Changing Minds

For some reason, I’ve been obsessing about the difference between faith and presumption. It is easy to see presumptuous belief systems in the fundamentalists who think they have the entire, and only, truth about God. When someone issues a religious edict I’m not sure what makes me angrier, the fact that they are so certain they are right, or the fact that I am so certain they are wrong.

You see, we all can be self-righteous and absolutely confident that we know the truth. Contrary opinions are just being obstinate. It is one of those things that is particularly difficult to recognize when we are doing it.

On the other hand, a principal reason that I believe progressive political and religious leaders are so ineffectual compared to our conservative and fundamentalist counterparts is that we are so reluctant to speak with conviction about what we hold to be our own absolute truths and passionate beliefs. Progressives tend to over intellectualize and rationalize everything. We speak in careful and nuanced terms. By the time someone wades through all of our qualifiers they have forgotten the point we were trying to make or they just don’t care anymore.

That really is the point. Jesus said “Humans do not live by bread alone.” What Mike Piazza keeps trying to say to the progressive church is that “Humans do not live by head alone either.” We have to learn to speak to people’s hearts at least as much as their heads.

One thing we have learned from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality movement is that facts matter a lot less than stories. When we are having a discussion with a family member or a co-worker about an issue we care about, you and I are determined to make them see the logic of our position. That is a losing position almost every time. If we simply would stop and tell a story of what we have known, or seen, or done, or felt we will have a much better chance. Changing hearts and THEN changing minds is much more effective than the reverse. I think that may be because faith is a matter of the heart, while presumption resides in our minds.

by Michael Piazza
Center for Progressive Renewal

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