Thursday, April 17, 2014

cereal, soup, and dumpsters

Recently I've heard several references to "pick the meat and spit out the bones" or, "there's a lot of good in it, just ignore the other"  and other thoughts along this line.   I've been thinking about this and while I totally understand, I think that we need to use discernment in this process.

Analogies can be tricky... they can help make a point, but they can also distract from the point as you try to reconcile all the bits that don't really carry over.   I am going to hope that in the analogies that follow, it helps to clarify and not to confuse.

Lucky Charms
 This is where we cherry-pick and only take what we like in order to make a point, ignoring not what is questionable, but what is actually beneficial.   I would say it's like picking through the bowl and only taking out the marshmallows and leaving the cereal.   This is super easy to do and happens with everything from scripture to statistics. We need to guard against it not only in our own life (reading something that is whole and complete, but only taking in what is convenient or suits our agenda) and also in the content of those we choose to listen to. Are our preachers and teachers giving the whole truth or just the marshmallows?

Chicken Soup
...or stew, or meat and bones, whichever way you look at it, this is the "good" way to pick and choose.   I call it "chicken soup" after my dear daughter who loves chicken soup and can eat her way through bowls full of the stuff and at the end leave a whole heap of carrots behind.  The carrots aren't bad or harmful, they just aren't to her taste.
I own and read and use as reference many books that I don't fully agree with every thought the author presents. However, it's not bad or or harmful, and it does make me think.  Listen (or read) critically, weigh the information, and keep the good stuff. Even what you don't choose to "eat" has been beneficial in making you think through it (much like carrots giving flavor to the soup).  If we only read or listened to people we completely agreed with, our lives would be much smaller.

Dumpster Diving
Sure lots of great things probably get thrown away and if you went digging for them, you could find them.  But at what risk?  Rotten food, germ ridden sharp objects, and other items that are downright hazardous are also in that dump.  To me, this is like reading or watching media that has obvious bad philosophy or doctrine and justifying it by saying that there are lots of "good parts."  

The first consideration  (for me) would be, "is there a better place to get this?"   Whether the "this" is entertainment, advice, or information, is there any other source that wouldn't require so much picking through?   If so, then choose the other option, if not, then really look long and hard at what it is that you need so badly that you are willing to dig through putrid trash to get it.
Discernment is both a learned skill and a gift from God.  When we seek to fill ourselves with Truth, he will honor that and give us wisdom and discernment to do so.  

Proverbs 18:15 - The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge

1 Thessalonians 5:21 - Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.