Is Disagreement the Air We Breathe?

Over the weekend Mitt Romney announced and introduced his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan. Quickly the debate stirred over the quality of the selection. Time will only intensify the discussion. What is unmistakeable is that disagreement will remain front and center.

I caught the tale end of a radio interview, not sure what station or what program, wherein the possibility was raised that President Obama may be a better Republican than Mitt Romney and that Romney may be a better Democrat than Obama. I am sure some are howling now. It would have been both interesting to hear the full piece on the subject and then be a fly on the wall when this thesis hit the inside walls of the DNC or the RNC. Even more curious would be the reaction from those who agree that the Religious Right and the GOP share the same bed.

Disagreement over ideals and methods will carry us to what many are calling Taxamageddon, or a Taxastrophe, come January. Again, time will provide opportunity for the escalation of this disagreement. We who have no control over the debate will suffer the inability to move beyond disagreeableness to deal with the disagreements and work toward a resolution.

I wonder if the penchant to be disagreeable is in the air. Did you catch the subtle shift?

Disagreement seems very much a part of the testing of ideas, principles, and methods. I am not sure how to escape it. In our State, Oklahoma, we disagree over the best State University. We disagree over the better color – orange or red. What really throws us off is when someone chooses other than one of the State Universities for their favorite school to cheer and opts for a University from, say, Texas. Then, the two sides at once become allies.

The reality of disagreement seems as ubiquitous as sand in the desert. But, what is not necessary in the face of differing opinions, positions, and commitments is disagreeable-ness.

Last week I was struck by two different references to disagreement and the disagreeable. First, Marty offered a humorous yet not so humorous post on how quickly people move to argue, or disagree. His referent was the way comment threads on blogs go off the rails from the get go. I am sure this happens in forums where the subject matter is naturally contentious. It is good to laugh at ourselves when this happens. We rarely do though.

Marty’s blog is widely read by Christian folks. I do not know the make-up of his readership, but his subject matter is often approached from a Christian perspective. Is there a more contentious subject than religion in general and Christianity in particular? Disagreement seems as plentiful as water. But, what seems unnecessary is the mix of the disagreeable. There are ways to disagree. I am sure I am not the best at keeping this in perspective. That is where the second piece caught my attention.

Peter Enns, no stranger to disagreement and the disagreeable among Christians who haunt his every word, re-posted a quote by the late Francis Schaeffer. And, whether or not you agree with Schaeffer’s philosophy-theology, Christians should, I would think, find his words to transcend the categories of Left and Right. Here is the quote,

Before a watching world, an observable love in the midst of difference will show a difference between Christians’ differences and other men’s differences.  The world may not understand what the Christians are disagreeing about, but they will very quickly understand the difference of our differences from the world’s differences if they see us having our differences in an open and observable love on a practical level.

~Francis Schaeffer, The Mark of a Christian, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Volume 4, p. 201

We tire of the rancor of the disagreeable in the public square, but too often we who claim to be Christian make plenty of contributions to the acerbic atmosphere. Let’s chart a different course.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

2 comments on “Is Disagreement the Air We Breathe?

  1. Gary Snowden says:

    I share your plea for a more reasonable and less emotionally-charged manner of expressing our disagreements with others. My only negative critique of your post has to do with your statement about sand in the dessert. I prefer to eat my desserts without sand and leave that gritty stuff in the desert where it belongs.

    1. Gary,
      You being disagreeable? 😉 I sure wish spell check programs would also check for those instances where the word is spelled correct but the wrong word is used.

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