The Wren Coffee, Expectations, Cognitive Bias
There’s a new church cafe open at St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, 114 Queen Victoria Street. Unlike the dismal experience at most such places where the ordering of a drink feels more a donation to charity than something you might actually want to purchase, the flat whites I’ve had so far at The Wren Coffee Shop (facebook) have been excellent. Bright on first sip but mellow stone fruits in a chocolate cake after (i think). Possibly better than the Cult of Done flattie sampled at Workshop Coffee‘s own. (Ah, but would this subjective assessment stem from aforementioned low expectations of church cafes?) There’s also the promise of lunchtime talks (The St. Nicks Talks) at the ZRP Architects-refurbished venue.
Bean: Workshop Cult of Done (50% Mahembe, Rwanda; 50% Fince la Esperanza, Guatemala)
Machine: La Marzocco
Expectations are a funny thing – on one hand, they are a form of wisdom – something learned from experience (so one wouldn’t normally order a flat white in a church building expecting anything more than a bitter brew); on the other hand, they may stop you from making objective observations of the new situation.
- an evangelical church – those from what they term “charismatic” backgrounds expect that it’ll be all sin, no grace, by which many mean lack of positive affirmation;
- an evangelical church in the Church of England tradition – those from what they term “reformed” backgrounds expect any church tradition to teach some form of transubstantiation and so take umbrage at some wording of the Anglican Giving of Communion; and
- an evangelical church in the Anglican tradition, specifically the Local Church – taking particular offence to any mention of the English Standard Version of the Bible, homosexuality, male leadership etc.
The slant of their thoughts (like the precariously balanced blueberry pancakes above) meant every little detail was latched upon as rich pickings for their little confirmation bias baskets. How then to deal with this sort of cognitive bias?
- It would be remarkably tedious to argue along political lines – that is, your religion vs my religion; your denomination against my denomination; your church vs my church. These sorts of arguments are generally of the straw man/Aunt Sally genre or might even be ad hominem etc thus lack any sort of nourishing substance.
- What about pointing out evidence of such bias? Usefulness of this method would, however, be dependent on the reaction of each individual to this revelation. Wanting to be co-operative, would he/she start to exhibit demand characteristics, and if so, what sort and how beneficial would that be for the person in question? Or would such observation add instead to his/her confirmation bias?
- By ignoring such evidence and proceeding as if ignorant? But surely this goes against the tenets of communication and of loving interaction.
- A fellow-worker advised that i shouldn’t teach whatever makes people feel uncomfortable. However, (i) one can never predict the myriad cognitive biases that may occur in any group; (ii) the role and in fact, the responsibility, of the teacher is to teach the full counsel of God* (cf Acts 20:27).
i suspect the most reasonable route would be to (i) give biblical basis (book and verse) for everything i say; (ii) invite discussion based on interpretations of such. If there is a common regard for Scripture as solely authoritative for life and doctrine, then there should be mutual submission to what is clear from God’s word. While my attitude should be polite and as loving as possible (Jew to Jews?), to shrink from the important duty of keeping watch over their souls (Hebrews 13:17) so as to ensure that people will keep coming back would probably be both cowardly and detestable in the sight of God to whom we have to give an account.
When Paul attests that this is what he proclaimed to the believers in Ephesus, the Ephesian elders to whom he makes this bold asseveration know full well that he had managed this remarkable feat in only two and a half years. In other words, whatever else Paul did, he certainly did not manage to go through every verse of the Old Testament, line by line, with full-bore explanation. He simply did not have time.
What he must mean is that he taught the burden of the whole of God’s revelation, the balance of things, leaving nothing out that was of primary importance, never ducking the hard bits, helping believers to grasp the whole counsel of God that they themselves would become better equipped to read their Bibles intelligently, comprehensively. It embraced:
- God’s purposes in the history of redemption (truths to be believed and a God to be worshipped),
- an unpacking of human origin, fall, redemption, and destiny (a worldview that shapes all human understanding and a Saviour without whom there is no hope),
- the conduct expected of God’s people (commandments to be obeyed and wisdom to be pursued, both in our individual existence and in the community of the people of God), and
- the pledges of transforming power both in this life and in the life to come (promises to be trusted and hope to be anticipated).