Friday, February 13, 2009

Views From Below

I have been thinking about how people come to understand their faith along the lines of belief, belonging, and behavior. This is of major importance, I believe, if there is going to be an understanding across faith dimensions...

Belief is a set or way of understanding meaning. These meanings are made within our heads as we experience life. These meanings come from many factors in our life and this makes up our personal history. Beliefs contain everything from how we understand God, to how we understand life and how it should function because of these beliefs.

Behavior is how we understand what is appropriate and by what means. These are the social norms we live by and are given within our cultural and familial settings.

Belonging is our specific cultural, and familial membership. These can be formal or informal memberships, but do prescribe how behavior is to be understood, as they uphold the values that make for the social norms.

In this mix, we also must allow for individual development beyond these "identifications", or determinants. Although most people do not understand their beliefs as culturally specific, or their behavior as determined by these cultural limitations, there is development beyond these understandings, which are conventional social norms.

Whenever an individual reaches beyond their parental, and cultural "thinking patterns", then the mix will always be individually determined, as a unique "call" of individuality, which is the giftedness that is to be given back to "life".

Conventional morality is specified by "order" and the status quo. It behaves because "that is just the way it is", without question. most Americans in the South and many elsewhere just accepted the subjugation the the African American race, because this was the "accepted form". This is where the moral limits the ethical.

The conservative Church, for the most part, has held to the moral, and has limited the ethical change that needs to be made. Conservatism is the epitome of status quo and conservatism hinders the development of human flourishing due to "fear" of subversion of cultural norms.

While conservatism limits, it also gives historical bearings, so that there is some way to view life with a "frame". Without a frame there is a free for all in social change.

Perhaps, in thinking about social change, we should enlighten our understanding about how social change has taken place before and what it meant for those it impacted. Without a sense of history, we will not have the impetus to move forward or to slow down. Globalization calls for a re-working of our understanding of faith. And, I personally believe that we cannot dismiss pluralism in some form, otherwise, we are idolizing our particular reference point, or experience.

So, this morning while thinking about my faith, I question and I prod, but that is just "who I am".

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