Human Development in Scripture

Walter Brueggemann, one of my favorite Scripture scholars, brilliantly connects the development of the Hebrew Scriptures with the development of human consciousness. [1]

Brueggemann says there are three major parts of the Hebrew Scriptures: the Torah, the Prophets, and the Wisdom Literature. The Torah, or the first five books, corresponds to the first half of life. This is the period in which the people of Israel were given their identity through law, tradition, structure, certitude, group ritual, clarity, and chosenness. As individuals, we each must begin with some clear structure and predictability for normal healthy development (a la Maria Montessori). That’s what parents are giving their little ones—containment, security, safety, specialness. Ideally, you first learn you are beloved by being mirrored in the loving gaze of your parents and those around you. You realize you are special and life is good—and thus you feel safe.

The second major section of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Prophets, introduces the necessary suffering, “stumbling stones,” and failures that initiate you into the second half of life. Prophetic thinking is the capacity for healthy self-criticism, the ability to recognize your own dark side. Without failure, suffering, and shadowboxing, most people (and most of religion) never move beyond narcissism and clannish thinking (egoism extended to the group). This has been most of human history up to now, which is why war has been the norm. But healthy self-criticism helps you realize you are not that good and neither is your group. It begins to break down either/or, dualistic thinking as you realize all things are both good and bad. This makes idolatry, and the delusions that go with it, impossible.

My mother could give me “prophetic criticism” and discipline me and it didn’t hurt me indefinitely because she gave me all the loving and kissing and holding in advance. I knew the beloved status first of all, and because of that I could take being criticized and told I wasn’t the center of the world.

The leaven of self-criticism, added to the certainty of your own specialness, will allow you to move to the third section of the Hebrew Scriptures: the Wisdom Literature (many of the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, and the Book of Job). Here you discover the language of mystery and paradox. This is the second half of life. You are strong enough now to hold together contradictions in yourself and others with compassion, forgiveness, and patience. You realize that your chosenness is for the sake of letting others know they are also chosen. You have moved from the Torah’s exclusivity and “separation as holiness” to inclusivity and allowing everything to belong.

Partisan Identity is More Important to Those with an Existing Identity

Minorities do not consider the Republican party more religious (22 min)

Most white people don’t identify strongly as Italian.  They identified as Methodist or Baptists, but now that religion is less important, political partisanship matters more.

Minorities aren’t looking to political identity for their identity.

 

Ep 333: Drew Dyck Disciplines Himself

If you become disciplined to pursue a self-interested, bad goal, what does that gain you.

If you think the right things, truth, it will transform their character.  But why is it some of the most theologically smart people are A-holes.

Things that Deplete your Willpower:

Decision making, Conflict, Sleep

Flee temptation. If you are always relying on willpower, you will fail.

This is where habits are important

  1. Pick one thing.  Don’t try to do 5 New Year’s Resolutions at once
  2. You can’t delete Bad Habits, only replace them
    • Cue, Routine, Payoff
    • Replace social media with Bible reading
  3. Jesus take the wheel
    • Someone says that they will not brush their teeth unless they felt called by the spirit
    • Grace is not opposed to effort.  Grace is opposed to earning.
    • Sanctification is often a slow transformation process.
    • I am what’s wrong with the world: G.K. Chesterton
  4. In the long run, self-discipline is about delayed-gratification.  It is easier in the long run.

 

Evangelicals and the 5 Stages of Grief:  (30 min)

We are between anger and bargaining and this Trump Faustian bargain was out of desperation over demographic change.

Sociologists refer to the Driver’s license -> Marriage License Gap

Fewer people are coming back to the church because the gap is longer and people figure out how to live without it.

Reinforce Republican identity and threat, not from Satan or poverty, or oppression, but an enemy of Democrats

  • Us vs them, mitigating our fears in the amygdala
  • If fear is a big part of your life, you are not living as a Christian
  • I am not a fearvangelica
  • A lot of people believe that being afraid makes them Godly
  • It is very hard to convince someone who is marinating in fear that they don’t need to fear.
  • Phil’s Idea: inside out with fearful evangelicals

The Science of Being Transgender

Recently we’ve been hearing a lot about transgender identity. That made us wonder… what makes us the gender that we are? And what should you do if your kid doesn’t fit the mold? To find out, we talked with endocrinologist Dr. Joshua Safer, psychologist Dr. Laura Edwards-Leeper, and psychologist Dr. Colt Keo-Meier.

The Cowardly Face of Authoritarianism

But in a cult of personality, truth is replaced by belief, and we believe what the leader wishes us to believe. The face replaces the mind.

.. The transition from democracy to personality cult begins with a leader who is willing to lie all the time, in order to discredit the truth as such. The transition is complete when people can no longer distinguish between truth and feeling.

.. Cults of personality make us feel rather than think. In particular, they make us feel that the first question of politics is “Who are we, and who are they?” rather than “What is the world like, and what can we do about it?” Once we accept that politics is about “us and them,” we feel like we know who “we” are, since we feel that we know who “they” are. In fact, we know nothing, since we have accepted fear and anxiety — animal emotions — as the basis of politics. We have been played.

.. The authoritarians of today tell medium-size lies. These refer only superficially to experiences; they draw us deep into a cave of emotion. If we believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim born in Africa (an American lie with Russian support), or that Hillary Clinton is a pedophile pimp (a Russian lie with American support), we are not actually thinking; we are giving way to sexual and physical fear.

.. These medium-size lies are not quite the big lies of the totalitarians, although Mr. Orban’s attacks on George Soros as the leader of a Jewish conspiracy come rather close. They are, however, big enough that they help to disable the factual world. Once we accept these lies, we open ourselves up to believing a whole raft of other untruths, or at least suspect that there are other, vaster conspiracies.

.. We imagine that we make choices as we sit in front of our computers, but the choices are, in fact, framed for us by algorithms that learn what will keep us online. Our online activity teaches machines that the most effective stimuli are negative: fear and anxiety.

.. As social media becomes political instruction, we prime ourselves for politicians who reproduce the same binary: What makes us afraid and what makes us feel secure? Who are they and who are we?

.. The empty heterosexual posturing, the shirtless photo ops, the misogyny and indifference to the female experience, the anti-gay campaigns, are designed to hide one basic fact: A cult of personality is sterile. It cannot reproduce itself. The cult of personality is the worship of something temporary. It is thus confusion and, at bottom, cowardice: The leader cannot contemplate the fact that he will die and be replaced, and citizens abet the illusion by forgetting that they share responsibility for the future.

The cult of personality blunts the ability to keep a country going. When we accept a cult of personality, we are not only yielding our right to choose leaders but also dulling the skills and weakening the institutions that would allow us to do so in the future. As we move away from democracy, we forget its purpose: to give us all a future. A cult of personality says that one person is always right; so after his death comes chaos.

Democracy says that we all make mistakes, but that we get a chance, every so often, to correct ourselves. Democracy is the courageous way to have a country. A cult of personality is a cowardly way of destroying one.