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Friday, April 06, 2018


There is a famous misquote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Not quite accurate, as it turns out. The actual quote was, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Because, you see, we are consistent. We operate on a consistent scheme, a consistent set of principles. Or so I've always believed. The trick, I think, is finding the underlying principles, because much of the time these days it looks like people are acting irrationally. So I try to find the consistency.

See if you can find the consistency in these very common viewpoints:
"I think we need to protect children. I am opposed to killing ... unless it's a baby I don't want."

"I am firmly in support of diversity as a supreme value all on its own ... unless I want to have a women's organization or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Then diversity is wrong. No men; no whites."

"We demand that society be supportive if you are born a male and believe yourself to be a female ... unless, of course, if you're a male who believes yourself to be a female and want to serve as the director of a women's rights organization. We don't want that."

"We hold Congress and adults responsible for their failure to pass the gun legislation that we deem vital to our existence ... but we don't want to be held responsible for our own actions."

"We demand the right to free speech ... but don't really want to give that same right to those with whom we firmly disagree."

"The rights of the homosexual and the transgender are paramount ... we don't really want to consider the rights of Christians."
The commonality, of course, was that each of these was self-contradictory. But that was not the consistency I was looking for. I am looking for how it could be that a person holding these types of views could be consistent with themselves. It's in there. Did you see it? It is in the two-word phrase, "I want." If your standard is "What I want I should have", then I can want to save babies and kill babies and that is consistent because these I want to save and those I don't. It's the same with all of them.

I don't offer this to attack these views. I offer it to point out that most of us have this problematic consistency. Most of us -- all of us at times -- decide what we will think or do based solely on "what I want" apart from any other concern. It is a vanity, a problem of pride, a constant carryover from the standard sin position, "I will be like the Most High." And it produces in each of us that obvious irrationality, that clear-cut inconsistency within our own viewpoints and positions. Here, consider one that you may have indulged. "I want to be more like Christ ... unless, of course, there is something else I want at the moment." Maybe that's a little closer to home? Or would you call it meddling?

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