Saturday, May 30, 2009

(Happy!) Fevered Dreams

I've been a bit ill lately. I don't think I've actually had a fever during the course of this illness, but at times I've felt a little feverish, if you know what I mean.

One night I had a fevered sort of light sleep--the kind where you're aware the whole time that you're lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, but you're engaged in some kind of intense mental task that just goes on and on. In the past I've had that kind of dream about moving enormous objects, or sorting information, or writing a paper. You know what kind of dream I'm talking about?

Usually such dreams are horrible. They're just awful, filled with anxiety and dread, and compulsion--because of course, something terrible will happen if I don't finish in time, but I don't have enough time, and it's not coming out right, and I'll never be finished, etc.

Well, this time the dream was actually quite pleasant. I had just finished reading Charles' Williams' novel, Descent Into Hell, that day. And so the dream was kind of about something from that book, and I don't remember now what it was, but it was wonderful--I had some kind of sorting and organizing task, but it was a labor of joy to me. When I woke up, a few hours before time to get up, I wanted to go back to the dream, it was so lovely.

Anyway, I thought that was really weird and surprising. I wish I remembered the dream better, but it was probably rather incoherent to begin with.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sorry to keep you in suspense ...

Here he is, finally. Cardinal Mahony. For your personal enjoyment and edification. (Assuming this works.) Someday I'll post the video where he responds to questions afterward. He's more animated and humorous in that one.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Instructions to Watch Cardinal Mahony

Okay, so it's more trouble than I anticipated to get the link to Cardinal Mahony's address as a link on here. It's available for free, but you have to go to Fuller's iTunesU page, click on "Take me to FULLER on iTunesU" and then find it under May 2009 chapel sermons. But I can't even go there on this library computer because it doesn't have the iTunes software downloaded on it. Stupid Fuller-brand-new-library computers.

Maybe I can put the video itself on the blog when I am working from my laptop. We'll see.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Utopian Expectations

I just turned in a (really crappy) paper on a short-term cognitive approach to pastoral counseling for marital conflict. As I did my research, the concept of "utopian expectations" really struck me--it's pretty much the idea that some people mistakenly think they need therapy when really, they just have unrealistic expectations about how good their life is supposed to be. Such people are already coping well with the inevitable troubles that come their way--but they think something is going wrong because their utopian expectation is that they will have a trouble-free life.

I wonder if an insight-oriented therapist would be horrified at such a diagnosis--"Oh, you crazy cognitive-behavioralist," they'd say. "You're just not looking deep enough into the person's problems--if you kept digging deeper, you would find they aren't coping as well as you think."

But then, wouldn't the cognitive behavioralist respond with something like, "You're the crazy one! Stop forcing your own utopian expectations on the client! All you do is dangle a carrot in front of them forever, implying that someday they will be free from all the scarring and trauma they've suffered when actually, they won't. They need to accept that they'll just be struggling to deal with this pile of s**t world the rest of their lives."

In that sense, I've been feeling like more of a cognitive behavioralist lately. I used to be more of the psychoanalytic, humanistic, existential mindset. Probably because about five, six years ago, the quality of my inner experience of life went up very dramatically over the course of a few years. And so I guess I kind of expected that trend to continue. But instead, things have plateaued.

So just the other day, I was articulating to myself the bleak reality that things will never be "all right." Life is like a jigsaw puzzle missing half the pieces. I'm never going to have it all together. It's small comfort to think that things will be all right at the real end--because that seems like a long way off, and I expect the most difficult years of my life are still ahead of me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cardinal Mahony on Immigration Reform. WOW.

Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, spoke on immigration reform in chapel this morning. I'd seen his picture all over the L. A. Times back when the child abuse scandal broke, and I'd seen him once at the L. A. Cathedral, also. He looked ridiculously tall then, going around the Cathedral courtyard in a tube shaped bright orange garment, throngs of short Latino families surrounding him, as he had to bend over to put his hand on each person's head, saying "And bless you, and bless you, and bless you ..."

Anyway, so he spoke at Fuller. He stood there, one arm hanging motionless at his side, and with the other hand holding several sheets of paper from which he read his address verbatim. He looked up only briefly, occasionally. He did employ vocal variety, but in a highly repetitive way, which made the sound of his voice kind of droning and monotonous, anyway. So when he started speaking I thought, "Gee, I had expected he'd be a more skilled orator."

But as the address went on, I was pretty much blown away by the relentless logic of his argument. Before this morning, every person whom I've heard speak on immigration issues has been impassioned--and in some cases virtually carried away with emotion. It's a fact I take very seriously, but I do not find it to be especially persuasive. I tend rather to be wary of people's reasoning when they seem on the verge of shouting or tears.

So I found it not just refreshing, but deeply affecting to have someone speak plainly, calmly and clearly about how our immigration system is broken and what we need to lobby for to help fix it. The Catholic Church has got some serious problems, but man! I can't help but admire the rational way they do theology.

I'm hoping a video of the address will be put up on Fuller's website. If it is, I'll put a link on here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Very Punny

In choir practice Sunday, someone shared a joke. It reminded me how much I love puns (and how much other people don't). The opening made me worried it wouldn't be appropriate for politically mixed company, but it was. Here it is:

Back when Obama was first running for president, a lot of people thought there was no way a black man could be elected in this country. It's just not possible, they said. Yeah, that'll happen--when pigs fly!

And so it came about on Obama's 100th day in office: swine flu.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Isn't that great?!?!? I love it. Especially because it sounds like it's going to be some political thing, but then, no! It's just silly.

So the moral of this story is, if you know any really bad puns, send them my way!