Theology & Science Are Friends: Pope Francis on the Nature of God

Many of my clients, whether Catholic, other Christian or Jewish, are people of faith, and they want to be “good.” We want to follow the teachings of our various religious traditions, but we need these doctrines to make spiritual sense, especially if they require a big commitment and personal sacrifice. I, as a pastoral therapist and lay theologian, am vitally interested in how religious leaders form the moral doctrines they do. I’m thrilled whenever someone Continue Reading →

Suicide and the Funeral: Facing and Naming It

My 21-year-old younger sister Julie suicided nearly 30 years ago.  Looking back, it was the 1980s’ relative lack of understanding of suicide’s causes, and resulting stigma, that left our family utterly flummoxed as we prepared ourselves for her funeral. Each family member had conflicting needs and concerns due to our separate roles during in this crisis. Inadequate personal theologies about the disposition of her soul disrupted our ability to plan the funeral and the (dreaded) luncheon Continue Reading →

Preaching About Suicide: A Necessary Public Service Announcement

Robin Williams’ suicide inspired an incorrect and hurtful statement by “Absolute Truth” blogger Matt Walsh, a non-psychotherapist/non-expert in mental health. Walsh claims to know that Williams’ suicide was “a choice.”  I sense Walsh has a sincere desire for mental illness to not be capable of stealing one’s sense of meaning-in-suffering and hope for periods of respite in which to enjoy life and love again. Walsh insists that if one can choose joy, one can resist Continue Reading →

Nice or Kind?: Toward A Generous Spirituality

I grew up in Midwestern dairy farming and factory country, where people are really pretty nice. But we had a saying about people who were tooooo nice in that way you know means it’s somewhat of a veneer: “She wouldn’t say s— if she had a mouthful.”  If you were raised around farm animals and ever mucked out a stall, you understand what was in that mouthful and how easily it might happen to you! Avoiding coarse Continue Reading →

Renew Us, O God!

Renew Us O God! … A dear farmer friend of mine sends this today: “The drought now in the third year is again making the prospects for a wheat crop unlikely; The earth mourns and withers, the world languishes and withers; Isaiah 24:4 however as in the times of Elijah; After many days the word of the Lord came to Eli′jah, in the third year, saying, Go, show yourself to Ahab; and I will send rain upon Continue Reading →