Category Archives: Psychology

YOUR WOUNDS AND WEAKNESSES

Do not let your wounds and weaknesses long colour your capabilities and capacities.

from Human Effort

 

ON MIND, MAGIC, MIRACLES, AND CHRIST AND CHRISTMAS

ON MIND, MAGIC, MIRACLES, AND CHRIST AND CHRISTMAS

 

A friend of mine asked my opinion on psychic phenomenon and magic and miracles. Well, not just my opinion, but the opinion of all of her friends on such matters. I made my reply to her post which I copied and pasted to this post as it is my true opinion on such matters. Given the time of year, and the celebration of the Birth of Christ (though I have no doubt Christ was likely born closer to Easter than to Christmas, and crucified and resurrected much closer to Passover and Christmas than to Easter, this is nevertheless our cultural celebration of Christmas) I think this the perfect time to address such things. For one of the often overlooked things Christ came to do, other than to redeem the souls of men, is to integrate the various parts of Man, his Body, Mind, Soul, and Spirit, to their Rightful Nature and to their Natural Capabilities, and to their Proper Relationship to existence, and to God. A Man (or Woman) so Redeemed, and so set to their Rightful and Proper Self and Nature is indeed Immortal and is Man and God always intended Man to be. That too is my opinion, though I think it a correct one. Christ then does not merely save us, he also corrects us and purifies us and remakes us into our True Selves.

And if you ask me that is Truly Magical and one Truly Superb Miracle.

MERRY CHRISTMAS GUYS

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In my opinion, and from years of experimentation conducted on my own and with others, I think that so called psychic abilities, and magical abilities (though I no doubt have a different definition of “magic,” tan most, that is I consider magic to be Divine Work or Divine Action) and miraculous abilities (Thaumaturgy, or Wonder-Working or Miracle, and all Miracles arise first from God though people may easily be conduits of miracles) are all separate things. Related perhaps, from time to time in apparent effect, and yet separate in cause and operation and methodology and origins.

That is to say that I think so called psychic abilities arise from the mind(s) of men, and possibly from the soul as part of our inborn capabilities (though they might be improved with practice), magic (Magi – or Knowing or Great Wisdom) arise from our souls and is probably the result of experience and training (intentional or unintentional) or practice combined with inborn capabilities, and that Miracles always arise first from God and then descend to man.

That is to say Psychic, despite the misnomer, arises primarily from integrated mental (mind) and possibly psychological (soul) capabilities. Theurgy or Magic arises from the Divine Image of God within us expressed outwards as Divine and Good) Action, and Thaumaturgy (or as we say Miracle) from God and is the example or model for both theurgy and psychic abilities.

Both psychic abilities and theurgy can be misused however, and for nefarious and malignant purposes, but such things I call witchcraft and sorcery, though others might use other terms. Thaumaturgy, a True Miracle, cannot be misused or corrupted because it originates in and from God. Though fake miracles or false miracles can be misused, and are.

But I would also say that in the lives of people there are time periods when certain of these things thrive in a person’s experience, or maybe several of them thrive simultaneously in a person’s life.

As for control, I think your guess is as good as mine.

I am of the opinion, based on my own experiences, that perhaps certain aspects of these various things can be controlled, or certain probabilities of success enhanced by training or by technique (such as fasting, going without sleep, prayer, mediation, etc.) but I have never found a way to reliably control such things to any real degree. But maybe that is just a weakness or incapacity on my own part. I really don’t know.

So I certainly don’t discourage the attempt to do so and I wish you well.

Just use whatever you discover as Wisely as you can and remember that indirect and uncertain information is still indirect and uncertain. That does not make it wrong, it just means that being mortal and limited in our own knowledge we may either easily or in some small or great detail misunderstand what is being communicated to us. So we must both discern and discriminate as well as human abilities allow us to do so exactly what is being implied or exposed to us.

If I am confused or uncertain about such things I always try praying to God and asking the help of others who are wise to see if there is something I am misunderstanding or overlooking.

For instance I will certainly accept and consider and take an omen, or a vision, or a dream, but I would not use an omen, or a vision, or a dream as the only basis for making an important decision. It would be just one factor I consider.

At the very least I would try my best to seek to understand, “do I really know what is occurring or being communicated to me?” And sometimes I have thought I well understood some omen or vision only later to discover I was either wrong or only partially right, and sometimes I should have trusted my initial assumptions or my gut and failed to do so and so harm ensued or I gained no benefit from what should have been an obvious advantage. That’s only human I guess, we only know what we know or will allow ourselves to know, but with time and experience you can, I suspect, get better.

So, good luck and Godspeed to you.

I think people should have such experiences. They deepen our lives, expand our understanding, and enrich our experiences of both the world and of God.

Use them well and they should serve you well. Just always try to use them wisely and well, and for your own best benefit and for the most possible benefit of others.

That’s all you can really do that is worthwhile with anything in life.

Know your limits, but try to constantly exercise and exceed them, listen to God and to what others are trying to tell you and then use those things as well as you can.

Merry Christmas then my friends.

May it be Soulful, Magical, and Miraculous to you and yours.

HESIOD, ON STRIFE

He was right you know. Very, very Right.

So, after all, there was not one kind of Strife alone, but all over the earth there are two. As for the one, a man would praise her when he came to understand her; but the other is blameworthy: and they are wholly different in nature. For one fosters evil war and battle, being cruel: [15] her no man loves; but perforce, through the will of the deathless gods, men pay harsh Strife her honor due. But the other is the elder daughter of dark Night, and the son of Cronos who sits above and dwells in the aether, set her in the roots of the earth: and she is far kinder to men. [20] She stirs up even the shiftless to toil; for a man grows eager to work when he considers his neighbor, a rich man who hastens to plough and plant and put his house in good order; and neighbor vies with his neighbor as he hurries after wealth. This Strife is wholesome for men. [25] And potter is angry with potter, and craftsman with craftsman, and beggar is jealous of beggar, and minstrel of minstrel. Perses, lay up these things in your heart, and do not let that Strife who delights in mischief hold your heart back from work, while you peep and peer and listen to the wrangles of the court-house. [30] Little concern has he with quarrels and courts who has not a year’s victuals laid up betimes, even that which the earth bears, Demeter’s grain. When you have got plenty of that, you can raise disputes and strive to get another’s goods. But you shall have no second chance [35] to deal so again: nay, let us settle our dispute here with true judgement which is of Zeus and is perfect. For we had already divided our inheritance, but you seized the greater share and carried it off, greatly swelling the glory of our bribe-swallowing lords who love to judge such a cause as this. [40] Fools! They know not how much more the half is than the whole, nor what great advantage there is in mallow and asphodel.

CHARACTER AND DUTY

Manvotional: The Character of a Soldier

Editor’s note: The following excerpt was included in FM 21-13, an Army field manual published in 1952. While it outlines the character of a good soldier, the qualities mentioned represent the kind of character all men should strive for.

FM 21-13
THE SOLDIER’S GUIDE

Section VII. THE CHARACTER OF A SOLDIER
The Things You Are

When we say that a man has “good character,” we mean that he has many strong qualities and virtues that, added together, make him a man whom we like, respect, and trust. One definition of character, therefore, is this: The sum of the qualities that make a person what he is.

It’s not easy to tell you exactly what qualities and virtues you must have to be a good soldier, but perhaps you can understand better what is meant by a “soldier’s character” if you consider some of the qualities that all of our good soldiers have had. These qualities include honesty, courage, self-control, decency, and conviction of purpose. This is by no means a complete list, but those are the qualities that most good soldiers possess. Let’s talk about them.

You must be honest because there is absolutely no room in our military world for dishonesty, half-truth, or any other shade in-between. When the outcome of a battle could rest on the truth of your report, your word must be your bond. In private life, one can avoid or make allowance for those who have trouble telling the truth. But in the Army, soldiers depend on each other too much to accept anything but complete honesty. All good soldiers understand the need for truthfulness and shun those who lie.

As a soldier, you may be called on to be courageous in many ways. In battle, you may have to keep moving forward in the face of heavy enemy fire. Lives of other men may depend on this kind of courage. Battle plans are based on it. Then, in addition to courage in battle, you need courage to admit your own failures. You may need still another kind of courage to ask your fellow soldiers to keep going when they have nearly reached the limit of their endurance.

In any talk of courage, however, it is important that you know the difference between real courage and foolhardiness. Taking unnecessary risks is stupid and often endangers the lives of others. Being courageous doesn’t mean that you won’t be afraid at the same time. Fear in battle is natural, and some of our best soldiers have been those who have been afraid, but who went ahead into battle, even with a shaking hand and pounding heart.

Soldiers who have displayed this kind of courage were able to do so because of another quality, self-control. As a soldier, you will be living and working closely with other soldiers. You will be leading a highly disciplined life. Good self-control makes this discipline easier. It will also help you avoid temptations that may plague you — temptations to dodge your duty, to indulge in immorality, or to use your power unfairly. Sometimes you may be the law itself, and only your sense of right and self-control will stand between you and your abuse of power as a soldier.

Self-control is “inner discipline.” You were not born with it, but all good soldiers have acquired it through the years by checking their tempers and desires, and by “counting 10” before they acted.

Another quality that all good soldiers have is decency. This means personal habits that make it easier for others to live and work with you. Your honesty, courage, and self-control will strongly affect your companions, but in addition, it is important that you give them the same consideration that you’d like them to give you. This means respecting their property and views, keeping yourself clean in body and speech, and accepting others for what they are – not for the color of their skins, or where they came from.

All these qualities are important parts of a good soldier’s character, but the quality that all of our great soldiers have had – the quality that gave meaning to all of their other virtues – is conviction of purpose. This means that these soldiers fought well and were able to endure the hardships of war because they were convinced that what they were doing was right.

Admittedly, this quality isn’t easy to have. Many combat veterans will tell you that they were never quite sure why they were fighting. Some say that they fought to save themselves. Others say that they fought for the men around them, or because they hated the enemy. There is never any single reason why men fight.

Our truly great soldiers, however, have fought for our country because they believed that our freedoms and way of life were worth the sacrifice. You probably know the story of Sergeant York. When he first entered the Army in World War I, he was troubled because his training and his conscience told him “Thou shalt not kill.” After a long struggle with his conscience, however, he realized that fighting the enemy was just, because that enemy would have enslaved the world if they could. When he realized this, he became one of our greatest heroes, because he was convinced that it was right for men to remain free.

These are some of the main qualities that make up the character of a good soldier. Nobody can give you these qualities. You have to get them yourself by hard work. But at least you know what the qualities are and if you don’t have all of them, you have a goal that is worth reaching.

MANLY MARRIAGE

Podcast #239: Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts

If you’re a man on the precipice of marriage or have marriage as a life goal, one worry you likely have is “Will my marriage last?”

While divorce rates have been decreasing since they reached their peak in the late 1970s and early ’80s, there’s still a perception out there that marriage is just a crapshoot — a game of Russian roulette — and that the odds favor you ending up in a family court, or at best in a sad and loveless relationship. 

My guest today argues that doesn’t have to be your fate as long as you take a proactive approach to marriage. With some thought and intentionality, you can help ensure that you have a happy, loving, fulfilling relationship that lasts until death do you part. His name is Les Parrott and he’s a clinical psychologist specializing in marriage and family. He, along with his wife Leslie, who’s also a marriage therapist, have written a book to help couples prepare themselves for matrimonial commitment. It’s called Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before — And After — You Marry

Today on the show, Les and I discuss how a man can know if he’s personally ready for marriage, the myths people have about marriage that set them up for disappointment, and the conversations you should be having with your future spouse to help ensure you have a happy life together. While the conversation is geared towards soon-to-be-marrieds and newlyweds, even if you’ve been married for a couple decades, you’re going to find some useful advice and insights in this show.

Show Highlights

  • How to know if you’re ready for marriage
  • Why self-awareness is paramount for a successful relationship
  • The five attitudes towards marriage Millennials have
  • The effectiveness of pre-marital counseling in helping stave off divorce
  • What happy marriages look like
  • The expectations people have coming into marriage that can set them up for failure
  • The unspoken rules and unconscious roles in a marriage
  • The three factors that contribute to lasting love
  • How love changes as a relationship progresses and how to nurture it through the years
  • Why marriages are their strongest after 25+ years
  • How to cultivate passion in a long-term relationship
  • The saboteurs of marriage
  • The different needs of men and women in a relationship
  • Why conflict is good for a relationship and how to have a “good fight”
  • What couples who have been married for awhile, but are experiencing marital problems, can do to solve them

Resources/Studies/People Mentioned in Podcast

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Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts is filled with research-backed insights and actionable steps that about-to-be married or newlywed couples can use to make sure their marriage starts off on the right foot. Even if you’ve been married for a few years, you’re going to find the book useful. Also, consider taking the Parrotts’ SYMBIS Assessment with your spouse for further insights about your marriage. 

Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)

CHARISMA AS WONDER AND WEAPON

John Potts

is a professor of media at Macquarie University in Australia. He is interested in culture and technology, digital media, media history, contemporary arts, and intellectual history. His latest book is The New Time and Space (2015). 

What is charisma? 

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Mixed blessings. Photo by Paolo Sarteschi/Flickr

Charisma is easier to recognise than to define. Newspaper and magazine articles consistently identify charismatic leaders – such as John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, Barack Obama – but those same articles rarely describe exactly what charisma is. It is often debated whether charisma is necessary for a ‘transformational’ leader, while shelves of self-help books optimistically promise to impart the ‘secrets’ of charisma. Other people hold that charisma cannot be ‘unlocked’ or ‘discovered’ at all because it is innate and present only in the rarest of individuals. So, to ask anew, just what is charisma?

Charisma’s origins are found in the letters of Paul the Apostle, written from around 50 AD. This is the first written use of the word ‘charisma’, derived from the Greek ‘charis’ (grace). For Paul, charisma meant ‘the gift of God’s grace’ or ‘spiritual gift’. In Paul’s letters to the fledgling Christian communities spread around the Roman empire, he wrote of the ‘charismata’ or spiritual gifts available to each member of the community. He identified nine charismata, including prophecy, healing, speaking in tongues, interpreting that speech, teaching, and service – a range of gifts both supernatural and pragmatic.

For Paul, charisma was a mystical notion: the gifts were thought to alight on each individual without the need for church authority or institution. And there was no charisma of leadership: the interlocking charismata were meant to serve the community without the need for an imposed leader. By the fourth century, however, the Church had largely suppressed the notion of charisma deriving directly from the Holy Spirit. Conveniently, in its place was a hierarchy of Church leadership, with bishops at the top, interpreting the fixed religious laws inscribed in the newly authorised Bible. Charisma survived only in heretical outposts, such as prophets claiming direct inspiration without the mediations of bishop or scripture. Such heresies were forcibly repressed by the Church.

The idea of charisma then lay largely dormant for centuries. Only in the writings of the 20th-century German sociologist Max Weber was it reborn. In fact, we owe the contemporary meaning of ‘charisma’ to Weber, who took Paul’s religious idea and secularised it, placing charisma within a sociology of authority and leadership. For Weber, there were three types of authority: the rational-legal, the traditional, and the charismatic. Weber saw the charismatic form of authority as the revolutionary, even unstable, antidote to the ‘iron cage’ of rationalisation found in the contemporary ‘disenchanted’ world. He held that there was something heroic about the charismatic leader, who galvanised followers with great feats or with the ‘charisma of rhetoric’ found in inspiring speeches.

Weber defined charisma as ‘a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is considered extraordinary and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities’. He traced charismatic leadership through history, in the person of great military or religious leaders – and also held out the hope that charismatic leadership would continue to emerge, even in the highly regulated bureaucracies of the modern world.

Weber died in 1920, and did not live to see the application of his idea to contemporary politics and culture. Perhaps that’s a good thing, since the first political leaders to be described as charismatic were Mussolini and Hitler. For many European intellectuals, this created the sense that charismatic authority had a sinister dimension. That same dark side of charismatic leadership long remained: 1960s cult leaders such as Charles Manson, with their spellbinding hold on followers, were readily termed charismatic. By this point, Weber’s works had been translated, so that ‘charisma’ was popular in the English-speaking world from about the 1950s.

The first politicians that the media identified as charismatic in a positive, rather than demagogic, sense were JFK, and his brother Robert F Kennedy. After the 1960s, ‘charisma’ moved more into mainstream usage as it was applied to outstanding individuals other than political leaders: the late Muhammad Ali, for instance, was perhaps the most charismatic of all.

Today, charisma is used to describe a range of individuals: politicians, celebrities, business leaders. We understand charisma as a special, innate quality that sets certain individuals apart and draws others to them. It is considered a rare, specially endowed quality: in US politics, for instance, Bill Clinton was thought to have a charismatic presence, as is Obama – but nobody else in recent political memory earns the accolade. In business, Steve Jobs is the archetypal charismatic leader: visionary, driven, but also volatile and unstable. And in celebrity culture, charisma is regarded as a sign of rare authenticity when much of the entertainment industry is devoted to the plastic manufacture of fame in the manner of Idols or The Voice. Charisma cannot be created by reality TV.

Is charisma even desirable in contemporary politicians? The political biographer David Barnett has called charisma ‘one of the most dangerous concepts in a democracy that you can find’. Charismatic leaders can inspire followers with soaring rhetoric – which can also prove divisive and damaging to a party’s (or a nation’s) fortunes. Political parties are generally content with popular, unthreatening, folksy leaders who appeal to ordinary people. In Australia, Paul Keating was a charismatic, visionary prime minister, but also a schismatic leader who alienated much of the Labor Party’s traditional ‘heartland’ with his perceived arrogance. His successor, John Howard, was universally regarded as charisma-free, but his very ordinariness turned out to be his greatest asset: it was a reassuring rather than threatening style of leadership. Meanwhile in Italy, Silvio Berlusconi was a populist leader whose tenure as prime minister was deleterious for democracy. The charismatic leader might be thrilling, even captivating, but the success of that leader might not leave a political party, or a democracy, in a healthy state.

‘Charisma’, as an idea, spans 2,000 years. Is there a link between contemporary charisma – considered a special form of authority – and the religious charisma of Paul’s time? It lies in the notion of innateness, of the gift. Paul said that no bishop or Church required the blessing of charisma: it simply lighted on the individual, as a spiritual gift. Charisma today is enigmatic, an unknown or X factor, somehow irreducible. Nobody knows why rare individuals are blessed with charisma: it remains, as ever, a mysterious gift.

THIS CAN BE DONE – AGAIN

READ THIS POST CAREFULLY – BECAUSE THIS CAN BE DONE, AGAIN

 

Every situation is dependent upon the circumstances encountered. That is true both of the cop, and the citizen. But read this carefully because there are actual solutions in this post to most (not all, but the vast majority) of deadly and potentially incidents between police and citizens in both directions.

And yes, I wish very much to return to these days. That was the way you actually did it. I saw countless examples of precisely this kind of police work growing up. Hell, I helped with this kind of police work and I had this kind of police work meted out to me on a couple of occasions. But I never forgot it, or what it meant, or what it actually required.

But it will take cops brave enough and self-disciplined enough to understand their true duty and function and citizens patient enough and self-disciplined enough to understand their duties and obligations to everyone else.

But this can be done. Again. These days can return. They should return.

(And truthfully, it is done already in most cases, you just don’t see that because most cases go smoothly and so are rarely mentioned and almost never displayed, and that maybe be to our real detriment, that body cams and other cams are not more often used by the media, the police, by citizens, and society to show how you do this right so people would have better examples of Right versus wrong. But my point is we could do this in most every case if more people understood, and far more importantly, practiced principles like these. But you have to have really brave, self-sacrificial cops and you have to have a self-disciplined, not self indulgent society. But this shouldn’t be just nostalgia, it should be Standard. But we all have to want that Higher Standard, and then make it so.)

(I have edited out the name and photograph and most IDing information for privacy on this blog post, but the story still retains the essence of what my friend said. This was my friend’s step father, but I knew dozens just like him. Like I said, there are solutions in this story.)

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My Step-Father,  was a Police Officer, first for several years in a city environment and then 25 years a small town. He never discharged his weapon, in the line of Duty, although he did take a bullet while on the Philadelphia police force…

My Dad often was called upon to diffuse domestic disturbances and instances where veterans were having psychotic episodes. He would always leave his gun & baton in his patrol car, choosing instead to carry his 4 D-cell battery flashlight, which was less of a threat, yet an effective weapon, if needed…

He could ONLY do this, because he had complete Faith in his Lord & Savior, years of experience and advanced military & law enforcement combat training.

My Step-Father exuded love & confidence, while commanding respect. He was a rare exception… Unfortunately, most Police Officers are human to a fault and subject to the same errors, prejudices, fears and struggles as the rest of us. The BIG difference is that they have a thankless job, with many unhappy endings, in which they are often hated and forced into situations that you & I would have no answer for!

The ability of a Police Officer to uphold the authority of his position is contingent upon society’s willingness to submit to the authority of the position…

I’m sad about these situations of violence & abuse on both sides. I’m sadder that obedience to and respect for Authority is being replaced by provocation!

There is but one way to advise – by example.

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