I have been reading ‘The Road Less Traveled’ by M. Scott Peck which is subtitled, ‘A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth’ and it is a bit of a wade, but one that i am really enjoying and learning much from.

This section in particular relates to all of us in different aspects of life – one huge one is for those who identify themselves as Christians in whatever shape or form and when i speak on youth camps or preach in church services i often get them to chant or say this little verse:

 

“God, you’re bigger than my box

You’re bigger than my theology

You’re bigger than my understanding

You’re bigger than me.”

Which i think somewhat relates to this extract i want to share with you from the chapter titled, ‘Dedication to Reality’ although i think there is a deeper level of truth in how Scott puts it:

The third tool of discipline or technique of dealing with the pain of problem-solving, which must continually be employed if our lives are to be healthy and our spirits are to grow, is dedication to the truth. Superficially, this should be obvious. For truth is reality. That which is false is unreal.

The more clearly we see the reality of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world. The less clearly we see the reality of the world – the more our minds are befuddled by falsehood, misperceptions and illusions – the less able we will be to determine correct courses of action and make wise decisions. Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false ad inaccurate, we generally will be lost.

While this is obvious, it is something that most people to a greater or lesser degree choose to ignore. They ignore it because our route to reality is not easy. First of all, we are not born with maps; we have to make them, and the making requires effort. The more effort we make to appreciate and perceive reality, the larger and more accurate our maps will be. But many do not want to make this effort. Some stop making it by the end of adolescence. Their maps are small and sketchy, their views of the world narrow and misleading. 

By the end of middle age most people have given up the effort. They feel certain that their maps are complete and their Weltanschaung is correct (indeed, even sacrosanct), and they are no longer interested in new information. It is as if they are tired. Only a relative and fortunate few continue until the moment of death exploring the mystery of reality, ever enlarging and refining and redefining their understanding of the world and what is true. 

But the biggest problem of map-making is not that we have to start from scratch, but that if our maps are to be accurate, we have to continually revise them. The world itself is constantly changing. Glaciers come, glaciers go. Cultures come, cultures go. There is too little technology, there is too much technology. Even more dramatically, the vantage point from which we view the world is constantly and quite rapidly changing. When we are children we are dependent, powerless. As adults we may be powerful. Yet in illness or an infirm old age we may become powerless and dependent again. When we have children to care for, the world looks different from when we are raising adolescents. When we are poor, the world looks different from when we are rich. We are daily bombarded with new information as to the nature of reality. If we are to incorporate this information, we must continually revise our maps, and sometimes when enough new information has accumulated, we must make very major revisions. The process of making revisions, particularly major revisions, is painful, sometimes excruciatingly painful. And herein lies the major source of many of the ills of mankind.

What happens when one has striven long and hard to develop a working view of the world, a seemingly useful, workable map, and then is confronted with new information suggesting that this view is wrong and the map needs to be largely redrawn? The painful effort required seems frightening, almost overwhelming. what we do more often than not, and usually subconsciously, is to ignore the new information. Often this act of ignoring is much more than passive. 

We may denounce the new information as false, dangerous, heretical, the work of the devil. We may actually crusade against it, and even attempt to manipulate the world so as to make it conform to our view of reality. Rather than try to change the map, an individual may try to destroy the new reality. Sadly, such a person may expend much more energy ultimately in defending an outmoded view of the world than would have been required to revise and correct it in the first place.

[For the follow-up post specifically aimed at the Church in terms of why changing our Following Jesus maps might be critical, click here]

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