Friday, July 28, 2006

Listening as a Teaching Tool?

We've been practicing Lectio Divina meditation each Thursday night at 7pm, down at The Vault (see, and it has been a wonderful experience for most involved.

We have a religiously diverse group spanning the spectrum from Pagan to Christian, and filling in the gaps which lie between. A reader reads the passage of scripture slowly, and repetitively, and everyone else listens, and thinks. After some time everyone who desires to share their meditation has the opportunity.

Occasionally we get someone who wants to correct something they hear another person sharing, and it is usually a fellow born-again Christian who does not understand how to meditate on the Bible in any other style, than to find some doctrinal insight which points to someone else's failures, or shortcomings. This usually breaks the gracefulness of the group, and requires a leadership redirection, or even a gentle correction.

Why are Christians, who should be the light of the world, such terrible listeners? Isn't someone who can not listen living in the dark? Why do we correct people before we know them, or in some cases even before we understand what they are saying?

I am wondering if listening might be a better teaching tool at times than talking. Certainly a dialogue beats a monologue, and the dialogue requires both listening and speaking.


Mike Murrow said...

Why are Christians, who should be the light of the world, such terrible listeners?

because they are afraid. we think that if someone gets the dogmas wrong then their soul is in mortal danger. dont misunderstand, i love the doctrines and i think they are essential, just at the right time and place and in the right context. but i think we have this fear because we have reduced faith to belief. faith includes belief, but the sum is greater than the parts. what i mean by belief is "belief in certain truths." chrisians, well not all of them, want a solid air tight well reasoned gap-less all encompassing set of doctrines that they can be certain are true and that certainly gives them(us) confidence about their (our) salvation. it is a way of keeping at bay the boogie man of doubt and fear. when they (we) encounter someone who believes differently than them (us), or incorrectly (relative to our beliefs) they are threatening to our certainty and so they (we) feel the need to correct everyones doctrines.

what is sad is that if we would, as you say, listen to folks and be true to our trinitarian doctrines we would have more faith in the Holy Spirit to guide the "blind" and we will earn the right to speak the truth to those who are searching. but instead our fear overcomes us and we hijack the process.

just my thoughts.

sorry for taking over your comment thread.

Pastor Phil said...

My thread has been usurped by a blogging theological fiend! Help!

Don't listen to him folks. His heresy may infect your soul, and place you in mortal danger!


Actually, you can take over my blog with classic insights such as that any day Mike.

I am convinced that we leaders are even worse listeners, than followers. At least followers are required to listen to 45 minute diatribes on dogma each week. The leaders merely give those sermons.

We listen poorly because of fear, but the fear of the leader is different than the fear of follower, and potentially far more insidious. That fear is based out of a need for control, and is a deep sickness in the heart of American church life. Save from myself Oh Lord!