some possibilities for bridge building instead of bombing (even though i'm better at that).

I know I can be such a hypocrite. I say one thing and do another. I’m human. I’m doing the best I can with what I have but want to keep improving. I also think the how-do-I-stand-for-what-I-believe-or-think-needs-to-be-said-without-being-mean can be a dilemma. Take the Trump conversation, for example. I believe passionately we need to consider our addiction to kings. And this is my blog and a place where I can process out loud. I am sure some would prefer the language was softer or more balanced or this or that, and they are probably right–it would build more bridges. But I also am working on making sure that I don’t always water down what I say to make sure everyone is happy; that’s got my soul into far more trouble in the past.

When it comes to some of these issues, we need places to speak our truth and share our hearts, even though it might be hard for some to hear. When it comes to conversations about race and gender equality and LGBQT issues, you can’t soften them and make them easy for everyone to digest. They are just hard.  They will feel tense. They will make us uncomfortable.

Shifting systems is tricky business.

We can’t tiptoe around our opinions all the time for fear of offending.

It’s okay to own where we are coming from, at least in the moment, and try to show up, tell our truth, trust God, and let go of the outcome.

At the same time, I think we are all growing weary of the realities of the current political and religious climate right now.

It’s a jungle out here and oh, the divide keeps getting wider and wider.

The meanness is on the rise.

When we all think of the months between now and election day, it makes us want to crawl under the covers, binge on Netflix, and not resurface until November 9th.

It’s my hope we can keep finding spaces to talk about some of this stuff in a much healthier way than only blogs or Facebook. Real life is always the best, but sometimes online is all we’ve got.

In that spirit, I thought I’d share a series I wrote almost 3 years ago (whoa, time flies) called “Healing the Divides: A Series on Living in the Tensions of Our Differences.”  The idea was that we needed more practical ideas on ways we could better love each other despite our differences.  Here are the 6 posts it included:

  • 8 ways those from more liberal and more conservative persuasions can better love each other – I need to re-read this over and over again before I enter into certain conversations! (Especially the point about blind spots).  I have one addition, too. I think it’s worth taking “My God is bigger than that” off the table as a trump card in the same vein as “But the Bible says” or “God says.” It has the same effect–shutting down conversations (and oh, I love to use that one. More on that in an upcoming episode of Faith Circus).
  • safer people make safer conversations – We can always become safer and have to remember that “safe” does not mean “comfortable.” This list of characteristics of safe and unsafe people has been so helpful to me; it’s easy for me to point the finger at others as unsafe when I can exhibit many of these characteristics in certain types of conversations.
  • breaking down walls – This is just me rambling for a little bit on video.
  • deeper dignified dialogue – I really like these questions beyond just the 5 basic principles of dignified dialogue and would love to add more to the list (if you want to share any, please do!). Questions make all the difference. Stories change everything.
  • formation friday: our inner pharisee – Yep, I definitely need God’s help to keep healing my inner pharisee.
  • intra-faith dialogue  – In my opinion, intra-faith dialogue is much trickier than inter-faith conversations; there’s something about it that is more sensitive and painful, probably because it hits closer to home. My hope is that we can just keep getting better and better at it.

There are also some other posts that I think help in the bridge-building-instead-of-bombing-category:

And I really hope people continue to consider this resource that we worked on last year to facilitate some solid conversations:

Lastly, I am really excited about a new podcast that Karl and I are launching tomorrow, March 1st, called Faith Circus–big tent, high-wire conversations about faith, church, and life without a net (and the occasional elephant in the room). There will be more than few elephants. It is a work in progress, but sure would love for you to join the circus with us:

Also, if there are other books or tools or practical ideas that you have found useful, please pass them on!

The Golden Rule’s always worth revisiting, and I close with this quote from Margaret Wheatley that I really love and need to remember.

“When we seek for connection, we restore the world to wholeness. Our seemingly separate lives become meaningful as we discover how truly necessary we are to each other.”

How truly necessary we are to each other.

Oh, we may not feel it all the time, but we really do need each other. 

Here’s to more wholeness, here’s to better conversations, here’s to more and more bridges.

 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

4 Comments

  • I for one don’t wish that anything was more fair or balanced, I wish that all of us would just own our bias and give up this ridiculous notion that keeping everyone on side a noble or even possible goal. I love you to bits Kathy you are one of the most amazing people I have connected with in my journey online but you seem to be torn between sharing your truth and being diplomatic at the same time. As someone who has annoyed a lot of people I can say with confidence that the people that matter love you when you are your most authentic self, and those who struggle with you just being you have their own issues to work through and yes empathy is required to navigate all of this. Keep being you the world needs that…

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  • Here are 11 books I have found helpful around building bridges and connection: 1) Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life by Phileena Heuertz, 2) God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Mirabai Starr, 3) Compassion: Living in the Spirit of St. Francis by Ilia Delio, 4) How To Love by Thich Nhat Hanh, 5) The Scapegoat by Rene Girard, 6) A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker J. Palmer, 7) Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg, 8) Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland, 9) Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World by Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown, 10) A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community by Simone Campbell, 11) Eager To Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi by Richard Rohr.

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