Sunday, January 20, 2008

CRITICAL THINKING: The Unsolved Riddle!

"Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy."
James 3:13-17
In a comment concerning form-criticism (a.k.a. Bible criticism), F. F. Bruce said,
“It must be remembered that the material is more important than the form; meat-pies and mud-pies may be made in pie-dishes of identical shape, but the identity of shape is the least important consideration in comparing the two kinds of pies.”
[Book of Acts, p. 120, n; cited by Richard N. Longnecker in EBC, Frank E. Gaebelein, Ed., Vol. 9, 1981, p. 319.]

This remark, while directed at those involved in higher-criticism, is germane to any who spend even a little time at critical thinking. By this we mean time spent thinking seriously about issues … all issues.

As in the case of Hans Christian Andersen’s "The Emperor’s New Clothes," we are easily led by others (and ourselves) into thoughtless, wisdom-less, and meaningless beliefs and decisions. Critical thought, based on wisdom from above, is essential to quality of life, especially quality of Christian living.

The UNSOLVED RIDDLE is: how many mud-pies will a man eat while calling them meat-pies, before he comes to his senses and admits his error. Frequently, as in Andersen’s tale, it takes a child to reveal our blunders and save us from ourselves.

The difference between mud-pies and meat-pies is obvious, right? Not to everyone as the following examples (recently gathered from sources on the Internet) reveal:
  • A elementary school student in Belle, West Virginia (USA), was suspended for three days for giving a classmate a cough-drop; school principal Forest Mann reiterated the school's “zero-tolerance” policy concerning drugs (this, of course, should not to be confused with a “zero-intelligence” policy).
  • A 9-year old boy in Manassas, Virginia (USA), received a one-day suspension under his school's drug policy last week - for Certs! Joey Hoeffer told a classmate the breath mints would make him “jump higher.” The school interpreted that to be an inducement to take drugs.
  • AT&T (a global communications corporation) fired president John Walter after only nine months, saying he lacked “intellectual leadership.” Walter received a $26 million severance package; maybe it's not the ex-president who's lacking intelligence.
The rapid decay of critical or logical thinking skills among the world’s adult population ought to cause concern somewhere; unfortunately, most of those in positions which matter think the emperor’s new clothes look just fine.

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