The aftermath of the Georgia special election has mostly served as an illustration of the bubbles that people live in – bubbles that seemingly never intersect. Way too many people are flummoxed about how it could have happened and those that like the outcome are a little too complacent about the fact that it should not have been nearly as close as it was. Both sides are practically ignoring the other. This is not good.
Consider this piece from the NYTimes this morning. In it witnesses in front of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, there to testify about Islamism, tell how they were left unquestioned by four Senators, all women, Kamala Harris (D) CA among them. The reason, as stated by Claire McCaskill was that, “Anyone who twist or distorts religion to a place of evil is an exception to the rule…,” and therefore they had basically concluded there was nothing to be learned in the hearing. What?! There is no such thing as an evil ideology, religious or otherwise? Hence there are bubbles that never intersect.
It is the ultimate statement of relativism, dosed with such an immense volume of hubris that there is no information available that could result in a change to one’s personal, relative viewpoint. Once one builds their bubble, information which might change the bubble in some fashion is not worth knowing and the behavior of all others is assumed simply to be a product of their bubble, as if everyone else is as unwilling to change their bubble as our Senators.
I used to tutor high school students, but I can’t do that anymore. Every time they make a presentation, the words “I feel that,” invariably arise – as if their feelings on the subject matter a whit. Particularly given that when I did tutor it was in math and chemistry and physics. Nowadays I am accused of being abusive when my knee-jerk response of, “I don’t care what you ‘feel’ about it, tell me what is,” comes rolling out of my mouth. How dare I have the audacity to not care about a students feelings? How dare I disturb the students bubble?
If one looks at life this way everything is personal, and any disagreement become a personal attack. How did we ever reach the point where such took hold in the the United States Senate? Proverbs says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” One is tempted to conclude that foolishness now has significant seat in the Senate.
This has serious consequences. Take marijuana legalization as an example. Obviously the bubble of people that like dope is not going to want to listen to data from those that don’t. However, recent studies show that states with legalized dope have seen a 3% increase in car crashes. Lest you dismiss that as a small increase consider 30,000 traffic fatalities in 2009 as a baseline, then that is 900 additional deaths a year – hardly insignificant. The so-called “harmless” activity is not so harmless after all. I know you just ‘feel’ that marijuana is not that bad, you have used it without fatal consequence, but the numbers don’t lie. This is a bubble that need bursting.
Somewhere, somehow we have to return to the idea of objective truth. Yes, the idea of God will help with this tremendously. The presence of a super-nature defining nature implies an objective way things are supposed to be. But we have become so distorted in this relativism that we now twist our ideas of God to suit our bubbles. We use our personal vision of god to reinforce our bubble rather than the standard view of God as a means of bursting our bubbles. At such a juncture one must ponder that only disaster may return us to reason. We seem to be past argument for argument can only ping off the various bubbles, and are left only with experience.
This says two things to the Christian. First, stand fast to objectivity – do not succumb to the temptation to let go of it to fit in. I know too many churches that have done this, way too many.
But secondly, and more importantly, we have to figure out how to provide bubble bursting experiences. I would suggest that the first place to start would be, as always is the case with the church, to offer genuine love. But genuine love does not accept bubbles, for as we have seen, accepting bubbles can lead to harm. We have been building church and para-church for about 50 years now around the idea of giving people a place where they feel comfortable and then inserting the gospel. But “feeling comfortable” is another way of allowing them to stay in their bubble. Maybe it is time to go back to a church that challenges people; that makes them uncomfortable.