Posts Tagged ‘ culture ’

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.  

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What It’s All About

I really liked this post about the ultimately humbling experience of writing and arguing for our faith.  Mirus admits that at times, when he gets so caught up in writing about the faith and defending the faith, that he turns gold into straw, as it were.  

The briefest realization of the immensity of God casts all of these efforts into the deepest shade. I trust this is not quite the outer darkness of which Scripture speaks (Mt 8:12, 22:13, and 25:30), but surely we must affirm with St. Thomas and Blessed John Henry that the barest experience of God makes dust and ashes of even our greatest personal efforts to make Him known.

This is my challenge sometimes, and one of the reasons I appreciate being off Facebook.  It is so easy for me to lose God in the face of my arguments for God (or His Church, or His Church’s teachings).  How much time I spend reading blogs and books about faith and culture, culture and faith, and how little time I spend living my faith in my culture!  How often I turn to blogs and books about apologetics and Christology and how infrequently do I spend time with God in his Word or with His Word in adoration!

Logically speaking, faith should enlighten reason.  First one encounters the thing to be defended, and then he defends it.  It turns out, I have been living backwards, defending the faith which I have not fully encountered.