Saturday, June 16, 2012

Some Thoughts On Thinking

This picture has made the rounds on Facebook this past week.  I saw it on a friend's page, shared it on mine, and I've had another friend share it as well.  When I first saw it, it made me laugh and laugh and laugh.  But the more I thought about it, it made me sad. 

What's sad is that this is a real church sign.  Somewhere, someone thought this was an appropriate, important, perhaps even vital message to share.  And I'm fairly certain that many people reading this thought or said aloud, "Yes, exactly!  That's exactly right!" 

If I claim that I have a right to have my own opinion, than it's only fair to say that the people who support this message have a right to theirs.  I don't dispute that.  Yet, even while saying that, I have to admit that their message leaves me undone. 

It seems to me that their point in this is that free thinking is the antithesis to right thinking.  And right thinking, assuming I understand the agenda of this sign, is believing exactly what the church (or whatever organized body claims authority) says it is. 

But I don't think free thinking is the problem.  I think it's actually lack of critical thinking that is the real menace here.  Critical thinking -- a willingness to ask questions, entertain various points of view, and educate oneself on issues -- is in short supply these days.  Critical thinking is apparently something to be feared.  And fear seems to be the real message of this sign.  We fear what's different.  We fear the idea that we might be wrong about something.  We want certainty and guarantees, and when we don't get them, we get scared.  And as sociologist and author Brene Brown says, fear manifests itself as blame. 

I understand that because of my role as minister people see me as another one of organized religion's many minions  But I'm not afraid to say that the church specifically and religion in general is a prime suspect in this culture of fear.  Right thinking, dogma, doctrine, call it what you will, when it comes to fearing beliefs and ideas that are different, we in religion do it well. 

Yet fear chokes love.   Certainty is not faith.  And critical thinking does not seek to destroy.  If I'm seen as Satan's slave, so be it, I'm gonna think so hopefully God will use me.   


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