Will Tradition Impede This?
Christopher B. Harbin
We are really good with prohibitions. We have a history of disallowing people to do things for one reason or another. We make moral arguments and we make what we believe to be moral arguments. We make a case from religious interpretation and tradition. We make arguments from nature, from science, from special interpretation of one or more verses of Scripture, or from what Grandma taught us. We take the words of certain leaders as statements of how thing ought to be, both now, and forever more. The problem is, our prohibitions are generally short sighted. They often only apply to limited circumstances, for they stem from our perceptions and received traditions. When a clash arises between our traditions and the reality we face, how do we determine what is appropriate reaction and response? How do we know what to do in a context that is altogether different from anything we have ever before known?
I love the story I heard of a husband and wife talking about the proper way to cook a ham. It all started with her cutting off one end of the ham before placing it in the pot to cook. He asked her about it. ''Why do you do that?'' Her response was, ''That's what Mom always did.'' Once the question had been raised, she called her mother. ''Mom, why do you always cut one end off the ham before cooking it?'' Her response was, ''That's what Grandma always did.'' She called Grandma. ''Grandma, why do you cut an end off the ham before cooking it?'' The response was, ''I did not have a pot that was big enough for a whole ham.''
There are times when we create traditions that make about as much sense. The problem is not so much what we do. It is not the tradition. It is that along with the tradition, we have lost any sense of purpose that made the tradition meaningful, effective, and worthwhile. This happens in religion, it happens in the kitchen, it happens in healthcare, business, school, and in vacations.
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