From YOUR perspective

31 Jan

Many of the conversations I have on the topics of faith and spirituality include the phrase “from my perspective.” Occasionally I’ll use it (and I’ll explain the best times to do so later in this post) but more often my conversation partner is reminding me that their thoughts are, essentially, theirs.

This practice is less an exercise in diplomacy and more frequently a (sometimes subconscious) tactical maneuver to reinforce the postmodern idea that we are not debating the nature of Truth and Reality but simply sharing the facts from within our own respective worldviews.

I have a problem with this type of conversation because while I’m interested in what they have to say (most of the time) I’m also interested in getting at reality and truth (if such things can be attained!) and so if I feel the conversation will be prolonged or if this is a habit of someone with whom I anticipate speaking frequently I’ll generally ask for the following concession:

Unless you’re going to represent a view that you don’t hold, don’t feel the need to qualify it by reminding me that it’s your particular view. Instead, take a stand and tell me how you think the world really is and I’ll do the same. We already know that our perspectives differ, so having acknowledged that let’s move forward and just do the stuff of reasoning together.

If your friend really does buy all the way in to postmodernism, then they won’t be able to agree to this – believing that our realities truly differ because of our perspectives. In this case, you have found your jumping off point! Focus your intellectual energies here until further notice (while occasionally testing the waters by asking if Jesus could possibly enter into multiple realities at the same time…woah).

The only time I “retreat to my tribe” by invoking perspective is over something where I can find no common ground with my friend. If we simply cannot find a starting point from which we can reason together – then it benefits me to at least say “Well, here is what Christians have traditionally believed about X – and it is also what I believe.” This serves to educate your friend without asking them to buy in to what you’re saying. It is also a more diplomatic way forward if for some reason your conversation is getting heated.

Ultimately, I want to be in conversation with folks who are willing to stand up and admit that they believe their beliefs without first retreating to their tribe.

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