Compromise of tradition and change
After dreading to listen to the podcast for a college english class, I was surprised when I was actually interested in what I was hearing. By listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast on generous orthodoxy, I could start to see the lack of generous orthodoxy in my life and with the people around me. Gladwell’s podcast are based on social change and how that takes courage. Writing a personal essay takes a lot of courage in itself because it makes you focus on your flaws and reflect on your past and for some of us that is extremely difficult.
For those of you that haven’t listened to Gladwell’s Generous Orthodoxy podcast, I would recommend it. Generous, or open to change, and orthodoxy, or traditional, are combined to form quite the oxymoron. How can you possibly do both? That’s why I found this so interesting but without a balance of the two we are either completely traditional or utterly empty.
My personal experience on generous orthodoxy may not relate to a lot of people, maybe because they don’t struggle in the same ways I do, or maybe they have not yet found the courage to look at themselves as imperfect.
I grew up in a small town surrounded by corn fields with the population being around 1,700 people, maybe even smaller. I lived in the same big white house that was walking distance from everything for my entire life, and I lived right next to my church so it was easy to attend every Sunday, rain or shine. I loved wearing my dresses with my cute little lace socks and my blonde curly hair tied up into a bow that always matched my dress. I was just a little girl from a little town. I grew up in a rather strict family, you were home by the time the street lights came on, you were to do you chores and homework before you were aloud to watch any tv, and you were to treat others how you wanted to be treated.
That little girl that attended church every week would be considered very orthodox, or traditional. She knew there were rules and she stuck to them. But that little girl eventually grew up and experienced many different types of people. Growing up in a town of 1,700 people doesn’t give you a realistic view of diversity that the big world offers. Theres so many different religions, traditions, and cultures that may seem weird to us but are necessary for other people.
I was taught to treat everyone how I wanted to be treated and to be very open minded but I still struggled that not everyone was raised the same way I was. I always thought people waited until marriage to participate in sexual activities, I never would have thought that people believed in other Gods, and I thought every family participated in a prayer before eating their dinner at night. That little girl got older and she found out just how different everyone was.
When I got to high school pretty much all the teachers were christian. They did an extremely good job of being respectful of other peoples views even though they may have had different ones. A majority of the students where christian as well. My FCA(Fellowship of Christian Athletes), KFC(Kids Following Christ), and an annual see you at the pole, always took place at the school during nights or in the morning, after or before school. A majority of my school was christian but there were a few who weren’t. I don’t even remember what religion they were but these two girls wanted to host a youth group at our school. This brought some tension to our school because in our small little town, at least I always thought, everyone was christian. Some of the teachers thought that they shouldn’t be able to because it wasn’t their religion, I guess I was wrong when I thought they respected other peoples opinions. These two girls were shocked when they were told no. What gave the school the right to say no to one group when another religion hosted their youth groups there every week?
A year later the two girls were sophomores and I was a senior at the time. I was in a Government class and I learned that if a school let one religious group in they have to let them all because of separation of state and church. Since our school was a public school, they’re funded by the state. I was never really friends with these girls or even associated with them but I remember a year ago how upset they were when they were told no.
One day during lunch, after doing some research about the laws and how these girls were treated unfairly, I went up to them. I sat down at there table and told them I was interested in helping them. I gave them all the information I had and told them to take it to the principle. Basically he had two options, shut down all youth groups, or allow all youth groups. The two girls were extremely nice and told the principle they would even host their youth group around the days that the christian youth groups were being held but still demanding change. These girls I would consider to show generous orthodoxy because they are respecting the body they need to heal.
If you are a christian, you’ve probably had people say they dislike your religion because they feel judged by it. And to be honest, they are completely right. If you are truly a christian what gives you the right to say something is right or wrong. We are suppose to spread God’s love and word not judge people for not believing in it. I attended these girls youth group one time because I was interested in learning about a new religion, not because I wanted to change what I believe in.
I was confused by most of the stuff they were telling me, but their religion sounded a lot like christianity just with different people. They actually even ask me questions about my religion and seemed interested in learning more so I told them what time my church service was and told them if they ever wanted to come they come always ask me.
Generous Orthodoxy should be considered by all religions if you want people to believe the same way you do. Being a radical christian makes people scared to ask question and try to understand out religion. Without generous you are so judgmental because you are stuck to traditional ways, and without orthodoxy you are too focused on change. To find a compromise of both is too respect the body you are trying to heal.