Transmitted Opinion Is A Deadening Thing

In attempt to expand my blogging/writing efforts, I’m adding a new category to my blog called “Reactions” and I wanted to share what I mean by that and why I think its important.

Basically, these are thoughts that are in response to things I read online. You might could think of them as a prolonged comment. I spend way too much time reading other people’s opinions online about all sorts of things and not enough time thinking for myself… its just easier and it makes sense in our day and age. We are much more accustomed to consuming things and that includes other people’s opinions.  In the same way we each like our particular steak or ice cream, we also enjoy gobbling down opinions. (Hence the success of highly opinionated and polarizing national media on all sides of the political spectrum). However, it seems to be less like eating steak and more like chewing gum. We get our flavor out of it and then we spit it out. It does nothing for us. There is no nutrition in it. It is simply about having a good taste in our mouth. We quickly become fans of certain opinions and enemies of others. We defend the ones we like and attack the ones we don’t and all the while we starve ourselves because no one can live on a diet of chewing gum.

George MacDonald, a Scottish author, poet, and Chrisitan minister who directly influenced and inspired the likes of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, wrote about the dangers of what he called “transmitted opinion“. In an essay entitled “Truth and Opinion” he wrote,

For truth is a living thing, opinion is a dead thing, and transmitted opinion is a deadening thing…Faith is that by which a man lives inwardly and orders his way outwardly. Faith is the root, belief the tree, and opinion the foliage that falls and is renewed with the seasons. Opinion is, at best, even the opinion of a true man, but the cloak of his belief, which he may indeed cast to his neighbor, but not with the truth inside it.

The problem with chewing up all this opinion is that we end up with second hand knowledge that has no real basis in our lived experiences. Transmitting your opinion is like handing someone a leaf and telling them to go plant a tree. What they really need from you is the seed, and then maybe some guidance about how to plant and nurture that seed so that it will grow into a tree. The leaf, however, is worth nothing once it is separated from its tree. Convincing someone of your opinion does not bring about any kind of life-giving transformation. Over-consumption of the opinion of others leads to inner death.

With those thoughts in mind, this is my attempt to put down the Big League Chew and at least start working on the steak. Instead of just taking in all this opinion from others, I’d like to take the time to at least think it through for myself and gather some thoughts. I don’t want to set the bar too high at first though. Sometimes these posts will be nice and short and probably not well thought out and hopefully that will be balanced by more substantial and organized thoughts in other posts. My goal is not to transmit my own opinion to you. It is to examine the opinion I receive from others and begin asking the questions that may lead to the seed which produced these “leaves of opinion” in the first place. The goal is to plant a forest of living trees instead of collecting dead leaves.

So, we’ll see how this goes. May the Lord sow His seed that will produce the fruit of righteousness in His world for His glory.


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