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Posts tagged "Clinical Theology"

A Rabbi and a Psychiatrist Walk into a…

A Rabbi and a Psychiatrist Walk into a…

My love language is books. If you know me for any length of time and I like you, there will probably be books arriving. I might even send you books if I don’t like you. Two that will be among the first to arrive are The Prophets and The Sabbath, both written by the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. There is much to be said of Heschel, but for my money, all you need to know about the author is communicated by the tears running down this brother’s face:

Today I was thinking, rather randomly, about something Rabbi Heschel said in…

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Limping Into the Sun: Frank Lake on the Spiritual Battle of Jacob

Limping Into the Sun: Frank Lake on the Spiritual Battle of Jacob

Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and…

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Condemned By Illness to Passivity

Condemned By Illness to Passivity

This amazing passage from Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology is perhaps the best reading of Mark 2 ever written. As we prepare for the Mental Health Issue, it has much to say about Christ’s office being (quite literally here) at the end of our rope. And that pastoral care–in every facet, from simple friendship to hospital chaplaincy–does not mean giving power to those who are powerless over their afflictions, but instead digging the grave they are too powerless to dig for themselves.

The pastoral dimensions for the healing of the person with schizoid characteristics can be seen in the Gospel record of the healing…

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Frank Lake on God-Talk and the Power of Plainspeak

Frank Lake on God-Talk and the Power of Plainspeak

This comes from Frank Lake’s Tight Corners in Pastoral Counselling. In this section, entitled, “The Use and Misuse of Religion,” Dr. Lake discusses the age-old propensity of religion and religious language to become either a self-defensive shield between a person and their much-needed comfort; or, on the flipside, for religion to become the “bad thing” upon which all of their collective discomfort–past, present, and future–is projected. This is not the time for apologetics, Lake argues. In a time of such opposition, it is better to listen. This great story illustrates his meaning:

I never find myself threatened by hostility to religion in those who consult me: quite the reverse. The…

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Frank Lake on Praying Badly

Frank Lake on Praying Badly

From Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology, one of the original voices in clinical pastoral counseling, this passage talks about the purpose (and pitfalls) of prayer for the Christian wound up in his/her own neuroses.

One of the reasons why pastoral dialogue with men and women suffering from the common symptoms of psychoneurosis is necessary, is in order that prayer, which is their life-giving communication with God, may be re-established. When Christian people fall into despair, into bitter isolation, into depression, into separation-anxiety, or into dread of non-being, they have, to this extent, lost any clear sense of God as loving or personal, fatherly…

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Mary Karr, Mini-Lives, and News From Across the (Human/Robot Divide)

Mary Karr, Mini-Lives, and News From Across the (Human/Robot Divide)

Reading Mary Karr’s fantastic memoir Lit, one quote in particular stuck out to me as beautifully describing a tendency we humans have to fall into more limited emotional ranges:

…anything worth doing could be undertaken later. Paint the apartment, write a book, quit booze, sure: tomorrow. Which ensures that life gets lived in miniature. In lieu of the large feelings – sorrow, fury, joy – I had their junior counterparts – anxiety, irritation, excitement.

I don’t want to read into Karr’s emotional experiences, but for me this passage elucidates the emotional life lived in times when the Law, or demand to achieve, is…

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Simul Iustus et Schizophrenic: A Quick One from Clinical Theology

Simul Iustus et Schizophrenic: A Quick One from Clinical Theology

Dr. Frank Lake was that rarest of beasts: a clinical psychologist, a pastoral counselor, and a learned theologian. Not surprisingly, we consider him a hero. In his landmark Clinical Theology, a textbook for pastoral counselors and theologically serious therapists, he relates classic Protestant anthropology and Christology to the process of psychoanalysis, using real-world case studies (and the Bible) as his foundation. The following is a characteristically profound quote on the simultaneity of human weakness and divine strength, viewed through a clinical lens:

The nature of the help God gives through His Church is to make what cannot be removed, creatively bearable. Paul’s thorn of weakness in the flesh remained. Resting in the power of God,…

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Frank Lake on Confession, Depression and The Dangers of Religious Duty

Frank Lake on Confession, Depression and The Dangers of Religious Duty

From pages 350-351 of Clinical Theology, a Theological And Psychiatric Basis to Clinical Pastoral Care (Volume 1), ht JL:

“There is all the difference in the world between the word ‘must’ as an ethical obligation which can be fulfilled by an external act of mere attendance, and as an ontological statement, affirming that this is the nature of things, or in this way the Eternal God has covenanted His gifts to man. If churchgoing becomes a duty to be performed in order to stand right with the parson and his religious picture of God (certainly determined by the depressive dynamics…

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Frank Lake on Clinical Theology, True Guilt and the Pardoxical Impasse of Success

Frank Lake on Clinical Theology, True Guilt and the Pardoxical Impasse of Success

It seems to me that a staple of Christian life–even if we aren’t willing to admit it!–is the phenomenon of “feeling guilty”. Even though we know our sins have been forgiven, we still feel guilty, sometimes even more guilty than we might otherwise feel. This applies to any number of things, from wasting far too much time obsessing about (and sometimes coveting) new gadgets (i.e., pretty much everything in the Apple store), to spending money on a new dress that you didn’t really need, to not having gone on the run you said you’d go on (last week), to secretly…

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