Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I'm Not a 3rd Grader

I can read or watch a program or listen to you talk and think about the message for myself...analyze it even. I picked up a pub at my church on the first Sunday after Christmas titled "Christ in Our Home (Light for Today)" which has daily readings. I was hoping to have some sort of a structured exposition of faith to stimulate my brain. I feel like it's written for a 3rd grader. See excerpt at the bottom of this post.

It's not only (potentially cheesy) narrowly targeted literature that manages to insult the intelligence of the reader. Even a bestselling book can fall prey to such condescension. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, PhD develops a GREAT thesis which sends racist explanations for poverty to Davey Jones's Locker. However, he bludgeons the reader with repetition after repetition of the same idea. I realize that authors need support for their arguments, but just showing a few different nifty anecdotes doesn't back you up much more than one good empirical punch.

Another book that suffers from the I-repeat-myself-way-too-much syndrome is The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs, PhD. Dr. Sachs argues that ending poverty in the next quarter to half century is feasible. He explains how the elimination of absolute (not relative, you morons) poverty can occur with the cooperation of donors and governments and technology. However, I think reading one chapter of the book will get you about 85% of the ideas in the entire book.

I'm sure you've had a conversation with someone who was sure to speak slowly and loudly to you like they were trying to get a speaker of a foreign language to understand the English words coming out of their mouth.


*Copied without permission...sorry Augsburg Fortress...Excerpt:

Wednesday, Feb 13 Exodus 34:1-9, 27-8
title: One-sided love
heading: I have made a covenant with you and with Israel (v.27)

The department manager lectured her employees about declining sales. She concluded with, "And that's the way it's going to be." The employees glanced at each other and shifted in their seats. One started to ask a question. "You are dismissed," the manager said. The employees left, grumbling about not having any say. Situations putting us at another's mercy are uncomfortable. We have no power; we feel disrespected. Most one-sided agreements are like that.
God's one-sided agreement with the Israelites may have felt like that to them, too. The Ten Commandments cramped their style. Who was this God to make such demands? The God who delivered them from Egypt, provided for them in the desert, and promised them a homeland!
God acted out of love for the Israelites, and acts out of love for us. Our Creator knows what's best for us. When we fail to keep the Commandments, God loves us. When we ignore the counsel fo Scripture, God loves us. Being at God's mercy is the best possible place to be. God's mercy endures and leads us to the home that's been prepared for us in heaven.

aftertext: God, forgive me when I want my own way. Strengthen me to follow your way. Amen [sic]
Prayer concern: Managers and supervisors

*the end*
Note how they use simple language, even going as far as style cramping. Also, the concluding paragraph gives you statements to accept without any support. I mean, maybe if you've been indoctrinated with this stuff before, it reminds you of it...and I guess it's hard to throw too much into a one-pager.
A bigger beef is that this has nothing to do with one-sided LOVE. It's about one-sided authority. It doesn't mention anyone not reciprocating love. In fact, love seems to be absent in the lead-off paragraph.
I can't read any more of this thing. I'm throwing it in my paper recycling bin. (I did get through Diamond's and Sachs's books...Diamond's was easy since it's entertaining while Sachs's took a lot of effort on my part).


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