Friday, July 29, 2016

Old Adage Dinosaurs - Never Discuss Religion or Politics?

I've been pondering an old adage for most of the year. And oh... how I've debated with myself on where to post and what to write. The problem with some old adages is they tend to lumber along beside us as historic dinosaurs. Times change yet sometimes well worn proverbs stay with us while still feeding off old values and others' beliefs. Somewhere in our childhood they have been whispered to us in the corners of rooms and become little anthems we carry and, often times, accept without much thought. I was raised to look at topics then draw my own convictions and conclusions. In secular society, this is often described as a free thinker and in the realm of scripture study it's called 'being a Berean' (Acts 17:11).

I'm utilizing these terms as:

"A free thinker is someone that has looked at the evidence and the theories and the beliefs they have been taught and come to their own conclusion about what it is they believe or don't believe. It has less to do with the conclusion. It is about the process. "

Acts 17:11, "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
In this context, I believe the old fashion adage that should go extinct is that, "One should never speak about religion or politics." Have I instantly lost your readership? Well, I hope not because you would miss out on an excellence excerpt written below by Matthew Warner which is both intelligent and insightful. 

Always Talk About Religion and Politics - by Matthew Warner 

There’s a weird understanding in our polite culture that we never discuss religion or politics. I say always discuss them. I don’t mean like constantly talk about religion and politics. But to always make sure and talk about it...

Some say it’s not polite. But perhaps that’s because we haven’t learned how to talk about them politely. And perhaps we don’t know how to talk about them politely because we never discuss religion and politics. Perhaps if we did it more we could learn to be more polite about it when doing so. And besides, there are sometimes things more important than being polite.

Why is it that we would be comfortable not discussing two of the most important things in our existence – our freedom (politics) and our purpose (religion)? Kind of strange isn’t it?

It’s quite alright to talk about the game last night, a new pair of shoes, or how so-and-so did you-know-what and can you believe it? But two of the more important things in life are taboo? What gives?

The obvious answer is that they are more difficult to talk about without causing conflict. And we often avoid conflict at all costs. Fair enough. Like most things that are important, such topics are fueled by conviction and passion. But so what? Is that really a good enough reason to leave off talking about them all together? Should that not be more reason to discuss them?

Yet we often don’t. We seem to be more comfortable having shallow relationships built on chit-chat and nonsense than to have deep, meaningful, fruitful ones built upon challenge and trial. The latter is the stuff of real friendship. The former has raised a generation illiterate of politics and ignorant of religion.

If we actually talked about it more maybe it would help that.

And we shouldn’t just discuss it in like company. We should especially discuss it in mixed company. This is how we learn from each other. This is how we understand one another.

Doing such personalizes these political and religious issues for us. We can then no longer wrongfully demonize some ambiguous, faceless group of people who strangely believe or support some outrageous thing! For we have met them…and they’re not demons, they’re our friends. They’re our family. They’re our neighbors.

Such discussions encourage us to learn from each other and understand where the other side is coming from instead of tritely discounting their point of view in our head without true effort of reconciliation. We may very well be right on the issue, but surely our goal is to work towards agreeing on the objective truth, not to idly chastise so we feel better about ourselves.

Thoughtful discussions are a great way to encourage people to reason through their positions – which they often have not done (on account of never having to discuss them). And it’s a great way to teach when done out of love.

Oh, and we often learn we aren’t quite as smart as we thought we were, too. All good things."

I really appreciate the way this author expresses his outlook. I carry many of these same thoughts. So I, for the record, WILL talk about my God and faith. I will share about him in public and private forums with as much gentleness and honesty as possible. I will discuss the scriptures with people who are open and I will listen to their concerns, opinions and thoughts too. Additionally, I will continue to express my political views and thoughts. I am okay with having those discussions. I don't tend to struggle with people-pleasing so often others find me too bold. That's fine. But let there be no mistaking this statement written in my gentlest demeanor...I will not be shushed on either topic. 

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