Friday, February 18, 2011

Dangers of Ideological Isolation

You all can imagine that there are many times when I wish I were situated in a place where I could dedicate my thoughts strictly to the question of truth.  But when it comes to things like religion and politics, there is usually another layer that is also in play.  For religion, there is the question of the impact of truth and truth discussions on faith.  For politics, there are questions of keeping the system moving and getting re-elected.

Like Dubois said about the identity of an African-American, those in religion and politics have two identities--who you think you are and who other people think you are.  I like what Obama said to O'Reilly last week about those who hate him.  He said he didn't worry about it because they didn't know him.  In so many words, they only knew a caricature of him.  I know I have misjudged others before because of the blanks I filled in with my mind, rather than leaning on what I actually saw of them face to face.

All of this is to thank those of you who disagree with me from time to time here on the blog.  It would be more comfortable no doubt if only people who agreed with me commented here.  But isn't that our problem?  Democrats only talk to Democrats and get more extreme, or libertarians only talk to libertarians and get more extreme.  When Wesleyans only talked to other Wesleyans, let's face it we were pretty bizarre in some ways.

So thank you for your loyal opposition.  I learn from you and I hope I at least make you think from time to time.

9 comments:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Ken,
I think this is one of the reasons that those in purely abstract subjects must be taken lightly, when it comes to the real world. Isn't this what you're saying?

This is what makes me cringe sometimes with the science/religion debate, because theory can be so separated from "real life", and acting on such a theory can distort one's view and make for a dangerous culture for individuals. The is science theologized (biological systems thinking). I would much prefer theologized science, then one is a physicalist, more than a idealist...( I hope I'm using my terms correctly)...

Ken Schenck said...

That's not exactly what I'm saying, but I do think that the more removed from concrete realia systems of thought are, the more they become more a matter of art than "explanation."

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Does "love" mean never having to say "I'm sorry" :) (I'm always apologizing about detouring the discussion...so thanks for your forbearance.

Then, is mixing the polical with religion like the Anderson Indiana father that was denied his previous custody rights? He had held equal time (50/50) with his wife until the courts found out he was agnostic! Then his 50/50 custody rights were cut to 4 hours a week with a little on the week-ends! ALL BECAUSE HE WAS AGNOSTIC. One can read it in the court records...

This active and involved Dad did not deserve the right to continue his relationship to his chidren because the courts believed that this Dad had to have the same beliefs as his wife! So, NOW the children have to deal with abandonment issues! It is MORE JUST TO HAVE PROPER BELIEFS THAN TO BEHAVE IN A WAY THAT IS CARING AND/OR LOVING TO THESE CHILDREN!!!I find this horrendously offensive!

My son-in-law worked for awhile in a youth detention situation. He tried to be an advocate for some of these children, only to see them put back into situation that were horrendously abusive!!

I hoep "the religious" can sleep well tonight! They will have their religious freedom, while these children have to live with the consequences of their bias/prejudice!

Ken Schenck said...

These are problems of human nature, not of religion or irreligion. When my niece once asked me why the divorce rate among Christians was no different from that among non-Christians, my answer was that "people are people." It of course should not be that way, but in a context where it costs nothing and can even be an advantage to self-define as a Christian, it's just the way it is.

Jesus put it in another way: "Narrow is the road and few there be that find it."

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Labels mean nothing to me...so anyone can identify as a Christian, or Atheist and that has little to do with who these people are.

Groups have to define themselves, as I've said on here before. But, I'm not too warm about identifying myself based on an identification with a particular group, other than an American human being. And I recognize that the anthropologist amongst us would believe that I am in a liminal state. All I need to do is join the group throught ritiual. Then, "I'm IN"....and for what reason? This is a pivotal question as to one's commitment of value/interest, which has little to do with religion.

As an American human being I have the political liberty to pursue my own interests. Why would I want to define myself by a "Narrow viewpoint", or from one way of thinking and being in the world???

Angie Van De Merwe said...

But, just as I am resistant to labels of religious identification, I am also resistant to a standardized typing of one's interests.

For instance, being an American human being, means that I can find many ways to express "justice" in this world. That means that "the poor" are just one group among many. I just gave an example of divorce courts, and child custody cases. There are limitless ways of meeting the needs in the world.

One can serve as a doctor, lawyer or Indian Chief...one can choose to serve the poor or be a diplomat. One can teach in the university, or lead in the secular square.

That means an individual life should never be determined/limited by anyone; parents, or friends, or scientists....

JohnM said...

Ken, Amen. And be assured you do make even the most contrary of us think some thoughts that ought to be thunk. :)

FrGregACCA said...

Sure, Wesleyans can be weird, but so can Orthodox.

My purpose here is simple: having been raised in an environment that was highly influenced by Wesleyan Evangelicalism, I feel called to challenge those who are "my people" to complete the journey begun by Jacob Arminius and John Wesley.

Having turned away from Calvinism, return to the faith once delivered, embrace the Church once established.

Bobby Wrigley said...

This is so true. I just got done watching a documentary called "Promises" that was filmed in Israel around 1999. It shows perspectives from the children on all sides of the strife. These young children have incredibly instilled ideologies and dogmas and they want their way so bad. But the filmmakers get some of the children to cross the boundaries of ideology and into the realm of relationship and shared humanity - they get the children to stand in one another's shoes and gain a broader perspective. Relationship opens the door to discussion and peace.

There are two pastors here in Indianapolis (one Wesleyan and one Presbyterian) who have started a friendly blog dialoging the difference between Calvinism and Wesleyan-Arminianism.

There is hope for our stubborn selves.