Shaping How We Think

I make no apologies for the title of my website, Shaping How We Think. Don’t confuse the title to read, Shaping What We Think. I could shorten it to just Think. Why my obsession with how to think? Because I see so little thinking being used before we speak. Too often we shoot off our mouth when it’s only half-cocked—only partly ready; poorly prepared. To use another metaphor, but not a mixed metaphor because it’s in the same genre: from a half-cocked gun we’re more likely to shoot ourselves in the foot.

Think of what I’m doing as helping to keep us off crutches due to a wounded foot. Now I freely admit my bias: in religion I’m a Judeo/Christian and in politics I’m the kind of conservative now called Constitutionalist. Ethnically while almost all my ancestors (all except one) came from Ireland I am 100% American whose ancestors came from Ireland. I’m not Irish-American, I’m American. I had no personal choice to be born from Irish stock nor did I have a choice the land I was born in, America. The one thing I can’t change is my ancestry, but when I grew older I did have the choice the country I lived in and I chose to remain in America and be an American.

How I think and what I think has in part its contours in the above discloser. We all no matter our ethnicity, no matter our religion or no religion, no matter our politics, at times or a whole lot of times we go off half-cocked and shoot ourselves in the foot, some of us shoot both feet. Let’s call this a human sin, or if the word “sin” offends you then our human failure—it belongs to us all, not just one group however you identify the goup.

Thinking and emotion are not oil and water that don’t mix, they do mix, but they are different substances, processes of our humanity. The major component of thinking is reasoning and the major component of emotion is feeling. Reason isn’t feeling and feeling isn’t reason. When they work together they present to us a whole (complete) understanding. That right there should tell you we need both. To reject either reasoning or feeling is to deny who we are—either as created to be or what we accidently came out of the goo being. We deny our nature. How could we not be confused when we reject one part of us?

The main component in progressivism is feelings because for the most part the reasoning is seriously flawed. In postmodernism there is no reasoning, it’s all feelings. So if you’ve adopted one or the other worldview, you’re thinking needs to begin or it needs some help. That’s where Shaping How We Think comes in.

I don’t mean to insult you by the challenges I present, but if you need insulting to wake you up I’ll be the bat.

What’s my goal? To make you think like me, believe like me? I suppose that would be nice, certainly cut down the friction. Problem is, I’m not always right and you’re not always wrong and I need you to help me as much as I need to help you. Many times I learn as much from authors I disagree with than those I agree with. And I’ve always said that if I don’t learn what to do from an author I disagree with at least I learn what not to do, so I’ve still learned something.

I think I’m wise. Sometimes when I write something I think really wise someone shoots me down and I have to slink home with my tail between my legs because my ego got ahead of me. What I do best is think a lot, question a lot, follow trails a lot, sit under a pine tree and regurgitate all that I’ve put into my mind and an understanding comes out of me. In this regard I’m a bit of a mystic.

Living is a most curious thing. That we’re alive is even more curious. We live in a world chocked full of information but we don’t understand it all. We’ve looked into the depths of the ocean and there is so much wonder down there it’s exciting to see and contemplate. We peer into the depths of the sky and awe and wonder fills us by both the complexity and order we see and we’re beyond fascinated. We take in each other and we’re moved beyond words. If we just stopped fighting and let our hearts and minds roam this vastness we’d understand so much more than we do and ecstasy would fill us from both our reasoning and feelings.

Most of us remember the intensity of emotion we feel with our first love, then we relax our feelings and let our mind teach us about what we hold so dear. Alas living gets in the way and we slowly lose what we held in our hands and heart. Our feelings and reasoning becomes corrupted and tension fill us and we begin to destroy what we once loved.

The late Rabbi Abraham Heschel in his book Man Is Not Alone writes a lot about the ineffable—too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. We’ve lost sense of the ineffable trapped by the mundane. Heschel writes: “Those to whom awareness of the ineffable is a constant state of mind know that the mystery is not an exception but an air that lies about all being, a spiritual setting of reality; not something apart but a dimensionof all existence.” We’ve stripped mystery away from our thinking and feelings. Reasoning doesn’t do away with mystery, it brings us to the window of the ineffable, to the reality of awe and wonder.

In Shaping How We Think I often travel through the minutiae of the mundane that has taken us off track, taken us away from the ineffable. I point out the cobwebs that need cleaning because it’s your walk, not mine, your discoveries not mine waiting for you.

I leave you with these words from Rabbi Abraham Heschel: “Human existence cannot derive its ultimate meaning from society, because society itself is in need of meaning. . . Humanity begins in the individual man [person, male and female].  . . We do not think that a human being is valuable because he is a member of the race; it is rather the opposite: the human race is valuable because it is composed of human beings.”

When I point to our wrongs it’s only to remind us there’s another way, the way of the ineffable, the way of mystery, the way of love overcoming. In I Corinthians 13: 4-8 we read:

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 

 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 

 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

 Love never fails.