The Quality of Our Thoughts and the One Thought That Really Matters: The Fathers and the Baylor Report on Mental Health and Religious Beliefs

A recurring theme in Ancient Christian Wisdom as well as throughout this blog concerns the fact that our private thoughts about our selves color our emotions, shape our behavior, and set an indelible mark on our character and ultimately our lives.  In developing this thesis, I explored Aaron Beck’s cognitive therapy in the light of the teachings of the ancient fathers. According to Dr. Beck, “cognitive therapy is a system of therapy that attempts to reduce excessive emotional reactions and self-defeating behavior by modifying the faulty or erroneous thinking and maladaptive beliefs that … [Read more...]

The Blessing and the Bane of Expectations

Expectations exert a powerful influence over our lives. Psychologically, they can orient us away from the past and into the future with the belief that a change will take place. This belief in turn can make it easier to entertain new thoughts and to experiment with new behavior. The expectation that we will meet the Savior can increase our watchfulness and encourage us to try saying the Jesus prayer and making some time for prayer alone. Saint John Chrysostom even teaches that being watchful and in a state of expectation is what enables us to enjoy the benefit of the grace of God (Homily on … [Read more...]

Pain of Heart

In Chapter 2 of my book I discuss the problem of pain in terms of cognitive therapy and the ascetic tradition.  While there may be some outward similarities, there are also some really important differences.  Here’s an excerpt to clarify both: “In terms of a diagnosis of the human condition, cognitive therapy locates the sources of human psychological dysfunction in (1) egocentric biases leading to inappropriate anger, envy, cravings, etc., and false beliefs, (2)underlying self-defeating beliefs that reinforce biases, and (3) attaching negative meaning to events.  These dysfunctional … [Read more...]