In a post on our Dream Discovery Transformation Process I reflect on a discussion regarding diversity of belief in the church. I thought the conversation was going to be about our denominational statements, but instead it focused on a sentence I had written in my remarks introducing those statements.
After finishing that post, I got a clue. I had part of one during the discussion, only because another participant spoke wisdom and I was willing to receive it. Or part of it. Then as I was preparing the post I realized that I needed to acknowledge my failure, debt and appreciation. THEN, it clicked.
A significant focus of my DMin journey thus far has been on my need to listen and hear and understand others – particularly the voices of women. I wrote about it in several papers. I have discussed it in counseling. I seem to get into this feedback loop with some people where we keep talking at or past each other, rather than to or with.
It happened again in yesterday’s discussion. I found myself defending language I had written, rather than simply saying, “OK, tell me more. What do you hear? If you do not prefer this language, what would you want to say?” How difficult is that? In principle, not very. And yet I keep getting stuck.
This is so important to me that I even registered for a class on Feminist, Womanist and Mujerista Theologies – here’s the reading list without comment, which may give you some idea of the content. The professor, Dr. Karen Baker-Fletcher, clarified that the class is really more broadly “women theologies” – i.e. theology done by women regarding women’s experiences of God and women’s concerns. Central to the course is a resistance to essentializing women as one homogeneous group with one voice and set of experiences/concerns. Even within a group that shares much culturally/demographically we still find considerable diversity.
I really want to understand these things better, and want to learn to hear. I got caught in the same feedback loop yesterday. I understand Paul saying, “I can’t do what I know I ought to do, and the thing I hate is the very thing I do” (Romans 7). Again! UGH! Anyone not have that problem? And yet why are we so willing to point fingers at others and their hangups?
What I want to say is: “I am broken, and in the process of being repaired, refurbished, rebuilt, made new. But I’m not there yet. God isn’t through with me yet. So, perhaps what you know can help me, and in the process hopefully something I have may help you. If you would like to speak, I would like to listen.”
If you are listening out there to my plea, I ask for your patience, and I ask you to help me to move toward that place of listening.