Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Monday, June 24, 2019


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter -- 

There is within us from birth the desire to dominate—to have our own way—and the desire to cooperate—to consider the needs of others as well as our own. Theologically, these are “original sin” and “prevenient grace.”

Especially in our early years, but true mostly all the way to puberty, we dominate or cooperate according to our own internal state at the moment. It’s the “if I’m not with the girl I love, I love the girl I’m with” syndrome. If I’m feeling unhappy within myself as a four year old, I take it out in mean behavior on whoever I’m with, even if it’s the most important person in the world, the one who loves me most. If I’m feeling happy and secure and content as a four year old, I am kind to whoever I am with, even though they may be nasty people who are themselves not kind to me or anyone else.

Most of us grow out of that four year old state and begin to be able to relate to other persons as other persons, rather than only as projections of our own internal state. Some never do. You can name some of those folks.

At puberty, those twins begin to separate. Some people become dominators and some cooperators. Oh, we are never completely one or the other. Mafia hitmen are notoriously kind to animals. But our actions—in family and politics and sports and business and all the rest of life—tend to become either dominating or cooperating.

Most who are dominators are not very competent at it, but it is the only way they know how to relate to the world. So they cheer on the ones who are skilled enough and ruthless enough at dominating, even if they themselves suffer from the domination system. They get the emotional satisfaction of domination by proxy.

I learned a long time ago the maxim that we don’t vote for candidates but we vote for ourselves. I thought that meant we voted for candidates who would serve our interests. More recently, I have come to understand that we don’t primarily vote for candidates who represent our interests but for those who share our emotions, even if those candidates carry out policies that are bad for us and our own interests.

In politics or economics or church, you don’t vote your interests, you vote your character. You vote who you are. So look at who you vote for and realize: you’re looking in the mirror.

That’s why I’m a conservative; I think character matters. That’s why I’m a liberal; you can’t trust in character alone because some people are bad characters.

John Robert McFarland

I know. These posts are supposed to include a whimsical or slightly humorous story. Sorry about today’s.

A new reader of these musings asked me the reason for the title. I started writing this blog when we followed the grandchildren to Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where winter is 13 months long every year. I sub-titled it “reflections on faith and life from a place of winter for the years of winter.” I was 70 then and thought I was in the years of winter. I had no idea how young 70 is! That was just December. Now I’m deep into January!

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