This post is inspired by Bin Song’s Huffington post article criticizing Christian misrepresentation of Confucianism. It is fun to hear a believer point out how their beliefs are misrepresented by nonbelievers. Mind you, I am not a Huffington post advocate, but I often try to read out of my comfort zone, as you will see below.
I was raised in America’s midWest by a Lutheran family that was not really religious except in a cultural sense. I deconverted from this cultural-Christianity at 14 years-old but then at 17 years-old reconverted to a Bible-believing, Baptist-like Evangelicalism form of Christianity. Soon I added in some “The Jesus Movement” charismatic theology and later attended one of the premier Evangelical Christian colleges: Wheaton College.
During these newly refreshed Christian years, I also read about other religions. But for sources, I only read summaries of these religions by critical (damning) Evangelical authors. So I had dogmatic Christians digesting the other religions for me, misrepresenting them to me and helping me to know what to think about them — how to see their errors. I read in an echo chamber.
Later I went to India. I experienced India raw and began to see the problems with getting knowledge of another system without reading primary sources. (see “Hinduism was my Undoing“)
Then over decades that followed, I saw this same phenomena between Marxists and Capitalists, between Republicans and Democrats, between Men and Women, between Atheists and Theists and between Alternative Medicine and “Western” medicine. The patterns were similar. Seeing our blindness over so many different areas of knowledge has help breed healthy distrust of both myself and others.
So my recommendation: for broad understanding read the critiques of both sides and the primary sources of both sides.
But most of us don’t have the time for so much reading. Instead, we tend to read within our echo-chambers. Solutions:
- Read “the enemy” consistently for a month or so, stop reading your normal stuff. Soon, Lord forbid, you may incorporate your enemy a bit.
- Try to read skeptically — but tough to do without conflicting views
You may not be interested in Confucianism, but if you read Bin Song’s critique of Christian misrepresenting Confucianism, it may strengthen your skepticism. So enjoy.
- Funny, I just noticed that wrote a very similar post to this in 2011 called “Pre-masticated Understanding of Non-believers“. Well, I guess it is an important point (smile).
- Here is a book evaluating the modernization and misrepresentation of Buddhism by McMahan.