In a rambling post yesterday, I shared how I find it difficult to share or discuss matters of faith with Americans but not with internationals. Speaking generally, Americans seem hyper-sensitive. Faith is an important part of the lives of many people, yet they are expected to compartmentalize it. There seems a decreasing ability to have dialogue or open discussion on matters of faith or other sensitive/complex issues.
I was reminded of some thoughts I jotted down from a book I read by David Dark. He shared concern about our soundbite culture. What follows are notes I jotted down from the book (which I no longer possess) which are a combination of paraphrased content, excerpts, and direct quotes:
“When we are no longer willing (or able) to exercise the attention span required to hear, read or listen to anything that can’t be contained in a soundbite or a put-down, our capacity for worship and for contribution to stable democracy is compromised….We find ourselves in a cultural climate that appears increasingly unlikely to promote the skills required to think coherently about ourselves or to properly converse with each other. The trouble with a soundbite culture that resents complexity and lacks the patience to listen (or read) any account of people, places or events that doesn’t somehow prove we’re in the right is that it eventually becomes a sort of feedback loop playing over in our heads…our minds become populated with slogans, short answers and cliches that we only like to hear reaffirmed. Sooner or later we avoid people with different views…and define our community by the people who agree with us. We lose the skills necessary to respond redemptively and without anger to a difference of opinion.“
Not only is our culture increasingly like this, but Christians too. I point the finger at both sides. The secular culture can’t accept that faith is an integral part of the lives of some people, and unfairly and unrealistically expect them to keep their beliefs private and personal. But faith is a part of who they are.
Yet, I also observe Christians who are…insecure, militant, fearful. Of course, they would deny those adjectives and not see themselves as such. But they lack diplomacy or sensitivity and an inability to have genuine dialogue with those of differing views. Listen? What’s that? They can’t put themselves in another person’s shoes, and they only see things from their own narrow perspective. They reply with cliches and one-liners, that drive people away from faith in Christ rather than to it. Unlike Jesus or Paul, they lack the ability to meet people “where they are” or to “become all things to all people” (1 Cor 9).
I find both closed-minded skepticism and closed-minded belief equally frustrating, and seem to increasingly encounter both. Thoughts anyone? As a believer, I wonder how we can move believers beyond the insecurity and fear?
I’m not always good at getting to the point of what I am trying say. But rambling blog posts can help, as I eventually have a eureka moment. I’m not quite there yet. Thanks for listening.