Last week Heather and I took a dinner train excursion for our anniversary and we were seated at a table with a lovely older couple. It is because of this trip I decided that I need to get a book on the art of conversation. We were able to maintain a slight level of conversation but when it comes down to it I am good at talking about three things and they are all forbidden in pleasant company.
We live in a very tribal world, where we associate with those who are like us and avoid those who aren’t. We are able to do this because of things like the internet bringing even the rarest of groups together. If you have very narrow interests you can find someone else in the world who shares your very narrow interest because of the power of the net. Additionally, we are able to shelter ourselves in our own little tribe and ignore the rest of the world, which invariably leads to inbred thinking. That is thinking with no outside influence. When you only talk to people who agree with you about a topic you end up encouraging each other but not challenging each other.
I think Christians may be particularly guilty of this. It was the teaching of many churches to not associate with anyone who wasn’t part of the clique. “I don’t drink, smoke, or chew or hang with those who do” or something like that. You, of course, wanted people to join your clique, after all isn’t what what the great commission was all about?
I believe one of the reasons coffee shops were so successful was that Christians weren’t hanging out at the bars and needed a place to buy expensive drinks and hang out, so we pay $5 for coffee and hang out with ourselves hoping that none of those darn hippies come into the shop. God forbid we actually become part of the larger group there and get to know the Barista or the bartender or the regulars at places we go.
Of course as I said my problem is I am not even sure how to go about talking to them myself. Jesus never seemed to have a problem talking to anyone but I sure see to.
Is it normal to only be able to talk to people with whom you share a common interest? I suppose so to some degree it is.
Anyway if you know of any books on conversation let me know…