An interesting discourse was had, and I was part of the discussion. The topic was the culture of interactions with faiths other than Christianity.

After the first two hours of going through a history lesson on five misguided understandings a sixth was added to take us to another level of understanding. Here we were led to Comparative Theology. “A relatively new discipline within theology, which holds together “comparative” and “theology” in creative tension. It represents a particular type of theological practice committed to deep inter-religious learning (“comparative”) while staying rooted in a particular religious tradition (“theology”). Moreover, while many of its proponents come from the Christian religious tradition, it can have as a starting point the theology of any religious tradition.” (Francis Clooney 2010)

As we listened we learned that the tension is a good thing that holds the discussion together. It does require respect and acceptance from both sides. It requires a bridge of listening to learn about the other person and their beliefs with no judgement.

The ability to learn how to have civil discourse between people is one that needs to be part of the dialog and instruction. It takes away the anger and misunderstandings and the jumping to conclusions.

Let’s take a look at some positive ways to start the conversations.

1. First and foremost, set the guidelines.

  • Clarify what you are really wanting to accomplish.

  • The moderator sees to it all have understood in a timely manner the topic at hand.

  • The ability to ask clarifying questions in a civil voice is encouraged after the speaker has finished speaking.

  • Only one person can speak at a time.

  • Think of being around a campfire or round table. This will place everyone on level ground.

  • Have the ability to say, “I have a very different conviction about that”, calmly when you disagree.

  • It is OK to disagree and still retain a civil atmosphere.

2. Start with small groups or maybe even pairs, depending on the size of the group. Repeat often.

3. Instruct others on this concept of civil discourse.

4. Dialog suggestions –

  1. Exchange names and one start the subject of the conversation.

  2. Respect the guidelines.

  3. Speak clearly, concisely, and with as few words as possible. You can tell more” if needed.

  4. Listen and relax.

The Leadership Wrangler

D.W.(Dick) Powell






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