Difficult conversations

Conversations that matter are often difficult. Stone, Patton, and Heen do a good job of explaining what makes a conversation difficult:

“Anytime we feel vulnerable or our self-esteem is implicated, when the issues at stake are important and the outcome uncertain, when we care deeply about what is being discussed or about the people with whom we are discussing it, there is potential for us to experience the conversation as difficult.” Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen, Difficult Conversations, xv.

By God’s grace, however, we can learn to have those difficult conversations through learning from the wisdom of others (like the authors of this book).

Us versus Us by Andrew Marin (2016)

In the book Us Versus Us by Andrew Marin, Marin gives a detailed discussion about how the LGBTQ+ movement is not simply a movement outside of the church, but how members of our churches right now are wrestling with this issue in their own lives, particularly high school students in youth groups.

The book is based upon a research study done by the Marin Foundation, and the book is broken up into six chapters, each one based on a striking statistic found from the survey. Two chapters include statistics like: “86% of LGBTQ+s were raised in a faith community from ages 0-18,” and “76% of LGBTQ+ people are open to returning to their religious communities and its practices.” The 2006 study was done with over 1,712 usable surveys of people all across the United States, and it contains multiple open-ended questions to allow for full responses. Most important to this survey, the responses were all anonymous, allowing for honesty without reprimand. Marin discusses each of the six main chapter statistics in great detail, including which particular denominations have the largest number of LGBTQ+ members and how 96% of LGBTQ+ have prayed to God to stop their homosexual desires.

Due to the many thoughtful responses collected from the survey, I conclude that this book should be required reading for high school students and anyone older who is truly interested in listening to their LGBTQ+ peers and wanting to influence others in a way that reflects Christ’s love. This topic will not go away any time soon in our culture, and this book fills an important void in the church about how to better love those who battle homosexuality.

– Andrew D, CEF Emerging Leader 2017-18

Book Review: Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves on Life

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves on Life, Richard Rohr
This book is about two parts of life: the first part of life is when we are climbing, achieving, and performing to get ahead and prove ourselves. The second part of life is only possible once we have struggled, suffered, failed, and “fallen” from the first part of life. It is characterized by responding to the call to let go of past pain and judgments and to learn to hear God’s voice in a deeper way. I particularly value this book and its emphasis on the transformative seasons of life; Falling Upwards pairs well with the more contemporary book Faith Shifts by Kathy Escobar in which she describes the semi-linear process of faith development: fusion, shifting, unraveling, and rebuilding. I recommend this book for anyone at any point along his or her faith journey.