Welcome, Grace & Peace...

Welcome to my blog, a transdisciplinary place of reflection on creativity, pastoral theology, and psychotherapy. Posts are few, so check back periodically to see what's new. Enjoy!

The Rev. Martha S. Jacobi., PhD, LCSW


September 12th, "Live, from New York"

It is the day after the day before.

Much was said yesterday, about the new designation of September 11th as "a day of service and remembrance" (or is it the other way around?) -- which is great.  But what about today?  Do we serve and remember for one day only? 

The names and faces of so many wove themselves through  my heart and mind yesterday, and to a greater and lesser extent remain there today.  Some are living and some are not.  Some are healthy and some are not.  Some have become impoverished in the last eight years; some have not.  Some have left New York; most have not.  It is their home. 

And that is why I think September 12 needs to be held up as image and metaphor, not just of life "going on," but of how life goes on; of how we treat one another--how we respond to human sorrow, need, and pain.  In 2001, the subways began to run back into Manhattan again on September 12th.  I was on one of them.  It was the day when volunteers, not just first responders, were able make their way downtown, and uptown, and wherever they were needed.  Sometimes there was nothing to do, but just "be" with the eye-witnesses of the day before.  Sometimes, it was just about being together, supporting one another in comprehending what had happened.  Sometimes there were tasks to be done; recovery workers to support; sorrows to be held and griefs to be borne. 

Eight years have passed, and though September 11, 2009 was quite different that its counterpart of 2001, September 12th is much the same -- except for all the construction on the subways, and their failure to run anything close to normally today, and the appalling lack adequate money to help the suffering survivors.  Still we remember, lives lost and found; still we serve, because there is need.

It is always, now, the day after the day before.

Link to photos of Tribute in Light


Body, Brain, & Spirit

"The brain is part of the body."
I don't know who said it first; I think I heard it first from Francine Shapiro, at the 2003 conference of the EMDR International Association, in Denver. It was a moment that has stayed with me, and is ever present these days as I am developing my thesis proposal for a second level theological degree.

"The brain mediates...everything."
I don't know where I first heard or read that, either--but it is profound, and leaves me pondering more questions than responses to them. If the brain mediates "everything," how does the brain mediate the Spirit / spirit? How does the brain mediate God? What does one make of, in James' words, "the varieties of religious experience"? And what of the rest of the body in religio-spiritual experience? In Brainspotting with clients their "felt-sense" of religio-spiritual experience, that "felt-sense" is noticed, most often, somewhere below the neck--but not always... yet the phenomena of the experiencing itself is brain-centered.

"The human brain was not designed for the demands of 21st century urban life."
I read that recently, or something like it, in a couple of different places. I am not sure if I agree or disagree. While I have a visceral desire to agree wholeheartedly--I also feel a pull back from doing so. The brain's ability to adapt, to accomodate, to change, to grow, to heal--is phenomenal, as is that of the whole human body, and indeed the whole creation. (That said: I do not believe that the human brain was designed to meet the demands of hyper-excessive sensory stimulation, nor the concussive effects of explosions such as those experienced by far too many Iraq war veterans. If anyone doubts the effects of vibrational energy, here they are, in most negative form.)

So what about creation theology... and the need to hold together creation (& covenant & renewal) and redemption? In our "transitional eschatologies" (S. Mark Heim, A Trinitarian Theology of Religious Ends) what does care and repair of the physical aspects of creation look like? What recognition of ultimate versus penultimate healing and wholeness needs to be acknowleged? Yet however we define it, describe it -- it's all still mediated by the brain, which itself is part of that creation...

Where I'm going with this, what I want to explore, think, and write about--one day--is a theology of the brain. That's way "too big" for the current academic exercise, of course... but it's what's driving it. Brain and its relation to body, and the relation of both to God, and vice versa-- through that wonderful Lutheran Confessional Theological lens, which can do no other than root it all,sooner or later, in grace.

For now, I'll keep reading, exploring, learning, thinking.... and maybe write some of those thoughts here in the future.


Interlochen memories

I recently wrote a paper on an obscure phrase in the Smalcald Articles (Martin Luther's "theological last will and testament"): "the mutual conversation and consolation of the brothers and sisters" as a means by which the gospel is communicated. In the paper, I reflected on the paradox of contemporary technologies that bring people together -- and simultaneously let them remain apart.

When I wrote the paper, I was thinking, in particular, of Facebook, where there is now a rightfully "closed" group for people who attended the Interlochen Arts Academy c. 1969-1972, plus or minus. It is a remarkable group; remarkable when we were young & remarkable at the "certain ages" we all are now. Some in the group I first met as a summer camper, when I was 9 or 10 years old; others were met in high school. Some are my brother's friends. Yet Interlochen is a bond we all share; stories & confessions abound there; celebrations of life -- and also mourning of peers and former teachers. And of course the requisite: "what are you doing now?" and "does anyone know whatever happened to ________?"

The Facebook group is filled with nostalgia; with remembrances of times past... The "discussion board" brings us together in a particular state of mind: the children, the artists, the students, the performers we once were, together in the "land of the stately pines..." until news of a death is reported... "long illness" ... "AIDS, early in the epidemic" ... "unknown causes" ... And the fragility of life becomes present as the brief moments in real time when our lives intersected, fade into the reality of lives as they are now, as we are now.

Interlochen is in my blood. It was there that creativity and spirituality found each other in my life. There, that the dancer, sitting on the steps heading down to the Minnesota building, heard again the vocational call to ministry first sensed eight years earlier. "Who me?? Girls can't be pastors." Little did I know as I re-sensed that call, the Lutheran Church in America had just ordained Beth Platz. Much less could I know, eight years later that same church would ordain me.

Facebook has awakened roots and nearly lifelong friendships I thought were gone forever. But are they real or virtual? Or virtually real? Perhaps only a face-to-face reunion can answer those questions. Until then, I cherish the memories of "the way we were" and enjoy the maturity of who we all are now. It might not be exactly what Luther was talking about--but buried within those discussion boards, to me, there is grace.

"Sound the call...."

"God of the lakes..."

"Dedicated to the promotion of world friendship through the universal language of the arts."