Can We Keep Talking?

From Peter Wall
Council Secretary and Co-Facilitator of Lent discussion, “Can We Talk About Guns?

I was skeptical when, a couple months ago, the Pastor asked if I would facilitate a Wednesday evening discussion group for the Lenten season: “Can We Talk About Guns?”

The title bothered me, for one thing. It sounded like some passive-aggressive nonsense. Here I am, reading the news, following social media, and awash in people talking about guns every time I turn around. And the sanctimonious liberals at The Big Red Church would have the gall to pretend that they need to start the conversation?

And let’s not kid ourselves: too many of our “discussion” groups just end up as one person talking for an hour. Why would I want to be that person? Also, I guess I can “talk about guns,” but guns are not really my thing. Most of what I could say has already been said.

Thinking that I had found the perfect roadblock, I said yes, but only on the condition that the Pastor could guarantee there would be somebody else in the room to disagree with me. (Because few things bother me as much as being in a room full of people without disagreeing.) Much more quickly than I expected, the Pastor confirmed that Alan Fry was willing to join the fun. Roadblock schmoadblock, I guess.

So, a few weeks ago, the group convened. And I was pleased to find a room full of about 20 people, nearly all of whom had something to say. Some of what they said was surprising. All of it was interesting.

It went on like that for five weeks. Only after the last session, on the fifth week, did it occur to me that the title “Can We Talk About Guns?” was not a smugly ironic request for “permission.” Really, it was a challenge: Are we able to talk about guns? Are we competent to have the conversation at all? Because all that stuff that I seem to be awash in every time I turn around is not really a conversation. It is really just people shouting into a whirlwind.

On the fifth week of “talking about guns,” after clearing a lot of ground, and doing a lot of repeating ourselves, and getting to know each other a little better, we discovered something important. The gun violence in our culture is a breach of relationships. And relationships are what happen when people talk with each other. So, at 6:57 p.m., three minutes before the end of the five-week series, just in the nick of time, someone asked whether the conversation can continue.

Well, can it? Are we up to the challenge? Bring yourself and your ideas and all your disagreements to the Heritage Room next week, Wednesday, March 28, at 6:00 p.m.: “Can We Keep Talking?” We will start with guns, and then we will see where it goes. Are we able to keep talking? Are we competent to continue the conversation? Come and see.

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