Give me half a chance, and I’ll talk your ear off. My opinons about the best coffee in town, atonement theologies, ideas about dismantling institutional and social racism in our churches and societies, education policies, how to cook the perfect palak paneer at home, whining about the closure of the only restaurant in seattle that served vegetarian jah jahn myeun, how cute alan is, how long it’s taking to remodel our home…the list is endless. What’s not on my top thirty? This whole women in ministry thing. As people responded to PE’s initial post, a common thread was ‘let’s keep focused on Jesus’ or ‘let’s not make this the only issue’. I don’t want it to be my only issue, but hope that we can also acknowledge that the tough topics, the ones that challenge us, like white privilege, racism, sexism, homophobia, economic inequality, and global poverty and injustice, are those that we like to talk about quickly and move on. They make us uncomfortable and call us to change in many ways. What if when we were confronted with uncomfortable conversations, we allowed ourselves to stay in the discussion? Last week, I had the opportunity to be part of the quarterly Faith and Race discussion at Quest, this time discussing Senator Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech.
The discussion was great, the participants lively, and it spoke volumes that we were able to have this discussion in a church that supports no single candidate, and where attendees of both the church and the discussion forum were from all over the map. At the beginning of the discussion, we asked the participants to enter into the discussion using the guidelines set forth for “Courageous Conversations”: stay engaged, speak your own truth, experience discomfort, and expect and accept non closure. In the midst of subject matter society often tells us is taboo to speak of in polite discussion, we were able to hear one another out, share differing opinions respectfully, and enjoy the time together. What’s my point here? I hope that over the years of having conversations about the tough issues, we’ll realize that we are focusing on Jesus when we bring up these issues, and stay in the discussion together.
For now, I’m going to talk to myself awhile about the PhD I’d like to get someday focusing on the negative inculturation of Chrisitianity into American culture, particularly focusing on the intersections of White Privilege and contemporary interpretations of Christianity. Because at the moment, that’s what I like to talk about. That, and how to make good french press coffee at home.