• Why choose Christian Couple Counselling?
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    Why choose Christian Couple Counselling in Calgary?

    Imagine you have been watching your marriage slip away for years.

    Perhaps you finally got to wondering what he had been doing on that computer all of those late nights. You found a spare moment, logged in and started looking at his internet history. When you did, you were instantly greeted by thousands of erotic or pornographic web sites and the hours spent on sites for escorts. Instantly, you understand why he hasn’t been sexually interested in you once this month.


    Perhaps you have felt the sting of her barely hidden resentment for years and, yet, could never figure out why she always claimed things were fine. But, tonight, when she left her phone unlocked, you started seeing text messages from a co-worker popping up on the screen. A few minutes of browsing them suddenly has offered you a very clear picture of why she has had to work late so often this year — and how little hope she has left for the future of your marriage.

    The next few days pass in a whirlwind of first denial, then anger, then furious recriminations followed by deep sadness and then cold silence. Finally, you have time to think.

    As you sit there feeling the crushing weight of betrayal, the self directed contempt for your blindness, the furious rage at your spouse and the terror for the future of your marriage and the family your children so desperately need, one question crosses your mind:

    How can our relationship recover from this infidelity?

    This is just another announcement/posting of an original internal article on why making a choice for counselling that fits with your faith and world view is so important.

    This article is now permanently added to the article section of our primary site — not just a transient blog post.


    (Yes, I’m writing these for S.E.O. purposes but they’re not JUST to keep the Google-Bots happy. Please share with anyone you think would benefit!)


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  • Why saving your marriage matters.
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    Schroepfer will never forget when one of her hospice patients was hovering at the edge of death. She was unconscious, barely hanging on. Her children had all told their mother it was okay to let go. But the woman’s grieving husband hadn’t been able to give his blessing. Finally, after talking with his daughter, he decided he was ready to give his wife permission to leave them. “He sat down beside her and told her he loved her, and that it was okay,? Schroepfer recalls. “He got up to walk back to his chair. Right after he sat down, she raised her head out of the coma, said ‘I love you,’ and died. I was glad their daughter was there too, or I would have thought I’d imagined it.?

    Although medical researchers may not be able to pinpoint where that surge of willpower comes from, they have shown evidence for people’s remarkable ability to hold on and let go at will. David Phillips, a professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego, who specializes in statistical analysis of sociological data, has looked at the link between mortality and culturally meaningful events. Just before Passover each year, he found, the death rate for Jewish people fell sharply below normal levels, and rose again immediately afterward. Non-Jewish people showed no change in mortality before or after the holiday. Similarly, he showed a drop in deaths among Chinese people before their symbolically important Harvest Moon Festival, and a corresponding rise after the event had ended. If people can will their bodies to hold out for one more Harvest Moon Festival, one more family reunion, then why not for love?

    After all, love doesn’t just feel good, Coan has found, it is good for us: Happy relationships can protect against the negative effects of stress. In studies designed to measure how social support influences the stress response, Coan brings volunteers into an MRI scanner and threatens to zap them with an electric shock. Periodically a symbol flashes before their eyes, indicating there’s a 20 percent chance they’ll receive a shock in the next few seconds. The goal, he says, is to create an “anticipatory anxiety? that mimics the feeling you get from everyday stressors like a looming work deadline.

    But the volunteers aren’t in it alone. Some are holding the hand of someone they trust — a romantic partner, parent, or close friend. Others are holding the hand of a stranger. Coan has found that brain activity in the hypothalamus, the region heavily implicated in the body’s stress response, differs between those holding a loved one’s hand and those holding hands with a stranger. Clasping hands with a loved one tamps down threat-related activity.

    I put myself through both my undergraduate and graduate training by working at a part time job in emergency medicine. It doesn’t take long working in that sort of a field to have considerable experience with people’s end-of-life behaviours — some, quite peaceful — others, horrific.

    The majority of the peaceful experiences seemed to be marked by two key elements: The people experiencing such had lived lives of relational connection — usually in marriage — and they had lived lives of authenticity within those relationships.

    The full article is rather long — but it’s really a compelling and masterful piece which weaves cutting edge research on the relational activation of the brain (and it’s ability to protect us from so many things) and what happens when relationship is lost while mixing such with a clear grasp of how much our decision to live (or die) really does matter.

    And, it’s a sobering counterpoint to a culture that treats marriage as little more then a mechanism for pleasure and which would kick relationships to the curb with little to no thought.

    Marriages really are worth saving.

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  • Tradition: But, we’ve always done it that way…
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    Medical Daily

    Tradition: It can make life rich (big ethnic holiday feasts) and sometimes limited (seemingly arbitrary social taboos about clothing), but where does it stem from?

    New research out of Karolinska Institutet’s Emotion Lab in Sweden attempts to answer that question, by creating a psychological model behind the notion of tradition. It turns out that humans have a tendency to be quite sheep-like: the researchers found that it likely comes from a threat of punishment — as well as people’s willingness to copy others.

    “Critically, many social behaviors, such as cooperation and adherence to religious taboos, are maintained by threat of punishment,? the authors wrote. “However, the psychological mechanisms allowing threat of punishment to generate such behaviors, even when actual punishment is rare or absent, are largely unknown.?

    In other words, people who adhere to tradition often due so for safety and survival. But people who see that tradition doesn’t offer protection from danger are more likely to break out of it.

    “We wanted to find out how these situations function in humans when we need to avoid danger,? said Björn Lindström, a researcher at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience and an author of the study. “We discovered that two separate, simple, psychological mechanisms — the copying of others behavior and the rewarding properties of avoiding danger together forms a potent driving force that helps explain how we can create and maintain norms and traditions.?

    The above linked is a rather convoluted mess and could have been much better written.

    Essentially, what it says is that we are a social species plagued by fear of punishment and we tend to believe that other people know better then we do how to avoid that punishment or danger. Because we think others know better, we copy their behaviours so frequently it eventually becomes a culture — what we call tradition — that may enshrine and perpetuate incredibly damaging behaviours for generations.

    Why? Because we are all afraid to change things in case everyone else knew better.

    An interesting counter-point to such is the life of Christ. He came literally hell bent on changing everything — especially the fabric of tradition that kept us in bondage to fear.

    How He did so?

    By cancelling forever the fear of judgment, the threat of punishment and the list of rules itself that made them possible.

    He then offered a new community and tradition based on love instead of coercion.

    In other words, He attacked everything that the above research identified as keeping tradition standing — and then gave everyone something new to copy.

    The increasing irrelevance of our churches could be erased in a heart-beat if they simply went back to such…

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  • Here’s how you spot the next suicide bomber
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    Even if blowing oneself up were instantaneous and the individual didn’t feel physical pain, adds Caouette, there is still great psychological duress. ‘This is not mentioned in our paper, but suicide bombers usually go through a long preparation to make them ready to become suicide bombers.’ They have to say goodbye to or cut off contact with their families, who might not approve of their actions. ‘In the end,’ she said, ‘martyrdom can take many forms of self-sacrifice, whether feeling pain or losing one’s life.’

    The Self-Sacrifice scale creates an unprecendented psychological test of the degree to which individuals are willing to give up ‘their wealth, their important personal relationships, and then their life’ for something they value more highly. As the researchers point out, such traits can have intensely pro-social outcomes as well as destructive ones. Contrary to the idea that martyrs don’t value their life and are depressed, the study found that these individuals were usually constructive and motivated. Still, they were simply willing to sacrifice their closest relationships for something that mattered more – their cause.

    So much of our society (and the spy services which mirror our deepest fears) is focused on maintaining a set of fantasies. Those fantasies are stories we tell ourselves to help us maintain our carefully constructed illusions of safety.

    Illusions like the idea that all terrorists are crazy and all soldiers are virtuous. Fictions like suicide bombers have no other options and are manipulated by others (or poverty) while the marines are volunteers motivated by love of God, country and apple pie. We just blindly accept the idea that terrorism is a random and confusing phenomenon that requires extraordinary measures to control.

    Because of this, we buy into lies like the idea that it’s impossible to profile a terrorist, impossible to spot who will perform a radical act and, thus, we need to spy on everyone. (So, let’s all let our governments pass crazy national spying laws — C-51/Patriot Act — that violate every right or freedom anyone ever fought and died to give our societies.)

    Sadly, the above linked not only demonstrates that the reverse is true, it even provides a testing tool for such.

    Turns out that most of America’s Marines are poor people with no other options and petty criminals who are compelled by the legal system to put their bodies on the front line.

    And, suicide bombers are constructive, highly motivated relationally connected people from families are not at all good with them ending up dead who are incredibly ideological, who have undergone intense voluntary training, who are rationally willing to sacrifice themselves and driven by an altruistic passion for a cause and the need to belong with others motivated by the same.

    You know, exactly what we would like to believe about our military men…

    This is really not a mystery and, it’s so well understood, we can even replicate studies of such with hot sauce… Those understandings make it trivial for operatives on the ground to spot potential threats — if we actually had people on the ground instead of behind desks reading everyone’s emails.

    We appear perfectly capable of profiling, testing for and identifying people who would make great military or police officers right from grade school without putting an entire population under invasive surveillance.

    Exactly why should we buy the idea that we need to put an entire population under such to find the tiny handful of people who fit under the heading of the term, “Terrorist?”

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  • A Zen Buddhist take on love…
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    Brain Pickings

    At the heart of Nhat Hanh’s teachings is the idea that “understanding is love’s other name? — that to love another means to fully understand his or her suffering. (“Suffering? sounds rather dramatic, but in Buddhism it refers to any source of profound dissatisfaction — be it physical or psychoemotional or spiritual.) Understanding, after all, is what everybody needs — but even if we grasp this on a theoretical level, we habitually get too caught in the smallness of our fixations to be able to offer such expansive understanding. He illustrates this mismatch of scales with an apt metaphor:

    If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform.

    To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love. To know how to love someone, we have to understand them. To understand, we need to listen.


    When you love someone, you should have the capacity to bring relief and help him to suffer less. This is an art. If you don’t understand the roots of his suffering, you can’t help, just as a doctor can’t help heal your illness if she doesn’t know the cause. You need to understand the cause of your loved one’s suffering in order to help bring relief.


    The more you understand, the more you love; the more you love, the more you understand. They are two sides of one reality. The mind of love and the mind of understanding are the same.

    Often, we get crushes on others not because we truly love and understand them, but to distract ourselves from our suffering. When we learn to love and understand ourselves and have true compassion for ourselves, then we can truly love and understand another person.

    Sometimes we feel empty; we feel a vacuum, a great lack of something. We don’t know the cause; it’s very vague, but that feeling of being empty inside is very strong. We expect and hope for something much better so we’ll feel less alone, less empty. The desire to understand ourselves and to understand life is a deep thirst. There’s also the deep thirst to be loved and to love. We are ready to love and be loved. It’s very natural. But because we feel empty, we try to find an object of our love. Sometimes we haven’t had the time to understand ourselves, yet we’ve already found the object of our love. When we realize that all our hopes and expectations of course can’t be fulfilled by that person, we continue to feel empty. You want to find something, but you don’t know what to search for. In everyone there’s a continuous desire and expectation; deep inside, you still expect something better to happen. That is why you check your email many times a day!

    The essence of loving kindness is being able to offer happiness. You can be the sunshine for another person. You can’t offer happiness until you have it for yourself. So build a home inside by accepting yourself and learning to love and heal yourself. Learn how to practice mindfulness in such a way that you can create moments of happiness and joy for your own nourishment. Then you have something to offer the other person.


    If you have enough understanding and love, then every moment — whether it’s spent making breakfast, driving the car, watering the garden, or doing anything else in your day — can be a moment of joy.

    There’s a sublime brilliance here that just needed to be posted — the whole above linked article/book review is so worth the read.

    It stands utterly without comment.

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  • The real reason parents refuse to vaccinate their kids…
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    Mind Hacks

    There are other psychological factors at play in the decisions taken by individual parents not to vaccinate their children. One is the rational selfishness of avoiding risk, or even the discomfort of a momentary jab, by gambling that the herd immunity of everyone else will be enough to protect your child.

    Another is our tendency to underplay rare events in our calculation about risks – ironically the very success of vaccination programmes makes the diseases they protect us against rare, meaning that most of us don’t have direct experience of the negative consequences of not vaccinating. Finally, we know that people feel differently about errors of action compared to errors of inaction, even if the consequences are the same.

    Many who seek to persuade anti-vaxxers view the issue as a simple one of scientific education. Anti-vaxxers have mistaken the basic facts, the argument goes, so they need to be corrected. This is likely to be ineffective. Anti-vaxxers may be wrong, but don’t call them irrational.

    Rather than lacking scientific facts, they lack a trust in the establishments which produce and disseminate science. If you meet an anti-vaxxer, you might have more luck persuading them by trying to explain how you think science works and why you’ve put your trust in what you’ve been told, rather than dismissing their beliefs as irrational.

    Science was always a rather agenda driven sport with very few scientists ever really able to have been considered practitioners of, “Pure Science.” It always was driven by the need for funding and the interests of those who would fund it. And, though this may offend those who hold science so dear it almost approaches a faith, no one should ever have blindly trusted the pronouncements that came from such.

    True, there were times — the Apollo missions for example — where the funding source was purely public in origin and some of that research tended to be shockingly unbiased. But, in truth, those were rare and, currently, are even more so.

    But, even up to only very recent times, the general public still placed enormous trust in the voices of science. When the scientific community spoke, people listened and they followed the recommendations of such.

    Today, not so much.

    Science, of course, is engaged in rumination that, bluntly, boils down to if it should adopt the polemic style of those the public seems to be listening to. But, that’s ignoring the real problem.

    And, it’s not that the level of corruption, massaged research findings, statistical manipulation, warped confidence intervals, shameless agendas and brazen shilling for the wealthy and powerful are any higher then they ever were or that the pronouncements of the scientific community are any less valid then they were either.

    It’s just that, in the past, so few people in the general public knew what was really going on behind the curtain. Today, all of the above is plastered all over the internet — and a new one hits nearly daily.

    Oh, the same thousands of properly peer reviewed pieces of legitimate research are still getting published and acknowledged — but the never ending streams of scandal have convinced a good part of the public that the emperor really is completely starkers anyway… (And, yes, they still believe that even if the last thing they heard happens to be true…)

    Science, of course, has many members furiously mocking faith and claiming that the internet will ultimately allow so much information about the hypocrisy of religious leaders to flow out that religion will be erased.

    And, there is lots of evidence for such.

    But, if the current Measles epidemic sweeping the USA proves nothing else, it proves that hypocrisy is hardly in short supply within the hallowed halls of science either and it’s just as good at eroding trust in institutions of science as in institutions of religion.

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  • Are the powerful more likely to cheat?
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    Research has previously shown that upper-class individuals are more likely to behave unethically than lower-class people. But, says David Dubois, lead researcher of a new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, it’s not that simple: both groups behave unethically in different contexts.

    Dubois’ research group found that people with higher socioeconomic status (SES) were more likely to behave unethically when the behavior benefitted themselves, while lower-SES people were more likely to be unethical to benefit other individuals. “Many people think of unethical behaviour in terms of selfish behavior—violating moral standards to give yourself an advantage,” explains Jared Piazza, who was not involved with the research. “But the researchers here draw a distinction between violating a moral standard like ‘it’s wrong to steal’ to benefit others, and violating a moral standard to benefit yourself.”

    This distinction is important, says Dubois. Previous research has only tested unethical behavior that is selfish—it turns out that when unselfish unethical behavior is tested too, lower-SES individuals are just as likely to be unethical.

    After researchers found that wealthy and powerful people are much more likely to defraud then those in poverty, it was only a matter of time before the backlash had to come. (After all, our prisons are mostly filled with colored poor-people — they have to be the real cheaters… Right?)

    But, how to do that? The evidence was rather overwhelming this was not the case…

    Look carefully at the top linked article. This is a study in how you use statistics to say whatever you want.

    First, you redefine the definition: Cheating no longer is selfishly taking advantage of another for personal gain. Now it’s been redefined as doing anything unethical — even just to help another person.

    Then, you conveniently ignore the reality that helping another person is actually a step forward in selfLESSness and providing the gain of helping someone in need is artificially inducing (or openly baiting) a person into justifying a behavior (Where there is obviously no justification for selfishness…)

    It’s a shameless rigging of the test to get the answer you want. You have then essentially created a situation to tempt an inherently good person to violate their own conscience out of a desire to help another — while leaving the test for the wealthy and powerful exactly as it was.

    All that is then required is to keep a straight face while attempting to pass this off as credible research and you have your proof that rich and powerful people are just as honest as the next guy…

    But, what we really have here is really a clear reflection of what those with money and power would most like to ignore about the way our world works:

    Crimes committed by the poor mostly are about survival, feeding children and coping with an obviously rigged system that those trapped in such see no way out of. Fixing such is mostly about creating a good and decent society and, around the world, the more equitable and just a society is, the lower the rates of this sort of crime. It’s a byproduct of treating mental health issues, providing education, creating a fair employment environment and providing functional social services. (Inventing new and ever more draconian punishments accomplishes nothing…)

    Well, that, and the really uncomfortable reality that the entire concept of a safe, productive and non-criminal middle class was a direct result of legislatively controlling some of the cheating of the wealthy and powerful combined with moderating the rest of it through aggressive taxation.

    Trying to pretend that wealth and power are anything but corrupting forces that need to be very carefully controlled is hardly a step towards that good and decent society…

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  • Inside the mind of a terrorist.
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    In some four decades of work as a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist with deeply destructive, violent clients, I have observed that fanatical acts are usually perpetrated by people who believe that at their core they are unworthy and evil. Aspects of themselves that they have regarded as virtuous are split off from their own personalities and projected onto a leader and a strident religious cause. The self-denigrating fanatic, devoid of any constructive sense of self other than his identi?cation with an omniscient and omnipotent leader, experiences his totally worthless self as having to be disregarded or sacri?ced, so that the “good? self— now identi?ed with the leader and the cause—can survive and reign as Absolute Truth, the ful?llment of God’s commandments. In paradise, he is told, his self-sacri?ce will be abundantly rewarded.

    By means of tactics such “loading the language,? asserts Robert Lifton, the cult leader and his lieutenants begin to exclude or blind the critical faculties of the left hemisphere. Speaking in metaphors and cliches that appeal to the typically unsophisticated, underdeveloped right hemisphere of most individuals, these cult leaders gradually take over the thought processes of their flock.

    Some cult leaders have relied on techniques such as psychedelic and mood-altering drugs, nutritionally de?cient diets, sleep derivation, and the monotonous repetition of religious rhetoric or slogans to control their followers in mind, body, and spirit. Taken together, these practices induce a state of psychological confusion and thus dependency on the leader and his doctrines. The follower is caught up in seemingly contradictory worlds of both overstimulation (the seemingly unending repetition of ritual and dogma) and understimulation (such as intellectual and physical deprivation).

    When a religious movement becomes a social cause, it is often because mainstream religious groups and other segments of the social order have failed to meet the sociopolitical as well as spiritual needs of a segment of the population. When this occurs, the appearance of an inspired and inspiring charismatic leader is required. Otherwise, the nascent movement comes to a halt or expires.

    Fanatical violence is an attempt to seek social justice (this is an explanation, not a justi?cation), but crucial to the enactment of his violence is the condoning of the destructive person’s deadly actions by his fanatic leader and his group.

    It is doubtful if anyone commits murder without some belief—perhaps only momentary—that it is justi?ed. The violent fanatic’s sense of entitlement in violating society’s deep taboos against murder is buttressed by his leader’s and his group’s interpretation of the social contract.

    On a deeper level, a fanatically violent person is deeply frightened, experiencing himself as in danger. Like the child that each of us once was, he still demands automatic justice, a spontaneous assuagement of all his painful feelings of mistreatment. His desperate reasoning holds that those denied their humanity by the social order can only be healed of their shame and self-contempt by the exercise of force. His own inner-loathing is speaking.

    There is no more unbearable virulence visited on any of us than unremitting, unrelieved self-contempt that brooks no examination. To survive this contempt, the individual must somehow cast it off. He soon discovers that regarding others as sinners and vermin temporarily relieves his self-loathing, and he gradually learns to convert his unexamined and unchallenged self-contempt into contempt for the world outside his band of true believers. This is the long, dismal history of fanaticism.

    Terrorists are collectors of injustice. They are extremely sensitive to slights and humiliations inflicted on themselves or on members of social groups to which they belong or with which they identify themselves. As one observer remarks: “The terrorist seems to be hypersensitive to the sufferings and injustices of the world at large, but totally insensitive to immediate, palpable suffering directly around him, especially if he has produced it himself.? This may be due to the terrorist’s propensity to dehumanize his victims by regarding them as objects or impersonal concepts. Indeed, the dehumanization of the enemy is a critical component within the belief system of terrorists in general.

    In the end, however, the threat we face is not from a weapon but from a cluster of beliefs, motivations, and cultural forces that have molded a human mind.

    The terrorist perceives himself part of an elite engaged in a heroic struggle to right the injustices of a cruel world. “The struggle in which they are engaged is an obligation, a duty, not a voluntary choice, because they are the enlightened in a mass of unenlightened,?says Cindy Combs in Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century. Going beyond these characteristics, some observers have speculated that many terrorists may be stress seekers with a need to interrupt the monotony of their daily lives by the pursuit of adventure and excitement.

    Rushworth M. Kidder, a prominent researcher on terrorism, has identi?ed seven characteristics observed in interviewing well-known terrorists around the world:

    – oversimpli?cation of issues

    – frustration about an inability to change society

    – a sense of self-righteousness

    – a utopian belief in the world

    – a feeling of social isolation

    – a need to assert his own existence

    – a cold-blooded willingness to kill.

    according to Abdul Aziz Rantisi, cofounder and political leader of the terrorist group Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, instead of using the term “suicide bomber,? we should speak of a “self chosen martyr.? Certainly, the writings found in the luggage of Mohamed Atta, one of the key organizers of the suicidal terrorists who carried out and died in the September 11 attacks, contain several references to martyrdom, sacrifice, and serving as a witness.

    Since no compromise, no coexistence, between these two world views is possible, the resort to violence, including its most extreme forms, comes to seem perfectly acceptable.

    This religious justi?cation for acts of violence stems from a literal interpretation of a passage in the Koran that promises the most coveted spots in Paradise to those martyrs who die in the course of a jihad (in this context, meaning a holy war, carried out in the interest of religion or partisan identity). So powerful are these distortions of istishad and jihad to the highly suggestible, that they become the justi?cation for the killing of innocent civilians, even children.

    The above is a compilation of quotes from a much larger document (Above linked) which is itself a collection of essays from a variety of different authors. It’s an attempt to compile a summary of what these thinkers have come to understand about the roots of terrorist acts.

    It’s a disturbing but worth while read…

    The above is written about terrorism — but what’s most disturbing about it is how easily we could substitute another theme into the same text for our tactics differ so little from it…

    Our North American militaries use chants, pain and deprivation to mold soldiers. (Barely a day goes by without another report of injustice from the similarly trained police services of our worlds.)

    Our fundamentalist churches oversimplify nearly everything, convince people they are evil, subsequently confer upon their most zealous members a covering sense of self-righteousness, socially isolate them and create a frustration about an inability to change society mixed with a utopian belief in how the world would be if it ran by their rules. They fan the flames of injustice, swamp minds with fear and create alternative group identities based on shame and disinformation.

    Our media’s talking heads constantly beat the drums of war and violence and repeatedly justify even us actually torturing others while setting up our leaders as heroes to worship.

    Because, hey, we’re justified in OUR fight against injustice — right?

    Maybe the terrorist acts we are seeing are really the breaking edge of a wave? Maybe they are just the result of an increasingly radicalized world, coalescing around varied but equally increasing themes of injustice that has seized onto whatever ideology happens to be available to justify their violence and allow them to fight back?

    Maybe there is a greater, world wide problem of growing injustice that our financial markets, our predatory foreign policy, our shameless exploitation of those with no voice and our callous disregard for human life has created?

    Our solution, of course, is to meet their violence with a nearly identical violence and culture of such — instead of asking why the world isn’t getting to be a better place to be and what we have to answer for in such.

    This guy closes it best:

    Centuries after they lived, such enlightened paradigmatic ?gures as Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, and Socrates still profoundly influence the lives of others in positive ways. Many other charismatic leaders, however, have been enraged, deluded men and women who have wreaked havoc in the lives of their followers.

    each of the ancient prophets that I named earlier presented himself as an ordinary man patiently demonstrating by personal example how to live the examined life. They also created a climate in which their disciples could question and reach their own conclusions about how to live. For example, while Jesus believed in the paramount value of life in the hereafter, he apparently did not minimize the importance of the present world nor ask his followers to sacri?ce their mortal existence.

    Above all, the true prophets did not teach their disciples to hate or flee those who opposed them; they all proclaimed that human love is universal and unlimited. They did not need the dubious validation of collecting followers who would embrace their beliefs; nor did they demand that others die for them. Socrates resolutely chose his own death, and Jesus braved alone fear and doubt on the cross.

    The true prophet, by not presenting himself as omniscient or omnipotent, allows his followers to transform themselves by choosing their own ordeals, not trials that he imposes on them. In short, he asks his followers to courageously examine their lives. Courage, in this sense, means to know our limitations, to accept ourselves as less than perfect, to live to the best of our ability, and to come together with others to heal the wounds of loneliness, shame, and self-hatred. This is the stuff of love and virtue. This is the stuff from which we can build a more compassionate and just world.

    How little that last bit defines any part of our world — including us…

    Any sort of honest assessment of the problem of terrorism has to start with the realization that we have met the enemy — and it looks a whole lot like us.

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  • The neglected middle of thought.
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    Educators Technology


    While there is no agreed upon definition for these two types of thinking, a comprehensive body of literature confirms the fact that creative and critical thinking are not identical. They involve, more or less, different cognitive processes and have different strategies (see this page for references). Here is how Beyer (1987) compares the two processes:

    “Creative thinking is divergent, critical thinking is convergent; whereas creative thinking tries to create something new, critical thinking seeks to assess worth or validity in something that exists; whereas creative thinking is carried on by violating accepted principles, critical thinking is carried on by applying accepted principles. Although creative and critical thinking may very well be different sides of the same coin they are not identical p.35).”

    The above chart (click it for the teacher’s image) and the above linked pretty much stands without comment in their understanding of these two types of thinking.

    They also stand as a definition of so much of what is wrong with our society:

    We have lots of both the left (creative) and the right (critical) and an abject poverty of what is in the middle…

    The ones in the middle mostly are the ones we are afraid of. They are neither starting with the approved, “Yes and,” or, “Yes but,” choose to instead lead with, “Can you really not see it?,” and, “Are you completely out of your minds?” and also have the critical skills needed to then create revolution.

    That we really appear to be disinterested in teaching towards…


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  • The gift of compassion
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    Brain Pickings

    Everybody asks during and after our wars, and the continuing terrorist attacks all over the globe, “What’s gone wrong?? What has gone wrong is that too many people, including high school kids and heads of state, are obeying the Code of Hammurabi, a King of Babylonia who lived nearly four thousand years ago. And you can find his code echoed in the Old Testament, too. Are you ready for this?

    “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.?

    A categorical imperative for all who live in obedience to the Code of Hammurabi, which includes heroes of every cowboy show and gangster show you ever saw, is this: Every injury, real or imagined, shall be avenged. Somebody’s going to be really sorry.

    When Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross, he said, “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.? What kind of a man was that? Any real man, obeying the Code of Hammurabi, would have said, “Kill them, Dad, and all their friends and relatives, and make their deaths slow and painful.?

    His greatest legacy to us, in my humble opinion, consists of only twelve words. They are the antidote to the poison of the Code of Hammurabi, a formula almost as compact as Albert Einstein’s “E = mc2.?

    I am a Humanist, or Freethinker, as were my parents and grandparents and great grandparents — and so not a Christian. By being a Humanist, I am honoring my mother and father, which the Bible tells us is a good thing to do.

    But I say with all my American ancestors, “If what Jesus said was good, and so much of it was absolutely beautiful, what does it matter if he was God or not??

    If Christ hadn’t delivered the Sermon on the Mount, with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn’t want to be a human being.

    I would just as soon be a rattlesnake.

    Revenge provokes revenge which provokes revenge which provokes revenge — forming an unbroken chain of death and destruction linking nations of today to barbarous tribes of thousands and thousands of years ago.

    We may never dissuade leaders of our nation or any other nation from responding vengefully, violently, to every insult or injury. In this, the Age of Television, they will continue to find irresistible the temptation to become entertainers, to compete with movies by blowing up bridges and police stations and factories and so on…

    But in our personal lives, our inner lives, at least, we can learn to live without the sick excitement, without the kick of having scores to settle with this particular person, or that bunch of people, or that particular institution or race or nation. And we can then reasonably ask forgiveness for our trespasses, since we forgive those who trespass against us. And we can teach our children and then our grandchildren to do the same — so that they, too, can never be a threat to anyone.

    Christianity has had a war going on for years:

    On the one side are the hawks. Generally Conservative/Republican voting people who see the failure to use military action to punish evil as making an alliance with it against the sanctity of life.

    On the other are the doves. Generally Liberal/Democrat voting pacifist (or pacifist leaning) individuals who see the sanctity of life as being of paramount importance and would prefer to be killed then to take the life of another.

    They both set up their concept of the sanctity of life as the centerpiece of the Gospel — and reaped the rewards of such: Huge money via a military-industrial complex on the one side and logical support for passivity on the other.

    Everybody won — or something…

    Ironically Kurt Vonnegut — the guy so many Christians have fought to ban the books of — got it far better then so many others:

    He saw how we as a civilization, a culture and as individuals have utterly failed to grasp the centrality of the gift of love, compassion and mercy Christ came to bring — and then we ended up playing stupid games balancing the remaining errors.

    Christ’s question wasn’t about the sanctity of life in first place — it was about vengeance, control and the ways we justify our greed and our evil against others. And, His position was that the alternative was forgiveness.

    How quickly we forget He held love and mercy as the central commandment…

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