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Weekend Update 12-31-2011

Posted: December 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 12-31-2011

Busy week between Christmas and preparing for our second Christmas on 12/30. I’m closing this early as I doubt I’ll have time tomorrow to write anything. 2011 has been an interesting year. Here’s to 2012!

In last week’s update, I mentioned that the EPA finally (after two decades) released mercury regulations for older coal power plants. Given the pretty drastic toxic effects of mercury, especially on young children (in whom it actually causes neurological damage resulting in a permanent loss of intelligence), you would think this is something we could all cheer. Sadly, but predictably, Republicans are furious over the new, long over-due regulations. I have a hard time understanding why anyone votes for these people.

I’ve commented myself a number of times on the increasing similarity between the modern GOP and Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life, in attitude, greed, and vision for our country. Seems I’m not the only one to note the similarity. I certainly pray that greed and short-sighted self-interest (short-sighted because in the long run we all need and are responsible for each other — one of the messages of Christianity) have not become the new American way. I’m not sure I’m as optimistic as the author of the article, though. After all, this past year I’ve watched Republican crowds cheer executions in Texas, cheer the hypothetical death of an uninsured person, and boo a combat veteran. It looks more and more like social Darwinism has won the day — strangely while waving a “Christian” banner.

And this is why executions in Texas are absolutely nothing to applaud. Ever.

Most of our national debt is money we owe ourselves. I agree most people seem to miss that fact.

Weekend Update 12-24-2011

Posted: December 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 12-24-2011

I couldn’t think of a better way to open this Christmas Eve update than with two posts by Fr. Stephen. The first asks: How Big is Your Christmas? The second discusses The Fire of Christmas. Take a moment to read them both.

I also want to point out this post by Fr. Richard Rohr. Lord have mercy.

Why the Republican Crackup is Bad for America. Good points.

Politifact, R.I.P. I can’t even grasp their logic. The Ferrari/golf cart analogy I tweeted this past week captures the fundamental illogic really well. Maybe they are trying to curry favor after last year’s Lie of the Year. Or maybe, as Krugman speculates, it’s a deeper problem that one party lies about almost everything and the other one lies significantly less. If you point that out, you get labeled ‘partisan’.

We’re finally going to regulate mercury from coal plants.

The Post-Truth Campaign. We’re truly living in an Orwellian society — at least when it comes to propaganda.

Keynes was right. I’m not an economist. I don’t even particularly like economics. But I can do math. I can read charts. I can interpret historical data. In this instance, I don’t understand the resistance to that conclusion. Every bit of evidence points to it. I suppose it’s like the resistance to the evidence for climate change. As human beings, we tend to believe what we want to believe, independent of evidence.


Weekend Update 12-17-2011

Posted: December 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | 2 Comments »

Structural adjustment for the middle class? It’s a well-written post with a lot of graphs that help make the points clear. It’s not just the recession. Changes have been under way for much longer than that.

Right-wing sources of dis-information are clearly confident that those who read them won’t actually go check the source, in this case the CBO. I have no idea who is spouting the nonsense Krugman’s debunking, but if it’s a “news” source on which anyone reading relies, you might want to rethink your choices.

Supply-side economics (or Reaganomics or “voodoo economics”) could, perhaps, have once been portrayed as a matter of opinion. No  more. The facts are in. Sadly, the modern GOP has become completely disconnected from reality. So far, that seems to work for them, but it hardly seems sustainable. Of course, fewer and fewer people today have likely read 1984 or Brave New World.

When you’re disconnected from reality, though, you get to ignore things like this. Besides, who gives a shit about our kids and grandkids? That’s not the “conservative” or “Christian” thing in today’s United States of America. We got ours. Screw you.

Nearly 1 in 2 Americans poor or low-income. But let’s demonize them because they don’t pay income tax, even if they do pay regressive payroll and sales taxes. Because, you know, blessed are the rich. #republicanchristianity

I share the video below because, in his snarky way, he has a good point. I looked at the site he references. Yeah. It’s exactly how he characterizes it. If you want to reduce abortions, the path is the same as those the early Christians took. When anyone crosses your path (and thus becomes your “neighbor”) sacrifice everything (money, time, comfort, living space) to provide a meaningful alternative. And commit to support women and kids for life, not merely as long as its convenient. Not willing to do that? Then STFU and stop blaspheming the name of Christ. Harsh words? Sure. But long overdue.

Weekend Update 12-10-2011

Posted: December 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 12-10-2011

As usual, LaVonne Neff has some excellent observations on health care. I’ll not that up until the early nineties, when most of the US insurance plans and hospitals were non-profit, we had a somewhat decent health care system. There were still too many gaps in it, but it wasn’t systemically evil. It’s when the core of the system switch from non-profit (which is not the same thing as charity at all) to for-profit with little effective regulation that things went to hell in a handbasket. And it happened quickly — between the birth of my 20 year old son and my 15 year old daughter. And it has steadily gotten worse from there. I find the objections to an 80% or 85% medical loss ratio laughable. Before they converted from non-profit to for-profit, our private insurance companies routinely had medical loss around 95%. Still lower than Medicare’s, but an acceptable level. 80% is just a good start. It’s time to stop Wall Street financiers from profiting by gouging the injured, sick, and dying. They don’t create jobs. They just bankrupt and kill people.

I’ve seen this several times. On one level it’s pretty funny. But on another, it illustrates exactly why I’ve traced beliefs and assertions about God and Christianity historically. The farther to the right you are in that tree, the less likely I am to take you credibly if you contradict those to the left of the tree in the diagram.

Republicans don’t even adhere to their own loudly proclaimed “principles” in the current payroll tax cut debate. Frankly, they reveal that their only agenda is to serve a tiny fraction of the richest Americans.

Are the muppets communists? Faux News wants to know. No, seriously, that’s not a joke. They really want to know.

This is a good episode of the Hold the Gluten podcast. In it, one of the things they discuss was a recent episode of Man Up! in which they handled the subject of gluten intolerance in a particularly tasteless fashion. Frankly, my wife and I caught an episode of the show earlier this year and found it not worth watching, so I’m not surprised. However, I didn’t see the episode in question. From the description in the podcast, though, it sounds like ABC owes us an apology. Now, there’s nothing wrong with comedies tackling serious, chronic, even life-threatening illnesses. Often we need to find the humor in a situation, and sometimes a comedy can address a serious issue in a way that drama can’t. As they mention, Parenthood, another show,  has addressed celiac (with a presenting symptom in a child of a particular skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis), and found the humor while also being tasteful. Nobody would consider making a comedy that treated breast cancer the way Man Up! apparently treated gluten intolerance, at least in part because the audience wouldn’t tolerate it, yet many comedies have indeed covered the topic of breast cancer over the years. Undiagnosed and untreated celiac can lead to cancer, malnutrition, brittle bones, infertility, miscarriages, depression, or a host of other things. Ultimately, if untreated, it will shorten your life. And the only treatment is a strict gluten free diet. That’s difficult for an adult. It’s even more so for a child. My kids have done really well. I’m proud of them. My younger son has learned to cook and shop for himself. But even in college, when his friends want to stop at McDonald’s, he ends up getting a soda — because there’s nothing he can eat. My daughter has to take some of her own food to camp, and every school-related party seems to include pizza. She does really well, but sometimes she doesn’t go to things simply because she doesn’t feel like dealing with the food issue. Listen to the podcast. Watch the show if ABC still has it online. See what you think.

But this goes to the point of salvation. Salvation is not how to get people like me (or like you) into some place safe from the fires of hell. That is a transportation problem at best, or a legal problem, at worst. The point of salvation is how to change people like me (and you). It is about changing us such that seeing the resurrection becomes possible.Read this post by Fr. Stephen.

Eight year old boy tells Bachmann, “My mom is gay and she doesn’t need fixing.” According to the woman in line who took the video clip, the boy’s mother was in line to say something to Bachmann, but got nervous and wanted to leave. It’s the boy who grabbed her coat and cried, “No!” and insisted that he wanted to say something to her. Is there any way for us to know the truth with certainty? No. But having raised a bunch of kids, I find the video-taker’s story credible. My kids have often put me into uncomfortable situations over the years in their desire to act. Sometimes they have needed a bit of encouragement right at the end to do what they have been adamant with me that they wanted to do up until that point. I remind them of what they told me. Sometimes that nudge has been all they needed. Other times they have still backed away. I do hope the boy’s mother wasn’t using her son to make a political statement. I don’t jump to that conclusion, though, as many do, because I know how loyal kids can be to their family. Watch the video and read the statement by the woman who took the video and posted it and reach your own conclusions.

GOP busy reading the minds of apparently imaginary millionaire business owners. Who needs facts when you can just make up anything you want?

The super committee’s do-nothing path to success.

When health care bills are a bigger fear than dying, the system is broken. The problem is not that the ACA overreaches, but that it very possibly doesn’t go far enough. Still, it’s better than nothing, which is what the GOP and their health industry overlords. (How did we ever let our health become the basis for a profit-oriented industry anyway?)

Well, of course. Republicans are adamantly against anyone or any organization looking out for the interests of most of us who live in this country. What else is new? Until voters wake up and punish them for their blatantly anti-American attitudes and tactics, they’ll keep doing it. It’s as simple as that. I’m not sure how bad it’s going to have to get for people to reach that point, but the GOP seems happy to push the limits so it looks like we might find out.

Access to health care shouldn’t depend on luck. If you’re ‘against’ health care reform, then you and your loved ones are healthy or you happen to have access to good insurance right now. And in your opposition you are basically betting your life and the lives of those who depend on you that those facts will remain true. Personally, I’m not willing to wager the lives of my wife and children in such a gamble. And for what gain? The ACA, imperfect as it is, will save most of us money and provide us greater access to health care. But even if it cost me more money, the lives of my family can’t be measured in dollars. I’ve been pretty lucky so far. But anyone’s luck can run out, mine included. I’m neither naive nor shortsighted enough to believe otherwise.

Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly sparring by video clip over Jon’s “War on Christmas”. My thoughts? My kids, especially my youngest, have grown up in a pretty pluralistic environment. In elementary school, she had a Muslim friend when, for several years, Eid al-Adha fell in December. So she learned about it from her friend and came home to tell us about it. My kids have had friends in other religions and none. They’ve never felt restrained in their faith, but have naturally respected that of others. It’s not a great mystery. If you know and love the ‘other’, what else would you do? I do, however, appreciate Jon’s sacrifice. He watches Fox News so we don’t have to.

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And the Colbert Report on Rick Perry’s ad.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Rick Perry’s Pro-Christmas Ad
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Spanking Kids

Posted: December 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Personal | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Elizabeth Esther faced off with Michael Pearl on Anderson Cooper. I applaud her for her courage. On her post, I made two comments I want to preserve on my blog. The first is simply my reaction to her post and her courage for speaking out.

Way to go EE!

And the truth is that kids are resilient. (The older we get, the less resilient we seem to get, but we often still have surprising capacity in that area.) Some break. Sometimes even those who experienced much worse don’t break and find healing. Some experience things that boggle the minds of others and become relatively unscathed adults.

Unfortunately, the reverse is true as well. A child can be loved, given structure and boundaries, and given many other advantages, yet still walk dark paths as an adults.

Parenting matters, and can matter a great deal. But neither good nor bad parenting can assure any particular outcome. And in many ways that’s a good thing. After all, aren’t most of us a mixed bag as parents? It’s good that our mistakes don’t really “scar our kids for life” even if that also means the things we do right don’t guarantee a positive outcome.

I think that’s an important, but overlooked point. Our kids are free human beings just as we are. The fact that we can’t do anything that will guarantee a positive outcome is the corollary to our freedom from every mistake we make having a permanent effect on our children. You can’t have one without the other.

The second comment is one I made to someone who described themselves as a former pediatric trauma nurse and asserted that ‘spanking’ was an overall good in order to ‘keep kids from running into the street.’ I’m tired of that meme being abused, especially by someone asserting professional authority, so posted (if EE approves it) the following.

I wasn’t going to say more than I had mentioned above, but in describing yourself as a pediatric trauma nurse you have made an appeal to authority (in this case professional authority) while making an assertion of fact that is contrary to psychological findings. I don’t defend the language of the person to whom you were responding and their blurring of categories. But you’re appealing to medical authority and your statements are contrary to fact. I don’t want to leave that unchallenged.

This is one of the peer-reviewed articles I can find available online for free. (That’s actually an ongoing problem when discussing science.) I’ve read many more in other media and its results and conclusions are consistent with other peer-reviewed studies I’ve read.


Now, that might be a bit much for people not accustomed to reading scientific papers. I come from a family of scientists, though I am not myself a scientist. My mother is many things, but those things include two masters degrees in psychology and art therapy.

Personally, I have experienced abuse and my older son was seriously abused by his biological mother at a young age. (Lots of medical and legal bills and bankruptcy followed that experience, but I regret none of that part of the cost. I do regret that I wasn’t able to learn to be a better parent any faster than I did.) I had the ability to read and understand the research and the motivation to do so.

Here is the key point. The only “positive” thing that has been shown to correlate with corporal punishment is short term (less than five seconds) behavior modification. It’s good at doing that. It’s pretty poor at moral internalization and every other positive long-term measure. And it correlates with some pretty negative long-term outcomes.

What does that mean when it comes to “running into the street”? Well, it shows a number of things (which other peer-reviewed studies have also shown). First, if you are close enough to strike a child, then you have no need for short term behavior modification. You can physically restrain the child from running into the street. (Or they have already run into the street, you’ve caught them, and you are striking them because they frightened you.)

So if short-term behavior modification is not the goal, then moral internalization must be the goal. (You want the child to internalize that they should not run into the street and restrain themselves in the future.) But corporal punishment is one of the worst approaches to moral internalization. That’s not to say that it never works, but it usually doesn’t. And there are many other things you could do that would be more likely to result in moral internalization. Studies have shown precisely that as well.

Once I read the studies and thought about it, I realized there really aren’t any situations where I’m primarily concerned about immediate compliance (short term behavior modification) when my children are within arm’s length. Yes, my children can sometimes embarrass me. I got over that a long time ago. But as a parent, my goal is always moral internalization. I want them to internalize what I’m trying to teach so it becomes something they can do for themselves without me forcing compliance.

So I decided I would do the best I could to use approaches to discipline correlated with greater success at moral internalization. Which is not to say I don’t ever yell (a lesser form of the same sort of thing as spanking), but I don’t hit my children. And I’ve gotten pretty good at apologizing when I do yell and explaining why I did. Doesn’t make it all right, but kids mostly want to give their parents the benefit of the doubt. They forgive easily.

Have I screwed up and will I screw up tomorrow? Sure. But I don’t hit those I love the most. And maybe that’s a start toward learning not to hate those I love the least.

So my cards are on the table. What say you? But be warned, I will remove comments I believe cross the line. I’m not interested in the sort of comment war I’ve seen on other blogs. If you assert something, you better have more than your opinion or an anecdote behind it. This is something about which I feel strongly, and experience tells me if you push me, I’ll tear what you say apart. So be prepared. Or just walk away if you have your own strong opinions and believe it would be mutually counter-productive to engage.

UPDATE: I wrote the comment below later on EE’s blog and wanted to preserve it here as well.

“Right” and “wrong” are moral judgements (unless they are used to mean factually correct and factually incorrect, when usually isn’t the case in these discussion). That wasn’t the point of my comment at all.

Rather, if your goal is moral internalization (teach the child not to run into the street in the future so they restrain themselves) then corporal punishment is one of the least effective means you can choose to accomplish that goal. That’s not a moral judgment, that’s a statement of fact.

The question then becomes, why do parents do something that’s ineffective at their stated goal? And why do they often perceive it as effective when it isn’t? (In other words, why do their perceptions fail to coincide with reality?) That’s another discussion, entirely.

Here I was simply pointing out that your assertion of fact (that spanking a child is an effective means of teaching them not to run into the street in the future) was incorrect. That’s not a matter of opinion. That’s as close as you get to an established fact in behavioral science confirmed in multiple studies by lots of researchers over the course of decades. Corporal punishment is pretty good at very short term behavior modification. It sucks at moral internalization.

Heck, I even read a study from more than a decade ago (not available online as far as I know) that didn’t rely on parental reporting on the specific subject of ‘running into the street’. Instead, they used a control group of parents who reported using spanking to correct that behavior (and controlled for as many factors as they could). And then they taught a study group of parents a relatively simple and straightforward disciplinary approach to teach their small children not to run into the street. Then they observed both sets of families as they were outside under similar conditions for similar periods of time each day over the course of a  period of time. (It was something like 2 weeks or a month.)

Over that period of time, the control group of kids who were spanked showed little or no reduction in their attempts to run into the street. The group that was effectively disciplined very quickly fell to almost no attempts to run into the street.

The same study also asked the parents questions designed to determine their perception of the effectiveness of their disciplinary approach. And this was the strange part. The study group correctly perceived the effectiveness of the approach they used, even though it was new to most of them. However, the group of parents who spanked also reported that they perceived their efforts as effective and further significantly under-reported the number of times their children tried to run into the street.

That’s a good illustration why our perceptions of effectiveness — without objective measures — are not particularly trustworthy. Heck, Michael Pearl perceives his approach as effective.

And I’m not particularly interested in sympathy for myself or my son (who’s doing pretty well for himself with a family of his own now). I was just explaining why I was motivated to actually learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to discipline.

And corporal punishment doesn’t work in any of the areas I care about, and which I believe most parents care about, when it comes to disciplining children. (Even when compliance — short term behavior modification — matters, which isn’t very often, there are other approaches to achieve it that don’t have the negative outcome correlations of corporal punishment.)

I did notice one thing that I don’t think was clear in my abbreviated overview of the ‘running into the street’ study I described. All the parents normally spanked their kids. (I think this study was from the late 80s or early 90s when it would have been much harder to find parents in the US who wouldn’t have given their small children a swat for running into the street.) They first observed the entire group for a period of a week or two to establish norms in the study situation. They then taught a selected study group a different approach and continued the study for another week or two. Obviously they didn’t tell the control group that they were the control group and as little as possible to either about the purpose of the study. (I think they told the study group they were evaluating a ‘new’ idea for a parental discipline technique or something like that.) In human behavior studies, you can never control for everything. But I thought it was a pretty well-constructed study. That’s one of the reasons it lodged in my brain all these years.

This isn’t a moral judgment like any discussion of abuse must be. (Though I will note that there seems to be a pretty huge gray area between things that almost everyone would agree are non-abusive corporal punishment and the things that almost everyone would agree are clearly physical abuse. That’s another problem to discuss at another time.) This is a discussion of reality and the fact that so many parents’ perceptions of reality with their parenting techniques and children don’t coincide with what is actually happening.

Weekend Update 12-03-2011

Posted: December 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 12-03-2011

What’s next? Will they start rejecting the theory of evolution? Oh, wait. That closing bit certainly got a chuckle from me.

Taxes could and should be part of any long-term deficit reduction plan. It seems like a no-brainer to me, but I keep forgetting the evidence that a lot of Americans can’t seem to handle elementary level arithmetic anymore. I also know that a lot of people wait for Medicare today, even at cost to their health, simply because they have no other option they can afford. When they finally get Medicare, not only do they quickly get the delayed procedures, but the delay has often made care more expensive. Now, if the proponents to raising the age of Medicare to 67 were predominantly those who supported health care reform, I would agree with Krugman’s comment that it’s simply shifting costs from the less expensive Medicare to the more administratively expensive private plans. Either way, it would be a shared cost under the ACA (which ultimately requires that everyone be covered without discrimination and that everyone participate), which means we would be robbing Peter to pay a more expensive Paul. “Savings” would be illusory. However, the majority of the support for raising the Medicare eligibility age seems to come from those who oppose the ACA. In a world in which the ACA is repealed, the idea of raising Medicare age looks a lot more sinister. A lot of those people will no longer be able to afford any coverage. So it looks to me like those proponents are not proposing shadow accounting and cost shifting from one ledger to another. Rather, they seem to be betting that if you delay Medicare two more years without any other alternative, more people will die before they become eligible for coverage. So much for being “pro-life” but we knew that was a political sham anyway.

It’s only the rich the GOP insists can’t be taxed more. They’re fine with raising taxes on the rest of us. They don’t even try to maintain a facade of credibility. And yet people still support them. It boggles my mind.

Study debunks stereotype that men think about sex all day long. Men do tend to think about sex (and eating and sleeping) somewhat more often than women (and yes, women think about sex), but hardly every seven seconds.

Robert Reich comments on something I’ve long noted, that the modern GOP are not conservatives in any sense of that word, but regressives who seek to return our country to something like what it was in the Gilded Age of the late 19th century. And yes, they are proponents of social darwinism. Curiously, many of those most likely to be utterly destroyed by such policies actually support these villains. Ain’t democracy grand?

The millionaire surtax would have very little impact on small business. Of course, since it appears that a significant number of Americans are unable to do the math themselves or understand it when someone else tries to do it for them, it’s unsurprising that such bald-faced propaganda (lies) works.

Chrome surpasses firefox. Not by much, but still pretty significant. We now have a healthy diversity with many products implementing the same standards, requiring interoperable implementations. Even the browser with the largest (still) market share, Internet Explorer, is not the majority browser. There is no browser with a majority of the market anymore. And ultimately? Whether it’s in second or third place, that means firefox succeeded in one of its underlying goals. And that’s pretty cool.

The fundamental flaw in Ramsey’s theology of money is the perspective that it’s his money or property in the first place. That’s the underpinnings of Deism (and more broadly of secularism) as this Orthodox lay theologian points out. And Ramsey’s theology of property also has no basis in either the Old or New Testaments.

Marine: Fears of end to gay ban prove unfounded.

Zach Wahls speaks about family. Wow. Any parent would be proud, I think. My older son married an Iowan and they live there. I have to confess I don’t know much about the state or its culture, but Zach also makes his state sound pretty good.

The Secure64 DNS products are pretty impressive in action. It’s an invisible part of the Internet until it doesn’t work. And without DNSSEC, it can be manipulated to allow essentially undetectable (by the end user) man in the middle attacks. He explains both issues very well.

How the f$*k is it Martha Stewart went to jail?

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Love of enemies and random thoughts after a Derek Webb house concert

Posted: December 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Faith | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Love of enemies and random thoughts after a Derek Webb house concert

I went with a friend (his CD is pretty good too — shameless friend plug) to a Derek Webb house concert tonight. Unlike many people who attend his concerts (from what I gather), I’m a latecomer to Christianity and never knew anything about Caedmon’s Call, whom I gather were popular in the CCM context. Instead I was introduced to Derek Webb by the aforementioned friend with his Mockingbird album. David Ramirez opened with a few songs and I was blown away by some of them. I’m looking forward to listening to the CD I bought. I loved the atmosphere of a house show. It’s much different than even a small venue staged show.

But this post isn’t exactly about the concert. In all places and all times, I have thoughts and ideas for something I could write (not necessarily a blog post) flit through my head. Many of them soon vanish. Some stick and keep bouncing around, at least for a while. I had a few such thoughts during the show. I won’t flesh them into full blog posts, but I decided I wanted to write briefly about at least one or two.

At one point Derek mentioned how instinctual it is, even from a very young age, to want to hit someone back  when they hit you. It’s in our blood, I believe is the way he put it. And Jesus’ command to love our enemies often makes no sense at all to us. I realized that’s the perfect description of the impact of what the Orthodox call ancestral sin. Because that instinctive desire to retaliate is tied to our need to protect our person and our identity, and ultimately that is tied to our mortality and our innate fear of that mortality. That permeates everything we think and do for as much of our lives as we can remember. It saturates our relationships and the whole world around us. We act as we do because we are enslaved by death.

Think about it. If I am not enslaved by my mortality, I have no innate or instinctual drive to strike back to protect myself. But it goes much deeper than that. We do not live in the perfect love and communion of the Trinity because of our fear of death. We encounter someone in need. Why don’t we meet that need? We ask, what will happen to me or to my family, if I meet that need? We cannot love the other because we are trapped, even if we believe we are free. That’s why the early church held all things in common and all gave freely so that none lacked. That’s a description of the sort of communion we understand the Trinity to have with each other. The Resurrected Christ had broken the gates of Hades/Sheol. He had crushed death. And their freedom was freedom from the slavery of death. They could freely give their resources to meet all needs because perfect love had driven out fear.

I also realized I so quickly connected to the patristic (and Orthodox) teachings on the passions because it truly is a part of my formation. I grew up with people around me ruled by things over which they had little or no control. Many of those people loved me and many of them never intentionally did anything to harm me. In fact, most of the time they loved me and acted accordingly. The problem is that when you are ruled by something, you simply cannot always place others first, even those you dearly love and to whom you wish to express the care flowing from that love. That which rules you, your passion, at times does so to the exclusion of everything else. It’s not that they don’t love. It’s that sometimes that which rules them blocks the effective expression of that love. And that can manifest in all sorts of ways.

So I’ve always understood ‘passions’ and their implications. It’s almost written in my DNA. A passion is something we suffer because it doesn’t just harm others. It hurts those it rules. Those subject to a passion cannot always do as they wish to do. Sometimes they do as they do not wish to do, and suffer as a result.

Christ offers freedom, and by freedom he means freedom from our universal bondage to death as well as freedom from the ruling passions we suffer. But it’s a freedom we must seek to the extent that we are able. If we fail to do so, even though mankind and creation have been freed by Christ, we will continue to live as slaves to the cruelest masters of all.