Ted and Oprah.Posted: January 29, 2009
Because of the rain in KY, they sent everyone in the office home early yesterday. When i got home i started making dinner and turned the tv on and there was Ted Haggard on Oprah. This paragraph alone has enough material for a week of posts.Something interesting kept coming thru in the interview. Ted would make a personal statement- often confession- and then “back out” and give a pastor’s perspective on the situation. He would paint a mental picture of himself, then comment on it as a bystander. This seemed like pretty standard pastoral practice and normally i would have only noted it from a professional standpoint and moved on. But something made me sit up and take more interest in it.
Zoom way out to discussion of Modernism. We’ll come back to Ted shortly.
One of the good things the modern/industrial age brought us was good maps. (Did Spain get this memo?) Maps of known places and maps of the new world. Empirical maps are a great contribution to history. And personally, i can stare at a map for hours. But the brilliance of this map-making was that they finally took the map-maker out of the picture. The realisation that the map-maker’s perspective skews the map changed map-making.
“You take the good, you take the bad and what do you have…?”
Well, mapping leaked into every imaginable discipline and suddenly everything was empirically mapped. Philosophy. Psychology. Music. There’s nothing wrong with a good map of a discipline- in fact they’re essential. But modernism forgot a key ingredient in these other maps. Namely, the map-maker.
In a very practical sense, you can’t properly map a field while standing in it. You can accurately map the field in relation to where you’re standing, but you cannot empirically map it for the simple fact that you are standing in the middle of it. And these other disciplines forgot to plug themselves into the equation- or chose not to, believing they could “back out” and see things from a larger perspective. But thats not a belief based in reality.
Kind of like Ted. He admits to lying, then backs out to say, “That illustrates the dilemma the liar is in.” He didn’t do it in an annoying preachy or purposefully deceitful way- just in a way that he’s always done it and that isn’t really very helpful or, ultimately; truthful. He attempts the empirical map while still in the midst of the field.
Did that make sense? I don’t have a problem with Ted talking about his situation from his perspective- the problem is when he tries to view it from above; as if he’s parachuting into a field/situation he didn’t help create.
I’ve heard preachers and teachers use this “back out” technique for years and always wondered why it didn’t seem very effective. I guess that’s why. Relativity has very practical limitations, but you still have to honor and pay attention to it.