A Climate of Hospitality

We are called to set tables at which natural enemies gather. At these tables we make room for conversations that are off limits and often taboo in others contexts. We make room for “the least of these,” and give them preferred seating. We explore theological and ministry perspectives that sometimes seem subversive to the status quo. Most importantly, we help create a climate of hospitality. We play the role of host. We make room for all voices to be heard, even and most especially the ones that are hardest to hear. Such tables can and do get lively, even messy. This is our work. We do not shy away from issues, because these are not “issues” for us. They are flesh and blood relationships with real people whom we love very much.

Monday Meditation: On the Possibility for Offendedness

“Admittedly, we all walk around feeling comforted and assured by specific certainties, but our sense of assuredness as true believers (whatever it is we claim we believe) need not preempt the possibility of feedback. ‘We condemn as unacceptable…’ is the opening phrase intoned by various groups in response to all manner of pictures, programs, or prose they view as offensive. Are we unwilling to endure the pain of a drawing? Does the pristine intensity of one’s faith require that any question or jibe pointed toward its content be ruled as impertinent and out of order? If we won’t entertain disagreement, how can a conversation ever occur? What is anybody’s faith for? Isn’t openness to the dangers of feeling offended a prerequisite to an actual relationship?”
-David Dark, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything

In this election season, look around. Who are your friends? Who do you spend your time with? Its it only the people you agree with? If so, why do you surround yourself with these people? To feel understood? To feel affirmed? To feel loved? These are not bad things. But, it is hard to imagine that much learning or teaching occurs without some sort of dialectic. And, furthermore, what if your friends change their opinions? What then? is the relationship over? Can we only draw near to those who say we are right? What does this do for us? What does this do for the world?

One time Jesus said, “What credit is it to you to love those who love you?” Love your enemies (political and otherwise). Be crazy. This is the kind of radical hope that our world needs–and it is perhaps more intensely persuasive and instructive than any kind of polemic.

It may feel absurd to hurt for those who “lose” on election day if your team “wins”. But it is possible to live in that kind of tension–though the world provides few examples of this for us. You can condemn ideas and love people. It is possible. Though, perhaps, among the hardest things we can undertake as humans.