And to those who know we’re wrong…
The Quest for the Creed.
Let’s get it right, now…
That irascible and revolutionary poet e.e. cummings has a line, “even on a sunday may I be wrong, for whenever men are right they are not young.” There is something innocent and free and youthful in admitting you are wrong, and something pompous and unpleasant and ancient in admitting you are right.
Being “wrong” is being foolish and carefree, and shrugging with a grin at the human comedy and tragedy.
Being “right” is uptight and self-righteous and grim-lipped in the face of human frailty and failure.
At the heart of faith, therefore is this delightful insistence on standing the human instinct to be right all the time on its head and insisting instead on being wrong.
When we insist at least on the possibility that we may not always be right, and this becomes a foundational outlook on ourselves and others, then the whole world is turned upside down. If we are not right, then most anything could happen. If we are uncertain, then nothing is certain and we are open to the new possibilities and perspectives that our “being right” would never have allowed.
This disturbing new way of thinking lies at the heart of the strange Christian insistence on this experience called “repentance.” For “repentance” is simply a theological way of saying, “I am wrong,” and confession is the active and liturgical way of doing the same. Once the foundational assumption that “I’m right” is replaced with the foundational assumption that “I’m wrong,” the human being is young again and can be curious again and at last can begin to grow again. Of course, the only way the individual can have the freedom and joie de vivre of being wrong is in the confidence that someone else is right. In other words, we confess with a joyful spirit, “I am wrong, but God will put it right.”
Oh, I like that Longenecker.
Am I right? Or am I right?