Last week at Our House we explored "The Danger of Isms" and this week continued to dig deeper, looking at what happens when Isms are given authority.
A storyline from Downton Abbey will help us as we discuss certainty, mystery, doubt, authority and how 'isms' can cause us to be overpowered instead of empowered.
Last week we presented two routes that we can follow: isms or itys.
Isms are doctrines or beliefs that have become restrictive, discriminatory and oppressive systems.
In contrast, an 'ity' is a state of being something.
"We have relegated it to the state of BELIEVING something, when Christianity was always meant to be the state of BEING something."
An ism is also a belief or system of beliefs that has become authoritative.
"Just because a person is in a position of authority or HAS authority, does not make them AN authority."
There is a big difference between so-called experts and genuine expertise.
Jesus pointed this out when addressing the religious leaders of his time, who abused their position and power to bully, rather than empower:
“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”
As this second clip from Downton Abbey shows, an expert who is given authority, doesn't necesarily have the expertise that is needed.
Maybe isms thrive in the space where certainty replaces curiosity.
"I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious." Albert Einstein
Identity Protective Cognition is when reasoning is used, not to discern the truth, but to form and persist in beliefs characteristic of a particular group to which you already belong. One glimpse at social media and it's clear to see that IPC is alive and well! To escape its power, it's important for us to see beyond the black and white, "us and them" mindset, and instead embrace all the colours of truth wherever we may find them.
"Maybe we'll see change, the day we change the way we see."
This clip from the movie God's Not Dead demonstrates the misuse of authority under the banner of being the "expert" present.
Did you notice the chilling line "Why would I want to empower them?" ?
The problem with isms is that they take power from individuals and give it to a system or belief.
"The greatest attribute of the Christian message is the dispersement of authority and the empowerment of others."
The answer to Identity Protective Cognition is Curiosity!
The objectives of curiosity are directly opposed to those of Identity Protective Cognition. One employs a seemingly hardened resistance to exploring evidence that could challenge one's existing views, the other carries an irresistible hunger for the truth beyond.
There is a phenomena known as "What-about-ism" which we've probably all been guilty of when faced with an uncomfortable truth, when we blurt out "Yes, but what about..."
"Is your truth, nothing more than tribal allegiance in disguise?"
Jesus inspired people to embrace curiosity when he said "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened."
It's time to get curious about life, truth and God and embrace new evidence to new things, not being limited by our tribal allegiances and willing to challenge the authority of isms.
"Blessed are the curious, for they shall see things others cannot."
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