True Stories That Drive Spiritual Growth | Bishop Barron | EP 431

True Stories That Drive Spiritual Growth | Bishop Barron | EP 431

Tour Info 2024 (00:00:00)

  • Jordan Peterson announces his new tour for 2024, starting in early February and running through June.
  • The tour will visit 51 cities in the US.
  • More information and ticketing details are available on his website,
  • Peterson will discuss ideas from his forthcoming book, "We Who Wrestle with God," to be released in November 2024.

Coming up (00:00:40)

  • Bishop Barron draws a connection between Job and Jesus, highlighting Jesus' undeserved suffering.
  • Peterson and Barron discuss the concept of suffering and how God helps individuals break free from a limited consciousness.

Intro (00:01:15)

  • Jordan Peterson introduces his conversation with Bishop Robert Barron, discussing their previous interactions and Barron's role as a religious thinker.
  • The discussion centers around the undeniable reality of the Divine or the sacred, exploring the concept of a highest and uniting value.
  • Peterson suggests that allegiance to this highest and Eternal value can be understood as Faith, Covenant, or the proper aim of a meaningful, generous, and productive life.
  • They discuss the modern understanding of this concept and how the church has deviated from its responsibility to explain its nature and emphasize its primacy.

The implications of AI for the realm of theology and objective meaning (00:03:06)

  • Recent technological advancements, such as large language models, challenge the postmodern critique that the interpretation of narratives is arbitrary and lacks intrinsic meaning.
  • Concepts have a central core and a cloud of associated ideas that frequently co-occur.
  • A student named Victor Swift used mathematical analysis to demonstrate a conceptual overlap between ten concepts and the concept of God.
  • The semantic representation of God appears to be indistinguishable from the central concept around which all goods revolve, supporting Carl Jung's idea of a coherent value system with a central factor, likely indistinguishable from the concept of God.
  • This technology has the potential to provide a more objective understanding of religious concepts and narratives, moving beyond subjective opinions.
  • God is not a categorical object in the world but rather the Prius, prior to thought, language, and being.
  • God is the active to be itself, the highest being, and the central organizing principle of all reality.
  • The transcendental properties of being (the good, the beautiful, and the true) are closely related to the central idea of God.
  • We can access God through the true, the good, and the beautiful.
  • The ancient tradition of a coherent reading of classic texts suggests that they have a semantic structure dependent upon a metaphysical structure that leads to spiritual transformation.
  • We should combat postmodern nihilism metaphysically and indifferentism at the level of interpretation.

AI might lead to the end of postmodernism (00:12:21)

  • The large language models of AI might challenge the pretensions of postmodernism.
  • The disappearance of God in psychoanalysis is seen as the sinking of God into the unconscious.
  • When the central unifying proposition of God is dispensed with, the commonalities between what is good become implicit.
  • This implicitness is similar to God becoming implicit in the relationship between meaningful things.

God as he has been conceptualized then and now, divine proximity (00:14:00)

  • The misinterpretation of God as a being led to the decline of divine proximity.
  • In the late Middle Ages, God became one being among many, leading to a more distant and irrelevant perception of God.
  • In early modernity, God was seen as a rival to the world, competing for the same space and freedom.
  • This concept of God as a rival to human freedom is prevalent in the minds of many people today, especially teenagers in the West.
  • The biblical perspective, however, presents God as non-competitive with the world, with God's glory being a human being fully alive.
  • The biblical imagination of God's proximity to the world is characterized by luminosity, beauty, and non-consumption.
  • This biblical understanding contrasts with the modern and atheist views of God as a rival to human accomplishment.
  • The root of this issue lies in the conceptualization of God as a being rather than as being itself.

Approaching the sacred with humility and love (00:17:20)

  • The burning bush story illustrates the concept of being beckoned by something that promises treasure, which is deeply embedded in living creatures. Moses is attracted to the burning bush and pursues it, leading him to sacred ground.
  • Humility is essential in approaching the sacred, as it allows one to feel the ground and connect with the sacred without barriers. Pride is the antithesis of humility and is considered a cardinal sin.
  • Moses' encounter with the transcendent ineffable ideal grounded him and enabled him to fight against tyranny and end slavery despite his limitations.
  • Establishing a covenantal relationship with the underlying principle of being through integrity and following one's calling empowers individuals to oppose tyranny and lead others out of oppression.
  • Saints, by recognizing the sacredness of their existence, become vehicles of love and grace, allowing God to act through them.
  • Religious consciousness involves taking responsibility for creating one's own values rather than relying solely on external sources.

Adam, Eve, and the serpent’s offer (00:24:43)

  • God allows Adam and Eve to use the garden's resources except for the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.
  • Satan, represented by the serpent, tempts Eve to become like gods, masters of good and evil.
  • Eve succumbs to pride and sees herself as capable of incorporating everything, including the poisonous snake.
  • Adam, driven by his desire to name and categorize, agrees with Eve's suggestion to heed the serpent's advice.
  • Christian teaching suggests that suffering is a consequence of sin, but it's unclear how much our tendency to overreach pridefully contributes to our suffering.
  • The modern notion that we should become the source of all value contradicts the idea that value is encoded in the structure of being.
  • Taking the right to transcend value and establish all values means ceasing to be human, as the implicit moral order and being human are the same.

Why the garden became the desert (00:28:25)

  • God created the universe out of love and offered it to humans to enjoy.
  • The permission to enjoy the world comes before the prohibition.
  • The Church Fathers interpreted this as God's desire for humans to flourish.
  • God created a structure of value within the created order.
  • Humans cannot pretend to be the criterion of value without losing contact with it.
  • When humans become the criterion of value, the garden turns into a desert.
  • God expels humans from the garden not out of anger but because it is the natural consequence of their actions.
  • Humans lose their humanity when they lose contact with the objective value system and make themselves into gods.
  • The Bible's fundamental problem is that humans turn themselves into gods.
  • God's rescue operation involves teaching humans how to surrender in trust to the world of value and find fulfillment.
  • Jesus' burial and resurrection in a garden symbolize the restoration of the garden.
  • People who believe they are the source of all value become self-conscious.
  • Self-consciousness and neurotic suffering are conceptually indistinguishable.
  • The best moments of life are when people are least self-conscious and lost in the world of value.
  • Self-centeredness leads to unhappiness.

Which spirit animates you? The false self gives way to the true self (00:33:31)

  • The concept of "I can do whatever I want" raises the question of possession by higher or lower forces, such as power, hedonism, or spirits.
  • Anger and vengeful emotions can indicate possession by a spirit, leading to a false sense of self.
  • The true self emerges when the false self gives way to a higher power, as exemplified by St. Paul's transformation.
  • Jesus' call for metanoia (going beyond the fallen mind) and belief in the good news emphasizes the need to shed the old self and embrace Christ.
  • Bob Dylan's song "Gotta Serve Somebody" highlights the idea that individuals are either possessed by the highest good or lesser goods that become idols.
  • Identifying what people worship can reveal their true nature and motivations.
  • The central focus of a person's life, whether it's God or something else, serves as their implicit god.

Connecting Job to Jesus (00:39:01)

  • Work involves sacrificing the present for the future and is best motivated by love and faith rather than bitterness.
  • Job exemplifies the highest form of sacrifice by maintaining faith despite unjust suffering, showing that suffering can lead to growth and healing when we trust in the inherent goodness of existence.
  • Christ embodies the ultimate self-sacrificing love regardless of circumstances.
  • Establishing a strong connection with goodness despite suffering and aiming for love and truth is crucial.
  • Voluntary self-sacrifice is essential for therapeutic transformation and spiritual growth.
  • Facing challenges and obstacles voluntarily is a transformative and healing process, as seen in therapeutic practices and biblical stories.

Bad theology and how to break through human pride for proper worship (00:46:40)

  • Evil is parasitic upon the good, and God's grace always exceeds evil, as recognized by Job's spiritual genius.
  • God rebukes Job's friends for their limited understanding of evil, emphasizing that it cannot be solely attributed to human wrongdoing.
  • God reveals the vastness of creation and His incomprehensible power to Job, breaking him out of his limited perspective.
  • Work, exemplified by Adam's task in the Garden of Eden, is not merely a result of sin but can be seen as an art, science, and exercise of human powers.
  • The expulsion from the Garden of Eden symbolizes exile from the temple, representing a departure from right worship and proper alignment with the summum bonum.
  • The Bible's central theme is the journey of bringing people back to right worship and restoring the proper order of the summum bonum.
  • Intense suffering can hinder right worship, as seen in Job's story, where his wife urges him to curse God due to his extreme suffering.
  • Despite immense suffering, Job maintains his connection to God, demonstrating the importance of preserving this connection even in the most challenging circumstances.
  • Jesus' crucifixion represents the ultimate point of suffering, where he bears the sins and suffering of humanity while maintaining his connection with the Father.
  • The cross is central to worship, as it exemplifies the ultimate act of right worship and the restoration of humanity's connection with God.
  • Pre-born, a charity organization, rescues babies from abortion by providing mothers with ultrasounds and support, increasing the likelihood of choosing life.

The spirit of play, the invitation to bear the cross, and the purpose of Mass (00:55:40)

  • The highest form of work is one that allows individuals to align the present with the future perfectly, resulting in a sense of playfulness.
  • The Kingdom of God is conceptualized as an eternally playful garden, where everything is already perfect but continuously improving.
  • Voluntary sacrifice, as exemplified in the crucifixion, can be seen as a form of celebration, inviting individuals to confront life's worst realities and embrace their mortal vulnerability as a gift.
  • Play is a key concept in understanding the highest forms of activity, as it represents actions that are sought for their own sake and are inherently good.
  • The Mass is considered the ultimate form of play, existing outside of time and drawing individuals into the dying and rising of Jesus, making it a useless activity in the sense that it is not instrumental but rather an end in itself.
  • The Mass is an attempt to dramatize the transformation of death and hell into play, which is the ultimate alchemical endeavor.
  • The worst possible thing is hell, not death, and people who are traumatized are shattered by encounters with malevolence, not tragedy.

The power of the mustard seed, the inexhaustible potential of grace (01:03:11)

  • The Sermon on the Mount teaches us to make pursuing the truth, fostering abundant life, and rectifying suffering our highest aim, treating others as we would like to be treated.
  • Focusing on the present moment with faith and productivity while aiming at the highest reveals the kingdom of God and brings a sense of sufficient and sustaining meaning.
  • Neuroscience supports these theological concepts, showing that we feel the most positive emotion when we see progress towards the highest possible goal.
  • The Beatitudes address the blocks to spiritual growth: addiction to honor, divided heart, desire for wealth and pleasure, and lack of hunger and thirst for righteousness.
  • Overcoming these blocks leads to purity of heart, peacemaking, and a single-hearted focus on God's will.
  • The ultimate test of love is loving one's enemies, which proves one's willingness to will the good of others.
  • By aligning oneself with the source of life through Grace, one enters a loop of receiving and giving, leading to an inexhaustible increase in life.

How wealth is portrayed in the Gospels, setting up your life to be in accordance with your soul (01:12:39)

  • Wealth is not inherently evil in the Gospels.
  • Christ's encounter with the rich young man illustrates this.
  • The young man followed the principles of Moses but was still miserable.
  • Christ suggests that the young man's wealth may be interfering with his potential allegiance to a higher good.
  • The disciples are shocked by the idea that entering the Kingdom of Heaven requires sacrificing everything.
  • The parable of the unjust Steward further illustrates this point.

John Paul II, the true message of the Unjust Steward (01:14:39)

  • Christ implies that wealth and abundance are not inherently evil.
  • Diligent pursuit of wealth can produce discipline that can be used for a higher aim.
  • Wealth, pleasure, power, and honor are not necessarily evil if put in their proper place and subordinated properly.
  • The rich young man's story illustrates the extraordinary power of wealth's grip on individuals.
  • John Paul II interprets the rich young man as a seeker who wants to be saved and healed.
  • Jesus challenges the rich young man to sell all his wealth, give to the poor, and follow him, which he is unwilling to do, highlighting the wealth's power in his life.
  • Spiritual masters often identify and address significant obstacles, such as addiction to pleasure or honor, that hinder spiritual growth.
  • Christ's teaching about forsaking everything, including family, emphasizes the prioritization of following him.

The Binding of Isaac — and why the Bible doesn’t hold back (01:18:33)

  • The story of the Binding of Isaac challenges the idea of God's demand for sacrifice.
  • The Bible presents an edgy and uncompromising narrative that forces readers to confront spiritual meaning.

What a mother has to sacrifice (01:20:11)

  • Mary entered into a covenant with God to fully offer her child to the world without reservation, even if it meant his demise and torture.
  • A mother who is not willing to offer her child to the world becomes an impediment to the child's development.
  • The plummeting birth rate is partly due to women questioning the ethics of bringing a child into a world filled with suffering and evil.
  • Mary's willingness to offer her son to God is the highest form of offering.
  • God also plays the game of sacrifice by offering up Christ.
  • Sacrificing a child to the world involves letting them go out and face challenges, which should be celebrated.
  • The love and mourning for a child's demise is a testament to the sacrificial offering, which is the essence of love.
  • The church fathers, like Carl Jung, recognized the psychological and spiritual truths in the story of Abraham and Isaac.
  • The connections between Isaac and Jesus, such as Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son and Isaac carrying the wood of the sacrifice, anticipate the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
  • These connections occupy the same semantic space and can be mapped out to provide a deeper understanding of the spiritual truths.

The biological justification for the biblical spirit of reciprocity (01:23:29)

  • Bishop Barron discusses the contrast between earthly and heavenly treasure, suggesting that heavenly treasure leads to true abundance.
  • He shares an example of a generous professor who freely shared his ideas with his students, fostering their growth and success, and explains the neurophysiological consequences of sharing ideas, highlighting the role of dopamine in reinforcing and energizing the brain's networks.
  • Bishop Barron draws a connection to the kingdom of God and John Paul II's "law of the gift," emphasizing that our being increases as we give it away.
  • The danger of material wealth is that it can transform the spiritual into the merely material, hindering spiritual growth.
  • By giving away the grace received, one can increase their grace and enter a loop of Grace, tapping into the eternal treasure in heaven.
  • Christ's message is to not let material wealth interfere with actions that would enhance one's reputation in eternity.
  • The text criticizes the "new atheist" approach to the Bible, which dismisses it as "Bronze Age mythology" based solely on its age, and emphasizes the importance of the spiritual tradition and the study of "soul doctoring" by great minds before the Scientific Revolution.

How science presupposes faith, the potential end of the New Atheist movement (01:34:52)

  • The pursuit of knowledge must be oriented in the right direction to avoid potential dangers.
  • The rise of new atheism and the dismissal of religion among young people is a dangerous proposition.
  • The modern world is characterized by a strange concatenation of Pride and Hedonism, which poses a threat to mankind.
  • Bishop Barron and Jordan Peterson will continue their conversation on the Daily Wire in April and will host a seminar on the gospels, similar to the one they did on Exodus, presenting a stark choice in the culture war.

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