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Posts tagged "William James"

How to Save a Life: William James’ Tips for Surviving Depression

The Will to Believe in the Vibrancy of Life

Jennifer Lawrence, the Irony of Normalcy, and the Righteousness of Faith

She caught our eye in 2007 on a short-lived network comedy. Then, she broke through with an independent drama in 2010 that earned her national acclaim and attention. She flew into the stratosphere and became the mega-star we know and love with a summer blockbuster in 2012, the success of which she’s likely still riding […]

Another Week Ends: Vanishing Adults, Mysterious Loss, “Spiritual” Mental Health, A Tragi-Comic Religion, Humanities vs. Engineering, and the Power of Groupthink

1. I recently had a conversation with an elderly woman who became supremely concerned over whether or not I would work on the 4th of July. “Surely you’ll take off a federal holiday,” she intoned. I admitted that I probably would but hadn’t made any plans yet. That wasn’t enough to defuse the tizzy that […]

William James’ Self-Esteem Equation

From the, er, esteemed psychologist’s Psychology, A Briefer Course:

“With no attempt there can be no failure; with no failure no humiliation. So our self-feeling in this world depends entirely on what we back ourselves to be and do. It is determined by the ratio of our actualities to our supposed potentialities; a fraction of which our pretensions are the denominator and the numerator our success: Thus:


Such a fraction may be increased as well by diminishing the denominator as by increasing the numerator. To give up pretensions is as blessed a relief as to get them gratified; and where disappointment is incessant and the struggle unending, this is what men will always do. The history of evangelical theology, with its conviction of sin, its self-despair, and its abandonment of salvation by works, is the deepest of possible examples, but we meet others in every walk of life. There is a strange lightness in the heart when one’s nothingness in a particular area is accepted in good faith… How pleasant is the day when we give up striving to be young or slender. ‘Thank God!” we say, ‘those illusions are gone.’ Everything added to the Self is a burden as well as a pride.” (pg 168)


Mining Netflix: The Beautiful Brokenness of What Maisie Knew

This one comes to us from Joe Nooft: I love sad movies: the tear-imposing, hope-impairing films that by their finale have lost all resolve. If I go to a cinema to see what I anticipate will be a gloomy movie, I want to leave that theater, two hours later, in shambles. I want to get […]

Another One from William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience

“Where God is, tragedy is only provisional and partial, and shipwreck and dissolution are not the absolutely final things.” (517)

Positive Thinking and Bad Medicine

An interesting editorial in Monday’s NY Times by Richard Sloan, entitled A Fighting Spirit Won’t Save Your Life, about the dangers of linking spirituality and physiology. Suffice it to say, the author is no homeopath. Yet as anti-religious as he comes across, there are definitely some sympathetic ideas being expressed. John 9 springs to mind: […]

William James on Muscular Moralism and Spiritual Birthdays

Quite the humdinger from William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, ht BM: “The moralist must hold his breath and keep his muscles tense; and so long as this athletic attitude is possible all goes well — morality suffices. But the athletic attitude tends ever to break down, and it […]

Another Week Ends: Pandoran Pantheism, Tissot’s NT, Stanley Fish, Closeted Christians, Films of The Decade

1. Ross Douthat in the NY Times echoed what many have been saying about the “message” of Avatar. For the record, it doesn’t make me want to see it any less (ht JS): It’s fitting that James Cameron’s “Avatar” arrived in theaters at Christmastime. Like the holiday season itself, the science fiction epic is a […]