Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hither and Yon. Psychologial postulates and Catholicism

Been wanting to write something about an Oedipal interpretation of Jesus and Catholicism. The Church made some important changes with Vatican II. More important than changing the prayers of the Mass to the national language is the fact that the Sunday readings are changed, expanded to a 3 year cycle rather than a 1 year; and I have been struck by the revelation of the ideas of Christ in the Gospels, and the intriguing first readings of the Mass from the Hebrew Bible chosen to stand in a parallel fashion to the later Gospel. It was several weeks ago when, in the manner of being faithful, the Christian was enjoined to accept, though completely following instructions, to see him (or her) self as a 'worthless servant' to the Master.

Joseph is portrayed perhaps little in the Gospel and that portrayal is as a humble, dutiful carpenter. Maybe it's just me really, but this seams like the external appearance of a senior enlisted man in the armed services. Maybe most of them are like June Cleaver's husband; but, when I have seen patients with lifer, enlisted fathers, they report to me brutal if somewhat predictable treatment at the hands of their fathers. To touch on it in part, the Oedipal conflict energizes powerful twin attitudes of competition with and loyalty to father. The cultural and political setting of Jesus' time was of of a Roman political administration that promoted an early globalization and, presumably, some benefits in economic growth. Book/daddy cites a book which talks of this policy ultimately not follwed by Rome to its peril. After all, there did seem to be sufficient resources for Jesus to travel around without 'working.' Allied with the 'globalization' was the suppression of traditional local hegemony. This was theologically difficult for the Jews as they had received their charter from G-d. In a sense this deposed a 'father' who, one can see in the Hebrew readings, is an important guarantor of security in the vicissitudes of life and moral authority. I am going to make another assumption here, and that is that Joseph felt in conflict with the Pharisees, and Jesus entered his public life from that viewpoint and in loyalty to his own father. This also made it possible for him to hold less close traditional ideas of Jewish hegemony. He correctly foresaw the looming 'end of the world' in a conflict of Jewish conservative pride with Roman military and administrative ability which would in the coming century end the Temple centered Jewish life. He proposed a revocation of the loyalty to Temple primarily and proposed 'rendering to Caesar what was Caesar's and to G-d what was G-d's.' Thus to a certain extent he supplanted, competitively, a Jewish father with a Roman father. This was also a plan for coexistence. It left room for high moral ideals, but it also left traces of a Roman, perhaps partially in the image of Joseph, god whom we see in the injunction to consider oneself in relation to as a 'worthless servant' and in the Lord's prayer asking to be granted 'our daily bread' as if a Roman slave and forgoing the ideas of direct communication with G-d and enjoying considerable property as had Abraham.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Care of children

Clarence Parker, MD is a good Southern analyst. He is fond of the South except in one respect, the practice of letting babies cry themselves to sleep. One of the perhaps unappreciated problems in psychology and mental health is rank ordering a principle. For instance, the principle of critical periods is pretty basic which also means of perhaps the highest rank order. It's also pretty obvious in part. The idea of critical periods is that there is a developmental task attendant to a certain age. This applies to growth from infancy to adulthood in a decrescendo fashion with earlier deficits impacting later challenges. I say it's obvious because clearly a baby must gain muscular control in stages, ability to eat in stages. The idea that there may be a process of maturation psychologically then wouldn't seem so odd in this context; yet the possibility seems denied. What isn't obvious is that achieving 'object constancy' is the task of the infant. 'Object constancy' means that mother, father exist, will reappear and are, mostly, supportive. Holding the baby when it cries, finding empathy, helps the infant achieve that object constancy. This should be achieved by 2 years old and then the child might be more left to cry. Other principles and how they are characterized if disputed might be less central and shouldn't lead, as seems to happen, to just throwing out the whole psychology project.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore for a Nobel Prize. I suppose most of us are thinking, 'Heh, my carbon foot print is lower!' Maybe that's the point. When I read it on Instapundit, I had to check and see that it was the BBC and not the Onion that announced it.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Thinking the thinkable: Why I am voting for Obama in the primary

Any of the likely Republican nominees are all right with me. McCain has been right on the Iraq war. Giuliani has been an effective administrator. Thompson speaks well, goes back to appropriate first principles in making a decision. But a Democrat may be elected. Megan McArdle recommends Obama because he has the best principal economic advisor. He's not a liar as revealed by what he said when asked why he wasn't wearing an American flag lapel pin. Hilary abuses little people close to her office and the law based on her having gained stroke in the government and lies about it. A white acquaintance worked for the Illinois State Senate when Obama was a Senator and says, 'He (Barack Obama) is a nice guy.'

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Communities with high immigrant populations have less crime

A recent article in the Dallas Morning News reported that crime was lower in communities with high immigrant populations, lower than would be predicted by socioeconomic status, a co-variate with crime. This in paragraphs 21-23 comparing Dallas and surrounding cities:

Most cities have violent crime rates that are in line with similar communities around the country. But four area cities – Irving, Denton, Garland and Grand Prairie – had much lower violent crime rates than their socioeconomic statuses would suggest.
While many factors could account for the lower crime rates, recent research might explain at least some of Irving's performance.
High immigration correlates with lower crime rates. Irving has the greatest proportion of foreign-born people among cities with at least 65,000 residents outside the West and East coasts. About a third of the city's population was born elsewhere.
And that runs counter to the common assumption that associates immigrants with crime, said Robert Sampson, professor of sociology at Harvard University. "The data just don't bear this out in any way."
Dr. Sampson points to several reasons why immigration correlates with lower crime rates. Immigrants, he said, often are motivated to improve their lives. Many immigrant families have more traditional family structures. And in many cities, immigrants have improved the economies of their communities.

During the posts on illegal immigration, the self suppressed finding of a sociology professor's finding of a negative effect of diversity on community health was a topic on the old Asymmetric Information blog. Moreover it seems a generally held idea.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Yom Kippur and the crucifixion

Listening to the temple sacrifice which used to occur on Yom Kippur in the Jewish calendar, reported as part of the Yom Kippur liturgy, I was overwhelmed by the equivalence to Christ's crucifixion. Overwhelmed because it seemed clear, He had taken this as a model. In reading Quest of the Historical Jesus, one might be skeptical about what His intentions were and what had later been added for a certain effect. In part however the attitude of fitting events and statements into a puzzle to clarify what really went on leads to something here. Beyond the equivalence of the sacrifice, the second issue imposed as a consequence of the viewpoint of equivalence is to wonder 'Why didn't the Crucifixion and Yom Kippur coincide rather than the crucfixion occur on Passover?' Passover is, in a sense, the beginning of Jewishness as an institutional religion. So the timing suggests that Jesus expected either for the Jewish people to rise up and go to His religion or that His sacrifice would lead to a carrying away of errors and a new religion.