Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Abi ponders Peck, Post #4

Okay ... I finished the book last night.  And got my copies of Peck's People of the Lie in the mail and started the the first few chapters.  It all came flooding back.  The hard work of looking at the truth that we would go to amazing lengths not to see is very difficult.  So much so that an increasing number of people are choosing to take the easy way out.  Laziness rears its ugly head....

I am not going to discuss this book here.  The topic requires much more respect and discernment from those who have read the book in its entirety.  There is much to be misunderstood and I believe that there is no easy way to understand what Peck has labored to share.  You must read it for yourself.  But if you have read it, I will be happy to discuss it with may leave your contact information in the comments here.

I have to say that both of these books are important reads.  For two main reasons:
  1. Peck is looking to be the bridge between religion and science ... from the science side as a gifted thinker and physician, and from the religion side as a mystic and seeker who got all the way through the seeking to the finding.  And he did, in fact, find Jesus.  His embrace of Jesus as Messiah was complete.  Now, there will be those who will not agree with some of his theology.  Go and do your own searching before you turn away.  Tolkien's call to "suspend disbelief" in order to understand fully comes to mind here.  The unfortunate rift that was torn in the whole cloth of Truth, in order to take the "mystery" out of science is in need of restoration -- the divorce of the natural from the supernatural -- and Peck was ahead of his time on that front.  I find his books to include more than a pinch of the much needed salt of humility.  He was, indeed, a Cracked Eikon ... and we would do well to heed his example of looking at the Truth head on so that we may learn from our myriad mistakes.
  2. What passes for "calling out evil" these days seems quite pathetic to me.  This is probably where I will do the most pondering in subsequent posts -- most likely because it is really a byproduct of sloppy thinking and deficient discernment concerning ethics and morality.  Too often we call "immoral" that which is not aligned with what we think or desire ... and "ethics" is becoming a form of Political Correctness.  If we are to return these important disciplines to their rightful place, we are going to have to spend time thinking deeply on root issues, not sidetracked by circumstances and emotions and talking points.
 There is much evil running rampant all around us.  Until we are willing to look in the mirror and deal with our own evil -- our own laziness -- our own unwillingness to exert ourselves for the best interest of the other ... we will continue to be blinded by the plank in our own eye and so unable to help the other with the speck that is troubling them.

One of the things Peck says is that human evil is basically concerned with taking the wide path, as it were.  When confronted with difficulties (whether relationally or economically or physically or spiritually or intellectually), the choice always exists:  (a) do I take the narrow path of love and discipline -- of my heart and soul and mind and strength -- wherever it leads and do what is right ... or (b) to take the wide path, the easy way, where my problem are not really MY problems that I must wrestle with and allow the Holy Spirit to both convict and instruct and heal -- but someone else's problems that relieve me of responsibility for my actions, or inaction.

Take a minute to read Matthew 7 ... the whole chapter.  If you have time, read the entire Sermon on the Mount.  Make this a regular practice, reading the Sermon on the Mount.  Read it in a different version every day.

In the end Peck says that we cannot deal with human evil "out there" until we deal with the evil in our own hearts ... where we allow the Holy Spirit access to the shadows in order to shine the Light of Truth and dispel the lies than ensnare us.  Only then can we look unblinking at our own laziness and ask for Jesus to disciple us.  To teach us.  To work the hardest of work in our own hearts.

This is another aspect of The Purple Martyrdom ... this work within.

The reason that there are so many monastic traditions that have these three chapters as the foundation of their rule is that they have an understanding of this important personal work that must be embraced and walked every day of their lives.  Every day.  There is no end to this discipleship ... until until we are fully conformed to the image of Jesus. When we are released from this body of death and are clothed in the imperishable, that work will be complete.

Embrace it ... there are those who will journey with you on that narrow path.  There will, no doubt, be many more "Peck Posts" ... stay tuned.  And better yet ... get the book for yourself and follow along!

Be blessed.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Abi ponders M. Scott Peck, MD -- Post #3

Well, one of the interesting things about chronic exhaustion and neurological challenges that I have observed over the past decade is that when I am "supposed" to do something, I mysteriously find the strength to do it.  Totally a God thing, that.  And so yesterday, as I ordered 2 copies of Peck's People of the Lie, I ran across his last book, which was published in 2005, the year he died ... and that was the book I got for my Kindle yesterday -- and read the first half of last night.  I'll be posting about that soon.

In the meantime I have been pondering lots ... and decided to refresh myself as to the particulars about Dr. Peck.

His official website is not very comprehensive.  It is, however, a good place to start, with the following things:
On the page of his website called "Conversations", I found this (added emphasis mine):
On Psychiatric Illness
"Starting with the Road Less Traveled, perhaps the most radical thing that I said in that book that deviated from traditional psychiatry is that I located the source of psychiatric ills in the conscious mind, rather than the unconscious. And that the previous view, the Freudian sort of view, had been that the unconscious was filled with all these bad feelings, and angry thoughts, sexy thoughts, and whatnot. And that was where psychiatric, psychological illness originated. When in fact, the real question is why those things, which were obvious, were in the unconscious, rather than the conscious mind. The answer was that it was a conscious mind that didn’t want to face certain truths, and pushed this stuff into the unconscious. But the problem is with a rejecting consciousness in which we simply don’t like to think about things….Over the years I came to believe, and again I’m leaving out the biological aspects, but that psychological disorders are all disorders of thinking. So narcissists, for instance, cannot or will not think of other people…. What we used to call passive-dependent people don’t think for themselves. Obsessive-compulsives tend to have great difficulty thinking in the big picture. And I would say that if you have a patient or a client who has some real difficulty, psychological difficulty, look for the problem in their thinking. There is some area where they are not thinking correctly. "
The article on Peck at Wikipedia has a great deal of good information.  And, as with everything (and I really do mean everything), there will be those who are determined to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  By this I mean that M. Scott Peck was a human.  He was far from perfect.  He was better at understanding and correcting the problems of other people than he was his own.  (Anyone who does not find this to be true of themselves has a problem with self-deception, IMO.)

I find it particularly sad that Dr. Peck, after 43 years of marriage, was surprised to find that his wife had had enough. (She left around January, 2004.)  He was not particularly easy to live with and she came to end of her coping mechanisms.  I wonder, as did he, whether his growing, but not yet "diagnosed" pancreatic and liver duct cancer, and Parkinson's disease, contributed to the demise of their marriage.  I would be willing to bet they did.  No doubt, his last months with his second wife (he and Kathy married sometime in late 2004 and he died on September 25, 2005) were yet another kind of Severe Mercy....

I am grateful for the wisdom God shared with us through this particular cracked Eikon (HT:  Scot McKnight).  Peck knew that he did not know it all.  And he also knew the sometimes terrible price the family of a doctor/prophet/writer pays for the brilliance he exhibited.  There but for the grace of God....

I will be throwing no stones ... but I will be looking to think more clearly.  And for that, I have Dr. Peck to thank.  He has done for psychiatry (in my eyes), what homeopathy did for "modern medicine" -- taken it beyond flat earth thinking.  The mind-body-spirit reality that is humanity parallels the Triune God in that they are all one yet continually interpenetrate each other as they form that one-ness.  When you focus on mind without taking body and spirit into consideration, you will not have the full picture.  Just as if you focus on God the Father without taking Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit into consideration, you won't have the full picture, either. 

The Father, Son and Spirit are ONE -- they cannot be separated and still be perceived properly.  Mind, body and spirit are ONE -- they cannot be separated and still be perceived properly.  And pondering the mysteries involved there needs massive amounts of clear thinking!

I will wait patiently as Father shows me more of his cHesed (which Peck understood -- you can tell by his definition of love -- I wonder if it was part of being partially Jewish?) ... and am confident that I will continue to learn what it means to do the hard work of thinking clearly ... of turning away from the laziness that seeks to skirt the pain and suffering necessary to grow up into the image of Christ Jesus.

Okay ... neurological wiring beginning to overload....

Be blessed, friends.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Abi thinks she might do a series on Peck, Laziness and Thinking....

So, I've really been thinking about that last post ... I mean, I'm waking up thinking about it, even!  And even before I've been able to go back and read the Grace section in Peck's book, I'm pondering the implications of this idea about laziness being the manifestation of Original Sin....and thinking I may have to buy another copy of The People of the Lie (since it was never returned from the last time I loaned it out...maybe I'll buy two -- DONE!).  Peck's work in that book is very important ... and I could see the foundation of that book in Peck's statement about the patients he had the most trouble helping (he was a psychiatrist) were those who were not willing to do the hard work to get well.  That laziness, taken to an extreme, turns evil.  It is not an easy read, but I think it is an important one -- especially for our times.

And then I've been thinking about the opening section on Thinking in Peck's sequel, The Road Less Travelled and Beyond, which is worth the price of the book alone.  The first section of the book is called "Crusade Against Simplism" -- which he summarizes thus: "...I decry the primitive and effortless simplistic thinking that lies at the root of so much individual and societal sickness."

The last two sentences of the opening paragraph on Thinking nails it:  "One of the major dilemmas we face both as individuals and as a society is simplistic thinking--or the failure to think at all.  It isn't just a problem, it is the problem."  BINGO!

Dr. Peck went on to say that only twice during his very long career as a lecturer did he give a 1 day seminar on Thinking.  "At the beginning of each (seminar), I pointed out that most people already think they know how to think.  At the conclusion of each, during a feedback session, someone said in sheer exasperation, "The subject is simply too large."  "...most of the participants were so overwhelmed by all that is really involved in thinking that they were either numbed or horrified."  It was no understatement when he continued with:  "Needless to say, these were not among my more popular engagements."   Yeah, no kidding!

I tend to believe that people are much more willing to "talk", whether in person or in virtual venues, than they are to do the hard work involved to think clearly.  They suggest that they are telling you what they think, but I think that they do not really know what they think about anything because they are really too busy telling about what they "feel" or "believe" or "observe" or "read" or "heard", which is usually something else altogether than clear thinking on their part.

Blessings to you ... and may you open your minds to thinking well--it is part of what it means to love God!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Abi is pondering re-reading M. Scott Peck's books....

Update 8/7/11 -- I have, indeed, decided to do some more thinking and blogging about Peck, so stay tuned!

Unfortunately, my brain is a little fragile right now, so reading is pretty much out and light and sound are stressful, so that means REST without any of the things I usually do to relax.  But I am grateful for the field of chiropractic neurology, which is able to help me rehabilitate my brain naturally ... and for getting enough sleep!

Anyway ... in the meantime I have been reorganizing my library / living room area to accommodate the arrival of a three-piece entertainment / storage unit.  And while I was organizing this morning, I ran across Peck's book, The Road Less Travelled -- which I first read over 25 years ago.

Apparently I brought my father's copy home with me (he was at the stage when he was getting rid of books -- even before the Parkinson's diagnosis, he knew he just wasn't able to process information like he had, so reading was just not something that absorbed much of his time), because I like to have a "loaner" copy of books that are important to me.  Anyway, I must have read it again, because I wrote the following note on the inside cover pages on 7/18/06 -- apparently triggered by something I read on page 263 -- in the midst of the amazing section called Grace.  I have largely left it the way it was (with occasional elaboration to bring it current with my thinking today) ... it is not polished writing!   ;^)

The cHesed of God manifests itself in every possible place in order to interact with us to faithfully bring us the love, grace and mercy we need to grow up into the image of Jesus Christ.  It will begin from the "Imago Dei" placed in us at creation and be added to by those in our path who love and nurture us.  It will come to us through the presence of God that holds the universe together through the continual act of being perceived by Jesus -- manifest by the collective unconscious.  When we are able to acknowledge this source and understand and accept God's outrageous offer of covenant adoption, the Holy Spirit is given the invitation to indwell our hearts.  It is then that the link between the wisdom of God that is found in the collective unconscious can (if we will be still and listen) engage with our conscious will to know and be known, seeking the Truth at all costs, always looking to know and align our will with God's will.
The peril, though, comes to us in that the evil one will try to use this same interface (the original hacker) trying to corrupt us with "pirate viruses"!  God's Word is our firewall (current updated thought:  I challenge you to reconsider the thought that this is talking about scripture and, instead, refers to Jesus Christ.  HT:  Wayne Jacobsen).  We must know Jesus as The Truth for our spiritual firewall to be effective!  Firewall software follows rules -- instructions for what to allow through and what to keep out.  [I would add today that God's Love for Eikons is our factory-installed Operating System ... which many have allowed to be replaced with a variety of much less effective OSs.]
The first rule we must set is the one of knowledge.  We must know and acknowledge that we can never know it all -- only God knows all.  So we must be humble and submit all we think and do to the Holy Spirit -- so Sophia can help us see what is good (leading toward holiness / cHesed/community) and that which is evil (leading toward sin / covenant breaking / narcissism:  essentially Peck sees it as laziness, as it is described here.   Key:  It is not what we perceive, but rather what God perceives, that is Truth.  We need to know The Truth -- Jesus, the Sword of the Spirit and our main Offense.  This speaks to the foundation truth that it is all about relationship with Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
The second rule we must set is cHesed.  If we will allow cHesed to be the contextual filter (glasses!) of all we think and do, God's ability to guide us will be greatly enhanced.  (I linked to my distillation of cHesed rather than list it here.)  This speaks to proper attitudes of love, grace and mercy as well as proper actions of submission, service and initiative within all relationships.
The third rule is humble accountability (mutuality in equality) -- to God and others -- for making right choices and accepting responsibility for those choices.  Right choices take effort and foster growth and maturity.  Poor choices tend to stem from laziness and inhibit growth through dependence or independence instead of interdependence in our relationships.  Poor choices bring the opportunity to repent and confess and seek forgiveness and restoration of relationship.
I was struck by Peck's chapter on Entropy and Original Sin, where he defines laziness as "attempting to avoid necessary suffering, or taking the easy way out."  Then Peck identifies laziness as "the force of entropy as it manifests itself in the lives of all of us."  (p. 271) In between these two statements, Peck observes that love is the willingness to extend one's self (to work and be disciplined) -- for personal growth or for the benefit of others.  It takes effort -- energy.  It underscores Peck's famous beginning phrase of this book:  "Life is difficult."

"...non-love is the unwillingness to extend one's self.  Laziness is love's opposite."

As always ... Abi live in a guilt- and shame-free zone ... but pondering is always lovingly encouraged. ;^)

I believe I will have to start with the Grace section ... when my eyes are better.

Be blessed.