Monday, July 4, 2016

More Light Than Heat

This post is adapted from an article originally published on July 3, 2010. 
Photo by Mark Sommer

Storms become more likely as heat and humidity build up in the atmosphere. For those of us who love the cool weather, the past few days of sunshine without the sticky heat have been a welcome relief.

As the atmosphere can become unstable and stirred up by the heat, so harsh words can stir up anger and strife. Gentle, tactful words, however, are like a dry high pressure system keeping the storms away. (Proverbs 15:1)

Too often our society is characterized by more heat than light. An open dialogue about important issues is vital for a democracy, but talk show hosts who deliberately use inflammatory words to create ratings are not helpful. Politicians more concerned about “energizing the base” than solving problems only make things worse by their combative rhetoric. Creative banter can be a good thing, but name-calling and mudslinging do not create an atmosphere where rational decisions can be made.

That is not to say that we should be afraid to speak out on the issues. Jesus and his first century followers certainly made some waves. But they did it in a spirit of humility, with love and compassion. The Apostle Paul wrote of “speaking the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15) Sharing God’s love in the spirit of humility is a far cry from self-righteously beating a person over the head with “the facts.”

The recent sunshine and cooler temperatures have been nice partly because we had plenty of rain earlier. Sunshine without rain is only a good thing for a while. The atmosphere needs to get mixed up occasionally or the flowers will wilt and the crops will die. But how much better it is to have a nice gentle soaking rain than thunderstorms laced with tornadoes.

This blog is an attempt to present spiritual matters in a way which creates more light than heat. That does not mean I will never present anything controversial—far from it. But I will endeavor to present facts and logic without resorting to name-calling and tirades. Although not always successful, I try to live by what C. S. Lewis called "intellectual hospitality." For more on this subject, please refer to a post on my companion blog here on See C S Lewis and intellectual hospitality: learning to listen to the opposition.

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