Dreher's post is about epistemic closure--what we mere mortals would call closed-mindedness--and how to avoid it. Embedded in the post is a video by David Logan that is worth watching. It is part of what helped things gel in my mind.
The video is about tribes--not exactly Navajo or Apache, though in a sense these people-groups would fit the definition, but tribes in the postmodern sense--the clumping together of people to protect one an others mutual interests under the pressure of living in a culture where there is no overarching morality that provides security.
There is no need to repeat his stuff, I encourage you to watch the video, but looking at things through his paradigm there are the Timothy McVeys of the world--thankfully a distinct minority--the people who truly love life and bless others, and three other gradations in between. There is kind of a social inertia in these groups. Upward mobility is hard, partly because of isolation, much of it self imposed.
The video, though, is not the main point of Dreher's post. He gives a summary of a list by Will Salitan about keeping a properly open mind. He has a link to the original list of 10 points. Dreher picks four. Since the list by Salitan was published on SLATE it isn't surprising that it is critical of political conservatives. The point is basically that conservatives choose to only allow input that would confirm what they already believe. Not only is it true about some (many?) conservatives, it is a syndrome that is applies to a great many of us in a variety of realms.
I'll comment on some ways this filter-the-input mentality affects my realm:
We are instructed in scripture to guard our hearts. Proverbs 4:23, Matthew 15:18, but that cannot mean to never entertain a thought that challenges our mental status quo. The Apostle Paul for instance was knowledgeable of the pagan philosophers of his day. Peter's command to be ready to give an answer for the reason of the hope . . . (1 Peter 3:15) implies a dialogue with those who hold another view. Yet, many evangelicals live in a world in which every element of their lives is hyphenated with "Christian." They listen to Christian-radio, shop in Christian-stores, wear Christian T-shirts or ties, etc, etc.
In our fear of not being polluted are we failing to influence? And, just perhaps, are we failing to learn some things that might be good to know?
Some other quickies:
I've read a number of criticisms of John Piper for inviting Rick Warren to speak at his conference. Maybe we should cut them some slack. Could it be that the contact will be profitable?
Many specialists in "discernment" seem to major on rationale that sounds an awful lot like:
We know that buzzards sit on eggs. This activity results in the proliferation of buzzards, an obnoxious bird, covered with germs, declared unclean by the Old Testament. A recent article in a well known periodical documented Daisy the beagle-hound incubating a clutch of eggs. Buzzards were seen circling above Daisy--clear evidence that these were buzzard eggs--at the least, Daisy showed a lack of proper regard for decency by appearing to contribute to the buzzard population. Howard Merrell once owned a beagle. Clearly he is a buzzard-sympathizer--if not a vulture in disguise.
I understand the need for proper separation, but could it be that in our fear of being exposed to something bad that we fail to be challenged to learn something greater?
There is a tendency to ridicule, or be dismissive about that, and those, with which, or with whom, we disagree. I'm somewhat of a fan of a very well-done blog, Front Porch Republic. Reading the thoughts of the ladies and gentlemen there helps keep my epistemic door open. My measurement of the discussion on FPR is "how far over my head is it this time?" Yet for all of the intellect on display, on the site, there is an unfortunate tendency to caricature and make-fun-of folk who hold views that the learned authors there choose to not consider. Sarah Palin is called a sex-pot, and evangelicals are presented as buffoons.
I would be amiss if I did not confess my own tendencies in this regard:
Yesterday I had to stifle an urge. In a magazine I saw an ad for a big gathering of Christians featuring well-known preachers. There on the page was a gentleman who a few years, ago if memory serves me well, did Fundamentalism a great disservice by doing a very good job presenting a very wrong concept. He was one of the best known proponents of the King James Only Movement. There on the same page was a man I admire greatly. I almost went into the guilt by association mode. Thankfully, I stopped--As Barney Fife used to say, "Nipped it in the bud." A practice I hope to practice more.