Prayer of St Francis by Sarah McLachlan

If you’ve spent any amount of time with a 12-step program, you’ve crossed paths with the Prayer of St Francis. I was not aware of this version until the other day when it randomly popped up in a YouTube playlist.

Rocketman

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Note:
I will avoid spoilers here and request that any comments remain spoiler free as well.
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My wife and I watched the Elton John biopic Rocketman tonight. I was interested in this one mostly for the music, but after watching it, I love the storytelling techniques used.

The directors used two interesting techniques to tell this story. The first was the framework of using a 12-step rehab meeting with flashbacks, which I loved the overall framing this way.

One of my favorite movies is For the Love of the Game, and the the rehab flashbacks reminded me of the framework of nine innings of a baseball game that was used in that movie. It was an interesting and effective framework in both films.

The other interesting storytelling technique used in Rocketman was to use Elton John’s songs within the flashbacks to tell the story. It gave the film a kind of musical theater feel in addition to the rehab framing. At times, the song would be the bridge into the flashback. Other times, the song would be the bridge back into the rehab circle.

Some do not/will not be okay with the handling of his sexuality, and the fimmakers don’t try to pave over it the way the filmmakers of Bohemian Rhapsody did in the case of Freddie Mercury. In some ways this films plays out much like Elton’s story would in an actual 12-step meeting and it’s all laid out as a confession with the good, the bad, and the ugly on display.

Even if you don’t agree with Elton’s life, I still recommend this to anyone dealing with traditional 12-step issues as well as those of us using the 12-steps to work through other areas of our lives. It demonstrates that when we commit to the 12-steps, they actually work.

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Note:
I again request that any comments remain spoiler free.
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Father Martin

Over at Sober Coaches 4 Living‘s blog they’ve got several videos of Father Martin.

I’m not Catholic, but as a long-time 12 stepper, I’ve seen Father Martin’s incredible videos before. This is a real treat and my thanks to the bloggers there for sharing these.

If you’re not familiar with Father Martin, or don’t know where to start, at the very least I recommend this video:

12 Steps of AA with Father Martin.

The Hardest Part of the Twelve Steps

The 12 Steps is a reoccurring theme here for multiple reasons. But first among them is I believe in them and I live by them.

The hardest part of the 12 Steps is Steps 8 and 9:

  • 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Of course, with these two steps the difficulty begins the first time through the steps. Part of the difficulty is not so much Step 8, it’s easy to make the list of people you’ve wronged. Step 9 is difficult in and of itself. You have to swallow your pride and apologize for things you’ve done that hurt others.

Step 9 is further complicated by a couple of caveats in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions: 1.) “There will be other cases where action ought to be deferred, and still others in which by the very nature of the situation we shall never be able to make direct personal contact at all.” and 2.) “While we may be quite willing to reveal the very worst, we must be sure to remember that we cannot buy our own peace of mind at the expense of others.”

I mention this because part of the responsibility of a 12 stepper is a constant inventory and review. For me, it seems like every time I review through these two steps, someone who was on a previous Step 8 list and was unavailable for Step 9 contact suddenly becomes available for Step 9 contact.

And, once again, this happened recently.

Clipart stolen from Clipartmax.

Dream Theater (Mike Portnoy) – Shattered Fortress (Twelve Step Suite)

Mike Portnoy wrote this as a series of pieces over five albums.  This was his way of honoring the 12 Steps.

1. “The Glass Prison”
(0:08 – 13:56)
2. “This Dying Soul”
(13:57 – 25:19)
3. “The Root Of All Evil”
(25:20 – 32:26)
4. “Repentance”
(32:27 – 43:09)
5. “The Shattered Fortress”
(43:10 – 55:59)

Depressed Anonymous

A few days ago, I shared a blog post where I discussed using the 12 step in my own depression fight.

This week I discovered that there is a depression support group that is specifically designed for this:  Depressed Anonymous.  Looking over the site, there’s a lot in common with the AA one, it has links to their 12 Steps, the Serenity Prayer, a pulldown list of Tools for Recovery, a list of Depressed Anonymous Groups by state, and an online SKYPE meeting.  There’s a lot to like here, and I will add this to my personal goto blog list.

My only disappointment is there does not appear to be any local support groups in my area yet.  But, from what I can tell, this organization is relatively new and there’s always the possibility there’s more to come.

Clipart stolen from Clipartmax.

Science, Religion, and Depression

Oh look!  Three subjects that should probably never be discussed together.  Two subjects that probably no one expected to see together on a blog with this title.

If you are an atheist, agnostic, or not of a religious view, give me a few minutes to explain my viewpoint.  My plan is to keep religious discussions to a minimum on this blog.  The nature of one of the articles I found this week, requires some religious discussion.

With the support of a couple of therapists, I have incorporated the 12 Steps and Serenity Prayer, the Prayer of St Francis, and the 5 Directives of Matthew 25 and the Beatitudes from the Bible into my self care plan and my belief system.  I’m not saying it’ll work for everyone, but it works well for me.  I start with “treat people as people” and “treat all people with dignity, not labels”.  I do attend a church and I do art work and alter design work for that church.  That said, I will not use this space to push or oppose any religious viewpoint … except for Scientology.  (I mean come on guys, if you’re going to found a church based on the texts of a sci-fi author, Philip K Dick is a much better choice.)

Unlike most posts, there is a shortage of idiots sciencing on here today.  The first item that I felt I needed to share this week relates a study conducted in the UK, where scientists believe they are on the trail of the genetic origins of depression.  While this is not the first ime I’ve heard of this notion (that was Jonathan Rottenburg’s book The Depths), this article was significant by pointing out that scientists are able to “identify sections of DNA that were common in people with depression and in those who adopted lifestyle behaviors such as smoking”. By identifying this, this study provides “further evidence that depression is partly down to our genetics”.  This further supports the notion that we’ve learned and try to get across that depression is not our fault.  If it’s genetics, that’s even more proof we do not cause our own problems.  The study leads hope that this finding helps mental health experts better “understand why some people are more at risk of depression than others, and how we might help people living with depression and anxiety more effectively in future”.

Now for the religion and mental illness article.  I add a discussion of this article for two reasons,  First, I know all too well how mental illness can be at odds with religious beliefs of a certain church.  As the article points out, “Some religious traditions, coupled with a misunderstanding of mental illness, can stop people from getting mental-health care. Individuals may be told to pray the illness away or trust in God to heal them”.  I’d be shocked if there was someone reading this that hasn’t encountered the “just pray” depression advice.  As the article also states, we often find our depression at odds with “the strict rules of religion and the fear of condemnation from God”.  However, the author and the subject of the article come to the realization that “faith and mental-health treatment can … work together”.  Mental illness is like any other illness, we just need more people to understand that.  And just because, we do have a mental illness, it doesn’t mean we are lost or beyond salvation.  As the great philosopher Bono wrote:

I believe in the Kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
But yes, I’m still running
You broke the bonds
and you loosened chains
carried the cross of my shame, of my shame
You know I believe it
Clipart stolen from Clipartmax, KissCC0, and Clipartmax.