Real dialogue and respect for others in the New Year | Church Corner

What do you do to kick off your new year? Do you make resolutions? Start an exercise plan? Make out a new budget? Those are all good things to do, but I usually think about the year that is just past and consider what I long to see happen in the new year.

What do you do to kick off your new year? Do you make resolutions? Start an exercise plan? Make out a new budget? Those are all good things to do, but I usually think about the year that is just past and consider what I long to see happen in the new year.

This year I find myself thinking about the ways  our society has polarized and how our social dialogue is so often an adversarial conversation where everyone talks and no one listens. This is painfully true as our culture embraces policies and practices never before considered acceptable and those who question such changes are often simply dismissed as bigots, racists and “hate-speech mongers.” It doesn’t help that often the self-appointed spokespersons of any viewpoint are not well-informed, choose their words carelessly, and even draw conclusions unique to themselves.

I was really surprised recently that a secular political activist organization appointed themselves as the voice to articulate what “most Christians” believe. As a Christian, I was both surprised and appalled at their claim; I would not claim this article is speaking for all Christians, though I hope Christians share my concerns about the past and join in my prayers for a better future for all people. And I am saddened by the failure of our public conversations to permit real discussion of our genuine differences of values.

It seems we are no longer capable of permitting dissent from whatever “politically correct” position currently reigns in the media. I think that is a serious loss to the health and life of our culture. Our society accepts and even endorses many behaviors that I find it impossible to give my approval too, yet to voice my values publicly is to incur the dreaded label of being intolerant – even though I have not advocated compulsory compliance with my values, nor have I ever suggested that any person should be treated with contempt or denied justice.

One of the things making the discussion so difficult is the way in which our values are derived; Christians derive their values from a source that we believe is divine, God-given words preserved in the Bible, and though we often disagree with each other on how to live those values out, we usually agree on what God has said through scripture.

This means there are values which are not the result of our own experiences or philosophy and these things include some of the difficult social issues of today. Such values are not amenable to the idea that truth is relative or that each person is the highest authority for themselves on all questions of good or bad. Yet at the same time, we believe as Christians that no one is perfect, that all fall short of the perfect goodness of God, and that consequently we have no claim to being in ourselves the authority on all moral values.

Rather, we are seeking to learn and to live out the values we learn from God through his word and through our experience of God’s grace to us. And that is what I pray to see in this new year; God’s grace being extended to others, to all others around us even while we remain true to our consciences so that we are not hypocritical in our conversation, but with such respect for the image of God found in all human beings that even those with whom we disagree may recognize the deep respect and value we hold for them.

There is already enough thoughtless conformity to keep the world a mess; wouldn’t it be better to have real dialogue and real respect for each other that encourages us to treat each other better?


Bruce Thweatt pastors at Enumclaw Community Church and can be reached at

More in Life

Kiwanis honor four as Students of the Month

Members of the Buckley Kiwanis Club honored a trio of “Students of the Month” during an Nov. 16 gathering.

Blaine Larsen returns home for Dec. 2 concert

Blaine Larsen doesn’t perform much these days, instead spending his waking hours pursuing a higher calling.

Get your fill of winter activities on Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier’s landscape undergoes a dramatic transformation in winter.

Enumclaw, Buckley busy during the holidays

What’s going on during the holiday season on the Plateau? Here’s a list of activities you and your family may enjoy!

Bonney Lake, Sumner gear up for holiday festivities

Plateau holiday festivities are right around the corner.

Giving Trees help kids with Christmas

Nexus Youth And Families Enumclaw is asking local residents to help a child in need this Christmas by participating in the organization’s Giving Tree program.

Santa’s Mystery Brunch: An interactive family whodunit | Pierce County

At “Santa’s Mystery Brunch,” an interactive family whodunit, audience members become detectives to help solve who stole Santa’s magical bag filled with toys and presents.

Enumclaw’s ‘super’ trick or treat event | Slideshow

Check out photos from Enumclaw’s downtown Halloween event!

Fans of fire tower hosting open house

Boosters behind an effort to see a fire lookout tower installed atop Mount Peak are hosting a second public meeting, hoping to gauge public interest in the project.

Parks serves up annual Murder Mystery Dinner on Oct. 27 | Pierce County

For one night in October, the ever popular Murder Mystery Dinner returns to Chambers Creek Regional Park, which sets the stage for a fun, engaging and delicious evening.

Art display by local teachers, students

For the next month, the city of Enumclaw, 4Culture of King County and Arts Alive! will present an exhibition of current works by students of local art class teachers.

Surplus van benefits Enumclaw seniors

A surplus Metro Transit van was donated last week to the Enumclaw Senior Center to assist the facility in meeting a variety of transportation needs.