I want to publicly thank Pastor Paul Paurus for his article in last week's Conversations in the Marketplace. His point is well taken that our inability to engage in civil discourse has led to polarization of society. It seems that our society no longer places value on debating the issues without becoming argumentative or combative. We may enjoy watching a debate, but we seem to be waiting for the "other" guy to make a mistake, instead of listening closely to what is said by both sides. It seems easier to write a letter to the editor than to dialogue face-to-face. I wonder if we find dialogue difficult because we must look into another person's eyes revealing their humanity. Are we not all made in the image of God?
I agree with Pastor Paurus that we need to be able to listen to each other even, and maybe especially, when we disagree. We probably won't change anyone's mind about a particular issue, but maybe we'll gain respect for each other as valued human beings, as people beloved by God. Maybe a friendly forum with some skill-building about HOW to have a respectful conversation?
I am part of a local group called "Community Concerned" who is sponsoring The Minnesota Council of Churches Respectful Conversations Project. This year they are offering this project on the marriage amendment because it's a divisive issue in our state. The Minnesota Council of Churches has years of experience and excellent results strengthening communities as well as churches. Mark your calendars for Thursday, October 25 at the Cannon Falls High School cafeteria. We'll start with a meal at 5:30 p.m. and then have facilitated table conversations until 8:30 p.m. There is no charge, but registration is suggested at their website. Watch for more information coming soon.
The Minnesota Council of Churches has a state-wide reputation of teaching people to have respectful conversations about divisive issues. They do NOT take sides or advocate for a side, but instead offer a way of sharing our strongly-held opinions in a respectful manner. Check out their website for more information www.mnchurches.org.