Monday, March 7, 2011

A dramatic presentation: why church "dialogue" keeps ending relationships

The Underground Pewster does a nice job showing why church "dialogues," "listening processes" and other such events with predetermined participation and outcomes actually wind up hardening differences and pushing people apart. Not that anybody seems to care:

1 comment:

The Archer of the Forest said...

I've always been fascinated by calls, particularly by church hierarchs, for a "listening process" or "dialogues."

Thus, when I hear hierarchs calling for "listening processes," I always ask the question, "To what end?" I ask this because to any discussion or process, there are only 3 logical outcomes as follows:

1: You come to some sort of mutual agreement (i.e., a compromise, common goal, or negotiated settlement.)
2: You come to a pre-determined outcome (i.e., the more powerful or persuasive party pushes the less powerful or less persuasive party into their way of thinking or behaving.)
3: A stand off (i.e., nothing is resolved and you either stop talking or keep talking until there is nothing else to be said at which point you repeat points already discussed in perpetuity.)

Again, to what end are we striving for in such a process? If its just talking (and listening) for the sake of biding time or talking for its own sake, that is really pointless and a waste of everyone's time.

If we are trying to come to some sort of negotiated settlement, what does that look like? You can't reach a common goal that no one understands or to which no one has agreed.

If we are trying to come to a pre-determined goal, then its really not an open ended listening process. You are just using the term "listening process" as a ruse or buzzword until such time as you have accomplished your own pre-determined agenda.

I would imagine there are plenty of leaders in the Episcopal church who are really striving for option 2 option but are too polite or conceited to admit it, and are actually playing option 1 but then are confused when what they end up with is Option 3: Endgame.