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"A Man May Fool Himself"

Have you ever thought, "I am wrong"? Consider this for a moment. Whatever you think, you think it because you believe that it is right. If we believe something to be wrong, we deny it or in some way resist it (whether we are correct or not). So then, even when we discover that we have made a mistake, we usually change our perspective immediately. Thus, we realize we "were" wrong and then change to what we think is right. I know this sounds overly simplistic but it is important.


Therefore, consider for a moment what is going on when a person is incorrect about something. Their mental process is saying to them "I am correct", and it is not likely saying, "I might be wrong". While in that state we seek support for our position (sometimes we even seek support that is ridiculous merely because we are grasping at straws).


The danger comes in when we refuse to accept the idea that we even could be in error. In my 26 years in ministry (10 as a Catholic priest, and 16 as a protestant something-or-other), I have met numerous people who refused to entertain the idea that they could possibly be incorrect about something. I feel for them because that level of pride is what destroys souls (theirs and others around them).


George MacDonald was often referred to by C.S. Lewis as "my teacher" (even though MacDonald died when Lewis was barely 7 years old). His theology is terribly problematic (skip it), but his fiction books are quite amazing (I was told he mentored Lewis Carroll). He wrote some simple fiction as well a few fantasy books (he is considered by many to be a pioneer in the realm of contemporary fantasy).


It is not the stories themselves that I want to point to today. It is rather the way that he said things. P.G. Wodehouse had a way of doing this with comedy; MacDonald has a way of doing it with spiritual matters.


In his short story "The Butcher's Bills" there is a point where MacDonald points out what I was speaking of above. He describes for us the process of how someone stands fast in error. Read this, and ponder it; more than once. And, honestly ask yourself if you might have done this same thing.


"No man ever yet entertained an unhappy suspicion, but straightway an army of proofs positive came crowding to the service of the lie. It is astounding with what manifest probability everything will fall in to prove that a fact which has no foundation whatever! There is no end to the perfection with which a man may fool himself while taking absolute precautions against being fooled by others. Every fact, being a living fact, has endless sides and relations; but of all these the man whose being hangs upon one thought, will see only those sides and relations which fall in with that thought."
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