I had the privilege today of attending a formal dinner with some other students at my University. The guest lecturer was an author/professor from our English department, and she spoke about “Escaping Indiana’s Gravitational Pull”. Briefly put, Indiana’s gravitational pull is the culture of the state that makes people want to stay here instead of leave.
One of the reasons she cited for this phenomenon was the “Folks” and “Folksiness” of Indiana’s people, or the “normal” atmosphere that permeates most of the communities here. For the most part, it is a place where people don’t do anything abnormal. God, family, marriage, and traditional notions of what is right and wrong are respected.
While I am completely aware that “normalness” can be taken to an extreme (if you don’t believe me, come visit, and I’ll show you) there was a tone in the speaker’s talk that gave me the impression that “normalness” wasn’t good, and that a people who accept tradition as truth are somehow ‘unintelligent’ and need to be avoided. There is something about an attitude that says “I don’t know why, but that’s just wrong” that seemed to bother her.
I don’t mean to say that tradition has gotten everything right. What I do mean to say is that academics and intellectuals have a tendency to make things more complicated than they really are, and that a healthy dose of “This is the way things ought to be” has something positive to offer the world. Gianna Jessen, a survivor of a late-term saline abortion, said this about our culture’s treatment of the procedure which was intended to kill her:
“We have taken abortion, compartmentalized it, put it on a shelf and said, ‘It is an issue.‘ This is not an issue.”
St. Paul spoke about this philosophy in a slightly different way in 1 Corinthians 1.18-29:
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
Reason certainly has its place in the world. But in our reason, let us not forget that there are some things that simply ‘are’. Although they may never be proved by logic, data, research, study, or intellectual debate, their inherent truth is here to stay. Not everything is like this, but when we find things that are–the importance of the family, the sacred nature of marriage, the gospel, and the value of human life–the sooner we let go of our rational inhibitions, the better.
And I think it will end up making us more human.