Saturday, May 20, 2006

Stupidist headline ever

Food cravings linked to brain
Gee. Really? I thought food cravings were controled by the big toe.
Stupid quote to follow:

Researchers say the data cold [sic] be used to understand obesity and eating disorders, as well as treat drug and alcohol addiction.

This is science reporting at its worst.
I think what they are trying to say is that some people receive more reward from food (even the sight of food) than do others. It is indeed interesting that this individual difference is observable via the methodology used in the study. Why wouldn't they just say this.

Close/Closed Baptism?

What if someone were attending, lets say, an LCMS congregation with a fiancee that was LCMS for life. What if, hypothetically, this person was never baptized because this person was raised in a non-sacramental denomination? What if this person realizes that the sacraments are more important than the non-sacramental denomination make them out to be, but thinks that weekly Communion would become rote (and I must admit that among the nominally RC, I have witnessed what appears from the outside to be thoughtless partaking), and that Baptism is not "necessary." What if this person, seeing that Baptism is probably a good idea, still didn't want to be baptized until ready to join a church. Let's also say this person and significant other were thinking RC because the significant other likes High church, primarily for aesthetic reasons.

Here then is my question, what level of doctrinal agreement do you think is necessary before administering Baptism to an adult, who professes Christ though mired in sundry untruths taught from youth. I am a proponent of Close Communion, but I don't know that I would be a proponent of Close Baptism. Frankly, it never entered my mind until now. In a way, I think I would feel desperate to have this person see that Baptism is fundamental, to submit to this command of our Lord, even if not fully comprehending what it is that is happening.

I'm grateful that my faithful Pastor won't let me forget the power of God in the sacraments. He recently asked those who were being confirmed, "What does the Holy Communion represent?" to which the expected answer was, "NOTHING." The Supper does not signify anything, it is the Body and Blood of our Lord.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Caption Contest

Check out the Ship of Fools Caption Competition for this picture.

Job Interview

I had a job interview this week for an Adjunct Professor position.
Since I spent so much time working with interviewers, I didn't think I would be as nervous as I was. Turns out that the program is in most need of someone to be a research coordinator and teach statistics. I downloaded a copy of my transcripts and counted stats courses:


...if you count test theory and research design classes which are fundamentally related in my mind.

Internship is making my mind soggy. I had almost forgot that I took an entire course on Expoloratory and Confirmatory Factor Analysis. Probably won't help me get this particular position, though. I don't think students in a management program care one iota about EFA/CFA.

The interview went fairly well, except that when she asked me about my least favorite part of teaching I told the truth. I really didn't like busy-work for my students when I was teaching Intro to Psych.

There was a big push for "active learning" in my training as an instructor. I think active learning is great (think Socratic instruction and other methods of engaging students), but I think that
the tendency is for teachers to get lazy and assign busy work.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Battling Latin

My Latin calendar presents the following for today:

Nil posse creari de nilo. - Lucretius
(nothing can be created of nothing)

which gives me reason to be thankful for our mighty God and his creatio ex nihilo.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Zen and Psychotherapy

I attended a continuing education lecture called Zen and Psychotherapy yesterday. The speaker said something very interesting right off the bat. He said that if the teachings of the Buddha are presented as a religion or as a philosophy (as they have been historically done) they will be rejected in the United States, but if they are presented as a psychotherapy, they will be accepted. I think he is absolutely right about this. I think that he is right that Buddhism as a religion offends our civil religion. We at least like to think that we are Christians. And few enjoy a philosophy.

This author wants to bring Zen principles into counseling because he things that they work. He is a pragmatist and he feels that American Buddhism can be practical and avoid both doctrine and intellectual rigor. According to him, Zen works. Why not use it?

Do you think that the American church may have used the same mentality to spread the "teachings of Jesus"? If we present Christ as calling us all sinners, that will offend. If we make him out to be an intellectually serious philosopher, that will satisfy some, but it won't be accessible to the masses. If Jesus makes us feel good and fixes our problems, then we really have something.

Regarding the content of the presentation, I thought that the notion of suffering was interesting. I think that we have become accustomed to living without suffering to such a degree that if a child dies, we rage against Heaven or sue a doctor, because such things offend our sense of justice and security. Now, the Zen doctrine essentially espouses the notion that Suffering is a human given. I think that the Christian understanding of Suffering is that it is a human universal, due to the fall, and not the natural condition of the world. Also, that suffering can have meaning, and not in the Nietzschean sense that it makes you a stronger person. I wouldn't go to the extreme of some Roman Catholic mystics' notion of the Victim Soul - one whose personal suffering can be applied as merit to others. Certainly we are called to bear our crosses (which are by definition unpleasant and not self-chosen) with patience. I like Luther's take on the vine and vinedresser regarding suffering. The vine complains about the pruning and the piling high of manure, but that these are for the vine's overall health in the end.

The 8-fold path out of suffering involves Right View, Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Diligence, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. Basically, the internal law. You are able to fulfill the Law through meditation, eventually letting go of your desires. So basically, you can keep the second table of the commandments, if you let go enough (the speaker warned about making it too much of a duty or trying too hard.)

The idea of Right Livelihood is the Buddhist doctrine of vocation, which seems to assert that whatever you do , you should make sure that your lifestyle doesn't inadvertently hurt someone else. So, owning apparel that is made in a sweatshop violates this principle.
Right Mindfulness I thought was interesting because it has to do with being mindful of living on the path of life and being in process. I do think that mindfulness is a healthy practice, but mindfulness of living Coram Deo.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hubris in Christian Counseling

What other vocation bears with it such ambiguity? Read this:

"As a counselor, my job is to model Christ to my clients. This seems somewhat obvious because as Christians we are supposed to be constantly formed into the image of Christ...In many practical ways we show our clients what it means to experience God here and now...It is not enough to make clients read Scriptures to show them the realities and characteristics of the Almighty, Loving God. We must bring this to life in the therapy session." Bryan Ray, 2006, The practical face of integration, Journal of Psychology and Christianity, Vol 25, (1), p. 75.

Now, in one sense the fisentenceance is true. But so is, "As an accountant, my job is to model Christ to my clients."

Frankly, I don't think my job is to show my clients "what it means to experience God here and now." I think that my job is to help clients see how they are getting in their own way, to teach them about how human beings learn and unlearn so as to apply it to their own undesirable behavior patterns, to help them think clearly, etc.

Does this strike anyone else as hubris?

It bothers me that some of us assume tbecauseuase we have gone through advanced training that we are in a special "ministry". There is but one ministry, that of Word and Sacrament. It bothers me that some people assume a mantle that has not theirs to take. I have not been called by the Church to do ministry.

There is a lot of talk of late about spiritual disciplines and using religious ritual as a healing practice in counseling. This makes me profoundly nervous.

I'll admit, I've pointed clients back to their Baptism and encouraged them to attend the Table. I've tried to disabuse clients of faulty conceptions of the Faith and of God. I've prayed for clients. If I were in a hospital situation, I may even be willing to absolve in an emergency. My station simply does not bear with it the rights and responsibilities given to Christ's Under-Shepherds by our Lord himself.

Christians in Psychology

Ryan at WDJD? asks about high school students who "at least claim to be Christians" yet want to study psychology. I've posted on this before.

I visited the Archives of the History of American Psychology again today. My fellow pre-doctoral intern and I had attended a continuing education presentation and we were passing the University, so I thought I'd take her to experience the archives. The thing that always strikes me is that the roots of my field are scientific, not speculative (Freud) which Christian's have been trained to fear. Much of the archives consist of apparatus for psychophysical experiments (reaction-time measurement tools, tools to display colors and sounds in a standardized way, etc.)

Freud was not the Father of Psychology. Wundt was.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


My daughter (2) and I were having a discussion about whether or not her cousin is afraid of dogs. She got frustrated at my unwillingness to concede defeat and scolded me thus:

Daddy, you go to your work!!! And say you're sorry!!!
She certainly knows how to make punishment effective.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Wedding Hymn

I wrote this hymn and sang it at our wedding, accompanied by organ. A good friend of mine, a music major, wrote the tune which he called "SARA" in honor of my wife.

Text: Hosea 2:19-20
"And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD."

Thy people God alive with praise
receive Most Blessed One;
Thy Church arrayed before all days
chosen for Thy Son.

Thou for Thy Bride hath cov'nanted
a brideprice from above;
justice, mercy, righteousness
troth and steadfast love.

Radiant beauty Thou behold
Clo'thed in glorious white;
the work Thou givest is as gold
and silver in Thy sight.

Forgive, forgive our hearts untrue
for gods we fashion cold;
Our troth is as morning dew
but Thine, eternal stone.

Make haste Lord Jesus Husband true
receive thy chosen Bride;
Tremble we for intimacy
one for all of time.

Bond fast this marriage pray I thee
long as this life to live
Grant strength to love most faithfully
the one that thou dost give.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Toward a Lutheran Psychology of Work

I’ve done some thinking about what Lutheran vocational psychology would look like. I read Mark U. Edward's paper in Dialog called Charistically Lutheran Leanings a while back, and his analysis of Lutheran epistemology has influenced this brief outline. I don't think that these characteristics are necessarily exclusive to a Lutheran understanding of vocational psychology, but I do think that they flow out of the doctrine naturally. Please let me know what you think.

  • Career is understood in community – parents and others have a real stake and say in a person’s choice of occupation. I think this is more of a warning to parents to study their children and learn how they would fit in the world rather than something to tell kids (because it won’t make them submit to their parents' decisions). I think this is an area for "do not exacerbate your kids."
  • Career decisions are made based on the best available data – Lutheran theology values the earthly and the real. It would look toward abilities and interests and away from a sense or feeling of the 'right' career path to take. God has and does call people dramatically as in a burning bush, but most of the time God works through means. Abilities, interests and proclivities are indicators of Divine calling.
  • Cautious – career behavior, from decision making to maintenance would be cautious and deliberate. Prudence is highly valued. The criteria for selecting a career path or moving on from one company to another would require careful deliberation not a reliance on gut instinct or feeling. A Lutheran vocational psychology would not necessarily follow the money either. Prudence involves thinking about the possibilities in the market, not just what is profitable right now. It also involves thinking about others, first spouse and children and then others whom your work will impact and serve. Occupations are a place to serve the neighbor, not a place to serve yourself primarily.
  • Contextual – This way of looking at work would ask, 'How can I love and serve my neighbor with this set of skills and in this context.' The answer to 'who is my neighbor' is always those who are right here in front of me.
  • Unworried – A Lutheran vocational psychology would posit that there are many ways to love and serve your neighbor and therefore many acceptable jobs. One need not worry about having 'missed' his or her calling.
  • Faithful – Opportunities and jobs are viewed as a Divine calling from God, no matter how ordinary the decision making process that led one to a particular role. As such, the worker would be encouraged to be faithful to the position in which one finds oneself. This runs counter to much career counseling which seeks to optimize personal happiness. Rather, struggle is a guarantee. We will have difficulties and crosses to bear in our occupational lives. Instead of packing it up at the first sign of difficulty, Lutheran vocational psychology would counsel patience and fortitude. This does not mean that injustice would have to be accepted if it existed in the organization. People would be encouraged to make whatever changes in the workplace that they could to "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."
  • Dutiful and Joyous? – Work life is a solemn responsibility, as we are commanded to work diligently and as unto the Lord himself. It is also a great joy as we are given the opportunity to serve our neighbor as the hands of God himself. There is great comfort in a balanced view of work that neither sees it as a drudgery, the result of the fall, nor sees it as all joy, expecting never to run into obstacles if one is in his or her "true calling."

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cleveland will soon be home to the world's finest gay bathhouse

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Most Important Race

Tuesday's Primary elections included a huge race that was barely touched by the media.
It was another close one, like their GoogleFight tussle.

HT: Devona at Love and Blunder (via: her mother-in-law).