Archive for the ‘dialogue’ Category

Can Christians and Atheists Make Love and Not War?

May 14, 2007 2 comments

After several years of quiet, the atheists have found their voice again. Every other day I see another article where atheists are mad and their not gonna take it anymore. Then again, every other day I see articles where Christians are mad and their not gonna take it anymore.

This vitriolic exchange seems more pronounced on the web as bloggers and commenters discuss Dawkins, Harris, Falwell or Robertson. At Newsvine, Washington Post’s On Faith discussions, and a host of other places, I observe two angry groups lobbing verbal grenades back and forth. On occasion, there is a bit of kindness, but most of what I’ve read is lacking any true dialogue.

I long for the intellectually rigorous, yet highly entertaining debates between Chesterton and Shaw. While I’m waiting, it’s nice to know that some Christians and atheists have decided to put down their swords. A friend pointed me to this interesting article about Christians and atheists declaring a truce by listening and learning from one another. At least two books have resulted thus far from the discussion: Jim and Casper Go to Church and I Sold My Soul on Ebay: Faith through an Atheists Eyes.

I haven’t read either book so I can’t comment on them. As a Jesus fanatic myself, I am not much for fighting. I am simply trying to learn what it means to follow Him and proclaim Him. I think that has something to do with love…and a cross.

Update: Check out Jim Henderson’s Off the Map site and  Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist site.

Categories: dialogue, faith, Jesus Tags: , , ,

A Conversation On Faith at Newsweek and Washington Post

January 29, 2007 Leave a comment

Brian Leport directed me to an interesting page attempting to foster conversation about faith over at Newsweek and Washington Post. Hosted by Jon Meacham and Sally Quinn, this board invites a wide range of panelists to respond to various questions. Their responses are supposed to encourage a wide ranging discussion from Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans, atheists and others. The panelists include such luminaries at NT Wright, Adin Steinsaltz, Miroslav Volf, Martin E. Marty, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

I’m not sure you can have true conversation without a face to face encounter, but at least there is some discussion. And some of it is even civil. My real hope is that something like this could happen out in the office, the home, the market, the community. In other words, where people from differing backgrounds could talk, listen and actually face one another. Some of the internet bravado might disappear and few people might actually enter into a real person to person dialogue.

Integrating my interests and my work

November 30, 2006 Leave a comment

I wrote about the idea of integrity and integration earlier in the month. The divisions between our personal and public lives do not appeal to me. I want to live as a whole person whether in the workplace, the ministry, the home or even online. When working at Philips, I had the opportunity to use my interest in creativity and play to lead workshops among co-workers. This excited me because within the workforce, I found a way to integrate personal interests with work in a way the I believe benefited the company.

Another key interest in my life has been community/relationship building. That’s why I track social networks and trends in culture. I am interested in how these trends online and offline will impact the formation of relationships. I’ve had the privilege of bringing this interest in community building into several companies, but the focus has primarily been within a company not between the company and their outside stakeholders (customers, vendors, et al).

So I’ve tried to find connecting points between this interest and the company I’ve been working with most recently: Jewelry Television. We’re making some baby steps toward community/social networking. They recently gave approval for me to start a Jewelry Television blog. It’s very low radar right now. We’ve not promoted or mentioned it much at all.

This is still an ongoing experiment. While I want the blog to direct people to our site (so I post ads and videos from the site), I also want to blog to reveal the human side of the company and open the door for conversation with customers. Eventually, it is a step toward building a more socialnet based dialogue between JTV and customers as well as other folks online.

Take a look at it, if you have chance and give me any feedback. I’d appreciate it.

Living a Life of Dialogue

October 31, 2006 1 comment

Here’s a great quote from a man whose writings have deeply shaped my life:

All real living is meeting. – Martin Buber

I could write a few paragraphs of commentary or I could simply let it stand and encourage you to think about that for a little while today. Good words.

Politics, Dialogue and the Plight of the Undecided

October 9, 2006 2 comments

I usually avoid politics here except for my recent drudge comment because our culture (both online and offline) seems unwilling to truly enter into dialogue about ideas and so often public discussion is more about hurling invectives between trench lines.

My biggest problem is the feeling that I don’t fit in either camp: Republicans or Democrats; conservatives or liberals. Growing up in East TN, I found my home among the Republicans and enthusiastically joined the College Republicans in the early 80s.

When I left college, I ministered at an Inner City church among the homeless and weakest members of our society. Many of my ideals were challenged.

I am still strongly pro-life, but I’ve tried to understand how that applies across the board: from birth to death (including death penalty, war, childcare, aging care, immigration and more). For me pro-life means being pro-person and trying understand how valuing each person should affect the way I view this world. This makes me feel disconnected from both parties, and yet at times finding points of agreement with either group.

Over the years, I’ve developed friendships with people from all walks of life and political (and/or non-political) persuasions. By practicing Buber’s idea of facing people and really listening, I find myself less willing to entrench myself in certain ideas.

This also makes me listen to competing views and honestly try to think through difficult issues like the Iraq war and other issues. As I listen, wrestle, discuss and even argue at times, I often find myself in that “undecided” black hole because these issues are never as simple as the pundits preach.

The current political landscape is tired and self-serving. So people like me struggle to wonder the value of even voting.

Defending Joe Lieberman

September 29, 2006 Leave a comment

There’s only one political race that I’ve been following this year and that is the Lieberman-Lamont showcase showdown. And the only reason is that I think Lieberman is a decent guy that was completely hung out to dry on the basis on one issue. So I was delighted to read this little article on Lieberman today in The Stanford Daily.

I don’t normally mention politics here simply because our culture has moved far beyond any form of reasoned discourse or proper rhetoric. I think many of us Americans are not on the fringe waiting and wanting to virtually crucify the “other guy.”

There are real problems in our world and real disagreements as to how to solve those problems. If we could ever learn to listen and really dialogue (Martin Buber), we might actually find places of wisdom that teach us to avoid killing each other (virtually or literally).

OneWebDay – September 22

September 6, 2006 Leave a comment

Let’s all join together in a big network and sing in virtual harmony an ode to OneWebDay, coming September 22. A VC suggests that “It’s like earth day in that there will be celebrations of the web taking place all over the world.” Not sure if anything is going down in K-town but there’s a big shindig in NYC.

The Art of Listening

August 17, 2006 Leave a comment

I came across another article on customer-centric thinking today on Click Z by Heidi Cohen. Cohen relates a story of planning her summer vacation online, making reservations, and then canceling after reading a bad review. She later received an email asking for more feedback about the cancellation. This causes Heidi to wax eloquent about how small hotel managers are very sensitive to online ratings and work hard to listen to customer needs so they can make sure their customers enjoy the service.

The rest of the article lays out a few tips for listening to customers, gathering information and applying it. I appreciate this current focus on customer centrism and usually try to follow what people are saying about it. The trend toward customers seems like a good thing.

Especially if is for real.

Listening is an art. If I listen to a customer just to figure out a plan for the best way to manipulate them to purchase my goods, I may not listen for long. Or they may not speak for long.

Granted most of us listen to other people for selfish reasons. It is hard to listen for the sake of listening. This is challenge of turning and facing another person in all their ambiguity; valuing them as unique person; and listening to what they say (without immediately figuring out how to use or retort it). Our culture has little time or capacity for really listening, but if we learned it, it might change our lives.

Can this kind of listening work in business? It depends on the business model. Does the business exist for pure profit? Or are there other reasons? Under some models, a company might be willing to lose some profit if it means listening and responding to some genuine customer concerns. Then this stuff becomes real.

Otherwise it is just a means to end. Another method to ultimately use another for our own ends. If we practice this in business, I’m not sure we can turn it off when we go home.

I have a silly idea (maybe its purely eschatalogical), but I believe there could be another kind of commerce. Commerce is good because it involves exchange, thus presupposing relationship at some level. So could there be a commerce of love? And could it happen on this planet in this age?

I guess this why I’m a bad blogger. Too much writing and not enough linking! So I’ll stop.

Middle East Blogging

July 20, 2006 Leave a comment

While I haven’t commented much on the current war in the Middle East, it has occupied my mind from day one. I’ve been tracking blogs and media, but the bloggers over there provide so much more info. Lisa Goldman, in Israel,writes about the cross-border conversation going on between the Lebanese and Israelites. While this may not solve our issues now, it gives me hope for the future.

Categories: dialogue Tags: ,
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