“If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophy.”
– Al Einstein
I used to love this movie, The Secret of Nimh. In it there is this character, a crow (did I mention it’s a cartoon?). He’s really a kindhearted guy, but he’s got this one outstanding flaw – he’s totally obsessed with shiny things. He calls them “sparklies”. His good heart can be diverted from the most important task if his eye catches the glint of a sparkly. This is true to the point that his love for shimmery things almost costs people their lives. I think one place that movie wants you to go is to want to grab the feathered fool by the wings and explain to him just how worthless those pieces of plastic and foil are compared to his life, and the lives that surround him.
I am a lot like the crow. I imagine we all are. It’s easy to let our lives slip in and out of this world like flshpaper – consumed quickly and fruitlessly. A lot of people make that point, but I don’t hear a lot of solutions offered, and, when someone does propose one, I get the feeling that they’re more reciting a solution they heard somewhere, and aren’t really that convinced of, but that they simply swallowed because there wasn’t anything better on the (epistemic) table.
I’m a disciple of Christ’s, but I’m certainly not saying the answer is “quit sinning”. I think that’s a very shallow answer if it’s presented as a solution to our problem of intellectual-spiritual lostness. I think a better answer is to live genuinely – seeking to live in light of truth regardless of what the truth is. That’s where I’m trying to go. I think that God appreciates that far more than those who swallow thoughtlessly. people on both sides of the theistic fence are guilty here. There are people like the Mormons I studied with this summer who flat out told me that, even if it could be proved to them through sound reason and fact that their religion is a lie, they would never leave it. On the atheistic side there are people like Richard Dawkins, and most young people I know who claim to be atheists, not, it seems, because they genuinely believe no god exists, but because they desperately want no religion to be true. People of all persuasions are guilty here, and I’m inclined to think that God is more pleased, in one way, with the intellectually virtuous athesit than the intellectually vicious Christian.
In a sense, those who swallow whatever you put in front of them aren’t good when they’re right; they’re just lucky. I want us to be more than lucky, and that’s turning out to be a very hard mountain to climb for me. It’s costing me grades and friends and money and pleasure, but I’m pretty much convinced that it will be worth the cost.