Walking into a conversation already underway

Walking into a conversation already underway January 17, 2014
Photo by Todd Fong. Some rights reserved
Photo by Todd Fong. Some rights reserved.

I love a good conversation. I always have. One of the things I value most about a friendship is the ability to have a long conversation spanning many topics. I always learn so much. Plus, I tend to be an external processor, so I quite often figure out what I think about something as I’m saying it. It also means I may not end up agreeing with something I’m saying at any given moment, which, I admit, can be a little confusing for the people who talk with me.

I guess I’ve always been this way because as a child I was forever barging into adult conversations. The worst part, as I recall, is that I would walk into a conversation that had been going on for a while and start asking questions. Invariably my mother would say, “Ryan, if you want to be a part of the conversation, participate from the beginning.”

This morning I woke up and was suddenly aware of how my foray into the world of skepticism/agnosticism/atheism is precisely walking into a conversation already well underway. Those of you who were here before me have a language, definitions, metaphors and expressions that are useful in helping you explain how and what you think. There is a lot to learn just about the basic semantics and dynamics of the conversation, let alone the subject matter being discussed. I’m not sure why I didn’t think about this because the same is true—and probably more true—in the world of theology. Talk about code language! You almost need to be a member of the guild just to have the conversation. The uninitiated use a particular word and those of us who have been in thinking about these things for couple of decades just look at each other like, “Gimme a break!”

When I get that response from people here on the blog or in personal conversations I realize I’m walking into a conversation already underway. The suspicion that I’ve crashed the party to redirect it is understandable. So, I apologize for being that guy who bounds into the room saying, “Hey guys, what are you talking about?” Thank you for humoring me where I’m getting into something I’m not entirely prepared for, and thank you for taking my questions and inquiries seriously (or at least trying to). Judging from the response, it’s more than just me out there who is somewhere along the continuum of faith and certainty, theism and atheism, knowing and not knowing and needs to be a part of this conversation. Thanks for making room for us.

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