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Agnostics and Labels: Video Blog

Posted by spritzophrenia on August 10, 2010


I can’t recall, but I may have hinted that new things were afoot at Spritzophrenia. Now for the first time I’m proud to present an Audio (Video?) Blog courtesy of Iain at Phrenic Philosophy. Maybe you could call it a podcast, but it’s not audio alone – yet. Iain’s a regular contributer here at Spritzophrenia and has become a friend, so if you’ve wondered about the human face behind the text…

Edit If you don’t want to view the video, Iain’s made a transcript here. What a great guy, huh?

The idea, impetus and all of the work to produce this has been done by Iain at Phrenic Philosophy, so please go visit him there and tell him Hi. This is just a start, of course it can be improved, but what do you think? Suggestions?

Also, what do you think of labels, or the idea of being a “committed” agnostic? What about being “fired on by both sides?”

22 Responses to “Agnostics and Labels: Video Blog”

  1. Iain said

    Hooray ๐Ÿ™‚

    Here’s to some broadened media horizons and the beginning of some new conversations *raises glass*

    • Cheers mate ๐Ÿ™‚ *Ching!*

      • SugarPop said

        Ok boys ๐Ÿ™‚ In the spirit of this new collaboration, here’s one for both of you…

        I think intuition is where reason and emotion meet…

        What do you think?

        • Intuition is a really interesting thing. I feel a blog coming on about that, thanks.

          But what did you thinks about ours videos? ๐Ÿ˜€

        • Sugarpop said

          I like veyr much! ๐Ÿ˜€

          Interesting to hear both your voices as spoken rather than written – adds a far more personal touch to the subject matter, e.g. hearing your tone is helpful.

          I really like the point about labels, particularly the question about whether or not they are generous to The Other; and that labels are useful to a point, but then they fall short.

          And hooray for support for *I don’t know* as a valid position. The older I become, the less I truly think I know anything!

          I look forward to the next installment ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Iain said

          Thanks, Sugarpop ๐Ÿ™‚

          Yes, Jonathan and I seem to see eye-to-eye on that respect, and we have apparently gone through a similar mental journey with regards to the value of agnosticism and labels.

          There won’t be any attempt to produce these on a regular schedule but I’m certain there will be more (I have more un-cut material here already).

          I appreciate your comment about the personal touch. That was something that we were both hoping to bring through in these. It’s all too easy for text-based conversations to seem awkward, emotionless, and unintentionally offensive. Hopefully more of these installments will add some human warmth to the discussion.

        • SugarPop said

          Nice to meet you, Iain ๐Ÿ™‚

          I have to be honest – I find some of the text commentaries of late hard going because there is only so much communication that can go on just through words, imo. This is, afterall, a blog, not a text book, and Jonathan’s writing is to me reflexive, not prescriptive.

          The tone and inflection of your recorded conversation is great. It conveys nuance, emotion and the underlying thoughtfulness behind what you are both articulating, and your voices help characterise you further.

          I’m an academic and a seeker that believes in the dynamic nature of knowledge and insight. As much as my mind is engaged, it is my heart that is the decision-maker. I remember reading one of your comments a while back (cannot remember which one) where you stated something very *logically* and then said something like “it just doesn’t feel right” – I was really struck by that – heartened, even.

          Anyway, enough of my rambling. Great work. Lovely collaboration. Keep the ideas flowing and evolving ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. leesis said

    okay so here’s what I think…when son uses all of our downloads so that I can’t watch utube videos mum upset ๐Ÿ™‚ Got to get on to telstra!

    • Oh poor you! This is why Spritzophrenia will remain mostly text based. Although I like to think the music vids I link to are worth hearing ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Iain said

      In the future, if the conversations stay at about this (small) length then I plan to also include a transcript on my blog so you can always check out my blog if you don’t want to view the video itself. That will remove the personal touch, so to speak, but I think it will be a nice optional extra.

      • leesis said

        hey guys I want to view the vid…and to consider its use myself…its just the $$$. transcripts are a great idea iain anyway…i personally always like to ponder things in transcript form.

        • Iain said

          Leesa, I’ve made a transcript that you can read on my original blog post here.

          Jonathan, you may want to edit a mention of this fact into your post?

        • Thanks Iain, will do

        • leesis said

          hey thanks for the transcript for us poorbies :). Look forward to seeing video when service improves on the 15th. A comment on labels.

          I spent some time in my career examining the effect of labelling on folk with mental illness particularly that label of all labels โ€˜schizophreniaโ€™. In the end the label had a ninety percent inaccuracy rate and caused untold misery providing minimal helpful guidance.

          In my actual practice then I worked hard to undo the damage the label did. My clients and I found that the best way to deal with such a label was to acknowledge it as something they โ€˜haveโ€™ rather than something they โ€˜areโ€™ and then examine exactly what they did (and didn’t)have.

          And, I discovered, this also works brilliantly for the labels you guys are speaking of.

          So I have moments of atheism; though honestly, they are the rarest and Iโ€™ve noticed exist only when a tad of unhealthy bitterness creeps in to my psyche.

          I have more moments of agnosticism, though these are usually when Iโ€™m feeling overwhelmed by the search and awareness of the minuscule amount of time (there is so much to read!) and mental capacity (such a small mind for such a big universe) I have to sort it all out. And I really want to know!!!!!!!

          And I have the most moments, of being a very confused believer. This is the WORST of all labels. As yet I am inarticulate when it comes to trying to explain my own belief yet others seem more than able to articulate, educate and indeed often attempt to ram their belief into my neural net! Oh and academics atheists can be worse than any fundamentalist and like Jon I once was one!

          Clients would ask if I thought they should tell their friends of this label schizophrenia.

          Often I would use self-disclosure, telling stories of my struggles with โ€˜spiritualโ€™ labels, even political labels.

          And I would admit that I had chosen to tell โ€˜no one nothinโ€™ a long time ago so irritated did I become at peoples responses from derision to dogma pounding to not letting you out of any box you feel you no longer belong in.

          And yet here I am, 47, changing careers to one that demands I use only words with no non-verbals to talk about topics I swore I wouldnโ€™t talk about because of peoples habit of labelling andโ€ฆ

          I have just decided I have indeed lost my mind! ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Leesa, fantastic response. I am going to start a new thread carrying on from this one as the screen is getting too skinny… see below ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. [ Responding to Leesa’s last, within a thread above (screen was getting too squeezey) ]

    Leesa, I loved your idea of “having” a belief, rather than letting it define you. So I guess I would say I have times of agnosticism, rather than “being” an open agnostic. A VERY valuable insight imo.

    So much else in there I can relate to as well ๐Ÿ™‚ *hugz*

    • Iain said

      To Leesa,

      Yes that is exactly what I do at my work, too.

      I used to be “Programme Facilitator”, meaning I had no Clinical Duties but instead my job was to run education sessions, outings, fun stuff, and health-based stuff. In the educational talks I discovered that (1) some residents didn’t even fully understand what their diagnosis meant, (2) many had experienced negative labeling by their health carers (case managers and psychiatrists) in a way that removed or diminished hope of eventual recovery, and (3) many had personalised their diagnosis.

      I helped them to understand their diagnosis, helped them to see it as a tool for how to get help and, where that wasn’t possible, to disassociate it from their personal identity. No label is ever what you “are”. Labels are descriptions. If the label isn’t providing a useful role as a descriptive tool (or even worse if it is binding you or draining hope or choices) then I say discard the label.

      I had actually done a university course once on Gender & Women which was a feminist examination of society and psychology (the science). I actually used some of this material to go through the DSM, the mental health system, and diagnoses and help them to understand a little bit about prejudice and the power dynamics possible in therapeutic care. For some, that really helped. They told me stories about some negative things therapists had done or said that I would really count as a form of abuse (misuse of power) in the name of mental health care.

      As much as this applies to women in psychology and to mental health, I’m sure it applies to religion (just think: Sinners, Remnant, The Saved, The World, etc…. it’s almost ‘borderline’ dualism).

      • leesis said

        Iain…yes, yes yes and when you got onto women and both the theological and psychological prejudice all I could do was nod away and think oh don’t start me brother ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Donโ€™t start ME on that topic either ๐Ÿ˜‰ In fact, the feminine and spirituality is one of many topics Iโ€™d like to discuss with you all further down the line.

          Every day I write one post, and then have ideas for about 14 more! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. SugarPop said

    Hi Leesa – nice to meet you ๐Ÿ™‚

    I had such a *snap* moment when I read your comment about “having” schizophrenia, rather “being” a schizophrenic.

    I have friends and relations who, at various times, have been wracked with mental health issues. I have always gone to great lengths to re-assure my loved ones that what they have is just that – something they have. In the same way you might have a broken leg or the flu. These things shape you, or affect your behaviour, but on their own they do not define who you are.

    Applying the same to beliefs is something I hadn’t thought of before. I have, at times, had fairly fundamentalist Christian beliefs – which I later rejected. These were replaced by some quite out there New Age ideas. I’ve swung in many other directions over the intervening years.

    At their core my beliefs now have constant kernel. But I also understand that despite that kernel my beliefs at the outer layers are fluid and dynamic. I cannot hope to know everything in any given moment. As I gain more understanding and insight, my beliefs subtly change. Other times they are all but wiped out – usually in times of despair and discouragement. Invariably, though, they pick themselves up, and like me, move on to become clearer and cleaner.

    Thanks for your insight ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. leesis said

    hi SP…nice to meet you too. To Jon and yourself thank you for your feeback to my feedback! I love this ability we have to meet and share ideas! Cheers

  6. ๐Ÿ™‚

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