Talking about Hard Issues

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It has been three months since I began issuing weekly reflections on themes related to acceptance and sanctity of life. What does this have to do with the theme of this web site, which sees “the Family as a Little Church?” I wrote these reflections primarily for parents. You have the awesome responsibility to form your children in the Orthodox Christian Faith.

One of the things that bring great sadness to me is the polarizing nature of the world in which we live. There is tremendous intolerance of others in the public sphere between the so-called “Conservatives” and “Liberals.” The judgmental nature of any discussion is alarming. No one can speak with others. It seems people love to disagree and only delight in finding fault with each other. “There has to be a winner and that has to be me, not the other guy.” I have never seen any person say to someone who is discussing an issue in which there is disagreement, “You have made a good point, maybe I need to rethink my position.”

What is even more disconcerting is seeing Orthodox clergy and lay people engaging in this type of behavior on the Internet. In fact, most of the unfruitful discussions happen in postings on the Internet. So I wrote these reflections in an attempt to bring conflicting viewpoints together in a more wholistic view of life that I believe can only be found in the Church. In the Church it is not always “either/or.” There are times it can be “both/and.” Parents: when you speak with your children, refrain from using polarizing rhetoric in helping your children make sense of what is going on with regard to the contemporary issues you deal with as a family. My introductory reflections on acceptance and unconditional love were an attempt to show how we might learn to live “in the world” while realizing at the same time we “are not of the world.”

We pray in the Liturgy that our Hierarchs “in peace, safety, honor, health and length of days… rightly divide the word of Thy truth” and discern what is false from what is true. Seeking the truth is not necessarily a popularity contest. Sometimes the Church takes stands on things that will not agree with the overall sentiment of public opinion. So we need to pray that our hierarchs will be able to have frank, open discussions on the many “hot button” issues of today with the aim of discerning what is false from what is true. That is our job.

As I end this reflection, please feel free to respond in the comments section and share your thoughts on further issues you would like me to address in these weekly reflections. Please forgive me for the inadequacy of my notes due to my unworthiness as a bishop. Pray for me, that I would do better by the grace of God.

With love in Christ,

The unworthy +Paul

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