Sunday, January 13, 2013

God's gift of Creative Reflection

Most of my opinions and thoughts on things are most likely incorrect. Or, at least 'half baked.' I know this, so I try not to cling too tightly to them. In fact, it takes very little effort for someone to question me and send me off to reconsider my positions. Many times this reflection forces me to make modifications. I find that the added input from these other folks is good and deserves a place in my thoughts. Other times, my position is vindicated and I am content to hang on to my position. At least until someone else comes along to question it again. I think that this is a fairly good way to develop opinions and beliefs. It allows me to use the brain that Yahweh has given me. A creative mind that has the ability to reflect and learn. This, I think, leads to growth.
There are many folks, however, maybe even most, who do cling tightly to their positions. Some of these positions may be untenable in the face of prevailing data. But, they call if 'faith.' Their position has been verified by God, or some other source that is outside of, or higher than they are. It's not 'their' idea, but God's. This necessarily relieves them of the responsibility to think and reflect for themselves. How sad this is.
I think that part of the issue with this is the human need to be accepted as part of a group. We desire to be a part of something larger and more significant than we are by ourselves. Many times this leads to a phenomena called 'Groupthink.' In order to belong, we give up our right to think reflectively and creatively and we adopt the thoughts and positions of the group. This is done willingly and without reflection.
There are many dangers inherent in this process. One, as I've already stated, is that people simply don't think. They don't reflect on beliefs and practices that seriously impact their lives. It is more important to belong to the group, and perhaps safer, than to venture into the unknown realm of real faith and trust. The group defines the identities of its members. Who they are before God, self and others is given up for the sake of the group.
Another problem with adopting the group's positions on things is that boundaries of exclusion are defined and raised. When we appropriate the group's thought as our own we immediately define who we are, as well as who they are. We need only to take a cursory look at history to see the damage that has caused. Ask those who have been colonized how it feels to be 'other.' Look at the Holocaust in Nazi Germany to see how 'we' care the 'them.'
There is another group, a larger group, that we may be able to be a part of that wouldn't have these kinds of consequences. That group is the Community of Creation. I first heard this term used in a book by Dr. Randy Woodley. This group includes all of creation; all things and all people. The Community is the result of Yahweh's good, creative work. It might be said that it is the result of God's Creative Reflection. There has been too little use made of this great gift of God. We can think and reflect creatively. Perhaps it's time to start.

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