Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Establishing Truth and the False Dichotomy of Intellectual Versus Emotional

Especially when dealing with theologians, one wants to delineate between a person describing an actual experience and somebody just thinking about what may be true. A good reporter has an intellectual foundation, a logical basis from which he describes his personal experience. This is somewhat akin to the necessary a priori logic scientists have to have in order to set up an experiment. It is quite impossible to simultaneously have an experiment and question everything- you must hold many things as true in order to test your hypothesis. If you choose not to hold anything as true, you cannot experiment, because you will be busy questioning any premise upon which your experiment can possibly be built.

Thus some sort of logic, and some sort of faith, is required to even get started.

But anyway, I want to mention a problem that I notice- much of American Christianity is emotional, and when I try to explain this problem, it seems the default response is to paint my view as too intellectual. A left/right dichotomy, oh my! Someone has managed to cram that crap into almost every space available.
Let me not digress to much and point out that the 'emotional' is intellectual. Let me explain:

If most of your experience of Christianity is a sequence in which you are encouraged to imagine 'what if' or 'as if' and then you develop a whole passel of emotions based on meditating on these possibilities, then you are essentially living in the same headspace as the so-called intellectual who plays word games and doesn't really believe anything means anything.

The Alpha and the Omega versus the boyfriend Jesus who will hang out and listen to every last detail about your day.
The God of the Living versus the god who most certainly is sending little princess to get her precious degree in something that doesn't involve math or heavy lifting.
The God of the Patriarchs versus the god who is in charge of the divorce industry, female dominated schools, and the medicalization of males.

So, obviously, those who don't really believe in anything are thinking of things and emoting too, except their chief emotion appears to be a smug sense of elitism. We do this all the time, really, especially if we are silly enough to watch bad television- and we often suffer badly for it. We can get mad for days about something that never actually happened. This is distinct from having a logical foundation upon which to stand- and we often know this, especially when we are dealing with bad feelings, like anger. It is logical to avoid getting angry, to actively try to stop imagining things that will make you angry, precisely because we know actions made with anger can be very deleterious to our health.

In this case, good feelings are often the result of the imagining, but one can still find oneself further adrift from reality.

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