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Rambling Rector

June 2024

From the Rambling Rector

Ask Enquire Discuss 

In today’s instant world, we tend to form an opinion based on a soundbite without investigating. We can easily be an expert in anything, and even follow that up by ridiculing those who really do know. The MP Jess Philips posted on Twitter recently that her husband had turned the heating off for the summer and she had put an extra jumper on as it was still chilly. She was immediately vilified in the comments, some saying she had turned her back on feminism, some saying she should stand up for herself, if she wanted the heating on, then turn it on. She was judged by one short sentence on social media. Nobody knew the discussions that had taken place, or why she had decided to post that comment. There was no asking whether she agreed to the decision, whether she had discussed it as a family, just immediate criticism. Criticism is something that is easy to do without investigating the facts. It is almost the easiest response to make. In the recent local elections there seemed to be very little putting forward of a positive argument for a particular party, and a lot of if you don’t like X vote for us, we are better, without telling us what they would do. The art of sitting around and discussing things seems to be a thing of the past. Even revered programs like BBC Question Time seems to only promote opinions that have already been made up, and the discussion seems to rarely lead to understanding.


When I was young, I was taught that many cultures around the world, whenever there is a dispute will sit down, as a family, village, whatever, and talk, drink coffee or tea and discuss until everybody agrees, or is content that they disagree with an understanding of why. How far that seems to be from a world where people say that whatever the evidence, I am not changing my mind. It is the better person that can listen and say that they have changed their mind as the result of that discussion. Professor Brian Cox recently said that he likes being proved wrong, because that means he has learnt something. 

There is a big difference between listening to understand and listening to reply and solve. Maybe that is why in recent years I have enjoyed watching documentaries from people like Louis Theroux, Simon Reeves or Ed Balls. They go to places and meet people that are from very different societies and engage with the people. They may well fundamentally disagree with the people they meet, but their objective is to understand why they think like that. Their questions are discussion starters to explore why they think and behave the way that they do. They engage with and experience the way that other people live. There may well be a lesson for us all there. I often think that if I had lived the same life as somebody I have met, been in their shoes, so to speak, then I may well have made the same decisions that they have, and be in a similar position now. It does aid understanding. 

As a Christian, I would love everybody to believe in God, and know and experience the same as me. If that were to happen without question, then others would have changed and I would not. Discussing with those who do not believe in God helps me understand my own beliefs better, and I would say, even change my opinion on things. If we are not prepared to change what it is we believe or understand on any subject, then we stop developing and become no more than a type of dictator trying to force our will on others. So the next time you read a headline or hear a soundbite, pause and have a think about what is behind the short phrase. ASK questions to understand, ENQUIRE the reasoning for that opinion and DISCUSS with people that have different viewpoints. 

Rev Chris 

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