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Kristen

Oddly enough, we have been criticized for much the same thing this very week. Our brother-in-law just kept coming back to, "But you've changed." Ummm...yes. Like you, I don't see why this isn't seen as a positive thing indicating growth! I would do back flips if Bush "changed his mind" about some things. Anyway...just wanted to say that Micah and I are in the boat with you.

Streak

My buddy Anglican once noted that he was really shocked when his conservative friends didn't even ask why he changed. They just dropped the subject. I certainly understand your frustration. I have been at this for a longer period of time, perhaps, but that doesn't make this particular pain any easier. I think for many of these conservatives (picking on them right now) you represent the scary side of their own mind. Thinking you are right usually is accompanied by that nagging fear that "what if I am not." Many of us recognize that fear and address it, but if you don't, being around someone who represents that fear can be unsettling. Or something like that. Not that I am a psychologist, but that makes sense to me.

With that in mind (and I am the first to admit that I don't do this all the time) I have tried to approach these situations from a little compassion for that anxiety. When I do that, and ask questions that are not hostile, I have better results. Unfortunately, I don't always follow my own advice. :)

Scott Jones

This is what frustrates me about family get-togethers anymore. We can't discuss substantive things and have what I consider to be fun, intelligent conversations.

Where I confuse many of my conservative, religious friends is that I'm still working at a Baptist minister and am so much more liberal, because of my work in the church. They can't fit that into their worldviews.

Adam

Streak,

I've tried the less hostile question approach before but I've found it to usually end up with me being baited out to say things more and more contraversial. But the way you worded the rest of what you said makes a lot of since to me as well. Thanks for that.

Scott Jones,

I don't think that I have ever had one of those conversation with my family. But I would like to ask you this: How do you continue in a conservative atmosphere and not get hopelessly frustrated with all of the nonsense? This is something I would have like to ask all of my baptist profs that were closet liberals.

Scott Jones

Oh, I do get very frustrated with all the nonsense, and occasionally feel that I'm verging on "hopelessly frustrated," but not quite yet.

I am in a pretty progressive church, though I don't think it is anywhere near as progressive as it thinks it is. It helps that most of my youth are more liberal than I am and are such cool kids.

Much of this year I found myself on the verge of fighting with various family members and my blood pressure would sometimes stay elevated for hours after a conversation with them.

So, I find ways, like blogging, and talking with my like-minded friends to keep me sane.

aaron

Adam,
Like the others, I completely relate. I am dealing with the parents issue since my parents are very conservative. Currently, my reactions are a bit hostile when touching on any type of spiritual discussion so I have to work to completely avoid it, which leaves us with "family talk", which is nice but in no way substantive. The passive, thought-provoking question approach can work but usually they just answer in the same way you'd think any conservative fundamentalist would argue and that is damn frustrating.

But then again, a few years ago, I would have answered in the same way too. I just wonder if it is more difficult for "elders" to really change their minds.

eddie

What if you "liberal" friends came and said they had decided that they now fell under the planket of Joel osteen and the bible ansewer man. Would you say "yippee good for you!". You would probably be upset they no longer agree with you.

I think everyone just thinks that people should beleive as they do. It makes them sad that you do not.

Kristen, Of course you would be happy if bushed changed his mind on the things that you don't agree with him on. If he changed mind on the one thing you think he is doing right you might be upset.

Just a thought.

Eddie

Adam

Eddie,
Good thought. One thing that my "liberal" friends run the risk of sometimes is blatant hypocrisy. I'll let Kristen answer for herself though.

If my liberal friends ran over to Osteen, which is as unlikely as my conservative friends saying "I'm not sure about this God stuff", then I would tell them I think they have lost their minds, but I probably wouldn't be mad at them or treat them like they had contracted some disease.

cheek

I know where you are all coming from, but I do think that there is a whole other side to this coin. I think that it is harder for us to see because most of us live in such a staunch conservative stronghold, but I think that in areas where liberal thought is more prolific liberal people probably act the same way. My fiancee has pointed out to me that when my family gets together we tend to sound pretty arrogant in our discussions of politics and religion. That said, I do think that conservative ideologies in general are more likely to produce hostility towards dissenters. Of course not all conservatives act this way, but the presuppositions of conservative ideologies just don't really leave much room for the critical questioning that is at the heart of liberal thought. Conversely, liberal thought often delineates into some sort of elitism that will not be outwardly hostile towards dissentors but will probably dismiss them as inferior, stupid, or unenlightened. This liberal arrogance is transcended by liberal thinkers like John Rawls and John Dewey, but we can't forget that Marx and Nietzche were liberals too. I'll admit that it is often hard for me to find any conservative people around here whom I can have productive, genial arguments with, but I have found a few who I'm sure would face problems similar to ours if they lived in the pacific northwest or New England.

eddie

Good thoughts cheek. I am sure you are right about that.

Adam, maybe your perception is wrong. Maybe you are thinking they are treating you as if you have a problem when all they are saying is "you have lost your mind". Then again they could be doing everything you said. I know a few people that think I am crazy and I am not even that liberal.

Eddie

Scott Jones

I like what Cheek had to say.

Leighton

Me too. I'm still trying to figure out what "conservative" really means; I'm not sure it's the core of the problem.

Cultural isolation is the real issue, I think, and it applies to people on both sides of the divide. It's easy to demonize [conservatives/liberals] when you don't know any. Going to grad school in Los Angeles, I know quite a few people who didn't vote for Bush for (literally) the same reason they wouldn't take a leak on their neighbor's lawn: it's just not done.

The usual vacuous stereotype of red-staters is that they only care about their own white Anglo-Saxon protestant evangelical culture, and while it's not univerally true, there are too many actual examples for comfort; as a fundy-turned-liberal-atheist I find that narrow-minded attitude appalling and no less elitist than the worst stereotypes of the left. At the same time, while I'm busy patting myself on the back for being culturally aware enough to read up on the history of Africa and the Muslim world, I have no interest or inclination to listen to country music (the twanging makes me twitch uncontrollably) or read southern states' perspectives on the civil war. In more ways than just geographically, I've cut myself off from dialogue with people of opposite political orientation, and I don't think that's a good thing--or that I'm alone. Why should they listen to me when I don't listen to them?

Fat Calbert

Adam,
I have felt written off several times by both the right and the left. Niether conservatives or liberals seem to be immune to the sins of pride or arrogance. The only thing I believe you can do is try to love those who hate you, bless those who curse you. In short, love your enemies. That's easy to say but hard to do, yet it seems to be Jesus' ethic.

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