Why Can't We Be Friends?

 Just this past week, I had breakfast with two friends.  The three of us had a great time talking about mutual interests and our personal lives.  We each have differing views on life, which makes our time together more enjoyable.  There’s nothing like walking away from a conversation, being challenged to think, compelled to listen and seeking to respond with thoughtful answers.  Like my last blog stated, I can sometimes assume too much about others, including why they may have come to different conclusions than I have.  In friendship, the development of trust, the exchange of honest ideas and the “getting-to-know” those in my life have helped in formulating my own convictions, beliefs and passions.  I often wonder how much of my own commitments would have been open for honest assessment and critique if I only had contact with those who thought exactly like me?  (Which, by the way, would be a very, very small sample size).

Often times, the ideas we believe in, (that one’s truly shape our lives), are rightly held with a closely embraced tenacity.  However, in safeguarding these ideas, people can often isolate themselves from others and develop unhealthy attitudes towards those who may think differently.  This is true among communities and groups who express a like-minded commitment to the same thing.  That’s not to say that disagreements don’t matter, they do.  It matters as to whether or not my own devotion to Christ means that I take the issue of loving God and my neighbor seriously.  Some within the Christian tradition may agree with the words in the text, but in practice, model something completely different.  When this type of tension arises within a group, the issue becomes that we learn to talk WITH each other, instead of AT each other as to why we hold to the differences in both understanding this message and its application.   Hopefully, this makes sense. 

This dynamic is further illuminated when there is not a similar or like-minded commitment.  Anyone who has followed the political scene in our country only needs to look there to understand this is the case.  The norm is to hold one’s own view as the standard and any deviation from their view as problematic.  (This doesn’t just happen in politics, but can be readily identified there).  Any attempt to be civil-minded in discourse is seen as weak, pandering or simply a way to guarantee re-election.  (Even now, I’m sure some who may read this, may be mentally assigning blame for this reality.  It’s always easier to make it someone else’s problem).  If we are to truly cultivate meaningful human relationships, this has to change.

So, this blog entry is one giant invitation for all of us to begin to change the often-isolated culture we live in.  Beginning this Thursday, at the Piper Down, I am going to coordinate a weekly discussion group called, “Barstool Seminary.”  The idea is to create a space where friends, neighbors and strangers can come together and talk about what’s important to them.  There will be topics to get us started and special lectures to make us think, but just like with any friendship, the conversation can and will lead to other topics.  Plan on joining us as we ask, listen and hear about what matters most to those who we live and work with. 

Oh, so you know, there are rules at “Barstool Seminary” to insure that the goal of having a civic-minded dialogue happens.  You’ll just have to come to find out.  (Or, check out my Facebook page later this week).   Perhaps you’ve heard a very cheesy joke in the past that starts out like: “A Buddhist, Christian and atheist walk into a bar…” The idea is that these people, under normal circumstances, would never talk to each other.  The personalities involved are intended to lend itself to the humor of the joke.  At “Barstool Seminary,” the idea is to make this dynamic more of a reality and less of a punch line.  Come join us.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Hun! This is really good stuff. Being a Christian, I am very challenged to be able to engage in conversations (even when difficult) with others who may believe much differently than me. In the past this has been difficult to me but I can see the importance of it. I think it needs to happen. I am so excited for Barstool!