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christian teachings (1)

As an educator, and as a critic of when certain ideas are promoted as propaganda, and distorted, I have to be concerned. Truly, I'd rather put my attention on more positive productions of my own work on fearlessness, for example. But when it comes to "fear" and our knowledge about it, I am on the path of the sacred warrior real fast. A defender of the dharma, as Ken Wilber has been called. I too am not about to leave knowledge about fear and its management alone--if, I see it is creating more problems than good. Now, the latter is not so easy to prove, and indeed, that's not my task. Other's with funding dollars and research support teams can go out there and prove the harmful effect levels of anything. I don't have that research team nor the resources to do it. I can be a good philosopher however, and that means offering a good critique--of everything. That said, I don't want to waste my time on everything-- I "waste" my time where I think I couldn't live with myself if I didn't say something. That topic of compelling interest is fear (by any other name). 

One major critical philosophical tradition has been to critique ideologies. I am talking about fear-based, fear-mongering distortions of knowledge. Now, there is not a premise in such critiques that persons, or organizations, etc. are consciously trying to reproduce toxic ideologies, nor do they want to do fear-mongering. But everything anyone publishes is potentially doing that if we are not consciously reflecting on what is being taught in discourses (e.g., how do we talk about fear). Well, there is an awful lot of talk about fear and an even greater volume these days of writing about it. I follow books on Amazon.com to watch how quickly a new book comes out on fear--like it seems every few months. All the authors have an agenda, and they want to help us be less afraid, and/or be only afraid of the right things, not the wrong things. That alone, on the surface is admirable and even ethical. But as critical philosophers, since at least Aristotle, have known, you can be right about something but be motivated by the wrong source and create unethical results. Carl Jung is somewhat famous, as a psychotherapist and theorist of the human psyche for his elaboration of the enantiodromia syndrome he found quite universal in most of modern human history and in people he observed. That syndrome boils down to a kind of 'law' of human behavior that goes like this (paraphrasing Jung): Those that try hard to do good end up (usually) doing bad. That is, the opposite results. 

So, if I as a researcher are looking for such syndromes, and I do, there is no greater source of cases of such as in the literature on fear management/education. I won't go into all the reason for why--but a good deal of my arguments can be found in my books and articles over the decades. One of the first steps to such critical analysis (i.e., fearanalysis) is to see how contradictions show up in common sense ("wisdom") of a society, a group, a writer/teacher, etc. So, here's one example that just popped-out at me today while researching new books on fear (the following are from the self-help genre): 

The example is Christian authors (but believe me, if you will, my research could find a similar case in secular writers). So, one author in a new book on fear (Jeanetta Dunlop, Unmasking Fear) writes: "As divine beings we are entitled to live a fear-fear life." 

The next Christian author (David Jeremiah, Slaying the Giants in Your Life), unknowingly, in distinct contradiction to the above author, writes, "The Bible, as a matter of fact, doesn't paint a picture of the fear-free life." 

Okay, I have to ask if I am selecting very specific quotes out of context and juxtaposing them to make my case of a contradiction in Christian teachings (at least by these two authors)? It is a slight possibility I am biasing this because I haven't read their books. I don't know them. I am speculating, but logically so, via a reading of one line of text, which is a "teaching"-- which has implications for readers. I ask, but what is a reader of such texts supposed to believe now? Which author is telling the best truth? I could go on an on as an educator and as part of a critical analysis... asking these questions. My reason for confidence in just how contradictory these authors are (as selected from many possibilities) is because I have read many such books by all kinds of people across as many diverse backgrounds as possible, over 27 years. If that makes me a bit of an expert on predicting where an author is likely going (in most cases, not all)--I can predict pretty well, and I have seen the pattern pretty well. In the self-help books, it seems people skew knowledge the most readily. Hey, we all skew somewhat anything we are passionate about to want to write a book about so we can help others by how we think we have been helped. I appreciate that desire. 

The ideological part of my criticism, however, is less forgiving, because these typical books on fear and its management/education, never critique themselves reflectively. The authors who write about fear don't seem to have that basic philosophical and ethical imperative in their work. I just do not see it (the rare exception is out there). 

I look at how there is so much contradiction about "fearless" these days-- is it good, is it bad? The volumes of teachings on fear and fearlessness is growing rapidly because of the era we are in--people are looking hard, and are quite 'desperate' for answers. Oh, yeah, and rarely do they read other authors and cite them in their own particular book or on their own particular promotional videos. Oh, no, they like to present their knowledge about fear as if it is their own great discovery, and if it worked for them then it will work for you. They are quick to flaunt their own philosophies. 

I think I've made my general point, of how this mess... of contradictions... and insufficiently good knowledge, often unethical knowledge... is splattering all over our children and parents, and so on... all over our societies... at least in the West. The East doesn't seem so obsessed with this. And my colleague in the philosophy of fearism (Desh Subba) tells me it is because the W. is much more fearful than the East. Now, there's an interesting thesis to test... as years go by. 

No, I'm not offering any advice on my critique here. You can ask if you want to know more. I'd rather, like you to think about it, and do your own research well, whenever someone says something about fear and its management as if they know what they are talking about. 

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