Human Nature

The List - Discontentment & Self Deception

A pastor friend mentioned some folks who left his church, unhappy because the church used animated Bible stories with their youth. They complained that those videos distorted the Bible and made light of Scripture. The couple finally left the church. But the church they began attending used the same videos, even more frequently than the first.

Why did this couple rant and rave about videos in one church and turn a blind eye to the same videos in another? Because their faultfinding was insincere, trumped up—and not really about the videos themselves. That was merely the pretext.

We are born with a propensity to lie to ourselves and to others. Dostoyevsky wrote, “Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.” I agree. I witness this in myself, and I see it in others. Our personal pride masks this “lying to self” propensity. Jeremiah 17:9 puts it this way (ESV): “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

1955 reads

From the Archives: Liar!

(From Oct. of 2012)

Why are some people so eager to call others’ inaccurate statements “lies”?

Since we’re not far from another national election, the word “lie” is, as usual, getting an intense workout. But this phenomenon isn’t unique to election year politics. Over and over, and in a variety of settings, I’ve observed this: people encounter what they see as falsehood and immediately leap to the judgment that someone is lying—and say so.

I’ve always found this behavior puzzling, and sometimes head-against-wall maddening. Are these accusers unable to see that everyone (including themselves) is sincerely wrong about one thing or another nearly all the time? Have they managed to miss the memo that to err is human?

Maybe it’s a failure to adjust for bias. Do they believe that if they dislike someone, or strongly disapprove of his ideas or actions, they are entitled to judge his character by a completely different standard than they use against themselves? Do they not realize that if they want others to judge their character generously, they should judge the character of others generously?

Or do they just not know what a lie really is?

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What's in a Name

One of the first rules of Appalachia is never mess with a drunken redneck.

I was reminded of this just a few days ago. It was Sunday evening around 6:30 and my husband and I had decided to take our kids up to the playground of their elementary school. Normally, we’d be at prayer meeting at this time, but today was Homecoming Sunday. We’d already spent the majority of the day at church, enjoying worship, dinner on the grounds, and homegrown music. Everyone needed the evening to decompress, and the playground and walking track sounded perfect.

As we stepped out the door to get in our van, we noticed a rusty, white Ford Explorer parked on the edge of our property. A solidly-built man in his mid-to-late forties was walking around one of our trees and seemed to be sizing it up. He was wearing cargo shorts, a dirty cut-off t-shirt, and somehow managed to have a long, straggly ponytail and a shaved head simultaneously. He was accompanied by a younger man, a copy of himself, minus the ponytail.

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A Biblical Perspective on Environmentalism: Part 2-2

There have been some “bright spots” in human history regarding stewardship of the land. In his famous book Farmers of Forty Centuries, or Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea and Japan (1911), F. H. King reported how the fertility of agricultural land in the population-dense Far East was maintained for millennia by the careful return to the land of virtually every last scrap of every kind of organic waste—from crop residues to manures to leaves to ashes even to laboriously dug and spread river sediment, along with intentionally grown cover crops or “green manures,” all in the pre-chemical fertilizer days.

It came to be recognized as late as the 1930s, even in the West (Europe, America) that an extensive, intensive utilization of organic waste of all kinds was essential, even where chemical fertilizers were available, to keep the soil fertile (or, more often, to restore its original fertility). Some pioneering work in this regard was done by Sir Albert Howard (1873-1947) whose book An Agricultural Testimony documented the successful use of composting in maintaining the fertility of farmland in India, and is considered one of the foundational works in the modern organic gardening movement. In America, Louis Bromfield (1896-1956), prize-winning novelist-turned-farmer, pioneered modern conservation and restoration agricultural methods on a thousand-acre farm near Mansfield, Ohio. He wrote about his experiences in fully restoring the original fertility in less than a decade in the widely-popular and influential books Pleasant Valley (1945), Malabar Farm (1948), Out of the Earth (1950), and From My Experience (1955).

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WSJ Bookshelf: "The Better Angels of Our Nature" by Steve Pinker

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405311190433280457653781382682491... ]"One of the greatest changes that society has experienced over the past several centuries is the remarkable decline in violence. Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, has undertaken the task of explaining this transformation."

238 reads