Exploring where life and story meet!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Yoda and the Shrink

I love Yoda, he's probably one of my favorite fictional characters, though I doubt he'll be making a cameo in the new Star Wars movie (no, I have not seen it yet, it hasn't yet graced the single screen at our local theater and sadly I am not geek enough to drive 100 miles and pay twice the price for the privilege of seeing it sooner).  Yoda might actually approve, 'patience, you must learn patience!'  I'd rather he didn't hit me with that goofy little stick.  Anywho, where was I, ah yes, Yoda.  I was thinking of him the other day whilst pursuing the Amazonian book lists for psychology books.  What on earth does one have to do with the other?  Just be patient, I'll get there, besides this isn't the worst analogy I've ever come up with, I've had far worse!

One of Yoda's famous quotes is, 'luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.'  Though I disagree with him on the vast majority of his metaphysics (and yes, I know he is a fictional character who lives in an equally fictional galaxy far, far away), this little tidbit came to mind whilst perusing said psych books.  I came across one specimen on emotional abuse that was highly rated by almost everybody and when I dug into the few low ratings, almost every single one of them was highly offended that the author had brought a spiritual perspective to the table and they had not realized it before they bought the book.  I couldn't help but smile and think of Han Solo and his incredulity at Obi Wan's quaint perspective on the Force.  I did buy that book and another specifically for the daughters of narcissistic mothers, which after reading it, I can say it is definitely from a secular perspective, which should make Han and the low reviewers happy.

Modern psychology scares me more than just a little bit.  They want to treat the mind/emotions/soul as if it were merely a biological phenomenon, but I have to agree with the Yodster on this one: that there's far more to the human psyche than flesh and blood and neuroreceptors and chemical imbalances.  I applaud the emotional healing guy for addressing this too often overlooked elephant in the psychologist's office.  Addressing only the biological aspect is like trying to fix one flat tire while pretending the other doesn't even exist but the car won't move unless both are attended to.  I know it isn't politically correct or cool or whatever anymore to believe in things you can't see, but pretending we are all knowing, wise, and super smart because we don't believe in old myths doesn't help the people that really need it.  It's about like treating infectious disease with blood letting and leeches back before we understood anything about germ theory, but instead of it being an honest ignorance of the true facts, it is an intentional ignorance of things man has always known, which modern science says we have outgrown.  But it was old mythologies that blew up the original Death Star, and even the skeptical Han Solo had to admit there might actually be something to all that 'nonsense.'  We can only hope there is such an awakening within the mental health community as well.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Missing link

Here's a little article that might just solve the christmas music conundrum: why do we sing at christmas if our songs and the holiday itself is not allowed to mean anything?  Now who will solve the mystery of Advent for me?  We're all counting down to Christmas with some cutsie pinterest worthy calendar thingy yet how many people actually have any idea what Advent really is?  Maybe that'll be in next week's issue...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Do you hear what I hear?

I've always loved Christmas, it seems the whole world is alive with a spirit of something, perhaps the very tiniest whisper of joy echoing down the years from a cold and drafty stable?  Whatever it is, as a child, I remember looking forward to it with an eagerness I could ill-contain.  It wasn't the gifts, I never really got any to speak of.  It wasn't the family gatherings, mine were a mess.  Perhaps, it was the one speck of childish wonder in an otherwise murky existence?  There was something in the food, the inexplicable warmth of friends and family (other peoples, I just got to watch), the lights, and even the snow and stars seemed more bright, stark, and beautiful.  But most especially it was the music.  I loved the old hymns and their strange words and haunting melodies prophesying that 'nails and spear would pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me and you,' even as we sang about and celebrated the birth of this One, 'the babe the son of Mary.'

In college I discovered what it was for a thousand voices to join together in a work as splendid as Handel's Messiah and thought perhaps it was a foretaste of Heaven.  Of course all that is illegal or offensive or politically incorrect or something now.  Even Santa and Frosty the Snowman are controversial nowadays.  They tried for a few years to play insipid Christmas songs about happy christmas trees and santa babies, but now the malls and shopping centers are mysteriously silent wherein years past, that was the whole reason I could tolerate a trip to the local store this time of year.  I am glad the insipid song craze has perished, silence is always to be preferred when good music or conversation cannot be had.  But I wonder what it is all about, for all these folk who theoretically cannot stand even a reminder of St. Nicholas, let alone mention of the Christ child?  Do they still hear those ancient echoes of 'peace on earth, good will to men?'

But why is it offensive?  Why must it be banned from the public sphere?  We have plenty of mythical figures that do not offend and of which we think nothing when we see pillows, folders, and t-shirts emblazoned with their likeness or hear the theme song from the TV show (think Star Wars or your favorite animated character).  Why does this particular myth offend so?  Because it is true and our mortal flesh quakes at the implications thereof.  Like those shepherds of long ago, trembling before a heavenly host proclaiming news they could not comprehend, a joy too terrible to understand, we aren't sure what to make of it all or what it will make of us, if we should listen.  But ignoring it or banning it doesn't make it go away, just ask the Romans.  It has survived empires.  It will outlast the world itself.  Perhaps it is time to dig out those old hymns and actually listen to the words.  It is the mystery of Christmas that I love.  God become flesh, enigma indeed!