A six-year-old girl trapped in the body of a 52-year-old man

A 52-year-old man with a wife and seven children decided that he is really female.  But not only is he transgendered, he decided that he is really a six-year-old girl.  So he left his family and now lives with an “adoptive mommy and daddy,” dressing as a little girl.

But why not, if our identity has nothing to do with our physical being? [Read more…]

From non-religious families to ISIS

It turns out that 80% of the French citizens who joined ISIS come from non-religious families.  These converts to Islam and jihadism describe it in terms of religious liberation, a putting away of meaningless materialism to find personal meaning and transcendent purpose.  Can it be that human beings have an innate need for transcendence, and that suppressing and denying the religious impulse causes it to break out in extreme, violent, and twisted forms?

Ross Douthat discusses the phenomenon in the New York Times. [Read more…]

We all think we’re losing

Among the more interesting findings in the recent Pew study of attitudes towards government is this:  Most people think their side is losing.

This is true across demographic, racial, and ethnic lines.  Liberals think they are losing to the Conservatives, and Conservatives think they are losing to the Liberals.  (Democrats are more confident than Republicans, but still, a majority of both parties feel this way.)

I wonder if this applies to other factions, such as those in churches.  I also wonder what this means. [Read more…]

Waiting in line

We reportedly spend about two years of our lives just waiting in line.  It seems like much more than that, especially with the Christmas holidays and all of those lines at checkout counters and airports.

After the jump, an excerpt and link to an article about the psychology and mathematics of waiting in line.  Wherein we learn that it isn’t just the time spent waiting that bothers us, it’s factors like boredom and the perception of unfairness.  Also, which is better, multiple parallel lines (one per cash register) or one long serpentine line (served by multiple cash registers at a time)?  And how can the misery of waiting in line be mitigated (ask Disney)? [Read more…]

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…]