Graceful Conversation

I think in our day and age, we are losing the act of conversation.  It’s kinda odd, in this time when we have so many ways of talking to each other, we really don’t talk to each other, at least we don’t talk to people who we happen to disagree with.  Instead, we stay in our little circles, unwilling to actually listen to someone who might disagree with us.

It’s interesting being a moderately conservative guy in a room full of liberals.  At some point the conversation gets wanders around to someone like Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann and everyone takes turns knocking down Republicans.  I start to get a little uncomfortable at all the trash talk.  I have to believe that the same thing goes in conservative circles.  Woe is the lone liberal that has endure that experience.

The sad thing these days is that we really don’t know how to listen and talk with each other.  We seem to forget that each person is a child of God and so we hurl invectives at the other camp.  We are so full of righteous indignation that we are blind to loving our enemies.

As Christians, we need to learn to have conversations.  I guess it’s kind of ironic that the person who has trouble with conversations is the one bringing it up, but there you go.  Yes, there were times that Jesus got angry, but there were also times that he listened to people.  At times, we have to learn to give up our need to be right, our need to be angry to learn to love the other- especially when we disagree with them.

Presbyterian pastor Janet Edwards wrote a wonderful post on conversation with adversaries, especially when it comes to GLBT issues.  Here’s a snippet:

  1. Approach the other person as a beloved child of God. See Christ in the eyes of the other person. Set aside every presumption you may have about him or her except that God loves this other, just like God loves you. This is often a mystery for me that our talk with help solve.
  2. Trust deeply that the Holy Spirit has a word for you both. Watch carefully for the gift God has for you in your exchange with this other. It probably will not be the same gift for both of you. It will most likely be a still, small voice so you must listen hard for it.
  3. Try hard to see things from the other’s point of view. Ask questions like: “This is what I hear you saying, is that correct?” or: “I want to make sure I get what you mean, is this what you said?” My own convictions have been strengthened many times by testing them against the other’s heartfelt words.

I think these words are important, especially for those of us that are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. We have to be willing to hear for the Spirit speaking even from those mouths of those we disagree with.

I don’t think any of this is easy. But then, no one said following Jesus was easy.

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