A recent Faith in Focus column in America Magazine, suggested that perhaps we ought to
[s]end the Tea Partiers and the folks from Move-On.org apple-picking together with the express understanding that they not discuss sustainable agriculture, global warming or any other “newsy topics” the trip might bring up. Or maybe have a bunch of Rush Limbaugh’s dittoheads and the Rachel Maddow crowd take in a movie, preferably a light romantic comedy, and then go out for some ice cream.
While no one, including the author, thinks either suggestion is likely to be taken seriously, there is something to the idea.
As I mentioned in a couple of posts at the time, I recently attended the annual meeting of the Conference of Catholic Legal Thought, a group of scholars all of whom are engaged in an effort to explore what Catholic thought adds to our discussions of law and public policy. There are vast differences among our members. We have varying political and theological views and soemtimes also different notions about what this project entails.
Despite our differences, we can talk to each other, and disagree with each other, without the mean-spiritedness that often accompanies public debates. There is a generosity of spirit in how we are with each other, an effort to give another the benefit of the doubt, to try to see something someone has said in the best possible light rather than the worst. It is true that many of us are friends, but what I’m describing is true of all of our dealings, even with those one or another of us might not label as a friend.
I think some of that, perhaps a large part of it, has to do with the fact that our two and a half day gatherings are not all “work.” In addition to our conference sessions, we celebrate Mass together every day. We also have one session of Spiritual Exercises, giving us time for individual reflection. And (our equivalent of apple-picking and ice-cream) we include plenty of time for fellowship and simply enjoying each other’s company.
All of this contributes to our ability to see past our differences, to see each other as part of the Body of Christ.
The author of the column had a good point.