October 27, 2016

Missional Missioning in Texas

Last Friday I received several messages from folks that Bp. Andy Doyle and I were taken to task in an article. Or, rather, our writing was. And then, over the weekend, another article came out. I honestly didn't have the time to read them but for a preliminary skim. Even though I was asked by a few about my thoughts, I reserved comment. I didn't know the author. It didn't seem important enough at the moment. I had four presentations to prepare for at the beginning of this week. There wasn't time to get into an online debate.

Yesterday morning, I met the author after the last workshop I had been preparing for. It seemed clear from our brief conversation that while we disagree on some things, we have common ground on others. We're both baptized Christians. Members of the Episcopal Church. We both clearly care for it's health and future. He cared enough to offer some presentation tips when we met. You can read what he wrote last week here and here.

The reason why I am writing this now is for two reasons. One, I know who this human being is now. I now appreciate who I would be addressing in any online communication--and I may choose to in the future. An increasing problem I have with internet debates is that the disembodied aspect of it allows for us to too easily dehumanize each other, typing things that we would rarely--if ever--say to someone in person.

I wonder if the childish nature of online debate has brought us to where we are now; unfriending those we do not agree on politics with and presidential candidates treating each other in televised debates in ways that would be unacceptable in a preschool classroom or playground. I didn't respond until I would have time to thoughtfully and humanely respond. I could have tweeted out something akin to "I know you are but what am I?!" on Friday ... but, really? Would that have been humane? Adulting? Christian?

My second rationale for waiting until now to mention this was something that crystallized for me while recently listening to a talk given by my boss, Bp. Andy Doyle. We need resistance. We need dissent descent. We need disagreement. It makes us better. It refines our thinking and work. It improves are own argument... if we choose to let it.

For that, I thank Rob Price.