This is a blog that I post to several times a week although not necessarily daily. These reflections are triggered by the scripture found in the lectionary used by many Christian denominations. While I am part of the Catholic tradition, these posts are not --or rarely--sectarian. I try to put myself in the space of a of Jesus Christ and listen to words that come to me as I read and pray the scriptures. Each post also includes a photograph. These rarely have any connection to the content of the post but are simply pleasing images that I capture as I make my pilgrimage through life.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Cognitive dissonance is the fountain of learning.

Wetlands in Tinker Park, Henrietta NY

Blessed are all who fear the LORD,and who walk in his ways.
What your hands provide you will enjoy; you will be blessed and prosper:
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your home,Your children like young olive plants around your table.
Just so will the man be blessed who fears the LORD.
May the LORD bless you from Zion; may you see Jerusalem’s prosperity all the days of your life,
and live to see your children’s children.  Peace upon Israel!  Psalm 128
Sometimes the comforting words of scripture come into a profound conflict with our life experience.  Most of the time I, at least, just try not to think about it because it is uncomfortable.  "Cognitive dissonance" is a term used to describe this situation.  "In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values."  (Wikipedia)  It is uncomfortable because something has to give.  Either one belief is accepted and the other rejected or both are changed to eliminate the contradiction.

Psalm 128 is the responsorial psalm in today's liturgy.  It presents a comforting thought:  If I fear the Lord and walk in his ways, I will prosper.  It is a scene of domestic tranquility and peace that is very appealing.  There is, however, another truth.  During the 20th century about 2 billion human beings lost their lives to wars, infectious diseases and famine.  It is reasonable to assume that these victims had nothing to do with these disasters that befell them.  They were victims in the truest sense of the word.  Their faithfulness to their religious traditions could hardly have had anything to do with their fate.

How can one hold both of these realities at the same time?  How can one resolve what appears to be fundamental contradiction?  One thing is certain:  to ignore this and pretend that there is no contradiction does not help very much.  This presents an opportunity of coming to a deeper understanding of my relationship with the Divine One and my role in the world.

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