By Graham Glover –
I love to debate. I mean, I love to really debate. I’m not talking about simple, quaint discussions concerning issues without much disagreement. I have in mind those passionate arguments and heated conversations in which tempers just might get a little out of control as each side tries to make their point.
I especially like to debate if the topic has anything to do with politics or religion. These issues might be taboo for some, but they are everything I love to talk about and debate. I don’t need you to agree with me. In fact, I most often prefer if you don’t. Even among my theological and political allies, I like to push the envelope from time to time, sometimes for the sole purpose of creating a lively conversation or challenging something we all agree upon.
Of course, what classifies as a debate is a whole other question.
Monday night, I watched the Donald and Hillary, Inc. have what was billed as a debate. I’m not sure what I witnessed, but it most assuredly wasn’t a debate. Two-minute sounds bites with childish interruptions and countless unanswered questions does not qualify as a debate. Sadly, this debate resembles much of our modern American political discourse (or lack thereof).
Contrast this with my experiences last week in St. Louis at Concordia Seminary’s annual Theological Symposium. The symposium was top notch, with some great papers on catechesis, but it was the “chats” with my fellow authors of The Jagged Word that were the highlight of the week. I’m not saying we’re a group of disagreeable theologians, but as you might already suspect, we don’t agree on everything. We poke and prod. We dig deep on a number of issues. We debate theology and politics, and sometimes our disagreements are pretty significant. But even when things get heated, I relish the debates we have. Even when I don’t have a good answer or when my argument is falling on deaf ears, I look forward to these type of exchanges, for these are debates. They are good and substantive debates. They are debates that challenge, inquire, and ultimately make all of us who participate in them better theologians and thinkers.
So to you, the rest of the Jagged Mafia, I say: Let’s debate. Let’s debate theology, politics, culture, sports, and the arts. Let’s get heated from time to time. Let’s challenge one another. Let’s not take assumptions and long-held positions for granted. Let’s make one another better thinkers, better spouses and parents, better pastors, and better decision makers. In short, let’s debate. But let’s really debate. Let’s not get stuck repeating sound bites or giving answers to questions that are decades old and ripe for a new and different approach. Even if our debates get a little dirty, a little messy, let’s go at it.
And as we do so, let’s debate substance. Let’s debate even those issues that make us uncomfortable. Let’s be passionate about trying to figure out just what the hell is going on. Let’s do what we who take life seriously should do. Let’s debate!