Thoughts-What Neuroscience and the Church Fathers Have to Say

To some, Saint Peter of Damascus's list of virtues may not be their first choice in spiritual reading, but it's value extends beyond an attempt at thoroughness or an exercise in categorization. Given the associative nature of memory and the way one idea/thought/image primes neural circuits for a series of related thoughts that in turn have a significant influence on how one engages with the world, reading regularly about the virtues may be one of the best ways to ingrain virtuous behavior. In fact, one doesn't even need an elaborate commentary. Simply mentioning a word -- such as forgiveness, … [Read more...]

Reason and Speech: Timeless Truth and Secular Echoes

Introduction to Ancient Christian Wisdom and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy: A Meeting of Minds Could an ancient mystical path of inner transformation, most rigorously pursued and explored by monks and hermits, possibly bear much resemblance to what now seems to be establishing itself as the standard psychotherapeutic approach to living an effective and rational life? Would they not of necessity lie worlds apart, reflecting two different mindsets, one pre-modern and the other modern and indeed post-modern—one rational and secular, and the other mystical and sacred? As the first century … [Read more...]

The Importance of Thoughts

So, what’s the book about? In a word, thoughts. The New Testament and the Church Fathers both recognize that a person’s spiritual state is a reflection of the thoughts harbored in the heart. Research in cognitive therapy has verified that psychological states of depression, anxiety, and anger are largely a function of the evaluative thoughts that individuals have about their current situation. Obviously, there is something very similar and something very different going on here. What are the similarities? What are the differences? And what does all this mean? To tease out these issues, I … [Read more...]