I met my first fundamentalist when I was 24 (and a newly-minted minister). In order to understand this church member, I attended a week-long conference put on by two fundamentalist groups.
One talk at the conference is still vivid. A missionary of the Sudan Interior Mission spoke of the awe, the love, and the forgiveness he found in the cross of Jesus. Before my startled eyes, tears began to roll down his cheeks. My stolen sideways glance to confirm, in others, the shock I felt found instead tears in their eyes as well. That experience is still an unforgetable part of my memory bank.
Emotion so natural, so straightforward and so genuine (unlike what I see on religious television), led me to realize that TRUTH is far, far greater than my personal experience of it. Reared and educated in a rational approach to religion, I have found it easy to be critical of those whose experience expresses itself emotionally. In reality I am as cut off from their experience as they are cut off from mine.
In the intervening years, I have met a few individuals who wondrously and magnificently combined both genuine emotion and incisive reason (and far too many who exhibit little of either). For me, to gravitate toward a fuller understanding of truth, I know I have to be attentive to, and to draw on, the experiences of others.
This has led me to believe that all truth is shared truth. Since no one individual encompasses all human experience, for any one person to arrive at greater truth requires entering into a conversation with others. It is like the six blind men approaching the elephant and needing to share their differing impressions to understand the whole. Or, it is like the scientist who necessarily depends on the ideas, discoveries and apparatus of those who proceeded her, depends on colleagues, co-workers and lab assistants to critique and carry out her work, depends on peer review for funding and for journal publication, and depends on others who will validate her results through replicating her experiments. Or, it is like getting to know the fuller richness of Jesus by listening to, and entering in, the conversation that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have about Jesus.
Even to write this Mind Matters, I have been in conversation
with legions of individuals who developed the alphabet and writing
and paper and standardized spelling and computers and you the
--Robert H. Tucker