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November 20, 2019

Life abundant | You are not a human doing, pursuing passion beyond work | Better Angels talking points are really about listening

Carmen leads off with a brief till of John 10:10 (and a shameless ad for her new weekly podcast with Peter Kapsner called The Till Podcast:

Then Bill English is back to discuss how and why we must identify and pursue a passion beyond work.

And, in anticipation of opportunities to spend time with people with whom we disagree in the coming week(s), Carmen talks with Better Angels John Wood, Jr. and Donna Murphy.

A few of Carmen’s notes on their conversation…

Maybe you’re anxious about the college student whose social media feed demonstrates they’re considering ideologies foreign to the faith in which they were raised. Or maybe you’re anxious about the aged uncle who believes the news he watches is actually the gospel truth – even when it’s far from the actual Gospel. I have good news for you! There’s a way to prepare yourself for healthy holiday dialogue even if others choose to be their totally partisan selves. 

How do we build a house united instead of continuing to tear down the house and one another in the process? I talked with John Wood, Jr. and Donna Murphy from about practical strategies all of us can employ in our conversations across the holiday table or across the political aisle. 

First, take a LAPP. LAPP is the acronym for 

  1. Listen
  2. Acknowledge
  3. Pivot
  4. Perspective

First, commit to listen to the other. Actually listen. With ears to hear, eyes to see and a mind to comprehend. Listen actively in preparation for 2. reflecting back what you hear, clarifying things you did not understand with the goal of a dialogue rooted in understanding. If a person does not feel heard they will naturally grow defensive when you begin to offer information, experience or ideas contrary to their own. So, after great uncle Charlie speaks his peace about the current proceedings in Washington, D.C., you demonstrate that you heard him by paraphrasing back to him what you heard him say. Tone matters here! Uncle Charlie expects you to dismiss him as old and irrelevant. Demonstrate that you value him by valuing what he has said – especially if you disagree. You might invite him to “tell me more” about some aspect of what he said or you might say, “I wonder where that conviction comes from. What in your experience leads to you that view of _____ (government/immigrants/or whatever issue he mentioned). 

Then it’s time to pivot. I call this reframing the conversation. This is the point at which you ask the kind of question Jesus asked. An open-ended question that seems to have more than one answer but in reality has an answer that’s literally out of this world. That’s the perspective part of LAPP. The goal here is to get people thinking about what they’re thinking about; why they’re thinking about it that way; and then consider the eternal perspective. Am I seeing things – and this particular thing – as God sees it? That requires discerning God’s pleasing and perfect will in a particular matter. That takes wisdom and time. Both of which can be in short supplies at the Thanksgiving table! 

Trust me, old uncle Charlie has got some stories to tell. Your challenge is to get him telling those old stories so you can know him, he can feel valued, and you can both begin to see why he sees things the way he does. If you asked him to describe the social location from he’s operating, you’re going to be met with a deer in the headlights. So ask him to tell you about what life was like when he was growing up. Describe the house or town he lived in. Who was President? How did they get the news? What was going on in the world when he was your age (or the age of the youngest person at the table). 

Make an observation about how you can see how the realities of growing up on a farm in the Depression would lead a person to place a high value on resilience, ingenuity, rural values and a healthy skepticism of Wall Street. Then you can ask uncle Charlie how people made it through – and how poor people today are really no different and need the kind of help he received from his community and church back in the day. You can talk about how you see the role of government differently because of the experiences you have had while continuing to value the perspective of others. 

This way we can share a holiday meal without carving up and devouring one another.  That would be a good, right?

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