Monday, October 3, 2005

M. SCOTT PECK LEGACY

A LESS TRAVELED ROAD. I missed the news over the weekend of the passing of M. Scott Peck. A friend e-mailed me the obituary from CNN. I will have a fuller reflection on his life and influence later on bikehiker, but for now I simply want to mark his passing and point to his legacy.

ACCESSIBLE PSYCHOTHERAPY. Peck opened up the practical value of Jungian psychotherapy for most of us who have never had the privilege of working with a psychotherapist. His own journey into Christianity was spurred on by his recognition of grace at work in the lives of the patients he served. Peck explored extensively the borderline between religion and psychotherapy, challenging foregone conclusions, blistering dogmatism in both religion and science, and pointing the way of grace.

UNORTHODOX BUT QUITE ORTHODOX. Though he guarded his non-sectarian perspective carefully, Peck was no "new age" Christian (as some conservatives suspect). Read People of the Lie if you think he has any soft spot regarding the existence of evil and Satan. Read What Return Can I Make if you doubt that he depth or range of his grasp on orthodox Christianity.

COMMUNITY FIRST, DECISION-MAKING SECOND. While The Road Less Traveled is Peck's popular legacy, I prefer The Different Drum and A World Waiting to Be Born as his most important contributions for soul-searching truth-seekers. His principle of "community first, decision-making second" in itself, once grasped and embraced, has the potential reshape relationships, organizations, and communities.

A LIVING LEGACY. I was privileged to participate in one of Peck's early community building workshops (a "CBW," as he called them) in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1986. It was an experience that shaped my understanding and thirst for authentic community ever since. Those days with Peck gave an insight into him (imagine Peck sitting cross-legged on the floor weeping) that is often missed in his formal lectures--in which he seemed stereotypically Ivy League, doctinaire, and guru-like--and writings. This legacy, as much as his writings, is with me to the end of my days. I am thankful he lived a road less traveled, and for his contributions to the world and to my life.

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