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Argument is offered to justify the felt judgment…

I’ve finally been catching up with Richard Beck’s Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality and I’m finding it fascinating. Beck is a professor of psychology at Abilene Christian University and his work usually sits at the intersection of faith topics and psychological study.

In Unclean he looks at the psychology of purity and disgust and how Christianity interacts with those built-in reactions (such as disgust) and how they shape our attitude toward sin and toward others. I’m only about 20% of the way in so far, but this paragraph caught my eye:

These dynamics [feelings leading to reasons, rather than vice versa] make conversations about God inherently difficult because our experience of the divine is being regulated by emotion rather than logic, affect rather than theology. I think people in churches have always known this, and felt that people in conflict within the church were generally talking past each other. One reason for this is now clear. Very often, arguments and the warrants found within them are secondary to the felt experience. Argument is offered to justify the felt judgment of the sacred or profane. And as self-justifications these arguments often fail as acts of persuasion or forms of consensus-building.

I’m looking forward to reading more.

2 Comments

  1. Peter Gaultney Peter Gaultney

    is the rewording of the quote in the title (s/felt/self/) intentional?

    • Nope, a complete blunder on my part. I’m gonna fix the title.

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