One of the things that I have been struck with over the past few months is that many people are unwilling to think and even more unwilling to listen. We have been trained to process what we will say next and as a result we do not hear what is being said to us. It is this phenomenon that I think leads us to the place where we no longer actually think. Thinking requires listening and processing. One of the places that I have been finding this to be true is in the context of book reviews. Most recently has been the discussion that has been going on over Brian McLaren’s most recent book, “A New Kind of Christianity”. I do not have this book. I have not read this book. My point is not to enter into conversation about McLaren or his writing but to look at the way that the conversation has been going forward.
The men and women who have responded to McLaren’s latest title are brilliant people (at least the ones I have read) and have presented critiques that I am sure need to be made. What I found most interesting was the interaction between McLaren and Bill Kinnon. This is the first time I have read Kinnon’s blog and so I do not have a vast working knowledge of his writing.
The posts between the two men are long. So let me summarize:
- Kinnon: Brian, I have these questions.
- Brian: Bill, you don’t understand me.
Is this a bit of reductionistic, tongue-in-cheek, hyperbole? Sure. But, the point is that it seems that Kinnon and McLaren simply speak past one another. It is as if they both have a perspective and they are not willing to think the other person’s point. This is a microcosm of what we see on Capitol Hill everyday in the “bipartisan” conversation.
It seems to me that we would be much better served to slow down and listen. This listening will cause us to think. Thinking might lead us to realize that there is much middle ground upon which we can agree on. Will there be outliers that we will ALWAYS disagree about? Yes. But, what if, and I am just spit-balling here, what if we found common ground and moved forward?
Oh wait, that last idea does not sell books or drive site traffic. (Sorry that might be a bit too cynical or not.)