Dallas Willard on the absurdity of trite slogans

This excerpt from The Divine Conspiracy was written by Dallas Willard in 1998 before Facebook “memes” was a thing. Imagine if these paragraphs would have been written today.

In shambles of fragmented assurances from the past, our longing for goodness and rightness and acceptance – and orientation – makes us cling to bumper slogans, body graffiti, and gift shop nostrums that in our proofed upside-down-ness somehow seem deep but in fact make no sense: “Stand up for your rights” sounds so good. How about “All I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten”? And “Practice random kindnesses and senseless acts of beauty?” And so forth.

Such sayings contain a tiny element of truth. But if you try to actually plan your life using them you are immediately in deep, deep trouble. They will head you 180 degrees in the wrong direction. You might as well model your life on Bart Simpson or Seinfeld. But try instead “Stand up for your responsibilities” or “I don’t know what I need to know and must now devote my full attention and strength to finding out” (Consider Prov. 3:7 or 4:7) or “Practice routinely purposeful kindnesses and intelligent acts of beauty.”
Putting these into practice immediately begins to bring truth, goodness, strength, and beauty into our lives. But you will never find them on a greeting card, plaque, or bumper. They aren’t thought to be smart. What is truly profound is thought to be stupid and trivial is thought to be profound. That is what it means to fly upside down. (from The Divine Conspiracy, 9 – 10)
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2 thoughts on “Dallas Willard on the absurdity of trite slogans

  1. joseph elon lillie

    The difference between worldly and spiritual knowledge but both can be boiled down into thought bullets. It’s the truth that lies extended behind the bullet that makes the difference.

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