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Sincerity > Orthodoxy?

My friend Josh shared a thought last night that I’ve been wrestling with this morning. He said someone had shared with him that they thought sincerity was the new orthodoxy.

Sincerity as orthodoxy.

Wow, talk about a postmodern statement. But is there any substance to it?

Obviously, if one hones in on the word “orthodoxy” it’s pretty easy to dismiss the statement. Simply being sincere doesn’t replace one’s error. However, I don’t think that addresses the heart of this statement.

I think the quoted individual is looking more for sincerity than orthodoxy. And based on my perception of those my age (including myself) he or she is not alone.

So what’s fueling this desire? Is it an outright rejection or fear of truth? Is it simply a reaction against perceived insincerity? Or is it something else deeper, more profound?

What do you think?
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Edit: Hayley, my beautiful, intelligent, spelling-wise wife noted that I originally misspelled “sincerity” in the title. I have fixed it.

6 CommentsLeave a Comment


  • Reply

    Emily

    5 years ago

    So what’s fueling this desire? Is it an outright rejection or fear of truth? Is it simply a reaction against perceived insincerity? Or is it something else deeper, more profound?

    Great questions. I see your observations in myself and increasingly in many of the people around me.

    I think part of it is that sincerity is actually post-postmodern. Postmodernism celebrates irony, the winking, catch-me-if-you can, near opposite of sincerity. It’s been around in art and literature for a long time, but irony has also seeped into the larger culture in a way I believe is damaging.

    At the same time you have a movement like Protestant Christianity (or feminism, or libertarianism, or [fill in the blank]) wherein there’s a fairly strict orthodoxy that not only includes a model for behavior, but suggests how you should think and feel. That’s problematic for wannabe religious folks who have a hard time fitting their beliefs into the box their religion hands them.

    That’s where I am now: I have little use for irony or postmodernism and I’m weary of shelving my true thoughts and questions in order to fit in with any group, be it a religious or social. And I find sincerity works: I make better, true connections with others and learn more about myself, including how to be a better person.

    I’ve been thinking about Martin Luther’s dictum to “sin boldly” and the Whiskey Priest in Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory (a screed against complacency) as well as Augustine’s Confessions: all deeply sincere statements. I don’t think sincerity is some sort of BS new-age nonsense that’s intended to make people feel badly about their poor behavior, I think it’s something religious folks got away from a while ago and are finally returning to.

  • Reply

    Emily

    5 years ago

    I had a friend read my comment to make sure I was communicating my point semi-clearly, and I realized my last sentence reads the opposite of what I mean:

    I don’t think sincerity is some sort of BS new-age nonsense that’s intended to make people feel badly about their poor behavior, I think it’s something religious folks got away from a while ago and are finally returning to.

    I should have written:

    I don’t think sincerity is some sort of BS new-age nonsense to help people justify their own poor behavior, I think it’s something religious folks got away from a while ago and are finally returning to.

  • Reply

    Mr. Tuesday

    5 years ago

    Great question. I think, on one level, your friend is right. Most people who buy into a postmodern dogma lock stock seem to believe that one’s sincerity will override any harm that could be possibly be caused; much the same way Christians believe they are doing good as long as they are doing it in the name of God.

    I would also agree with you on what everyone is seeking. Everyone wants to belong.

  • Reply

    Todd

    5 years ago

    Emily, thanks for the clarification. I wasn’t entirely sure what you were going for!

  • Reply

    Bobby

    5 years ago

    I’m with Emily.
    What does it say about me when my first thought/judgment of the “sincerity as orthodoxy” line is’ “oh you mean you want to use sincerity as a screen for your insincerity”?
    Maybe the reason I do so terribly at following Jesus is because I tend to roll my eyes at others struggles to say difficult things.
    If I didn’t already know how Jesus would handle someone saying, “I believe, help my unbelief” I think that statement would cause me to roll my eyes and wonder what the guy is trying to pull.
    It’s a good thing I am not in charge. :)

  • Reply

    kurt

    5 years ago

    What a great question to pose. This mood or prevailance of new thought I think has come about by some of what we experience here in Wichita: being that many differing views of what orthodoxy is/what it should be have been placed upon us.

    Many people in life vie for our assention to what they see as orthodoxy. As a result we have become tired of trying to fit in the boxes. As we change communities, join new church or non church communities new rules of being orthodox are asserted. We are tired of trying to fit in once again and so to a certin extent we don’t. Instead we set up our new rule:
    1. I am orthodox because of my sincerity.
    2. Because I am sincere you must accept me do to social politic
    3. All of this is ok because I know we ALL are trying to be sincere in our relationship to GOD.

    Now I don’t believe that this is the top of mind awareness and strict process that takes place, rather I belive we do this somewhat intuitively and maybe us of us directly.

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