Cathy raised some very salient points about my post about how easy it is to ignore the wisdom in the room to listen to the ‘voices outside the house’. So, I have decided to write a rebuttal to my own earlier remarks, drawing on some of what she said.
Firstly, if we never listened to others from outside of the situations we’re in (church, work, whatever) we could become incredibly insular (and self-important). We might believe that we – and only we – had a monopoly on the truth, or that we – and only we – could find the answers to the problems we face.
Secondly, it’s good to know what other people are thinking from other areas / parts of the world. It’s good to know that other people think similarly to us, or to be challenged because they think differently. We only have to look at the insularity of some Christian factions to see that taking those people out of their comfort zones is a good thing.
Thirdly, some churches seem to operate in their own ‘bubble’ and seem to rarely look, listen, or step outside of what is their ‘norm’. I noticed that a while ago at Greenbelt. I was made uncomfortable by some of the things that were going on because they didn’t gel with the accepted (or implied) teaching of my then church. But maybe that’s a good thing.
If listening to the voices outside prevent us from going off on crazy tangents, and show us errors and deficiencies in our thinking, and affirm us in the more troubling things that we know we ought to do, then yes, I believe those are all good things.
I still think we have a tendency to put those outside on pedestals. I still think we can overlook the opinions of those sitting next to us to our own detriment. I think that maybe if we are going for outside voices they should be as far removed from our realm of experience as possible, not just outside our church, but outside our wing of the church, possibly even outside of the Church per se.
But I recognise that seeking wisdom somewhere is better than seeking it nowhere.