Tag Archive: M Scott Peck


However you choose to live your life, refuse to settle.

As both just a person, but especially a Christ follower, this is something that i have witnessed in so many people in life over and over again. Not everyone, fortunately, and it is the ones who refuse to settle who keep me hopeful and energised and aiming at a thrive-filled life, but just so many people give up fighting or dreaming or pursuing passion or believing they can change any part of the world and this is so sad to me.

But i think i read something that makes it all make a little more sense.

settle

i have just finished reading Scott M. Peck’s ‘The Road Less Traveled’ and while the number of ‘L’s used in the word ‘traveled’ in his book title deeply disturbs me, i found it to be really interesting and helpful in many ways. Much wadier than the typical book i would give attention to, but well worth the pushing through. And i would highly recommend it.

This extract i want to share follows on closely from the really helpful posts i shared on mapping, which you can catch up on over here if you missed them [and seriously do, cos they could revolutionise your life] and looks at a Dedication to Reality:

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 and 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 Weltanschauung  [Yes, i had to look this up: A comprehensive world view created by the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society’s knowledge and point of view – Wikipedia]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 more powerful. Yet in illness or an infirm ol age we may  become powerless and independent again. When we have children to care for, the world looks different from when we have none; when we are raising infants, the world seems 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 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 their 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 almost unconsciously, is to ignore 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 tha would have been required to revise and correct it in the first place. 

[from ‘The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth’ by M. Scott Peck]

[To read the first part of these three pieces i shared, which introduces the map idea, click here]

This is a follow-on from yesterday’s most insightful passage about map-making from M. Scott Peck’s ‘The Road Less Traveled’ that i am busy reading and so make sure you have read that one first, but this is a little bit of a deeper look at the ramifications of it, specifically for my Jesus-following friends.

There is a much larger chance that you at some point or other have been subjected to the sung or chanted version of this little mantra:

 

“God, you’re bigger than my box

You’re bigger than my theology

You’re bigger than my understanding

You’re bigger than me.”

The point being, that due to the size and vastness and complexity and enormousness of God and the smallness of us mere mortals in comparison, that no matter how big your view of God is [Who He is, how He speaks, what He looks like, how He works or reveals Himself to us, if He does at all] it is with all likelihood not going to match up with the reality of who God actually is.

A really poor analogy would be akin to a four year old child taking a look at the inner workings of a personal computer and expecting them to understand it. They will have an experience with what they see and they will understand it to the extent that their minds and vocabulary allow it to. But the reality is that their definition and understanding will fall so far short of what the truth and reality is. It is not the child’s fault. They simply don’t have the capacity to understand at that point.

So it is with God. And us. We can have some measure of understanding and some extent of experience, but if we ever decide that we have arrived at a comprehensive and complete understanding of who God is and how He works, then we are very likely going to look foolish.

“God, you’re bigger than my box

You’re bigger than my theology

You’re bigger than my understanding

You’re bigger than me.”

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a box or theology or an understanding. Or a map. But it does definitely mean that we can’t hold the edges of those things too preciously. As with yesterday’s Peck passage, we need to be constantly shifting or revising our map as our knowledge and experience and conversations and learning dictate to us.

What is also super helpful is realising where we are taking our picture and understanding of God from. Most Christians would claim it is from the Bible. That was given to us to help us have a better understanding of God and His story and how and where we fit into it. I would agree with that in terms of intention, but i would also suggest that for so many people in the church, that is not their reality.

For example if your picture of God tells you that the preacher of a church [a man] has to shout and get worked up and have passion oozing out of every vein and pore for it to be an effective preach, then i don’t think you have been informed by the bible. I think you have been taught by the culture of the pentecostal church.

If your picture of God tells you that to worship Him you must raise your hands in the air and emotion must be present [you must feel the songs you are singing so they become more real] then you have not been informed by the Bible. You have likely been taught by the culture of the charismatic church.

If your understanding of God dictates that liturgy is the way to truly connect with your Creator and that the only person who is able to administer the communion bread dipped in wine [or wafer dipped in grape juice, because, you know] then it is likely that you have been influenced by the culture of the anglican or catholic church.

i am not saying for a second that any of those thoughts or ideas are necessarily in themselves wrong. What i am hoping is that each of us will look at the things we believe about God and church and christianity and really try and be more sure of what is directly taken from the Bible and what is definitely a message from God [One absolute we can hang our coat on is ‘Love God with all your heart, strength, soul and mind, and love your neighbour as yourself!] and what things [some of which might be good and helpful, some less so] were merely aspects of the culture of the church we felt connected to, that we have taken on as a God thing.

“God, you’re bigger than my box

You’re bigger than my theology

You’re bigger than my understanding

You’re bigger than me.”

It is helpful to have an idea of who God is and how He works. But it can be restrictive when we hold those as set boundaries that He is never able to break out of.

For example, before Moses, God had never spoken to anyone through a burning bush.

Before Balaam, God had never sent a message to a human by way of a donkey.

Before Jesus, God had never appeared to mankind as a baby or done many of the things Jesus did in quite the same way that He did them.

Does that mean God doesn’t speak through burning bushes, donkeys or babies? Not at all. It just meant He hadn’t yet. Until He had.

ENGAGE WITH YOUR MAP, CHURCH

i believe the map-adjusting concept is for everyone. But i especially believe the church needs to embrace it.

What makes it particularly tricky is the need to embrace it with discernment. There are many long-held beliefs and practices in the church today that are being challenged [women in leadership, the LGBT conversation, stance on abortion, death penalty, euthanasia and more] and these need to be looked at. But they do not need to be changed simply because they are being challenged. They need to be looked at through the lens 0f scripture and in community God’s heart, view and stance needs to be determined.

This should be an easy one as followers of Jesus have the Holy Spirit living in them helping to inform, guide and nudge in the right direction. Although we have seen too often people on both sides of a complicated conversation [take the death penalty for example] who are clearly Spirit-filled and yet coming to different conclusions.

So this is not easy stuff. But it is so incredibly important. Too often i see people chiming in on Facebook discussions or article comment feeds and throwing out a statement like ‘The bible says so’ without giving any reasoning [beyond often an out-of-context quoted verse] or backing for their statement. And too often, if you look a little deeper you can easily see that it is ‘my church culture’ or ‘the family understanding i was brought up with’ that is actually saying so.

The easiest way to be sure if it is God or the Bible that is doing the informing in a particular situation is to take a look at the Love being demonstrated. If Love is lacking or not evident at all, then it is quite easy to know we are not dealing with a God thing here. Because with God, Love is always the key and the heart. It doesn’t mean that Love won’t sometimes be a tough one to swallow or be interpreted as unloving [God does not tolerate sin easily. He does always continue to Love sinful people though] because a spoken Truth that points out that you are not behaving in a Godly way will not necessarily feel like the way we expect Love to feel. But if Love is absent, then God is as well. And that is a lesson the church could do well to focus more strongly on.

Where we have failed to Love, we have failed to bring/show/demonstrate God.

And any space on our map that is devoid of Love, needs an instant change [and quite possibly a significant one] to get us moving in the right direction.

Can you say/sing this with me?

“God, you’re bigger than my box

You’re bigger than my theology

You’re bigger than my understanding

You’re bigger than me.”

[For the next part looking at how adjusting your map means refusing to settle, click here]

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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