Mark 10: 46-52
…throwing off his cloak, [Bartimaeus] sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
A Word of Hope
Bartimaeus is so clear about what he needs from Jesus: to regain his sight, to see again. He has lived a lifetime with the impact of his blindness—which in his day could mean poverty, begging, scraping by just to live.
Though most of us have not experienced physical blindness, we are hampered by biases— “prejudices or pre-critical inclinations in favor of or against something.” These patterns of distortion prevent our ability to see what’s really there.
For example, we often think we see so clearly the faults and distortions of those opposing our political beliefs, religious tenets, or ideas about race, gender, and identity. And it is so easy to judge them harshly. THEY are the blind ones, not us. But our own “astigmatisms” distort the truth, their humanity, their sacredness as children of God. Moreover, our self-righteousness is a spiritual liability inhibiting our growth.
The series of podcasts called Learning How to See, from the Center for Action and Contemplation, helps provide a corrective lens to our biases. Led by the exceptional Brian McLaren, Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, and Fr. Richard Rohr, the series presents a comprehensive list of common biases, and, through the leaders’ honest personal narratives and commentary, shows how damaging these misconceptions are in our lives. Moreover, the interactions of the three guides models respectful dialogue at a time when civility has been deeply damaged in our discourse.
McLaren presents the first two biases in the episode one.
1. Confirmation Bias: the human brain welcomes information that confirms what it already thinks and resists information that disturbs or contradicts what it already thinks.
2. Complexity Bias: the human brain prefers a simple lie to a complex truth.
All the facilitators acknowledged how both of these played a part in closing off doors to others at different times in their lives—and if we are honest, we can too.
At a time when schisms between us is abyss-wide in our country, exploring this podcast series can be a transformative experience. Even better, get a companion with whom you can process the work. https://cac.org/podcast/learning-how-to-see/
We might be more reluctant than Bartimaeus to encounter the healing of our vision, but with courage and commitment we can get on the Jerico road and follow Jesus on the way.
We confess that we don’t see well, Jesus. Help us get the log out of our own eye—and live into Epiphany light.
Dr. Pat Saxon