13 November 2005

21 Bottles of Wine on the Wall

After a weekend in wine country with the folks, I am staring at the largest collection of wine ever at my disposal. I pray that my life will not necessitate hasty consumption.

I have more people in my life than ever before who hold completely different convictions than I. My father and I got through about 4 hours without starting in on politics. It was a great discussion, though, and we agreed wholeheartedly that the answer to frustrations with the right or left is to keep them as close as possible. In holding ongoing conversations with secular and religious conservatives, I am forced to reconcile opposing ideas without caricature or dismissal. This seems the only answer to moving forward, whether in the Church or in the secular world.

It is so easy to dismiss opposing views in the short run, but devastating in the long run. Each passing co
mment ("The revisionists don't believe in scripture" "Feminists are destroying the Church" "Conservatives are such bigots") puts us farther from true community with those whom we don't understand. I know for myself if I am not in relationship with friends from conservative seminaries and Republicans, I am doomed to miss something important they have to say.

In holding out this possibility, though, I get it from the right and the left.
Fraternizing with the enemy will get you nowhere but frustrated, I hear all the time around here. The discussions I have with people who think women should not be ordained, that being gay is sinful, or that George Bush has the interest of the American people at heart; these are not easy conversations and often bring me much frustration. So, while stretching myself to explain more than once the difference between "feminine" and "feminist," and while getting criticism for "wasting my time doing it," I am growing all the while. It isn't easy, though, and I'm thankful to a handful who don't give me jaw-drop looks but instead share stories of navigating they did in relationship with those who thought differently than they did.

I don't think M. and I are too much at risk for getting out of touch because our families tow the red state line daily. We love them and don't think they're stupid. We think they are older than us, wiser, and with much to offer. Thankfully, they don't think we're stupid either! So, the conversations are hard and have to be entered into prayerfully and with the intention of mutual encouragement. The only models out there are full of bitterness and no generosity of spirit. Committing to these relationships is difficult but life-giving.

Starting with Advent I'm following the New Zealand prayer book for a year for private
devotions. The prayers are beautiful and a refreshing change of language. Get your hands on some of it if you haven't seen it before.


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