Posted by: HAT | December 1, 2014

“Keep Awake”

painting of figures in conversation

Honest conversation about our differences of opinion and outlook is difficult, though needed

Hi, Gang!

Yesterday, we had a sermon that took off from what is, honestly, my favorite of Jesus’ sayings: “And what I say to you, I say to all: Keep awake.” (Mark 13:37) Then, for Sunday school, we had a conversation about Ferguson. This was
difficult, as there are a number of lines of disagreement, even within the subset of the congregation that attends Sunday school. If everyone got together, we would probably uncover some more.

I keep trying to gather my thoughts, so far without adequate success. I keep running into my own ignorance, my own presumptions, my own inability to communicate with people – even friends – who have different perspectives and presumptions, my own prior complacency about that – my woeful underestimation of the extent to which others share my basic outlook on the world, and the extent to which I understand others’ basic outlook.

Our conversation felt helpful, to me at least. I don’t think it resolved anything or moved anyone much closer to anyone else’s position. But – for me, anyway – it made it a little more possible to grasp why someone is thinking the way they are thinking, how they could be thinking what they are thinking. That is, it seemed clearer to me what assumptions people seem to be making, what evidence people seem to be attending to, what specifics loom most important and what those specifics seem to signify, what kind of “world” is being postulated. It’s not that I can now share those assumptions, or give that kind of weight to that evidence, or see those specifics as the most important ones. But I think I’m a little more capable of thinking about how to talk to someone I really care about who holds them, who thinks that way. For some reason, having a conversation brings all of this into clearer focus than reading something someone has written. I don’t fully understand that, but there it is.

Alas, my clearest conclusion is that I have not kept awake.


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