by Willard Gaylin

Indeed, his few non-Jewish friends were cherished by Freud because of his personal fears that psychoanalysis would be rejected as simply a form of Jewish cult. (124)

The Old Testament, with its dedication to justice and the survival of a people, is the religion of the law, and the law must be designed in such a way as to ensure a moral order here on earth. The moral rules of the Old Testament are, albeit with some difficulty, followable rules that are meant to be obeyed. One can live by the Old Testament, and in fact a people did so; it served not just as a moral law but the civil law for thousands of years.

The New Testament is the religion of the ideal. Ideals are meant to be aspired to, not achieved. Whereas the failures to fulfill the obligations of the law are a violation of ethical principle, the failures to fulfill the standards of an ideal are to be expected. The purpose of the ideal is to test moral life to its limit, to make one always aspire to the limits of one's potential. A Christian may attempt to live like Jesus, but it is doubtful that any Christian can live like Jesus. You are enjoined by the Old Testament to "honor thy father and mother," which admittedly is often difficult, but certainly conceivable; the injunction to "love thy enemy" is probably not possible for the majority of us. Yet we understand what it means, and it moves us away from hatred—if not to love, perhaps at least to understanding.

Jehovah has a right to be a God of vengeance. He sets standards that the good man, if he only struggles for goodness, can achieve. He has a right to be angry when his commandments are violated. Jesus must be loving and compassionate, for he sets standards no one can achieve and he tolerates the failure in appreciation of the aspiration. We revere God and we love Jesus. (126—127)

... in the beginning the child basically accedes to the demands of his parents out of fear of losing their love, or of being punished by them. The conscience at that time is experienced as a foreign entity. As the individual develops and identifications take place, the conscience, though still perceived as a whole, will no longer be experienced as a thing apart from oneself. It no longer is "something" that one fears and feels subordinated to. It is a part of our self—not an internalized "other." When we follow the dictate of conscience via this mechanism, we seem to be doing what we "want," not what some other wants, even another within us. We are acting out of aspiration, not intimidation. (129)

Caring by Willard Gaylin
Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1976

Year Read: 1997

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