“You can’t go on ‘seeing through’ things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transpar¬ent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to “see through” first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To “see through” all things is the same as not to see.”
What Lewis is getting us to see is cynicism leaves a person seeing through everything as transparent. What then is really real? What really is truthful? What can a person anchor themselves in to provide a sense of stability? The sage in the Proverbs tells us that foolishness left unchecked leads to a mocking attitude where nothing is real, except one’s own opinions.
The word for fool or “mocker” is luts (lootz). This is the pinnacle of pride leading to a hardening of the heart (1:22; 21:24). Tremper Longman described this mocker as, “They hear advice and then criticize and ridicule the one who gives them advice.” (Proverbs, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms). They are so confident of their position that they scornfully look down on and make fun of others, especially those who confront them in love (3:34). This is why translators often translate luts as “scorner”. They cannot admit that they are wrong or have much to learn going inward in self-protection by becoming angrily defensive (19:25).
We have all met people like this who are so entrenched in their cynical selves that it’s really hard to spend lots of time around them. They know all and in their pride seem to question everything. What’s somewhat frightening though is there seems to be a spiritual way to “cover” this mocking attitude. As I watch the blogosphere I’m also constantly astounded at how solid concern can often become a mocking attitude toward those who differ from us politically and religiously. Posts that mock our president or another religion, crude comments that reveal the heart, border on a kind of arrogance that displays foolishness.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
* Do you look down on those who offer you instruction or do you resist any honest and loving critique on their part?
* Is your speech characterized by constantly making fun of others, in essence letting others know how stupid you think they are?
* In your cynicism do you doubt everything? On the other hand, are you so convinced of your certainty that you mock others who hold a different position? Can you listen to nuanced positions that are thoughtfully arrived at?
* Do you mock those who disagree with your politics or religion? Specifically, can our president do anything right where you can speak highly of him? Do you mock Muslims or any other religion? Is there a gentle spirit when you speak about people who hold a different position than you?
* Do you mock the church? How do you speak about the church? If most of your critique is mostly condescending, while certainly the organized local expression of church has much to reform, do you “see through” the church? In what ways is it still the beauty of Christ?