There are conversations we aren’t having in the US that we should have.
There are conversations we aren’t having in our churches that we should really be having.
But the reality is that we generally won’t have these conversations for multiple reasons. One reason is because they are difficult conversations. Another reason is because we don’t know where to start, or how to listen – to often we are jumping to how we are going to answer something because just raising the question feels like an attack on us. And another reason is because we just aren’t even aware that there is an issue – so why talk about something that doesn’t directly affect us. Lastly, I think we don’t talk about difficult conversations because we are afraid of how the conversations may require us to change.
So what are these conversations that we should be having, but refuse to participate in?
One of the conversations would be around race. I’m part of the whitest denomination in America – the ELCA. We’re just starting to tap into this, but not throughout the entire church.
Here’s another – money. Want to really understand how protective people are around issue of money – just ask people to pull out their cash or credit cards and hold them up for people to see and tell people that you want to have a conversation around money in church. Good luck.
Here’s another – civic religion. How does society expect the church to behave and what do we expect our churches to do in relation to the state? What is the proper role of a pastor in relation to a civic function? In what ways do we attempt to equate the church and God with the nation and the things that symbolize it? Most churches can’t even have a conversation about whether a flag belongs in a sanctuary or not – it touches on identity.
Too often we are not willing to talk about these deep subjects because to talk about them means that we might have do some self-examination. And if we do that, we might have change what we think and do. If we talk about these things, we might just expose the lies that we have bought into – and then what? What does that mean for our identity? If we talk about these things, we might have to look and see how we try to use faith and religion to sanctify and sanitize what our culture and society does.
These are dangerous conversations if they are not done with a spirit of openness and honesty, forgiveness and mercy, grace and peace.
But I wonder, should we throw our hands up and give up because not everyone is ready for the conversations? No, we should move forward anyway. Find those who are willing to talk and listen, to question and confess, to be open to change and progress.
I certainly don’t know all the answers to the challenges that I listed above. In some cases, I know that I have blind spots that limit what I can see. But I want to have these conversations. Nothing should be off limits – we should be talking about difficult and uncomfortable challenges that we face as individuals, churches, cultures, nations, communities. We owe it each other to have these conversations.