Pastor Larson’s Corner: Believe it or not

Pastor Larsons Corner

Harvard University psychology professor Steven Pinker spoke here in Minneapolis at the annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum held at Augsburg College last March. He recently authored a book entitled The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. He said in his talk that we may be living in the most peaceful era in our species’ existence, and we should show gratitude for the institutions of civilization and enlightenment that have made it possible.

The title of his book and lecture intrigued me, because with the world in its current state, few people believe that violence is on the decline. One visit to a nightly TV news broadcast would make it seem ridiculous to suggest such a thing. However, the statistics discovered in his extensive research make a very good case for a tremendous decrease in the level of violence over the past 50 to 100 years. To be sure, there continue to be numerous cases of violence in our time. However, Pinker makes a solid case for a general decline in all kinds of violence in nearly every country in the world.

For Pinker, the “better angels of our nature” are definitely winning the battle when it comes to violent behavior against one another. Perhaps just believing this to be the case can help us get through the disappointments that come our way each day on the world news. Like all of you I pray each night that there might be peace in our troubled world. Knowing that the possibility exists for a meaningful decrease in violence encourages all of us to both pray and work for peace and an end to violence of all kinds.

Pastor Larson’s Corner is written by Jerry Larson and appears weekly in the Norwegian American Weekly.

Pastor Jerry Larson retired to his cabin in Zimmerman, Minn., after 39 years in parish ministry for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In 2011 he published a book entitled “Speaking the Word Freely: Writing with purpose, preaching with power.” Contact him at

This article originally appeared in the June 26, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.