Join Us For ‘A Good Discourse’ This Weekend

If we want the pews to be like nets near bursting, “A Good Discourse” is a good place to start.

James Tissot, “The Pilgrims on the Road to Emmaus” (c. 1890)
James Tissot, “The Pilgrims on the Road to Emmaus” (c. 1890) (photo: Public Domain / Public Domain)

Since Jan. 6, the internet has bled about the riots, about the cavernous gaps in our country that preclude civility and understanding. Since the election, calls for peace and accord have likewise been rebuffed as loser’s cowardice and/or succoring to power. So long as all of us only wear political glasses, all actions that favor “us” will be deemed good, and all actions that favor “them” will be declared wrong. In some cases, the truth may be uttered, and in other places, smothered, but in all places, the goal no longer is united or compromise or a civil accord, but winning, and more accurately, bruising/beating the other side.

Political battles seldom give quarter in this day and age, and the political lens limits our capacity to see anyone “not with us,” as anything other than other. The truth of reality is seldom fully rendered through the glass darkly known as politics. Only through Christ can we see clearly.

We used to be neighbors. We used to reach across the pew to wish another peace. We used to see each other as something other than silent chessmen side by side. We used to know each other by name and be able to eat together. We used to recognize that politics are the beginnings of, or representative of but not the full solution to any problem. We still know this, but we are not living it — not as reflected in the news, on the internet or at the dinner table.

To begin to rebuild society when we’ve allowed it to become so binary, so truncated, so isolating and so angry, we must begin with surrendering our own demand to be proclaimed as both correct and righteous. We must cultivate forbearance and forgiveness, humility and docility of spirit. We must presume good faith, and act with equal nobleness, always offering more than we would wish, so that our gifts are truly gifts — sacrifices, rather than tokens that cost us nothing.

As long as people can look at our lives, our words, our actions and inactions and see, “Look how they judge, look how they hate others,” nothing good we offer will be considered anything other symbolic. Real faith requires that we bleed for others, with our time, talent, treasure and trust.

If we want the pews to be like nets near bursting, we must be willing to trust Christ more, and follow him even though we’ve been laboring all this time and haven’t caught a thing. We must be willing to go because he tells us to go, and to let Christ direct our lives, our work, our words, our everything.

This weekend, Catholic writers and bloggers and media members are coming together to wrestle with how we witness the Truth and write the Truth — how we keep ourselves from being the smudge that blinds everyone who looks at what we write/think/do from seeing Christ.

The goal is to create fellowship across the Catholic media spectrum, and to help keep all of us focused on Christ rather than advancing our latest book/talk/project, so that we do not see each other or those we minister to, as an audience, but as individual souls we’ve been given to introduce more deeply to Christ. It’s called “A Good Discourse,”and it’s free and virtual. It begins tonight (Jan. 22) and continues tomorrow and Sunday (Jan. 23-24). If you’d like to go on what is really a Catholic writers’ retreat more than a conference, to be part of the conversation that we hope will lead to better discussions on life and in real life, come and join us this weekend for “A Good Discourse.”