My name is Winston Hearn, and I am interested in life. Life in all its glory, horror, and mundanity. I read a lot in the interest of living an examined life, and this blog is where I post links I want to reference later and thoughts stemming from recent readings.
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To live is to change. This is of course an unavoidable fact - our cells are growing and changing daily no matter what else we are doing. I am thus always undergoing some sort of change, but occasionally the changes are more ethereal, as I consider beliefs and positions I hold. I’m doing this now, in a significant way.
I’ve done this before. I grew up on a culdesac in Alabama, in a Christian family. My parents homeschooled my siblings and I. Between the religion, region, and form of education, there are a lot of stereotypes to draw about me. Some of them are true. Some of them are not. When I was about 19 I started questioning my religion, and walked away for a period. I had a lot of baggage tied up in the doctrines I’d been raised with, and it took me a few years to unravel the doctrines from the baggage so I could make as much of a rational choice as one can make regarding personal position on the truth of said doctrines.
I chose to believe that Christianity is true. During that period of moving from believing what I was raised to believe into believing it out of my own volition (again, as much as one can), a lot of the things that I believed growing up morphed and changed. Some didn’t.
One of the subjects that didn’t seem to change much during that period of change was my positions on politics. I competed in forensics in highschool (public speaking and debate, not CSI type stuff) and because of that was pretty opinionated about politics and political issues. I was a staunch conservative - voted in spirit for Bush in 2000 (I was 15) and in actuality in 2004.
Now, I am questioning all of my previously held political beliefs. Because of this, I read a lot, I think a lot, I occasionally debate with friends (very occasionally because rare is the friendship that lasts beyond multiple heated and unfruitful debates), and even more occasionally, because I am a millenial, I post things I find interesting on my social media feeds.
It’s this latter thing that causes me the most trouble. I don’t have fully-formed arguments yet, and I definitely don’t have fully-cemented positions. I post things because I find them persuasive, or because I’m interested to know what others think of them, or even just because I think the article is worth the read regardless of your position on it.
Most recently I posted this article on my Facebook. Seeing as how abortion is one of the most politically controversial issues in America right now, I’m not sure why I’m surprised that it stepped on a couple toes, but I was. Rather than trying to respond in comments I feel the need to wrap my response in a more context, thus this post.
In the course of questioning my political beliefs, I am also questioning why we respond to issues the way we do. And in that questioning, in that attempt to reconcile the principles that I derive from my faith, I occasionally encounter issues that Christians have made their position the proverbial line in the sand, and I just want to know why. I want to be sure that it’s the best way. I’m not saying it isn’t, but I also want to understand all the gray areas, the nooks and crannies, the nuances of the issue before I stake it out as my position as well.
Abortion is one of these issues. Because while yes, I understand the issue well and I am in no way in favor of abortion, I’m very much not convinced that we are waging the war properly. I am not convinced that saying “I am anti-abortion” leads to the policies, practices and choices that most people in that camp argue for.
But what I’m really not convinced about is this idea that one issue trumps all others in politics. That a “good Christian” can’t vote for someone because they are not “pro-life” in the black and white terms we have defined the issue on. It does not make sense to me that we vote for politicians who enact policies that enable institutional poverty, policies that harm the poorest and weakest members of our society, policies that allow injustice to continue unabated as long as they care for the unborn babies.
No matter how strongly I feel about abortion, I can’t find where I am supposed to rank it above all other injustices. So I keep questioning, and keep seeking wisdom. That’s why I found the article above interesting. It spoke to a large doubt I have.
And some people avoid this by voting for independent candidates, and I am glad people like that exist. I’d rather have a more nuanced, less binary political system as well. But I’m too much of a pragmatist to vote independent. If two parties are all that we truly have in major elections, then I want to understand their positions and the implications of them. If I vote, I choose to vote pragmatically, knowing that I’m actually putting my voice behind someone who stands a chance at being elected. And as Derek Webb reminds us, I’m always at liberty to not vote.
I am changing. I will keep changing, because I’m always going to be asking questions. But here’s a question I ask of you. Don’t write me off because I post something you disagree with. Don’t write off something you disagree with because it goes against what you’ve always known. Rather, take positions firmly, but be willing to change them as new evidence arises. One of the greatest things my dad ever taught me is that, if you believe in God, then all truth is His. No human will ever know the whole truth about everything - that’s why philosophy and science and theology are thriving fields. In my mind, it is the mark of an intelligent and wise person that one is willing to question and change their beliefs.
If you see something from me that you disagree with, I appreciate your response. I’ll debate you if I strongly believe in the position put forward, but if I’m just considering the contents of the article, then counterpoints are welcome. That doesn’t mean I’ll agree with you, and it also doesn’t mean I’ll respond, but I do read and consider any new information and arguments. I’m changing. I want to keep changing.