How My Mind Has Changed

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything,” said George Bernard Shaw, an Irish journalist, renowned playwright and 1925 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

Shaw’s wisdom might sound self-evident. Changing our mind seems to be a natural part of growth, almost a law of personality development. Yet we live in a time and a society that can be very critical of such change. The American politician John Kerry was lambasted as a “flip-flopper” in 2004 while running for President. Kerry, who had changed his views on the American war involvement in Iraq, famously said: “I actually voted for it before I voted against it.”

In this writing activity, no one will hold it against you for admitting to changes in your thinking on political, religious, social or cultural matters. In fact, you will be working in a grand tradition. The Christian Century magazine is the flagship publication of mainline Protestant Christianity. Starting in 1939, it invited religious leaders and theologians to to say how their commitments had changed and what second thoughts they might have as they looked back over the past decade, which included the Great Depression and saw the rise of dictators in Europe, and as they looked ahead to the possibility of another world war.

The Christian Century has continued that practice now for nine decades with many writers describing their “passions, struggles, and hopes as people of faith.” The writers noted new concerns that had arisen in their thinking and questions with which they now were wrestling. Not all of the changes they reported were dramatic; some were more shifts in emphasis, but those too were meaningful.

 My Changed Mind Writing Guidelines:

Our scope in this writing activity is broader than the religious focus in The Christian Century project, but the spirit of our inquiry is similar. You might wish to join the faith-based leaders who chronicle their changed perspectives. Or you may wish to recall your evolving political outlook and how it differs from an earlier time. You also are welcome to reflect on developments in your understanding of our national and global economy, the nature of society, or our cultural traditions and practices.

In the year 2000, many people began the new century and new millennium with bold hopes and expectations. We now have twenty years of experience in that anticipated future, and if we are of a positive frame of mind we will recall more than the bookmark events of the 9 / 11 terrorist attacks and the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are products of our past,” says Rick Warren in his book The Purpose Driven Life, “but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” 

As you look back on the past ten or twenty years, what aspect of your thinking has changed the most—religious, political, economic, social, cultural, or other? Considering this area of change in your thinking:

  • Of what are you more certain?  Of what are you less certain?
  • Have these changes in your thinking come gradually or suddenly?
  • What has prompted these changes? Have any books, people, or travel experiences influenced the shift?
  • What, if anything, has surprised or shocked you?
  • With what questions or unresolved concerns are you still engaged?
  • Have any of these changes in your thinking altered your sense of who you are?

May you recall readily, record fully, and reflect meaningfully.