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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pride & Preachiness

Photo by impala ark
I don’t trust anybody who thinks they’re completely right about something.
Liberal or conservative, religious or atheist, democrat or republican, pro-life or pro-choice… anyone who thinks they’ve got the whole package wrapped up and tied with a bow is either too superficially acquainted with the wider world to recognize how little they really know, or they’ve got a too-desperately vested interest in maintaining their image as an authority to take off the mask and gloves and get real.
We send our kids to public school. We think this is the right choice for our family. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t. But we revisit that decision all the time. Like when we overheard the six-year-old tell his younger sisters that, “There used to be dinosaurs but they all died and then the monkeys turned into people and that’s how we got here.”
You bet the dad and I cleaned up that simplistic take on earth science, and spent some time reviewing our litmus test on school choice. (It’s “Are our kids being an influence, or are they being influenced?” The answer is rarely simple.)
A pastor once said in a sermon that he’s wrong about God in some way. He doesn’t know what he’s wrong about though, because if he knew he was wrong he would change his perspective on that point. But if he doesn’t think he’s wrong about anything, then he purports to possess the mind of God, which knows the full truth about every matter in the universe.
Wow. So, I’m wrong about stuff. I just don’t know for sure what stuff I’m wrong about. Because if I knew I was wrong, I’d stop being wrong. Because nobody wants to be wrong, right?
But there’s the problem: insisting that you are right doesn’t in fact make you right. It just makes you prideful. And arrogant. And pretty stinking obnoxious. And it makes the people who don’t already agree with you click the little X in the upper right corner of your blog post.
If we want to influence others toward our way of thinking, we really ought to give those others credit for having some salient grounds beneath their own ways of thinking. And we should view ourselves as imperfect judges of good and bad, right and wrong, wise and foolish. That’s the only way a genuine and meaningful conversation can start—one where, hopefully, both parties can move a little closer to actual truth. Or at least walk away feeling heard and respected.
I suppose I could be completely wrong about that, though.

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