Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Of Newtown and Magical Thinking

The Newtown tragedy brings to mind my experiences many years ago as an assistant district attorney when, among other things, I was assigned to cover the mental health hearings in the probate court of Bexar County, Texas. Every other Wednesday I met the probate judge and his clerk at his office in the courthouse and we drove together down South Presa street to the county mental health hospital. There we held involuntary and voluntary commitment hearings in a small conference room. At that time it was much easier to extend commitments than it is today.

Most of the inmates suffered from mental illnesses combined with related addictive behaviors. The hospital was pretty shabby but the inmates were at least housed, fed, medicated and protected from injuring themselves or others. The unintended consequences of the later movement to protect individuals from abuse of the mental health commitment processes of that day has been to drastically reduce mental health treatment and increase danger of injury to these patients and to the public. 

I read about twice as many calls for gun control legislation as I do for increases in funding for mental health. And I have not yet read or heard of anyone advocating changing the laws relating to involuntary commitments for those with potentially dangerous untreated mental illnesses. Yet the news today tells us that the shooter in Newtown may have become enraged because he knew that his mother was trying to get him committed to a mental health facility for treatment. That process is very cumbersome and takes too much time when a patient is in a potentially dangerous mental state.

As a society we tend to engage in magical thinking in times of tragedy like this. We think that the solution to tragedies like this lies in the legislative process. Pass some new laws to restrict gun possession and increase funding for mental health treatment and, VOILA, problem solved! 

I'm not saying new legislation in these areas is not needed, but neither will it be a cure. If not carefully thought through, new laws may bring negative unintended consequences, just as the well-intentioned changes in involuntary commitment processes resulted in growth of a troubled, untreated homeless population across the country.

I don't have the answers and I wish that I did. I do know there are too many  struggling with the problem of getting good, consistent treatment for mentally ill family members and that they also need counseling and training themselves in helping their loved ones manage these difficult, chronic conditions. 

It's going to take a lot more than magical thinking and political posturing to prevent future tragedies like Newtown. God help us.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Number 703 on the alphabetical chart

In answer to the question, "where are the Christian women bloggers?", the author of the blog Slacktivist at the website put together a list of 1,001 blogs by Christian women you should know. 

The list is strictly alphabetical and so Quotidian Grace comes in at number 703 here.

Thanks for the mention! Now maybe I'll be inspired to blog more regularly in the New Year?


Thursday, December 06, 2012

BSD Blogging: Lesson 11 Standing Firm

Reading Paul's letters in an ekklesia.
Here is a link to my lecture today on Lesson 11 which is the second lesson in the BSD study of Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians: Standing Firm.

I focused on giving more background and history on the culture and city of Corinth and the new Christian community there in order to deepen our understanding of Paul's message in this letter.