I heard a talk last year by the managing director of the ABC, Mark Scott, in which he described the contemporary media landscape as a series of echo chambers. With so many sources of news available to them, people simply select those that reflect back to them what they already believe. Rather than being challenged to see the world differently, they draw comfort from the fact that the world is exactly as they had thought.
It seems to me that the same thing could be said of religious faith. Faith should do two things: it should affirm and reassure; and it should challenge, stretch and disturb. When it ceases to do both of these it becomes dangerous. Faith that does nothing but affirm my current view of myself and the world becomes an echo chamber in which growth is impossible and is frequently so certain of itself that it lacks empathy and oppresses those who dare to question it. Conversely, a faith that does nothing but challenge and disturb breeds a cynicism that has nothing positive to say.
The key then is to get out of the echo chamber, to ensure that we read broadly and expose ourselves to people with different perspectives, and to do so not simply to identify when they are wrong, but to be open to the new insights and wisdom that they possess.