In a world of extremist language on all sides, what saddens me most is Christians who fail to speak with grace, humility, wisdom, and love. In short, who fail to act like Christ. No, actually, what saddens me most is when I fail to.
Alan Jacobs puts his own advice into practice in How to Think. He winsomely walks us through important dynamics regarding how we can and should think and talk when we believe something strongly.
highlights, for example, that “when people commend someone for ‘thinking for herself,’ they usually mean ‘ceasing to sound like people I dislike in starting to sound more like people I approve of.'” They forget that we are all influenced by others and by our communities. “Thinking is necessarily, thoroughly, and wonderfully social” (37). And terrifyingly social, because changing our minds can mean losing our friends, our family, or our community.
No one wants to be completely open-minded either. “No one wants to hear anyone say that, while there is certainly general social disapproval of kidnapping, we should keep an open mind on the subject” (126). And no one wants to hear that thinking requires balance.
Sometimes facts or reasons do come to light which should alter our views. We want to have commitment in our convictions along with the humility and honesty to hear different perspectives.
If we can shrink others to less than human or more than evil, then we can absolve ourselves of the need to open our ears and our minds. To listen takes courage. Yet, “working toward truth is one of life’s great adventures” (150). In that lies hope.