Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A God of Dialogue

The Arabic original, from al-Karma, the bulletin of the Archdiocese of Tripoli, can be found here.

The God in whom be believe is a God of dialogue. We believe in Him as one God with three hypostases: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and we believe that the relationship that exists between the three hypostases is a relationship of love. The three hypostases reciprocate love among themselves through an unceasing dialogue of love. Dialogue, then, exists at the heart of the Trinity. For us, creation was the first initiative of dialogue undertaken by our God whom we worship and through it He announced Himself, from eternity and unto the ages, as a God of dialogue. God created His creation, at the peak of which is man, and from the time of creation He has entered into a dialogue of love with man. Through disobedience man fell, but, despite this, the Creator did not cut off the dialogue of love with him. What is the plan of salvation that begins with Abraham and passes through the Law, then the prophets, all the way to Jesus Christ, if not proof of this, perhaps the most convincing proof? We have no doubt that our God whom we worship crowned His dialogue with man with His Eternal Word, Jesus Christ, who paid with His blood shed on the Cross, to save the dialogue of love that exists between the Creator and creation. Our Lord Jesus Christ, through His salvific life on earth and finally through His crucifixion and resurrection from the dead, crowned the dialogue of love that God inaugurated with the act of creation. Jesus sealed his salvific life on earth with the seal of the dialogue of love. Thus we see Him addressing His apostles, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15), as we also see Him do similarly with the Canaanite woman and the Samaritan woman.

So if our God has announced Himself to be a God of dialogue, then it is incumbent upon us as well to be this way. We are created in His image and likeness, thus we are people of dialogue.* God's will is for us to have dialogue. He created us face-to-face with each other, so that among us we might be mind-to-mind and heart-to-heart, which, by definition, is dialogue. That is, dialogue when is you enter with the other into free, intellectual dialogue that does not deny the other, after having emptied yourself, mind and heart, from anything that would distort or

All this makes dialogue a pedagogical problematic, in the scientific sense of the term, a continuous educational endeavor that begins at home in early childhood, crystallizes in school, and then continues in society and public life, generally lasting one's entire lifetime. In all of this, we are still falling short and so we do not yet possess what we called above "a culture of dialogue."

The bulk of what we become proficient in is conversation. We exchange speeches where each side frankly expresses its position, without that necessarily reaching the point of mutual understanding or agreement. It is hard for us to have a conversation without becoming excited, and so we have conversations without listening to each other.

Our dialogues, whatever their context or nature may be, are for the most part doomed to failure. Usually they end before they even start. Why is this? It is because we usually come to dialogue as the prisoners of preconceived notions, intentions, stubbornness or all these things at once. So our dialogue quickly fails because it began emotionally and not rationally. So, we have dialogue but instead of listening to each other, each one of us listens to his internal monologue and so the dialogue is fruitless.

This is not dialogue. True dialogue requires that you place yourself in a position to accept the other with whom you are dialoguing and then in a position to listen. It is when you try to go over to understand the other's mind and he goes over to understand yours, such that the bridge between you is pure thinking, untainted by ulterior motives or emotion. Dialogue might bright you together with a person you had known previously, since we all carry around thoughts and preconceptions about the other, but despite this you meet him in his sincerity, and he does likewise with you, lest preconceptions stand as a barrier between you. Preconceptions must fall away in order for encounter to take place. In this way a dialogue of minds occurs, open to the movement of love that exists at the heart of the Trinity. 

*This is a pun in Arabic, where dialogue is "hiwar"  and the Qur'anic word for Jesus' disciples is "hawariyyun".

No comments: