Teachability & Superstition

Probably not blogging journaling much for a while. Big writing assignment ahead. Will still be reading my favorite bloggers here and there.

Mortimer Adler gets the last word on microclesia.com – for a while. On “teachability”

Teachability is often confused with subservience. A person is wrongly thought to be teachable if he is passive and pliable. On the contrary, teachability is an extremely active virtue. No one is really teachable who does not freely exercise his power of independent judgment. She can be trained, perhaps, but not taught. The most teachable reader is, therefore, the most critical. He is the reader who finally responds to a book by the greatest effort to make up his own mind on the matters the author has discussed.

Religious community often defines its success on conformity. Sacred texts sometimes echo this ideal to be of “one accord.” But for any community to be of “one mind” (one healthy mind) it’s essential that each individual fully engages the mind they were given ” continually wresting with paradox, forming better questions, and dreaming bigger dreams. Creative, independent thinkers assure that community bonds remain healthy and strong.

Adler, who embraced Christian faith later in life, further echoes my own perceptions on religion and superstition.

The prevalence and predominance of science in our culture has cured a great many of the superstitious beliefs that constituted their false religiosity. The increase of secularism and irreligion in our society does not reflect a decrease in the number of persons who are truly religious, but a decrease in the number of those who are falsely religious; that is, merely superstitious. There is no question but that science is the cure for superstition, and, if given half the chance with education, it will reduce the amount that exists. The truths of religion must [ultimately] be compatible with the truths of science and the truths of philosophy. As scientific knowledge advances, and as philosophical analysis improves, religion is progressively purified of the superstitions that accidentally attach themselves to it as parasites. That being so, it is easier in fact to be more truly religious today than ever before, precisely because of the advances that have been made in science and philosophy. That is to say, it is easier for those who will make the effort to think clearly in and about religion, not for those whose addiction to religion is nothing more than a slavish adherence to inherited superstition. Throughout the whole of the past, only a small number of men were ever truly religious. The vast majority who gave their epochs and their societies the appearance of being religious were primarily and essentially superstitious.

— Mortimer Adler

2 thoughts on “Teachability & Superstition

  1. Hi John,

    You’re wiser than I. Not wanting to choose between a big writing project and blogging, I tried to use blogging as a way to do both. But that doesn’t work, at least when trying to find the right voice and approach to the work. I’m going to post a message pretty much like yours here, but only after having learned the hard way.

    Thanks for the great M. Adler perspective.

  2. Tracy, I’m venturing into something that’s too elaborate for a blog. I’ll write more about it in weeks or perhaps months down the road. Thanks.

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