I have published a three-part series looking at the nominalist roots of John Calvin’s theology. Here are the links to my articles:
From my article ‘What Gratitude is Not‘:
“When our pursuit of comfort causes us to numb ourselves to the pain and hurt happening around us, and even happening to us, what we’re doing is we’re also inadvertently numbing away the capacity to empathize, to feel love, joy and gratitude. When we harden ourselves as a defense against fear, grief, disappointment, shame, rejection or vulnerability, the result is that we’re reducing our capacity to feel the emotions that are important for our wellbeing, including gratitude.”
Last year I received an invitation to speak at a conference for professionals in the caring professions. The conference, which was attended by doctors, nurses, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, dentists, hospital and army chaplains, missionaries, marriage and family therapists, surgeons and students, was on the topic of pain and suffering. The conference organizers asked me to give a seminar on the topic “Gratitude During Times of Suffering” and my marching orders were simple: explain how it’s possible to remain thankful in the midst extreme of suffering.
Now I’ve never been particularly good at being thankful when things are going wrong. If I have trouble sleeping, I grumble the next day. If I don’t have enough money to buy something I want, I whine and complain to whoever will’; listen. If I have a physical injury, everyone in my circle of friends is sure to know about it. So expecting me to give a talk about practicing gratitude during times of suffering would be like asking ask John Wayne to dance Swan Lake, or asking Justin Bieber to sing the part for Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro.
To put it bluntly, I found my assignment daunting. How could I teach other professionals a lesson I had not even mastered myself?
From John Ferling’s book Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation, p. 207:
“During one dinner, Hamilton gazed at Jefferson’s portraits of John Locke, Sir Isaac Newton, and Sir Francis Bacon. He asked the identity of the subjects, to which Jefferson replied that they were ‘the three greatest men the world had ever produced.’ Hamilton responded: ‘The greatest man that ever lived was Julius Caesar.’ If he did not already know it, Jefferson discovered in that instant the yawning chasm in sensibilities that separated Hamilton and himself.”