Category Archives: Postmodernism

If Your Thinking Looked Like A Penguin?

Everything may not be as it seems to people who live in a black and white, all good or all bad world. Do you remember when television was black and white and all of the imagery and perception supported a black and white view of life? It was a simple time when everything was predictable and life was very predictable. People believed in God, went to church, children prayed in school, people kept their word, couples stayed together when they got married, and everything seemed to fit into a nice neat box.

It was a time when everyone seemed to know where to sit on the bus, whether right or wrong. Then, when color television came along, it became difficult to visualize life in the same way any longer. To adjust to the new view of the world, many movie makers began to colorize the old black and white movies and paint a new picture of the old black and white world to make it fit the new world and how people looked at things. However, as much as the movies were colorized, the world was no longer black and white and beneath the surface people still thought like black and white thinkers while seeing colorized images.  The music began to change and the songs that people sang, the length of their hair, where they sat on the bus, and the age of color brought a different way that many people thought about things valued: marriage, sex, politics, war,  and even their spiritual lives.

What happened to the black and white world that was so safe and predictable? The world of color brought life out of the black and white box in the living room and it changed the imagery and the hues of how the world looked. Therefore, it was hard to to see a world in full color, the vivid expressions, and all that came as long as people were accustomed to seeing life inside a black and white television. I sometimes wonder about how people who only see the world in black and white world are now managing in a High Density world with a 1950’s black and white analog television perspective.

Indeed, the resolution of the world and the brilliance of the imagery is hard to look on when the eyes are accustomed to I Love Lucy, Bob Hope, and John Wayne. I wonder how well a black and white culture is managing the abstract picture of the 21st Century in full color, where values are decided on demand in a pay per-view network delivered wherever people can get a signal. How is it possible to remain a Penguin and view life through a High Density lens without feeling confused by the range of color revealed in the world where we have come from where everything was neatly packaged on a  black and white screen?

Three Primary Influences on 21st Century “Spirituality”

In Christianity Today (2005) edition there is an article interviewing Eugene Peterson about spiritual meaHegel's tombstone in Berlinning in modern times.  In the interview, the question asked of him was, “What is the most misunderstood aspect of spirituality” (Galli, p. 43)?  I thought this is really a ill defined question, since the term ” spiritual” has such a broad range of meaning to so many people today. Nevertheless, as I was reading his response to the question something that stood out as one of the core issues in spiritual thought today is the profound misunderstanding about what it means  to be a spiritual person from a Christian perspective and have a relationship to God.  Another question important to the matter of “spirituality” is why do people believe the way they do and what are the primary influences upon modern beliefs and practices about spirituality?

The Shift in the Approach to Reason

To find answers to these questions, my research takes me to one source of understanding by Warren S. Goldstein (2009),  who cites a  landmark article written by R. Stephen Warner in 1993 in The American Journal of Sociology.  The  article by Warner argues that a new paradigm is emerging in the sociology of religion within American culture. His article marked a paradigm shift in sociology of religion between the old and the new, between those who advocate the theory of secularization and those who reject it (p. 157).  These findings draw attention to conflicting ideologies, which are important to the field of psychology, sociology, and theology in how the philosophical approach to modern research are applied findings. Therefore by discussing the way, “A dialectical understanding helps make sense of how secularization and sacralization can occur at the same time” (p.157), the writer demonstrates links between the sociological effects of relativity and  change in the locus truth among 21st century theorist about “spirituality”.  Whether or not there is uniform agreement with the approach, what is evident is the approach to reason and resulting conclusions are having a profound influence upon the way modern people think about spiritual concepts that formulate a spiritual point of view.

Major Themes Included in Arguments for a Theories of Spirituality in Modern Culture?

In consideration of the current problem solving approaches and ideological shifts away from the ideals or recent times and social history the present problems in meaning attribution must be exegeted with an understanding of the thinking processes used to make decisions in the 21sts Century. One apparent truth about spirituality is that there are profound areas of disagreement that stem from the way people have come think and attribute meaning to things, ides, and people.  In addition,  point of view is deeply rooted in methods of reason used that are not a new influence, but at the same time have become popular in influencing ways spirituality is defined in modern times for various reasons. The point that is evident from a brief analysis is links to at least four philosophical influences —approaches or ways that people organize thinking into assumptions that are impacting the way “spirituality” as a concept in modern culture is practices associated with religious beliefs, moral constructs, and ethical systems affecting culture.

Dialectical Processing of Spiritual Ideals: In the field of psychology and sociology this is a common approach used to understand an issue and synthesizing a point of view. The term, dialectic, was first used by George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel to describe the development of changing historical periods and social revolutions.

A dialectic process involves three stages: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. In the first stage, a particular idea or set of ideas (thesis) exists that is commonly accepted by most people. In the second stage, a new idea or set of ideas that is contrary to the first (an antithesis) is introduced. The introduction of the antithesis causes conflict as the thesis and antithesis are debated. In the final stage, the thesis and antithesis are synthesized to produce a new idea or set of ideas (the synthesis) that then becomes the commonly accepted thesis (Dialectic, 2001).  This process of reasoning describes understanding in a progression of thought—where new, better supported, contextually relative ideals replace older ideals, which demonstrate a progression of thought.

This approach demonstrates the process of how a shift in thinking within religious-spiritual thought occurs.  The shift, which takes the original hypothesis using collective reasoning from different understandings and beliefs about spirituality utilizes empiricism.  As a result, science, and induction from  culture synthesizes a point of view as the new norm that is accepted as truth.

Cultural relativism: which is based upon the assumptions that “people acquire most of their personal values from their culture and that values from their culture and normative behavioral expectations vary from one culture to the next” (Ford, 2006, p. p. 70).  Cultural relativism indicates a shift in where truth, definition of concepts, principles of reasoning, and sources of authority are located.  Cultural relativism determines what constitutes a “norm” within a culture, group, or  ingroup individuals that is relative to the context of a contextual group of people.

This phenomenon can be observed in the way particular groups form a understanding of spirituality and attempt to superimpose it upon the masses using culture group experience, i.e., relativity to a group of people for rationalizing the a basis for authority.

Logical Positivism: a method of reasoning –its distinctive feature is an attempt to develop and systematize empiricism with the aid of the conceptual equipment furnished by modern research methodology. The emphasis is upon the “verifiability principle”, i.e., any procedure carried out to determine whether a statement is true or false or verified by the method of scientific research used.  The meaning of  a hypothesis trying to be proved is contained in the method of its verification, that is, in whatever observations or experiences may show about whether or not it is true or false. If the method used ads up and the logical processes used are consistent with all observations; they are admitted as meaningful or as verifiable by method of research.

Logical positivism is an approach–explaining the meanings of terms, but telling us nothing about how things are in the real world. Therefore, what is unverifiable using the empiricism methodology is deemed unverifiable by any observation and is ipso-facto devoid of meaning.

This verifiability principle is the basis of the logical positivists’ attack on theology and metaphysics: its characteristic propositions (about the creation of the world, the nature of reality as a whole, etc.) being thus unverifiable, are neither true nor false, but simply meaningless.

Therefore, all arguments either for or against them are equally pointless. At best, the pseudo-propositions of metaphysics, like those of ethics or aesthetics, can be allowed to function as expressions of emotional attitudes, as slogans or exclamations rather than statements of fact (Logical, 2002).  This is demonstrated in a movement away from defining terminology and meaning within spirituality through the use of theology, philosophy, or through finding meaning in exegesis, which makes a systematized empirical method the superior locus of verifiability as opposed to biblical texts, linguistics, philosophy, or historical data about theology.

Therefore, matters that are spiritual are verifiable through experience as the methodology, not in an absolute truth of Biblical study, philosophy, or historical, exegetical study—which is devoid of meaning to logical positivism.

Post Modernism: refers to the crisis of authority of modern culture from the 1960s. Post-modernism, as a way of thinking and points to the culture of a media-saturated consumer society where media images have become more real than lived reality. In philosophy and social science, post-modernism, is associated with the collapse of grand narratives of historical progress, scientific rationality, universal ethics and individual identity.  Post-modern social science presents multiple ethical viewpoints and humans with multiple shifting identities. Post-modernism may be a shallow consumer culture or the possibility of new identities and new politics  (post-modernism, 2002).

A conclusion drawn at this point is that there is great misunderstanding about spirituality.  In the present culture there is clear evidence that spirituality is under construction, modification and syntheses by an evolving culture and changing perspectives.  However, more needs to be written and understood that addresses specific issues in greater detail.  The personal question for every person interested in a spiritual life and a relationship to God is what is shaping your understanding of spirituality and how do you explain the the basis for what you believe to be true about spirituality?


Dialectic. (2001). In World of Sociology, Gale. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from Credo Reference: Retrieved from

Ford, G. (2006). Ethical reasoning for mental health professionals. Thousand Oaks, California, USA: Sage Publications.

Galli, M. (2005, March). Spirituality for All the Wrong Reasons. Christianity Today , 49 (3), pp. 42-48. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Goldstein, W. S. (2009). Secularization Patterns in the Old Paradigm. [electronic version]. Sociology of Religion , 70 (2), 157-178. Retrieved from EBSCOhost March 25, 2011.

Logical, p. (2002). In A Dictionary of Philosophy, Mcmillan. Retrieved 30 2011, March, from Credo reference:

post-modernism. (2002). In International Encyclopedia of Environmental Politics. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from Credo Reference: Retrieved from

Living in the Shadow of Technology: Noise and Electronic Communication


lt is like living by the freeway and hearing the noise of traffic passing by– hour by hour– day by day.  The noise of the traffic, constant movement, telling the story that people are busy and that life is moving on, everyone traveling in their own direction, but where are they going?  To a charted direction, toward a destination of choice, to a reality created, the panacea of choice: Traffic constantly moving, what does it mean? Creating familiar sounds, the constant clatter of technology moving day and night describing meaning, declaring truth moving forward on a journey to somewhere, but where will it go, and what does it mean? Familiar sounds, which resonate a message, machinery moving, always going, traveling at the speed of sound, advancing electronic communication at its finest; but is the message communication between humans or just the clatter of technology?

Destination: Where the Road is Going

Where is the Road Leading?

Uncertainty about what is ahead makes it hard to focus upon where the road is at today. Looking back at where the journey has been and remembering the safety found in memories of how things were comfortable, manageable, and predictable; there is a desire to go back to a place built in the castle of the mind.  Living in the memory of the past and feeling the uncertainty of the present leaves fear of where the road is going and what will be there when I arrive. A destination is too much to fathom, to fearful to embrace; a place that having no certainty and no familiar faces.  Looking forward to undefined potential reality which can be experienced the call of the destination is understood.  Feeling anxiety in the present experience controlled by idealism about the past holds potential captive bringing ambivalence feeding the hesitation to move forward and embrace the destination: where the road is going.

The Ethics of Psychology and Christainity in Review of a Theoretical Orientation

The Influence of Theoretical Orientation, Vision, and Values     The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Does the way a theoretical orientation, conceptual vision, and underlying values are possessed have a potential to become an ethical dilemma for a practitioner? The simplest approach to an  answer is to consider how core values have impact decision making processes. Every practitioner is an individual holding  a set of value contained in an orientation that is a part of how decisions are made personally and professionally that express individual person-hood. An example of how personal values have an influence can be illustrated in the evangelical Christian value system which is a minority view among psychologists. For those who hold this point of view, it is reasonable to believe that beliefs held will encounter resistance from some traditional perspectives in the field of psychology.  This potential conflict is noted by Meyer (1988) who describes how psychology programs respond to Christian applicants:

Studies have shown that the religious population, particularly in the traditional institutional sense, is underrepresented in the profession of psychology (Malony, 1972; Ragan, Malony, & Beit-Hallahmi, 1976; Shafranske & Gorsuch, 1984). Gartner (1986) found evidence of an “antireligious prejudice” in admissions to doctoral programs in clinical psychology after sending mock applications to graduate programs (p. 486). What is apparent is that there may be a correlation between religious orientation and acceptance into graduate psychology programs.

If it is true that a bias exists against those who hold certain religious perspectives, a potential conflict may be present in the way candidates in the process of applying for graduate programs face disqualification which may indicate a larger issue of  general attitudes about religious issue in counseling setting.  What is apparent is that there is a noticeable gap in how religious orientation is viewed from traditionally held psychological perspective that may be affecting how the delivery of competent training is cited in this research. An a area of concern that is raised in how will those trained in an atmosphere of bias be adequately be considered competent to provide services to those who make up a a religious culture of clients when appropriate education, training, and ethical development is not represented.

There may be a mythology held by some in psychological education which minimizes religion as a non issue while maximizing scientific approaches as maximum intellectual truth.  The result informs an attitude that posits beliefs and values thought to be scientific as accepted principles for determining how religious people will be treated in matters related to faith.  As a result, the anti-religious sentiment represented establishes an ethical norm systematically imposed upon professional practice through training—educating of graduate students.

One way the disparity can be approached is by providing a reasonable approach to addressing religious issues. Then, determining what ethical issues and which principles may be relative to understanding the disparity. Identifying the philosophical assumptions is the foundation of understanding  for where the source of conflict is created.  Four key assumptions relating to ethical research are, ontological, epistemological, axiological, and methodological (2010, p. 4)

Both perspective have one fixed reality—ontological, possess an assumption about how truth is sourced—epistemology, emphasis upon certain values—axiology, and a rationale for how decisions are made—methodology. While both would claim to use a scientific approach that is based upon a particular empiricism, the source of conflict is a fundamentally different epistemology. When the question of where truth comes is asked for a Christian the answer is from God, or specifically what is known in a scientific study of theology about God.  For the secular theorist a philosophy of how truth is determined is either Kant’s formalistic rationalism, a utilitarian best case scenario, situational relativity, or contextual ethics.   One holds a Theo-centric epistemology while the other holds an anthropocentric-person, experience centered as a  locus of truth.  Therefore, what is reasonably assumed to be true and translated as a value is what each acts from.  In the same way that cultures differ in beliefs, mores’, and values, cultures, peoples, and races must be understood in context with ethically appropriate behaviors. The disparity that is seen in under-representation and bias among graduate schools indicate a potential ethical complexity and a potential for conflict in inadequate understanding, training, and representations to enable higher levels of competence.

Providing a rationale with support for the ethical conflict can be found within ethical codes prescribed by professional organizations.   Using a problem solving approach to resolve the potential conflict leads to B.1. Respecting Client Rights B.1.a. Multicultural/Diversity Considerations (2005, p. 7) and  2.01 Boundaries of Competence:

Psychologists provide services… within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, consultation, study, or professional experience … [with] understanding of factors associated with age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, or socioeconomic status is essential for effective implementation of their services or research (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 2010).

Based upon the principles expressed, the central question raised related to competency.  Is a therapist who was trained in an educational environment that is under-represented, described with a  bias against the culture of conservative religion, reasonably assumed to be competent and comply with the ethical code’s principle of competence?  If the answer is presumed to be negative, what is apparent is that there is an ethical dilemma and the counselor will be challenged to find ways to ethically,  professionally, and competently address a significantly represented cultural group who are underrepresented in multicultural training.


Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 2010. (n.d.). Retrieved August 29, 2010, from Amercan Psychological Association:

Ford, G. (2006). Ethical reasoning for mental health professionals. Thousand Oaks, California, USA: Sage Publications.

Meyer, M. (1988). Ethical principles of psychologists and religious diversity. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice , 19 (5), 486-488. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.19.5.486.

PhD Weekend experience SOSBS T2. (2010). Minneapolis, MN, USA: Capella University.

The ACA Code of Ethics. (2005). Retrieved October 1, 2009, from

Adjust Your Focus So You Can See Clearly

Out of Focus Picture

One of the great difficulties that leaders experience is the inability to change when it is necessary to stay vital and continue to experience success. One leadership principle that John Maxwell teaches in The Twenty One Laws of Leadership is that an organization cannot grow higher than the level of leadership at the top. He calls this the leadership lid. Does it seem like your organization is stuck; like someone has put a lid on the top and things have plateaued? It may be that the organization has grown as high as it can go because of the level of leadership it has. One of the reasons that organizations do not grow is because the leader has not been growing and as a result, both the leader and the organization are stuck in a complacent rut of ineffectiveness: everything is out of focus. Staying focused is difficult when you aim is off. One way to stay on track is by keeping a narrow focus. “…pressing towards the mark…” narrowing the focus to define what will be done. It is easy to look around and find someone to blame when things are not going well, but maybe the place to look is in the mirror and realize that when an organization is having difficulty that the answer may be that it is a leadership problem. One of the reasons we fall of track, so often, is that distractions, circumstances, and life change the center of our everyday world. The result is that organizations and leadership gets out of focus.

If there is one thing that will help leaders to continue to be successful, what would that be? People may have many different opinions, but the one defining truth is that leaders must continue to learn, grow, and develop their selves to maintain vitality. Learning to adapt to change is a requisite for leading in today’s leader. Talent Management Perspectives reports that, “Against the backdrop of an ever-changing global business environment and unstable economic conditions, it’s no longer sufficient for leaders to embrace the status-quo …”The organization has to lead change, rapid change. The environment is changing — someone’s inventing something before you expect it or something is collapsing in front of your eyes …’”It’s becoming much more important to deal with change and creativity and innovation and speed and nimbleness,” she said. “Those are part of producing the results; you have to pay attention to those factors”’ ( It may be that leaders have a lot of information at their disposal, but knowing how to use the information and where to apply change in style, strategy, and innovation will define how leadership will be applied in the context of change.

Personal growth and development are indications of a leaders potential for success. The moment you stop growing, you stop leading. All leaders are learners because there is no growth without change and there is no change without being flexible. When a leader stops growing, he/she becomes inflexible. Effectiveness can be measured in terms of predispositions and attitudes toward having never done it that way before. If the attitude is maintained that, “I want to lead the way I used to lead, the way I’ve always led” is maintained, then yesterdays methods will only yield results in yesterday’s constructs. The attitudes and skills that brought you to this point in your leadership are not going to take you to the future. New problems require new solutions. New situations require new attitudes. New difficulties and new opportunities require new skills and new attitudes. What brought you this far and made you a success – that’s why success creates inability to manage new ideas and challenges, because the rules are forever changing.

The root behind resistance to change is fear. There are times when fear paralyzes forward movement: I don’t want to change because I’m afraid of loss–I’ve done it this way and I feel comfortable with it. Therefore what am I going to lose if I do ministry in a new way? The root is the fear of change. Whenever you find yourself resisting a new way of doing something, or defending the status quo or striving simply to repeat the past because it worked last, it may be that there is a danger of terminal failure. What’s the key to overcoming this trap in leadership? The antithesis is to never stop developing. Never stop developing your skills, your character, your perspective, your vision, your heart, and what you bring to your leadership.

Skill brings success. You may be dedicated to what you are doing, but if development of the necessary skills is not occurring, the tools you have may not fit a new situation. A farming analogy might be: you can’t use a corn harvester on a wheat field, a cotton picker in an apple orchard. The tools that are used have to match the context, culture, organization, people that you are working within. Consequently, if learning stops then the axiom, that people tend to rise to their level of incompetence and then they get stuck there, kicks in and drives what will happen.

The Emptiness of a Life Without Meaning

Interstate 70 exit sign for Dayton Internation...
Where will the road go?

There is a preoccupation that people in America have with achieving happiness. Observing the economic downturn and the impact upon people’s lives every day drives home the message that many people today have the right to be unhappy. Everyone wants to know the sense of well-being known as happiness — feeling content, satisfied, and even joyful. Sometimes people feel they need to make a major life change to feel happy, but other times they might derive happiness from just appreciating everything they have and the people close to them. It may be that the path to happiness is to be found in being able to negotiate change in whatever happens to us in life. In the study of life-span development in psychology, there is a paradigm of truth that is taught that says that in each stage of life, we must be building the skills, abilities, and information base to effectively negotiate the changes in life. One of the factors of unhappiness in life is having unrealistic or false expectations of the future. In other words, if something that we believe and experience today is believed to be true for all of time and every season of life, we may be disappointed in the future.

Last week, I watched a special on television special that reported that, “on December 23, 2008, the General Motors assembly plant in Moraine, Ohio, shut its doors. It was the last plant in the Dayton, Ohio, area to do so … [a] new reality for Moraine—one defined by hardship, resilience, and the end of an era” ( This story is the stark reminder of how fragile the American economy is and the impact that the shift from being an industrial economy to a service is having upon the American worker. Gary Smalley (1998) writes that this generation of Americans is the first to not to have the expectation that there life will be better than their parents (The soul search: a spiritual journey to authentic intimacy with God). One of the ways that what is happening in our world may be described is by the emptiness that many are experiencing … troubled by moments of emptiness … that raises the question: Is this it—is this all there is? The answer may be described by getting perspective. Can experiences with such a radical change be peaceful, and even welcome, if viewed with a different mind-set?

It is very true that the way we view life can leave us thinking that life is unfair as suffering the consequences of changes engulfs the experience of life. You can start connecting life to a meaningful existence when you think in a new way about the meaning of life. One of the developmental deficits that is experienced by people is the deception that life will always be as it is today. George Kelley stated that the constructs of life are continually being renegotiated. It is disappointing and detrimental to what life can be to always look through the same binoculars. Tunnel vision in the hopes of life is a subtle form of self-deception. The problem that is faced in self deception is that it becomes a self-defeating behavior that has to be maintained: “Life is the art of being well deceived; and in order that the deception may succeed it must be habitual and uninterrupted” (William Hazlitt). Breaking free from self-deception is not an easy or painless task, it requires an awareness that how life is understood must be thought of in new terms to bring new meaning to existence.

The problem is that when we deceive ourselves, it is to maintain a sense of control that results from the anxiety of loss of control and feeling of helpless—hopeless, coupled with vulnerability. The results of the deception; the empty feeling left behind and the bad decisions that always births disappointment. Getting out of the trap is the secret and stop interpreting life in terms of disappointment and feeling like a victim. It has been well said that we all have problems: The question is what are you going to do about it? After a reasonable amount of time of experiencing and feeling the pain of the moment, we have to, sorta “suck it up” and figure out what is going to bring meaning to this thing that we call life?

Erickson, who was famous for the Life Stages Theory teaches, that there is a crisis of identity in every stage of life. When there are developmental occurrences, such as tragedy, stressful events, or death, it triggers a new search for identity, meaning, and purpose for existence. If the skills have not been developed in previous stages of life to make the transition, then skills must be built in the here and now to enable continuity and understanding of how to transition and continue to grow. When that does not happen, then life goes on, but there is not the ability to build a bridge to personal spiritual growth and maturity. So what are you going to do? You can wallow in the mud of life or develop yourself to move on.

Accepting and understanding the transitions in life is critical to a dynamic life that continues to grow and develop. Adjustment to new times, seasons, things, and people is necessary if we do not want to be stuck in the mud. Is it change that is the issue or that it forces one to think different, act different, and feel different? Let change be your friend not your foe …. Happiness is a moving target, but meaning is the arrow.