Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Morning meditation - Know when to hold em and know when to fold em.

The grieving continues as I think about the Pullman church every day.

I had gotten increasingly involved there and really liked the people and what I envisioned the mission to be.

As a therapist, I reflect continually on the topic of dysfunctional relationships in marriages, families, and organizations. I work with them all the time. It is hard to know when they are worth trying to save and when extricating yourself from the dysfunctional emotional system is the better way to go.

Not all marriages, families, organizations are worth sustaining and so individuals have to determine when to throw in the towel.

What I have learned over the years is that emotional systems deteriorate when there are struggles over power and control. As the bumper sticker says, "Change is inevitable, progress is optional." When key participants in emotional systems refuse to change, the system stagnates and will eventually die. This is the nature of things.

As Kenny Rogers sings in his song "The Gambler", "You've got to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them."

There comes a time when dysfunctional systems will die because they cannot adjust, accomodate to changing needs in the enviornment or even when it is required for its own healthy functioning.

M. Scott Miller, the author of The Road Less Traveled, talked about "therapeutic depression" by which he meant the feeling a person has when he/she has extracated him/herself from a dysfunctional system and can see how unhealthy and dysfunctional the people still are in the system they have left. There is a feeling of helplessness, and sorrow.

The story of the Buddha is that when he became enlightened, he was free to leave the wheel of samsara and move on to nirvana and he chose to stay and help his fellow human beings. For this he was called the compassionate Buddha.

Perhaps if I had been more enlightened, I could have stayed, but I have selfishly decided to move on.

One of the seven principles/values of Unitarian Universalism is the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.

I have a right to exercise my individual conscience and I respect the right of the Pullman congregation to operate as they see fit, but just as Americans elected George W. Bush and brought about the concomitant disasters domestically and foreign so too the Pullman Congregation has voted to continue with a model of ministry which is failing and not take a limited risk on hiring a minister which dooms the church to continued stagnation and slow death.

It is this lack of faith in the future and a refusal to move forward in hope that has led me to the observation that this emotional system will become increasingly isolated and irrelevant in our interdependent web of existence


  1. I don’t think it was selfish of you to move on. Recognizing the limitations of an organization and investing yourself in pursuits where you can have a more meaningful impact is a better use of your time and life energy. Reminds me of the little story you tell about the farmer who tries to teach a pig to sing. It frustrated the farmer and annoyed the hell out of the pig.

  2. I am grieving also.
    Do I continue being a member of the Pullman Universalist Church when my friends are leaving?
    We both has spent a great deal of time in the last year on helping the church.
    The 'Chalicefire' blog.
    The "who we are campaign"
    The search committee.
    The small congregation project.

    I am still mourning and uncertain of the future. I do know that the writings of Dave Markham have been inspirational to me and many more. God bless Dave. I love that man.

    As I wrote on chalicefire ... I am lucky. I will be meeting Dave in Brockport. So Dave ... see you next time.