Responses when Confronted with the Sacred and Secular Thought System

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The popular author Chaim Potok struggled throughout his life with the sacred (Jewish religion and tradition) and the secular world. Potok suggested four possible responses for a person who faces confrontation with the sacred thought system and the secular thought system. First, the lockout response: a person escapes the conflict by erecting impenetrable barriers between the sacred and the secular and then remains in just one system. Second, compartmentalization: a person creates separate categories of thought that coexist in what he called a “tenuous peace.” Third, complete fusion: a person takes down all walls and allows the sacred and secular cultures to freely mix with each other, perhaps leading to a “radically new seminal culture.”…show more content…
According to Potok, this leaves one remaining response, ambiguity and uncertainty. Two years ago Don Colton (Professor in Computer and Information Science) gave a fine lecture on ambiguity. I refer you to his lecture for more on how ambiguity is a part of our lives. Although I agree that we must live with some degree of ambiguity, I feel uncomfortable resigning myself or others to “a multitude of questions” with no intention of searching for answers. This approach goes counter to our natural desire to seek for truth. It seems a rather lazy way to respond to conflict. There will undoubtedly be discrepancies between the secular and the sacred that will not be answered in our lifetime, but searching for truth has its own rewards.. By examining and working with the seemingly opposing thoughts, we may find undiscovered truths that otherwise would not have been sought.

I believe there must be a fifth alternative for responding to discrepancies between the sacred and secular. This approach is the eternal perspective that is taught in the scriptures and in the temple. It is the realization that, when there are conflicting ideas, we must continue to search
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