Lesson 62- Review following Summer Break
This is my first program since the summer break and I would like to pick up where I left off. If my calculations were correct then last weeks repeat should have been the last program before the break. However, for your sake and also for my own, I need to recap some of the major concepts that I have been developing so that everyone is reminded of the foundation upon which I am building these talks.
First, these talks are based on material from my Logic/Psychology course that attempted to integrate religion, philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, and my own personal insights into a comprehensive whole. Like Mr. Rogers, I believe that everything goes together because they are one thing because the Truth, like God, is One.
Second. Prior to modern psychology, philosophers throughout the ages have struggled with the question of what makes us unique among all other creatures. It was obvious that we shared much in common, such as organs, hormones, enzymes, passions, and drives, with the rest of living things, but it was also obvious that there was something that set us apart. We were part of the natural world and yet we sensed that we had the potential to rise above it. It was the Greek philosopher Aristotle who, 400 years before the birth of Christ, decided that this essential difference was our logical, intelligent mind and thus he defined us as the rational animal.
Third. It was also obvious that although we had the potential for rational, logical thought, we often chose to act impulsively and irrationally. There seemed to be a war going on inside our head between what we knew and what we felt; between objective facts and subjective feelings. Thus, human history is the story of the growth of technological wonders emanating from our ability to logically decipher the laws and principles of the universe and their misuse in the service of war, greed, and corruption. This war has been described in religious terms as the struggle between good and evil; between light and darkness; between God, the source of life, and the devil, the source of death.
Fourth. Philosophers, prior to modern psychology, intuited that this struggle in our minds was the result of the struggle between our Wills and our Intellects. The Will, the source of our wanting, was sometimes described as a powerful blind giant who, although he had the power to act, lacked the vision to properly direct his energies. The Intellect, on the other hand, was a small cripple man with sight, who sat upon the shoulders of the Will. Although he could clearly see the goals that the Will should pursue, he had no power to act himself. In this way, these philosophers recognized that there was a division between the wanting and the knowing dimensions of our minds. Sometimes this division was addressed as the heart, the source of our wanting, and the mind, the source of our knowing.
Fifth. These philosophers said that the Will was created to seek the Good, or in religious terms God, while the Intellect was created to seek True. Thus, together they were created to seek the Truly Good, or True God. However, if the Will pursued a good without the direction of the Intellect it ran the risk of pursuing a false good, or false god.
Sixth. Thus all living things were programmed to seek their own good and since it was obvious that in the natural world those that had power were often the possessor and dispenser of goods, it became obvious that the best way to get what you wanted was to appease, either through homage or gifts, those that had the power to either deny or grant your wishes. Thus, according to Eusebius, a historian of the early Christian church, the ancients worship emperors and leaders. And, since the natural world contained powers, such as storms, and gifts, such as food, far beyond the ability of any human, the ancient people concluded that there were super beings, called gods, who controlled various areas of reality. Thus, religion developed as a social institution who primary purposes was to offer homage and sacrifices to these powers so that they would either help, or at least not harm, human beings and their endeavors. Consequently, according to Eusebius, the ancient people made Pleasure a god and paid homage or tribute to anyone who added to the total pleasure of life. As a result, pain, suffering, and struggle were to be avoided and the pleasurable stimulation of our senses was to be pursued. This led to the philosophy of hedonism that said, anything that gave pleasure was good and anything that resulted in pain was bad. This, says Eusebius, was the source of evil and debauchery among the Greeks and Romans and eventually became the reason why many pagans converted to Christianity that was based on the insights of Jewish thinkers.
Sixth. The ancient Jews, through the use of their intellects began to realize that the universe that we lived in contained evidence of rational design and thus had to be created by a God who was a Super-Rational Being. At first, like other ancient people, they concluded that this God, like all the ancient gods, desired to receive homage and sacrifices. But they eventually came to understand that this God, who was the only God, was a moral being who, unlike the ancient pagan gods who were immoral themselves, was concerned with right behavior. Through His prophets he informed them that He wasnt interested in the animal sacrifices that they offered. Rather, He was interested in things such as mercy and justice and the accomplishment of His Will for the creation. Thus rational pursuit rather than pleasure became the goal of His followers. This being the case, they sought to understand the reason or purpose behind everything that was made and, since this God was wiser than any of them, it seemed reasonable that, in the long term, things ran better when they cooperated with His design and ran worse when they didnt. They concluded that His Wisdom, which He used to create the universe, was a food that fed the inner person or soul and that a wise man was a person who sought to understand the mind of God so that he might pattern his life according to His Will. When humans didnt they missed the mark or target and sinned and eventually reap the chaos that they had sown. Thus, virtue was defined as right use and vice was defined as wrong use.
Seventh. Whereas most of the ancient people had a circular view of reality through which each generation repeated the cultural patterns of previous generations, the Jews had a linear view that was constantly pursuing some future goal, such as the Promised Land, the arrival of the Messiah, or the coming of the Kingdom of God, that had been promised to them by their God through their prophets. Those people with a circular view approached life existentially in which existence alone became the purpose of life. In other words, they accepted life as it is and, like the Hindus, considered any possibility for change or improvement to be either limited or non-existent. Therefore, repentance and reform were unnecessary or impossible. However, the Hebrews or Jews with a linear view approached life progressively whereby they sought to move the human condition towards some utopian goal where life would be better and fuller. They, like Cerevantes Don Quixote, refused to accept life as it is and saw that through repentance and reform and struggle they could make life as it ought to be. Thus, they became the great reformers in history. This attitude is sometimes referred to as The Judeo/Christian Linear Utopian Concept of History and it is the basis for all of our scientific and technological advances in the Western World. It is the basis for the current drive towards an international New World Order that hopes to create a better world for everyone. What this New World Order will be is the basis for the Cultural War that is presently taking place between religious and secular forces. The premises of the future are being laid down now in international conferences where both sides are seeking to either preserve or establish their own vision of the world. For example, the secular forces are trying to establish an international norm that recognizes five sex- male, females, gay men, gay women, and bi-sexuals while the religious forces are fighting to preserve the traditional two sexes.
Eighth. Beginning with Sigmund Freud, the Father of Modern Psychology, the study of the human mind began to move away from philosophy towards science. Freud, who was still very much rooted in the philosophical approach, relied mainly on intuitive insight rather than empirical evidence to develop his theory of human behavior. In his Psychoanalytic Theory, he broke the mind down into three principles: the Id, which was our animal nature; the Superego which was our moral conscience that sought to control our animal impulses; and the Ego, which was our conscious rational mind, which sought to referee the conflict between the animal impulses of the Id and the moral restrictions of the Superego. According to Freud, the advancement and survival of civilization and personal mental health was dependent on the compromises that were worked out by the Ego.
Ninth, it wasnt until recent times that psychology, the study of the mind, moved away from intuition and personal insight to scientific, empirical evidence. The new brain researchers began to dissect the brain and its functions until they began to have a functional map of it. No longer did they talk about Will and Intellect, as the Medieval philosophers did, or the Id, Superego, and Ego, as Freud had. Now they talked about the visual cortex, the cerebellum, the cerebral cortex, the hypothalamus, etc Piece by pieces, through experimentation, they were able to detect which function was connected to which area of the brain. Then, in 1966, Dr. Roger Sperry, who later won a Noble Prize for his work, and his team discovered that when the corpus collosum, a thick bundle of nerves at the top of the skull which connected the right hemisphere of our brain to the left hemisphere, was cut, that the communication between the two stop and each one, disconnected from its partner, displayed a different personality with different skills and functions.
They had proved that our sense of being one person was an illusion since the right hemisphere, in most people, was a creative, non-verbal, artistic genius while the left hemisphere was a logical, verbal, scientific and technological craftsman. In their cooperative mode, one dreamt dreams that the other one built.
However, the product that the two brains created seemed to be related to the sophistication of the level of their interaction. The artistic right lobe was capable of being a graffiti artist or Michelangelo. Also, because, lacking words itself, it thought in imagery and pictures, it could influence language either by creating picturesque words of vulgar expression or lofty words of poetic imagery. It all depended on the maturity of its vision and its willingness to discipline its talent towards socially constructive and productive ends. Thus, the art community, which favors the right hemisphere or lobe, is responsible for some of the lowest and highest forms of human expression.
In its lowest form, the right lobe seems to represent the blind Will of Medieval philosophy that sought the good without the aid of intellectual reflection or the Idish, animal nature described by Freud. Because it relied on intuition rather than logic, on feelings rather than facts, it was closer to our animal roots than the logical left lobe, which, possessing language, was the essential difference between us and other mammals. Because of it, we had a dialectical, rational, reflective mind that was capable of evaluating its own thoughts.
Tenth. The theological implications of this discovery were impressive when compared to our Judeo/Christian heritage. First, since the Hebrew or Jews believed that God was a Super-rational Being and that we were made in His image and likeness, it suggested that whatever made Him rational made us rational and vise versa.
Now we know that our rational nature comes from the interaction between our creative, intuitive right lobe and our logical, verbal left lobe and thus, it seems logical to conclude that a rational God must also have a creative right lobe and a logical left lobe that interact. Also, since the brain researchers said that our sense of being one person was an illusion and that, in reality, we were at least two different persons, it indicated that the possibility of there being more than one person in the same being was no longer a mystery but an established fact. Then when we consider that the frontal lobe of the brain, which is the source of judgment, is a blending, of the right and left hemispheres of the brain, it suggested that we were, in reality, three persons with the third person proceeding from the interaction of the other two. All of a sudden the mystery of a Trinitarian being wasnt a mystery anymore. In fact, it seemed that it was the nature of all rational beings to have a dialectical mind in which one was a creative genius, the other was a logical craftsman, and the third was an energetic spirit that enthusiastically built according to the specifications of the other two. Thus, when compared to Christian theology, the Father would be the creative artistic genius who imagined what to do, the Son would be the logical craftsmen who would map out how to do it. And the love and agreement between the two would result in an energetic Holy Spirit who would do it!
When these insights are compared to the Old and New Testament, the implications become even more impressive. The Jew, although they never spoke of a Trinitarian God, nevertheless spoke of Him in Trinitarian terms. According to the Old Testament, the universe was created by God, who used His Wisdom as His craftsman, and renewed the creation with His Spirit. Thus, in Proverbs 8 we read that Wisdom was in the beginning with the Creator and that it was begotten by Him before anything was made. Notice the difference between the word begotten, which means to create from oneself, and made which means to create from outside of oneself. We beget children but we make chairs. Thus, the Nicene Creed when speaking of Jesus says Begotten not made, one in being with the Father, from whom all things were made.
Then in the New Testament at the beginning of the Gospel of John we read of Johns description of the Cosmic Jesus who created the universe. He writes:
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God And later, in the same passage, he writes of what Catholics call the Incarnation: and the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.
Now when we put this together with Proverbs 8 in the Old Testament where Wisdom is described as the craftsmen that the Creator used to build the universe, it becomes clear why the Catholic Church has always taught that Jesus is the Incarnate Wisdom of God. That is, Gods Wisdom become flesh.
Our analysis rises to still a higher level when we consider that in Greek, the original language of this Gospel, Word is spelled LOGOS from which we get the word LOGIC. Thus we could restate this gospel as saying, In the beginning was Jesus, Gods Wisdom and Logic and Jesus, Gods Wisdom and Logic was with God, and Jesus, Gods Wisdom and Logic was God And Jesus, Gods Wisdom and Logic became flesh and dwelt amongst us.
Then when the same passage says that this Word or Logos was the light found in every person it becomes obvious that if we knew where our faculty for logic was, we would know where Jesus resided in all of us. According to modern brain researcher, our faculty for language and logic is in our left hemisphere and it is what distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Without it, we would have a non-dialectical brain incapable of language and logical thought and, like animals, we would live in the Kingdom of Mental Darkness, the Gehenna or hell of the Old Testament, which Helen Keller described concerning the period of her life when she lacked language.
When we further consider that the right brain, like animals, is non-judgmental and non-linear in its outlook since it views reality holistically and existentially- in other words the completed image is already in its mind,-it suggests that it views reality as a circle while the left brain, which approaches reality in a step-by-step logical fashion would view reality as a developing line. For the artist who envisions his creation, there is no struggle because it already exists in his mind. For the craftsman, who has to objectify the vision of the artist, life is a constant struggle to find ways to express the inexpressible. In fact, we might even refer to him as the Struggling Servant of the artist whose struggle will never end until the vision is brought to completion. As Don Quixote, a Christ figure in the play, Man of LaMancha, says, What matters death to the knight on an errand because when he falls he will rise again and woe to the wicked! Thus, Jesus is portrayed as the Suffering Servant of His Father who has been given the task of bringing the Fathers dream to completion and His job will not end until Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In this scenario, life would be a constant ever-upward, linear struggle to reach a Final End or goal. And since it was goal-directed, there would be moral implications for those actors involved. Without a goal there is no right way or wrong way but, once there is a goal or target, then actions become morally significant. Those actions that hit the target become morally positive and those that miss the target become morally negative. Thus the word sin, as used in the New Testament, is a Greek word that means to miss the target.
Any linear view of reality by necessity involves a struggle towards a goal. It also implies a progressive development in which old forms are either refined or replaced by new forms. Thus, repentance and reform are essential elements as the Truth leads us to newer and deeper understandings of ourselves, others, and the creation. Thus, life could aptly be described as the struggle to attain the fullness of life in which one had to be ready to be born again to the next higher plateau. Those, in this scenario, who choose to give up the struggle and become repeating circles have, by their decision, refused the gift of life and have chosen some counterfeit form for true life. If the finite is chasing the infinite, it will never catch it and therefore its proper attitude must always be linear. And, if St. Augustine is correct when he says, Our hearts were made for Thee, O God, and will not rest until they rest in Thee, then all circles, no matter how large or how small, are forms of hell that symbolize the persons decision to give up his/her quest for God.
Eleventh. It appears that religious , philosophical and psychological insights are coming to the same conclusion. Human beings, because of our dialectical brain, we made to develop, not just exist. Thus psychologist, like Eric Fromm, write of looking for a Sane Society which would be most compatible with our basic human nature. What that society will be is the issue with which our current Cultural War is involved. Unfortunately, many people are either unaware or indifferent to it and the price that they will pay is to live in a world based on someone elses vision. This is a period of history where Jesus words in the Book of Revelation apply. He says, I wish that you were hot or cold but because you are lukewarm I will vomit you out of my mouth.
Eric Fromm, whom I have frequently quoted, is a Secular Humanist who writes like a Christian. Nevertheless, he is a signer of the Humanist Manifesto that proclaimed there is no God to save Mankind; Mankind must save itself. Like most humanist, his idea of a Sane Society envisions a Communistic or Socialistic state in which a paternalistic government will provide for its people from the cradle to the grave by redistributing wealth from those who have to those who have not. And this is where Eric Fromm and I part company. In fact, this is where the Catholic Church and the Humanist part company. Both the Church and I would agree with many of the the problems that Fromm and other humanist identify but disagree with their solutions. Often it is not a matter of ends but a matter of means, a point that I will develop further in the future programs. Ironically, the reason that I disagree with him is because of his own theories. Let me explain.
Humanist are great promoters of freedom since they are a spin-off of the French Revolution of 1789 whose motto was Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality. These are great words but they dont necessarily mean the same thing to everybody.
No one would disagree with the word liberty today because it has become a sacred self-evident right that everyone claims but few understand. To most people, it means the right to be an independent, self-sufficient, ego-centric, atomistic individual who owes nothing to anybody. For todays young people it means to let it all hang out and to do your own thing. This is a erroneous and very immature view of freedom.
The fault in not in the concept of freedom because the Christian gospel is all about freedom. It was Christ who said, I have come to set you free! The problem is our misunderstanding of the concept.
If we are involved in a cosmic drama that is moving linearly from the potential to the actual, from the simple to the complex, from unconsciousness to consciousness, from Gehenna, the Kingdom of Empty Thought to the Kingdom of Light and Understanding, from Egypt and slavery to the Promised Land and freedom, from other control to self control, from the stagnation of life to the fullness of life then it obviously involves the freeing and releasing of ourselves from lower states so that we can move on to higher states. And thus our understanding of the goal of freedom and the methodology by which we become free is one of the most important issues of life. And it was this that brought us to my discussion of Eric Fromms analysis of freedom from and freedom to.
You might remember that Fromm considered the whole process of life to be one of given birth to ones hidden potential. This is similar to St. Pauls statement that the reason that he believed in Christ Jesus was so that his hidden self might be revealed. Thus, Fromms observation is very consistent with the Christian view of life. In fact, Bill Gaither, a Christian musician, has a song entitled I Am A Promise whose lyrics says:
I am a promise I am a possibility
I am a promise with a capital P
Im a great big bundle of potentiality
Thus, as Christians, we view ourselves as unfinished products that are constantly being led by our God towards a fuller expression of life. And what is true for us as individuals on the micro level, is true for the whole human race on the macro level. As one author put it, Man is the macrocosm, microscopically expressed. In other words, the same process of growth and development that is taking place in the individual life is also taking place in the history of Humankind. Thus, if the life cycle of a human beings is moving from dependency to independency, from other control to self-control so is the historical movement of Humankind.
And thus, as we move towards an international New World Order it is against this model that we must measure the direction of the world. Are we moving towards freedom and self control or slavery and other control? Are we moving towards a world in which individuals, like adults, taking responsibility for their own lives or are we moving towards a world in which, like children, we turn the responsibility for our lives over to a parental figure in the form of a super government?
The Book of Revelation warns of an end time when human beings bring about chaotic conditions through their misuse of freedom. The consequences are that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Famine, War, Pestilence, and Plague are released upon the earth and men are dying of fright. In the midst of this chaos, there arises a Beast with ten heads representing ten kingdoms. Like frighten children, the people go looking for someone to save them and an anti-Christ arises, who, at first, seems like a benevolent person who is capable of restoring order. Therefore, the people turn the responsibility for their lives over to him, only to discover later that he is the worst dictator the world has ever seen. He seizes total control over them and the triangle of power switches back to the upright position and Humankind, instead of reaching the Promised Land or the Kingdom of God, has returned to slavery and Egypt.
Now the Church, unlike many fundamentalist Protestant groups who produce movies like Left Behind, is very cautious as to how the Book of Revelations should be interpreted because it is full of symbolism and can easily be misinterpreted. Therefore I am not putting forth this scenario as being either the correct interpretation or as being inevitable. We are better off leaving these things to the theologians because our attitude should be that of St. Francis who, when asked what would he do if he was told that the world was going to end in one hour, replied, Id keeping on hoeing my garden.
So how and when the world ends is not our concern. The best that I can say is that psychologically human beings will surrender their freedom in chaotic conditions and thus our freedom is threatened from two sources: those who want to take them away by assuming dictatorial control over us, and those, who by their wrongful use of freedom, create the chaotic conditions that place us in a mental state where we are, in the name of order, willing to surrender it.
Well I see that my time is up. Heres Dom.