Thursday, December 11, 2008

Joan of Arcadia's God - and mine too

The semester has come to a close and I have learned so much. Much about clinical work but more about humanity. More about the spirit, about relationships, about hope and faith. More about the construction and deconstruction of how we embrace, or exclude, the world and the people in it - as well as the one who created it.

I started watching Joan of Arcadia and while I recall that while it was on the air it caused some controversy over its presentation of a more general God, what I see is the message of the God I know. The God in the show says that the system is perfect - and they show how one choice, an action, an acceptance of a little direction or calling, has a significant impact on so many lives and how even the person who makes that choice is deeply effected.

If ever there were an existential television program here it is. Perhaps this is why I take my theoretical orientation to be existential. It is so often misinterpreted as something soul-less - but for me it is the most meaningful approach to life (and therapy). It recognizes our deepest cries, the reality of our souls, hearts, minds and our needs. It is not a lonely belief system.

I think the need for a collective experience and understanding of life is essential to the understanding of any human relationship. I believe, and continue to learn in every book I read or relationship I see, that human interactions need to be reciprocal. Two of the books I read this term explained that in order to experience true individuation one must know that they need the other. That relationship with the other is like, or best understood, like the example of the Triune God. The Trinity is an example of the most perfect relational experience - each has an individual identity, but each exists with the other. All three have room for the other within them, but uniqueness within themselves as well.

That may sound convoluted, but it is hard to articulate all the thoughts in my head into a coherent blog right now.

Lately I have been sad. It is one of those sadnesses that does not seem to have an obvious cause. This time of year has always been difficult for me - ever since I was a teen. Call it seasonal affect disorder or an existential crisis, or just a hard time for me, but this year is one of the "easiest" in a long time. No extreme changes or shifts in myself. However I am also cognizant of how risky this time of year is for me and my mental health so I try to stay on top of that as best I can.

Anyhow, this time of year is bittersweet. I love the holidays but I feel a deep, deep sorrow. As I was recently told though, pain is part of it - not in those exact words, but comforting words nonetheless.

What I experience watching Joan of Arcadia's "God" and hearing last weekend's This American Life about the "Church of Inclusion" or Frank Schaeffer's interview on Fresh Air (NPR, Terry Gross) reminds me of why I have faith. When asked about why he didn't give up on his faith Schaeffer responded that if he wanted to, or even when he did, that he would talk to God first, for whatever reason. He also said that what brought him back, more or less, was finding liturgical guidance - stories that are not new or led by hot new pastor's the congregrations (in my words) worship and follow rather than following Christ (that could be a loaded statement but it is not meant to be) - but I hear that. I long for tradition, for history. I long for that in my faith, in my relationships and in my humanity.

I get lost in concepts, words, a scary and dangerour world. I get lost in loneliness and my own cold hearted actions. I get lost and lost - but occassionally I get found. Tonight on "Death Be Not Whatever" the episode ends with a Ben Harper song that sort of speaks my heart tonight (since it is unclear in this labyrinthine of a blog).

So much sorrow and pain
Still I will not live in vain
Like good questions never asked
Is wisdom wasted on the past
Only by the grace of God go I
Go I

I am blessed
I am blessed
I am blessed to be a witness

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I'm glad you posted a note on your other blog about this post--for some reason it didn't register in my RSS.

First of all, I love the show Joan of Arcadia. I have not seen the second season yet, but I imagine (and hope) it is as good as the first season. I didn't watch it on TV (don't even remember it!)--I found it through a friend's suggestion. Anyway, I love how the show illustrates some really complicated theological notions in a simple (but not simplistic) way.

Second of all, I loved that This American Life podcast. But at the same time it made me so sad. Sad, I think, because of how he was treated by those around him in changing his views. It strikes me as so odd how we as human beings can be so unwavering with our belief systems, which cannot be proven in the first place. People will not fight as hard for the facts. I wonder if human beings get so passionate and unwavering about beliefs as a way to make them more stable and factual.