Greg Carey: Robert M. Royalty Jr. points out that Christian heresy did not emerge when some misguided Christians deviated from a “pure” and “original” orthodoxy. “Orthodoxy” did not precede “heresy.” Instead, diversity marks Christianity as far back as we can see. Those who claimed an orthodox identity invented heresy by labeling others as deviant. Some Christians began identifying other Christians as “false teachers” or “heretics” in the attempt to privilege their own way as “orthodox.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-carey/where-did-heresy-begin_b_2487976.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

*

That our religious beliefs and practices are right because they are ancient, goes way back in our history. People still use it to beat up and exclude those with whom they disagree.

*

An important new book by Robert M. Royalty Jr. points out that Christian heresy did not emerge when some misguided Christians deviated from a “pure” and “original” orthodoxy. “Orthodoxy” did not precede “heresy.” Instead, diversity marks Christianity as far back as we can see. Those who claimed an orthodox identity invented heresy by labeling others as deviant. Some Christians began identifying other Christians as “false teachers” or “heretics” in the attempt to privilege their own way as “orthodox.”

(I should acknowledge that I count the author among my friends.)

*

Royalty traces heresy’s emergence not to Christian dogmatic controversies but to the diversity among Jews in the second century B.C.E. Under immense cultural and imperial pressure, Jews disagreed as to whether they should maintain their distinctive cultural practices — diet, Sabbath and circumcision — or redefine them. As we see especially in 2 Maccabees and 4 Maccabees, some Jews endured martyrdom for their fidelity to traditional ways.

*

Classic apocalyptic literature emerged precisely in this context, as works such as Daniel, 1 Enoch and some of the Dead Sea Scrolls separated Jews into two camps: the “children of light” from the “children of darkness.” Disagreement regarding who qualified as a faithful Jew, and who did not, marks the origin of heresiology. Apocalyptic literature promised God’s dramatic intervention in history and a final judgment. At this point things had progressed beyond “we disagree” to “you’re out, and God will judge you.”

*

Jesus himself experienced water immersion under John’s ministry, and full immersion in apocalyptic thought along with it. His apocalyptic message set the context in which “us and them” thinking, or dualism, prepared his followers to condemn those with whom they differed.

*

Royalty suggests several marks that define “the rhetoric of heresy.” Contemporary readers might observe how often Christians resort to these same attacks in contemporary debates. Heresy discourse depends upon the assumptions that (1) salvation (or membership) is grounded in what one believes or thinks; (2) disagreement has demonic origins; (3) the truth represents received tradition; (4) the origins of heretical thought can be identified and traced; and (5) all opponents, whether “Christian” or otherwise, are aligned together against the true believers (26-27).

*

Royalty traces the invention of heresy through a series of case studies, ranging from Q to Matthew to Thomas, from Paul’s letters to the letters written in Paul’s name, from the letters of John to Revelation, and from Ignatius to Polycarp to the Gospel of Judas. If we stop and think about it, Royalty’s point should be obvious to us. First Corinthians stands among the very earliest writings in the New Testament, less than 25 years after Jesus’ death. Already we see Paul arguing with believers whose understandings of the Gospel differ dramatically from his own. While Matthew, Mark and John (less so, Luke) emphasize Jesus’ death and resurrection, other Christian traditions, like Q, James and Thomas, are far more interested in his teaching. It’s diversity all the way down.

*

At several points Royalty points out that disagreement need not inevitably lead to charges of heresy. For example, Paul does not always curse his opponents, as he does in Galatians (1:6-9; 2:4; 5:12) and 2 Corinthians (11:1-6). He can also call for unity in the midst of conflict, as he does in 1 Corinthians. Royalty observes that non-canonical texts like the Gospels of Thomas and Mary express disagreement without condemning those with whom they disagree. And while the Johannine letters treat their opponents as “antichrists” (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7), it seems clear that folks still exchanged hospitality across those divisions (2 John 7-11; Royalty 134).

*

Royalty’s book is generally easy to read, though it requires some introductory familiarity with biblical studies. While I might quibble with the author on several points, the book’s greatest limitation is its price, a hefty $125.00 until a rumored paperback edition appears. Just the same, this book performs the valuable function of reminding us that heresy is not a matter of doctrinal error so much as a political and rhetorical invention on the part of those who insist their way is the one “true” way.

 

*

*

*

*

*

*

 

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/12/newtown-school-shootings-kids-fears

*

How to Talk to Kids About Newtown

How to help children and teens face their fears about school shootings—without freaking them out even more.

*

Parents who show positive emotional states may model positive ways of coping with stressful life events.”

To recap: Limit your child’s (and your own) exposure to disturbing news coverage. Talk to your kids, and reassure them that everyone is working hard to keep them safe. Try to send them this message of confidence not only with your words, but with your own behavior, as well. And hug them.

*

One of the main takeaways: Watching a lot of TV coverage of frightening events does not seem to help kids (or adults) cope. Take this 2007 study out of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, in which researchers observed that children who watched the most TV were more likely to experience symptoms of PTSD in the months after September 11. The researchers concluded that “Media viewing of tragic events is sufficient to produce PTSD symptoms in vulnerable populations such as children.” Similarly, in 2008, researchers from Columbia University’s psychiatry department “found children’s television use to be associated with elevated perceptions of personal vulnerability to world threats (i.e., crime, terrorism, earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods).”

And it’s not just kids that react negatively to graphic video and images. For a forthcoming study, Silver analyzed the effect of news coverage of 9/11 and the Iraq War on adults. Her team found that individuals who repeatedly exposed themselves to disturbing images were at greater risk of developing PTSD over the next two to three years. Subjects who went on to watch a lot of TV coverage of the Iraq war had an even greater likelihood of PTSD symptoms. “Based on my research, there is no psychological benefit to watching repeated pictures of horror,” says Silver.

Kids’ response to traumatic events will depend in large part upon their age and level of psychological development. “Most kids under the age of 10 don’t yet fully realize that they can’t control other people’s actions,” says Ginny Sprang, a child psychiatrist and the executive director of the University of Kentucky’s Center on Trauma and Children. “If kids are forced to confront this fact before they’re ready, it can be very anxiety-producing. For kids who are especially sensitive, you could see regression. If they are potty trained, they might slip up. They might want to sleep in the same bed as mom and dad. They might have separation anxiety at school.”

So what’s the best way to talk to your kids about the Sandy Hook tragedy? “Children tend to have the myth of invulnerability, this idea that we’re safe in the world,” says Sprang. “So when something like this happens, the first thing a child thinks is, could this happen to me? Am I safe?”

While encouraging kids to ask questions and talk about their feelings helps, research suggests that parents’ behavior might be even more important.

Sprang recommends that parents encourage kids to speak up about their feelings. “Ask kids how they feel, and what questions they have. Tell kids about everything that schools do to keep them safe, that there are adults on the job working to take care of kids.” Tailor your conversation to your child’s age level; while older kids and teenagers might be able to handle a conversation about the politics of gun control, abstract ideas will be less useful for kids in primary grades, who will want to know whether they are safe.

It’s also worth noting that while encouraging your kids to ask questions and talk about their feelings helps, research suggests that parents’ behavior might be even more important. “Parents can model healthy adaptive coping,” says Sprang. “So if parents are highly anxious and distressed, kids will be as well.” Indeed, a 2010 Columbia University study found increased levels of PTSD—and even major clinical depression—in New York City kids whose parents had restricted their travel in the six months after 9/11. By the same coin, a 2004 study in the journal Applied Developmental Science found that teenagers whose parents displayed “positive affect” after 9/11 were more likely also to display positive affect. The researchers concluded that “Parents who show positive emotional states may model positive ways of coping with stressful life events.”

To recap: Limit your child’s (and your own) exposure to disturbing news coverage. Talk to your kids, and reassure them that everyone is working hard to keep them safe. Try to send them this message of confidence not only with your words, but with your own behavior, as well. And hug them.

Of course, this troubling fact remains: Incidents like the horrific shooting in Newtown are happening with frightening frequency. That parental positive affect that those researchers described? It’s becoming harder and harder to muster.

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Greg Carey: Robert M. Royalty Jr. points out that Christian heresy did not emerge when some misguided Christians deviated from a “pure” and “original” orthodoxy. “Orthodoxy” did not precede “heresy.” Instead, diversity marks Christianity as far back as we can see. Those who claimed an orthodox identity invented heresy by labeling others as deviant. Some Christians began identifying other Christians as “false teachers” or “heretics” in the attempt to privilege their own way as “orthodox.”

  1. Pingback: Greg Carey: Robert M. Royalty Jr. points out that Christian heresy did not emerge when some misguided Christians deviated from a “pure” and “original” orthodoxy. “Orthodoxy” did not precede “heresy.” … | ChristianBookBarn.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s