Merriam Webster tells us Dogma is: a belief or set of beliefs that is accepted by the members of a group without being questioned or doubted. The definition alone turns me off. It’s not so much for the actual principles but for someone to tell me that I can’t question goes against my very grain. My Archbishop once asked me if I had a problem with authority. Maybe yes? Maybe no? I am not an anarchist. I will play by most rules but my Jesuit upbringing demands that I question just about everything.
This whole dogma thing is related primarily to religion but there are other aspects we will discuss later. Most of you know I believe in God and no matter what your preference I hope you will at least give me the fact there was a guy named Jesus who walked the dirt roads back a couple of thousand years ago. He had a basic message to love one another. He spoke of heaven and possibly hell. He said He was the Way, the Truth and the Life. You do not have to agree. Just follow the bouncing ball.
While here and after He left, there were people writing things down and Peter was elected Chairman of the Board. They had a creed which was rather simplistic and well presented. This was dogma. The centuries passed and the plot thickened. You see there was money and power in this religious and more specifically Christian gig. The boys in red discovered they could keep everyone in line by really emphasizing the fire and brimstone. Nobody could read or write and that was fine with them. Just tell them what you want. And so it continued through the Dark Ages. Dogmatic? You bet.
Not everyone was subservient and God forbid some even started thinking on their own. This was the Renaissance. Guys like Copernicus and Gallileo were labeled whacks or more specifically heretics. Columbus said the world was round not flat. Artists started finding new colors on their palettes and the genie was out of the bottle. Theories were challenged and this wonderful thing called creativity was brought out of its long hibernation.
The hierarchy started to be put under close scrutiny and thank goodness they were. The dogma of the church was being dictated by the few in an incredibly restrictive way. This isn’t a shot at the church per se but the people who ruled it. This affected centuries of civilization and millions of people. It is fascinating to me that people like St Thomas More, St Augustine and Thomas Aquinas to name a few did not stand up out sooner.
Fast forward to the twenty first century. We are now discovering at a voracious clip. Not only are we being creative but the tools to do so are becoming more affordable and accessible. Globalization has made the continents and their inhabitants a click away. We are questioning but even more importantly dreaming dreams we never thought possible.
This is difficult to absorb for a lot of people, especially us old farts. We revel in how things used to be and a lot of us pine for the good old days. We find ourselves going back and either creating or reinstating dogmas of all sorts. Enter politics. Whether you are left or right you feel attacked and vulnerable. Remember it is a set of beliefs that have to be adhered to. One size fits all and nobody steps out of line.
Herein lies the basis of our discontent. On one hand you are saying toe the line and on the other your psyche says how exciting and dynamic the world is. The oracles claim infallibility. They know what conservative or liberal is and there is no room for discussion. You are with us or agin us. Moderates? There is no such thing. And I will tell you it not only restricts any creativity it squashes it flat before it can even bud. That’s unhealthy and naive. I find it beyond belief when one side or the other votes in lockstep in Congress. Are you telling me no man or woman legislator feels a pang of disingenuousness when they vote this way or that?
No, this isn’t one more potshot at DC. I think it is woven into our fabric elsewhere and it will stunt us in the long run. The code or shall I say the dogma of the locker room says you can’t speak up no matter which side you are taking. Cops have a Blue Wall. What about the corporate dogma that says this is the way we are doing it and if you don’t like it there’s the door? Haven’t the Armed Forces gone down this road for decades? Maybe you or I as parents and grandparents fall into the tender trap?
I am not opting for chaos but man is it great just to be able to sit here and let things fly. Jesuit 101 says you question something until you fully understand it and that my friends is the only way you can internalize it. TTG 101 says take off the shackles of tradition. Explore, debate and dream and just realize there are a lot of ways to skin the cat.
You do not have the final answer. You are not God’s gift to whatever world you operate in. Sure you are smart but so are a lot of other people. Mark Twain said we are all perfect just at different things. Rather than going out to the lunatic fringe of your philosophies let’s see where there are common threads. Create(and I stress that word) a new sense of things.
Look at the new corporations of today. They are collaborative and wide open. They let things come pouring out. Sure they might crash and burn but then again like Twitter they might just make it and then some. Dogma should set out basic precepts but don’t ever say they can’t be questioned. There’s always room for discussion. If it feels good to be unyielding and doctrinaire go for it. Me? I would much rather dream in technicolor than set my beliefs in black and white.
Ted The Great
Our educational system is based on testing to see if the student can recite back exactly what the teacher has said. Da Vinci tried to live his life saying there are multiple answers to questions.
Neophobia: extreme or irrational fear or dislike of anything new, novel, or unfamiliar.This is exhibited in children with food pickiness and in the elderly with anything that is out of the ordinary which is the only way they can feel comfortable.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”. Pablo Picasso
“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” — Albert Camus
We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” Kurt Vonnegut
“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom. Without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail.” Albert Einstein
“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.” Cynthia Heimel