Last month Amazon proposed a scheme that allows them to fly drones to do their deliveries. The scheme basically segments airspace into local space for drones, then space for larger air traffic and then more space for yet larger and different kinds of traffic. The idea is that every know what the space they are flying is is used for and it allows them to participate in that space based on a set of rules. This allows others to use that space safely and confidently (See http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/28/amazon-autonomous-drones-only-airspace-package-delivery).
As I ponder the Amazon proposal I thought to myself, WOW! If we only had such a scheme whereby we could contribute to theological thought based on a similar segmentation. Quite frankly, sometimes we are quick to shoot at one another for differences of opinion. In reality, something else may be at work.
I would propose that we engage in theology at conceptual, institutional (policy) levels, and local (what I also call "expressionist") levels. There are perhaps other levels but for the sake of simplicity, let’s stick to these three. We may think or/or propose a theological topic at any level. If we are not careful, sometimes we can go round and around and around and around on topics until we all just get weary and choose to opt out. Or, as suggested earlier, we may be quick to shoot at another's idea or proposal as untrue or "wrongheaded". In truth, they may simply be speaking and thinking about the issue "flying at a different level", i.e., they may be thinking and speaking conceptually about the issue rather than at the local level.
The local level (expressionist) which almost always deals with issues of application is where I find my heart repeatedly. When I engage in theological discourse, knowing this is important. It helps me discern the question and respond appropriately. But it also helps me understand others responses. They may respond to the topic “flying in a different airspace” and I may not need to disagree and counter their thoughts since they’re engaging the topic as it were, “flying in different airspace”.
The scheme raises a bunch of questions. Two important questions for me: Are they other zones of theological conversation that should be considered (a conceptual question)? And then, can we converse with civility rather than with competition (mostly a institutional question)?
What questions does the proposal raise for you?
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