The Responsibility of Understanding

    JMSmith of the Orthosphere has a good post on the parable of the Good Samaritan, titled, "A Misanthropic Reading of the Parable of the Good Samaritan."  In it, he puts forward the interpretation that the man who was beaten and left for dead is the character whom we should identify with.  The lesson of the parable is gratitude towards those who help us.  This is in contrast to the more well-known interpretation of the parable, that we should imitate the Good Samaritan.  I believe both of these interpretations are worthwhile.  

     One benefit of Smith's interpretation is in reminding us that the most widespread way of understanding Biblical teachings is not the only way.  In particular, all of Jesus' teachings took place against a background where it was assumed that people would help their own families and their own people.  What makes the story striking is that the Samaritan helped a Jew.  If it was a Samaritan lying in the road beaten, it would have been only natural that the Good Samaritan would have helped him.  

    Jesus wanted people to go beyond their natural attachments.  And this is what we do see among the early Christians: they treated each other as part of a family.  But in order to go beyond, you have to keep what you have.  People nowadays who proudly signal that they hate their own country and their own family haven't risen above tribalism, they have fallen below it.  Because we do not even have the basics that the people of 2,000 years ago took for granted, it is all too easy for teachings to become confused.  

    And this is one example of a more general phenomenon.  We are being attacked in a weird way because we are being attacked on a level that most people do not even acknowledge.  In many cases, Christian teachings aren't being attacked in themselves, but in their interpretation.  You can read the Bible, you can even talk about the Bible, but for all too many, it is interpreted the way the media wants it to be interpreted.  And not just the Bible, but all sorts of things.  The facts are available, but the interpretation is controlled. 

    Francis Berger has written a post entitled, "Relying on Intuition is a Sign of Cognitive Disempowerment" where he discusses a booklet which tells people to not think intuitively and instead rely on analytical thinking.  Now, you might think that "the usual suspects" wouldn't want people to think analytically.  After all, doesn't that mean determining if things cohere together, which they so often don't in our world?  But, if they control the inputs and the interpretation, then it's a closed system and analytical thinking is of no avail. 

    JMSmith has a post about this, "From Nullius in Verba to Settled Science" where he says: 

    "Liberal totalitarianism is methodological rather than dogmatic.

The difference between telling us what to think and telling us how to think is, in fact, no difference at all.  The intellectual freedom afforded by Liberalism therefore resembles the freedom Henry Ford gave his customers when he said they could purchase a model T in any color they liked, so long as it was black.  We are likewise free to think anything we like, so long our thinking follows the methods that Liberal thinking approves.

For the many who would prefer to do no thinking at all, Liberalism of course publishes the answers produced by its methods; and many are, indeed, happy to accept these answers without doing the math.

This is how Liberal public doctrine is 'legislated' without apparent coercion or control.  The multitude thinks what it is told to think; the intellectual minority thinks how it is told to think; and a decisive majority ends up thinking more or less alike."

    Facts are not enough.  In order to think correctly and make the right decisions in life there must also be understanding.  In my previous post, I wrote that in earlier times, people could use tradition to "think for" them.  Their understanding was formed by tradition, which was not merely a list of rules or a set of conventions but a living reality.  So, understanding could happen more or less naturally.  Now, if we want understanding we must seek it out.  It is not enough to read or listen passively.  (This is a major point of Rudolf Steiner).  In our current age, information is absorbed more passively than ever before.  To go to see a political speech 200 years ago, it was necessary to leave one's house and personally hear and see the speaker.  The fact of being there personally and having to listen forced a minimum level of active listening.  Now, the speech is irrelevant.  Why bother listening yourself when you can be told what it all means?

    We are being attacked in a very subtle way because our understanding is not being attacked directly.  It is rare that we are argued out of our beliefs or told that our current understanding is wrong.  Much more common is that we are presented with a counterfeit understanding, pre-chewed and ready made.  And by design this pre-chewed understanding contains nothing of truth and nothing of the spiritual.  If it is true that our portal to the spiritual in this age is our consciousness, then we are being cut off from the spiritual, not because the door being forcibly closed, shut, but because we too distracted to open it.  But we can open the door for ourselves if we take responsibility for our own understanding. 

    And that is why intuition is so important.  It allows us to cut through to the dross and go towards true knowledge.

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