Category Archives: writing

Top 2011 reads at wisecounsel? Oldies rule!

WordPress sent me a synopsis of my blog’s stats (where are readers coming from, what do they read, etc.) for the year 2011. So, I thought I would look at what posts got the most attention this year. Surprisingly, of the top 12 posts, only one was written this year! Despite having an all-time readership number this year, it appears that older posts get the most attention. I can interpret this in two ways: my writing used to be better (or had more appealing titles? ) or, my writing has staying power.

Hmm. which interpretation is psychologically more appealing to me?

Anyway, here are the 12 top clicked posts in descending order (and their year first posted) of 2011. Each title is a hotlink to the post. [It doesn’t count those posts read through social networks or my homepage. Mostly this counts those posts read by clicking the right hand “top posts” list or by search engine results]

Top Posts for 365 days ending 2011-12-31

2010-12-31 to Today



Where is my wallet? Why we find it hard to learn some really important lessons  2007
Serious Mental Illness and faith: what to do?  2007
Psychiatric vs. Psychological evaluations: What is the difference?  2009
The art of counseling: Why interpersonal process is (almost) everything  2006
What is the proper response to Bin Laden’s death?  2011
Bonny and buxom? The answer to yesterday’s trivia  2008
Are you a humble person? 7 habits to consider  2007
How long should you keep clinical records?  2007
Frederick Douglass on American Religion  2007
Grief brings ‘wisdom through the awful grace of God’  2006
Mindfulness and meditation  2008
The practice of unlicensed counseling  2009


Filed under "phil monroe", counseling, writing

How to pick a seminary?

Of course the right answer is: “Biblical Seminary is the ONLY seminary where you’ll get the best masters in counseling education.”

But in case you’d like a little more depth and breadth in answer the question about whether seminary is right for you, Derek Cooper has a new book: So You’re Thinking About Going to Seminary (2008, Brazos). Derek came by this wisdom by attending several seminaries and so if you want a good feel for what seminary is like and how you can decide if it is for you, you ought to buy the book.

In it he orients readers to what seminary is and isn’t, the kind that is attached to universities and the free-standing kind. That would probably have helped my wife back when she showed up for summer Greek, about a year after becoming a Christian. When she first heard about seminary, she assumed it was a place only for priests.

Cooper also helps the reader to consider the value and benefits of non-denominational versus denominational seminaries, the kinds of degrees available as well as potential jobs with each degree. Even better, he helps the newbie think through the kinds of courses likely to be taken in  some of these degree courses. What I like is that he gives numerous school examples so that by the end of the book, the reader has truly been exposed to the best of theological education in the United States and Canada.

The middle section of the book helps the seminarian find ways to finance, survive, even flourish during grad studies. Yes, you don’t have to lose your faith or your marriage if you go to seminary. But don’t assume your studies alone will promote spiritual growth.

He has one chapter that covers matters of ordination and licensure. If you are considering becoming a licensed counselor AND you are thinking (rightly) that seminary is a great place to do that, be sure to read his admonition to check with your licensing body (State or Province) to see what THEY require and do not assume that the school automatically covers every required course.

My only negative is that he didn’t say on every page that BIBLICAL SEMINARY ( is by far the BEST school in the world. But then, if he did, that would make us look bad since he would be lying. But, if you do want to hear Derek in the flesh, join our counseling program and take his “Counseling and the Biblical Text” course since he adjuncts for us.

I’ve asked Derek a few questions and so tomorrow, I’ll post his answers. Really, this is a good book if you are considering a ministry career and wonder if Seminary is necessary and what it is all about. And if you are the “cut to the chase” kind of reader, he has really good summaries and charts to help you make your decision.

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Filed under Biblical Seminary, book reviews, counseling, Doctrine/Theology, writing

Mind pollution

Some years ago a bible study leader (and grad school professor) made this response to a comment I made suggesting he should read some new book: “Phil, I’m sure its an interesting book but I have limited time for reading and I so I’ve already picked what I can read for this year.” I was floored at the time. Picked? How can you know what you will read for the year? What about all the interesting things that might get published? I think I thought it a bit arrogant at the time. At any rate, it didn’t make sense, especially since I love to read up on all sorts of things. I kind of pride myself of being “up” on many topics.

That conversation happened before the explosion of social networking and before my access to high speed Internet. I now understand a bit of what he was speaking about. Mind pollution: the filling of my mind of diverse and interesting tidbits that have little lasting value. News, social networking, even blog entries by great writers, etc.

Of course, if I thought this was a serious problem, I’d probably need to help by reducing mind pollution and posting things only when absolutely necessary. But, since I like thinking out loud, I’ll continue to do so, but endeavor to eliminate posts just like this one. 🙂


Filed under writing

Identity: Purveying fine ideas

Sabbaticals create a crisis of identity for me. As you may already know, the halls of academia are filled with individuals who secretly believe they are frauds–that all others in the hall (teachers and students alike) should be there but we have somehow gotten in by faking our intelligence. For me: will I, have I produced enough to be a legitimate professor? Where are my many books? Why isn’t my vita longer? Where is my empirical research?

Truth is I’m not a researcher and at this point do not need to be one. My school seeks quality teachers who make important additions to the field (vs. primarily researchers who happen to teach). 

But recently I had an aha about who I’m made to be. I had been struggling with writing a book proposal (which I hope will still succeed) and trying to evaluate whether I was making any discernible progress. I needed a coffee (okay, didn’t need but wanted) so walked out through the parking lot on my way to a local shop. In the parking lot was a friend on her way to help out some families in crisis. She stopped me and asked me if I could help her consider how to respond. Within minutes I gave her several ideas and steps on how to think about the issues and some direction as to where to lead the individuals involved. She was grateful and after scribbling on a napkin some ideas we parted ways.

As I walked to the shop I got the “aha.” I’m a purveyor of fine ideas–like the purveyor of fine coffees I was on my way to vist. I doubt I’m ever going to write that revolutionary text, develop a unique model of care, provide the statistical data to back up a theory, etc. But I’m relatively decent at collecting fine ideas that may not be so well-known to the community and giving them to people in useful bits. I think the Lord has given me the gift of discerning which biblical or psychological information might be useful and how the person in need might be able to use it.

So, I don’t make good things, I find good things and try to get them into the hands of folks who need it. Maybe that makes me less of a professor but I’m coming to terms with this.

And so with this aha I go back to my computer, flush with caffeine and some comfort that my life isn’t evaluated solely on this proposal I’m working on. Of course it doesn’t you say. But we humans need to be reminded of the truth every so often.


Filed under Identity, Insight, Meditations, teaching counseling, writing

“To boldly go…” into a split infinitive?

I’m attempting to finish several writing projects this week before I break for Christmas. I have numerous edits to a scripture and counseling article that I expect will be published sometime next year. I’ve got a couple of shorter essays as well. As I edit my work I am confronted, repeatedly, with the sad fact that I haven’t a clue about good grammar. I’m a fan of contractions. I, love, commas, and, parenthetical comments (don’t you?). Apparently, editors do not. They also eschew dangling participles (“When counselors give in to the temptation…, it leads to…” Doesn’t everyone know who the “it refers to?”) 

But, I’m taking solace in Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue. He tells me that it’s not a sin to split infinitives. Some wacko in the 1800s decided it was a bad idea and now we’re stuck with it. And since Star Trek writers realized that it was stupid to say, “To go boldly where no man…”, I’m going to confidently split an infinitive today. Um, besides that one.

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Filed under writing