Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Essay: Dis-integrating old beliefs

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Dis-integrating old beliefs

From the book: Chum for Thought: Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters by David Satterlee

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#Faith #Integral #Psychosocial 

Chum For Thought:
Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters

Dis-integrating old beliefs

I have recently been challenged that my comments threaten to “dis-integrate” people’s beliefs and that this comes off as “threatening and painful” to them. Thus, I am being rude, inconsiderate, and unsociably aggressive. Talk about a curve ball! I just didn’t see that one coming.

The concept is that most people are already quite satisfied with their sources of authority and their beliefs. They believe things that are similar to what their friends believe and this makes them feel comfortable and secure. They feel that their existing beliefs all make sense together (are integrated). Thus, it is not nice for someone like me to come along and upset their apple cart.

I chewed on this problem for a while before it occurred to me to launch from, “What Would Jesus Do?” Actually, Jesus published a new gospel and admitted that he came to cause division, rather than peace. He warned his disciples that they and their new message would encounter violent resistance. I don’t mean to compare myself to Jesus – only to point out that there come times when one’s ideas have to transcend comfortable and familiar traditions.

While having a similar discussion with my youngest son, he proposed a model of
desirable dis-integration. He pointed out that, in the Bible, God’s people sometimes had to make a complete shift in their understanding and even their ways of worship in order to conform to God’s will.
Noah had to turn his back on his neighbors and build an ark. Abraham had to pack up his family and move out of Ur. Moses had to lead an entire nation into the wilderness. God repeatedly gave the Israelites judges, kings, and prophets. Jesus introduced an entirely new covenant.

In every case, His people had to make individual choices to take a new path or be left behind. It became a personal necessity to voluntarily choose to dis-integrate their previous ways of thinking.

Isn’t it the accepted responsibility of parents, teachers, and various leaders to help others to grow and to change? In fact, anyone who has been-there-done-that and found-a-better-way should feel obliged to share their discovery, if only to give it some exercise. Who knows? They may have the next new best thing. Wouldn't it be wrong to withhold an idea that could help others, even at the risk of disrupting their favorite beliefs? Maybe the world isn’t actually flat.

Considering myself as open to new ideas, I am constantly on the prowl for something that will profitably dis-integrate old notions. As I’ve previously mentioned, individuals and cultures continuously develop through a series of predictable stages, each of which enfolds but transcends the last. Or they stagnate, holding on to comfortable preconceived notions.

It is only when a previous worldview fails to serve our needs in new circumstances that dis-integration is required. Dis-integration allows us to advance so that a new worldview may be integrated. And, Lord knows, we need to adapt to new circumstances with more and more agility in this rapidly-changing modern world.