On the Table– February 20 through 26

Last week, our friend Mike Croghan challenged us to resist the increasingly disrespectful and dehumanizing dialogue that we see all around us. He reminded us of our own addiction to agreeing with ourselves (aka, ‘confirmation bias’) and the ineffectiveness of facts in combatting this. We were also reminded that each of us are loved, and that– though our differences get a lot more press!— we are all one.

The practice we engaged was a bit of mindfulness: a piece of yarn to wear as a reminder of our own tendencies to be disrespectful to other people. It was an exercise intended to increase our awareness of the difference between respectful disagreement and corrosive dehumanization. And I want to tell you, I think I had some kind of allergic reaction to my simple orange yarn bracelet… when I was in the classroom teaching my students about rights-based ethics and they were exercising their right to ignore me, for example.  And especially late at night when I’d be surveying social media, that bracelet would itch and feel like it was getting tighter (and tighter). I’d tug on it and consider cutting it off, but I kept it on. Usually by morning, it felt much more comfortable.

Adding to that mindful awareness, we’d like to extend our thinking this week toward practical ways to extend the grace we’ve been given by God to others (and especially those with whom we disagree). Relying on insights and practices by Parker Palmer and Red Boot Coalition, Mike Croghan will take us further into the challenging place of learning to actually listen to those with whom we disagree.

We hope you’ll join us this Sunday morning at 10:15 at Jammin’ Java.

–Mike Stavlund

PS. Looking ahead to Lent, we’ll be following a new collection of the writings of Walter Brueggemann. If you’ve read even a little bit of his work, you know that he is not trying to pit ‘liberals’ against ‘conservatives’. No, indeed. Instead, he sagely pulls back the lens to reveal the wider landscape, and the wider truth: that both ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ have traded the Way of the Jesus for the way of “U.S. Identity”.

As the book’s compiler puts it, “We are invited to walk a Lenten path that may be barely recognizable to our self-indulgent and violent world– a path marked by grace, compassion, and abundance.” Indeed, Brueggemann means to lead us not to an insular personal piety, but to a robust collective engagement with the world as we wield the tools of grace, kindness, and love.

If you’d like to follow along daily, you are welcome to buy the book and do so (please contact me if you’re interested in connecting with other readers). Or, feel free to just show up on Sundays to experience the highlights. And– as always– we welcome collaborators and co-conspirators (up front folks or behind-the-scenes) for the Sunday series.


Mike is a solid, stand-up guy that enjoys writing poetry and prose, hanging out with family and friends, and long walks around a Weber kettle grill.

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