Socrates Was So Funny!
Socrates originated the Socratic Method of teaching. He believed that by asking questions of his students, they would discover the answer within themselves. Long story short: Socrates taught by question and answer, not by lecture or multiple-choice quizzes.
Socrates, and this I think is so adorable, believed that once a person discovered an insight, such as eating five Heath Bars for breakfast will lead to a morning slump in energy, he or she would immediately switch from five candy bars for breakfast to whole grain toast with natural peanut butter and a cup of coffee with 1% milk added. How funny is that!
I admire Socrates for his teaching methods, and his willingness to hold to his convictions even though it led to his death by capital punishment I do not believe he was correct that insights immediately lead to transformed behavior.
I’ve known for years that it’s unhealthy to put this much stress on my joints, to carry this much weight. But my reaction has not been to change behavior.
Insight: Being heavy makes it harder to find a job as there is discrimination against the overweight.
Reaction: Anger, sadness, and comfort eating, not replacing candy with fruit..
Insight: Weighing more makes me less attractive to many.
Reaction: Eating out of spite if they’re going to be that petty.
Insight: It’s harder to move if I weigh more than my healthy BMI.
Reaction: That’s why God gave us YouTube and Netflix.
Insight: My cardiologist said that he wants me to be more slender at my next appointment.
Reaction: See you in 2030.
Insight: People react positively whenI lose weight.
Reaction: Major trigger from past icky experiences, which leads me to put the weight back on.
Insight: The gospel will be more attractive to people if I am healthy when I share it.
Reaction: Hmmm. Now I feel inadequate.
Change happens when you’re ready for it, when the new insight combines with your own readiness to change. Most changes recorded in the Bible came through an experience of the holy or the other, not just an intellectual insight, like Peter’s dream that all foods are now clean, Mary’s meeting with an angel, Ruth’s love for Naomi, Moses with the burning bush: an experience opens them to a new life. A recovering alcoholic or gambler will tell you it was not the facts the ill effects of drinking and gambling, it was the devastation they experienced that made them want something new: sobriety.
What triggered my change to add water, eat less sugar of my waistline, is that I want to be able to hike the hills on the island of Iona in 2020. The insight that I move and feel better when I’m at a healthier weight when combined with the experience of the joy of being on Iona is doing the Spirit’s work of nudging me to my better self. It’s not a matter of information, it’s a matter of life formation, getting the life God wants for me and treating myself as a child of God even as i treat everyone else that way.
Socrates was optimistic. Paul is realistic, “The good I would do, I don’t do. The evil I don’t want to do, I do. Who can save me? Thanks be to God for Jesus who gives us the victory!” (loose paraphrase from Romans 7). And with God’s help, I’m doing something instead of nothing!
Again, I pray this is useful. May you have a Big Hairy Audacious Day!
Grace and peace,
Caroline in Progress