The Other I

September 2, 2011

Preaching vs dialogue

Several days ago it was suggested to me, as it occasionally is, that I am on my way to hell.

Now there is no possibility that these suggestions can put the fear of God into me and nudge me even slightly toward changing my evil ways.  But until now, my stance has always been to take the person seriously.  To ask why they think they know that I am careening on a downhill slide, and to try to enter into a dialogue.

I admit a satisfying dialogue rarely ensues.  But when my response yesterday elicited a virulent attack on my motives, I realized that I simply do not have the psychological energy to endure much of this.

As I reflected on my withdrawal from combat, I began to reassess my interpretation of what I would call fundamentalism.  I have tended to dismiss this kind of thinking as either uneducated or arising out of a psychological rigidity flowing from fear.

This may often be the case.  But it has just occurred to me that there may be another explanation as well.  For thousands of years, prophets have preached.  They have not entered into dialogue.  They have not suggested there may be another way of seeing things.  They have not examined the evidence and suggested a reasonable hypothesis or conclusion on which to act.

Prophets proclaim.  They warn.  They accuse.  They thunder.  They are right!  Not only right, absolutely right.  Unquestionably right.  So right that you will be damned to eternal hell fire if you don’t follow them.

I think that has often been my misunderstanding.

People who have so kindly suggested that I am on my way to hell don’t want dialogue.  They are following the prophets as an example of how to go forth and preach the message of the Lord.

Of course, I think Jesus did say something about a new way…

Okay, enough sarcasm.  I think I should just admit that I am no more capable of carrying on a dialogue with a preacher than a preacher’s method is of convincing me.



  1. Organized Religion does not work for everyone. And I do believe… if you have lived a good life and been kind to your fellowman, then I don’t think you are going to go to Hell. And for some one to say that to you was not very nice.
    “There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who believe they are sinners, the sinners who believe they are righteous.”


    Comment by Donna — September 2, 2011 @ 5:53 pm | Reply

    • Donna, thank you. I appreciate it. Very much.

      I’m amazed but there are times when I realize how very healing a small kindness can be.


      Comment by theotheri — September 2, 2011 @ 7:10 pm | Reply

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