Tag Archives: reality

In the Face of Real Love, “Tolerance” Is a Weakling

 

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Shhh! If in our society you are about to walk out your front door, it’s important to remember these days that you’re about to step into the temple of secularism. You must be very careful to be quiet and reverent lest you cause any stir in the temple and upset the worshipers in the midst of their devotions.

It is rather striking how religious modern secularists are about their irreligion, how very “tolerant” they are of anything except “intolerance.” No big surprise. It’s never easier to be religiously (or irreligiously) arrogant than when you’re being self-righteous about not being self-righteous.

By the same token, “tolerance” is always easiest when one of your deepest convictions is that no one’s deepest convictions or beliefs can be objectively right or wrong. Tolerance is only difficult when you find you have something to tolerate. If everyone’s belief is equally correct just because it’s earnestly held, tolerance is incredibly easy because at heart it just means not caring very much.

Once you actually start caring about something enough to believe that what folks believe about it genuinely matters, then you soon find yourself swimming in waters far too deep for tolerance; you will, in fact, sink unless you latch onto a four-letter word called love.

Love is always better than, stronger than, far more noble than, mere tolerance. “What’s right? What’s wrong? Is there any such thing as right or wrong?” Tolerance doesn’t much care.

But love cares deeply. It faces the bedrock truth, as real as the law of gravity— truly “inconvenient” though it may be, if, say, you’d prefer a universe where two plus two could just as easily equal five on days when the wind has changed and you’re feeling a little down on “four”—that in this universe some things really are right, true, and beautiful, and others are wrong, false, and ugly. Real truths, you see, have real consequences. It’s rather important that engineers who design bridges believe the old-fashioned, and true, multiplication tables, as inconveniently unbending as the stone cold truth behind those tables may be.

What if this really is a universe woven with genuine laws of right and wrong? Believe that truth, and in these days colored by the religion of “tolerant” secularism, it’s as if you passed gas loudly in the secularists’ church service, spat upon their holy altar, offended their non-god gods in some unforgiveable way. You seem incredibly intolerant and out of date. If we’re tired of those old multiplication tables, or any other truths that might bind or chafe us, let’s just take an opinion poll and change them, right?

But that’s where love comes in and mere tolerance is shown to be a tottering weakling. Love may be completely unable to “tolerantly” accept a person’s actions or beliefs as being anything but mistaken and harmful, but love is beautifully able to accept even the person with whom it most strongly disagrees as a person deeply loved by the God who is love. It cares deeply. And chooses to love anyway.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Worshiping Feelings Is a Path to Unhappiness

 

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The God who designed us as creatures with bones and skin also equipped us with all sorts of feelings and emotions. Good.

But that same Creator warns us not to trust that our feelings are always an accurate reflection of reality. He even commands us to “live above” our feelings. We are, for example, to love our enemies whether we feel like it or not.

Sometimes, maybe even many times, our feelings accurately reflect reality. But not even close to “always.” Surely the unhappiest people on the planet are those who always trust their feelings and set them up as the gods they follow at any terrible cost.

I mean no disrespect to “man’s best friend” when I say that we humans often operate at a level somewhere below that of our dogs. And our dogs sometimes misinterpret reality.

If you meet a dog in the park, unwisely thrust out your hand to pet the cute little beast, all the while with nothing in your heart but love, warmth, kindness, and the best of human intentions, but he nonetheless perceives your action as threatening, you may draw back a bloody human paw. The dog has reacted not to reality but to his perception of it, the way he “feels” about it. He may be dead wrong. But he’ll bite you anyway.

With a little time, and if he’s a fairly intelligent beast, he may learn that his estimation of your intentions was flawed. Eventually, he may even allow you to reach down more carefully and pet him with your remaining good hand.

More likely, he won’t wait to change his opinion; he’ll tuck tail and run barking over the hill, desperate to get away from you. He’ll likely be even quicker to sink his teeth into the next human who innocently tries to pat his head. For the rest of his doggy years, he’ll live firmly convinced that all humans who try to pet him are mean, malicious, mutt-haters who should be run from or bitten. That is truly how he feels. Even if he is truly mistaken.

Would that this were only a problem with dogs!

How many people live just as witlessly, wrongly, mistakenly! Because they completely, blindly, trust their often fouled up feelings—feelings rendered untrustworthy by tragic backgrounds, bad upbringing, mental disease or distress, or even bad digestion or too little sleep—they draw wrong conclusions about the motives or intentions of others. Then they run around snapping and biting folks who’ve done nothing to deserve it.

We need to pay attention to our feelings. Filter them. Judge them. Evaluate them. But God help us, and those around us, if we think we can always trust them and if we worship them as invariably infallible gods.

No wonder Jesus warned us about not judging others. We’ve got our hands full just trying to be honest about ourselves.

Personally, I’d trust a dog with a good nose a lot farther than I’d trust a biting, barking, snapping, ill-tempered human.

 

             You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Perceptions and Reality Only Occasionally Line Up

May I state the obvious? People react to other people, situations, and issues on the basis of their perceptions of those people, situations, and issues, and not necessarily on the basis of reality.

I mean no particular disrespect to either breed, human or canine, but in that regard I think we humans generally operate a little below the level of man’s best friend.

If you meet a dog in the park, thrust your hand out to pet the cute little beast, all the while sincerely holding nothing but love, warmth, kindness, and the very best of intentions in your human heart, BUT he nevertheless perceives your action as threatening, you may well draw back a bloody nub. He reacts, you see, not so much to reality as to his perception of reality.

And he may be dead wrong.

If he’s an exceptionally intelligent canine, he may later “learn” that his estimation of you and your intentions was flawed. Maybe you’ll go on to help him reach a more realistic conclusion as you reach down more carefully to pet him with your remaining hand.

Or, probably more likely, he may run over the hill before you have an opportunity to change his mistaken opinion of you, and he may be even quicker to sink his teeth into the next human who quite innocently reaches out her hand. He may well go on to his reward in doggy heaven a decade or two (in dog years) later still firmly wedded to the erroneous opinion that all humans who reach down to pet him are mean, malicious, mutt-haters. Now, he would be absolutely wrong, but he would believe deeply in his error and die not knowing that his perceptions were completely unfounded in reality.

I wish this sort of thing was only a problem with dogs. But I’m afraid that we humans are often just as witless and wrong when we react quickly, and very often poorly, just on the basis of our all-too-fallible perceptions. How hard it is for someone else who doesn’t share our fouled up view of a particular person, situation, or issue to try to help us see reality when everything from our backgrounds, our upbringing, our unfortunate experiences, all the way to our lack of sleep and the state of our digestion, conspires to give us flawed perceptions and, to some degree large or small, blind us to reality.

Then you know what happens, don’t you? We go around biting folks who don’t deserve to be bitten. And then too often they go off and bite someone else.

The fact that we are such poor judges both of reality and of the motives of our neighbors is one significant reason Jesus warned us not to spend time judging and criticizing those around us. You and I are very poor judges.

Our dogs may not always be great judges either, but I personally would trust a dog with a good nose a lot farther than I’d trust a biting, barking, snapping, ill-tempered human.

 

 

Copyright 2012 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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