Larry B., you need a blog of your own! Your comments on the previous post have been so helpful for me in trying to process my thoughts and reflections. I hope other readers take a moment to click here and read them.
In my ongoing endeavor to transcend labels like “conservative” and “liberal” (even though I use them all the time :) ), I have been thinking about open-minded conservatives and narrow-minded liberals. Although these may seem to be fictional characters, they do in fact, exist. The narrow-minded liberal is the one who says, “I think every voice must be heard” and then adds, “Except for the ones I do not agree with.” The open-minded conservative is the one who says, “I think every voice must be heard” and then decides on a certain (conservative) perspective after rationally processing all of the options.
All things considered, I’d rather hang out with an open-minded conservative than a narrow-minded liberal.
My thoughts at the moment are about epistemology – how do we come to know the things we know? It seems fair to me to say that one who looks at many different sources and evaluates their merit, and who engages in this process continually throughout their life might be said to have a “liberal epistemology” whereas one who rejects different sources out of hand without honestly evaluating them, or has ceased to engage in the process of new learning might be said to have a “conservative epistemology.” A liberal epistemology says, “Here is what I know now; show me more!” A conservative epistemology says, “Here is what I know now; and I’m sticking to it no matter what!”
In his United Methodist blogger profiles, John from Locusts and Honey (scroll down on the left side bar) asks a great question: “Can you name a major moral, political, or intellectual issue on which you've changed your mind?” I am fascinated with people’s answers to this question. While pretty much everyone can name something, some people seem to have trouble coming up with an answer, and some people seem to have swung all over the place on an issue. Perhaps this is a reflection on their particular epistemology.
More rambling thoughts: There are people who do not agree with new ideas simply because they are different from what is known. This leads to the “we have never done it that way before” mentality so prevalent in our churches. This mentality, whether the individual self-identifies as liberal or conservative, is inherently conservative, by the classic definition of the term. But a "liberal" can have this mentality, hence the problem with labels.
Reading back over this post, it may very well the most rambling and unformed post EVER. If you are still reading and have made it all the way to the bottom, I am sorry. But I will just let you know that the blabbering of this post represents my thoughts at the moment, which are very nebulous. But maybe that’s just my liberal epistemology at work!