Thursday, January 10, 2008

the critic

I was reading some rather heated comments today between bloggers of differing opinions. It did not make me as uncomfortable as it used to, despite the cutting and sometimes slanderous remarks (despite all of these people professing belief in the same God). I am getting over my fear of conflict. Conflict is normal and inevitable in this world and it is actually good for me to encounter people of differing opinions. If I cannot take criticism and honestly listen to it, searching for whatever bit of truth might be there, I am in a sad, self-righteous state indeed. But how I treat these "others" probably says more about my character or the state of my heart than all the wonderful and correct and theologically sound arguments I can toss at my critics and those of other beliefs.

I went to a workshop on apologetics put on by Bob and Gretchen Passantino a long time ago. Not only were they brilliant people with incredible minds, extensive knowledge, and an uncanny ability to reason circles around most of us, they really knew what the place of argument and debate was. They told us that being a good apologist would seldom win someone over to your way of thinking. The main purpose for being able to tear apart some one's faulty reasoning is to get past the walls that people put up in order to get to the heart of the matter. And it is true. Most inadequate beliefs stem from a personal failure at some point. And we find reasons and a belief system that reinforce our prejudices and adopt this twisted way of avoiding the truth through rigid argument in order to somehow protect us from experiencing that failure and pain again. It is human. We all do it. I am guilty of it.

Which is why it is important to listen to those who disagree with me, who point out the flaws in my personal belief system. For if I cannot come up with a solid reason why I believe what I believe, if I am not willing to take a long hard look at how I come to believe something in the first place, how I decide what is true, then the truth holds little value to me.

Let us encounter Truth in whatever form He appears to us. (No, I am not advocating anything to do with New Age. Only one is the Way, the Truth and the Life.)

This is a street in Brooklyn, New York.

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