In the land of the blind…

An acquaintance of mine wanted to offer up his 2 cents about what happened in Paris on Friday, so I offered up my blog as a means to convey what he wanted to say…


In the land of the blind, would they truly follow the “One-Eyed King?” Or would they embrace the comfortable existence they have grown accustomed to in their darkness?  What is sight to them if they are blind? Who can blame them should they refuse to trust that this King sees something beyond their understanding?

I suppose this would be the true test of faith. For if they do not reach deep inside themselves and find the courage to jump into the unknown, they will allow the One Eyed King to travel off into far and distant lands without them.
Though they know he can provide new pastures and opportunity should they go with him, they are unwilling to risk escaping what they have worked so long to build: a bland and tasteless life of stirring in emptiness.

Morning Meditation 11.15.15

Morning meditation 11.15.15

Islamophobia and bigotry towards Muslims is unChristlike. To accuse Muslims as the ones responsible for the attacks on Paris on Friday is ignorant and operating out of fear. What happened was under the guise of Islam and Muslims, but it’s a farce.

Do not give in to the notion that you are to retaliate, to get your “just desserts” by personifying the evil committed because your appetite will never be sated, take the violence out of circulation within your heart, and let that ripple effect move outward.

Take time to engage in dialogue and conversation with Muslims in your community. For in doing so you will grasp how much there is in common, how much overlap in our humanity and how we treat others.

If we take what Jesus said seriously, take time to dwell on this verse found in John 13:34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Let love win within our hearts and flow outward onto our Muslim brothers and sisters who have been misaligned as the ones responsible for the attack on Paris.


Don’t let fear and ignorance win!


In times of great evil my advice is simple; don’t let fear and ignorance win. With the horrific event that happened less than 24 hours ago in Paris, we need to realize that it wasn’t our Muslim brothers and sisters who were behind the attacks, and yet that might be the lie we tell others and one we ourselves might buy into.

How sad that Islamophobia and other religion-based phobia are very prevalent in our world today. To give weight, to have convoluted thoughts and lack sound judgment and rationality and go on and accuse Muslims (or any other religious people group) of doing something in the name of their God because supposedly that’s what s/he demands.

As a follower of Christ, I know that Christianity’s history is at times patchy, dark, and reeks of evil. From having a hand in modern Palestine and Israel to The Crusades, but just because something was done in the name of God does not mean in the SLIGHTEST that it was God and that religion, only the guise of God and religion.

I stand in solidarity with my Muslim brothers and sisters because I realize that what happened does not reflect true Islam and faithful Muslims across the world. I also stand with them because that is what Jesus would do and it is my desire to be Christ-like in my words and also my actions.


If there’s a heaven; Of unanswered questions, my grandfather, and Adolf Hitler

Earlier today as a personal exercise I examined myself from the inside as to what I’d like to do if Heaven exists. I realized as I was writing it that I slightly presented hell but not one of eternal conscious torment, but one where the fires lap at our human imperfections like dross from gold; a removal, an extraction of what isn’t good until we’re able to be reconnected with ourselves, with others, and also unto God.
With that being said, here goes something…


If Heaven does in fact exist, and if I am allowed to partake and enjoy it with God and all of humanity I want to do the following 3 things:

1) Find my maternal grandfather and catch up with him for an eon or so.
At this point in my life he is the number one person I miss the most of those who have passed away. He passed away when I was younger and I miss him a lot; I miss his stories, his humor, the weird twitching of his bicep when he’d flex, and so on. I do honor him now when it comes to All Saints Day and also when I meditate on the “cloud of witnesses” of saints who have gone before during my time of prayer. I hope that I am able to do this when I myself have passed away.

2) Present to God all the why questions I have.
I don’t know if I will have inner peace or satisfaction in asking all my why questions, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I realize that if given the opportunity it will take some time, but as the musician Chris Rice aptly put it; “it’s a good thing forever’s forever.” Yet maybe even still all I might receive is a hug and a resounding but comforting “I know…I know…I know” and that will be it. If it happens to be the latter, I am hoping that will be enough for my wearied mind.

3) If Adolf Hitler is already there, I want to forgive him.
If Hitler is already in Heaven, if he has already been removed of the dross that separates him from himself, humanity, and God, and provided I am dross-free as well I want to let him know that I forgive him. If, as Alexander Pope put it, “to err is human, to forgive divine” then I want to do that because I want to aid in reconnecting Hitler with his humanity and his Imago Dei-ness if at all possible. I realize the reason behind this is that I believe within every cell of my BEing that no one is able to fully resist the love of God forever because the very essence of God is love. It might take years or eons to “get it” and accept it, but love will win eventually. May the dross that separates us from ourselves, each other, and our creator be quickly stripped away!

Onward, Inward, and Upward!

Of working with kids and how it has affected my views on heaven and hell

Now not too long ago I put together a post on what I think about Heaven and Hell as a Red Letter Christ-centric Universalist. Yet as I have written on this subject, I realize that there’s another facet to my views about the afterlife and it stems from working with kids.

I work with kids 7am to 3pm Monday through Friday. I work with the same kids pretty much everyday, and so there are certainly bonds of connection between them and I, we get along great for the most part, but sometimes not so much. Whether it’s physical aggression, verbal aggression, lying, manipulating, etc. it disrupts our engagement with one another for a season- sometimes that’s 5 minutes and sometimes it lasts all day… but it doesn’t last forever! We patch things up with each other, there isn’t malice or hard feelings, we own up to what we’ve done and move on.


I am led to believe within every cell of my being that God too operates on this level. Because if I possess the capacity to do this on a small scale, why wouldn’t God do this on a much larger scale? Some people will contend that God won’t and doesn’t. Statements of “God is a just God” gets thrown out by those who claim a higher spiritual/moral high ground, but the “just” that gets presented perpetuates paradigms of up vs down, heaven vs hell, right vs wrong, belief vs faith, us vs them, and so on.
This “just” strikes me as more of a human construct than a divine one because it marginalizes people from other people, and last time I checked, God doesn’t marginalize anyone for the ground is level at the foot of the cross.

So to you the reader who believes in the existence of an afterlife conscious torment-filled hell, I give you permission to question this- why? You don’t have to post anything if you want to, but still give yourself space to explore the ins and outs.

– Nathanael –

Going back to school!

I am rather excited to say this, I am going back to college! In a way, it’s about time, but in another way I’m looking forward to going back to school and getting my Masters in Social Work. Apart from getting a MSW, my goal is to get the credentials to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC) as I want to provide counsel and therapy to people in addition to working in the behavioral health field.

Now why a MSW and a license to professionally counsel others you might ask? Because I believe that where I am at currently in my field is the ceiling given my experience and my educational background. Don’t get me wrong, I am still going to do what I do whole-heartedly and not half-assedly, but I realize this truth about me; I was meant to do more within my field, and I won’t be truly satisfied with my work-life until I get those necessary 8×10 sheets of paper.

At the last job I was at I worked under a woman who balanced out this very well, and while it isn’t my intention to copy or educationally or vocationally, but she certainly is an inspiration to me. And then there’s my beloved roomie Brian who [is single and available ladies and] has encouraged me to start the process, and he put it well, there’s no better time than now! And given our circumstances in life at this time, I concur with him wholeheartedly.

Onward and upward,

The stigma inside, the stigma outside; how mental health affects everyone

As someone who has worked in the field of behavioral health for nearly 5 years I realize something that is disconcerting; there is a lot of stigma about mental health, both those affected by it and the public.

I kind of was aware of this before getting into the field, the media has a cruel trend of making issues of mental illness and those who have it heinous monsters. It appears to me that it is little more than sensationalism much of the time. This stigma brought about by the media it is ill-informed and doesn’t do more than sell newspapers.

But the truth of the matter is that there isn’t just stigma on the outside, there is a lot of stigma on the inside. Since I have a perspective of one who works with those who have different mental illnesses, social-emotional disorders, etc. I feel a responsibility to rectify the stigmas where I can. I know that my words won’t shift the public perception completely, but to you the reader I hope you learn something from what I’ve gleaned in my time invested in this field.

People have mental illnesses, they are NOT their mental illness:
All too often people who have mental illnesses are classified by what they have as if they were the proverbial “poster child” of bipolar, schizophrenia, schizophreniform, borderline personality disorder, etc. Even the people who have this will say (whether intentional or not) that I am bipolar, I am schizophrenic, and so on. Some people I have met who have mental illnesses have used this as a way to self-identify, others have used it as a cop-out for their behavior (usually in light of something negative).

No person no matter how debilitating their mental illness is in fact their mental illness. I can sympathize with those who do feel this way, but I usually steer them into a mindset of what I’ve just made known, that people have mental illnesses but are not in fact their mental illness incarnate. My apologizes in perhaps beating the proverbial dead horse, but I want this point to be made perfectly clear.

It is better to listen than to talk and give out unsolicited advice:
As obvious as this might seem, it is still worth pointing out. To those in the fields of psychology, sociology, and any other field that requires interaction with people who have mental illnesses, take time to develop active listening skills as well as a good bedside manner, it will make all the difference in the world. Certainly take in what you hear with a grain of salt (at the very least) but you’d be surprised at perspectives that might not be “by the textbook”.

If I hadn’t taken the time to listen to one of my former residents, I would never have gotten an in-depth perspective of what life is like when you have auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations. This and other perspectives I have gleaned over the years have caused me to think and re-think what I personally know, and by far I have insight that I once didn’t have simply because I chose to listen and not impose what I think.

Sometimes you are the only “family” a person with mental illness has:
I have seen a lot of this and it still bothers me, family members not showing up or having little to do with their mother, father, son, daughter, brother, daughter because of their mental illness. Unfortunately I am whomever is working with that person is left to handle the damage control and whatever fall out that might ensue because of that family member’s failure to show up. In these instances I take time to listen, take time to BE with that individual, and sympathize with them and what he or she might be feeling.

Now I understand that “life happens” all the time, but for some individuals I have worked with the failure to show up on their family’s part was all too common. It’s heartbreaking for me to bear witness to someone who has been overlooked by their family. Please, for the love of the person, do NOT do this please.

Treating mental illness calls for a holistic approach:
The thing is that we’re treating a human being who has a mental illness, NOT a mental illness that has a human being. With that being said I find that a holistic treatment plan should be in place for that person. Why, you might ask? Well the thing is, medicine (provided the person is taking them) is NOT enough, and as I have told those I worked with in the past as well as in the present a holistic treatment plan I perceive a holistic treatment plan to look a little something like this.
– take your meds when you have to
– meet with your doctors and therapists when you need to
– get out in the community (provided this is an available option to the person)
– talk to staff in general, but also talk to them when you are having difficulties
– be honest with yourself about what you’re going through in life. do not sweep it under the carpet, do not stuff it down and repress it.
I have communicated this to my residents because I’ve worked with individuals who have thought they’d be “cured” of their mental illness by medicine alone. I do explain that mental illnesses cannot be cured, but managed well provided the individual puts in the effort to getting help and allowing themselves to being helped where needed.

As I go back to college very soon (more on this for my next post) I plan on continuing on in the field of behavioral health, and it is my intention to be more of an advocate and ally of people who have mental illnesses.