I have taken a break from "talking theology" here, and of reading it elsewhere. I have also been on a news sabbatical for a long time now (coming on a year). And even in the private email "salon" I have run since 1996 and which is focused primarily on things like politics and philosophy I have slowed my contributions way down. Some of that is because I am writing here and on my other blog, some of it for similar motivations to the above - I tire of "discussing" politics, philosophy, theology and such because it just doesn't solve anything. In fact, it seems to lead to division and strife.
At the same time I have been making an effort to maintain the relationships that are important to me, including scheduling regular calls with friends in other places, using my friend Aaron's "Nothing happens unless it happens on purpose" as a guideline. Because all relationships take work - marriage and child rearing teach us that. Last night during one such call with one of my closest friends, after a long, fine talk about work and kids and what not we got into an argument over politics (or economics, or whatever you'd classify the recent minimum wage raise under, because that's what it was about). In the end it got so heated that my friend hung up on me. I am really still not clear on how we went from pleasant chat to conversation-terminating anger in literally a couple of minutes ("From zero to bitchy in 15 seconds!"). I sent him an email this morning apologizing, because I am sure it was something I said that led to it.
Gregory over at Sippican Cottage wrote on this topic the other day, discussing why he never "talks politics". He started by recounting a garden party he had been to (emphasis mine):
Amen. Similarly, as Christians we are called to be in loving relationships with others first and foremost, and arguing over theology doesn't seem to aid in that process at all. The competition to "be right" takes over and we end up alienating people, not loving them. At one point about three years ago during a debate over some trivial political thing in the salon another of my best friends got so upset he withdrew from the list and stopped talking to me. Six months later he was dead. Stupid of him. Stupid of me. What was the point?
No one got the urge, not even once, to talk politics.
Why would we? Nothing is settled by political prattle. Points scored in debate are always subtracted from the bonhomie column kept elsewhere. Politics to normal people is treated like what it is: an intrusion into our lives, something that keeps us from what is more important, and what is amusing. Politics is a lawn to be mowed, not a game to be played on it. And the people that involve themselves in it, generally, are either dry as dust, or nasty, or sometimes loony.
I know some of my friends see my lack of desire to debate any more as a cop-out. I see it as finally trying to embrace what life is truly about, and arguing isn't it. It's love. All the rest is just noise.