Same Kind of Different As Me

I returned from my trip to Wheaton yesterday. I had spent last week teaching the Sexuality & Sex Therapy course in the graduate program. During my down time, I had an opportunity to catch up with friends, one of whom has historically been responsible for giving me a lengthy book list for summer reading. Most of the reading I do throughout the year involves academic books and journal articles, so the summer is a great opportunity to read other things. In any case, with that list in hand, another friend actually surprised me with the recommendation, Same Kind of Different as Me, a nonfiction book by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Since this friend had a spare copy, I got to start it while I was up there and just finished it today.

The book is actually about the unusual relationship that forms between Ron Hall and Denver Moore, and it is a rather remarkable story given that Hall is a wealthy art dealer and Moore is a homeless man with a violent past. There are any number of differences between these two men, but the story is about how they meet and form a meaningful relationship, something made possible by Ron Hall’s wife, Deborah, and clearly through the work of God in their lives. It is powerful and redemptive story for Denver, Ron, and for the marriage between Ron and his wife, Deborah.

I also appreciated that the racial differences between Ron and Denver play a role in the book but are transcended by their primary identity in Christ. This is not new; there is a multicultural church movement in this country, but it is always encouraging to me to see it play out in the lives of real individuals. A colleague and several doctoral students recently worked with me on a project studying the experiences of church members in a multiethnic church. In fact, they referred to their church as transethnic, in that they were recognizing and celebrating cultural differences, but also transcending those differences for a primary kingdom identity.

The reader gets the sense that this kind of kingdom identity is the primary identity of concern for Ron, Deborah, and Denver, and that is an encouraging and exciting thing to read about. I recommend this book. Sometimes truth is indeed stranger than fiction, and sometimes much more heartening.

Celebrating with the Blackhawks?

It has been reported that 2 million people crowded the streets of Chicago to celebrate the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup. I know I’m arriving late, but I head up this next week to join the celebration (and to teach a summer elective at Wheaton College). I can’t say a lot about the celebration; I’ll probably just join in during mid-flow (with whoever is left celebrating). Save me a slice of deep-dish pizza!

What about the class I’ll be teaching? I am teaching Sexuality and Sex Therapy, a graduate level course for students in the MA and PsyD programs in Clinical Psychology. The course begins with a review of several foundational perspectives on sexuality: theological, sociocultural, biological, and clinical. The last perspective, clinical, provides a transition to specific issues students will be dealing with in practice. We then cover various specific dysfunctions (e.g., dyspareunia), the paraphilias and paraphilic-related disorders (or “addictions”), gender identity issues, and sexual identity issues.

One goal of a course like this is to help future clinicians feel more comfortable talking about sexuality-related issues in clinical practice. Another, goal, of course, is to add to their understanding of specific issues that they may be working with in the future. It has also been important to learn to think rigorously about the various issues from a Christian worldview. In any case, it is an important area for the church today and for the broader culture, and I think students appreciate the opportunity to reflect on these issues.

Cover Story

Jim Sells and I recently received the cover image of our forthcoming book, Counseling Couples in Conflict: A Relational Restoration Model. The target audience for the book is lay counselors/pastoral counselors who work with couples who are dealing with more challenging and perhaps long-standing issues. What we have found is that many lay and pastoral counselors would like more of a useful, practical framework when they meet with couples.

In terms of integration, you might think of it as a specialty-focused (marital conflicts), applied or clinical integration resource (meaning it is more practical than theoretical). It is grounded enough in theory to provide a road map of sorts – a framework – for responding constructively to couples in conflict.

The publication date is still a way off, and we are working on revisions right now, but I thought I’d share the cover and share a little about what is coming down the road.