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Friday, April 26, 2013

Opium and Art

If you have seen the modern 'art' of addiction, it is pretty lame.  I think those of us from years past remember when marijuana 'bongs' became an art craze, with psychedelic colors and patterns.  But, nowadays, most drugs are dispensed through crude pipes, dirty spoons, and medical-rubbish needles.

In the past, such was not the case: 

Aside form the author's own story, I think it is interesting how opium usage developed into an aesthetic activity.  In the last year or so, I've taken an interest in gongfu-cha, or the Chinese tea-preparation method (a nice family activity that focuses and calms us after a stressful day).  It is also an aesthetic experience, though without the problems associated with opiates!

My question, however, us always the same: why?  Why not just smoke your drug in a piece of glass pipe or a broken car antenna?  Why the effort?

My theory is that the Chinese understood at a more basic level that we are prepared to acknowledge that the experience of opium was an attempt to reach places reserved for the Divine.  It was a type of religious experience, one that brought peace and comfort to those who lived in a world of struggle and oppression.

Opium kept the people docile.  Excited minds that could not express themselves found rest in the dark rooms of the opium den.  Karl Marx understood this in some way when he wrote:

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

Of course, he is guilty or reverse engineering gone wrong.  Religion can be a 'drug,' but that is not the real goal.  The real goal is spirituality, which is always transformative.  It changes us rather than masking the symptoms.  However, if people merely settle for the rituals and refuse to go deeper, then religion is a drug indeed.

Opium usage was a 'religious' ceremony for its users because it offered a cheap way to an experience that could be mistaken for a spiritual 'awakening.'  The art of opium use met that goal and enhanced it.

Our modern drugs are far more powerful and mind-altering, so much so that their 'art' is no longer necessary.  The enhancing effect of the imagination is really irrelevant the way it was with the older versions of drugs: marijuana is more powerful now than in the 1960s, when the 'art' of the modern drug culture flourished.  The art enhanced the high.

Now, the art is unnecessary.  Now, all you need is a tin can and a lighter to smoke your 'religion' of choice.

Drug art is a 'religious' expression, no doubt about it.  If you talk to a drug-art aficionado, it is not much different than talking to someone enthusiastic about their religion.  They want you to try it, or at least appreciate it.  I've actually had the same pressure exerted on me to try pot as I had to 'accept Jesus.'

In the case of the former, I discovered I had an allergy.  In the case of the latter, it was my own exploration without being pressured that caused me to convert.

All religion must be judged by its transformative effects.  In the case of the pot smoker, he must look at what his usage makes him and if he is happy with the results.  The same should be the measure of the religious person.

The problem arises when people do not want to clearly and honestly see themselves.  The druggie does not want to see the ruined relationships and blown opportunities, nor does the religious fanatic.

All the aesthetic beauty of drug art cannot hide the fact that it ultimately destroys the user.  It is the Siren Song of Hell.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Food Addict Asks For Fellowship

As of yet, this website really doesn't have any 'lists' or a membership database of Orthodox Christians struggling with addiction.  Some have asked, but right now it does not seem like something that people are really beating the doors down for.

However, I do occasionally get a request.  Here's one:

If you can please put out an appeal on my behalf (without mentioning my name or e-mail address) to any Orthodox believer who is in Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (or who would like more information about this 12 step program), please refer them to me. I can then get in touch with them. I would really appreciate that.

This person is looking for fellowship with fellow food addicts.  If you would like to be of service, please contact me and I will put you in contact.

Addiction is a lonely road in the beginning, but so is spirituality.  There's a lot of hard work and struggle with little in the way of past success to generate enthusiasm.  It is important to reach out, and be reachable, to defeat the despair of isolation and loneliness.

If you are able, please consider this request.  My email address is on the right hand side menu in a brown box.  Yes, you will have to type it in: it is not a button, because I'm trying to cut back on the spam.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Natural Sexuality vs. WEIRD Sexuality

As you can imagine, this site gets a big uptick in traffic once the topic of sexual addictions comes up.  It is a growing problem, with lots of facts and experience but little real accounting for why it is a problem.

Then, there are the endless arguments about 'nature versus nurture' when it comes to sexual attractions.  So, when an article comes up that challenges most of the prevalent theories, it gets my attention.

Here's a quote from the article:

The absence of masturbation among Aka and Ngandu men and women may be more surprising, and perhaps also harder to explain. Recall that the Hewletts did not find that masturbation is "frowned upon or punished," but rather that there is just no general conception of it. This finding recalls a much-discussed 2010 Behavioral and Brain Sciences paper called "The WEIRDest people in the world?" in which the authors argued that far too many sweeping claims about "human nature" are drawn exclusively from samples of Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies.

Yes, most of our conclusions about 'human nature' are derived not only from a very narrow sampling of humanity, but also sciences that are devoted to their own political motives.  Yes, universities are political entities who have to appease politicians in order to get their research grants and political wonks to get their praises which attract better students (thus colleges are the ultimate WEIRDo factories).  You go against the flow, and you will be punished.

Just look at the global warming debate.  If you agree or disagree, the one thing that is certain these days: the other guy will resort to all kinds of insults if you don't toe the line that he has drawn.

Same thing with sexuality: if you start questioning whether the present phenomenon of homosexuality is natural or normal, you are going to see people get pretty aggressive in their 'counter-attacks.'  To question the 'party line' is considered the highest form of 'heresy' even among those who call themselves 'open' and 'tolerant.'

The Aga and Ngandu peoples are not weird, they are just being themselves and are very happy.  We are the Weirdos (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) who are miserable.  They are not creating new ways to be dissatisfied, but are content with what they have.  No Prozac, no political parties, no commercials, no psychologists.  Suicide?  Are you kidding?  Hey, let's check their ADHD rates!  Oh, yeah, they don't know what that is, but they don't have it either.

What's wrong with us?

Look at them and see why they are happy.  When the anthropologists picked up on it right away: their view of sex is part of their survival.  Sex has meaning.

In our world, sex is both a recreation and a liability.  We don't need sex because we don't need children.  Well, we need someone else's children but not our own.  Marriage is now mostly about sex rather than survival... it's primary purpose is to prevent further dating and cheating rather than providing a necessary component of life.  

Sex is not just supposed to be about arousal, yet this is what we Weirdos have made it, and that';s why it isn't working for us.

We have now pushed homosexuality out beyond where it has been in any other culture: even societies that condone homosexual practices (Greeks, Roman, Saudi Arabs, Turks, Afghans, etc.) never let it interfere with marriage.  But, we don't need marriage anymore, and so we have destroyed the basic fabric of sexuality: sexuality and marriage are part of the same human desire to be desired and desire, to be accepted and to accept.

Weirdos have also crushed the notion of distinction between genders, and so now we are left with no purpose to our sexuality.  In these tribal lands, males and females need each other as males and females in order to 'find the baby' as they put it.  But, since we have made conception practically a disease, no one needs us in the sexual sense for reproduction.  You can go to a doctor to get pregnant, just as you can go to the doctors to get rid of a baby.  Aga and Ngandu peoples would be horrified at the idea of abortion, yet we are very comfortable with killing the baby they really want.

Homosexuality isn't about attraction, but about rejection.  It is the perception of being rejected by the world, and the rejection of one's own natural role. The Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic society has taught us that our importance as male and female is non-existence, all in the name of some weird version of equality, but all it has done is made us feel equally unimportant and unnecessary.

We don't need to accept our gender role.  Gender is now a biological 'accident' rather an important social role and valuable in and of itself.  Some people may have greater difficulty accepting their gender, but rather than encouraging them as a society that values and needs them to fulfill their roles as male and females, we are busy talking people into remaining maladjusted.

Does this mean that all homosexuals can be 'cured'?  In this society, I'd say no because we are so far off the path of nature.  However, I would say that there would be far fewer than the 3% or so that presently identify as homosexual in the WEIRD-world if our society was more 'natural'.  I also think that those who were really tempted in this area would be much happier, because they could still fulfill the social obligation and thus receive some sense of value.

Right now, a homosexual and a heterosexual both have equal 'valuelessness.'  Both are unnecessary to the survival of culture as presently defined.   Humans are just big bags of  'needs' and 'liabilities' rather than contributors.  Sexuality is now just about getting a need 'met' rather than something more profound the way it is with the Aga and Ngandu tribes.

My only fear is that there is a lot more suffering ahead before we discover, as a society, that we are headed for utter implosion under the banner of this fad of sexual nihilism.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Gambling Video

While looking for videos on Bath Salts, I stumbled across this curious Australian video having to do with the temptation of gambling and the addiction to it:

Yes, the speaker is a bit odd, but I'd say I've got him beat in that department.  I think it is part of a longer series which I have not seen.

My sense is that much of what he's talking about there are things I've posted on here, including the problem of expectations and the escapism that addiction offers a suffering psyche.  

What he does not state outright is the problem of Pride.  The gambler who thinks he can 'beat the system' is operating off of a Pride narrative that is not only the root of his addiction but patently false.  I would disagree with the speaker and say that there is a system, and it works very well.  Just look at a casino.  They didn't get all the fancy furnishing for free.  The system is designed for you to lose more than win, and that's why they are in business and most people go home broke.

Pride says that the rules don't apply to you and me.  There's your problem.

How do you fix it?  By killing the fears underneath that make Pride a 'necessary evil.'  Until we get to the fears and turn them over to God, we are going to continue to experience anxiety in the face of our necessary suffering and pain, and run the other way down into numbness. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Videos: Bath Salts Problem in USA

The synthetic drug epidemic is moving through both rural American and Russia, though in very different forms.  Whereas Russia is struggling with Heroin and Krokodil, America is fighting a battle with methamphetamine and Bath Salts.  It is getting worse and worse:

The destruction of families and alienation from spirituality is leaving America open to these horrible drugs, yet we keep talking about arresting people and passing more laws when we are doing nothing about the root causes.  We need to start having an honest conversation: the 'social progress' since World War 2 has been in the wrong direction.

In my next post, we'll go over the statistics.  Our culture is coming apart as we delve into the insatiable world of self-indulgence.

This is what it is all about, folks.  When we tell people that they have no control over their attractions and appetites, and should give into them, then we set ourselves up for failure.  From a young age, we beat into our children's heads that 'freedom' is doing what you desire in the moment.  So, we have raised several generations of low-impulse-control people.

We tend to classify these impulses in two ways: those that cause physical harm, and those that cause emotional harm.

More often than not, the low-impulse-control man with a violent streak gets jail.  We are good at punishing these crimes.

But, what about the overly-emotional person, who can't control their constant outrage, indignation, and offence?  They are constantly complaining about those around them and demanding the compliance of others?  Here in the US, we've created a generation of people who have whole lists of forbidden words or things that 'offend' them so much that we have established huge bureaucracies just to deal with all the tears of the emotionally sensitive, who make life miserable for everyone else.

These people stress out everyone around them, and contribute to the problem of addiction as a cultural phenomenon as everyone wanders through life perpetually needy.  Yes, many people need to either punch us or verbally abuse us, and all of it hurts.  Those of us that struggle to maintain self-control are constantly being baited and tempted.

Sometimes we fall.  Either we lash out, or we 'numb out.'

Our society's high stress levels are pushing people into addiction.  In some ways, I think it is less about luring people into addiction as much as shoving them in.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Video: Church and Alcoholics

I ran across this video discussing the alcoholism problem in Russia.  If you fast-forward to 5:15, you can see what a small church-based treatment center looks like:

A change since this video was produced- beer has been declared 'alcohol' in Russia since the beginning of this year:

From what I hear, however, the situation really has not improved.  

Much of what the video focuses on is the symptoms, but not really the underlying problem in Russia.  What is it?

Well, if you ask me, the problem is complex.  First, there is the obvious problem of the weather.  Just about every place where people are locked up half the year indoors with little to do, you see drinking problems.  Sweden and Norway don't have the grinding poverty of rural Russia, yet their alcoholism problems are significant.

Second, and more profoundly, the dialectical materialism of modern Russian culture is a major factor.  They have gone from Communism and its focus on wealth, to Consumerism and its equal obsession with wealth.  The poor feel 'less than' because in both systems they are the 'less thans.'  This leads to despair and drinking.

Third, the collapse of the Soviet Union brought down a political system that defined 'human character.'  A great deal of Soviet indoctrination was designed to provide people with 'role models.'  You were told what a good person is, and how to emulate his behavior.  Now, this is gone.  While the Church is now able to actively preach, only 1 in 10 Russians is an active participant in the life of the Church.  The others may know about the Church, but it has little personal significance to them.  Therefore, it does not necessarily effect social consciousness and the definition of character as it should.

Fourth, life must have meaning, and it is very obvious that Russians are struggling to find a meaning to life beyond mere survival.  Without meaning, life is a burden, and drinking is an obvious escape from nihilism... with more nihilism.

Fifth, Russian society would do well to reconsider the 'hierarchy or relationships' I discussed in my previous posts and start working towards restoring the ruptured relationships that have come to characterize modern life.  This will cure much of the fear and loneliness of modern existence.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fr. Dmitri Dudko & Alcoholism / Отец Дмитрий Дудко и алкоголизма

Recently, the name of Fr. Dmitri Dudko has surfaced, and I am trying to find out more about him.  Apparently, he wrote a number of sermons against alcoholism, which I would be interested in finding translations of if they exist or can be translated.

He is not without some controversy: after being arrested a second time for preaching, he broke during interrogation and recanted his anti-Soviet positions.  He was largely discredited as a result.  Some years later after the Fall of Communism, he publicly repented:

I've ordered his only book in English, Our Hope, which was published before his arrest in 1980.

If any of you have information on his anti-alcoholism sermons, I would be very appreciative if you would contact me.


В последнее время имя отец Дмитрий Дудко всплыли, и я стараюсь, чтобы узнать больше о нем. Видимо, он написал ряд поучений против алкоголизма, который я был бы заинтересован в поиске переводов, если они существуют, или могут быть переведены.

Вот его некролог.

Он не без противоречий: после ареста во второй раз для проповеди, он сломал во время допроса и отказался от своих антисоветских позиций. Он был в значительной степени дискредитирован в результате. Несколько лет спустя после падения коммунизма, он публично покаялся:

Призыв к милосердию

Я заказал его единственная книга на английском, Наша Надежда, которая была опубликована до своего ареста в 1980 году.

Если кто-то из вас есть информация о его анти-алкоголизм проповеди, я был бы очень признательны, если бы вы связаться со мной.

Пожалуйста, простите любые ошибки в данном переводе Гугл!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Disease Called Childhood

This is a horrendous story.  I've held onto it for a while because I'm not sure what to say:

1 in 5 children has been identified as mentally ill in New York?  This sounds outrageous, and that is because it is.

We are losing sight of reality, lost behind the complications of bureaucracy and a crumbling society that demands Photoshopped perfection while giving in to all the most base and ludicrous impulses.  Children are being deprived of their humanity behind a cloud of drugs and 'diagnoses' which makes them all the more comfortable with seeing themselves as dependent and 'less than.'

Are they going to grow up?  Probably not very well.

Meanwhile, we throw lots of resources fixing children who are not sick, which deprives those who excel with resources to perfect their excellence.  Yes, kids here in my town get all kinds of resources if they are diagnosed with a disorder, but the gifted and highly-gifted programs are booked up and have long waits to get into.

Madness. Utter madness.

The real truth is that too many people, both businessmen and educational bureaucrats, make lots of money 'parenting' these kids with pharmaceuticals and unnecessary programs.  Meanwhile, our problems get worse as a result, but their solutions are always more of the same.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Willpower vs. Nature

One of the biggest societal contributions to the problem of addiction is the notion that we can use our own willpower to overcome what is natural to us... and that such an act is entirely safe.

Yes, people can exercise their will against their own nature.  We see it all the time: the alcoholic who drinks himself to death, the anorexic who starves herself to death, etc.

But, there are less obvious ways that we cause ourselves harm, and these harms lead us to addiction.

Here is an example: how many addicts drink because of pain from being alienated from their fathers... yet society routinely says that fathers are optional!  Yes, society drives this point home again and again:

1) Easy divorces.
2) Custody favoring women.
3) Punishment for missed child support payments, but not absenteeism.
4) Radical feminism's anti-male rhetoric.
5) Gay adoption.
6) 'Gay marriage.'
7) Relegation of Marriage from Sacramental and holy union to optional living arrangement.
8) Exultation of bachelorhood.
9) Sex as recreational activity rather than marital union.
10) "A woman's right to choose."
11) The loss of manners, etiquette, and common decency.
12) Modern focus on financial accomplishment rather than honor.
13) The exultation of single motherhood.

These things have diminished Fatherhood to the point where it has become a biological term at best and utterly meaningless at worst.  Children naturally need a Mother and a Father, but we are now seeing how society assumes that government social programs can replace the Father with 'services,' be they support payment collection or other forms of care for 'our children.'  

There is a difference between the notion of  'our children' and 'my child.'  That child needs me, not services.  If addiction often based on or aggravated by the addict's broken relationships, then the breaking of the relationship with a father is a contributing factor... yet we have created in our modern world a land of broken father-child relationships.

So, we use our willpower to try to overcome what is natural.  The Father-Child bond is natural, and we try to forcibly ignore it with other messages and attempts to replace it.

"Yes, Larry, I know you want a father, but your mom is gay and wants to live with her lover, who will be your 'dad.'  Don't worry... they love each other, and they will love you, and you will accept this love as a father's love because this is what we want, and what you need is secondary."

You can think I am a bigot, and that's fine because you are entitled to your opinion.  However, I know plenty of men and women who have continued to hunt after their father's love after years of having everything else provided to them.  They benefited from everything we are told is just as good, yet nothing replaces a father's love.  These men and women keep going back to the rejecting father, and the rejecting fathers feel no shame in having no relationship with their children.

After all, they kept their part in the 'social contract'.  They paid child support and taxes.  Their work was done.

Sure, there are men who stay in the house and marriage and are cold to their children, but we now have an epidemic.  We have institutionalized this rhetoric.

We have also divorced (pardon the pun) fatherhood from marriage, and so men and women think that they can still effectively parent from a distance.  Yes, aren't those phone calls wonderful!

No, a child learns to accept the absenteeism the same way a starving child accepts being hungry.  They just stop complaining after a while, but the hunger never goes away.  The children use their willpower to silence their complaints, but their nature continues to nag them.

What I am saying is that some of our wounds in addiction are because of false resentments, but there are many other wounds that are very real and very normal.  A rape victim is naturally wounded, so is an abandoned son or daughter.  

While this wound of abandonment may be treated, it never entirely heals because part of nature which has been violently torn off.  We may lose a limb in an accident and stop the bleeding, but that's not the same as having the limb being reattached or growing back.

Modern materialism and its efforts to replace relationships with material things has left us all wounded, like a tree with all its branches torn off.  Yes, the tree is still a tree, but it is sick and ugly.  The modern home-life is very ugly.  So, we use our addictions to escape the ugly truth.

In the end, willpower can only provide a cheap replacement to what is required by nature, and ultimately it fails.  We cannot will away our humanity, though we can use our willpower to temporarily suppress it until our deformations can no longer be maintained.  Humanity cannot be removed from us by the force of will.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The World Order - Final Post (Order of Worries)

The reason I described the hierarchy of man's relationships is that the modern world has successfully alienated man from all his relationships.  We have significant worries and concerns about each of these levels, so much so that our modern world is one of constant fear and terror, which leaves us susceptible to addiction.

Here's the list of relationships, followed by the modern messages of 'woes' that we are bombarded with on a regular basis:

Cosmic God - dialectal materialism, secularism, popular atheism, physical sciences explain everything, etc.

Natural Environment - global warming, pollution, natural disasters, oil shortages, etc.

Economy - world instability, world war, debt, currency devaluation, immigration, population declines, overpopulation, HIV/AIDS, starvation, poverty, etc.

Government - oppression, theocracies, cuts in services, corruption, incompetence, injustice, discrimination, favoritism, etc.

Employment - unemployment, regulation, bureaucratic red-tape, shrinking opportunities, unequal access to the market, employer demands, expectations of success, expectations of failure, etc.

Church - corruption, secret sins, theological revisionist, intolerance, over-tolerance, over-demanding, not challenging enough, not providing enough services, takes too much time, spiritual not religious, etc.

Family (extended version) - no time for socializing, relatives far away, competition with internet relationships, frequent divorces effecting relations, relatives always asking for stuff, shallowness of friendships, no manners, selfishness of others, etc.

Marriage - 'my needs,' no sex, all about sex, easy divorce, wait, don't wait, roles, no roles, parenting optional, keeping up appearances, not necessary, I'm not necessary, attractiveness, etc.

Parenting - public school messages, peer pressure, materialism, no time, helicopter parents, overly-permissive, overly-restrictive, no time, technological temptations, too much sex, drugs, music, inappropriate clothing, self-esteem, no perspective, ADD, allergies, medications, etc.

God Within - don't confess, fix your own problems, other people are responsible for my happiness, 'my truth' doesn't have to match with the world, my needs first, I deserve perfection, where is God when I don't get what I want,  virtues are for other people, I'm defective, physical health, appearance, etc.

OK, I'm sure you have lots more to add... there are just a few I added in the matter of a few minutes.  But, you see that every level of our lives are filled with worries and concerns, most of which we have little power over (other than our own acceptance of them) yet we are constantly told are important.

We are told to be concerned... and vote... or perhaps buy!  Yes, dissatisfaction is the foundation of modern messages.  This is why we are stressed out: there is no real good news.

If you vote, you will have to vote again.  If you buy, you will have to buy again.  There is nothing permanent, and nothing eternal except our insecurities.

Now you have many of the problems that addicts struggle with.  We are afraid of everything, and the world keeps telling us, "Be afraid, be very afraid!"

Only when God returns to this hierarchy can man regain enough faith to edure the uncertainties of life without breaking down.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The World Order - Part 4

OK, so after a break, we are back on track.  For those of you coming in 'late,' the series begins here:

Cosmic God
Natural Environment
Family (extended version)
God Within

After the Church, we next draw closer to the person at a level which I label Family.  This is the extended family relationships, such as grandparents and cousins, but also those 'voluntary families' we form, like friends and neighbors.

In earlier times, most of a man's neighbors were also his relatives due to the difficulties of migration.  He had a more integrated view of his world and his role in it, so that his relationships often bore multiple levels of meaning: the people he worked with, or shared interests with, were often those who were either close relatives or close neighbors.

Family extends from our churches to our social clubs (a dwindling category in America).  Modern migration has destroyed the modern understanding of family: neighbors are strangers, relatives are far away, and we have no time for clubs and societies.  Some of us still hold onto a church-family concept, though the 'mega-church' with its production line approach to Sacraments (if the church you are talking about has them) or 'services'  means that church members become atomized once they leave the parking lot.

Beneath this level is Marriage.  Most people in this 'postmodern' era think of marriage as 'two people who love each other.'  This is not what it really means, because the layers above also involve love between people, or should.

Marriage is not a living arrangement, because some marriages have endured long separation.  It isn't really about sex, either.  After all, humans are perfectly capable of having sex without marriage as we all know.

Marriage is a spiritual union.  It is not like other relationships, in that it represents a union of humanity between a male and a female... it is a completion.  It brings meaning to gender, where male and female are made both equal yet defined.  Gender is no longer an 'accident,' but a requirement... because a marriage with two people trying to fulfill the same roles invariably leads to confusion and power struggles.

Marriage is mystical because, when it is properly executed, the couple become willing to lay down their lives for one another.  How can one talk about divorce, particularly the easy modern divorce, a minute after making such a commitment?  Can we make such a commitment?

The answer is simple: no, humans can't reliably override their self-interest and self-preservation instincts without help from a Higher Power.  Marriage is not possible without God, otherwise it is just another voluntary living arrangement that can be broken with little consequence other than dividing the property.

This is why 'traditional' societies have always treated marriage as something serious, and this has led marriages to be much stronger that the modern definition.  Arranged marriages are just as happy, if not happier, than the modern 'shack-up-till-you-you-get-tired' mode of modern courtship.  Modern  marriage is about tiring of dating and casual sex rather than finding something greater.

Marriage is also about providing the groundwork for the next level: Parenting.  This mystical union of Marriage sets the stage for procreation and the relationship between a parent and a child.

In this relationship, a human learns how to be a person, through observation and teaching.  Watching our parents teaches us how to treat others and ourselves.  We learn thousands of important 'micro-lessons' which come back to us at critical times.  Parents, in turn, also derive spiritual lessons about selflessness and caring.

Children are utterly dependent on their parents, up until they either reach maturity or hand their raising over to someone else.  This is the modern model, where schools are expected to raise children for their parents.  School lasts longer that the daily bond between parents and children in most cases, and so the emotional attachments also shift.

The parent's most important job is about paving the groundwork for the most intimate relationship, which is God Within.  You can see God is manifested as the Creator, and also the Life of the World (Church), but at this level God is experienced in a personal way.  Here, we come to know God and through this intimate relationship see Him at the other levels of life as well.

The less we know Him within, the less the other manifestations make any sense.  The most important job a parent has is to bring the child to the Church in the role of Parenting so that the child can receive this completed gift of God within (all of us are made in the Image and Likeness of God, and God surrounds and imbues us, yet it is not completed until we voluntarily invite Him in).

Our awareness of the God Within will dictate how many fears we will be tempted by, which in tern effect all of the outer levels of relationship.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Can I Trust an Addict?

I get this question all the time, and so, after having written numerous personal responses, I thought I would take a swing at a post on this, end return to the series I've been working on.

So, can you trust an addict?  Will he/she keep his/her promises?  Will he/she recover so that we can get on with what we/I want to do and I don't have to worry about this?

I have a question: what planet are you living on?  People are not perfect, and your addict certainly never will be (neither are you or your plans for that matter).  If he/she offers you any guarantees, then he/she is lying.  Most often not intentionally, but you have to remember something: an addict is someone who has lost control not only over his/her willpower, but over the truth itself.

The disease of addiction so distorts the perception of reality in the 'active addict' that his/her world looks very little like what you and I see.  When you shout, "Tell me the truth!" is is kind of like handing a cat a bottle of mustard and saying, "Here, open this!"  Cats have no ability to open a bottle of mustard, nor do they even enjoy it.  The same is true of the addict.

Do you trust your friends to tell the truth?  Then you are a fool, because everyone lies.  Everyone will disappoint us and betray our 'trust' because trust is a form of dependency on others that simply isn't fair.  We fail, they will fail.  There is a probability of failure, but we should always assume that people are going to lie and cheat because that's what fallen humans do.

It is harder to forgive people and have compassion for them when you are holding them to unreasonable expectations.  Do not hold them to any expectations at all, and you will find peace.

"But, I want to know if he/she is going to get better, or must I move on?"  You cannot have an answeer to that question from an addict's lips.  You will only know the truth by his/her actions.

Does the addict go to meetings?
Does the addict pray daily and seek a spiritual lifestyle?
Does the addict break old behavior and activity patterns and build new, healthy ones?
Does the addict readily admit when he/she is wrong?
Does the addict seek to serve others and emerge from the shell of selfishness?

You want to know if your addict is going to relapse, then look at these indicators of recovery.  If all these aren't happening, then you have a time-bomb on your hands.

Yet, still, there is always the probability of a relapse even when things are going well.  The honest addict will tell you he/she only has today and has no clue about tomorrow, other than the hope that God will help him/her stay sober tomorrow, but he/she must focus on today.

Don't trust... live.  Make the best decisions you can with the evidence in front of you rather than promises that men are simply not strong enough to keep.  Humans cannot really make such promises any more than they can promise not to die in the middle of the night.  It surprises us when the person dies this way at 20, but not at 90.  It is all about probability.

Just as the addict must live with a daily reprieve, so will you if you choose to live with an addict.  You, too, will have to live your own spiritual program to not fall into codependency.  Codependents develop in part because they want to 'trust' their addicts and so go out of their way to make things go 'as planned.'  That's what drives them crazy.

Do not burden yourself with trust.  Do your best, and be honest about looking at your addict's behavior and measuring it.

To be honest, I don't want anyone to 'trust me.'  I know that I will eventually fail, and that I will have to repent at some point.  I also know that trust brings with it unreasonable expectations.  Pretty soon, people are trusting me with all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons.  That's why I tell people to not trust me because I say something, but instead hear me and then go check out what I said.  If you find a better option, then stick with that.

I don't derive happiness from people trusting in me, because I know that if there is anything good in me, it is from God.  He is much more reliable, and I would rather people see me for the flawed human being that I am who serves a trustworthy God than being trusted by others whom I am guaranteed to disappoint.

I don't even trust myself, and this is actually at the core of my own spiritual walk: I need God every moment of every day, because I am almost certain to fail.

Put your trust in God.  For everyone else, judge their actions and realize it is all about probability.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pedophilia as a Sexual Orientation vs. Treatable Disorder

California is a maddening place, and I speak as a native.

Recently, we have seen the medical profession begin the process of admitting that another human affliction is 'incurable.'  This time, it is pedophilia.

However, there is a reticence now to call it a 'disorder,' but instead politicians want to recognized as a 'sexual orientation.'  Yes, that right... not only is it incurable, it is natural and acceptable.  A congresswoman from California is seeking to have pedophilia recognized as a sexual orientation in order to give pedophiles legal protection which the bill would extend to all 'sexual minorities' and make it illegal to attempt counseling that would change one's orientation... even if the patient wanted such a change.

Yes, this would make any type of counseling for pedophiles governed by laws that would forbid any effort to change this orientation.

Now, let's look at pedophilia from the perspective we share here on this blog.

1) Alcoholism and other addictions are 'incurable.'
2) Addicts must admit that their orientation towards their addictions is unnatural and not good.
3) Addicts need treatment, but the treatment does assume it can utterly remove an addictive orientation.
4) Addicts must accept that they are incurable, and that this orientation will always be with them, but that they can decrease its power by following a lifelong treatment.
5) Addicts must 'discriminate' against themselves... they must avoid places of temptation so as not to harm themselves and others.
6) Addicts do not blame other people for shunning them due to their actions, because part of their treatment is an unconditional acceptance of their responsibility for their actions.

This bill is lunacy to begin with, since counseling is a private affair and what goes on within, so long as the person is not being abused by the counselor, ought not be subject to regulation.

It is this impulse to regulate that is dangerous, and one of the reasons why I have avoided getting 'professionally licensed,' because I want the freedom to teach and counsel under the Church rather than under government whims.  But, that's another story.

Making pedophilia, a disorder which makes children the targets of adult fantasies, a protected class spells the end of any real treatment.  Right now, pedophilia treatment is so profoundly unsuccessful that protecting pedophiles from themselves is the only real option that society has.  Once they are 'protected,' the lid will be opened.

This is a step towards removing many of the laws and protections now in place regarding sex offenders in general.  Once the principle is established, all it will take is one signature to effectively override all state sex offender registration laws.  Then, you have our legal system regressing back to the 1920s, but with an explosion in the number of active offenders.

Homosexuals, by all estimates, by all estimates, are roughly 3% of the US population.  If this is a 'natural' condition, then it has always been this way.  However, through legal protections and public indoctrination, it is now much more acceptable and can be openly practiced.

Pedophiles (a majority are attracted to children of the opposite sex) are roughly 1%.  Again, by classifying them as a 'sexual orientation,' we are also suggesting that they have always been with us.  why is it now that we are seeing so much activity among this tiny fraction?

Is it not the technology that allows them to network?  As police work to identify and catch these predators, lawmakers are seeking to curb the legal tools police need to catch these predators, largely so that they can be prevented from hurting children and get the treatment they really need.  Most pedophiles struggle with impulse control, which means they are not going to go willingly into treatment.

By classifying them as a 'sexual orientation,' the ability to force them to start treatment and give them a chance to reign-in their impulses will be severely impeded.  This is a disaster in the making.

All of us have 'orientations,' and we should be mature enough to know that not all of them are good.  Part of the human struggle is to overcome those orientations that cause destruction... we should not give in to every impulse.  The message of the world, which is causing this explosion of addiction, has been just the opposite: we are trained to surrender.

This law is just another white flag in the war... the war to protect humanity from its baser and self-destructive cravings.

God help us all.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The World Order - Part 3

The Next three levels of the order of relationships, after the the Cosmic God and the Environment are Economics, Government, and Employment.

The world economy is the process by which the things we need are extracted from the earth and transformed into usable items.  This goes on everywhere, and the quality of life in an particular is usually connected to its trade with the larger economy.

Economies are governed by greatly by environmental conditions, since an earthquake or drought can wreck even the best-functioning economy.  However, the economy is not a beast with its own mind, but rather an adjective of human activity.  The environment is also just as mindless, begin subject to the laws of physics as established by God, while being subject to His intervention.

Economics also has its particular rules, though they are not entirely understood by men, which is why so many economic plans fail.

Government is man's attempt to relate to the challenges of economic principles on a local level.  Men band together to form 'states' which regulate and protect commerce with the economic condition.  This may include fighting with other states for more advantageous environmental conditions (i.e. better or more land).

Government, as a conglomerate of people, can often also take on a 'group mentality.'  Some governments can become oppressive, while others corrupt and dysfunctional.  The bigger it is, the greater good it can do, but also the greater the evil it can inflict.  After all, a lion's bite is deadlier than an ant's bite just based on size.

Within each state, people seek 'employment' to feed themselves out of the greater economy.  Men use their labor as a way to harvest value from the economy based on the parameters set by the state.  The state tells you what the rules of ownership are, and protects those who comply with the rules.

Employment is psychologically important to us, because it helps us better understand how we fit into the larger world.  It often manifests who we are as persons, which is why we will so often identify ourselves by our employment.

Schooling and education are part of this preparation for us to enter into the functions of the state and employment.

However, these levels below the Cosmic God have more to do with our material conditions and less to do with man's inner state of being.  The Cosmic God seems almost unreachable, and so the next layer of our relationships with the world come through the Church.

Employment and economics, even inclement weather, can be adversarial.  The Church represents a closer layer to man's hierarchy of relationships because the Church is the means by which these outer conflicts are defined.  We look out through the lens of our religious formation to see these outer layers with a proper frame of reference.

The Church teaches men that the conflicts of employment and state should not cause us to forget the Cosmic God at the end of all things, while also reminding us that God resides in our very personhood, as we are made in His Image and Likeness, and are meant to be His Temple.

The Church stands in the middle of all these layers, and God manifests there through the intervening levels of relationship.  We'll discuss this more in the next post.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The World Order - Part 2

So, looking at the list, let's examine the first relationship: the God of the Cosmos.  Religion essentially 'defines' God for us in this role as Creator and Lord.

How we view God in this level defines much of how we will react to the rest of the world.  Do we see God as operating down through the various other levels of our life, or skimming above the clouds, aloof to our needs?

The addict often has problems with God at this level, because he thinks that God does not participate in the struggles of this life.  God does not 'come down' from the clouds, and so we are left with our own fears and must fend for ourselves.

When we look up through all the various intervening layers of relationships, it can often obscure our view of God because it seems that there are more active and pressing associations.  Yet, God does have the ability to effect all of these layers, as we will see in the next layer of relation.

This is our relationship with the Environment, or the Natural World.

People are indeed effected by the natural order, from weather to disease.  We have little control over it, and it follows us everywhere.

Only God can effect this level of the created order.  A nuclear bomb is powerful, but not nearly as powerful as a large volcanic eruption or an 8.0 earthquake.  We also cannot stop either of them.  Droughts and hurricanes are also just as unstoppable, so much so that we even call them 'Acts of God.'

These natural events are unavoidable for all mankind, and so they fall in right behind God both in terms of size and magnitude.  Yet, they can also be intensely person, especially when we talk about disease or physical handicaps.  Again, most illness these days is thought to be 'preventable,' yet we still keep getting sick.

The honest truth is that we only have a degree of control over our bodies, and we certainly cannot stop death.

Acceptance of powerlessness over our bodies and our world is a big step for an addict, who must often fight everyone and everything for the false consolation of power.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The World Order - Part 1

Addiction is as much a reaction to one's self as it is a reaction to the world.  With the explosion of addictions in the modern world, it is important for addictions treatment to look at how the world is structured and what pressures it brings to bear on the addict.  Over the next few posts, I will explain how I think we can understand our modern world, and why we are experiencing the problems we are now struggling with.  

No one is happy these days, even those who are on 'top' and have their way.  This should tell us something about the problem.

To envision this 'structure,' we must see the various layers, like an onion.  I'm no graphics expert, so it will take me a while to draw something up.  

Each layer represents a person, group, or condition (in AA lingo, this is 'people, places, and things') that effects the person.  There is a rough order to them in terms of how much impact they have on us, and how they naturally relate to one another.  Some are actively aware, while others are merely conditions.

Here I will present the layers from the largest or 'most-meta' to the smallest, or most personal:

Cosmic God
Natural Environment
Family (extended version)
God Within

Yes, God is at both ends of the spectrum.  We can see where His presence would flow through this entire  spectrum to fill all of life... though we must confess that some of these layers fight this proposition.  This is where we have trouble.

There are also times where one layer tries to supplant the others, such as a state which tries to replace religion and becomes a theocracy, or vice versa.  This disorder causes its own suffering on a wide scale.

The addict's suffering comes from his alienation at any of these levels.  This is most often his own doing, but I do think that an argument can be made that defects in these systems can also leave one more vulnerable to addiction than one would otherwise be.