I’m excited about an interview I just completed with award-winning journalist and public radio host Jeff St. Clair on the topic of anger with God. Details here when the time firms up.

Date: May 18, 2015
Time: TBA
Appearance: WKSU Public Radio on topic, Anger with God
Format: Radio

Why the Race Dialogue in America is Going Nowhere Fast

and What to Do About It

dialogue -- two men arguing

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Foreword: This piece speaks of “black America” and “white America.” Someone has recently read the piece and observed that though these two groups are far from monolithic, I write here as though each group has a single point of view. Though I recognize this, and obviously I cannot even speak for all white people, let alone all black people, I can surely elucidate what I think is a big part of the problem among white people. I certainly cannot, and have no right, to claim to capture “black experience,” but as a therapist and pastor, I am trying to latch onto some human universals that transcend race and I hope I will be allowed to do that, despite the inability of language to capture the experience of all people.

America’s Race “Dialogue” Like an Argument Between Spouses

Think of our racial back-and-forth in this country like a discussion between spouses. I realize it’s more complicated because it’s a national dialogue and there are so many competing interests involved, but still, at the core of it, here’s the dialogue.

Wife: I need to talk to you about a serious problem. [mention of said problem]

Husband: But I only do that because [reason for doing what she sees as a problem, filled with all kinds of excuses, and a few valid points that she should probably listen to]

Wife: You’re not hearing me.

Husband: I heard you fine. You’re not hearing me! You said you’re upset about this thing, and I’m telling you why I do that thing that upsets you.

Wife: I heard you, and I feel like you’re saying it’s MY fault.

Husband: Then you didn’t hear me. I’m not saying it’s your fault, I’m just telling you why I do that thing I do. If you’d stop doing that thing that makes me do the other thing, I’d stop doing that thing and there would be no problem.

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How Education Does (and does not) Matter

excellence and education

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Someone said to me recently, after reading my bio attached to a syllabus I had prepared, “Do you think we (she’s a professor as well) come across as egotistical with all the stuff we put in our bios? Should we just teach and let it speak for itself?”

My response…

No doubt. There are times I read through my bio on a syllabus and think, “Well look at that. Aren’t I just the crap.” I feel, briefly, like a very special human being.

Two days later I’m taking a workshop taught by someone else, and I read their bio, compare it to my own, and think, “I’m such a piece of garbage compared to them. Why would anyone listen to me.” I feel, usually for a quite a while, like a complete imposter. Soon someone will discover I don’t really know anything and I’ll lose everything I’ve ever worked for.

So of course it’s ego, all of it, who’re we kidding? My sense of self-satisfaction with my own accomplishments, my sense of inferiority to others with superior accomplishments, my fear of my life jig being up because someone finds out I’m a nobody. All of it. What a stupid game it is.

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The Explanation Trap

explanation

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All three of my jobs — pastor, professor, and therapist — require me to explain things. I explain constantly. Explanation is a critical part of teaching. A teacher who is unwilling to explain will not be very effective.

But explanation, at some point, and often insidiously, crosses over into defensiveness. When I find myself defending my spiritual views/ideas, or defending something I am trying to teach my students, or defending something I said to a client, I am probably already moving away from helping the person I’m talking to. That is why I limit how much debate I will even engage in here on this blog. Even though I sometimes want to defend myself, it’s just almost never very helpful.

There’s a myth here that I have believed for years, without realizing it.

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Feeling Judged

my proof of disability

Yesterday I went to the Secretary of State’s office and picked up a handicapped parking placard. It’s incredible how difficult the process can be. Not in terms of complexity, just that both times I have had to get one of these I’ve had to endure lectures from doctors (and others) about not abusing it, only using when I really need it, that just having MS isn’t good enough reason, etc.

As if I would have any interest in parking in a handicapped spot when I’m healthy enough to walk.

Hell, when I can make the walk easily, or even passably, not parking in one of those spots is one of the most exciting parts of my day. Just try to get me to use that pass on days I don’t need it.

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