When our youngest son was in Junior High (Middle School is what they call it now), he had several writing assignments that we had the opportunity to review. Some were “creative” pieces and others were the run-of-the-mill essays in sociology, history, or other such subjects. What I noticed as we read these pieces, the content was good but the grammar was poor. When I questioned our son about it, he simply said, “The teacher doesn’t care about the grammar.” Come to find out, at a parent-teacher conference, he was correct, the teacher did NOT care about the grammar just the overall content. That whole process seemed not only counter productive to good education, but a pure dumbing down of education. It was like students were not capable of doing both, good grammar and creative thinking.
I suspect dumbing down happens a great deal more than most parents would care to know about. And often, that process leaks out into the business and social environment that we all have a share in. In fact, it might even seem that it is intentional. Tommorrow’s election may prove that point without any argument.
Many environments, business, social, religious, don’t want people who can think for themselves or ask tough questions. They prefer the go-along, get-along variety where everyone simply does as they are instructed or believes what they are told. In some respects, even the participants in these types of situations prefer the scripted variety of life rather than the challenge of thinking for themselves. However, it has been my experience that when you open people up to challenge, push them beyond their proverbial comfort zone, they respond rather nicely. They may never again be the always congenial, “Oh whatever you say” type of person, but they often become more productive.
One area of dumbing down that distresses me a great deal is the church. Not all churches mind you, because some are open to the challenge of developing their people in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (aka Discipleship). However, many are not. They prefer to keep people “ignorant” because that causes less problems and prevents road blocks to the leaderships chosen agenda. However, what is even more disturbing is the dumbing down of key concepts of the Christian faith. We often take principles such as justification, forgiveness, and holiness and dumb them down to the lowest level in hopes that people will at least conform to that. We take the idea of forgiveness and spread it around like so much peanut butter applying it to wrong doings of all sorts, even taking the last piece of chicken at the church buffet. We take holiness and somehow morph it into good manners or a following of the rules.
My wife and I have attended churches where it is painfully obvious that control is the order of the day. Keep the people “ignorant” and things will keep moving forward without a hitch. We have also attended churches where the Sunday Schoolhour was a discussion of the morning sermon. A great idea, but rather limited in effectiveness when the pastor is attending the group. That’s a bit like giving a seminar group an evaluation sheet on the presenter and the presenter going through each question asking, “What did you put down for that?” We have also been in churches where it was obvious that the leadership was not intimidated by knowledge and free thinking among its parishioners.
In almost every congregation there are business leaders, manager’s of people, educators, and home school moms, yet It has always struck me as odd that pastors and Sunday School teachers feel like giving them something more than the “milk of the Word” is not appropriate. However, it has been my experience that these people and others are very open to the challenge. They not only want to know the HIM of the greatest story ever told, they want to know the story – the story beyond the “roman road.”
Grammar does matter. (Please don’t check mine in this piece!) Creative writing, creative thinking matters. They both matter together. Leading people to the next level matters. Solid food matters. Good discussion and debate matters. It all matters. It matters not just to me, not just to you, it matters to God. Israel may have thought the go-along, get-along process was good, but God knew it was not. They could sacrifice bulls til the cows came home, but unless they loved God with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their mind it did not matter! (Deut. 4)
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 ESV)