Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
First let's agree that the differences between and among dialogue and debate should not imply that dialogue is "good" and that debate is "bad." There are times when debate is useful instructional strategy - though we suggest that in most cases your Common Tables gathering is not an appropriate place for debate.
The the list below is simply intended to highlight some of the differences between Dialogue and Debate:
- Dialogue is collaborative: two or more sides work together toward common understanding.
- Debate is oppositional: two sides oppose each other and attempt to prove each other wrong.
- In dialogue, finding common ground is the goal.
- In debate, winning is the goal.
- In dialogue, one listens to the other side(s) in order to understand, find meaning and find agreement.
- In debate, one listens to the other side in order to find flaws and to counter its arguments.
- Dialogue enlarges and possibly changes a participants point of view.
- Debate affirms a participant's own point of view.
- Dialogue reveals assumptions for re-evaluation.
- Debate defends assumptions as truth.
- Dialogue causes introspection on ones own position.
- Debate causes critique of the other position.
- Dialogue opens the possibility of reaching a better solution than any of the original solutions.
- Debate defends one's own positions as the best solution and excludes other solutions.
- Dialogue creates an open-minded attitude: an openness to being wrong and an openness to change.
- Debate creates a close-minded attitude, a determination to be right.
- In dialogue, one submits ones best thinking, knowing that other people's reflections will help improve it rather than destroy it.
- In debate, one submits one's best thinking and defends it against challenge to show that it is right.
- Dialogue calls for temporarily suspending one's beliefs.
- Debate calls for investing wholeheartedly in one's beliefs.
- In dialogue, one searches for basic agreements.
- In debate, one searches for glaring differences.
- In dialogue one searches for strengths in the other positions.
- In debate one searches for flaws and weaknesses in the other position.
- Dialogue involves a real concern for the other person and seeks to not alienate or offend.
- Debate involves a countering of the other position without focusing on feelings or relationship and often belittles or deprecates the other person.
- Dialogue assumes that many people have pieces of the answer and that together they can put them into a workable solution.
- Debate assumes that there is a right answer and that someone has it.
- Dialogue remains open-ended.
- Debate implies a conclusion.
Adapted from a paper prepared by Shelley Berman, which was based on discussions of the Dialogue Group of the Boston Chapter of Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR).
Friday, July 25, 2008
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948)
"A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices."
William James (1842 - 1910)
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
To which I responded, “How it all works is a bit of a mystery. But sometimes you just have to trust and eat.”
Monday, July 21, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
In today's entry we begin a weekly discussion about Appreciative Inquiry - what is it? why is it producing such extraordinary results across such a broad spectrum of organizations? and how do we see it being implemented in Common Tables?
We are going to start this week by taking a look at the first two of the "Eight Principals of Appreciative Inquiry". This material is from the wonderful book The Power of Appreciative Inquiry by Diana Whitney and, a special friend of Common Tables, Amanda Trosten-Bloom:
Principal Number 1: The Constructionist Principal - Words Creat Worlds
- Reality, as we know it, is a subjective vs. objective state.
- It is socially created, through language and conversations.
Principal Number 2: The Simultaniety Principle - Inquiry Creates Change
- Inquiry is intervention.
- The moment we ask a question, we begin to create a change.
We'll continue our look at Appreciative Inquiry over the coming weeks. It is a topic you'll find well worth your time to follow.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us! Lord, cleanse us from our sins! Master, pardon our transgressions! Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name's sake.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Lord, have mercy! (3 times)
O Christ God, bless the food and drink of Thy servants, for Thou art holy, always, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
May the Lord accept this, our offering, and bless our food that it may bring us strength in our body, vigor in our mind, and selfless devotion in our hearts for His service.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
“I will use whatever means are available to me to help you promote Common Tables as a way to foster love, tolerance and peace among all people. Let our collective involvement in Common Tables be an example to others. Let us show what people of different faiths and beliefs can do when they celebrate their shared commitment to Universal Spiritual Truth while each follows the tenets of their own faith authentically.”
Friday, July 11, 2008
Bishop John Shelby Spong
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Here is a simple way to build your attention focusing skills . . . and all it requires is a television and a few minutes of undisturbed time. This is all you need to do:
- Find a television program where the speaker talks for several minutes at a time without interruption. Political speeches are generally easy to find and can be particularly challenging to listen to.
- Pay attention to both words and body language. Give the speaker your full attention. Each time your attention drifts, refocus on the speaker. Don’t get discouraged if at first you can only stay focused for 15 or 20 seconds at a time. It will get easier with practice.
- The goal is to continue regular practice sessions until you get to the point where you are able to stay focused for ten minutes or longer. (It is important that you actually time yourself. It is easy to over estimate time when you are trying to listen.)
Those members with experience in meditation or the martial arts will recognize this type of practice. Attention focusing is a mental discipline and requires practice – regardless of the context.
Most of us are far better at talking than we are at listening; however, listening is a skill we can all learn. All it takes is a desire to be a better listener and practice, practice, and more practice. To learn to focus attention on a speaker without judgment or internally generated thoughts will for many be the hardest part of the Common Tables experience, and yet it is perhaps the most important skill you can bring to your table.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
If you are unable to focus, in a sustained manner, on the words, meaning and body language of the speaker, you will have trouble really “getting” what the speaker is communicating. In term of the Common Tables experience, you cannot be a good listener if:
- you are judging the speaker and/or the speaker’s belief system while he/she is speaking. Time you spend in judgment is going to interfere with the goal of understanding the speaker from the speaker’s perspective.
- you allow your attention to drift while the other person is speaking.
- you spend most of the other person’s conversational time waiting for a chance to ask someone to pass the mashed potatoes.
- you are mentally rehearsing your response and eagerly waiting for “your turn” to speak.