The Table Video

Martin Marty

The Virtue of Bethinking “by the Bowels of Christ” - Martin Marty

Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Modern Christianity, University of Chicago Divinity School
July 13, 2017

Renown historian of religion Martin Marty begins from the favorite oath of none other than Oliver Cromwell: “My brethren, by the bowels of Christ, I beseech you, bethink you that you may be mistaken.” “Bethink” defined: “consider or ponder something carefully.” The argument becomes obvious: in discourse, the temptation of the presenters is to make the strongest case possible but forgetting that there are other ways to approach the subject. The opposite of “being civil” may be “being wishy-washy,” but wishy-washiness never enriches civility . . . etc. Cromwell’s reference was explicitly Christological, but he tries to show that “bethinking” on such profound levels has a bearing on all discourse in our ‘religio-secular” society.

Transcript

[film reel beeps] [film reel whirs]

I always open doctoral exams with this question. Please complete this sentence, the thesis of my thesis is that? [Martin clicks tongue] That’s the hardest question they could get. Everybody knows the topic, but the thesis. All right, the thesis of my talk tonight is that bethinking, my talk is called “Virtue of Bethinking by the Bowels of Christ.” My thesis is that bethinking is an intellectual virtue and it bears on a condition that conduces civil discourse, relating to topics about which it is often difficult to be civil. For example, religious, political, and moral discourse. I ordered that from the assignment of trying to talk very literally. The only new word I introduced was bethinking, and I want you to be thinking about bethinking. [audience laughs] The criteria, I think, for the choice of a virtue, found among this company, number one it has to be intellectual. And I think the word bethinking tells us the word thinking bears it out. Pretty well, okay, we’re there. Secondly, it has to do with virtue, and much of my talk will be to try to show how and why bethinking can be a contribution to civil discourse. Third, I suppose you have to say, it has to be able to touch on the speaker’s own interest, you can’t just make it up suddenly and write me a piece like this.

Fourth, it has to be multi-purpose. Whatever we’re talking about with civil discourse has to begin with the agent who is discoursing, who’s speaking. And so somehow or other, bethinking means the self-evaluation of a person. And that’s an I-Thou dimension to it. Buber, Levinas, et cetera. Because discourse applies to the other. It has to have a civil ring to it, which could mean both the civil order and being civil. Further, it probably shouldn’t be overdone. It’s the end of day, and you get kind of weary if I do one more of familiar virtues, I don’t stand much chance of holding attention. I mean, it’ll throw Lanie out, but I don’t worry about that. [audience laughs] It’s useful if you use a term that won’t catch on. I’m quite confident, if you go somewhere and you talk about the virtues, and you say, we learned a new one there, it’s called bethinking, they will wonder who you are, what’s happening. [audience laughs] Because I’m new to the virtues league, and I know that enough of you who’ve been doing it for a long time know depths of this subject that I couldn’t possibly touch. But I couldn’t find anybody who had ever written about bethinking as a virtue. [audience laughs]

And so I’m safe there. [audience laughs] And I have strong interest in the subtopic, which I think is what credentialed me enough to be invited here. Civil discourse, because most of the projects referred to here were occasioned by the fact that there was an absence of civil discourse. Conflict prevailed. The fundamentalism in the project of the MacArthur Foundation was precisely that. We did six volumes and 18 conferences, and 33 religions and 200 scholars, and I challenge you to find somebody who found him going uncivil. It’s a very hard topic when you’re dealing with a lot of secular scholars, and so I have talked about fundamentalism, but they all know the rules of the game. Spinoza’s great mind, Oedipus complex. I made sedulous effort [speaks foreign language] not to laugh, not to cry, not to prophesy, not to dispose of, but to understand.

And I think that’s one of the key things that I’d like to keep coming back to tonight. The Public Religion Project was of the same character. I used to head the Park Ridge Center of Health, Faith, and Ethics, and there again, can you think of any more controversial kind of questions on those today about womb for fetus. What’s missing from all of these is humility, and so I came to get a dose of humility today. I was on one of the Templeton humility committees, but I admired them, but I didn’t really catch on. And I noticed that if there’s a common denominator that animates what you’re about, it is to invest the subject of virtue and discourse with that, and I applaud that. When we talk about the absence of civil discourse, it’s always easy to get trapped in the present moment, and just if I were to go over what you all know. We rack up television, news media, people talking about, people in a bar, wherever, everyone is pretty well sure that there’s never been such a bad time for civil discourse as there is right now. Jose Ortega y Gossett says that we always have to do our thinking, I am I and my circumstance, [speaks for language] what stands around me. And we’re now living in a world where the current circumstance is that. So everybody’s real nostalgic for the good old days of the Eisenhower era, when everybody loved everybody. [audience laughs] Eisenhower was said to have a very fervent faith and a very vague religion. [audience laughs] And he said, “Everybody had to have a religion, “I don’t care what it was.”

I happen to like him pretty well, a lot of nice things about him. But recall that there was something called a Cold War going on all the time, and we’re nervous about things now, we were nervous then. It’s during that period that Will Herbert first of all wrote about civic religion, and then Robert Bellah with his classic essay on civil religion, which gave us a new element in the vocabulary. But the sudden turn from when he wrote that ’til a book he wrote a couple years later in which he said, this was the Nixon era, had Richard Nixon been the president at the time that I’m writing, I could not have written it. It wasn’t just a Republican loss of conversation. The favorite word we use for when it broke down is, the last 30 years, polarization. Left and right polarization. And people don’t understand each other, and maybe don’t understand themselves. If you kind of go all over religion, think of the denominational splits of the last 20, 30 years, mainly over sexual issues, but if not that, they’ll find something else.

The parties are polarized, but also within the parties there’s more fighting going on. Evangelicals, we always count on the Evangelicals to hang in there, be united. [Martin chuckles] Yeah. [audience laughs] Dr. Nash has a poem, “I’m a Stranger Here Myself.” I always get invited to Evangelical things. Way back to the early Billy Graham days, and they always say, “This year’s invited “non-Evangelical scholar is Martin Marty.” [audience laughs] And I say, I’m the only person in the room who belongs to a church body with the word evangelical in its very title. [audience laughs] And I felt very much at home in my own way, but now you have to decide which wing of Evangelicalism is it. It’s not all bad, this can be a sign of vitality, too. Some of the talks that have been about the apathy that can come with mere tolerance suggests that maybe if people don’t believe deeply, we better be careful. Under it all though, I still think there’s something else going on. Maybe my pastoral years conditioned me to it, and that is most people who are concerned positively about religion, our soul, because it represents to them the curer of souls, consolation, inspiring great music and art, devotion, dealing with the facets of life, and then incidentally, the public and the civil order, which is where these conflicts are most visible. My own approach had never been via the virtues. Our several commissions were studying the national character and characters such. It got off to a bad start because so much of the early virtue talk was, in our language, neo-con.

A man I knew best among them was Bill Bennett, who wrote the big book on virtues, and enough said on that. [audience laughs] Yeah. [Martin clears throat] Stranger. I listened carefully today and learned a lot, and I noticed that sooner or later it came to a point which indicates a little bit of the strangeness that my breed has in virtue talk. Richard Mao nailed it when he said earlier we have Augustine and we have Luther sort of at the edges. Well I’m a Lutheran, and so that puts me at a disadvantage. We don’t write many books on virtue. Professor Mylander, are you here? There, his father is a real expert on it. I don’t know how he did that and stays in the Lutheran church. [audience laughs] But he knows virtue. But we don’t do a lot about that, Luther didn’t do a lot about that. And I’ve identified, I can’t run away from, I always tell people, they ask you what kind of Lutheran are you, cause there are different breeds of it. I always say I’m a fanatic Lutheran. [audience laughs] And the definition of which, although numerous, was invented, Mr. Dooley, the Irish epigram writer. Mr. Dooley says, “The fanatic is someone who knows “he’s doing exactly what the Lord would do, “if the Lord were also in possession of the facts.” [audience laughs]

So I’m trying to expose the virtue language. And I think it’s not hard to do. I think Lutherans got in a bad habit of not knowing their heritage. Let’s remember, Luther was Augustinian, and there’s a lot of it there. And in Luther it took, but he was always worried about, people were always worried about, isn’t work righteousness? You know, you care about character and formation and so on, aren’t you gonna claim that in front of God? We tell a story of a guy who did everything right. He was a Luthern, he went to catechism, he did everything right, this man who was a Lutheran. [audience laughs] And he died. [audience laughs] And in the life to come, he gets there, says, “I didn’t think this would be quite so hot.” [audience laughs] “Really hot.” Well, there’s an old guy over there you can ask. White terry cloth robe, sweating away with a fan. Martin Luther. How did you get to this place? It was works. [audience laughs] Learned a little late. [audience laughs] But in trying to figure all these things out, I also admire the comic who said, W.C. Fields, “I’ve been reading the Bible assiduously for 19 years looking for a loophole.” [audience laughs] And my loophole on Luther and the virtues is a distinction that’s often forgotten. When he’s talking about salvation, the [speaks foreign language] you don’t give a fig about character or anything like that. These could all be things used at the parade in front of God and you’ll lose the gift of faith. But he also talked very much about civic faith. You’re highly impelled to do that.

I once wrote a commentary on his large catechism, and I was surrounded by people who said you’re not supposed to touch the law. 60% of the large catechism is an exposition of the 10 Commandments, and law interpretation of the other documents along the way. In civic virtue, he was very concerned, we heard some of that from Professor Mao today, on that virtue can be present beyond the circle of those who have the [speaks foreign language]. He is said to have said, “Better to be ruled “by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.” He didn’t say that, but he would’ve if he’d known we needed a condensation of what he did say. But Wilbur Maitineuse claimed that no he didn’t say it, but he wrote long essays, we’ve got 110 volumes to get a lot of chance, to go with it epigrammatically. But he had a lot of room for growth in grace and character and so on. As long as it wasn’t attached to the salvation story. And therefore it became the religion of justification by faith. With the 500th anniversary of Luther coming up, 95 theses in 2017, I’ve been moved, and I updated mine, and I had to write some essays about it and so on. And the ultimate justification of my faith, or better, my justification by grace through faith, and they refined it. Oh did they refine it.

Oh, man, they refined it. And I said how am I gonna handle this? And I found Martin Luther said, of course I believe in justification by faith, that’s the whole deal. But I never preach about it, why? Because the people fall asleep, and they tell jokes, and they leave early, and so on. And I thought, oh man, I’m clear. [audience laughs] Because it’s an abstraction. What did he do, he said, so I tell the stories of the Gospel and Paul and Isaiah and so on. That was the message. And it’s the same story but in a different language. So, in choosing this concept to introduce a virtue from a Puritan revolutionary, in this discourse I chose Cromwell, who on August third 1650, said in conflict with Scotland, “My brethren, by the bowels of Christ I beseech you, “bethink you that you may be mistaken.” I’ve loved that for the longest time, and I really took it to defend to some length the proposition that at the root of most uncivil discourse, or the breakdown of discourse in general, is the absence of our ability to consider the limits of our own. And we heard some wonderful talks today that reminded me of this, how we go about it. The verb bethink, I had to work with that because I wanted to smuggle this in here somehow, and I had to make a virtue out of it. [audience laughs]

What does it mean? To bethink is to cause oneself to consider something. So, what Cromwell said, I want you to consider that you might possibly be mistaken. Bethinking can be applied to propositions, problems, controversies, situations, material things along the way. But in the end, I think the key word in the definition is consider something. I, just for fun, one of my belated hobbies, I still use the big, fat, heavy Oxford English Dictionary. I can never get it back up on the shelf, I have to invite one of my offspring. [audience laughs] That’s why we have 20 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren. [audience laughs] And I’m always busy with that volume, trying to pick. Bethink. I write them all up, all the options. I think there are 13 options for bethink, and 12 of them say obsolete. It died around 1649, and that’s a few years after Cromwell used it, so it stopped there. There’s one more moderating one called archaism. So it’s either obsolete or getting very tired and old, you have to smuggle it to put it in place. But I’ve often found that if I use the word that’s been used too often, what did I say about you experts on prudence, moderation, if you don’t already know? So it bethought me that maybe I should. [audience laughs] And by that violently pious injunction, “by the bowels of Christ.”

Well I looked that one up on the great Google. [audience laughs] And it must be a Roman Catholic commentator who wrote it, who says of the bowels of Christ, quote, “Although the sacred heart, the precious blood, “and the body of Christ are venerated by Christians, “this odd-looking phrase should not be taken literally. “Cromwell used an archaic, figurative meaning “for the sense of pity and of gentler emotions.” And that’s what he meant, and it comes pretty close, I suppose, to what it was. But I think the people of the Kirk of Scotland, whether they were sitting or not, knew that he was really trying to get their attention. This really, really, really mattered. Yea, hear it or not with the outward ear only, ye kirk committee of prophesying and governing persons everywhere, it may be important to you to learn what this is on the way. What are the arenas in which this comes up? The closest I think is in personal vocation. Testing ourselves every day, when we read this along the way. I don’t think we can enter and expect civil discourse if we haven’t examined ourselves to see where it hasn’t been present.

And I think you can usually tell from any long time you’ve had discourse with someone or other whether they’re somebody who is self-reflective. “By the bowels of Christ,” that’s where you start. And I think that it is I-Thou relations, one on one, Buber’s great thing, Emmanuel Levinas, the philosophy of the face. Here’s where you really have to test whether there’s a true regard for the other. And whether it has occurred to you that if there’s a breakdown somewhere, that you might be the one making a mistake. Is any situation a cause for empathy? And that’s the academy, education, the church, the political order. The few people in politics that most of us long admired are people who had true empathy for the others. The others we might be frightened by or might vote for, might be led by, but they’re not revered. We tend to revere those that had a true empathy. And you can’t fake that just for Fox News, and suddenly get empathy, and show that you’re there. The other party will isolate that in no time at all, and you’ll be smoked out. But the people who cultivate this, “by the bowels of Christ,” gaining empathy.

And I don’t think we should minimize the role of action along the way. Any good things happening? Yes. I think there are exceptions to it, and I think we should make the most of every such model. I don’t know how it is with everybody else, but at our house, I called tonight, as always, two hours ahead of us. David Brooks was on, and it wasn’t Mark Shields but somebody else take his place. How many of you ever watch David Brooks, Mark Shields on the television? Okay. I recommend that. I don’t think you’ll ever miss. Everybody else has, MSNBC, I don’t care what they are, there are two people, or three, or four, in boxes, right? One is in Los Angeles, one in Boston, and one in Tehran, and they shout at each other. It’s their job, they’re supposed to. It helps the ratings if they’re really angry. And I never picture anybody changing in light of it.

But listen to Brooks and Shields. They’re at the table next to each other. The face, they look at each other, and you’ll hear a wonderful phrase. You know, Mark, I never thought of that before. That does not happen when people are set up in the boxes, they’re in separate sponsorship, in separate parties. I never thought I’d, that’s a good idea. I did my ministerial internship in Washington, D.C. This will give my age away, 1951. In that time of Eisenhower and peacefulness, and by then it was Truman. And Cold War, McCarthy coming on the scene. There were nine of us interns, Protestant interns, and we took our tootsies off together in the Senate. Why? Because it was such a wonderful illustration. We could hear Robert Taft debate Paul Douglas. You talk about people that are living in different worlds, they really were. Very conservative Republican and a very liberal Democrat. Or we could stick around, there were always two thirds of the room that’s full. Senate floor. Margaret Chase Smith debating Estes Kefauver. And this names will only mean something to a few of you. You have to have been back there to know it.

But I’m trying to say they were extremely intense people who had learned some disciplines for listening to the other, and developed personalities to go with it. A member of our church, Christ Luther Church on 5121 16th Street, had a congressman from Michigan named Hook. Another rural Democrat, labor man, who got into a physical fight on the floor with, of course, a fellow Democrat, I believe was from Mississippi, in the Dixiecrat style. As a Baptist pastor said, you would’ve thought our guy would’ve won cause he had a cain, well our guy was named Hook. [audience laughs] He took care of him. That Sunday noon, both of them and their wives and their two pastors and their wives are at Christ Church together. And the message was saying you can’t govern a country that way. Tomorrow morning, you go back to that House, and you better know to learn to listen together, and so on. And I followed the record later on, there were a lot of times when things actually happened along that way. Very often, it is combined with action, it’s a part of it. I spent a lot of my energy these years on Muslim and everybody else relations.

If you wanna hear the uncivil, you could see plenty of it because of USIS and ISIS, who are lethal, dangerous, we better watch ’em, better confine ’em. I’m almost on the verge of saying I’m ready to let a few civil liberties go, ’cause I’d rather know that they’re after them before they get us again. I don’t know that. But on the larger pattern then, listen to the people on television who make their living off spreading hate for the Muslim. And they’re plenty, they write bestselling books. In the western suburbs of Chicago, near Wheaton, Naperville, all those towns, I’ve done numbers of these occasions, and what’s interesting to me is, these institutions by the way have a pretty good record of dealing with them, but not in public in the public media. And one night, maybe 400 people in the room, and I just said, you’re all local folk. Stand up if you are a physician or a nurse or a hospital employee and a Muslim. 20, 30, 40 people got up. That’s my doctor! What a wonderful guy! I said well you gotta get aquatinted. You have to overcome all these barriers to find out the terms on which your wonderful doctor lives in a different world, described to us today along the way. None of these things are easily overcome. We heard a good talk today on how mere tolerance doesn’t do it. I don’t think that any model in which it’s reduced to wishy-washiness makes any contribution to civil discourse.

You don’t know who the other is. We have in Chicago a movement that may have been on your campuses. A good friend of mine, Eboo Patel, an Indian-born Muslim. The other day I was on with Paul Pribbenow, president of Augsburg College, and I did a spot for 40 Augsburg students who were in Chicago. And Eboo started talking, they said, he sounds Lutheran and Catholic, that’s what these students were. Well, Eboo just gets into that world along the way. How does he do it? And I agree very much with him and his books. You never, ever promote this by suppressing the issues, defining them into non-existence, making it all seem nice and puffy and so on along the way. In the Interfaith Youth Corp, they work mainly on campuses, they will get 100 young people out. And, in high schools in Chicago, they’ll announce the topic, we’re gonna be in high school, and this time we’re gonna discuss what does your faith community have to say about how you read a text? Well, the Presbyterian goes home and, yeah, okay, how do we read a text?

Well, what does your faith really have to say about the family? The kids are absolutely embarrassed, they never learned that that was there until they confront the other. And I’ve never heard of any bloodshed coming out of these, but understanding. I taught a course last year at the American Islamic College in Chicago. This is a side interest a little bit. I’m not an expert at it, but I’m not an expert on virtues either so, [audience laughs] I’m not scared of Muslims either. But I taught a course there with a Rutledge reader on Christian-Muslim relations. I recommend it to you if you’re ever in that. It’s a wonderful book, Muslim-Christian relations. All theology, and that’s what they wanted. There were 18 graduate students, all Muslim, and in professions already. And they’re curious about facing up to these things, and yes we’ll do that. Well, you know very well if you’ve ever done it, right off, what comes up? The Trinity. I was glad, your prayer on the Trinity, good start for the evening. [audience laughs] The Trinity is a problem because the Father, Allah, cannot beget. We’re stuck. In the incarnation, which is the consequence thereof, apart from that, they love Jesus. Boy do they love Jesus. They know Jesus better than most Christians I know.

He wasn’t crucified, but he died and was risen, and will come again. Look it up. Trinity they have a little trouble with. Some years ago, I was invited to Houston for a Christian-Muslim dialog by the Hakeem Olajuwan Foundation. You know Hakeem Olajuwan? I didn’t. He’s seven feet two, Houston whatever that team is called. [audience laughs] And would I come and have a dialog with a Nova Scotia Muslim? Well, no. It was on my desk in a big letterhead, Hakeem Olajuwan Foundation. My grandson who played basketball in high school was there. He saw it on the top of the desk. What’s that? I have an invitation to go speak for the Hakeem Olajuwan Foundation, be 600 Christians, 600 Muslims. Houston has the huge petroleum crowd, and I knew they’d be Catholic and Baptist and know what they’re talking about. And 600 Muslims. In the morning we each spoke, and they got index cards to write out questions. And I was all ready for polygamy and what women wear and all those question. Not one. Over lunch they sorted them out and we got to see them all. I lunched at a table with Hakeem and two of his brothers. They were all about seven feet and I kept saying, when are they gonna sit down? [audience laughs] I didn’t wanna go, but my grandson saw this, and said, “What is your honorary?” I said, I never set an honorary, whatever they do. “Grandpa, I want you to go and you set a price. “The price is I want an official basketball, NBA, “with an autography to Jonathan Marty “from his friend Hakeem Olajuwan.” [audience laughs] And he came, along he came. And I thought at first you could get away a little light-heartedly. The Trinity. Well that’s pretty rough stuff to start in.

So I thought, well, at least show that we all have trouble with it. And I told the story of the missionary who was working with a Japanese potential convert. Ahh, uh-huh, yeah. Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Now I understand. You Christians are ruled by a committee. [audience laughs] And then he saw the symbol of the dove. Honorable Father, I understand. Honorable Son, I understand. Honorable bird, I don’t understand at all. [audience laughs] That’s all they wanted of that. From then on, now let’s get serious. Pretty soon we were talking on a level of grad school seminary among these people, a select group, there are many to choose from in Houston. But there they were, and they wanted nothing but the discussion of early Christian on that, and the Muslim side along the way. I don’t know anybody that ever converted to the other side, but they all left understanding the other better. And I think they’ll have a better civic discourse along the way. The hidden assumption behind all of this is, with knowing the other and knowing the subject, caring about the subject deeply, is that the nature of the encounter with self, of I and Thou, of the empathic orbit, of family, of congregation, denomination, of the whole community, or whatever, is, I think, the difference between argument and conversation.

And I wanna close with seeing what conversation can mean in the midst of that. Whatever I know about that I got from my colleague next door, David Tracy, a Roman Catholic theologian of note. I tried to talk with him for a while. If you’ve ever read him, it’s a rough slug. [audience laughs] I was once invited to go with David Tracy to a conference and learn a lot about the Jesuit groups. Really impenetrable. [audience laughs] To discuss his book “Insight,” chapter 19, nobody ever gets past it. [audience laughs] This was 30 years ago when the honorary was, I think, a trip to Bermuda for you and your spouse, a $2,500 honorarium. And after a week I said, I surrender, I can mow the lawn and get to Bermuda quicker than this. [audience laughs] But David Tracy wrote books about it, influenced by him along the way, and on again. And I mean in Tracy, I got my theology from him, adjoining offices. I said I got it by vibrations of the wall, capillary action, or osmosis, or however fast it is. But I would get it from that, and we taught courses together. And I always said, first hour David Tracy gives us the hard stuff, second hour he translates in English.

So, I hope I was faithful to him along the way. But Tracy makes a distinction between argument and conversation. Argument is a very, very important tool. You can’t have civic life without argument. You can’t have legislature without argument. You can’t have lab work without argument. Which is the right reading, what’s the temperature, what’s the mix, and so on. Argument is very important, but where is it located? Not in the first and the primary encounter, unless it’s in the game, like a debate in high school when there are rules of the game. Why, Tracy observes, in honor to the spirit, argument is dominated by your having the answer or an answer, and it’s your job then to articulate it well, reason it well, and convince the other or defeat the other. Conversation is guided by the question. And you never know where it’s gonna go. I was chatting with somebody before, I was telling how I used to be invited to debates over school vouchers in public schools. And I’d get to a community, and if I’d come in, I came here today to defend public school vouchers, in every circle I knew, 51 for the Catholic edge, it’d be 51 to 49, and the 51 went, “Oh, that’s a great speech.” Or if it was Baptists it’d be the other way around. Nobody ever changed their mind. And I just gave up on it. I said, I’ll accept your invitation, but can we play the game differently? With this group of citizens, serious people, honest people, learned people, middle class, college bred, you all care. You all went to public schools. Some of you are teachers, some of you are parents.

Can we in this group come up with five good suggestions for improving public education in America? I never left a gathering like that without hearing from the people gathered there a wave of ideas that wouldn’t have come otherwise. So I’m closing with this quotation by David Tracy from his book “Plurality and Ambiguity.” “Conversation is another kind of game from argument. “It is a game where we learn to give in “to the movement required by questions worth exploring. “The movement and conversation is questioning itself. “Neither my present opinions on the questions, “nor the text’s original response to it, the question, “but the question itself must control every conversation. “A conversation is a rare phenomenon, even for Socrates. “It’s not a confrontation. “It’s not a debate. “It’s not an exam. “It is a question in itself. “It is the willingness to follow the question “or follow a question no matter where it may lead to. “It is dialog. “Conversation is a game with some hard rules. “Say only what you mean. “Say it as accurately as you can. “Listen to and respect what the other says, “however other he or she may be. “Be willing to correct or defend your opinions “if challenged by the conversation partner.” Oliver Cromwell. “Be willing to argue if necessary.” That comes up at the right time in conversations. “To confront if demanded. “To endure necessary conflict. “To change your mind if evidence suggests it. “These are merely some generic rules for questioning. “As good rules, they are worth keeping in mind “in case the questioning begins to break down. “In a sense these are merely variations “of the transcendental imperative “elegantly articulated by Bernard Lonergan. “Be attentive. “Be intelligent. “Be responsible. “Be loving. “And, if necessary, change.” Thank you. [audience applauds] [film reel beeps] [film reel whirs]

About the Author