When reading a book, say a book of philosophy that is set in story form, the reader enters into the world of the writer and for a time, while immersed in the author’s world, takes on the world view presented in the pages. A relationship is formed with a book, a subjective experience that can be either enriching or at times damaging.
Reading a book that is written as a defense of one particular point of view, without a story line, is a different experience altogether. We receive from any volume and its message according to the openness to what is being presented. To take an adversarial stance truncates what can be received and can even miss the point entirely. For entering into the world of one who has beliefs foreign to the reader can cause anxiety, but this will pass if stayed with, for integration and deepening of ones understanding of life, is the reward of allowing ones faith and world view to augment and mature.
Some books show us world views that we cannot accept, but can lead to understanding why others think and believe differently. This is not always easy for me, for prejudices towards others is the norm (at least from my own experience) and I being burdened with my own pre-judgments can find myself being very selective in what I take from a volume that is perhaps antipathetic to my own views. Defenses go up very easily, for I believe that most people put a lot of effort into what they believe.
There are people who delve deeply into their chosen world views and I think it is important to read them. Those however who take on a contemptuous attitude, I tend to leave alone, since it causes a response from me, which is often based on anxiety that in turn, makes it impossible to read. If a tome is written simply to attack, it is then written only for those who believe in the same way and will bolster ones superiority towards others, often being spurred on my the choir. So there is little communication when books or papers are written in this genre. Though they often cause lively debate and high book sales for those who participate in this kind of entertainment; which no doubt serves a needed function for society.
At times I find it difficult to give others a fair hearing. I fail to see them, or respond poorly to their own failings in there attempt to get a point across. I see no way out of this dilemma and that has brought me a measure of peace. I am at an age, moving rapidly towards old age. I need to delve deeper into my own path, and yes to perhaps become narrower in my interest, without denying others the right to search other avenues in their own journey towards truth.
Being narrow minded is the problem and is based on arrogance and a type of personal infallibility that I fear is common and that I must fight in myself on a regular basis. We all wish to be seen and heard, well I do, and so I try to give that response to others, though I do fail at times, so strong is my own sense of personal infallibility, sad to say. Yet I will still seek to dilute that vice.
I am a man of faith. Many find such a stance childish, though I do not believe my faith is childish in any way. The struggle for truth is life long and when we die, well we enter into the deepest mystery of all. When I die, and actually find that my faith was true (I am a Christian), I will most likely be astounded and surprised. For below faith, is doubt, perhaps this doubt goes deeper than I wish to contemplate. Yet I choose faith, for though it can seem absurd, a world without God and faith is even more absurd. I seem to be backed into a corner, yet I will always choose faith, for my relationship with God, a God without form, yet manifested in Jesus Christ is the light I have chosen to follow.
Lord I believe; help my unbelief.