In reflecting on the final chapters of Love Wins and the book as a whole, I am heartened by a different type of good news that it and projects like Darkwood Brew bring: the news that dialogue is alive and well both within and across faith communities in the United States and beyond. And by dialogue, I don’t mean well-meaning people sitting around in a circle politely trading niceties. I mean real, raw discussions about who we are, what we believe and value and how we live with those who think and act differently from us. These discussions shatter stereotypes, challenge us, at times confuse us, but more than often, they give clarity, they educate, they transform, and they become the building blocks of mutual respect, friendship and collaboration on the common things we value.
True dialogue is not about agreement or about proving you’re right, it’s about relationships and understanding. I think Rob Bell touches on that in his book. Clearly, the book itself is part of a public dialogue occurring within the Christian community about what it even means to be a Christian in a pluralistic world. And it gives me hope.
Now don’t get me wrong. There still are many places where dialogue isn’t happening. And that fact provides an important call to action for us all. It calls those of us who live in communities where dialogue is happening to protect and grow it. We need to do a better job of spreading the “good news” about how one can be transformed rather than reduced by these encounters. We can do this by sharing in person, in print and online our stories of the impact these conversations and relationships have had on us and on those around us. We also are called to be supportive allies to those working for to start dialogue where in places and communities where this is not the norm.
How can we be supportive allies? By asking the people who are trying to start dialogue how we can help, listening to their feedback, helping where we can, and encouraging them not to give up when they experience resistance.
Though I didn’t always love Love Wins, I appreciate the spirit in which it is offered and I am grateful for the fruitful dialogues, like those occurring through the Darkwood Brew series, which it sparks. Happy dialoguing and thanks for letting me be a part of it…
Beth, loved your reflection on dialogue not being about agreement or disagreement but about relationship.
Listened to the loveliest interview with Yossi Klein Halevi called Thin Places, Thick Realities today. Wow, is he somebody who gets it! http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2011/thin-places-thick-realities/
Thanks for your insightful contributions, Beth. I very much enjoyed reading your posts.
I’ve enjoyed the dialogue here. I suspect that the Church which Jesus leads is not about people agreeing, but about people from different perspectives sharing respectfully. I wonder if when we worship Him in heaven, He’ll ask us for intense, honest, respectful debate about His nature and attributes instead of hymns and harps. 🙂