Wrapped in Our Own Bubbles

I have friends and acquaintances from all over the country (and some outside) with all kinds of views and opinions about all kinds of things. From people who think Trump was a good president to those who think he’s the devil. From people who are transgender to people who can’t imagine how anyone can be anything other than straight. All races, cultures, economic levels, religions – you name it, I know someone who is it. I have a feeling you may be the same way. I don’t know anyone who is just one thing or leans in one direction 100% of the time. I’m sure they are out there, but I am unaware of them. And while we have become more siloed over the last 10 years than ever before, we also have a lot more opportunities to learn from those who think and live differently from us; that is, if we are willing to listen with an open mind. That, my friends, is the challenge. How do we listen and (gasp!) change our minds? How do we let go of our programming, our deeply embedded ideologies, and embrace (or at least, consider) new (at least to us) ideas? 

Take religion, for example. I have, with the exception of two post-confirmation years, always attended church and considered myself a Christian in the process. I have very solid views about Jesus that could lead me to have very exclusive ideas about who is or isn’t allowed in heaven. I have also known many non-Christians who were, in my experience, far better followers of Jesus than most people who say they are. They see the wisdom of His teaching and appreciate it in ways that most Christians don’t, mostly because most Christians haven’t taken the time to read or deeply consider what those words say. Most religious non-Christians I know have a better understanding of the Christian Scriptures than most Christians sitting in pews every week. Taking all of this into consideration, I came to the conclusion decades ago that being a God-loving person is more about what you do and how you treat others than it is about what you say you believe. This means that heaven has lots of space for lots of people – the whole “in God’s house there are many rooms” idea – and those who believe they know who will be in heaven are not God and are, therefore, wrong. You might have an opinion about this, and you might be wrong. It took time for me to change my mind about this, and I don’t care if you don’t like it. This is between me and God.

I have always believed in what I have believed in, and those beliefs may or may not be completely correct. I listen to you as you express what you believe, because you might know more than I do. If my beliefs cannot hold up to a little scrutiny and challenge (the Devil’s Advocate, if you will), then they aren’t much of a belief system. I am not afraid to be challenged; those who can’t hear opposing ideas are, as the lady up the street from me where I grew up used to say, weak-kneed ignoramuses. If I can’t listen to you without getting angry or replying with insults and arrogance, I am also a weak-kneed ignoramus. Unless you are a Nazi/White Supremacist/Proponent of Hate; that is where I think we all need to draw the line in our personal discourse. You don’t believe in God? That’s your choice. We can have a spirited discussion about that. Just don’t tell me Jesus is a jerk; that’s just rude. Be a grownup and think before you speak, and I will do the same. And get out of your bubble; you will suffocate in there! The fresh air of new ideas will do you good. I know that listening to others has helped me to grow in understanding over the years, and I ain’t done yet.

Prayer – God of new and old ideas, open our hearts, minds, and spirits to Your ever-flowing stream of knowledge, so that our lives might not only enrich others, but might be enriched by them. Amen.