Everyday Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

Selective Hearing, Selective Religion

courtesy Frank Plant

Why is it that my husband can hear me think, “The cookies are done,” and yet he can’t hear me verbally repeat over and over, “Please don’t wash my blouse with the mudroom rugs”? He can be on the other side of the farm and know to come home and get a warm cookie. But, standing together in the laundry room, while using the blouse and mudroom rugs as visuals and verbally explaining not to wash my blouse with the mudroom rugs, he can’t hear me say, Please don’t wash my blouse with the mudroom rugs.


Selective hearing is a hoary trait known to humankind. It can be funny but usually it is annoying. People apparently choose to ignore things that they don’t want to hear while accepting only those things they want to hear. Our ears still work but the words bounce off the mind when they are not what we want to hear. The habit has been around a long time. We read in the Bible, “With their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears.” Matt. 13:15, ESV)

There is more to selectivity than can be written here. It is not only an entrenched habit, but also an ability, maybe even a blessing. If I am listening to music while driving a car with a loud engine, and my mind is mulling over the grocery list, I’m glad to be able to hear my husband say, “Cheryl, slow down, there is a stop sign up ahead.”


Curiously, the activity of selectivity percolates into religion. Religion was generally designed to encourage the discernment of Spirit and immortal being. Sadly, selective religion rears its ugly head and takes us in the opposite direction of discriminating against anyone who doesn’t live up to a particular human ideology—an ideology that its promoters can’t even live up to. It is one thing to be discerning when it comes to religion however quite another thing to discriminate.

Religion is unfolding, evolving. To repeat constantly outgrown religious ideals or rituals is the same thing as ignoring progressive healing instruction. What was selected today as pertinent to religion may not be useful tomorrow. The human need must be met with a living religion that embraces all humankind. We read in 21st Century Science and Health, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. Do not imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number of people or for a particular period of time, since to all humankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good.”

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