Dee's Blog
Thu 11/29/2007
Post-Modern Theology
Topic: spirituality

In our post-modern world, that began with World War II and the atrocities of the Holocaust, many things are called into question by thinking people.

One is our ability to have a personal relationship with a God we have always seen as "loving." 

I still believe we can have a very personal relationship with God, and I believe that God IS loving.  However......If God is a Spirit, we can't reach out and touch a spirit, and neither can a spirit do that with us, in a physical way.  I believe that's the "boat" that most of us have missed for most/all of our lives.  It's what the churches fail to "see." In fundamentalism and all of the fundamentalist theology that's wrapped up even in churches that claim NOT to be fundamentalist, people often feel that they need to literally see.

Where there is literal seeing, there is no faith at all.  I believe that's why we aren't intended to figure it all out.  God (as I understand that term) wants us to be content with the mystery, just relaxing and letting the Spirit flow through us to others.  We vex about it all--as if our human fretting would somehow make us equal with God, transcending even God!!   As I understand it, wonder is a spiritual exercise.  So is doubting.  To fully expect to understand it all, however, is breaking the first commandment.   Understanding becomes the god before the truly spiritual God that doesn't give us all the answers.  Yet it's very, very hard for wounded people to be in a vulnerable, child-like position, trusting what we do not understand to something or someone that is beyond us.  It's so much easier to be angry that God refuses to be made into some perfect image that we envision.  As we see through a glass darkly, without the benefit of a powerful optical zoom lens.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Wed 11/28/2007 11:07 PM CST
Wed 11/28/2007
Realistic Expectations for a Spirit
Topic: spirituality

A few days ago, a lady I really respect was corresponding with me about some of her personal faith issues and previous expectations of God.  Like most of us, she had wrestled long and hard with an old faith question that comes up in many arenas, whenever bad things happen to good people.  It goes something like this:  "Why would a loving God, being a parent, not step in and stop things that are happening to His precious children?"

I have long believed that this question, along with the many hours spent in trying to answer it, is born out of a faulty theology that is woven into the limited understanding that most of the world seems to have whenever we look at God as Father or parent of any gender. 

Physical parents, we tend to understand more--we can see them and draw conclusions  based on those observations.   We have a personal relationship with our parents, whether it's a healthy one or not.

To have a healthy relationship with a Spirit, we must see that "parent" (if that's how we choose to experience God) AS a Spirit.   Survivors of horror, when using honest logic instead of rote and rhetoric, have to find ways to resolve the old issues that render the old theological understandings useless.  This is especially difficult when all of the theologians we know are wrapped up in preserving the old. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Thu 11/15/2007 8:37 AM CST
Tue 11/20/2007
Thankful to Be an Alien
Topic: Aliens

As we prepare to take a break, for the purpose of Thanksgiving, I want to put on my list of blessings an item that may sound totally goofy. 

I'm so grateful to be on the list of aliens that are daring to accept the challenge of looking deeply within, while challenging others to do the same in the hopes of creating a world that is able to look beyond narrow parameters or geographical borders.

May we see beyond ourselves this holiday.  And for those of you who reside outside the small world of America, may you understand that our need to take this time to reflect is important to many of us because we DO want to see beyond ourselves.

To understand that even the survivor movement itself can be narrowly focused and narcissistic, as we come to a deeper understanding that what is a spec in our own eye is like a log to others, blinding us from seeing and blinding them from looking into the crevice of our very souls to see beauty in spite of the terrors we have witnessed. 

True Thanksgiving leads us to see the tragedies that we have NOT faced and to be grateful for the blessings reflected in what we still can hold and the pleasures that nobody can take away.

I'm not going to be writing again until the 28th.  For the next week, I'm going to be literally holding precious treasures in my arms.  They will include my three youngest grandchildren, one who is coming to visit us for the first time without his parents. 

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you, no matter what you are holding dear.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Thu 11/15/2007 8:03 AM CST
Mon 11/19/2007
Destructive Theology
Topic: Aliens

Did you know that the KKK taught that Jesus died to redeem whites!! That is symbolized in the Blood Drop Patch that was adopted in 1965. It showed a white cross, with a drop of blood over it. Jesus blood, they said. Talk about a twisting of theology to sway masses to accomplish one’s goals! Goals that were to destroy others, too.

Who were the enemies to the KKK? I should say who ARE the enemies because the KKK still is very much alive and “well,” one chapter even operating here in the state of Iowa.

I thought the enemy would be people of color. Yet it seems that the identified enemy changes with time. In 1915, they were all immigrants, as well as all Catholics and Jews. While I haven’t researched the exact profile of the enemies today, I’d guess that they would include Hispanics, especially in Iowa where entire established communities have been “taken over” by these immigrants who have come here, as in many other locales, to do work that most whites wouldn’t think of doing.








Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Sun 11/18/2007
Visiting the Old Library, Creating a New One
Topic: Aliens

The militiaman’s library includes a variety of books. One is a book about how to blow things up. Another is the King James version of the Bible!

My old childhood “library” couldn’t be assembled in one room. Nor was it necessarily a bunch of books. It included ideas that permeated the choices that my parents made, though, and led me down some paths, making sets of choices that I might later regret as my own belief system changed.

Yet to wish away that part of my life, a part that was filled with riches and coping skills learned even in the midst of the confusion, is not a good thing. It changes nothing, and fails to embrace the person I have become to the fullest extent that I need to do so.

It certainly included a lot about destruction. The “Devil” and God (or God, as I was led to believe who was the only way to see God) were at war. God was going to win out in the end, probably in my own lifetime they said, just as many survivors believe today. It was such a narcissistic way to view God, and it wasn’t much different than the belief system of many writers in the Bible and the translators who complicated things further. These were people who could not see beyond their own dilemmas and shallow set of goals. In that, they were so much like us today.

Becoming the exception, or the person who sees beyond today and looks at the larger picture. This is what I understand of true spirituality. Not that I’m there by any means. Yet I want so much to see the universal problems of power, fear, anger and rage that are our greatest enemies whenever we misuse them or fail to see clearly where they are being misused.








Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Sat 11/17/2007
The Third Option
Topic: Making Changes

While making important changes in our lives is a slow process, I've noticed that it is often slower when we make errors in how we think about a possible change.   It can happen because we over-estimate the time that it will take to "just do it."  Taking a step forward may look quite simple to others who seem to make changes more easily.

I often recall with humor a moment in my life as the wife of a minister, when a lady who was very entrenched in leadership, loudly proclaimed to some of her followers just a few feet away from me:  "That woman wants to change EVERYTHING!"  That reaction was all because I had decided to give my young students autonomy, so they could decide whether or not to have speaking parts before a frightfully large audience in the Christmas program.  It was an innocent move on my part.  I had no idea that I was breaking an unwritten rule.  I seem to do that a lot, in many avenues.   There's something about me that just makes assumptions about possibilities, though I do it innocently.  Always full of surprises, without intending to be changing anything.  People who know me well, call me creative.  People who think they know me well often consider me strange or upsetting.

My husband often laughs at the results.  He is trained in the use of Family Systems theories in couselling.  So he'll just say, as I stand there, sometimes dumbfounded:  "You sure know how to shake things up."  He says it in pride because he realizes that I'm not necessarily trying to cause a problem for anyone.   I just tend to do the unexpected, not realizing how much I'm shaking things up.  It's almost like I don't know how to do the expected. 

Truth is, he's done it more than he takes credit for himself.  Though he doesn't tend to do so with ease.

Deciding to do the unexpected, whether intended or not, is what prompts change in systems.  It can take the pieces of the stained glass and reassembles them so that there are new patterns, new channels of communication that are often more effective.   It gives us creative, new responses that we've never had to the same old same old.  It changes the "dance," as they say in systems language.  Often by simply confronting the irrationality or either the idealistic or status quo thinking in ourselves or others.

The speed with which we make changes may be effected with how much emotional baggage we have, so that any change is scary.   If we feel we have made big mistakes in the past or things haven't turned out okay because of our indecision, we may actually freeze, petrified because we do not trust ourselves.

We often believe we are not making a decision when we actually HAVE made one.  Or at least we've decided for that day what we'll do.  For the third option, which is so close to us that we often fail to see it, is to do nothing.   That's the choice that is so often made, day after day, keeping things from actually changing in institutions and families.   Waiting until there is a real crisis before we take action, at which point we have limited options and wonder why we are suddenly a "victim of circumstance."

Fear keeps us frozen.   It keeps us from taking action that involves some risk.  Yet all productive action, whether it's a decision to speak out or to move across the globe, requires risks.  Action is best taken while there are more options.  And it usually opens the way for new thinking and less worry about what will happen if we decide to do nothing.

The willingness to take risks, create new possibilities, approach life with honesty, and to see things in a new way is such a spiritual exercise, and I think that's what makes Christmas so special.  We anticipate the delightful surprises that are behind the packages if we just dare open them.  Or we can choose to be a pessimist, just looking at the packages, assuming it's not safe because of an embedded bomb, and making the choice to be happy with the decision "not to decide."  That's a sure way to keep from having to deal with change or the unexpected new sets of choices that making a choice to change may entail.


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Fri 11/16/2007
Understanding Real Diplomacy
Topic: Aliens

Real diplomacy, just like effective activism, understands that no amount of screaming and yelling is going to bring about quick change. It may stir people up and get them thinking. Chances are the people most likely to be stirred up and interested in long-term change, though, are the “little people” in the pyramid. And that takes so long! Because the little people do not have power except in numbers.

Meanwhile, the big blokes like Hoover, positioned at the top of the pyramid that appear to be able to protect us, does it’s own work to confuse the issues, keeping us off guard.

When it comes down to it, change is a very, very slow process. It’s a good thing to rejoice in small changes. We just want to not expect real miracles, though. Or maybe we want to re-define what a “real miracle” is. Maybe it’s the small changes.

When you look back in your own life, do you see a lot of small personal changes? Or maybe there actually were some drastic changes, some very big risks that you took, as you ignored what others thought, moving ahead for the sake of putting yourself in a position or even a new geographical location where life would not ever feel the same or the “old, normal way” that was so comfortable.

If you do find some of these moments, then you can choose to see them as disasters filled with grief. Or you can choose to see them as moments of positive transformation. Even if they leave you feeling quite lonely and longing for relationships with people who can no longer understand why you have made the dramatic choices that you have.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Thu 11/15/2007
Stopping the Success of the Terrorists
Topic: Aliens

Terrorists and perpetrators both succeed in putting us under siege. By capturing us psychologically, we have difficulty moving outside of the fear, anger, rage and hatred they create within us. That fear often becomes paranoia, and paranoia can sometimes lead us to violence, against ourselves or others.

Whenever it goes that far, the terrorists succeed. They have us where they want us.

The terrorists of 9/11 were trying to get us to see some things we’ve been needing to see for a long time. I kept hearing evidence of denial in those first few weeks after the horrific acts of violence, acts that destroyed the terrorists themselves.

I still hear evidence voiced frequently today: “Why would anyone want to destroy this country that has done so much for so many?” I’m not going into that question in depth on this blog. However, I can assure you, having lived overseas and seen the massive problems compared to the paltry foreign aid we have given, in economic terms, that I have a little more understanding than many Americans as to the “why’s.”

NOT that I am condoning the violence. Violence and unethical behavior is always a poor way of righting wrongs. That’s one of the first principles young children learn on psychiatric units like those where I have worked.

It is very hard to wait and use diplomacy. Especially when the “ears” seem to be made of stone and not even attached to the brains that lead people to act out of an irrational justification for war or terrorism, whichever term you think applies to the violence that we may think is the answer when we are focused just on this immediate moment or present generation.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Wed 11/14/2007
Protecting Our Souls

Church leaders have pet stories that they like to use. Some are Bible stories. Often they are stories about some well-known case like Cardinal Bernadine in Chicago, where they want to show that the outcome of the story showed quite clearly and credibly that there was a false accusation. That story becomes the “poster story” or character who is held up as the hero.

Dare I say that survivors are often known to do the same thing. OK--please don’t run away before you hear me out. Putting the most hideous of perpetrators up on the “screen” and pointing to that “poster perpetrator” as the typical can work either for or against change.

The enemies that we call perpetrators, we know, are not easy to spot nor to nail down for many reasons. In fact, that’s what the establishment would like to believe. I find it ironic and sometimes humorous that I have been asked so many times by journalists or talk show hosts to give some magical way to identify a perpetrator. Truth is that they are embedded, just as the terrorists who destroyed so many lives on 9/11.

Profiling in order to try to identify the enemy leads us to target large groups, filled with many people who may have some odd beliefs but wouldn’t think of committing abuse or violence.  I hear it frequently with "all males...." statements even, from women I might otherwise agree with.  I hear it in "all clergy....." statements and have the same reaction.  Even when talking about groups who call themselves by certain names, I can make that mistake myself.  There are degrees or exceptions, even if they are rare.

These profiled groups or people who just have a paranoia that the "world is against US, and you are one of the world" can feel so threatened by “outsiders” even though the "outsiders" may actually share many of the values of the group otherwise.  The "insiders" typically are unwilling to look at the deeper issues that need a re-examination before the group can feel safe enough to hold accountable the perpetrators.

Issues like patriarchy and exclusiveness, to name only two. When it comes down to it, there are so many issues that splinter us in our world--especially our larger world that is far beyond the borders of Western civilization--that it is hard to stay focused long enough to change anything. That’s certainly a problem for me, and I suspect it is for you.

In our idealism, we lose sight of the larger picture. We fail to see what is truly going to destroy our souls.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Mon 11/05/2007 10:49 AM CST
Tue 11/13/2007
The Wise and the Harmless
Topic: Aliens

Rights--that’s a word that sometimes baffles people in Europe where "responsibility" is considered to be a more important word.  That's what a British clergywoman recently told me.

Sometimes I wonder if my soul is still planted more in Europe than America, though I appreciate the ideas of both rights and responsibilities. Our European friends often say that we Americans are too focused on our rights at the expense of being responsible. And I tend to agree that this is true on many issues.

One thing is certain, as we make our way through the maze of confusion, nobody has a right to use physical, spiritual or emotional violence to violate the rights of others. The same responsibilities of moving within our world to do whatever we do in an ethical manner so that we do not destroy one another’s rights, even as survivors, nor the rights of those we consider our enemies are extremely important if we are to act in ways that show us to have truly risen above the people who are using established power to protect themselves and the institutions they serve.  It’s a fragile walk sometimes, trying to be both wise and harmless.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Mon 11/05/2007 10:40 AM CST

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