Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Beware of Group Think

My favorite feminist is the former Director of the L.A. chapter of NOW, Tammy Bruce, because she breaks the mold. She is openly gay, pro-choice, gun-owning, pro-death penalty, and voted for President Bush! I may not always agree with her but I love her spunk. You can't type someone like that in stereo.

Recently I heard her speak at Florida State University about some of her experiences as a NOW Director and progressive feminist with a conservative bent. One of the things she noticed was how colleagues in the pro-choice movement would react win she or someone else within the ranks would question or consider a new perspective outside the party-line. There were a lot of black-and-white thinkers who could not handle alternate perspectives and would question a member's loyalty if they deviated. A kind of group-think mentality developed where one was afraid to differ or disagree.

I have seen this same attitude in many churches and in evangelicalism. There is a general understanding that one must hold to certain views, beliefs, doctrines, perspectives, and political thought. I'm not saying a group shouldn't have core values and beliefs they share. But the black-and-white mentality can take over a group so that the gray areas are forced to go black or white. If it goes too far it becomes very unhealthy. A person can lose their individualism as they are consumed with fitting into a fellowship, avoiding conflict (which is not always unhealthy), and sacrifice their own personhood on the alter of group-think. Independent thinkers can't handle this, which is probably why Ms. Bruce left NOW and is who she is today.

The key I suppose is striking a balance between sharing a broad set of core values or principles and welcoming independent thought--not always an easy thing to do but well worth the effort.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Rethinking Faith and Freedom

I was inspired to create this blog after watching the recent movie called Luther about the 16th century reformer played by Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love). Martin Luther, after seeing many abuses and misuses of religion in his day, rethought his faith and culture and helped restore Christianity to much of its original core and freedom. I hope to address many similar issues of our day where there is a need to rethink, restore, and perhaps even reform our ideas in the areas of faith, politics, culture, and sexuality. I have had to rethink issues in my life, sometimes a few times over, when confronted with new-found knowledge, facts, or truth, and some of these posts will describe such instances, while others will ask new questions or simply reinforce time-tested answers.

Luther was an independent thinker and I share that tendency. To all those who insist on thinking for themselves, I invite you to grab a mug of your favorite brew and hang-out in this Pub; share your comments, so that myself and others can learn from your experience, or just have a good read. Ironically, the day I post this is Martin Luther King day 2005, a time to honor another great independent thinker who also rethought and reformed the culture and freedoms of his day.