Every time I open Facebook or Twitter there are the proverbial “one liners”. I think there is a part of me that wonders as to whether the one liners are the dumbing down of humanity or humanity preceded with the dumbed down.
Which came first?
We talk about attention spans and such. We use that as the reason for our short outbreaks of “wisdom”. I grant that many are truly nuggets of gold or have the capability to be such.
I guess I struggle with them though. (Even Twitter is lifting their 140 character restraint.) Memes, pithy sayings, one liners and such. Let me share a couple of my reasons for being concerned.
Other than the obvious dumbing down of people or the attention span argument I have a few concerns.
First, these sayings, phrases or one liners shape thinking. At first glance that might not seem bad. But how many people walked around (or may well still be walking.) with a phrase or saying that brings direction and “discipline” to their life.
Here is an example. “The real trouble with reality is that there’s no background music.” The problem with that is manifold. It causes people to shy away from reality. It requires music to live. (Often fraught with its own set of directives and thinking.)It keeps people from rest, pondering and hearing God. (That phrase was one of the top 10 of 2013.)
One liners can be taken out of context. How many believers have been beat over the head with a scripture that is not applicable because of its Old Testament application, or taken out of context, ending up for many to mean something other than it does? (And how many of those thinkings are cultural or generational?)These things can shape theology and relationship with God, His church, family and friends.
(Because of my background many quoted me “suffer not a witch to live”. Clearly not in keeping with God’s commandment to love.)
And then there is always the pass/fail phenomenon that occurs. We will read a one liner. We will sense there is “juice” on it. That it is truth and we will work to apply it to our lives. When it does not work, we feel defeated. (I stepped on a crack. Now what do I tell my mother?) I think one of the hard parts is personal direction or leaning accepts new one liners or sayings. They sound good or they sound cool. But after a while they begin to build upon one another. And what? Just what if? One is found to be defective? Superstitious? Errant?
We come from generations of thinking that we often call “old wives tales”. We had “pinky pinky” and no chewing gum after midnight. Some of these were found to be true or have a modicum of truth. BUT, because they were often found to be not true, many began to deny true wisdom. Superstition was no longer real and with some of that God was kicked to the side as well.
I think for me one of the hardest was “Let Go and Let God”. My mom had a bumper sticker on her refrigerator with this. That was in the 70’s. I am here to tell you that it angered me. Where was personal responsibility? A work ethic? Only in the last 5 years have I come to understand that! And it is not easy nor isi the way they explained it!
If you have ever looked for gold, you know in most cases it is a lot of work for a little. But even that little has value. On some level, these “wise sayings” are like that. Someone spent a lot of years going through the process. Often hard, difficult process to reveal the gold of understanding. In the 90’s many teachers would say “these nuggets of truth are important. Write them down.” Like many I did. BUT, I never experienced the process. The timing. And so much of this was “pie in the sky”. Unattainable by myself and others because we had not experienced the circumstances and situations that lead to this gold nugget.
I would encourage you to become a gold miner. I understand the need to embrace mystery. To accept hiddeness of truths. I desire to see the results of my own “mine” if you will. That is part of being unique in Christ. (one of my greatest struggles with individuality and uniqueness, was someone saying to me 30 or 40 years ago, “you have a terminal case of uniqueness”. There goal was to take me “down a peg”. The result was they crashed me to the bottom. )To come to recognize God loves me and always had took a lot of overcoming in my life.
Continue with the one liners and pithy sayings. Make sure they do not define your theology or shape your thinking without sincere evaluation. My grandmother would say, “look at new things. But take them with a grain of salt.” (New England skepticism.) And my grandfather would say, “you can take that to the bank.”