The Taser's Edge


A Big Picture, not the Whole Picture

This week I have been reading Terry D. Cooper’s Sin, Pride & Self-Acceptance: The Problem of Identity in Theology & Psychology (InterVarsity Press, 2003), perhaps the first book I’ve ever read with twin ampersands in the title.

In it, Cooper brings together (coming oversimplification is mine, not his)…

1.) The Augustinian/Niebuhrian/Western Christian view that the problem of human identity is pride, pride, pride.

2.) The view held by Carl Rogers and other humanistic psychologists that the problem of human identity is low self-esteem.

3.) The additional critique of feminist theology, in which the problems of human identity are understood to be differentiated by gender.

4.) The work of Karen Horney, a mid-20th century neo-Freudian, who argued that pride and self-contempt are two sides of the same coin.

The reflection that Cooper provides is excellent.  I don’t want to claim that he would agree with everything in the work-up below, so I’ll say it’s a visual “inspired by” the book.

Salient points to notice:
1.) The very specific definitions that I am making (also “inspired” to different degrees–from stolen to made-up-by-me–by Cooper).
2.)  Self-hatred, arrogance, and other-hatred (whether of God or neighbor) are all caused by inordinate focus on the self in this view.  Thus, as Karen Horney argued, self-contempt and pride are inextricably linked.  Cooper would argue that pride is at the bottom of the problems of human identity, and I would tend to agree.

Important things to ignore (yes, I’m kidding):
1.) Is narcissism written on this chart in about four different ways?
2.) Shouldn’t an arrow also point from _________ to _________?

The remaining big question not discussed by Cooper: How do we escape inordinately focusing on ourselves?  The answer, which I am not going to explain right here: Worship.

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