Bears Breaking Bread: A Step Forward in Unity?

3 thoughts on “Bears Breaking Bread: A Step Forward in Unity?”

  1. I’m just observing that the self-selection problem is an inherent limitation of such events. Much of the discord is perpetuated by those who would never have considered attending the dinner. Combating what is, in large part, ignorant prejudice (redundant, I know) requires: (1) carrying on an actual argument (but a respectful one) (2) that goes beyond the boundaries of the event. But as I say above, the event provides a helpful starting point for this task, should those who attended choose to undertake it.

  2. Having attended the event, I myself felt that many of the pressing questions that have historically and continue to divide Protestants and Catholics — not just questions of practice (in which we found much common ground) but of doctrine and theology — were avoided because, if brought to the dining table, they’d alter the pleasant atmosphere created by the overall event. After all, Bears Breaking Bread was a social event that would create bridges for understanding — meaning, some basis of relationships to continue the already begun conversations. While I agree with you that we should ask these pressing questions — and there is no certain order, for these questions may be either the starting or ending point of a single conversation — I think that one thing that hinders people from even trying to understand is the mindset of persuasion and defense of professed beliefs. While this is not a bad thing, for we must stand firm on tested ideas before resorting to synthesis of multiple perspectives, the unwillingness to accept even the possibility of synthesis — and who knows, disposal upon testing and trying — is the act of limiting God’s awesomeness to our finite understandings. We fail to learn from each other not because we don’t ask the right questions (I think we do, eventually, though to whom it may vary), but because we go into discussion wanting to prove ourselves right. In the four gospels, Jesus himself, knowing all answers, constantly answers challenging questions with more questions; his intent is not to simply teach but to invoke more questions, deeper curiosity.

    Once we establish mutual respect for each other as people of faith rather than objects to defy, discussion is possible, and synthesis is attainable. And it seems to me, that people who possess the willingness to be challenged and not merely to challenge are, indeed, the people who show up to events such as Bears Breaking Bread. So I agree with you in that it brought people who are already interested in this vision of unity (and if not unity, at least reconciliation). But even for these people, such tangible occasions of gathering and genuine discussion are rare, and I’m glad this event was able to provide such a venue.

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