Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Little More Conversation

I think there will be dust-ups in our collective Christian family until the cows come home.  Experts say some conflict is healthy--vital even--for growth and change; however much of our conflict seems to utilize rhetoric that is neither helpful or charitable.  All sides are guilty.  Much of our language is patronizing.  What to do?

Like you, I've read lots of opinion pieces.  Some are helpful.  Others aren't.  There are people on all sides who make good and not-so-good points.  What seems to be lacking is conversation between the sides.  Where is the back and forth?  The Internet (blogs, facebook, twitter, myface, yourface, etc.) can make conversation difficult because "We're talking at each another rather than with each other." (see Saving the Art of Conversation). 

I developed a 'yes or no' list on how I want to talk with people, especially those for whom it is difficult for me to listen.  It is hard to converse with people who grate our nerves.  It's doubly difficult to learn from them.  I am not perfect, and I have missed the mark many, many times.  I share this list so maybe we can work on some of these together.  You might not agree with all of it, but that's okay.  We can talk about it...can't we?

How to talk to people…yes or no:

Engage in dialogue...yes
Water down my faith...no
Have strong viewpoints...yes
Be rude when sharing strong viewpoints...no
Listen to understand...yes
Listen only to respond...no
Be open-minded to people w/whom I agree...yes
Be open-minded to people w/whom I disagree...yes
Be funny (or at least try)...yes
Masquerade meanness as "funny"...no
Be fair...yes
Be fair without compassion...no
Be sensitive...yes
Take everything personally...no
Righteous indignation...yes
Anger at things that don't matter...no
Love the world God created...yes
Allow the world to define me...no

And since it's still the Christmas season...yes or no:

Say Merry Christmas...yes
Say Happy Holidays...yes
Say Merry Christmas to spite others...no
Say Happy Holidays to spite others...no

We've got to learn to talk to each other online and in person.  This doesn't mean we're doormats.  It means active participation with others to understand and learn.  Actual conversation can birth growth and change.  It is possible to learn a thing or two from people who see the world differently.

So what about it?  Ready to give conversation the good ol' college try?

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