Category Archives: emotions

If you need to leave baggage behind

If you need to leave baggage behind, remember what it looks like, so you don’t pick it up again.

Additional thoughts about healing and personal growth

Continuing some previous thoughts:

Forgiving someone for real damage does not necessarily heal the real damage.

Not all real damage is merely emotional.

If real damage is thought to be merely emotional when it is not merely emotional, then forgiveness will not usher in rapid healing and release.

Some real damage can be a matter of integration — concept, habit, worldview, and pattern, as well as emotions.

Imagine a teen driver accidentally bumping a middle-age cyclist off the side of the road. While the cyclist recovers, he forgives the teen driver, but the cyclist still has to heal.

More to the psychological point of this post, imagine a young man whose vulnerability is exploited by cult recruiters. The young man joins and devotes several years to working in the cult. Eventually, the young man’s eyes are opened to the true nature of the cult. He might be able to forgive the recruiters and leaders. Years of thinking and behaving within the cult’s ways and means, however, make lasting change a difficult process.

Caution flags in healing and personal growth

I’m not going to do much explaining here. I think anyone who might benefit from these will benefit from them as they stand.

♦ Forgiving a person does not make that person safe.

♦ Healing is not a process by which I realize all things are equal.

♦ The goal of healing is not to conclude that everything is equally benign.

♦ As someone else has said, “The purpose of an open mind is to close on something.” In the case of emotional boundaries, sometimes it’s more important to make a decision rather than to exhaust all possible grounds and evidence for making that decision. Goodness knows, there’s no moral relativism in saying, “That movement or person or idea or activity is bad for me.” Others in my social circle might not see things the same way, but I’m not living everyone’s life, just my own.

Two easy ways to recognize social cohesion in church communities

1. A sudden shift in a newcomer’s interaction style (social insight has been conveyed to the newcomer).

2. A change in facial expressions from ministerial spouses (pillow talk about workaday aggravations).

A key to questioning the “fruits of the Spirit” and “spiritual growth” is to notice social consensus maintains a greater value than loving enemies or neighbors.

In other words, human social groups act like human social groups, regardless of the particular shibboleth.

If we are stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, then the accuracy or the particulars of the stories aren’t so important as the social consensus that carries them.

An unconventional observation brings about fear because of both its implications about the nature of the social group and its threat to acceptance by the tribe.

Books: Stoicism with Christianity, Spinoza

The ancient philosophy of Stoicism is the topic for fans of philosophy or New Testament buffs — if they have thick wallets:

The Corinthian Dissenters and the Stoics (Studies in Biblical Literature) (Peter Lang Publishing, 2007) by Albert V. Garcilazo for $71.95 at;

Spinoza and the Stoics: Power, Politics and the Passions (Continuum Studies in Philosophy) (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2007) by Firmin Debrabander for $120 at

But Stoicism is receiving attention beyond the obscure academic presses.

A new book on ancient Stoicism is due in September.

At least three books about ancient Stoicism have been re-released in paperback this year.

Several more books about Stoicism or the thought of individual Stoics have been released in the past few years.

Why are people into the Stoics these days? I’m trying to answer that question for an upcoming article in, but for the moment, let’s just look at what’s new.

Due in September is Stoicism and Emotion (University of Chicago Press, 2007) by Margaret R. Graver.

The book “shows that they did not simply advocate an across-the-board suppression of feeling, as stoicism implies in today’s English, but instead conducted a searching examination of these powerful psychological responses, seeking to understand what attitude toward them expresses the deepest respect for human potential,” according to the description at

The three books re-released in paperback this year, suggesting an ongoing interest in the subject matter, are:

Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy Behind the Military Mind (Oxford University Press, 2005, 2007), by Nancy Sherman

The Stoic Life: Emotions, Duties, & Fate (Oxford University Press, 2005, 2007), by Tad Brennan

The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness (HarperSanFrancisco, 1995; HarperOne, 2007), which was co-authored by Epictetus, an ancient Stoic, and Sharon Lebell, a writer and musician who lives, in our time, in Northern California.

Note that two of the three paperback re-releases were published in hardback just two years ago.

Unlike the first two books mentioned at the top of this post, Graver’s books and the paperbacks are priced within a range one might expect to pay for a book.

The priceless online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has an entry on Stoicism here: .

-Colin Burch