A number of years ago, after reading four consecutive Kurt Vonnegut novels, I found myself growing increasingly cynical. Actually, my wife may have noticed it first. I was thinking and often uttering sardonic quips in response to every observation and topic. It was the first time I realized how much the things we read or view affect our thoughts and personality.
Since then, I have made a concerted effort to mix it up, reading both fiction and nonfiction, mixing science with theology and humor with mystery. Still, however, I will stumble upon an author or subject I find particularly compelling and dive deep into it until I have to come up gasping for air.
I find that I, like most people, fight two dragons simultaneously in my choice of influence. One is the Dragon of Habit and the second is the Dragon of Affirmation. The Dragon of Habit traps us in the Dungeon of Redundancy where we watch the same television programs and news shows, visit the same websites, and read the same types of articles and books over and over again. It is comfortable but narrowing. The Dragon of Habit stunts our growth.
The Dragon of Affirmation is much more dangerous. This beast breathes the warm fires of self-righteousness, seducing us into only reading or viewing the things that validate our existing opinions and perspectives. The Dragon of Affirmation has grown quite fat and large as it feeds on the Internet, so it is now quite easy for us to only consume like-minded news and information.
We recall that Jesus spent time with prostitutes AND Pharisees. He dined with rich tax collectors AND poor widows. If we truly believe God is all and in all, then we need to take care to open our minds and our hearts to all people and all ideas. Truth is an infinite and unfolding divine revelation; no one has a corner on it or understands it entirely. One of the true joys of life is found in discovering a glimpse of wisdom where we had never looked before.