Balancing Bubbles

The sheer volume of information that finds its way to my email address on a daily basis is bewildering.  It is impossible, at least for me, to read it all.  Occasionally I try, and this morning I followed a couple worthwhile links from two different ideological perspectives.  They helped me balance my information bubbles

My first click was to an entry in God’s Politics blog opposing the war in Afghanistan. The blog post was written by Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, a Christian advocacy organization dedicated to social justice.  Its publications are written by Christians for Christians.  Politically they lean a little left-of-center.  I skimmed his article on why we should get out of Afghanistan sooner rather than later.  Wallis points out, among other things, the number of soldiers who have died or been injured in the war in Afghanistan and that the cause does not justify such loss.  His argument was compelling.  But I wasn’t finished reading yet. 

I scrolled down to see an update from World Magazine, a news magazine led by former atheist communist, now conservative Christian, Marvin Olasky.  World is also written for Christians by Christians, and its politics tilt a little right-of-center.  I skimmed two informative news articles, one on President Obama’s decision to bring home 30,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer and a far more disturbing story about the nightmarish beheading of an Afghani Christian man simply because he was a Christian.  The latter article quoted an Afghani Christian living in India as saying that if U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, the Taliban will take over and will intensify their persecution of Christians. 

That piece of information added a new dimension to my understanding of the situation in Afghanistan.  How many other nuances and complexities exist of which I am completely unaware? I am sure of nothing except that the situation is multifaceted and not necessarily well understood. 

My morning mouse clicks reminded me of two things.  First, it is vitally important that we consult a variety of ideological perspectives when evaluating national and global issues.  When I read World, I factor in its generally conservative perspective; with Sojourners, I adjust for their left-leaning slant.   They both provide good and valuable information and one tends to balance the other.  A steady diet of information from just one source would result in the hardening of one’s ideological arteries. A balanced diet from different perspectives would promote a healthier circulation of information and ideas. 

I’m also reminded that sincere, intelligent, and passionate Christians can and do disagree over political issues.  That’s fair, but our allegiances to political parties or ideologies should not sabotage our Christian unity.  God is far more interested in our unity as brothers and sisters in Christ than our politics. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on ideological bubbles, the war in Afghanistan, balancing information sources, Christian unity or anything else that might be on your mind.   

“The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”  Proverbs 18:17

 

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About Judy

At heart I am a student of truth, an observer of culture, and a communicator. Jesus is my teacher and my Lord. In pursuit of these passions, I read as much as I can, serve as Teaching Director for a Community Bible Study group, and write a blog in an attempt to synthesize it all. I take great delight in my relationships with family and friends, and I also enjoy long walks, bike rides and cooking. And did I mention that I like to read?
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12 Responses to Balancing Bubbles

  1. ebforeman says:

    Healthy solid food! I tend to be like Sue — a spectator — and I confess that I am pretty comfortable in my bubble. I care, but I don’t take the time to read let alone digest opposing viewpoints. It takes time. My husband and I have worked hard in the past six months to turn off the cable news — all channels — and to read. (There’s a story behind that decision!) Yet sadly, I find myself getting lazy about reading the op-eds, the blogs, the news magazines. It was easy to click “on” and “listen” while I made dinner or did the dishes. And so, Judy (and Ruthie) I’m thankful that you are nudging. Nudge away!

    • Judy says:

      I look forward to hearing the story behind your decision to turn off cable news. We don’t have cable, and frankly I don’t think I’m missing much, so I’ve never been a cable news junkie. Like you Beth, the news magazines tend to sit unread in piles next to my chair, although I have a little more time to read them in the summer. Dan reads them more faithfully. I read the local paper’s op eds, and occasionally write a few letters to the editor myself, check the Drudge Report once in a while, listen to a smattering of radio while in the car, and catch some network “news” (which is more like sound bites in between commercials.) What are your major news sources? There are simply too many to keep up on them all.

  2. KJ Lange says:

    It seems more people today just want to read articles and writers with whom they already agree. I think if you’re a Fox newshound, then you need to tune into MSNBC and CNN once in awhile. I have editorials my dad saved in a scrapbook from the 20s and 30s (last century – ha!) and the dialogue just has different characters. Politics has always been ugly but it’s also a sport. So I applaud you for delving into this new sensitive area of well-rounded opinion making. Christians should be leading the charge of civil discourse.
    I have begun to think that our country needs the investment we’re putting into other countries. Our levies and bridges are breaking. We have practical things that need to be taken care of now and in the future. Bill Clinton leads a group that meets to talk about different countries and how to help them. This year they’re talking about the US. He actually has some well-thought out plans for what our country needs and how we can do it. Love him or hate him (as those seem to be the extremes), he’s a thinker, an analyzer and perhaps his viewpoint is helpful as a past-President. The current Newsweek magazine outlines his thoughts. It will be interesting what comes out of that.
    I think it’s time to “bring the boys home” from Afghanistan. We have a presence in Iraq, which is what I think the real objective of that war was. Bring home unnnecessary manpower. Get out of Afghanistan until someone can give us a reallllly good reason why so many of our young men and women are coming home missing limbs. I am not convinced that our lives and expenditures in Afghanistan outweigh what that money and manpower could do for our own country.
    We are weakened by our extremes and only stronger when we can really talk about solutions for our future.
    My bubble is pretty big and likes to nudge other bubbles:)

    • Judy says:

      I appreciate your broadly informed perspective. Nudge away! Our bubble bias does weaken us. It hardens positions and distances us from each other, keeping us fighting our ideological “enemies” instead of working together to overcome the real problems. We are arguing based on fifty-year-old paradigms while ignoring new realities. Thanks for contributing your thoughts.

      • KJ (Ruthie) Lange says:

        A newer version of Thursday Night “Solve the problems of the World” sessions from college days. I love that you make me think. I am wondering when “Christians” became a political party and when “Christian” meant right wing conservative. I think Jerry Falwell and Karl Rove had something to do with it. I say, let’s get back to thinking for ourselves and stop drinking the Kool-Aid. You are providing a forum for us to do just that.

        • Judy says:

          That’s a complicated one for me. While Christians often, although not always, tend to be politically conservative and so contribute to the connection, I also observe that “Christian conservative” has become an unfair and pejorative stereotype. I recently read the book “Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told” which takes a close look at survey data to reveal subtler meanings of such perceptions. So much of our perception depends on the terms used and the way questions are framed. Interestingly, when Christians behave like Christians in their interpersonal and social interactions, they are very well perceived and highly respected. Just another reason why we should be talking with each other respectfully and personally instead of arguing from perceived characatures. There are many flavors of “Kool-aid” these days: liberal, conservative, Christian, Atheist.and many more. You’re right; we should all be thinking instead of reacting to straw man stereotypes. Love these “Thursday nights;)”

          • KJ (Ruthie) Lange says:

            I would just hope that we would listen to people regardless of their affiliation and see if what they say has any value. That would be a good outcome. As Christians, we should lead the way in being fair, and hearing many viewpoints. Think of all the varied opinions Jesus had thrown at him. And He basically always came back to the same question, “Who do you say I am?” So who He is is Us her in the marketplace of opinions. I confess, I do not always represent Him well! But He knows our heart.

  3. sue anderson says:

    I’m not sure why, but i feel like a spectator of political dialogue, having a general position, but not feeling the passion and anger that I have heard and seen in fellow believers from different political positions. To oversimplify, it’s like the Cubs and the White Sox. They’re both from Chicago, but many are bent on picking one team and abhoring the other. It’s not just that they have a preference when they play each other, but they actively cheer against one another, no matter who the opponents may be. Sometimes I feel like we have chosen our “sides” so strongly, that we would cheer for the failure of the opposing party, even if it meant bad things for us and/or our country as a whole. As believers, we excuse each others lack of love, even and especially for our “in house” political enemies, in the interest of what we see as the “greater good” (not letting our country be ruined). There is no greater good than love. And there is no greater love than when a man lays down his life for his friend. Maybe we can’t lay down our lives, but maybe we can lay down our verbal weapons and anger, long enough to at least listen to those whose views are different than ours. Glad you’re modeling that for us Judy. : ) Thank you.

    • Judy says:

      Amen Sue! It seems to me that the Church should be the arena in which politics is discussed respectfully, thoughtfully and lovingly, for we have unity far above the political. We have a tremendous opportunity as believers across ideological lines to demonstrate what real “civility” in political discours looks like. I’ve heard and seen it done right…and wrong. Somehow we end up fighting each other when there are larger and more dangerous threats to oppose. Laying down verbal weapons and listening to each would be a powerful demonstration of love and wisdom. Well said.

  4. Margaret Nyman says:

    I love the verse you chose, and its application. You made a great explanation of the dilemma. Good post!

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