Friday, April 11, 2008

Empathize Much?

For a number of reasons, my default inclination is to be suspicious of anything said or written by a Mormon. That said, Stephen Covey is my favorite Mormon. His classic from around 15 years ago, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is full of sound advice, and I set aside my negative bias in his case. One of the big seven is "Seek first to understand before being understood."

In other words, empathize. Do it intentionally. Work at it. Make it a habit. Walk in the shoes of the "other." Learn to see the world through that one's eyes.

Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is agreement. It can be more cognitive or more affective, but in either case, it's a reflex, not a chosen behavior. Empathy, by contrast, has a definite volitional component. Some people are naturally better at it than others, but it's an act of the will. And it's an indispensable prerequisite for anything resembling reconciliation, rapprochement, relationship, or any kind of getting along at any level.

So I often wonder, in the midst of the ongoing Anglican soap opera, why partisans on both sides of the divide don't do more empathizing. I realize that there is more to what's going on than is immediately evident in the blogsphere. But it's the most widely accessible dimension, so I'll use it to illustrate my point. On the "orthodox" side, Stand Firm unquestionably has the highest quotient of wide readership and "in your face"-ness. The nearest parallel on the "progressive" end is perhaps Father Jake Stops the World. Now, in both cases, the cadre of commenters that one finds extend and amplify by several degrees the general tenor established by the blog hosts themselves.

But what I find astonishing, and quite frequently amusing, is that they are largely interchangeable in their emotional content. In other words, take away references to actual issues and events, and you wouldn't be able to tell which invective originates from which side. Both express copious amounts of anger. Both consider themselves to be the good guys, the ones who are on God's side, the ones who truly understand the gospel. Both consider themselves to be the victims, and their opponents the perpetrators, in this unholy mess.

And both, I am persuaded, are largely without guile, authentically sincere. Sure, there's ample bluster and rhetorical posturing when they meet on the field of cyber-battle. But the wonderful (and terrifying) thing about the internet is that it's not all that difficult to come by comments that players on both teams make while on the bench, while among their own, comments that are unguarded and presumably candid. And it is from these comments that I glean my impression that everyone is more or less telling the truth about how they see things. Nobody is trying to do a con job. I don't think there are any conspiracies.

But the accusations from both directions--accusations of disingenuousness and conspiracy--continue apace. On a daily basis. And if there's any empathizing being done, it's pretty hard to see. And I think this is just so darn stupid. Here's why:

Empathy makes the truth easier to see. Liberals would like to believe that their opponents are hate-driven bigots, ignorant yokels, white men who can't stand the thought of losing power, or naive idealists who won't accept the real world. But when they empathize, the horns and fangs they see among the "orthodox" start to disappear. They see more rationality and less blind prejudice. Conservatives would like to see their opponents as self-absorbed, dominated by appetitive urges, pseudo-Christian at best. But when they empathize, they are able to see people who genuinely love and want to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and who don't cross their fingers when they say the creeds. Just this past week, two of the more outspoken "progressive" members of the HoB/D listerv copped to being bona fide tongue-speaking slain-in-the-Spirit charismatics. They are both definitely my "opponents," but empathy makes it pretty difficult for me to say I don't want to be in the same church with anyone who can say "Jesus is Lord" and mean it.

Empathy makes reconciliation possible, and reconciliation pleases God. I can't really add to that.

I realize, however, that many consider the time for reconciliation to have passed us by, and that what we (however one understands "we") are called to do now us press on toward certain and total victory. And this leads me to my third and final point about empathy: Empathy is strategically invaluable. One of the more memorable scenes from the film Patton has the general looking through his binoculars on a North African battlefield where the combatants on both sides are in tanks. His German opponent is the brilliant tank warfare tactician Erwin Rommel, who was such an expert that he had actually authored a book on the subject. In this North African venue, however, Patton's forces are on the verge of victory. The general puts down his field glasses, smiles, and mutters to himself, "Rommel, you son of a bitch, I read your book!" Patton had empathized with his opponent, gotten inside Rommel's head, and his ability to do that effectively was what led to an important Allied victory. When police detectives are on the trail of a serial criminal, they do the same thing. They hire psychologists to teach them how to empathize with the perpetrators they are trying to collar. They're not trying to make nice with Jack the Ripper; they're trying to bring him down. And they realize that disciplining themselves to see the world through Jack's eyes is only going to help them do so more effectively. But how much empathy do we see at Stand Firm and Jake's Place? Trace amounts, at most. It's so much easier to take cheap shots and elicit high-fives from our own teammates.

So I invite everyone in the fray to empathize. If not for the sake of reconciliation, at least do it because it's smart. Seek first to understand before being understood. It may not be as much fun as hurling grenades, but wherever you want to go, it will get you there more quickly.

27 comments:

Matthew said...

Excellent advice. I am one of the ones who is often over the top in my rhetoric. I stand reproved. Empathy is very much something all Christians ought to practice.

kendall said...

Perhaps One of Dan's main reasons for posting this is his participation in the House of Bishops/Deputies listserv where there is so little empathy and the pathetic results are all too plain to see.

Dan heroically tries to empathize in his posts, to his great credit.

The current environment bears all the hallmarks of a family going through a divorce, now at the statge where decisions have been made and people are talking by one another and everything is heard through the predecided prism of one's own decisions and their loyalties.

JamesW said...

Let me preface my main comment with the following points:
1. Dan's admonition to empathize is very important, even in the midst of profound disagreement and probable division.
2. I have noticed, especially since KJS's abuse of the canonical process, an alarming ramping up of the rhetorical heat on the blogs - coming from both sides.

I think that it is too late for empathy to save TEC. Maybe honest empathy could have made a difference 5 years ago, but I think TEC has gone well beyond the point where honest empathy could maintain institutional unity.

As the saying goes "it takes only a moment to destroy trust, but a long time to rebuild it." The trust has been destroyed. It will not be rebuilt anytime quickly even if we all started empathizing up the wazoo.

As a conservative, I read and take great comfort in tomorrow's lectionary passage from 1 Peter:

"It is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

"He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth."
When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls."

Are we entrusting ourselves to the one who judges justly? Do we believe that God will vindicate our suffering? Or is, perhaps, some of our suffering coming from reaping what we have sown?

This, I think, is the witness that Rob Eaton gave us two weeks ago. He truly followed in the example given to us by Christ.

Whenever I get too angry, I try to call to mind my passionate belief that the orthodox have already won, the revisionists cannot win. I believe that at the end of the day, a strengthened, orthodox, global Anglican Communion emerge, albeit not in the form we might be expecting. The only questions are "how much suffering till we get there?" and "how will we conduct ourselves in the midst of this suffering?"

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Dan, If I am reading this correctly (and I would not mind one bit to be proven wrong), I need to tell you that I find this piece more chilling than the worst of the most scorching comment on SFiF (and there are many that would be in the running for that particular distinction).

Empathy as a strategy to "win" is not what Stephen Covey is talking about. As I understand his book, this is not about forming a war strategy like Patton had in dealing with Rommel.

What Covey is talking about, as I understand him, is a spiritual discipline, not a political strategy where someone wins and someone loses.

It's Franciscan spirituality which understands that "the Truth" is not the sole custody of one person; rather it is found in the midst of "two sides seeking to understand before being understood."

In that process, both are changed. Not that one is proven wrong and the other right. Not that the essentials of belief are radically altered. It is not agreement ('sympathy'), per se, but agreement to move from an entrenched position to one which draws the circle wider to include another position.

I once heard a wonderful story about some WWII soldiers whose buddy was shot and killed in France. They wanted to have him buried in a RC burial ground, but the priest refused because his friends did not know if he had been baptized. So, the priest buried him in a plot just outside the fence of the grave yard.

Several years later when the soldiers returned to France to visit their friend's grave, they could not find it. Confused, they sought out the priest who told them that, after much prayer and consideration, he had moved the fence.

Empathy is neither an easy nor swift process. It takes time, lots of patience and tons of prayer.

If there is to be any health in us and in TEC, both ends of the fringes in our church - on the Right and on the Left - must be willing to move - as well as those in the middle, either stuck or movable.

This has always been the genius of the Spirit of Anglicanism. See Mark Oakley's piece in today's Church Times to understand what I mean ("An issue! An issue! We all fall down.") http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=54116

I long for a return of the days of that Spirit of Gracious Accommodation and Pragmatic Anglican Tolerance. It's what I miss most in the midst of . . . (cue the orchestra pit in this soap opera) " . . . as sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of our Anglican Lives."

Dan, I want you to be the best orthodox priest you can possibly be and to be able to practice your faith in the manner in which nourishes your soul. I pray that you will want me to be the best possible progressive priest I can possibly be.

And, I want us to keep each other honest by being in the same church together. The Episcopal Church. The one we both love. That has been my position for years. It is the position of many progressives and liberals and yes, even some conservatives I know.

TEC may have, in your view, "walked apart" from some in the Anglican Communion in 2003, but it is the "orthodox" who are walking away. It is they who do not want to be in the same church with the likes of me. It is painful but I understand that they must do what they feel is best for the health and well being of their souls.

The best way I know how to have us all stay in the same church together is to "Seek first to understand before being understood."

Thanks for the opportunity to share my views in your space.

Kevin M said...

I'm not much of a fighter. Sure, I can get in my licks, but I feel so out of place when the battles start. There probably isn't going to be much reconciliation for some time, and even when (not if) there is, it probably won't mean living in the same house again, so to speak. Sometimes, I feel more called to be like the medic who treats people during and after the fighting, regardless of what side they're on.

However, given all the hurt and distrust, I often wonder if I can actually do that. Maybe what I'm seeking is actual, practical advice. Talking about empathy is one thing; actually doing it is something else

Dan Martins said...

Elizabeth, I don't think we're far apart on this. I agree with you that "empathize to win" steps beyond what Covey has in mind. I do not advocate that as a primary strategy for anyone. I brought it up to point out the stupidity of the alternative (when it is unlikely that any amount of empathy will lead to common ground), which is the classic "straw man" logical fallacy, indulging in the short-term emotional payoff of demolishing a caricature of one's opponent's arguments rather than engaging the arguments themselves. I guess I'm suggesting that "empathize to win" is a lesser evil than knocking down a straw man.

Anonymous said...

Define a "progressive priest"?

BabyBlue said...

In order to find empathy, there needs to be trust. When we walk empathetically with our friends, there is a generosity of trust. But when we attempt to walk empathetically with those with whom trust is broken we find a wall of separation. That is heart breaking. We can't skip over trust - or we go into denial. We are merely pretending and that is not empathy. Trust must be restored.

If we have even shades of empathy then we realize that what is happening is division of the first order and the question is - how do we regain trust?

For years - decades even - I thought it was possible to sit down and find a away to reason together. I still have glimmers of hope, but the reality is much darker and in some ways that acknowledgment comes from experiencing empathy for those with whom I disagree.

In Virginia the division is deep and it is heart breaking. We literally have families divided. The bishop himself deposed his own cousin. The trust is broken and our empathy for one another brings heart break and tears.

How do we regain trust? That is the question. Do we continue lawsuits and depositions and fleeing into exile? OR is there another way?

I have reluctantly come to believe that an intentional separation is necessary for the pathway to regain trust. My prayer would be that the wall of separation would be very short, short enough to shake hands. But nevertheless, the toxicity of the division is so strong that here in Virginia our own Reconciliation Commission called our division Level 5 - the worst possible.

The way we are headed now is divorce. The divorce could spread internationally. If we do have any empathy left for one another we must recognize that if we continue on this trajectory the division will be catastrophic.

Perhaps that is where we are headed. Here in Virginia, we continue to reach across the threshold to Episcopalians in the Diocese of Virginia - even now the door has not shut. We continue to try to find a way to have an amicable separation. But there seems to be no movement from the leadership of the diocese or most especially - the leadership residing at 815.

Reading through Judge Bellow's decision here in Virginia tells a story of a diocese that was trying to find an amicable way through, despite the fact that our own fabric was tearing apart. It was a painful journey - you can see it in the testimony and in the letters written during that period. I can remember Vestry meetings where we were in tears as we talked through our own journeys of the heart as we prayed through the decision to vote to separate.

The trust that was left was torn apart when the new Presiding Bishop intervened. I have tried many times over the past year to understand why she abruptly intervened and through her lawyer, destroyed the empathy and faith and trust that had been built in very difficult circumstances. Bishop Lee had said it was his hope that we could remain in as close a communion as possible. Then things changed. Now that dream is broken.

I have seen Bishop Lee since then, we said hello and shook hands in New Orleans. And even now, it brings me to tears.

Is that empathy? Or is that grief?

-Mary

Alice C. Linsley said...

Elizabeth urges that we "Seek first to understand before being understood." Seeking to understand is the very basis of empathy. However, empathy and judgment are not mutually exclusive. I read Scripture first to understand God's view. God's view guides my judgment. The Bible doesn't speak of empathy (as in psychological egoism), but rather of repentance and forgiveness.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Dan, I understand where you are coming from, standing as you are in the midst of such passionate vitriol about TEC. That being said, I don't agree with your conclusion.

And, that's because of what Mary (Baby Blue) said about trust. She's absolutely right. Empathize to win is not empathy. Anyone who suspects it as a 'strategy' will not trust it. Indeed, it will make them even more angry.

Mary's also correct: There are some who will simply have to walk away. That's a heart breaking but none-the-less true reality.

I'm sorry, Dan. I understand what you are trying to do, but it is simply doomed to worse than failure and cause more damage than I know you intend.

Anonymous. If you look up 'progressive priest' in the dictionary, you'll find my picture among those posted there. If you want to know a little something about my theology and politics, today's sermon is as good an example of who I am and what I'm about as a priest who is progressive in theology and social issues. (http://telling-secrets.blogspot.com)

DavidH said...

Two people have said: "we can't emphathize because there's no trust". Why is trust essential to empathy? Nothing that I see in the definition of empathy requires trust.

What I see is that people are obsessed with their own perspectives. Judgmental. Wanting to stand up and fight rather than follow a Christ-like model. I don't see where trust has anything to do with that.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

It would seem something larger than a church fight is involved, and I'm speaking in strictly secular terms here.

When folks in Kansas, or Nebraska, or a conservative parish in Virginia see a New York Santa Claus parade in which Mrs. Claus is portrayed as an openly homosexual man in drag ... we shake our heads, mutter something about those liberals in big coastal cities having some mighty strange ways, and then we get on with our lives.

We don't go to New York and try to shut down the parade, even though the Mrs. Claus stunt was announced weeks in advance.

Our social laissez-faire approach, however, is not reciprocated.

People from New York drive from one small Midwestern town to another ... looking for Ten Commandment monuments over which to sue, or having two blatant homosexuals attempt to rent an upstairs apartment from a 72 year old woman -- so they can sue.

As a 16th-generation Anglican I see the actions emanating from TEC New York as being yet another example of the aggressively litigious intolerance so depressingly characteristic of coastal "liberals."

For some reason they simply cannot stand the thought of ordinary conservative people leading ordinary conservative lives, even in our worship, and will go to great lengths to prevent it, even to the extent of attempting to crush those who object or resist.

Malcolm+ said...

Dan, God bless you for being so willing to engage with empathy and honesty - even with those with whom you profoundly disagree.

A riff off of someone else's comment about the relationship between empathy and trust.

Trust, it seems to me, is useful to empathy. It is easier to empathize if you trust.

But I do not believe that trust is essential to empathy. It is possible - perhaps even imperative - to empathize with the person you cannot trust.

What IS essential to empathy, I would argue, is honesty. Caricatures (or worse, out and out lies) of what "they" think or what "they" believe or what "they" do are the antithesis of empathy. And the dishonesty is no less if one takes the extreme example and applies to "all of them."

DavidH said...

My comment above sounds a tad more one sided than I meant. Amend the second paragraph to read:

"What I see is that people are obsessed with their own perspectives, property, rules, and/or status. Judgmental. Wanting to stand up and fight. All of this rather than follow a Christ-like model. I don't see where trust has anything to do with that."

Virginia Gal said...

Dan, I have stopped a couple of posts on this subject, it's not the easiest topic. I use the term empathy in a different way; I use it to define something much stronger than listening, and trying to make an honest effort to understand someone else's views.

Since Baby Blue is in the same diocese, and the same metro area - I'll use the two of us as an example. Fear not, it isn't unkind. I have read her blog postings on topics unrelated to TEC and the Anglican way. And yes, partially to understand why she holds certain convictions.

My conclusion: our religious convictions wouldn't get in the way of serving on a community-based committee. We enjoy some of the same literature and music, so she'd probably be fun to have over for dinner (that mildly sneaky humor helps there). But we shouldn't go to the same church, and we don't! Weddings, funerals, and special music programs only, not regular worship.

I honestly don't try to change my friend's minds on religion, period. I have had some marvelous head-butting sessions with a Roman Catholic friend, but we try to be careful. My Baptist friend - well, we just limit our discussions to generalities, or sometimes I'll tiptoe into a matter such as why the Roman church sees the Eucharist in such a different way.

Wrapping it up - I can't change Baby Blue's perspective to mine, any more than my RC or Baptist friends. It creates a certain type of problem, because we both rather claim to uphold the "Anglican Way." That's quite different. Besides, history has shown that forced conversions aren't very successful. The sadness here is that each side feels that is happening, and no amount of empathy will hold things together in the current model of TEC. That means no amount of reasonable conersation is going to bring Baby Blue and I into agreement on somethings, and those things are important to us as individuals. That doesn't make her a bad neighbor, and experience has shown me it wouldn't make her a poor choice as a friend. PArticularly since I value loyalty, and she has that quality.

Fr. Tony Clavier said...

I don't think winning, by empathy or any other means reflects where we are at present. What drives people in TEC it seems to me, or at least the protagonists in our verbal and legal warfare, is a desire not to lose. The symbols of what we fear to lose are now, for the most part, expressed in concrete structural terms. We fight over territory, over buildings, over rules and regulations and we justify the actions we take in terms of protecting that which we have.

Our fear of loss is real and it is an enormous and debilitating fear. There may be some who think in terms of winning, although, from my vantage point, "mainstream late 20th Century Episcopalianism" seemed largely to have won all but a minority of those who exercise power and authority. Yet this ascendant party now fears that its survival is threatened perhaps by external forces (A Covenant, the Instruments of Unity, the Lambeth Conference,the Network, the Global South, one of the extra-mural Episcopal bodies) while the rump of non-Establishment Episcopalians who remain in TEC feel threatened by another litany of opponents expressed equally imprecisely in terms of "815", the House of Bishops, Liberalism, Canons, or sexual mores. This is not to suggest that both sides have their points!

Thus I feel that what we need is to seek for empathy with those who feel threatened by loss. As we have seen in this country, 9/11 drove many to adopt or agree with suspiciously unconstitutional means to avert further losses to terrorism. In our own church we see what may be extra-canonical activities espoused by people on both sides to avert loss.

I keep hearing the High Priest defending a mock trial on the basis that it is expedient that one should die for the people. Are we prepared to sacrifice each other for the sake of our Cause, whatever that cause may be and is our cause an articulation of or a substitute for the Gospel?

Perhaps a biblical word for empathy is compassion, suffering along side others who fear loss more than anything else. We all need a good dose of compassion both as givers and receivers.

Anonymous said...

What offends me the most is being "labeled" conservative or liberal. There will always be polarizing issues that have extreme views at either end, fueled by rhetoric either in the media, blogs and most certainly by clergy, depending on their views!The question I have is what about us in the middle?? Where can we all agree and where do we draw the line to agree to disagree? I have said this before, I am on bended knee every Sunday with folks that have very differing political and social views, but we all gather to proclaim the love of Christ. That is what The Episcopal Church used to be. Call it what you will empathy or whatever, bottom line, everyone is hurting, everyone is suffering, there are no winners here, we all lose, most of all, all of our communities which need our involvement more now than ever, and we can't seem to get our act together. I can only imagine Jesus' is weeping.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Why does someone who posts as "anonymous" feel concerned about being labeled?

Fr. Tony Clavier said...

His or her label is obviously "anonymous".

Anonymous said...

Wasn't it "empathy" that got the conservatives in the church in the position that they are in? Folks who couldn't/wouldn't follow the vows they took as priests to obey the discipline of the Episcopal church AS IT WAS THEN, came and sobbed in front of everybody,telling their "stories" ad nauseaum. The conservatives "empathised". Now, thanks to "empathy" which I consider the left's most effective political strategy, the discipline of the church was changed to make approval that which was forbidden, compulsory. Now, conservatives are being sued out of their parishes and dioceses for continuing to remain faithful to the vows that they took so long ago.

Where is the "empathy" for the conservatives? When the lawsuits stop, that would be a good time to talk about "empathy". Right now, when one side is literally using "canon fire" against the other, a call that those fired upon should cease running away or crying out, and should instead "empathize" with the aggressors is madness, cowardice and folly.

There is a time when "empathy" is strength, and a time when empathy is appeasement and cowardice. The way one tells which time is which depends on which is harder. The harder route is always the correct one. When conservatives offered their liberal friends mercy and reconciliation more than 30 years ago it was truly "empathy" (misplaced, perhaps, or wrong headed, but empathy, nonetheless). The conservatives were in a position of strength then. For conservatives to offer "empathy" now, is simply groveling under the boot of the oppressor. It is appeasement, cowardice and betrayal. Let liberals engage in "empathy". They have the upper hand, and such "empathy" from them would in fact require real sacrifice, as did the empathy dished out so long ago to them.

Shari M. DeSilva (who scorns to be anonymous).

Anonymous said...

Oh by the way, I am not the other "anonymous" whoever he/she might be. I just don't maintain a blog anymore.

Shari

Dan Martins said...

In response to Shari and others: We're seeing on this thread that "empathy" is understood in diverse ways. Many want to make an emotion out of it, and associate it with mercy, patience, tenderness, and the like--i.e. "understanding" in the affective sense. That is NOT what I mean by the word. The sense in which I am using "empathy" is cognitive and volitional--not a feeling, but an attitude and an action. And it need not imply mercy, gentleness, kindness, or anything of the sort. In fact, it is capable of being quite cold, calculating, and manipulative. Sociopaths and psychopaths are masters of empathy! So I'm not advocating it was a way to "make nice" across divides that are genuinely substantive. But I do believe the careful and dogged practice of empathy from all directions would help us see more accurately what it is we're struggling over, make it less likely that we take punches at straw men, enable us to see possibilities for getting unstuck that we might otherwise be blind to, and, if nothing else, move the whole mess on toward resolution--even if that resolution means formalized schism--more expeditiously, which, just in itself, would be a mercy we could all give thanks for.

SamW said...

Sympathy is a sharing in some sort exchange relationship. The me and you situation is integral. There is still some distance between the participants. I am still very much me and you are very much you.
I am inclined to think that empathy is of an entirely different order.
Empathy is for me an emptying out, being overwhelmed by the condition of another, lost in their actuality and entirely absent from one's own. I find this condition practicable in the Eucharist, the contemplation of Christ's misery upon the cross, and the saying of the Rosary.
It is a possible experience vis-a-vis other human beings as well, but
the extreme vulnerability consequent on such emptying out is oh-so-threatening.
But for me it is the central message of Christianity. The empty tomb must precede the Risen Body.
As a day-to-day practice the best most of us can do is compassion -- and the trying of a little sympathy.
-Thanks, SamW

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification on your interpretation of empathy, perhaps I could share what I consider to be an example.
I live in San Joaquin, my parish has stayed with TEC of which I am supportive of, I also happen to be the Anononymous from 6:18 yesterday, one of those in "the middle". A few years back, JDS closed a church in Modesto, under circumstances which caused great anguish with the parishioners, yes always difficult to close, but this was different. Regardless there was an 88 year old founding member who came over to our parish and has had the most difficult time with moving on. there was a processional cross that she donated in honor of her family. She never knew where it went, but wanted it back to donate to her son's parish in Olympia. I realized she needed some closure, some healing, something tangible to put this behind her and move forward. I contacted a very nice Fr Van in Fresno, he along with Fr Bill Gandenberger, located this cross and my husband I went to retrieve this last week and return it to Jane.
Is this not the empathy you were speaking to? On both sides? Was it not recognition of hurt, a sincere desire to find "via media"? I was more than willing to pay for a new one, I didn't need to.
If people think we are the only Church that has had to address differences. They are mistaken. The Methodists a few years ago, adopted"Open hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors" to address some of these very same issues. Perhaps someone needs to find out how they accomplished this. I'm all for best practices!
Yes, we have lost parishioners, we have gained some new, but will continue to invite everyone from every parish to our events,continue to reach out with respect, continue to love as Christ has taught us.I am thankful for what Fr Van did, Christ was working through him, as I hope he continues to do with all of us. I will attend a reconcilaition workshop this June given by Rev Brian Cox, see if there are "pearls" there that can be implemented. For those not in San Joaquin, you will never fully understand, but there are always opportunities if you are open to where the Lord guides you. Now that doesn't mean I am for reconciliation if one side or another feels disenfranchised to the degree they have been thrown under the bus, as I said, there are no winners here, perhaps that is the message for Ft Worth, Pittsburgh and Quincy. Don't let it get to this point. I suppose my next challenge is to find the ashes of the loved ones from that church's columbarium, no one sees to know what happened to them. This isn't one sided, if there is something I can do for the folks in the So Cone, I will do all that I can there as well.samantha

Anonymous said...

Having stolen the parish, she will now out of the goodness of her heart bestow ashes on departing reasserters.

I keep seeing that purple vision of KJS at her installation, bringing Lent into the Episcopal church.

I think that message to Ft. Worth and others is a good one. Definately don't let it get to this point.

Shari

Malcolm+ said...

"Having stolen the parish, she will now out of the goodness of her heart bestow ashes on departing reasserters."


Precisely the sort of strawman caricature I was referring to earlier.

There can be no empathy when the rhetoric is all about misrepresenting the other.

Anonymous said...

"Empathy is for me an emptying out, being overwhelmed by the condition of another, lost in their actuality and entirely absent from one's own. I find this condition practicable in the Eucharist, the contemplation of Christ's misery upon the cross, and the saying of the Rosary."

There can also be no "empathy" when one side spends so much time "lost" in "Christ's misery", and then proceeds to sue the other. Frankly, if you are going to sue parishes and inhibit bishops, the less you say about being "lost" in what would appear to be a purely abstract "empathy" the better.

Shari (reaching for her scopalamine patch and her barf bag).