Tuesday, May 06, 2014
Learning LIke The Other
If I am going to understand and make myself understood, I need to learn the language of those to whom I am speaking. That's a basic principle of beginning rhetoric, but it is a principle easily forgotten. I suppose I forget it because I become so accustomed to my native religious tongue that it begins to seem like the language everyone speaks—or should speak. The way I speak of my faith within that faith comes to seem like the natural language for anyone speaking of faith.I cannot help but wonder what a different world it would be if more orthodox Christians attempted to understand the Mormons rather than condemn them. How different would it be if the same were true for Catholics and Protestants? Or even if it were true for the fundamentalist and the charismatic.
Finding myself in a Christian world that speaks many different languages, and in which I speak what may be one of the most unusual, what I hope for is the gift of believing tongues. Having that gift wouldn't require that I abandon my claims to truth. It wouldn't require that I attenuate any of my basic beliefs. Presumably it would make it possible to see more clearly how and where my beliefs differ from those of others.
At some point we have come to confuse listening and understanding with approval. Can we not disagree and also love? I think we have to not only think about the definition of disagreement but also of love. Love does not equate to total acceptance or everything about the object of the love. "While we were yet sinners..."
acceptance disagreement love