I saw this quotation from William Temple (a former Archbishop of Canterbury) in the Forward Day By Day for Sunday (October 2):

“In our dealings with one another let us be more eager to understand those who differ from us than either to refute them or to press upon them our own tradition ….  Wherever there are divisions which persist, there is sure to be something of value on both sides.”

I like it a lot, and (since I’ve read stuff from him before, and it largely reflects my thinking) I find myself wondering if I haven’t read this before and incorporated it into my thinking.  I doubt I’ll ever know.  But it’s possible.

I also recognize there are some real tensions for me in this.

I do think that persistent divisions probably mean that there are things of value (even truths) on both (all?) “sides.”

I do think that understanding the other is more important than refuting them or convincing them that I’m right.  That’s the basic ground for being in community and discussion.

At the same time (am I being consistant here?) I know I want to represent my understanding (point of view?) strongely.  And (thinking explicitly about full inclusion of the gltbi community here in my mind) there comes a point where I really do want to be a strong advocate (because people are being killed and descriminated against and it really has to stop).

And yet I remember someone suggesing that the “liberal” side of Christianity may be making a mistake in framing a lot of controveresy in the church in terms of human rights (i.e. this may not be the most helpful framework for moving discussion forward in the church — though in this specific context I’m not really sure how else I would want to frame the discussion — God’s loving care for all human beings? — doesn’t this end up more or less the same place?).

Still, I want to end where I started.  I really do like this quotation.  I think it’s basically right on.  I think we’d be better off if we took it to heart and put it into practice.