While a student at Oxford, I had the unique opportunity of living with several guys from various Christian traditions. If memory serves me well, we had two Calvary Chapel types, one Baptist, a Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and a Mennonite Brethren. It was diverse. We had the opportunity to have dinner with Bishop Kallistos Ware, and during the dinnertime conversaion we asked him how he thought the East and West would be reunited. His answer: personal friendships.

The conversation came to mind this evening as my wife and I discussed various political and social issues with Mere-O friend Naomi. A social and political liberal, Naomi and I manage to disagree on nearly every issue imaginable, yet I rarely enjoy a discussion as much as I did tonight. Both worked hard to persuade each other–both remained largely unmoved. A point here, a counter-point there–the discussion ranged far and wide, and battles were won and lost on both sides. Throughout was the presumption of charity, an openness and willingness to listen because we’re friends. Our friendship undergirds and supercedes our political differences, and it allowed real political discourse to occur.

If right and left are going to be re-united, discourse like tonight’s conversation must become the norm. It was intense, but good-natured. No one made dramatic reversals, but change is usually made incrementally, and dialogue is a long process. If the political disunity is to be overcome in the country, than it’s going to be overcome through friendships that transcend political ties. We are, after all, humans before we are politicians.

Naomi is an excellent writer and thinker, and I’m looking forward to more interaction with her in the future!

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. “If right and left are going to be re-united, discourse like tonight’s conversation must become the norm…”

    May I point out that, by having a conversation in which you disagree, unity was already present?

    I think in the above sentence (“if right and left are going to be re-united,”) you are referring to a reunification of opinion, or a reunification of knowledge.

    a) Insofar as opinion is determined by internal make-up, then two people who ARE different will always THINK different.
    b) Insofar as two diametric elements are conjoined in one substance, they are united. Two diametrically opposed opinions in one real conversation…


  2. Wow. I may have made a totally non-sensical statement without even realizing it. Good point, Keith. I keep attempting to salvage the type of unity I want, but I can’t.


  3. I ran this comment by Naomi (of said interaction) and she and I had a moment of agreement, smiling, when she said, “Sure, I don’t think the left or right will ever agree. But I don’t think they’re supposed to.”

    That’s a new position for me to take, so I’m still seeing how it fits… But there’s something to the Eternal Unity-In-Separation line…


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