The Idolatry of Rightness



“When I was a child, I thought as a child…” (Saul of Tarsus). There is nothing so destructive to relationships than to be inextricably fused to the icons of rightness. We have all been there at one time or another. I become married to my own way of seeing and interacting with God, the world, and all those that differ- and of course I am right and everyone else is wrong. Perhaps experience has taught you novel lessons that have blessed you with wisdom for your pain. As long as I remain entrenched in my orthodoxy, my ears and my heart will be forever sealed- isolated from the truth of your confession. I will sift and interpret everything you say, holding it against the template of my doctrine and keeping only those nuggets that resonate with the image that I have created. I will end up with a pile of formless sand- the result of my inevitable chipping away- instead of the marble statue that has been called forth from the granite of your living. Is it possible that truth and rightness are not the same thing?? Are “facts” truth, or are they history bytes surgically excised from the context of an organic universe that lives, breathes, and joins with the Divine in canticles of praise? Is it possible to be so right that one misses the soft caress of that ‘still small voice’? If so, then may I always live in the knowledge that “we see through a glass darkly”, and in humility seek to be taught by the kindness of others.

One thought on “The Idolatry of Rightness

  1. It’s important to differentiate between being correct and being correct-and-darned-proud-of-it.Orthodox Christianity teaches us that truth is a Person, and as such is encountered, not apprehended. True encounter demands us to allow the Other to fully exist. If we attempt to confine the Other by our judgements, we reduce Him in our minds. In fact, we do not encounter Him at all, but rather something we have manufactured.That said, in order to know the Other, we must begin by listening to what He says. Then, we must believe that His words labor to present Him to us. They are like the lines and shades in a picture. Without these lines, there is nothing to encounter. If we can’t say anything about God, then how can we say we encounter Him? How do we know what we’ve encountered? How do we know it’s God and not our imagination? “There’s more gravy than a grave about you.””Man of the worldly mind, do you believe in me or not? Why do you doubt your senses?”John tells us that they encountered God through seeing, hearing and touching Christ. That which they encountered, they immediately began to proclaim.Why do we doubt? God has been described to us. We will spend the rest of our lives working to understand revelation correctly. For that matter, we will spend lifetimes upon lifetimes figuring out exactly what holds atoms together. This process of figuring will never end, but it has to begin with the things we can properly know. Think of the correspondence between the sketch of a thing and the object itself. It’s one thing to say that the sketch doesn’t fully capture the object, or that the sketch is not the object. You’d be hard pressed to disagree with that statement.It would be quite another thing to say that the sketch tells us nothing about the object, or that certain lines/proportions aren’t more correct than others, i.e. that there is no canon of visible reality governing what path the representative lines should take.God’s revelation of Himself to us takes the form of lines on a page, sounds in the air, songs on the tongue, symbols sketching Ultimate Reality. We can argue all we want that these ‘lines’ aren’t the reality, or that they can never completely depict God as He is. This shouldn’t, however, lead us to believe that there are no right lines, or that we’re incapable of drawing the right lines, or that everybody’s lines are equally correct.

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