Miniblog #144: I Hate Faux Thinking
Have you ever been listening to a preacher who said something painfully obvious and the people around you responded as though it was some sort of profound insight or hard-fought wisdom? I’m not talking about a creative, fresh re-articulation of something known well or an unusual angle on a mundane fact. Nothing like that. What I’m talking about is when the pastor says something that has arguably attained cliché status11.Something like, “A church is the community of people, not the building where we meet.” and men around you quietly grunt an approval with a subtle nod while women close their eyes, make that spiritually approving “Mmmmm” noise, and then whisper something like, “So true.” Meanwhile, I’m sitting there flummoxed, looking around and honestly wondering what it was they’d just heard that was so inspiring.22.This has been happening to me since I was a kid. I remember one occasion in which the pastor paused and then slowly, for rhetorical effect, said, “Jesus… JESUS!… loves all the little children of the world. Can you imagine that?” All the men and women did those culturally conditioned church noises, and I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Uhhhh. Yeah. That’s not too hard to imagine. What’s the big deal?’ This sort of thing happens all the time in church, of course, but in one form or another it exists in most all areas of society–politics, film, business, education, sports, etc. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what was going on. As I said, I was flummoxed. But a couple months ago my wife nailed it. It was like this giant piece of the puzzle snapped into place. Suddenly the world made sense. What did she say? “You hate faux thinking.” I asked for clarificatin. “Fake. Imitation. Appears to be the real thing, like faux wood flooring.” I asked her go to on. “It’s when people are so unaccustomed to actually thinking they mistake the imitation for the real thing. The quality isn’t there but they don’t know it. It only appears to be real, meaningful thought.” Bingo. Faux thinking is when self-evident realities, half-truths, or even mindless drivel is passed off as genuine thoughtfulness if not borderline brilliance.33.As my wife suggested, it usually results from a kind of long-term cognitive atrophy. This train of thought immediately leads to a big problem, though. Don Marquis perhaps summarized it best when he observed, “If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; But if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.” To channel my inner-Strong Bad, crap for crap. I’m in for a lifetime of trouble.