What an odd few days I've had as Remembrancetide, building on All Saints and All Souls, headed towards the climax that is Armistice Day (11th November) - the variety was sublime but some of those I met during the exercise left me just a little bruised and bewildered. It is to them that, as promised, I write the following (but all may read and offer correctives for that in which I miht have erred and, like a lost sheep, strayed).
One end of the 'knowledge/opinion' spectrum' appears to be filled with opinionated people with very little knowledge (and/or understanding) and yet they shout about everything in quite an unsettling manner. At the other end we find people who are quite passionate about stuff but, having taken the time to learn 'everything' about whatever it is that matters to them, they proceed to bombard you with their version of the truth whilst sticking their fingers in their ears.
Thankfully there is a centre ground populated by people who've taken the time to surround themselves with knowledge of all kinds and engage with others in a most impressive way whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself. These people are a joy to spend time with and regardless of their position on things, whether it be with or against you, dialogue is generally a joy (even when I found I might be wrong!). It is these whom I feel are those who are 'standing on the rock',
The sad thing is that 'bucket mouths' are usually, because they are the loudest, the people that are most noticed and therefore most reacted against; this is something that permits those in opposition to them to act with a high degree of general public support. A good case in point might be some of the stances taken on a variety of issues by groups like Westboro' Baptist Church (who I thought were a spoof when I first found them so extreme were the views expressed by them).
These people put forward views that no one I know supports and yet rather than see them as an isolated bunch of (insert your own word or words here) those who wish to portray Christians as something extreme, stupid, ignorant, downright, bigoted or generally wicked (delete whichever do not apply in your opinion - please note, your opinion might just be as wrong as Westboro's !!! ).
The equally sad thing about those who have ALL the facts (as they understand it) and do not engage in a civilised, rational and wonderfully enlightening manner - especially those who having ALL the answers are against anything that might suggest things that they do not wish to consider (and it's usually choice rather than something logical or reasonable - if you don't believe me read some of the books that a famously pseudo-scientific atheist has scribbled and tell me I'm wrong).
Ignorance is not usually the sole property of any group - It is something that all people whether they are wise or foolish, bright or dim, theist or atheist can make their own - and therein lies the rub, for as Christians I would hope that whatever we think should be influenced and set by the words of Jesus, the Christ, and the accounts of God's dealing with humankind. The problem is that science can make superstitious people out of the wise (and those who consider themselves wise( too: It can endow mind reading capabilities upon those who have read too many books to the extent that they have forgotten how to read, and enjoy, people.
The same is true of religion, for truly religion is humanity's greatest rebellion against, and rejection of, God. When blind rules are taken up in such a way as we can no longer see the image of the invisible God made visible before our very eyes (1 John 4 - you can't love God and hate your brother) then we are lost.
The problem is that between those who are ignorant and happy to remain such AND those who have all the answers can easily lose sight of the valid stuff. For me this is the message that Christ came to reconcile people to God, not teach them 'facts'.
To be 'Christian' and occupy either of the extremes on my spectrum is to act against Christ and His message of reconciliation and love; it denies everything that Jesus is and came to make known and fuels those who oppose us and confers upon them a degree of credibility they do not deserve. So the choice is ours: rock or rocky - crushed or broken?