Soul School – Lesson 53: What is the Meaning of Life (Part 4)

Soul School – Lesson 53: What is the Meaning of Life (Part 4)

Welcome to Spark My Muse

and to SOUL SCHOOL.

• Soul School “lessons” are released each Wednesday (aka “Hump Day” aka Midweek).

• On FRIDAYS I feature guests and on a variety of topics!


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HEAR the OTHER parts in the series:

PART 1

PART 2

PART 3

PART 4

PART 5


SHOW NOTES:

Today is a continuation of the series on Wisdom text. Start at Lesson 50, if you are new to the series.

• If you want to read Ecclesiastes, try this link  (This is NOT the translation I am reading on the program.)

Albert Camus

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Soul School Lesson 38 – Unconventional Thoughts on Suicide and Depression

Soul School Lesson 38 – Unconventional Thoughts on Suicide and Depression

Welcome to SOUL SCHOOL – a bit of nourishment for your inner world.

A new Soul School is released each Wednesday.

This is a really personal Soul School and maybe the hardest one I’ve done yet.

SCROLL DOWN TO FIND THE AUDIO PLAYER

Here’s why I did it…
It’s easier sometimes to act like very dark thoughts happen to other people. Growing up, Jesus and the hope of heaven was suppose to cure me of any hopelessness, fear, despair, and existential angst. It was seldom that simple. My life often felt sad, tumultuous, and complicated. There seem to be people that experience Jesus (or the idea of Jesus) like a “happy pill”…sometimes this was true for me. But, often, it wasn’t. I felt like the Bible character Job, a lot.

Some might accuse me of having too little faith. But, if you have all the answers, you don’t need faith at all. Certainty is faith-killing. I rely on faith, because I’m on a journey into the unknown. A journey of discovery. And, I need to be brave, especially now. Maybe you do too.

Unforeseen suffering or brain chemistry (or both) slings some of us onto another path and the easy answers and promises fall short sometimes. So, if that’s been your situation, I want you to know that you’re not alone. Don’t feel ashamed. Let’s do this together.

Feeling alone is what gets us into the worst sort of trouble. It can bring us to both a figurative and literal dead end.Twitter

(To tweet that quote, click the blue bird.)

Today, on Soul School, I expose the shame and silence about dark moods and the rather common thoughts of suicide and despair some of us face. I want you to hear my story so that you can share your story and together we will all be better for it.

Please, seek the help you need, despite what those around you know or don’t know about your feelings and situation; and despite what they think you should do about it.

The U.S. national hotline to speak to someone, right now, is 1-800-273-TALK. (1-800-273-8255) or go to SUICIDE.ORG

Speak to someone: someone you know is wise, if you have a loving family member seek that one out, a trusted friend, a supportive spiritual guide from your religious tradition, or someone trained to help. There are so many who are willing and able to help you.

Just being open about it takes the teeth out of it and gets you out of the shadows and to where you can be seen, heard, and loved.

Your cries for help will not go unnoticed if you reach out until you find connection. Your story isn’t over yet.

• If you have pervasive (rather than passing) thoughts of suicide or a detailed plan to end your life, I ask you to seek professional medical attention immediately.

• Please stay. Tell me your story-let’s both stay.


Because today’s information could save lives, please pass it along as you are able.


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SHOW NOTES:

Below are the books mentioned in the program today:

 

Victor Frankl


Jennifer Michael Hecht

 


To hear the conversation with Jennifer Michael Hecht on suicide and her powerful book STAY, click below:


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Why Christians Should Listen to Atheist Arguments Against Suicide

Why Christians Should Listen to Atheist Arguments Against Suicide

This is a REPLAY of a short live broadcast I did explaining my contention that secular arguments such as the 2 main ones by Jennifer Michael Hecht are sufficient anti-suicide arguments for Christians that can prevent suicidal behavior and additional deaths and pain consequential to those behaviors.

The “practical atheism” many Christians live out is another reason, but that is for a different podcast or live broadcast. That could be a can of worms that get me booted out of both camps…and maybe I’m fine with that.

The research shows that many people who take their lives do it not from a long, planned out event, but from an impulsive and desperate act done after a big setback, humiliation or disappointment (or string of them) that leaves them feeling hopeless. Depress can be a factor, but many people who are depressed do not kill themselves.

MAKE SURE YOU LISTEN to the EPISODE this periscope is REFERRING to with Jennifer Michael Hecht. Her work is important. HERE

Hecht

 

EPS 41: Jennifer Michael Hecht on Poetry, Wonder, and Preventing Suicide

EPS 41: Jennifer Michael Hecht on Poetry, Wonder, and Preventing Suicide

SCROLL DOWN for much more about my guest and about this special episode.

If it is not already obvious, on Spark My Muse I feature people and topics I find interesting and important. I feature people from a variety of backgrounds and traditions: people of some kind of religious faith and people without belief in the supernatural are my guests. What they all have in common is that I think they are working on something worthy of attention and conversation. It doesn’t mean I agree or come to the same conclusions with every guest 100% but I appreciate them very much and I want to make space for them here and learn from them. It will spark my muse and yours.

Currently, few people meet that standard more than my guest today: Jennifer Michael Hecht. What I have deeply appreciated about Jennifer Michael Hecht‘s work is her curiosity, investigative way of working and writing, her sense of wonder, and her wonderful and sense of humor that comes out perhaps most often in her poetry.


 

In our conversation we cover topics in some of her books, her background, and she even reads a poem (swoon), but the main topic covered is extremely important.

In fact, it’s a matter of life and death: Suicide. There are common myths about why people kill themselves and those myths create more deaths. No more.

If you feel the urge to end your life, don’t. Wait out your mood, please talk about what is bothering you, and seek help. Stay alive.

wuicidehotline

 

I too have had time of deep darkness and thoughts of taking my life have gone through my mind. I haven’t planned how to carry it all out because the finality scares me and the thought of putting my loved ones through hardship hurts me.

The statistics tell us that having these thoughts are normal, just as any other type of thoughts. Our thoughts our not our identity. They are things our brain does to try to solve problems. Sometimes our brain should not be listened to. We must not listen to any murderous thoughts either, right? (Like the ones we have during road rage moments or when we feel like we want to strangle our child when they sass us or boldface lie.) Our meat-like brains might think bad things. So, if a thought of taking your life is happening now, or ever. Please stay. Don’t be rash. Hang on. AND Thank you for making a choice to stay on. 

The best thing we can do during those dark and bad times is to wait it out and support others doing the same. We can also talk to someone to sort things through. If you feel like you are in a desperate mood, try your best to stay until you feel better. Jennifer says it and I concur, your future self will be happy you did. Others WILL be happy you did.

Don’t do anything you can’t undo. First Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)



To share an audio snippet, click on the red and white icon below.

Thank you for listening. This is a very important episode and I urge you to pass it along to as many people as you can for when a very desperate mood may strike them.

Scroll down for notes of the show listed by-the-minute. More resources are at the bottom.

GUEST: Jennifer Michael HechtHecht

BIO
Jennifer Michael Hecht is a poet, philosopher, historian and commentator. She is the author of the bestseller Doubt: A History, a history of religious and philosophical doubt all over the world, throughout history. Her new book is Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It, out from Yale University Press. Her The Happiness Myth brings a historical eye to modern wisdom about how to lead a good life. Hecht’s The End of the Soul: Scientific Modernity, Atheism, and Anthropology won Phi Beta Kappa’s 2004 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award “For scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity.”

Publisher’s Weekly called her poetry book, Funny, “One of the most original and entertaining books of the year.” Her first book of poetry, The Next Ancient World, won three national awards, including the Poetry Society of America’s First Book award for 2001. Her new poetry book called Who Said, just came out from Copper Canyon in November 2013. Hecht has written for Politico, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The New Yorker. She holds a Ph.D. in the history of science/European cultural history from Columbia University (1995) and has taught in the MFA program at Columbia University and the New School in New York City.

SHOWNOTES

MIN 2:00

Her first love: poetry.

min 3:30
PhD at Columbia in the History of Science

Emily Dickinson
John Keats
W.B. Yates

5:00
The hard sciences in her roots influencing her educational pursuits.

6:30
How she came to write the book Doubt: A History

The End of the Soul (her dissertation)

The Society of Mutual Autopsy
Brain dissections (Paris) done to prove the soul did not exist.

The members of this group left records of their atheism and she decided that there was not a good record of atheism and the tradition of it.

15:00
Disbelief is “a kind of atheism”. The splits and religions that come about as people question the prominent god or gods and religion of the time.

16:30
The people throughout history who reject the supernatural and accept only the natural world.

17:30
The mixing of cultural and religions in our times and the current idea of spirituality that you can contact the supernatural inside yourself.

19:00
The secular argument against suicide.

Ages 15-44 3rd leading killer of Americans

Ages 44 and up is the 10th leading killer. It happens in greater number among the older population.

In 2000, 30,00 people per year.
In 2010, 40,00 people per year killed themselves and raising.

There seem to be trends like in other social trends like drug use, and the trend rises when people feel it’s a solution others like them are choosing.

23:00
The Christians who leave suicide notes and say that they think that God will understand (and forgive them.) need to hear the reason why to stay.

The TWO MAIN ARGUMENTS in the book STAY:

Suicide harms community
People close to you, that you may never wish to harm to be harm irreparably (especially children who are 4 times more likely to also commit suicide if their parent does, depending on how old they are).
Neighborhoods, schools, families, groups, communities have increased suicide and trauma statistically after a suicide occurs.

Suicide hurts your future self

28:00
People don’t realize how common it is to have a sudden (fleeting) thought that it might be better if they weren’t lying any longer when things are going badly. It’s a mood. Some people act in the worst way about a bad mood.

95% of people who try suicide, if they live, will never try it again.

29:30
Having faith in your future self.

30:30
This is a worldwide problem. 1 million per year. Up 60% worldwide.

32:00
Suicide is more impulsive and is more impulsive than we’ve realized.

Shame has something to do with suicide. People had suffered a humiliation in romanic, at work, or in some other way.

34:30
Knowing ahead of time to be on guard against the perils of impetuous thinking about suicide.

“Don’t let your worst mood murder all your others. The other moods don’t want to do that.”

“Depression happens to you. Not suicide. Suicide is a behavior.”

36:30
Pain can be a helpful teacher. We are stuck with it and it seems to help us grow.

39:00
On Robin Williams’ suicide.

41:00
The executive function and planning portion of the adolescence brain is not finished until age 25. There are many reasons to wait and see that things get better as your future self.

45:00
Looking for the warning signs in ourselves and stay for ourselves and others. You don’t get to choose who suffers.

50:00
The Wonder Paradox (her new book she’s working on)

About poetry and wonder

The people who do not affiliate with any religion. What rituals do and what people use for marriages or funerals, etc. What Poetry can provide for that.

“American religions have offered meaning and an afterlife, yet millions of Confucians and 5,000 years of Egyptians didn’t believe in an afterlife.”

55:00

“Meaning always came from culture and community.”

56:00
Keats’ tuberculosis poem

57:00
On the universe and vastness of creation and our consciousness.

59:00

“We are the universe seeing itself and marveling.”

1:01
On the darkness and struggle.

1:05
Jennifer reads her poem:

History

Even Eve, the only soul in all of time
to never have to wait for love,
must have leaned some sleepless nights
alone against the garden wall
and wailed, cold, stupefied, and wild
and wished to trade-in all of Eden
to have but been a child.

In fact, I gather that is why she leapt and fell from grace,
that she might have a story of herself to tell
in some other place.


 

Plus another poem
As promised, I’m including another of Jennifer’s poems in the shownotes. Below you can click to heard it read aloud and that enhances the experience.


 

Funny Strange

We are tender and our lives are sweet

and they are already over and we are
visiting them in some kind of endless
reprieve from oblivion, we are walking
around in them and after we shatter
with love for everything we settle in.

Thou tiger on television chowing,
thou very fact of dreams, thou majestical
roof fretted with golden fire. Thou wisdom
of the inner parts. Thou tintinnabulation.

Is it not sweet to hand over the ocean’s
harvest in a single wave of fish? To bounce
a vineyard of grapes from one’s apron
and into the mouth of the crowd? To scoop up
bread and offer up one’s armful to the throng?
Let us live as if we were still among

the living, let our days be patterned after
theirs. Is it not marvelous to be forgetful?


Click to hear this poem read aloud–it’s marvelous that way. It was downloaded from the Poetry Foundation. Visit it and read some of her other poems here and visit her page at the Poetry Foundation HERE.


 

• If you enjoyed this, you will like maybe to hear my personal story in audio I created about six months later:

• In October 2016, I had Ryan J. Bell as a guest, who is a mutual friend. You will also enjoy our conversation that includes a very interesting JMH “girl crush” tangent. Enjoy!

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Episode 17 Shane Claiborne on the hunger for community

Episode 17 Shane Claiborne on the hunger for community

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~Lisa

FB-Timeline-470-Shane-Claiborne-2015-REVISE
Evangelical Seminary is proud to host Shane’s talk. Click the image and learn more about a school that teaches and promotes incarnational servant leadership at a core level.

Shane’s Bio:

Shane Claiborne graduated from Eastern University and did graduate work at Princeton Seminary. In 2010, he received an Honorary Doctorate from Eastern. His adventures have taken him from the streets of Calcutta where he worked with Mother Teresa to the wealthy suburbs of Chicago where he served at the influential mega-church Willow Creek. As a peacemaker, his journeys have taken him to some of the most troubled regions of the world – from Rwanda to the West Bank – and he’s been on peace delegations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Shane is a founder and board member of The Simple Way, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. He is married to Katie Jo, a North Carolina girl who also fell in love with the city (and with Shane). They were wed in St. Edwards church, the formerly abandoned cathedral into which homeless families relocated in 1995, launching the beginning of the Simple Way community and a new phase of faith-based justice making.

Shane writes and travels extensively speaking about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus. Shane’s books include Jesus for PresidentRed Letter RevolutionCommon PrayerFollow Me to FreedomJesus, Bombs and Ice CreamBecoming the Answer to Our Prayers – and his classic The Irresistible Revolution. He has been featured in a number of films including “Another World Is Possible” and “Ordinary Radicals.” His books are translated into more than a dozen languages. Shane speaks over 100 times a year, nationally and internationally.

His work has appeared in Esquire, SPIN, Christianity Today, and The Wall Street Journal, and he has been on everything from Fox News and Al Jazeera to CNN and NPR. He’s given academic lectures at Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Liberty, Duke, and Notre Dame. Shane speaks regularly at denominational gatherings, festivals, and conferences around the globe. Follow him online at:

Facebook: ShaneClaiborne
Twitter: @ShaneClaiborne

 


Shownotes (with links) from my conversation with Shane Claiborne

MIN 4:00

About 15 years ago Shane Claiborne and a few friends founded The Simple Way in the poorest section of Philadelphia where drug and sex trafficking became the main “industries” when the factories closed. Ever since then, he and his friends have been living in a communally within the neighborhood and serving the residents there in many ways.

I ask Shane, How have they sustained their communal lifestyle for so long?

Shane shares some things that have helped:

1. We are not attached what it should look like in expression or form as much as we have chosen to love each other and Jesus well and allow community to flow out of that.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“If you are in love with your vision for community you will actually destroy it.”

2. Allowing it to change over the years, from a house with 12 people sleeping all over the place in one house with one bathroom to a village of 10 or 20 houses all in the same neighborhood.

3. Helpful wisdom from the outside from others who’ve been doing communal living for a long time (The Benedictine order, for instance: 1,600 years)

6:10

What is “new monasticism” anyway? Shane explains.

6:30

“Folks are really hungry for community.”

7:20

“In Western culture we’ve lost the art of community.”

In other parts of the world this is how people have survived.

7:40

Economically impoverished communities can be community-rich (places) because they need each other.

7:50

“It’s no coincidence that in some of the richest places in the world we have the highest rates of loneliness..and depression, and suicide.”

8:00

“We are made to love and be loved.”

8:20

Even the mega-churches put in a lot of effort into making small groups work well (because that’s how you find community).

8:40

New Monasticism (as lived out in the U.S. or other wealthy Western countries) connects us with an ancient practice that continues on (and is “life as normal”) in many places in the world.

9:20

What communal living in Christian communities looks like in different contexts…

“Sometimes it’s about renouncing materialism and the Kardashians.”

10:00

What happens when people pilgrimage to The Simple Way to learn what it’s about.

Click for resources from The Simple Way

10:30

On the romantic notions of The Simple Way…

Mother Teresa said, “Calcuttas are everywhere if we only have eyes to see. Find your Calcutta.”

11:00

There is a wisdom in learning from other communities. Shane and others set up a network called the community of communities on the web which lists other communities like his. Example: Reba Place Chicago.

11:35

MissionYear.org

This way can get rid of the romanticism and allow people to experience communal living first-hand.

Monthly open houses at A Simple Way are on ramps (to learn about community).

12:20

It’s about not just believing the doctrinal statements but about living differently and finding out what that looks like.

13:15

We are called to not be conformed to this world. God wants us to use our gifts and talents.

“Non conformity doesn’t mean uniformity.”

13;30

On the 2007 fire that destroyed his home and many other homes–leaving about 100 families with nowhere to sleep and live. Shane was left in need within the community he helped.

The very surprising statement the Red Cross relief worker told him.

14:00

There are 700 abandon factories and 20,00 abandon houses nearby.

15:30

Their community has built a park, a greenhouse, green spaces for gardens. See photos at TheSimpleWay.org

16:20

How the neighborhood pulled together after the devastating fire of 2007.

16:40

Shane:
As Jesus said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t stock up your treasure that moths… and fires… can burn up and destroy.”

17:10

Ministry is mutual and if we don’t have needs we can’t be blessed. (Lisa)

18:30

One of Shane’s favorite quotes:

“If you’ve just come to help me, you’re wasting your time. But, if you’ve come because your survival and mine are bound up together, then let’s hold hands and we’ll work together.”

18:40

This quote comes in and corrects the posture by which we’ve often come on a mission to help people and thinking with a wrong perspective.

19:20

His friend says, “We are born on third base, but we think we’ve hit a triple.”

21:30

We don’t need has much as we think we do.

21:40

On Shane’s take of the story of “the rich young ruler”:
He wants to inherit the kingdom (entitlement thinking).

(QUICK LINK: Read the short Bible story HERE.)

22:10

“For folks that are independent and self-sustaining it’s hard for us to know that we need God and other people.”

22:30

Independence is not a gospel value. We need interdependence. It’s good to need other people and to need God.”

23:30

Besides people wondering what happened to his dreadlocks, people ask Shane this question the most.

24:20

Sometimes we have to challenge our location. (The places) where we (live) end up or are built around (that which) counters (opposes) gospel values. Like “suburban sprawl” which was created to get away from the urban problems (we should work to fix) and keep us from doing good for others who need it most.

It’s about living a life, not where we do great things, but where we do small things with great love (Mother Teresa). It’s not how much we do, but how much love we put into every act (of serving God).

25:00

We must ask:

What are my skills and passions and how might they connect to this world’s pain and injustice?

Whether it’s being a doctor, lawyer, plumber, or whatever, simply do your part.

26:00

What REALLY happens to the “dreds”.


 

Thank you, Shane! Blessings to you and your work. May we find our place to do good too.


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