Mind-Reading: Know the Signs

Eric’s father constantly criticized him. Now that Eric is in his young twenties, he finds it hard to believe he is lovable. When his fiancé, Jennifer, interacts with other men, Eric becomes suspicious and begins imagining all sorts of terrible things that she must be thinking.

Michelle’s teenage son, Stuart, is going through a severe period of rebellion. He has even got in trouble with the police on three different occasions. When Michelle draws any sort of boundaries for Stuart (for example, insisting that he doesn’t play heavy metal music around his younger sister or prohibiting drugs on the property) Stuart becomes abusive towards his mother. On a handful of occasions, Stuart has even hit Michelle. When he is being violent, Michelle thinks she knows what is really going on in Stuart’s mind, having convinced herself that the real reason her son is hitting her because he loves her. “After all,” Michelle keeps telling herself, “because he loves me, I’m the only person he feels comfortable really being himself around, which is why he takes out his frustration on me in the form of violence.”

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Archimandrite Fadi on Gratitude and Living in the Present

Archimandrite Fadi spoke about finding joy in the present moment.

This week our church was blessed to have Archimandrite Fadi visiting us and participating in our Lenten services. Fr. Fadi spent some time with the children of our homeschool co-op, sharing his testimony and helping to instruct them. One of the things he shared was the remarkable story of how he went from being a successful law professor in Lebanon to working along side the Orthodox Metropolitan in Mexico.

After last night’s Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts, we gathered downstairs as Fr. Fadi addressed us on many important topics, including the importance of finding joy in the present moment.

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How Negative Automatic Thoughts Might be Afflicting You

Tens of thousands of people are afflicted by negative automatic thoughts.

When Renee was a child, her family had to move around a lot for her father’s work. Every few years Renee found herself in a new community, a new school, and having to make new friends from scratch. It was difficult for Renee to make new friends because she always knew that eventually she would be uprooted again. Not surprisingly, Renee had become very shy and suffered from mild forms social anxiety.

When Renee was seventeen, her family finally settled in a small town in Colorado. Having been assured by her parents that they wouldn’t be moving again, Renee desperately wanted to make friends in the new community. She especially wanted to have a boyfriend. At the same time, however, Renee was scared of forming relationships.

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Europe’s Self-Abrogation

Robert Merry at The American Conservative has put his finger on the psychology behind Europe’s self-abrogation. His article, ‘How Europe Built Its Own Funeral Pyre, Then Leapt In‘, looks at the psychological and ideological context behind Europe’s current tidal wave of immigration, as well as the potential consequences of allowing so many immigrants who are openly hostile to European culture and historic values. Spend a few minutes today at The American Conservative reading Merry’s article.

Positive Self-Talk and Anxiety

On a blustery Sunday afternoon in December 2017, I headed to Seattle with my two teenage sons, Matthew (age 19) and Timothy (age 15). Our mission was simple: hand Matthew off to the Air Force at Seattle.

We left on our journey shortly after Matthew said goodbye to everyone at church. When we arrived in Seattle later that evening, Timothy and I planned to drop Matthew off at the Air Force processing station and then go to stay overnight with my brother, Gregory. The next morning, Timothy and I would watch Matthew take his final oath before he flew out with the Air Force to San Antonio for Basic Training.

As I drove the long stretch of highway from Coeur d’Alene Idaho to Seattle Washington, I reflected on the events leading up to this journey.

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Jordan Peterson on the Purpose of University Education

In this video Jordan Peterson makes some trenchant observations about the purpose of university education.

I don’t agree that articulated speech is the most powerful human good. I think humility is the most powerful human good. But I do agree with the high premium Peterson places on articulation and the role it can play in helping to eliminate suffering. I was particularly struck by his comment, “Burden yourself with so much responsibility that you can barely stand, and then you’ll get stronger trying to lift it up.”

Building Blocks of National Cohesion

From my recent article, “The Republican Retreat to Identity Politics“:

Historically, nations are held together by common memories, customs, symbols, myths and legends. In its most rigorous and consistent form, classical liberalism de-emphasizes or ignores these deep-seated cultural-symbolic underpinnings of civil society and attempts to secularize the public life, often migrating transcendence to the claims of the state. This creates a dangerous vacuum in which citizens find themselves without the basic building blocks of national cohesion. This inevitably results in human beings looking to their most basic and primitive bonds for cohesion, and thus reverting to a raw tribalism. A secular and materialistic society offers little scope for the type of roots that humans innately long for, with the result that the most plausible roots become race and ethnicity.

 

How to Find Your Place in the Good Life

Jason and Kaitlyn would never have said their marriage was unhappy. However, throughout the fourteen years they had been together, they gradually drifted apart. They rarely had arguments and to outsiders they looked like the perfect couple. However, as the years went by, they seemed to have less and less in common.

Without giving it much thought, Jason instinctively assumed that the reason he had grown distant from Kaitlyn was because she had changed. It wasn’t simply that Kaitlyn’s had lost her youthful beauty, although it did bother Jason that he was no longer physically attracted to his wife. It was also that she was no longer as fun to be around. She used to be the type of person you wanted to share everything with, but over the years she seemed to have become different. It was hard to put his finger on it.

Kaitlyn tried not to think too much about the growing distance between Jason and herself. A few years ago she had begun to suspect that Jason was using his computer at work to access pornography, but she quickly dismissed the idea from her head. The sense of distance between them was probably just because they were so busy with their kids that they rarely had time to do things together anymore. Whenever they did have a free evening, it seemed Jason preferred to spend it watching sports with his friends from the software firm where he worked. During football season, Jason didn’t even come to church with her and the kids. Kaitlyn reflected that maybe if she and Jason could go on a vacation together, just the two of them, they might be able to rekindle what they had lost.

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The Republican Retreat to Identity Politics

In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, there is a curious moment when the reader becomes aware that the animals who led the revolt against their human overlords have become the new oppressors.

Animal Farm is a uniquely human story. Even a cursory glance over the last half millennia reveals that empowerment has a strange way of enticing former liberators not merely to abandon their own principles, but to begin embodying the principles of their opponents.

We saw this happen when the “Committee of Public Safety” abandoned the principles of the French Revolution, ushering in a terror far worse than anything under the Ancien Régime.  We saw it again when the Soviet State abandoned the pseudo-liberating rhetoric Marxism and turned all of Russia into a giant prison. We saw it again when the “agrarian socialism” of the Khmer Rouge found embodiment in the genocide of Pol Pot.

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How to Listen with Attentive Understanding Even When You Disagree

As Jordan Peterson’s Channel 4 interview goes viral (indeed, it reached #7 for all of YouTube), I have been delighted to see it provoking international discussion, not just about the issues he raised, but about the nature of conversation itself. This is a classic case of ideology causing a two-person dialogue to turn into a three-person dialogue: a conversation between the positions of Person A, the positions of Person B, and the positions that Person B ascribes to Person A.

One of the easiest mistakes to make in political discourse is to assume you know where the other person is “coming from” and to then “hear” what they are saying through the framework of those assumptions, just as Cathy Newman did with Jordan Peterson.

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