We continue to search for a reason for the Las Vegas shootings. So far, no “traditional” reason has emerged. Last week I suggested that the reason may be no reason. I outlined a philosophy that is becoming increasingly popular in our culture: nihilism. Is this ringing any bells as we learn more and more about Stephen Paddock? Might it be that he had obtained all which he thought could bring him meaning “under the sun,” and found it was meaningless after all? Might he be someone who so thoroughly embraced the Enlightenment that he lived the nihilistic worldview consistently? And if so, what should we learn from this?
My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, nephew and his friend were on their way to the Life is Beautiful concert in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 1, 2017 when Stephen Paddock began shooting. Had they not been delayed while on their way by just a few minutes, they would have been in the line of fire. Though I am thankful they were running late, I continue to grieve over the 58 who were not so fortunate. In my grief, I ask the same question everyone else is asking: Why? The answer may be right in front of us, but it is not one we want to acknowledge.
What do talk shows, news reports, political debates and many conversations between two people who disagree have in common? Often people are not listening to but rather attacking one another. These are examples of a third way healthy conversations are derailed—though the ad hominem fallacy. In fact, this is so common that it may be the hardest of the three fallacies to spot. But we must learn to identify it and reject it if we want to have healthy conversations and come to agreement on the issues we care most about.
Good conversations can help us understand one another, find truth together, and flourish. Unfortunately, there are three ways healthy and profitable conversations can be derailed. The second wrong turn is the “Genetic Fallacy.” We hear it all the time and must avoid it at all costs. In this post I’ll define the genetic fallacy and illustrate ways it was used against Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Movement, how I hear it in conversations about the Gospel, and how it underlies the charge of “homophobia.”
Recently a major credit card processor refused to handle further transactions that were gifts directed to a non-profit group. They said the organization’s view of family breakdown and the impact such a view has on children made it a “hate group.” Similarly, a firm that provides information about non-profits labeled one association a “hate group” due to the group’s traditional position on marriage (though the information company quickly retracted this assessment when critics challenged their arbitrary action).
Within the past two weeks, Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and Hurricane Irma swept over Florida. My wife and I have many friends and relatives in Florida, and so we have been glued to the news. Now that we have all had time to catch our collective breath and begin to assess the damage, there is much to learn. I see three reminders in the events of the past few weeks: we live in a fallen world, everyone knows this is not the way it ought to be, and our call is to be good stewards of this world. (I’m interrupting my leadership blog series to discuss these reminders this week.)