Walls and Rules: A Pedant Repenting — or at least Reconsidering

A Wall seen While Walking

Good Morning, God!

Jogging around our daughter Sandy’s neighborhood,I wondered about this wall — why did it get higher so abruptly — what was behind it? As it turned out, nothing was behind it. Strange. Then, just a few hours later, I came across this quote by George Polya, mathematician (1887-1985):

Pedantry and mastery are opposite attitudes toward rules. To apply a rule to the letter, rigidly, unquestioningly, in cases where it fits and in cases where it does not fit, is pedantry … To apply a rule with natural ease, with judgment, noticing the cases where it fits, and without ever letting the words of the rule obscure the purpose of the action or the opportunities of the situation, is mastery.

Suddenly, Rules and Walls seemed so related, God! And this photo seemed to express the difference so graphically. To a Master, the wall is low. To the Pedant the wall is high.

I am remembering how my freshman roommates awarded me a Scarlet P for Pedantry. Worse, even than living Behind Walls — pedants seem to feel everyone else should be dragged behind assorted walls. Sigh. It isn’t easy being a Pedant. Oddly enough, people resist being confronted with “rules.” I suppose, God, that You have noticed that.

Remembering the Pharisees, God, I can now re-envision them as Pedants. They clearly meant well. But, for them, the Rules became the foreground and the Purposes faded into the background. That happens.

It takes a Master, like Jesus, to see to the Heart of what the rules are for. Just tossing out rules — which seems to be what we have done, God — brings anarchy and chaos. And Chaos opens the door to dreadful things.

Thank You, God, for reminding me that it isn’t a choice of Either/ Or. You are here to help us make a way.

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Posted in background / foreground questions, Choosing Meaning, growing toward up, loving limits

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