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Let Freedom Ring: People, Pundits & Puppetry

Over the last few years I’ve learned a reality: people ignore facts and when it comes to reasoning, identity trumps truth.

In one of the arguments in “The Enigma of Reason,” a book by cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber. According to their theory of reasoning, reason’s primary strengths are justifying beliefs we already believe in and making arguments to convince others.

This line of reasoning makes us fall prey to a number of cognitive biases, like confirmation bias or the tendency to search for information that confirms what we already believe about people, ideas and more. This has become a trend in churches that embody an “overarching emphasis and elevation“ of a particular leader or group of leaders.

Just like political parties distort our thinking, man-centered religious thinking distorts our thinking—of how we view someone else’s thoughts, beliefs and ideas above our own, especially when not rooted in truth.

People who struggle with identity naturally elevate another’s identity or life function, even above their own-to the point of disparity in their view or estimation of people in general and leaders in specific.

Social cohesion and loyalty aligning become part of identity rather than truth-seeking, truth-saying and truth-supporting.

The aforementioned thinking approach shapes our perceptions and even impacts social interactions Life becomes centered around a group or leader "identity-based" and not "intimacy-based" in Christ. People then emphasize identity consistent beliefs, instead of accurate beliefs. These types of behaviors fulfill a fundamental need for acceptance and validation from others, instead of living authentically. Ergo, the need for belonging and validation supersedes truth.

When confronted with facts we disagree with, we often do not change our perceptions. However, research suggests that correcting misperceptions isn’t enough to change behavior. In other words, while you can get people to understand the facts, the facts don’t always matter.

Demanding facts or holding people accountable can make people less likely to engage in perpetual personality motivated reasoning. However in some religious circles, loyalty to a central figure rules the need to hold the “elevated” leadership accountable to how they are viewed from parishioners, members, congregants, spiritual sons and daughters and more.

I’ll take a quote from the life book of my late mother, Vera L. Brown: “Son, we all have a shine given by God. Don’t let anyone diminish your shine. Because once they believe they can, they will continue to turn off your lights habitually and blow out your candle regularly

That’s human nature.”

In essence,

  • Do not dumb yourself down to make another feel smart

  • Do not elevate another to satisfy their unchecked ego and debase your significance in the process

  • Do not make others self-aggrandizing and entitled behavior decrease who you are or cause you to give attention and energy to that dysfunction

  • Do not have a religious Stockholm syndrome where you become co-dependently addicted to showing loyalty to an idolatrous abusive system

This type of behavior is real. It silences people. (Unfortunately, grown people. People with careers, mortgages, and families.) The ones who ALLOW others to be superior to them.

It is hard to break that behavior because it is a learned habit and a committed deep rooted value that we must esteem certain people while our own convictions and feelings don't matter. Ultimately, we allow people to make us into being puppets and people like and hate it at the same time and think it's safe to be a puppet.

Perhaps people are thinking, “Oh what the heck you're in control anyway. I’ll just dumb down myself since you are the master puppet.”

Puppeteers are doing exactly what their role requires of them, pull strings, do voice overs and produce a show.

Get out of the show.

Cut the strings.

Realize that you are created in the image and after the likeness of God

Every is created imago dei.

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