Sunday, April 22, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
By Carl E. Begley.
Psychologist Carl E. Begley's goal is to confront people when they or their counselor want to let themselves off of the moral hook. For the last hundred years psychology has been dominated by determinists who deny free will. They therefore deny human responsibility.
This has led to the common sociological explanations for immoral, destructive, and even criminal behavior. People get a note from their psychologist or doctor explaining a condition such as bipolar disorder, and they are subsequently not responsible for their actions. It is the bipolar that is responsible.
Likewise, Begley criticizes the entitlement mentality whereby someone on disability leave uses that supposed condition as an excuse for continuing to receive government benefits. The money given as a kind of reward for the condition actually reinforces the condition - it pays to have a bad back or suffer from an anxiety disorder, so why would someone get better. Getting better would mean having to get a job and take responsibility for their behavior.
Begley notes that people actually become proud of their labels. Whenever someone suggests that they get a job or that the condition is not permanent, that it's not a definition of their very being, they defend the prognosis and justify their dependency.
Mainstream psychology, Begley explains clearly and convincingly, has played a large role in our culture's moral slackening.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
By Mitch Stokes, thomasnelson.com, 272 pages.
The amateurish title does not do justice to the seriousness of the task and tone successfully undertaken by Stokes, a theologian with an engineering background.
He puts the Enlightenment's aggressive atheism under the microscope, showing how belief in God is not irrational, but highly logical. He pivots this argument on an old Christian idea, the sensus divinitatis, the idea that the sense of God is implanted in every human, which is why nature, for instance, can evoke a feeling of awe and wonder in us.
The Enlightenment's "evidentialism", which demands verifiable evidence for every belief and rejects a place for any basic beliefs that are simply accepted, is rejected as impossible. Stokes clearly demonstrates how we cannot escape basic beliefs. We are merely deluding ourselves when we think we are pure evidentialists, with proof for everything. The author notes that even scientists have to take certain things on faith, such as their belief that their observations are correct - that their eyes and minds are not deceiving them.
Stokes also refers to the grand design of the world, and how atheists wrestle with the fact that the world seems to have been built with us in mind.
A Shot of Faith is a demanding yet extremely rewarding read. Evangelical Christians need more thinkers like Mitch Stokes.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
By Mark and Grace Driscoll. Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Typical of contemporary therapeutic Christianity, the Driscolls try to repair the damage of our pornified culture to marriage. They use the Bible as a sort of spiritual DSM-IV, showing how Scripture teaches that sex is good, wholesome, and a gift from God - as long as it is kept within a Christian marriage.
Sex is vital to the health of a marriage. Frequent sex is a holy part of a strong marriage at every age, yet should never be used as a bargaining chip, which the authors warn is a form of prostitution.
The therapeutic part of this book means that Christianity and God are seen as tools towards personal development. Being a Christian is healthy for your psychology and therefore for your marriage. The scope of this book is not God or salvation per se, but Christian marriage and its practicalities, including anal sex, hand jobs from the wife, and the like.
The goal of therapeutic Christianity is not spiritual striving or overcoming one's selfish, sinful desires in the ascent to God, as it had been at some point in western Christian history. In short, the goal of therapeutic Christianity is not God. Instead, the goal is happiness, including happy marriages. The Christian will have a happy marriage, or he is not living a godly, sanctified life.
In the Driscoll's therapeutic Christianity, the gospel serves us. God is a master psychologist and counselor who solves all our problems.
Real Marriage illustrates ego-centered Christianity. Its mediocrity is boring more than anything else. One hopes that Christianity offers more than guilt-free mutual masterbation.