Topics Addressed in This Blog
I shall address general social issues, including politics, business, and economics, civil rights issues, and happenings in the worlds of the media, literature, and the arts. In addition, I shall reflect on how events in my life relate to larger social issues. My particular take on these issues will be informed by "the reflective perspective": a grounding in spirituality and philosophy, with a commitment to social justice.
How This Blog Is Different
The distinguishing characteristic of this blog is that reflective perspective. In most blogs of social commentary, issues of spirituality are hardly if every addressed, and philosophy is deep in the background. In this blog, the philosophical underpinnings of what goes on in society are of major importance, and spiritual concerns are addressed directly. Well has it been said that 'we are spiritual beings having a human experience.' In this blog, I take that seriously.
How I Am Qualified to Write Social Commentary
Anyone can have an opinion. Why should anyone pay any special attention to mine? Different people have different criteria they use to vet a social commentator. My own credentials include the following:
- I grew up poor, but have worked my way into a professional career. (I conduct psychological research under contract.) Thus, I am familiar with life as it is lived in different classes and levels of society. I have lived in my own $500K home--not ten years after being homeless.
- I have worked in a great variety of positions over the years, ranging from janitor and hardware store stock clerk, to staff positions in the Fortune 500, to executive positions in small corporations, to professional and entrepreneurial positions.
- I conducted a private practice in psychotherapy for 16 years. I have also served as treatment staff in clinical settings that have exposed me to some of the worst problems that human beings can face in American society. These settings include the Manhattan Psychiatric Center (the inpatient psychiatric hospital of last resort in Manhattan), and the outpatient mental health clinic of Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn (perhaps the largest such clinic in New York City).
- My research has given me expertise regarding several important aspects of human psychology. These include: (1) worldviews, the assumptions that people hold about the world and life; (2) motivation, including the role played by the impulses, not only to fulfill one's potential, but to transcend the self through service and connection to something greater than one's own self.
- In addition to my personal background of study in various areas of religion and spirituality, I have won awards for my scholarship in the psychology of religion.
My Personal Background
Readers may be curious about what sorts of perspectives inform my opinions. Here are some items about my background:
- Name: Mark Edward Koltko-Rivera.
- Demographic characteristics: 52 years old; married, with four grown children from a former marriage.
- Home town: The Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City.
- Where I’ve lived: New York City (Manhattan, including the Lower East Side / Greenwich Village, and the Upper East Side; Astoria, Queens; the Bronx). Florida (Winter Park, just north of Orlando). New Jersey (Newark). Pennsylvania (Haverford and Bryn Mawr). Connecticut (New Milford and West Hartford). Japan (Hiroshima, Okayama, Matsue, Matsuyama, Tokushima).
- Ethnicity: Polish and Puerto Rican. (As they would say in the South: “Deal with it, y’all.”)
- Education: Graduated from St. Stanislaus, B.M. School (now defunct), New York City, 1970. Graduated from Regis High School, New York City, 1974. Graduated from Haverford College with a BA degree, majoring in psychology, 1981 (affiliated with Class of 1978; many classes taken at Bryn Mawr College). Graduated from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education with an MS in Ed degree, majoring in counseling, 1984. Graduated from New York University with a PhD degree, in counseling psychology, 2000.
- Religion and Spirituality: My religion is the faith of the Latter-day Saints (LDS, known popularly as ‘the Mormons’). Within this faith, I have found it comfortable to situate myself within the Sunstone and Dialogue community (named for two independent LDS publications, in which I have published several articles; I have also presented at the Sunstone Symposia in Salt Lake City, Washington, DC, and Boston).
- Other Affiliations: I am a member of Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology. I am a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, where I have won significant awards from Divisions 1 (General Psychology), 32 (Humanistic Psychology), and 36 (Psychology of Religion). I am a Freemason, and, within Freemasonry, a member of the Scottish Rite and the York Rite.
- Politics: Rational. During the 2008 American presidential campaign, I authored a “Mormons for Obama” blog.
- Interests: Religion and spirituality; esoteric expressions thereof, as well, so my studies include such subjects as kabbalah and gnosticism. Social justice. Humanistic psychology. Transpersonal psychology. The psychology of religion. The psychology of worldviews (the assumptions that individuals and cultures have about life, the world, and reality). Futurism: the anticipation of future social consequences of demographic, social, and technological trends. The “liberal arts plus,” including the humanities, literature, the arts, and philosophy, in the light of the sciences. The psychology of self-transcendence (seeking to further some cause or connect with something greater than oneself).
- Other blogs: I write regularly for "For Latter-Day Saints: Topics in Mormonism," in which I address topics that are of special interest to Latter-day Saints, and "Freemasonry: Reality, Myth, and Legend," in which I address topics that are of special interest to Freemasons. Anyone is welcome to read or comment on any of these blogs, as long as they keep the rules (see below). Items that concern the interface between general society and either the LDS faith or Freemasonry shall be addressed in this blog, "On the Mark."
The rules for those who leave comments: No personal attacks. No profanity. You are welcome to disagree with me, and quite vigorously at that, but infringements of the rules would lead to me deleting the comment and barring the commentator from future contributions.
Beyond that: Welcome.