I have a friend that I met on Twitter. I actually have a few, but this is one I've had several meaningful conversations with despite our very different worldviews. He took issue with some of my entries from Tuesday. He's a Catholic seminarian, and I can track his views in Statcounter, although sometimes he reads via Google Buzz. I e-mailed him yesterday because he wasn't showing up has having read one that I wanted him to read. He replied that he had via Buzz, had some issues, and was going to reflect more. And I replied that I expected him to, but wanted his feedback. We have very different world views, but we listen to each other.
He and I are going to have a deeper, ongoing discussion about the Eucharist now, but it's going to take time and him not being in the midst of midterms (or me in the midst of them shortly). But we engage really well. A big part of that, I think, is that neither of us comes to the table suspicious of the other. I have some other friends with whom I've tried to discuss things, but the approach is different. The current friend and I aren't trying to prove the other wrong. Neither of us has felt wronged by the other.
We affirm each other. We may not necessarily buy into the others' ideas, but we're happy to share with each other, and we affirm the positions that the other has reached by his own volition. I think one of the things that lets me open up is that I don't feel him going on the defensive with the intention to tear me down; he disagrees, but he listens. He's listened to a good rant about a horrible sermon. He's made a safe space by not being defensive, but ceding points where I make them, and then responding for clarification or to add nuance to what I've said.
And we both take style into account. We both know that the other is where he is because he feels called there. We don't expect blog entries to read like Aquinas. We don't take (legitimate) critique of institutions to which we belong as personal attacks. Charges of heresy and hypocrisy are equally heard but neither of us feels as though he is being called a heretic or a hypocrite. I look forward to continued dialogues about what the Eucharist means to us and our churches, and potentially our personal objections to the others' postion, but as an exercise in articulation and thought, rather than personal attack or critique.
And for some reason I find this whole dialogue, which is just beginning, very Lenten somehow. I don't know if it's stripping away the pretenses about each other, or if it's making room and way for the presence of the Resurrected Christ through our conversation. Maybe it's the whole what I'm finding happening in my making more real connections (at least more in-depth) versus usually more shallow social networking and instantaneous electronic communication.
Look for a follow-up shortly. I've sent some e-mails and haven't gotten replies yet (e-mails in succession), and I'm ceding why I disagree with someone this person really likes (and why I have people that I like), but that perhaps there can be something that I affirm about my friend's person he likes.