I have worked for many years on excellence of mind
I have worked for many years on excellence of mind
I have worked for many years on excellence of mind
I’ve been working on this title question for over 12 years, but I’ve never taken a stab at putting all the answers I’ve collected in one concise article until now. The goal of this article is to be brief, while also giving a wide-scoped treatment of the question. So here we go!
SCENARIO: Suppose someone is wrong over a matter of fact or logic or morality, and you have got the facts and logic and sourcing together to prove to them all day long that they’re wrong.
QUESTIONS: Why is it so often so very difficult to get people to correct themselves? That is, to say, “OK, I see I was wrong, and I’m changing my position.”? What is it about people that makes this difficult?Continue reading Why Is It So Hard To Get People To Correct Themselves When They’re Wrong?
I’m sorry that I don’t have statistics for this, because I know that impressions can be inaccurate. Even so, it seems to me that I am detecting some important and troubling society trends that need the immediate attention of an increasingly inattentive society.
It is my impression that in my youth, there were a great many people here who could not only make a phone call to get directions, and write them down, but also follow them successfully to the destination, and then show up on time, ready to be a functioning part of whatever group was meeting.
Today, however, it seems increasingly rare to find a human who can successfully follow a hyperlink to your About page and read it for comprehension. Rather, they will message you with the questions that occur to them, but it does not occur to them that they should naturally need to know the general information you have written for all your customers to know.Continue reading The Decline of Care and Personal Responsibility in This Consumer Age
There he stands, recently disemboweled
By the razor-edge of your rhetorical question,
And all he can think of at this point
Is to insult your swordsmanship,
Demanding that a better fencer
What would a dishonest soul want the Bible to say?
And how would he twist it to his own satisfaction?
What would the impatient soul glean from its pages
Before he lost interest?
And what treasures would he leave in it undiscovered?
What would the bitter soul find in there,
With which to continue its bitterness?
And what would the cheery dreamer find in it
To prompt or fuel more of the same?
What would be found in it by those
Who block out whatever is scary,
Or by those who who want nothing but?
What would one find if he were the sort
To be convinced it must all be literal
Or if he were the sort to think
It all figurative?
And what would be found by the soul
Who presumed it must all be about
His own life this very day?―
Or the one presuming it must all be
Wholly irrelevant to his life?
What would the soul find
Who thinks it a magic book,
Changing itself to be whatever
He needs in the moment?
And would would it be to the one
Who thinks that because his
Church institution has long understood it,
He need not understand it himself?
What’s to be found in the Bible by the tyrant
Or the scoundrel, who want to
Make use of others?
What by the bully
And the liar?
Or the haughty
Or the crushed?
What for the factious and divisive,
And for the untrusting?
What for the rebel
And the aloof
And the brazen?
What for those who are content
To have a mere form of godliness
That denies the real power of godliness?
What would the hypocrite make of it?
The educated or uneducated?
The wise or the foolish?
And what kind of person are you?
There is no way that our personal dispositions and our strengths and weaknesses don’t play a role in how we interpret and understand the Bible. Even our temporary moods and our situational struggles can play an acute in our Bible interpretation in a given moment, or throughout a protracted season. Our experiences and our upbringing, our education and our worldview, our current load of busy-ness and distraction―these and so many other factors all go into the quality of the work we do when considering the meaning of the texts.
Yet this fact seems to be almost completely forgotten. If we’re like most, we think we know what the Bible means, not because we’ve studied it out and have weighed out the data, but because we think we know what it means. This or that interpretation seems reasonable enough to us, so we think it’s reasonable, even without looking for whatever reasons might be found to interpret it some other way. And we can be so unthinking about it that even when we say “Why not believe it this way?”, what we really mean is “
Why not believe it this way.”
Just the first and second items mentioned in the poem above (dishonesty and impatience) are enough to wreck somebody’s Bible interpretation.
I have so much more to say about this―more than will fit into a single early-morning post. So I’ll leave you with one thought, and with a meme about what I call “Interpretation neglect”. Here’s the thought:
Whatever the Bible says―whatever is its truest meaning―whatever God himself wanted to have been said and written for the record―ask yourself this: What kind of person would want to believe that? Who would want to understand it exactly as it was intended? Who would want to embrace the truth message fully, without cheating or failing at it in any way? What kind of person would be amenable to the fullness of God’s message, and wouldn’t want to twist or spin or ignore or neglect any of it?
That’s the kind of person I want to be. And that’s no easy goal. It’s a very hard thing, indeed.
So here’s one more question: If somebody’s not yet that kind of person in this way or that―and none of us are perfect―aren’t they apt to be making some errors in how they understand the Bible here and there?
Obviously, yes. Yet who among the billions of Christians on this planet has a strong sense of awareness of the high likelihood that their understanding of the Bible is less than perfect? Do not our very institutions try to build in us a confidence that at least the organization (if not the individual) has got it all pretty much figured out correctly?
What is the refresh rate for one’s self-view?
For example, having lost weight, and having felt good about himself as a result, how much may one regain before it is reflected accordingly in the downturn of his self-related emotions?
Indeed, having felt good that he has adopted a higher standard in any matter, how long until he begins to realize his shortcomings with regard to that standard?
After observing humankind for some time, one might opine that for a great many humans, our greater concern in such matters is not the improving of ourselves, after all, but the improving of how we feel about ourselves. That is, it’s not in improving the reality of how we are, but our emotional attitude about it.
It’s as if we were addicted to the feelings of well-being, and willing to ignore or cheat reality, if need be, to keep it going. But there’s something more in play, since the feelings spike early after some perceived success, and wear off from then forward. Still, though, some manner of perception of the success remains―like a high-water mark after a flood. And so many of us, it seems, have a hard time averting our eyes from that mark when the actual waters recede.
The actual water levels were so important when they were on the rise―when we felt we were getting somewhere. But once we’ve peaked, it’s as if we switch over to another method of self-assessment, and it can take a very long time before we come to grips, either with a disappointing plateau, or an outright regression to some lower point.
And how curious this is about us―this bent toward the overestimation of our achievements, status, knowledge, skills, abilities, and performance!
It reminds me of a joke my grandmother would tell the shoe salesman about her shoe size: “I wear a 7, but this 8 feels so good, I think I’ll take a 9.”
Surely, she had worn a 7 at some point in time. But how long had that been, and how long will one cling to how it used to be before admitting how it is now? She was kidding, I think, having realized the humor in this particular human behavior.
Of course, people don’t only cling to what was better before; some cling to what was worse. They tend to gravitate their self-estimation toward the low-water line, even if they are doing better now. And this is just as twisted when viewed from a reality-based view. And if this weren’t enough of a challenge for us, I do believe we can simultaneously hold to different attitudes about the various areas of our lives, overestimating our status in the one thing while underestimating it in the other.
We all would do well, then, it seems to me, to think how life would be different if the refresh rate on our self assessment were higher. How much more quickly might we make corrections to our course if we were checking in with the compass more often?
A great many people have this problem:
They will hear of some idea or principle, which immediately sounds very good to them. That is, it makes them feel good. But from there, they make a wild leap into believe that they themselves are complete devotees of that cause, who understand it thoroughly and live in accordance to it.Continue reading The Danger of Identifying with an Idea Before Understanding It
If by some new magic, this land should suddenly
See justice done swiftly and impartially
In government and business alike
With no tyrant or scoundrel ever again
Escaping what is due him by law
America would soon discover not only
What peace and order she has been missing,
But the security that comes from having the leaders
Fear crossing that dreadful line beyond which
Cheating is not an option.
Not every true thing is conveniently obvious. And even so, large numbers of people may well operate on the assumption that all true things are—or should be—obvious. It is a common overestimation of human capability, often based on the assumption that what can be detected should be detectable without effort—and more particularly, detectable by our natural human senses.
Here are a few ways it happens:Continue reading “If That Were True, I Would See It”
The not knowing is so untenable for his untrained mind
That he has learned to unleash his brain
And send it scurrying off into the weeds
To retrieve whatever it may for a narrative
By which to explain the situation.