From the Pastor
I was walking with Marianne last Sunday night along Safety Beach at sunset. Further around the bay, at about Rye, there was a strange orange glow above the coastline. Neither of us could look away, was it fire? Was it a festival on the foreshore? At times like that you are aware of your brain going into overdrive trying to make sense of what you see. You can’t look away until your brain is comfortable that it understands what it observes.
Then, all of a sudden, Marianne knew what it was: an odd gap in the clouds on the horizon. Suddenly we both felt our inquisitive minds relax and we could gaze elsewhere. Whenever my eyes passed the orange glow again they just moved on.
Except here is the thing: the next time I saw the glow, my brain was still working, it just made a very quick decision – I know what that is – and it moved on. What if my perception was wrong? It doesn’t matter. Once your brain has decided that it understands what it sees it takes shortcuts. It notices the things that reinforce the existing conclusion. A mode called ‘fast’ thinking kicks in, and displaces ‘slow’ thinking.
Jesus encounters people who make assumptions about what they see. “Who sinned … that this man was born blind?” (John 9) or ‘a wall fell on 18 people, they must have been worse sinners’ (Mark 13). In both instances people imbibed the assumptions of their day, and jumped to conclusions – false conclusions.
Most of us see things a certain way and are convinced we see them correctly. When we look again we are even more convinced. Someone disagreeing with you might be a God moment, inviting you to take a slow, second look.