There are many ways to look at life. And there’s always a danger of categorizing things – putting people in boxes – lest we too easily dispel their multi-dimensional potential and limit their capacity. But, with its inherent drawbacks, categorization does facilitate a degree of understanding.

One way to better understand ours – and others’ – politics, faith, and relationships is to understand where folks come from; why they are like they are.

In a previous blog we discussed how oftentimes people’s fountain of information in many ways determines their thinking. On this blog we want to explore how most folks lean either to being conservative or liberal minded. Neither is better or worse. It is a personality trait, not a life determinant. Few people fall exclusively into one or the other camp. But generally, they do follow a certain pattern.

Below there’s a paradigm to hopefully help us better understand, accept, and work with each other. Have some fun with it. Rate yourself from 1 to 10 in each item. Add them up. See how you compare with friends and family. The higher your total, the more conservative leaning you are; the lower your total the more liberal leaning you are.

Here’s the list categorized in the two buckets:


  • Intends to conserve the certain
  • Relies on rules and regulations
  • Thinks in terms of specifics and points
  • Data must be supported by beliefs
  • Demands clarity
  • Low tolerance for different opinions
  • Follows authority without question
  • Likes a defined box
  • More comfortable with less choices
  • Decides
  • “I have the answer for you”
  • “I am right; you are wrong”
  • “You will not convince me”
  • Opinions become fact
  • Learns from dictates
  • Cherishes individual freedoms
  • Committed to conserving heritage and tradition
  • Insists on theological certitude
  • Looks for science to conform to faith
  • Faith must be firm and solid
  • Dogmatic
  • The Rituals rule
  • Prefers the Ten Commandments and Revelations


  • Intends to liberally consider options
  • Relies on guidance and suggestions
  • Thinks in terms of spectrum and continuum
  • Beliefs must be supported by data
  • Accepts vagueness
  • High tolerance for different opinions
  • Questions authority not just follows
  • Likes being outside the box
  • More comfortable with more choices
  • Discerns
  • “I have questions for you”
  • “I am listening; I hear you”
  • “I may change my mind”
  • Facts are not opinions
  • Learns from conversations
  • Cherishes social responsibilities
  • Committed to questioning heritage and tradition
  • Welcomes theological ambiguity
  • Looks for faith to conform to science
  • Faith can be soft and fluid
  • Inter-denominational
  • The Spirit rules
  • Prefers the Psalms and The Beatitudes

Wherever you rate, we love you 🙂

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