Genuine conversations

Amy Welborn (and, for the most part, those who’ve commented on her post) get it right, I think. Can’t we do something to overcome the divisiveness in the Church–or any other polarized situation, for that matter?I’m not suggesting we go to some sort of lowest-common-denominator, “Can’t we all just get along?” kind of approach. But surely, when we participate in discussions with those with whom we disagree, our aim shouldn’t be to score points, or to win debates. Rather, we should be seeking genuinely to understand the others’ position, and be open to learning from it. To tune it out because we don’t agree with it is to deny ourselves both the opportunity to learn, and to form a relationship with people we don’t agree with. (I’m serious about the last half of that sentence. Would I be much interested in staying in relationship with someone who wasn’t interested in listening to something I thought was important? If not, why should I think that anyone else would?)That’s not, of course, to say that we should necessarily back away from our own positions. But I do think we need to be careful (a) to present our own position in a way that seeks to inform and persuade–i.e., we shouldn’t be heavy-handed about it, and (b) to be genuinely open to questioning our own position, if the other person provides good evidence that it should be questioned.

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  • Amy, I agree with you. Whenever I discuss religion and morality, I try to follow this philosophy. When it comes to something relatively unimportant (such as Daylight Savings Time – see my recent blog diatribe)- I must confess that I occasionally become abrasive. But it just feels so good to let it rip sometimes!

    Anyway, I do think there is a role for the prophet who calls people to task like the prophets in the bible – we would be impoverished without them and therefore should tolerate them on occasion – but for the most part, what you articulate in this post is in my opinion the best tack to take.

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