Bubble and straight quoteBubble-ology : the recognition and analysis of spheres containing uniform philosophical, ideological and/or theological thought (from Judy’s dictionary of hypothetical words:).

How often do you seek perspectives from sources outside of your bubble?

Every individual looks at life through the lens of his or her unique life experiences and influences.  Therefore, our thinking is limited by what we have been exposed to emotionally, experientially and intellectually.  We don’t intentionally insulate ourselves; it just happens as we naturally seek out like-minded people.

I have learned that my ideas might make perfect sense from within a bubble of like-minded thinkers, but different viewpoints reveal my blind spots and expand my perspective.  We won’t learn to sharpen and clarify our ideas if we only interact with people who agree with us.

Have we created cozy personal bubbles, self-affirming universes, for ourselves?  If so, we won’t see things as they are on the basis of their objective merits.  Instead, as Anais Nin so astutely observed, we will see things as we are.

Floating bubble

Isolated in ideological bubbles, we might begin to think that people in other bubbles are stupid, hostile or even evil, when in fact they are simply our neighbors who happen to look at life through different lenses.

The danger of insular input was the subject of one of my very early blog posts featuring this Ted Talk by Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles’”  (It’s well worth the ten minutes it will take you to watch it.)  If you don’t have time to click on the link, Pariser describes a filtering process by which Facebook and Google, for example, feed us information based on our preferences thereby limiting our exposure to the other side(s) of a discussion.  He advises us to intentionally seek out a variety of inputs in our news feeds.

If we’re going to get along, survive, and (miracles do happen) even thrive in our pluralistic society, I believe we must purposefully poke our heads out of our personal bubbles and respectfully seek to understand another’s.  I want to learn how to  invite and engage in conversations between people who will not necessarily agree with me or with each other.

We need more constructive cross-bubble communication.

There is only one arena in which unity and mutual respect have a chance of overriding political, social, economic and theological differences: those who follow Jesus, the Church.   Perhaps we have a unique opportunity to lead the way toward some beneficial bubble-building.

For a beautiful demonstration of this very thing, with thanks to Susie for her comment and this link, please check out this story about the friendship and open communication between Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-A and Shane L. Windmeyer, a gay man and founder of Campus Pride.

How do you entertain other ideas and opinions?  Have you experienced unity in Christ even among strong political, economic, social and/or racial differences?  How might the Church develop a culture of inviting dialogue instead of protecting a particular bubble of thought?

“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, an is in all.”  Colossians 3:11

6 thoughts on “Bubble-ology

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  1. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3)

    It would be great if we would all followed the instructions of Paul, but at the least, you and I can. That would probably be a good start in walking in unity with others.

  2. Wow, powerful post, Judy!! On the light note, as a poet, I love your dictionary of words–keep ’em comin’!! I agree with the A. Nin quote, that how I see things is more reflective of “me” than of objective truth. The tricky part of “hanging out” with people who are not like-minded is that, often it becomes a contest–who can persuade/convince/influence the other that their beliefs/lifestyle/doctrine is the “right” one. That’s not healthy, and it’s not about acceptance or achieving unity. Guess that’s the bulk of my 2 cents today. God bless you richly–love, sis Caddo

    1. I know exactly what you mean, Caddo. It is tempting to direct an honest exchange of ideas as a competition. Ahem…I confess that I’ve done it. Your two cents is well spent:). I love the Nin quote too – so true! It helps me to “interpret” behavior a little more wisely. Thanks for your thoughts Caddo – always valuable! Bless you back sis!

  3. Judy – I recently read an article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shane-l-windmeyer/dan-cathy-chick-fil-a_b_2564379.html about the friendship that has been developed between Dan Cathy and Shane Windmeyer and thought it was a beautiful example of two people on different sides of an issue working to understand the other’s perspective. Another example that comes to mind is Corrie Ten Boom’s father’s friendship with his Jewish neighbor in her book, The Hiding Place. Your post, and these two stories inspire me to step outside of my bubble. Thanks!

    1. Thank you for sharing that link Susie! I am so encouraged to see of people so beautifully and respectfully communicating across “bubbles.” Makes my day! And may you have a blessed one, Susie!

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