The ever changing views of a blogger

Steve over at Undeception has touched on something in his blog post that has been niggling at the back of my mind for some time.

Ideally ours will be a journey of constant discovery and acquisition of new ideas and information. This may well involve – as it has in my case – complete paradigm shifts and reevaluation of deeply held belief systems. As I do not exclude faith from this intellectual process, for me, it is not unreasonable to abandon certain tenets of my beliefs in the light of new experiences, knowledge and understanding.

Is this not the very process of growing and maturing in our faith?

Surprisingly many disagree. These folk tend to be very fixed and absolute in their understanding, with a leaning towards ‘black and white’ thinking. In terms of the Scriptures they also tend towards a literalistic – and I would say overly simplistic – approach. I can make this assertion as I used to be this way and recognise it in others.

Now a problem may arise – as Steve points out – if you are a published writer and your views change. How do you go about retracting and asserting your new mindset? You can subtly revise previously published claims in subsequent books, however, your original work is still ‘out there’.

If you publish a book the likelihood is that you will have your ideas challenged, and it may be through this process that you come to revise your position. The same is equally true for blogging.

I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now and I will openly admit that I have shifted significantly in my beliefs and understanding, which is attested to in one area by my ongoing conversion to Catholicism.

It has been due to the blogging process that much of this change has taken place. Being constantly engaged by commentators and other bloggers forces you to hone your position and may expose weaknesses in thinking that need to be addressed.

The tendency for me as a result of this process, was to firstly swing into an antipodal position, which of course ends up as flawed as the original position. I like to think that I have now reached a more nuanced and balanced thinking style, however, ours is a journey and I am far from perfect in my thinking. I suspect  – and hope – there will be many more challenges and changes as I progress and mature.

This process can be quite painful, as it involves acknowledging that we may hold erroneous beliefs – not easy in itself – and paradigm shifts involve much cognitive realignment, which can be deeply uncomfortable. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. The single most deadly moment, would be the day I believe I have the truth, without error, and no longer need to learn.

As a blogger, undergoing this process is very public and can be harmful to readership. I’ve lost a good many folk along the way as some have felt betrayed, as I moved along in my thinking. I’ve also gained many super readers for which I’m grateful.

Steve – in his post – acknowledges his transitions in thought and confesses there are ideas published on his site years ago, that argue viewpoints he’s incredibly embarrassed of nowadays.

Same here!

Thankfully, the vast majority of visitors to this blog will access more recent posts, however, many also access older posts via search engines that frankly do not represent my current thinking. This causes me a ‘cringe’ moment and the reader will become misled about what I now believe.

Unfortunately some of the highest and most consistently accessed pages on this blog are such as these.

What to do?

I – like Steve – have thought of methods of combating this problem, such as mass-deletion or inserting some sort of retrospective caveat in the posts, however, the work involved in this would be enormous with some four and half thousand posts to go through.

I have opted to leave the pages as they are and accept that my current thinking can be ‘exposed’ as significantly altered from previous years. That’s a risk I’m prepared to take for the sake of transparency and honesty.

I have had the experience of being accused a ‘turncoat’ or even a ‘chameleon’ for changing my stance, but in truth, I’m going to view this as evidence of my progress, rather than regression.

In every other aspect of life we hope to increase our knowledge and understanding in order to change, improve and mature, why should this not be the same with our walk of faith?

No doubt one day in the future, I’ll reflect back on posts I’ve recently written and encounter a cringe moment. Perhaps this very blog post will be one of them.

10 comments on this post.
  1. Steve Douglas:

    Glad to hear I’m not alone in these concerns! Thanks for your reflections.

  2. Joel:

    I have left mine, and will note when commentators get those old posts, that my views have changed. It is, for me, a testament of growth.

    Well said

  3. Stacy:

    Such a nice post. Your honesty is so refreshing. Yeah, I have posts that make me cringe but I leave them up to keep me humble. It’s cool to blog and to show our souls like that, and to see how others evolve. You could never know that much about someone in a brief face to face encounter.

  4. David:

    I usually resort to something I heard a bishop say when speaking at a conference. It was along the lines of, “Don’t worry if you don’t agree with everything I say – sometimes I don’t agree with everything I say.”

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  6. Simon:

    I am constantly amazed by people who see changing opinions due to new evidence or new enlightenment as a character flaw.

    That said, I always have to grit my teeth when admitting I was wrong about something. Good for you for being unashamed of learning.

  7. Adulcia:

    I think it’s good to show how the transition happened through the history of the posts.

    I recently read “surprised by Joy” by C.S. Lewis where he describes the process of his spiritual journey. I think that kind of testamony can be really helpful to some people. I don’t think many people accused Lewis of being a “turncoat” when he converted from atheism to Christianity – it was acknowledged as a process.

  8. Gordon:

    I have a disclaimer on my blog that covers this:

    http://www.ecalpemos.org/p/disclaimer.html

  9. Revsimmy:

    A rather late comment here, I’m afraid. I’m catching up at last with some of the stuff I missed on my post-Easter break.

    I haven’t been blogging long enough to have written stuff I might want to retract or modify. I am, however, always suspicious of those whose faith and understanding never change. We are supposed to be disciples – i.e. learners and followers – of Jesus. If my faith never changes, then how can I be said to be either of these things? Sometimes the learning can be quite radical – and quite rightly so.

    I remember hearing a story a while back about someone who returned to their home church after their first year at theological college (seminary for those outside the UK). One of their friends commented, “My! you’ve changed since you’ve been at that college.” To which the response was, “Yes, that’s its job.”

    The Christian faith = life-long learning.

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