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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reflexive or Reflective

What favorite saying of your mother's can you still recite? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 928).

The phrase that mother used that I best recall is “As far as I know.” For example, if asked the state of her health she would say “I'm in good health, so far as I know.” I have come to use this phrase myself and apply it very broadly. For example if asked, “How are things going?” I will typically reply “Going well, so far as I know.”

It seems to me this is a very important qualifier. It ranks right up there with the qualifier I use when my wife adds to my honey-do list. I will say boldly “Yes, dear I certainly will do that” then in circumscribed tones add “eventually.” I can hardly think of an assertion to which “as far as I know” does not apply. For example, if asked “Is this true?”-- if asked is this “what is so regardless of what we may say about it?” The most appropriate response can only be—It is certainly far as I know. I suppose only God can legitimately assert any condition of the past, present, or future without using this phrase.

To put it personally, I say that I write this blog to be helpful. To what extent is this true? To what extent are my motives mixed and clouded? I can only respond that my intent is to be far as I know. To assert more is at base dishonest. In other words, even my deepest conviction—that the disciplines of love bring abundant life—in the last analysis is based on faith—in other words is true (so help me God) far as I know.

Are there any areas in which this qualifier is a tad too fastidious? I suppose this morning if I spilled a pot of boiling water on me, it would be a little ridiculous to add the phrase—so far as I know—to the assertion that “I'm in pain.” Likewise, when we come upon a starving person it is a little fastidious to hem and haw about not wanting to assist because we do no want to (by providing food) spoil them. Some realities are too stark and compelling for any mental qualifiers or for rationales of hesitation or delay. In other words, some responses are and should be reflexive while others are and should be reflective. Learning to respond appropriately is one of humanities great responsibilities.

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