And What Science Can Do About It







 “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it; Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next—Amen.”—The entire unedited Serenity Prayer as originally written by Reinhold Niebuhr

“Nobody wants to get sick; illness can be uncomfortable, sometimes excruciatingly so.  But if we wind up in bed with a bad cold or with something more serious, we nonetheless have choices about how we will view the experience.  We can once again perceive ourselves as victims, dwell on all of the things we are unable to do, and feel terribly sorry for ourselves—or we can treat the situation as a blessing in disguise.”—from Al-Anon’s handbook, How Al-Anon Works, for Families & Friends of Alcoholics, so this is a model for how one of the main role-models for modern self-help, says that alkies’ spouses should see some serious consequences of the alcoholism

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ere are some words and actions of Jesus:

From the book of Matthew:

5:21-22: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.”  (The Bible Handbook comments, “Carlyle, who described the population of England as ‘mostly fools,’ must be in considerable danger of hell-fire.”)

5:38-48: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil.   But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also;  and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well;

and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.   Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  (If the forgiven are evil, that’s just the way that life goes sometimes, but the forgivers must be perfect.  Cross Christian forgiveness with pragmatism, and you’d end up with the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression.  These would say that your reality is your reality whether good or evil, and we all must unconditionally accept all reality.  Also, you’d better surmount your bad realities with perfect success, or you’re going to accumulate a lot of almost-solved and partially-solved problems, and weaknesses.  In the real world, good and bad fortune could be visited on people randomly, so you must accept that that’s life.  Niebuhr’s The Nature and Destiny of Man includes, “The Biblical warning ‘if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye,’ is certainly relevant to historical realities; for the failure of pure love to calculate possible reciprocal responses to it is the force which makes new ventures in brotherhood possible,” without bothering to mention that this is a very codependent love, where no matter how much someone sins at your expense, you perfectly take as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as you’d have it.)

6:9-15: “Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

7:1-3: “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”  (Of course, “Judge not” means judge not, not that you may judge but only when their sins would constitute a “log.”  Then again, the cognitive distortions of modern of Western depression would see a log that is in your brother’s eye, as a speck, and a speck that’s in your own eye as a log.)

(All of the preceding are from the Sermon on the Mount, the “beatitudes” along with “Blessed are the meek,” etc.  The following is the specifics of another famous Bible verse, just as “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” are the specifics of “Grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”)

12:31-32: “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.  And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. ”  (So though mere mortals must be perfect in their forgiveness, the Holy Spirit refuses to forgive even insults.  Talk about resentment!!!  Then again, one could say that the Holy Spirit could afford to send those who insult Him to hell, but mere mortals in trouble couldn’t afford to feel resentment!  For example, Amber Frey originally thought that she’d become a self-help guru, and the book she ended up writing, Witness, For the Prosecution of Scott Peterson, quotes Matthew 5:38-45, as is quoted above, and a few paragraphs later, says that when she was asked whether she forgave Scott, she answered, “I forgave him a long time ago,” and, “I don’t think I had a choice.  Until I forgave Scott, I felt I couldn’t move forward.  I felt I wasn’t free to get on with my life.”  Sure, Robert Ingersoll wrote, “If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal.  If he would follow strictly the teachings of the New, he would be insane,” and that blanket forgiveness might sound insane, but if one strictly and unquestioningly expects himself to forgive ALL sinfulness that he’s powerless to change, that would be very pragmatic!)

18:21-35: “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’  Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.  When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.  So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, “Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.”  And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.  But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, “Pay what you owe.”  So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.”  He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt.  When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.  Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked servant!  I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”  And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.  So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.’”  (Once again, this is addressed to “every one of you,” not just those who are more guilty than those who they hold accountable.  The only thing that seems to matter, is that the amends that you’d owe a perfect God, necessarily outweigh the amends that anyone would owe to imperfect you.  Jason Berry’s Vows of Silence, about the pedo-priest scandal, says, “The concept of ‘fraternal correction’ was riddled with abuse, as it allowed a bishop to forgive a priest with scant concern for those sinned against, the violated children and families who would reel in the aftershocks for years to come.”  Yet such teachings as that found in Matthew 18:21-35, treat the victims as if they’re just objects that the sinners abuse when offending God, and the only accountability that’s to be shown is between the sinner and God.  If a victim objects to this, he’s the hellion.)


25:31-36: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.  Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’”

From the book of Mark:

2:15-16: “And as he sat at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him.  And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’”

11:25, 26: “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”  Verse 26 has been revised out of the Revised Standard Version, probably for the same reason that so much of the Serenity Prayer has been revised out, but in the King James Version verse 26 says, “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

From the book of Luke:

6:27-29: “But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.”

6:35-38: “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.  ‘Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’”

15:1-10: “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.  And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’  So he told them this parable: ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.”  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.  Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?  And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.”  Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’” (And, of course, if one says, “Excuse me, but that sure does sound like it could lead to a counterproductive giving of attention to people who’ve chosen not to deserve it, which may even encourage destructive behavior, instead of giving attention to where it could do the most good,” this could seem blasphemous.)

17:3-4: “Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”  (Excuse my blasphemy, but that guy who we all must forgive sounds to me like a real jailhouse-religion-type manipulator except that this was written before Christianity made such manipulators so prevalent, so this command was a self-fulfilling prophecy!  This basic idea might make some sense in the cases of those whose hearts are in the right place but they keep impulsively stumbling and falling, but this command isn’t contingent on anything whatsoever.  And to think that the victims of this are commanded to take heed to themselves!)

23:34: “And Jesus said [as his last words as they crucified him], ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’  And they cast lots to divide his garments.”

From the book of John:

20:21-23:  “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”


And then there are these by Paul:

Romans 4:5, 8: “And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.... blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not reckon his sin.”

Romans 7:15-23: “I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good.  So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.  So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.”  (Such is the mysterium iniquitatis, including when it means pedophilia.  While the Doctrine of Original Sin is usually associated with St. Augustine, Niebuhr, in The Nature and Destiny of Man, wrote of how these ideas were originally “Pauline.”  All of which makes one wonder how impulsive Paul was compared to the average man, how much behavioral addictions have in common with Paul’s impulsivity, etc.)

Romans 12:18-20: “If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’  No, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’”  (In other words, love your enemies; it will drive them crazy.  In some cases this would no doubt work, but in others the person will just take advantage.)

1 Corinthians 6:12: “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything.”  (The King James Versions translates this as, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any,” which should be the slogan of pragmatic self-help books.  Moral lawfulness is immaterial flexible knotty subjective self-denying judgmental abstract idealistic cloying and dispensable, but expediency is material intrinsic self-evident objective self-reliant uncritical concrete realistic self-motivated and indispensable, so as long as you have enough expediency and wiles, hopefully you won’t be brought under the power of any unlawful person or behavior, and all’s well that ends well.)

2 Corinthians 12:9: “but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”


~    ~

1 Corinthians 13:4-7, a much-beloved elucidation of what love is, gives the real reason why love means never having to say you’re sorry, not that love means doing your best not to do anything regrettable, but that the New Testament would condemn self-pity on the part of your lover, and if there’s no self-pity, there’s no need for an apology: “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  In the Douay-Rheims, i.e. Catholic, translation of this, “love” is translated as “charity,” so the original word must have been “agápè,” which my breezy Edwardian-era thesaurus calls “Agapemone,” good ol’ unconditional love.  You don’t have to rejoice at wrong, in order to acquiesce to a lot of it by not being irritable or resentful, and bearing believing hoping and enduring all things, while involved with another.

~    ~


Ephesians 4:26-32: “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.  Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need.  Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  (Would such Stoicism really give no opportunity to the devil?)

Phillipians 4:6: “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Colossians 3:12-13: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

Timothy II:1:7: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Hebrews 13:3: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body.”


and these by James:
James 1:1-4: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greeting.  Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

James 2:8-13: “If you really fulfill the royal law, according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well.  But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.  For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.  For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ said also, ‘Do not kill.’ If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become a transgressor of the law.  So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.  For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment.”  (The book of James was written in Greek, and the word he used for “love” was probably agápè.  The other two Greek words for love are philos, meaning brotherly love, and eros, meaning erotic love, both of which are expected to be reciprocated without these expectations seeming unmerciful.  This also may have been inspired by Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:21-22, equating the old rules’ prohibiting murder, with the new rules’ prohibiting bitterness.  Cross Christian forgiveness with pragmatism, and you’d end up with the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression, including the unconditional all-or-nothing thinking.)

James 3:6-10: “And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind, but no human being can tame the tongue — a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so.”  (But what if these men chose to act like buttheads?)

James 4:9-12: “Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection.  Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.  Do not speak evil against one another, brethren.  He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law.  But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.  There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy.  But who are you that you judge your neighbor?” (my emphasis)  (This is part of a list telling of how you could control your feelings before they control you.)

James 5:9-11: “Do not grumble, brethren, against one another, that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the doors.  As an example of suffering and patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Behold, we call those happy who were steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

(The book of James has only five chapters.)


and this from Peter:

I Peter 4:8: “Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.”  (How destructive do the sins have to be before they’re not covered by unconditional love?  This verse was quoted in “New Friends,” by Terri Leinbauer, from the Christian Reader, and included on the Fundament Christian book Stories for a Woman’s Heart.  The quote came with the comment that this was a good way to build community and, “Psychiatrists call that ‘enabling denial,’ but back when I delivered [news] papers, we called it ‘compassion.’”  The article tells of a newsboy understanding that a hospitable little old lady at first couldn’t accept that her husband died.  That’s what was supposed to be forgiven, and modern non-spiritual people are supposed to snub this as enabling denial.  But what the non-spiritual really need to know is, what would be enabled by any unfailing love that covers a multitude of sins, where this is above all?  The Fundaments wouldn’t want to admit that this is actually what the compassionate “woman’s heart” would end up with.  Another article in that book tells of a woman marrying a sober alcoholic biker who seemed to have gotten his act together.  Yet if it turns out that he hasn’t gotten his act together enough not to be dysfunctional while living a married life, or that he relapses in his alcoholism, we all know which spouse would get the most firm admonitions and accountability.)


and these from I John:

2:11: “But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

4:20-21: “If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.”


and these from Jude:

Jude 2 (no chapters in the book of Jude): “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”

4: “For admission has been secretly gained by some who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”  (This certainly condemns antinomianism, but doesn’t follow this condemnation with a realization of what effect such impunity, and the personal responsibility that therefore must go to the victims and potential victims, would have on people.  The BELIEVE Religious Information Source web page on Antinomianism says, “The belief was first attributed to St. Paul, who declared that his opponents ‘slanderously’ had charged him with saying, ‘And why not do evil that good may come?’ (Rom. 3:8).”  Jude 2 certainly doesn’t suggest that mercy peace and love be multiplied to you only if you deserve them.)

16: “These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own passions, loud-mouthed boasters, flattering people to gain advantage.”  (This is basically the idea of “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” that objectors are unforgivably self-serving.)


Also very relevant to this is exactly which Bible verse is known among many devout Christians as the “Bible in a nutshell,” John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  This certainly doesn’t say anything about obeying the rules, or even empathy for the victims of the sinners, only about empathy for the sinners.

And extremely relevant are all of those New Testament messages about a longsuffering Christian spirituality, such as Mark 8:34-37, “And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?  For what can a man give in return for his life?’.”  If it seems that not to deny oneself, has the iniquity of gaining the whole world but forfeiting his life, then it would naturally seem that not to deny one’s own objections to others’ sinfulness, has the iniquity of wanting the world to be as he’d have it.  Even those who’d never expect everyday people to have the patience of saints, could treat those who don’t face sinfulness with this longsuffering spirituality, as if they must enjoy self-pity, etc.


And here are the verses that The Bible Handbook gives for what was used to support Antinomianism, in King James English, from The Bible Handbook and elsewhere.  These include both the above Romans 4:5, 8 and 1 Corinthians 6:12, and:


Acts 13:39: “By him all that believe are justified from all things.”

Romans 5:1: “Justified by faith.”

Romans 6:14: “Ye are not under the Law, but under Grace”

Romans 6:18, 22: “Being then made free from sin.”

Romans 8:33: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?  It is God that justifieth.”

1 John 3:9: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

1 John 5:1: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”


And here’s one given by Niebuhr in his Nature and Destiny of Man, “In that sense the profoundest expression of Christian individuality is itself partially responsible for the anarchy of modern life.  The individual who is admonished, ‘All things are yours but ye are Christ’s,’ may, in a period of religious decay, easily lose the sense of ultimate religious responsibility expressed in the words, ‘But ye are Christ’s,’ and remember only the law-defying part of the dictum, ‘All things are yours.’,” which sounds to me like antinomianism.  If a holy book told me, “All things are yours,” I certainly wouldn’t interpret this as law-defying, unless it was in the context of other teachings that were.  Also, what makes for the permissiveness of “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” is that when one is faced with anything he can’t change, including evil, any moral responsibility, even the heretical Situation Ethics, would seem to be just an abstract nicety.

1 Corinthians 3:21: “Therefore let no man glory in men.  For all things are your's;  Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your's; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”




Mark Chopko, general counsel to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that secular judges shouldn’t allow any suits against bishops for allowing pedophiles to abuse children, since, “How do you measure the reasonableness of a policy set in religious doctrines of forgiveness, of redemption, and so forth?”  Yet considering how ad infinitum is the forgiveness commanded by the New Testament, one must keep in mind the main theme of Alan Dershowitz’s The Abuse Excuse.  Guilty defendants who try to evade responsibility for their crimes by claiming that some inherent feature of theirs makes them inherently not responsible, don’t realize that this would also make them inherently irresponsible, and therefore not trustworthy.  Likewise, if the law figured that any bishop could forgive rapists and put them back to work, then Catholic parishioners would have to figure that their own bishop could have forgiven rapists and put them back to work; parishioners couldn’t trust that the hierarchy had higher standards than that.

One could say that similar to the differences between all the forgiveness around the beginning of the New Testament and the realization in Jude 4 that people could use it as a license for liberties which weren’t taken as a good-faith attempt to work realistically with the pains of human nature, are the Old Testament’s allowance of divorce without requirements such as that both spouses agree or that there’s a pressing reason for the divorce, near the beginning, while the last book of the Old Testament, in Malachi 2:13-16, says, “And this again you do.  You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor at your hand.  You ask, ‘Why does he not?’  Because the LORD was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.  Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life?  And what does he desire?  Godly offspring.  So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth.  ‘For I hate divorce, says the LORD the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts.  So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.’”  While this doesn’t say so explicitly, it does suggest that, unless God simply changed his mind about the acceptability of divorce (in which case I wouldn’t have enough faith in his consistency to pray, “Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next”), if you’re a man and you divorce your wife simply because you’re fickle and she’s the “wife of your youth,” though she was “your companion” in a relationship where she wasn’t just a buddy but instead may have shown a great deal of devotion such as by taking care of the “Godly offspring,” that’s the sort of divorce which could be called “licentiousness.”  As the old country music song says, “To waste our lives would be a sin, so release me and let me love again,” but does or doesn’t that apply if one spouse gets fickle and the other doesn’t?  That’s something like the statement in Chapter 5 of AA’s Big Book, just after the model “searching and fearless moral inventory” in which what’s confessed is feelings of resentment while genuine destructive alcoholic behavior is ignored, “Now about sex....  Here we find human opinions running to extremes — absurd extremes, perhaps.  One set of voices cry that sex is a lust of our lower nature, a base necessity of procreation.  Then we have the voices who cry for sex and more sex; who bewail the institution of marriage; who think that most of the troubles of the race are traceable to sex causes....  We want to stay out of this controversy.  We do not want to be the arbiter of anyone’s sex conduct,” which might sound good, except that what this is in reference to is that confessor having an affair during active alcoholism, which he likely wouldn’t have had sober, though one of his confessed resentments was that he was resentful that his wife might live by the same standards by having her own affair.

Of course, one could also define “taking as Jesus did this sinful world,” in two ways that are different from the pragmatic stolid Stoicism that Niebuhr had in mind.  The first, very much connected with the longsuffering cross-bearing nature of Christian spirituality, is that Jesus died on the cross for this sinful world, so we should be equally receptive to suffering for sinners even when that wouldn’t constitute pragmatic adjustment to an overwhelming reality.  The second, which would be very healthy for one’s society but very unhealthy for the individual in an overwhelming situation, would be to say that though Jesus commanded mere mortals to forgive unconditionally, he himself forgave only when the person repents sincerely.  Therefore, to take as Jesus did this sinful world, would mean forgiveness as a step toward reform of the forgiven.  Refusing to do this certainly would constitute carrying a grudge, etc., but the forgiveness that Christianity expects of mere mortals, doesn’t allow us to make this distinction.  If the individual in an overwhelming situation made this distinction, then the person who caused the problem, who’s likely unrepentant, likely wouldn’t get forgiven.  The victim wouldn’t get the serenity of forgiving, which he needs to an overwhelming degree, both to feel well-adjusted despite that overwhelming problem, and to think clearly enough to solve it.

The modern forgiveness-based psychology would say that, what with the Doctrine of Original Sin, licentious and remedial divorce are the same, since human nature would make the man who can’t divorce the has-been wife of his youth, feel a lot of pain in being trapped in a marriage which is no longer right for him.  Fickleness concerning important parts of our lives, and remedying such feelings, isn’t cheap thrills.  If she showed a lot of devotion toward him, then not only would this seem not to matter since expectations of reciprocation would seem immaterial to the pain he’d feel in being trapped, but the more that she gave, the more that it would seem that she’s the giver and he’s the taker, so she “asked for it.”  The only hope that a woman would have would be either to try not to marry someone like that, or to handle self-reliantly any problems that he may cause her.

We’re allowed to ignore certain Bible verses, such as Matthew 18:8,9, “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.  And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire,” (Is such self-dismemberment supposed to constitute improving one’s own character, or is such extrication supposed to be the best that we could do considering the inexorability of Original Sin?) and Matthew 19:12, “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.” (I strongly suspect that if this verse was in the Koran instead, a lot of those Muslim fanatics out there would be euniching themselves.)  Yet if we even try to moderate these Bible verses commanding forgiveness, unless it’s by saying, “I’ll do my best to avoid you exactly as I’d avoid someone with whom I’m innocently incompatible, but I won’t feel bitter toward you,” we’d seem not to be living up to vital expectations that would naturally be made of us.


So the psychology of the New Testament is that regarding how we react to being hurt our minds are blank slates. It seems that if authority tells us that being forgiving is compassionate, and being unforgiving is uncompassionate, then this should make our hearts unconditionally forgiving.  This is explicitly ad infinitum.  Regarding our actions that would hurt others, however, it seems that our minds are far from blank slates.  This is the just sort of religious tenet that a rich dilettante arrested for driving while intoxicated at age 30 would believe in and find profound.  The Christian double standard says that if you’re hellacious that’s forgivable, but if you’re unforgiving that’s unforgivably hellacious.  Not only does evil seem forgivable, which would mean anomie, but evil seems as if it must be forgiven, which means that, unless “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it” is balanced with “Behaving ourselves as Jesus did” or even a secular statement on the necessity of moral responsibility, we’ll have antinomie.  The strength of our spirituality would be evaluated according to how well we serenely accept what we can’t change, courageously change what we can, tactically gauge whether or not we can change something, live one day at a time, accept hardship as a pathway to peace, take as Jesus did this sinful world, and surrender to whatever happens as God’s will.  We condemn some behavior as sinful but then say that all who aren’t pettily arrogant would accept it as Jesus did, or condemn some behavior as evil but then say that evil is so wrapped up in the mysterium iniquitatis that of course only a pettily arrogant person would act as if he has enough of an understanding of evil to deal with it firmly.

This is the spirituality of the victim, of the strong resilient victim.  The person who’d seem to be the ideal is a graduate of a Hitler Youth camp, the slogan of which was, “Praise be to what makes us hard,” who was just inflicted by a good deal of hardship and/or sinfulness, and who certainly wouldn’t have to be told, “Things happen.  It’s what we do when they happen that’s key,” “We are all victims of victims,” “To be wronged is nothing, unless you insist on remembering it,”  “When one finger is pointed at someone else, there are three pointing back at me,” etc.  Asking that victims’ response-ability be relative rather than absolute would seem pernicious because this would seem to be an offense against God and his moral order as to who has a right to expect perfection from whom.  According to this moral order God has the right to expect better than sin or evil from us, but as the ancient Roman saying said, “What applies to Jovi [Jupiter] doesn’t apply to bovi [the ox],” so you don’t have a right to expect better than sin or evil from others.  Others do have the right to expect forgiveness, and steadfastness in the face of trials, from you.  This would mean a paradise for sociopaths in the temporal realm.  What Niebuhr’s followers don’t bother to mention is that if the only discretion we’re allowed in our forgiveness and steadfastness is, “Am I or am I not helpless to change this, and what can I courageously change to accommodate to this?” we’d end up with carte blanche for sociopaths.  Some who’ve spoken with a lot of addicts’ wives who’d formerly been labeled “enablers,” now call them “accommodators” if they don’t perversely intend to enable the addicts, since all that the wives are trying to do is to accommodate to the addicts by cleaning up or preventing the messes that they made or could have made for their families.  (An Al-Anon joke says, Q: How many Al-Anons does it take to screw in a light bulb?  A: None.  They detach and let it screw itself.”  If those who would have coddled the Boston Archdiocese, did this instead, it wouldn’t cost themselves anything, but if family members of an addict did this, it may end up hurting themselves.  When the addict loses his job, the family would probably go into the same poverty and have the same bad credit rating as he does.)  Such accommodations simply end up enabling those who’d approach the world as someone with an addictive personality would, giving them carte blanche.  The entry on Niebuhr in The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001, says that he called his own philosophy “conservative realism,” and that he “defended Christianity as the world view that best explains the heights and barbarisms of human behavior,” (Or do the material effects of barbarism matter at all?) if you can call commands to forgive, and statements that sins are normal human imperfection and evil is slightly excessively normal, explanations.

In other words, Niebuhr would have found it a more biting insult to call the psycho terrorists cowardly, lacking in courage, as Americans tended to, than to call the terrorists barbaric, as some modern Germans did.  In his two-book set The Nature and Destiny of Man, he wrote that one of his favorite spiritual pursuits is “transcendence” that is individualistic.  The individual mentally transcends the barbarism that’s happening to him in order to serve his own self-protective emotional needs, as versus mystical transcendence, where one feels unified with the world.  (A web page on Niebuhr by a law professor says, “In one of his best-known works, The Nature and Destiny of Man, he discusses, among many other things, the self’s transcendence of its rational capacity for conceptual and analytic procedure; the two aspects of human nature and their corresponding sins of excess: pride and sensuality; the human limitations and weaknesses of the Christian Church (or any other group); and the fact, as he sees it, that the enigma of human existence has no answer except through faith and hope.”)  What you end up with is spirituality that doesn’t have a soul, the sort that would find the Archdiocese’s behavior spiritual enough.  If it’s assumed that when people act barbaric then that’s just the way that life goes sometimes, then our only hope for a livable life is for the victims to prevent stop fix or transcend their problems.  Niebuhr wrote that he didn’t like mysticism because its fusion with the rest of the world is anti-individualistic, but it would have done his wisdom a lot of good to consider what Hassidic writer Martin Buber called a person’s “I-thou” (or possibly “I-it,” if the other person is treated tactically as if just an object to be dealt with), which means something very physical and undeniable.  If what someone has to serenely accept or courageously change is an innocent dispute or disappointment, then his I-thou is very different than if what he had to serenely accept or courageously change is barbarism, and this really does make a big difference to the individual.

To paraphrase Sojourner Truth, the plaintiffs who made the settlement with the Boston Archdiocese, which they then welched on, could each say, “I’m supposed to simply accept that we can’t base the vast extent of your current responsibility, on your extremely unreasonable decisions to keep that pervert as a priest, since these decisions happened in the past so now you have no control over them, and ain’t I an individual?  I’m also supposed to accept that you aren’t motivated to endure anything unreasonable to come to the best resolution possible, whereas my family and I are motivated to do anything and everything unreasonable that would help me become as restored as possible, so we’re just going to have to depend on ourselves more than you despite the fact that you caused the problem by doing something unreasonable and we didn’t, and ain’t I an individual?  If you don’t adequately take responsibility I’ve got to understand that you’re allowed all sorts of mitigations, but if I don’t adequately take response-ability I’d seem to be a whiny little loser, and ain’t I an individual?  If I don’t forgive that pervert I’d seem to be falling short of Biblical commands, and of expectations based on these such as expectations that I practice self-control in achieving closure inside of myself rather than needing anything outside of myself, and ain’t I an individual?  If I should be able to trust anyone, it should be a Church, but even they could come up with plenty of excuses to minimize what can be expected of them and maximize what must be expected of me and my family, and I will have to go through life having to feel safe among those who aren’t supposed to live under as high a standard, and ain’t I an individual?  So far, I’ve been told that since you heedlessly created such a huge problem I’m just going to have to understand that you can’t reasonably keep your commitment with us victims, that the one who’s helpless is you not us, that though you’re the one who caused this you have to have an easy answer and we don’t, that the pervasive power of evil and the mystery of evil had left you foundered though you knew full well about his perversity, that keeping this commitment with us would be like charitable contributions to earthquake victims, that you say publicly and reverently that you hope that people can understand ‘even the sense of fresh betrayal’ of ours which is far more than a sense and that you pray that we’d submit to our betrayers and make a new settlement which suits you, AND AIN’T I AN INDIVIDUAL?”.

What next, that we pray to accept unconditionally, hardship sinfulness and surrender?







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Cancer Victims Corrected Too

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Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Sales Tips

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Out of the Same Mold as the Great Crash of 2008

Message for Intellectuals in the Islamic World

Candace Newmaker’s Experience

Breaking Important Confidences for Your Own Good

A Glimpse Into the Soul of Victim Correction

Cigarette Industry and Victim Correction

Niebuhr’s Ideas on Our Nature and Destiny

Herbal Experiences for Women

Some Ideas for Rapport