An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
Interesting article here that notes a study which seems to indicate that religious people have better self-control than non-religious. Of course they posit all manner of scientific reasoning to it and that's okay because I don't have many qualms with the idea that human biology functions more effectively when tuned toward the general direction of its creator. That said, it is always interesting to listen to secular scientists studying religious people like lab rats and - in this case - trying to purify a marketable product from our behavior. Note the attempt to find a secular equivalent to the religious-psychological formula that supposedly allows us to be self-controlled.
I thought it also interesting to see that apparently having some enviro-one world-peace-love-dope-can't we just all get along sort of religion doesn't rate.
"People can have sacred values that aren't religious values," he said. "Self-reliance might be a sacred value to you that's relevant to saving money. Concern for others might be a sacred value that's relevant to taking time to do volunteer work. You can spend time thinking about what values are sacred to you and making New Year's resolutions that are consistent with them."
But here's the sticking point, I think: if the value is sacred to YOU, doesn't that by default make it less sacred? For my part, many of the values I am called to, do not come easy to me; rather they WAR against my selfishness and I do not enjoy it. Self-control is only tested when you do something you generally prefer not to do or when you abstain from doing something you really like to do. These sorts of things call upon values that are not internal, but external. How can one invent values they won't enjoy for themselves?
Besides all the psycho-babble, there is that little thing about having a personal and communal relationship with a God-man risen from the dead named Jesus.
Exit Question: If religious people generally have more self control than non-religious people, what bearing does this have on the issue of abstinence education's effectiveness?
2nd Exit Question: If I am the example of a religious person with more self control than non-religious people, mustn't all non-religious people then be perceived as the very pinnacle of incontinence? In other words, surely I am an outlier to these data!
In my experience, there's nothing standing between me and my indulging of my personal demons except daily, concrete connection with God. Not naked will power (at least not for long), not other people, not mastering the content of theological texts---NOTHING but the miraculous transforming energy of God. That's good news, really, but it's bad news until we surrender to it. "When I'm weak, then am I strong." This is not metaphorical or ironic language. For me, it brings me precisely where I need to be in order to survive: The desperation of a dying man.