Dad & Racism: A FaceBook Dialogue

· fun

John Garrott: Tradition is a difficult thing to change. The law of first taught comes into play – whatever we are taught first sticks much stronger than later revelation.

EmDog: Part of why the “law of first taught” works is that the particular “item” of information that you discover is incorrect (or the perspective or the doctrine, whatever) has previously been “set” in your memory within a framework of other memories (or teachings) that “inter-lock” — change “one” of the items of information but not the surrounding mental framework itself will leave that “framework” “pulling” that old thought back into place.

Take my father, for instance. Before he knew Jesus experientially, having been born & raised in the South, he was strongly racist. After having met Jesus (miraculously), he might have gone to a church, met a black man and called him “brother” — while inwardly cringing every time he saw the man of color. (“First learned” framework still in place.)

Trying to change that one “item” of information — “God loves that black man and therefore I must as well” — could have been easily forgotten as the “pull” of the older, racist framework drew his thoughts repeatedly back into his familiar, racist patterns.

But what God’s Spirit did was much more effective: He changed the entire “framework” — not just a particular part of it. Here’s how… Dad read and re-read the gospels. He told me one day that the first time he read the gospels, it seemed to him that Jesus was represented as a “Jew” — but that was impossible in respect to his racist, mental framework. The most important, loving man in history couldn’t possibly have been a “Jew”.

So he re-read the gospels several times until he came to the point where he accepted that Jesus really, truly WAS a Jew — and the Spirit used that Truth to bring the entire racist framework within Dad crashing down like a house of cards.

Instead of changing ONE thought (or “item of information”), God destroyed the entire mental framework that held that thought — and Dad was no longer racist in the slightest. (Truly one of the greatest miracles I’ve ever seen with my own eyes!)

Not that he ever actually had a black “brother” at church that he “tried” to love (and “lost” that struggle to the racism because of the “law of first taught”.) But he DID work daily with a black man in an ironwork manufacturing plant… And one day he came home, a little angry and commiserating at how the rest of the crew had been mistreating one of the workers, despising him even though he was in fact the “best worker out of them all”… So he and this crew member chose to eat lunch apart from the rest of the crew every day in Dad’s attempt to help make up for the crew’s overall rejection of this fellow — and, “oh — by the way, this crewman is black…”

Our family, listening to him, would have fallen to the floor in utter shock if we hadn’t already been sitting down. Nobody said anything, but we realized that Dad’s “first learned” framework of racism was simply GONE, and it never showed up in his behavior again.

Changing one thought or one doctrine is a fine goal — but it’s only a temporary fix as the “law of first taught” continuously pulls against it. But when the Spirit “steps in” to a person’s life, entire mental frameworks can be removed and replaced with God’s perfect perspective (“God’s way”) — and is one of the most incredible demonstrations of the power of the gospel we’ll ever see…



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