Thinking and Reacting

Margaret and I were talking before and after church about disagreement in church and theology. We noted that a great proportion of the participants in theological and ecclesial debate seem reluctant (if not unable) to countenance the possibility that their opposing counterparts have good reasons for thining as they do. So, “conservative” commentators do not simply argue against the grounds for “liberal” conclusions, or against the conclusions themselves, but they frequently deploy in personam epithets — and vice versa. Similarly, partisans do not rest content with disputing the soundness of the Other’s position, but treat their adversaries’ whole identities as a danger to themselves, as though any apparent convergence must be repudiated lest the contagion of wrong-headedness infect The Good Guys’ theology.
 
Since we know mostly intelligent, well-informed, pious and resolute participants (at both antipodes of disagreement), and since we decline to suspect that the Pope is scheming to take over every bastion of liberal theology and purge the defenders of Good Causes (on one hand), or on the other hand that feminists, queer Christians, and communists are set on transmuting the Gospel into a New Age positive-thinking self-help cult, we are left in the uncomfortable position of seeming too Northeast for our Southwestern friends, and too dry for our humid friends. I do not ask that we all just get along — but I wonder whether we may just not reflexively correlate disagreement with suspicion?

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