Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Have you lived on the streets when your mind was betraying you?  If the answer to that question is no, then stop trying to make policy or decisions for those of us who have.  You do not have enough knowledge to even be at the table.  

There is almost nothing that makes me madder than to see people like D J Jaffe or Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) trying to speak for folks they don’t know and who are living through experiences they have never been through and who are living on the streets which neither one have done.  It takes lots of arrogance, paternalism and impertinence to believe as they must that you have ownership of another human being.  

You may think this is not a human rights issue, but if you had spent as much time on the streets as I have you would know that it is a human and civil rights issue.  Who gave Jaffe, Murphy or anyone else the right to take me off the street and lock me up in a mental illness facility?  It is not a crime to be free.  The streets belong to the people and I am a person.  We, (veterans, families and others) are harassed and treated like we are not human simply because we do not have a home or we have chosen not to live in traditional housing.

These two and lots of other people need to read The Seduction of Madness by Edward M. Podvoll, M.D. and be introduced to the concept that there is not any such thing as perpetual psychosis.  Dr. Podvoll talks about “islands of clarity.”  He means that no matter how psychotic I get I will have periods of clear thinking.  Jaffe’s argument that we need to be locked away until we think straight is not straight thinking.  It is a phony and flawed argument not based in reality and the facts of real life of those of us who are now living on the streets or have lived on the streets.

Court ordered treatment does not work very well whether it is from a drug court, mental health court or some other court if the person does not decide to go along.  I was involved in the first mental health court in Broward County, FL (claimed to be the first in the country), but I soon bailed because the judge did not listen to the person at all.  My point is you don’t need a court order.  You need to get the person to agree to what you want to do to be helpful to them.  The help needs to be something they want not something you perceive they need. The fix-it syndrome has no place in helping folks. They might if it is truly person-centered (Carl Rogers definition) and if you can show you see them as fully human.

On Our Own By Judi Chamberlin (1944 - 2010) is a book important to persons with lived experience.  The premise is very simple although her story is not.  Leave us alone and let us do it ON OUR OWN.  We do not need you Jaffe. We do not need you Rep. Murphy.  You do not own us.

© Ed Cooper, 1/27/2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
All rights reserved

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Sunday, January 25, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 35

(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:
Mark 1:21-28 English Standard Version (ESV)
21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching.
22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out,
24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”
25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”
26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.
27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

Sermon for Today:

Jesus taught in the synagogue because Jesus was a Jew.  Jesus was not a member of a local Christian Church in His hometown of Nazareth.  It is important to understand that the church did not start until the day Jesus ascended back into heaven or some say the Day of Pentecost.  The point being that while He was on earth Jesus interacted with the world as a Jew as well as the Son of God.

Some folks today take the fact Jesus was a Jew and that God’s chosen people of the Old Testament were the Jewish people to mean that America ought to support whatever Israel does.  You may remember that President Carter got in trouble when he suggested in one of his books that Israel was mistreating the Palestinians.  Right now the press is making a big hubbub  about the Speaker of the House inviting the Prime Minister of Israel to address Congress without consulting with the White House.  The church should be about taking the Gospel to the lost and not about the politics around the state of Israel.  

Some people use the casting out of the “unclean spirit” as an example of Jesus healing a person with mental illness. The scripture does not say the man had a mental health problem.  The scripture says he had an “unclean spirit” or the King James says “demon.”  Since people have a hard time believing in the devil and his angels (demons) they come up with junk explanations like the man was mentally ill.  The devil is real.  Evil is real.  When we have a mass murder in this country the media says mentally ill.  I say evil.

The unclean spirit or demon knew that Jesus was “the Holy One of God” a reference also found in John 6: 69.  If a spirit working for the devil knows Jesus was the Son of God, why do we have so much trouble believing that today?

The reason I like these verses of the Gospel of Mark is because it shows Jesus being Jesus. Teaching and healing.  Christians should be teaching and healing today.

Prayer for Today:

Father, May the Gospel story come so alive in us that Your Son comes alive to the world around each of us.  For we know You sent Him for all peoples and He gave His all that all of us might have life forevermore if only we find Him, the one and only Way.  It is in His name I pray. Amen.

© Ed Cooper, January 25, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Let me introduce you to a lady in my life other than my wife.  Marilynne Robinson, the other lady, is not only the author of Housingkeeping, Gilead, Home and Lila, but she has also written four nonfiction works.  Her nonfiction book Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self takes on those who would try and reserve for science alone the right to speak about the human mind.

She says, “If ‘mind’ and ‘soul’ are not entities in their own right, they are at least terms that have been found useful for describing aspects of the expression and self-experience of our own very complex nervous system.”

Notice she says “if.”  Dr. Robinson, yes I said Dr. Robinson, is a 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner for Gilead, which means she knows how to use the right word at the right place.  

This is what you will find if you go to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop Website
F. Wendell Miller Professor of English and Creative Writing
Marilynne Robinson is the author of the novels Housekeeping, Gilead, Home, and Lila, and the nonfiction works When I Was a Child I Read Books, Absence of Mind, The Death of Adam and Mother Country. Her awards include the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2005), the Orange Prize for Fiction (2009), the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (2005), The PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvoel Award for the Art of the Essay (1999), and the Louisville Gravemeyer Award in Religion (2006).

I want you to know enough about Marilynne Robinson to know that when Yale University asked her to deliver the series of lectures from which this book was born that Yale was not inviting a lightweight, but rather a heavyweight.  She takes on the reductionist thinkers like Richard Dawkins and clearly points out that they are leaving valuable information on the table.  Information that has been gained over thousands of years about the human mind.

She points out as William James did that data should be thought of as gifts and not as givens so that we might maintain the humility to know we have not seen the whole picture and there is always more to learn.  Anytime we think we have the “truth” we stop looking for it.

I recommend the book, but I also would encourage folks to stop thinking in terms of reductionist science.  You may think science has found the answers to the great questions about the brain/mind/soul, but the real ones know they have not.  They cannot tell me why I do anything.  Even when they know what part of the brain is working when I do something, they do not know the why.  Why is a mind/soul question that will never be answered by any machine or biological science.  They may answer all the how questions, but they will never answer the why questions using only biological sciences.

Why questions are the root questions.  Their answers will touch your mind and soul.  The ones you have that they cannot see with machines.

© Ed Cooper, January 22, 2015, Stoney Creek, Eastern Tennessee   
   All rights reserved

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

MY DAUGHTER IS GONE: a poem by ed

My daughter is gone!
The little baby girl
who bounced on my belly
was no longer allowed
near me or my belly.

Because I am with sin!
The sin of a mind
that cannot bend
enough to be part
of a world so broken
the courts take a baby girl
from the arms of a father
while they have him
locked away in a loony bin.

My daughter is still gone!
Now it is not the courts
that keeps her from my arms,
but rather things I
cannot undo and will not do.

I saw my daughter briefly!
However, I did not measure up
to her high standards
of what a father should be.
So for the second, third, fourth …  
time, I lost my daughter.

My daughter is gone
and I will not give chase
because now she is an adult
and has the right
to condemn a man
with a mind that never mends.
© Ed Cooper, January 20, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Sunday, January 18, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 34

(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:
Mark 1:16-20 English Standard Version (ESV)

16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.
17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.
20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

Sermon for Today:

This is our second sermonette on the Gospel According to Mark.  As you can see the men He called did not hesitate and left their livelihoods and families to follow Him the moment they were called.  Today, I am afraid we make all sorts of excuses why we cannot do what we know Jesus called all of us to do.  He called all of us to be “fishers of men (persons).”

Why do we fail?  Because we always think we have more time or that He meant someone else or that we don’t have any talents He needs.  The fact is He needs and wants every Christian seeking the one Lost Lamb.

I want to recommend three books to you besides the Gospels and the Book of Acts to help you learn how to become a better disciple of Jesus Christ.

NOT A FAN  by Kyle Idleman, Teaching Pastor, Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky

THE JESUS I NEVER KNEW  by Philip Yancey(born 1949) is an American Christian author. Fourteen million copies of his books have been sold worldwide, making him one of the best-selling evangelical Christian authors.

LIVING IN CHRIST’S PRESENCE  by Dallas Willard (September 4, 1935 – May 8, 2013) was an American philosopher also known for his writings on Christian spiritual formation.

These three books will not tell you more or tell you better than the Gospels and Acts, but I have found the more different ways I look at something the better I understand it.  We need to be able to follow Jesus just as quickly, fully and earnestly as did the first disciples He called.  The Gospel story must be told.

Prayer for Today:

Father, May the Gospel story come so alive in us that Your Son comes alive to the world around each of us.  For we know You sent Him for all peoples and He gave His all that all of us might have life forever more if only we find Him, the one and only Way.  It is in His name I pray. Amen.

© Ed Cooper, January 18, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Bashing Republicans seems to be the thing to do if you are an advocate for a disability group, aging group or a minority group.  It isn’t particularly smart politics at the moment since they are the majority in both houses in the US Congress and in a lot of state legislatures.  However, it would seem to me that someone at some point would decide that in order to get anything done the name calling will have to stop and reasonable discourse must be the rule of the day.  I guess that will happen only after it is too late to save anything for anybody.

I have spent the last decade living in Republican counties in Appalachia.  I am glad to report that I have not spotted the beast with horns and and a tail carry a pitch fork.  Before that I spent over a decade in a county in south Florida which was dominated by Democrats , the infamous Broward County, and I can truthfully report I did not see the Devil walking the streets there either.

My point is that to demonize either party is to miss the point that both parties are comprised of people with the same goals and dreams.  People disagree on the path to achieve what they see as best for them and their families and yes for the country as a whole.  Neither party has a lock on being the party of the people for the people by the people.

Money certainly plays a major role in our political process.  It is like a high stakes poker game.  You can’t even get in the game to play if you don’t have a big enough stake to plop down.  However, the hearts of the voters are the final deciders of elections.  People may think they vote with their minds, but they really vote with their hearts.  They vote based on their convictions and beliefs and also on who they feel good about or the best about or the least worst about.

If we as a persons with lived experience want to influence the policies our elected officials make, we need to stop calling them names and calling their motives into question and begin calling on them to make friends.  A friend is more likely to see you as a person and the more we are seen as persons the more favorable the laws concerning our lives will be.

© Ed Cooper, January 15, 2015
   All rights reserved

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Can we as individuals with lived experience (consumers of mental health services) ever agree on enough issues to have a real voice in making the policies which determine so much about our lives?  I have received services since I was fifteen which is over fifty years and have been actively advocating since 1988 and my answer is increasingly leaning to the negative.  I don’t ever see us putting together a consensus voice with enough clout to influence the outcome of the national debate.

First, the majority of us are too poor to get into the money game to have any real influence in any political campaign.  Poverty works against a number of people and their issues in this country, but it certainly can be put at the top of the list for us.

Second, no national organization that I am aware of has managed to organize enough of a grassroots participatory process to convince anybody they have the right to speak on behalf on any great number of us.  This lack of honest authentic grassroots organization of persons with lived experience makes any organization lack credibility when saying they represent us.

Third, we have been unsuccessful in getting the media to portray us in a fair way.  This is unlikely to change.  We have some great writers and they answer articles that appear in print, but I am afraid we are losing that battle.  For example, I often see something Laurie Coker, Executive Director of NC CANSO has written in response to an article she has seen.  I am glad people do respond, but overall I think we are losing.

I am not giving up, but we need new ideas and new blood.  We need an agenda that a majority can agree on without it being so weak it is meaningless.  I would like to see it before I die, because I am tired of having to live in fear of being locked away without ever committing a crime other than the fact that some people do not like my mind.

© Ed Cooper, January 13, 2015
   All rights reserved

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Sistine Chapel Ceiling Left

Sunday, January 11, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 33

(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:
Mark 1:1-15 English Standard Version (ESV)
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
   who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
   ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
   make his paths straight,’”
4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.
7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.
11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,
15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Sermon for Today:

Scholars argue over when the Gospel According to Mark was written and what sources were used.  They argue over who wrote the Gospel.  I do not have all these questions running around in my head.  It is clear to me after years of study, reflection and prayer that the Gospel According to Mark was the earliest Gospel written and it is certainly the most concise and to the point.  That is why I have chosen it to study for the next few weeks in these sermonettes.  I know I need to take a refresher course in the plain Gospel story.  It is the Gospel story that can change lives and changed lives can change the world.

We have witnessed evil acts around the world over the past few weeks.  People murdered in the name of some ideology that I certainly can not comprehend and I am not sure they fully do themselves.  What I do know is that drones and air strikes will not convince them to stop, but the Gospel story and the Holy Spirit does have the power to stop a murderer in their tracks.  Saul was stopped dead in his tracks and turned into Paul.

In our scripture lesson today we see John the Baptist calling people to repentance, Jesus being baptized, Jesus being tempted in the desert and then Jesus preaching the Gospel.  Fifteen verses packed full of action.  That is how the Gospel according to Mark starts.

Repent, believe, baptism, Gospel and Son of God are the themes of these fifteen verses and they will remain the themes of the rest of Mark.  They are the saving message for our day just as they were for the days Jesus walked this earth.  We need to absorb the Gospel story deep in our hearts and learn to live it so others might see Jesus in us and want to seek Him themselves.

Prayer for Today:

Father, May the Gospel story come so alive in us that Your Son comes alive to the world around each of us.  For we know you sent Him for all peoples  and He gave His all that all of us might have life forever more if only we find Him, the Way.  It is in His name I pray. Amen.

© Ed Cooper, January 11, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved

Friday, January 09, 2015

Carl R. Rogers: Part Three (Person-Centered Building Blocks)

Carl R. Rogers in his book A Way Of Being gives a very simple and clear explanation of what he means when he uses the term person-centered approach.  This is the last in a three part blog series trying to cover the three main conditions that Carl Rogers says must be present to create a “climate to be growth promoting.” (CR)  I highly recommend reading this book.  It was copyrighted in 1980 seven years before his death in 1987.  It shows his development of thought and his call for a more person-centered and humane future.

The first condition is “genuineness, realness, or congruence.”  He says a person wishing to help another must not put up any “professional front or personal facade.”

The second condition is what he called “unconditional positive regard.”  He first says if you want to help facilitate growth, healing and recovery you have to be real and then he adds you have to accept and prize the person you are walking beside just as they are.  

The third facilitative condition is “empathic understanding.”

The question becomes how does one acquire an empathic understanding of another person?  It does not occur from matching observed or reported symptoms to a list in DSM-5 and arriving at a diagnosis and then saying I know this person.  He is Ed, Bipolar I.  You also cannot use any profiling techniques to arrive at an empathic understanding of a person.  In fact, the truth be known, you may not even have an empathic understanding of yourself.

To acquire an empathic understanding of a person you must be one of those rare individuals who can listen to another person.  Really listen.  Sometimes it is called active or deep listening.  It cannot be done with your mouth open or your mind elsewhere.  It cannot be done if you are already planning on how to fix the person you are listening to.  That is why the second condition is so important.  To truly listen you must accept and prize the person.

The pieces fit together like this.  If I can see you are being real and that you see me as a person and value me enough to truly listen to me, then I will start to see some value in myself and begin a journey I might never have started if no one had ever convinced me I was worth truly listening to.  

Person-centered approaches only work if the person comes to believe they are thought of and seen and heard as a person.  Rogers boils down the steps to helping another human see they are truly a person with a self worthy of being.  These three conditions are the basic building blocks of any person-centered approach.

© Ed Cooper, January 10, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Carl R. Rogers: Part Two

by ed

Carl R. Rogers in his book A Way Of Being gives a very simple and clear explanation of what he means when he uses the term person-centered approach.  In this three part blog series I am going to try and cover the three main conditions that Carl Rogers says must be present for a “climate to be growth promoting.” (CR)

The first condition which was covered in Part One to creating a climate in which growth or recovery can be facilitated is that the helpers must be real and genuine.  He says they must not put up any “professional front or personal facade.”

The second condition is what he called “unconditional positive regard.”

He first says if you want to help facilitate growth, healing and recovery you have to be real and then he adds you have to accept and prize the person you are walking beside just as they are.  Again, let me make clear that I have never had a mental health professional working with me who I thought felt this way about me.  I always felt and feel about those working with me now that they regard me as a “thing” needing great change and improvement.  I am not sure what Carl Rogers is talking about is possible to receive from a mental health professional working with me.

I do not read him to mean that one has to always agree with the person or meet the person’s every demand.  I get the idea that Rogers is trying to convey as being that the helper must be real and must see the person as real with rights and abilities to be respected and honored.  Only in this real and respectful relationship does Rogers think one can help facilitate real growth and healing.

I took a 30 hour course in psychological counseling at what was in 1995 the Center for Group Counseling in Boca Raton, FL.  The Facilitator Training Course in Psychological Counseling was based on Rogian principles.  However, his theories have been accurately tested in my relationship with my wife Patty who at times has been forced to play a role she surely did not want, but has always done without any professional facade and with “unconditional positive regard” even after becoming a mental health professional after we were married.  So I know at least one trained mental health professional that Carl Rogers would approve of the way she has always interacted with me.

Try being a Patty when you attempt to walk beside another human down the path they decide to walk.  

© Ed Cooper, January 8, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved