Our neighbors to the north (who still owe me five dollars in real quarters!) might be relieved if this scene from last week’s Taiwanese legislature leads to a new set of corny jokes to distract us from hockey’s violent tendencies: I was at a boxing match and a session of legislation broke out! Speaking of hockey, here’s to the Hockeytown heroes who have defied the low expectations of the Golden Mullet himself and are actually winning their series against the Ducks. I hope I haven’t jinxed them, as I might have done to my beloved Bad Boys. I was just on the verge of hassling my favorite librarian friend (a true Chi-town fan) about the Pistons going up 3-0 when the baby Bulls seem to have made it a series. But I digress…

All too often, the above image describes the life of the church. We find something about which we can wholeheartedly disagree and we turn into Itchy and Scratchy: We fight! And bite! We fight and bite and fight! I might be a bit sensitive to these issues, having attended a seminary that, in conservative Asian American circles, causes some people to go apoplectic. I know people who were told not to attend this school because it was not only “liberal” but it was “satanic.” Makes some of today’s shock jocks sound positively tame. While I was studying there, another student from a nearby, proudly conservative, seminary came to take Hebrew at our seminary. He told his friends he was a “missionary” to the campus. Sheesh.

Sometimes we barely begin discussing a topic before someone takes their ball and goes home — Oh, you think women shouldn’t stay in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant? Well, you must not believe in the Bible. I can’t fellowship with sinners like you. I’m sure it works the other way as well (a progressive voice dismissing a conservative person out of hand) but I’m just relaying what my experiences have been like.

I’m not advocating a naive kind of hand-holding “unity” that ignores theological and/or denominational distinctives. I am, however, all for people dialing it down a couple (several) notches when it comes to engaging those with whom they might disagree. I think John Ortberg might be onto something with his “Sin Prediction Index.” As he writes in Everybody’s Normal ‘Til You Get to Know Them:

When we practice the proverb (basically: less talk, more listen), we begin to learn amazing things. We can live without getting the last word. We can live without trying to make sure we control how other people are thinking about us. We can live without winning every argument, without powering up over every decision, without always drawing attention to ourselves.

Or, as our man James puts it, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”