Friday, July 15

Corn-pone Opinions

I like to think that I'm an independent person. I mean, I make my own decisions. I do the things that I choose to do because they make me happy. For example, I am proud of myself when I run two miles each morning, or eat fruit for breakfast instead of leftover chocolate cake and a Dr. Pepper. I run because I want to run! I eat healthy because I want to. I don't need the approval of other people. I do it for me. Right?

As a rule, our self-approval has its source in but one place and not
elsewhere -- the approval of other people.

I don't do,wear, or say things just because it's cool. I watch college football on Saturday
mornings because it's something I enjoy. I post my Instagramed pictures to Facebook because I want to. I tweet about what is #trending because I want to. I wear cardigans and feathers in my hair because I think it looks pretty. Right?

We are creatures of outside influences; as a rule we do not think, we only

Mark Twain strikes a little deeper with these thoughts than with the adventures of Tom and Huck. He wrote an essay called "Corn-pone Opinions," in which he shines a light on the hidden truth behind a person's opinion. "It's not your own!" is the basic message. According to him our opinions are shaped by the opinions of the hand that feeds us. Our likes and dislikes in fashion, manners, and social-networking are shaped by our neighbors, friends, and the MSN Wonderwall. We trick ourselves into thinking that we strongly believe in this or that, simply because our Moms and Dads and Teachers and Preachers and next-door neighbors believe it, too. We adapt our ways to please people. What a dangerous way to live...

It's one thing to live so dangerously, seeking the approval of others in your fashion, eating habits, and free time, but what about when it rolls over into your faith?

Mohammedans are Mohammedans because they are born and reared among the sect, not because they have thought it out and can furnish sound reasons for being Mohammedans; we know why Catholics are Catholics; why Presbyterians are Presbyterians; why Baptists are Baptists; why Mormons are Mormons; why thieves are thieves; ... Self-approval is acquired mainly from the approval of other people. The result is conformity.

This thought scares me. How quickly have I fallen into the norm of craving the approval of my peers in all other aspects of life? How can I possibly discern my beliefs from my parents or teachers or friends on a concept so important as my faith if I cannot even keep straight whose idea it was for me to make my tea with Splenda instead of sugar? How will I keep my sights set where they need to be? How? How can I do that if I by nature only imitate others?

I think I'll imitate my God. That's how I'll do it. I'll surround myself with His teachings, His works. I will desire His approval in what I do and say. I will be His copy-cat, loving like He loves; sharing like He shares; caring like He cares.

And if, in the process, I develop His ways of thinking, being, doing, loving--if I become a sort of miniature version of my God?

Well then, what more could I have gained?

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