In the Bible and in theology, Jesus is the called the Logos, Greek for the divine Word, understood as ordering principle. I’ve always found the term “Word” applied to Jesus to be confusing, even incomprehensible. I accept it, but I didn’t really see the relation of “Word” to the person of Jesus, until recently
Lately, I’ve renewed my time spent on reading, writing and Latin and the uses and effects of language. Goodwriting, to me, puts names to concepts, feelings and experience we hadn’t been able to label accurately and so allows us to think about them more in depth and from the separation of wisdom. This can be fiction, philosophy, theology, psychology, history, any area even math. What the Word calls out accurately is truth. A truth experienced but not named. In a sense, the truth is uncreated by us humans–it was always there, and so we experienced it. But it wasn’t ordered for us to think about or understand until it was named. This naming, or Word, brings order to our minds that enables us to think about and understand the truth that was already there.
This is true in our day to day experience of reading and naming. It is also true of the Second Person of the Divine Trinity. Jesus is the logos, the Word, the naming of God, the unnamable. In his incarnation, Jesus makes the eternal experience of truth in God, that was however removed from our direct experience and inaccessble, accessible in a direct bodily way. As words make vague experiences of truth comprehensible (or orderly) through naming, The Word brings understanding and access to the transcendent Truth of the Father, the First person of the Trinity.
Both are transcendent and eternal and the Word draws its meaning from the Truth, so they do not and cannot exist in isolation, but are intrinsically interconnected. Jesus as the “Word” of the Father makes sense in this way. In the analogy of Truth and Word, perhaps the Holy Spirit would best be represented as communication itself.
–-Further thoughts on the Trinity and the limits of Language
At times, an unnecessary tension exists between psychological research and Christian faith, but Dr. Christopher Kaczor has now written a helpful book to clear a path through that forest of tension. In “The Gospel of Happiness,” he highlights the many ways that positive psychological research agrees with practices of the faith, yet he manages to keep his distance and not blur any important distinctions, such as to claim that any of this research “proves” Christian doctrine, or make any unkeepable promises such as that becoming or being a Christian will make your life easier or happier. Who among us is perfect at this whole life thing, after all?
Kaczor acknowledges that “Freud’s atheistic materialism, and reduction of theism to a childish desire for a father figure as a savior from helplessness, exemplifies this conflict” (181). Yet this is not the end of the story. He continues: “the full history of psychology and Christian belief is more complicated and interesting” (181).
Overall, the book is worth reading, and it doing some of the exercises in the book did help me appreciate the people and things in my life more. One key is that it can only work if you are willing to let it, as in to actually try it. If you approach it cynically and assume it’s all a load of baloney, it would be hard to appreciate new things.
Without further ado, here are some of the most interesting and useful parts of the book.
For one thing, he gives a fully fleshed out definition of what happiness actually is: and surprise, it goes beyond feelings and possessions. The acronym PERMA sums it up. Yes, P is for positive emotions (joy, gratitude, etc). E is for engagement, actually participating in communities and activities that are inherently rewarding, and having experiences of flow and total engagement. R is for relationships, loving, self-giving relationships. (Love one another as I have loved you -Christ Jesus). M is for meaning, having a purpose, a connection to something higher.
And finally, A is for accomplishments. This one is interesting. It isn’t about social comparison, Continue reading →