Pastor's Blog: Echo Chambers

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Acoustics have never been my area of expertise, at least not in the technical sense. When it comes to music, both sacred and secular, I know what I like but am at a loss to explain why. But recently I heard someone refer to an “echo chamber,” a recording term, which has come to take on more and more sense to me. 

In its purest sense, an echo chamber is a hollow enclosure used to produce reverberated sounds for recording sessions. The term of course comes from that phenomenon of standing at the top of a high peak and hearing your own voice reverberating back to you from the valley below, as if there are others down in the valley who are repeating your words. Urban culture has picked up on the analogy so that to be in an echo chamber refers to an narrow-minded communications space where you think that everyone agrees entirely with your perspective. If you’ve spent any time on social media lately, you understand the analogy and have seen it practiced. It’s not so much that there’s anything wrong or unhealthy about having other people agree with you; the danger only comes when we feel the need to stifle other voices and turn a deaf ear to anyone who dares to think differently. 

Diversity of opinion is always a challenge. I never find it enjoyable to cross paths with someone who has a different take on things than I do. I much prefer to think that I’m always in the right.  But in my more honest moments I must acknowledge that I have grown much from wrestling with other viewpoints, even when I haven’t ended up accepting them. 

All of this has come home to me in the last several days as I’ve been confronted with other opinions and interpretations from both the left and right of where I am. My hope is that not so much that I’ll convince anyone to agree with me as it is that they will respect mine. I like big circles that include as many people as possible.  But I also recognize that others don’t, and it’s best for me to accept even that stance, and then to move on. After all, maturity demands we define ourselves without expecting everyone else to line up precisely with us. It’s a much larger (and more freeing and fulfilling) world once we open the door and step out of our echo chambers.

I’m grateful for how at MBBC we do our best to draw big circles. I think it makes us a more obedient church, especially considering how Jesus seemed to have taken exactly such an approach in his ministry. And in the end, whenever and wherever we speak up and hear the voice of Jesus echoing back, we know we’re in a very good place.

“Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Eph. 4:15).