Thoughtful discussion forges friendships

Bub is a senior majoring in English, history and political science.

Michael and I have been doing our back and forth in this column for over a year.

Now that we’re both about to graduate, I have to say it’s a dialogue I’m certainly going to miss.

Sometimes we talked about religion. Sometimes we talked about politics. More often than not, those discussions intersected. We also rarely disagreed, much to the chagrin of some of our readers. Maybe we should have been more vitriolic.

Michael could have been Pat Robertson, and I could have been Richard Dawkins.

But then, we might have spent every week going on about how everyone who has a different worldview than us is delusional.

However, two people like us, with such diametrically opposed worldviews, actually came to a consensus on a regular basis.

This fact just shows that the political cleavages we hear emphasized each week on Sunday morning news shows and radio talk shows might not be as pronounced as we think.

Be you Catholic or Protestant, Sikh or Hindu, Jewish or Muslim, atheist or agnostic, you probably have more in common with the people around you than you’ve been led on to think.

And discussing your differences can still be productive too.

Even at times when it might be uncomfortable.

I know that my discussions with Michael, both in the context of this column as well as on the occasions when we stayed up late to drink Scotch and talk about Jesus, have been intensely rewarding for me.

I’ve learned to talk about faith in a more sensitive and intellectually engaged way.

I look forward to keeping that same level of dialogue going when I begin teaching next year at a Catholic high school.

(The last thing I want to do is indoctrinate my students).

I learned that even though I am not a professing Christian, I still very much enjoy talking about Scripture, Trinitarian doctrine.

I also enjoy talking about the differences between Catholic and Protestant theology.

And of course, Michael and I could never pass up a chance to complain about postmodernism when we had the chance.

Since this is my last column, there might be an expectation of some parting words or
witty aphorisms.

I’m not sure what I can offer in that regard, but I do have one bit of advice that I hope some people will take to heart.

When you come to college (or start any new chapter in your life, for that matter), you’re going to learn quickly that you can’t do things by yourself.

You’ll learn that life gets a lot more bearable with a supportive network of friends.

And when you choose those friends, make sure that they are similar enough to you such that they can give you love when you need it.

But make sure that they are also different enough such that they can challenge you when you need a good intellectual ass-kicking.

And for my friends of faith, I leave with one of my favorite prayers:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to know the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

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