Wednesday, July 25, 2012

thoughts about faith, politics, and communication

On My Mind
I’m trying to jump-start my brain this morning, but either someone put decaf in the wrong pot or I need to look for a brand with a higher wattage definition of the word “robust.”

It reminds me of  how important it is that the definitions we attach to words and ideas have some degree of consistency. Because if my idea of “strong” coffee means one thing and your is something else then one of us is always going to be disappointed when we get together to share a cup.

Effective communication is dependent on such clarity. However, in our media saturated world, where ideas can be articulated and then disseminated globally in a matter of seconds, we seem to be farther apart from understanding one-another than ever before.

POLITICS: This is a serious problem in politics, where “Candidate A” will often define a word or idea in such a way that, when “Candidate B” uses it, a distorted layer of meaning is added.

It’s not subtle at all, and it’s often carefully calculated. For example, I sometimes hear the idea of “I love America” presented in ways that are so politically loaded that the moment someone from the other party opens their mouth they can immediately be labelled “un-American!”

It’s like trying to measure a distance in feet by using a ruler that’s actually 10.5 inches long. That’s crazy. Everyone should work from the same idea when it comes to what “one foot” actually means.

But in politics (and very much during this 2012 race) no-one appears to be genuinely interested in honest communication.

FAITH: I’m also very much involved in some important conversations about faith this week. What, as an example, do these words and ideas mean to you?
  • Christian?
  • Witness
  • Worship?
  • Faith?
  • Salvation?
  • Grow in faith?
  • Joy?
  • Discipleship?
  • Relevancy?
  • Being a Church?
These are just a few of the words that people who attend church use as part of their faith-based lexicon. Yet, if we put any group of “Christians” in a room together to talk about these critically important ideas, then we’d uncover wide variations as how these concepts are defined.

And I wonder, when we have conversations about our particular faith community, and when we’re talking about what needs to happen for us to be able to move forward… how well are we really communicating?

AGREEMENT: Here’s what I believe. The bottom line in both faith and politics is not that we agree so much as that we understand one-another, that we learn to listen without judgment, and that we communicate with open spirits.

Most of the time, and when we are open and honest with one-another, we’re going to discover that we really are in agreement when it comes to what is most important.
  • What’s important in matters of faith is that we love God with all our heart, mind, body and soul, that we love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves, and that we live as intentional disciples who follow The Way of Jesus.
  • And what’s most important in matters of politics is that we love this country, that we love our neighbor as much as ourselves, and that we live both in gratitude and with a sense of responsibility for this great land of opportunity.
GET OVER IT: But, in order for that to happen, we have to get over ourselves, get over our incessant need to be right, and then heed these words of Jesus:

 “What is written in the Law?” the man replied. “How do you read it?”
Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Amen, and amen – DEREK

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