Monthly Archives: August 2006

breaking the chains of chain letters

this is another post about chain letters (you may remember one a few weeks ago about a petition type chain letter). i’d like to explain what i find disturbing about another type – the prayer chain letter.

chain letters are a form of emotional extortion, mixing very positive sentiments with threats or at least manipulation.

let me use this one as an example. it was sent by a very dear friend.

i feel uncomfortable and sad that i am taking such a well-meaning missive and criticizing it. however, i think this is precisely one of the reasons why such chain letters are perpetuated: we appreciate the good thoughts of our friends and want to show our gratitude by doing what we are asked to do in the letter.

the letter starts like this:

“Hi – I am picking 12 people (who have touched my life) and whom I think would want to participate. I hope I chose the right twelve.”

right away i feel special – but not 100%. maybe i am not the right one? maybe i will disappoint him?

“Please send this back to me (You’ll see why).”

okay, i’m hooked again. i’ll see why … how curious! i wonder what he means!

“In case anyone is not aware, Saint Theresa is known as the Saint of the Little Ways. Meaning she believed in doing the little things in life well and with great love. She is also the patron Saint of flower growers and florists. She is represented by roses. May everyone who receives this message be blessed. Theresa’s Prayer cannot be deleted.”

how lovely! a saint with love and thought for little things. a saint who loves flowers. and as a recipient of this message i am blessed!

the prayer cannot be deleted. that sounds ominous. what happens if i do delete it? what happens if i don’t like the prayer, or find it boring, what if i’m muslim or atheist or pagan and delete the prayer because it does not fit my religious beliefs? what happens if i delete it accidentally? will i still be among the special circle of people that my friend has chosen? what does “cannot” mean? is it physically impossible to delete the message, or, more likely, will something dreadful happen if i do?

“REMEMBER to make a wish before you read the prayer. That’s all you have to do. There is nothing attached. Just send this to eleven people and let me know what happens on the fourth day.”

i must make a wish before i read the prayer. which apparently i have little choice but to read because the prayer “cannot” be deleted.

there is nothing attached. except a) i cannot delete the message, b) i must make a wish, c) send it to eleven people and d) let the sender know what happens on the fourth day.

“Sorry you have to forward the message, but try not to break this, please. Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive.”

so i have to forward the message, try not to break it, otherwise i’ll be refusing a precious free gift. and you know what, even though i always break these chains, every time i do it there is a part of me that feels bad about it. i believe in blessings, i believe in prayers. every time i break one of these chains, there is this little obedient girl in me who feels bad for breaking a beautiful thing like a prayer.

“Did you make a wish yet? If you don’t make a wish, it won’t come true. This is your last chance to make a wish.”

this is my last chance. again, a hidden thread, a warning, a raised finger.

then follows st. theresa’s prayer:

“St. Theresa’s Prayer:

May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.. May you be content knowing you are a child of God…. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”

positive sentiments. i am a child of god … but am i still a child of god if i don’t follow all the directions, like the one that follows?

“Now, send this to 11 people within the next 5 minutes. And remember to send this back. I count as 1. You’ll see why.”

in summary what happened here was that i get to feel special, will be blessed (by a saint?), i will have someone wish peace, trust and contentment on me – as long as i don’t delete the message, as long as i make a wish, read the (uninvited) message, send the message to eleven people, report to the sender and believe that there are no strings attached to this procedure.

that’s crazymaking.

that’s why i cannot help but break this chain letter. break the chain. these are chains that bind to blind, superstitious obedience, and if i pass this letter on, i am yet another link in binding others to it.

if i want to wish good luck on someone, i can just do it, without any strings attached. if i want to increase the power of the good-luck-wishing by having others participate, i can invite them – again, without any strings attached. steve pavlina does a nice job of that.

my job is to help people become free of their chains. so i can’t send on any chain letters.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

affirmations, anyone?

(this is another, edited, reprint from my old blog)

i have an uneasy relationship with affirmations. on the one hand i know they can work (under certain circumstances) on the other, my logical mind mistrusts them and finds them plain silly.

maybe one day i’ll be wanting to step in front of a mirror and say, “i love you” but that day hasn’t arrived yet. is that an inability to love myself or … who knows?

at any rate, there are some ways of using affirmations that make sense to me. one of the problems that i have with affirmations is that they often seem to contradict current reality. that offends my common sense.

lynn grodzki has a remedy for that. she suggests to Continue reading

king ludwig II

koenig ludwig

image by randomthursday

today is the 161st birthday of king ludwig II, the crazy and wonderful king of bavaria.  born in munich (my hometown), he was the “fairy tale king”, the man who funded the building of castles like neuschwanstein – the prototypical palaces many north americans think of when they hear the word “castle”. king ludwig was a romantic, an unhappy dreamer, most likely gay, beloved by the people, a man with a huge vision who was way ahead of his time.

long live king ludwig II – if only in the hearts of nostaligic people like me.

the pleasure of holding a baby

this is a first here: we have a guest contributor – my husband, glenn mori:

Recently we had the opportunity to spend some time with my sister’s four month old twin boys. Not everyone likes babies. Some people who like children don’t care so much for babies. They like older children, ones that they feel they can interact with. Tolstoy described two different fathers in War and Peace:

At that moment Nicholas and Countess Mary came in. Pierre with the baby on his hand stooped, kissed them, and replied to their inquiries. But in spite of much that was interesting and had to be discussed, the baby with the little cap on its unsteady head evidently absorbed all his attention.

“How sweet!” said Countess Mary, looking at and playing with the baby. “Now, Nicholas,” she added, turning to her husband, “I can’t understand how it is you don’t see the charm of these delicious marvels.”

“I don’t and can’t,” replied Nicholas, looking coldly Continue reading

inspired by alcoholics

today i cruised the blogs of some alcoholics in recovery. i picked out some tasty morsels for you. these are real stories from real people who have gone through the black pain of alcoholism and are now accepting the sweet pain of recovery, of moving forward, one step at a time, day by day.

they are words, more than anything, about giving to each other, words of gratitude, words of courage, words of realizing that every single one of us is deeply worthy of love – love for each other, love from each other and love for ourselves.

from ragamuffin rambler

The community of recovery reminds me that the only lasting gift I have to share is Continue reading

queer books

as you all know, i love to read. today i looked around on the web to see what’s on offer by queer psychologists because what i’ve found at the vancouver public library so far hasn’t quite done it for me (i can’t even remember the names of the books). here are some i’d like to explore:

Prison Manifesto: Recollections of a Queer Psychologist Working in a Maximum Security Prison by Bernard Mazie
A survivor’s story of a just-out gay man encountering a totally macho environment on his own terms. Relating to initially hostile inmates and correctional officers presented unique problems with equally unique solutions. The outcome is favorable and Continue reading