Some psychology courses are helpful. There are people in that field who, like James Dobson, for instance, strive to figure out why people do what they do, and ,strive to discover ways to help those who, for one reason or another, can’t seem to cope with life and its challenges. All psychology courses don’t fall into that category. Some of them are on the other side of that continuum and exalt idiocy to the level of an art form. Rather than contributing to the reduction and elimination of mental illness, they present living illustrations of ways to reinforce and replicate it. The latest example being one that was mentioned on a news report on Tuesday morning in which the professor had allegedly notified the class that in order to pass his class, they had to show up and take the exam naked.
I was never subjected to anything approaching that kind of unvarnished voyeurism, moral degradation, and academic abuse, but I found myself wandering through the mental wasteland of more than one course that felt more like a struggle to extricate myself from a pool of quicksand than an exercise in higher education. One of them in particular comes to mind.
I and the cohort of clueless unfortunates who signed up for the course were placed under the tutelage of an unusual man who was described as a ‘down-to-earth’ sort of fellow. He must have been, because he allowed us to call him by his first name which was … ‘Doctor’. I don’t recall at this moment what his last name was, perhaps because I made several promises to God that I would endeavor to forget everything I was exposed to in there. I’m not sure if he ever held a job in the real world where you have to actually produce something, but he was revered for being so ‘cutting edge’. Whatever that meant, I was never sure, beyond the possibility that it might have been because he wore sandals a lot.
In any case, he repetitiously challenged us to abandon the boundaries of our burdensome traditions, to engage in free thinking, and to practice free expression. We were admonished to throw off our shackles, to break free of our binding constraints and unleash our creativity. ‘Normal’, he passionately declared, was an archaic and inhibiting concept that would only hold us back from achieving the full expression of our ‘true selves’. Words like ‘should,’ ‘must,’ and ‘ought to’, he claimed, were invalid vestiges of our long history of psychological slavery to things like religion and traditional family and social roles. Though he denied that words like ‘wicked’ really had any meaning, he lamented on one occasion that there was no operational definition for the term. He wished that wickedness could exist long enough for him to declare that those ‘should’, ‘must’, and ‘ought-to’ words qualified as examples. Those awful commands amounted, in his mind, to no more than verbal bars on the doors of our behavioral prisons.
It was understandable to me why he so despised the concept of normal, since it was apparent that he had left any connection with it a long time ago and wasn’t likely ever to make the journey back. The more he talked about breaking free, the more I thought that locking him up somewhere sounded like a really good idea. Either way, I tried to sit in the back of the room, and not to breathe much during class, lest whatever it was that had infected him might have gone airborne.
Reflecting on the push by so many in our culture to cast off the limits of spiritual, legal, and traditional restraint, I suddenly found it intriguing that God measures things. Have you noticed that? It’s ingrained in His nature. He measures all kinds of things, and even tells us that He measures things that are quite beyond our capacity to imagine, much less measure. Consider this unusual example with Ezekiel:
“In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city. He took me there, and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze. He had a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand, and he stood in the gateway. And the man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see” (Ezekiel 40:2-4 NKJV).
This angelic messenger proceeded to go about measuring all kinds of particular components of the temple and the city. Fascinating, isn’t it? He got down to the basics of measurement with Noah regarding the ark, and with Moses regarding the Tabernacle, and with Solomon regarding the Temple. Why didn’t God just tell those guys to cast off the shackles of construction standards, get into their ‘free-thinking’ mode, and go build some stuff that He wanted?
I was building a deck once, and had a 16 foot plank on a saw horse ready to cut. I needed the board to be, as I recall, 11 1/2 feet long. I had my saw and was ready to cut, but I had a problem. I wasn’t confused about the design. After all, I had designed it myself. I didn’t have a problem understanding how our English system of measurement worked, either. The problem was that I had left my ruler back at the truck. Knowing about feet and inches, and how I wanted the deck to look wasn’t enough to tell me where to cut the board. I was free to cut it anywhere I felt like cutting it, but I couldn’t build anything that way.
God measures things for a reason. He intends to actually build what He designs. Some of the idiocy that free thinking produces may sound like fun, but the first thing most of those guys want to do is declare that rulers are archaic, maybe even ‘wicked’, and they throw them out. I know this . . .You can design all day without a device to measure the material. You just can’t build it. Let’s not try to build a life, while leaving our rulers in the truck.
© 2015 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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