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The Prospect of 2013

December 29, 2012 1 comment

The Year 2013: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Following the Christmas holidays, its natural for people to get sentimental, reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming year.  The media always has their “wrap-up” citing the headlines that most impacted the nation and the world.  There are wishes for a “Happy New Year,” promises, conjectured in the form of “New Year’s resolutions” (lose weight, spend more time with family, etc.).So, as I sit here and ponder the events of 2012, I must admit, my outlook is….bittersweet.  By nature, I consider myself neither an optimist, nor a pessimist.  A realist.  I know, I know, most people like to overuse that label for themselves, but truly, when asked if I see a cup half full or half empty, I will always respond, “BOTH!”Perhaps, it’s not my outlook, so much as my bull-headed determination.

I’ll stick with the previous assertion, thanks.  (Its my blog. Well, for now.)

This year has obviously been interesting with the election.  For my part, I was absolutely unclear about who was going to win, though, I certainly thought I saw tremendous support for Mitt.  However, in light of the direction the world was turning, reading the tea leaves also gave strong indications that Obama would pull through, in spite of no record, nothing what-so-ever to recommend him, and a continuing treasonous scandal.  I advocated for Romney, as much as I could, grew tense, like the rest of the country, fervently prayed, and waited.  Like many of you, that night, though I wasn’t shocked, but I was shocked.  I had been on my face, begging for God’s mercy on this country.  However, I also prayed for His will to be done.  The Lord spoke, the fate of America was solidified.

I went, immediately, to a somber state of acceptance.

Like most of you, the prospect of 2013 is dismal, in light of the political arena.  I have lost all faith in politicians, even in those I thought were truly fighting for truth and justice.  Time and time again, we have seen them bow to the will of those who grow in worldly power.

NATIONALISM VS. PATRIOTISM

I have recognized, through this process, that there is a clear distinction in “nationalism vs. patriotism.”  Nationalism retains that sense of arrogance, even in the face of God that we are better, bigger, and stronger.  That nothing will stop or hold us down.  Contrarily, patriotism is vastly different.  The patriot humbly clings to the principles that make one’s country great.  He recognizes the blessings, even undeservedly, that have been bestowed upon his nation, contingent upon obedience to the Lord and the principles for foundation.  A patriot doesn’t put faith in any man, but looks to the Lord for his sense of national direction.  He bows his knee to the Great I AM, accepting His plans, knowing that the protection of the nation is directly hinged upon what is done with the blessings and how well we uphold Biblical precepts.

As I stated before, I am an eternal realist.  My worldly outlook for the nation ,as far as the state of this planet, is grave.  Evil has been unleashed.  All too common these days, we hear of rampages of brutal murder.  People immediately want an answer,

“WHY?” 

What could possibly be the reason for such senseless violence? Now we see a spectrum of blame, polarities that want to crackdown on this heinous barbarianism.  On one side, governmental leaders are grasping, white-knuckled, to the claim that the problem is GUNS.  “We MUST eliminate firearms!” Another argument from the other side is that “We MUST revisit mental illness!”

As you might expect, I do not subscribe to either.

The problem is that all sense of morality, more specific, humility before the Almighty, has been cast out.  Society, as a whole, has spit in God’s face and pushed out any shade of godliness.  People have been hypnotized by the Dark Angel, masquerading in light.  They don’t believe in evil, unless it suits their purposes.  They don’t believe in the antithesis of evil, that being salvation only through Christ’s blood.  Instead they exchange one lie for another, until all sense of rationality and reason is subjective and without basis.

So you see, we could talk about the continued, growing scandals that have growing tentacles over the White House.  We could talk about the wildfire of Radical Islamization.  We could talk about the fiscal cliff that looms, in mere hours.  We could talk about genocidal dictators racing toward mass-extermination.

But, the crux of the matter is not as complex as it seems.  People are hung up on the thousands of symptoms of a simple, albeit, eternal crisis.The world has cocooned itself in a cozy bed of Godlessness.  They have set up their own altars, whereby they sit on their own throne.  Rather than serving the God of the universe, humans, regardless of culture, ethnicity or nation (a true testament to color blindness), embrace and worship the god “within.”

This cannot last.

Just as God is grace, He is the perfect balance of Justice and Judge, as well.  He does not force His will on man, yet retains the control in decision-making.  He can allow us to make the ridiculous choices that will cause self-destruction, both individually, corporately, as a society, and internationally.

Though He allows us our own way, don’t think for a second that He isn’t angered by it.  We cannot be so pompously deluded to think that we were created by a limp-wristed pushover.

He is YAHWEH!

THE GLASS IS HALF-EMPTY, BUT IT IS ALSO HALF-FULL.

In God’s never-ending kindness, the removal of protection can serve as a wake-up call.  When we are stripped of comforts, whether in leadership, or in security, we have the opportunity to turn to the only lasting truth in YESHUA, Jesus Christ.

For the few of us, who are truly watching, wide-eyed at the plans unfolding around the world, faith is strengthened.  I’ve heard it said, “The national and international headlines are now catching up to the Bible.”  The cards are on the table.  We are coming to that fork in the road, whereby we can choose to move toward God, or turn our backs on God.  Sadly, the Bible tells me that many will fall away from the faith. (Matthew 7:14, 2Timothy 4) Further, Christ tells us, “15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev.3:15-17)

My hope is in the Lord.  I do not know the specifics of what 2013 will bring, but I trust that He is JEHOVAH.  I take great hope in His mighty power.  (Ephesians 6:10-18) My outlook for this world, in the direction it is hurtling toward, is bleak.  People have chosen the path of Baal.  The Lord is rousing from His Holy Hill and He will come with absolute Authority and Justice.

Though, I am desperate to see His glory and His might, at the same time, I tremble at the prospect of an angry, JUST God.  I fear living in a land that has chosen to shove the Lord’s hand of protection away for the false notion of self-preservation and governmental rule.

If this nation refuses to humble herself in fear of the Lord, it is doomed to destruction. 

Nationalism is idolatry.  It is an ideology that dominates both parties, both sides of the aisle. 

With all of this bleakness, comes great hope, when one seeks and clings to the ONLY hope we have!  We have access to TRUE LIBERTY!  We can be unfettered and freed from bondage in the hope that comes from faith in the Lord, through YESHUA.  When we recognize that He IS the source of life; we are liberated, REGARDLESS of worldly powers.

These days, I treasure God’s Word.  I recognize the NECESSITY OF IT.  It is easy to get enthralled and overly distracted with the events unfolding.  Though Christ commanded us to, “WATCH!” (Matt.24:4, 42 read all of chapter 24) I must keep my FOCUS upon HIM.  We must SATURATE ourselves in the WORD.  I am constantly amazed and deeply grateful for the Bible.  Without it, faith and hope would be very burdensome.  But again, God in His grace and mercy, gave us the Cliff Notes version.

In summary: I know how the story ends;

He wins.

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SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON:

1 Samuel 12:24-25

24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”

Letter to the President and Secretary of State Concering the Iranian Threat

Mr. President,

I would like you to reconsider your stance, or lack thereof, on Iran.  It is crystal clear to the American people and people worldwide that the Iranian regime has no concern for sanctions, diplomacy or talks.  Time has been spent and is now of the essence.  You have an obligation, not only to our greatest ally, Israel, but to your OWN constituents (!) to protect us from the genocide that the leaders of Iran have voiced without hesitation over and over.  Their message has NOT changed.  I beg you, Mr. President, to take ACTION NOW.  If we saw evidence of a change in rhetoric, attitude, or mindset negotiations could continue.  I KNOW, sir, that you do not want innocent blood on your hands with apathy and a lack of direction and firm standing against this regime.  Please do not forget that Hitler for years, made his intent clear to the public and we sat idylly by while millions of innocent lives were exterminated.  Your people NEED you to clearly state, under no uncertain terms that time is up and we will use ALL measures, including military action to stop the Iranian Regime from building nuclear weapons.  You have a duty to the American people and the leader of the free world, to prevent the suffering of millions of people.  Please, the time is now and CANNOT wait!!!!  Israel does NOT want a war!  The Iranian civilians do NOT want a war.  We MUST take out their nuclear capabilities before the Iranian regime uses WMD’s on Israel, America, his OWN people, or other allies in the region. Further, I know you understand that not only Israelis and Americans are in direct threat, but Palestinians and Arabs who LIVE in Israel! Please do not take the defensive measure.  We can’t afford, literally, a disaster of epic porportions to take place!!  We must lead and take offensive measures since they will not back down.  The longer you wait – the closer we are – the more lives that will be lost.

See also: http://m.yahoo.com/w/legobpengine/news/israel-disappear-iran-says-ahead-rallies-113208830.html?orig_host_hdr=news.yahoo.com&.intl=US&.lang=en-US

Exodus Ministries: The Great Debate

Specifically, the concern of many liberals is that Chick-fil-a donates to an organization called Exodus Ministries (also known as Exodus International).  This is a faith-based ministry to homosexuals, families of homosexuals and leadership within the church.  Exodus, above almost all organizations in my opinion, is one of the most speculated, hated (by both sides), and misinterpreted.   Exodus statements are twisted, manipulated, and flat out lied about.  The rumor mill never stops.

Exodus was founded in the late 1970’s by several men whose desire was to leave the homosexual lifestyle and help others overcome homosexuality.  It was brought to my attention the story of a man by the name of Michael Bussee, one of the founders of Exodus now advocates against the organization based upon its practices at the onset.  To be clear, I don’t know specifics of the beginning of Exodus. What I do know is that homosexuals in that period of time (and now!) needed care.  They needed love.  The church kicked them out without trying to support and walk along-side of them.  The gay community was terrified in with what became known as AIDS and there was a profound need.  There were no other organizations or ministries in existence.

I have no doubt they made mistakes.  We all do!  But, their passion, their motives, their heart for the gay community and for those who struggle with same-sex attraction was ignited.  They took a leap of faith, a shot in the darkness, and launched not knowing the specifics of how Exodus would take shape.  What I can say is that the church is often criticized and hated for mistakes.  Let me be clear.  In many ways the church as a whole has stumbled and failed to address issues properly – and we still do.  But, the fact is the church is made of fallible, imperfect sinners.  We don’t have a magic wand.  We don’t carry a get out of jail free card or some dry erase board of our personalities or our tendencies.  We still fumble.  There are very well-intentioned people who genuinely believe they are doing good when they are actually setting back the ministry and message of the Bible.

Consider this: every institution has flaws. 

Education

We have education boards and PTA to evaluate and reevaluate the methods that are most effective for learning and knowledge retention.  But, it is a fact that each individual responds differently.  Each child and even into adulthood, we learn in different ways.  Our personalities, our disabilities, and our passions each contribute to how we ingest information and process it.  The teachers we employ, how much do we pay them?  What about tenure?  How about the curriculum that is used?  The education process is constantly revamping its methods (or should be, I suppose.).

Medicine

We have laboratories and grant-funded medical research teams that are specified in trying to find cures for diseases such as AIDS, autism, breast cancer and Alzheimer’s.  These are debilitating and heart wrenching diseases that scientists are feverishly trying to find effective treatments and cures.  They can only find such developments by trials, tests, and continued research.  They’ve tried and failed in avenues that at one point seemed to have hope, only to be forced to go back to the drawing board.  When it comes to certain illness, hundreds of years ago the medical practices seemed effective but now that science has continued and pressed on for more information, we no longer practice.  Bloodletting, lobotomies, etc.

Government

Don’t even get me started….Seriously….

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The issue of Exodus, it’s practices and beliefs is of importance to me for a few reasons.  I am clinical counselor who retains a Biblical worldview.  And I also have a heart for the gay community.

It is vital to understand a baseline for this discussion: there is a difference between a homosexual lifestyle and homosexual orientation.  Homosexual lifestyle is the acting upon desires, thoughts, impulses, and attractions.  A homosexual orientation is the desire for, thoughts, impulses, and attractions themselves.  This is a necessary distinction to determine what is actually “sinful” according to the Bible.

As far as the view of homosexuality and changing, I would posit that there are people in three “camps”:  1. Those who believe it can be “cured.” 2. Those who believe that homosexuality is an unchangeable, biological fact, and that to attempt to change is harmful and 3. Those who believe that a homosexual can, with proper support, change his lifestyle. (strong emphasis on “lifestyle”.)

It must be understood is that there are people who believe that homosexuality can be cured.  To use the word “cure” has multiple interpretations.  There are people who genuinely believe that through therapy (faith-based or clinical) one can wipe out homosexual orientation.  At this point I must confess, I don’t know much about reparative therapy.  It is a small orientation of thought that I have not been educated in, therefore to make strong comments about it would be inappropriate.  However, I can say this, there are many schools of thought in psychology that I do not ascribe to.  As any theoretical adaptation, man has put forth ideas to observe behavior, modify behavior, and assist clients in their pursuit and navigation through life.  Some techniques are effective, some are not, and many are debated for their effectiveness.

Throughout the history of social sciences, people have modified their opinions and ideas based upon ethics (such as electroshock therapy) and upon new interventions (such as twelve step programs).  As individuals in life, we all go through a cycle of research (limited or extensive), thought, and action.  We all learn lessons, are rewarded, and punished.  When we step back and reflect upon a transaction in life that has not been beneficial and reassess where we can improve, make necessary changes and then move another direction, progress occurs.

My approach to change in the homosexual is a little different from a “curist”.  My belief is that Christ can change any heart.  However, that does not mean that our propensities vanish (although sometimes they do).  A sex addict who accepts Christ may never have temptation again.  An alcoholic who has tried everything, may never desire a drink after an encounter with Jesus.  But for most of us, life is a series of difficult pursuits to avoid what we carnally desire, yet what is harmful and condemned in Scripture.  Most of us battle anger and tempers, food addictions and smoking, though we depend upon the Lord’s strength.

And that is the point!

We need the Lord’s strength to overcome our temptations.  As difficult as it is, our failures of heart, our weaknesses can either defeat us and we surrender back to the lifestyle or can cause us to draw nearer to Christ for strength.

You will find that Alan Chambers states he is thankful for his same-sex attractions.  A controversial statement that many people misunderstand, but the point is that as a result of his weakness, he found God.  And it is God who can help us everyday overcome our failures and temptations, if we allow Him.  This is in His timing.  So often people who are trying to change habits get so frustrated wondering when it will just “happen already!”

But, the process and journey looks different for every individual.

That point cannot be underscored enough.

I believe Exodus is in another phase of evaluation.  A natural one.  As a matter of the therapies that Exodus has endorsed, though not personally practiced, they reevaluate the methods of support that is offered to individuals.  It is important to reemphasize the fact that every method of support is not effective for every individual, just as education is not straightforward across the board.  The intent of this organization has never been to hurt people, denigrate individuals or make strong political statements. I have been to Exodus events and have many of their publications.  The term “ex-gay,” while initially accepted has been vehemently rejected in the last decade by Exodus.

I truly believe that it is the goal of this organization is to love others and to equip the church to balance truth within the absolute scope of compassion.

They mean to assist people in their struggles, to walk alongside them as they navigate through life.  Alan Chamber’s recently spoke a fabulous message in which he states that for far too long people have made this one issue center.  The fact is that we all struggle and move through life.  I have a propensity to worry, to become anxious for which the Bible tells me not to!  Jesus is my comfort, yet I forsake Him when I worry or become anxious.  He died so that I would not be in bondage to that sin.  Another man or woman may have a propensity to homosexual orientation.  And when those desires are acted upon, they forsake Christ.  One statement that Alan makes struck me.  In essence he said, “Christ did not hang longer on the cross for homosexuals.”  How true!  Christ didn’t detail every moment, “Now this minute is for the adulterers.  This minute of pain is for the gossips.  That nail is for the swindlers.”  No!  Rather he bled and died on that tree for the freedom from ALL sin for ALL of mankind.  The unfortunate fact is now we want to divvy out whose penalty was greater.  That is missing the mark and desecrating the whole purpose in the sacrifice.  The point is that we accept his punishment.  Period.  You need salvation, I need salvation.  When we bicker about who is more sinful, we waste precious time and energy.  We all must accept the forgiveness for our sins.  None of us are forgiven unless we allow the Lord to forgive us.  This is an incredibly simple concept with tremendous incredulity.  How amazing is it that God grants us forgiveness for every wrong simply by taking the step of faith to trust and accept it!  Yet, how complex we make it!  How cumbersome it is for many to actually make that step!

Finally, I have learned this:  there are some individuals who will continue to intentionally misrepresent Exodus no matter the facts.  No matter how often mission statements and messages pledge allegiance and uncompromising commitment to loving and supporting.  No matter how often people deliberately overlook the daily, humble action of quietly loving and walking alongside people who genuinely struggle.  There will be people who are malicious and hateful.  What I have to remember is this:

Christ died for them too.

We continue to love in action.  We continue to stand for truth as it is given to us in the Word of God. And we continue to serve.

I leave you with two important bits of information:  One is the quotation from Exodus about its mission.  And the second is the message Alan Chambers made at this year’s conference Alan Chambers:  Made for More.

I’m always curious to see what people are saying about Exodus and as the PR person, I’m pretty sure there’s something in my job description about that too. I’ve heard some winners in the years I’ve spent working on and around this subject. Hmm . let’s see. According to some, Exodus believes in inhumane psychiatry that harkens back to the Dark Ages. Others say we peddle nonsensical, mind-altering remedies to unsuspecting prey that erases any and all attractions. Still others’ seem to think we hold mysterious camps with all the security measures of the FBI training facility in Quantico – just in case anyone would think of escaping. Of course, none of that is remotely true and all of it is wholly laughable, but it is amazing how hearsay begats rumors and rumors begat hard news. So, here’s the 411 on the top myths about Exodus International to set the record straight (no pun intended):

U.S.S. PRAY THE GAY AWAY:

Prayer is certainly an important part of a Christian’s life, but it’s not a magic formula. If you find one let us know. J This mantra ignorantly dismisses the complicated issues that often underlie attractions and deeper still – identity. As I said before, we don’t think many, if any, wake up one morning, down their coffee and decide to be gay. Sexual attractions develop for many known and unknown reasons and no one chooses those. As complex individuals, we must also take into account the way others hurt us and the way we hurt ourselves. For many who contact Exodus, hurt has become a familiar, but unwelcome fixture in life. Talking to God about these things is part of a dynamic relationship with Him, but it doesn’t always change the fact that dealing with it is just plain hard work.

CAMP GAYBEGONE:

As for those mysterious gay-to-straight “boot camps,” they don’t exist. And neither do any other Exodus camps – mosquito infested or otherwise. We do have an annual conference and some local ones too – held at churches, conference centers and Christian college campuses -just like other Christian conferences, though I’ll freely admit that the content is eye-poppingly unlike most other Christian conferences. We aren’t interested in bludgeoning others with our big black Bibles or our views. Truth be told, we can barely keep up with the 300,000 calls and e-mails we get every year from those who do want our input.

Exodus International doesn’t exist to make gay people straight, promote a formula for “success,” to make money or even to pass legislation. We exist to help others live a life that reflects the Christian faith. We’ve found that the opposite of homosexuality is most certainly not heterosexuality. It is holiness. It is loving God and being loved by Him. It is accepting His identity for us, instead of everyone else’s. But those things don’t often make headlines and I suspect that, unfortunately, we’ll continue to see more crazy things out there churning around in the rumor mill.

Chick-Fil-A in a Stew

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Chick-Fil-A ruffles feathers with stance on traditional values

“Guilty as charged,” was the statement recently made by Chick-Fil-A owner, Dan Cathy, when asked about his company’s support of  traditional family values.  Cathy’s stance has ruffled more than a few feathers and the cuddly cow has now been stamped as one bad egg.  The Leftist brood is squawking the usual cries of hate, bigotry, and homophobia.  A Bostonian mayor has now infamously stated that he won’t let the company nest anywhere near his city, so long as he reigns.  One “gay rights” group has hatched a mass “kiss-in” idea at local restaurants, in an apparent gay PDA showdown.It seems gay pride activists shouting typical accusations of homophobia (“You’re just chicken!”) is supposed to really show Cathy who rules the roost.  (Note:  Don’t mess with their pecking order.)

Like chickens with their heads cut off, the media is flapping about in an attempt to subdue and bully the only company willing to stick its neck out for faith and family values.  Yes, walking on eggshells is the name of the game these days, what with Oreo creating the ever diverse rainbow cookie, it seems even food should be tolerant and diverse in social issues.

Unfortunately for liberals it looks as though Cathy won’t be chickening out anytime soon, further stating:

We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,”

Rather than taking Cathy’s statement viewed as a personal set of values with overtones of gratitude, leftists are outraged, crying “Fowl!” It is possible that much to the chagrin those who support “diversity and tolerance” (wink) one projection is that sales will shoot through the hen-house with all of the publicity and free marketing.  Funny, Chick-Fil-A has had plenty of chicks to count even without a sunrise on Sundays.

And seriously, who doesn’t want a chicken sandwich, waffle fries and a down-home sweet tea after a good hen-pecking?!

What has flown the coop is any rational idea of freedom of speech and freedom to practice religion of one’s choosing.  It takes a bird brain to go on a vicious and personal counter attack to one merely civilly expressing his freedom of belief.  When it comes to diversity and tolerance, many on the left proudly display the egg on their face.  Give them a solid, Bible believing person of faith, they set up the ring and strut around like a banty rooster, waiting for the cock-fight to ensue.  (Sorry, PETA.)

For now, it seems it’s sunny side up for the “Eat more chicken” folks at Chick-Fil-A.

When it comes to standing up for faith, family, and values, that truly is something to crow about….

All the Pretty Little Horses in Pink Ribbons

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Feminists squeeze the life out of breast-cancer awareness.

Apparently, calls for rejoicing were a few moments too soon.  About a twenty-four hour period, too soon, to be exact.  It took less than a full day for the venom coated, teeth baring to ensue.  How swiftly they ran, tails between their legs, whimpering all the way home!  Wildly ironic is the commitment to empowering and educating women.  Banners and ribbons, t-shirts and key chains all proclaim the “I am women, hear me roar!” motif.  Yet, Susan G. Komen has bowed to political pressure.

Where there seemed to be a glimpse of rationality, common sense went up in a puff of pink smoke.

I’ve long been cynical about little pink ribbons that adorn everything from golf balls to port-a-potties.  What began as a worthy cause, has been trampled upon, recycled and spewed forth as a campaign for feminism and abortion rights.  Soft pink used to adorn the cradles of newborn, little girls.  Pink then progressed to a sweet, simple message for all women who have been touched by breast cancer.  Today, they’ve been high-jacked by extreme, liberal, feminists who claim their rights to murder anyone under a moment old.  Cross the poisonous political lines they’ve carefully candy coated, and they will wipe your name out of existence.  Thus, when the charity had a moment of clear thinking – “Maybe, our campaign for promoting the lives of women is conflicting with Planned Parenthood’s commitment to killing babies (half are little women) isn’t quite cohesive,” the rabid, feministas came out ready to eviscerate Susan G. Komen.

Picture the Wicked Witch of the West to the doe-eyed Dorothy, “I’ll get you my pretty!  And your little DOG too!”

Screw individual convictions!  Empowerment of women? Yup, trash that too!

“They’ve breached the exit out of the dungeon!  Guards!  Quick!  Release the wolves!”

Oh, the wolves attacked and poor, spineless, little Susan retreated.  That sad, white flag was unpacked and raised – after only 24 hours.  In case you didn’t even get the NEWS in that amount of time.  The Susan G. Komen foundation, the premier charity for breast cancer awareness and fundraising (or used to be, once upon a time) finally decided to break ties and cut Planned Parenthood loose from their organization.  Planned Parenthood, the ruse organization that claims to provide health options for women all the while cashing in on their latest crop (human children in uteuro), was accepting hundreds of thousands in funds raised by the charity.  Just a day ago, Komen, cited, scientific support that links abortion with breast cancer, as reason for dropping the death mongers.

Morality and a sense of decency were abandoned at the inception of Planned Parenthood, but it seems now they hate science, too. 

Go figure.

So what happens when a spoiled child gets their favorite pink lollypop taken away? They throw a tantrum, curse and spit, and make loaded threats!

I guess little Susie actually did shake in her little pink laced boots.  So, before the sun set on all the pretty little horses and Susie got her toys all taken away, she recanted and put Planned Parenthood back in good standing.

“No more growling, PLEASE!!!  We can’t HANDLE anymore of your senseless, mindless saber-rattling!”

All is well again in Nursery land of all the widdle girls.  Cue the lullabies…

COME ON!  Is that all it takes??  Some loose-cannon, liberal bloggers who use language that would embarrass a sailor? Are you KIDDING me??  What ever happened to “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me!”?

I hate to say it, but Susan G. Komen, MAN UP for crying out loud!

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For other excellent commentary and facts click here (CAUTION: Images which may be disturbing to viewers regarding abortion and breast cancer.  Scroll down, to bypass, but discretion is advised)

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

November 14, 2011 1 comment

Courtesy National Geographic

Abstract

 September 11, 2001 was a day of tremendous loss and trauma.  Both people who were directly exposed and those who were indirectly exposed through media and second-hand accounts were shocked by what they heard and saw.  The effects of this tragedy rippled across the globe and have perpetuated an onslaught of post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses based upon the stress that witnesses endured.  In this paper, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, will be discussed as it relates to the events of 9/11.

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER AND THE 9/11 TERRORIST ATTACKS

Key Words

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Direct exposure

Indirect exposure

September 11th, 9/11

Ground Zero

Introduction

            The events that occurred on September 11, 2001 will be forever apart of history as one of the most traumatic and horrific days.  For those who directly survived the attacks, most are permanently altered, perhaps not physically, but emotionally.  And for those of us watched in horror as thousands of innocent lives were taken, we will forever have the images burned into our memories.  Many of us can not forget where we were that awful day.  For many people, this event was the first realization that this world is not the place they once thought it to be.  Rocked straight out of their comfortable self-portrait of harmony, suddenly everything was tainted with the possibility of violence and evil.  This event was one of the largest and most visible acts of violence ever carried out.  Because of the accessibility of technology and media, the world watched as violent, raw evil converged upon New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.  As a result of the worldwide spread of images through television and internet, thousands of people suffered trauma.  For first responders, survivors, firefighters, police, and scores of innocent bystanders, their ability to easily move beyond their first-hand witness of the events became difficult in the extreme.  Amidst the physical injuries and the respiratory issues that plague many who were there at Ground Zero, there are wounds that are unseen.  Scars that have wounded the mind, dampened the spirit, and cast a shadow on the heart are common for those who were there.  When life as it once was, even in a new light, is unable to continue, the American Psychiatric Association (2000) calls this post-traumatic stress disorder.

Definitions

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV(2000) defines post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as:

the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threat to one’s physical integrity; or witnessing an event that involves death injury or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or learning about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a family member or other close associate. (APA, 2000 p. 463)

Some events that are considered traumatic include:  military combat, violent personal assault (sexual assault, physical attack, robbery, etc.), being kidnapped, being taken hostage, terrorist attack, torture, incarceration as a prisoner of war or in a concentration camp, natural or manmade disasters, and others. (APA, 2000) Criteria for a PTSD diagnosis include:

  • The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present:  the person experienced, witness, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others or the person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.
  • The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced, or re-lived, in one (or more) of the following ways:  Recurrent, distressing recollections of the event, through images, thoughts or perceptions.
  • Recurrent distressing dreams of the traumatic event
  • Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur on awakening or when intoxicated)
  • Intense psychological distress at exposure cues that symbolize or resemble some aspect of the traumatic event.
  • Physiological reactivity when exposed to cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
  • Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three or more of the following:

Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma, efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma, or the inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma.

  • Marked diminished interest or participation in significant activities
  • A feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
  • Restricted range of affect or emotional responses
  • Sense of a foreshortened future or feelings of doom
  • Persistent symptoms of increased arousal as indicated by two or more

Difficulty falling or staying asleep

Irritability or outbursts of anger

Difficulty concentrating

Hypervigiliance

Exaggerated startle response, jumpiness

  • Duration of the disturbance is more than one month (APA, 2000)

To be diagnosed with PTSD, the disturbance must cause “clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.” (APA, 2000)

Direct Exposure

Direct exposure is defined as someone who “experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events involved actual or threatened death or serious injury” (APA, 2000, p. 467).

Indirect Exposure

Indirect traumatic exposure is defined as “knowledge of an event through a first person account of actual or threatened death or serious injury (irrespective of the relationship to the survivor)” (Zimering et al, 2006).   Relief workers responding after the towers fell, received direct exposure to traumas at the disaster site and indirect exposure to trauma via survivor accounts of the terrorist attacks. (2006)

September 11th (9/11)

September 11, 2001 also referred to as 9/11 is the day that a terrorist attack upon the United States of America resulted in the death of nearly 3,000 people.  New York City was attacked by two commercial jetliners that crashed into the Twin Towers, causing the fall of both buildings.  Two more airplanes were used as massive bombs, one hitting the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and one diverted by brave passengers, crashing into a field in Pennsylvania.

Ground Zero

Ground Zero is the common reference to the location of where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stood and ultimately fell, resulting in a massive loss of life and an enormous pile of rubble and steel.

Statistics

PTSD is a serious and debilitating disorder.  It is estimated that the prevalence of PTSD in the United States is approximately 8%. (Kazi, Freund, Ironson, 2008) Though this disorder was once thought to occur only in veterans, we now know that it also civilians of all ages and walks of life.  It has no limits to culture or socioeconomic groups and can arise from many different traumas.  September 11th, was not exempt from these traumatic events.  Many of those who were directly and indirectly exposed to the tragic happenings of that day were traumatized, some resulting in classifiable PTSD.  In a speech given at Ground Zero, the speaker said, “Here we stand today as the Trade Center casts a shadow over all of us. (Kanarian, 2007, p. 121) An observer wondered what the speaker was talking about, noting that the World Trade Center was gone.

The speaker continued, “The World Trade Center will always cast a shadow over our minds for the rest of our lives; there is no getting over this one.” The observer then remarked, “His words were the truest I have heard relating to the World Trade Center attack and post-traumatic stress.” (p. 121)

Direct Exposure

            When talking about direct exposure as it relates to the 9/11 events, exposure characteristics such as:  injury, exposure to the dust cloud resulting from tower collapses, proximity to the World Trade Center or WTC site, personally witnessing specific horrific events, experiencing panic attacks during the attacks would qualify.  (Neria, DiGrande, & Adams, 2011Among retired firefighters, 22% were found to have symptoms of PTSD four to six years after the attacks (2011).  For those respondents who were at the WTC at the time of the attack, PTSD was almost twice as common compared with those who witnessed the attacks in person from outside the WTC (Bonanno et. al., 2006).  Individuals who were directly exposed to the terrorist attacks exhibited signs of PTSD at a rate of 20% (Zimering et al, 2006).

Indirect Exposure

PTSD was documented in individuals who were indirectly exposed to trauma that did not directly involve a family member or other close person. 4% of individuals living outside of the attack sites who were indirectly exposed to the tragedies via television were found to have symptoms of PTSD (Zimering et al, 2006).  These findings implore us to understand that health care providers should be sensitive to and aware of the enormous variability in response following a major national trauma. (Silver et al, 2004)  It is not only those who are directly exposed to traumatic events who suffer, though, obviously they are most gravely affected.  As Kazi, Freund, and Ironson (2008) state:

 Terrorist attacks may differ from the other traumas that are known to elicit PTSD, as in the case of 9/11, where survivors not only had to manage their own escape but had to witness a national disaster, fellow workers’ deaths, victims jumping out of high windows, physical ramifications of inhaling smoke and dust from the fire, and the demise of the entire buildings. This terrorist attack resulted in the American society’s questioning its fundamental belief of the world as a predictable, safe, and meaningful place to live. (p. 101)

In a national telephone survey of 560 adults three to five days following 9/11, 90 percent had one or more symptom of posttraumatic stress, with 44 percent to a substantial degree (Meisenhelder & Marcum, 2004).  Further, in another study, none of participants in a positive PTSD group reported a 9/11-related death or injury to a family member or close friend (Silver et al, 2004).  This finding supports the notion that PTSD from PTSD from indirect exposure can occur even in the absence of a personal connection a victim (2004).  The researchers state,

We have found significant psychological reactions across the U.S. after the September 11th attacks; our findings strongly suggest that the effects of these terror attacks were not limited to communities directly affected.  Instead, our data show that substantial effects of the events of September 11th rippled throughout the country. Importantly, the degree of psychological response to the September 11th attacks was not explained simply by degree of exposure or proximity to the trauma. Many individuals who lived hundreds of miles from the attacks or had low levels of exposure (i.e., individuals who watched the attacks live on TV and those who reported no direct exposure at all) reported high levels of symptomatology. (pp. 138-139)

Immediately following the attacks, three national studies found posttraumatic stress symptoms throughout the U.S. population (Neria, DiGrande & Adams, 2011). In a national telephone survey conducted within the first week following 9/11 44% of participants reported substantial stress reactions (2011). In a similar internet survey study, with a nationally representative sample of 2,273 adults, 4.3% reported a prevalence of PTSD that was significantly associated with the number of hours of television coverage of 9/11 (Neria, DiGrande & Adams, 2011).

It is clear that the events of September 11th had a tremendous, traumatic impact upon those who were directly exposed and those who were indirectly exposed. Until 9/11, little regarding indirect exposure to trauma has been studied, but is now, clear that there is a prevalent need of further study and examination.  Though it is certain that, naturally, those who were directly impacted by the events of that day were most traumatized, people who were indirectly exposed were also at great risk for tremendous stress and trauma.

Symptoms

            The symptoms of PTSD can be severely impairing to even normal daily activities for the sufferer.  Some symptoms are recalling or recollection, avoidant and numbing, severe, lasting emotional and affect change, hyper arousal or startle response, functional limitation, nightmares and intrusive thoughts, and survivor’s guilt.  (APA, 2000)  Many of these stress reactions are frequently caused by “triggers” that remind the sufferer of the events that were found to be traumatic (Kanarian, 2007).  Kanarian (2007) defines triggers as, “emotional trip wires that evoke memories of traumatic incidents.  They can be sights, sounds, smells, and feelings and are timeless, capable of making memories years later feel as if they occurred yesterday (Kanarian, 2007, p. 122).  When we are able to recognize what situations, sights, smells, or sounds trigger a stressful reaction within us, we are, thus, able to deal with them.  By learning the signs and symptoms of PTSD and strategies for dealing with the triggers, it is possible to become aware of a reaction within ourselves.  The severe affect change within people suffering from PTSD can manifest in edginess, irritability, nervousness, and easily startled (2007).  PTSD can also cause short-term memory loss that may result in repeating questions and trouble concentrating or focusing (2007).

Re-experiencing

Seeing the images that accompany that horrendous day in September can burn the memory into one’s mind, replaying over and over.  For those who were there at the site, stuffing the memories and pictures away is difficult.  As Kanarian (2007), “Even after you have forgotten an incident, one sight, smell, sound, or thought can bring you back to the moment and stimulate a vivid memory of a traumatic incident.” (p. 127)

In an online article about 9/11 survivors,

For about a year afterward [survivor, David Donovan] had nightmares and little appetite. The company hired psychiatrists, but he said he felt more comfortable talking with his colleagues who had been through the same experience. For a year and a half, he couldn’t fly and found being in a subway difficult. He said he still looks for the emergency exit when he’s in a large crowd.  (Ochs, 2011)

Another survivor reported feeling in a state of shock for weeks or months after 9/11 (Kazi, Freund, Ironson, 2008). She related feeling “dull,” had difficulty concentrating, and experienced visual hallucinations of objects falling. She was clinically depressed, crying daily, and felt “paralyzed,” after 8 months.

This survivor’s experience of re-experiencing was discussed,

Judy reported having post-traumatic stress disorder following this event. She admitted to having panic attacks when sitting in traffic on a bridge, overhearing stories about the tragedy, and at the thought of traveling by air. There was a time when the fire alarm was set off while she was in therapy, and she recalled having an overwhelming flashback of being on the 78th floor at the time of impact. She said that she thought that she might be thrown across the room. So she left therapy, walked 13 blocks until she found the subway, and then felt safe. She had difficulty watching the news or reading the newspaper for some time thereafter.  ‘There was all of this awful news coming out at me, so I had to focus only on healing myself and not to get caught up in it,’ she stated.(Squillace, 2003, p. 25)

Numbing

            In trying to cope with the traumatic events that one has witnessed, many times it is natural for a person suffering from PTSD to push the memories, emotions, fears, and feelings away.  Shutting down seems easier than continuing to relive the horror, thus they become numb and avoidant.  Because there are triggers that can continue to evoke a response in the traumatized, many times he or she will simply avoid any place, person, or situation that might bring about a stress-related response.  In the Newsday (Ochs, 2011) article mentioned prior, one survivor states that he simply could not function.  He began avoiding, even simple, daily activities, such as shaving.  He recalls staying in his bathrobe all day.  “I went into a total funk,” he had said (2011).  A first responder related his experience,

At first, it was discouraging to constantly pick up only parts, and after a while it stopped upsetting me. I realized that I was becoming numb to what would have been horrible to others. That is when I knew that I had to stop working and it was time to go home. (Squillace, 2003)

Survivor’s guilt

One survivor of the attacks of September 11th, said that he learned to handle triggers that might prompt a panic attack, such as a car making certain noises, but “the hardest,” he said, “was the survivor’s guilt.” (Ochs, 2011)  Survivor’s guilt can lead a person to ponder why they were spared when others were not.  Guilt colors the elation that might be naturally felt for surviving a traumatic event.  Questions about what more could have been done, why they made it, if they should have done something different, even if it meant their demise, are common.  As one survivor related,

‘There’s always this nagging guilt,’ he said. ‘Should I have stayed to help? What could I have done? The rational part of me knows I did the right thing. I’m not trained to rescue . . . but there’s always going to be a piece in the back of my mind: Could I have done something?’ (2011)

Finding Faith in 9/11

            The days that followed September 11th, 2001 were unique.  Many people, who ordinarily would not, flocked to churches across the nation.  Pews and benches were fuller than usual.  People were looking for reasons, safety, and solidarity.  This seemed to be a temporary comfort for many, but there are some whose faith was strengthened, who changed priorities and re-examined who they were, what life was about, and what purpose it had.  Genelle Guzman-McMillan (2011) is one who took her second chance at life and chose to make changes.  The last survivor pulled from the smoldering pile of Ground Zero, Guzman-McMillan (2011) was pinned under concrete and steel for over 24 hours.  During this time, she relates in her book that she drew near to the Lord, as her only source of survival.  She states,

I haven’t had any marked emotional ‘issues’ over the years as a result of being buried alive.  I mean it when I say that God was my psychiatrist, and still is today.  I have been blessed by never having a single nightmare about my experience.”  (p. 165)

Mental health professionals often remark about the tremendous benefits of “religious coping” with post-traumatic stress.  In particular noted are the feelings of comfort, collaboration, and connectedness evoked by faith and communities of faith (Meisenhelder & Marcum, 2004).

God may be a source of comfort and meaning in the midst of a senseless act. Seeking guidance and support through God decreases the sense of loneliness and isolation. Turning to religious faith brings an omnipotent and ever-present Partner into one’s life, lending a greater sense of control, which is a critical element to decreasing posttraumatic stress.  Lastly, connecting with a faith community entails a support system, a promotion of personal identity, and enhanced intimacy with others.  The combined benefits of positive religious coping result in lower perceived vulnerability, isolation, confusion, and, therefore, lower posttraumatic stress response (p. 157).

Witnessing a traumatic event often causes people to pause and reflect about the purpose of life and mortality.  Some people find tremendous comfort in their faith.  They have an assurance of control, even if they are not the ones who have that control, they know who does.  There are still others who are angry.  Rather than drawing toward their faith, they distance from it and some abandon it altogether.  They simply cannot process and find meaning in senseless tragedy.  But for those who remain faithful, they proclaim that they do not understand either.  That is faith, believing in what is unseen.  The bible gives great hope for those who have walked through a traumatic event.  Jesus said in John 14:27 (NIV),

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

There is great hope that in Christ we have assurance of peace.

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of 9/11’s last survivor. New York, NY:  Howard Books.

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Feelin’ a Little Snarky

After a week that began annoying and ended in physical pain, I have chosen to begin this one a little…hmmm…snarky.  I’m in full jaded wit mode. 

**Sarcasm alert**

So, I guess I’ll just take this time as an outlet for my whiplash wit.  After my little rant, you may wonder if I have schizophrenic tendencies – I’m just gonna flow. (watch out, Eminem….)

I chose to take at least a week of of Facebook.  Several of my fb posse, some of my dearest friends (cyber friends and the real ones, too), went into shock mode.  They may have been tempted to call authorities to check if I:

A. had been held against my will at Area 51

B. was roaming the city, mumbling about Cheerio liferafts,

C. was abducted by aliens (like Randy Quaid) or

D. placed in a rubber room to the tune of Lady Gaga. 

After last week, I think any of these scenarios would be a welcome vacation

Thankfully, I haven’t lost my sense of humor. 

Aren’t you glad?…Don’t answer that.

Though I faced a few personal attacks, my true friends, people I consider my family, immediately lined up  to bless, encourage, and support me.  These last two years, I have had to modify my methods of communication.  You see I am a die hard advocate for communication.  But, I have had some intense times of learning how to effectively communicate.  Yet, in spite of it, there are people who still don’t agree with my passion (in more than one venue, I assure you).  What’s particularly sad, is that those who know me best, know that regardless of how zealous I am, my deepest desire is to convey that I love, in spite of any disagreement.  This is especially true after learning that my brand of wit, even in debate, could sometimes be tinged with a little too much “bite”.  It takes alot to get that “bite” from me, especially in face-to-face conversation, but when writing, I have a tendency to utilize the full arsenal of my gift for edgy wit and arguement.  I am proud to say that I think much harder before introducing “bite” to my “bark.”  These are lessons that have been tremendously beneficial, though heartwrenching. 

I proclaim my right to be a “lump of clay.” 

However, don’ t you hate the few days after a disagreement when you go over and over what you should have said, what you shouldn’t have said, and what you would like to have said, but know that it would be wrong???  I wish I had some precognition to an upcoming discussion.  I could be prepared, rather than, “Beday-beday,bu..bhsjdsllds..”

Think Porky Pig on psychotropic medication.

What frustrates me, though, is when others in conversation, don’t even try to be kind.  Accusatory, vicious, and downright mean, are attitudes that NEVER promote healthy dialogue.  Insinuations, condescention, and inhumility are the icing to the poison laced cake that is disingenuity. 

One of the most ironic aspects of this particular rant is that most of the time, those who are unkind, uncaring, or simply neglectful tend to be my family. 

Ouch….Ouch…..OUCH!!

Does anyone else feel like this?  Am I the only one? 

Yeah, I’ve heard the arguement that this is due to the fact that family “will always be there.”  That these are the people that you are most likely to take for granted that they are “always there”.  How is that a good reason?  When did it become “ok” to be rude, based on the fact that “blood is thicker than water?”

And just because the annoyances from last week continue – I just published this post without realizing it.  Okaaaayyy. Guess I was done. Subconciously, maybe?

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