gallery target. "I—one time—wanted to take my brother to bed." "I killed my cat when I was six. Oh, God forgive me, I stoned her to death and said my neighbor did it." "I lied about trying. I did take my sister!" [...]

By | September 20th, 2017|Categories: Mental Illness|Tags: |0 Comments

Good Boundaries

{excerpt from Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission} "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;  surely I have a delightful inheritance." (Psalm 16.6) One thing I have experienced in the time I've spent at psychiatric hospitals is that there are many rules. Rules about toiletries, belt buckles, shoes with strings, and other personal effects. Rules about visits and contact with others. Rules about schedules -- time to sleep and meet and eat and rest. Since I am one who generally functions best with good, clear boundaries, these rules haven't bothered me so much. I've benefited quite well from them and have come to appreciate their value. There's a part of us all, though, that constantly tries to get around the rules. Like the man who found a staff person willing to bring him Starbuck's coffee (for a steep tip, no doubt) to replace the lukewarm dishwater [...]

By | September 17th, 2017|Categories: Mental Illness, Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Mad Intensities: What Makes Us Laugh

“It's not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.” ― Stephen Fry, Moab Is My Washpot Fry here captures the truth that demonic mental spirits can be redeemed and turn into angels. Self-consciousness turns us yet leads us to activities of the mind.. language, literature. Apartness, an inability to join in, leads us to appreciate the absurdity of what is deemed "normal." Shame and self-loathing turn to laughter and mad intensities when we are blessed to not take ourselves so seriously. Many of the best comics who have ever been, are touched with a sort of genius notched up to mad proportions. Robin Williams was the best of my generation. He was never [...]

By | September 13th, 2017|Categories: Mental Illness, Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments

To Be or Not to Be: Thoughts on Suicide

“When people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their options appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain. The future cannot be separated from the present, and the present is painful beyond solace. ‘This is my last experiment,’ wrote a young chemist in his suicide note. ‘If there is any eternal torment worse than mine I’ll have to be shown.” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide   When I was in training to become a student counselor in college, we were taught how to respond to persons who seemed to be suicidal. Some things we should look for included: 1) Sleeping an inordinate amount of time or not sleeping at all; 2) Showing no concern for hygiene; 3) Skipping meals; 4) Excessive drinking or using other drugs.  To an extent, these behaviors can be exhibited in any college student, in any one [...]

By | September 10th, 2017|Categories: Mental Illness|Tags: , |0 Comments

Where is God When the World Goes Mad?

In Elie Wiesel's Night, Eliezer is a Jewish teenager, a devoted student of the Talmud from Sighet, in Hungarian Transylvania.  In the spring of 1944, the Nazis occupy Hungary. A series of increasingly repressive measures are passed, and the Jews of Eliezer’s town are forced into small ghettos within Sighet.  Before long, they are rounded up and shipped out to the death camps of Burkenau, and Auschwitz. Throughout this slim narrative, Eliezer reflects on the nature of God in response to the atrocities he witnesses.  In one pivotal scene, he describes the execution of three Jews, among whom is a young child.             One day, as we returned from work, we saw three gallows, three black ravens, erected on the Appelplatz. Roll call.  The SS surrounding us, machine guns aimed at us: the usual ritual.  Three prisoners in chains – and, among them, the little pipel, the sad-eyed angel.             The SS [...]

By | September 6th, 2017|Categories: Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , , , |2 Comments

When the Spirit Breaks Loose

Last night I went to church not knowing what to expect. You never know what to expect with the Holy Spirit. Whenever two or three are gathered together in Christ's name -- WATCH OUT. Something is bound to happen. Last night in the midst of a service performed every Sunday night at the same time, in the same place, with essentially the same people, a miracle broke out. A miracle of understanding and compassion. About four years ago, I began attending the Columbus Reformed Presbyterian Church (CRPC). I was immediately drawn to the Psalm singing. Each of the 150 Psalms are set to simple (and often familiar) tunes and a song leader directs us through them acappella. The service was thoroughly steeped in Scripture, including a sermon that was well researched and thoughtfully presented. The prayers were heart-felt, not so emotional as to be manipulative. As I was leaving the [...]

By | September 25th, 2017|Categories: Church|4 Comments

Nurse Ratched Now

{from Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest} [Nurse Ratched] reached in the basket for the log book. "Must we go over past history?" That triggered something, some acoustic device in the walls, rigged to turn on at just the sound of those words coming from her mouth. The Acutes stiffened. Their mouths opened in unison. Her sweeping eyes stopped on the first man along the wall. His mouth worked. "I robbed a cash register in a service station." She moved to the next man. "I tried to take my little sister to bed." Her eyes clicked to the next man; each one jumped like a shooting-gallery target. "I—one time—wanted to take my brother to bed." "I killed my cat when I was six. Oh, God forgive me, I stoned her to death and said my neighbor did it." "I lied about trying. I did take my sister!" [...]

By | September 20th, 2017|Categories: Mental Illness|Tags: |0 Comments

Good Boundaries

{excerpt from Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission} "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;  surely I have a delightful inheritance." (Psalm 16.6) One thing I have experienced in the time I've spent at psychiatric hospitals is that there are many rules. Rules about toiletries, belt buckles, shoes with strings, and other personal effects. Rules about visits and contact with others. Rules about schedules -- time to sleep and meet and eat and rest. Since I am one who generally functions best with good, clear boundaries, these rules haven't bothered me so much. I've benefited quite well from them and have come to appreciate their value. There's a part of us all, though, that constantly tries to get around the rules. Like the man who found a staff person willing to bring him Starbuck's coffee (for a steep tip, no doubt) to replace the lukewarm dishwater [...]

By | September 17th, 2017|Categories: Mental Illness, Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Mad Intensities: What Makes Us Laugh

“It's not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.” ― Stephen Fry, Moab Is My Washpot Fry here captures the truth that demonic mental spirits can be redeemed and turn into angels. Self-consciousness turns us yet leads us to activities of the mind.. language, literature. Apartness, an inability to join in, leads us to appreciate the absurdity of what is deemed "normal." Shame and self-loathing turn to laughter and mad intensities when we are blessed to not take ourselves so seriously. Many of the best comics who have ever been, are touched with a sort of genius notched up to mad proportions. Robin Williams was the best of my generation. He was never [...]

By | September 13th, 2017|Categories: Mental Illness, Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments

To Be or Not to Be: Thoughts on Suicide

“When people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their options appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain. The future cannot be separated from the present, and the present is painful beyond solace. ‘This is my last experiment,’ wrote a young chemist in his suicide note. ‘If there is any eternal torment worse than mine I’ll have to be shown.” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide   When I was in training to become a student counselor in college, we were taught how to respond to persons who seemed to be suicidal. Some things we should look for included: 1) Sleeping an inordinate amount of time or not sleeping at all; 2) Showing no concern for hygiene; 3) Skipping meals; 4) Excessive drinking or using other drugs.  To an extent, these behaviors can be exhibited in any college student, in any one [...]

By | September 10th, 2017|Categories: Mental Illness|Tags: , |0 Comments

Where is God When the World Goes Mad?

In Elie Wiesel's Night, Eliezer is a Jewish teenager, a devoted student of the Talmud from Sighet, in Hungarian Transylvania.  In the spring of 1944, the Nazis occupy Hungary. A series of increasingly repressive measures are passed, and the Jews of Eliezer’s town are forced into small ghettos within Sighet.  Before long, they are rounded up and shipped out to the death camps of Burkenau, and Auschwitz. Throughout this slim narrative, Eliezer reflects on the nature of God in response to the atrocities he witnesses.  In one pivotal scene, he describes the execution of three Jews, among whom is a young child.             One day, as we returned from work, we saw three gallows, three black ravens, erected on the Appelplatz. Roll call.  The SS surrounding us, machine guns aimed at us: the usual ritual.  Three prisoners in chains – and, among them, the little pipel, the sad-eyed angel.             The SS [...]

By | September 6th, 2017|Categories: Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , , , |2 Comments