December Forums

Rediscovering the Art of
Faithful Conversation

By David Romanik

There are many aspects of our common life that have become intolerable over past several years. Interacting with strangers has become a perilous enterprise, and there are many topics that we simply avoid with our friends and neighbors. People have attributed this erosion of our discourse to a variety of factors, including political polarization, the fracturing of the media, and the behavior of certain elected officials. I wonder, however, if one of the broader reasons for the toxicity of our common life is that few of us know how to have an actual conversation anymore. In the popular imagination, the ideal conversation is when one side “destroys” the other, or conversely, when each side simply listens to the other without reacting at all. True conversation necessitates respectful listening, but also requires a measure of conviction that creates opportunities for dialogue and transformation. During Advent, our forums will explore the nature of faithful conversation and how it can change our experience of the world.

December 2
“Art is Essential, Not Decorative”
Bono, Eugene Peterson, and the Psalms

Several decades ago, Bono, the frontman of the Irish rock band U2, contacted Eugene Peterson, the biblical scholar and author of a contemporary translation of the Bible called The Message, to express admiration for his translations of the Psalms. Thus began a fruitful and unlikely friendship, rooted in a deep regard for what the poetry of the Bible can teach us about God and about ourselves. In 2016, a film was made about their friendship and their love for the Psalms. Join us as we view the film and consider how the Psalms can be catalysts for sacred conversations.

December 9
Two Tales of a City

In the Hebrew Bible, few of Israel’s enemies were more despised than the Assyrian Empire. Nevertheless, portions of the text are surprisingly ambivalent about Israel’s historic adversary. In particular, the books of Nahum and Jonah offer two radically different approaches to the Assyrian capital of Nineveh. Join us as we explore how these two prophets are in conversation with one another, and consider what the tension between them tells us about the grace and mercy of God.

December 16
Flirting with the Bible

In many ways, the gospel of John is a gospel of conversations. Some of the most important moments in the first half of the gospel take place during conversations between Jesus and someone else: from an admiring member of the religious establishment, to a group of his ideological opponents, to, in one case, a woman who flirts with Jesus. In many ways, it is this final conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well that says the most about what Jesus represents. Join us as we investigate this and other flirtatious interactions in the Bible.

December 23
Reclaiming Conversation

Long an enthusiast for the promise of digital technology, the author and researcher Sherry Turkle has recently observed that we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection. This leads to a variety of deleterious effects, including the loss of empathy. In a new book, however, Turkle argues that the time is right to reclaim conversation. Based on five years of research and interviews in homes, schools, and the workplace, Reclaiming Conversation posits that we have come to a better understanding of where our technology can and cannot take us. Join us for an introduction to Turkle’s book and a discussion of how we can reclaim the art of Christian conversation.

Last Published: November 26, 2018 1:23 PM