Monday, 15 August 2011

Emotional literacy in the Bible ?

The Bible has Jesus say, 'Do not judge / do not condemn others / matt 5v22 do not call people nasty names ( metaphor ) like , 'you fool'.
The Bible has Jesus say, 'The spiritual man judges all things'
My interpolation of these contrary ideas is that 'Jesus' was trying to get at the idea of , be specific and judge / assess /comment on the individual action / idea in terms of your emotions / feelings. e.g.

"I think that you did / said a foolish / mad thing ", instead of , " you're mad "
"I'm annoyed that you did that, I think you made a mistake" instead of , "you fool"
"I hate what you did / said there " instead of, "I hate you "
"I'm furious that you did it that way because I think you should have done this..." V "Twit"
"I think that is a poor decision / choice that won't work " instead of, "Stupid boy "
"I'm delighted to hear you say that, I agree ", instead of , "you are right"
"I'm frustrated with my forgetfulness", instead of, " I hate myself "
"I hate this aspect.... of my job", instead of ," I hate my job"

It is interesting that the people who wrote the Bible never stuck to this rule and often called people, 'evil', 'fool','vipers','wicked',' good','righteous', which I think become obscure meaningless generalisation. However saying 'He murdered 100 people' or 'He did x, y, z crimes' or ' He made a, b, c, runinous decisions' is clearer. Most people live an average life with isolated moments of brilliance or extreme dimness / destructive behaviour. I'm always left wondering, 'well what did that O.T. king do to be painted black ? Also Jesus is written as speaking like that. I think the Bible writer / characters were trying to find emotional literacy but they saw through a glass darkly and couldn't figure it out. The Bible is written in low resolution language which is a main reason why it is so often obscure and easy to twist into many meanings. Most of the reason lies in language. However the Bible could have been written in a more accurate, specific, less generalised, less exaggerated way.

On the other hand, often the first comment I make is a broad brush stroke generalisation which I try to correct with some finer detailed information

 I just think it is an interesting guide to use, an interpretative framework. If someone speaks to me in swearing and name calling or I mutter such under my breath about others, I would try to rephrase it as, 'He is flaming mad at what I said', 'I'm fuming furious at what he did'.

So I wonder if you agree that the Bible looks like a sort of proto thought and is written in a not very emotionally literate way.

See 1 John 2v9 'Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness'
       1 John 3v15 'anyone who hates his brother is a murderer'
  What is meant by, 'I hate you'? People mostly mean that they loathe one aspect of that person, eg their voice or somethings they did / said, or maybe they have a long standing annoyance like against an ex partner who blocks parental rights. However I think it is just part of being human to have an emotional response to each experience, it is necessary and is not something to criticise, infact hating certain behaviours / ideas is part of being a balanced caring, loving person.
  I have an emotional response / setting to each piece of music, film, book, joke, tv  I have heard. Some music thrills and delights me, other pieces torture and grate on me.
 "There are many aspects about him that I feel repelled by but I realise that there are many people that are attracted to those some aspects. I find his manner arrogant but others admire it as boldness, fearlessness, self confidence.
   Just say a person had been the victim of sexual abuse then they might say, ' I hate what he did to me, i was very upset by it at the time but I have come to terms with it, however I am strongly opposed to anyone abusing others as he did. I recognise that that was not the only feature of his life and that most of the rest of it may have been considered average but certainly the abuse that he committed has blackened his reputation / record and I would not trust him not to do such a thing a again as I have never heard him renounce his position.  So I try not to think about that matter but if you mentioned it to me I would be angry and upset by what was done. I hate the things he did, I hate that he did that.but I am not going to let hatred drive me to take revenge or any violence against him or to incite others to do such. The issue is really whether that person can be trusted to live in the community without committing further abuses  and if not should they be in prision or on somesort of programme.
   Just say a person's child was killed in a car crash as a result of someone driving wrecklessly. That person might say. I am tormented by negative feelings about the whole matter, I feel devastated at the loss of my child, I'm furious that that person drove carelessly. I am always going to feel angry about that matter if I was to think about it. I try not to dwell on it. The driver needs a change of attitiude before they are allowed to drive again. They need to sit another series of lessons, counselling, test. I hate the careless attitude, What I hate most is that they don't seem to comprehend the damage they have done, that they have robbed me of my child but I am not going to let the anger I have push me into senseless destructive acts that wouldn't help but rather ruin my life more.I'm not going to let my anger push me into breaking the law- taking the law into my own hands, not will I incite others to do such. I am going to channel my anger into positive actions to make the world a better, safer place.
   Just say a person has been sacked and they think it is unjustified, they could feel a grievance and say, ' I think that it wasn't fair, I think I was doing the job well enough, I think I was up to doing it, I hate that they sacked me, I'm angry and upset about it, I am going to seek a tribunal to see if I can get it back
   Just say a person has been bullied for months at school. The victim might say, 'I hate what they have been doing, I hate how they have been treating me, I'm so unhappy about being on the receiving end of that abuse. They should not be acting like that, they should be caring, respectful and not hurt anyone.

 1 John 3 v15 'anyone who hates his brother is a murderer' is a dud, nonsense sentence. It jumps several stages between hatred and murder. Dislike of some characteristic or hatred / anger about somethings they did or said is normal and healthy response, nothing to criticise. However if that hatred was to become an obsession leading the persons thoughts down a path toward planning retaliatory acts or inciting others to take part in destructive, unlawful, retaliation then it would need to be channelled into a different path. It requires the skill of putting the matter down and trying to focus on something else. It is also about having the intelligence to find a way forward, to find something to do that will make your life better, happier, richer, more rewarding, consolling, comforting, a constructive solution rather than making the loss worse.
  Having hatred toward some aspect of another person is a long way from murdering them. There are laws in U.K about not inciting to murder and laws which prohibit sectarian chant / propaganda.
   The way 1 John has written about negative emotions is like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut. The gist of the idea would seem to be to discourage hatred or malice but it is written in such over the top language that it commits a similar offence to what it tries to solve. 
   Matt 5v22 anyone who is ANGRY WITH their brother will be subject to judgement. Surely it is unavoidable and nothing to criticise to be displeased about somethings your brother has done / said. Surely it is not a big deal to be irritated by some long standing issues that have not been resolved. In fact it is a normal, healthy necessary part of being a mature, sane adult. Even orthodox christianity says, 'Hate the sin, love the sinner' or rather , ' Hate the mistake, care about the person, talk over the all the pros and cons. I can't understand why you have chosen that option, I have looked at the argument as best I can and it suggests to me a different conclusion, would you like to point out some reasons in favour of doing it you way, that I have forgotten.
   I realise that I am vexed about those issues but I try not to think of them and rather focus on being respectful / friendly / peaceable. On the other hand I have made it clear to him that i strongly disapprove of his position on that matter.
   I  suppose really it means that if you were angry about something your broter did and your response was to cut off dialogue & contact and to scheme to cause harm against them or to attempt to generate bad feelings among others toward that person, eg sectarion  or racially abusive propoganda then that could become incitement to murder.

Surely it would have been easier to say, 'Do  not propagate hatred or incite others to do violence but rather aim to facilitate peaceful relations and caring attitudes, positive solutions : I think you should do this... in order to achieve this...' an aim /target
  If you were a manager you might have targets to reach in many areas of the task - to have zero accidents in the office, zero accidents on the roads, clear all the packets, have good working relations, minimise sick absecnce, find extra revenue streams, You might mark your employees performance, praise them for the parts they passed and help them to do better where they haven't met targets. You certainly wouldn't use the sort of language found in Revelations.
  The Bible is the writings of people from 2000+ years ago who were little more that witchdoctors. They were well intentioned to find  rules, systems for being more loving / caring but what they wrote has failed because they didn't seem to have a proper grasp on emotional literacy

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