Friday, December 30, 2011

Another Pew Survey

I know I shouldn’t, but I really do visualize a church pew when I read about Pew Surveys.  I know, I know – that’s applying a stereotypical graphic to a word that has wider meanings.  One of Pew’s recent surveys brought stereotypes to mind in a big way! Religious people are technically inclined!!

Sometimes it appears that non-religious people think religious people live completely outside the physical world and they appear surprised when that stereotype is broken.

Same is true of religious people who view scientists as non-believers. ReadTheSpirit’s review of “Science vs Religion” concludes:
The “startling” news is this: Religion is a much bigger part of scientists’ lives than most Americans think. In other words: Our stereotypes about scientists are wrong.
When we see an example that ‘confirms’ our view of a stereotype, we believe more solidly that the stereotype exists for a reason. We can base assumptions on those views, and from assumptions, jump avidly to conclusions that are totally erroneous, but fit our world view.

Until something comes along, slaps us in the face and says, “Why in the world would you think THAT!”

Sometimes we think THAT because it helps us firm up our own beliefs. We reinforce our world view when we decline to accept that others have differing vantage points. Reminds me of the story of blind men touching different portions of an elephant, then rejecting all but their own descriptions. Impossible to see a larger picture without comparing descriptions.

I took a corporate seminar decades ago, entitled “You are who you are because of where you were when.” Unless we broaden our minds, that can be a very confining, yet valid, fact.  Opening ourselves to acknowledge others have a different “where” and “when”, then learning about them gives greater opportunity for comparisons – and understanding.  Confining ourselves to our own “where” and “when” ends up in being polarizing.  As our country is today.

There are biblical examples of stereotyping, too:

Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? (Matthew 13:55 KJV)

They knew the family – stereotypically, how could there be anything He could say that could be of interest? Or, how about Nathanael’s view of Nazareth:

And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. (John 1:46 KJV)

I like Philip’s response.  He didn’t try to convince Nathanael with rhetoric, didn’t downgrade his concept, didn’t attempt to change his mind or complain about his point of view.

“Come and see.” That’s the invitation I extend. Find out if what I say about the Bible is true, not what my view point is. As we share, come and see where we are, when.

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