Born This Way: A Violent Farce Against All that Is Good and Beautiful

Born this way

Give me a break.  

Just the way you are

Come on now.

Live on and be yourself

Are you for real?

Don’t buy it when someone wants you “Just the way you are.”  Don’t buy it when a group wants you “Just the way you are.”  Don’t buy it when a religion wants you “Just the way you are.”  I don’t get it.  What is there to like about an ethos that is so negative?  If all there is is this moment, then fine.  I’ll take that.  Anyone would take that.  In this particular moment, I accept and love you just as you are.  That is very sensible.  “Just the way you are”: insensible.  Anyone outside of a philosophy department at a local university knows that there is more than this moment. 

What I can’t stand about this “Just the Way You Are,” “Born this way,” “Live on and be yourself,” is not really the battle that these propaganda are used for.  I understand the battle.  I can’t understand the war.  It’s the war against virtue, against striving to be the best version of ourselves as possible.  The life-long strife of development.

If the human race is evolving, progressing, and overall, growing toward something positive, or good, then anyone who tells you to be “just the way you are,” is holding you back from greatness.  Living in the past.  Turning the clock back as it were.  

I unequivocally decry the “Just the way you are” attitude.  What pitiful and limiting message, which essentially communicates, “You can do, be, or progress to nothing greater than you are now.  You’d be better off just stopping to strive, because it’s better to feel good about yourself and settle, rather than struggle now, and achieve.”  

Ugh.  The time someone tells you to “Live on and be yourself,” or “You were born that way,” or “You’re okay just the way you are,” walk away swiftly, and say, “No thanks.”

Psychology: What Conservatives and Liberals Need to Learn

It’s helpful, every now and then, to take a step back and take in the vista.  James Kalb described the outlook for conservatives and liberals in his recent post at Crisis.  Thoughtful and somewhat forlorn, he decries the current technocratic thrust which appears alive and functioning well, and outlines its eventual implosion.  What struck me from a psychological perspective was his quasi-definition of conservatism:

They should be conservative not in the sense of maintaining existing trends and arrangements, but in the sense of valuing what those trends and arrangements reject: history, human nature, and the patterns and attachments, like family, religion, and particular culture, that are necessary for normal social functioning. [emphasis added]

Coming from the psychoanalytic tradition, attachment equates to something like the quality of relational bonds experienced from an early age.  Psychologists and psychoanalysts hypothesize that the quality of bonds contributes to the development of a particular relational-attachment style.  In recent decades, theorists described a few commonly-observed styles, such as avoidant, anxious, and secure.  Perhaps, like most psychological concepts, people’s attachment styles are contextually-driven and more continuous than categorical.  That is, I am probably more securely attached in some instances but more anxious in others.  Also, attachment security probably isn’t an all-or-nothing experience.  However, it is theorized that optimal relational functioning and affect regulation hinges on successfully secure attachment.  Unsuccessful, or insecure attachment supposedly contributes to anxiety, ranging from neurotic, everyday-level nervousness, to a more problematic, debilitating anxiety.  

Kalb’s emphasis on social attachments is really important to consider.  The concept seems so obvious–that optimal functioning requires a sense of social and institutional belonging.  Family, culture, and institutions such as religion are common ways to fill that need.  As our culture continues to devalue institutions, emphasizing instead individual fulfillment and autonomy will create a new way of relating, which will really be an old way.  Culture, religion, and family bring together.  Technocracy tears apart.  The irony of collective psychology (e.g. APA, etc.) is the emphasis on individual fulfillment, based on a misguided notion of humanism; namely, favoring autonomy over belonging.  We can learn a lot from the attachment folks, who share with us the importance of the balance of belonging.  

My Halloween Fortune Cookie

This is no joke.

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Ugh: Can it get any worse?

English: Boling water in colour

English: Boling water in colour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Open letter to clinical psychology internship applicants (and anyone else going through a tough time right now):

Life is really hard right now.  There is no room to breathe.  The demands are so stifling that we choke from the moment to moment clatter and sputter of our plans and ways of being.

None of us have experienced anything quite like this before.  But one benefit from being pushed to the brink is that the view is grand.
What I mean is that when we are stripped of all surety of the moment, our health, our lives, our dreams and hopes and worries.  When all of that is insignificant, we are blessed with seeing boiled down to its True Joys and True Pains.  The refining fire creates a luscious, sour, and rich reduction-sauce delineating the distinction between nothingness and Eternity.
As Catholics we have intimate access to Eternity.  But our vision of the daily hassles, plans, and passing moments of the day obscures our Vision of Light, the Vision of Eternity.

Boiling away those hassles, plans, and moments, boiling away our pride and our attachments–this is the supreme good of now.  Let’s be sure to take time to Praise God today for that.  For boiling away our attachment to our selves, our pride…even to our family.

Meta-blogging: Are questions effective blog post titles?

I have been thinking about writing a blog post for a few days.  This particular post, though, was inspired by reading the title of a post by prolific blogger, Fr. Z.  Reading the title made me think about how questions seem to be a way to grab a reader.  Especially effective is using a syrupy-sweet-sticky question as a grabber.  I think academic journal titles work like this too.  

Something like “Life: A longitudinal analysis of Really Awesome Data.”   And then the actual journal article is about the fermentation of extracted turnip juice and its effects on enhancing toddler’s silly faces.  Seriously?

Actually, I would probably read that article.  Back to the meta, this particular post really just serves the purpose of allowing my weary mind to wander a little bit in the midst of internship application.  Man, those are getting tiresome.  

I used to be such a sap though, writing in online journals.  Something about projecting my angsty, hormone-infused thoughts and feelings on to a screen, shouting on the peaks of livejournal my pain, loneliness, and existential suffering.  Something about that, yes.  Something about longing for posterity; longing to be seen and heard.  Hard to outrun those dreadful demons, still.  

There, and Back, and Back Again

I went back to facebook.  For about 10 minutes.  And then I realized that I didn’t miss anything by not being on facebook, and I left again.  In a particularly stressful time of life right now, I just can’t seem to sit still.  I checked out what I had been missing, having been off of facebook for about 6 weeks now.  I don’t feel I’ve missed too much.  All the important stuff about friends and family I find out through my wife.  

I don’t know why I went back.  Or why I used to go all the time.  There is something so terrifyingly riveting about seeing and being seen.  Not that facebook is useless.  But is it good?  

I don’t think so, for me at least.  I have such an inane, narcissistic void, in which I want to be esteemed, but not just “liked.”  Not just “followed.”  Adored.  And right.  I want to be right.  On social media, people share all sorts of opinions as if they are facts.  Some share in a brash, uneven way.  And this is my summons: to the facebook marketplace I ride, Bible in one hand, and memorized Kreeft quotes in the other!  

No, I don’t think so.  I don’t need that right now.  Just give me an outlet, and maybe a little dialog, and I’m fine.  And I’m here.

 

Powerful Woman!

Therese of Lisieux is one of the most powerful women I have encountered in my readings.  Her power lies in her femininity–in her receptivity of the Word of God, Jesus.

Her “little way” of offering Jesus the daily, the mundane and ordinary, which is so contrary to our world in its excitability and distractions, challenge me to holiness.

Can a little Victim of Love find anything terrible that is sent by her Spouse?
Each moment He sends me what I am able to bear, and nothing more, and if
He increase the pain, my strength is increased as well. But I could never ask
for greater sufferings—I am too little a soul. They would then be of my own
choice. I should have to bear them all without Him, and I have never been
able to do anything when left to myself.”

I’ve been thinking about this lately.  How often I mess up and make mistakes!  Even when I don’t, how often I wear a smug, prideful attitude!  Praising God for each chance to be little makes each chance for suffering sweet.