Thursday, August 14, 2008

Liberal thinker strengthens my faith...

I’m just about done reading – if you call it that when a book is on CD – George Lakoff’s, Whose Freedom?, which I received as a birthday gift from my in-laws last month. Early on I realized that this was a book like few others I’d read. With the single exception of Jimmy Carter’s, Our Endangered Values, given to me by a friend a few years back, I have read none of the left’s thinkers’ ideas concerning politics or religion in their own words. My ideas of what the left-wing wackos thought came through the rantings and ravings of conservative talking heads – right-wing wackos if you will.

My apologies to all the “ditto heads” out there. I did call Rush a wacko. I do so with utmost respect for him and his views on most political matters. But Limbaugh is, you’ve got to admit, just a bit crazy. He’s an entertainer, for crying out loud. He aims to draw a crowd and nothing pulls people in and holds them better than a bit of nuttiness.

So I’m admitting, rather sheepishly, that I read the former president’s words with a fairly closed mind and thus remember little of what he said. I recall what seemed to me to be a good deal of disdain on his part for views on biblical morals that I hold dear, though for the life of me, I can’t bring to mind the specific issues in question. I also recollect yelling at the man several times as I turned the pages one by one. “You’re wrong! That’s crazy! That’s not what Jesus meant!”

I’m not sure, but I don’t think I made it through to the last page. Carter’s wrong-headed ideas were too much for me to stomach.

“Silly liberal!” I said and shrugged off his appeal to think.

Perhaps it was because I did not at first know I was hearing from a freethinker as Lakoff laid out his defense of the “progressive” ideal that I got more out of his book. I still found myself disagreeing with the man’s conclusions, and shouting occasionally, but I was able to hear Lakoff out and understand better his and his left-leaning brethren’s point of view. His book was thoroughly engaging, interesting beyond what I would’ve imagined and helpful. Yes, I said helpful. His words showed me the shortcomings of some of my right-wing views and opened my eyes to the failings of my own interpretation of the Christian faith. For that contribution to my life, I am grateful to this author. He sharpened my faith in Jesus in a way that someone with whom I agree on most issues could not. If you never hear opposing views, you never think. If you never think, you become blind to your own biased readings of the Bible. If you are biblically blind, you cannot lead anyone to the truth.

That said, don’t expect me to run out and grab any more leftist titles any time soon. I’ve got enough “progressive” thinking to sort through after this one book to keep me busy for awhile. And, honestly, I think it’s best to fill your mind mostly with the truth rather than with falsehood. Well-reasoned arguments for the Christian faith are more helpful to you as a believer than well-thought-out-but-wrong arguments against traditional orthodoxy. I’d rather you read stuff by Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel or just about anyone who respects the original text and intent of the Bible than anything Lakoff or those he agrees with has written or will someday write.

(More on this matter.)
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