My Father thought me a basic principle when buying a car that I have learned to apply to all aspects of my life; that when you see commercial after commercial from other auto manufacturers comparing themselves to, or stating how they are better than another vehicle (which was at that time a Honda), that you should probably check out the Honda.
It is a pretty simple rule-of-thumb to follow. If this is the standard, or the thing by which everyone is trying to state that they are better than, it would be good to check out the thing itself and see what all the fuss is about; and in most cases the object by which all other are trying to compare themselves to as better is better in itself than these other objects.
In theology or philosophy we take many classes in which we get brief statements of other thoughts and ideas that are instantly discredited before moving on to another subject. Most of my counterparts seem to be quite content in simply being told how the Ford that they are driving is better than a Honda, but I for one prefer to take as many things out for a test-drive as I can. Although I must admit that at certain times this process gets a bit muddled, or confusing, due to the fact that after a while all these things seem to perform very similar functions more than they have their difference.
I suppose that a main difference is that I consider myself to be searching for truth instead of simply studying to reassure myself that my particular religion, thought, or belief system is the correct one. I am not trying to gain knowledge to validate or expand on my knowledge of a certain God, but I am simply looking for truth — no matter where that takes me. This allows my studies to be very fluid, or organic and nature, and I am not encumbered by a tendency to have to ignore, be offended by, or stumble over things that do not line up with my belief system that I come across in my studies. There is no knowledge or truth that causes my faith to stumble, since I seek truth itself; therefore my faith can adapt without losing itself.
I recently had a class that briefly covered Sigmund Freud. We read a simple book by a religious author discrediting Freud, and focusing mainly at poking holes in Freud’s The Future of an Illusion. This book was specifically targeted because of comparisons between religion and neurosis, as well as statements comparing strict religious upbringings to certain forms of mental or emotional abuse — resulting in fear, guilt, shame, and other feelings of inadequacies.
This author is younger, less educated, less accredited, less accomplished, and less recognized than the man’s whose very large body work he is attacking; therefore in keeping with the wisdom given to me by my dad when I was a child looking for my first car — I am going to have to check out the Honda. Which in this case would mean that I am going to have to read for myself The Future of an Illusion.
I picked up a copy of it today from my local bookstore, and I will share with you all any insights I get from the book after I have gone over it a bit. One thing that I will point out already is that Freud takes careful time to mention that his definition of Illusion does not mean falsehood or lies, and that just because something is illusion it does not mean that it is necessarily in error, false, or unhealthy.
Anyway, I will post more on this when I have something more to say on the matter. In the mean-time, consider applying the “Honda principle” to your own life and see how it goes. I challenge you to stop just taking someone else’s word on a matter, and try checking out the very things they are comparing to. Instead of reading a book on why Taoism is wrong — read the Tao Te Ching for yourself. Do you fear Muslims? Well go talk to one. Read the works of Søren Kierkegaard for yourself instead of getting your teacher’s notes on existentialism. Even if you come to the same opinion… own it. Own your opinion.
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