A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. -- Proverbs 18:2
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
I take this as a caution. It is much easier, in some ways, to simply have an opinion, clutch it to one’s bosom, and blurt it out at times appropriate and inappropriate. That extracts a price, though, in terms of mental and psychic energy. We expend a lot of effort on defense mechanisms, especially rationalizations, to support our opinion if it doesn’t square with reality.
Understanding and wisdom come from encountering reality, from walking the ground rather than studying the map. There is not -- I don’t believe, a better map than the Bible. A lot of well-meaning, religious people teach from it. You would think we would all agree. We don’t. We are lacking familiarity with the actual terrain the map describes. A map, after all, is a record of the experiences of those who traveled the path.
On my bookshelf is a copy of the journals of Lewis and Clark edited by DeVoto. Those explorers covered the ground and recorded distances, elevations, experiences, and obstacles. The records of that first journey of discovery are correct as far as they go with the instruments available. Man has altered the environment, the culture, the flora, and fauna and even the terrain drastically in the last two hundred years. A person might, nonetheless, generally follow that same path and possibly get all the way through to the Pacific Northwest based on those old journal entries.
Imagine, though, that you had lived in the time of the expedition, and, taking in hand the maps of Lewis and Clark, you had set out like the early mountain men, to live in that wild territory. There would have been much for you discover, vast lands and sights that were not on the map, and even the things that the journals had described would be different when you saw them.
The spiritual terrain has not changed since the biblical record began. The reality it describes is not over-populated. It is as a vast land that only fools think they comprehend completely. I’m not suggesting leaving the Bible or our traditions behind. That would be foolish in a different way. We need the map and the compass, but we need to understand the limitations. Reality will not fit in a book or in one’s head any more than you can carry the Grand Canyon home in a trunk. These things are meant to get us there, help us survive the encounter and grow from it.