I was grateful to participate in the Spokane Faith & Values 'Coffee Talk" at Chairs Coffee. The subject was the Newtown Elementary School massacre. A panel of us writers and bloggers sparked conversation off through highlighting our response articles and then the group launched into reflections, questions and opinions on the tragedy and people's thoughts on the multitude of reasons and remedies.
With such a diverse group of people present (around 30), I wasn't sure what direction the conversation would go or if it would unravel into an emotional roller-coaster of debate and disgust. The public conversation in the media, blogosphere and even on Spokane Faith & Values website had been sometimes cantankerous, divisive and volatile.
What I was surprised by, was how the group that came wanted to talk heart not fight ideas, vision not violence, love more than laws and healing over hype. The potential landmines of poltical, idealogical and theological rhetoric were graciously stepped over and people were able to self-guide one another towards a productive conversation that was thoughtful and challenging and faithful to people's convictions and yet, it was civil. I am blessed to be part of a growing community of readers and writers who desire to create safe places to process and provoke and provide one another opportunity to thoughtfully and prayerfully work towards meaningful change in our heart, homes, churches and community, together.
One other thing I gained reminded me of something Friedrich Nietzsche said:
"Whoever thought that he had understood something of me had merely construed something out of me, after his own image.”
One benefit being gained by the kind of work and witness SF&V is doing is how it is pushing people to discover one another in new formats and help foster new understanding. I know my own opinion about various people was changed by hearing them in person versus reading their writing, a fact that we need to always remind ourselves as writers and readers.
All communication is a challenge and is best put into context face to face in the proper place and time. We need to see and hear one another as people not just positions, this event helped me do that better.