"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cutting Edge

      A popular approach to problems is if the purported solution isn't cutting edge, it can't be good. For example, the Egyptians wanted to build astrologically correct tombs for their elite. But they faced many daunting engineering challenges. Today's engineers and scientists study their finished structures thousands of years after they were built and scratch their heads over the ingenuity the Egyptians used to solve their engineering problems. By today's technological standards their engineering was hardly cutting edge, but it worked.
      I read an article on Suite101.com that dealt briefly with the thorny issue of depression. Though it was brief, it made a powerful start.
      Just a comment on situational depression and the examples the author provided. Three of the four examples share a common foundational cause: rash or unrealistic expectations.
      Of course, many higher functioning animals respond to dashed expectations with some sort of disappointment, but humans take it a leap further. We allow disappointment to germinate, sending its persistent roots deep into our self-concept, fracturing what is sound, and pulverizing what is not.
      Unlike conceptual structures such as opinion and belief, self-concept has no elaborate, cognitive bulwarks, but it attempts to defend itself with futile, psychological mechanisms. When forces without or within press their attack to the inner self, it reels, throwing up such defenses as rationalization, anger, aggression, regression, blame, bitterness, and a host of others that deal only with the wound, and not its cause. When those defenses fail, which they must, the self folds, collapses and self-destructs.
      Enter the bleak world of hopelessness, despair and depression. Organic mental illness can exacerbate such emotional self-destruction, but it can also cause it. When chemical imbalances send the emotions over the edge, we naturally seek situational causes for it. And where everything is objectively peachy, the sick cerebrum invents causes for depression. And it can be amazingly creative at it.
      All that is to say the human soul is the most infinitely complex creation this side of eternity. To propose one treatment modality, or even a set of them, without considering the Creator's role in maintaining humanity is counter-productive. Unlike many "fundamentalist" Christians, I recognize that there may indeed be truth in psychology and holistic therapies. Tragically, proponents of each modality either ignore or combat those with which they disagree. The true spirit of Holism demands exploration of every aspect of the human soul without engaging in ideological discrimination. The truly open mind will never patently dismiss unfamiliar or foreign ideas, but will carefully investigate, weigh and respect them, even if it ultimately disagrees with them.
      Psychology, holistic therapies and New-Age approaches seem cutting edge to today's "inquisitive" minds. But what really works is older than old. "Eternal," one might say.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Blame Game

      Join, The Blame Game! It's fun, exciting, and oh, so unproductive. The oldest game in the world, TBG enables players to assuage their personal responsibility by pointing the Bony Finger of Condemnation at ... well, anyone and everyone but themselves. The rules are simple: 1; Know your preconceptions. 2; Deny your preconceptions while emotionally defending your objectivity. 3; Bitterly personalize all condemnation to verbally assassinate your opponents. 4; Liberally employ generalities such as "Woulda," "Shoulda," and "Coulda."
      Of course the game's overriding principle is "Hindsight is 20-20." And the unique beauty of this game is all players can claim to be winners, while in fact, no one wins.
      As an example of TBG's expert play, notice the countless ideologues of every stripe who are currently spinning thirty-two senseless deaths to advance their own agendas. Of course I notice these things; I have my own ideological agenda to counter-balance any objective reason that may pass my way. But I'm not playing the game right, am I. Matter of fact, I hope I never get it right.

Friday, April 06, 2007

In High Places by Tom Morrisey

      Nancy and I have rarely read a book with such personal impact as Tom Morrisey's In High Places. Its central theme(When nothing else remains, Hope is enough.) was obvious enough for even me to catch, but not so blatant as to seem didactic. Certainly not the least of this book's strong points was the way it sucked me in to its well-developed characters' heads and filled me with empathy for their pain.

      This book has it all: It's suspenseful without the sadism of a stalker. It's romantic without the mush of a romance. It's technical without having to consult a climbers' manual. That said, I did resort to my trusty desk dictionary on occasion for clarification.
      Yes, rock climbing is central to the story, but after the first couple of chapters I was so caught up with the characters and the dangers they faced that even this strictly level-ground-walker was fascinated by the story's twists.
      What more can I say than "Buy It." You won't regret it.