About Integrity

First, about the author of this blog: Once upon a time, in a galaxy not so far away, an aimless young ne’er-do-well surprised himself and the Universe by surviving into adulthood.  By a series of serendipitous mischances, he acquired stable relationships, marketable skills, and a wide circle of family and friends.  His slack-jawed astonishment at this unlikely state of affairs led him to the serious study of the burning moral Question, Why Do Good Things Happen To Bad People?  After several decades, he was forced to conclude that God is Unjust, and, moreover, that is a Good Thing.

Brief dictionary definition

Integrity, n.Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.The state of being unimpaired; soundness. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness. [Middle English integrité, from Old French, from Latin integrits, soundness, from integer, whole, complete.]

My working definition

Integrity,A state of personal wholeness or completeness, in which all the disparate parts of one’s life acknowledge one another.  I have integrity, for example if and only if I can admit to my friends that my other friends are also my friends; if what I do for fun and what I do at worship have something in common; if my inner thoughts and feelings are allowed to be seen in my outward words and actions (and vice versa).

Why it is a search

I call it a search because I as an individual, like all individuals, am made up of many parts, and by nature I am often unaware, when engaged in one activity or spending time with one group of people, of how I would behave and think differently in different circumstances.  The conscious and the unconscious, the light side and the dark side, and all things in between, cannot hold together in a static way.  So I search for a way to enlarge, expand my awareness, to admit my foibles and fears as well as my strengths and talents, my ignorance as well as my wisdom, such as it is. In this way I seek to become, more authentically, who I am.  I begin as a mystery, unknown to myself, and seek by means of this search to become, on purpose, what I discover myself to be, and not hide any part away.  I do not expect ever to finish the search, but I do expect many discoveries along the way.

All of what has been said above about an individual (example: me) applies also to larger systems:  a family, a church, a community, a company, a culture, a country; perhaps even the cosmos itself.  I cannot acknowledge all of what is within me until I admit that what I see outside of me has its corresponding place; including the things I draw back from, reject, deny.  The search for integrity is, in this larger sense,  a search for all humanity.  For me as a Christian, it is thus a search for Christ, who includes all of humanity in his love.

A ramble:

Can I write about integrity? The search for integrity is a daily, hourly, practice that means responding in wholeness to all the stimuli if life. It means listening honestly to those who are placed in one’s care. It means telling the truth. It means keeping quiet, until there is a need to speak. Integrity is not possible without a single focus. But no single focus, simply defined, will bring about integrity.

Only one single focus is large enough, all-encompassing enough, to bring us to wholeness. It is that focus that gives us permission to be whoever we are, with no strings attached and no apologies needed; and allows us to have confidence that what we can become is not limited by what we have been. Kierkegaard says that purity of heart is to will one thing.

The person of integrity acknowledges, to begin with, the impossibility of this; recognizing the conflicts and complexities inherent in this earthly existence; but wills above all else that some sense can be made of that complexity.

7 thoughts on “About Integrity

  1. Wow, nice to find a fellow COG person out here. I was searching for one of my professors dissertations when I found that you had named a blog post the same title as the title of something of his in our card catalog (at Anderson University).

    Anyway, it’s refreshing to read some of your posts on theology, sometimes I forget that not everyone is lost in popular church culture.

    Well, cheers! From one Chogger to another.


  2. Well met, Dave!

    It’s no coincidence that “Faith, Theology, and the Question of Truth” caught your eye: I did indeed lift that title wholesale from something connected to a course in Philosophical Theology (or was it Hermeneutics?) that I took back in the mid 1980’s, perhaps with the selfsame professor. Greet him for me.


  3. Ironic,

    I’m currently in that course right now (Philosophical Theology) with Dr. Reed. I don’t imagine we have a course titled Hermeneutics anymore. We do however have a course on exegetical criticism (Biblical Methods of Exegesis) and one of the history of hermeneutics, which has a course title to long to care to repeat.

    I’d tell Dr. Reed you said “hello” but I only know you as Bob.



  4. Post Script: Said hi to Dr. Reed for you, he remembered your last name before I had to get into the trouble of saying I didn’t know it. He had a fond expression and perhaps a glimmer in his eye when he spoke of you (which is says alot about what he thinks of you).

  5. Yes, I’m not surprised, though I don’t know that he would ever let me see that glimmer… I daresay that I am somewhat legendary in certain circles.

  6. How ironic that I happened on your blog when I was searching Luther on seared consciences. [Owen has some interesting thoughts as well on the topic I might add]. I am a freshman at Anderson University and was just doing some joy reading. Oh the irony.

    1. If you see something in Owen of relevance, and care to add to the discussion here, please feel free to put a comment under the appropriate post. Or at least, post a reference so I can see what you found. Thanks.

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