The psychology (and benefits) of gratitude

The field of psychology has usually concentrated on trying to understand aberrations and psychological problems.  But now a strain is concentrating on “positive psychology,” seeking to understand mental well-being.  A key aspect is gratitude.  People who have an attitude of thankfulness show a whole range of other positive traits, not only psychologically but physicially! [Read more…]

The 1st use of the Law and the new commenting system

We theology nerds talk quite a bit about the Second Use of the Law (the theological use, the “mirror,” which convicts us of sin and drives us to the Gospel), and we argue about the Third Use of the Law (the didactic use, the “guide,” which shows Christians how to live).  We don’t usually say much about the First Use of the Law (the civil use, the “curb,” which enables sinners to live in societies).

The First Use of the Law concerns only external righteousness.  There is no merit to it, no question of earning salvation by external compliance.  Jesus teaches us that we violate the commandment against murder when we hate our brother, and we violate the commandment against adultery when we lust after someone in our hearts.  That inner state is where our status as sinners is evidenet, and it is this inner condition that the Gospel addresses.  But it is also important not to murder anyone externally or to actually commit adultery.  This external righteousness is absolutely necessary if human beings are to live together in families, nations, and societies.  Even someone boiling over with sinfulness on the inside can, on the outside, be a good citizen.

Our sinful nature has to be “curbed.”  The Law achieves this by means of things like parental discipline, the state’s legal system, and social sanctions.  The Law’s first use can make us feel guilt and shame.  We would be ashamed to actually do some of the things we fantasize about.  Many harmful enterprises are held back when the question arises, What if someone finds out?  Being held back by such considerations does not make us a moral person–we shouldn’t have had those fantasies in the first place–but they make civil society possible. [Read more…]

People who think they are dead

I think a major problem today–one that looms behind other problems, such as sexual immorality and identity confusions–is that people are often dissociated from their bodies.  We see this in the gender dysphoria that gives us transgenderism, the sense that some people have that they are really a different sex than that of their bodies.  Then there is bodily integrity disorder, which gives us the “transabled,” the conviction that some people have that they should have been born with a disability.  Now we learn of Cotard’s syndrome in which some people believe that they are dead. [Read more…]

Songs that you cannot get out of your head

The Wall Street Journal has an article on recent research into “earworms,” those songs that you cannot get out of your head.  Usually, as we all know, those songs tend to be ones that we just hate!

I propose a diabolical discussion, one that is so fiendish that it will be the closest thing this blog will do to a Halloween observance:  In the comments, name songs that get stuck in your head.  I daresay that the very mention of them will get the tunes playing in the mental jukebox that is your brain, to your great torment.

If the prospect of that is too horrible for you, DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS. [Read more…]

She felt she was supposed to have been born blind

I’ve blogged about the “transabled,” people who feel that they should have been born into a body that is disabled.  After the jump is a story about a woman who felt that the way she “was supposed to be born” was to be blind.  So the psychologist working with her blinded her.  He “gave her eye-numbing drops before sprinkling a few droplets of drain cleaner into each pupil.” [Read more…]

Vengeance, competition, and Christianity

Some time ago, I stumbled upon a discussion of Christian anthropologist Rene Girard and Pay Pal founder Peter Thiel.  It had to do with vengeance, competition, new technology start ups, and why both Girard and Thiel came to embrace Christianity. [Read more…]


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