October 26, 2012 Redux in 2016

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Oct. 26 ~ Civility includes mastery of the basic courtesies: please, thank you, you’re welcome. #civility

Indeed, simple courtesies are the building blocks of civil discourse. These small habits engender a sense of dignity to a conversation and display an intrinsic respect for the other participants.

Want to build personal credibility? Be thankful and gracious when you speak to people. Even in moments of disagreement being courteous allows the discourse solid traction to keep moving forward.

Somewhere along the way someone started acting like “being right” completely overshadowed “acting right” or “speaking right.” The idea caught on, and a win at all costs attitude developed in our manner of discourse and disagreement that leaves no room for courtesies. It looks and acts something like this: “If I am right, then you are wrong, and therefore you are not deserving of my courtesies, and I am not obligated to be courteous, especially if my good manners might steal some of the impact of my superior ideas.” Sound like anyone on the radio you’ve heard recently? I’ve heard that attitude spoken on both sides of the aisle, right and left!

A Presbyterian friend of mine once made a self-deprecating joke about his denomination’s tendency to be slow to adopt changes and fast to assemble committees for long and multiple meetings, he said, “We Presbyterians are the ones who can miss an opportunity to do right because we’re so focussed on doing it right. I get what he’s saying, and I can chuckle with him at the joke, but I also have to give some grudging respect to the attitude of doing things well.

October 25, 2012 Redux in 2016

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Oct. 25 ~ Civility is your body language as well as your words. #civility

Shaken fists, scowling, narrowed eyes, pointing fingers… all these work to lower the civility of our discourse. We can often be forgiven the more subtle things like folded arms and blank stares, but the very aggressive stuff needs to be curbed if we want to raise the level of our civility.

Some people think civility is the same as “tact,” or worse, it’s “not saying” what needs to be said. Civility is not only saying what needs to be said and as it needs to be said, but also includes the total package of our presentation. Uncivil body language can end our discourse as fast as name calling or shrill yelling.

October 24, 2012 Redux in 2016

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Oct. 24 ~ Civility builds a person’s integrity one word at a time. #civility

There are no shortcuts. There are no substitutes. We can choose to be a person known for our anger, our insults, our number of wins, our caustic attitude, or our superiority… but none of that replaces integrity.

Integrity is that essence of personhood that brings people to you when they have questions. It brings people to you when they need to say something. It brings people to you when they need to be heard.

Integrity is that honesty that enables people to listen to you with openness, and the fairness that allows you to hear dissenting positions. Civility creates integrity. Integrity creates trust. Trust creates friendships. Friendships create the most wholesome and transforming dialogue. Bank on it!

October 23, 2012 Redux in 2016

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Oct. 23 ~ Civility allows for change to happen. #civility

What do I mean? Am I saying that no one should be challenged for ever-shifting stances on issues? Am I saying that inconsistency is a virtue? No, I’m not trying to say either of those things.

We’ve all seen a candidate in a debate, or a in political advertisement, painted a certain way or pigeonholed for comments or stances taken years before which may have changed in the course of a decade or more years of experience  We’ve all heard the accusations of hypocrisy the moment someone changes their mind. Civility will ask us to rethink our knee-jerk reactions to those shifts in people’s thoughts and conclusions.

I mean really, have none of us moved from more conservative to liberal or more liberal to conservative views in our religious beliefs or political ideas? Have we not experienced our own selves adapt, change and subtly shift through the years in various ways? Have any of us learned or experienced something that changed our way of thinking? It’s uncivil to brand that in another person as inherently hypocritical or inauthentic.

Civility allows for change. Civility is not a closed, predetermined response to someone, but it allows for some growth, some adaptation and the cumulative effect of years of discourse and experience.

October 22, 2012 Redux in 2016

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Oct. 22 ~ Civility is humility on parade! #civility

Because humility, like civility, is one of those strengths that never gets old, never fails you, never goes wrong! When we showcase civility we are letting humility put on it’s “Sunday best” and strut down the street with a marching band!

October 21, 2012 Redux in 2016

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Oct. 21 ~ Civility, like any good habit or reflex, requires practice. Start small, work your way up. Don’t give up. #civility

Civility is not just for disagreements, but it can shape all our discourse, from simple thank you‘s to a courteous please. Civility can be cultivated and grown, nursed and shaped into reflex and habit. It’s a daily commitment with long-term dividends.

I Appreciate Your Prayers

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img_3634I’m going to be going off-line for a bit starting this evening as I begin a discernment retreat with the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. I would appreciate your prayers over the next 24 hours or so, prayers for God’s Spirit to open all our hearts and minds.

It really is an exercise of discernment, not a job interview. I’m not asking for you to pray for any outcome other than God’s will and a gracious gift of the Spirit’s presence. We are going to be praying and visioning about an important question: “Am I called to serve the Episcopal Diocese of Washington as an ordained priest of God?”

I’ve been in a discernment process with the diocese officially since the beginning of this year, but have been praying and dreaming with friends and a few people in the diocese for a couple of years. If the answer we discern from our time together is yes, then I will have some work to do to get ready for this new chapter of ministry. I’m excited about the prospect and I desire to serve this diocese as a priest, but I am resigned to the answer we discern together.

Older prayer books talk about resignation, and I am familiar with it from years of studying, reflection and prayer with my Jesuit spiritual friend, and lately departed, Fr Leo Murray. Fr Murray taught me the Ignatian way of resignation: I will commit myself to God, I will fully give myself to the vision of ministry to which I believe that God has called me, and I will be faithful and true in all things within my control… but, for those things not in my control and not for me to choose, I will resign myself to God’s grace. That’s my paraphrase. Newer prayer books seem awfully preoccupied with achieving some specific end from prayer. Practicing this idea of resignation has allowed me so much joy in this journey, and it will carry me through any twist and turn that is coming, for God is good.

I’ll close now with a prayer used by Jesuits at the beginning of meetings and events…
“O Spirit of God, we ask you to help orient
all our actions by your inspirations,
carry them on by your gracious assistance,
that every prayer and work of ours
may always begin from you
and through you be happily ended.”

And amen.
Thanks for praying along with us!
AMDG, Todd