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Can We Talk?

By Mike Mccauley on
Mike Mccauley
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Jul 14 in Musings
I’m weary of the shouting. Can we just talk? My week has been full of reminders of our inability to have conversation. I heard the story of an incident at a seminary where a respected professor was part of a diverse panel discussion, and some students at the event began to loudly boo him. Worse yet, not one of the other speakers on stage lifted a finger to reprimand the audience. I pick up the newspaper and read about city development hearings where people on different sides of an issue literally come to blows. Our current political climate pours gasoline on the smallest spark. The speed and ferocity of the news media is stunning, topped only by the manipulative uses of social media. So much shouting. Richard Mouw, former President at Fuller Seminary wrote a book way back in 1992 (2nd edition 2010) called “Uncommon Decency.” In it he argues for...civility. Christian civility. Not a civility that is an end in itself, and not a civility that forsakes the pursuit of the truth...but one which honors Christ. Where is our civility, our decency?
I remember 20 years ago being in a seminary classroom in Princeton. There was a spirited presentation on a controversial topic going on. Dr. Ulrich Mauser, a New Testament professor near retirement spoke on one side of the topic. A student then rose and with a great deal of arrogance and accusation, lambasted Dr. Mauser and his position. Besides being utterly rude and inappropriate, the student’s strong speech was marked with many factual inaccuracies. When the student finally finished, the moderator said “Dr. Mauser, do you wish to respond?” Dr. Mauser rose and opened his mouth. We knew what he was going to do- he was going to put that snotty, disrespectful student in his place. But he didn’t. Instead, he kindly said “No, that wouldn’t be fair. That is his opinion.” And he sat down. I barely remember the lectures or writing that Ulrich Mauser produced. But I will never forget the day he bit his tongue and showed great civility to someone who exhibited none. It was decent, compassionate and generous.

I wonder if we are? I wonder if, even as we hold to strong convictions and make difficult decisions, we can treat others well?  Live without anger? Converse rather than shout? I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult. It is a polarizing age we live in. The Apostle Paul’s reminder to Titus seems especially appropriate for our day: “No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous” (Titus 3:2, The Message).  Can we talk?
                See you soon,
                                    Pastor Dan

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