Focusing on the Common Good

I heard the story of a student who decided to give up listening to the radio in his car for a week. As he did this he made a very important discovery; his car was broken! He could hear that something was wrong with his car as he took a moment to stop listening to the noise from his radio and began to listen to his car.

We live in a world full of noise. There is so much information at our fingertips that it is almost impossible to know what we should pay attention to. There is a never-ending cycle of “breaking news” from all over the globe. Our jobs and companies are constantly changing and evolving. In our personal life we are always facing challenges for the first time. Social media always try to pull us into another debate about who is right and wrong. And this noise can distract us from the problems in our lives, neighborhoods, and communities.

To make matters more difficult it seems like we are always being forced to take sides. You are either a Republican or a Democrat, you either raise your child this way or that way, you either agree with these people or these people. Which ever side you choose you also must fight against all the ‘others.’

In a world full of noise and great conflict we want to offer Conversations for the Common Good. This is a series of conversations on important topics that relate to the common good of the world. What is the common good? Andy Crouch defines it as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.” This definition makes it clear that it is about helping persons, not just groups or individuals or the vague “humanity,” but actual persons. Second, this definition makes it about helping people become what they can be.

This summer we have a great lineup for our second summer series of Conversations for the Common Good. We will discuss global poverty, drug-addiction, domestic violence, and these discussions will hopefully lead to real action. We will hear from a woman who walked with Dr. King from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama and she will share stories about race in America over the last 50 years. We will learn about art and its power to change how we see the world, and what it means to develop eulogy virtues in a world that is focused on resume virtues. (Specific conversations listed in the Calendar).

This event is intentionally designed to be a place where people from different political parties, religious backgrounds, and economic status can come together to discuss important realities that deeply impact all of us. Part of creating that type of event is the need of a neutral location. Therefore, each event will take place at the fine, local establishment, The Bier Abbey. Bars are one of the few rare places that are pretty neutral. People from various walks of life come into the bar for a drink with friends, or to meet others in the community. Also since we expect people from different backgrounds to come we will not assume that you believe or think certain ways about anything; we want everyone to treat this like an intellectual pot-luck. We all have something different to bring, and when it all comes together a real feast can be enjoyed.

The beauty of these events is that we have opportunities to listen and to share. We get to listen to important issues of our day, we get to hear the stories of people impacted in surprising ways by events and forces that we never even considered. This listening makes us a more humble, caring, and compassionate people. We also get a chance to share; to share our story, and our knowledge. We get to have the privilege of offering what seems to us to be useless information, but is actually wisdom to another person.

Cobblestone is committed to events like this because we believe that the kingdom of God brought into this world by Jesus impacts the whole of life. Christianity is not just a private religious experience, but it is to bring about social and cultural renewal as well. We are ultimately motivated by the love of God who sent Jesus to be the “other” that we might become the righteousness of God.