Early in my career, a lawyer and I were driving to a hearing together and had time for some idle chatter. Not far into the conversation I had the distinct impression I was on the psychoanalyst’s couch. Critical of my Christian beliefs, she diagnosed me as being a “linear thinker.” Of course I had no idea what that phrase meant at the time. She proceeded to evaluate my mental processes as being excessively “black and white.” In any event, the context of the conversation revealed that she determined my mode of thinking to be defective – a handicap.
It wasn’t until I looked up the term 30 years later that I realized the term “linear thinking” she used was not the term she intended.
Linear thinking is…
a process of thought following known cycles or step-by-step progression where a response to a step must be elicited before another step is taken.
That sounds like a definition of “analysis.” Ahaa. She was telling me I was “anal” before the word “anal” came into common usage.
Seriously, if I knew the definition at that time, I would have taken it as a complement. But a complement, it was not. What she meant was that my thinking did not allow for a million shades of gray as any “normally and productively functioning person should think.”
What I learned during that conversation was she hated religion and the concepts of faith and moral absolutes. Isn’t that just like an attorney. To her there were no moral absolutes. She didn’t grasp the concept of embracing clear principles and values that enable discernment. She likely considered such “discernment” to be “judgmental”, which of course one should never be. Wink wink. She questioned what my “principles” and “values” were based on. Of course, being naive and not a good debater, I responded “the Bible”. The trap was sprung. At which point she chuckled and proceeded to give me a litany of Old Testament scripture – a standard misdirect anyone who loathes Christianity or Judaism will do. She rattled off several misquoted, out of context, and misinterpreted sections of the Old Testament that discuss mass slaughter. “Is this what shapes your values?” she quizzed. Our 10 mile trip was a thousand miles short of a defense on my part.
One interesting twist is that an alternative to “lineal thinking” is “conceptual thinking.” I would guess, reviewing my blogs over the past four years, I am both.
Unfortunately, the great majority in Congress are attorneys, that breed of human stricken with the same deficiency in “principles” and “values” as my attorney “friend.” They have little sense of right and wrong, and insist on a million shades of gray to the point where right and wrong do not exist. That is a definition of “amoral.” Is it any wonder they are taking us down a dark path and don’t care about the future?