ENTRY 1278 | April
A wise son hears
his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
from Proverbs 12,
from today's lenten Orthodox
three students from a Los Angeles university are scheduled to arrive
here at the Loom for a home stay over the weekend, and as I am alone
here with the Stothers on their break back in the States, this may
be my last chance to write before next week.
I was wondering
a week or two ago
about my "general optimism" about life in general, especially
in light of my frequent "pessimism" and downright grumpiness
about lots of the smaller things. And since then I've watched a BBC
crime investigation show in which an inspector describes people who
exploit believers in aliens and paranormal occurrences as preying
on "the credulous." He kind of spat the word out as though
the credulous are to be pitied at best or banned from polite society
at least. The way the line was delivered so marginalized all those
he was mentioning, that he was accomplishing part of that goal by
its very mention. He shared the establishment disdain and dismissal
in general of people of faith.
credulous" can be seen as an
opposite of the cynical; credulity opposite cynicism. An online dictionary
defines credulous as "willing to believe or trust too readily,
especially without proper or adequate evidence." Believing, trusting,
are synonyms for "crudulity," the root form of credulous,
but are also synonymous with faith. But I take issue with the attempt
of the dictionary definition just cited and the character in the BBC
drama to equate credulity and being credulous with being naive and
gullible. I think that to be credulous is to have an attitude often
attributed to Ronald Reagan: "trust, but verify." It is
giving the testimony received the benefit of the doubt, while also
hedging against giving it whole-hearted support.
If a trusted
friend tells me he's been abducted and later released by aliens, I'll
be credulous to a point. I'll assume that something not explainable
in categories he is familiar with has happened to him. As I have never
seen firm evidence of alien life forms in our world, I'll also reserve
some of my judgment to use for the possibility even the strong
possibilitythat whatever has happened to him may eventually
be explained as something less than alien abduction. But I will not
pretend that I know better than he does what happened or dismiss his
claim without proof that counters his claim. I will want to hear his
eyewitness accounts of what he experienced, because I also know that
there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of people who are convinced
they have been abducted by aliens and their claims have never been
satisfactorily disproved. So to the extent that I can't prove them
wrong, I'm credulous; yes, trusting, believing.
in secular societies probably believe that miracles happen, but many
of those who believe, even a lot of those who've witnessed "miracles"
in their own lives or among members of their own families, suspect
that the miracle(s) they know or know about are at best evidence that
some things just cannot be explained in "scientific" or
"experimental" terms. Cancers have spontaneous remissions;
something analogous to spontaneous remission may be behind most of
the so-called miracles we know, they suspect. Most "miraculous
healings" of things like chronic back pain can probably be explained
as psychosomatic or in naive terms, "mind over matter."
But Jesus said in his parable of the rich man and Lazarus that Abraham
told the rich man that even if they saw someone returned from the
dead, the rich man's survivors would not believe that God's teaching
about the meaning of life and the inevitability of death and judgment
was true and sufficient to make them alter their way of living.
If you believe
there is a God, you have to believe that anything is possible in Him.
If He has revealed himself and His grand plan for His creatures, which
is what Christians call the Scriptures, He has made it plain that
when He tells us something, we should be credulous, trusting, not
doubting. Eve and then Adam doubted, and lost. Noah believed (a less
believable account than tales of alien life forms), trusted, and acted
on his implicit faith in God, and he won. Abraham believed and trusted,
and won. When God speaks or leads, I want to be a wide-eyed optimist.
When I make the mistake of relying on my own resources, may I be full
of doubt and uncertainty.
§ § §
If you missed
my overview of my venture in Northern Ireland, check it out here.
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