Brian McLaren – Recognising Our Biases

Brian McLaren

People can’t see what they can’t see. Their biases get in the way, surrounding them like a high wall, trapping them in ignorance, deception, and illusion. No amount of reasoning and argument will get through to them, unless we first learn how to break down the walls of bias. . . .

Confirmation Bias: We judge new ideas based on the ease with which they fit in with and confirm the only standard we have: old ideas, old information, and trusted authorities. As a result, our framing story, belief system, or paradigm excludes whatever doesn’t fit.

Complexity Bias: Our brains prefer a simple falsehood to a complex truth.

Community Bias: It’s almost impossible to see what our community doesn’t, can’t, or won’t see.

Complementarity Bias: If you are hostile to my ideas, I’ll be hostile to yours. If you are curious and respectful toward my ideas, I’ll respond in kind.

Competency Bias: We don’t know how much (or little) we know because we don’t know how much (or little) others know. In other words, incompetent people assume that most other people are about as incompetent as they are. As a result, they underestimate their [own] incompetence, and consider themselves at least of average competence.

Consciousness Bias: Some things simply can’t be seen from where I am right now. But if I keep growing, maturing, and developing, someday I will be able to see what is now inaccessible to me.

Comfort or Complacency Bias: I prefer not to have my comfort disturbed.

Conservative/Liberal Bias: I lean toward nurturing fairness and kindness, or towards strictly enforcing purity, loyalty, liberty, and authority, as an expression of my political identity.

Confidence Bias: I am attracted to confidence, even if it is false. I often prefer the bold lie to the hesitant truth.

Catastrophe or Normalcy Bias: I remember dramatic catastrophes but don’t notice gradual decline (or improvement).

Contact Bias: When I don’t have intense and sustained personal contact with “the other,” my prejudices and false assumptions go unchallenged.

Cash Bias: It’s hard for me to see something when my way of making a living requires me not to see it.Conspiracy Bias: Under stress or shame, our brains are attracted to stories that relieve us, exonerate us, or portray us as innocent victims of malicious conspirators.

(Brian McLaren, Why Don’t They Get It? Overcoming Bias in Others (and Yourself) (Self-published: 2019), e-book., as quoted by Richard Rohr)


What I Saw in Charlottesville – Brian McLaren

Source: What I Saw in Charlottesville – Brian McLaren

Here is an eye witness report. Really worth reading.

Brian McLaren – An Open Letter to Jerry Falwell Jr, Students and Faculty of Liberty University


Dear Mr. Falwell,

In the tradition of your father, you made some reckless and inflammatory statements to your students the other day.

Just as I appreciate it when peace-loving Muslims, Hindus and others repudiate hostile and reckless statements made by prominent members of their religions, I feel impelled by conscience to repudiate your words as not being representative of authentic Christianity as I, and thousands like me, understand it.

For us, authentic Christianity is the loving, peaceful, justt and generous way of life embodied in Jesus. It is characterized more by self-giving than self-defense, by pre-emptive peacemaking rather than pre-emptive violence.

Your message faithfully represents a longstanding (and ugly) stream of American culture and politics. This tradition goes back to those who argued against the equal human rights and dignity of the Native Peoples and African-American slaves, often abusing the Bible to justify white supremacy under its various guises. Continue reading “Brian McLaren – An Open Letter to Jerry Falwell Jr, Students and Faculty of Liberty University”

Brian McLaren interview – Changing faith, staying faithful

Brian McLaren - 06 05 Geneva
With Brian McLaren, years ago, in Geneva

Stephen Tomkins, from Reform Magazine in the UK has just published a very interesting interview with Brian McLaren. My readers know that I like Brian a lot, even if I do not always agree with him, and I am sure he does not mind that.

Here is the interview, which is worth reading, I would suggest. I know some of those who read this blog do not like McLaren. It is their right, and I am ready to respect it. I hope they do the same with me.

* * *

Can you tell me about the faith that you were brought up in?
I was born in a Plymouth Brethren family, so that would probably be considered fundamentalist. Very passionate; a very deep love for the Bible. My father grew up in Africa – his father was a missionary – so very committed.

Looking back does that feel restricted or oppressive to you now?
I’m very grateful for it, for a lot that I got from it, but if my only choice had been to stay or leave, I would have had to leave. When I was 13 my Sunday school teacher said: “You can either believe in God or evolution”, and I remember thinking: “Evolution makes a lot of sense to me.” When I started playing rock ’n’ roll, it wasn’t a great fit – our church didn’t even have musical instruments. There were very tight restrictions on what women could do. There were a lot of things I would never have stayed with. Continue reading “Brian McLaren interview – Changing faith, staying faithful”

Richard Rohr on Alternative Orthodoxy

Most Christian churches have spent an awful lot of time concerned about maintaining verbal and ritual orthodoxy–the official doctrines and liturgies (when even the Roman church legitimates at least 16 forms of the Mass in all of its Eastern Rites!). We must be honest and admit that it has focused much less on the practicals of the Sermon on the Mount or what Jesus spent most of his time doing: touching and healing people, doing acts of justice and inclusion, teaching and living ways of compassion and non-violence.

Franciscanism, insofar as it actually imitated Francis of Assisi, emphasized an “alternative orthodoxy,” a different view on what really matters, which had much more to do with orthopraxy (right practice) than merely believing the right words. (Read Jesus’ parable about the two sons where he makes this same point in Luke 21:28-32.) While not rejecting the traditional orthodoxy of the church, the Franciscan “alternative orthodoxy” was a parachurch viewpoint on the edge of the inside of organized Christianity. It often seems this is where wisdom has to hide, as Proverbs says, “Wisdom builds herself a house” (9:1). It became the entire history of Religious Orders in the Catholic and Orthodox churches: we went to the edge and emphasized different things, often to protect neglected Gospel values and teachings.

Brian McLaren uses the words “a generous orthodoxy” to describe something similar, a marriage of thinking and practice. Brian identifies a generous orthodoxy with “a consistent practice of humility, charity, courage, and diligence. Humility that allows us to admit that our past and current formulations may have been limited or distorted. Charity toward those of other traditions who may understand some things better than our group…. Courage to be faithful to the true path of our faith as we understand it, even when it is unpopular, dangerous, and difficult to do so. Diligence to seek again and again the true path of our faith whenever we feel we have lost our way…” (A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 34).

Franciscanism’s offering, similar to the Quakers, Shakers, Amish, and Mennonites, was a simple return to lifestyle itself: including the outsider, preferring the bottom to the top, choosing social poverty and divine union over any private perfection or any sense of moral superiority, and an attitude of non-violence instead of religion as forced compliance, which invariably leads to a warlike mentality. Any alternative and generous orthodoxy can be found, if you look with non-dual eyes, in all sacred texts and traditions, and surely in Jesus, as we’ll discover in this year of Daily Meditations. An alternative orthodoxy is never stingy with grace or inclusion because it has surrendered to a God who is infinitely magnanimous and creative in the ways of love and mercy.

Gateway to Silence
Wisdom pervades and penetrates all things.

Ask Brian McLaren…(Response)

Ask Brian McLaren…(Response).

Some readers on my blog absolutely hate Brian McLaren, or at least deeply detest him, considering him an enemy of faith. I certainly do not share this view. I have met Brian personally and I read some of his books and posts and I have a deep appreciation for him, even if I do not always agree with his view. And probably he does not with some of mine either. Which is perfectly OK.

Here is a post on Rachel Held Evans blog, where her readers ask questions from Brian, and he responds.

Rachel Held Evans – Brian McLaren, rockin’ the boat again

So Brian  McLaren’s new book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? released last week and is already making some waves. The video above provides a nice summary of the book, which I found challenging and  thought-provoking. What I like best about the book is that Brian encourages Christians to nurture an attitude of openness and cooperation toward people of other faiths without compromising Christian identity. So often we feel like we have to choose between openness to others on the one hand and commitment to our own faith on the other. Brian argues that we don’t have to make that choice.

Read on Rachel’s post HERE.

Associated Baptist Press – Torturing the enemy, destroying ourselves

Associated Baptist Press – Torturing the enemy, destroying ourselves.

Here is a very powerful indictment by McLaren on the alleged legitimacy of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ – a shameful and coward euphemism for TORTURE. I quote:

A growing list of former U.S. government officials, including a president and a vice president, have been working hard to repeat the lie that torture is justifiable as long as the right “we” is doing the torture, and the right “they” are the ones being tortured.

Most recently, a former CIA chief counter-terrorism expert joined the chorus, singing the refrain that “enhanced interrogation techniques” work. In fact, he claims, they were pivotal in finding Osama bin Laden a year ago. Continue reading “Associated Baptist Press – Torturing the enemy, destroying ourselves”

Associated Baptist Press – Opinion: America shall not be exceptional

Associated Baptist Press – Opinion: America shall not be exceptional.

In “America the Exceptional,” an article published in the January 2012 issue of Sojourners, I intentionally misquote Genesis 12 as follows:

“And the Lord said to Abraham, I will bless you and make your name great. I will make you a great nation and all nations will submit to your exceptional status. They will kow-tow to your interests, submit to your invasions, and defer to your economic policies. You will act unilaterally and lead, not cooperate with, unexceptional nations. You will use and abuse the alien and stranger among you as you please, for they are not my chosen people blessed by manifest destiny…. For I am the Lord who shows favoritism to whom he will, and you are my chosen people.”

Then I added, “Oops! That is not Genesis 12 — but it might as well have been,” based on projects and attitudes promoted via distorted notions of the theory of American exceptionalism.

Associated Baptist Press – Debate over Adam and Eve continues

Associated Baptist Press – Debate over Adam and Eve continues.

Brian McLaren:
“I firmly agree (in an ironic sort of way) with the good Dr. Mohler,” McLaren commented. “I think the conventional Constantinian ‘understanding of the gospel meta-narrative and the Bible’s storyline’ is wrong, misguided, and dangerous. We do in fact need ‘an entirely new understanding’ — new, that is, compared to the status quo, but actually more ancient and primary than the conventional approach. In the process we’d better learn what a meta-narrative actually is and realize that it’s not actually a great label to apply to the gospel. ‘The Bible’s storyline’ is much better. That’s what I’ve been writing and speaking about for the last decade, and hope to keep advocating for and contributing to for the next.”

A New Kind of Christianity

Brian McLaren, the unofficial spokesperson of the emergent movement is launching tomorrow, 9 February 2009, his new book A New Kind of Christianity. Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith. (I presented above the cover of the American version, that I like better than the British one). Continue reading “A New Kind of Christianity”

Brian McLaren – Dear President Obama (An Open Letter on Afghanistan)

Brian_McLaren Obama

I am a loyal supporter of your presidency. I worked hard in the campaign and have never been as proud of my country as I was when we elected you.

I’m writing to ask you to find another way ahead in Afghanistan. I wrote a similar letter to President Bush when he was preparing for war in Iraq.

I believe now, as you and I both did then, that war is not the answer. Violence breeds violence, and as Dr. King said, you can murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. As the apostle Paul said, evil must be overcome with good, which means that violence and hate must be overcome with justice and love, not more of the same.

Continue reading “Brian McLaren – Dear President Obama (An Open Letter on Afghanistan)”

Economie, casatorie si sexualitate – 1

Marx                                     Freud                  Nietzsche

De cel puţin cinci ani călătoresc în diverse ţări din lumea comunistă (precum Vietnam sau Laos), postcomunistă (pe astea le ştiţi) sau precomunistă (precum Bolivia), pentru a susţine seminarii pe tema unei perspective creştine asupra comunismului şi a postcomunismului.

În cadrul acestora încerc să spun oricui este dispus să mă asculte, că, după părerea mea, multe dintre crizele cu care se confruntă Biserica în această stranie perioadă istorică pot fi explicate, cel puţin în parte prin faptul că creştinii au fost incapabili să ia în serios mesajele celor trei „profeţi” ai modernităţii: Marx – care ne-a „predicat” despre importanţa economicului, Freud – care a încercat să ne convingă de forţa teribilă a sexualităţii şi Nietzsche – care ne-a vorbit despre puterea puterii. Poate tocmai de aceea problema Bisericii contemporane ar putea fi rezumată de titlul cărţii lui Richard Foster, Money, Sex and Power.

Continue reading “Economie, casatorie si sexualitate – 1”

Blogul lui Brian McLaren

Vă prezint astăzi blogul lui Brian Mclaren, acest veritabil guru a ceea ce se numeşte “biserica emergentă” (eng. emergent church). Brian, pe care îl cunosc personal şi îl consider unul dintre cei mai interesanţi şi creativi lideri creştini contemporani, chiar dacă nu sunt întotdeauna cu el, este un spirit profetic şi, ca orice profet, stârneşte patimi. Unii, în general cei inclinaţi înspre nou, îl adulează, iar alţii, dintre cei mai conservatori, îl contestă. Ca să nu mai vorbim de fundamentalişti, dintre care unii îl urăsc de-a dreptul.

Continue reading “Blogul lui Brian McLaren”

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