New Here?
     
Posts tagged "Frank Lake"


The Real (Suppressed) You

An amazing little passage from Frank Lake’s book on pastoral care. This could be filed away under “what not to do” in moments of great suffering. Lake discusses the human need to have negative feelings, that therealities of rage, anxiety, loneliness or grief should not be kept hidden or suppressed. In the realm of church groups, though, or really any other kind of group, Lake notes that these negative feelings are often seen as problematic and unattractive, even unacceptable. They are often, in these circles, evidence of a lack of faith, a lack of self-esteem, a lack of personal grit. When we are this person, the suffering one in need of a listening ear, we are aware that this is a risk, putting ourselves out there like this. Lake, like Brené Brown, argues that it is a huge act of bravery to be vulnerable about these unseemly emotions.

Sometimes, though, the pain is too great and we just have to share. And instead of finding friends who have faced the same demons, we find strangers who seem not to know what we’re talking about. There are awkward silences, darting glances, pained faces, a quick change of the subject. Someone in the group gets the group “back on track,” and our negative feelings–the thing that derailed the conversation–are cast aside as if they were never spoken to begin with. Here’s Lake:

The effect of this put-down on the anxious sharer is devastating. They feel the group life they have come to depend on and their acceptance in it are tottering on the brink of disintegration. They have shared the worst that they fear to be true of themselves and the group quite plainly did not want to know.

Next week there is a crisis: do I go again or do I stay away? If I do go, who is it that goes? The chastened/corrected John or Mary, resolved never again to risk being disgraced, resolved to act the cheerful charismatic cover-up to the evident satisfaction of all? But that is not the essence of renewal but of the old religion. However skillfully last week’s well-shamed sharer contrives…there will be anger hidden.

Isn’t this, after all, the defining character trait of “religion,” why it so often carries connotations of phoniness, grandiosity, and abstraction? And isn’t this what Jesus came to save us from, from our contrived sense of personal wellbeing? Throughout the gospels, Jesus seems to ask the question of the wounded ones he encounters (and, by extension, of us): where is the real you, not the corrected you? Where is the wound? Everything that is hidden will be brought to light, and released, made new.

Jesus and Therapy: A Conference Breakout Preview

The recent New Yorker cartoon (above) says it all. We’re living in an age of “subjective sovereignty,” where life is “all the feels” and emotional offense is king. It is a time less describable by policy discord and differences of opinion, but instead by vindictive joy and holy rage. Arguments are couched in first-person noise—disagreements have the sting of personal attacks—which means the arguments are, on the whole, harder to argue or critique. As we’ve become “touchier” about the things we care about, the logic behind those sensitivities has also faded.

This trend goes hand in hand with another trend that’s been provoked, namely, that America is only becoming more spiritually bankrupt/unmoored. David Brooks recently wrote along these lines, that

Religious frameworks no longer organize public debate. Secular philosophies that grew out of the Enlightenment have fallen apart. We have words and emotional instincts about what feels right and wrong, but no settled criteria to help us think, argue and decide.

You’d think this would lead to the age of great moral relativism, where all the objective strictures are let go and the only mantra remaining is “You Do You.” But this hasn’t happened. Instead, Brooks writes, “society has become a free-form demolition derby of moral confrontation.” It seems we feel so much, but we can’t seem to agree on why we feel it and who’s to blame.

So the answer, of course, is to get some Truth, right? Get to church! Fall on the Rock! God provides the mooring—the why behind your hurt—and the cross gives you your scapegoat. The Good News gives you your needed justification.

But what do you do with all that rage? Therapy? I don’t know about you, but the term “therapeutic” has always bristled—it sounds like the hippy-dippy opposite of “grounded” or “objective.” It sounds a lot more like “You Do You”—do what feels good to you. But this is largely a misunderstanding, mostly because of counseling that truly hasn’t helped. Just as God gives us the Good News, God also administers his healing in the gracious counsel of another.

With the help of some of our favorites, let’s look into the relationship between the objective News of the Gospel, and very subjective (though no-less-real) needs we carry around with us every day, and how those needs are addressed within the realm of pastoral care and counseling.

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…

Read More > > >

Sit and Watch as Tears Go By

Sit and Watch as Tears Go By

Mockingbird has several shibboleths; one is the word, “abreaction.” Type that into the search on this website, and you will come up with a slew of great articles about it or containing the term. Go ahead, do it, I’ll wait.

See, I told you.

In the abridged version of Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology, Lake defines abreaction this way:

“A technique employed in psychoanalytic therapy by which repressed emotions, which belong to earlier and usually painful situations, are relived vividly and with feeling, thus lessening the emotional tension caused by inner conflict and its repression. “

My version of that would go something like this. You know when you hear…

Read More > > >

Five Golden...Themes! What We Loved Talking About in 2016

Five Golden…Themes! What We Loved Talking About in 2016

In lieu of a weekender, today we give you something of a year-ender, 2016’s five golden (or not so golden)…themes. By all means, tell us in the comments what themes you spied in the headlines throughout the past year.

1. Donald Trump. It goes without saying, but nothing frenzied the network television companies and newspaper writers and Twitter opinionators quite like Trump’s historic campaign ride this year. Well, nothing besides Trump’s actual victory. Opinions about his ascendance and eventual victory have been as diverse as it has been profuse. In all honesty, he could have his own five golden themes—and that would just begin…

Read More > > >

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…

Read More > > >

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…

Read More > > >

13 Signs of Bad Pastoral Care

13 Signs of Bad Pastoral Care

Another glimpse into our Church Issue, which is out now! If you haven’t gotten one, order it here. If your beloved but painfully awkward pastor/therapist hasn’t received one, subscribe them here.

How many times have you needed a shoulder to cry on, and got cold moralism, instead? How many times have you dealt the flip side of that same coin? Here is a list for anyone who has ever received counsel or has ever given counsel and wondered what went wrong. They are a paraphrased version from Frank Lake: The Man and His Work, by John Peters, and were compiled by…

Read More > > >

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…

Read More > > >

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…

Read More > > >

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,…

Read More > > >

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…

Read More > > >