long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Proverbs 18 - a brother offended

Proverbs 18:19 reminds us that "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle."

Trying to "win" a strong city
I like this imagery a lot. It applies pretty well to discussions of Book of Mormon historicity, where people have different ideas.

The proverb can be taken at least two ways.

1. It could mean that if you want to "win" someone, don't offend them.

2. And it could mean that the type of people who get offended are like strong cities.

The adjective "strong" denotes effective protection and defenses. A strong city, like the one in the image on the left here, is designed to prevent outsiders from entering.

As applied to a person, the metaphor of a strong city effectively describes people who get offended. They are inherently defensive, erecting walls against criticism and facts and arguments that contradict their comfortable beliefs.

Hmm, that sounds a lot like the M2C intellectuals I've been discussing on this blog...

Another term for such a city is a bubble. A bubble defined by people who get offended, or any of the synonyms: upset, hurt, wounded, injured, insulted, aggrieved, affronted, pained, displeased, distressed, disgruntled, put out, annoyed, angered, angry, cross, exasperated, indignant, irritated, vexed, piqued, irked, stung, galled, nettled, needled, peeved, ruffled, resentful, in a huff, huffy, in high dudgeon, fed up...

I don't understand the rationale for taking offense anyway. If someone says something that contradicts your self-image or your ideas, it's either true or not. Either way, how could it be offensive?

Brigham Young reportedly said said that he who takes offense when no offense was intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense was intended is usually a fool.

That's advice that, had it been added to Proverbs and heeded by Bible readers, would have eliminated untold contention and conflicts in the world--and in the Church.

In the context of academic or scholarly debates over facts and reason and rational argument, the whole idea of taking offense is bewildering. These are conceptual issues that represent different interpretations of reality. Anyone should be able to assess them analytically, particularly in an academic context.

And yet, since I've been looking at the issues I address in this blog, I've encountered plenty of intellectuals who seem more eager to take offense and claim to be insulted than they are to consider alternative perspectives and discuss them. 

Their utmost priority is censorship of ideas they disagree with.

Which reminds me of another verse from Proverbs 18:13 "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him."

Maybe the strong city considers itself open-minded. The predominant feature of the city is that it is strong; i.e., safe. Not closed-minded, but simply secure.

As evidence, it points to the drawbridge that allows people to come and go. Of course, it's a draw bridge; it can be drawn up to prevent people from entering if they don't fit into the city's society, as determined by the city's leaders.

IOW, only people and ideas that confirm the biases of the city's leaders--in this case, the M2C citation cartel.

Now, look at the proverb from the other perspective; i.e., if you want to "win" someone, don't offend them.

This is the ideal scenario. You share a new idea, perspective or set of facts with someone in a loving and respectful way and they promptly accept it. They collaborate with you and you adjust your own thinking as everyone works together to improve our mutual understanding. Everyone reaches consensus. Everyone aligns with the prophets. Everyone is happy and united and moving upward and onward.

Everything is awesome.

Oh, and your colleagues are thrilled to reject everything they've written and taught throughout their careers. They explain to donors that they're reworking everything. They issue an apology to thousands of students for having misled them, albeit with the best of intentions.

And then you awaken from your dream and think, if not for human nature, this could really happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment