Monday, August 31, 2009

World Views

In my last post I wrote about the four major ways to view the world. Some of my readers found it confusing. Poor writing always confuses so let me try to explain my interest in writing about these things.

I am trained as an Educator and Clinical Counselor. The foundational world views that underlie form the foundation of my life will always come out in the ways I treat people. For example, Secular Humanism does not believe that humans are any more important than a beetle or a worm. This is why some persons can argue that unborn babies have no intrinsic value and can be offed without any guilt or remorse.

On the other hand, I am convinced that God created the world and gave humans a special spark of Himself. Since all humans carry "the imago Dei" or image of God they are intrinsically of worth and value. To kill any person is fraught with danger and to kill innocent persons is especially odious.

This does not mean that all Secular Humanists are killers and have no conscience. But it does mean that a different world view informs their conscience. The philosophy that guided the most virulent pro abortionists was based on the idea that certain races were inferior and should be eliminated or at least reduced in number. Hitlers' "Final Solution" also arose from a world view that held some to be less worthy than others.

Think about it.

If you have a high view of all humans then your philosophy probably comes either consciously or unconsciously fro Judeo Christian ideals. Almost every charity hospital in the world arose from Judeo Christian thought. As C.S. Lewis said, "Nothing proves Christianity better than a hospital."

What about racist, slave owning Christians? They separated their daily behavior from their faith. The had to change the biblical story. The people in South Africa who treated Black Africans so terribly actually had to alter their basic theology to agree with their sinful actions.

This happens all the time, of course, for humans are quite creative in their application of biblical principles. Just look at how we have altered the Bible's teachings on sex, financial ethics and family life. But being inconsistent with a biblical world view does not make that view wrong. However, applying a Judeo Christian world view consistently can be challenging and lead to a lot of mercy toward those of us who fail.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and most other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement were Christian Ministers. They were building on the shoulders of the Christian men and women who led the Second Great Awakening. These people provided the motivation, energy and demand that slavery be ended in America.

Christianity always leads to change.

Gary Sweeten

Friday, August 28, 2009

World Religions

While I am thinking about religion and it consequences, let me ruminate very briefly about the recent trend in the West to worship nature. There are essentially only four models of religion.

I. Secular Humanism-The notion that nothing spiritual or transcendent exists. We are locked in a closed system of space, time and energy. All things that occur can be explained as "Uniformity of causation in a closed system". There is no God, Spirit or intervening force outside us so there is no such thing as a conscience, morals, ethics, healing, etc except those we design ourselves.

II. Pantheism-This is the opposite of Secular Humanism. God is everywhere and in everything. The moon, stars, trees, dirt, bees, crickets and weeds are sacred. This view tends to worship Mather Earth. (Notice that the term is capitalized.)Eastern mysticism of Hinduism, Confucius, Buddhism, etc are Pantheistic.

III. Greek Dualism-There is a God and also nature but the two do not interact. Spiritual matters do not belong in daily life.

IV. Judah-Christian Holism- God created all things and humans in His image. In God we live and move and have our being. The Holy Spirit is with us and in us at all times.

I will post more here and upload some papers to my web page.

Gary Sweeten

Was the Killing Cover Up Worth It?

It is sometimes difficult to come up with a eulogy about a beloved political leader by supporters who must also be reminded of the truth. In a funeral of an unknown person the Minister and family can easily "forget" the facts of the person's life. But how can we forget the deadly and public part of Ted Kennedy's huge lifestyle.

Well, some liberals have decided to act like Kennedy was a saint whose life mirrored Mother Teresa or St. Francis. Perhaps we shall soon see bronze memorials with him talking to the birds. But one very liberal blogger faced his obvious sins and dealt with it in a unique manner. So unique, in fact, that it backfired.

Here is what the Huffington Post had to say about the Senator.

But in all the florid or scalpel-sharp prose, there's one constant: Peeking out from the center of the story is the matter of his playing a major part in the death of a 28-year-old woman.

Mary Jo wasn't a right-wing talking point or a negative campaign slogan. She was a dedicated civil rights activist and political talent with a bright future -- granted, whenever someone dies young, people sermonize about how he had a "bright future" ahead of him -- but she actually did. She wasn't afraid to defy convention (28 and unmarried, oh the horror!) or create her own career path based on her talents. She lived in Georgetown (where I grew up) and loved the Red Sox (we'll forgive her for that). Then she got in a car driven by a 36-year-old senator with an alcohol problem and a cauldron full of demons, and wound up a controversial footnote in a dynasty.

We don't know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what she'd have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history. What we don't know, as always, could fill a Metrodome.

Still, ignorance doesn't preclude a right to wonder. So it doesn't automatically make someone (aka, me) a Limbaugh-loving, aerial-wolf-hunting NRA troll for asking what Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Ted's death, and what she'd have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded.

Who knows -- maybe she'd feel it was worth it.

This post originally appeared on

So, maybe this young woman with a tremendous future ahead of her might speak from the grave after having her life prematurely ended by a drunken rich boy and say: "My life was a worthy sacrifice to give so your fame and fortune could grow."

I am constantly amazed at how far a worshipping political group will go to laud people who do not deserve it.

Gary Sweeten

Giving to Katrina Victims

Here is a good link to an article in the Philanthropy Chronicle. It shows that foundations and private companies donated over one billion dollars to the people and organizations after Katrina. It is an illustration of how generous Americans are to help people out.

I am sure the unreported money donated in services, gifts and private assistance would be even more than that given officially. Tens of thousands of men, women and young people have spent days and weeks on the Gulf Coast working with people to fix their homes, volunteer at schools and soup kitchens and do a million other helpful things for people. And, most were Christians.

Bust loads of Believers from all over the USA have trooped down to the Gulf to help in any way they can. PTL!! for kindness.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Multiple Sperm Donors-No Daddy


The claim that multiple partner fertility may pose a risk of adverse outcomes for children has not been tested. We test this argument using a sample of 4,027 resident fathers and children from the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Survey by examining the pathways through which fathers' multipartnered fertility is associated with children's externalizing behaviors and physical health status at 36 months.

Path analyses indicate that multiple partner fertility exerted both a significant direct and indirect effect through paternal depression to influence children's externalizing behaviors. Fathers' multiple partner fertility also exerted a significant indirect effect through one mediator—father involvement—to influence children's physical health.

This evidence suggests that the disruptions brought about by multipartnered fertility are important for understanding child well-being.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

On the Radio Sunday Night

You will finally get your opportunity to hear me on the radio discussing mental health and how to treat it. Dr. Kurt Weingand's talk show, Health Today, is broadcast weekly on 550 WKRC in Cincinnati. For the people out of state and even out of the country you can go to Itunes and look up 55krc and download any of Kurt's programs.

He will ask me about my professional background, how I ended in in the ministry as well as what the top diagnoses of mental and emotional health are. (You want to guess?) Send me all of your questions on these topics and I'll try to respond.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Revivals, Awakenings and Ministry

This post is about the way so many people are volunteering to take part in social, spiritual and political movements. I am not commenting on the CONTENT of the movements, but the wide spread, mass interest of ordinary people in trying to make a difference.

People who are living longer, healthier lives. These Seasoned Citizens and Seasoned Believers are well educated, highly motivated, well read, energetic, mobile, well heeled and have lots of time on their hands. They have been unleashed and the genie cannot be put back into the bottle. They will not be controlled by leaders but are challenging traditional leaders in every realm of life.

Martin Luther is remembered as a key person in the Reformation Protesting the impurity of the Roman Catholic Church. However, there had been many reformers in the Roman Catholic Church before Luther but he was much more successful than the others. Why? The printing press that led to fast mass communication for the very first time. Today we have fast mass communication in blogs, cable news, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Churches, political parties, local governments will all have to change. They can no longer stand off in the distance and direct people with their version of the truth. We are no longer in an era of truth from an expert. In the Modern Era we looked up "TRUTH" in a book. World Book Encyclopedia was sold to millions of families for example. It might have ten lines on Luther.

Now we go to Wikipedia, an online enclopedia that has multitudes of entries by hundreds of people whose names appear on the page. They add thousands of blue Internet links about Luther. Truth is a dialogue that arrives from dialogue among many named experts rather than from one anonymous person.

Just look at the "Town Meetings". I have not seen such wide spread involvement of ordinary people, especially Seasoned Citizens, in politics in my life time. Despite the cries of opponents and media elites that these folks are all shills for a political party, by watching them it is obvious that they are driven by a deep emotional connection to the issues of the day and want to make a difference.

I have read of similar movements during the days leading up to the Civil War. Thousands of citizens marched, sang, preached and wrote about the evils of slavery. Much of the movement was centered around Cincinnati.

One more thought. Leaders better learn to listen, discuss, enter into dialogues with unruly citizens and be transparent with what is happening. Most of the politicians, pastors and managers are not skilled in facilitating these emotional groups. The pols are actually attacking and cursing thir voters! That is stupid and deadly. They had better learn how interact with overly emotional groups and do it quickly.

I am available to consult with these leaders before they kill the goose that lays their golden retirement plans.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Alcoholism in Russia

A great news story on Fox News today showed the devastating effects of smoking and drinking. Our ministry has trained a cadre of experts who are mobilizing churches and Christian leaders to reach the alcoholics and their families.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009
By Dana Lewis

Russia is grappling with a major public health crisis in which residents are essentially drinking and smoking themselves to death, according to the country’s public health officials.

About a million Russians die each year from alcohol- and smoking-related causes -- between 600,000 and 700,000 of those deaths are attributed to drinking alone, Andrei Demin, of Russia’s Public Health Association, told Fox News.

“It’s threatening the future of the country,” he said.

The problem? Unlike other countries, Russia has refused to levy hefty taxes on cigarettes and alcohol to discourage drinking and smoking.

The resulting statistics are staggering:

— The average Russian drinks 50 bottles of vodka a year.

— A bottle of beer can be purchased on the street for less than the cost of a bottle of water.

— Twelve million of Russia’s 141 million residents have died over the past 15 years due to alcohol-and smoking-related causes.

— A pack of cigarettes can be purchased for about 30 cents.

— The average Russian male lives to be 60 years old, dying 15 years earlier than his American counterpart. Russian women die 13 years earlier than American women.

Although the country has launched a series of television commercials encouraging Russians to choose healthier lifestyles, many critics say this is of little benefit.

So far, Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused recommendations to raise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, with some health critics saying the Kremlin would the Russian public stay “pacified and anesthetized."

Support the Russian Ministry by donating to

Oh Ye With Great Faith

I am on the list of Disabled Christianity . It is all about the need for Christians to reach out to disabled persons in our communities. They recently published an article about a miracle of faith. I hope you will read it.

We received a grant from The Hatton Foundation to do "Ethnographic Research" with families with special needs children. Last Sunday we came together to share our insights about the heroic nature of the people who are opening themselves to our probing questions.

Without exception, these folks are outstanding and hard working people. The reason each one gave for taking the time to be involved with us at least ten hours each month was, "We want to help other people." (And believe me when I say, these parents do not have the time to give ten hours each month.) They want to GIVE!

Gary Sweeten's July Report to The Hatton Foundation

We interviewed each family as a precursor to enrolling them in the project. We also asked each couple to fill out an extensive report on their situation, support systems, stresses and needs. Each family is then interviewed by a team of two persons. Every session is audio or videotaped so we can intensely review the family’s sharing. Emerging insights early in our process:

1. A strong desire not to be victims but victors that rise to meet the daily challenges of disability. This admirable attitude can, however, limit the family’s ability to seek available support.

2. The lack of coordination among treatment professionals. Families are sometimes left to their own devices to find and access assistance that is due them.

3. The immense financial costs of rearing a disabled child and the need for sensitive, well trained professionals in law, insurance, financial planning, etc.

4. The ignorance, avoidance and sometimes anger of professionals about the insights, strengths, pressures or needs of the child’s family. The approach of many professionals comes across as accusatory, punitive and distrustful.

5. The amazing level of resilience that families must possess to deal effectively with the medical, educational, insurance and personal systems while facing the pressures of caring for a family. The families that are responding best to those pressures have a great deal of help from family members, friends and church fellowships.

6. The importance of spiritual resources to the families but their paucity in the community.

7. The uneven availability of educational, medical, spiritual and psychological resources in the Greater Cincinnati area. (And, we assume, other areas as well.)

8. The importance of educating professionals and spiritual leaders about the benefits of understanding what the parents can contribute to the child’s and the medical, educational systems’ welfare.

9. The need for each family to have coaches, mentors and wise support systems in place to walk with them and advise them each step of their journey.

10. This new approach to research which actually asks the clients what they need is desperately needed by medical, educational, financial and religious systems to get the whole picture.

Go to my web page for more information.

Monday, August 10, 2009

People Want to Meet Personally

Recent research has reportedly confirmed what I have been saying about the need for personal relationships. Take a look at this article.

Adult women are especially interested in getting together.

Face Book, Twitter, etc just don't satisfy like drinking tea together.

Citizen Revolutions

For several years I have been advancing the notion that we are in the midst of The Fourth Great Awakening. Awakenings occur when revivals of spiritual life mature into a social, cultural movement.

The Sixties and Seventies saw a huge international revival. Millions came to faith in Christ and were deeply touched by the Holy Spirit in many streams of living water. These revivals were interdenominational, ethnic, various ages and explosive.

The people who came to faith almost immediately decided to live out their new spiritual desires in small groups, house meetings, choirs, quartets, communes para church gatherings and Bible studies. The primary emphasis was on individual and Small group responsibility to lea God's word and live them out every day.

These groups tended to be egalitarian, open to everyone and under no specific authority structure, denomination or theological tradition. I was Associate dean at University of Cincinnati and we saw a wave of kids who were touched by the Holy spirit and who wanted to live daily by God's truth, grace, love and power.

One of my student friends came to UC from Cleveland where he had attended a Roman Catholic high school. On a retreat with father Jim Tommy was brought to faith in Christ and was born again. He was also "Baptized into the Holy Spirit" and started to witness to his friends and spend hours in prayer, fellowship and worship.

That was the genesis of the Jesus Movement and the revival precursor to the Fourth Great Awakening we are experiencing today.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Addictions from Sweeten Life

We live in a funny society. The Feds and various states pull out all the stops to prevent smoking and try to open gambling halls with alcoholic drinks to promote smoking, drinking and gambling addictions. We seem to have a whole host of Congressional Reps and Govt Bureaucrats who love to control the lives of us citizens under the pretext of saving us from ourselves.

I understand the motivation to save people. I was driven by a grand desire to save people for many years. I learned early in life that all I had to do to get a lot of affirmation from my family and the local preachers was to try to Rescue people. In fact, we were taught in church and Sunday school how to be a Black Belt Rescuer.

We were supposed to save the lost and hungry. Have you ever tried to save somebody against their will? How did it work?

In Singapore the penalty for selling a small amount of drugs is death. Every flight into Singapore there is an announcement right after the warning about seat belts that selling drugs will mean death. Still, a lot of people do dope and sell dope.

Human motivation to get high and medicate pain are extremely high. Highly motivated people are extremely creative in getting their drugs of choice. There is a lot of drug use in jails and prisons. If we can't stop dope by building a prison and putting up bars, how will passing a law that bans drugs work?

I think almost every church would be healthier if it had a series of 12 step programs. I would start with Al-Anon Groups designed for family members of addicts. Those groups are also helpful to ministers, elders, parents and government officials who are driven to make people stop doing what they want to do.

What we need are more 12 steppers running government agencies. After being in the 12 step community for some years the members begin to discover much more about helping people stay healthy.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Addictions and Interventions

There is raging a huge controversy raging among addiction counselors over the ways we try to help people who drink and do drugs too much. Two things have happened recently to inspire the controversy.

First, the A&E TV Program called Intervention has popularized the Johnson Approach that is based on the notion that family and friends must confront the addict about his problems and threaten him with total withdrawal of support unless he/she goes into treatment immediately. This is admittedly a hard nosed approach to getting a person to get help, but proponents insist it works.

Others say we need a better approach so the addict will not fall into despair. The use what is called a motivational process that speaks to people about their need to at least consider making some changes in their drinking or drugging. These folks are able to point to reams of research that their methods are superior to harsh confrontation.

The second event was Michael Jackson's death. It was well known that Mr. Jackson was overusing prescription drugs for many years. Family and friends had been begging someone to intervene in some way but their concerns fell on deaf ears. The enablers around Jackson were either co-dependent or living on easy street as a result of his habits.

Either type of intervention is better than no intervention. The harsh kind can certainly shock an addict into compliance but it takes a very skilled professional to carry it out. The Motivational Interviewing approach is my preference and I have written about it in my book, Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty.

If someone you love drinks too much or is doing drugs, including marijuana, get help for yourself. see a good counselor who understands family dynamics as well as addictions. Go to
Life Way Centers
to find a great counselor.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Divorce is Deadly Sweeten Life Systems

In a recent long term study scientists found out what they had long suspected. Not only is marriage healthy but divorce is a sure way to get sick.

If you are struggling in your marriage, get help immediately. We are sponsoring a Marriage Mentoring workshop on August 29. Go to the Sweeten Life web for more information. You will get a copy of this article when you register.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Depression Drugs are Not Effective

Antidepressant use doubles in US, study finds 03 Aug 2009 20:00:22 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Use doubles from 13 million to 27 million Americans

* Increase in use not seen among blacks

* More Americans may accept diagnosis of depression

But, drugs will not get to the root cause!

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Use of antidepressant drugs in the United States doubled between 1996 and 2005, probably because of a mix of factors, researchers reported on Monday.

About 6 percent of people were prescribed an antidepressant in 1996 -- 13 million people. This rose to more than 10 percent or 27 million people by 2005, the researchers found.

"Significant increases in antidepressant use were evident across all sociodemographic groups examined, except African Americans," Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University in New York and Steven Marcus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia wrote in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

"Not only are more U.S. residents being treated with antidepressants, but also those who are being treated are receiving more antidepressant prescriptions," they added.

More than 164 million prescriptions were written in 2008 for antidepressants, totaling $9.6 billion in U.S. sales, according to IMS Health.

Drugs that affect the brain chemical serotonin like GlaxoSmithKline's Paxil, known generically as paroxetine, and Eli Lilly and Co's Prozac, known generically as fluoxetine, are the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressant. But the study found the effect in all classes of the drugs.

Olfson and Marcus looked at the Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys done by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, involving more than 50,000 people in 1996 and 2005.

"During this period, individuals treated with antidepressants became more likely to also receive treatment with antipsychotic medications and less likely to undergo psychotherapy," they wrote.


The survey did not look at why, but the researchers made some educated guesses. It may be more socially acceptable to be diagnosed with and treated for depression, they said. The availability of new drugs may also have been a factor.

"Although there was little change in total promotional spending for antidepressants between 1999 ($0.98 billion) and 2005 ($1.02 billion), there was a marked increase in the percentage of this spending that was devoted to direct-to consumer advertising, from 3.3 percent ($32 million) to 12 percent ($122.00 million)," they added.

Dr. Eric Caine of the University of Rochester in New York said he was concerned by the findings. "Antidepressants are only moderately effective on population level," he said in a telephone interview.

Caine, who was not involved in the research, noted that several studies show therapy is as effective as, if not more effective than, drug use alone.

"There are no data to say that the population is healthier. Indeed, the suicide rate in the middle years of life has been climbing," he said.

Olfson and Marcus said out-of-pocket costs for psychotherapy and lower insurance coverage for such visits may have driven patients away from seeing therapists in favor of an easy-to-prescribe pill.

The rise in antidepressant prescriptions also is seen despite a series of public health warnings on use of antidepressant drugs beginning in 2003 after clinical trials showed they increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and teens.

In February 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration added its strongest warning, a so-called black box, on the use of all antidepressants in children and teens.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)


Here is my take on depression: Go talk with a Helper. Find a listening friend or family member. If that does not work find a Counselor.

Counselors are more effective than drugs.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Marriage Harmony

Is anything more important for the churches in America than promoting marital health? Not in my opinion. Children born out of wedlock are damaged and grow up poor, dysfunctional, sickly and behind those born to two parent households.

This morning I watched a show on Kentucky Educational Television about early childhood education. The head of the agency responsible for education said that research was clear on the importance of rearing kids in well off, educated families. She said that kids from welfare families had about 400 words in their vocabulary when they started school. That is extremely low.

Kids from middle income homes have 600 word and those reared in professional homes have 1100 words. This places poor kids at a terrible disadvantage. We know from other data that single mothers are usually on welfare and live in chronic poverty.

We must train churches how to help people get married and stay married.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Family Heriage

Take a look at my daughter's blog Hooked on Houses to see some of our family's proud heritage. The photo shows a piano bought when my wife Karen was about eight. Her mother Hazel is now 93 and she told us they paid $500.00 for it in 1948. That was a lot of money 61 years ago.

Hazel was a great but untrained piano player whose hymn renditions rang throughout the house as we stood around her piano and sang everything from Amazing Grace to We Will Understand it Better By and By.

Take note of the song book placed on the piano. This was from Karen's childhood and was used by her teacher to train those little fingers to find the correct notes.

What memories come back to you from this post?