Out to lunch the other day with a couple of co-workers, we ended up, in a moment of self-realization, cracking up at our tendency to contradict anything and everything. The three of us consisted of two attorneys and an attorney-to-be (will be licensed in November 2012, not that I'm counting down or anything...). We ended up in healthy debates about a lot of things, from what it's like to own a small business to Derrick Rose's height. I even resorted to looking up his height on my smart phone to end once and for all the debate over whether he was 6'2" or 6'3" (gah! lawyers!).
One of my co-workers jokingly remarked that she does all this research about the Bulls just so she can argue about it later. Her comment reminded me that I have this same mentality when it comes to my faith and my political beliefs. I have the tendency to read books, a newspaper article, or even Scripture through the lens of "How can this support my view so that I can refute others if I need to?"
This tendency probably stems from the fact that, in the last 3 years in school and at my job as a paralegal, I have been taught to read through cases with a bias toward my client's situation. I'm not sure if most people are sure how our system of law works here, but basically, attorneys have the job of playing up favorable decisions and distancing the harmful ones. Cases that have been decided in our jurisdiction have the force of law--the same as statutes. (This is why conservatives' whines about "activist judges" come across as so ignorant to me). Therefore, if a previously-decided case addresses our client's predicament, you better hope the outcome will be in your client's favor. If not, you better distinguish that puppy.
So when I read books like, say, The Rise and Fall of the Bible, or even fiction ones like The Hunger Games, I am constantly searching for a good point or a helpful argument that can knock down my hypothetical opponents. I don't think this is healthy, and probably causes me to miss out on actually learning something. Of course, to rectify this I don't expect to come to any text with a blank slate, and I don't realistically expect to set aside my biases. This would be ignoring an important point that postmodernism has taught us. But, I do want to get out of this "attack mode" while reading. Winning an argument should not be the end goal of learning or reading. Does anyone else do this, or am I the only one?