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Thursday, September 10

Today’s Readings: Proverbs 15:1-17; Hebrews 11:17-22; Psalm 19

If you want to engage in an interesting exercise, ask a few people around you to name someone who is close-minded. I’ve done the exercise a few times, and I’ve discovered something interesting. People will almost always name people who are significantly different than they are. If the person is a Republican, for instance, then they’ll name a Democrat. Or if the person is a progressive person of faith, then they’ll name a member of the Religious Right. Rarely – if ever – do people think of someone as being close-minded if the person shares their opinions or values. I learned this the hard way. You see for many years I had thought of myself as being an extremely open-minded person. Then I read an article about someone that showed me how closed minded I really was. The article was about a political strategist from the 1980’s named Lee Atwater. For years, Lee Atwater represented for me everything that was wrong with American politics. He was a campaign operative who perfected the craft of doing whatever it took for his candidates to win. During his career Mr. Atwater spread lies, rumors, and innuendos that destroyed dozens of politicians: all for the sake of winning a few elections. As a result, I thought the man was despicable. Then a couple of years ago I stumbled upon an article in an old edition of Life Magazine where Atwater was quoted as saying: “It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don't know who will lead us through the '90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.” For months after I read the article, I refused to change my opinion about the man. Eventually, however, I came to realize that I was being extremely closed minded. I refused to create room for the possibility that transformation can occur in the life of anyone (a belief that is foundational in my life). In other words, I was being a hypocrite. I was reminded of that experience as I read today’s passage from Proverbs. In that passage, the author pointed out: “An intelligent person is always eager to take in more truth…” (Proverbs 15:14 from The Message). This means an intelligent person doesn’t just take in truths that he or she agrees with; an intelligent person is one who seeks to remain open to the fullness of truth - even if it means changing one’s opinion. Today I invite you to explore the inner recesses of your own heart and ask yourself: “How open-minded am I? Do I spend my time and energy seeking out those truths with which I already agree; or do I open myself to new truths – even ones that might change me?” Til next time…

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