Minister Musings Among the Mountains – Rev. Alex Holt

The Truth-telling Age

  • We are living in an era where the marginalized and the oppressed feel more empowered to share their stories and speak their truth.
  • We who don’t experience apparent marginalization or oppression can find ourselves off balance and confused when others speak their truths about painful and tragic circumstances arise in life. What do we do? How do we respond? Do we translate their powerful or painful language into words that are polite ones but that appear to be censoring ones?
  • I am part of another organization that is facing a similar challenge of hearing words of truth-speaking. It’s awkward and painful for all involved. I wrote a response to a meeting of that group with these words:

“A Truth-telling Age is also, in my opinion, a passionate one. It reminds me a bit of 1968. We know at some (un)conscious level that things are very badly out of kilter in the world and it’s getting worse. I would like to think of the truth-tellers as prophetic people who want us to tear off the band-aids and work on the ugliness underneath. There are downsides to that as well.

A Truth-telling Age seems to also be one where radical discomfort takes center stage…We are now in the extremely uncomfortable American conversation about race, and the world-wide conversation about #MeToo – just to name two major debates.”

Westside is in the middle of painful conversations as well. There aren’t many tools we currently have to move through them.

Fortunately, there are tools available to hear and speak truth.

Here are two. We’ll be working with an educational program called “Beloved Conversations” starting in the fall. The link to that program is here:  The Social Justice Council under Tracy Burrow’s leadership will be leading this program with our collective involvement.

The second tool will be the evolution of the current Congregational Concerns team to a Right Relations team this coming year. Laura Pierce of the Congregational Concerns team has done some powerful work this year using tools for mediation and facilitation as we move through this age of Truth-telling and deeper listening. The Region is putting on training for enhanced Right Relations Teams models later this fall. I hope that we can take what the Congregational Concerns Team has done well and expand that to a full team training for future listening, mediation and resolution of disagreements and conflicted situations.

These two projects hopefully can create more opportunities for those who feel marginalized or oppressed by the dominant culture to speak their truth. And just as importantly they create how we can listen more deeply. The rest, as they say, is up to us.

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