Saturday, June 13, 2015

How I Think about Changes of Mind

The other day a friend was telling me about the 20-60-20 rule. Their point was that 20 percent of your 'people' will be on board with your program big time, 20 dead-set against it, and 60 can be swayed either way. Now, those numbers are not laws of physics. They are meant to make a point. The point my friend was making was how to minimize the influence of the 'contra' 20 on the 60, and to maximize the influence of the on board 20. Yes, it's a little cynical. Business people and politicians dwell in the realm of the cynical. I am a theologian and I don't have to.

When you talk about swaying opinions I ask 'why.'

What do you mean why? Isn't the why obvious? If you get those 60 on board then you have an 80% majority. That's way more power and influence than anyone would ever need.

And yet, I am not in the policy business. I am in the salvation business. I don't care about your school, your political party, your polls. I care about helping people receive the salvation offered in Christ.

When that 60 goes from overwhelmingly supporting traditional marriage in 1990 to overwhelmingly supporting same-sex 'marriage' in 2010, I lose my confidence in people. So, what is to stop this 60 from switching back? Nothing. Contrary to what 'progressives' would have you believe, there is no progress, there is no evolution in thinking.

Plato, of course, recognized this with his allegory of the cave. Cliff Notes version: people live in the dark and can't comprehend the light, and never will, and will never want to.

Aquinas was a little more diplomatic and democratic when he writes that many people just don't have the time and the talent to contemplate the big things in life - that is why they need divine revelation.

But if Plato is right, isn't Aquinas wrong?

If people are too intrinsically stupid to appreciate and yearn for truth, divine revelation won't cure that.

All of this leads me to the question I really want to ask: what is the point when it comes to evangelization?

The 60 (perhaps the 80, perhaps the 90 or 99) just aren't capable of being transformed by truth.

Most philosophers, and not just Plato, tended to agree with this. And I would say that, as Christians, we don't have to make it all a matter of intellect. In fact, it's not. Politicians are definitely above average IQ, but they are the most self-deceived of all. And then you come to the saints, many of whom were not all that intelligent, but had a firm grasp on what's most important in life. I am reading St. Faustina's Diaries right now and I get the impression that she wasn't the most intelligent person in the world, but it's harder to think of a wiser person. A wisdom is exactly what I am getting at here. Aquinas defined wisdom as someone who has the big things at heart (he called them the Primary Causes, or something like that). That was St. Faustina, and Plato, and Socrates, for that matter. It's not knowing; it's appreciating and seeking after and not being mislead by counterfeits.

Going back to the gay thing. Only a fool can be persuaded that homosexuality is natural and good. There is just so much to say about this, but when you are talking to fools, why bother? Answer the insolent with silence, someone once told me. I like that.

Why bother? Why bother? That's the question with which I am dealing.

Well, there is no handy-dandy 20-60-20 scheme for conversion. But you know what doesn't affect it? The media. What does? Real life. Often, set-backs and crises. Media moguls and rich people don't have anything to do with this. They can't make the existential crises that tend to open one up to what God is trying to say. Changing minds on the global scale as in the homosexual agenda's manipulations of the 60 over the last 20 years (which had made TV watchers think that something like 20% of people are gay - the "real" number is closer to 2% according to the CDC. I put "real" is scare-quotes here, because real has long left the building, my friends.)

In other words, if Church suddenly becomes 'popular', is that cause for rejoicing? I don't know. I doubt it. But where does that leave someone like me, someone devoted to turning people to Christ? It leaves me with a clearer idea of what conversion is: not going to church, but knowing Jesus, not in accepting the right political positions in elections and polls, but in accepting Christ into one's heart because of the emptiness that one has realized is there otherwise.

Elections and trends come and go. Stupidity remains. Conversion is rare and wonderful. I don't care about numbers. Everyone knows that.

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