Letting others do our thinking

“My wife handles the religion in our family.  Talk to her.”  –A man in Luling, LA giving his young pastor the brushoff when I tried to introduce the matter of his relationship to Christ

Who handles the big things in your family?

The old joke goes: “When my wife and I got married, we decided I would handle the big things in life and she would take care of the little things, like where we lived, the house we would buy, the car we drive, and such.  It’s worked well. And, so far, over these 40 years, there have not been any big things.”

I told a group of Facebook friends I was reading James Comey’s book “A Higher Loyalty,” about his years in government, first as a U.S.Attorney and then Director of the F.B.I.  It’s a fascinating book and contains much worth retaining. (Although, admittedly, it can be boring in places.)

Because the man is controversial, the book has been attacked and disputed from the Trump team and his supporters.

The reaction of Facebookers was along party lines.

“Full of lies!” many people said.  “Can’t believe you’re reading such trash.”  “Been proven again and again to contain nothing resembling the truth.”

“Have you read the book?” I asked.  “No! A waste of time!”  “Are you kidding?”  “I’ve heard plenty about the book!”

My friends are authorities on a book they haven’t read.

I know what happened.  Someone else read the book–or claimed to–and told them what to think.  And that was enough for them.

I find the discussion somewhat exasperating.  “Why not read the book and decide for yourself?” I asked.  The answer comes back: “I have better things to do,” “I’m not spending my money for that,” and “I believe what I’ve learned from my personal study.”

In Civil War days, it was often against the law to be caught in possession of a newspaper from the “other side.”  A little common sense says armies could learn a lot about what the “enemy” was up to if they took the trouble to read his newspapers.  It was all in there.  But the blind leaders on each side were too intent on keeping their followers in the dark.

That goes on today.

Don’t want to spend your hard-earned money to buy a book written by Obama, Hillary, Comey, or Wolff?  I can appreciate that. Then get your local library to put you on the list.  Then, read it and decide for yourself.  (Or, read some of it.  Give it a try. Then, decide for yourself.  I read parts of many books.)

Talking to people from other religions, as well as those whose religious faith is a variation or corruption of the Christianity found in Holy Scripture, I see it all the time.

People do not want to think for themselves. 

They enthrone some authority–whether a presiding elder, a self-appointed bishop, a ruling potentate–and go by whatever he says.

No doubt there’s a certain comfort in knowing my opinions are shared by those in “the know,” or at least, those in authority.  Many people simply do not trust themselves to form a conviction all their own and then defend it.  Better to stay with the mob.

Years ago, in my study of Jehovah’s Witnesses–I’ve not looked into their system recently; things may have changed–I learned that a group of leaders in a building in Brooklyn called the shots for that religion.  For many years, JWs would read the KJV of the Bible and quote it.  Eventually, the Brooklyn cadre decided they would have to approve all literature used in their meetings.  Thereafter no JW was allowed to teach anything in their Kingdom Halls other than what was produced by the group.  In time, they produced their own Bible, which they had twisted to say what they wanted it to say.  Scary.

The Mormons do something similar.  At first, it was basing their faith on the revelations given to Joseph Smith, and later to the presiding elder.  Do not think for yourselves, Latter Day Saints.  “The man” will tell you what to believe.

These days, when faithful Mormons find out that Joseph Smith faked some of the holy documents which the LDS has peddled as divine for decades and question this, they are met by hostile reactions from their leaders.  “Accept it by faith,” they are told.  And most, I fear, go forward blindly into the future, trusting their souls on the word of some human who is as flawed as the rest of us.

Frankly,  I’d hate to stake my life–my eternal life!–on what someone else told me to believe. That is, anyone without the “credentials.”  Only Jesus Christ came from Heaven (John 3:13) and only He died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead. He alone has the credentials to command mankind (see Matthew 28:18).

“Test all things; hold to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:21-22).  Always good advice.

Blind Prejudice and “Confirmation Bias” 

A final note on the subject.

James Comey says people in Washington tend to be driven by “one of the most powerful and disconcerting forces in human nature–confirmation bias.”

Confirmation bias occurs when our brains crave information consistent with what we already believe.  “We seek out and focus on facts and arguments that support our beliefs.”

What complicates that, says Comey, is that “when we are trapped in confirmation bias, we may not consciously perceive facts that challenge us, that are inconsistent with what we have already concluded.”  People in such bondage cannot change their minds.

Lord, help Your people.  God, save America.

“Lord, open my eyes that I may see glimpses of Truth Thou has for me.”

 

 

2 thoughts on “Letting others do our thinking

  1. The following statement should be of interest regarding the LDS church:
    “When the Prophet speaks, … the debate is over” (Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 108).

    Another leader of the LDS Church, speaking at BYU told the students: “Don’t study your way out of Mormonism.”

    Selah

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