“Money Talks: The Decisions of Wealthy School Benefactors may not be in Everyone’s Best Interests” By Michele Babcock-Nice

Money Talks: The Decisions of Wealthy School Benefactors may not be in Everyone’s Best Interests

By: Michele Babcock-Nice

April 10, 2012

There has always been the age-old issue of money being the decision-maker when it comes to wealth, power, influence, and issues. More than one person and friend has advised me that one person cannot change the system, that one person cannot change others’ corrupt and/or unethical practices.

As a person who visualizes a situation and wants to improve it or make it better in some way, I have realized as I have gotten older that – unless I am also extremely wealthy and had money that could talk – my voice is often just a lone whisper in the wilderness. However, I do have a voice, and I enjoy expressing myself in the desire to be heard.

So, while I may not be able to open others’ eyes to unethical, immoral, and/or incorrect practices, I can remain a role model and leader for positive change, for speaking out about the truth that others don’t see – or refuse to see, and for my gift of natural insight into myself and others. It is important for us, as such role models, to express our views and perspectives so that others may be offered alternate snapshots of the world around us.

Also I have gotten older, I have also realized that in sometimes being unable to influence and/or convince others of a better, or more moral, ethical, or correct way, one may be forced to walk away from a situation. I may be wrong, but I believe that sometimes, there is no helping a situation. There may be too many people who share the same beliefs, and those beliefs may be the majority view, whether or not the majority upholds moral, just, fair, and ethical standards.

In education, particularly in schools in which wealthy benefactors have enormous power and influence, those benefactors may or may not have the best interests of the school and/or students in mind. In fact, if such benefactors are leaders of a large and powerful family and/or extended family – such as those comprising of 100s or even 1,000s of members – it is those benefactors whose influence and power will be most felt, whether good or not.

This is why it is of advantage to students, parents, educators, community members, and others to consider every side of a viewpoint or situation. Just because money talks does not necessarily mean that it is a good thing. It may only be a good thing for those wealthy benefactors of a school of which their children and/or relatives attend. They may view things on a completely different level than the common, average, ordinary person since their wealth, status, power, and influence may be so far-reaching. This, then, is not necessarily good for the common person because his or her needs and issues may not be adequately recognized, addressed, or attended to.

In particular, in deciding on a school at which to send your children, and/or choosing a school at which to work in any capacity, one must do as much research as possible and consider all sides of any issue. Of course, there are going to be good and bad things to consider about anyplace, though one must pay particular attention to those issues that have caused conflict and/or that are controversial, as well as the manner in which they were handled. If serious or controversial issues are silenced, and/or if honest, competent employees are falsely disgraced or bullied, our eyes must be opened to the truth that others try to prevent us from seeing and understanding.

As someone who tries to think positively about everything and see the best in others, it is sometimes a rude and painful awakening to realize that not everyone has the best interests of others in mind. Particularly in the situation of those who are extremely wealthy and whose money talks, people must be aware that such individuals may have their own agenda and may be acting in their own self-interests, which may not be the best for everyone. Whether in the area of education or any other profession, it is important to be knowledgeable and aware of these situations.

Author’s Note: Also posted on Twitter and LinkedIn under “People Against Retaliation and Bullying,” April 10, 2012.

Book Review of “Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction” by Dr. Mic Hunter (Review by Michele Babcock-Nice)

Book Review of

Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction

by Mic Hunter

(Review by Michele Babcock-Nice)

 

Dr. Mic Hunter has a wealth of knowledge and experience in psychologically-treating individuals who have experienced sexual trauma, sexual abuse, sexual dysfunction, and addictions.  He believes in the positive influence and effects of people practicing The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as adapting them to psychologically-based issues in addition to alcoholism. 

In his book, Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction, Dr. Hunter has again applied The Twelve Steps, as well as many valuable, beneficial, and thoughtful workbook-style questions in the treatment and recognition of family sexual dysfunction and individual sexual dysfunction as a result of the former.  Dr. Hunter identifies and describes family sexual dysfunction, including many different styles and characteristics of it that are helpful for readers to know, understand, and reflect upon. 

Dr. Hunter goes further by identifying and describing adult child issues related to family sexual dysfunction, unhealthy and healthy aspects of adult sexuality, and applying The Twelve Steps to family sexual dysfunction – as an individual – as a method of recovery.  He not only identifies The Twelve Steps for use in conjunction with recovery from family sexual dysfunction, but also describes how they apply to recovery and provides personalized workbook questions for individuals to answer in an effort to identify, recognize, contemplate, and recover from past sexually dysfunctional experiences.

Dysfunction prevents the fulfillment of needs in a reasonable manner, and may include extremes of behavior.  This also applies to families.  In a sexually dysfunction family, there are attitudes, behaviors, or other interactions and communications that have a negative affect on the family members’ sexuality (p. 1).  Rather than enjoying sexuality, “they end up being hurt by” it (p. 1). 

Dr. Hunter identifies and describes “three basic extremes [that] are common in sexually dysfunction families: the overvaluation of sex, negative attitudes about sex, and sexual shutdown” (p. 2).  In families that overvalue sex, “sex is the most important thing in life” (p. 2).  People in such families have “sexuality as the predominant focus of most interactions,”  and “they sexualize their emotions” (p. 2). 

In sex-negative families, “sex is something to be feared, because it is seen to be dangerous, perhaps even evil” (p. 4).  Dr. Hunter shares that such families may “enforce rigid rules about sexual behavior,” and when a person violates those rules, he or she feels unworthy and ashamed (p. 4).  In the sexually shut-down family, “there is a nearly phobic response” to sex (p. 5).  People in such families are hard at work in repressing their sexuality, ignoring children’s sexual development, and pretending not to notice sexual develop changes (p. 5).  There are also families that combine the dysfunctional styles.

Members of the adult self-help group, Adult Children of Sexual Dysfunction (ACSD), identified ten main characteristics related to family sexual dysfunction when they were young, such characteristics affecting their behavior.  Some of these characteristics include experiencing confusion or shame about sexuality, a lack of healthy or nourishing touch, and the experience of difficulty in establishing relationships that are intimate (p. 8). 

Dr. Hunter goes on to identify, describe, and discuss each of the ten characteristics pinpointed by ACSD and provide his helpful, reflective workbook questions that personally assist individual readers in remembering and recognizing past sexual attitudes and/or experiences within their families.  A few of Dr. Hunter’s questions in relation to these described characteristics include: “When you think about the other gender, how do you feel?” (p. 24); “How do you react now to being touched by others?” (p. 37); and “What relationship patterns have you noticed in your life” (p. 47). 

Importantly in regard to the tenth characteristic of confusing sex with emotions, Dr. Hunter identifies and describes different types of intimacy, including physical, sexual, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  One of the results of the tenth characteristic may be that people “sometimes leave groups or end friendships when they start to grow close” (p. 71).  Also, those who sexually abuse children may misunderstand sexuality and sexual boundaries by stating that they are being intimate with the children (p. 71). 

Dr. Hunter states that “perhaps the most destructive consequence of living as a child in a sexually dysfunctional family is the development of a shame-based identity” (p. 73).  Even when the child grows into adulthood, he or she continues to be ashamed.  Such identities stem from relationships that are abusive or neglectful (p. 73).  In order to heal from the affects of such experiences, Dr. Hunter states that “safe, nurturing person-to-person interaction” is required (p. 73).

Following this, Dr. Hunter introduces The Twelve Steps as a guide for recovery from family sexual dysfunction.  He identifies and describes each of the Steps, as well as associating his helpful workbook-style questions with them.  For examples, in the area of powerlessness, Dr. Hunter asks the reader if he or she could obtain nourishing touch as a child (p. 81).  In relation to admitting our defects, Dr. Hunter asks the reader to write a list of his or her character defects and to give examples (p 109).  Regarding the experience of a spiritual awakening, Dr. Hunter asks what the reader understands about his or her past, and it’s effect on one’s present lifestyle and experiences (p. 129).

I recommend Dr. Hunter’s book, Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction, to those readers who are interested in discovering and healing from their past that may include sexual dysfunction, individual sexual dysfunction, and/or family sexual dysfunction.  I also recommend Dr. Hunter’s book for reading by anyone who desires to increase their knowledge about the impact, influence, and effects of general attitudes and behaviors about sex. 

For the person who is seeking to recover and heal from past sexually dysfunctional experiences, Dr. Hunter’s book is a treasure trove of understanding, knowledge, examples, questions, insights, and suggestions for recovery regarding it.  For the reader who may simply be interested in increasing his or her knowledge related to sexuality, Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction is a valuable work on understanding different attitudes, interactions, communications, and behaviors regarding it. 

Therefore, again, Dr. Hunter has tackled an issue that likely causes discomfort and pain for many, though he also provides the power of healing psychological understanding, insight, and recovery to it.  This is another of Dr. Hunter’s valuable books on issues related to sex and sexuality, and how readers can increase their enjoyment of sex by working through past experiences that may have been negative or dysfunctional.

Please Note: New copies of this book are available for $5.00 each by directly contacting the author at: Dr. Mic Hunter, 357 Kellogg Boulevard East, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101.

Reviewer’s Note: Quoted material is included in this review with permission by Dr. Mic Hunter.

Source

Hunter, M. (1992).  Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction.  Minneapolis, Minnesota: CompCare Publishers.

“A Spiritual Inquiry: How and Why Should we Forgive?” By: Michele Babcock-Nice

“A Spiritual Inquiry:

How and Why Should we Forgive?”

By: Michele Babcock-Nice

March 20, 2012

Michele Babcock-Nice

Michele Babcock-Nice

Forgiveness.  What is forgiveness?  And, how and why should we forgive?  Who should we forgive?  Forgiveness – the act of forgiving – is a spirituality issue that I have contemplated and grappled with in my own life.  It is something that I have experienced, myself, through others, and by observing others.  Why is it important for us to forgive ourselves and each other?  These are topics of personal relevance, as well as relevance for the greater population.

Forgiveness is not only something that must be taught, it must be learned.  People must model forgiveness with each other and encourage it among one another in order for it to have full and far-reaching positive effects.  Jesus taught and commanded that people forgive each other, so that both we and our sins will be forgiven by God. 

Colossians 3:13 states, “Forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (The Holy Bible, 1979).  Mark 11:26 states, “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (The Holy Bible, 1979).  Matthew 6: 14-15 also shares, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” The Holy Bible, 1979).  The Bible and Jesus’ teachings, therefore, instruct us that we are to forgive each other. 

One of my favorite Bible passages that is very humbling to me is Matthew 18: 21-22, which states, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (The Holy Bible, 1979).   

This passage reminds us that we are not perfect, that none of us are perfect, and that, to me, is very humbling.  When I think of the mistakes that I make and sins that I commit, whether unintentionally or not, it never fails to humble me when I hear and contemplate these verses.  Jesus wants us to forgive each other seventy times seven times, that’s nearly 500 times!  One must understand the general idea, however, is not to just forgive each other once, twice, or even a few times, but repeatedly, without end.  That also reminds me of how fallible and human we truly are, and that we are actually in need of forgiveness, by each other and of ourselves.

Luke 6: 36-37 further teaches us to be kind, merciful, and forgiving, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.  Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:” (The Holy Bible, 1979).  Luke 6 actually teaches us many things about each other in addition to this, such as being good to the poor and giving to one another. 

Luke 6 provides us with an opportunity to reflect on who we are as people – to reflect on our characters and true natures.  Are we people who truly have goodness in our hearts?  Are our thoughts, words, and actions motivated by and intended to help and support each other and ourselves?  Do we honestly hope to be caring, compassionate, understanding, merciful, and forgiving toward each other? 

The Bible and Jesus’ teachings, therefore, instruct and direct us to forgive each other.  Not only are we to forgive each other a few or several times, but countless times, for we are fallible, we are human, we are children of God who are progressing through our learning stages of life.  When we ask others to forgive us, we are humbling ourselves to their mercy. 

When we ask God to forgive us, He is forgiving and provides us with free will, but also with the understanding that we should not do the same wrong over again; we must correct ourselves.  If one is Catholic and goes to reconciliation, he or she shares those transgressions that he or she has committed with a priest, who, through God’s power and mercy, forgives us.  Again, however, we are called not to commit the same wrongs or sins in the future.

Just the other day, my young son was upset with me.  He brought a library book home from school that I did not approve of.  It was a comic-style book that was geared toward older children, though I am aware that the particular theme of the book was not something that I agreed with, nor was it entirely emotionally or mentally healthy for him.  I allowed him to read it one day, with the express understanding that he could read it during that one day, but not following that day.  I was aware that he was tired, and had not slept well the previous night, though he was very attracted to reading this book.  It was my intention to return the book to the school library on the next school day, which I did. 

So, my son became upset with me when he tried to look at and read this comic-style book on a day when I had not allowed it.  I spoke with him about it, again explaining my reasons behind it.  He is aware of my views on such books, though, as a youngster who is, at times, testing his limits, he can be persistent about his wants and desires.  So, when I refused to allow him to read the book on the next day, he was mad and upset about it.  Understandably, he wants to fit in and be like the other boys, but he knows that he is my child and that the other boys are not – their parents can have them do as they wish. 

In my son being angry and upset with me, I recognized his desire to get something that he wanted.  I reminded him that he did read the comic book on the one day, but could not do so the next day.  I then asked him to forgive me.  And…he did.  I told him that I love him and that I want the best for him, and then, I gave him some time to himself.  Soon thereafter, he came around, and found something else to stimulate his interest.

I believe that this is a manner in which God and Jesus want us to behave.  It is important to have strong morals, ethics, beliefs, values, and principles.  This is something that I am trying to instill into my son.  By sticking to my views, beliefs, and principles – and by asking my son for his understanding and forgiveness – he more readily showed his appreciation and respect for me and my values. 

This example may be something minor in most of our lives, though it is something that is important to be taught, learned, and modeled.  In this way, I am teaching forgiveness to my son, even in regard to my expectation about his acceptance of my values and principles for his upbringing.  These are also good reasons for asking for and receiving forgiveness.

An area of forgiveness that is not often addressed or recognized is of forgiving oneself.  This is extremely important – we must forgive ourselves.  Who, among us, teaches how valuable it is to forgive ourselves?  I am aware of a recent Lenten Retreat at my church in which the religious speaker, a priest, spoke of forgiving ourselves as the theme for the event.  And, how and why must we forgive ourselves?  This is a significant question to which there can be many answers.

When was the last time you ever thought about forgiving yourself?  Why, you ask, should you forgive yourself?  This is an issue of much contemplation, prayer, and reflection for me because I know that I am not perfect – I am human, I am fallible.  Yet, I can also be very hard and tough on myself, not giving myself credit where it is due, blaming myself, depriving myself, sacrificing things from myself, being down on myself.  I always try to have a positive attitude and outlook on everything, but I also recognize that I have very high standards and expectations of not only others, but also of myself.

Therefore, I must forgive myself.  I must forgive myself for being human, for being fallible, for making mistakes, for being too hard on myself, for not being good enough or kind enough to myself.  In forgiving myself, I am more readily able to forgive others.  I am also more easily able to view others as human, as fallible, just like I am.  For me, it is also a much healthier perspective.  If I forgive myself, I feel better and happier, not only about myself, but everything. 

When I forgive myself, my outlook is improved, things are not as worrisome or stressful as they were, and I take it easier on myself, allowing myself to enjoy life, my family, and others more.  I don’t need to make things so hard for myself, nor to be as hard on myself.  So, I must and do forgive myself for all of these things.  I am better able to be forgiving, loving, nurturing, kind, and compassionate to others in doing so.

Lastly, and something also not often commented on or recognized is that in forgiving each other and ourselves, that does not continue to open the door to being vulnerable to being hurt by others or ourselves.  We must express our views, standards, and expectations to others, and insist that those are met, so that we are not vulnerable to being wronged by them again. 

If we are wronged by those whom we forgive, then we are called to forgive them, though I believe we must continue to insist upon the manner in which we desire to be treated by them.  If they do not improve in their words or actions, then we must forgive them, but we must also help ourselves, perhaps by seeking to further understand them and/or distancing ourselves from them. 

And, we must open our eyes and recognize ways in which we are not helpful to and loving of ourselves.  We must forgive ourselves for those actions, but also work on improving our actions toward ourselves.  We must create a mindset that is loving, helpful, and healthy to and for ourselves.  Therefore, forgiving ourselves, and working to improve the manner in which we view and treat ourselves are also important aspects of forgiveness that are valuable and significant.

One issue with which I have been working on forgiving myself is my divorce and the choice that I made in a spouse.  I, ultimately, desired to reconcile and remain in my marriage, though it was extremely difficult and challenging; it was my former spouse who ended our marriage.  I remained faithful to my spouse and dedicated to my family in the midst of challenges which were unbearable at the time. 

It was during those times – as well as times past and present – that I leaned on God, Jesus, and my faith for survival – for the survival of my soul and spirit.  It is in my faith that I continually take comfort, though I also recognize that I work, daily, to forgive myself for my decisions that have harmed myself and my family.  I recognize that one cannot force a person to believe and behave in the manner in which the other desires, though I also believe, however, in the importance and healthfulness of forgiving myself and my former spouse, not only for the good of myself, but also for that of my son and family.

Forgiveness, therefore, is and should be a huge part of our lives.  How often do you forgive others and yourself?  What are the ways in which you forgive?  Do you willingly accept forgiveness when it is offered to you?  Do you seek to keep a healthy perspective in mind, body, and spirit by recognizing and forgiving yourself and others? 

Also, when you forgive, do you help yourself by expressing expectations of those who have wronged you so that they understand and respect you more, thereby reducing your own vulnerability to them?  And, are there times when you may not have done anything wrong, but are still able to ask forgiveness so that it will help improve the situation or assist another in feeling better about themselves – it takes a person of strong character to do that, even if he or she is further blamed or wronged.

Forgiveness is an act on which we must place greater value.  Forgiveness is freeing and healthy for our minds, bodies, souls, and spirits.  Forgiveness is something that we should practice each day, in asking God to forgive us, in requesting others to forgive us, and in forgiving and being more loving to ourselves.  We must remember that we are all human; all of us are fallible.  Therefore, we must continually forgive, as Jesus taught and instructed us, so that we may, in turn, be forgiven.

References

Fairchild, M. “What does the Bible say about Forgiveness?”  March 20, 2012.  http://christianity.about.com/od/whatdoesthebiblesay/a/bibleforgivenes.htm

The Holy Bible (1979).  Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Book Review of “The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work” by Randy Hain (Review by: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Book Review of

The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work

By Randy Hain

(Review by: Michele Babcock-Nice)

March 13, 2012

What's in your Catholic briefcase? (Used with author's permission)

In his book, The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work, Randy Hain gives numerous examples of how Catholics can and should both live and include their Catholic faith in their everyday lives, particularly while at work and in working with others.  Hain lists and shares many “how to” ideas and ways in his book on how to accomplish this. 

Throughout his book, Hain also identifies Catholic role models and colleagues in his life who are an inspiration for living their Catholic faith, daily, at work and in their everyday lives.  Several interviews with these individuals are shared in The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work so that we, the readers, may more fully appreciate and understand ways that we, too, may more fully live our Catholic faith at work.

Hain begins his book introduction with presenting about “making the transition from a compartmentalized life in which I had no faith and kept everything distinctly separate to an integrated life with Christ at the center” (p. xvii).  Hain states that making the transition was daunting for him, as it may be for many.  At work, some of the reasons in which people may compartmentalize their faith include “political sensitivity, rigid company policies, and simple fear” (p. xvii). 

In being fully honest with himself and realizing that there were areas in his faith and religious life that could be improved in his relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, Hain opened himself up to greater communion with God and his faith.  No doubt, as described throughout his book, Hain has felt and gained countless benefits from letting go of his former self so that a new self could be reborn with increased spirituality and trust in God. 

Hain writes of being a convert to Catholicism in 2005.  He states that he sincerely committed himself to placing Jesus Christ at the forefront of every aspect of his life.  He committed himself to living a life with Jesus at the center, as well as integrating faith, family, and work together (p. xix).  He goes on to share that Catholics have many opportunities throughout each day to positively influence others, thereby “standing out” in our faith and faith journey in example to others. 

Image

Jesus died so we may live.

It is, indeed, refreshing to read Hain’s thoughts, ideas, and beliefs regarding his Catholic faith and faith journey as a positive example to others.  In converting to Catholicism and truly living the Catholic faith, as well as being a role model for others in his faith, Hain has set an excellent example for others in his commitment to leading a more fully-integrated faith and spiritual life in his work and everyday activities.  Hain challenged himself to highly-raise the bar in his pursuit of excellence regarding the integration of his faith into his work and daily life.  

The author writes of remembering to view others in a Christ-like manner, to recall that each of us is modelled after Jesus and has wonderful qualities in our humanity.  Hain further reminds us that we must be persistent and dedicated in fulfilling our ministries – including all sorts of ministries, such as being married, being single, being a parent, being employed, being a leader, etc.  He also identifies that there are many ways in which people excuse their lack of action in integrating our faith and work, and he provides well-explained ideas for actually integrating faith and work.

One of Hain’s statements that really spoke to me is, “It is almost as if we have developed barriers around our hearts that keep the world at an emotional distance” (p.10).  And, three major obstacles to trustfully surrendering to God, Hain identifies as “pride, fear, and excuses” (p. 10).  This is all something that I can reflect on and view in my own life.  Why don’t I profess my faith more openly to others?  Am I afraid of getting hurt, being rejected, being criticized or ridiculed?  I believe that my answer is, “Yes, I am afraid.” 

There are so many experiences in our lives of continually being rejected that it is easy for people to lose hope.  Taking a risk in sharing one’s faith, beliefs, and values is just another one of those areas of potential pain and rejection, so for me, Hain’s statement about emotional barriers being placed around our hearts is really done as a matter of self-protection, though it may end up being a way of distancing ourselves from others.  Hain writes that we must trustfully surrender to Jesus and God that we will be provided with the strength to be successful in our endeavors, both at work and in life.

Image

Remember to pray the Rosary

Hain further shares that it is important for us to take time to think and pray, so that we can more fully be in tune with God’s will for us.  Hain encourages us to schedule time into our day to pray, to be “gadget free,” to surround ourselves with positive, like-minded people, to live more simply, and to refuse to give in to compulsions (pp. 23-25).  He further suggests to us that we thank God, ask for God’s forgiveness, request God’s help and guidance, and to totally unburden ourselves to God (pp. 31-32). 

Hain also lists and describes many more ways that we can be in tune with God through our thoughts, prayers, and actions.  Also very importantly – and another of Hain’s statements that spoke to me – is that we must “pray with our children every night” (p. 36).  I had realized that, in the everyday stresses and worries of living, I had gotten away from doing that with my own child – saying daily prayers and making holy requests of God with my child.  I have been positively reminded by Hain in his book to “just do it” (p. 36).  It is refreshing, rejuvenating, and comforting to pray to God; what better way to pray than to pray with others, especially those children and/or family members whom we most love in our lives.

In Hain’s chapter five of his book, he addresses the issue of being personal with colleagues at work.  He asks if we have the rapport and trust that is needed to provide comfortable discussions about personal issues that are serious at work (p. 39).  In my work and personal life, this is something that I have never had an issue with, and in fact, is something about which I find many, many people have discomfort.  Not only do most people appear to be uncomfortable speaking about serious personal issues at work, they do not want to hear or engage with others in talking about such concerns. 

In my life experiences, I have found that it is truly the extremely rare individual who can share about serious personal issues, as well as who can listen to and provide support and guidance about said concerns.  Because many people are unwilling or unable to open up about serious personal issues at work, this just becomes another way of distinguishing and dividing out what topics are acceptable for discussion in the workplace.  

Concern about hurtful gossip and of issues shared in confidence being distorted by others are reasons that many people limit their interpersonal relations and communications with colleagues at work, in my experience.  Then, the workplace can become a very hurtful and damaging place to be.  With Hain reminding us in his book that we ought to develop relationships with others that are trusting enough to share serious personal issues, we are reminded that we are all human and that we all share serious issues in our lives that are in need of others’ support and attention.

An additional topic that Hain identified in his book that touched me is, “we often don’t know the people in our community or our workplace who need our help” (p. 42).  Hain recognized that people may often behave in a superficial manner to each other, simply asking how they are doing, but not really caring to do anything about it or recognize how they are truly doing.  This has also been an issue of mine in the past few years since I am an individual who is in need. 

In the past one year, I shared about my need with a volunteer worker of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, who was very helpful to me and my family, and one of her statements to me was that I didn’t “look like” a person in need.  One can maintain a good appearance, be reasonably healthy and happy, but still be in need – it is important for people to recognize that and take it seriously rather than overlook, ignore, or deny it because the need only increases when people behave in such ways.  Therefore, Hain’s statement of truly recognizing and supporting those in need is incredibly important.

Hain addresses stewardship in his book, describing ways that he and others “give back” to the church and/or community.  He is involved in several activities in which he gives back to his church, parish, employer, and community.  This is also something to which I can relate because I also give back in regularly and happily volunteering at my child’s Catholic school (for the past four years now), as well as with being an active, assistant leader my child’s scout pack through our local church.  It is very important to return one’s talents, time, and/or treasures to one’s family, church, community, organization, and/or workplace.  It is a healthy thing to do, and it is something that God seeks in us.

Bible & Rosary

Two tools for success

Hain further calls us to lead by example, and to always make the best – or better – decisions.  Hain also acknowledges that, through our humanity, we do make mistakes, however when we make errors, we must learn from them and do better in the future.  Hain states, “Christ…always taught the truth, regardless of the audience or his surroundings” (p. 60).  We must pray and make a concerted effort to also lead our lives in a moral, ethical, and spiritual manner that places goodness and truth above lies, falsehoods, and deceitfulness.

Hain encourages us to be better-connected Catholics.  He reflects that there are many ways of doing this in the workplace – through sharing a meal with a colleague and saying a blessing before the meal, by listening to and truly “hearing” what colleagues have to say, by becoming active on networking websites and/or creating one’s own website, attending and participating in seminars or workshops, and more.  In our places of work, it is important to integrate our faith with what we do everyday; it provides a good example to others and it promotes a healthier, more spiritually-integrated lifestyle.

Something that I believe with which many people struggle in their everyday work lives is becoming overly successful in our work, a topic that is also addressed by Hain in his book (p. 93).  For those people who are single or who are married but do not have children – speaking from personal experience – it is all too easy to become overly devoted to one’s work…because that is what is often demanded of us from our employers, in order to be successful. 

Also, for those who have families, such as myself, it is vitally important for people to remember that quality time with family is significant, as is bringing home the bacon.  For those of us who are not formally employed, it is important to become involved in or create activities that balance family with our activities and/or interests.

Hain provides this and so much more in his book, The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work.  Hain’s personal examples, intimate witness to God, powerful conversion to Catholicism, strong commitment to his faith and doing good works, and seeing Jesus in others are all extremely meaningful qualities of this author that will speak to any reader, of any faith, in any workplace.  Hain does his best to personally live the words that he has written in his book. 

Hain recognizes that by opening up to God’s will and surrendering himself to fully trust in God’s plan for him, that he will greatly-reap the benefits of doing so in his life, including in his work life.  Hain reminds us that we are called to lead holy lives, that we must be a light for Christ, and that we are made for heaven (pp. 110, 112).  In reading Hain’s book, we are fully informed of that through his careful, thoughtful, and spiritual insights, ideas, interviews, and wisdom.

*Reviewer’s Note: All quotes and photo of book cover used with approval and permission of the author.

Source

Hain, R. (2011).  The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work.  Liguori, Missouri: Liguori Publications.

“A Spiritual Inquiry: What Really Matters in Life?” By: Michele Babcock-Nice

“A Spiritual Inquiry:

What Really Matters in Life?”

By: Michele Babcock-Nice

“What really matters in life?”  Of course, this is a question to which I already know the answer, but have recently contemplated again and in more depth and detail.  It has also led to asking myself additional questions, all of to which I do not know the answers.  And so, the initial question has led to some personal and deep soul-searching recently.

People are what really matters in life – one’s family, friends, colleagues, fellow church members – everyone, really.  Everyone really matters.  Yes, everyone really matters because I truly believe that we are all connected – no matter what background, race, religious affiliation, age, social or financial status, gender, nationality, ethnicity, etc.  Sometimes, we may not like everyone, however everyone still matters. 

People’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, philosophies, and actions matter.  As I have gotten older, I have learned in greater depth that, sometimes, people do not take action on an issue if they fear or have concern about potentially making it worse.  Sometimes, however, people do speak out or take action on particular issues, and those issues are, indeed, made worse. 

It is in those situations that people learn to keep quiet, to protect themselves, to come to believe that silence may be better than whatever terrible consequences may be experienced from standing up for or speaking the truth.  After all, most people do not want to hear the truth, especially if it evokes discomfort. 

Sometimes I think that, even if people were truthful with each other and genuinely sought to help and support each other, no positive difference would be attained simply because of so many who choose to disbelieve, deny, ignore, or overlook particular situations.  Sometimes the majority wins, even though the majority may be wrong or incorrect.

Thus, how can a person, establishment, company, or organization hope to improve by not being open to all possibilities, and then, being wise and insightful enough to do what is in the best interests of not only the individual, but also the group?  Leaders of groups and organizations must recognize and be aware that their decisions may be far-reaching and widespread, and therefore, decisions must be carefully-made, wisely-implemented, and sensitively-enforced.

Therefore, the way in which people judge and misjudge, perceive and misperceive, help and harm each other…matters.  I see it happening more and more in our society that people seem to be becoming more immune to violence, more apathetic toward wrongdoing, increasingly led on the wrong path. 

So, how can we help each other?  How can we support each other?  How can we make positive change?  How can we convince those who are blinded by what is accepted in society that may not necessarily be right or good to change their perceptions?  Those who are guided by strong morals and ethics must continually take the lead in these matters, not being led by greed, selfishness, or the desire for status or influence, but out of the desire to assist humanity in living better, as Jesus taught.

Depending on the situation, positive change and changes in people’s perceptions, attitudes, and philosophies may take days, months, years, decades.  A friend of mine recently stated to me that there is little that one person can do.  I respect that person very much, however, it was definitely a disappointment that he stated this to me. 

In my way of thinking, Jesus was one person; Nelson Mandela is one person; Gandhi was one person; Blessed (Mother) Teresa was one person; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one person.  Change, whether good or bad, can begin with one person.  So, what better reason than to be one person who stands for positive change?

People who stand up for and speak out for what is good and right matter.  People who do whatever they can to help each other, no matter what the consequences or what the outcome, matter.  We must also recognize that those who may not be vocal or active about particular issues matter because they may know that to do so may make matters worse. 

Progress as we see it is not the same as the manner in which God see’s it.  To God, our progress is probably more like regress.  There is so much in our lives about which we are busy, constantly on the go, always having to do something, regularly networking or connecting with each other – or maybe not.  Maybe we are not doing enough for ourselves or each other; that may be the opposite end of the spectrum, too. 

So, what really matters in life to you?  Work is important, having enough money is important, having meaningful things in one’s life is important.  How important are people to you?  What would you do to help or support another?  If you saw or knew of someone in need, what would you do?  Would you turn your back and walk away, or would you assist them in ways to help themselves?  Would you do what Jesus would do? 

We must always remember that, in our humanity, we are not perfect.  However, we can always strive to be better people, to be more kind, more loving, more caring, less selfish, less hurtful, less diminishing, more understanding, more insightful, more wise.  We must not accept less, but expect more and better – of ourselves and others.

We must also always try our best to do our best and to be the best possible individuals whom we can be, however, we must also remember to live in the manner that Jesus wants us to.  It is not enough to be a follower of Christ; we must truly live Jesus’ principles.  We can always try our best to be better people than we are.  We can always do more to help ourselves and others. 

Therefore, we can always seek to behave in a more Christlike manner.  As followers of Christ, we must truly seek to become more like him, to seek to know and understand His will for us, and to be open to and accepting of how He forms and models us in positive ways.  How will you do that today and everyday?

Book Review of “Conscious Contact: The Twelve Steps as Prayer” (Dr. Mic Hunter); Review and Personal Reflections by: Michele Babcock-Nice

Book Review of:

Conscious Contact: The Twelve Steps as Prayer (Dr. Mic Hunter)

Book Review and Personal Reflections by: Michele Babcock-Nice

In his new book, Conscious Contact: The Twelve Steps as Prayer, Dr. Mic Hunter reveals to readers an inspirational spiritual awakening in his guidance for utilizing the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in daily prayers for building strength of character, spiritual development, and resistance to vices present in our lives.  Dr. Hunter’s nearly thirty-five years of working with those who have addictions provides both professional and personal meaning, significance, and experience to the writings he offers in his book. 

Dr. Hunter’s insights and expansion on the Twelve Steps as prayers offer everyone – not only those who may be struggling and/or recovering from addictions – to mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically benefit from being both “in touch” and honest with themselves, others, and God.  Though I have personally not been afflicted with addictions to alcohol or drugs, I recognize that I am fallible due to my mere existence and humanity; and therefore, Dr. Hunter’s writing has personal and spiritual meaning for me in a manner that guides and leads me into a closer and more intimate relationship with God, myself, and others.

Dr. Hunter first begins his book by listing Alcoholics’ Anonymous’ Twelve Steps, as well as an adapted version of the Steps.  The Steps provide the basis and foundation for his book, leading the reader to focus on one’s own needs, desires, defects, and spirituality.  Dr. Hunter’s book is directly meant for those who are truly commited to making positive change in their lives, and can be utilized for a wide variety of reasons.

Throughout the next several chapters and versions of prayers in his book, Dr. Hunter writes insightfully and provides the reader much guidance and examples in using models and examples of prayers, as well as in developing and shaping them for one’s own personal use.  Dr. Hunter continually calls the reader to contemplate and recognize certain overall beliefs that we may hold about ourselves, as well as the fact that practicing and performing rituals – such as attending church, for example – may become insignificant, ineffective, or boring without the addition to them of things that have personal meaning – such as prayers that directly reflect our own personal ideas, requests, or needs. 

This is definitely as aspect of religion to which I can relate, particularly since I regularly attend church and participate in the same rituals week after week, month after month, and year after year.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with those rituals and I maintain a respect and appreciation for them, however, after forty years, they have, indeed, lost their impact on me to a great extent. 

In any absence of the opportunities to more personally and intimately participate in my church worship celebrations, the religious rituals designed to give thanks to the Creator have become empty and hollow.  As a result, I have personally recognized my robotic, obligatory, and expected responses and actions to them.  These feelings and actions, have therefore caused me to seek increased participation in my church services and activities, in which I regularly read, serve Eucharist, sing, or participate in other ways, such as in the instruction of children.

Praying Holy Child Figurine

Importantly, Dr. Hunters calls the reader to engage in prayers that will assist him or her in becoming a better person and in being victorious over his or her addictions.  Dr. Hunter also correctly observes that, while people do pray, they may not often take the time to listen to and perform the will for them of the Creator.  I was also importantly reminded of that while reading Dr. Hunter’s book. 

In developing one’s prayers, Dr. Hunter recommends his method of asking and answering several questions that he developed.  The questions include:”Is the focus on my behavior?; Is it simple?; Is it something I can do now or soon?; Does it align with my principles?; Would I be comfortable telling others?; [and] Do I have a sense of peace when I think about it?” (p.33).Dr. Hunter then goes into more detail about his questions by assisting the reader with formulating answers to the questions, as well as developing them into prayers. 

Within the Twelve Steps is information intended for people to personally apply to themselves regarding recognizing the existence of the Higher Power; asking for God to remove their faults; being honest about themselves, their character, and their flaws; being open to the care and guidance of others; asking forgiveness for those whom they may have harmed in some way; continually taking a personal inventory of our character and actions; improving our spiritual connection with God; and reaching a spiritual awakening through the practice of the Steps.  

Dr. Hunter shares examples of formulated prayers, both in general and those more personally-related, that include the aims and goals of each of the Twelve Steps.  Thus, the reader is both provided with the groundwork for using the prayers, given general models to begin practicing, and later, encouraged to more personally and intimately relate the prayers to his or her own needs and reflections. 

Of significance and addressed in his book, Dr. Hunter recognizes that we, as people, are human and have fallibilities.  He also recognizes that those strengths and weaknesses make us who we are.  In those individuals who are recovering addicts, Dr. Hunter addresses how he believes people should recognize their weakness and continue onward toward recovery should they experience a relapse.  It is important, therefore, for people to recognize that there is fallibility in our humanity – that’s what makes us human.  Not to recognize it is a danger, as is being too harsh or critical on ourselves for our mistakes, faults, and errors.  

To quote Dr. Hunter regarding relapse in his book, he states:”I have always thought there ought to be a word to describe a relapse that leads to improved recovery.  A word that indicates something valuable has been learned that makes future relapse less likely.  However, far too many people don’t learn from their relapse; either they don’t take the slip seriously and continue on as they had before, changing nothing, somehow expecting that another relapse won’t happen, or they take it far too seriously and are so hard on themselves for having relapsed that their guilt and shame drives them into a binge” (p. 81). 

Of further importance throughout the next two pages of his book, Dr. Hunter describes the manner by which people may grow and develop in their humanity, character, and spirituality, becoming better and more compassionate individuals.  He writes that through our weakness, grief, injury, and/or pain, we have opportunities to grow into people who are stronger and more caring and compassionate toward ourselves and others.  Dr. Hunter also identifies within those pages the needs that we have of God, as well as the hopes, feelings, and actions that we offer to God.  

As an individual who has taken inventory of my own character flaws and about what I would like to change and improve, pages 82-83 of Dr. Hunter’s book are those that most “spoke” to me, personally.  Throughout our lives, everyone experiences good, mediocre, bad, and even tragic situations.  Each of those situations is an opportunity for us to increase our spirituality, become better people, reach out to God and others for guidance and assistance, provide leadership and confidence, and be open to God’s will in our lives.  

In my own life, Dr. Hunter’s book pertains directly to me because I can relate and utilize his writings and developed prayers toward my own faults, including the desire for too much materialism, too little healthy eating and exercise, wanting my own way, being too independent, not being open enough to or trusting of others (but this is also exercised with caution), negative thinking and worrying, having unrealistic expectations, and other flaws.  Dr. Hunter’s book, Conscious Contact: The Twelve Steps as Prayer, thus, has personal and spiritual meaning to me because I can insert my own fallibilities, needs, and shortcomings into the prayers provided.  

Dr. Hunter’s book has given me a much-needed spiritual jolt in my general daily prayers, previous to which I had often given up due to their lack of meaning and eventual belief that little or no good was accomplished from them.  Though I do believe that prayer is helpful, over the years, it had just lost so much personal significance for me, causing me to give up hope that such meaning would ever be re-introduced.  

Conscious Contact: The Twelve Steps as Prayer is another of Dr. Hunter’s books that I will keep closely at hand, referring to it regularly in the redevelopment and enhancement of my own spiritual life and personal daily prayers.  Thus again, Dr. Hunter’s book has provided me with needed rejuvenation and revitalization in my own faith, prayers, and spiritual life.  More importantly for me, by sharing about his own humanity, Dr. Hunter has again renewed my faith in others, showing me that there are those in our world who truly care about the needs, feelings, and lives of others. 

Whether you are a person who is recovering from an addiction, or an individual who is seeking to re-energize your spirituality, Conscious Contact: The Twelve Steps as Prayer is another of Dr. Hunter’s must-reads!  Dr. Hunter has proven, yet again, that truly being “in-touch” with one’s inner self is the key to being in conscious contact with God, themself, and others.   

Source 

Hunter, M. (2012).  Conscious Contact: The Twelve Steps as Prayer.  Charleston, South Carolina: Mic Hunter.