Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Discussing religion...

There are lots of places on the internet to discuss religion. When I first started writing on this blog, I was really sorting out my faith journey. I don't have much figured out yet, but I am at a place where I prefer to listen, learn and attempt to discuss without seeming to attack. That is not always possible though, because one person's perception discussion is often another person's perceived attack. What to do?

When discussing various facets of Christianity, you invariably end up discussing denominational differences. Calls for unity without examining the underpinnings of a denomination are not workable. Scripture calls us to examine teachings and avoid what is not compatible with scripture. Words of wisdom came today in an unusual place:

Secular Bible Study casts wide net

by JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
February 20, 2009

As if it's not unusual enough that Trinity United Methodist Church and the Minnesota Atheists have joined forces to promote a project, wait till you hear what the project is: a Bible study class.

Granted, it's not your normal one. At least, that's the hope. Called Secular Bible Study, the program aims to "foster and nurture relationships between folks who would otherwise avoid each other," said Chester O'Gorman, community outreach director for the northeast Minneapolis church. "Secular Bible Study hopes to attract a variety of people -- Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, Christians and even Jews and Muslims."

The weekly class will focus on the Bible's historical and cultural context. Organizers have drawn up a set of ground rules designed to keep participants from proselytizing, but that doesn't mean that they want to discourage disagreement. Just the opposite.

"We've discerned that people have lost or lack the skills to engage in constructive and respectful dialogue in the context of profound disagreement," O'Gorman said. "An emphasis will be placed on dialogue among the group of small groups (emphasis mine)."

I don't know the faith of Mr. O'Gorman, but I certainly agree with him that people have lost or lack skills to engage in constructive and respectful dialogue. That is a goal of mine which I imagine will take years to refine, God willing.

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