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So, even though all of my research has not been completed, I want to share with you some of the previously unknown secrets of Criticism Avoidance Behavior (CAB). In this paper I shall succinctly state three rules (or tactics) for criticism avoidance. I will also add a few notes to clarify the rules and note caveats. No doubt, to many the rules will seem simplistic at first. Do not be put off by their simplicity. I have every confidence that, as you carefully practice them, their wisdom will become clear. The rules are:
Rule Number 1: Do nothing
I must caution you that, even with careful application of this rule, this researcher has come under some criticism. Once, I was accused of having espoused some esoteric New Age religion and a few times I have been denounced for practicing some form of Transcendental Meditation. But I have been able to brush off these jibes by remaining absolutely still. Of course, it goes without saying that there is the added danger that church leaders with prominent noses and/or ears will be mistaken for hat racks and some brethren may even be critical of the placement of that odd-looking piece of furniture. But this criticism will be, by its very nature, vague and not directed toward you, per se. Catatonicus, an eleventh century monk, pioneered this method of criticism avoidance. Unfortunately, Catatonicus lived in a damp monastery and, due to his life of immobility, acquired an over-growth of moss and died at an early age from root-rot. According to fellow monks, he steadfastly refused to utter any last words. His wise silence brings me to rule number two.
Rule Number 2: Say nothing
The only possible criticism under which you may fall while following this rule will come from those who mistake your silence for deep thought. Some may well say, We dont want a preacher (elder or deacon) who thinks too much. Long, blank stares have helped me successfully deal with this criticism. If you say anything worth hearing or write anything worth reading you will be open to harsh and immediate criticism, therefore, complete silence is the key. In such an environment, labels which generate criticism, such as, orthodoxy and heterodoxy, liberal and conservative, traditional and untraditional, etc., lose all meaning.
|For centuries scholars have been divided on this issue...|
. . .after noting that (of course) the question is a good question, which deserves a straightforward answer, you may say, Well, if one had not given this issue a great deal of thought, and long hours of study, one might be tempted to say (a priori) yes and no, or, perhaps so, perhaps not. It is interesting to note, however, latent in second century Gnosticism this concept, or at least this pre-concept may have been put forth. But first we must ask ourselves, What did 2nd century Gnostics actually gno? Withal, not in its present form, or forthwith by the misunderstanding of the Essene community of the facts in this matter which were impacted adversely, or at least in an un-positive manner, by the Septuagint and Midrashic writings. Patristic, post-Nicene and antebellum manuscripts notwithstanding, and with the weight of the Textus Receptus in its favor one might be inclined, or given to, or at least lean toward an affirmative answer to the question at hand. Yet, we must take into consideration the paradigms of supralapasarianism, transubstantiation, chiliasm and other amorticized, tenured fourth century extant ostraca and lacunae (in situ), and so forth. So we must conclude, given the nature of pre-Nicene thought, post-modernism, literary decongestion and the questionable roles of heilsgeschichte, formgeschichte and fussgeschichte (the latter in the form of High Church edicts and utterances) the truth would fall somewhere in a gray, or at least, semi-gray, or perhaps one might even say light black area.
Also, in front of a full-length mirror practice nodding your head ambiguously so that a questioner cannot tell whether your nod means yes or no. I might add that answers with ambiguous references to bullgeschichte (mentioned above) seem to be the most satisfying, at the time, within our congregations.
Rule Number 3: Be nothing
I have subtitled this rule The Art of Blending. The chameleon has paradigmatic significance for this third and final rule and it is self-explanatory. With practice (and, again, with the aid of a full-length mirror) you will find you can become almost transparent, with only the faintest outline of personality showing.
In conclusion I realize that publishing this research directly breaks rules number one and two and makes me vulnerable to the very criticism CAB seeks to avoid. However, I have thrown caution to the wind (as it were) and have submitted this paper to share the generally happy results of my last few years work. Also, since this is an incomplete, ongoing research project, I want to enlist your help. If you will, let me hear of your experiences as you practice CAB. Due to the nature of this study it has been difficult for me to prove the outcome of criticism avoidance behavior, or to document anyone who has completely put into practice my three rules. To wit, successful practitioners have become, for all practical purposes, virtually nonexistent.
Caution: This paper does not claim to have any scholarly significance. It is to be read for entertainment only. The characters and places mentioned are fictitious. Any rebroadcast of the materials herein without the written consent of the National Football League and AARP is strictly forbidden and may cause bad Karma and tooth loss. This paper contains concepts that have been found to be injurious by the state of Tennessee. (My attorney insisted that I include this.)
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