Thomas Traherne, The Soul’s Communion With Her Savior 1.1.6



§. 6.

Holy Jesus, who, for the morerational engagement[1] of the Virgin’s faith, didst further acquaint her by the same Angel, Behold, thy Cousin Elizabeth, who was called barren, she also hath conceived a Son in her old Age[2].

I magnify thy Holy Name[3],

Because with God nothing shall be unpossible[4].

This Maxim may suffice to silence all the cavilling inquiries of human reason[5],

How this should be:

For the same power that makes the barren Womb fruitful,

can with the same facility dispense with those Laws of Nature

that render it unlikely there should be a Virgin-Mother[6]:

And that Spirit, which, by breathing on them, was able to make dry bones live[7],

may be very rationally believed[8] of sufficient power to impregnate a Virgin’s Womb.

And therefore, in considering this transcendent mystery[9] of my Savior’s Incarnation,

I will rather admire and recount his Goodness and Truth,

than question his Power, or pry into the manner of its accomplishment;

and in all his trials of my faith or patience, my Soul shall say,

as  Mary of the Lord did, Be it unto me according unto thy word.[10]

[1] By rational engagement, he means a good ground for believing the announcement to be true.

[2] Here we learn that the announcement of John (the Baptist’s) birth which opened the book of Luke was to Mary’s cousin.

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 1:30–37 (KJV)

[3] In this instance, the comment following the Scripture quotation is not in the form of a prayer as much as a meditation. The first line is an allusion to

          Bless the Lord, O my soul:

And all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Psalm 103:1 (KJV)

[4] Luke 1:37. There is a further allusion to the birth of Isaac:

13 And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14 Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

Genesis 18:13–14 (KJV)

[5] Contrary to our modern prejudice that we only recently figured out that virgins cannot become pregnant and dead men to do not resurrect from the dead, questions about these matters were debated and considered since before Jesus. The claims of the Gospel beginning with a virgin birth and ending with a resurrection have been matters of philosophical debate since time of the Gospels. The claims were not received because the people back then were credulous. Traherne is putting the question on a different foundation: The power for this miracle to occur is a power of God, alone. When asking how, the answer should be, God has that power. Trying to figure how that power could be exercised based upon my understanding of physics and physiology is beyond the point.

[6] The narrow argument here is that if God can make a woman can have no children to bear a child (Elizabeth), God can make a virgin pregnant ( Mary). The broader argument is that even normal pregnancy and birth are miraculous, we are just used to such things.


The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:

Ezekiel 37:1–5 (KJV)

[8] One cannot admit the power of God and then say, this particular miracle is not possible.

[9] It is a thing which can be admired though not completely understood.

[10] Mary becomes the model of faith: I cannot understand how God will do this miracle. But rather than question it I will receive and admire it: Let God act and I will believe. He has been careful to argue this is not a bare fideism or an irrational conclusion: I have good reason to believe God can this present thing, because God has shown his power in these past things.

Addressing Loneliness


I just finished a paper written by some PhD’s at the University of Essex entitled, “Understanding Loneliness: a Systematic Review of the Impact of Social Prescribing Initiatives on Loneliness.”

The authors make a helpful distinction between loneliness and isolation:

Loneliness is a subjective, unwelcome feeling of lack or loss of companionship that occurs when there is a mismatch between the quantity and quality of social relationships that a person has, and those that that person wants.Though often associated with isolation, loneliness is distinct in that it is a feeling, while isolation is an objective measure of the number and quality of contacts that one has. Thus, it is possible to be lonely while surrounded by others, or to have very few social contacts but not feel lonely.”

Loneliness is thus a perception of the quality of my social interactions. I recall other reading which placed the important element of social contact on being able to share one’s difficulties — I imagine sharing one’s joys would also be relevant. What matters here is that loneliness is a factor of how I understand my relationships.

The paper went onto look at studies which had sought to address loneliness as a public health issue. Various interventions were examined whereby social workers of some sort sought to help lonely people find someone else with whom they could have companionship.

The “Aim” of one of the studies reads as follows, “Aim: Connecting people, helping them find purpose in their lives.”

It does make me wonder, what sort of world have we created for ourselves, when we have to train people to go out and try to get other people to feel lonely and to have a sense of purpose. If you had spoken to the dirt-poor ancestors of these people of England from 300 years before and said you were there to help not feel lonely and to have purpose, I suppose they would have thought you daft. What do you mean lonely? What do you mean purpose? We have far more stuff and apparently far less meaning.

We see people who have a frankly religious fury over things such as responding to the climate, which in the end is really an engineering problem (If rain patterns change, how do we move water to where it is needed); or a religious passion over identities which would have been non-existent just a few years ago. Perhaps it would be best to understand what we see as people eeking out a new religion for themselves. They are prescribing and demanding rites and responses to answer their loneliness and meaning.

These are functions which would have been performed

Thomas Traherne, The Soul’s Communion With Her Savior, 1.1.5



The previous post from this work will be found here.

§. 5.

Then said Mary to the Angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a Man? Whereunto the Angel answered, The Holy Ghost shall com upon thee, and the Power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therfore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called The Son of GOD.

I praise and magnify the Name,

O thou Son of God,

for thine infinite condescension to become the Son of Man[1].

It is not less Blessed and Mysterious to conceive[2] Thee in the Heart by Faith,

than to carry Thee in the Womb of Flesh:

Send therefore, I beseech thee,

the same Spirit and Power to rest upon mine Affections[3],

till Christ be formed in me[4],

that thy Humility and Holiness,

thy Life and Love,

may be brought forth in my conversation[5],

and so adapt me to be called the Son of God[6].

[1] While my search is limited, the earliest I could find this exact phrase was in John Owen, for whom it was a favorite. For example:

We may behold this glory in his infinite condescension to take this office on him, and our nature to be his own unto that end. It did not befall him by lot or chance;—it was not imposed on him against his will;—it belonged not unto him by any necessity of nature or condition, he stood not in need of it;—it was no addition unto him; but of his own mind and accord he graciously condescended unto the susception and discharge of it.

Owen, John. The Works of John Owen. Edited by William H. Goold, vol. 1, T&T Clark, p. 323.

The phrase was picked up Jonathan Edwards, who also used it frequently. It would seem then, as a tentative possibility, that Traherne and Edwards got the phrase from Owen.

[2] Traherne is here playing on a pun on the word “conceive”.  It can mean the physical conception within a mother. It can also mean an intellectual apprehension of a thought.   The idea here is as follows: The miracle of Jesus’ birth from Mary was a miracle beyond belief. And that Christ should be made in us, that we would partake of his life is equally blessed and inconceivable. This will be a theme worked out in the prayer.

As for the pun, Shakespeare had used the pun in the opening scene of King Lear.

Act I, Scence 1, King Lear. Glouchester has just introduced his bastard son to Kent.


Is not this your son, my lord?


His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have

so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am

brazed to it.


I cannot conceive you.


Sir, this young fellow’s mother could: whereupon

she grew round-wombed, and had, indeed, sir, a son

for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed.

Do you smell a fault?

[3] The prayer here may be understood by a reference to the slightly earlier work of John Owen:

First, The pattern which we ought continually to bear in our eyes, whereunto our affections ought to be conformed, is Jesus Christ and the affections of his holy soul. The mind is the seat of all our affections; and this is that we ought continually to design and endeavour, namely, that the “same mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus,” Phil. 2:5. To have our minds so affected with spiritual things as was the mind of Christ is the principal part of our duty and grace; nor do I think that any man can attain any con siderable degree in spiritual mindedness who is not much in the contemplation of the same mind in Christ, 2 Cor. 3:18. To this purpose ought we to furnish our minds with instances of the holy affections that were in Christ, and their blessed exercise on all occa sions. The Scripture makes a full representation of them unto us, and we ought to be conversant in our meditations on them. What glorious things are spoken of his love to God and his delight in him, whence also he “delighted to do his will, and his law was in the midst of his bowels,” Ps. 60:8,—seated in the throne of his affections! What pity and compassion had he for the souls of men, yea, for the whole human kind, in all their sufferings, pains, and distresses! How were all his affections always in perfection of order, under the conduct of the spirit of his mind! Hence was his self-denial, his contempt of the world, his readiness for the cross, to do or suffer according to the will of God. If this pattern be continually before us, it will put forth a transforming efficacy to change us into the same image

Owen, John. The Works of John Owen. The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded. Edited by William H. Goold, vol. 7, T&T Clark, pp. 467–68.

[4]   Paul writing to the Galatians, “my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” Gal. 4:19.

[5] All conduct, not merely speech.

[6]28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:28–29 (ESV)

Draft Brief on First Amendment Protection


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Below you will see the current rough draft of a friend of the court brief we will file next week in the appeal of the district court decision in Chiles v Salazar.


Under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 29(a)(2), the Associations of Certified Biblical Counselors (“ACBC”) files this amicus curiae brief with the consent of all parties. No counsel for any party authored this brief in whole or in part, and no person or entity, other than ACBC and its counsel, made a monetary contribution intended to fund the preparation or submission of this brief.


         The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors represents a group of Christian counselors who provide counsel and training in and consistent with the traditional practice of the Christian religion. Admittedly, the instant regulation is not directly applicable to ACBC’s members and their work. However, due to the similarities in appearance between instruction in the practice of the Christian religion in a one-on-one setting and the practice of psychotherapy, that is, one person speaking to another about a circumstance and seeking help based upon the knowledge of a counselor, there is a concern that the rules which are imposed upon Christian therapists through licensing regulation may eventually be imposed upon Christians who are providing training in the practice of the Christian outside of the licensed relationship. Further, ACBC’s counselors are chilled in their speech for fear of similar prosecution for practicing their faith-based counseling. These concerns are heightened on the basis of the novel theory advanced by the State of Colorado and approved by the lower court that speech may be censored in the name of “harm.”

         The Christian religion entails doctrines of self-denial in many areas of life, including sexual conduct. This counsel of self-denial is the sort of counsel which the State of Colorado has determined is “harmful.” Christians are given responsibility to encourage one-another in efforts at chastity, which is what the State of Colorado has forbidden to Christian therapists under the guise of regulation of a profession.

         Accordingly, ACBC has an interest in this law being struck down in its current form.


         The lower court provides a rehearsal of the well-known rules respecting the protection of speech, of the wrongs of content-based restrictions on speech, and the related rules applicable. Since those rules are well-known to this court and have been adequately presented by Ms. Chiles’ attorneys, amicus will assume such rules for purpose of this argument and move its attention to the manner in which the lower court creates a sweeping new power of the government to censor speech while at the same time giving the appearance of merely applying current law.

         The lower court in reaching its unsupported conclusion first affirmed the rules protecting speech but then eviscerated those rules by means of a logical misstep and a fundamental misreading of existing law. This is then bolstered by the creation of a new basis for censorship made appealing on the ground that it favors the current opinion of the political majority.

         What has happened in this case is that the lower court has structured a new legal theory which creates the power of political majority to censor speech on the ground that it is “harmful.” ‘Harmful’ speech has never been approved as a touchstone for constitutional jurisprudence. Since what constitutes harmful speech will always be speech the majority disapproves, were the lower court’s approach accepted, the political majority can lay waste to any subject it deems ‘harmful’, thereby banning all utterance it disapproves. That is simply not the law.


The crux of the lower court’s decision is found in this paragraph:

And Defendants do not—and cannot—dispute that Ms. Chiles speaks to her clients during counseling sessions (See ECF No. 45 at 23-24). But speech made in professional contexts is not always pure speech. See EMW Women’s Surgical Ctr., P.S.C. v. Beshear, 920 F.3d 421, 429 (6th Cir. 2019) (“Casey and [National Institute of Family and Life Advocates] recognize that First Amendment heightened scrutiny does not apply to incidental regulation of professional speech that is part of the [professional] practice . . ..”)

The key word in this analysis is “incidental”.  That word becomes a rhetorical pivot which is turned to eradicate First Amendment protections.

First, the court must consider what was actually upheld in EMW. In EMW, the government defined certain minimal disclosures to be made by a health care provider before obtaining informed consent for a medical procedure: “The Ultrasound Informed Consent Act—is an informed-consent statute.” (EMW Women’s Surgical Ctr. v. Beshear (6th Cir. 2019) 920 F.3d 421, 446)

This is similar to a lawyer being required to make certain disclosures about billing rates and reimbursement for costs prior to offering a client a retainer agreement. Yes, the decisions have different stakes, but defining the minimal precontract disclosures is a regulation of the profession. For instance, Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.5(b), requires the attorney to make a series of disclosures for a contingent fee agreement to be enforceable.

In fact, the second case cited by the lower court in support of the power of “incidental regulation of professional speech” (Ohralik v. Ohio State Bar Assn (1978) 436 U.S. 447) actually concerned precontractual communications between a lawyer and a potential client:

In Bates v. State Bar of Arizona433 U.S. 350 (1977), this Court held that truthful advertising of “routine” legal services is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments against blanket prohibition by a State. The Court expressly reserved the question of the permissible scope of regulation of “in-person solicitation of clients — at the hospital room or the accident site, or in any other situation that breeds undue influence — by attorneys or their agents or `runners.'” Id., at 366. Today we answer part of the question so reserved, and hold that the State — or the Bar acting with state authorization — constitutionally may discipline a lawyer for soliciting clients in person, for pecuniary gain, under circumstances likely to pose dangers that the State has a right to prevent.

Ohralik v. Ohio State Bar Assn (1978) 436 U.S. 447, 448-49 The Ohralik Court did not uphold a law which regulated the content of the lawyer’s counsel given during the professional relationship as the lower court did. Thus Ohralik concerned solely precontract speech.

Ohralik then gave as support a citation to a series of cases which permitted regulation of speech. Each of the cases cited by the Ohralik court concerned either precontract speech (such as a misleading securities’ report) or speech soliciting a contract to engage in behavior which was illegal independent of the solicitation:

Moreover, “it has never been deemed an abridgment of freedom of speech or press to make a course of conduct illegal merely because the conduct was in part initiated, evidenced, or carried out by means of language, either spoken, written, or printed.” Giboney v. Empire Storage Ice Co.336 U.S. 490, 502 (1949). Numerous examples could be cited of communications that are regulated without offending the First Amendment, such as the exchange of information about securities, SEC v. Texas Gulf Sulphur Co.401 F.2d 833 (CA2 1968), cert. denied, 394 U.S. 976 (1969), corporate proxy statements, Mills v. Electric Auto-Lite Co.396 U.S. 375 (1970), the exchange of price and production information among competitors, American Column Lumber Co. v. United States257 U.S. 377 (1921), and employers’ threats of retaliation for the labor activities of employees, NLRB v. Gissel Packing Co.395 U.S. 575, 618 (1969). See Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton413 U.S. 49, 61-62 (1973).

(Ohralik v. Ohio State Bar Assn (1978) 436 U.S. 447, 456)

When one understands what Ohralik actually permits and curtails, one can see that the lower court’s use of Ohralik goes well beyond what that Court actually held:

As Defendants argue, speech made in a professional context—particularly in the context of licensed professional counseling—is distinguishable from, for example, political speech (ECF No. 45 at 23). Ms. Chiles admits that she is a licensed professional counselor with a graduate degree in clinical mental health, and that her speech is made in the course of her work as a professional counselor (ECF No. 1 at 29-31 ¶¶ 104, 108). “[I]t has never been deemed an abridgment of freedom of speech . . . to [regulate] a course of [professional] conduct . . . merely because the conduct was in part initiated, evidenced, or carried out by means of language, either spoken, written, or printed.” Ohralik, 436 U.S. at 456 (quotations omitted).

The lower court misuse of Ohralik flows from its failure to provide a full citation to what the Court actually wrote. When one compares the language from Ohralik and the abridgement provided by the lower court here, the distinction is obvious. Neither EMW nor Ohralik, nor even the cases cited by Ohralik, stand for the proposition that the government has the power to ban pure speech given during the course of a professional relationship after the contract has been formed. The cases stand for the a quite different proposition — that a professional must make certain disclosure prior to entering into a contract.

That distinction between regulating precontract disclosure concerning the nature of services which could or would be rendered, and regulating the content of a therapeutic relationship are fundamentally different concerns. If Colorado required a therapist to disclose to a potential client that the therapist held to Alderian or Freudian or Jungian or Client Centered Therapy or CBT or (any number of other models and techniques) prior to entering a contractual relationship, that regulation may be similar to EMW or Ohralik. If Colorado required Ms. Chiles to disclose she was a Christian who holds certain positions on human sexuality, that may be permissible. But when Colorado moves to a law prohibiting Ms. Chiles from relying upon her Christian commitments during the therapeutic relationship it undoubtedly violates the First Amendment.


The Supreme Court has already explained this issue in a thorough and incontrovertible manner:

The most basic of those principles is this: “[A]s a general matter, … government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.” Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union,535 U.S. 564, 573122 S.Ct. 1700152 L.Ed.2d 771 (2002) (internal quotation marks omitted). There are of course exceptions. ” ‘From 1791 to the present,’ … the First Amendment has ‘permitted restrictions upon the content of speech in a few limited areas,’ and has never ‘include[d] a freedom to disregard these traditional limitations.’ ” United States v. Stevens, 559 U.S. ––––, ––––, 130 S.Ct. 1577, 1584176 L.Ed.2d 435 (2010) (quoting R.A.V. v. St. Paul,505 U.S. 377, 382–383112 S.Ct. 2538120 L.Ed.2d 305 (1992) ). These limited areas—such as obscenity, Roth v. United States,354 U.S. 476, 48377 S.Ct. 13041 L.Ed.2d 1498 (1957), incitement, Brandenburg v. Ohio,395 U.S. 444, 447–44989 S.Ct. 182723 L.Ed.2d 430 (1969)(per curiam), and fighting words, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire,315 U.S. 568, 57262 S.Ct. 76686 L.Ed. 1031 (1942) —represent “well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem,” id., at 571–572, 62 S.Ct. 766. Last Term, in Stevens, we held that new categories of unprotected speech may not be added to the list by a legislature that concludes certain speech is too harmful to be tolerated. Stevens concerned a federal statute purporting to criminalize the creation, sale, or possession of certain depictions of animal cruelty. See 18 U.S.C. § 48 (amended 2010). The statute covered depictions “in which a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed” if that harm to the animal was illegal where the “the creation, sale, or possession t[ook] place,” § 48(c)(1). A saving clause largely borrowed from our obscenity jurisprudence, see Miller v. California,413 U.S. 15, 2493 S.Ct. 260737 L.Ed.2d 419(1973), exempted depictions with “serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value,” § 48(b). We held that statute to be an impermissible content-based restriction on speech. There was no American tradition of forbidding the depiction of animal cruelty—though States have long had laws against committing it. The Government argued in Stevens that lack of a historical warrant did not matter; that it could create new categories of unprotected speech by applying a “simple balancing test” that weighs the value of a particular category of speech against its social costs and then punishes that category of speech if it fails the test.Stevens, 559 U.S., at ––––, 130 S.Ct., at 1585. We emphatically rejected that “startling and dangerous” proposition. Ibid. “Maybe there are some categories of speech that have been historically unprotected, but have not yet been specifically identified or discussed as such in our case law.” Id., at ––––, 130 S.Ct., at 1586. But without persuasive evidence that a novel restriction on content is part of a long (if heretofore unrecognized) tradition of proscription, a legislature may not revise the “judgment [of] the American people,” embodied in the First Amendment, “that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs.” Id., at ––––, 130 S.Ct., at 1585.

(Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Assn. (2011) 564 U.S. 786, 790-92)

A supposed rationale that speech is “harmful” as a justification for banning it, in any context, simply has not received the traction except in the lower court.


Colorado may then argue, we are not merely banning “harmful” speech, but we are banning speech which is “harmful” specifically to minors. Apparently, this claim is based on the minor being too delicate to hear the words. But adding the word “minors” to the equation does not move the constitutional analysis in favor of censorship. The basic principle at issue here was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court 48 years ago:

It is well settled that a State or municipality can adopt more stringent controls on communicative materials available to youths than on those available to adults. See, e.g., Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629 (1968). Nevertheless, minors are entitled to a significant measure of First Amendment protection, see Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969), and only in relatively narrow and well-defined circumstances may government bar public dissemination of protected materials to them. See, e.g., Interstate Circuit, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 390 U.S. 676, 1968); Rabeck v. New York, 391 U.S. 462  (1968).

(Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville (1975) 422 U.S. 205, 212-13) Since that time, a number of courts have developed and clarified the principle that minors are entitled to First Amendment protection for the information they receive.  Those cases affirm that minors have robust First Amendment rights.

In 2000, the city of Indianapolis sought to forbid minors from access to video games which the city council deemed “harmful”. The Seventh Circuit rejected that statute. In one part the Court explained:

The grounds must be compelling and not merely plausible. Children have First Amendment rights. Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville,422 U.S. 205, 212-1495 S.Ct. 226845 L.Ed.2d 125 (1975); Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District,393 U.S. 503, 511-1489 S.Ct. 73321 L.Ed.2d 731 (1969). This is not merely a matter of pressing the First Amendment to a dryly logical extreme. The murderous fanaticism displayed by young German soldiers in World War II, alumni of the Hitler Jugend, illustrates the danger of allowing government to control the access of children to information and opinion. Now that eighteen-year-olds have the right to vote, it is obvious that they must be allowed the freedom to form their political views on the basis of uncensored speech before they turn eighteen, so that their minds are not a blank when they first exercise the franchise. And since an eighteen-year-old’s right to vote is a right personal to him rather than a right that is to be exercised on his behalf by his parents, the right of parents to enlist the aid of the state to shield their children from ideas of which the parents disapprove cannot be plenary either. People are unlikely to become well-functioning, independent-minded adults and responsible citizens if they are raised in an intellectual bubble.

(American Amusement Machine Ass’n v. Kendrick (7th Cir. 2001) 244 F.3d 572, 576-77) The State of Illinois gathered more “evidence” for its restriction on video games:

Dr. Craig Anderson, a psychologist and professor at Iowa State University, testified on behalf of the defendants. Dr. Anderson summarized research, including his own, regarding the relationship between minors’ exposure to violent video games and aggressive thoughts and behavior. Based on this research, Dr. Anderson testified that “it seems clear that exposure to violent video games increases aggressive behavior, aggressive thinking, physiological arousal, aggressive feelings, and is also associated with a decrease in prosocial behavior.”

(Entertainment Software Ass’n. v. Blagojevich (N.D. Ill. 2005) 404 F. Supp. 2d 1051, 1059) More recent research has discredited the opinions of psychologists such as Dr. Anderson on the effects of videogames, but that is the way with science. What does matter is that state statute was unconstitutional, in part because it infringed upon the First Amendment rights of minors:

We think it important first to reaffirm our observation in American Amusement Machine Association v. Kendrick,244 F.3d 572, 576 (7th Cir.2001), that “[c]hildren have First Amendment Rights.” The implication of this observation is that our narrow tailoring inquiry must be broader than the question of whether adults will be affected by the challenged legislation. The Constitution also requires us to ask whether legislation unduly burdens the First Amendment rights of minors. And for good reason — as we observed in AAMA history has shown the dangers of giving too much censorship power to the State over materials intended for young persons. See AAMA244 F.3d at 577

(Entertainment Software Ass’n v. Blagojevich (7th Cir. 2006) 469 F.3d 641, 646-47) Since that time, it is commonly held by the courts that such restrictions violation the First Amendment:

The issue of regulating violent video games to minors has been decided in the Seventh and Eighth Circuit, both of which have found that the attempted regulation in those districts violates the First Amendment. Amer. Amusement Mach. Ass’n v. Kendrick,244 F. 3d 572 (7th Cir. 2001), Interactive Digital Software Ass’n v. St. Louis County,329 F.3d 954 (8th Cir. 2003). Several other District Courts have similarly held such acts to be unconstitutional. SeeVideo Software Dealers Ass’n v. Maleng,325 F.Supp.2d 1180 (W.D. Wash. 2004),Entertainment Software Ass’n v. Blagojevich,404 F.Supp.2d 1051 (E.D. Ill. 2005) (“E.S.A.”) (granting preliminary injunction), Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger,401 F.Supp 2d 1034 (N.D. Cal. 2005) (granting preliminary injunction).

(Entertainment Software Ass’n v. Granholm (E.D. Mich. 2006) 426 F. Supp. 2d 646, 649-50) The point of such cases is that First Amendment protections are afforded to minors, even in instances where the minor seeks access to speech which the legislature has determined is harmful.

This court should so hold likewise and reverse the lower court.

This is not to say that legislatures cannot prohibit certain types of speech be transmitted to a minor. But that is not what has happened here. Obscene speech can be prohibited on the ground that it is not protected by the First Amendment:

Though we deal here with restrictions not limited to obscenity, we note that obscenity is not within the class of speech protected by the First Amendment. ( Ginsberg v. New York (1968) 390 U.S. 629 [20 L.Ed.2d 19588 S.Ct. 1274]; Roth v. United States (1957) 354 U.S. 476 [1 L.Ed.2d 149877 S.Ct. 1304].) The state may adopt a standard of obscenity applicable to minors which is broader than that applicable to adults and which denies minors access to materials to which adults could not be denied access. ( Ginsberg v. New York, supra,390 U.S. 629.) “Nevertheless, minors are entitled to a significant measure of First Amendment protection . . . and only in relatively narrow and well-defined circumstances may government bar public dissemination of protected materials to them. [Citations omitted.]” ( Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville (1975) 422 U.S. 205, 212-213 [45 L.Ed.2d 125, 13395 S.Ct. 2268].) “Speech that is neither obscene as to youths nor subject to some other legitimate proscription cannot be suppressed solely to protect the young from ideas or images that a legislative body thinks unsuitable for them.” ( Erznoznik, supra,422 U.S. at pp. 213-214 [45 L.Ed.2d at p. 133].)

(American Booksellers Assn. v. Superior Court (1982) 129 Cal.App.3d 197, 201) The State of Colorado never found the speech at issue obscene; nor did it ban the speech for all purposes and by all persons: if it were obscene, it could be banned on the ground that it is not protected rather than it is “harmful.”

The Supreme Court has already spoken on this issue has expressly rejected the rationale advanced by Colorado herein:

The California Act is something else entirely. It does not adjust the boundaries of an existing category of unprotected speech to ensure that a definition designed for adults is not uncritically applied to children. California does not argue that it is empowered to prohibit selling offensively violent works to adults —and it is wise not to, since that is but a hair’s breadth from the argument rejected in Stevens. Instead, it wishes to create a wholly new category of content-based regulation that is permissible only for speech directed at children.

That is unprecedented and mistaken. “[M]inors are entitled to a significant measure of First Amendment protection, and only in relatively narrow and well-defined circumstances may government bar public dissemination of protected materials to them.” Erznoznik v. Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205, 212–21395 S.Ct. 226845 L.Ed.2d 125 (1975) (citation omitted). No doubt a State possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm, Ginsberg, supra, at 640–641, 88 S.Ct. 1274Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 16564 S.Ct. 43888 L.Ed. 645 (1944), but that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed. “Speech that is neither obscene as to youths nor subject to some other legitimate proscription cannot be suppressed solely to protect the young from ideas or images that a legislative body thinks unsuitable for them.” Erznoznik, supra, at 213–214, 95 S.Ct. 2268.

(Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Assn. (2011) 564 U.S. 786, 794-95)

In this particular instance, speech which is consistent with the religious and moral traditions of millions of Americans and which has an extensive history would be among the speech which the statute seeks to prohibit. And, if a state can prohibit the speech under the guise of a licensure, the state would then arguably be able to ban any speech by any person by merely exercising the “harmful” standard. The courts have wisely rejected that standard to date. This Court should stand with them.


It is the duty of the court to protect the individual from the excesses of the political branches, “When a [] regulation or practice offends a fundamental constitutional guarantee, federal courts will discharge their duty to protect constitutional rights.” (Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners’ Union (1977) 433 U.S. 119, 143, Marshall, J., dissenting)

An irony of the instant case which will strike all readers when the cases involving speech to minors is considered below, is that the speech barred today was the speech favored yesterday; and the speech favored today, was speech which the political branches previously sought to suppress. It is an accident in history that we all think we have now reached the stage of full wisdom and truth, and that the speech which a majority favors today is Truth. The First Amendment is in place just because we have never become perfectly wise.

It is the task of the Court to allow the parties to squabble over truth without 51 out of a 100 coming to rest on that which is popular today. Socrates was put to death because a majority of his fellow citizens thought it scandalous to believe the sun was a flaming stone and not a god. The majority is rarely if ever circumspect in its authoritative pronouncements, which is why our courts have seen fit to protect the minority positions.

Here, the State of Colorado could not prohibit all persons from speaking on the subject prohibited by this statute, therefore, it cannot prohibit psychotherapists from speaking on this topic. Or stated otherwise, if the state could prohibit this speech merely because 51% of the legislature found it “wrong” or “hurtful” would mean the legislature could ban any speech if 51% of the legislature agreed.  But the First Amendment is in place precisely because a minority must have the right to speak. There is no need for the courts to protect the speech of the majority, the majority will always get what it wants.

This creates pressure upon any judge. Yet, however much the individual sympathizes with one side in any debate, the duty remains, the obligation imposed by the judicial oath “to administer justice without respect to persons;” a duty to protect the speech and religion of those whom the judge personally finds disagreeable. (Nat’l Review, Inc. v. Mann 140 S. Ct. 344, 347-48 (2019) [“Our decisions protecting the speech at issue in that case and the others just noted can serve as a promise that we will be vigilant when the freedom of speech and the press are most seriously implicated, that is, in cases involving disfavored speech on important political or social issues.”])

         It is no support for the law compelling (or restricting) speech that it is the will of the majority (Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705, 715 (1977); National Socialist Party v. Skokie (1977) 432 U.S. 43 [displaying Swastikas protected speech]) It is the minority who most need protection before the Court. As Justice Stevens wrote, “[T]he federal courts — and particularly this Court — have a primary obligation to protect the rights of the individual that are embodied in the Federal Constitution.” (Harris v. Reed, 489 U.S. 255, 267 (1989), Stevens, J., concurring; Cobell v. Norton 212 F.R.D. 14, 20, (D.D.C. 2002) [“the Court is mindful of its obligation to protect the free speech rights of defendants.”])

         Where the political process will not act to protect fundamental rights to speech, to religion, it is the duty of the court to protect those rights even for those whose beliefs and opinions do repel the majority. (Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584, 2605 (2015))[1]. The Colorado statute concerns speech and religion in a counseling context which touches upon some of the most fundamental values we have as human beings and fundamental rights as those deserving the protection of the Constitution. (Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584, 2599 (2015).) That Colorado may have a laudable goal is no basis upon which it may suppress protected speech. (Billups v. City of Charleston 961 F.3d 673, 683-84, (4th Cir. 2020)). 

         To achieve its stated end, the Colorado statute maintains unconstitutional means: it forbids and compels based upon content.  ((Nat’l Inst. of Family & Life Advocates v. Becerra, 138 S. Ct. 2361, 2371 (2018)) [content-based restrictions offend the First Amendment]) [2]  It unconstitutionally favors one viewpoint and forbids all others. ((Matal v. Tam,137 S. Ct. 1744, 1765-66 (2017) [viewpoint restrictions offend the First Amendment]) By allowing only one viewpoint it seeks to compel speech approved by the government[3]. To fail to speak as the government demands forces one out of the economy and threatens ruin with fines and litigation.


         In conclusion, the lower court erred by upholding an unconstitutional ban on protected discourse. Irrespective of the current politics or the court’s own preference, the First Amendment places a wall of separation between the government and quelling the voice of its people. The courts have been stationed upon that wall to protect the speech of the minority, no matter how small, despised, or misguided in the eyes of the court.

[1] The courts have repeatedly affirmed the First Amendment’s limitation on governmental power. ( See, e.g., Thonen v. Jenkins  491 F.2d 722, 723 (4th Cir. 1973) (“‘But, above all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.’”); Mainstream Loudoun v. Board of Trustees of Loudoun 2 F. Supp. 2d 783, 795 (E.D. Va. 1998) (“We are therefore left with the First Amendment’s central tenet that content-based restrictions on speech must be justified by a compelling governmental interest and must be narrowly tailored to achieve that end.”))

[2] “Ratified in 1791, the First Amendment provides that Congress shall make no law ‘abridging the freedom of speech.’ Above all else, the First Amendment means that government generally has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.’ [Citation.]” (Barr v. American Assn. of Political Consultants, Inc., 140 S. Ct. 2335, 2346 (2020); Holloman ex Rel. Holloman v. Harland (11th Cir. 2004) 370 F.3d 1252, 1264 ((“The Speech Clause of the First Amendment protects at least two separate, yet related, rights: (1) the right to freedom of expression, and (2) the right to be free from compelled expression. United States v. United Foods, Inc.,533 U.S. 405, 410, 121 S.Ct. 2334, 2338, 150 L.Ed.2d 438 (2001).”)

[3] First Amendment prohibits compelled speech. (United States v. United Foods, Inc., 533 U.S. 405, 410 (2001); see, Wooley v. Maynard 430 U.S. 705, 714-15 (1977)) The act of government compulsion as to speech is always demeaning and always wrong. (Janus v. Am. Fed’n of State, Cnty., & Mun. Emps., Council 31 (2018) 138 S. Ct. 2448, 2464 (2018) [“When speech is compelled, however, additional damage is done. In that situation, individuals are coerced into betraying their convictions. Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable is always demeaning, and for this reason, one of our landmark free speech cases said that a law commanding “involuntary affirmation” of objected-to beliefs would require “even more immediate and urgent grounds” than a law demanding silence. Barnette, supra, at 633, 63 S.Ct. 1178; see also Riley, supra, at 796–797, 108 S.Ct. 2667 (rejecting “deferential test” for compelled speech claims).”])

Christ’s Eternal Existence, Manton Sermon 1.2



[Next Manton considers at length what is implied by the language of “forgiveness.” Notice that this is not explicitly in the sermon text.  Manton is working with the concepts of redemption and forgiveness and then working out what must be implied within those concepts. He does not merely quote ten verses with the word forgiveness, nor give a definition of forgiveness. Instead he works out the logic of forgiveness being offered by God.]

4.         It remaineth, therefore, that forgiveness of sin is a dissolving the obligation to punishment ….

a.  [He considers first the cause-effect relationship between crime-punishment, one gives rise to the other] …. There can be no punishment without a preceding fault and crime.

[This creates a new implication: if the crime is not present, the cause for the punishment is likewise set aside.] Therefore, if the judge will not impute the fault, there must needs be an immunity from punishment, for the cause being taken away, the effect ceaseth, and the sin committed by us is the meritorious cause of punishment.

[This leads to divine relationship]. If God will cover that, and overlook it, then forgiveness is a dissolving the obligation to punishment.

b. [If I am punished, I cannot be forgiven at the same time. Therefore, the offer of forgiveness implies the absence of punishment.

c.  [He next argues on the character of God. If God tells the truth, then forgiveness must mean an absence of punishment] It would seem to impeach the justice and mercy of God, if he should exact the punishment where he hath pardoned the offence. His justice, to flatter men with hopes of remitting the debt, where he requireth the payment; his mercy, in making such fair offers of reconciliation, when still liable to his vindictive justice. There may be indeed effects of his fatherly anger, but not of his vindictive wrath.

d. [Having considered the logic of the matter he reviews some passages Ps. 32:1, 51:2; Is. 38:17; Jer. 31:34; Micah 7:19, which all speak of God’s extravagant mercy and grace in forgiving and forgetting sin. He takes these passages as metaphorical, and then asks what must be true if these are the metaphors used to describe the forgiveness? It must be complete, which is consistent with analysis of the logic or mercy and forgiveness.]

[What do we take from this first section? He proves the point he raised at first: Forgiveness is not merely an incidental, I was not punished. It is analysis of what must be true if I am forgiven, and can I truly conclude that God offers actual forgiveness. The result is the forgiven sinner knows himself to be free of punishment for sin, even if he may be corrected by this Father.]

Christ’s Eternal Existence (Manton), Sermon 1.1


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Sermon I

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.—Col. 1:14.

The apostle, in the former verse, had spoken of our slavery and bondage to Satan, from which Christ came to deliver us; now, because sin is the cause of it, he cometh to speak of our redemption from sin: ‘In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.’ Here is—

   I.       The author.

   II.      The benefit.

   III.     The price.

[This is a standard Manton introduction. There is a brief mention of the context for the text. He then provides a breakdown of the text. First, there is the overall break of the text based upon the grammatical structure: Author: “His” Benefit: “redemption” Price: “his blood”. Now he is going to consider the text as a matter of propostional doctrine]

The point is this:—

Doct. That one principal part of our redemption by Christ is remission of sins.

[The statement of a doctrine explicitly someplace in the sermon is common throughout the Puritans.   But having made the statement of the doctrine, there is the necessity of breaking down that proposition. The questions here are similar to the sort questions suggested by Joseph Hall on the subject of meditation

This is the sort of analysis which one will not find in standard exegesis. This is an additional step which asks questions of the text such as “why is this here” “what I am supposed to do with this information”. Many limp sermons tell a proposition and then leave the listener with the question, “So what?” Manton does not just want you to know that Christ has redeemed you. He wants you to know what it means to be redeemed.]

Here I shall show you:—

1. What remission of sins is.

2. The nature of redemption.

3. That remission of sins is a part, and a principal part of it.

[Now begins a very methodical presentation of his information. I have formatted the material to make the outline clear. Manton did not use a Roman I, bold offset heading, for example. Also I have redacted portions of the sermon. The following is an outline with comment.]

I.          First, What remission of sins is. Both terms must be explained—what sin is, and what is the forgiveness of sin.

[A.       What is Sin?]

1.         For the first, sin is a violation of the law of the eternal and living God:

a.         [Proof] 1 John 3:4

b.         [Explanation] God is the lawgiver, who hath given a righteous law to his subjects, under the dreadful penalty of a curse. In his law there are two things—the precept and the sanction.

i.          The precept is the rule of our duty, which showeth what we must do, or not do.

ii.         The sanction or penalty showeth what God will do, or might justly do, if he should deal with us according to the merit of our actions.

iii.        Accordingly, in sin, there is the fault and the guilt.

I.          The fault: that man, who is God’s subject, and so many ways obliged to him by his benefits, instead of keeping this law, should break it upon light terms.

A.         [He brought to sin by] being carried away by his own ill-disposed will and base lusts. [Here a motivation for sin. It comes from within the human being. It is a surely refusal to obey and a desire for something which he was not granted. There is a theory of moral action embedded in this statement. First, human beings are subject to their own subjective determinations, whether thought or desire. Second, it is a desire to act. The bare event is not the sin but the “swerving” from God’s law.

B.         [Therefore, we are culpable] It is a great and heinous offence, for which he becometh obnoxious to the judgment of God.

II.         The guilt: which is a liableness to punishment, [That is, the punishment has been earned and is deserved.]Where there is sin, there will be guilt; and where there is guilt, there will be punishment, unless we be pardoned. [Manton here adds an interesting image: The sin has created guilt which binds us with chains to the punishment. The picture of Morley at the beginning of a Christmas Carol speaking of forging chains in life seems similar] and God looseneth the chains wherewith we be bound.

B.        Secondly, Forgiveness of sin is a dissolving the obligation to punishment, or a freedom, in God’s way and method, from all the sad and woful consequences of sin. Understand it rightly.

1.         It is not a disannulling the act. [God does not disappear the sin.  The sinful event has a historical reality binding upon the actor. Manton holds it is “impossible” for the event to be undone. This raises an interesting question about the nature of sin and history. ] yet that must not be understood as if God would abolish the action, and make it as if it had never been, for that is impossible. [What is removed is not the act but the punishment due to the act.]

2.         [God does not change the moral status of the event. If an event is a sin, it is always a sin, even if forgiven.]  An accused person may be vindicated as innocent, but if he be pardoned, he is pardoned as an offender.

3.         [We must not think that our forgiveness means that we do not deserve the punishment. In fact, we must be clear on this point, because it makes our status as recipients of grace clear to us. [We must still own ourselves deserving the wrath of God, which maketh for our constant humiliation and admiration of grace; so that he that is pardoned still deserveth punishment.’’]



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Richard Sibbes in his work A Description of Christ considers the word “Behold” in Matthew 12:18, “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen.” There are thigns to note in his consideration of the word (I have picked up mid-way through his consideration). First, what passes for exegesis often concerns itself with merely what a word means. But Sibbes asks a more useful question, Why is this word here? What is doing to us when we come upon it. This requires far more work than the Greek Word here means “Behold” which was an interjection with the meaning “to look at”. Sibbes asks, “What am I seeing? Why should I care?”

Next, consider what he does: He does not merely tells why the behold is here, he tells us what will happen when we do behold. Why should we change our attention? What will happen when we look.

He then applies the work of beholding to you: it becomes an encouragement and joy: that there is nothing that is dejecting and abasing in man, but there is comfort for it in Christ Jesus; he is a salve for every sore, a remedy for every malady; therefore, ‘Behold my servant.’

But that is not all. Another use of this word ‘behold,’ was to call the people’s minds from their miseries, and from other abasing objects that dejected them, and might force despair. Why do you dwell upon your unworthiness and sin? raise up your mind, ‘Behold my servant whom I have chosen,’ &c. This is an object worth beholding and admiration, especially of a distressed soul that may see in Christ whatsoever may comfort it.

A third end of it is to raise the mind from any vulgar, common, base contents.* You look on these things, and are carried away with common trivial objects, as the poor disciples when they came to the temple; they stood wondering at the stones. What wondrous stones! what goodly building is here! Mark 13:1. So shallow-minded men, they see any earthly excellency, they stand gazing. Alas, saith Christ, do you wonder at these things? So the prophet here raiseth up the minds of men to look on an object fit to be looked on, ‘Behold my servant,’ &c. So that the Holy Ghost would have them from this saving object, Christ, to raise satisfaction to their souls every way. Are you dejected? here is comfort; are you sinful? here is righteousness; are you led away with present contentments? here you have honours, and pleasures, and all in Christ Jesus. You have a right to common pleasures that others have, and besides them you have interest to others that are everlasting pleasures that shall never fail, so that there is nothing that is dejecting and abasing in man, but there is comfort for it in Christ Jesus; he is a salve for every sore, a remedy for every malady; therefore, ‘Behold my servant.’

This word ‘behold,’ it is a word of wonderment, and, indeed, in Christ there are a world of wonders, everything is wonderful in him. Things new and wonderful, and things rare, and things that are great, that transcend our capacity, are wonderful, that stop our understanding that it cannot go through them. Vulgar things, we see through them quickly, but when we see things that stay our understandings, that raise our understandings higher, and that are more capacious than our understandings, here is matter of admiration and wonder. Now whatsoever may make wonderment is in Jesus Christ, whose name is Wonderful, as it is in Isa. 9:7; therefore the prophet saith, ‘Behold.’

* That is, ‘contentments.’—Ed.

 Sibbes, Richard. The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes. Edited by Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 1, James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1862, pp. 4–5.

Loneliness as a failure of human interaction


If I understand this paper and the research correctly, we can think of loneliness not merely as a lack of social interaction but a failure within that social interaction:

“Lonely and non-lonely individuals were just as likely to interact with other people, but for lonely individuals the interactions were of poorer quality and provided less support and comfort (Hawkley et al., in press).”

Calling this “poorer quality” which is true but not sufficiently descriptive, I think that we could conceptualize of stress as something creates a certain burden upon me. There is the difficulty of the event causing the stress itself (I have to complete a project but lack time to complete it), but there is also a secondary element: when I bring my stress to you, I can offload the effects of that stress: we can more easily bear a difficulty when we understand that someone else cares about our stress. This is so even if other person in the interaction is unable to effect any change in the external circumstance which causes the stress. Just the fact that someone else knows and sympathizes with my stress creates a reduction of stress.

Should I bear some particular burden but have no one to whom I can unburden my heart, each interaction comes itself another form of stress: I am being hurt. No one cares that I am being hurt, which is a second stress. So we can conceptualize loneliness as a combination of two stresses: a first event which causes stress, and a second event when I cannot sufficiently interact with others concerning my stress.

“Stress has tended to be treated as if it represented a single mechanism, although, in fact, it represents a family of mechanisms that serve to mobilize and defend the body ( e.g., fight or flight). Each mechanism comprises a different set of operations that could contribute to higher levels of stress in the lives of lonely than nonlonely individuals. According to the

added-stress hypothesis, loneliness is associated with perceptions of social rejection and exclusion, which are themselves stressors that produce negative affect and lowered feelings of self-worth and, in turn, promote chronic elevations in activity in the sympathetic nervous, sympathetic adrenomedullary (SAM), and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) systems.”

There are a couple ways in which this could be understood the reason that “poorer quality” interpersonal interactions constitute an additional stress: (1) I expect that someone will care about me enough to share in my stress. (2) Stress is a kind of burden which we can off-load to others. I am stressed about completing some task. You cannot relieve the stress of my task, but your sympathy creates a state in my mind which makes easier to bear the stress. How exactly is that stress easier to bear if it is distributed?

Distributing the stress to you reduces the stress to me. Being unable to distribute the stress creates a new stress. As said above, it seems from this paper, but also from human experience, that an effective distribution of the stress through social interaction is effective even if there is no ability in the friend to alter the external circumstance.

What precisely makes social interaction effective to alleviate stress? While an expectation that someone else would care about my circumstance and then finding that there is no one to whom I can unburden myself would explain an increase in stress, it does not explain the reduction in stress should I be able to find a a friend. What if I come into contact with no one, would that make my loneliness no longer an additional stress?

It is unquestionable that isolation constitutes a vicious problem.

Let us imagine that I possess stress as an object, a weight. I expect that someone will care about the weight of the object. I tell someone about my stressful circumstance and the stress become less. But if no one cares, the burden of the object becomes greater. The defeat of an expectation would be sufficient constitute a new stress. But this explanation is insufficient to explain how speaking to someone lessens the weight of my stress.

If I do find someone who cares, the weight of the original stressor lessens even if no weight from the burden is actually distributed to any other person. If I have to complete a project at work and tell you and you sympathize, you still have no burden transferred to you. The distribution is largely free to you, and results in reduction to me.

So this raises the question, why does a “positive” interaction with you effectuate a reduction of my stress? Romans 12:15 tells us to weep or rejoice with the one who weeps or rejoices. Perhaps this makes the issue clearer: If someone good happens to me, I do not experience the full weight of that good unless it can be shared with another person. Also, if someone weeps with me, even this other does not need to directly bear the burden of my loss, the loss is made less difficult.

So rather than think of loneliness as merely the ability to offload the psychological weight of a circumstance, loneliness is also the inability to share in a benefit.

Loneliness is then the lack of anyone with whom I can share my experience. Loneliness is thus not the pure weight of human interaction. Loneliness is the inability to have find anyone with whom I can weep or rejoice.

We can thus raise the question: Why is it critical that I have the ability to share my pain and joy?

This also tells us something about the church and the new life, the transformation of one’s mind as a result of the work of God (Rom. 12:1-2)

This then raises another question for the Christian: why does loneliness exist in the church? Isn’t the presence of loneliness a defect in the functioning of the church?

Measure for Measure Act 1, Scene 3.2


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Friar Thomas

 [19]    Gladly, my lord.


 [20]    We have strict statutes and most biting laws,

 [21]    The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds,

 [22]    Which for this fourteen years we have let slip,

 [23]    Even like an o’ergrown lion in a cave

 [24]    That goes not out to prey. Now, as fond fathers,

 [25]    Having bound up the threat’ning twigs of birch

 [26]    Only to stick it in their children’s sight

 [27]    For terror, not to use—in time the rod

 [28]    More mocked than feared—so our decrees,

 [29]    Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead,

 [30]    And liberty plucks justice by the nose,

 [31]    The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart

 [32]    Goes all decorum.

This section works on a couple of levels. First, it explains the Duke’s motivation leaving. Thus, it continues the exposition.

Second, the language is quite pictureseque. This makes the exposition entertaining:

[20]     We have strict statutes and most biting laws,

[21]     The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds,

[22]     Which for this fourteen years we have let slip,

[23]     Even like an o’ergrown lion in a cave

[24]     That goes not out to prey.

This first passage has an interesting mix of imagery:

The laws are strict and also “bite”.  This is matched by the image of the lion who has grown so fat it can longer leave its cave.

The strict statutes and biting laws act curb weeds which are difficult to restraining. This leads to an interesting reversal of the imagery. Weeds are the danger. The laws are the restraint. Weeds become overgrown. The lion is the image of restraint: the lion should come out and hunt its prey. Thus, the lion is parallel to the strict laws. But lazy lion is overgrown. So a fat lion has led to overgrown weeds.

                                                            Now, as fond fathers,

[25]     Having bound up the threat’ning twigs of birch

[26]     Only to stick it in their children’s sight

[27]     For terror, not to use—in time the rod

[28]     More mocked than feared—so our decrees,

[29]     Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead,

[30]     And liberty plucks justice by the nose,

[31]     The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart

[32]     Goes all decorum.

The second passage is based upon a more coherent image: A parent uses corporal punishment to restrain and train a child. But the “fond father” (fond here means foolish delight, indulgence) holds the stick up only as a threat. After awhile, the threat becomes meaningless because everyone knows it is an idle threat.  There should be a balance between liberty and restraint (or justice), which has been lost. Liberty now openly mocks just.  “more mocked than feared …. Plucks justice by the nose”.

The baby beats the nurse (the nanny) is a marvelous image.

Third, the passage presents a theory of social order in brief: Laws are enacted to restrain dangers which threaten social order. If the laws are not enforced, they will soon become a joke. The forces of disruption, weeds, untamed liberty, a child, will take advantage of the weakness afforded by a failure to restrain disorder. The result will be chaos: “and quite athwart/Goes all decorum.”

The basic proposition of this exposition: Why are you pretending to be on a trip? Well, I really can’t enforce basic laws because I have been distracted with other things. If I try it now, it will make things worse. I’ve installed a man who is known to be strict. I’ll let him reintroduce order.

Again, the irony of Angelo’s work. Angelo fails to judge the actual work of prostitution. Escalus, in Act II Scene 1 will warn the men to not be involved in this work. It is the man who is otherwise upright, whose sister is a soon to be a nun and how gets his soon to be formally acknowledge wife pregnant

Friar Thomas

 [33]    It rested in your Grace

 [34]    To unloose this tied-up justice when you pleased,

 [35]    And it in you more dreadful would have seemed

 [36]    Than in Lord Angelo.

Friar Thomas here raises the obvious question: Why didn’t you just enforce the law yourself? It would have been taken more seriously if you had done it yourself.


 [37]    I do fear, too dreadful.

 [38]    Sith ’twas my fault to give the people scope,

 [39]    ’Twould be my tyranny to strike and gall them

 [40]    For what I bid them do; for we bid this be done

 [41]    When evil deeds have their permissive pass

 [42]    And not the punishment. Therefore, indeed, my

 [43]    father,

 [44]    I have on Angelo imposed the office,

 [45]    Who may in th’ ambush of my name strike home,

 [46]    And yet my nature never in the fight

 [47]    To do in slander. And to behold his sway

 [48]    I will, as ’twere a brother of your order,

 [49]    Visit both prince and people. Therefore, I prithee

 [50]    Supply me with the habit, and instruct me

 [51]    How I may formally in person bear

 [52]    Like a true friar. More reasons for this action

 [53]    At our more leisure shall I render you.

[54]     Only this one: Lord Angelo is precise,

[55]     Stands at a guard with envy, scarce confesses

[56]     That his blood flows or that his appetite

[57]     Is more to bread than stone. Hence shall we see,

[58]     If power change purpose, what our seemers be.


We have now come to full explanation of the Duke’s understanding.

[37]     I do fear, too dreadful.

[38]     Sith ’twas my fault to give the people scope,

[39]     ’Twould be my tyranny to strike and gall them

[40]     For what I bid them do; for we bid this be done

[41]     When evil deeds have their permissive pass

[42]     And not the punishment.

The moral logic is that if I (the Duke) tempted the people in thinking it was permissible to engage in this behavior, it would be peculiarly wrong of me to then turn upon them and punish the conduct which I permitted.

Notice the political logic here: He would move from being a rightful ruler to a “tyrant” by such a move. In this sense, the argument has a similar political rational as does the Lex Rex, the Law is King: even the king must be subject to the law.

This also underscores the psychological aspect of political legitimacy. It is a perception in the people ruled that a ruler is legitimate. An illegitimate ruler is one who must keep his position by means of fear and violence. A legitimate ruler has the willing assent of the population, which he would lose.

He has passed his authority to someone who is “precise” (as he will describe Angelo, below). By passing his authority there is a psychological change in the population, they will be willing accept things. Even if the effect is unexpectedly harsh (but they should expect a lot from Angelo), it will not hurt the Duke’s legitimacy.

                                                Therefore, indeed, my

 [43]    father,

 [44]    I have on Angelo imposed the office,

 [45]    Who may in th’ ambush of my name strike home,

 [46]    And yet my nature never in the fight

 [47]    To do in slander.

The Duke however is not going to leave his people without his oversight. This shows he is not quite certain either of how Angelo will act or how the people will respond. Why or the extent to which he is concerned with Angelo is unknown. We gain some insight here:

                                    More reasons for this action

 [53]    At our more leisure shall I render you.

[54]     Only this one: Lord Angelo is precise,

[55]     Stands at a guard with envy, scarce confesses

[56]     That his blood flows or that his appetite

[57]     Is more to bread than stone. Hence shall we see,

[58]     If power change purpose, what our seemers be.

He is “precise”. This had distinct religious overtones at this time. The Puritans were sometimes referred to by their detractors as “precisionists” or “precisians”.

Because of their concern for preciseness in following out God’s revealed will in matters moral and ecclesiastical, the first Puritans were dubbed ‘precisians’. Though ill-meant and derisive, this was in fact a good name for them. Then as now, people explained their attitude as due to peevish cantankerousness and angularity or morbidity of temperament, but that was not how they themselves saw it. Richard Rogers, the Puritan pastor of Wethersfield, Essex, at the turn of the sixteenth century, was riding one day with the local lord of the manor, who, after twitting him for some time about his ‘precisian’ ways, asked him what it was that made him so precise. ‘O sir,’ replied Rogers, ‘I serve a precise God.’ If there were such a thing as a Puritan crest, this would be its proper motto. A precise God—a God, that is, who has made a precise disclosure of his mind and will in Scripture, and who expects from his servants a corresponding preciseness of belief and behaviour—it was this view of God that created and controlled the historic Puritan outlook.

Packer, J. I. A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life. Crossway Books, 1990, p. 114.

This raises a peculiar question about the play. The play itself was first performed in 1604 before King James. The relationship between King James and the Puritans was not easy. This wink at the Puritans would not have caused the playwright trouble with the king.