From persuasion to dialogue.
As a blogger for Huffington Post Religion and an associate of an Episcopal monastery, I write on contemplative spirituality and its ability to help us dialogue across divides. My book, Why Can’t We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart (SkyLight Paths Publishing), came out in 2012, and my articles have appeared in numerous faith-based publications, progressive and conservative, including Episcopal Life, Presbyterians Today, Fellowship, The Living Church, RELEVANTmagazine.com, and PRISM. I’m currently on the board of directors for the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation.
Over the past 20 years, two aspects of my life have converged on the issue of dialogue: my career in marketing communications (a.k.a. advertising) and my practice of contemplative spirituality.
On the career track, my trade as a copywriter has enabled me to create ideas and write marketing materials for Coca-Cola, Aflac, GE, the New York Lottery, and others. So I’ve seen, and practiced, the use of words to communicate with others for good or ill.
On the spiritual side, a life crisis in 1993 drove me into an exploration of contemplative Christian spirituality, à la Thomas Merton and Meister Eckhart. In 2005, as part of that calling, I became an associate at Holy Cross Monastery. That one act not only dislodged the underpinnings of my life, but brought a host of questions to the surface.
Some of those questions, in turn, reignited a longstanding passion for dialogue. Why can’t we discuss the issues of the day with civility, with honest exchanges and active listening, rather than stake out our positions and defend them against all comers? If interpersonal techniques and conflict resolution strategies don’t completely resolve the problem, what can?
The more I thought about it, the more I grasped the necessity of preparing our souls for dialogue—of clearing our minds and softening our hearts so we can hear the other. This website, my book, and everything that flows from them seek that way.