Lawn Chair Catechism: July 24, 2013

Posted: July 24, 2013 in Lawn Chair Catechism

talkingA Threshold Conversation


I think I’m so fortunate to live where I do, in a place that often discusses God. There’s no ‘hush, hush’ about speaking the name of Jesus Christ, no hesitance to ‘give God the Glory,’—a phrase often used by local Protestants. I don’t mean in church either. I mean in the grocery store, the Mall, or the dentist’s office. If you want to talk about God, you just do it. If there’s a silence here, it doesn’t come from most Protestants.

However, many Protestants here still have reservations about Catholics, so in a Threshold Conversation with Protestants, a Catholic should stress the beliefs we agree on, not the beliefs in which we don’t agree.

In my local Catholic church, there are two basic groups of Catholics: those who have been transplanted here, and those who are native Southerners. The first group is varied within itself, because our parish is solidly multi-cultural with Asian, African American, Hispanic, and other parishioners from all over the USA. The second group, native Southerners, is now probably the minority.

The best I can determine is that the first group is more silent about their faith, both in and out of church. Of course, this could be due to problems some of them have with language. (In our parish, we have volunteers who help teach English to those who want to learn. My husband is one of those volunteers.)

The second group of Catholics has grown up with Protestants. They’re used to talking with them about God outside of church. And this, I think, is a blessing.

But with either a Catholic or a Protestant, conversation will not begin if the person who’s approached doesn’t feel that you care about him or her. The caring comes before the conversation. If it’s not present, if you don’t see him as a fellow child of God, then don’t even start.

If caring is truly present, then conversation can begin simply with, “How are you?” And if that person trusts your question derives from caring, many will tell you exactly how they are. Then, you listen for as long as it takes, or as long as you can. Afterwards, you’ll have had more than a conversation; you’ll have a friend. And you’ll be standing beside him in a threshold of genuine love.

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