Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.


Dear Dr. Peterson: The Resurrection is Credible. Dear MSM: Just Stop It.

Human psychology sheds light on whether Jesus literally rose from the dead.

By Jennifer Roback Morse

Published on March 19, 2018, at The Stream.

Jordan Peterson has become a hero to many because of his relentless truth-telling. Many people of faith see him as an ally. In a wide-ranging interview with Patrick Coffin, former Catholic Answers radio show host, Peterson said about the Resurrection, “I need to think about that for about three more years before I would even venture an answer.” Not a flat-out dismissal of the possibility that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, but an open-ended desire to learn and think more deeply. This respectful position is a far cry from the annual, “Jesus was just a nice guy but the Resurrection never happened” story that someone in the secular media subjects us to, every year right around Easter.

Mass Delusion … or Mass of Witnesses?


So, let’s analyze this, for Dr. Peterson’s sake. Peterson is a psychologist. I submit that human psychology sheds light on whether Jesus literally rose from the dead. The behavior of his disciples makes zero sense unless the Resurrection took place.

If Jesus did not literally rise from the dead, what exactly did happen? Did the disciples think they saw him after his death, but they didn’t really? Were the disciples lying about seeing him after his death? Neither of these alternatives, delusion or lying, can account for the known facts.

Fact: Jesus was dead and buried.

Jesus was executed in a very thorough and very public manner for which the Romans were noted and feared. There is no doubt at all that he was dead. He was buried. The Roman officials and the Jewish leaders insisted that the grave be guarded.

Fact: People claimed they saw him after his death.

On the third day after His death, people claimed they saw Him. Not just one guy, mind you, but lots of people. Mary Magdalene saw him. Ten disciples saw him the night of the Resurrection. So did two random guys on the road to Emmaus. The following week all eleven surviving disciples saw Him. At some point, 500 people saw him at the same time. Mass delusion on this scale seems unlikely.

Believers Paid a Steep Price

A skeptic might respond that people talk each other into delusions all the time. Look at our current “politically correct” mess. Dr. Peterson has become famous precisely for tearing the lid off the mass delusions of our time.

I reply: People get praised and supported for spouting silliness that supports the current incarnation of the mass delusion. Nobody today loses his job for going along with the fantasy ideology that Bruce Jenner is a woman. People lose their jobs for denying the delusion. Stating the obvious truth that the winner of the 1976 Olympic decathlon is now, and always has been, a man: now, that will cost you something.

By contrast, the people who claimed they saw Jesus alive after his execution paid a steep price. Matthew had a cushy job as a tax collector. Should he give that up, because Mary Magdalene metaphorically saw the Lord? Peter, Andrew, James, and John did not abandon their fishing business because they saw a Jungian archetype. Their behavior only makes sense if they really saw Jesus after his death.

Why Suffer for a Lie?

In fact, none of these witnesses could be talked out of their belief that they saw Jesus, despite some very aggressive attempts to do so. Peter and Andrew were both crucified. If they were making stuff up, don’t you think they would have recanted? The most logical conclusion is that they saw him, in the flesh, just as the Gospels report.

Tradition has it that Bartholomew was flayed alive. If he had been lying, the threat of such a painful, prolonged death would have been a good time to start telling the truth. “Put that knife down: I’ll show you where we hid the body.” But he didn’t change his story. He allowed himself to be murdered in an extraordinarily painful way.

The most psychologically compelling conclusion is that the disciples were neither lying, nor deluded. They saw Jesus.

‘Just a Nice Guy’? Give Me a Break

The Resurrection is indeed worthy of a lifetime of deep thought. I myself meditate upon it a couple of times a week and have done so since 1988. I’m still not finished with it. Dr. Peterson, take all the time you need. You can keep thinking about it, even if you do take a leap of faith.

And to the knucklehead journalist who writes this year’s version of “Jesus was just a nice guy, but it didn’t really happen,” story: just stop. As C.S. Lewis put it, Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. The “just a nice guy” story is the truly delusional belief.


Will Cupich “Accompany” Reluctantly Divorced Spouses?

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published March 14, 2018, at Crisis Magazine.

Cardinal Cupich has been holding seminars on implementing Amoris Laetitia. These “New Momentum Conferences” will “provide formative pastoral programs.” I wonder whether these seminars will include anything for reluctantly divorced persons. No one else seems to be doing anything for abandoned spouses. Perhaps Cardinal Cupich and his friends will step up to the plate.

The public, including many Catholics, has the impression that no-fault divorce allows two sensible and mature adult people to agree to end their marriage. We imagine that the state must not interfere in this mutual decision. No one should cry over the spilt milk of a “dead marriage.” Many in the Church tacitly agree.


But setting theology aside, let’s challenge the basic premise of no-fault divorce. What if one person wants a divorce and the other wants to remain married? Dr. Stephen Baskerville, frequent contributor to these pages, made me aware of this possibility in his first book, Taken into Custody. If the spouses do not agree, justice requires adjudication by a neutral party. But on what basis would that neutral party decide which spouse to side with: the spouse who wants the divorce, or the spouse who wants the marriage?

The Grand Divorce Narrative offers no answer. The official ideology of no-fault does not acknowledge that such a case can even exist. And if we add the (highly dubious) claim that “kids are resilient,” then there is no reason for anyone to favor preserving a marriage, even one with children. As for adjudication between the spouse who wants the marriage and the one who wants divorce, forget it. No-fault divorce means the state always sides with the party who wants the marriage the least.

The Grand Divorce Narrative, subtly or not-so-subtly, suggests people who complain about divorce probably did something to bring it on themselves. They need to stop whining and get with the program.

I wish I could tell you whether the abandoned spouses are a misbehaving lot. I wish I could tell you anything systematic about the reluctantly divorced. Unfortunately, all I have is anecdotal information. The people who normally collect and analyze this kind of thing seem to be completely uninterested.

We don’t even know how many reluctantly divorced or abandoned spouses there are.

Here is one snippet. I once bemoaned the fact that we have no data on the number of reluctantly divorced persons. My friend, University of Texas sociology professor, Mark Regnerus chimed in that he had some data on this question in his new book, Cheap Sex.

I checked it out. In Figure 5.2 on page 161, he asked this question of divorced spouses, “who wanted the marriage to end, you, your spouse, or both of you?” Only 24 percent of women and 27 percent of men said, “we both wanted it to end.” In other words, in his survey, over 70 percent of divorces have a reluctant partner.

The CDC reported over 800,000 divorces from 44 states and the District of Columbia in 2016. If 70 percent of those divorces had a reluctant partner, that is over a half million reluctantly divorced people, in a single year. Add that up, year after year for forty years. That is a lot of broken hearts and wounded souls, walking around, socially invisible, and isolated.

Please note: counting reluctantly divorced persons was not the focus of Dr. Regnerus’ study. God bless him, he stumbled across it while studying something else. I don’t know of any other large scale, representative study of this question. This lack of professional and scholarly interest testifies to the power of the Divorce Ideology.

We also know very little of the lived experiences of the reluctantly divorced or abandoned spouses. We do know that divorce doubles a man’s probability of suicide and has essentially no impact on the woman’s chance of suicide. But we don’t really know why. As to spiritual life, we know that children of divorce are less likely to practice any religion. But as far as I know, no one has ever asked how divorce affects the religious commitments of the adults, particularly, one who was divorced against their will. The category, “reluctantly divorced persons” does not even exist in the minds of the scholars who have the expertise to study this sort of thing. After over 40 years of no-fault divorce, I am appalled that we have so little information about the reluctantly divorced or abandoned spouses.

And I might add, I’m also appalled at the lack of pastoral concern for the reluctantly divorced, blameless, or abandoned spouses. In all the uproar over Amoris Laetitia, in all the endless yammering in favor of “accompaniment” and “discernment,” for the divorced and civilly remarried, one can find almost nothing about the spouse of the original union.

I know an abandoned spouse who changed parishes. She couldn’t bear to see her spouse receiving communion with his new cohabiting girlfriend. He evidently “discerned” that this was hunky-dory. The pastor wasn’t much help to my friend. He told her the “people fall out of love,” and that “everyone gets an annulment.” He assumed that my friend was also dating someone else, which she had no intention of doing.

What was this pastor thinking? Why didn’t anyone ensure she feels “fully integrated” into the life of the parish where she and her husband were married?” Will anyone “accompany” abandoned spouses like her? Why is the Church abandoning them to the brutal injustice of the divorce culture?

At least on paper, the Church still holds to the radical teaching of Jesus on the indissolubility of marriage. I hope Cardinal Cupich and his friends pay attention to the reluctantly divorced, though I’m not holding my breath. Catholics, of all people, should be paying special attention to abandoned spouses. Their pain proves that Jesus was right all along.


"How to Defend Marriage" on the Patrick Coffin Show

“Dr. J” to her tribe, this influencer has a PhD and teaching experience at Yale and George Brown University. An economist by training, she has invaluable insights into the wreckage we see around us caused by the failed Sexual Revolution. The organization she founded, The Ruth Institute, exists to help survivors of this very public shipwreck.

With the Obergefel v Hodges (2015) decision redefining marriage at the federal level, we have reached a legal tipping point. Most Americans support marriage as it’s been defined for millennia, as the lifelong union of one man and one woman with openness to children. Culture is one thing, laws are another.

If you want practical insights into how to talk about this and other challenges such as our collective no-fault divorce attitude (yes, it has infected “good Catholic” circles), and the forgotten players known as children, this is the interview for you.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Proven strategies for framing the arguments
  • How to avoid taking the bait offered by anti-marriage activists
  • The importance of keeping the conversation where it needs to be: on the linking of children to their parents
  • How to articulate reasons for supporting marriage without reference to either homosexual behavior on the one hand, or religious tenets on the other

from Patrick Coffin's website here.

 


Invite Children of Divorce to Cupich’s Amoris Laetitia Seminars

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published February 28, 2017 at Crisis Magazine.

I see where Cardinal Cupich is planning a series of seminars on Amoris Laetitia. According to a letter obtained by the Catholic News Agency, the “New Momentum Conferences on Amoris Laetitia,” will “provide formative pastoral programs.” As someone who has listened to many victims of the Sexual Revolution, I am eager to learn about the “pastoral practice” these seminars will promote. I wonder if they will feature adult children of divorce or unmarried parents among their presenters.

I can still recall the first time a young person came up to me in tears after one of my talks. “This is the first time I have ever heard an adult say that divorce is hard on children.” She went on to describe her father’s intention of entering yet another civil marriage, this time, to a woman in her twenties.

My young friend was twenty-one.


Since that incident, I have heard from many people of all ages, whose parents divorced and remarried. I can remember sitting down to a post-conference dinner with one of the other speakers and his wife. She confided in me that she had run out of the room in the middle of my talk. She couldn’t bear to hear my description of children’s hurt from divorce. My talk stirred up pain from her parents’ divorce.

She was in her sixties.

I don’t see any mention of Leila Miller or Jennifer Johnson among the proposed speakers on the traveling Amoris Laetitia Road Show. Both Mrs. Miller and Ms. Johnson have written poignant works on the experiences of children of divorce. You may imagine what the adult children of divorce have to say about second “marriages.”

Or perhaps you can’t. So, let me tell you: they feel their parents’ selfishness and excuse-making made their childhoods miserable, and continue to cause problems even in adulthood. One anonymous author titled her essay, “How my parents’ divorce ruined holidays and family life forever.”

Perhaps some of the presenters at the Amoris Laetitia gabfests will offer practical tips for what a child, of any age, ought to do when their parents decide they can’t stand each other anymore. Will Cardinal Cupich “accompany” the children of divorce when they see no photos of themselves with both parents, in either of their parents’ homes? Will any of the presenters help the children of divorce “discern” where to direct their anger when their stepfather brings home gifts for his children and his wife, but nothing for them?

I wonder if Cardinal Cupich and his friends will discuss the inequalities that divorce creates among children, and between children and adults. Jennifer Johnson argues passionately that natural marriage and only natural marriage, can create and preserve equality among children, while divorce creates deep and lasting inequalities. Here is just one example:

I was the only one who had divided Christmases, divided holidays, and divided birthdays. I’ve seen this referred to as “two Christmases” or “two birthdays” in some divorce literature as a way to sugar-coat the vertical inequality. My dad wasn’t welcome on Christmas morning, and my mom wasn’t welcome on Christmas eve. I don’t think either of them would have come, had they been invited. They were too busy with their new families. When I got a little older and my parents lived further apart, I traveled alone during the holidays to see each of them. None of the adults in my life had to do any of those things. It was a requirement placed on me that made their lives easier.

No, I suppose they don’t have room for children of divorce and their lived experiences. After all, the seminars are already full of experts on women’s ordination, contraception, non-binary gender, and God knows what else.

Speaking of God: I have an idea that Jesus (remember him?) knows exactly what these children of divorce are going through. He told the apostles “in the beginning, it was not so,” when he instituted that whole one man, one woman, for life, thing. The apostles were freaked out. They thought it was too hard.

I bet Jesus saw the pain a little girl might feel when her mother asked her to be the flower girl in her second wedding. Even as a preschooler, she knew this ceremony meant that her parents would never get back together. She knew she was supposed to be happy for her mother on her special day. She faked it, but her heart was breaking.

Jesus foresaw every painful little incident, like this one:

When I was six or seven, I woke up from a bad dream in the middle of the night. I went looking for my mom but couldn’t find her. I wandered from room to room crying, disoriented and scared. But Mom wasn’t there because I was at Dad’s place, an apartment I went to once a month. My dad couldn’t understand why I wanted my mom so much. Nothing in the apartment was familiar, not even dad. He was hurt because of my longing for my mom, my house, and my own bed, so I did what a lot of children of divorce do: I bottled up my emotions to try to make one of my parents feel better.

Jesus saw how attempts at re-partnering would create a lifetime of difficulties:

At my biological grandma’s funeral, my siblings and I were left out of the family pictures. We watched our cousins treated differently just because their parents had remained married. We stopped getting invited to family reunions. Today I’m a stranger to most of my relatives on my dad’s side because growing up I saw him so little and them even less.

Maybe this sort of thing is why Jesus made such a stink about the indissolubility of marriage.

Perhaps some adult children of divorce will just show up at one of the meetings at Boston College, the University of Notre Dame, or Santa Clara University. I wonder if anyone will let them have a turn at the microphone.

Maybe not. That might be just a little too much “accompanying” and “synodality,” even for Cardinal Cupich.


'Go to Confession' Campaign


For immediate release:

Ruth Institute launches ‘Go to Confession’ Campaign

(February 15, 2018, Lake Charles, LA)During this season of Lent, The Ruth Institute has launched an online and billboard campaign in Lake Charles, Louisiana, encouraging people of all faiths to make things right with God.

“The ‘Go to Confession’ campaign is a way to remind people that God is merciful, and we can go to Him with our sins at any time and find forgiveness. What better time than during Lent?” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute said.

Some of the images are humorous. “Sin makes you stupid,” featuring St. Thomas Aquinas (who loosely said that), and “Party’s over. Go to confession,” with an image of Mardi Gras debris. And new this year, an image of a stunned priest in the confessional with the caption, “You won’t really shock him: Go to confession!”


But the humor has a serious point. Dr. Morse said, “Families don’t just break down. Marriages don’t just fall apart. Somebody sins. The ultimate solution to family breakdown is repentance.”

Some of the more serious messages are, “Jesus is waiting for you,” and “Your family is depending on you. Go to Confession.”

“We’re all sinners, but we all have the opportunity to clean the slate and start fresh,” Morse said. “There is no downside to confession.”

“Confession is a means to find healing within our lives for the mistakes we’ve made,” Morse added. “Guilty consciences make it harder for us to move forward and to resolve the issues caused by our sins, or the bitterness we’ve held onto from the sins of others.”

Find the Ruth Institute’s ‘Go to Confession’ images on their website here, here, here, here, and here.


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