August 30, 2011
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I think one reason that I have come to increasingly enjoy discussing and learning about economics is that “feelings” play no role in the discussion. If you are a Chicago School Economist, you believe in the free market and limiting the role of the government intervening, let things occur as the will. If you are Keynesian, you think that in order to jump start an economy is for the government to spend money. You have your reasons for why you believe either position is the right one for the situation that the economy is in, but at the end of the day the disagreement is over an arguable position, not your feelings. The problem is the recession. Different people come up with different solutions based on their own study of economic theories. Economics is not perfect and is difficult to test because there is no real lab for economy theories to be tested in. However, the discussion does not fall into the realm of the way people feel. Moreover, it does not have to fall into ad hominem attack. “Your wrong cause your stupid.” I guess rarely is it that simple but that is what most debates feel like on the popular level. On the political level, “If you cared about the poor, you would be a democrat.” This alone is not a valid argument. On a theological level, “if you believed the Bible, you would believe that homosexuality is wrong.” Again, this is not valid argument. The premise that believing in the Bible requires that you believe homosexuality is wrong does not hold for all people.
But, whatever your view on homosexuality, why is it that we cannot disagree with someone and still love them? Why can’t you say, “I think your wrong, but that doesn’t mean I hate you.” One thing that makes theology more fascinating to me than economics is that helps shape a total view of the world. Theology can can supervene on matters of psychology as well as the marketplace. What theologians can learn from the economic, and for that matter philosophic world, is that to say someone is wrong or has an invalid argument is not say that you do not love them or care about their feelings. Just the same that you should not feel bad for telling a child that 2+2 does not equal 5 you should also not feel bad for telling someone that it is not a valid argument to say that “if a liberal tells you something it is wrong.” (Or conservative tells you something from the opposite end of the spectrum.)
In theology, we tend to come up against this stuff when dealing with people who theologically disagree with. I am living in a place that has a large population of Latter Day Saints. I have met protestant Christians here who disagree with the LDS church who are unwilling to love LDS people just because they disagree with them. They seem to think they are unworthy of any accolades just because they are theologically different in some cases.
On a broader societal level, I think that the default position, especially with religion, is rather than to say that someone is right or wrong is to say that they are all the same. Or, “that’s your opinion.” We tend to fall into a bland pluralistic view that downplays that there is any difference and falls merely into the realm of feeling. “Well I feel that Jesus is God.” Or, “I feel that the Book of Mormon is new revelation.” When in reality, to hold that the view that revelation is ongoing is arguable as right or wrong. The standard protestant position is that Scriptural revelation ended with the New Testament. It is a right or wrong position. The LDS position is necessarily anti-thetical to the Christian view. AND THAT’S OK! This does not mean that an LDS person is unlovable. This does not mean that they should be hated and shunned society. I honestly believe that the lack of true philosophical and logical education has harmed so greatly that we cannot have genuine disagreements. (This carries over into the political realm as well, but I am less concerned with that for the moment.) Most of society acts as if saying someone is wrong is a personal attack. It is not! People have conflicting and disagreeable positions. True dialogue actually happens between religions and people who have disagreements when we recognize those disagreements and do not try to gloss over them as if they don’t exist or explain them away into ridiculous untruths like all religions are just the same. They aren’t! And, this won’t help with religious conflict because most adherents of the respective faiths will not just accept this bland position that is popularized by the tolerance police.
This is where the challenge of 1 Peter 3:15 is truly felt, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Being able to love someone and respond to them with gentleness and respect is only a challenge if you recognize a difference and then try to love, co-exist, and discuss with them the point of contention. And chances are you won’t agree when you are done giving an answer. But, in the word’s of the Weepies, “the world spins madly on.”
I am probably rambling a bit here, but it’s just some stuff I have been thinking about in my new world here in Idaho. Please keep reading and give me some comments. Maybe I just haven’t said anything controversial enough to have a comment or response. Cheers!