Ep 22: Almost one year on, are we any better at respectful conversation?

Plus: the one topic both Michael and Megan have been avoiding

** With All Due Respect is taking a short break over August and will be back in the first week of September. First episode back with be about … GENDER. **

For arguments sake: where we take a debate, cut out the party politics and try to talk it out 

It’s been almost a year since the the first episode of With All Due Respect, and we’re coming back to the question that started it all: Can we agree to disagree?

Megan says this has become even more crucial since the WADR project began.

But it’s confession time and Michael jumps straight in:

There’s one topic that Megan and Michael (and Michael in particular) have been avoiding so far: Gender and the church. It’s a topic that marks a deep divide among evangelical Christians, and Christians more generally. It’s one of the biggest disagreements Megan and Michael have personally, too. And Michael says he’s been avoiding the issue on the podcast because of the painfulness and difficulty that discussing it can often invoke.

So how do we tear down those barriers with other Christians who feel so strongly and differently to us? We may never get to common agreement, but trying to find common ground and to understand where each other is coming from should be the aim.

Megan says one of the ways she tries to interact with people is remember that that person has just as rich an internal world as she does – with all their life experiences, hurts and joys. So labelling someone (Megan is often labelled as a “progressive feminist”) flattens them. And she says assuming someone else’s intentions is just as bad in this.

Cue: virtue signalling

Megan says one way you can assume someone else’s intentions – especially online – is by saying they’re “virtue signalling”. That is, when you are expressing values in a way that people say you’re doing it so that you can be seen to be a good person. In Megan’s experience, it’s often something the right accuses of people on the left.

“It’s a destructive thing to say to another person and deeply cynical,” she says.

“The place for dialogue is not where we draw out the worst in people, but where we address the best in people.”

But telling someone that they’re virtue-signalling is essentially shutting down the conversation and refusing to see that there might be other reasons for what they’re saying.

Michael wonders if the same can be said when someone dismisses his opinion by saying, “You would say that, you’re a white male.”

Both Megan and Michael refer to the With All Due Respect Facebook group, where they are trying to moderate the discussion in a way that reframes conversations and doesn’t shut down discussion by the terms and phrases we use.

The duo take a look at other Christian podcasts out there who have attempted to frame their conversations in different ways and wonder if often our fences are too high. Is there a place for fences that discourage those who disagree with us?

The secret life of us: what makes the other one tick

Megan and Michael talk about how they’ve experienced the With All Due Respect journey and what’s come up personally for them.

The WADR Facebook Group has been an interesting experiment to see how things in the podcast play out in real (or atleast social) life.

And Michael and Megan reminisce about how they first met and their first responses to each other.

Marg and Dave: reviews from two people obsessed by stories, but not always the same ones. 

This episode, it’s Megan’s choice: Won’t you be my neighbor? (2018) documentary on Mister Rogers.

Fred Rogers (March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003) was an American television personality, musician, puppeteer, writer, producer, and Presbyterian minister. He was known as the creator, composer, producer, head writer, showrunner and host of the preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001). Rogers would end each program by telling his viewers, “You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.”

Megan thinks there are real connections in what they’re trying to do with With All Due Respect. 

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Find out more about the hosts of With All Due Respect:

Rev Dr Michael Jensen, rector at St Mark’s Anglican Darling Point, author, public commentator.

Rev Megan Powell du Toit, ordained Baptist minister, Publishing Manager of the Australian College of Theology, editor of the journal Colloquium.

We got the idea of our two-header theology and culture podcast from this show: The Movie Show/At the Movies.