Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Copycat Blog Post

There's nothing I like better than "copycatting" what someone else had on their blog that I want to share.  Here's one from my former pastor at Wells Memorial United Methodist Church in Jackson, Mississippi.  He's my age.  I'll leave you guessing just what that is...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
     Wasn’t it Rodney King who asked the question, “Why can’t we just get along?
     The question is valid no matter who asked it, and it is as old as it is relevant. 
     Think of how much Biblical literature is directed toward the purpose of helping us get along with God and with each other.
     “People don’t get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other.”
     Last year when we were able to be involved in more things, we got together with some friends from the Interfaith Dialogue Institute. An annual banquet used to be held in Jackson for one simple purpose: To get to know one another.
     There were talks about this, comments from scholars, but my ‘moment’ was at the fruit juice table! Two of the young wives, both dressed in modest Muslim clothing, were busy cleaning up and giggling like high school girls. Giggling closed a gap of understanding. We’re not that different.
     “You like cheese as much as I do, Keith,” a black pastor friend said to me as we ate lunch. Brought closer by cheese.
     Fear grows out of not knowing, and not understanding. And even when some knowing and understanding come to pass, fear can continue until “We have communicated with each other.” (A statement by MLK).
     This is why more of us should take time to talk about many things, but to be sure to include religion and politics are part of the conversations. (Yes, include!) Talk to understand, not to 'convert.'
     “But that’s when people get all hot and bothered,” a member told me today.
     “Where were you when this ‘hot and bother’ happened?” I asked.
      “Oh, on my Facebook account, she said.
     I’m talking about talking with each other privately not in public forum. I still hold fast to the conviction that even our most heated public declarations should and could be kept civil. We should let it be known that we expect that when we can. But we begin just being and talking together.
     “I feel so much better,” a Mom said after having lunch with her grown daughter, we got to talk about a lot of things—including the election—which before this, we didn’t speak of when together.”
     “What do you suppose turned the corner for you two?” her good friend asked.
     “I think it was when I asked her to share with me the reasons she thinks as she does and voted as she did. Perhaps the strangest part of it all is that we were not that far apart in what we wanted for our country, but had added up the evidence available to us and acted accordingly.”
     Richard Armor, a humorist, hits the nail on the head when he says, “It’s all right to have a conversation, but every now and then you should let go of it.”
     A quick agenda for time together at the table: First, “It’s good to see you this evening. How was your day?" Then a blessing.
     “Can I turn on the news?” the high school senior asks, “Got a term paper on the election due in the morning.” 
     "Do that later son if you will. How’d ball practice go this afternoon?”
     The daughter, a tenth grader talks briefly about a date coming up that weekend. Several thank the Mom and eldest daughter for a really good meal, and they all go their separate ways.
     Except they were together for a while.
     If we could, would, and will make a point to do some get together times, to share conversation on several levels, and to turn cell and house phones back on only when the meal is over, things would get better.
     But as one Millsaps senior put it at a devotional meeting we held: “Some of this may be true, but before it could happen we’ll have to reinstitute the practice of eating together.”
     It just might put down some of our fears, grow in understanding, and bless our relationships just to sit at the table together--on purpose.
     At that point a statement from Larry King helps: "I never learn anything when I'm talking.'
     Maybe Rodney King's hope for getting along might begin with what ought to be a common place in our lives.
     Always love, always,
My P.S.:  Jackson, Mississippi, is the place I lived the longest in eight (8) decades.