What testosterone levels can teach us about Christian living

Bethany Keeley-Jonker

Jason Erik Summers
September 20, 2011


Thanks for this article.

I feel compelled to note that the link between testosterone levels and aggression in men is not clear, though there seems to be a weak positive correlation (see, e.g., http://www.sciencedirect.com/s... ).  In fact, low testosterone is correlated with certain crimes (though I can't recall the study that discusses that just now).

Nonetheless, it's last two paragraphs that I find particularly interesting.  To me it is also wonderful and telling that all sorts of different actions reshape us in biochemical and neurological ways.  Some time ago I argued that social psychological biases are perhaps best eliminated by participation in institutions like the Church (see http://www.capitalcommentary.o... ).  So I think your suggestion is by no means off base.  It seems to me that practices, i.e., habits of devotion, are a key part in the renewing of our mind.


September 20, 2011

Thanks for your comment Jason, and the clarification. I suspect the reality of how our hormones interact is much more complicated than my current level of understanding.

September 20, 2011

A favorite poem from my world lit teaching years:

"Rocking"   by Gabriela Mistral  (Chile 1889-1957)

The sea rocks her thousands of waves.
The sea is divine.
Hearing the loving sea
I rock my son.
   The wind wandering by night
    rocks the wheat.
    Hearing the loving wind
    I rock my son.
God the Father soundlessly rocks
His thousands of worlds.
Feeling His hand in the shadow
I rock my son.

A coach as well as a lit teacher, to illustrate the poem I cradled a football in my arms (in lieu of actual baby).
Out of the classroom now, I count it all joy to be able to once again hold a young child in my arms, my granddaughter, and image the Rocker in this poem---testosterone be darned.

September 23, 2011

The other side of this is that as testosterone drops so does your level of fertility.  Thus as the levels drop we have more problems with infertility.  It is an issue that I know from personal experience.  So, even though it might look good from your side it is not a positive from my angle.

September 26, 2011

This reminded me of Aristotle's ideas about virtue that you see in the Nicomachean Ethics. He thought that to become courageous you first had to find a model and mimic that model's actions. Then - because we have in our character the POTENTIAL to be courageous but not that trait in reality - our mind/soul would develop the character trait of courage, so in the future we could act the right way and out of the right character. That's when we'd be courageous.

For Aristotle, there was something very real going on in our mind/soul. It was like building muscle mass through repeating certain exercises. You had to have the raw material (the protein from your diet, the body with an ability to turn that into muscle mass) and you had to do the exercises that built up that muscle. Those two together would give the desired result; but neither was sufficient on its own. I'm convinced Aristotle was on to something here, and I think your post hit on a very similar point.

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