Letters for the week of March 24-30, 2004 

Cinema therapy, take two; gay theologians want their cake ... ; and yet more back and forth on the mental illness issue.

"So, How Do You Feel About That Scene?" Feature, 2/25

Thanks for the fine writing
You did go out on a limb to write the cinema therapy article, and I'm here to tell you that you retrieved some wonderful things out there. I was sitting at an outside table at the Montclair bakery, surrounded by others, and tears started leaking out of my eyes. I was not really prepared for this, and I abruptly packed up the paper and moved on away from there. I had to catch my breath before I went back in.

I've done some therapy under light hypnosis, and it surprises me what can come up in that state. Sure, the therapist may initially be "fishing," trying to link something, but invariably the inner landscape would reveal things that had meaning for me. I can't "will" meaning to happen, so I was impressed that these imaginary scenes had such power for me.

I can't agree with Dr. Goldenberg's criticisms of the therapy. Almost ANYTHING can be the launching pad for these kind of revelations, if you have two or more people who are willing to let it happen. Dr. Wolz would probably be an equally competent therapist if she used tea leaves or play therapy. It just happens that cinema is a good gateway for her to channel her talent.
Farrell Wills, Oakland

So, you free Saturday night?
I loved Justin Berton's article. It provided a compelling and personally revealing exploration of cinema therapy. With so many fly-by-night practices out there, I was pleased to see something that could be so easily accessible yet had real psychological underpinnings.
Christina Mona Stiegelmeyer, Walnut Creek

Don't quit your day job
I'm a middle school counselor and extreme movie buff. I really was starstruck by your piece. That would really be an enjoyable way of practicing my counseling skills with clients. I think my shingle will read "Dr. Paul ... Take One." What do you think?
Paul Cameron, Sainte Genevieve, MO

"Outing the Bible," Feature, 2/11/04

Yes, we're in the Bible, but not like they say
This Bible/homosexuality issue is tedious to me for several reasons.

I happen to think the Bible (New and Old Testaments) is fairly clear. Homosexuality is considered wrong ... a sin, whatever. That doesn't upset me too much because I am far from convinced that the Bible is the divine word of God (certainly not cover to cover). So I don't base my beliefs on Scripture.

However, those gays who want to remain Christians, and who want so much to believe that the Bible says it is okay to be gay, go to extraordinary lengths to interpret Scripture in a way that supports that belief. They will argue about the accurate translation of words or phrases based on the ancient Hebrew language; they will read between the lines and imagine all sorts of eroticism and hidden meanings; they will look at documents many scholars say are not authentic; and they make claims about relationships between Biblical characters that are mere speculation. Claiming that Timothy was Paul's lover is total speculation and is offensive to those whose acceptance we seek. It may be true, but why waste time with a theory that will never be proven? They make themselves look foolish, and hurt their credibility, when they try to qualify a fairly clear condemnation of homosexuality. For goodness' sake, to say that when the Bible condemns "exchanging natural relations for unnatural," it was condemning just heterosexuals who switched, and was not condemning homosexuals, is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard! Do they really believe the Sodom and Gomorrah thing was about being bad hosts?! Bless their hearts, they want so badly to believe the Bible accepts them and their sexual behavior.

It doesn't. Deal with it.

Letting go of the Bible as a divine guidebook is very hard. Expecting mainstream churches to do that is not realistic. It is ridiculous for these gay ministers and gay church members to be angry at their church for not accepting them. These queer theologians want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to be embraced by a church or religion that bases its whole belief system on the Bible, so they want the Bible interpreted in a way that embraces homosexuality ... when it simply doesn't.

What is happening with the churches that are moving toward acceptance of homosexuality is they are evolving toward a spiritual philosophy that does not completely conform to the Bible. These churches concentrate on the general principles in the Bible about love and kindness and acceptance, and sort of "ignore" the Bible when it gets specific about the don'ts (which it does, over and over). Or they twist themselves in a knot trying to qualify it or explain it in a way that allows for their modern "compassionate" ideas. Maybe that is a good thing. But you cannot be angry or impatient with a church that simply wants to follow more of the Bible than you do. Instead of demanding that your church change its beliefs because you don't want to leave the church of your childhood, find a different church.

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