Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Discussion or Argument

As we make our way through chapter 2 of the Letter to the Philippians I got stuck on verse 14

Do everything without grumbling or questioning

Without questioning? Really? So I had to go take a look of course at the Greek. And it got worse.

Dialogismon- looks an awful lot like our word dialogue. As I dug further I discovered that it was in fact an example of false cognates. Like English speakers who make the fatal mistake of thinking embarazada in Spanish means embarrassed. It means pregnant. Or even closer to today's topic those who make the mistake of thinking the spanish verb discutir means to discuss when it means to argue.

In the same way the Greek word here does not mean simple dialog or discussion but rather the kind of questioning that presumes the other person is wrong.

We've all done it. It's the questioning that is not a real search for the truth, but is really looking for an opportunity to prove we are right and the other person is wrong.

In the Catholic Church we are called to listen to even the ordinary magisterium (teaching) of the Church with obsequium religiosum. A phrase that is also hard for many Americans to swallow. It is really a Latin articulation of what St. Paul is addressing here.

Questioning itself is not a bad thing, but we must examine honestly our motive for the questioning. And there is only one proper motive, hunger for the truth —not what we already think, what makes us happy, or what we want to be true, but what is actually the TRUTH.

It returns to a central theme we see in this letter, humility. It is a another aspect of thinking of others as more important than ourselves. Imagine getting to the point where your first reaction when you hear someone say something you disagree with is, "Maybe I need to think about that." Or even, "I don't understand where she's coming from. Maybe I need to listen to more of what she's saying." Imagine that, rather than our all too rapid declaration that the other person is stupid.

Even more outrageous, what about if on this day after the elections we behave like real Christians and encourage all of our elected officials to follow the instructions of St. Paul and

do everything without grumbling or arguing.

Then perhaps the right things would bet done not only in Washington but around the country.