I have forgotten where I first saw that quote, but I do remember that I was immediately impressed with its accurate assessment of contemporary culture and discourse. How often do we listen, discuss, or read with the intention of learning? How much worse do those skills become once we’ve opened our web browser and entered the world of 140 character Twitter interaction, sound-bite news, rhetoric-oriented politics, #hashtagactivism, internet forums, Facebook statuses, and polarizing worldviews? In my assessment, Covey is right–today, people don’t seriously, thoughtfully, and civilly dialogue, we have it out in the comments section, we engage so that we may “show” people where they are wrong. Does it really have to be this way?
Fortunately, there are those who think that dialogue can be otherwise. One example is Conciliar Post, a blogging community dedicated to constructive and edifying dialogue about matters of theological and cultural importance. Instead of listening to win an argument, authors at Conciliar Post are interested in understanding people and ideas on their own terms before offering their own perspectives. In accordance with Augustine’s dictum, that “wherever truth may be found, it belongs to [the] Master” (Augustine of Hippo. On Christian Doctrine. 2.18.28.), the Conciliar Post team seeks to understand in order to be transformative within the contemporary context. In a world full of fundamentalism (“I have all the answers”) and postmodernism (“there are no universal answers”), Conciliar Post seeks to offer a balance between such extremes, providing a place where people may seriously, thoughtfully, critically, and faithfully reflect upon life, faith, and our world.
The world is a complex place, full of competing ideas about the Ultimate, humanity, and the world. In order to engage that complexity, the authors of Conciliar Post endeavor to offer reflections upon a wide variety of topics. The perspectives represented at Conciliar Post are far from monolithic. Although each author affirms the basic tenets of historical orthodox Christian faith, they come from a variety of backgrounds and theological traditions. Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, Evangelical, Baptist, Reformed, and Charismatic: all these traditions are represented at Conciliar Post. There are those who have grown up in the church, those who have switched faith homes, those who have found their way into Christ’s family, and those who are still wrestling with where God wants them to serve. Authors span the political spectrum, posses varying educational experiences, and live in different places across the United States. Amidst this diversity, the Conciliar Post team provides an example of what it means to “Live Conciliarly”, to live out an expression of loving and meaningful dialogue. A great example of this are the monthly “Round Tables”, where different viewpoints weigh in on important theological and cultural issues with faithful excitement and dialogical civility.
At this point, I suppose I should mention that I serve as the Managing Editor at Conciliar Post. While the past several months have been a steep learning curve, I have been both pleased and challenged by the theological conversations, sharing of faith journeys, reflections on Christianity, and commentary on current events from a Christian perspective which have appeared on the site. Even more encouraging have been the comments, which have been humble and faithful to the traditions represented without being offensive or inhospitable. As we reflect and dialogue together about life, faith, and our world, I would encourage you to check out Conciliar Post, perhaps even subscribing or following via social media. We know we’re not the only site committed to discussing important issues. However, we do hope to add additional faithful and serious voices to the mixture of perspectives on the important ideas and issues of our time. Won’t you join us?