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Monday, July 21, 2008

The Limits of Reason

...the Reaches of Grace.

Last week I wrote about balancing emotion and reason in how we think about and respond to things, especially those issues close to our hearts like homeschooling and religious views. And thinking about the hyper-emotional people we have encountered, it's not too hard to see the problems with leaning too far toward pure emotion.

But what about reason? What are the limits of reason? Why would it be problematic to just be purely reasonable all the time? What could possibly be wrong with that?

That's what's been gnawing on the base of my cerebral cortex for a few days. Thinking about it keeps bringing me back to a conversation I had with a couple people in college. They were in the honors program at my University, and they had been reading Plato (or something) and had been in discussion about logic and reason. "What," one of the girls put to the small group of us, "limits reason?"

I ventured to suggest that Reason itself is not limited. The problem is that we are. Thus, the problem is not Reason, but our use of it. We may be completely reasonable, but without the right knowledge we may come to the wrong conclusion. I know I have.

Thinking back on that now: The same is probably true of Emotion. Emotion is not wrong, but we may respond to it inappropriately.

But where does that leave us? If we can not perfectly utilize the tools available to us, what hope is there?

And that points me back to the beauty of Grace. I have read some amazing stories from moms who know all too well their limitations and short-comings. But what makes their tales so incredible, is the grace they are bathed in. Our foibles wouldn't be nearly as funny or tear-of-joy inducing if it wasn't for the incredible reach of Grace.

May you find yourself wrapped in grace today.

~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

P.S. After much valiant struggle, I believe I have overcome the windmills of iTunes: The Sonlight Podcasts are available (and subscribe-able!) in iTunes. Click on the following link to be taken to the Sonlight Podcasts in iTunes.

[NB: This is different from the other podcast I initially linked to in iTunes, and I am working with iTunes to get the "dead" podcast off the list. Thanks for bearing with me.]


Myron said...

Hey. I'm not religious in the traditonal sense, but it seems to me that humility improves reason, so I'm all for that particular Christian principle. Answers are comforting. We naturally like to think we know what we're doing. When someone offers us an answer to a question that's been nagging at us, we want it to be right, and so we don't look at it as carefully as we might if we wanted it to be wrong. I think this is a big problem with people who claim to subscribe totally to reason - they're fooling themselves. We're human beings, we can't be perfectly rational. We always have an agenda, a thing that feels emotionally right to us whenever we're looking at a question. We would be a lot better off if we spent more time considering where our emotions come from, and what they mean, and even just recognizing they're there. Once you do that, you're able to reason more clearly. And also, back to humility, the impulse not to be uncertain, to say you know the answer, leads to a lot of problems. So remembering it's OK to say "I don't know the answer to that" or "I'm not sure, what do you think?" seems to me to often be helpful. Someone who is willing to live with honest uncertainty is much more impressive to me than someone who thinks they have all the answers. Also rarer, unfortunately.

That's what I think, hope it helps.

Luke Holzmann said...


It is unfortunate that humility and honesty is so rare... and I find it in myself far too frequently. That is a "growth area" for me <smile>

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!



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Luke Holzmann
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