Monday, October 15, 2012

Disagree in Love [or, 'Oh that beloved Vincent Harding']

One of my professors during my time at seminary is a man named Vincent Harding.  He was a colleague to Martin Luther King Jr., occasionally his speech writer, and also his friend.  When my fellow students and I talk about Dr. Harding, it has that slightly whispered quality of reverence and maybe a little sigh thrown in for good measure.  I was sitting in a class taught by someone else who brought in a few other professors including Dr. Harding.  They sat up front, panel-style, and were asked questions – proceeding to answer them in ways that revealed obvious areas of agreement and also exposed the fault lines among them.  At one point, Dr. Harding turned to one of his colleagues, spoke the professor's name in his usual quiet way, softness around a steel core, and said, “I’m going to disagree with you in love..."  

"I’m going to disagree with you in love.”  Who says stuff like that?!  Who even stops to think it before they dive into a disagreement?!  

As we move towards November, we could use a little more of Dr. Harding's disagreement in love - not as a way to avoid conflict or to give each other an artificially cheerful thumbs up that keeps a superficial peace.  This disagreement in love takes us more deeply into the disagreement and possibly through it.