I recently attended an interesting showing of a documentary film on the Loma Linda University campus called The Last Generation which exposes a new conservatism or "fundamentalism," as the documentary makers would have it, among Seventh-day Adventist youth. The documentary was well-made and interesting but as a non-Adventist I don't really have "a dog in that fight." Even so it was interesting to be in a packed auditorium in the new Centennial Complex filled mostly with Adventists on a sabbath-afternoon. After the showing there were some strong feelings expressed during a Q and A session. Both liberals and conservatives expressed their opinions on the film. Even though I would disagree with both sides on some important theological matters, I certainly resonated more emotionally with the conservatives.
At one point a more liberal questioner posed a question to the panel which included the film-makers and some Loma Linda and outside professors. The questioner basically said something like, "is it possible to have dialogue with these fundamentalists when they might not even think you're a Christian at best or that you are a tool of the devil at worst." I was surprised by the wise answer which was given by one of the panel professors. This professor, who I think was more liberal-leaning, said something to the effect that while conservatives may say those things and that this can shut down dialogue, liberals do exactly the same thing when they question the intelligence or sanity of conservatives.
I thought this was an excellent point. I don't lift up the value of endless "dialogue" anywhere near as much as a lot of people do but I think it was interesting to point out that liberals are just as guilty of shutting down dialogue as conservatives, they just do it differently and in a way which seems more acceptable to many people.