Friday, October 21, 2005

[Passions Take Many Forms] Worlds colliding

I am a huge fan of the band Radiohead, and I recently became a fan of the Harry Potter books (the films are mediocre at best). The newest HP film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, however, unites these two fan bases. Two members of Radiohead, Jonny Greenwood and Phil Selway, are in the film as members of the fictitious band, The Wyrd Sisters. They have recorded a song that will presumably be used in the film, perhaps in the Yule Ball scene.

You can download the song from a Radiohead website,

By the way, I know I haven't commented yet on the Astros winning the NLCS and advancing to the World Series for the first time EVER. I plan to do so soon, however, hopefully before the Series begins tomorrow.

Monday, October 17, 2005

[Passions Take Many Forms] Listmania!!!!!!!!

OK, Kyle. I'll do this one. I generally don't like these lists, but this one's all right. (Maybe I'm just in a good mood because the Astros won.)

1. Go to and, in the search box provided, enter the year you graduated high school. (1995)
2. From the search results, click the link for the top 100 songs of that year.
3. With the resulting list:

1. Bold the songs you like
2. Italicize the ones you hate
3. Underline your favorites
4. Ignore the ones you don't remember/don't care about.

1. Gangsta's Paradise, Coolio
2. Waterfalls, TLC
3. Creep, TLC
4. Kiss From A Rose, Seal
5. On Bended Knee, Boyz II Men
6. Another Night, Real McCoy
7. Fantasy, Mariah Carey
8. Take A Bow, Madonna
9. Don't Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days), Monica
10. This Is How We Do It, Montell Jordan
11. I Know, Dionne Farris
12. Water Runs Dry, Boyz II Men
13. Freak Like Me, Adina Howard
14. Run-Around, Blues Traveler
15. I Can Love You Like That, All-4-One
16. Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?, Bryan Adams
17. Always, Bon Jovi
18. Boombastic / In The Summertime, Shaggy
19. Total Eclipse Of The Heart, Nicki French
20. You Gotta Be, Des'ree
21. You Are Not Alone, Michael Jackson
22. Hold My Hand, Hootie and The Blowfish
23. One More Chance-Stay With Me, Notorious B.I.G.
24. Here Comes The Hotstepper, Ini Kamoze
25. Candy Rain, Soul For Real
26. Let Her, w Hootie and The Blowfish
27. I Believe, Blessid Union Of Souls
28. Red Light Special, TLC
29. Runaway, Janet Jackson
30. Strong Enough, Sheryl Crow
31. Colors Of The Wind, Vanessa Williams
32. Someone To Love, Jon B.
33. Only Wanna Be With You, Hootie and The Blowfish
34. If You Love Me, Brownstone
35. In The House Of Stone And Light, Martin Page
36. I Got 5 On It, Luniz
37. Baby, Brandy
38. Run Away, Real McCoy
39. As I Lay Me Down, Sophie B. Hawkins
40. He's Mine, Mokenstef
41. December, Collective Soul
42. I'll Be There For You-You're All I Need To Get By, Method Man-Mary J. Blige
43. Shy Guy, Diana King
44. I'm The Only One, Melissa Etheridge
45. Every Little Thing I Do, Soul For Real
46. Before I Let You Go, BLACKstreet
47. Big Poppa / Warning, Notorious B.I.G.
48. Sukiyaki, 4 P.M.
49. I Wanna Be Down, Brandy
50. I'll Make Love To You, Boyz II Men
51. Dear Mama / Old School, 2Pac
52. Hold On, Jamie Walters
53. Keep Their Heads Ringin', Dr. Dre
54. The Rhythm Of The Night, Corona
55. Roll To Me, Del Amitri
56. Scream / Childhood, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson
57. Freek'n You, Jodeci
58. I Wish, Skee-lo
59. Believe, Elton John
60. Carnival, Natalie Merchant
61. You Don't Know How It Feels, Tom Petty
62. Back For Good, Take That
63. Tootsee Roll, 69 Boyz
64. You Want This-70's Love Groove, Janet Jackson
65. Tell Me, Groove Theory
66. Can't You See, Total
67. All I Wanna Do, Sheryl Crow (although, it didn't take long to get sick of this one)
68. This Lil' Game We Play, Subway
69. Come And Get Your Love, Real McCoy
70. This Ain't A Love Song, Bon Jovi
71. Secret, Madonna
72. Player's Anthem, Junior M.A.F.I.A.
73. Feel Me Flow, Naughty By Nature
74. Every Day Of The Week, Jade
75. The Sweetest Days, Vanessa Williams
76. Short Dick Man, 20 Fingers Featuring Gillette
77. Brokenhearted, Brandy
78. No More "I Love You's", Annie Lennox
79. You Used To Love Me, Faith Evans
80. Constantly, Immature
81. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, U2
82. 100% Pure Love, Crystal Waters
83. Ask Of You, Raphael Saadiq
84. Sugar Hill, Az
85. Good, Better Than Ezra
86. Brown Sugar, D'angelo
87. Turn The Beat Around, Gloria Estefan
88. 'Til You Do Me Right, After 7
89. 1st Of Tha Month, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
90. Like The Way I Do If I Wanted To, Melissa Etheridge
91. I Live My Life For You, Firehouse
92. Dream About You-Funky Melody, Stevie B
93. Cotton Eye Joe, Rednex
94. Thank You, Boyz II Men
95. I'll Stand By You, Pretenders
96. I Miss You, N II U
97. Give It 2 You, Da Brat
98. Best Friend, Brandy
99. Misery, Soul Asylum
100. Can't Stop Lovin' You, Van Halen

Okay. That sucked. I didn't remember the majority of those songs. Of those I do remember, I wasn't wild about any of them (Except for the 2 songs from the Batman Forever soundtrack.) I really expected some of the Seattle Sound or other good alternative music to be there. Is it possible that the 90s were not as good musically as I remember?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Big Box Mart (who are they kidding?)

Watch "Big Box Mart" as a followup to this post.

Does sin exist?

I was on MSU’s campus yesterday to return some library books and play with Aidan at the fountain. As we were heading back to the car, I noticed an advertisement written in sidewalk chalk about a discussion/debate titled, “Does sin exist?” to be held on campus. At first I thought the question odd because the answer seems so obvious to me. Of course sin exists. By definition, sin is a violation. I can sin against God, against humanity, against nature, against another person, even against myself. To suggest that sin does not exist is to suggest that humanity has never committed a violation against anyone or anything—humanity, nature, or the self. I don’t think anyone, regardless of faith, can claim that.

Then I realized that the question may be misleading, and it actually refers solely to sins against God. In other words, a more accurate question would have been, “Is it possible to sin against God?” This question seems odd too because I think the answer turns on whether or not you believe in God: If you don’t, then how can you sin against something you don’t believe exists? If you do, how can an imperfect human race not sin against divine perfection?” In the end, I’m not sure what the question or the discussion/ debate was about. While I would like to go to the meeting, I have a family life that prevents such extracurricular activities, which is fine by me.

It did help me think about sin a little more. As a therapist, I see sin in the way family members treat each other and how they devalue and sabotage themselves, either overtly or covertly. That sin is more readily recognizable in a secular society, even if we don’t call it “sin”. What we typically call sin is more accurately sin against God. As a Christian, I understand that a particular type of sin isn’t simply an action; it can also be a state of being. I can sin against God, but that action is usually a result of being in a state of sin (i.e. state of separating me from God). When Christ took on the sin of the world, he asked God why God had forsaken him. He felt the huge chasm between himself and God. Today, when I am in a state of sin, as reflected by what I do and how I act, I have distanced myself spiritually from God. When I turn around, though, and acknowledge my distance, God closes that gap, and I am in God’s presence once more. That’s why I believe that understanding “sin” simply as an action underestimates the true power of sin and the true power of redemption.

To live a life free from sin means to live a life completely in the presence of God. Of course, we can’t be completely in God’s presence while we exist in an imperfect, human world. But with Christ (the only one to completely do so while on Earth) as our model, that is our goal.

Monday, October 10, 2005

[Passion Takes Many Forms] Unadulterated torture, with euphoric bliss sprinkled throughout

The Houston Astros did it again!

They beat the Braves in 18 INNINGS to advance to the NLCS for the second year in a row. Since I don't have cable TV, I listened to almost the entire game on XM Satellite Radio. The game began after church as my family and I were eating lunch. We then went for a drive upstate. (I wasn't wild about driving during the game, but I put the XM in the car, and we were good to go.) We drove for over 2 hours after kind of getting lost before we arrived at our destination. Throughout the trip I became more and more despairing. We were way out of our way near Midland, Michigan. The Astros were down 5-0 and then 6-1. Could this day just end, please?

Then Berkman hit the SLAM! At first, I thought he had tied it because I had forgotten about the McCann homer in the top of the inning. Once I realized that it was only 6-5, I felt good that they had come back so far, but disappointed that the Braves were still ahead. As we pulled into our destination, Uncle John's Cider Mill, the Astros were down to their final out. I figured it was over. We were literally pulling into a parking space when Ausmus hit a drive to left, probably to be caught by Andruw Jones... nope, a double... [what?]... A HOMER!!! HE TIED THE BALLGAME!! TIED GAME!! And we're here!!

I felt bad about getting us lost, so I didn't feel like I could sit in the car and listen. Plus, Aidan had really been looking forward to the cider, donuts, and pumpkin-picking. So we got out of the car, and I called my dad. I asked him to call if anything happened. So I waited... and waited... and waited. He called when the Astros threatened in the 10th, but nothing else. I couldn't believe they were still at it. I began to think my phone wasn't working or dad had forgotten.

After we had our donuts, rode the train and the wagon, and picked a pumpkin, we were ready to go home. We got in the car, and to my (and Kari's) surprise, the game was STILL ON. They were in the top of the 15th. We listened the whole way home. We got home as they were moving to the top of the 17th with Clemens still pitching. I kept thinking, "This is ridiculous. The Atlanta bullpen sucks. We should have won this a long time ago (forgetting that many of our best hitters were no longer in the game). Kari wanted to make dinner, so I stayed on the chilly driveway playing with Aidan and Regan and listening to the game on the car stereo for almost an hour when Chris Burke, mediocre hitter extrordinaire, came to the plate with one out in the bottom of the 18th.

He hit it.

I started screaming and jumping up and down with Regan in my arms (oddly, she wasn't scared; she actually looked as happy as I was, like she knew what had happened). Aidan knew exactly what had happened, as he had been following with me on the radio. We were both screaming and jumping up and down. It was a great moment.

I immediately went inside, hoping that FOX would have some instant highlights, but they still had a football game on. As we got settled into the house for the night and ate dinner, I kept the TV on, hoping that FOX would show highlights before the Yankees/Angels game. No luck. (Who knew that FOX's football postgame show was the longest, most boring excuse for a show on TV?) They went straight from football into the other game. Someone should have told them that they just missed arguably the best game in postseason history.

That was okay, though. The Astros won. They have another chance to do what they didn't do last year. The Astros and Cardinals are very different teams this time around, but it should still be a great series. GO ASTROS!!!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Overfunctioning and Underfunctioning

The defining characteristic of Bowen Family Systems Theory is the concept of differentiation. Differentiation is roughly defined as the degree to which a person is able to be there own person emotionally. Highly differentiated people do not take on the anxiety of others, they take responsibility for their own emotional well-being, and they don't rely on other's opinions for the source of self-esteem and emotional well-being. Differentiation is learned from our parents, our peers, and most importantly, our culture, but ultimately, each individual decides the level of emotional capitol he or she will put in other people. That's a simplistic definition, but I think you get the idea. (Some define differentiation as the ability to separate emotions and reason in dealing with relationships. While there are elements of this in differentiation, this is way too simplistic and in some instances completely false. Sometimes emotions are based in reason, and to separate them completely negates an essential part of the human experience.)

According to some theorists, including Murray Bowen, people can be divided into two types: overfunctioners and underfunctioners. Functioning positions operate in reciprocal relationship to one another. Someone who "overfunctions," takes greater responsibility in the relationship or in the system, relates to another who "underfunctions," takes less responsibility. They each shape the attitudes, feelings and behavior of the other. The overfunctioning person feels responsible for the emotional well-being of the other, and works (often very hard) to make up for perceived deficiency in the other's functioning. The underfunctioning person is dependent on the other. But this should not be seen as a dichotomy, but rather as a continuum. The opposite ends of the continuum (extreme overfunctioning and extreme underfunctioning) represent positions of low differentiation. The preferred position is in the middle, which represents a high level of differentiation (i.e. I neither feel the need to take care of my partner's emotions, nor do I need them to take care of mine; I take complete responsibility for my own emotional well-being. I am not emotionally reactive to the other, but I understand and moderate my emotions.) Bowen would say, and I would agree, that no one is completely differentiated, and everyone is more or less a over/underfunctioner, although some are closer to the middle of the continuum than others (i.e. more highly differentiated).

Another piece of this puzzle is that Bowen claims that we partner with a person who is similar in differentiation to ourselves but on the other end of the continuum. In other words, overfunctioners marry underfunctioners who are at similar levels of differentiation. While I generally agree, I think it may be a falacy to assume that this happens accross the board. That is why I chose to write about this. I am currently seeing a couple in co-therapy with my supervisor who seems to fit into this paradigm. Although he appears to be the strong one in the relationship, my co-therapist believes that he is the underfunctioner because he plays the role of the victim. He relies on others to take care of him emotionally by focusing on others' problems while avoiding his own. She, on the other hand, takes on much of the emotional responsibility for the two of them. She blames herself for their problems and is the emotional scapegoat. According to Bowen (and my co-therapist), he is the underfunctioner, and she is the overfunctioner, but is that really the case? Perhaps they are each overfunctioners about some things and underfunctioners about others. They are comfortable addressing her problems while avoiding his, but does that comfort necessarily mean that she is overfunctioning? She invests her emotional well-being in him just as much as he does in her. She avoids confrontation as much as he does, and despite the fact that they more readily address her problems than his, it's difficult to see that she takes responsibility for him or her. As an overfunctioner, wouldn't she feel a certain responsibility for his emotional well-being? I simply don't see that.

As I continue to address this case and this issue, I suspect that my co-therapist and I will continue to see the theoretical problem differently, but we should certainly address the nature of their over/underfunctioning relationship. Does it matter who is which one? The net effect is that they both operate out of positions of low differentiation, placing too much emotional capitol in the other. The goal of therapy should be to get them to take responsibility for their own emotional well-being, regardless of the direction from which they come.