Friday, June 24, 2022

Quotes from Mother Teresa on Abortion



"Please don't kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to

accept any child who would be aborted, and to give that child to a married couple

who will love the child, and be loved by the child. From our children's home in

Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3,000 children from abortions. These children

have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents, and have grown up so full

of love and joy!"


"Any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any

violence to get what it wants."


"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."


"America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has

deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against

their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the

heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of

the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest

of gifts -- a child -- as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has

nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of

their physically dependent sons and daughters" And, in granting this

unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands

from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege

conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of

his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be

contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign." (Mother

Teresa -- "Notable and Quotable," Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14)


"But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child - a direct killing of the innocent child - murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even his life to love us. So the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love - that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts. By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion. " 


"What is taking place in America," she said, "is a war against the child. And if we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another." February 1997 - National Prayer Breakfast in Washington attended by the President and the First Lady.

Roe v. Wade - Overturned

 





Today the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. That is good, to all of us who think it is wrong to kill innocent, defenseless humans. It is not, however, good to those who think there are reasons to kill innocent, defenseless humans.

I am not being overly dramatic, or rhetorical. That is, precisely, the issue. For if the conceptus/embryo/fetus is not a human life, then who cares what we do to it?

My pro-life reasoning goes like this.

1. It is morally wrong to kill an innocent, defenseless human being to solve another problem.

2. The conceptus/embryo/fetus is an innocent, defenseless human being.

3. Therefore, it is morally wrong to kill a conceptus/embryo/fetus.

What about premise1? I allow for one exception; viz., if killing the inborn child is required to save the life of the mother. Other than that, I find arguments against premise 1 unconvincing. (On abortion "to solve another problem, see my synopsis of Francis Beckwith here, and here.)

Premise 2 - I have found no good reason to doubt this.

Therefore, the conclusion stands, and the pro-life belief is logically sound and valid. It also fits with my Christian worldview, which tells me that I was knitted and formed in my mother's womb (Psalm 139:13; that "knitting" did not begin when I was "viable" - how absurd and arbitrary), and that before God formed me in the womb, he knew me. (Greg Boyd, when asked his stance on abortion, said "I am pro-life to the core of my being.")

If you don't like what I am saying, at least understand me. When Roe v. Wade was passed, many of us were scandalized, and have had to live with it for decades. Are you willing to understand why? Here are some of my posts, if you are interested. (And note - we have always supported and continue to support ministries like this one.)

Getting Into a Relationship Won't Heal the Wounded Heart

 


(Linda and I, in Cancun (the sun was bright!))

Every heart has its wound. 

Some have multiple wounds. What can mend a broken heart? Not: getting into a relationship. Not: getting married. And not committing emotional adultery. (See here, and here, and here, and here.)

The person with an unhealed, bleeding heart brings their bloody mess into every relationship and, if the other gets close enough, they get bled on. Probably they are wounded too, and that's why, unknowingly, they are attracted to another hurting person. Misery loves company. People that bond in their misery form dysfunctional relationships.

Who a person is pre-maritally is who they are maritally. Unless, of course, they change. But just being in a relationship doesn't bring healing. Often the opposite happens. Old, oozing scars get re-opened. We cannot restore the souls of others.

God, on the other hand, is the Soul-Restorer (Psalm 23:3). Therefore, know and be known by him. I've seen this work, in my own life and others. In relationship counseling Linda and I attempt to bring people back to this.

After countless hours of counseling couples, pre-counseling them, post-marital counseling, and wedding-doing over the past forty-five years, we have seen marriages get restored. This happens when husband and wife stop viewing each other as either "savior" or "destroyer," individually look to God, cry out "Change me, God!", and respond to God's counsel.

Can God use a partner to mediate healing? Of course. But that's God, not the partner (who gets some credit for being a vessel of God, like a mug is to be affirmed for containing a great blend of coffee). God has mediated much healing to me through Linda, and she would say the same about me. But neither of us is The Great Healer. It is bad news relationship-wise if one is viewed that way, or views the other that way. What happens is big-time disappointment.

If you are hurting and lonely, even while married, the answer to your personal hell is not "I need to find someone!" Way too many mistakes are made at this point. Someone dates as a cure for their inner tragedy. Two unhealed people "fall in love." Never date or marry as relief for tragedy. Unless you want to experience hell on earth in a failing marriage, with children.

Every person's story is different, especially in the details. Here's part of mine. I was twenty-one years old. I had just become a Jesus-follower. I tried to get back into a previously failed dating relationship with a girl who was not a Jesus-follower. Eventually, she broke up with me. I thought, "I am messed up." God told me to take a year off from opposite-sex relationships and work on my own self. I did. It was a wonderful year! I thought, should God ever bring someone into my life, and should we get married, and should we have children, I want to be healed of a lot of stuff inside me.

Every person is healable. None of us have it all together, inwardly. Getting in a relationship is not the cure. Success in acquiring a life-partner does not equal a life of emotional flourishing.

In this regard Miroslav Volf, in Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good, writes about how "success" fails to bring lasting satisfaction. 

"God delivers us from the melancholy emptiness that sometimes accompanies our very success. We’ve achieved what we wanted—we have gotten the corner office—and we still feel empty. We are like a child who wants a toy and, when she gets it, plays with it for a day or two and then craves another. Melancholy inevitably sets in when we forget that we are made to find satisfaction in the infinite God and not in any finite object." (Kindle Locations 574-578)

We achieved what we wanted. The thrill dissipates. We still feel empty. Bill and Lynn Hybels wrote about this pattern in their still-excellent book on marriage, Fit To Be Tied.

The answer that heals was never meant to be found in another person.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Every Community Excludes

 

                         (We were in NYC a few weeks ago.)

I'm ready to preach on "The Power of Spirit-Led Community" at our annual Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries conference. 

I'll look closely at the nature of communities, how identity is about location in a community, and how all communities both embrace (if you buy into the narrative) and exclude (if you don't).

All communities exclude.

Amy Chua (Yale) presents this in her book Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations

Chua writes:

"Humans are tribal. We need to belong to groups. We crave bonds and attachments, which is why we love clubs, teams, fraternities, family. Almost no one is a hermit. Even monks and friars belong to orders. But the tribal instinct is not just an instinct to belong. It is also an instinct to exclude.

Some groups are voluntary; some are not. Some tribes are sources of joy and salvation; some are the hideous product of hate mongering by opportunistic power seekers. But once people belong to a group, their identities can become oddly bound with it. They will seek to benefit their group mates even when they personally gain nothing. They will penalize outsiders, seemingly gratuitously. They will sacrifice, and even kill and die, for their groups."

The Cure for the Entitlement Disease: The Hard Way Principles


(Bald eagle in a tree near our house)

Psychologist John Townsend's The Entitlement Cure is a helpful read. It's guiding me to look closely at areas of "pocket entitlement" that I have. It's giving insights to help others who have pocket entitlement, and even global entitlement.

Here are some things about the entitlement disease.

"Entitlement directs us to judge God for how the world works, for the bad things that happen to us that we don’t understand, and for things that didn’t happen that we desired. Entitlement says, “My way of looking at life is beyond his,” because entitlement creates a deep sense of being special and above it all." (50)

"Entitlement goes deeper than a person thinking, It’s okay if I want to be lazy because someone else will bear my burdens, or I’m so special that the rules don’t apply to me. In fact, entitlement goes so deep that it rejects the very foundations on which God constructed the universe. At its heart, entitlement is a rejection of reality itself." (51)

"Ever since Eden, we humans want to be like God, with all his privileges and power, and — the very definition of entitlement — we feel it is our right. Entitlement infects our brains with the notion, I have a right to more and better; in fact, I am owed that." (52)

All this is unreality. Townsend says that God's principles lie at the core of reality. The more you experience and follow them, the better life becomes for you and those in your life. Townsend calls this "the hard way."

The "Hard Way" Principles are:

1. Humility and Dependence - We Are Completely Dependent on God.

"Humility is simply accepting the reality of who God is and who you are. When you see the reality of his power, his love, and his care, you more easily see yourself as who you are: a loved creature, a special creature, an important creature, but a creature nonetheless. 

Dependence means you look to him for your sustenance, for every breath you take." (54)

Entitlement, however "tells you to be your own boss and determine your own destiny. Entitlement teaches you to say, "You're not the boss of me!" It implies that you can be and do anything you want, demand of the others around you anything you want, and that it’s lame to depend on anyone." (55) 

2. Connectedness - We Are Designed to Live in Connectedness with Each Other.

"We live in a relational world and a relational culture, summarized by Jesus’ teaching: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15: 12). Love comes from him, and we are to love not only him but each other." (56)

The entitlement mentality subverts healthy relationships and community in two ways. 

First, entitlement objectifies. "When one person treats another as a need-meeting object or as a dispenser of some desired commodity, that is objectification. People objectify each other sexually. A good listener may be sought out for her ability, but who remembers to ask how she’s doing?" (56)

"The self-absorbed attitude of entitlement makes it difficult to see people as having needs, feelings, and lives of their own. Forget “walk a mile in my shoes” — entitled individuals can only envision the lives of others as an extension of their own. They can’t enter fully into the experience of the other individual." (58) 

Second, entitlement creates unhealthy self-sufficiency. This is the idea that I don't need others to sustain and support me. "Entitlement is anti-need; it will cut you off from the supplies that your life requires to carry on." (59)

"If connectedness is the fuel of life, then entitlement results in an empty tank for the entitled person. And that causes breakdowns in relationships, love, career, self-care, and spirituality." (59)

3. Ownership - We Have to Take Responsibility for Our Own Choices.

Entitlement builds a huge obstacle to healthy ownership, in two ways: low ownership and externalization.

"Low ownership: Individuals who don’t take ownership of their lives sometimes live as if their actions have no consequences. They tend not to see beyond the present; their concern is for what they need and desire right now. They’re surprised when they lose jobs or relationships. Most of us are aware of the basic principle that “If you sow X, then X is what you will reap,” but not the entitled person." (60)

"Externalization: People with an attitude of entitlement often project the responsibility of their choices on the outside, not the inside. The fault lies with other people, circumstances, or events. They blame others for every problem. Their entitlement prohibits them from taking the beam out of their eye and asking the all-important question: How did I contribute to this latest problem? Instead, they default to answers outside their skin. The result? They tend to be powerless and unhappy. They tend to see life through the eyes of a victim. And their suffering is unproductive — it doesn’t get them anywhere." (61) 

"Blame," writes Townsend, "is a first cousin to entitlement." Blame is a life-killer.

4. Accepting the Negative - Your Flaws Can't Be Forgiven and Healed Until You Admit Them.

"God made a way through Christ so that we could live with the negative as it truly is, without denying it or minimizing it. In a relationship with Christ, we feel permission to be who we truly are, warts and all. We don’t have to hide, pretend, or put our best face forward. We are known and loved just as we are by the one who matters most. This enables us to love others the same way. 

The result of acknowledging and accepting the negative is that the negative then can be transformed. When you are okay knowing your failings, you can face them, bring them to God and to the people with whom you feel safe being vulnerable, and heal whatever is driving those feelings. This is the key to great growth. It’s a paradox, but the ones who run from the negative will suffer from it, while the ones who accept the negative will find the power to change it." (63)

Entitlement drives you away from admitting your flaws. The entitled attitude has three directions that destroy the "It Is Well With My Soul" life. They are:


  • Denial. "The person in denial simply turns her back on reality. She refuses to admit her flaws to herself or anyone else, which eliminates any possibility of deep and satisfying relationships."
  • Perfectionism. "The person caught in perfectionism beats himself up for failures, minor or major. His standard for performance is perfection, and he offers himself little grace when he stumbles. He constantly scrutinizes and condemns himself, and never makes it to a point of self-acceptance."
  • Narcissism. "The narcissistic person adopts a grandiose view of himself that hides his flaws, which usually lie buried under deep shame and envy. He is so afraid to see himself as he really is that he reacts in the opposite direction, toward the “I’m special” stance, in which he becomes arrogant and selfish and has difficulty feeling empathy for others."
5. Finding Our Role - To Live Long and Contentedly Find Your Purpose in Life and Fulfill It. 



"Finding your role means that you are giving back to the world over time in a sustained and steady way, and this attitude actually contributes to your living longer. Research indicates that the number one factor in longevity is not social relationships or happiness, but conscientiousness, described as persistence, dependability, and organization." (66)

Entitlement block this in two ways.

  • Entitlement limits the person's goals. "One of the most limiting ideas of entitlement thinking is that the end goal of life is happiness: “I just want to be happy, that’s all.” Entitlement says that the highest good is to be a happy person — but in fact, that is one of the worst endgame goals we can have. People who have happiness as their goal get locked into the pain/ pleasure motivation cycle. They never do what causes them pain, but always do what brings them pleasure. This puts us on the same thinking level as a child..." (66)
  • Entitlement limits the individual's growth. Entitlement freezes development. "It keeps us from growing, learning, challenging ourselves, or trying new things. It whispers to us, “That sounds really hard and it doesn’t look like it’s worth it.” When we listen to this voice, something inside us goes to sleep. We might become couch potatoes, video addicts, chronic partiers, or simply get in a rut and routine that becomes boring and deadening." 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

 

The Pauline Thinking Cure and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy



Harrison, Michigan (Photo by Josh Piippo)


I am interested in connections between Pauline thinking and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. 

Paul writes:

"Finally, brothers and sisters, 

whatever is true, 

whatever is noble, 

whatever is right, 

whatever is pure, 

whatever is lovely, 

whatever is admirable 

-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy 

-- think about such things 

and the God of peace will be with you."

Philippians 4:8

 

Examples of Pauline thinking include the "declarations" given by Steve Backlund of Bethel Redding Church, and the identity statements of Neil Anderson. Both are about thinking on identity truths, using verbal repetition. 

 For example, I am God's child and deeply loved by him. As followers of Jesus, that's true, right? So, why not meditate on that truth so that, as Henri Nouwen says, it might descend from our mind into our heart.

 See The Coddling of the American Mind, by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt. They advocate Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as a cure for maladies such as anxiety disorder, depression, OCD, anger, marital conflict, and stress-related disorders. CBT is uncannily similar to Paul's instructions in Philippians 4:8.

 CBT treats cognitive distortions, such as "I'm no good," "My world is bleak," and "My future is hopeless." (Lukianoff and Haidt, 36) CBT breaks disempowering feedback cycles between negative beliefs and negative emotions.

 They write:

 "With repetition, over a period of weeks or months, people can change their schemas and create different, more helpful habitual beliefs (such as "I can handle most challenges" or "I have friends I can trust.")" (Ib., 37) This is remarkably like Backlund's identity declarations. (See also James K. A. Smith's excellent You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit.)

 Cognitive distortions empower negative emotions. Put in a Pauline way, repetitive thinking on "whatever is false" distorts our emotions. Lukionoff and Haidt are concerned over our universities and the cognitive distortions they produce in our students. While to my knowledge neither Lukionoff nor Haidt are Christians, they refer to CBT as the "thinking cure." (See here.) I see the Pauline "thinking cure" of Philippians 4:8 as combating these distortions in ways that are similar to CBT. 

 They list nine such distortions. Here they are, direct from the book, with my comments on logical fallacies added. (38). 

 NINE COMMON COGNITIVE DISORDERS PEOPLE LEARN TO RECOGNIZE IN CBT

 

EMOTIONAL REASONING 

Letting your feelings guide your interpretation of reality. 

"I feel depressed; therefore, my marriage is not working out."

(In logic this is an example of the fallacy of false cause.)

 

CATASTROPHIZING

Focusing on the worst possible outcome 

and seeing it as most likely. 

"It would be terrible if I failed."

(This is similar to the slippery slope fallacy in logic.)

OVERGENERALIZING

Perceiving a global pattern of negatives 

on the basis of a single incident. 

"This generally happens to me. 

I seem to fail at a lot of things." 

(In logic this is called the fallacy of hasty generalization.)

 

DICHOTOMOUS THINKING

Also known as "black and white thinking," 

"all or nothing thinking," and "binary thinking."

Viewing events or people in all-or-nothing terms.

"I get rejected by everyone," or

"It was a complete waste of time."

(In logic this is called the fallacy of false dichotomy.)

 

MIND READING

Assuming that you know what people think without having sufficient evidence of their thoughts.

"He thinks I'm a loser."

 

LABELING

Assigning global negative traits to yourself or others (often in the service of dichotomous thinking).

"I'm undesirable."

"he's a rotten person."

 

NEGATIVE FILTERING

You focus almost exclusively on the negatives and seldom notice the positives.

"Look at all of the people who don't like me."

 

DISCOUNTING POSITIVES

Claiming that the positive things you or others do are trivial, so that you can maintain a negative judgment.

"That's what wives are supposed to do - so it doesn't count when she's nice to me."

"Those successes were easy, so they don't matter."

 

BLAMING

Focusing on the other person as the source 

of your negative feelings; 

you refuse to take responsibility 

for changing yourself.

"She's to blame for the way I feel now."

"My parents caused all my problems."

 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Philosophical Naturalism: Some Posts

 



Once, in my MCCC Philosophy of Religion class, a student asked me, "Dr. Piippo, do you believe in Satan and demons?"

I answered, "Yes."

And, BTW, so did the apostles Peter and Paul. So did Jesus.

Demons and angels are persons, without physical bodies. Do I believe this? Yes.

Why? Part of my answer is: I have never been a philosophical naturalist or physicalist. That is, I have never believed all reality is reducible, without remainder, to physical particles.  (On particle physics, check this helpful book out.) 

Here are some of the posts I have written relating to the incoherence of physicalism, and the reality of non-physical objects (such as, e.g., moral facts, or free will.) 

Demons in America









Naturalism









The Churchlands - famous philosophical eliminative materialists







A dinosaur chooses to question the reality of free will









The Gospel of Scientific Materialism