Speaking Truth to Power

In my last piece I wrote about St. Paul’s view that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers…” I linked this idea to the ways in which generational values come to be handed on. It is usually those values that are least helpful that get transmitted. The values that could be creative and life affirming seem to get filtered out.

I’ve written before about the power of naming something or someone. If I know your true name, then I have power over you. I hold your soul captive. This is how I interpret Paul’s message. I am held captive by the principalities and powers of anger, anxiety, depression. There is a long mythic tradition of ” binding” demonic forces by knowing their true name. The story of the Gadarene swine seems to fit with this tradition. Once the man was free from his afflictions, he was back in his right mind and able to function as a human being. Not trapped in a world of ” demonic” forces.

In my therapy room I meet lots of demons. Demons of silence that won’t allow a person to think about themselves because any alternative story is forbidden. Like Cinderella longing to go to the Ball, but not allowing herself to even consider the idea. She was exiled to the principality of ” Duty” “Depression” and “No Hope”. Fortunately she had enough of her homeland in her to find Hope,

When I see a new patient, there is always the struggle between how much work they want to do and the amount of work I hope they might achieve. Leaving behind somewhere that has become Home is always difficult. Part of my work is to speak truth to Power. To challenge the powers that keep so many people trapped. (It’s hard to write about this aspect of the work. One ends up sounding like a fervid religious preacher offering to cast out demons. Or a touchy feely Californian New Age guru.)

The work is in naming and having that name acknowledged. “Yes. I am angry about such and such.” ” No. That shouldn’t have happened.” “Yes. It was abuse.” By allowing the speaking of Truth to Power, the individual is affirmed.

Which might be a way of thinking about the Christmas story.


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