My wife, Kathleen, is about to turn 60.
In about 4 months, Lord willing, I will do the same.
The last 12-month stretch of the road to 60 has been, as most of my readers know, a rough one. Next month, October 22nd, will mark one year since Kathleen was diagnosed with breast cancer. The following days, weeks and months were quite intense.
Test after test.
Chemo, which seemed to damn near kill her.
The human mind always tries to make sense of things. That’s just part of what it’s supposed to do. But sometimes, there is no making sense of things. Others try to help you figure it all out with well-meaning but all too often meaningless platitudes.
“Just trust in the Lord.”
“It’s all part of God’s plan.”
If you’re lucky, you’ll avoid hearing anything like “You need more faith,” or “God’s trying to teach you something.”
I may have glanced at it briefly, but I never really went down the path of “Why, God?“
I’m not belittling those who go there. It’s a natural place to go. It’s just that in my journey, I’ve learned that’s usually a fruitless endeavor.
People, especially Christians (especially Western Christians) too often seem to think God owes them an easy life. When trouble hits their world they start questioning God’s “goodness,” or even if there be a “god.” What many of us, in our comfy little lives, apparently fail to realize is that trouble is always hitting someone’s world.
Someone’s father is dying.
Someone’s sister is going through a divorce.
Someone’s little boy is being kidnapped or murdered.
“Their” bombs are killing our families.
“Our” bombs are killing their innocent children.
The world can be, as those famous prophets “The Temptations” have said, a “Ball of Confusion.”
But, God is still good while all this is going on…
Until it’s “me.”
Until it’s my family.
Then it’s suddenly “Where is God?!?!?”
The thing is, “The rain falls on everyone.”
That’s religious language for “shit happens.”
Through it all, as one who does still believe in God, I have hope. I have faith. (Not that those who don’t believe as I do can’t have hope and faith.)
BUT, it’s a very different hope and faith than I was raised with, or than I adhered to in the past. It is not a hope or faith that requires life or God to be or act in a certain, narrowly defined pattern. The Divine (by whatever name) is not obligated to me because I quote some magical incantation from the writings of Saint Paul in the Bible. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped praying. If anything, I pray more.
I believe Jesus clearly taught, and came to show, that what he referred to then (because of the culture he was born into) as the “kingdom of God” is here and now. Being in that kingdom is a way of life. It’s learning to truly be one with God’s good world, rather than planning an escape from it. In this understanding, many Christians have been “left behind.”
How does that relate to pain and suffering? Well, I’m not sure I know. But I do know that even in my deepest dissatisfaction (and I’m one of those who is dissatisfied a great deal of the time) I retain some sense of, well, I guess I’d call it “ultimate peace.” That peace that I can’t understand or explain. A peace that’s there even when it’s not. Yeah. That makes no sense. That’s the point.
So, the fact that my wife’s turning 60 this month is a pretty big deal.
Making it to 60, alone, seems to be an accomplishment. Let alone being a cancer survivor.
She’s seen lots of pain in 60 years. Some of which I have been the direct cause.
But I know she’s had lots of joy and laughter in her life.
Some of which I believe I have also been the direct cause. :-)
Next month will be a milestone. We will discover if her system is currently cancer free.
(Yes, your prayers, thoughts and positive energy are requested.)
The road to 60 (or, at this point, almost 60) has taken us to some strange, horrible,
wonderful, awesome unimagined places.
For 35+ years, we’ve went most of those places together.
Whether in this realm or another; in body or spirit, or in some way I’m not yet aware, I’m
looking forward to the next 60 years I spend with Kathleen.
In my faith, in my hope, in my prayers we will be one forever.
[Photo taken June 19, 2014 while joyfully attending
the wedding of Jean Capler and her wife, Jenny Austin.]
The Road To 60 September 13, 2014
The Wisdom of Psychopaths February 25, 2014
When most of us think of psychopaths we think of killers, like Bundy and Dahmer. We think of the violent and/or seemingly emotionless men (and women) who’ve committed unthinkable atrocities.
But, according to this book, the majority of psychopaths are of the non-violent, “functional” variety, and they occupy our boardrooms, police departments, government leadership and our pulpits.
There’s tons of clinical data here, but it’s couched in interesting stories of real people, and the experiences of our author. At one point, with the use of Transcranial magnetic stimulation, Mr. Dutton actually experiences being a psychopath. Fortunately, this is a temporary state!
We look at various diagnostics used to determine the presence of psychopathy.
We discuss moral dilemmas. We ponder the reality of being “guilty but not to blame.” We examine “evidence that society is becoming more psychopathic.” We explore the “‘Primary colors’ of personality” and traits that are, shall we say, high-scorers among psychopaths.
There are lots of interviews with professionals in the field, as well as with bonafide psychopaths.
CEOs, presidents, soldiers, Tibetan Monks; they’re all here.
For me, some of the more striking information was the overlap of characteristics shared by psychopathy and spirituality.
There’s an intriguing section presenting credible evidence that Saint Paul (Apostle Paul / Saul of Tarsus / That dude who wrote a lot of the New Testament) was, in fact, clinically a psychopath.
Being a person of faith, this whole book brings to mind the scripture statement that we are made so “wonderfully complex” (Ps. 139:14 LB). The “wiring.” The chemistry. The whole nature/nurture business. That so much of who we are boils down what switches happen to be thrown I find captivating.
There are, of course, professionals who disagree with Kevin’s basic premise (that psychopathy in moderation can be a good thing). For example, there’s Martha Stout, Ph.D.
She’s certainly not the only one. Obviously, we should always read various viewpoints of any subject matter.
Still, if you’re a psychologist, counselor, pastoral care worker, or just someone interested in the inner workings of the amazing mass we call the brain, this Kevin Dutton book could be an interesting part of your library.
Buy the book. Click HERE.
- Psychopathy and sainthood share secret neural office space.
– Saul of Tarsus…could today, under the dictates of the Geneva Convention, have been indicted on charges of genocide.
– Psychopaths never procrastinate.
– Is it possible…that the saint and the psychopath somehow constitute two transcendental sides of the same existentialist coin?
– Not all psychopaths are behind bars. The majority, it emerges, are out there in the workplace.
– There will always be a need for risk takers in society, as there will for rule-breakers and heartbreakers.
– In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the experts mind there are few.
Buy the book. Click HERE.
List of the most psychopathic professions:
3. Media (TV/Radio)
7. Police Officer
10. Civil Servant
The book also includes a list of least psychopathic professions.
Buy the book. Click HERE.