Cognitive Dissonance, or perhaps more accurately the construct of "Dissonance Reduction," is a very useful approach to an understanding of how the mythology the gospel writers created around Jesus transformed within a few years from midrash into factual explanation. When confronted by questions from Aunt Betty, rather than going directly to the DR answer (my temptation, sorry to say), if we start instead by asking about her own life experiences and how she has explained the mysteries we always encounter, we can usually find an analogy between her explanations and those of, say, the writer of the Gospel of Mark. An important step may need to be taken before Aunt Betty can move forward however. She needs to be able to see "Mark" as just as much a human as she is herself, which for at least one Aunt Betty of my acquaintance may be a step too far. Once she can accept the humanity behind the persona of "Mark," once she can be guided to compassion for that writer's pain and abject sense of loss following the violent end of Jesus' living presence among us, perhaps she can be led into the joy that "Mark" and the other God-fearers of those early communities must have felt as their Dissonance was Reduced with the midrash offered by these new gospels.
Bottom line, Polk, while I agree that CD does indeed lie behind our reluctance to shift paradigms, I nevertheless suggest that its corollary DR may be a useful path forward to a better understanding of what the bible gave us, and why.
Jack does his usual stupendous job tracing the sources of the midrash, especially in his discussions of "Matthew's" for The Sermon on the Mount in Biblical Literalism. I was impressed. I grinned. I dragged out a Scofield Study Bible and saw not one single reference to Ps 119 in all the chains off The Beatitudes. Wow. But Matthew, dude, you rock! That's some great midrash! Woot! Woot!