Leslie Winkle vs Mr. Keating (arrogance vs humility)

23 Jul

This post shows two different schools of thought (close-mindedness and open-mindedness) in how our worldviews affect how we live our lives.   The post is not necessarily one cogent thought; but I believe if I don’t spell everything out you can take time to think about parallel instances in your life…if so desired.

I agree with much of what I say, but not everything. – Peter Rollins




Way back in the euphoric days of college, I listened to a great speaker who was an extremely compelling speaker.  What made him compelling (besides his topics) was the creative way he intertwined media with his talks; he kept all of us on the edge of our seats wondering what he would include next.  The speaker had the ability to use books, movies, and music to evoke authentic responses from the audience.  He would use clips of “Braveheart” when appealing to the guys and then use clips of “Sense and Sensibilities” when appealing to the girls. (granted some girls are going to say, ‘hey, I love “Braveheart!”, which very well could be true, but in most instances it won’t affect girls like it does guys – the same is primarily true in reverse for girls relating to “Sense and Sensibilities”).  I digress…the way he used clips was not done in a cheesy, manipulative manner, but in a manner that required pause for reflection. Now, I do not want to compare this post to the quality of what he did, but I am going to attempt to make use of media in a similar manner as him. Movies, music, and books are profound motivators and powerful platforms in our society

This is a clip from one of my favorite tv shows, “The Big Bang Theory”.  The primary characters are Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Raj (Kunal Nayyar), Penny (Kaley Cuoco), and Howard (Simon Helberg). There is also a guest star Leslie Winkle (Sara Gilbert).  You might recognize Leslie and Leonard from the tv show “Roseanne”.  The show is about genius friends who with all their quirks have to live life together in a somewhat manageable community while they process their relationships from their own scientific, logical worldviews.

The premise of the first clip in this post is to talk about how our inability to consider alternatives might close off more perceptive ideas and ideologies than what we think we know, or at the very least our close-mindedness might prevent us from learning more about other points of view. View the youtube clip from minutes 3:50-4:40 (I’ve included the full text of the conversation below this whole post – which includes a section of the discussion that was not included in the clip.)

This next clip is from my all-time favorite movie. “Dead Poets Society”. It speaks of branching out and viewing things from a different perspective.

And finally just some quotes from C.S. Lewis’s, “The Great Divorce”.

“Ah, but we must all interpret those beautiful words in our own way! For me there is no such thing as a final answer.  The free wind of inquiry must always continue to blow through the mind, must it not? “Prove all things”…to travel hopefully is better than to arrive.’” pg. 40

“Before me green slopes made a wide amphitheatre, enclosing a frothy and pulsating lake into which, over many-coloured rocks, a waterfall was pouring. Here once again I realized that something had happened to my senses so that they were now receiving impressions which would normally exceed their capacity.  On Earth, such a waterfall could not have been perceived at all as a whole; it was too big.  Its sound would have been a terror in the woods for twenty miles.   Here, after the first shock, my sensibility exulted.  The noise, though gigantic, was like giants’ laughter: like the revelry of a whole college of giants together laughing, dancing, singing, roaring at their high works.” pgs. 45-46

My closing thoughts:

Sometimes we are sure in what we know and in what we want and in what we believe, and that might be ok, at times, but if we don’t at least have the humility to say, “I agree with much of what I say, but not everything.” then we might be setting ourselves up for a lot of tremors in our worldviews.  Personally I’d rather travel hopefully than to call it all off because we can’t agree on loopy or non-loopy space theories.

(full text of conversation from “The Big Bang Theory”)

Sheldon:  I will graciously overlook the fact that she is an arrogant sub-par scientist who actually believes loop quantum gravity better unites quantum mechanics with general relativity than does string theory.

Leslie:  Hang on a second, loop quantum gravity clearly offers more testable predictions than string theory.

Sheldon:  I’m listening, amuse me.

Leslie:  Ok, well for one thing we expect quanti-space time to manifest itself as minute differences than the speed of light for different colors.

Sheldon:  Balderadash. Matter clearly consists of tiny strings.

Leslie to Leonard: Are you going to let him talk to me like that?

(Leonard with a baffled, helpless look on his face)

Leonard:  Ok, well there is a lot of merit to both theories.

Leslie:  No there isn’t. Only loop quantum gravity calculates the entropy of black holes.

(Sheldon giggles under his voice)

Leonard:  Sheldon, don’t make that noise it’s disrespectful

Sheldon:  I should hope so it was a snort of derision.

Leslie:  You agree with me right? Loop quantum gravity is the future of physics.

Leonard:  Sorry Leslie, I guess I prefer my space theories not loopy.

Leslie:  Well, I guess I’m glad I found out the truth about you before this went any further.

Leonard:  Truth, what truth? We’re talking about untested hypotheses…look, it’s no big deal.

Leslie:  Oh, it isn’t? Really?  Tell me Leonard, how will we raise the children?

(keep in mind they’ve been dating for 1 evening)

(Leonard and Sheldon with extremely baffled looks on their faces)

Leonard:  I…I guess we wait until they’re old enough and let them choose their own theory.

Leslie:  We can’t let them choose Leonard; they’re children!

(Leslie storms toward the door)

Leonard:  Wait, where are you going?

Leslie:  I’m sorry. I could’ve accepted our kids being genetically unable to eat ice cream or ever get a good view of a parade. But this?  This is a deal breaker.

(Leslie leaves)

Sheldon:  Look on the bright side…

(and he attempts  to proceed to bring levity to the situation)


Posted by on July 23, 2009 in theology


Tags: , , , , , , ,

7 responses to “Leslie Winkle vs Mr. Keating (arrogance vs humility)

  1. trebmal

    July 23, 2009 at 22:16

    I wouldn’t use that quote from Lewis to support your point. It is spoken by one of the ghosts in The Great Divorce who came from Hell to the verge of Heaven, and who is shown to be in the wrong by the good and rational Spirit who has come to meet him.

    The Spirit says, “You have gone far wrong. Thirst was made for water; inquiry for truth. What you now call the free play of inquiry has neither more nor less to do with the ends for which intelligence was given you than than masturbation has to do with marriage” (41).

    From experience, I find that those who praise open-mindedness the most are least likely to consider the claims of those they consider closed-minded. That is, those who talk most about open-mindedness are least likely to be open-minded. And those who talk most about considering an argument are least likely to consider it to be true. That is, they are least likely to consider it. The most self-professedly tolerant philosophy professor I’ve had almost didn’t let me graduate because I disagreed with him in my final paper.

    I prefer a practical approach. Let us actually consider an opposing view rather than boasting of our intellectual humility.

    • derekablaylock

      July 23, 2009 at 23:41

      Trebmal, I can understand your thoughts. But maybe those who are professing open-mindness are not effusing the honest application of open-mindness. It is not fair to generalize your experiences upon those who sincerely seek open-minded applications. But I realize, true or not, that perception equals reality.

      As far as one spirit vs. another; if stated to be in the wrong by another spirit; can not a glimmer of truth be gleaned within a particular statement? Babies trashed with the bathwater are a tragedy nonetheless. But that’s according to my worldview…which is the premise of the post.

  2. trebmal

    July 24, 2009 at 18:04

    No, in the case of Lewis’ book I can say with confidence that we were not meant to believe a word the ghost says. If it weren’t enough that he was refuted by all the emissaries from Heaven–the ghost himself being an emissary of Hell (to make Lewis’ point doubly clear)–Lewis sets forth in his preface his stance against the fuzzy thinking of those who want everything both ways, who can’t bring themselves to make a decision in regards to Christ:

    “[I]n some sense or other the attempt to make that marriage [between Heaven and Hell] is perennial. The attempt is based on a the belief that reality never presents us with an absolutely unavoidable ‘either-or’; that…some way of embracing both alternatives can always be found; that mere development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil into without our being called on for a final and total rejection of anything we should like to retain” (vii italics mine).

    And the quote from the title page:

    “No, there is no escape. There is no heaven with a little of hell in it–no plan to retain this or that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets. Out Satan must go, every hair and feather.”
    – George MacDonald

    There comes a point, Lewis and others say, when we must put inquiry aside, when we have been presented with all the evidence we need to make a decision in an important matter. And when the matter is Christ, when He says to us, “Follow me, or don’t. You must choose,” it is no use talking about how open-minded we are, and how because of that we can’t–or can’t yet–give Him an answer once for all. That is the meaning of the angel’s retort in The Great Divorce.

  3. derekablaylock

    July 24, 2009 at 19:43

    For me, the beauty of life lies in that I believe I can learn from anybody and everybody ; even from a statement from a ghost in a work of fiction who has been damned by you. That’s my open-mindness and I’m pretty happy with it.

  4. trebmal

    July 26, 2009 at 20:29

    Not damned by me; damned by the author.

    Your so-called open-mindedness is a funny thing, it seems, if it is unable to consider the considerations and intentions of the author whose work you cite in defense of your point. It seems a lot like the “closed-mindedness” you are so intent on attacking. To read your own interests and agendas in a work that is shown to be dead set against them, to refuse to consider an opposing position because it conflicts with your “open-mindedness”–if this is being open-minded, then I want none of it.

    Thanks for your time. Sorry for bothering you. I won’t continue to harass you with my posts.

  5. derekablaylock

    July 27, 2009 at 10:56

    Hola Trebmal, maybe I didn’t explain myself enough…I was meaning that I can learn from the ghost in the book, the people on the bus, the author, from you, or from anyone else in life. That’s what I was meaning when I said I can learn from anybody and everybody. If I were not open to that possibility then yes it wouldn’t make much sense to claim being open-minded. I believe there is so much more truth all around us in our lives than some people (predominantly fundamentalist Christians) are willing to admit. I’m a captialist, but I believe there’s truth in socialism and communism. My religious background is from the ‘protestant’ tradition, but I believe there’s truth in Catholicism, and even Hinduism, and many other religions – I believe truth is supplied by God and ultimately points us back to him. If we don’t open our lenses to other truth avenues in our daily lives then we limit the scope in which we can enjoy and revel in God’s truth. (I think I just combined 18 analogies in one sentence.)

    I hope that further explains what it means to be open-minded. It’s a manner in which God continues to prove to me he is awful (in the original sense of the word).

  6. Todd Erickson

    July 28, 2009 at 08:49

    All too often, the people who are most hostile toward the phrase “open minded” are the people who have stuck a flag in the dirt, or drawn a line in the sand, and have dedicated their lives around the punishment they’ve received for taking that stance.

    If Rollin’s brain works anything like mine, then he has to talk and write in order to process what he’s actually thinking, which may mean that something that he says, or writes, which sounds sensible today, once it collides with the world and he encounters what other people are thinking or saying, is found to have far less truth than was initially supposed.

    I also think that while Lewis was doing something very specific with his allegory about the ghosts, that what Derek is doing here is using a very specific part of the book to illustrate something completely outside of the intent of that book, which is a legitimate literary use. It’s not prooftexting, he’s not attempting to say anything about Lewis’ work as a whole, he’s using an illustration from one of Lewis’ books to say something about something else.

    Open mindedness, increasingly, is probably the wrong way to describe what we really want.

    What we want is to be listened to, and for people to respond to what we’ve said, or thought, and give us generous, honest, thoughtful responses, rather than telling us what they thought we should have said.

    Like the philosophy professor trebmal mentioned, who was all about open mindedness, so long as it was open minded about precisely what he was thinking and nothing else.

    Being actually, actively open minded is giving grace to others, loving them where they’re at, and trusting that Christ has a far better handle on bringing them to where they should be than I do.


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