Saturday, August 20, 2005

Flipping the Bozo Bit

There's a principle in software engineering that applies well to life in general: Don't flip the bozo bit.

In software engineering, flipping the bozo bit means concluding that the person whose work you are maintaining was an idiot and therefore that it is pointless to try to understand why he or she did what they did. So, instead you systematically disregard the person's efforts and do things in whatever way seems right to you.

The thing that brought this to mind for me is that this week Bob Waters flipped the bozo bit on me. I knew I was inviting in a whole lot of people who think differently than I do when I submitted an entry for last week's Lutheran Carnival, but I thought it might make for some interesting conversations.

And it was starting to. Waters disagreed with my take on what the real relationship between Lutherans and the Lutheran Confessions is, and he was starting to engage me in conversation, but then he noticed my stance on welcoming gay and lesbian people into Christian congregations, and he flipped the bozo bit. He wrapped up his post by saying that he didn't see how I could be a Lutheran and feel this way. And he made a post on his blog about this titled "My heart's just not in it."

Now it's no great offense to me if Bob Waters doesn't care to hear what I think. But I think this is symptomatic of the trouble that leads to the continued poor treatment of gays and lesbians in Christian congregations. No one thinks, they only debate. We hear one another's arguments (maybe), but we listen only for the sake of seeing how we should formulate our counter-argument.

This is truly tragic (and frankly it's not only a problem for one side). One group wants to be faithful to the traditional faith. The other group wants GLBT people to be consistently treated like people. These aren't contradictory goals, but most of the people debating about this assume they are. And because of that assumption, nobody listens.

1 comment:

solarblogger said...

I like the analogy of "flipping the bozo bit." I had a friend who did this early on with almost everything. He couldn't even enjoy a well-crafted movie (like The Sixth Sense) because he stopped looking for coherency early on. If you aren't looking for it, you often won't find it.