09 July 2014

Gossiping for Good?

I talk about people. However, talking about others seems like gossip, and I have been taught that gossiping is bad (2 Cor 12:20; Prov 20:19). Gossip, after all, is a sign of idleness, usually contains ill will towards another, and is a cause of division. Christians ought thus not to participate in any of that.

Yet, I still talk about people. People fascinate me - I so very much love to understand how everything fits together, along with how people react and function. I also care about others and want to know how it is with them; talking about them helps me to put the pieces together of what I have seen and heard, so that I might know if they are truly doing well. In other words, I believe that, done wisely, talking about others can be good. I am thankful that I am not the only one who believes that:
"Like the desert tales that monks have used for centuries as a basis for a theology and a way of life, the tales of small-town gossip are often morally instructive, illustrating the ways ordinary people survive the worst that happens to them; or, conversely, the ways in which self-pity, anger, and despair can overwhelm and destroy them.  Gossip is theology translated into experience.  In it we hear great stories of conversion, like the drunk who turns his or her life around, as well as stories of failure. We can see that pride really does go before a fall, and that hope is essential.  We watch closely those who retire, or who lose a spouse, lest they lose interest in living.  When we gossip we are also praying, not only for them, but for ourselves."
     (From Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A spiritual Geography (2001) page 76 (according to Google books). Taken from http://dailyasterisk.com/ April 17, 2014)
As I continue to understand better about how talking about others is part of my pastoral role - both as an encouragement to others as well as part of listening for pastoral concerns - it is helpful to remember that every sentence I say about another ought to be also a prayer.

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