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If I were to imitate this scene with my own fan, it would only be funny to some people. It would be confusing to others. This funny clip is not only one to the movie Star Wars, but more so to the movie Tommy Boy and the hilarious comedy of David Spade and the late Chris Farley. At minimum, a person needs to have seen at least one of the two movies if they were to get even a partial reference. For this joke to have a full impact, a person needs to have seen both.
If we break this down a bit, we can learn something that will really help us in life. In my book Oblivious I talk about how culture is a shared understanding of a particular set of categories that a group has in common. Using our example above, this is a joke because it taps into a cultural reference of popular movies and comedians. Knowledge of categories equates to cultural knowledge. Cultural knowledge locates us either inside or outside a particular culture.
Maturity in a particular area is defined by the number of categories we possess in that area. If I understand a lot about drywall then I possess a lot of categories to make sense of that subject. If I know about jewelry, taco’s or spleens, then I become mature in those areas.
Confusion then, is not possessing enough categories to understand a particular topic. Confusion is immaturity in a particular area. As children, we possesses very few categories and thus we are not tuned in to the adult world. As we grow we gain categories and the world and life opens up to us.
So far so good? Ok, so here is my point.
We all want certain aspects of life to open up to us. As we grow we want a great career, a wonderful spouse, a loving family, deep friendships, and enjoyment of life. Unfortunately, these aspects of life are not open to all comers. They require prerequisite apprehension of certain categories or else they will elude us. They can also elude us if we have knowledge of a category but ignore that knowledge.
The lesson then is that all humanity is always learning despite our confusion. In scripture this is called being a disciple or a “Student” and it says only the students will know the Truth and that truth will make the free (John 8:31-32). This is because the student is humble and learns from a teacher. A teacher is a “logos” or a Word. It’s way more than that, but its at least that.
Of course learning stops at the moment of certainty. Certainty is not the same as confidence. We can have confidence that what we know is correct, while still possessing humility to learn more. If we become certain, we lose humility and stop growing and the world and life closes to us. A student who is certain will try and teach the teacher, thus no humility.
We can test if we have become hardened by certainty by watching our reaction to information that at first seems contrary to our present understanding. If we reject it, we have become certain and have lost humility. If we are open to consider how it could also be true then we are a student. Certainty is a byproduct of spiritual immaturity. We see it in the very religious and the supposedly non-religious. All learning is transformation from the inside out, thus all learning is spiritual growth.
Now do you see why politics, sports, academics, and religion are so divisive? When they lack spiritual maturity, they polarize and become exclusive.
I know that many of my posts and blogs have content that rubs people the wrong way at first. I don’t do this for shock value, but to help widen our categories. With a diverse audience like mine I’m sure to offend both sides as I introduce a third way.
- Religious people desperately need wider perspectives to view their faith, but they are extremely fearful and distrusting if an idea falls outside of their religious establishment, thus they grow their faith in exclusivity.
- Non-believers desperately need wider perspectives in order to recognize they actually do possess a faith, but they are extremely fearful and distrusting of the religious establishment and are content to leave their faith in its larval stage of development.
See, it does not help us to leave one camp and join the opposite.
I didn’t start out with these perspectives. I won’t have them forever either. As I gain new and wider categories for understanding, my perspectives will change just like yours. I’m confused about things now that soon I hope will be much clearer. The shedding of confusion is truly a spiritual process regardless of the subject. There is no difference between growth and spiritual growth-everything is spiritual. Learning is the very definition of spiritual growth. It is the key that opens the world and life up to us. That is why I desire for us all to gain spiritual maturity, for it is the hallmark of the emerging world.
Thanks for growing with me and becoming a part of the movement. If I can answer any questions, pleased don’t hesitate to ask.