“If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children.” – Asaph
I’ve learned the hard way that there are just some things you can’t talk about with everyone. This is especially true when it comes to God or ‘the gods’.
There’s the general sentiment that you shouldn’t bring up religion or politics with people in order to avoid disagreements and offense. That’s not really what I’m talking about
There seem to be two kinds of people, those that ask questions, consider possibilities, doubt everything (at least for a time) and wonder out loud. Then there are those that don’t. Unfortunately these two groups, that we seem to all pair off into, tend to be suspicious of each other.
Two of my favourite questions (yep, I’m one of those) are: “Why?” and “So what?” I like “Why?” because I’m convinced the reason behind is often more important and always at least as important as the thing itself we’re being asked to do, believe or feel. I like “So what?” because I think if what you’re saying, doing or feeling doesn’t really make a difference, doesn’t actually change anything or produce some tangible result I probably won’t give much time or weight to it.
There’s an especially long tradition of this in the Church.
There’s also a long tradition of this in the rest of the world.
I think of this as a purely human problem, not a religious or pagan issue, not an educated or uneducated one.
Here on P.E.I. we’re currently having two discussions about closing things. One is about churches and the other is about schools. If you listen in to both conversations they sound surprisingly similar. Some will engage in the dialogue, others won’t hear of it and don’t want you to be discussing it. Period. Again, it’s not about religion or education, there are just questions and conversations we do not need to have. I’d like to just say that it’s denial versus those who consider reality but that’s not true.
A while back I was listening to a guy do his preach (yes, I’m one of those too – I enjoy listening to a good talk whether it’s Mark Driscoll or Ricky Gervais) and he talked about a conversation he’d found himself in when a bunch of other preachers types joined him for a lunch. “Is homosexuality a sin?” one of the group asked. “Yes!” the speaker replied to his audience – not in his story – letting us in on his thoughts at that moment. “I didn’t even know that was up for discussion.” At first I was impressed with his forthrightness but then I started thinking about how this guy, telling the story, has become well known for being someone who pushes the old boundary lines. The truth was there were a whole list of questions and things he was saying that others would say, “I didn’t even know that was up for discussion!” about. Still, there were some questions he didn’t think needed asking or things that should be said out loud.
The discussion about closing churches – of the Roman Catholic variety – here on PEI has brought out some interesting folks. In the large, open meeting I went to one after another came up to the mic and voiced their concern that “the powers that be” would even consider closing some of the rural parishes. Several minutes of outrage came and went and finally a little old lady with blue hair got up from the front and made her way over to the mic. The crowd got quiet as she took her slow and what looked to be painful steps up to the mic. The whole room inhaled and held their breath waiting for the blast this little old lady was going to give the panel overseeing the closure process. What happened next was an “exhale and tighten the sphincter” moment.
The sweet little old lady said, “I appreciate how concerned all of you are about these closures,” she said to the crowd, “I’m also aware” as she made eye contact with several in the crowd, “that I haven’t seen you at Mass in months. Perhaps if you were as passionate about attending Mass as you are about the Church keeping these buildings open we wouldn’t even need to be having these discussions.” Game. Set. Match. She was, perhaps, the oldest person in the room and one of the few there interested in a discussion of the heart of the matter. Most there just wanted to stop the discussion and get back to status quo.
…to be continued…