There’s this scene in Broadcast News (one of my all-time favorite movies) in which Holly Hunter’s character has just told her boss exactly why she thinks he is wrong and needs to do what she is proposing. He looks at her and says something like, “It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you’re the smartest person in the room.” Missing the sarcasm, she replies, “No. It’s awful.”
I feel like that boss sometimes as I read various blogs, articles and essays, I am struck by the fact that these people are really, really sure that they are right. That they are so right, in fact, that anything written contrary to their own way of understanding has to be absolutely wrong.
Now- I feel pretty passionate about some things. And I am not afraid to speak my mind. And there are times that I dig my heels in and stand my ground with a certain amount of ferocity. Or stubbornness.
But I also try to bear in mind that I am NOT the smartest person on the planet. Not even close. I also attempt to remember that even those people with whom I disagree (even vehemently) are not the stupidest people on the planet. And when the topic in dispute is a matter of faith and/or theology, I try to trust that they are seeking to follow God’s will for themselves and the church just as faithfully as I am.
As I talk with my child about matters of faith, I try to make it clear that I come to my beliefs by holding three things in tension: interpretation of scripture that comes from our tradition, scholarship that has shaped thinkers that push the edges of tradition, and the revelation of the Holy Spirit as I seek God’s will in my own life. Whether I find myself square in the middle of what most folks would call orthodox or sitting at the edges of the neighborhood, I listen carefully and with humility to voices that challenge my position.
I find that listening – not just waiting my turn to speak – also trains me to listen for what God has to say. And that I am much less miserable when I remember that I don’t have to know it all.
Oh, and feel free to point me back here when I forget…