Friday, February 01, 2008
I have this bumper sticker in the back window of my car. A friend gave it to me. I've found in the last 3 weeks, through 3 conversations which emerged from statement of this bumper sticker, some good food for thought about faith, dialogue, the human condition, and the integration of 2.0 to those worlds.
One man - an older Anglo man stopped me in our driveway as I unloaded my children from our station wagon. He stood silently behind me. Making me anxious. Then he asked me, "What does your bumper sticker mean?" "Do you believe that?" I said "yes. I don't think Jesus would bomb anyone." He responded - a response that surprised my judgmental attitude expecting an attack of my political, religious, theological, and philisophical view - right in front of my children. Yet what I heard instead was, "I think you're right." Touche. I was surprised because where I expected judgment there was actually a desire for dialogue.
Another man - a young African-American man - stopped me in a totally different way. Arriving at preschool one morning in East Oakland I began unloading my daughter from the car when another car raced at nearly 60 mph down a neighborhood city street lined with parked cars. Speeding towards me, hip-hop blasting, he slammed on the brakes right behind me as I stood with my back to the street taking my daughter out of the car. I expected explicitives, slurs, violent vocabulary. Instead I failed to understand the words, "nobody." "What?" I replied. "The answer is nobody! Jesus wouldn't bomb anybody!" said the driver as he then sped off. Not at all what I expected. Again where I thought I was going to be judged, I was the one judging and choking off presumptuously any aspect of dialogue.
A third man - that same day - an Asian man in his late 20s approached me in front of Farmer Joe's as I again unloaded my daughter from the back of our station wagon. Again - I should have known by then - I thought that he was going to ask me for money. The way he stood right behind me, silently, too close for comfort, swaying back and forth - made me so nervous. And then he said, "I don't think Jesus would bomb anyone. He's for peace. He'd be against what our government is doing." A paradox. I expected a request for money. Instead I got a reality-check.
I told this story in worship at our church recently during my sermon to make a point. We often - at least I do - judge when we aren't being judged. We often choke off conversation when others are dying for dialogue. We reject discussion out of fear, instead choosing speaking at instead of daring to talk with. We rarely - if ever - can recognize our own humanity, our own brokenness, enough to really dare to dialogue with someone else - like these 3 men tried and desired to do with me. I'm increasingly struck by technology, and the web 2.0, which can enable us and empower us to choose dialogue over diatribe, discussion over sermonizing, collaboration and connection over condemnation and chaos. Maybe web 2.0 is just the thing that we need to transform the way that we live faith in a daily way, practice it in community, and fathom it as a gathered people? Could it be that my emerging spiritual practice of dialoguing with others about faith through blogging might be opening my eyes to the depth of faith, the transformational power of it, and the complexity of human nature? What do you think?