Guest post by John Deuel
Before he went on his sabbatical, The Sustainist was taking advantage of our election-soaked context to invite us into conversations about parts of our national identity. He wrote about the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Gettysburg Address, Brown v. Board of Education and others. In each posting, he gave readers a dialog process to use with others on aspects of these documents.
If you did launch conversations with people along the lines of Eric’s recent suggestions, perhaps you were exposed to points of view very different from your own. While the KI dialog process is open and welcoming, at a national level our current dialog is particularly polarized and feels, to me anyway, as if it is filled with much more talking than listening. This seems especially true online.
Our online social lives have a great amount of openness, sharing and community. But electronic communications inherently possess a distance or separation. Not just physically, but there is frequently an empathic distance. We find ourselves being misunderstood as we dialog with others online. We have a tougher time understanding others’ intentions. This presents a challenge to building sustainable communities.
I humbly submit that the readings from this coming Sunday share a theme that can help us with this challenge. In Job, God asks, "where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” Hebrews speaks of Jesus' own obedience to his father and of the fact that priestly leaders have weaknesses just like their flock. Finally, in the gospel, Jesus says “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.”
Each of these readings carries a lesson in humility. If we can hold humbleness in our hearts as we dialog with others in our networked world, perhaps we can hear them more genuinely. We can remind ourselves that we were not there when God formed the universe, that we have our own brokenness just like our fellow humans, and that we are called to serve rather than be served. We can live this openness in our hearts with joy, encouraging others to do the same through our humble example.
Dialogue Process with reflection questions for Proper 24:
Professionally, John Deuel is an IT Director. Personally he is an EfM mentor & graduate who tries to be a good friend, husband, and caregiver while blogging occasionally at http://cheztudor.blogspot.com.