I’ve recently started contributing as part of a new(ish) blogging project with several other Church of the Brethren young adult theologians. The site is called Already and Not Yet, and was originally an outgrowth of a conference I helped plan last year. Occasionally I may do some cross-posting with this site as well. This is one such occasion …
(Original post available here)
The last several posts on here have touched on the issue of belief, particular beliefs and practices we understand to be “Brethren” in nature. Rather than talking about particular beliefs, I’d like to take a step back and foster some discussion on belief in general.
Recently I stumbled across this excerpt from a recent Rolling Stone interview of comedian and satirist Steven Colbert:
Rolling Stone: A lot of people view what you do as liberal vs. conservative. But what you’re saying is that the show is really about people who are flexible in their beliefs vs. people who are fixed in their beliefs?
Colbert: If there’s a target in our present society, it’s people not willing to change their minds. If you’re not willing to change your mind about anything, given how much is changing and how the sands are shifting underneath our feet, then that dishonesty is certainly worth a joke or too.
It got me thinking about how having flexible beliefs in the midst of our quickly changing, shifting world relates to being people of faith.
Every day we interact with people who might have vastly different beliefs than we do. I’m not just thinking of broad religious beliefs (Christianity, Buddhism, etc.) or political/social beliefs (conservatism, liberalism, progressivism, etc.) These kinds of beliefs, while certainly capable of being questioned, are often core to our identities. I’m not trying to say that such beliefs and identities can’t or shouldn’t be flexible, but I don’t think it’s these beliefs Colbert refers to and it’s not where my interest lies.
What I want to know is this: If some amount of flexibility in our beliefs is such an expectation of our culture, why is there such a stigma about changing our minds? Why do we find it so difficult to enter into dialogue with a sense of vulnerability, allowing ourselves to be informed and formed by the wisdom and experiences of the other? Does our faith / theology support or object to such flexibility of belief?
I’m still working on formulating my answers to these questions. There are already several comments posted on the original site … feel free to chime in either here or there!