Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Conversing with the Choir

I'm currently attending the Earth System Science Education Alliance meeting that the Museum of the Earth is hosting. The idiom "preaching to the choir" has been bandied about considerably. It's gotten me thinking about that practice.

I know a few people who have regularly attended church for decades (in some cases lots and lots of decades) without believing in God. They like the fellowship, the tradition, and/or the music. I'm not talking about Unitarians, either. These are folks who regularly go to Christian churches (or Jewish synagogues) and don't believe in God.

While none of the ones I know personally are members of the choir as far as I know, I'm sure that such folks populate a lot of choirs across the country.

This will highlight for some that preaching to the choir is necessary as there are folks in choir who, you might say, don't get it. They are in church but not buying the central tenet of the institution's purpose. That's certainly one way to read the issue.

I think this highlights a need to listen to the choir -- not just what they're singing, but also to engage them in discussion of what they're thinking. For these folks, obviously those aren't the same thing.

This raises several questions:
  • Why do some folks sing along when they don't believe what they're singing?
  • What are the parallels in the environmental movement?
  • How often are we just singing along (or mouthing the words)?
  • How often is it the case for folks who believe differently from us (or espouse different views from our own)?
  • What are the costs and benefits of saying what we actually believe?
  • How can we engage in meaningful conversations with the choir?
And, finally, why are you in the choir? Or why aren't you?

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