Monday, December 22, 2014

JESUS DOES NOT HATE CHRISTMAS


(My wife, Patty Cooper asked that this blog entry be put back up for Christmas.  I am putting it back up now and it will remain up until Sunday December 28th.  Tell your friends to take a look.) 

I have been asked why I write so much about Jesus on a blog that is suppose to be about mental health.  The answer is simple.  Spirituality is a one of the most important keys to mental health.  Please note that I did not say to mental illness, but rather to mental health.  Spirituality helps one to recover mental health and to maintain mental health.  For me personally, Jesus is at the core of my spiritual life so I write about what I know.  I could not write about the spiritual life from any other perspective.  That does not mean there are not others.  It just means I write about what I know about.


I would hate it if a group of people got together and decided when my birthday was going to be.  That is what happened to Jesus and most likely they picked a pagan holiday to be day they would celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  Why do I think He does not hate Christmas?


First, I think Jesus likes all the smiling faces of the children that Christmas brings even if it is not really His actual birthday.  He loves children and their joy must warm His heart.


Second, He must like the fact that folks get jobs this time of year and make a little money because of all the buying that goes on.  He loves the poor and to the degree that the poor puts some money in their pockets during this holiday I think He is glad of that fact.


Third, He is probably glad the world is talking about Him even if they get most of it wrong.  The little they get right is better than none.  Jesus wants people to know Him.


So there you have it.  My three reasons for thinking that Jesus does not hate Christmas although it is not His actual birthday and we celebrate it in a very pagan way.


© Ed Cooper, December 18, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
      All rights reserved
    

Sunday, December 21, 2014

IS THE BIRTH OF JESUS HISTORICALLY ACCURATE?: SCS No. 31


Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 31

(We at Project Dream Again hope these sermonettes bring some measure of peace to your soul and maybe spark a thought you then share with someone else in your life.)

Scripture for Today:
Luke 2:1-7 King James Version (KJV)
2 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.




Sermon for Today:

This time of year the reliability of the story of the birth of Jesus in the Gospels is always up for discussion.  I am not surprised when an atheist or agnostic doubts the accounts, but I am when people who claim to be Christians say they only believe parts of the accounts.  They usually have trouble with the virgin birth or with it being historically accurate.  Why am I surprised?  Because if they are a Christian and have a relationship with Christ which is what being a Christian means then they know the unlimited power of Christ and His Father the Creator of all.

The Gospels are as reliable as any ancient documents that are commonly trusted.  The best test of their trustworthiness is the fact they appeared so soon after the events they record and while people were still alive who could attest to their facts.  Do they agree on every point?  The answer is no.  Do we have any of the first manuscripts? Again, the answer is no.  Do we have other sources that mention any of the facts in the Gospels?  The answer is yes.  The Gospels can be trusted as historical documents.

Now back to can we trust the accuracy of the birth story?  My answer to you is simple.  If you trust Jesus for anything, then you should not have any trouble with the story of His birth.  If you pray for God’s help on any occasion then you must think God real enough and powerful enough to intervene in this world.  That being the case you should have no problem with the birth story.  Just put your faith in it like you do in Him and have a wonderful celebration of His coming into this world.


Prayer for Today:

Father, May the world find the peace that Your Son came into the world to bring.  It is in His name we pray. Amen.



© Ed Cooper, December 21, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved

Thursday, December 18, 2014

JESUS DOES NOT HATE CHRISTMAS



I have been asked why I write so much about Jesus on a blog that is suppose to be about mental health.  The answer is simple.  Spirituality is a one of the most important keys to mental health.  Please note that I did not say to mental illness, but rather to mental health.  Spirituality helps one to recover mental health and to maintain mental health.  For me personally, Jesus is at the core of my spiritual life so I write about what I know.  I could not write about the spiritual life from any other perspective.  That does not mean there are not others.  It just means I write about what I know about.

I would hate it if a group of people got together and decided when my birthday was going to be.  That is what happened to Jesus and most likely they picked a pagan holiday to be day they would celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  Why do I think He does not hate Christmas?

First, I think Jesus likes all the smiling faces of the children that Christmas brings even if it is not really His actual birthday.  He loves children and their joy must warm His heart.

Second, He must like the fact that folks get jobs this time of year and make a little money because of all the buying that goes on.  He loves the poor and to the degree that the poor puts some money in their pockets during this holiday I think He is glad of that fact.

Third, He is probably glad the world is talking about Him even if they get most of it wrong.  The little they get right is better than none.  Jesus wants people to know Him.

So there you have it.  My three reasons for thinking that Jesus does not hate Christmas although it is not His actual birthday and we celebrate it in a very pagan way.

© Ed Cooper, December 18, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

   All rights reserved  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

ACKNOWLEDGING THE JUSTICE OF GOD: SCS No. 30


(We at Project Dream Again hope these sermonettes bring some measure of peace to your soul and maybe spark a thought you then share with someone else in your life.)


Scripture for Today:
Luke 7:24-35 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who put on fine clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
   who will prepare your way before you.’
28 I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (And all the people who heard this, including the tax collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. 30 But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)
31 “To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
   we wailed, and you did not weep.’
33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; 34 the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”



Sermon for Today:


The news is full of people demonstrating in the streets for what they call justice. Around the world we see wars being waged and the people fighting them saying they are doing so to bring justice and for a holy cause.  Their adversaries call them terrorists.  Justice does not seem to have the same meaning for all human beings.  

I was detained with my parents in the Nairobi, Kenya airport in 1965 for more than a day because we were white and Americans.  To the Kenyans it was just because we did not have the proper papers.  To my father it was unjust because usually an overnight visitor’s visa was always granted at the airport, but at the time Kenya was having diplomatic trouble with America so we were caught in the middle.  My mother and father were worried.  Being a teenager, I found it nothing but an adventure.  My father did not like being told when he could eat.  I had been told when meals were by him for years.

There were marches yesterday (12/13/2014) in a number of cities.  Most of the marchers were against what they perceived as recent police and grand jury injustices. However, a few people marched in support of the police.  Deciding what justice is will never be as simple as it seems at first glance.

Our Scripture lesson for today says we should acknowledge the justice of God.  Jesus said the least in the Kingdom is greater than John the Baptist and it says they all saw the justice of this.  Do you see the justice of this?  It can only be understood if you understand that things changed when Jesus was baptized and His ministry was the beginning of the new covenant with all peoples.

“Therefore the one who is least in the kingdom of God (one who has believed in Jesus and has become a member of the new covenant kingdom) is actually greater than John, for those who come after John live in the age of fulfillment, following the coming of Jesus. This underscores the qualitative difference between the old age and the dawning of the new kingdom age.” ESV Study Bible Notes     

The justice of God does not and will not look like anything we conjure up in our heads today as we live out our lives.  We perceive wrongs and unfairness each day, but the grace of God may paint a picture that will surprise us just as the Pharisees and the lawyers were surprised in our Scripture lesson.

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) who by their own statements influenced numerous politicians and activists with his speeches and writings such as U.S. President Barack Obama, former President Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King, Jr., Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hubert Humphrey, Dean Acheson, Madeleine Albright, and John McCain. Arthur Schlesinger described Niebuhr as "the most influential American theologian of the 20th century" and Time Magazine posthumously called Niebuhr "the greatest Protestant theologian in America since Jonathan Edwards".  Niebuhr faced with Hitler and Japan dropped his long held pacifist beliefs and friends and supported World War II.  What was just took on a different meaning when he looked Hitler in the face.  He then wrote about something he called Christian Realism.

What is most real is that one day there will be justice, but I am not objective enough to even attempt to tell you what God’s justice will look like.  What I can say is that God’s grace is real.  Read the story that follows our Scripture lesson.  Remember it? A woman washes Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume and then with her tears.  He says to her “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”(Luke 7:50 ESV)  That makes me know God’s justice will also be done with God’s grace.



Prayer for Today:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.


(This version is attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)


© Ed Cooper, December 14, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

FORGIVING FAMILY


This time of year between Thanksgiving and New Years family is always on my mind. One of the big issues I deal with is forgiveness. I don't seem to be able to let go of how some of my family have reacted to my behavior over the years. I don't like all the conversations behind my back and I certainly don't like the fact that they participated in locking me away a number of times on psychiatric wards. My biggest issue is that my only child was taken from me when she was less than a year old when I was locked away and I ended up with no rights other than those granted by my ex wife. She granted none. I think not being able to see a living child may be worse than having a child die before you do. Of course that is just an opinion based on my feelings although I have lost a child very dear to me. A step-daughter of mine lost her first born son. We had been very close.

The advice I get is to forgive my family and stop letting the anger eat at me. People either quote the Bible, the Big Book of AA or some psychological theory about anger. The Bible does not say I cannot be angry. Read Matthew 5:22 in the KJV, NKJV, Young's Literal Translation, Worldwide English Translation or the World English Bible and you will see the words “without cause.”

Matthew 5:22New King James Version (NKJV)
22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

In the NIV it reads
Matthew 5:22 New International Version (NIV)
22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Footnote:Some manuscripts brother or sister without cause
It seems reasonable to me that if one takes the fact that Jesus got angry and that God got angry and that everyone agrees that some manuscripts say that if you’re angry without a cause you’re in trouble then maybe quoting the Bible to me does not work in this case.
The 12 steps tells me what to do in relation to those I have wronged, but I don’t find a great deal of guidance on what I am suppose to do about those who have wronged me.
I do understand the destructiveness of anger to the soul.  It is a cancer to a person’s interior life that spreads to their external life and can make them very difficult to live with.  Do not take this blog entry to suggest I am promoting the idea that one should hold on to anger at all costs.  I am saying don’t try to sell me that all anger is sinful because God and Jesus did not sin and they got angry.  If you don’t believe that ask the money changers in the temple or the fig tree or perhaps you would like to read the Old Testament and then tell me God never got angry.
I have been going to see a psychiatrist since 1964.  I have listened carefully to their advice about anger and read many books claiming to answer the question, but as to date at the age of 66 I still don’t know what a person does with anger that has a cause that is not minor or petty.  Maybe someone reading this will answer this question for me.
© Ed Cooper, December 10, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee


     

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 29

Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 29

(We at Project Dream Again hope these sermonettes bring some measure of peace to your soul and maybe spark a thought you then share with someone else in your life.)





Sermon for Today:

The message for today can be found at the following link.

SERMON ON YOUTUBE


Prayer for Today:

Our Heavenly Father, May we learn to look at the poor as your children and to begin to see them as our brothers and sisters. Help us to learn how to witness to our loved ones and to the people we know and who we come in contact with in our daily lives. Amen.



© Ed Cooper, December 7, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
All rights reserved


Thursday, December 04, 2014

WHO MEASURES RECOVERY?



Recovery cannot be measured by whether or not a person is employed or any other artificial measurement decided upon by the funding source or the provider of services.  Recovery cannot be measured by a definition decided on by a committee of persons even if that committee has a majority of persons with lived experience on it.  Recovery can have a definition for the purpose of discourse, but only the person can define it for their personal recovery journey.

Why is this so important?  Because by defining, setting measurements and time limits for persons receiving services you are taking away the person’s right to be an individual on an individual journey.  No two journeys are the same just like no two people are the same.

When I went to a sheltered workshop which was suppose to evaluate me for work, I was appalled at the process.  They pretended to have a pay scale based on production, but it was a farce.  When I went and found a job on my own (I had had plenty of practice having held over fifty jobs before I was 40.), Mountain House in Asheville, NC threw me out of their program because I did not stay at the sheltered workshop saying I was not serious about my recovery.

By all standards set by providers I am a failure.  However, I just had my 66th birthday which means I have made it a long time without going down the path that they said I must.

Person-Centered Recovery should mean that the person defines what the measurements will be and the pace.  Too bad the mental health system has yet to learn this very simple principle.

© Ed Cooper, December 4, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
All rights reserved

Sunday, November 30, 2014

BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT: SCS No. 28


Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 28

(We at Project Dream Again hope these sermonettes bring some measure of peace to your soul and maybe spark a thought you then share with someone else in your life.) 



Scripture Lesson for Today:

Matthew 5:3 (NIV)
 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 6:20 (NIV)
Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.


Sermonette for Today:

Matthew and Luke do not record this saying of Jesus the same.  That is why some people down through the ages have advocated for voluntary poverty as a way of piety.  However, Jesus never says anywhere that being rich is a problem or a sin.  He does say that money can make it harder to get into the Kingdom, but we also know that poverty can destroy lives.  What point was Jesus trying to make?

Instead of trying to decide which one is the most accurate let us agree that maybe Jesus said them both.  Jesus would be telling us that there is nothing immoral about being poor and at the same time telling us that putting our all faith in God is a good thing.

Psalm 69:32 (NIV)
The poor will see and be glad—
    you who seek God, may your hearts live!

Psalm 34:6 (NIV)
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.

If we humble ourselves before the Lord it does not matter if we are rich or poor we are all one before Him.  We need to act as if this is the truth that is in our hearts.


Prayer for Today:

Our Heavenly Father, May we learn to look at the poor as your children and to begin to see them as our brothers and sisters. Help us to learn how to witness to our loved ones and to the people we know and who we come in contact with in our daily lives. Amen.



© Ed Cooper, November 30, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved





Sunday, November 23, 2014

THANKFULNESS: SCS No. 27



Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 27

(We at Project Dream Again hope these sermonettes bring some measure of peace to your soul and maybe spark a thought you then share with someone else in your life. Stoney Creek Sermonettes are not meant to replace your participation in a faith community.) 



Scripture Lesson for Today: Colossians 2:6-15 (NIV)

Spiritual Fullness in Christ

6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,
7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ,
12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Sermonette for Today:

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  My surgery went well and I am healing.  I saw my 66th birthday come and go this past week which only God knows the full story of how much of a miracle that was.  However, our Scriptures for today tells about what I am most thankful for which is what I have received from being rooted in my Savior.

I am not going to try to tell you I am a perfect Christian or even close.  I struggle each day to live closer to the example Jesus set while He was on earth.  I miss the mark by a universe, but He always finds me out there somewhere and brings me home.

I am safe because He “disarmed the powers” and forgave my sins and by God’s grace I will remain safe as long as I remain true to Him.

Read the Scripture lesson for today closely.  Read it each day until Thanksgiving and then on Thanksgiving read it with your family.  It may be the blessing to you that it is to me.    

Prayer for Today:

Our Heavenly Father, May we learn to live lives that honor You. Help us to learn how to witness to our loved ones and to the people we know and who we come in contact with in our daily lives. Amen.



© Ed Cooper, November 23, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NOW I AM TELLING YOU


I told my surgeon last Friday and I told my psychiatrist yesterday and now I am telling you.  It is more than just the mental health system that needs to be made aware of trauma informed care.

When I was in the military I was transported in a straitjacket from the Memphis Naval Hospital to the psychiatric unit at the hospital at Fort Gordon, Georgia.  It was not a direct flight and I was in the straitjacket for more than 24 hours.  That is not the only type of restraint that has been used on me in my multiple hospitalizations over the 50 plus years I have had a psychiatric label.  Restraints cause lasting trauma among other things.

When I was taken into the operating room the other day, they started strapping me down for surgery without saying a word or explaining a damn thing.  Terror struck like a bolt of lightning from the sky.  One person was talking on a cell phone and the others were talking to each other.

Then I heard a calming voice.  My surgeon spoke to me.  He asked all of them if they had everything they needed and if they were ready.  Then the oddest thing happened.  The surgeon said, “Amen.”  They all joined him.  I went off to sleep, but I woke still remembering the terror.

I remember it still.  It comes in the night with the other nightmares.  Trauma informed care needs to extend to all providers of care and to anybody who cares at all.

© Ed Cooper, November 18, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

    All rights reserved

Sunday, November 16, 2014

DO NOT LET ANOTHER DAY PASS: SCS No. 26


Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 26

(We at Project Dream Again hope these sermonettes bring some measure of peace to your soul and maybe spark a thought you then share with someone else in your life. Stoney Creek Sermonettes are not meant to replace your participation in a faith community.) 



Scripture Lesson for Today: John 3:16 (NIV)

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Sermonette for Today:

Today’s scripture lesson is probably the most quoted and memorized verse in the Bible.  The problem is that the majority of the world either does not know about it because they have not been told or have not responded to the Good News found in it.

I called the message today DO NOT LET ANOTHER DAY PASS because I think it is important that everyone has a chance to hear and understand the meaning of this verse.  All believers are ministers of the Good News (gospel).  We all are called to tell others.

The paid staff of the church cannot reach the people who can be reached by the masses of believers across the world.  The Good News can transform an individual life and by doing so can transform the world.

The Good News is not just about getting people saved, although that certainly is an important goal, it is also about making people’s lives better right now. 

Acts 4:31 (NIV) 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Some want to say the Holy Spirit lost His/Her power when the Apostles died.  Don’t let anyone get you on that path.  God is not dead. Jesus broke the bonds of death and hell.  Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be with believers until He returned.  That is why if you help someone come to Jesus their life will change in an instant and be better from then on.

Tell those you love the Good News.  Do not let another day pass without sharing what Jesus means to you with someone.

Prayer for Today:

Our Heavenly Father, May we learn to live lives that honor You. Help us to learn how to witness to our loved ones and to the people we know and who we come in contact with in our daily lives. Amen.



© Ed Cooper, November 16 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved


Thursday, November 13, 2014

LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO ED


(Any terms or abbreviations you are not familiar with please look up.  Explaining each one would make this blog entry way too long.)

The fight for grassroots participatory decision making in the mental health delivery system has never really begun.  Persons with lived experience (I prefer the term folks with psychiatric labels) get put on boards or committees in token numbers and only then if they can act “chronically normal” during the meetings.  I have been around this thing called advocacy since 1988 and I have yet to see a real grassroots participatory decision making process take place.  If you know of one please let me know.

I suppose the first thing you should know about me is that I believe that Jesus is a real historical figure and further that He is who He claimed to be.  I agree with C.S. Lewis that it is absurd to call Jesus simply a good moral teacher among many.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Next you should know I am married to the most wonderful woman I can imagine.  However, the important thing for you to know here is that she has been an advocate all of her adult life.  The range of her advocacy at times amazes me.  It encompasses education, housing, poverty, mental health and others too numerous to name.  She has worked through Highlander Center, been the monitor for a federal lawsuit at South Florida State Hospital and Director of PAIMI for the state of Florida.  She is also a published author.  The great thing she is my mentor in advocacy.

I started in the ministry as a teenager when I was on the mission field with my parents in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia).  I held my first church here in the states before going into the Army in 1967.  I was ordained shortly after coming out of the military after a two year tour of duty as an Army medic.  I remain the Chaplain at Project Dream Again were I am also the Director and Founder.

I have the following DSM-5 labels.  Bipolar I Disorder, PTSD, DID

When I worked more directly as a system advocate than I do now, my work was basically confined to Broward County, FL.  I did not try to go statewide or national.  The only national thing I ever did was to co-chair the religious outreach network for NAMI back in the early 90’s.  I believed I could be more effective working on the local level.  I will not go into my successes and failures, but I am proud of the work I did in Broward County.

I hold some very strong beliefs that get me in trouble on occasion.  Add that to the fact that I have a strong personality that people seem to either like or hate and you have a mix that can leave destruction behind me.  It can also build.

I do not believe the state or any other entity for any reason including the threat of suicide has the right to lock away and force their will on another person and call it treatment or call it anything else unless that person has committed a crime that is a crime and not just a law created for the purposes of locking away persons they label.

I believe that systems of care need to be conceived, operated and monitored by a process that is grassroots participatory.  Let me give you a concrete example.  Each Veterans hospital needs to have a board that is made up of at least 51% of persons receiving services at that hospital.  It needs to have a human rights committee made up of at least 51% persons receiving services there.  It needs independent advocates at the hospital employed by a nonprofit run by persons receiving services there.  You get the idea?

Project Dream Again would like to see a conference to discuss two big issues. 
1) Spirituality and the Reductionist Biological Theories
2) How to Implement Grassroots Participatory Decision Making in the Mental Health System. 

I am not optimistic the conferences will happen because those subjects are not in the interest of anyone but those of us with psychiatric labels who want more control over our lives.

Ed Cooper, Director& Chaplain
Project Dream Again (Est. 1988)
© Ed Cooper, November 13, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee