Find tips and resources for self-care, material to assist you in providing pastoral care, and general information to help you in your practice of ministry. Information will be updated every two weeks concurrent with the East Ohio E-news.
March 7, 2016 Edition
How to Properly Address Racial, Ethnic and Sexual Differences,
by Kenneth Hardy
Kenneth Hardy, a family therapist, speaks about the challenges of having a public voice regarding the hard social issues that we face as pastors and helping professionals.
Anyone who wishes to move outside the consulting room to address racial, ethnic, or sexual differences must rely on the bedrock belief that everyone has redeemable parts, and you can find them if you have the will and the patience to look. The creation of "the other" is the dynamic at the heart of divorce and personal antagonisms, and it has always been central to racism, sexism, homophobia, and ethnic persecution. Since realizing this, I've come to see that my work isn't about educating the unenlightened: it's about helping people see the insidious impact of turning a person or a group into "the other."
Saving the World or Savoring It?
by Fr. Gregory Bolye
Ministry focused on saving the world leads to burnout and depletion, says the founder of Homeboy Industries.
Countless thousands of former Los Angeles gang members have had their lives transformed -- in some instances, literally saved -- thanks to Homeboy Industries, the world’s largest gang rehab and re-entry program. Yet ministry is not about saving the world or saving people, says the organization’s founder and executive director, Father Gregory Boyle.
Ministry aimed at saving people and the world instead leads to burnout, he said.
“If the intent is to save people, or even to help people, then it works that way,” Boyle said. “You're going to be depleted.”
For Boyle, ministry is never about depletion.
“It used to be, when I used to think my job was saving lives,” he said. “But now I think saving lives is for the Coast Guard.
“Our choice always is the same: save the world or savor it. And I vote for savoring it. And, just because everything is about something else, if you savor the world, somehow -- go figure -- it’s getting saved.”View online ...
The Soul's Objective Union with God
by Father Richard Rohr
I find that many Christians still have no knowledge of the soul's objective union with God (e.g., 1 John 3:2, 2 Peter 1:4), which all mystics rejoice in or they would not be mystics. Even ministers often fight me on this, quoting Augustine's "original sin," Calvin's "total depravity," or dear Luther's "humans are like piles of manure, covered over by Christ." I am sure they all meant well, but they also dug a pit so deep that many could never climb out or allow themselves to be lifted out. What a shame, literally! Such a negative starting point will not be very effective in creating loving or responsive people.
How do you ever undo such foundational damnation? Grace can only be trusted by an equally graceful human nature. Our work is merely to till the fertile soil, knowing that the Indwelling Spirit has already been planted within, and She is the One who "teaches you all things and reminds you of all things" (John 14:26). Many Christians have tried to pile a positive theology of salvation on top of a very negative anthropology of the human person, and it just does not work. Such traditions produce few mystics and universal lovers. The human self-image is too damaged and distorted from the beginning.
The word sin has so many unhelpful connotations that it's very problematic today. For most of us "sin" does not connote what it really is: the illusion of separateness from God and from our original identity, our True Self. Most people think of sin as little naughty behaviors or any personal moral "stain" we suffer by reason of our bad thoughts, words, or deeds. Paul makes clear that sin is mostly a state, a corporate "principality" and "power," an entrapment, or what many would now call an addiction. Jesus seems to primarily see it as a blindness that traps us in self-destructive behaviors and hard-heartedness. Thus he is always healing blind people and challenging people who see themselves as superior to others.
What we call sins are usually more symptoms of sin and not an inner negativity itself. What we call sins often have more to do with stupidity and ignorance than actual malice. Disconnected people will surely do stupid things and even become malicious, but they did not start there. They began in union, but disunion became their experienced lie and defense. This sounds terrible but it will help you get the point: most people are just stupid more than formally sinful. Anything that is cut off festers and fumes and attacks, while often hoping to regain acceptance. The primary meaning of sin is to live outside "the garden," or in the smoldering garbage dump of Gehenna,below and outside the city walls of Jerusalem--the standing Biblical images of hell or separation from God's reality (Genesis 3:23-24, Isaiah 66:24, Mark 9:47-48). Sin is primarily living outside of union; it is a state of separation, when the part poses as the Whole. It's the loss of any inner experience of who you are in God.
You can't accomplish or work up to union with God, because you've already got it. "Before the world began you were chosen, chosen in Christ to live through love in his presence" (Ephesians 1:4). You cannot ever become worthy by yourself; you can only reconnect to your Infinite Source. The biblical revelation is about awakening, not accomplishing. It is about realization, not performance. You cannot get there, you can only be there. That foundational Being-in-God is for some reason too hard to believe, too good to be true. Only the humble can receive it and surrender to it, because it affirms much more about God than it does about us. And we foolishly believe it should be "all about me"!
Embracing the World: Resurrecting Jesus with Tami Simon: Insights at the Edge
In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Adya and I spoke about his experience of Jesus’ story as a map of awakening. We also talked about Jesus as a revolutionary figure and the nature of suffering. We also talked about Adya’s own experience with excruciating physical pain and how that experience relates to the metaphor of the crucifixion. And finally, we talked about the redemptive quality of love and how love can restore us to our natural state of worth. Here’s my conversation with Adyashanti:
Adyashanti encourages people to have their own creative relationship with Jesus with his question: "How does this story speak to me? And how does it highlight my own story—my own journey through life?"
Meet: monthly 1 ½ hours
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Alliance: Christ UMC, 470 E. Broadway – Third Thursdays, 1:00 PM
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The Program in Pastoral Care and Counseling encourages the spiritual formation of our pastors believing a strong spiritual base is the greatest resource a church leader can possess. It helps us weather the many storms of ministry and deepens the incredible joys ministry provides. Following is a list of Spiritual Directors in our area. We encourage you to take advantage of this rich resource. This listing will appear in each edition of our bi-monthly webpage updates and new names and contact information will be provided as we learn of them and have permission to include them. If you are a director or know of a director that is not included here please let us know.
Debbie Baker - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Batchler-Glader – email@example.com
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Liz Nau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – email@example.com
Sue Palmer - firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Hollingsworth – email@example.com
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie Stultz - email@example.com
Artificial Sweetners 101: Why We Should Avoid Them
by Carlyn Shear
While they were originally formulated as a way to allow people to “have their cake and eat it too,” artificial sweeteners are now considered to do more harm than good.
As we look at labels, it's important to understand what we are actually putting into our bodies, and why artificial sweeteners are harmful. If you’re chugging Diet Coke or nursing a Splenda addiction in an effort to maintain—or lose—weight, it might disturb you to discover that artificial sweeteners can actually cause your body to do just the opposite. Fake sweeteners disturb the body’s ability to count calories—thereby encouraging weight gain, not loss. They can disrupt the precious balance of the gut microflora ecosystem, leading to a host of health problems. They also alter glucose tolerance, resulting in confused hormones, excess sugar in the blood, and ultimately, weight gain.
Couch Potatoes Have Shrinking Brains
by Kathryn Drury Wagner
Use it or lose it, couch potatoes! We often hear about the importance of maintaining muscle mass and bone strength in middle age, but a new study suggests that exercise may be equally important in keeping our brains robust.
The research, published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, showed that poor physical fitness in middle age may be linked to smaller brain size 20 years later. “We found a direct correlation in our study between poor fitness and brain volume decades later, which indicates accelerated brain aging,” said study author Nicole Spartano, PhD, of the Boston University School of Medicine in Boston.
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