A tribute to my dad
June 16, 2021
Thursday June 17th: God is our Father
June 17, 2021

The Great Debate

From as far back as primary school, I can recall being prepped for debating competitions. The standard practice was that each team would adopt a viewpoint on the selected topic and defend that position. Your choice of perspectives was essentially ‘for’ or ‘against’.

I relate this to another primary school practice, learning the catechism of the Church by rote and thereafter my continued growth in knowledge of scripture and the theology of the Church. These practices continued into secondary school and alas if I am not wary, it can become implanted in my adult life.

I say alas, because I now recognise that in its transfer to adult life, this debating competence and knowing by rote, can easily become a manifestation of my ego. That intrinsic need to be right, that competitive desire to win, that judgemental drive to delineate and exclude. Neuroscience now shows that when we are in ‘defence mode’, we do not listen attentively. We listen to reaffirm what we believe we already know. We are not open to receiving information that may change our perspective. We adopt a stance of the gatekeeper of all knowledge, with an addiction for being right. We make assumptions rather than ask questions. We have limited trust for the other. Perhaps the nail in the coffin is that we are not curious to learn about the other.

In Cindy Wigglesworth’s writings on Spiritual Intelligence, a few of the 21 competencies she identifies as associated with its deepening are:-

· Awareness of our own world view

· Awareness of the world view of others

· Awareness of the interconnectedness of life

· Keeping our higher selves (vs ego self) in charge

· Making wise and compassionate decisions

· Being a calm and healing presence

I raise this, because recently I had an ‘aha’ moment, as I began a Bible study programme. I think we commonly hear it said that “I don’t know how to defend my

faith when I speak to persons of other denominations. I need to do a Bible study programme”. Indeed there are those who also purport that we need to know how to defend our faith. I was aware that this presenter did not proffer this as the objective of the programme. He emphasised the opportunity to know the heart, the words and the deeds of God, so that we could achieve a better understanding of how we fitted into the salvation story. The image that surfaced for me was much more of a giant jigsaw puzzle of which I was part, than a sword.

This reframe was important to me for the reasons mentioned above and also because our purpose is not to exclude, rather to include and this necessitates being an attentive listener. It requires compassion and it requires love.

The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. (n.2)

Till we meet again, it’s Judy Joseph Mc Sween, Time Out Specialist, encouraging you to take a Time Out to reflect on how it may be possible to engage in a conversation about your faith, in a manner that allows you to listen attentively to the other and embrace the commonalities, rather than having an uncontrollable need to focus on the differences.


Sometimes I Wish I Could Do Nothing … Just Be

The still, small voice…

Time Out… The Type 2 Prisoner