Many years ago, I would occasionally attend a morning coffee group. The members of this gathering were all men, mostly older. Many were local farmers who were semi-retired.
The time spent together was largely enjoying each other’s company and shooting the breeze.
The conversation around the table was usually based upon a few choice subjects.
Naturally, the weather and farming were high up on the list.
The plight of the local high school, college or professional sports teams always generated a lot of discussion.
There would be news shared about people who were regular attendees who were not present that day. They could have a health concern, caused by a nasty cold, flu, or something more serious.
There might also be news about a family in the local community that had one of their loved ones pass on.
Finally, local, state and national politics always made for interesting conversation.
Most folks would stay for about an hour and then head their separate ways.
One of the things that held these folks together was like-mindedness when it came to certain issues.
I believe this group is like countless others across our nation. The subject matter would change somewhat, based upon the location and the background of the participants, but the dynamics would basically remain the same.
One of the challenges in such a group is to be vigilant against having gossip, hearsay, speculation and opinion morph into some form of “absolute truth.”
Unfortunately, however, we live in an age where this is becoming more prevalent. Long gone are the days of watching a news broadcast on television with a legendary anchor such as Walter Cronkite, whom some had described as “the most trusted man in America.”
We now have cable network channels that are dominated by personalities that feed our tribalistic tendencies. So-called “news,” is now largely delivered to us using strong biases.
I have my own bias. I think we all do. It is important for me to remember that I could be wrong about some things. I believe it is a strength to be open to such a possibility.
So, whenever I can – for example, with the “whistleblower complaint” that is all over the news – I do not fully rely upon what the talking heads on television tell me.
I try my best to put my bias aside, download the document and read it for myself.
Same goes with Scripture. The interpretation of the Bible is just that. It is interpretation. I must remind myself of this whenever I study it. I am open to the possibility that I may be wrong about the meaning of a passage.
That said, I believe this is a strength and not a weakness. The world can use more open-mindedness.
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.