A Fear of Whales

A Fear of Whales


Tradition

posted by rgaffney

People joke about entering ones 20s and the passage on from teen years as a transition into “no longer knowing everything” If that’s what teenagers are characterized by than I guess the arrogance of ones 20s comes from knowing that your knowledge is limited but believing that what ideas you do have are your own.

I’m headed out of my 20s now.

It’s striking to me how people got on so well for so long without the internet. When I got the flu last month I had to google my symptoms and find out what to do about it (Rest, plenty of fluids, and chicken soup btw) but hundreds of years ago none of that information would have been available, and I would have relied on the collected knowledge of the elders of our community for what to do. What would they have said (rest, plenty of fluids, chicken soup probably)

The Christian Church, for most of it’s existence (AD 0 to AD 1530) unanimously valued tradition as equal or greater in authority than the bible. And even that was often just considered another source of tradition. Most Christians in the world (the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox + Anglicans for good measure) still do.

And as to the rest of us, do we really think we are so evolved? Perhaps we have head-knowledge that scripture is the final authority but do we really follow that in our analysis of ideas. Do we prefer to follow what scripture appears to say even when it goes against what we were taught in church? It seems to me that most of us protestants have gone right on following tradition and merely stopped citing our sources.

For instance. when I use the term “head-knowledge” I’m drawing upon a memetic tradition in the American Christian subculture. you are inclined to agree with me because you have heard that somewhere before from someone reliable. But where did it come from? I for one have no idea.

Consider also the phrase “right relationship” particularly the restoration thereof. Christians from every group I’ve been apart of agree that it’s important to restore right relationship to god, to one another, to whatever the thing we are trying to advocate for is. But the way it’s phrased it’s obviously borrowed from someplace. I goggled it, and still have no idea from where. could be the Quakers or the Jesuits, maybe I’ll ask an old Jewish lady.

How many of the ideas that I draw upon on a daily basis come from somewhere else without my being able to identify it as easily as these two examples? How many of my ideas are shaped by other ideas that come from these traditional sources. Is there any idea that I currently hold which does not rely on the work of someone who came before me?

I don’t expect there is. but I’m not inclined to fight it. If I were to arrive on this planet as a wholly logical observer, and could not receive any past information I would come to different conclusions, about the world and what’s important. But I believe most of those wholly logical contemporary conclusions I would draw would be wrong.

I’m probably just prejudiced though



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