Hippo-Critical

Let’s play a little game, shall we? I’ll ask a question, and then you see if you can guess the answer before I tell you. This was totally ripped off from one of my students, in a class that I repeatedly lecture to about plagiarism. Not him, he’s good, but still, I find I’m being slightly hypocritical. OKAY! back to the game, here goes:

How do you put a giraffe in a refrigerator?

Not that way, you overly violent people, what did that poor giraffe ever do to you? You open the door, put the giraffe in, and then close the door. Voila, giraffe en refrigerateur! Do you tend to overcomplicate things, too? Are you, by chance, also an Aggie, like me?

How do you put an elephant in the refrigerator?

I don’t know how you can possibly hope to accomplish that, seeing as how you must first take out the giraffe you put in there earlier. Do you understand the consequences of your actions? Do your previous actions influence your decisions?

The Lion King is hosting an Animal Conference. All the animals attend, except for one. Who’s missing?

How quickly do you learn from your mistakes? The elephant can’t come, you just put him in the refrigerator. I hope you’re getting these correct, really!

Finally, I have to give you a scenario. You have come to a river, but you have no boat and you can’t go around it. Unfortunately, dangerous hippos also use this river. What do you do?

Take a step of faith and go ahead and swim across, all the animals, sans elephant, are at the Lion King’s Animal Conference, so, you should have no fear. How’s your memory for important facts?

This lesson by my student was about critical thinking. I think we, on the whole, lack that. As part of my thesis work, I read Mark Knoll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. The scandal, says Knoll, is that the Evangelical mind is somewhat lazy. We quote II Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved…” but then we don’t study, I Peter 3:15 says we should be prepared to offer a logical defense for the hope that we hold. Do you have one? Too often, we resort to retorts when questioned about our faith, “Because God said so!” or “You wouldn’t understand, you’re not a Christian.” Colossians tells us to walk in wisdom, that our speech should always be filled with grace, seasoned with salt. Too much high-flown rhetoric and we’re not talking to people about Christ, we’re talking DOWN to people about Christ.

I find it difficult not to be hypocritical on this matter. I struggle here. I want to study, I want to reason, I want to be full of wisdom, but I have to remember that Jesus didn’t just tell us we were the light of the world, but that we are also the salt of the earth. I can talk about critically evaluating the faith, so that we emerge stronger, but are there areas that I would rather not question? I still fear, sometimes, that God will tire of my questions and concerns and strike me down. I can say, as Paul did to the Ephesians, that we can be bold in Christ.

Will I be more likely to be emboldened? Will I learn from my mistakes? Will I take a step of faith and have no fear, or, will I be like the person on the river bank, knowing the hippos are gone but afraid to swim across anyway? Will I tell you one thing, to keep from doing it myself? Will I be hippo-critical?

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