I recently got a book from the library that an acquaintance recommended. She didn’t recommend it for the parenting advice, but more for the thoughts on having children, birth control, marriage, etc. I was really enjoying the book until I came upon the section on training a child. The book’s author advised not to listen to any of the parenting experts & didn’t offer much counsel of her own, but she did share a couple of readers’ stories which promptly made me lose my interest in the book due to some of their “training methods”. When I asked my acquaintance about it, she said she didn’t really listen to the parenting advice, but simply absorbed wisdom from the other topics of interest in this author’s books.
I have only recently realized how literal I am. I am very, very literal. And I really struggle with reading a book and accepting any of its advice when I strongly disagree with certain aspects of it.
This hit home again recently when one of the blogs I read referenced a teaching by someone I know vaguely, but have heard a lot about from people who do know him. I know this person is not a person of integrity, and therefore, I couldn’t really absorb the teaching. This same issue has come up before in ministry circles. I’m not able to quote authors in my talks or articles who I know disagree with the fundamental premise of why I do the type of ministry that I do. Others can easily quote those whom they may disagree with on certain topics, even if those topics are the core of their ministry, because they simply figure they will not agree with everyone on everything.
To my other literal readers – are you like this? Or are you able to take what you like & leave the rest, as the 12 steps would say? To my less literal readers – are you able to sort of separate the things you agree & disagree with? One of my campus ministry leaders I know always said not to dismiss truth simply because of its source. Generally, I think that’s good advice, but sometimes, I have a really hard time separating any “truth” I might be able to absorb from its source if that source has foundations I strongly disagree with.