So, I step forward to offer the best example for such a case that I've at hand: myself. I'm not beyond ideology. I don't systematically question everything but I try to discern what I encounter as `good' or `bad', `real' or `fake', convincing or not.
What is my measure? I'm a Christian - not a Catholic and I think I've fallen out of the evangelical or simply protestant categories as well. I've grown up in a traditionally protestant family, joined evangelical youth in my youth. My religiousness was not about Church membership but real faith in a living God. I learnt about the Antichrist and sometimes he had the face of the Pope; sometimes his identity was still unknown. At any rate, the Catholic Church was to be avoided. My small home-town was predominantly protestant.
When I had finished school and left, I found myself sharing shower and kitchenette with another girl in our two-bedroom dormitory. She put up a cross in her room, and it became clear that she was a Catholic. We lived squeezed together in that small space for 2.25 years, had many debates, shared meals and joys and tears and became best friends to this day. Back then, she joined a protestant Church choir; I couldn't identify with any group of believers.
Not much later, I met my future husband - who was a Catholic. It was amazing because we shared so many views and his vision of life was very much complementary to mine. We were busy debating our future, looking for jobs, and the Church debate was not crucial or divisive.
I had some more radical views than he did. It helps to think of Sarah Palin. ;) Evangelicals enjoy listening to their consciousness and taking every `Word of the Lord' very seriously, often literally, while Catholics praise Virgin Mary, let the Pope talk and then do what they consider appropriate in our times [simplification based on limited exposure to Catholics; no generalisation intended].
We had two colliding ideologies - one love.
We found compromises, got married young, had our first child soon. That child had to be baptised as a Catholic. I was too overwhelmed with everything new to resist my mother-in-law's pressure. Two children were born later and not baptised. We went to a Catholic Church where I felt lost and where my husband loved to meditate or just doze off. This was in the US. At some point, this wasn't `enough' for me anymore, and I went "Church shopping". I wrote to different protestant Churches, and received a dozen replies and picked the nicest three where we wanted to go. The first one was it - a charismatic protestant Church. I liked it a lot there, my husband didn't. He felt lost. So, eventually, we didn't go anymore. On a vacation we discovered the Amish, and Mennonites, who are close to the Amish. We got interested in Mennonites because they have a take on life that appeared quite un-American to us, were more open-minded than the Amish and rather close to the German character... - It so happened that the only Mennonite Church in our area was located in the Bronx/NY - an all black charismatic Mennonite Church. I was hesitating, and it was rather complicated to get there. My husband went and later took me along on Sundays. My husband was quite happy because he found both the Germanic narrative in Mennonites and bonded easily with the black community because of his personal narrative; he was born in Kenya and had travelled many times to Africa.
We moved a couple more times but never enjoyed real Church membership anymore and eventually gave up the struggle to find, too, especially now that we live in France and everything within reach is Catholic. I have thought of just ignoring doctrinal issues in order to be in communion with other believers but I just cannot get myself to pray to Virgin Mary or to tie myself in knots in order to share the communion according to the Catholic rite.
Whatever the appearance, I have always had faith in my heart and have had amazing experiences with God throughout my life. Today I know that Churches and Temples or Synagogues or Mosques - all serve this one purpose to help our faith. I have so much of it; I don't - technically speaking - need the building though sometimes the community with other believers.
And more, my faith has evolved. As time went by, I have learnt to treat people of other denominations with more respect than I originally had. I cannot judge what they believe in and what they have on their hearts. I only know what I have on mine and what I have found to be true. I live according to these convictions, and that is my ideology. I believe that there is an absolute Truth, and that Truth is in God, and that it will always reveal itself when we seek God. It doesn't take more of an effort. I also believe that this Truth sets us free.
I have had a friend who used to be Catholic and who tried out different ways to practise her faith. She calls herself a Hindu Christian or Christian Hindu, though she prefers to avoid the label. Her ideology is very strong and we had controversies that made her suffer because I couldn't embrace all of what she has found to be the Truth. One debate was an eye-opener, though.
I like to share it here. My friend believes in reincarnation. This is how she explained her view: There is a current among Christian believers who believe that the belief in reincarnation was part of the common world view of early Christians. There are very few (three to be exact) hints at this in the Bible. Reincarnation was banished from Church dogma through the V. Council of Constantinople (Pope Vigilius/ Emperor Justinian) in 553 A.C. From then on, reincarnation became a heresy. It has been said that more proof of reincarnation as part of the world view of the time disappeared or was destroyed, most of it contained in the library of Origines of Alexandria (destroyed by fire).
What appears rather insignificant when looking at it from a distance - conferred enormous power to the Catholic Church in that people depended more than they had before on receiving the Church's absolution in order to get to heaven and be saved from hell after this one life.
The idea is fascinating. I believe it to be true.
The fascination lies in the fact that we aren't here by a hazard and we're not just going to nowhere. We're equipped with a soul. I almost feel like saying - hey, I HAVE the proof though I know that this cannot be scientifically proven.
This is not all. It also "explains" what believers often struggle with and what non-believers sometimes depict as proof for the non-existence of God. Why is there so much injustice? Why some are born healthy, others sick, hungry, rich or poor, why some have to suffer so much more than others? Whatever it is - our souls need to LEARN through these experiences and temptations. And all this is in harmony with biblical Christian `doctrine' and doesn't contradict it in any way.
However, it contradicts Catholic dogma...
And this is still not the end to it. Evangelicals, Adventists, the Christian Right - are all focused on the End of Times. According to scripture, there will be an End of Times, and signs accompany this period in Earth history. I live in the awareness of such prophecies but don't put any energy into deploring details of what isn't there, yet, and about a date that is simply not known to men. `My' end of times can happen anytime, and I'm aware that to know this is basically enough.
Still - I was wondering about the following: There is a biblical word that says that God has "shortened" time towards the end: "If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened." (Matthew 24, 22).
What does this mean? I understand it as a time when tribulations and hardships and sufferings will be enormous, and many will think there is no God and there is no rhyme and no reason. Believers will try to hold on to God but they'll have huge doubts and many will lose faith. So, this last time has been shortened so that not all would lose faith. We have witnessed an enormous acceleration of world history ever since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century and today is the fastest time mankind has ever experienced. It's simply hallucinating how news have become obsolete as soon as we learn of them, how the environmental and the energy and financial crises all topple each other.
How did this happen? Large parts of the World - most of `Asia', `Africa' - believe in reincarnation, have a cyclical world view. We shouldn't only ask where and how life began but rather: Where did life accelerate first? - Answer: In the Christian-dominated West where the innate sense of coming from somewhere, going somewhere, life-cycles - had gotten lost. This is where people put more energy into exploiting time, achieving a maximum - to be found worthy of life in heaven after the test of this one and only life. This is where the first engines were built but this has also been the engine that accelerated speed towards the eventual dooming of Planet Earth.
To speak of reincarnation smacks of an esoteric world view. My bottom line is that I have faith in that Christianity has it right but that there once was a wisdom shared by all mankind that has gotten lost - and for a reason.
With regards to other religions, I don't know enough of them but when I've made an effort in the past or when I learnt more about other faiths, I have regularly been amazed about how much we have in common. I like to believe that we are all speaking of the same one Truth; it is obscured to us that what seems to be contradictory or conflicting is just the same seen from different angles.
What I have found therein is peace - trust and confidence. There is no need to force `my' truth on anyone because I am sure that it will reveal itself.
There I am with a strong ideology. Now somebody tell me: Does this make me left-wing or does it make me right-wing?
When I don't present this sermon up-front, I will argue in favour of lawfulness and against abortion (without seeking to judge/punish); I'll defend conservative values and avoid `mauvaise foi', seek the truth of all matters, in all matters. I also believe that we are responsible for our acts and that we have a responsibility for our next, that we should be hard-working and exploit the time at our hands, protect our environment and not despair as we see this World's end coming closer...
I don't believe in man-made ideologies but in the living God. Does this make me ideology-free? No, it doesn't, and I also have opinions on a thousand earthly matters and more... don't live barefoot in the desert but have a real life, know materialism and envy, am not immune to whatever this life is challenging us with.
I have an ideology but I claim that it doesn't properly fit into the right-left-and-in-between scheme of things.
Ideology isn't dead. God IS but man-made ideologies have begun to lose some of their significance as our troubled and exhausted World calls for pragmatic solutions. Under these circumstances, what is "the left" going to be opposed to? And what agenda is the right going to try to push? We live in a "We must come together" and "Yes, we can"-World.
In the end, the dichotomy will be about who believed in God, and who didn't. I don't see any need to force anyone to share my belief or for anyone to feel threatened by it. I know that it is beyond my capacity to change any of anything anyone believes in and trusts in. God can change people's hearts, I can do nothing.
I know it's not politically correct to bring God into the ideological debate of a left-leaning blog, but then, I have been on a right-leaning blog, and there, others didn't want to hear about truth in its absolute nature, as it reveals itself, either. I was told "Who wants to know the truth? No one really wants to know that. Those who could go after it know that you can never know where that could lead you." -
Honestly, I don't need lies and manipulation and more lies. Who knows where the lies could lead us?
Interestingly, people on both sides of the spectrum seem to be less concerned about their respective ideologies than the greater Truth that alone is essentially beyond all ideology [- if it's real...] . None of us can claim that Truth for him/her self alone; when people claim exclusive rights, bad things happen. Through the ages, a lot of damage has been done in the name of God which does not prove that He is not.
So, there. This is my ideology. It comes closest to not being an ideology but objective truth, which will never be revealed in this life. Hence, it is still an ideology.