Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making Room for Differing Opinions in My Life

I became a twit a few years ago, or should I say a tweeter.  While I have enjoyed Facebook, Twitter offers a different sort of charm as it is can be configured as a personalized stream of news, inspiration and opinions. 
When I first joined Twitter I followed folks that I respected, or who believed what I believed about the world, politics, and God.  But at some point I really felt like my personal news feed from selected sources tended to lead me towards a very myopic view of the world.  So one day I decided I would follow some people who I don’t really agree with on many things and to follow some organizations that hold very different views on what is important in the world.  I am amazed at how much I am challenged in a good way by some of the people that hold to a very different view of theology than I, as well as by looking at world news through the lens of other political persuasions or cultures.

What do you think?  Is it helpful or healthy to create space for differing opinions in your life?

I welcome your answers as long as you agree with me ;-)


brian jeansonne said...

I struggle with this one so much. I often feel like to disagree with my opinion is to disagree with who I am as a person. Why is that?

I think making room is absolutely healthy and would like to continue getting better at it.

j andrew taylor said...

I think you do yourself a disservice when you close yourself off to differing opinions or beliefs. You can probably survive without them, but at the very least you're missing out on some beautiful conversations.

Pi Man said...

Good thought provoking questions, Crispin. While I think that I'm comfortable in my heart with what I believe has been revealed to me by God's Spirit through years of studying, practicing, and interacting with others (and often times not "successfully"), I often listen to short bits of varying and opposing opinions and music styles. I have done that for years because I simply want to understand the basis from which these often polar opinions come. I can honestly tell you that I do not want to debate or argue with people about why (for example) their opinion would be "incorrect," as BJ had often pointed out, the "I'm always right syndrome." But if one wants to have a respectful, calm discussion about differences of opinion,I'm open to that if I think it safe and beneficial for all. I just don't want to discuss points with others who are not respectful and won't even consider others opinion anymore. The angst/anger and cycle of frustration that comes with that is, as I said before, at the very least, unhealthy. Not to mention that confrontation of that sort usually has the exact opposite reaction that maybe you hoped to bring out.
So, I say all of that to say I think it important to be secure in your fundamental and core beliefs, and then with an open mind, listen to and filter through new/different opinions, asking God for the wisdom to understand. He promised he would give that wisdom to those who asked, so I'm taking him up on that. 8^) Thanks Bro. TA

greenturtle said...

Well I certainly don't think it's helpful or healthy to be closed to differing opinions. It makes one narrow minded, shallow, and brainwashed.

You don't have to renounce your faith or your beliefs, in order to research and listen to viewpoints different from your own. Perhaps you might come to realize that, from where they're coming from, it actually makes sense.

That doesn't mean things have changed between you and God. It just makes you more aware and enlightened, more connected with others.

Through the years, I have practiced four different facets of Christianity: catholic, protestant, baptist, and evangelical / full gospel.

All four are different, and all four believe that the other three are all wrong.

A fifth facet, pentecostal / apostolic, didn't want me because I wear pants.

I was even atheist for a while, having become completely disillusioned by the church and the "christian" subculture (which bears a striking resemblance to Jr High School).

Now I'm just a generic, unchurched christian. Me and Jesus are fine, but the "christian" label, whether it refers to people, places or things, means nothing to me.

Don't take that the wrong way; It's not Jesus I have a problem with at all. But if He were here today, I seriously doubt He would have much to do with the "christian" subculture either. Most would never even recognize him.

I'm interested in hearing from people who were once Christian, but turned away. I want to hear their story and how they came to that conclusion.

greenturtle said...

People don't like to be disagreed with. People don't like for individuals to offer a dissenting opinion from the general consensus.

And unfortunately, I tend to have opinions that differ from the general consensus; I tend to bring up other sides to the issue at hand.

That doesn't mean that I'm "evil", "demonic", or that I "have a spirit of division". It simply means that my opinions happen to deviate from the mainstream.

This has stirred reactions from others, that range from silence and strange looks, to being completely repudiated and permanently banned from the group.

Especially when there is much truth to what I said, and it's really not what the group wants to hear.

Having said that, exactly what did I mean by "the christian label means nothing to me?" And how can one even BE a christian, when they have no use for the christian label, nor the christian subculture?

Well, I meant exactly what I said. The label "christian", whether it's a person, place, or thing, has no bearing on its quality or trustworthiness.

Christians are told to seek out the company of other christians (and eschew the company of non christians), to patronize christian businesses, vote for christian politicians, hang out at christian coffee shops and bookstores, cook their meals with christian cooking oil, and so on.

The theory being that a "christian" is righteous, trustworthy, and will not do you wrong. A "christian" business will be reasonably priced and offer quality service because it's run by "christians". A "christian" politician will fight for the good of those he represents.

Oh how I wish that were true. I really wish that the "christian" label was more than just a decoration.

Jesus commands us in the bible to, besides love the Lord with all your heart, to also love your neighbor as yourself.

There are people that post on their facebook page "Jesus is lord of my life" along with pretty christian insignia and bible verses. Yet in the years I've known them, I've never once observed them showing love to their neighbor.

And they go out to a public place to raise their hands up and sing christian songs, yet the moment the singing is over, they're stand-offish and rude to the people around them.

Exactly what are they trying to do? Entertain me? I don't want to be entertained. Show me what great christians they are? That went out the window with their attitudes toward me and others.

I challenge you to ask yourself: By the definition of loving my neighbor as myself, am I a Christian? What about the ones whose opinions are different from mine? Just something to think about.