We’ve been doing a mini-series at church based on Mark Meynell’s excellent book A Wilderness of Mirrors: Trusting Again In A Cynical World.
I was struck by something Meynell observes about the power of propaganda. He says the following:
‘We might assume we are immune to propaganda, but as renowned French sociologist Jacques Ellul warned, it is the educated who are most vulnerable to its effects. Because they absorb more secondhand and unverified information than others, they like to have opinions about everything while at the same time entertaining a high view of their own ability to make judgments. What Ellul grasped, and what countless others have exploited, is that when reality is mediated (as it must be in a world of mass communication), the potential for deception is great. Of course, some argue we are more sensitive to this now, but even that is problematic. The greater our sensitivity becomes, the greater our anxiety about being able to discern the “really” real.’ (pp. 45-46, emphasis mine)
Ouch! The smarter you are, the more susceptible you may be to imbibing secondhand unverified information and passing it off as your considered opinion, in essence, to make yourself look clever.
One of the main lessons I learned in doing further study is that you come to see just how much you don’t know. Every foray down a rabbit hole reveals a hundred tunnels, each with a hundred more, that you simply don’t have time or capacity to explore. What you come to know is how much you don’t know. This is, I’m sad to say, a lesson I forget too quickly, and to which I need to keep returning.
I need, by God’s grace, more humility, more discernment, and the peace to rest content in the things I can know – his liberating truth (John 8:32).