By Tom Ehrich

An event occurs. An outbreak of conflict at a seminary, for example.

People respond. In many and diverse ways, this event touches them.

Words pile on words, until it seems people can write of nothing else.

Then comes the reaction. Insiders object to strangers having anything to say about an event they own. The temperate resent strong feelings of those they deem intemperate. Those having one concern wish those having other concerns would go silent. Those who are suffering think others are feasting on their suffering.

Now people debate whether anyone can say anything. Let's have no "rushing to judgment," becomes the pith of wisdom.

In the beginning, though, was an event, a word, a disagreement, an action. And that event stirred hearts and minds. Why not just allow that stirring to proceed? No need to declare all further words unnecessary. No need to deny the outlier a chance to engage. No need to parse the facts, as if events and reactions to events were solely about facts.

This event doesn't belong to the closed circle. It touches many lives, not with the same direct line perhaps, and yet a palpable touch. In that touch might be a seed of life, a clue to a different question, a window not noticed before.

As 21st Century Christians, we should recognize the tragic events of our own history, when jealous insiders denied anyone else the right to speak and declared all further ideas to be heresy.

Events need to speak freely, and in that speaking, however infuriating it might be, often lies the next glimpse of God.

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