Relationship Basics

Almost everyone struggles with the difficulties and the differences of opinion that arise from their relationships. For example, how can a couple bridge the gap between our culture’s romantic expectations about love (a recurrent theme in so many movies) and the reality of everyday domestic life together? Or how do you live with the differences that occur in a relationship where two totally different people must interact, compromise, and live together? How can you communicate effectively as a couple without hurting one another? How can couples reconcile the different cultural, familial, and individual expectations that you and your partner each may hold so dear? How do couples solve the problems and resolve the conflicts that occur in even the happiest of relationships? And finally, how does a couple nurture love over the years of a long relationship-especially given the demands that work and parenting exert on a married couple? In a happy relationship, couples must come to terms with all of these issues. In a conflicted relationship, the partners often feel frustration and pain because they cannot “get a handle” on the issues well enough to live in peace together. The very best marriages in the world will present spouses with issues that require adjustments, compromise, accommodations, and soul-searching. Human beings have an innate drive to be happy and fulfilled, and relationships are one of the primary ways that all of us express that desire. A presentation will be made in these blogs over the next few months to explore “Seven Paths” that can serve as useful guidelines to explore the “terrain” of your own relationship. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

The Contraceptive Conundrum

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, and President Obama assert that if one is against abortion, then one should be in favor of widespread distribution of contraceptives. On the surface there even seems to be a certain logic to this position. However the experience of over the last 40 years shows quite the opposite. There has been widespread availability of contraception and this has yielded more than one million abortions annually, one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the world for the United States, and epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases. On the surface, contraception might have also been seen as a help to married couples who were overwhelmed and stressed out with parental and work responsibilities. It could also be seen as a panacea to combat the fear of overpopulation. However what was not seen was what happens when one separates the life-giving and love-giving portions of human sexuality. Both need to be present not only to have a strong relationship but one that fosters and promotes life in a family setting. We are called to love people and use things. Unfortunately contraceptives promote quite the opposite, which is using another person and loving what we think things can do for us. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

A New Beginning

Today (Monday, April 9th) is the day after Easter Sunday and thus it is the first day of creation for all Christians (and really even those who are indifferent or struggle with belief). We need to ask ourselves whether we have let things “soil our hearts.” The prophet Ezekiel (36:26) notes, “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you a natural heart.” Even though we have just passed through a time of spiritual renewal within the Church season typically referred to as Lent, we need to examine our hearts and be aware if we have become too preoccupied with ourselves, filled with concerns and complications. We need to beg God for a new heart because if we give a little, God will give a lot! Matthew 6:21 states, “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” So we ask for a new heart by imploring, “A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.” Psalm 51:12. Things that typically soil our hearts include resentment, anger, lust, comfort seeking, sluggishness, a critical spirit, and arrogance. This coming Sunday, April 15th is Divine Mercy Sunday and this time of year continues to be a “re-examination” of what holds us back from possessing that “clean heart.” Divine Mercy Sunday is a day for even the most hardened of hearts. The grace of God’s mercy is for all people and since we are all sinners and bear personal responsibility for our faults and failures, what better time to return to Church and ask for God’s unending gift of mercy and forgiveness. Christ’s first words in the gospel of Mark (1:15) are simply, “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

A Review of the Kansas City Symphony

I believe most musicians and lovers of classical music can recall the moment when they first fell in love with classical music. My moment was a record that featured two musical works both by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) one of the featured composers at a performance of the Kansas City Symphony on Friday evening March 30, 2012. This concert was the 10th in the classical series for the 2011-2012 inaugural season at the Kaufmann Center for the Performing Arts.

I had purchased a recording of the “Concerto for Flute and Harp” (featuring the famed flutist Julius Baker) by Mozart because I was studying the flute and simply loved (and still do) this piece of music. On the flip side of the record was the Symphony No. 41, called the “Jupiter,” by Mozart and I listened to that piece until the record wore out. What I learned about was form and symmetry and really perfection in music (especially the last movement of the symphony). Mozart composed an amazing amount of music for the very short time he lived. Commentary has been made that often his scores were free from multiple corrections (or markings) as he seemed to write out of divine inspiration and his music still speaks to us over 200 years after the fact. When Mozart wrote this music he was at the height of his compositional powers but quickly approaching the end of his life, financially broke with a sickly spouse and enduring the recent death of a daughter, aged six months. I have a new granddaughter, named Claire Ann, and I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a child so very young, but obviously this was a more common place occurrence in that day and age but no less painful.

So why is the Symphony no. 41 nicknamed the “Jupiter?” Well Mozart did not name it that, but most probably Johann Peter Salomon did. Salomon was an oboist and violinist who was not only a composer but a well-known music promoter at the time of Mozart and Haydn. In the last two minutes (remember that noteworthy last movement) of the “Jupiter,” Mozart composes a five-part fugato (think fugue-like with musical voices entering at different times), which at that point in the history of music had never been done. J.S. Bach had only done a three-part fugato. Since it would be very difficult for an individual to process five melodies simultaneously, Salomon thought surely only a great god such as “Jupiter” could hear this majestic music, hence the nickname. Salomon has the wrong God of course, but the inspiration for the music is clearly of Divine origin. As for the performance by the orchestra it was excellent. The strings played as one and were convincing in their shaping of the musical phrases and dynamics and the winds sounded sweet and sublime. Being a wind player (but now only a winded player!) I enjoyed their precision the most (sorry sometimes I am unashamedly biased). The brass and tympani provided the appropriate punctuation without being annoying or in the way. Well done.

The opening piece of the concert, “Water Music,” was a world premiere composed by Daniel Kellogg, born in 1976. I have often considered that the history of classical music ended with the death of Dimitri Shostakovich in 1975 but continue to be proven wrong when hearing new and challenging pieces of music. Yes some of the new music is bad but then so was some of Shostakovich’s as well. I also judge new music based on my wife, Rita’s reaction to it. She does not pretend to be knowledgeable about classical music but is very open to listening and learning about it. We both liked the piece and I thought it conveyed what it set out to do musically, describing three different fountains in the City of Fountains. What I liked about the piece is that the music sounded challenging to play but was not unrealistic to play. So often new music disregards what the instruments can really do effectively and convincingly. This was not the case. Also I think composers of new music are compared to past composers and styles of music because the listener is trying to fit it in with a template of what they already know. However certain combinations of instruments do produce pleasing sonorities and they are still worth exploration. The blocks of orchestral sound were very reminiscent of Jean Sibelius, the late romantic Finnish composer. The Kansas City Symphony played with great concentration and dedication in conveying the composer’s intentions and the brass shown marvelously particularly the principal trumpet, Gary Schutza.

So what is left to say is that it is so easy to take for granted musical talent especially pianists. There are so many gifted performers on this instrument and the featured soloist, Yefim Bronfman, on the Bela Bartok Piano Concerto No. 2 is one of those. Bartok is indeed one of his specialties. It is often said that if you want to catch the best part of an NBA basketball game just watch the fourth quarter because that is when the players really begin to play some great and intense basketball. Well if Mr. Bronfman had had that attitude of saving his best for last, he would have perished on the stage because the Bartok Piano Concerto No. 2 starts with an unbelievable display of virtuosity from the pianist. Game on! I was not familiar with the work but was pleased to hear it. Bela Bartok is known for his use of folk songs within the context of his musical scores and he also writes these fabulous movements of music that he called “night music.” I wonder if he could sense the coming conflict of World War II in his music because there is a very dark seriousness to the music with very few playful moments. The orchestra seemed a bit distracted from the earlier world premiere but they refocused (thanks to conductor Michael Stern) and the last movement of the Bartok was the most pleasing to listen to as a dialogue between soloist and orchestra. Once again I will point out the work of principal trumpet Gary Schutza as ear-catching. Bravo!

Please take the time out of your busy schedules to support the arts in Kansas City. It is so much better than reality TV!  If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

The Hunger Game

With the opening of the movie, “The Hunger Games”, we all have a chance to learn a new word, dystopia or dystopian. The word means a society characterized by human misery, such as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding. There is nothing subtle about “The Hunger Games” though there are redeeming human virtues displayed throughout such as justice, fortitude, temperance, and prudence. These four virtues are commonly referred to as the “cardinal” virtues and serve as the hinges for all of the other virtues that come to mind such as patience.

A much better movie and perhaps more disturbing because it rings so true is an adaptation of a PD James novel written in 1992 called, “The Children of Men.” This 2006 movie is set in England and centers on the results of mass infertility, where the women can no longer conceive a child. However in the midst of a steadily declining population in the United Kingdom is a group of resisters who do not share the disillusionment of the masses of people who have lost hope. Among this group is a woman who is found to be capable of conceiving and giving birth to a child who in essence will save mankind. Somewhere I think we have heard this story before. Check out the book and the movie and tell your friends to ignore the prophets of gloom and doom. All is well and life is worth living! Check out Natural Family Planning (NFP). If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

Is the Sky Really Falling?

For more than 40 years the public has been bombarded with apocalyptic tales of disaster regarding population growth. Paul Ehrlich, a prominent “so-called” prophet of population doom, predicted in 1968 that millions of people would die from starvation in the 1970’s. He later predicted that the death-toll estimates would increase to a billion people dying from starvation by the mid-1980’s. These famines never materialized and though there are still too many people who remain hungry, agricultural advances have fought off massive famines. Most measures of human welfare show the Earth’s population is better off today than at any other time in human history. Life expectancy is increasing, per-capita income is rising, and the air that we breathe and the water we drink are cleaner. And, ironically, concerns expressed in the 1970’s about the earth’s climate headed toward the next ice age have now been turned to concerns of global warming and melting ice caps. Stanford economist, Paul Romer says, “Every generation has underestimated the potential for finding new recipes and ideas. We consistently fail to grasp how many ideas remain to be discovered. Possibilities do not add up; they multiply.”

The trouble with the “sky-is-falling” claims is that they can lead to costly and restrictive government regulations and media biases. Ehrlich thinks that the government should have a greater role in family planning and he demands that the media start educating the public every day “on the role played by the unsustainable human numbers behind environmental degradation and human calamities.” He claims that the public needs a constant message of “it is time to stop growing and become sustainable.” In fact the opposite is quite true, as government regulations and media propaganda will suffocate the kind of advances that have only helped improve environmental conditions and human well-being. Why won’t these “prophets” of environmental gloom just go away? For more information read “Greener than Thou: Are You Really an Environmentalist?” by Terry L. Anderson and Laura Higgins who deserve all the credit for their wise insights. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

Anabolic Steroids and Birth Control Pills – Part Three

In the case of anabolic steroids, relatively few of us use them and as a result we have no collective emotional investment in them. Therefore an individual’s judgment is not impaired when making the risk/reward analysis. In addition, the media has been very proactive in informing us of the dangers related to anabolic steroid use. Also the medical community has done its job as well with regard to sounding the alarm of the consequences of using anabolic steroids.

In the case of birth control pills, literally millions of women are using the pill. As a result, their significant others (i.e. men) and our society have a collective emotional investment in the pill that makes it very difficult to judge the evidence more clearly and objectively. Also the media has done little to inform us of the dangers related to the use of the pill. In fact, when the media has warned us, it would appear that the media will “bend over backwards” to reassure us that we should continue to use the pill, regardless of how serious this just might be.

A recent study found that most of us are almost completely unaware of these dangers of the pill. Only 40% of pill users were informed by their doctor about the risks of blood clots and stroke, and a mere 19% were informed about the increased risk of breast cancer. Whether one assumes the risks associated with either type of steroids with full knowledge or out of complete ignorance, it is a game of Russian roulette. That is a very dangerous game to play with one’s life and quality of health without even knowing the rules or risks.

Don’t we owe it to ourselves and to our families to thoroughly educate ourselves about any “so-called” medication before putting them into our bodies?  If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

Anabolic Steroids and Birth Control Pills – Part Two

According to a study done by “Scientific American” birth control pills have structural effects on regions of the brain that govern higher-order cognitive activities and the pill seems to adversely affect a woman’s ability to choose the most biologically and emotionally compatible mate. It seems reasonable to suspect that anabolic steroids would do the same with a man’s ability to choose the most compatible mate.

Both anabolic steroids and birth control pills may be taken for legitimate medical reasons including helping with hormonal imbalances. Both are not being used for truly medicinal purposes in that they have little or nothing to do with alleviating or curing disease. Both are being used to force the human body to do something it was not designed to do. The reward for using anabolic steroids is fame and fortune. For birth control pills the supposed “reward” is not having a baby. What is dramatically different about anabolic steroids and birth control pills is our reaction to them as a society.

With regard to anabolic steroids society has clearly come to the conclusion that steps should be taken to keep individuals from using them in ways that are truly not medicinal. But in the case of birth control pills society has gone exactly in the opposite direction. As a society we try to ensure that everyone has easy access to birth control pills, even to have them paid for by insurance. Many would like them available over-the-counter. It has even gotten to the point that the president of the US is mandating that health insurance must cover the pill free of charge and violate the First Amendment in the process. So why do we have such polar opposite views of these two types of “steroids” in our society? If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

Anabolic Steroids and Birth Control Pills – Part One

Anabolic steroids pose many documented and significant risks to an individual’s life and health. This can include changes in the way the brain functions, a weakening of the immune system, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, increased aggression (so called “roid-rage”), heart enlargement, breast enlargement (in men), breast reduction (in women), heart attacks, stroke, sexual dysfunction, renal failure, and possible liver cancer. For those who take anabolic steroids it would seem that the natural human instinct for self-preservation is overwhelmed by the promise or reward of potential wealth and fame. For those individuals the potential reward is immediate and concrete while any risks are perceived to be in the distant future and thus, vague.

Within the pharmaceutical industry there is another controversy that at first glance may seem entirely different: the birth control pill. But if fact, anabolic steroids and birth control pills share a great deal in common. Both are “steroids.” Anabolic steroids are the synthetic version of the male sex hormone, testosterone. Birth control pills are the synthetic version of the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Both involve significant risk to life and health.

Birth control pills cause decreased libido, even after a women stops using it, and can cause mood changes, high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke, heart disease and heart attacks. According to a study published in the “Journal of Sexual Medicine”, the pill may have adverse “long-term, sexual, metabolic and mental-health consequences.” The birth control pill is listed as a “Group 1 Carcinogen” alongside of asbestos, tobacco and formaldehyde by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Cancer Society! Birth control pills are associated with a significant risk of a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer called “triple negative,” increased rates of breast cancer in general and increased rates of liver and cervical cancer in general. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at

A Ballet May be Just What You Need

When I think of ballet, I think of the movie, “Men in Tights” which I happened to catch a little of the other day (the Mel Brooks movie of 1993 is uneven at best). Well fortunately I was asked by my oldest daughter Sarah, to attend the Kansas City Ballet’s production of “Romeo and Juliet” on Sunday February 26th at 2 pm and this was no “Men in Tights.” My wife Rita and I went to mainly enjoy the company of my daughter and son-in-law. There was also the promise of some fine dining afterward. I also went because I am familiar with the music to the ballet by Sergei Prokofiev. Now Prokofiev is a quirky Russian composer with an uneven output of classical music. That means there is some music that is captivating and some that is grating and irritating to listen to. “Romeo and Juliet” is of the former and is some of Prokofiev’s finest music. What caught me further by surprise was the excellence of the ballet and the overall presentation with sets and dramatic gestures by the dancers. I was moved by their presentation of this time-old story of thwarted love and family feuding. Honestly how could adults get in the way of such devoted lovers and not encourage their love for one another. Selfishness and pride come to mind.

Three things stood out to me. First was the dancing of the male lead, Anthony Krutzkamp. Now I have been exposed to athletes all of my life and I can tell you this guy is an athlete, yet very supple and effortless. It sort of reminded me of Joe Montana throwing the football. Understated but quite effective. It seems to me professional athletes could learn a thing or two from ballet dancers about flexibility (this is not a new notion!). It would probably help them a lot. Second was the farewell performance of a long-time dancer with the Kansas City Ballet named Kimberly Cowen. I thought how this must have been a very emotional performance for her and while I read she will appear in May at a last “public” performance this had to be a very bittersweet moment for her. For all of the hubbub surrounding someone like Peyton Manning, there are so many professionals dedicated to their art and craft that go unnoticed and under appreciated. Lastly, of course, is the Kansas City Symphony, a significant partner in this production. Sometimes when ballet music is performed as orchestral music (or a suite) without dancers, the music is played at breakneck speeds with no regard to the tempo or the subtleties of the music. However with dancers in the mix, there has to be restraint because tempos that are out of control are not conducive for allowing the dancers to execute their intricate moves. The conductor did a great job of watching the dancers and conveying the desired tempo to the musicians. Even with a small force of musicians, most probably because of size constraints in the orchestra pit, the music came across as majestic and skillfully executed. Prokofiev loves to write passages for various instruments that go to the extremes of their range. The musicians acquitted themselves quite well and the brass never sounded too forceful or obnoxious.

Once again a message for all Kansas Citian’s, please check out a symphony, opera, or ballet performance at the Kaufmann Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Kansas City. Support these local artists and their gifts. There are some genuinely beautiful things going on and the arts so enrich one’s mind and soul. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at