Reading a new book, How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds, by Alan Jacobs. I have found it interesting, challenging, and sometimes frustrating. He draws from some of my favorite philosophers, along with his own contemporary insights. Jacobs says that he is a Christian, his book is written from a more academic standpoint than a devotional one.
T.S. Eliot wrote, “When we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend always to substitute emotions for thoughts.” One would not have to spend much time in the coffee shop, or the virtual coffee shop of Facebook to recognize that.
An appeal to emotion, to the passions of a person, is always a more popular position than to appeal to reason. If we can enflame others our posts will be popular, securing the support of some and incurring the wrath of others. “Liking this post indicates you agree, sharing the post will insure God’s blessing.” Or, like if you love “___________, share if you are unashamed to __________.” That kind of statement will work for puppies, soldiers, guns, or saving the environment. Posting a photo of something cute, pathetic or inspirational will only make it better.
Such things aren’t about thinking, they are about gathering support. It indicates that we are a part of some community, a part of the larger group. Suggesting a different thought, an alternative view will result in lots of condemnation, ostracization, or serves as a rallying point for a large number to state their agreement with the original point of view.
Community (political parties, church dogmas, social agendas) provide security in exchange for thought, and the member of the community who dares to step out of line, thinking differently, sacrifices that security. The result is usually that the contrarian is pushed to the side, or cast out of the group. Like chickens in a hen house, the group begins to peck at one until the target is consumed.
The history of the Restoration Movement is one of evolving and changing as new understandings and ideas are examined, adopted or rejected. Free thought and exchange of ideas is rare and to be highly prized. I value having such freedom.